Have you been wearing yourself out trying to make an impact, and still, you feel as if you have produced very little fruit, if any? So, how’s your relationship with Jesus anyway? Jesus said: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). If you’re not plugged into Jesus, if you’re not fellowshipping with Him, you will have a very difficult time doing much of anything for His Kingdom. You may very well have a bonified desire to do good things for God, but there is a way they are to be done. It’s one thing to do a good thing, it’s quite another to do the right thing. Having what one might consider a good idea, may not fit God’s design for you. When you start moving in directions that seem okay or even right, you may quickly find yourself gasping for air, and that’s because you need a fresh Wind. You need Holy Spirit guiding you.
Why was Jesus so impactful during His earthy ministry? He was busy about His Father’s business. He did not allow Himself to be distracted by others, nor the things of this world. No one could persuade Him to get involved in things outside His mission. It would be good for all of us to take His cue. It may be worth stepping back for a moment, and consider what you’re doing. Ask the Lord to reveal His will for you. This may lead you into new territory. Comfort zones no longer have a place at the table. This very thing may bring you to a crossroad where you have to make some tough decisions. That includes putting a stop to what you’ve been doing for some time. Discomfort and changes are good when they lead you to His perfect will for your life. It takes you out from dead works, and places you into labors of love in which you find joy like no other.
Moreover, making these shifts saves you from the weariness of doing what you’re not called to do in the first place. When you are in the center of God’s will, you find a vigor in life you’ve never thought possible. There may come a time, or perhaps that time is now, in which someone may ask you to do something to which you’re not called. It may be profitable to simply say, “no thank you.” Our walk of faith and obedience requires hearing from the Lord before taking action (see Matthew 4:4; Romans 10:17). And you may hear in a variety of ways, which we will not address here; but know it’s a place of rest.
Hebrews 4:10For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.
Is Christ divided? No, He is not, and yet there’s been disunity in the Body of Christ for years -centuries even. The call to repentance has gone out numerous times. Some are heeding that call and are gathering with others with whom they once opposed. Crossing boundaries that should have never been in the first place. Will we as the Church finally get it right?
Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in Me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me” (John 17:17-23).
How do we get it right? One word seems to sum it all up: love. If we kept things that simple it would work. If we’re busy loving one another, we won’t have time to hurt each other. Notwithstanding, that kind of love entails submission to Holy Spirit on everyone’s part. We are exhorted in Ephesians to “Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). The requirements for unity is found in the Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-24). Our coming together as one requires a power greater than our own. If you have difficulty loving others, start with submission. 1 Corinthians 1:10Now I beseech you, brethren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Speaking the same thing involves agreement with God. Simply agreeing on doctrine does not necessarily mean true unity. It has to align with Him in order for it to be legitimate. What if we all agreed one thing, but it doesn’t agree with the Word of God, is it true unity? It wouldn’t be unified with Holy Spirit, so the answer is no. The Bible makes it clear there are doctrines of men and demons, but there is only one Doctrine of Christ. Not only that, we could say we have a consensus in order to unify; but more than likely, underneath it would still be a number of people in disagreement. They merely acquiesced for the sake of “keeping the peace.” They still differ in belief. The fissure remains. What would happen if we came together in love, and searched for the Truth as God intended? That would require humility. We would have to check our egos at the door; but then, if we’re crucified with Christ, ego shouldn’t be a thing. We do want The Truth, right? Surely, we’re not trying to build our own little kingdoms that rest on our private interpretation of the Bible, are we? Ephesians 4:4-6There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
It’s time to get it straight: there is only one Church. Generally speaking, congregations are comprised of the local population, which means there may be exclusions of different ethnicities. But that is the only reason for the exclusion. As disciples of Jesus Christ, this next statement should be obvious to all, but here it goes: we all descend from Adam and Eve, which means there’s only one race. Going further still: the term, born again found in John 3:3 means to be born from above. That changes our position in life. Our citizenship is in Heaven, which eliminates borders (see Philippians 3:20). It’s time we all break bread together. There are no more social classes to keep us apart either. Colossians 3:8-17But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.
