Lots of folks who want to improve their lives (e.g. to be accepted by God, to get closer to God, to be loved more by God, to gain God’s favor and blessing) try real hard to be a good Christian. The operative word here is “try“.
But “good” Christians don’t exist.In addition, if someone is declared a ” Good” Christian that means somewhere there has to be a bad Christian and a superior Christian and a poor Christian. Do you see the judgmental comparison trap we’d get ourselves into?
The moment we “try” to improve our lot as a “Christian” we take the focus off God and place it squarely on our self effort. That’s called living in the flesh. It is contradictory to walking in the Spirit and has nothing to do with following Christ or honoring God
In God’s Kingdom what we do on our own doesn’t count for anything. The only thing that counts in God’s Kingdom is surrender to Christ’s life allowing him to live His life through us. Christ wants to live His life (not ours) in us, through us, and as us to bring Glory to God. Period.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remains in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
When we use, or you hear someone use the word “try” that means “self” is vying for control. Self is
assuming responsibility. Super responsibility. That’s not a good thing.
Self tries to live the Christian life. Self does good Christian work. Self loves to chair committees. Self likes to volunteer in the food pantry and the clothes closet. Self loves to teach Bible Study. Self lives to volunteer. Self never says no. Self is “self” confident. Self likes to think it’s “self-sufficient”.
Self likes to play leader. Self becomes arrogant when someone has a better idea than self. Self thinks it knows best. Self worries. Self gets full of self. Self stands up for self’s rights. Self knows how to do things right around its church. Self pouts when it doesn’t get its own way. Self is unyielding in its attitudes towards others. Self looks for greener grass. Self seeks greatness and notoriety for its achievements and holiness. Self is judgmental. Self is self-conscious. Self takes even constructive criticism personally. Self likes to be right. But self is humble. If you don’t believe it ask self.
Self is such a failure.
Self needs breaking. As long as self seeks to be in control God can do little in self or through self. But self can not break its will to God’s will. It has to be a sanctifying work of God and God alone. Coming to the end of self is a life-long journey coming to the ultimate realization that “self” is not as smart or wise as “self” thinks.
Paul said in Philippians,
Do nothing from 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. Philippians 2:3-4
Those verses are tough pills for self to swallow. And it’s only by the sanctifying work of Christ living in us that we can ever get to the end of self.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
That’s the end of self. The end of you. The end of me.
We’re not at war in Afghanistan, not Iran, not Syria, We’re in a battle between our ears for our hearts and thought life. It’s a battle for our culture, for our families, our communities and for our spiritual lives. I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan ort spiritual warfare a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up their pews every Sunday.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
When is the last time you pleaded with Satan to flee from your presence? When’s the last genuine “Come-to Jesus “ meeting you had with yourself or a close friend about it? When is the last time a trial befell you and you knew it was Satan? When did you last sin or when was the last time you were disobedient? Did you talk with a close friend or your pastor about it? When did you last talk about Satan with friends?”
Here’s a question: Do you think we talk about Satan too much or too little?
Do you think we are at war spiritually or do you think that’s just a bunch of Biblical mumbo jumbo nonsense and you don’t want to be troubles with it at all.
Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years, he’s thinking about us every moment looking for someone to devour–to kill, discourage or ruin their day. Every time Satan tells you a lie and you believe him, he’s had a good day.
I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan or spiritual warfare a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.
Howard Beale got mad enough to go to war. In the 1975 classic movie Network Howard let everyone know how he felt in his radio audience when he shouted into his mike, ” I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
Are you mad enough to go to war? Then strap your helmet on. It’s time. Or would you rather sit on your complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.
Maybe he’s not even paying attention too many Christian who are afraid to go to war.l lives. We’ve got to get off of our complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and go to war to preserve the Gospel that saved us and gave us new life.
When is the last time you cursed him for messing with you? When is the last time you commanded him to flee from you? When is the last time you thought about Satan? Thought about Evil? Thought about your own disobedience? When’s the last time you thought about sin? Yours or someone else’s.
Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years he’s thinking about us every waking moment looking for somebody to destroy or just discourage someone or ruin someone’s day or just get them off their game.
I would venture a guess that he’s not paying attention to lots of Christians who are afraid to go to war and prefer to sit on their complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and let other folks go to war.
Occasionally I like to remind myself how I got here.
So I trace my steps from my godless birth in Adam to my intimate eternal relationship with Jesus Christ that I enjoy every day. I had little to do with creating the intimate relationship. In fact God did it all. my entire participation in his process amounted to accepting the gifts he freely gave me.
