Bearing with one another in love

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2 NIV

We are called to bear with one another in love.  All of us are broken and being progressively transformed by the Lord.  Because we are all human and the body of Christ is made up of people there are going to be times when people make mistakes and people offend on another.

But for us to truly walk in unity and agreement with one another we must be gentle and humble.  The greatest thing that causes division in the body of Christ is pride and arrogance.  When we walk in pride and arrogance we are blinded to the deceptions of the enemy.  Satan time and again has invaded the body of Christ and brought division.  But God is calling us to be the sons and daughters He has destined us to be.  To be a people filled with His love, grace, and mercy.

An essential component of this is patience.  Again because all of us are human and all of us are broken, mistakes will be made.  Too many times we have this lofty ideal that the body of Christ is some how going to be perfect.  But the body of Christ is filled with people from all different backgrounds and at different places in their spiritual growth.  We must focus our hearts and minds daily upon the Lord and His kingdom if we desire to walk in unity and love.  For when our lives are fixed on Jesus and we are abiding in Him, we will walk in His love and His grace.  We will be able to forgive one another and be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  May we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  May we be simply willing to love one another.

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Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:35 NIV

Greatness in God’s kingdom is not about pursuing titles or trying to make your own name great.  It is about humility and living the life of a servant.  The apostle Paul who would be considered by some to be the greatest servant of the gospel continually referred to himself simply as a bond servant.

The apostle Paul was chosen by the Lord to be an apostle.  He began his life trying to destroy the church and the gospel and in the end wrote a majority of the New Testament.  He was a man of prayer and understood the heart of God.  He was simply willing to lay down his life for the sake of the name of Jesus.

We have many today who are in ministry to glorify themselves.  They use the name of Christ and masquerade as messengers of the gospel.  But when you examine their message against the truth of scripture you find that it is distorted and compromises the gospel.  They are popular because they tell people what they want to hear and some believe them to be great because of their popularity.

But popularity and a large following never defines greatness in God’s kingdom.  One of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament was rejected throughout his ministry.  Jeremiah faithfully served the Lord, but his message was often rejected and many times the people tried to kill him.  At one point Jeremiah told the Lord he didn’t want to do it anymore but Jeremiah found that the word of the Lord was like a fire shut up in his bones.

If we desire to be great in God’s kingdom it requires a life devoted to prayer and the diligent study of God’s word.  It requires a life that is willing to sacrifice and lay everything down for the name of Jesus.  It requires humility and having the attitude of John the baptist in which we desire to decrease that He may increase.  It simply requires that we be willing to deny ourselves and die daily to ourselves and pick up our cross.

Must worship in the Spirit and in truth

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

John 4:24 NIV

We are called to worship God in the Spirit and in truth.  The question is “how does this happen or how is it possible”.  When we come to Christ we receive the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who lives within us and it is not until we are born again that we can draw near to the Lord and truly worship Him.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the only way to the Father.  If someone truly desires a relationship with God it can only be found through Jesus Christ alone.  It is only the blood of Jesus that can atone for our sins.  When someone who is not a follower of Christ tries to draw near to God it is impossible because their sin still remains.  But for those who follow Jesus Christ they are able to draw near and enter into the Lord’s presence because their sin has been atoned for.

So many miss out on all they have with Christ because they fail to enter into worship.  Many times when you visit a church you will find people simply standing still and not entering into worship.  But when we truly understand all that Christ accomplished at Calvary all we desire to do is enter in and draw near.  If we will draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.  But we must take a step to enter in.  Many become distracted by those around them and worry about what they will think if they truly enter in.  But when we simply close our eyes and focus only on the Lord it is incredible how different our experience is worshiping the Lord.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:12-13 NIV

The apostle Paul makes it very clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood.  Many times it is easy to get focused on those who may persecute us or oppose us because of the name of Jesus.  But behind every opposition to the gospel is Satan and his demonic forces.

When Satan rebelled against God’s rule in heaven he deceived a third of the angels to follow after him in his rebellion (Revelation 12:3-4).  These angels that followed Satan during his rebellion has become the demonic spirits that serve him today and carry out his plans and purposes.

But we are not called to fear the enemy nor live in fear.  We are called to put on the armor of God and take our stand.  We are called to stand against the wickedness of the enemy and use the weapons God has given us to advance His kingdom.

Our weapons are not physical but spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).  Through prayer and the truth of God’s word we have the ability to advance God’s kingdom anywhere upon the earth.  But it requires prayer and the truth of God’s word to advance God’s kingdom, without them it is impossible.

When we understand that we are at war and we are a soldier in God’s army it changes the way we live on a daily basis.  Through Christ we have been given authority and must use that authority in the place of prayer.

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

James 4:10 NASB

Those who are willing to humble themselves will be exalted by the Lord and be used mightily by Him upon the earth.  One of the things needed to achieve greatness for God and His kingdom is humility.  When we understand we are nothing without Him and rely fully upon Him is when we begin to walk in the true power, might, and strength of God’s kingdom.

When the Lord is going to use someone greatly on the earth He will send them into the wilderness.  It is in the wilderness that we decrease and the Lord increases in our lives.  John the baptist had the perfect attitude in that his desire was to decrease that the Lord would increase.  It is our sinful nature to desire to exalt ourselves.  But Jesus calls anyone who would follow Him to deny themselves and pick up their cross.

It is only when we daily humble ourselves in the Lord’s presence that we are transformed into the nature and character of Christ.  This journey with the Lord is about transformation.  As we abide in Him and walk with Him, we are transformed.  But the key to experiencing the power and the might of God is to humble ourselves.  For it is in our weakness that the strength of the Lord is perfected.

