Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!

Sit ThereAmerican culture is permeated by the idea that the busier you are the more successful you’ll become.  And we’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t just SIT there, DO something.”

But the flipside of that phrase,  “Don’t just DO something, SIT there”  can be just as powerful, and maybe even more effective in certain circumstances.

Scripture teaches the value of both:

1.  There are warnings in scripture against laziness:  

  • Prov 6:10-11 A little sleep , a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest —and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. 
  • Prov 20:4 A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

2.  The are also warnings about wearing yourself out to get ahead in life:  

  • Ps 127:2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.
  • Prov 23:4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.

So rather than finding value in how busy we are, our worth should come through a balanced work ethic which includes times of rest.  We must also acknowledge that both are valued by God as part of His design for our lives.

6 Keys to Passing the Test of Faith with Flying Colors

Passing a Test

When we face a trial in our life it’s crucial that we understand the following 6 keys to passing the test of faith.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV) ” That begs the question, “If He overcame, then why do we still have trouble?”

The truth is, we live in a fallen world that brings many difficulties our way. But the good news is, Jesus came to face every type of trial we will ever face.  He overcame each trial in order to teach us how we can now overcome the trials we face in our own lives.  And when our faith is tested, if we have embraced the learning process, we can pass each test of faith with flying colors.

Think of it this way:  A young child may have faith in a parent to solve all of their problems.  However, it is not wise for a parent to step into their child’s life and immediately solve every problem for them.  Instead, it is more beneficial for the child when the parent models what it takes to overcome, gives instructions concerning the process, and then lets the child apply the lessons that were taught to them.  This process reveals to the child whether or not they have truly learned what they need in order to grow into mature adults.

This truth was learned well by James and is the reason why he was able to say,”Count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).”  From this verse we  learn 6 things we can work on to grow in our ability to overcome the trials of life:

1.  Deliberately “count it” a joy

Not exactly something most people would want to hear when facing a trial that tests their faith.  Especially when we consider that this was written shortly after Stephen was martyred and Christians were being greatly persecuted.  Yet, it agrees with what Jesus said when he told us to “be of good cheer” in times of trouble.  Although it does not seem very realistic, that’s exactly the point.  The phrase “count it” means to “deem it so”.  It implies the necessity of making a deliberate effort.

The fact is, we are more likely to experience negative emotions in troubled times.  The Bible is full of stories where people struggled with their emotions during intense trials.  Jesus does not condemn us for our emotional pain, but is deeply touched by it (Heb 4:15). And that’s why both Jesus and James pointed out that we would have to make a deliberate effort to experience joy.  So where do we begin?  We begin by not thinking a trial is unusual when we’re living in a fallen world:

2.  Acknowledge that we do face trials – of many kinds

The word “face” means “to encounter what is all around us”.  We are living in a fallen world and we will have trouble which, according to scripture, can include general anguish, a tight spot, adversity, persecution, unjust hardships, wearisome labor, sorrow, emotional pain, depravity, burdens, and pressure.  In 2 Cor 11:23-12:10 the apostle Paul listed numerous trails he faced.  But then he goes on to say that these trials, while not caused by God, revealed his weaknesses, made Him rely on the grace of God, and perfected him.   So instead of bemoaning trials, James advises the following:

3. Focus on the end result of becoming more mature and complete, not lacking anything

In each trial, the true colors of our faith are tested.  In the same way that taking a test in school reveals what we  really do and do not know about a certain subject matter, the testing of our faith reveals where we are weak in our understanding of God’s ways.  When we admit that there may be something more  we need to know about God, we are then enabled to embrace a new lesson for living in victory.

We also come to understand more about the process of believing that God wants to impart to us everything we need to live as overcomers.  When we embrace this process we become more perfect and complete, with a greater ability to handle the troubles that surround us in this fallen world.  In this process, as we realize there is something we are lacking in our knowledge of Him, we must admit it, and allow it to motivate us to:

4.  Persevere to greater understanding

Acknowledging that our belief system about God is not where it should be is a good thing.  It should cause a tenacity within us to know Him in a deeper measure.  A measure that will increase our knowledge and faith in God so we can believe Him to help us in both our current and future tests of faith.  This measure of faith will come as we:    

5. Ask for wisdom

Wisdom can be defined as insight into the true nature of things. Used in this reference, wisdom becomes a key factor in helping us to accurately assess the trouble we are facing, including its source and its solution.  His wisdom will always be found in His written word.  It’s one of the reasons we should hide His word in our hearts.  But it may also come from a Christian counselor or friend who confirms His Word.  But it will most assuredly be given because He gives it freely.  As we then apply His wisdom we become capable of moving on to the next level of maturity.  Much the same way as we would promoted to the next level in school.

And that brings us to our last point.  Applying the above truths will be the “rudder of life” that keeps you moving in the right direction toward maturity in the faith, as you:

6.  Choose to Believe what He Says

James goes on to say in verses 6 and 7 that we must not doubt what Jesus has taught us, but press through the trial by applying the above truths.  If we doubt, we will be like a ship tossed back and forth by waves in a storm.  But the opposite is also true: someone who has taken training in how to sail a ship during a storm, knows how to press through to the other side.  And with each storm, they learn more about how to press through with confidence   They are not thrown back and forth while wondering what they should do.  

As we press through with His wisdom, we will come through whatever this fallen world throws our way, and will move straight toward our goal of a mature faith in Jesus.  We will continually move toward a deeper understanding that God’s ways have worked before and they will work again.  And when we come through on the other end, we will be more perfect and complete at maneuvering through the trials.