If you chose, you can find fault with anyone. Think about it: even the Pharisees found fault with Jesus, even though the fault was actually with them. Slow down and think about that statement. Don’t pass it up. Now consider the first sentence. You could find fault with anyone, but where would the fault lie: with them, or you? If you find yourself constantly looking for fault in others, it would be a good idea to ask yourself what’s going on, because that’s a departure from love.
1 Peter 4:8And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Here are some reasons people look for said faults. Pride, ego and arrogance attached to low self-esteem. They are compensating for feelings of inadequacy. Much of it is the result of being disconnected to God’s love. Affirmation issues disappear when you fully receive His love and you love yourself the way He does. A second reason that may not be as obvious to some is self-preservation. If you’ve been deeply hurt by others, you may find yourself looking for “fissures in the façade,” as to not be hurt again. If you’ve been betrayed by someone close, it would make it difficult to trust. Trust issues reveal the need for healing, and perhaps, forgiveness. If you haven’t forgiven, you will not heal from the wound. Some people are trained to look at others with suspicion. They grew up with it, because it was prevalent in the culture of their family. This may not be an exhaustive list, but it gives a starting point. Take it a step further, and ask God to reveal what’s going on with you. Most, if not all, have felt critical of others from time to time. Even though it may not be a constant, try to be aware of it. If you find criticism creeping in, pause, take a deep breath and submit to Holy Spirit. The flesh loves to criticize. Galatians 5:16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Okay, let shift gears. We can discern when something is amiss with others. In some cases it can be very blatant; in others, it’s subtle. In the latter, the Lord may reveal it to you. Question: what do we do with the discernment? Do we judge the other person, or do we connect with God’s purpose behind it? What is the purpose of discernment in this case? Reconciliation with God. In other words, we are meant to connect or reconnect them to God’s heart. We may respond by praying for them, or opening our hearts to them, so they have a safe place to go. Those who are struggling, find it difficult to share with others because of the fear of judgment. If they know we’re safe, they may confide in us. In turn, you may help them navigate through whatever they’re going through. In short, let the Lord lead us. Galatians 6:1-6Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.
When you say yes to some things, you are actually saying no to others. For instance, if you were to say yes to instant gratification, you could feasibly be saying no to something in your future. This principle is not exactly new, but it does cross many facets of life. Time is another example: when you say yes to spending time over there, you’re saying no to spending it here. This principle does have some advantages if you are mindful with it. So, let’s examine a couple of ways this could be used. Bear in mind, there are many ways, but this may be a good place to start.
In the previous two examples, we find how it applies to stewardship. For every expenditure you make, whether it’s time or resources, there will be expenditures elsewhere you will not be able to fulfill. This is especially true for time, because it is not a renewable resource. Of course, there is a small percentage of people on whom this has a lesser affect in terms of finance. As a whole, it pays to consider your goals and objectives before making those expenditures. Obviously, God owns it all and has no such restraints. Since we are His, and all we possess belongs to Him, it may be a good idea to ask Him what He thinks about how we spend. In relation to the first example, remember, the so called small or insignificant purchases can whittle away your reserves for the future. Even if you’re just a dollar short of obtaining something, you’re still short and you won’t be able to possess it. One plus one may only be two, but keep adding those ones over time, and they will add up to hundreds, maybe even thousands. Similarly, putting little sums of money away over time adds up. What you do or fail to do today, affects your future. Think to what you’re saying no, before you say yes. Again, pray for wisdom. James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
The yes means no principle works well for keeping the right focus. If you say yes to righteousness, you’re saying no to evil and wickedness. By saying yes to forgiveness, you’re saying no to bitterness, wrath and anger. By saying yes to love, you’re saying no hatred. Instead avoiding the negative (thou shalt not), focus on the positive (do what’s right). By chasing after the things of God, you will automatically avoid evil; especially since it will not be a consideration. By focusing on excellence, you gravitate toward success versus failure. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never make a mistake, but even mistakes become steps toward the right direction, if you learn from them. If you’re constantly trying to avoid the things of the flesh, you will be flesh-minded. Try this on for size: Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Romans 13:8-10Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.