Leading the way God leads us

Believe it or not we are constantly influenced by our environment. Most of us tend to feel that we are “independent thinkers” and immune to persuasion from the world but you might be surprised how much you really absorb from the constant noise that broacasts at us from all directions. We can be especially influenced by people who are in our lives on a regular basis whether negative or positive.

Likewise, We all influence others. As Christians and leaders, we have been called to guide and direct those around us with our attitudes, words, and actions.

There are three keys to Biblical leadership acccording to the book of Galatians that I want to cover:

Longsuffering
Gentleness
Temperance

These keys are three of the nine “fruit of the spirit”

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The fruit of the spirit are  “The nine visible attributes of a true Christian life.” These are the outward manifestations of a solid inner spiritual walk with our heavenly Father.

In each of our lives there have been people who exhibited these principles toward us. Likewise we can show people the same.

The first principle we will study is Longsuffering:

Long Suffering

Long suffering is patience.  It is bearing one another’s burdens.  It may mean praying for someone, being there for someone, or even just listening.  There are many great examples of this in my life.  I have been allowed to grow in many categories as I was shown this patience and love.

Ephesians 4:2-3 – With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

In order to have someone’s abilities, we also have to learn to accept their shortcomings.  The result of this attitude is unity.

Colossians 1:11 – Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

God strengthens us with patience and longsuffering and we can have joy as we live that principle.

Longsuffering is a renewed mind concept. (Romans 12:2) It may not always feel natural, but it is an attribute that we can develop. It begins with removing the focus from ourselves and showing genuine concern for the lives of other people.

Gentleness

In addition to the literal act of being kind, gentleness means to have integrity and moral goodness.  It also means brotherly love, or may also be described as usefulness.

Gentleness is what leads a person to change.  God’s gentleness and grace allows us to change and grow naturally. He has forgiven our transgressions through the accomplishments of Christ and removed all sin, guilt, and condemnation from our lives. In turn, this is also how we lead people- with a kind attitude and lots of forgiveness.

Let’s look at what made the tremendous King David so successful.

II Samuel 22:36-37 – Thou [God] hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.  Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip

David was known for being a great warrior and leader for God but it was God’s gentleness that made David great. He led his people by the example of God’s goodness to him. We are called to lead as David did, with un-wavering courage but a gentle heart.

I and II Timothy are leadership epistles.  II Timothy 2:24 reminds us for whom we speak and the attitude we should carry.  Paul is reminding Timothy of this principle as he writes this letter:

II Timothy 2:24 – And the servant [doulōs] of the Lord must not strive [Machomai – engage in battle, fight, contend, dispute] but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

The word “servant” in this verse is doulōs which is someone who has made the freewill choice to serve God. In Bible times a doulōs servant would be a “bonded servant” and have all of their needs taken care of by the person entrusted to their care. It was not slavery or opression but a willing servant to the house of their master. The analogy fits perfectly with the concept of being servants of God today.

One of the requirements of being a leader and a servant of God is that we are gentle and understanding, as well as apt to teach (willing and ready to teach when the need arises) [1 Timothy 3:2]

Temperance

Temperance is another word for self-control.  This is a great key as a leader because anything that a leader does is amplified. Let’s take for instance the President of the United States.

When The President does something good, it’s all people talk about, and they are a hero! In contrast, if that leader does something wrong, everyone talks about it negatively for weeks, months, even years! Ad nauseum! (People still talk about Watergate 40+ years later) A leader’s choices are amplified because those choices affect the people he or she leads which makes it so much more important for leaders to have unwavering integrity.

Likewise, we have a responsibility to keep our lives in check and exercise self-control or temperance.  We are not leading a country, but we are called to lead God’s people; which is an even greater responsibility when it comes to the grand scheme of eternity.

The discipline of self is possibly the most difficult of disciplines.  This is because our old-man nature would have us doing the opposite. [Ephesians 4:22] This world subtly tries to influence us to drift apart from God and the framework of His Word.  It is our job to keep ourselves in check. No one else can carry that responsibility.

