When it comes to the kingdom first life, looks are deceiving.

Success as defined by the world is not a very good indicator of a kingdom first life. I would even say go ahead and take it off of your key indicators list. The character of a person matters more. If they were to lose it all, what kind of person would be left standing in the middle of their loss? Before you tie yourself to someone consider how they reached their level of success. Did they use and abuse people? Simply put, look past what they have and try to see what kind of person they are. There are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing. There is a lot of deception used that is justified through saying it is for the advancement of the kingdom.

I can see two major things that satan does in order to attack our faith and character, or entice us in a direction we don’t need to go, and he often uses other people to do it. He attacks our stuff, or he offers us a bunch of bling. You can understand how much importance, and unhealthy love people put on possessions just by seeing that is what satan chooses to use in order to either attack us, or entice us.

When we read the story of Job we tend to emphasize all that he lost at the hands of satan; however, satan didn’t really care about Job’s possessions. He was attacking Job’s character in order to get him to lose his faith and curse God.  The attack failed, Job maintained his character, and everything that he lost plus more was restored to him. When things don’t seem to be going your way, when people tell you that you are failing, when people tell you God won’t promote you because your house isn’t in order, when they make accusations against you, when you feel like you are losing it all, etc just maintain your faith and your character.

When you are willing to lose it all to stay true to God, that is when you have it all. If you have Christ you have everything. Your inheritance is not in stuff, or the approval of people, it is life in Christ.

Then we have the temptation of Jesus. “the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” There is nothing to gain in selling your soul. The things of this world are worthless in comparison to life in Christ, and His kingdom. When your hearts are drawn to the things of this world and all of their glory, be vigilant for an enemy could be enticing you. Maintain your faith and character.

Possessions, stuff, money, wealth, etc, they are amoral. They are neither good nor bad; however, how you acquire can be good, or bad. How you use can be good, or bad. How you feel about can be good, or bad. What it becomes to you can be good, or bad. How you present it to other people can be good, or bad.

If satan is attacking you, God will work it all out in a way to benefit you. Romans 8:28

If satan is enticing you onto the wrong path, Jesus is still standing on the right path. John 14:6

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

The fruit of your salvation

Paul makes a couple of simple statements in Philippians chapter 1 that are a great reminder for us as Christians.

We should strive to grow in knowledge and understanding so that we understand what really matters most in order to live pure, and blameless lives. The thing that matters most is that we let our love overflow more and more.

He also reminds the Philippians to remain filled with the fruit of their salvation which is the righteous character produced in your life by Christ. This is what brings glory, honor, and praise to God.

The fruit of your salvation is your righteous character, and the biggest evidence of that character is how you treat other people. Is love spilling out of you? The opposite of love is fear. As people we generally treat people inappropriately when we are afraid of them in some way. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Let your love flow without fear, and let your righteous character shine!

God is for you, and I am for you. Let there be no fear in you.

Prosperity??

In Philippians 2:3 we read that we should not do things out of selfish ambition, and to look out for the interest of others. Even in serving the Lord, it wasn’t until the last few years that I realized that my dreams, and vision for my life were my own selfish ambition. Serving really isn’t meant to build you your own empire, serving is others centered. If you serve in order to obtain a self-centered dream, or vision you are simply self-serving. Serving is looking out for others at the expense of yourself. Serving Jesus even when it costs you something. Serving others even when it costs you something.

Unfortunately one of the things that I see happening all around me is Christians using other people(not just their money) for their own profit. I think it comes out of a twisted version of the prosperity message. It has convinced us that it is ok to use others for profit, and make as much profit as possible at the expense of others. We tell ourselves it’s ok because God wants us to be “blessed” and have the “abundant life”. We look at ROI, profit margins, etc just like the world does. We try to get as much profit as possible rather than the least it takes to keep growing. Let me just say that I believe God does want to prosper us, but I think that simply means He will make sure we have more than enough to do what He has called us to do. That can be relationships, buildings, money, or simply said anything we may need. The more than is not meant to build your empire, it is meant to help others.

