Monday, May 24, 2010

Got Servant Leadership?

Or do you lead by your will and pride? So, how did Jesus lead and ask you to be as you lead?

In John 13:1-17, we are given an extreme servant leadership is action!

Jesus gave us Himself as our “Example.” This means we are called to show others and influence and shepherd them¾not just tell them. Christian leaders are responsible to care for God’s people with faithfulness and honor, and never out of harshness or improper motivations (Matt. 23)! Jesus is our archetype and pattern for who we are and what we are to do—all in love and humility. We can trust Christ to lead us, and thus we can lead others in the same manner. This is also a contrast to Judas who was self serving and Jesus who is God and who serves. Jesus was demonstrating what the Disciples must do to participate in and spread the kingdom of God, focusing and developing others for Him by service, example, and humility. Get your direction from and mold yourself after Christ rather than trends, the latest ideas, or what you think will work.

Purely and simply, leadership is learned by first being a child and a servant of Christ. Neither an intellectual awareness nor Christian activity means anything without Christ.

We must be His to do as He wills; this takes our acceptance of Christ first, then our commitment and continual faith (example: Ezek. 34: 1-10; Luke 15:3-7; John 10:1-18; 21:15-17; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:3; love: Gal. 5:22-23; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 1 John 4:7-11; humility: 1 Kings 8:58; Psalm 25; Luke 22:27; Col. 1:18; Phil. 2:8; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:3-5)!

Look at this phrase: “No servant is greater than his master.” The word “Servants” referred to slaves or hired workers. They were much like the butlers and maids we have today, except they were usually “owned” by another person. (Yes, I know we sometimes feel that we are as Pastors and church leaders as people expect so much from us and we get back so little, but here there is a greater point.) The point here is that even though there were different types of slaves and servants, Jesus is referring to where the authority lies, which is always with the master; the servant exercises his authority through the master’s authority as a representative and thus servants are subordinate to him. In context, this is a reminder to never forget who you are—a child bought and redeemed by Christ. Do not take yourself so seriously; instead, take Him seriously (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:9; Phil. 2:7-8; Col. 3:11; 4:1).

We follow Him by means of “imitation,” as in do as you have seen me do and as I have instructed you. This passage was not meant to be a foot-washing ordinance; rather, it was an example of humble service. Real, effective leadership, whether meant to lead a person to the faith or to lead a church of the faithful is all about servant leadership. Ministry is not about what I want, it is about following Christ’s example and as a showcase for others to see and follow (Mark 10:35-45; Luke 22:26; John 1:27; 1 Cor. 3 - 4; Eph. 4; 2 Pet. 2:1-3).

Questions to Ponder

1. Can you think of examples of prideful leaders? Why are they never from God and never should be in control of His churches? Why would a church want such people? What can and should a church do with prideful leaders? (See what Jesus does in Matthew 23!)

2. How can we make sure that our ministry is not about what we want, but rather about following Christ as a showcase for others to see and follow? What can you do to make this happen?

3. How and why is leadership learned from first being a child of God and a servant of Christ? What happens when our direction comes from the latest ideas, or what we think will work?

4. What happens when Christian leaders are first and foremost servants of God who use us to serve others? What happens when we forget?

More here:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do you Glorify His Name!

John 12:20-50

Those who thought they were saved were wrong, while those who sought after Jesus were Saved!

In this passage is a group of Gentiles who sought Jesus out. Whoever these Greeks may have been is not important to us now. However, their passion to know Jesus is. So Jesus shows us a contrast between those perceived to deserve the receipt of God’s blessings and those who did not, a snub to the Pharisees; the Gentiles responded to Jesus and the religious leaders did not (John 7:35; Acts 6:1; 8:27; 13:26). As Jesus turns the tables on these pious fraud religious leaders and proclaims, “Draw all men to Myself.” Meaning salvation will be offered to “all kinds of people.” (This does not mean that Christ gives universal salvation or that we do not have to receive Christ to be saved, nor does it mean His death will save all people.) It means that Christ's sacrifice is powerful enough to save all, but it is each person’s responsibility to receive this work as stated later in this passage. All will not believe, but one day all will submit. This makes a major paradigm shift of the Gospel Message; see context notes (Rom. 8:19-22; 14:11; Phil 2:9-11; Col. 1:19-23).

The Greeks sought Him out; they asked to meet with Him and bore witness to a most incredible event that very few in all of humanity outside the of the Old Testament Prophets ever witnessed: the audible voice of God!

The character of these Greeks is the prime focus we bring to worship—our desire to know and praise Him. It is a desire to know Him more—not the pretentiousness of the religious leaders who scoffed or of some of the people whose pride and busyness and/or fears got in the way, but a surrendered act of reverence to know Him more. So much can disturb and distract us from worship; the attention of our fears, the thunder of our will, and the messengers of our desires clog our hearts and minds so that what we bring to worship is the noise of our will and the conceited and congested nature of our hearts. We may be in our churches physically, but are we there in the reality of desire and devotion? We tend to think church is to give to us, when truthfully, we are to come and give to Him. We think it is about us, when it is really about Him. We think we are the audience that needs to be entertained, when in fact it is all about Christ, who is the audience of our praise. We must bring, not take; we bring our hearts and minds and seek after our Lord with sincere, audible praise—to seek more of Him and less of ourselves

Questions to Ponder

1. Why would a person choose what is temporary and fleeting rather than God and His Truth that is eternal?

2. Is church about your needs or about His glory? Do you think much about yourself and little about the things of God? How does this influence how your church is run and its influence to the neighborhood?

