The Pursuit of Righteousness

pursuit-of-righteousness
As God’s creation, we are fallen and have a sinful nature.  We were created to know God intimately and to serve Him.  Since the fall of man in the garden of Eden, eyes were opened and man knew he was naked.  We all have carnal habits and are immorally selfish.  This places our sin above God, which is idolatry.  Our God is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24) and there shall be no gods before Him (Exodus 20:3).  Embedded in the seed of all mankind is the curse of sin.  We are all immorally flawed and without Christ there would be no hope.

1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:17‬ *, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”

The wonderful news of the Gospel is that we do have a Redeemer!  Jesus laid down His own life not by force but as a willing sacrifice.  Jesus said:

John 10:17-18, “I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Notice how Jesus said that with such power and authority?

‬‬This made it possible to be saved from an eternal death of destruction, separated from the jesus-on-cross-570x379Living God.  Only through Jesus we have been given redemption through the shedding of His blood on the cross and His powerful defeat over death through resurrection!  He will grant us – the sinner – repentance only through the power of the Holy Spirit.  His rejuvenating power awakens the dead man to be given the chance of confession through repentance.  Not only is it important for us to confess, but to truly repent of our sin and to allow, submit, and surrender our whole lives.  We must step off the throne of our hearts we then ask Jesus Christ to become the Lord of our lives.  Jesus said:

John 6:44-45, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

So you see, without the enabling of the Holy Spirit as our Helper, our fallen nature wants it’s way.  We can act selfish, egotistical, prideful, arrogant and so on.  To be effective doers of God’s commandments from His Word, we must submit to the Holy Spirit to change us.

Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

James 4:6,10, “…God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.”

its-all-about-meThe old lifestyle of sin and self-absorption or self worship leads to anxiety, loneliness, isolation, defeat and ultimately death.  As soon as one begins to experience these feelings, they again turn back to their self-destructive practices, habits and addictions of a life without Christ and the circle of destruction starts all over again.  With this endless cycle brings loneliness, fear and anxiety.

It is not natural (at first) for us corrupt, selfish beings to deny ourselves and instead surrender to Christ and have faith in Him and His teachings.  We must make a conscious effort to make any lifestyle change.

Luke 14:27, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Mark 8:34, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

True devotion to Christ isn’t just a prayer or bible reading in the morning and evening but by putting Christ as the CENTER in our lives by meditating on Him throughout the day.  Once you have surrendered yourself to Christ and have made it an everyday habit, your new walk will produce fruits of the Holy Spirit and your spiritual growth in Christ will become evident to the unbeliever.  This is just a part in the entirety of His desire for us and the great glory that we can experience here on this side of eternity!

The road to a mature Christian lifestyle starts with realizing that carnal pleasures lead to anxiety and that the world’s wanton pleasures are unfruitful and unproductive.  We must realize that the material things of this world are only temporary.  Our eternity in Heaven lasts forever.  So instead of giving in to the carnal and fallen nature (i.e. temporary pleasures, etc.), we have been instructed to cast our anxieties, which are the cares of this worlds, on Christ.  To put off our old self and give our hearts to Him by humbling ourselves as a living sacrifice, in service to Him.

Finally, if we ask in Jesus’ name and are in sync with His will, the promises will be fulfilled and what we ask will eventually come to pass.  This is the ultimate road to making a daily practice to pursue Christ.  Remember, Christians aren’t perfect…we’re just forgiven!

Carnal Pleasures Lead to Anxiety

ansiedad-portadaThe process of becoming a mature Christian begins with making the choice to pursue Christ daily – it starts here.  Those who don’t know Him, don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. They have rejected Him and do not follow Him.  They are wrapped up in the temporary things of this world, giving in to the carnality and worldly possessions, blinded by addictions, etc., instead of being concerned with Eternity and the narrow road less traveled (Matthew 7:13).  As someone (Christian or not) begins to entertain and chooses to give in to worldly pleasures, those carnal things become idolatry.  As Christians and members Christ’s Kingdom, we have been commanded by His Word not to associate ourselves with the cares of this dying and wicked world.  And by NO MEANS, as members of His body (I Corinthians 12:27), are we to partake or indulge in those worldly things.  We must instead view this as carnal and materialistic, temporary pleasures.  If we do indulge, then we will be blinded by the false hopes that are only temporary.  Soon afterwards (without sincere repentance), we will begin searching for the next best thing(s) in an attempt to drown out those anxieties or sorrows.  Sadly, the solution devised by the wicked one through men of this world, is only temporary.  The things of God and His righteousness through Jesus Christ are Eternal Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 102:26-27.

