Following Christ

John Maxwell writes, The Law of Empowerment tell us that only secure leaders give their power to others. (Maxwell, 2014, p. 1325)

The first thing that came to mind, when I read this, was Colossians 1:27: “…Christ is you, the hope of glory.” This was the intent all along that Jesus would come to earth, born of a virgin, live a sinless life, give Himself as the offering for our sins upon the cross, be buried, rise again and go to the Father. He promised then to send the Holy Spirit to live in us, thus fulfilling the intent of The Father from before the beginning of time, “…of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)

Jesus, the Ultimate Leader, gives His Power to us! What a Savior! Who couldn’t help but be motivated by that? by Him? 

I can allow Him to live His life through me and that is the only way that I can demonstrate the kind of visionary leadership that Christ lived out before us. 

The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd Edition, Maxwell, J. C. & Elmore, T., 2014, Thomas Nelson Publishers 

A Picture of America in Proverbs

A Picture of Modern America in Proverbs

March 28, 2019

Proverbs 28: 1-5

Many are they that wish to destroy history these days. If we don’t know what our mistakes and successes are, then how can we learn to repeat, or not to repeat, the same?

As I read what the author of Proverbs wrote, so many years ago, I immediately saw the present.

1The wicked flee when no man pursueth:

but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

2For the transgression of a land

Many are the princes thereof:

But by a man of understanding and knowledge

The state thereof shall be prolonged.

3A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain

Which leaveth no food.

4They that forsake the law praise the wicked:

But such as keep the law contend with them.

5Evil men understand not judgement:

But they that seek the Lord understand all things.

Proverbs 28: 1-5

This is as if the writer of the Proverbs was reading today’s newspaper or watching the news on television!

Nobody runs as hard as someone with a guilty conscience! In legal circles, this is sometimes referred to as possessing a guilty state of mind, or Mens Rea. The idea is that they are aware of their misconduct.

This interpretation of verse 1, leads us to better understand the context of the verses that follow. According to Dr. H. A. Ironside, in his book, Notes on the Book of Proverbs (Ironside, 1959, P. 394) the term used in verse 2: transgression, he writes, seems to bear the sense of rebellion against lawful authority. For the transgression of the land (referring to a nation) many are the its princes. This gives us clear understanding that the nation or people, in question, refuse to recognize that all authority is ordained of God (The Lord). Further, that this nation referred to most likely has a disrupted state of society. Sound familiar? In this sort of state, the rulers (or princes) are frequently changing. The nation is exposed to various leaders with evil intent and machinations. Each one jealous of the other, there is a constant warring between them to gain control. There is a constant state of what we might refer to as drama. There is always a scandal, an accusation, a power struggle. This is a perfect picture of America, today!

There is an ancient saying among the Arabs:

May God multiply your sheiks.

What a dreadful thought! No nation can be settled and continue to prosper when subjected to this sort of alteration and constant change in executive authority. Granted, there have always been (at least in my own lifetime) at least two major political parties in our nation, but in recent years the two fundamental opposites have taken aim at each other to the extent that as soon as one gets power, they take revenge on the other. This has been going on for so long that the people have become confused and our national identity, unsettled. Only the older generation, for the most part, remember how things used to be. But, how long can this go on?

In contrast to this unsettled state or nation, there is the opposite idea of one that is constant, and this one is ruled by an understanding ruler and he long occupies that seat of authority. The primary focus, of course, is on The Lord God, who is in authority. His Rule remains in force by whomever the human ruler may be. This Rule of Law, as so often referred to in recent days, means that government is based on well-established laws. The Lord’s intent, for America, is that we remain based on the well-established laws upon which we were founded.

Verse 3 speaks of (when referring to a poor man) an obscure man—one who is virtually unknown. This is a better meaning of the term. This is someone that comes out of nowhere. Again, sound familiar? This poor man or obscure man carries the meaning of one who is raised-up, suddenly, to a position of significant authority. It is the one that didn’t deserve the promotion, yet was elevated to it, anyway, usually for the benefit of those placing him there. Such a leader is likely to oppress the poor for personal benefit and would thus be like the driving rain that leaves no crop for food. The land and the people upon it are swept clean of all that they have. The land left bare, the citizens stripped of their possession, rights and dignity. This, my friends, is a sad picture of what The United States of America is rapidly becoming!

