Pointing the People to Christ

pointing to Christ

 

“… That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30 Continue reading

Remember we do not deserve His love and grace, yet it is given to us anyway.

Our own motive must be the restoration of God’s people from sin; we are not to do the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are to heed our call of being constructive and providing solutions, not more strife. Our call is to extol people, that is, to come alongside them with comfort and help. We are to help one another grow in relationships with God and with one another. And, with this motive in mind, we are to sheepdog people onto the right path when they veer off, as a loving parent does with a child.

When we have the knowledge and trust of God’s goodness, and His right of judgment, we will refuse to be hypocritical. We will use His goodness as a guide to see the sorrow for our “miss-actions” and have compassion toward others for theirs (Psalm 136). As God is generous with His grace, so we should be generous toward each other and be thankful. And, finally, as we see His goodness in a much deeper way, we are truly transformed, renewed, and we turn away from sin (Romans 12:1-3).

When we refuse to see Christ’s goodness, and keep judging, we model the ultimate contempt to our loving Lord!

http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?blogid=3844&view=post&articleid=31695&fldKeywords=&fldAuthor=&fldTopic=0

Reverence in Leadership PIII

Reverence in LeadershipBut to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 

Reverence is about submitting to the Supremacy, Sufficiency, and Centrality of Christ as LORD!

In the universe and in the Church, Christ is Creator and God, He is superior over any idea, philosophy, religion, or mysticism. He is over trends, traditions, and even the Jewish laws that pointed to Him. No one can gain salvation or fullness without Jesus Christ, so why even try? How dare anyone foolishly mislead others with false truths or legalism away from the Truth to seek his own over Him. Thus, we must yield ourselves to what the Church is about, how we are to run and grow our church, so we can be our best for His glory and our opportunities (Matt. 5:13; 2 Cor. 2:15; Phil. 1:27; Col.1: 18; 3:11).

How do I know if I am reverencing Christ properly?

Are we robbing God of the opportunities He tries to give us? Do we mix them up with habits, pride, and traditions?

Do we make grandstand pretenses, showing off our faith while we have a heart full of soot?

Do our attitudes, desires, and passions line up with the precepts of His Word, or express our own selfish agendas?

Perhaps you are thinking that this is about passion. Well, this is paramount, but it has to be grounded in God’s truth, not the ideas and desires of man. We must seek initiative and inspiration from Christ, not from traditions.

What can I do to be better at reverence? Do not practice your faith or lead your church through the filter of traditions or habits. Rather, filter faith through the clarity of God’s Word! Prayer will help us navigate through what is selfish and not right to what is of God and is His plan. It is all about being conformed to Him, not to our ideas or desires.

Think about those times of trouble and stress. How is Jesus your source, substance, and Truth in the good and bad times? How must He be for you to not just survive, but to thrive?

We have to reach out to Him; let Christ grasp you so you are not seeing just the sea of what is in it for me. Or be consumed by problems and the ocean of deluge overtaking the ship of your faith and composure in Him. Yes, this is tough; we all deal with this–certainly I do, even now… I want what I want. When times are confusing and we can’t see where we are going or where God wants us, something to consider and pray about is this.

But take this to heart. God is far more concerned about how we are than what we do or where we go. Our lives are a process and a journey, as is our church. Our Lord’s mission is to transform our hearts and minds, the very core of who we are, so that we can live in the Kingdom of God–a Kingdom with His values and purpose, regardless of any opposition we might have, including the opposition others give us. Then, we can lead others properly with a reverence to His Lordship. We especially need Christ in the dire times of life–the times when we have the best opportunities to learn and grow.

So, if you are stuck in your faith or in the spiritual formation of our church, or moving people where they really need to go. Usually, it is our own opposition that hinders us the greatest and is evidenced by our fears and neglect or lack of active faith.

We have to realize that pleasing ourselves (as so many of us pursue) is not the goal of the Christian life either or how we build a church. Rather, we are to follow Christ and be imitators of His character, letting it transform our character. We are to do this through love and the acceptance of others as Christ did with us, even though we did not deserve it.

Reverence in Leadership PII

Reverence-vs-Relevance became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, …” Ephesians 3:7-8

One of the big buzz words we hear thrown about in church leadership is ‘relevance.’ Make sure your message is understandable and it is targeted to the people you are reaching. Of course, as long as the Message is not compromised or watered-down. And yes, that is important. But, how are we with honoring our Lord?