We all have a similar biography. Read Ephesians chapter 2 and you’ll discover that Paul seems to have captured our story there.
From death to life
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
We were dead in our trespasses and sins but God crucifed his only son on the cross so you and I could be free from the life of sinners forever.
Our old self crucified
0 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ on the cross so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.” That does not mean we will never sin again. It means that forever we are free from the control of sin foreveFor if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!r. Sin no longer has power you control our lives. So God takes away our old self,our old life of sin away from us.
He freely gives his life to us
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the life of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10
Now He lives his life through us
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
By John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
Every day, we have an opportunity to adopt one of three different attitudes. The attitude we adopt will go a long way in determining how much we accomplish during the day. This is true in sporting contests, work environments, church opportunities, and every relationship we have in life. Your attitude is your choice!!
PRIDE—I’m too big to do little things. The Bible reminds us that pride goes before the fall. (Proverbs 16:18) Pride is very deceptive and extremely destructive. Paul said, “If you think you’re too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You’re really a nobody.” (Galatians 6:3)
One day General Robert E. Lee was traveling on his horse and met a group of soldiers trying to get a wagon out of a ditch. Four of the soldiers were working at it and a Lieutenant was standing back, watching and giving orders. Lee asked the man why he wasn’t helping. He said that he was a Lieutenant. Lee got off his horse and got his boots and clothes muddy as he helped the other soldiers pull the wagon from the ditch. When he finished, the soldiers who had been helping looked at him and all of a sudden recognized that he was General Robert E. Lee. He was not too big to do a little job.
PITY—I’m too little to do big things. This negative attitude is usually the result of dealing ineffectively with some dysfunction in our past and comparing ourselves to other people. What we do in life God doesn’t compare to anyone else. Paul said, “Do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Galatians 6:4)
We can never be too little to do something big. If God gives us the opportunity, He will supply everything that’s necessary to be successful in it. Pity should never be accepted as reality—it’s something that we have created and accepted. God can change that attitude.
POTENTIAL—I’m just right to do all things through Christ. This is a great attitude! Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Our strength to do all things does not come from anything that we generate—it comes from receiving God’s strength. God created us just right to fit us for the purpose He has for us.
Part of the problem is that we think we can changedo things in our own strength. Remember—the Potential Attitude is one in which we do everything through Christ.
If God gives you a vision to do something big, and somebody says to you that it is impossible—remember, they are talking about themselves—not you. The Potential Attitude changes the negative to the positive, brings excitement to life, and becomes a blessing to others.
Paul said, “We are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Gal. 6:5)
They can’t tell you where the storm will strike, when the storn will strike, or how bad the storm will be. Weather savvy meteoroligists at the TV station draw this wide cone on the screen hedging their bets with their best scientific guesses. It’s called the cone of uncertainty. It’s used to describe where weather experts believe the eye of the storm could possibly travel.
Despite all the sophisticated high-tech weather stuff, their “best” guesses are still uncertain. Continue reading →
For years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did. A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution. I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?
Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”
A Jewish lady answered a knock at her door. The young man asked her if she wanted her house painted. It needed painting, so she took his card. She noticed a fish symbol on the card and asked him what it meant. “It means I’m a Christian painter,” he said.
In my opinion, calling yourself a “Christian” anything presents two problems. First, no one has ever explained to me what a Christian is in Biblical terms. Any definition fails to capture what Jesus taught us about following Him.
And second, using “Christian” to describe a “painter” does not help me learn anything about the person holding the brush and ladder. Does a “Christian painter” paint differently from a “Catholic painter” or a “Muslim painter” or, “atheist painter”? The woman wanted her house painted. All she cared about was whether or not the guy could paint.
Too many times I think folks use “Christian” to describe their business to persuade their customers they’re more honest or ethical than “non-Christian” businesses. That somehow their “Christian business” ethics or integrity or quality of work is superior to their competitors who don’t flash a “Christian” label in their front window or on their business cards.
Too often we hear stories of bad experiences some consumers have with “Christian” businesses who flash their fish symbols then act just like the world in the market place. Those “Christian” business folks drive people away from The church and away from Jesus. One bad “Christian” business deal can destroy dozens of potential good business deals with authentic followers of Jesus who take Jesus to work every day.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Colossians 3:23
Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to flash a “Christian” label to attract more customers, or to describe one’s integrity or character. Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to convince others of their faith. The way we love others is all we need to bear witness to our integrity and our character.