3. Why do some Christians tend to think church is to give to them, when in reality, we are to come and give to Him?

4. How can you and your church have a better biblical mindset and accept that it is not about us, it is about Him?

5. What can you do to make sure your will and attitude are more interested in Christ than in yourself? What are some of the things that disturb and distract you from worship? What can you do about it?

More here:

Monday, May 10, 2010

How Do I Know I Am Saved?

In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us, whoever does the will of my Father. Faith is not earned, but it is exhibited by our devotion, obedience, and the continuation of building upon the faith that Christ gives. These are the things that matter, not what we do, as in works, or even the special relationship we have (James 1:22-25). The fact that God knows us and we can know Him is our true treasure. Our response is our growth in Him and making Him known to others (1 Cor. 8:2-3). Christ is the author and finisher of salvation to all who obey Him-so do you (Heb. 5:9)? Only those who obey from the heart will be delivered from their sin (Rom. 6:17-18)! Christ will come in judgment against those who do not obey His Gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-9)! So, what is your response? Don't rely just on feelings; where is your heart? We must take Jesus' sermon in Matthew 7 very seriously and, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6: 33; 7:21-23).

What is the Father's Will? It begins with the map of our salvation, His work; then, come our repentance and confession of Jesus as Lord by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; Rom. 10:10). Subsequently, out of a response of gratitude, we must live our lives with character, determination, and love, and by faithful service to Christ (Rev. 2:10; 1 John 1:9). If your faith is not practiced, it will not last which would be a true sign that you never had it, or you have not let it dive deep enough into you to create the transforming action from your fallen, sinful state to redemption in the blood of the Lamb. These things are not up to our judgment. They are His. Your fruits will tell the true story to others around you.

This is all about the Blood of Jesus! The sacrificial death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ appeased the wrath of God for us. This is the map that we follow. Because He did this, we can receive salvation as well as the joy and honor of receiving forgiveness for our sins. God is more merciful with us than we could ever be with anyone else, or could ever deserve. No matter what we go through from persecution or loss, we could never even catch a glimpse of what Christ gave to us through grace (Matt. 5: 3-12; Rom. 5:9; Rev. 1:5-6). This is what should fuel our confidence and assurance. Our access to God gives us monumental opportunities and shows us the depth and magnitude of how much we have been saved from. We have the ability to be bold and go before God because He has saved us, renewed us, and empowered us. We do not earn or deserve this outpouring; it is a gift of love and grace. (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 2:1-4; 4:15).

Our "full assurance of faith" is displayed by our commitment; so, our faith must not waver because we are trusting in and following Christ.

Salvation is not for us to just be saved and then sit in a pew; it is so we can be impacted and in turn be an impact on others. It is so we may be renewed, restored, empowered, and used. We have been transformed; our hearts and minds are changed and renewed when we receive Christ's work and gift of grace and we are thus released from a guilty conscience. It is all about who Christ is and what He has done, and that we have freedom because of His once-for-all sacrifice (Rom. 1:8-15; 1 Cor. 11:4; Phil. 1:3; Col. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:2; 2 Thess. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:1; Philemon 4). So, we can hold fast to the hope, be unshakably confident-without doubt or hesitation-in our trust in Christ. The reason is because Christ is faithful, even when our friends and circumstances are not. Thus, our confidence is in Christ, not the people in the church or how we are tested or treated either inside or outside the church walls (Acts 21:26; Rom. 3:24-26; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 3:1-14; 6:18-20).

Monday, May 03, 2010

Is there a Contradiction in John 12?

No! Remember, John is not written in a chronological order. His audience is Jewish and they do not think in terms of events in a linier fashion like many western cultures do. There is a potential problem in this text when compared to the other Gospel accounts. Is there a contradiction with Mark concerning the colt or in the order of the events? Or, what about Jesus’ anointing? When, and by whom was it done? Consider that Matthew’s audience was Jewish, so he sticks with the fulfillment of prophecy in his account. For the colt, Mark only mentions the donkey because his audience is Greek, and they would not know of or care about the colt or its significance. The accounts of Matthew and Mark are different from John’s in where the accounts of Lazarus and the anointing are. The difference was chronology; Jews were not chronological thinkers; Greeks were. Hence, the book of Luke, written to Greeks, is written in a chronological order, while Matthew and John focus on events. It’s like watching a movie in a “flashback" or a “flash-forward,” where the characters are shown in a different time and different setting and then it shifts to another or current time. In addition, the narrative in Luke was probably about a different woman at a different time, so there two accounts and two annointings—one by a repenting sinner at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and one of devotion and gratitude at the end. (Matt. 21:1-17; Mark 11:2; 14:1-11; Luke 7:36-50).

What is missed when we focus on trivialities is what we are called too. This passage ends with the narrative that has become the invocation to spread the word. The key for successful evangelism is the same as in advertising a product in the secular world; you have to “show and tell” others. We do this by words and by our actions of character and fruitful and faithful living. Be the difference so others can see our Living Lord by the mirror of yourself who reflects Him! To reflect Him, we have to act, think, and be as He has called us.

Have you ever carefully prayed and thought through where your agenda lies?

It is easy to disparage Judas who had his eyes on the money and not on Christ, but what of us?

What do you need to do to make sure your agenda for life and church is lined up with Christ’s—His call and will and not your schemes and wishes? This is paramount for a healthy church!