Archive for October, 2018

How Do You Spell Greatness?

October 25, 2018

It’s not that hard to search out ‘great’ figures.  They are famous, or wealthy, or have achieved great things.  They may be political figures, or they may be philanthropists.  They may be business tycoons, royalty, or movie stars.  It’s not really hard to determine who is ‘great’ or who is ‘small’, right?

Of course, it is not that simple.

The way the world views individuals is quite different from how God views them.  And in the end, when all is said and done, isn’t His view the one that will count?  All the greatness the world has to offer will pale in comparison to who God honors.  The finest houses, gold, diamonds, and fancy clothes will appear as dirty rags in comparison to the glory that God bestows on those He chooses to honor.

There are going to be some reversals, which is clearly revealed to us in the scriptures.

“The first shall be last, and the last first..”

or

“he who would be greatest shall be servant to all”

These, and other passages, make it clear that what we think is ‘Great’ may actually be ‘Small’, and what we think is ‘Small’ may be ‘Great’.

Of the poor widow woman who had only two mites to give in the offering plate the Lord said, “she has given more than them all.”

Greatness does not come from position, wealth, or fame – at least what God considers ‘greatness’.  John the Baptist never performed a miracle, and yet Jesus said of him, “Of those born of a woman, there is none greater than John the Baptist.”  What made John so great?

I believe it was simple obedience.  Not once, not twice, not once in awhile, but every day, every week, every month, and every year.  He did what God had required of him, and was accounted as ‘great’ because of his obedience to the call.

It is not clear, at least in the present time, to determine who will be bestowed with high honors from God, but it is something to strive for, for even if we fail wouldn’t the result be worth the effort?

 

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Is Our Thinking Too Narrow?

October 22, 2018

As Christians we sometimes think too narrowly about who God accepts, who He rejects, and what He allows or disallows.  I say this with some caution, as God is not ‘loose’ in His expectations for us.

But, consider this…

In the Gospels we can gain a wider understanding of what God’s focus is, not only by what Jesus said and did, but what He didn’t say and didn’t do.  For example, He did not separate people by what jobs they performed, or what their station in life was, or how much money they made.  He did not single people out for how righteous or unrighteous they were.  He did not make a big deal over whether they were were a ‘small’ sinner, or a ‘big’ sinner.  His approach was much simpler than that.  There were more important things to focus on.

As a further example consider this – when Jesus was giving final instructions to Peter, He said simply, “Feed my sheep”, and “Feed my lambs.”  What about all the instructions about how to run the church, and to ordain new bishops, and church discipline, and how to organize things?  Why didn’t He cover those things?

Jesus accepted people who were not really qualified.  Many of the ones Jesus took into the fold knew nothing of how to live righteous.  Some were harlots, some tax collectors, some Jewish rulers, some unlearned fishermen, and some scholars.  Entrance to this club was easy, with no lengthy questions or forms to fill out.

But, sometimes we make things hard for those wanting to get closer to God.  We expect them to live up to our own code or standards.  We expect them to talk, dress, and act like we think they should.  But, if a person is accepted by God who are we to condemn or say they are unjust?

This is not to say God is lax, or doesn’t care.  On the contrary, He is a strict God.  However, His strictness is designed to be custom-fit for each individual.  In other words, what He demands of me, may not be the same thing He demands of you.  His rules on me depend on my ability to understand and comprehend those rules.  My comprehension, though, may be more limited than yours.  Therefore, His requirement on you may be more demanding than on me.  God does not expect you to do more than you are capable of.  His plan fits every living soul on the planet, from those with IQ of 25 to those whose IQ is 180, or beyond.  His requirement is custom-made for each individual.  A careful reading of the Gospels will clearly reveal this truth.

Or we might simply quote – “to whom much is given, much is required”

Growing Is Not Your Problem

October 3, 2018

One of the difficulties these days in Christian ministry is understanding our role and responsibilities correctly.  If we attempt to take on those things that are not our job then we can expect problems to follow.

One area that has received a lot of attention is in the area of ‘growth’.  How to grow your church body, or how to grow your ministry group, or how to grow your bible study group, on and on.

Actually, ‘growth’ is not our problem or responsibility.  ‘Growth’ or ‘increase’ is God’s domain.

Paul explains this best in 1 Corinthians 3:4-8, which is simply summarized as:

We plant, we water, but God gives the increase.

This concept is further explained in the parable described by Jesus in Mark 4:26-29.  It is clear from this parable there is a ‘mystery’ concerned with how things ‘grow’, but no mystery in understanding God is responsible for that part, and we in turn handle the rest – planting and harvesting.

So, instead of spending time trying to figure out how to grow things, we might want to concentrate more of our time on planting, watering, and harvesting, and let God handle the ‘growing’ or ‘increase’ part.