The word anxious means – “full of mental dist6357405020812055051488693726_anxiety-charlie-brownress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried or concerned“.  The word stress means – “to have fear or pain; to be stressed, disturbed; physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension”.  Now I could be dwelling on this, per-se, but both anxiety and stress have detrimental outcomes and effects on the human being.

Unfortunately, the world is a big promoter of self-ism or what I call self-worship“.  They offer substances that try to dampen our anxieties and stress.  Their answer to the quick fix is pretty obvious.  It is whatever  “what makes you feel good” or “anything that helps take the load off“.  This could be any one of the combination of prescription medication, alcohol or smoking weed – for example.

yolo_logoThe influence within our society says – “Do whatever you feel, what pleases or satisfies you.  As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and makes you feel good, then by all means, do whatever.  After all, we’re only human…right?  You deserve to be happy and feel good.  You only live once!”  Of course, this way of thinking is usually what convinces us to make those choices.  Just remember that those things, whatever they are, are short-lived and are not eternal.  The good news is that we do have a Source.  That Source is perfect.  It’s Jesus Christ and His Power never taps out.  What He has to offer is NOT short-lived or temporary.  So why do we settle for the temporary things or a quick fix?  Why not choose Jesus?

There is an unseen force that has such a deep-rooted spiritual influence.  Most people choose the easy way out and in most cases, it is the self-destructive path that person decides to go down.  Additionally, the lie that hides beneath the surface is to believe that in resorting to an addictive substance, it’s OK to splurge or go on a binge – even if done once in a while.  But the likelihood of becoming an addict is pretty high if resorting to just a few of the things mentioned here becomes a normal habit.

binge-drinking-blamed-on-music1So let’s be frank.  How many people have you have come across in your lifetime, friends and even family, that have been honest about these things.  The truth is, you really can’t do most of these things in moderation.  For one, they are made to mask the emotions.  But what happens when the effect of the substance or what you binge on wears off?  You want more, right?  What I’ve come to realize is that anything the world has to offer is short-lived.  There is no long-term affect for the good or the better.  It’s destruction to the mind and the spirit.  So where’s the solution?  The solution is in Christ and in Him alone.  He died so that He could know you.

Luke 21:34-36, “But take heed [watch] to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness [drinking/doing drugs] and cares [anxieties] of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly [suddenly like a trap].  For it will come as a snare [trap] on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore [staying awake and alert], and pray always that you may be counted worthy [having the strength to overcome] to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man [Who is Jesus Christ]. ” [words in brackets added]

Unfruitful

As people follow these temporary worldly pleasures that lead to anxiety and ultimately death, they produce nothing eternal.

Matthew 13:22, “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares [anxieties] of this world and the deceitfulness of riches [material things] choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” [words in brackets added]

“When that which comes of his sowing is unfruitful, the sower’s work is wasted: he has spent his strength for nothing.  Without fruit the sower’s work would even seem to be insane, for he takes good wheat, throws it away, and loses it in the ground.  Preaching is the most idle of occupations if the Word is not adapted to enter the heart, and produce good results.”

–  Charles Spurgeon

The word “unfruitful” means – not producing good or helpful results and also that which is “unproductive”.  Not only are we warned that the material things become a distraction to our godly lifestyles, but they can hinder us and stunt our spiritual growth in the Lord Jesus and block His grace and desires for us to experience.

Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  

Remember, We’re Just Passing Through

The nature of the Christian’s life upon earth is onl2da2a89fc316e8d110aefa8c8951701ey temporary.  That is why God calls us pilgrims.  This world is not our home; it is only temporary.  We are merely pilgrims passing through this world and are therefore temporary residents upon earth.  God has given us a deeper attachment than allegiance to our native country.  Everything in this life is transitory.  Christians are not to focus on the things that are seen (2 Cor. 4:18), but to fix our eyes on the Eternal (Heb. 11:13-16).  Soon we will pull up our stakes and leave for our Eternal Home only in His timing.  But while on earth, we have been given a responsibility to obey His calling of the “Great Commission” – Matthew 28:16-20.

