Of No Reputation

24 10 2011

It’s currently 4:45 a.m. on Monday morning October 24, 2011. I went to bed just a few short hours ago. I was awakened out of sleep with this thought in my mind and on my heart: A godly leader binds his reputation up in Christ…he becomes of no reputation. Of course that thought comes from Philippians chapter 2, one of the greatest discourses on the humble servant Jesus Christ who made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant and came in the likeness of man.

As I was awakened out of my sleep I slipped off the side of my bed and onto my knees on the floor and began to pray: “Lord this thought is on my heart. Speak to my heart and show me what you’re saying.” To be completely transparent I have been struggling lately in my preaching ministry. I was telling my wife yesterday afternoon after church that I just haven’t felt the freedom in preaching the Word of God that I’ve had before. I feel hindered. This is one of the things the Lord brought to my heart as I prayed…I’m hindered in preaching the Word because I’m too concerned about my reputation among people! That’s hard to admit, but it’s too often true. I am definitely a people pleaser by nature and have a deep seated desire for people to like me. This is my pride and insecurity. This spills over into other areas of my life also…It spills over into my witnessing. This desire to be liked…this concern about what others think…this fear that others won’t like me…it’s all because I value my reputation more than I value living for and pleasing Christ.

Oh Lord, free me from the bondage of my own heart! I confess my self-centered attitude that seeks to save my own soul (in this case my own reputation) rather than to lose it for the sake of Christ. I confess that I seek to save my own reputation before others rather than to become of no reputation. I know this hinders Your work in me, on me, and around me. God release me from this stronghold so that I will live in obedience to You…so that I will truly preach and proclaim Your Word to an audience of One! Jesus did not value His reputation as God. He didn’t cling to it…but instead He humbled Himself by taking on human flesh and becoming a man and by becoming obedient to death at the hands of those whom He created and even the most cruel, miserable, and embarrassing form of death…death on a cross. He did that in amazing obedience to You Father because He loved You more than His own reputation. Help me to love You more than my own reputation. I confess that I haven’t been loving You like this…at least not lately. Please forgive me and restore me to live in complete obedience to Your command. Help me to truly be a conduit of YOUR power for the sake of making much now of the name of Jesus! Amen.

I hesitate to post this blog for anyone to see…oddly as I think about why, it’s not because I’m necessarily ashamed to admit publicly to the contents of what I’ve written. I’m hesitant because I don’t want people to stroke my often prideful ego. This just feeds my people pleasing Pride! That’s Pride with a capital “P”. So I would ask that if anyone reads this please just Pray…for me, for you, for others. That’s Pray with a captial “P”. Thanks and God bless you for reading and for praying!

The Spirit Changes Everything!

19 10 2011

Wednesday October 19, 2011: Scripture Reading  Acts 2:1-47

Sometimes I wonder privately (and from time to time out loud) how we Christians can be so averse to change when our God is all about the business of change…primarily changing us. We are, without a doubt, creatures of habit. We get into a rut of living and going about our business from day to day and over time routines become established. I’ve noticed that the older I get the more settled the routines can become and that when someone or some life circumstance shakes me from my routine I am apt to respond in not-so-kind ways. My challenge (and quite possibly yours too) is to not allow myself to settle into the routines of life. My challenge spiritually is to not settle into the routines of worship. When we settle into a strict and unbreakable routine we are limiting the working of God in our lives and robbing ourselves of living with the fullness of His Spirit.

That’s one of the lessons I learn from Acts 2. The disciples have been with Jesus for over 3 years and suddenly He is gone…crucified, dead and buried, risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven. Their routine of walking in the bodily presence of the Lord is now broken and they are left waiting. However the waiting ends when the Holy Spirit falls upon them in the upper room and fills them with His power. These once timid souls are now filled with boldness, filled with wisdom, filled with the Word of God. The presence of the Holy Spirit is their new “routine.” However there is nothing routine about God’s Spirit moving in the hearts of believers. The new normal for the disciples is a life broken from the chains of “normalcy.”

We today have that same Holy Spirit living in us. Will we avail ourselves to Him? As believers we have all of Him we will ever have. He is at our moment-by-moment disposal. The question is this: Does He have all of us today? On the day of Pentecost He had all of the disciples and He used them to turn their world upside down for the glory of the gospel. He wants to do the same with us on this day!

Pray: Father, I confess right now that I can do nothing without the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, filling me, emboldening me for mighty works for the glory of Christ. I yield my heart, my life, my possessions, my dreams, and my cares all to You today. I come open handed, clinging to nothing, and pray for the moment-by-moment filling of Your Spirit in my life. Use me for Your glory wherever I go today. I pray this for Jesus’ sake and for the glory of His holy name. Amen!

Mistaken Identity?

13 10 2011

Thursday October 13, 2011: Scripture Reading – Hosea 1:7; 1 Corinthians 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

“One day a prairie chicken found an egg and sat on it until it hatched. Unbeknownst to the prairie chicken, the egg was an eagle egg, abandoned for some reason. That’s how an eagle came to be born into a family of prairie chickens. While the eagle is the greatest of all birds, soaring above the heights with grace and ease, the prairie chicken doesn’t even know how to fly. In fact, prairie chickens are so lowly that they eat garbage.

Predictably, the little eagle, being raised in a family of prairie chickens, thought he was a prairie chicken. He walked around, ate garbage, and clucked like a prairie chicken. One day he looked up to see a majestic bald eagle soar through the air, dipping and turning. When he asked his family what it was, they responded, ‘It’s an eagle. But you could never be like that because you are just a prairie chicken.’ Then they returned to pecking the garbage.

The eagle spent his whole life looking up at eagles, longing to join them among the clouds. It never once occurred to him to lift his wings and try to fly. The eagle died thinking he was just a prairie chicken.”[1]

We might respond to that story by thinking to ourselves, “Poor eagle! What a wasted life!” I wonder though how many Christians in our world live exactly like this eagle, with mistaken identity. The truth is that the power of the gospel, when genuinely received and believed, transforms us into new creatures! That’s why Paul said that he preached not with persuasive words of human wisdom that produce a false faith with human wisdom as its object, but rather with the demonstration of the Spirit of power. Spirit filled power produces Spirit filled faith that lives out the power of God.

That same power of God demonstrated by the proclamation of the gospel is what every believer is to put to use in the spiritual battlefields of life, breaking down strongholds and casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against God. The fact remains that this power has to be put to use by the Christian in order to soar like an eagle and stop living like a prairie chicken.

Think back to the time when you first put your faith in Christ. How has the power of the gospel changed you since then? How are you living differently today than you did before you met Christ?

In what area(s) of life are you still pecking around the garbage instead of soaring to new heights of victory? Commit these areas to God in prayer and yield to His power to overcome defeat and live in victory today.

[1] Rice, Wayne, Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks. Zondervan Publishing:Grand Rapids,MI.

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