I had lunch with a friend this week. As I reflected upon lunch I was remembering this verse from Galatians 1:1
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead, and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
The above scripture points out that Paul's calling was not from men or through men. In other words Paul isn't an apostle because a man handed him a diploma or an agency gave him that title. He doesn't minister in a local body because man put him there. The principle here is that God is the one who calls us and empowers us to do what he has called us to be.
As we mature as Christians God will take us through processes that help mold His image and nature in our character. He does this by given us specific life lessons in our day to day lives. God will give you times where you have favor with men or agencies of men and from a human eye it could look like they are promoting you. The test here is remember that it is God who calls and God who put us forward or promotes us. The first test comes when we are promoted by men or an agency of man (not that we really are, God promotes us but that is what the perception is) and are challenged to think we have earned that promotion, when the truth is we were faithful and God has promoted us. When it is in our thinking that men or an agency of man promotes us then we are vulnerable to the expectations of those men and our own expectations of that those men should do for us. There comes a second testing time when we don't have the favor of men or an agency of men. Again this tests whether our faith is in Christ alone. I think it is a given that these two processing situations will come into our lives that we can know that God alone is our supply. He is the one who calls, He is the one who appoints.
Having said this, I believe a second lesson is to be respectful of agencies or denominations or seminaries. God can call us to be involved in all of these because they are the place He is teaching us or ministering through us or allowing us to be stewards of the Kingdom of God. But these systems are not our primary source, they are just the environments God calling has us in at that time.
Major Ian Thomas tells about Moses and how it took this man 40 years in the wilderness to learn that he was nothing in himself. Then one day Moses was confronted with the burning bush - likely a dry bunch of ugly little sticks - yet Moses had to take off his shoes. Why? Because he was on holy ground, and God was in the bush!
The point was God telling Moses "I don't need a pretty bush or an educated bush or an eloquent bush. Any old bush will do as long as I am in the bush. If I am going to use you, it will not be you doing something for Me, but Me doing something through you." Thomas closed the message with Gal. 2:20.
God doesn't always come when you want Him to, but He is always on time.
I guess this is part of God working on our character versus our pleasure. It sure would be nice to be taken directly out of the furnace but if we were we wouldn't get to see God work His greatness and bring glory to His name.
"Some friends are for a reason, some friends are for a season, and some are for a lifetime". wisdom given to Keith Craft by his son Josh.
My pastor Keith Crafthad someone leave the church he was pastoring not because of any division or because of any disagreement but because God had called him to a different place. Keith struggled with this because he felt close to this particular person. It was someone who had come to Christ through their relationshi. In his struggle with this friend leaving his son gave him some encouragement that has become part of his life philosophy.
As a kingdom minded believer, a business owner, a dad and a husband who has lived in multiple places and multiple cities during my 47 years it is almost impossible to keep up with all the relationships even the good ones that I have made in that time. This nugget of wisdom really has helped me get a grasp on this. I have some friends for a season. God has put us together for His purposes during a certain period of time. Other friends are for a reason. There is a God task that God has put us together for. And then there are a few that God has connected me to for a lifetime.
It is important to let go of friends that move or begin to move in different circles. We need to steward the relationships that God has put in our lives for the current season that are about encouraging the kingdom of God.
In our Christian lives the destination is transformation into the image of Christ. If the destination is transformation then the road to the destination would be called maturation. And there is a way of navigating this journey.
The Bible is clear that as we have become new creations we are to think differently. Here are some of the steps of that journey which I would call the building blocks of transformation.
1. Think kingdom thoughts 2. Saturate yourself by Meditating on the word day and night 3. which encourages you to Act upon Gods will 4. Which will develop Godly Habits in you 5. Which build strongholds of character in our lives 6. which leave kingdom legacies for others
As my pastor says "if you elevate your thinking you elevate your life". When Gods word empowered by the Holy Spirit dominates your thinking you are transformed.
When God does something big in your life or uses you in a powerful way. Beware ! It is a time to be careful. Be careful not to take glory for yourself. Be sure your confidence remains in Christ, lest you don't seek the Lord and make a big mistake or fall to some temptation.
The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came in order that they might have life and have it in abundance. (John 10:10)
"The heart is defenseless against two things: undeserved mercy and unreserved kindness. Jesus overcomes the heart and leaves it rent asunder by loving us where we are."
(comment by Allen Hood from the curriculum Excellencies of Christ, a course at IHOP in Kansas City).
When the human heart grasps the fact of the undeserved Mercy Jesus showed us in his life and death and the unreserved kindness he has toward us we melt. It is this great love that propels us towards trusting Him. This kind of love moves right past all the outer veneers in us and moves right to the core of our being.
...that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:26)
Throughout the years as I have taught on the subject of transformation and as the Lord has taught me about that a concept of how life growth happens and how it happens in various seasons of our lives has stayed with me.
The concept the Lord gave me was a picture of a first grader. When you enter first grade you are a bit timid, a bit lost, and maybe a tad scared. As you go through the year and get used to your teacher and the subjects you are learning you get more and more confident with what your doing. Ideally at the end of first grade you are confident in how life works and have a certain mastery over it. Then what happens ? You go to second grade and new challenges, new subjects, new fears. Our lives happen like this after we are out of formal school. There is the school of Christ where we continue to go on and have new challenges, new subjects, and new fears to overcome. We never get to rest on last year, there is always a new year.
Every person has a unique fingerprint and every person has a unique God designed imprint to leave on this world. (I heard my pastor (Keith Craft) comment on this in a leadership series he did.
There is an amazing system in our country today that can identify a person by their fingerprint. I have heard a policeman say that even people who try to burn off their fingerprints leave a unique sort of print from their hand.
Like the fingerprint, no other person has exactly like the same unique blend of personality, gifting, calling, and life experience. The Christ that is in us is a unique glimpse of Him that leaves a unique imprint on those we come into contact with in the world. There is a taste of the kingdom that only you or I can leave.
You and I are needed by the community around us to be the unique Christ person that we are.
The processes we go through are about God doing a good work in us. Ever have some processes in your life that are not enjoyable. I remember running wind sprints at the end of basketball practice my senior year. I can not think of any physical thing much less enjoyable than running wind sprints when you are already tired, but the coach put us through the process. I also remember winning many games that year in the fourth quarter. We would put a full court press on other teams that were not in as good of shape as we were and they would break down. The process was tough but it formed a good work in us as a team.
There are many processes we go through in our journey with Christ that are like this. But God has said 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; and His words are faithful.I am learning to embrace the processes even though they may hurt, trusting that God is all about doing a good work in me.