In the political realm, it is every man for himself. There is little to no-such-thing, anymore, as loyalty! The very idea of patriotism is ridiculed by many and people are rapidly losing hope in our nation’s future, at least as we have known her. When her own obscure princes demonstrate a lack of respect for America, as founded, we know we are in deep trouble. There is a growing number of those that wish to fundamentally change this great nation and re-create her into just another nation among the many of the world. What a dismal image!

As we reach verse 4, we see that those who forsake the law (meaning to forsake the right way, the way of righteousness) praise those who do the same and seek to elevate them to a place of prominence. Those who do right contend with those who do wrong. This is happening right before our very eyes!

Finally, verse 5 sums it up. Evil men do not understand justice, it tells us. The KJV term, here, is judgement, but the meaning is justice. Those that practice evil cannot comprehend what justice really is. Their own deeds are evil, and they applaud those that do the same. And not only that, but they seek to elevate such men to places of authority, so that their own wicked lives and deeds may not be hindered.

These same ones tout themselves as the heroes of the underdog—the poor man. When in fact, they seek to patronize, victimize and take advantage of the poor for their own benefit and personal gain. They speak of concern for the poor of the nation, while lining their own collective pockets with the poor man’s meager possessions.

America must return to The Lord God which founded her. The people of God must pray and step up to the plate, when voting time comes. We have a responsibility to our grandchildren and great-grands, and so on, should our Lord tarry His return for His Church.

I speak not of political party, but of right and wrong. Don’t’ let anyone deceive you, what God has declared as right and wrong, is the same, still. He does not change, Malachi tells us, and His Word does not change. America must mend her ways and it must start with God’s people.

References

Notes on The Book of Proverbs, H. A. Ironside, 1959 (First Printing 1908) Loizeaux Brothers, New York, NY

Emptying Our Hands

March 25, 2019

In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 14, we read that when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, The Lord withdrew to a place of solitude, as He often did, to pray and most likely to weep in private over the earthly loss of His first cousin. As was the norm, the multitudes followed Him. Verse 13 informs us that The Lord departed by boat, but the crowd followed on foot—they took the long way around. When He came out to them, the Scripture tells us, as always, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.

When the evening arrived, His disciples came to Him and urged Him to send the crowd into the villages to buy food for themselves. But Jesus, about to use this as a teachable moment, told them to feed the multitude, themselves. Their response was that they only could find a lad’s lunch, consisting of five loaves and two fish, obviously insufficient for the mass of people that were there all day, perhaps 10 – 15 thousand people.

Jesus said to them, Bring them here to Me. And ordering the crowd to recline on the grass, Christ took that which is man’s insufficiency and blessed it and broke it and began the process of giving the broken pieces to the disciples to distribute to the multitude. The Scripture tells us that not only all were fed but were satisfied—there was plenty. In fact, there remained 12 baskets of unused broken pieces of miraculous provision, from the Hand of The Savior.

Observations

Of course, if this were modern-day, the headlines the following morning, would have read: Right-Wing Radicals Steal a Little Boys’ Lunch.

The truth of it all is that, Christ can use even a little boy’s lunch! The power is not in the provision—not in that which is being used, but in The One using it! It was not in the lunch, but in The Lord. We may think that we don’t have much to offer, to contribute, but God can take that which we have and use it, to His Glory, if we but bring it to Him.

That which He uses, He breaks, first.

The Lord blessed and broke the food, before giving it to His disciples, to distribute. We notice that He could have done this another way, but The Lord chose to use His disciples to get the provision to the masses. He had told them, you give them something to eat.

He supplies, we serve!

He then places the blessed and broken provision in the hands of His disciples.He chose to use the disciples in distributing the food. As they handed out that which was placed in their hands to distribute, upon returning, they found that there was more waiting in the Hands of the Master. Each time they returned, He gave them more to give out.

We must empty our hands!

The principle here is clear. They had no serving trays, but only the use of their hands, or perhaps the folds of their robes. Each time the disciples returned for more, more was waiting to be given. But they had to empty their hands before they could obtain more from His Hands. What do I have, in my possession, that God has provided for me to distribute, that I have not given out? Personally, I find that I must share that which God speaks to my heart about. I am not to let it remain unshared. I must empty my hands, before I can receive more to share with others. What has God placed into your hands that you could share with others to His Glory? We cannot go back for more until we give it away—we must empty our hands.

There was a surplus of miracle provision remaining.

They collected 12 baskets full of remaining food. This was not food-scraps. This was un-eaten food, that had been broken by the Hands of The Lord. This was to show that we cannot out-give God. He has plenty, as long as we empty our hands and return to Him for re=provision.