Casting our Cares Upon Christ

1 Peter 5:6-8, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care [anxieties; worries] upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober, be vigilant [watchful; on guard]; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” [words in brackets added]

Dealing with anxiety and fear on our own can be a pretty strenuous and difficult thing to take on – for both believer and non-believer.  But as Peter wrote in the above passage, its context can be useful for a new believer in Christ.

tumblr_lksyerdnvz1qg4xgso1_500The application of God’s Word as a disciple is wholly essential to us as Christians.  It’s a commandment of the Lord God, to live obediently to Him.  His Word commands us to live a godly lifestyle.  Sadly, a very large percentage of the body of Christ in this world has fallen asleep in the light.  How can a church that is asleep, effectively shine the light of Christ to a dying and dark world – as “Ambassadors” and a “Holy Priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5)?  Over the decades and centuries, there have been horror stories on how the body of believers have done a terrible job and we have misrepresented the Gospel of Christ.  The mission that has been commanded by the King Himself that we need to live by is the “Great Commission” (Matt 28:19-20).

So how do we as believers deal with anxiety?  The instruction is within God’s Word and it is through His Word that Holy Spirit continues to inform us.  The application is to practice this by living it out.  So to “put away” or “cast all care” (v.7) upon God is a process and takes time just like sanctification or purification.  For starters, it begins with the faith that the Lord God has placed within us.

Hebrews 12:2, “Jesus is the Author and Perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God.(emphasis added)

This indicates that purification has been made available with the help that Christ has sent us, which was only possible through the defeat of death and rising again.  Our limited finite minds can barely comprehend the Power at the Cross of Christ.  But the Love of God is SIMPLE and COMPLETE.  The demonstration of His death and resurrection symbolize the defeat of the wicked one – that is the devil.  Why wouldn’t we cast our anxieties upon Him?  He conquered death and sits at the right hand of God the Father!  Let’s set aside the anxiety part for just a moment as we take a look at more scripture.

Romans 8:16-18, The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

Notice the key word “MAY is used according to the context meaning: to express possibility and/or express opportunity or permission.  So to be glorified together, there is some effort on our part.  Here’s another scripture Paul wrote:

Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

That’s powerful!

Now we come back to the anxiety.  The enabling or set up comes from the Holy Spirit.  So the effort is on our part – submitting to Him because He won’t force things.  We can’t deal with the “lion” – we don’t even have to go there.  It is Him alone that deals with the “lion” (1 Peter 5:8) – WHO IS THE PUNK DEVIL THAT LIES, KILLS, STEALS AND DESTROYS.

How then do we, the believer, deal with all of the anxieties and cares of the world?

discuss_0We’re all different and have come from various backgrounds – whether it is experience or observing others.  I’m sure that many have dealt with their anxieties differently.  We might ask ourselves: How did I react or deal with anxious or stressful situations in the past?  The real question is – How did we deal with things before we were Christians?

Since we have been saved through Jesus Christ alone, did we resort to those same things that we would before we accepted Christ into our lives?  As one becomes genuinely saved and desires to be changed, the old things have passed away.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  (emphasis added)

This isn’t something that happens overnight – it is a process.  And sanctification is a LIFE-LONG process – a daily pursuit.  The question is – what is the state of the person’s heart?  Is there really a desire to change, or is it the misconception of saying some secret formula step-by-step prayer that gives one free access to heaven when that person’s time is done on earth?

Unfortunately many have been lied to by the enemy and are deceived that as long as the prayer of salvation is prayed, then life is good.  Go ahead and keep on sinning and you’ll be fine.  God’s grace will cover it! – they say.  WRONG!!!  This is a lie from the very pit of hell (Romans 6:1-2)!  If that is the attitude of the heart, then there is a big question you have to grapple with.  The answer will be the determining factor if the genuine conversion to Christ is true or not.  The first thing to help answer this question is: how do I live my life?  Does it bring the Lord Jesus glory or does it misrepresent Him?  If the answer is, “NO”, then I would encourage you to pray for God to reveal the truth to you.