Consider this, the opposite of discipleship is compliancy as in not discipleing or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it, being “ashamed of Christ.”

As the opposite of maturity is immaturity, as the opposite of wisdom is foolishness, and the opposite of good leadership is well bad leadership and all of this will the result to no direction in life or the church brought on by no effectual learning or discernment to us or our people.

This leads to rebellion against God, why it is to be ashamed of Christ, and an attitude to fight against His godly leaders. We with this mindset that comes from a lack of reverence, will lead others away, as well. We will be leading people in hopelessness and despair, because most people cannot discern the difference. How can they if we the leaders can’t? Thus, it is the Christian leader’s responsibility to know their faith, and apply it with correct reverence, knowledge, based on God’s Word to our personal lives first, then to our administration of church leadership and others lives.

Consider this, Paul was motivated from his sense of obligation, not that he had too, but he wanted. Our causes are rooted in our motivations which are rooted in our ideas and expectations. Our sense of obligation will certainly affect all that we do too, so we have to make sure it is rooted in God and not elsewhere too (Rom. 11:13-14; Eph. 3:1-8)!

We need to know that Christ calls us to change our minds like we change the oil in the car. This is what Romans 12 is about, to be a “devotee” to Christ

In other words, we are to be changed persons so we can be authentic, impacting worshippers so we can be change agents to others. Being a living sacrifice living out real reverence for Christ as LORD, as a key aspect of our growth and maturity in the faith.

The purpose of knowing God’s principles and the study of His Word is not just the knowledge we gain (which is very important), but our supreme goal is what we do with that knowledge. His work in us is to be applied, not just studied, or ignored. Our devotion to Christ must be rooted in our minds, then allow the doctrine to translate it to our feet and the rest of our body in between. Our “impacting” will influence our people, the body of Christ, both our individual human body as well as a body of believers in relation to all those around us. It is our duty as church leaders. If not, get out and get well before coming back.

How do I know if I have a proper attitude of reverence? Look at Paul’s prayerfulness it is an expression of his devotion and zeal. His will was conquered with a sense of gratitude and indebtedness to Christ. Are you totally submitted to God’s ways, do you feel indebted, or do you feel owed?

Being “poured out” is to take the focus off yourself and place it on others, as Christ did for us. Paul spent his life to express it (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 1:15; Phil. 1:6-9).

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P5

 

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:5-7

Obedience will override our feelings so that we will remain steadfast and secure. 

We are all called to put our faith into practice. We can now take the relationships, mentoring, and learning, and carry them out in daily life. This is often expressed in service projects and missions, but that is only a small, although necessary aspect of service. Service is how we daily live our lives, modeling His character to those around us. When we are in ministry, we need to realize, it is not what we do, but whom we can equip. As we practice by reciprocating what we have learned to others, we will also be built up. We are called to build a network of relationships so we can build one another up in the faith through friendship and mentoring.

The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being.

We cannot lead others to Him when we do not know the way, and, in order to know the way, we must have knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from discipleship. The will of God is that we study His Word which will change our behavior.

A real impacted Christian, especially a leader in the church, must have the knowledge and experience to put into practice the work that needs to be done. The disciple will be studious so that the Word nourishes them. They must study and apply the Scriptures, not just read them occasionally, like a novel. The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms.

From the character of Christ comes the conduct of Christ-if we choose to follow Him.

Then, the values of our daily walk, those which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others. You cannot lead where you have not been, or when you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian, especially a witness.

We are called, not to just visualize faith and discipleship, but to do it, not to just read about it, but to do it, and not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy hunger; the meal has to be gathered, prepared, and then eaten. The effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, gather, prepare, and then put it all into practice so we partake of His feast.

What do you consider to be the key to finding and developing faith?

A worship-centered heart will help create a church that grows because it is also poured out to Christ and effective in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care through prayer and action to the world. 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P4

How Important is discipleship in your church and teaching?

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:23

In Matthew 13:23, we see two key words that strike at the foundation of our complacency, Hears… and does. He calls us to wake up and do something with our faith, not to just sit in a pew and complain, or lay on a couch as life drifts by. A call is pronounced. An action must take place to secure that His precepts will cause an impact.