Dwell on these things

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8 NASB

We are called to fix our eyes upon Jesus and set our minds and hearts on God’s kingdom.  We live in a world filled with darkness.  It is very easy to become consumed with the darkness of our times.  But we have been set free from the darkness and wickedness of the world.  As we grow in our knowledge of the Lord and His word, our minds become fixed upon the Lord.

The human mind is an incredible thing.  It is where decisions are made on a daily basis.  The battles we face on a daily basis take place in our minds.  We are consistently tempted by the enemy to return to the world and the things of wickedness.  But we must continue to set our minds above on the Lord and His kingdom.

Our minds and our thinking is transformed as we spend time daily in God’s word.  As we read God’s word and meditate upon God’s word, it is the Holy Spirit who pours revelation into our hearts and minds.  It is the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us into all truth.  We can grow as deep as we desire to go in our understanding of God’s word.  It simply depends on how much we are willing to pour into the study of His word.  As we grow each day in the place of prayer and the study of His word, we continue to go deeper in our relationship with God.

Asking God for wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1:5 NIV

God calls us to ask for wisdom.  He has not called us to walk this life in our own wisdom or understanding.  I believe this is where many young Christians struggle in their walk with the Lord in the beginning.

Before we come to Christ we are so use to relying upon ourselves and our own strength and wisdom.   But when we come to Jesus, He calls us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross.  The Lord calls us to decrease so that He may increase in our lives.

Often times the Lord will allow struggles, trials, and challenges in our lives to humble us and bring us to a place in which we are ready to listen.  Too often early on we think we have all the answers until we come up against something that is far greater than we are.  It is only through the strength and wisdom of the Lord that we will overcome.

No matter how big or small the challenge we face we must seek the Lord for wisdom.  For when we open our mouths and ask the Lord, He will pour it out abundantly in our lives without measure.  King Solomon was given an opportunity to ask the Lord for anything at the beginning of his reign and he chose wisdom.  Because he chose wisdom the blessing and abundance of the Lord was poured out greatly in his life.

May we today ask the Lord daily for wisdom in the place of prayer.  May we seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  All that we need is found in the Lord alone.  As we abandon our lives fully to Him we will experience the abundant life that Jesus promised us.  For the abundant life is simply walking in deep intimacy with the Lord in all things.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

The Lord in His word tells us to ask, seek, and knock.  This happens in the place of prayer.  They speak of continuous action.  We are called to continue to pray without ceasing, being led by the Holy Spirit in the place of prayer.

The greatest thing we will face when pressing on in prayer is discouragement.  The enemy will lie to us and tell us to focus on our circumstances and tell us that nothing is being impacted by our prayers.  But we know that prayer works because time and time again in God’s word the Lord calls us to pray.  He has given us example after example of people throughout His word who accomplished mighty things because they were people of prayer.

In the book of James chapter five we are given the example of the prophet Elijah who continued in prayer that it would not rain and it didn’t.  See when God desires to move on the earth He moves on the heart of one of His children.  He reveals His heart unto them and gives them the strength and guidance each day to continue in prayer.

We must always remember that with the Lord nothing is impossible.  No matter how great the thing we are praying for that we must press on and continue in prayer.  We must grab hold and not let go.  We must be relentless like a lion who stalks their pray.  We will never know the full impact of our prayers until we get to heaven some day with the Lord.  But while we have time upon this earth may we be faithful people of prayer who simply ask, seek, and knock.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse

10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  Malachi 3:10

There is only one thing in the bible that God calls us to test Him in and that is bringing in the whole tithe to the store house and He will be faithful to pour out His blessing into our lives.  So many will claim that the tithe was simply only under the Old Covenant.  But we must remember that long before the law was put in place that Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe of his spoils of war and at that time Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God.

In our lives all that we have is given to us by the Lord.  The Lord calls us to trust Him with our finances and often times our willingness to be obedient in this area reveals a lot about our relationship and trust in the Lord.  If we hold so tightly onto our finances that we are not willing to give that simply reveals that we don’t trust the Lord and we believe what we have belongs to us.

But the truth is that all we have actually belongs to the Lord and that He will be faithful to meet every need.  He owns all things and has created all things.  He simply asks us to be faithful to give back to Him what He has given to us.  As we trust Him and are faithful to give, we will grow in our relationship with God because our faith will grow and the Lord will entrust us with more.  But the key is understanding that all we have doesn’t belong to us and we have simply been called to be wise stewards of that which the Lord has given to us.

 

A man reaps what he sows

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8 NIV

God has created the world with a principle of sowing and reaping.  When we sow to the things of God’s kingdom we will reap the blessings of the Lord in our lives.  The work of the Holy Spirit will be evident in our lives and we will continually grow in the character and nature of Jesus.

But when we sow to the things of the sinful nature the only result will be destruction.  If we claim to follow Christ but continue in the things of sin we simply invite destruction into our lives.  This is why the Lord calls us to repent.  Repentance means to fully turn away from the things of sin and fully turn our hearts to the Lord.

God is full of grace but He is also a loving Father who has given His children freewill.  He has given us freewill to choose how to live our lives.  Those who choose to pursue the Lord with their whole heart will experience all that God has for them.  But those who choose to live for themselves and the things of the sinful nature will in the end experience destruction.  God has given us warning after warning in His word and instruction after instruction to pursue Him and His kingdom.  May we simply pursue Him with our whole heart and remove any idol or anything that hinder our relationship with Him.