Be An Example


Ephesians 5:1-2 (NASB), “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

When we get saved God doesn’t snatch us out of here and bring us straight to Heaven. Why? Because we are here to set an example, to imitate Him. Jesus is in Heaven sitting at the right hand of God, so now we are the only “Jesus” they will ever see. He came to show the Father. (John 14:9). Now that is our job.

We are supposed to live from Heaven, walk in our authority as believers, and accept all the good things God has given us so that we can make others want what we have. They may shy away from our boldness, or want to hide in the darkness because of the brightness of our life, but like a stray dog who finds a dish of food and some clean water, they will come out of the shadows to take what we have to offer. God explained that to His people when He was telling them that they would return out of captivity and go back to Jeruselem.

Ezekiel 20:41 (AMP), “I will accept you [graciously] as a pleasant odor when I lead you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries in which you have been scattered, and I will manifest My holiness among you in the sight of the nations [who will seek Me because of My power displayed in you].”

Romans 2:4 clearly tells us that God’s kindness, His goodness leads hearts to repent. How else will they see the goodness of God if not through us? We don’t have to plan some huge outreach, though God may ask us to, Andrew Murray makes it clear in his book “Working for God”, that it is in the smallest things that we consistently show God’s love, holding the door for someone, a kind word or a friendly smile, an offer to babysit, a plate of cookies for an invalid, all of these things are big in God’s Kingdom. Yes, we have to speak, pray, and encourage others, we can’t leave these things undone, but we have to be led by His Spirit. He will tell us when to preach with words, or when to just give a hug and a smile. His way wins souls, not our great plans and our way with words.

We can’t be barely scraping by, worried and anxious, crabby and depressed, and show God’s goodness. We have to freely receive so that we can freely give. This isn’t just about money! It’s about God’s provision. Depending on Him and expecting Him to come through for us. We will get a raise, He will give us favor with the bill collectors, He will rebuke the devourer. We have to read His word, find those promises, and stand in them. Set your face like flint! Keep your eyes on Him. When we consistently show that no matter what comes our way, we will praise and honor Him, we are setting an example.

The Bible is full of examples. Some good and others not so good. We can read through the books of Chronicles and Kings and see what we are not supposed to do. Or take a look at the children as the wondered in the wilderness. Not examples of great faith. Even some of our hero’s made mistakes along the way. God has added their shortcomings to their witness so that we can have hope. We know that even if we mess up, God can turn it around for our good. Our witness isn’t ruined. If we admit our wrong, if we repent. Otherwise, how are we representing Heaven? We are ambassadors for Christ. We need to live from Heaven, not conform to this world, and love on people. Loving someone doesn’t mean accepting their sin. God loved us while we were in our sin, but He didn’t leave us there, He compelled us by His love, and goodness, to let the Blood of Jesus cleanse us of all our wrongdoings.
There are a lot of people out there who haven’t come to the saving knowledge of His grace, more of those than the ones who know Him. This ought not to be!

Let’s live for Him.

Isn’t that what being a Christian is all about?

Wisdom From Heaven


James 3:17 (NIV), “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

The world has a totally different idea of wisdom than God. The world see’s wisdom as intelligence and knowledge. In fact the Encarta Dictionary uses these definitions: good sense, wise decision, accumulated learning, opinion widely held, ancient teachings or sayings. I can right away see problems with all of those definitions! Good sense, we all need some of this, but if it isn’t based on the Bible, it isn’t good. The same can be said for a wise decision, if a decision is based on the world’s view of what is wise, the motivation will be greed, or lust, or it will be based on flawed thinking. The Bible tells us that knowledge puffs up, or gives us a “big head” so accumulated learning will only fill our heads with knowledge that we won’t be able to apply to our lives in any meaningful way. Even knowledge of the Scriptures without Godly wisdom will not profit us. Any opinion widely held is changeable. For example at one time people thought that eating the potato would kill you, and that the world was flat, need I say more? Lastly, ancient teachings can be wise, if they line up with God’s word, otherwise they are still opinions of man that happened to be spouted off years ago.

God tells us that wisdom from heaven is first of all pure. Godly wisdom isn’t motivated by anything other than love. Next, from our verse in James, we see that it is peace-loving and considerate. This kind of wisdom isn’t putting “self” first. It doesn’t have to have its own way, or demand its rights. It thinks “more highly on the things of others.” Wisdom from Heaven is submissive. I know we Americans tend to hate that word, but only because we don’t understand what it means. Submission simply means being “under a mission.” I am under the mission of God. His mission is to bring everyone to the saving knowledge of His grace. I submit to that mission. If we are using Godly wisdom there will be fruit, we will show mercy to others. God is merciful. He never gave us what we deserved, but only what would bring us to a place of fellowship with Him. Finally, this kind of wisdom is impartial and sincere. It can’t be faked. The world is full of people who see themselves as wise. They spout off information, statistics, and opinions and expect us all to be wowed by their greatness, which is neither impartial nor sincere. You can’t fake Godly wisdom, ever. Godly wisdom’s purpose isn’t to impress anyone. It’s purpose is to further God’s Kingdom here on earth.
How do we do that?

By showing God’s love, His goodness, His mercy, and forgiveness. We “make peace.”