We cannot just hear; we have to obey. Obedience is not in words, but in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action.

This is not about our salvation; it is about our response of worth and our impact. Our salvation by faith alone may secure us, but what is the impact if we do nothing with it? As His elect, whenever we read and/or hear the Word of God, we will have the desire to heed the call and put it into action.

I have been in pastoral ministry as a profession since 1982, and was in lay-ministry for several years prior to that. I can tell you absolutely that the one thing that keeps most people from accepting Christ as their Savior and being born again is that they do not want to admit their need; they do not want to be convicted. They do not want to admit that there is something basically wrong with them. They still cling to the idea that there is some good thing about them that God should accept, and if they do more good than bad, He will have to let them into heaven.

I do not think anything has been more destructive in the whole realm of theology and what is preached in so many churches than the idea that we are O.K. as we are. No repentance is necessary.

Come one, come all! But, the Bible says we cannot come to Him; He comes to us.

Christ will save us if only we will acknowledge our need and accept Him as our Lord and Savior; yet, so few will. It is the same with Christians who lack the motivation to witness; they do not want to admit that others have a need. It is not an official Christian policy by any imagination; rather, it is a rationalization we make because of our fears, complacency, or indecision.

Despite our best efforts, we are not fulfilling God’s law. We are not able to do so.

People desperately need a Savior! So, carefully consider any barriers in your thinking that blocks you from this core truth and reality of life:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.) What is the barrier that holds you back from giving this proclamation of love to others? We all need to find and remove it.
Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

God is more concerned with our obedience than our knowledge.

All too often, Christians only see God’s Grace. How does knowing that God is a God of judgment, as well as a God of holiness and righteousness affect your faith and obedience?

Obedience is so essential for us to understand and apply! Knowledge is important, but, what we think we know pales in comparison to who Christ is and what He does for us. When we feel we are wise, we are like a four-year-old thinking he knows better than his parents. How far can a four-year-old carry himself in life?

How far can we carry ourselves in life without Christ?

We may think we are doing well, but when we look back, with eternity as our guide, our ways are revealed as very pathetic indeed! We need to allow God’s truth to reign in us, and hold on to that reign with trust and obedience. When we do this without worry, and with trust, we grow, and real wisdom will flow into us, and through us to those around us. Just be aware that God will not give you wisdom or gifts until you have mastered what He has already given you (Luke 16:10; 19:17; John 7:17; 14:12; Heb. 12:6)!

The more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have to use and practice it.

That is why Moses was not let into the Promise Land; he disobeyed God. He knew better than anyone who ever lived not to do that! Fortunately, today we have Grace! Even though Moses disobeyed God in a relatively minor matter in our perspective, God was still gracious, and showed him all that would come. What God sees as important, we sometimes skip. Remember, Moses knew better. And, when we sin, we know better too! Thus the offense of striking the rock was bad enough for him to be excluded from entering the Promised Land. Moses had been face to face with God, and knew his duty and call. His anger broke the trust he had with God, resulting in grave consequences.
Fortunately for us, we have Grace to further protect us (Ex.17: 6; Num. 20:8-11)!

What happens to a Christian’s growth and faith when all he acknowledges is God’s grace, and not the rest of His attributes?

The more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have to use and practice it.

What does this mean to you and your church? Consider your gifts and opportunities. How have you used them?

What can you do to take to heart in a deeper way that God is more concerned with your obedience than your knowledge?

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P3

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

How To Grow in Faith

We are to call upon Him! Second Chronicles tells us, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways…

Do you see the condition? The “if” needs to become a “do;” we are to carry out what He has accepted in us, so the rest of the passage becomes fulfilled in us. …then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

To grow means we are to turn from sin, seek Him, be praying, act with humility, seek His righteousness, and practice maturity. We are not to wander from Him or allow our desires to be selfish and sinful. We are to focus on His precepts and allow ourselves to be filled up with Christ. When we call upon our Lord, that call will echo over all those around us.

We grow as we look to and trust in Him, and as we pursue our lives in Christ.

That means careful pursuit and continual growth, not a simple look-over, but an in-depth and committed life. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Growing is surrendering our will to His. Surrender is the process through which we grow toward Him and His will, and away from our will. Surrender is making Christ the Lord of all of our lives so that worship, discipleship, and growth can happen.

