Spiritual amputees

In all our lives we can feel weak. We can feel emotionally or spiritually disabled. The sin that we’ve been born with has caused us to loose a part of ourselves. We are all, in a sense, spiritual amputees. We cannot love. We cannot have faith. We cannot do good.

Romans tells us, “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

“They are together become unprofitable”

Basically everyone on this earth is useless.

But we don’t all feel that way do we? The rich man feels that he is better than the poor man. The strong man feels  he is better than the weakling. The ruler feels he is better than the commoner. In our own little world, we give glory to those who we see as wise or strong. We erect these measures of status and profitability for our own comparisons among each other. We become disillusioned and blinded to the true measure and standard of God’s power and worthiness.

God doesn’t want to leave us in this false world of fake and useless status, so He shakes things up a bit.

In Corinthians we find, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

God basically reveals himself by taking those considered weak, and making them strong. He takes the poor man, and uses him to show up the rich man.

He takes a bunch of lowly fishermen, and transforms them into apostles who revolutionize the demographics and belief systems of the entire world. He chooses Gideon, who was lowly in status, to lead an army of very few to defeat a massive army. He takes a life as common and lowly as yours or mine and uses it to make a difference for His glory.

So next time you feel as if you have nothing to offer God. Or that you don’t measure up. Or that you don’t have the tools to succeed. Realize that might just be what God is looking for. God can use anyone. He can use the strongest person in the room. But He seeks out the weakest. He chooses the foolish. He plans to use the ones no one would ever expect, to do the things they could never do on their own. And why? So the world can know all the things they value and esteem worthy of praise are worth nothing. They are all gone out of the way, they are all together become unprofitable. Everyone is useless without Him. There is not exception. There is no comparison worth making between us.

“That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29

 

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Nothing wavering

Faith is such a simple thing, and yet oftentimes it seems to be so difficult. Faith is something that God demands of us as His followers. He says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

In order to come to God, we need to come in faith. We need to realize that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. And in that statement comes the idea that we will seek Him diligently. If the King of all the Universe says He will reward you if you seek Him diligently, and you believe Him, how could you decide not to seek Him?

Having true faith in the reward, brings us to work for it.

Have you been seeking God lately? Have you been seeking Him diligently?

If not, you may want to check your faith. Have you spent time in the Word? Are you truly believing in His vision for your life? Do you need to pursue Him more?

I know for me, I definitely need to.  It is far too easy for me to become lax in my eagerness to seek out God.

One more part of this faith is having it without wavering. James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” Here James is talking about asking God for wisdom, but the faith aspect applies to any time we ask God for something.

God tells us to ask in faith, without wavering.

Think about a person who wavers, if they are unsure of everything, or if God will answer, why would it glorify God to give them anything? When they get it, they will not glorify God or praise Him for His goodness. They will not see that the answer is from God. They will not point others to Christ.

God is jealous for the glory He deserves, and what’s more, He wants His gifts to bring us closer to Him. He wants us to come to Him without wavering. He wants us to see Him as the source of all goodness and reward. That is why He asks for faith in Him.

So I invite you, search the scriptures, build your faith, refuse to waver, and see God’s reward for diligently seeking Him.

It doesn’t matter what you need from Christ, wisdom, grace, understanding, or simply help. If you’re tired, if you’re weary, if you’re lost- go to Him.

He is the source of everything we need. Won’t you seek Him without wavering today?

Take the path that the world has labeled insane

Contemplate the fact that when God calls you to serve Him, He calls you to deny your own flesh and the entire world system that surrounds to follow Him while changing inwardly to the point of bringing death to your most intimate and base desires. When you realize that, you conclude naturally that you need God’s help in order to follow Him.

In Philippians 2:3, God commands: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;”

If we think about what is natural for an unbeliever, and what people without Christ do, we find that almost everything that is done by unbelievers IS done through strive and vain glory.

Worldly people spend their lives complaining, competing, worrying, bragging, arguing, fighting, and living in agitation.

If you live your life constantly looking out for yourself and trying to prove yourself and make sure you get “what you deserve,” then you are living like the world. Your lifestyle is not only one of disobedience, but also one of incredible stress and agitation.

God says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory. . . “

How are we to live then?  We are to live in “lowliness of mind,” while we “esteem other better” than ourselves.  When you’re humble, you don’t have anything to prove. If you consider someone to be better than you, then you aren’t concerned if they think the same. And if you deny your desire for vain glory, and live to see God glorified, then you never need to obsess over whether or not the credit is going where it’s due. God will get all the glory no matter what. Just a side note: Living humbly is living peacefully.

 

Gods’ command to us is to conclude that our benefits, and our comfort, and our pleasure, and our fair share of (whatever we “deserve”) are all inconsequential to the Glory that God deserves. The next few verses in Philippians 2, call us to have the mind of Christ and humble ourselves to the point of death.

Unless you’re facing martyrdom for your faith, I don’t think God is calling you to literally die. It’s a word picture. Think about it, does anybody want to die? Most people want to live. In fact, if a person desires death, they are usually unstable.

God’s calling to us: to deny ourselves, would appear like complete insanity to the world.

In fact, God tells us that, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18

So I challenge you, surrender to the call of humility unto death. Take the path to lowliness that the world has labeled insane. Choose to forfeit your “rights” and live a life of peace and obedience. You can’t do it by yourself, so God has promised to help you. All you must do is decide.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13

Be righteous, and your afflictions will be many

Even if you are a faithful and obedient Christian who loves the Lord and follows His statutes, there will be times of trouble and trial. And God tells us those times will be many.