I Corinthians 9:25 – And every man that striveth for the mastery (as in an athletic contest) is temperate in all things. [egkrateuomai: to exercise self-control] Now they [those striving in athletic competitions] do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

This life is not a physical competition, but a spiritual one.  Every day we are living in this world, we have the ability to win spiritually.

Think of how much discipline it takes to be an Olympic athlete. It means daily discipline in their eating habits, exercise, thoughts, and even who they associate with. Olympians generally don’t practice their sport with non-Olympians… simply because they will instinctively drop their game to match those around them.  If they want to win, they need to be around people who challenge them to win.

Likewise we should choose our association wisely.  If we spend the bulk of our time around negative people, we will instinctively begin to think the same way.  In this regard it takes much effort and temperance to surround ourselves with people wo help us to be our best.

II Timothy 2:22 – Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

We are not just encouraged to avoid….but to FLEE youthful lusts. This is not only referring to the sexual category (although that is the connotation) it also refers to desires for material possessions and other distractions as well.

Anything that is a distraction from our walk with God falls into this category.

The benefits of keeping ourselves disciplined are eternal rewards and an incorruptible crown (as in I Corinthians 9:25 from earlier) Temperance is one of the fruit (or evidences) of the spirit that is exhibited as we walk with our heavenly Father each day.

In this study we looked at Longsuffering which is patience.  In order to have someone’s positive qualities we sometimes need to accept their shortcomings.

Next we looked at Gentleness which is kindness and love shown toward others.  We can have the courage of David but also the gentleness that made him a great leader.

Temperance is self control.  In order to be able to lead others we need to be accountable to ourselves and to those we lead.  This means that we are the same person behind closed doors as we are in public.  A great leader is a transparent leader.

With these qualities, or fruit of the spirit in mind, we can continue to walk as the leaders that God has called us to be, as sons and daughters, earning eternal rewards with Him.

God Bless You!

From a January 2010 Teaching
[brackets indicate my comments]
All scriptures KJV unless otherwise noted
Quotes from The Way Magazine, January/February 2010

Sufficient With Our Needs Supplied

Webster’s Dictionary defines Sufficient as:  “measuring up to all requirements without question.”

In order for God to be our sufficiency, we have to first become his Children (Romans 10:9)

“Once we have confessed Jesus as lord and believed in our heart that God has raised him from the dead, we are saved, born again. Then we receive power and strength from God. We are given God’s sufficiency. God has given us everything we need to live an abundant life—physically and spiritually.”

God’s sufficiency is already ours; we just have to accept it!

II Corinthians 3:5 – Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God

Recently I spent several days trying to solve a technical problem for a client, finally realizing that I hadn’t prayed about it yet, and had the problem solved in minutes after praying. Literally!  If I had realized sooner that God–as my sufficiency, was ready and willing to help me, the problem would have been solved much sooner!

Philippians 4:19 – But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

I remember learning the following concept very vividly from when I was younger.  It was on the subject of keeping our “needs” and “wants” parallel.  This means that we don’t allow the “wants” in life to overtake our decision making, (usually resulting in high debt) and we don’t need to deprive ourselves of basic needs to feel like we are holy. (usually resulting in feeling miserable and lacking) Instead we live a balanced life and allow God to meet our “needs” and also to go above and beyond to include our “wants” when His will is in harmony with them.

Like a pair of train tracks, these two concepts should align to carry us forward.

tracks-bw-small
Train Tracks must be perfectly aligned to safely carry trains. Photo: rlmillerphoto.com

According to John 10:10, Jesus Christ came so that we could have life, and have it more abundantly.  God is ready and willing to supply ALL of our needs by His son, Christ Jesus

III John 2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Above all other things, God wants us to be healthy and prosperous.  As we look to Him as our sufficiency we will have an abundance of both.

“Two keys to making God our sufficiency on a practical, everyday basis are aggressive believing and systematic giving.

Romans 4:21 – And being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he [God] was able also to perform.

Aggressive believing is refusing to quit until we see God’s promise come to pass in an area of our life.”

“Giving back to God makes us aware of our partnership with God in the material and financial realms as well as the spiritual. It is a concrete way to prove to ourselves that God is our sufficiency. Giving back to God cultivates the concept of sufficiency and abundance and eradicates the concept of lack.