This is what I have written down for myself as kind of my motto….whatever I do I will try to make sure the other party gets more value from me than I receive payment from them. I think this fits what it means to serve better than making sure I get more payment from people than the value I give them.

It doesn’t matter if you are a ministry leader, someone who provides a service, someone who provides a product, someone who goes to work everyday, a speaker, a writer, etc…I think the motto will fit the scenario.

 

 

 

It’s not complicated…

As Christians, it seems that we tend to make living a fulfilling christian life a deep, and unobtainable theological mystery. This seems to cause people to act like someone they are not, try to modify their behavior, and measure up to the standard status quo.

I would like to make this argument….It’s not complicated.

I think it can be simplified down to the two commands of Christ…Love God with every aspect of your being, and love others as Christ has loved you.

Out of the first command we love God with all of our being. We follow Jesus, we are transformed by Jesus, empowered by Jesus, view the world through Jesus, interpret scripture through Jesus, etc, and understand as 1 John 3 says that love was the message from the beginning.

Out of the second command we love others as He loves us. I think this produces 6 primary things we should do to live the Christian life….

Love one another, Encourage one another, humbly serve one another, accept one another, greet one another with love/excitement/joy, and Do not be evil towards one another.

There are no less than 59 “one another” statements in the New Testament.

It’s not complicated……Love God, and love people.

 

Go as who you are.

Have you ever realized that it takes a long time to meet the real person you thought you already knew? Life and Religion have a way of making us leave who we really are at home. People send out a representative of themselves, usually because of perceived flaws. Think about some of the situations you have been in….

Dating…..You send a representative, and you meet a representative. After you’ve been married for a while, or been together for a while, you discover more and more of the real person.

Job interviews….You send a representative, all of your best qualities go into the room.

Church…..You send the best representative of yourself. You argued with your spouse all the way to church, the kids wouldn’t cooperate and get ready, but you walk in with your game face on.

I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the point, and I think you can probably relate.

Your looks might get you the date, but your character, how you treat the person, your commitment and the real you is what will determine if the relationship continues.

Your education, skills, talents, abilities, and gifts might get you the job; however, your character, how you treat the people, your commitment, and the real you will determine if you keep the job.

Your game face may hide your flaws, but it doesn’t change the reality of the situation.

Here’s the thing…it’s ok to be you. God created you on purpose for purpose. You won’t succeed at everything you try if you stay true to who you are. You won’t get every job if you stay true to who you are. Not everybody is going to like you if you stay true to who you are. That’s ok. It really is. Some of the religious people will judge you when it was really just a bad day. That’s ok, they have bad days too. Choose not to judge them, but relate to them. You’ve been there.

Some people like coke, some like pepsi, some like sprite, and others like tea. There are people who are going to celebrate you. Don’t send your representative. Go as yourself. Acting brings you unneeded suffering. It will wear you out, and make you withdraw. Acting like you are someone else just says that God messed up your design. He didn’t. You are just the right flavor for just the right people, places, and things He has for you.

I’m not saying you need to take your bad morning in the church with you, but I am saying don’t think that you are flawed because you had the bad morning. Everybody else has them too including the leaders, and the ones who act like they don’t.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take your best qualities to the job interview or the date, but I am saying it’s ok to be yourself during the discussions even if doesn’t go the way you planned. God’s plan is better every time.

Seek first the Kingdom, and all else will be added to you. If you get that part right, He will align the right people, places, and things at the right time; furthermore, you won’t have to act. You will be energized rather than depleted.

God is for you, and I am for you! Go as who you are.

God’s favor is on you

Favor doesn’t make you the wealthy.

Favor doesn’t make you smart.

Favor doesn’t make you the leader.

Favor doesn’t make you famous.

ETC.