Psalm 34:19 tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” – Psalm 34:19

Look at David! He was a man after God’s own heart. As He was following the Lord, He was betrayed, plotted against, and hunted down by the king like a wild animal.

Paul was a great apostle, and while he was doing God’s work, he was subjected to all sorts of trials. Shipwreck, beaten at least 8 times, subjected to the ocean for a day and a half, bitten by a poisonous snake, and even stoned.

It is easy for us to complain. To mutter. To feel bad for ourselves when things like this happen. But that isn’t the right way. We must trust in the second part of the verse. We must put our faith in the Lord that He will deliver us. And when He does, others will see His goodness, we will be stronger and more devoted servants, and our faith and his faithfulness will ring out His glory for all eternity.

So I challenge you, when your many afflictions come- and they will come- Trust in God. Fear Him. Honor Him. Don’t allow yourself to be conquered by the enemy and wander in a desert of self pity or fear. Put your trust in the Holy God whose strength is beyond measure and whose power is without compare. He will deliver. He will save. And we will praise His name!

“But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.” – Psalm 37:39-40

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

Don’t admire that

Who is the greatest person you can think of? When you think of them, you want to be like them, or you wish you could meet them, etc. Do you seem to glorify someone in your mind? Perhaps an athlete, pastor, President, or businessman. Whoever they are, they’re really awesome. But is it really a biblical perspective to think so highly of a man?

If we think about it, no matter what "great things" any one person accomplishes, they are not that great. The could never had done any of their work alone. Perhaps someone raised them or paid for their upbringing. Or someone taught them how to study the Word of God. Or the people who served under them were honest and diligent. Or God gave them many talents and a healthy body. Nobody is that amazing.

1 Corinthians 3:21 says, "Let no man glory in men." To be honest, God orchestrates everything. He provides the opportunity. He give the ability. He coordinates everything. All that is left to man is to wait on Him and do His will.

Why would we say, "Oh what a great man! What a hero!" No general can win a battle alone. Every one of his troops that was courageous enough to fight, deserves recognition. The hardworking blacksmith that diligently forged his sword deserves recognition. The general’s mother that instilled good principles and morals, deserves recognition.

But really, let no man glory in men. No accomplishment, no matter how "great" is truly a great thing. Could not God have done it? Why do we place so much esteem in man? We are all only servants. And even when we do what is our duty to do, we can only say, "We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:10)

Don’t have such a high opinion of earthly accomplishments. Such a mentality is worldly, wicked, and vain. Yes, it is proper to respect others. And there should always be a healthy respect for those who follow God’s will and demonstrate Godliness, but we must control our admiration. Let us strive to say as Paul said in Galatians 6:14:

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

Break the snakes

There are many good things in life that God gives us. He gives us certain things for certain times in our lives. Sometimes, the things that God has given us, loose their effectiveness. They were great for a time, but now God wants us to continue on. One example of something that lost its effectiveness was the brazen serpent in the Old testament.

You see, at one time, the Israelites were very disobedient and ungrateful to God. God allowed judgment to come upon them in the form of deadly snakes. When the people repented, God told Moses to make a brass snake. Anyone who looked at it, would be healed as a result of their obedience. (Numbers 21)

Years later, the Israelites still had the brass snake. You might think, Oh, thats nice, they have a piece of their history. But that was not all. They had started to worship the snake. They were burning incense to it, and treating it like a deity. God was not pleased, and when Hezekiah destroyed it because of their worship, God was pleased. (2 Kings 18:4)

Hezekiah looked at it and called it, Nehushtan or a thing of brass. Hezekiah had a proper view of the brass snake. He called it a thing. An item. It had no importance. God had used it in the past, but it was God that was special, not the thing He used.

Perhaps there are some brass serpents in your life. Think for a moment, what has God used greatly in your life? What has he used to help you grow the most? Perhaps it was a book you read, or a speaker you heard? I know in my life, I have often elevated people or tools that have helped me in my walk with God. Some of my attitude was a healthy respect, but there were times when it was in a sense an actual worship.

I would like to challenge you, if you find yourself in need of anything, realize that it is God that you need. When God works through your pastor, dont allow yourself to worship him. Look beyond the creation, and see the Creator who is the true provider. Dont ever ascribe worship or anything like it to Gods creation. God alone is worthy of our worship.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2

Your surrender, God’s glory

Have you ever seen God work in a miraculous way? It is amazing to see God work greatly. Perhaps you witnessed a prayer answered, or a conversation brought change in someone’s life, or you witnessed to someone and they received Christ. There is a certain pleasure that comes from seeing God use you in someone’s life. When God uses us, it can be an encouragement, but we must be diligent to attribute all the glory to Him. If we don’t, we can become a victim of pride. And pride is a serious downfall.

We find an example of this kind of pride in 1 Chronicles 21. David is king over Israel, and he commands his servant Joab to number the people. Joab has a very wise response in verse 3. He says, "My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?" Look carefully at his response. He gives the glory to God for making Israel mighty. He knew that everything that was done, had been done by God. He rebuked David and said that David would be the cause of sin in Israel. Later in the passage, we can read that David’s sin did indeed have serious consequences.

So how can we avoid such a downfall? We must give the glory to God.

As you surrender to His call to service, you will find that God is willing and able to use you for His glory. You must always remember that everything you can do is because God empowered, inspired, and appointed you to be able to do it. He alone deserves the glory for every good thing that He has accomplished through both you and me. Let us give Him the glory! Let us say, like the Psalmist,

"I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it:" – Psalm 52:9a