For this to truly happen, we must rid ourselves of false presumptions, perceptions, reckless ideas, faulty thinking, and other such things that are barriers to our growth, so we can make room for Him.

This can start by our realizing that Jesus “authors” our faith and teaches us how to run the race according to God’s will for His glory, His worship, and His purpose. Thus, we gain a deeper intimacy with our Lord as our Commander and Friend, as our God and our King, as the provider of Grace, as our Love, and as our reason for being.

In His purposes, we find real contentment, joy, and fulfillment. 

This can be summed up in the adage, “we cannot be doing the work of God unless we are the people of God.” We have to be growing before we can be effective.

 What have you done about pursuing your life in Christ?

Growing in Christ is the key, so is Christ LORD over you and your church, if not why not?

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P2

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

 

Why does growing in your faith encompass more than just asking Christ into your life and heart?

Yes, there will be times we do not feel like it. Life is tough; it is full of setbacks and hurts that seem to cripple us. So, we go on permanent disability, unable to hurdle barriers that are really simple to climb, simple, when we are carried by Christ Himself. Did you know all it takes to tie down a horse is a simple leather strap? Did you know a horse could easily break it, like we could break a kite string? A horse does not try to do that because he does not think he is able to do so. You are able to cross any barrier to grow in deeper worship and faith in Christ, because He is there with His healing power.

When we ignore Christ as Lord over our lives and church, we just end up stagnate in life, continuing to hurt. Yes, we will struggle and hurt and we will need times to recover. However, we must make the determination to recover, not to remain disabled, preventing our abiding in Him.

Did you know that God does not ask us to seek converts. He simply asks us to disciple. 

Why? Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible, mainly prayer, doctrine, and Christian living, which means having an attitude and heart that worships Christ.

Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call. When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God.

This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means. We are the display case of His life and work! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We are to obey and reach out, but we cannot lead people anywhere.

Christ is the One who leads! 

Our goal is to worship and model our worship to others-not just our service in the church, but the lifestyle of a heart surrendered and poured out to His.

However, with that said, when we are real and authentic in our Christian living, then we are actually doing effective evangelizing and bringing others to Christ even more powerfully and frequently.

How does our focus on Him and not evangelism help us be evangelistic? Because, when the focus is on evangelism, it tends to be about gathering the numbers for numbers sake, and this mindset is pretentious and ineffective. Out of a real, worship-centered heart will come a church that is also poured out in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care to the world. It will model Christ-like character to the community, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ. However, this is only the beginning. When we are worshiping Christ with our hearts and minds, we are focused on Him and motivated to be His witnesses. Christ’s work in us is what is contagious to others who are seeking Him.

 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

 

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P1

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Growing in Christ is the key to growing a church!

Why? Because the whole point of the Church is to learn, grow, fellowship, share and worship Christ as Lord! If we are not doing that; then, we are doing church wrong!

This is also all about being a good and effective witness of who Christ is and what He has called your church to be and do. Following up, teaching, and mentoring new as well as seasoned Christians are the keys to spiritual growth and the replication of the witness.

When a church forsakes discipleship, its people will not grow and thus will not reach out. Many will give up on Christianity while others become confused, calloused, or complacent.

Alternatively, they will be swept away by false doctrines and cults because they do not know the difference. When we forsake discipleship, we end up just living for and unto ourselves. We miss out on opportunities, learning experiences, growth, and will exchange an eternity of rewards for a limited time of fun. This will turn into anger and bitterness later on in our lives.

Why should we grow in Christ? 

Because, He lived and died on our behalf, willingly giving up His life by paying the penalty for our sin. He allows us not only to escape the fires of hell, but also gives us eternal life. Growth will be our response to who Christ is and what He did for us. This is what will either be repulsive or attractive to others as we “fish” for Him.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24

Being a true disciple means having a willingness to trust Him completely in all aspects of life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It means we are not only willing to trust Him to provide for our salvation, but we trust Him for the future. We are to trust Him even when we do not know, like, or understand when or where He is leading, or when it is unpopular.

As we grow in Christ, we have to keep our eyes on Him. In doing so, we will be of better use to Him and become increasingly unsatisfied with anything less than His call and character.

 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21