Favor makes you effective! God has given you certain things to minister to people, and to glorify Him. He might make you one, or all of the above in order to be effective in what He has called you to do; however, His favor can make you effective without being any of the above.

God adores you, and His favor is on you! Sometimes it just looks different from what we were told!

 

 

People, Purpose, Time > profit

People, purpose, and time all come before profit. People are more valuable than profit. Purpose is more valuable than profit. Time is more valuable than profit. This goes against the grain of American society, but it stands in alignment with kingdom living. We are to use the time we have to serve people with the purpose God has given us.

Since my wife, and I have been together we have lost many of our family members. In fact there are not too many people left. So we know the hard truth that once people are gone you can not get them back. We have had plenty of money, and we have been broke, but there has always been a way that we could earn some more money. You can replace money, but you can not replace people.

Purpose brings fulfillment. If you walk in your purpose you feel peace, and joy. If you walk in your purpose, at the end of your days you will feel full. Purpose allows for a life fully lived. If you work throughout your life doing something that makes you miserable just to pile up money, you will be miserable with a pile of money. You can pile up money, but it won’t make you full.

Time is flying, and very limited. Don’t trade all of your time for money. All markets have collapsed, all currency has collapsed, and every government has failed. You could trade all of your time for money, and in an instant all the money could be gone. You can earn some of the money back, but you can’t get any of the time back. Spend your time with your people, and walking in your purpose.

I have gotten myself in trouble looking at profit. I have gotten myself knee deep in things that I had to back out of at my own expense because I was focused on the profit. When I finally stepped back and took a hard look at some of these things, it was making profit at the expense of people. I am not going to be the guy that does that.

These things have always been in my mind somewhere, but I have had to go through a lot of struggles for them to become a part of who I am.

Don’t elevate money to a place it shouldn’t be, it can cause you to miss good times you didn’t know you had. Money is just a thing can be replaced, but your people, purpose, and time can not.

 

 

 

Blessing and favor….What does it look like?

What does blessing and favor on your life look like? How do you know that you are blessed, or that God has placed His favor on you? How can people look at you, and know that you are blessed?

I can tell you that the vast majority of people will relate it to money, and assets. Both personally, and externally when looking at someone else. You see someone with a lot of money, and you think they are blessed. You get a new car, you thank God, and post it on Facebook saying you are blessed. We see people living in big homes, and we think the favor of God is on them.

Sometimes it really is the favor of God. Sometimes they are taking advantage of people, and doing things they shouldn’t be doing in order to have those things.

The big question for this post is….Are the people who don’t have the things we normally equate to blessing, and favor blessed? For the people who are doing what God has asked them to do, the answer is 100% yes. Don’t just equate material things to blessing, and favor. God is so much bigger than that.

Sometimes the people who are being pressed down the most are the most blessed. I’m talking about the people who when you look at their life externally it looks like all hell is breaking loose, and their life is falling apart. God’s favor is on them in a tremendous way. You have to be pressed down, and shaken before you can run over with blessing. You have to be broken all the way down before you can be built back up into something new, and better.

When I went through basic training years ago I learned this lesson without knowing it. In the first half of basic training the drill sergeants beat you, break you down, and make you feel utterly defeated; however, it is only for the purpose of rebuilding you into a better soldier than you ever could have been before.

How can you know if God’s favor is on you? Ask yourself….Is He pressing me? Is He shaking me? Is He building me?

In the sermon on the mount Jesus tells us who the blessed people are. He talks about internal growth, not external things. Is He making you humble? Is He making you hunger, and thirst for righteousness? Have you been in a place of mourning? Not I, but Jesus says you are blessed. Those that have been in places where they needed mercy, are merciful to others. Those that have been in places of mourning, comfort others.

If you will follow Jesus no matter what might happen, or what it looks like, you will be blessed.

He is for you, and I am for you! He is only pressing you so that He can establish you!