 

Many people use drugs, drink alcohol, give in sexually to porn, look to material or worldly things to fulfill themselves or replace God with self-worship.  These things mentioned are just a few of the struggles that many people of both genders have.  Unfortunately, the society we live in heavily promotes and encourages self-ism and/or self-worship.  The “ISM” is really an acronym for: I, SELF and ME.

This is complete selfishness.  The “ISM” is all about one’s self.  One of the oldest and original lies of Satan and his wicked schemes are that we can become gods – lower case “g” (Genesis 3:5).  Everything that the enemy has designed as a system of this world is cunning and made of idolatry and self-worship.  It is an extremely subtle destruction process that will NOT (in some cases) come as a swift destruction.   Sometimes they may, but the enemy has constructed many subtle, elusive and misleading tactics that are behind the destruction.  They can be so slow that before one realizes, it is too late.  The eyes are opened and sinful nature is revealed, but it will be too late to turn back.

The enemy does not want the Lord God to be glorified or exalted.  Satan is an evil and selfish being!  He wants ONLY his kingdom – which is this world – to be idolized.  Satan will do his best to blind or hinder us humans from worshiping God and bringing Him glory (with a lifestyle of worship and praise).

Resist Satan, be steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world.

Putting Off and Putting On

After one has given their anxieties to the Lord, they must “put off and put on”.  What exactly does this mean?  This next scripture explains this in detail.

Ephesians 4:22-24, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (emphasis added)

new-life1We are to “put off” our old selves (the “old man”) that is the carnal nature or anxiety that comes naturally or instinctive to all humans.  This is no easy thing.  This is like someone who was born in Indonesia and has spoken Bahasa all their lives.  Then they move to Iceland and have to pick up Icelandic.  This new language is very foreign and unnatural to them.  They have to “put off” their old language and adopt this “putting on” of a new language.

However, once the “putting on” of the “new man”, created and renewed by Christ, is done, one will become more joyful and satisfied.  The hardest part is deciding to do it.  Everything else afterwards is so simple.  That’s not to say that your life after “putting on” your new man will be a worry-free, easy-going existence.  If anything, there will be more trials and hardships after the “putting on” of the new man.  But that’s what causes us to rely fully on Christ.  The concept of “putting on” is the easy part.  What comes afterwards is a whole different subject.  Here’s how easy it is to “put on” the new man:

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That’s all there is to “putting on” the new man who is in Christ!  Of course, the “new man” will need to daily immerse themselves in the Word, pursue Christ and surround themselves with mature Christians who can disciple them and keep them accountable.

After “putting on” this new man in Christ, you are now set on a path or set towards a goal.  Have you ever been in a race where you had to run in order to win?  The ultimate goal is the finish line.  However, in this instance, you’re not racing against others, you’re racing for a prize that God has called you to.  In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he wrote:

Philippians 3:12-14, Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

This is the ultimate description of a new Christian.  They have not yet attained the goal.  The Greek word for “press on” used here is diōkō.  It means “pressing on, pursuing, chasing, running flat out”.  Paul used it figuratively to mean a “goal-line” or a “mark”.  It is unknown what this “goal line” symbolizes in the Christian life.  However, I don’t think the goal is heaven or purity.  It is more likely to mean being Christlike and being at one with Him.  Pursuing Christ is a constant persistence towards that calling 1.

It is important to remember that this new man in Christ is not yet developed or experienced.  They should be cultivated and mentored by mature Christians.  Here is a scripture that describes this state:

Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

One who is a “new man” in Christ will not be able to discern with wisdom the things that a mature, experienced Christian can grasp.  They must not take on too much of their calling or they may unknowingly lead people astray in their young Christian age.

Romans 6:16-17, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.”

You were a slave to sin but because you believed in Christ, you are delivered and became a new man through obedience to God!

A Heart Issue

godlooksattheheartDo you know your own intentions, your character, your nature or your essence?  Most people, if they spend enough time alone, do know these things.  Is it safe then to say that you also know your own heart?  No one can really know their own heart.  You might know your mind but not your heart.  The two usually do not get along.  You might want to do something and your mind says to do one thing but sometimes, the heart might be in a totally different place.  Many who claim to “know Christ” but live lifestyles that are totally contrary are deceived into thinking that they are Christians.  Their mouths and their fruits reveal what is truly inside their heart.  The heart is a flighty ever changing thing that cannot be predicted by man.  So is it safe to say that God knows your heart?  Of course He does!

Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?  I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.(emphasis added)

1 Samuel 16:7, “…Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Our hearts are what the Word of God says they are.  The miracle is that only through the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood, we have been made righteous and sanctified.  Through His defeat of death and His resurrection, He has made us NEW!  Through His sacrifice of Himself, He has made it possible for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.  The process of rebirth and as He supernaturally changes us is that He makes us more like Him!

Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

For me, this has been at times an excruciating experience because of the refining that He does.  Afterwards comes the change and sanctification of my heart.  By nature, we are desperately wicked but the Lord helps us become renewed everyday!!

Humility and Service

1After we have given ourselves and our anxieties to Christ, He renews us.  We then confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that He was raised from the dead, then we are truly saved (Romans 10:9)!  We are then new Christians!  Next, we are to practice humility and service.  Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ and wrote an epistle to the “Pilgrims of the Dispersion” in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1-2).  Peter was addressing the Christian Jews throughout the Roman Empire who had “dispersed throughout Asia Minor – which is Northwest Turkey today.

When Peter addressed the “younger people” in 1 Peter 5:5 b, he was especially instructing them to do so in context of the attitude of humility – which means “for one to have a modest or low view of one’s own importance“.  This doesn’t mean that he was telling them they should have a low self-esteem.  On the contrary, he wanted them to put others higher than themselves as a way of serving those who were in their age group and the elders as well (but the elders first as a gesture of honor and respect to them).

Jesus stated in this scripture:

Matthew 20:28, Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but TO SERVE, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (emphasis added)

So we have been instructed to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1).  The younger generation to submit to the “elders” (1 Peter 5:5), and to also “be submissive to one another”.  The key of this is the following exhortation Peter gives which is that of humility (verse 5b) where he added:

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”

alaskapastor-thoughts-on-ministry-and-life-and-our-family-nkld3o-clipartThe greatest example of a humble servant is Jesus Himself.  In John chapter 13 just before the Last Supper, Jesus did one of His last acts of service in front of all the twelve disciples.  Here was Jesus, the SON OF GOD who raised people from the dead, healed countless diseases, walked on water and spoke to thousands.  The disciples looked to Him as their Leader, their Authority, their Teacher.  Then He set aside His clothing, wrapped Himself in a towel and began going to each disciple in turn – washing their feet!

During this time in history, the common man didn’t own shoes.  They walked everywhere they went and were lucky if they had a pair of sandals.  After a day of walking in the dusty, muddy streets, their feet must have been filthy.  What Jesus did was no easy task.  This was a job of a lowly servant, not the Son of God!  However, He was stooping to the level of a servant and showing them the example of ultimate humility and service.

John 13:12-15, “So when He had washed their [the disciples] feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.'” [words in brackets added]

What an amazing depiction of humble service!  This is what we are called to do to others.  Just as Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, we are to show the same example of service.  It might be to serve in your church in the children’s ministry or on the media team, it might be to say encouraging words to a coworker, it might be to get to know your neighbor and witness to them.  Every act of service we do to and for others brings honor to God and unites us together as the body of Christ.

Ask in Jesus’ Name

I used to think “asking in Jesus’ name” meant as long a0c187356c8c4d54e1ec4d3979c000380s I delighted in stories of the Lord or read the bible, sung worship songs or lived my life as strictly as possible – as long as I did those things, the Lord would give to me everything that my heart desired.  Over time and through my maturity as a believer and follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit ministered to me what this truly means.  As long as we are continuous and obedient while walking out our faith in Christ, the desires that He has for us and in His Kingdom become our desires.  It’s not riches or a perfect job and even a perfect wife that I wanted.  Instead, it is to serve and to know the RICHNESS of who my Lord and Savior is and how much He loves me.

