"Go and make disciples…and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matt 28:19-20)

Challenge

What will you feed?

Today is the first day of a new year, and I have been considering my goals for myself for this year. Who do I want to be at the end of this year? What do I want to accomplish this year? I know I need to set goals for myself, so that I can be working towards becoming more than I am now. If we do not set goals for ourselves, then nothing is what we do and nothing is what we accomplish. Many people will set out to lose weight or commit to working out on a regular basis and improving their overall physical health. In fact, this is probably the most commonly set “resolution” this time of year. The physical body is important, and we all should take better care of ourselves, but what other things should one consider?

Imagine for a moment that you set out on a journey to become a terrible husband or father this year. Does that sound strange to you? No man would choose such a goal for himself, would he? Like it or not, we all choose this goal and others like it when we are not intentional about our spiritual growth.

Whatever you feed will live, and whatever you starve will die. If you are not reading and studying God’s Word and striving to become more like Christ on a regular basis, then you are starving your soul and feeding your carnal nature. There is no middle ground, here, guys. You feed either one or the other at any given time.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

The concept of this verse is that you cannot serve God while you are serving yourself (or that which is in opposition to God). If you are not intentionally putting in the effort to become better than you are right now, then you are sliding down that slope of spiritual growth towards carnality. There is no standing still in spiritual growth – one moves either toward God or away from Him.  Therefore, the question for you is this: “What are you doing, right now, to become more than you are?”

Maybe you need to set some goals or make some changes in your life. Whatever the case may be for you, nothing changes when you change nothing. Be careful, men, what you feed this year, whether your own desires or the will of God. One must grow and the other must diminish. Consider the words of Paul as a guide for you as you set your goals for the coming year:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

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Stop Riding Those Spiritual Coattails!

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They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)

This statement does not only contain a proclamation of faith. It is “pregnant” [so to say] with an idea and a necessary step of all of our spiritual development as Christians. Let me explain. At first, when we are new believers we take much of what we now know of God on faith. We believe what our Bible teachers tell us and what our Preachers reveal in their sermons about the character and heart of God. That is wonderful, and it should be that way… …for new Christians.

The question we must confront and answer for ourselves is the heart of John 4:42; simply stated this way: “At what point have you stopped depending on others’ faith and started trusting in Christ for yourself?” We must, in our spiritual development, come to the point where our faith is just that — “OURS.” We must experience the goodness and faithfulness of God. We must also experience His chastisement, His rebuke that brings growth and molds our character ever more into the image of His Son. We need to open our eyes and see how He has been moving and continues to move in our lives. We must learn for ourselves that He is trustworthy, and that Romans 8:28 really IS true; no matter the circumstance. Without a concentrated, intentional effort on YOUR part, you will NOT have a faith of your own….you will, sadly, ride the coat tails of those brothers and sister who were brave enough to trudge ever onward and upward in Christ.

So today, my brothers, I call you to step off of whatever spiritual ”coattails” you are riding on, be uncomfortable, get your feet wet, and stand [on your own feet] for Christ. I promise there will be difficulties, trials, hardships and pain on this road…. But I also guarantee that the journey only gets sweeter and more fulfilling with every step you make with Christ. Follow Him. No matter where He leads. No matter the cost. The reward for doing so is absolutely immeasurable! Just ask David:

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)


Bullet-proof

I was thinking the other day how cool it would be to be “bulletproof.” Not too long ago, another remake of the original “Superman” movie was released into the box offices across the nation. I’m not sure how successful the movie was considered to be overall, but according to a June 23, 2013 article I found online, it had already grossed $398.3 million, worldwide. Apparently, the world is very interested in a story about a man who fights for what is right, just and fair…and who just happens to be “bulletproof” as well.

Of course, it is impossible for us mere mortals to have bodies that are impenetrable to bullets, as the “Man of Steel” does, but there is good news still to be heard today. The God we serve is infinitely higher and greater, stronger, faster, wiser, and more powerful than all of our ideas of what a “Superman” would be. Jesus is the perfection of all that we hope for, for all that is just, right, and fair.

Sadly, however, the majority of the human race chooses to reject Jesus, in all His splendor, and chooses instead to believe in ideals and fiction that will never be. Humanity simply cannot rise above and become altruistic. Man cannot become better than he is now. It is not in our nature to do so. So many, so sadly, spend their entire lives pursuing that which will never be. Only God, His will, His plan, His blessings and a relationship with Him are real, worthwhile and beneficial to man.

While the ideal of the “Superman” as Hollywood presents it is not a reality, there really is a way for us to be “bulletproof.” This “secret” is contained in the pages of the Book of Isaiah:

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.”

So here it is, the way to be “bulletproof.” This is not a way for us to bounce bullets off our chest, but a way to be capable of dealing with and not being ultimately defeated by all the bad things that come into our lives. The verse does not say that we will not deal with adversity. It does not say that we will not have times that we are knocked down, attacked or even brutalized. What it does tell us is that we have the undying, unquenchable, unending hope that our God will “never leave us nor forsake us.” We may be struck down, but we will not be defeated. We will rise…again and again…. Much like the mythical creature the Phoenix, we will often rise out of the ashes of what the Enemy “meant for harm” and [if we allow God to forge us], we will become more than we were before. By His hand we can become more than we are, we can grow, we can increase, we can become….all that He has called us to be.

We may never fly, jump tall buildings in a single bound, be we can all be SUPER men (of God) because Christ is the perfection of manhood, our goal, the standard by which we compare ourselves. Through the hand of God at work in our lives, allowing and trusting Him to use our adversities and our pain and suffering to change us, we can become true “men of steel”, impervious to all the attacks that our enemy might hurl at us.

Like Isaiah says, it is the heritage [the inheritance and the God-given right] of the servants of the Lord to enjoy His protection, His deliverance, and His blessings. So, put on “the whole armor of God” as you leave this morning and let’s be to those around us the example of what God would consider to be a Super man!