Matthew 5:9 (ISV), “How blessed are those who make peace, because it is they who will be called God’s children!”
Luke 6:35-36 (NIV), “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ”

So, maybe you aren’t feeling too wise right at this moment. Thankfully, God has an answer for that as well.

James 1:5 (NIV), “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Proverbs 2:6 (KJB), “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

Ecclesiastes 2:26 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.”

I think it is safe to say that the way the world thinks to acquire wisdom is through learning, and through osmosis. We, on the other hand, as Children of the Almighty, receive wisdom from God. It is a gift. We can’t earn it, but that doesn’t mean that we just sit and wait for God to deposit wisdom into us either. God always has a part for us to play. One of the ways that God imparts wisdom into us is through His word. A great place to obtain Godly wisdom is in the Proverbs. He also uses sound teaching. We need to know God’s word and how to apply it to our own lives. This is wisdom.

Why do we need wisdom? And what do we do with it?

Proverbs 11:30 (KJB), “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
Daniel 12:3 (NIV), “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

Proverbs 3:35 (NIV), “The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.”

It takes true wisdom just to get saved. Human wisdom won’t allow our hearts to accept salvation, it stops the whole message at our head and because it simply doesn’t make any human sense, we reject it as impossible. “God would die for me? No way! I don’t have to earn it, there has got to be something wrong with this way.”

I Corinthians 1:21 (NLT), “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.”

Godly wisdom loves, it saves souls, inherits honor, shines like the brightness of heaven.

So, get wisdom! It’s important, but make sure it is the wisdom from Heaven.

Proverbs 4:5 (NASB), “Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.”

A Servant King?


Can a King be a servant?

When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king of Israel, after God had promised to divide the kingdom due to Solomon’s idol worship, he was faced with an important decision. How should he rule his people? His father began humbly asking God for wisdom to rule the people, but ended up in all kinds of pride, self-centered catering to his every whim and ultimately turning away from God, (though he did come to repentance at the end of his life). Rehoboam also starts out with some wisdom, he asks for advice. First he asks the older counselors who sat under his father. We can see their reply in I Kings:

I Kings 12:7 (NASB), “Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

Unfortunately that is the end of his wisdom in seeking counsel. Next, he goes to the young men he had grown up with. Just reading their answer makes me cringe:

I Kings 12:10-11 )NASB), “The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! ‘Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”

How do you follow in the footsteps of the wisest, richest man ever? According to his son, you rule the people with an iron fist, in their face, and demand total submission. Sounds like a good plan, right? The Israelites cried out and turned against the house of David. From that day on, the kingdom was divided between Judah and Israel, two kingdoms and two kings. You can continue reading in I Kings and in II Chronicles if you want to see how that all ends.

My point is that we cannot lead by force! Jesus never did. He led by example. He never demanded that people follow him. I can just picture Him with a big smile on His face and a friendly hand on Matthew’s shoulder saying, “have you had your fill of this mundane life, how about walking away from collecting taxes and come with me?” or what about Peter and Andrew, James and John, same smile, same call from a friend, “put down those nets, and lets go catch some souls!”

Jesus is a King, He serves. Why? Because that’s where The Father’s heart is, helping people. God’s desire is that our lives are better. So, each one of us are called to be servants. Jesus repeatedly talked to His disciples about being servants and serving others. When the multitude was hungry and the disciples wanted to send them away, Jesus told them to feed them. At one time, after hearing them argue about who was the greatest, He said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:35).

We all lead. At least we are supposed to. We might not all have a leadership position at work or at church, but we are parents, we have friends and family, we are part of a community. How are you leading? Our Senior Pastor always says, “Leaders must go there first. Leaders must do it first.” That sounds pretty simple. If we want our community to be more loving, friendlier, then we need to be more loving and friendly. If we want our church to be debt free, we have to give our money. If we want our co-employees to stop talking like they live in a gutter, watch what you say.

We don’t have to be a walking bible to witness and change our atmosphere; we just have to live right. Living like the world never got a single person saved. Our faith during a hard time, our expecting good when the world expects the worse, or support and prayers during someone else’s crisis, all show a relationship with a Savior. How we act matters.

If you are in a leadership position, don’t follow the advice of the young men Rehoboam grew up with! Don’t lead like his father, Solomon, who only cared about his chariots, his palaces, his riches, his pleasure, and his foreign wives.

Look again at Jesus. Why do we commit to follow and serve Him forever? Because, He first served us. He treated us kindly; He showed us mercy, and most of all He gave up His life for us.
When is it right for a king to rule with force? When the people rebel. There will come a day when the King of Kings will come in His power and glory to show Himself as The King to the whole rebellious and hard hearted world.

Revelation 19:11-16 (KJB), “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I for one, want to know Him as the King who serves those He loves. The Mighty Warrior King from the book of Revelations is the King who protects and defends me. I will never have to be on the other side of His righteous anger! Praise God!

As leaders, there may be a time to correct and discipline, and even a time to cut loose. However, it’s never our place to try and take the place of God. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the One to carry out punishment. As I have said so many times before, we would mess it up. Leave that to God and lead with the motivation of building The Kingdom, not your kingdom. Have a servants heart, the heart of God, and those who follow your lead, will serve The King forever.

After all, isn’t that ultimately where we are leading…to The Father?