Vacation is officially over…..so it’s time for How to live your life kingdom first part 3.

If you didn’t get a chance to read part 2 you can read it here.

The fourth practical thing we can do to live our lives kingdom first is to humbly serve one another. This may be the thing that will stand out the most as counter to American culture. American culture is driven by chasing the dream, climbing the ladder, becoming the boss or the buck stops with me person, building bigger houses, creating personal empires, and achieving culture defined success. Furthermore, it’s done at the expense of other people, and getting creative on how you justify it. Humbly serving others goes in the opposite direction, you set aside becoming the ‘man’. Achieving the ‘highest’ rank in the kingdom if you will is to become the greatest servant. It’s not about how high you can climb the ladder or what kind of title you can get people to call you, it’s about how low you can go in order to serve others, and lift them higher. In addition to that, this is not sitting on your perch calling people higher, this is you getting down in the mud with them, and helping them out of the pit without ever asking them how they got their because the truth is it doesn’t matter. You are not their judge, you should be a servant with a heart for people. When you see those people who are struggling, and we all struggle from time to time, your heart shouldn’t be looking at how they got there, but how you can help them get out. This ties in with loving others, and accepting others. I should look at others with the love of Christ, accept them wherever they are at, and serve them wherever they are at.

Christ gives us the ultimate example in John 13:1-17. Furthermore, He commands us to do the same. Here we see the creator of all things, the king of kings, and the lord of lords come down from His position as the most high and wash some dirty stinky feet, and ultimately die for us. He said that if He washed their feet then they should wash each others feet, and He said I gave you this example and you should do as I have done to you. The truth is that you could never be higher than the one who sent you, and we are all sent by Him. To act like you are better than anyone else, or to even think it is a huge statement of pride. Furthermore, you will never be any higher than the one whose feet you are washing, we are a flawed, we are just flawed in different ways.

The word tells us in Galatians 5 to use our new covenant freedom to serve one another, not ourselves. I think Galatians 6 gives us a good picture of how we can do that, here is an excerpt: 6 “Brethren, even if [a]anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” This is a picture of humbly and gently helping someone who has fallen all the while recognizing that you too are flawed and could be tempted yourself. This is recognizing that sometimes things happen to people who cause them to have more of a load than they can carry on their own. This isn’t ‘calling’ people higher in order to sound spiritual when you really just don’t want to get dirty. This is jumping in and helping because you know that you are no better, and you may need help with your own burdens someday. We often carry way more than we could ever make it to the end of the race with, more than we could ever handle. Why do we do that? I would venture to say it is because we have been judged before, we’ve been told we won’t be blessed until we get it right, that we no longer have God’s favor simply because life happened to us.  I would venture to say we don’t want that kind of help. If He was willing to die for me when I was completely lost, then I would think He is willing to continue blessing me while I’m doing my best to live my life for Him. Human faults and stumbles don’t break eternal God promises. We should humbly submit to one another, and serve one another out of deep respect for Christ, not out of what a person has or has not done.

We should use our gifts to serve others. It is through doing this that we show ourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace. We should remain humble, and always carry a servants heart toward others.

I think Philippians 2 sums this up pretty well. Here is an excerpt: 2 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any [a]affection and compassion, make my joy complete [b]by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing [c]from [d]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, but [g]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Look at others as better than you, look out for their interests first, and don’t do things out of selfish ambition. Sounds like the opposite of what we experience everyday. We’ve been conditioned to think it is ok to use others for our own gain, and profit. However, that is not who we are supposed to be. We should serve others in a way that we make sure they get a higher value from us than what we get from them.

For me, I know that I will always be able to improve in this area. With marriage, fatherhood, family, friends, ministry, strangers, and so on it is hard to always keep the right attitude and be the servant of all. However, I know that this is who I, and who we are supposed to be.

Make it a point to humbly serve others today, and everyday.

God is for you, and I am for you!

 

 

 

The turn back…it’s God designed

Have you ever found yourself being chased by the same thing? Maybe you thought you finally got away from that issue, but it showed up again. Now let me add to it, have you ever found yourself being chased by the same thing when you know, that you know, that you know you are being obedient to God, and doing what He asked you to? I have.

Now I am not talking about repeatedly choosing to sin. I’m talking about when you are trying to do what God wants you to do, but you keep finding yourself under a barrage of attack by the enemy. Almost as if going in circles. A lot of times when this happens we start to feel like we are stuck in a rut, or feel like we are stuck in some kind of bad cycle, and maybe even start being accused of such things.

There is an interesting little piece of text in Exodus 14:1-4 where God tells Israel to turn back. God delivers Israel from slavery in Egypt, and they are on their way to the promised land free and clear. They were moving in a direction that they would not even need to cross the red sea; however, God then tells them to turn back. He says you turn back, I am going to harden Pharaohs heart, you set up camp for about a week and allow him and his army to catch up. (you can read the whole story for full context)

I’m sure the people had some thoughts about this idea. The person they were just delivered from was going to be allowed to catch back up to them, and seemingly capture them again. I’d say they probably didn’t like the plan. However, Moses assures them that God will deliver them.

So moving through the story, God allows Israel to cross the red sea on dry ground, but he drowns Pharaoh, and his whole army. What God actually did was take Israel from being delivered to being free. As long as they were afraid and looking over their shoulder for pharaoh they would never be free. Delivered from his hand, but not free.

So here’s the thing, sometimes God has you turn back in order to thoroughly destroy the thing that keeps chasing you. You may have been delivered from an attack, but not free from the fear. God wants you to be free. More importantly, when He does these things in your life it lets everyone around you know that He is God, and it glorifies Him.

Live your life kingdom first, God really is for you! I am for you!

Why we remain in familiar places…..

Many times we tend to stay in places that are familiar to us, and never change, grow, or move forward. It is very easy for us as people to become stagnate in our life. What started out as a wonderous journey becomes a life of going with the flow, doing what is easiest, doing what we are told we should do, or just giving up and living a life of inaction. But why do we do that? Why did Israel want to return to slavery in Egypt after they were delivered? Why did Peter return to fishing after Jesus was crucified?

I think two of the biggest factors are fear, and pain. Israel was afraid of Pharoah, and death. Peter was dealing with pain. We do the same thing in our life. When we encounter something we are afraid of we shrink, and back away instead of moving forward. At the thought of dealing with things that cause us pain we shrink, and back away instead of moving forward.

Fear and pain will cause you to be stagnate if you let them, but they can also catapult you forward if you move through them.

I used to have a great fear of public speaking, but now I do it everyday, and it energizes me, and brings me joy. I had to do it while being afraid the first several times; however, after I continued to move through it I started to enjoy it, and it became a part of who I am.

When most people exercise they back off when they start to feel a little pain, and most people do not get the results they want when they exercise, and so they quit. You have to push through the initial onset of pain in order to convince your body to come back stronger. (Disclaimer: obviously there are types of physical pain you should not push through)

The same concept is true with internal pain. There are a lot of people who are falling apart internally, and a lot of times the reason is that it causes them a lot of pain to talk about the subject, and deal with the emotions, and so they just keep it in. The problem with that is that the fruit of your life cannot grow with all of those weeds. However, if you push through the pain, and deal with those things they can become fertilizer in your life, and help produce better fruit than you ever have.

God is love which is the opposite of fear, not hate. 1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love, and perfect love drives out all fear. If you are trusting God you have nothing to fear, you can walk in victory, and you can have rest for your soul.

If you are following Jesus, He is always taking you forward into the next place He has for you, and transforming you. Move forward, even if it might be painful. Take the path less traveled, even it looks scary.

God is for you, and I am for you!