Unfortunately, there are Christian teachers who have distorted and perverted the very Gospel of Christ.  False teachers have turned God’s Ministry into a money-making “name it and claim it” gospel that promotes the selfish lifestyle filled with greed and fame – self-ism.  These people will be held to a much higher accountability and standard for doing such things.  The main point is to emphasize that riches, fame and selfish ambitions WILL NOT bring a true and genuine disciple and follower of Jesus truth and eternal life.  Joy that flows from our Savior is our ONLY true Source in Heaven and is in Christ alone.

James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

The word amiss means “rather unjust, dishonest, or of immoral behavior“.  Have you ever been in a conversation or Bible Study with anyone who shared the verse above?  Regardless, many of us have done this several times in the past.  Let’s take a look at it from another angle.

John 14:4, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

What did Jesus mean when He said that?  Does it mean that if we ask for a million dollars in Jesus’ name, He will give it to us?  Or ask Him for a beautiful wife and a perfect marriage (a perfect marriage doesn’t exist by the way)?  You fill in the blank.  My point is that human nature is vile, flawed and corrupt.  Without Christ, we will always seek our own pleasures.

3126540394_706026ac6c_bLet’s go back to what it means to ask something in Jesus’ name.  Here’s the first scenario.  You wake up to someone pounding at your door front.  You look out through the peep-hole, only to realize that the person is a complete stranger and you have no idea what they want.  Your emotions are obviously cautious and maybe even fearful at this point.  So your response is more than likely one of fear and your protective instinct kicks in.  If they don’t go away, you’ll either call the police or take action yourself.

dpd-boston-2_1461448820594_1875502_ver1-0For the second scenario, let’s change the appearance of person at the door.  This time, a similar thing happens, but the person at your front door has a police uniform on.  When you ask them who it is, they reply with confidence and authority, asking politely to speak with you.

Now that your perspective and outlook of this person has most likely changed, how would you respond?  Here is an officer of the law who represents authority.  It makes more sense to feel more comfortable and safe in this situation.  This law enforcement officer represents the government, they most likely abide by the law, and protect and serve the people of the community.  You would feel safer opening your door to this law enforcement officer instead of a complete stranger right?

Basically – as Christians and Ambassadors of Christ, we represent Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  As we follow Him, we have been commanded to do so in obedience and humility.  The key is to submit and to represent Christ by abiding in Him.  This is an everyday pursuit and shouldn’t just be practiced on Sunday when we “play religion” at church or read that one minute devotion every morning.  It’s truly a heart issue here.  We abide in Christ and are His Representatives/Ambassadors.  By following Him, we do so with unconditional love towards others.  As the Holy Spirit enables us and our hearts are in the right place, our walk with Christ is a daily pursuit as He leads us through life.  “Walking out” our faith in Christ in daily actions and speech takes a lot of practice, but the Lord is always there to guide is along – we are never alone!  This is now a life lived out in obedience to Him!  Once one has reached this final step, they are ready to be released into the world and fulfill their calling – the Great Commission!

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These are the basic steps of getting on the path of pursuing Christ.  First, one must realize what their carnal, temporary nature is and what worldly pursuits and addictions they must get rid of.  These are the very things that lead to anxiety, grief and a destructive cycle of death.  Instead, they must offer their cares and anxieties to Christ.  In giving it to Him, it’s like gaining a new world-view and realizing how temporary this world is and focusing on eternity.  The putting-off of the old man and putting-on of the new, purified one is the next step.  The hardest part is taking that first step.  The rest is simple although there will be trials and hardships.  We just need to remember that we are never alone!  We can never know our own hearts (or anyone else’s for that matter).  God looks at our hearts and is able to give it back to us cleansed and pure if we are willing to submit to Him.  Next, we must humble ourselves – less of me and more of Him – and follow the greatest example of service: Jesus Christ.  Once we have entered into this servant-hood, we are ready to be released into the world and complete the Great Commission.  We must do this in Jesus’ name and only under His authority.  Just remember, when you cast your cares on Him, give your heat to Him in humble service, He will sustain you and lift you up!

 

*All scripture verses in this post are from the NKJV – New King James Version

 

 

WORKS CITED

  1. Wilson, R. F., Dr. (2017). Pressing Toward the Goal (Philippians 3:12-4:1). Jesus Walk Bible Study Series. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from http://www.jesuswalk.com/philippians/7_pressing.htm#_ftnref166
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