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Contending for Distant Promises

3 Things You Can Do to Live in Faith when Promises Seem to Go Unfulfilled

Abraham became a father at a very old age due to a promise of God.  He experienced the fulfillment of this promise because he  “considered Him faithful who had made the promise” (Hebrews 11:11).  Yet, just 2 verses later it says that Abraham, as well as others, “did NOT receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”  In other words, there were some promises for which they received a portion of its fulfillment in this life, while other promises seemed to remain distant.  Yet, in both instances, Abraham still considered God to be faithful.

So how was Abraham enabled to contend for distant promises?

1) He was a man of faith.  Three times in the New Testament it says “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3, Gal 3:6, James 2:23).

2) He was a man of a higher calling.  He did not have his mind focused on the circumstances of this age alone.  He was focused on a bigger plan.  (Heb 11:14-16)  No matter what he was currently experiencing, He trusted in God’s timing (Rom 4:20).

3)  He was a man of vision.  John 8:56 tells us that even though Abraham did not experience for himself the inheritance of the land, he had vision to see into the time of Jesus and knew that it was through his descendants that the remainder of the promise would be fulfilled.

When God gives us a promise, we often expect an immediate and complete fulfillment of that promise during our lifetime.  However, while scripture is replete with promises which have already come to fruition, it also contains promises that are yet to be fulfilled, such as the one given to Abraham mentioned above.  

In either instance, we are to be people whose lives express faith in God, trust Him to reveal His timing, and live as people with greater vision for His purposes.  

For instance, if God were to give you a promise concerning your own children, never give up praying for it to come to pass, even if you do not see it fulfilled during your own lifetime.  That promise has a lifetime of it’s own, which extends into the next generation.  And God is faithful to fulfill His promises, no matter how distant they may seem.  


Our Source for Changing Culture

Photo by Sharon, Courtesy Creative Commons

Photo by Sharon, Courtesy Creative Commons

In our previous blog (Kingdom Mindset and Lifestyle) we said that our example for teaching culture-changing truths about the Kingdom of God is Jesus.  From the scriptures mentioned we know that just a few of the Kingdom realities taught by Jesus include the heavenly reality of healing, provision, and mercy.

These realities were released on earth through Jesus and scripture makes it clear that the source of His power was the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ connection with the Holy Spirit:

  • Jesus was born of the Spirit (Luke 1:35)
  • Jesus was filled with the Spirit without measure (Luke 3:22)
  • Jesus was led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1)
  • Jesus was empowered by the Spirit (Luke 4:14)
  • Jesus proclaimed the Spirit was upon Him (Luke 4:18)

Even after being raised from the dead Jesus continued to preach the kingdom of His Father (Acts 1:3).  He then told His disciples that they would need the same Holy Spirit as their source for being a witness of His Father’s Kingdom power here on earth (Acts 1:6-8).   It is a power that would impact not only Jerusalem, but cultures extending to the ends of the earth.

Question:  Think of the culture in which you live and how it is contrary to the culture of the Kingdom of God.  In what ways could you be used by the Holy Spirit (in ministry to the sick, to those with a monetary need, and to those living a life with no hope) to impact the lives of people you know.  As you record your reply, think about the impact such acts could have on the culture of your city if everyone in the church were empowered and motivated to do the same.

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Introduction to Kingdom Culture

In this blog, we will be sharing kingdom truths from the word of God which can shape the culture of our world. These Kingdom truths will be in the form of stories, excerpts from messages, quotes, and journal entries. We pray it will be a blessing to you as you grow in your own understanding of Kingdom Culture.

Photo by Sharon, Courtesy Creative CommonsThe kingdom of God must reach beyond church attendance to encompass every part of our life for the purpose of bringing about a profound influence on the cultures of this world.  The powerful principles of the Kingdom mindset and lifestyle taught by Jesus are the very foundation and source for revealing the eternal and powerful ways of His Father.  Living without the foundations of His Kingdom truths results in hopelessness, whereas living your life based upon His Kingdom assures a life of eternal purpose.

Jesus taught profound truths of the kingdom of God which are to have an impact on the world around us . When imparted to man, these culture-shaping truths become keys to release the supernatural realities of Heaven and bring victory in our daily life here on earth.  For this reason the Kingdom of God was a central focus of the teachings of Jesus.

Luke 4:43-44 (Jesus said) “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent.”

Luke 8:1 Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

To keep the message of His Kingdom alive Jesus clearly instructed His disciples to preach the Kingdom of God as well:

Matt 10:7  He said to them  “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’”

Kingdom Culture was also a central focus of the teachings of Paul:

Acts 28:23-31 From morning till evening he (Paul) explained and declared to them the kingdom of God…boldly without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Within His teaching, Jesus was very clear that Kingdom realities, which were the essence of His life, came directly from His Father:  His teachings were not shaped by the world around Him.  On the contrary, He did only what He saw His Father doing, and He taught only what His Father told Him to speak.  (John 5:19-20, John 8:28-30, John 12:49-50).     

QUESTION:  List 3 differences between God’s Kingdom Culture and what is most often experienced and accepted by man within the culture of the world.  (Matt 8:5-13, 10:7-8, John 8:3-11, Mark 6:35-44) Leave a reply listing these differences and why you feel the culture of this world has come to be accepted as a normal part of life rather than the culture of the Kingdom of God.

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