What does it mean to “Give back to God?”

This is a biblical concept. The stark reality of life is that we truly have nothing that God has not provided for us. In the most basic of terms, God created this world and everything in it so we owe the praise to Him for our life – and the magnificent 4 season, water bearing, sun orbiting, temperature controlled natural environment of earth in which we live.

Likewise if all good things come from God, then we have to give Him credit for all good things in our lives large or small. (II Peter 1:3, Revelation 4:11)

The method in which we give is not important. You may choose to give to a ministry, a charity, a nonprofit, a neighbor, or a stranger but the key is that we give freely, as an acknowledgement of God’s initial gift to us.

II Corinthians 9:6,7 – But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.   Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

As we are aggressive in our believing and frequent in our giving, God pours on the benefits!

When we try to do everything ourselves we are not allowing God to bless us. It is only when we ask for His divine providence and help that we are able to see the result. When we give cheerfully, the doors are opened for God to provide.

Matthew 6:34 – Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

So let’s take it one day at a time, trusting that God is our sufficiency, Keeping our needs and wants in line, and expecting the blessings!

God Bless You!

From a November 2009 Teaching
Quotes from: theway.org
[Brackets indicate my comments]
All scriptures KJV unless otherwise noted

How Does the Soul Prosper?

III John 2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

So how does the soul prosper?

To answer that question we need to understand the biblical difference between the 3 aspects of humankind: Body – Soul – Spirit

Isaiah 43:7 (b)

… for I [God] have created him [man] for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

(For further research, please see the chart in this post entitled “Formed, Made, and Created”)

The body was formed by God from the dust of the earth.
The soul was made when God breathed into man.
The spirit was created in man by God.

The body is our physical being, our skin, organs, bones, and all of the other parts of our bodies that make us human. When we die, the body returns to the earth from whence it came.

The soul is the life within the body. Soul is inextricably tied to our breath life. Our soul life begins with our first breath when we are born and ends with our last breath when we die. Biblically, it refers to the entire experience of being human. Contrary to popular belief, soul is NOT the same thing as Spirit.

Spirit is given by God when someone becomes born again (Romans 10:9-10) Unlike our bodies and our soul life (breath life) which end at death, the gift of holy spirit cannot be taken away and does not end. (Hebrews 5:9, I John 5:11, Titus 1:2)

We were created for God’s glory.

In this teaching we will be focusing exclusively on the “soul” category.  This is the physical life we understand with our 5 senses.

How does our “soul” prosper?

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

God wants us to acknowledge Him as our source of wisdom, strength, and riches.  Without Him, the things we do are ineffective.  But with Him, everything we do is dynamic and powerful.

We keep God as a priority in our lives and our labour will prosper.  He can only prosper our “souls” when we are in fellowship and obeying His calling in our lives.  When we are outside of the “umbrella” of God’s favor, the things we do–don’t have as much of an impact.  We still get the job done but there is no abundance to it. Only God can provide true abundance and rewards.

Keeping God as our priority is a choice.  It is also a constant effort.  The enemy wants to steal our time, abundance, and allegiance. (John 10:10)

Those of us in the United States, just think about how we pledge our allegiance to the US flag.  What does that mean?  It means that we respect and honor the freedoms we have here, and vow our allegiance to the United States of America.  We stand behind our country because we believe it is the greatest country in the world!

Likewise we pledge our allegiance to God who created this country, the world, the universe, as well as everything and everyone in it…. and we keep His calling as a priority in our lives.

How do we prioritize our lives around God, rather than fit him into our lives? An example is told of a glass jar being filled with items to represent how we spend our time:

A teacher walks into a classroom and sets a glass jar on the table. He silently places 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more can fit. He asks the class if the jar is full and they agree it is. He says, “Really,” and pulls out a pile of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they fill the spaces between the rocks. He asks again, “Is the jar full?” They agree. So next, he adds a scoop of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles and asks the question again. This time, the class is divided, some feeling that the jar is obviously full, but others are wary of another trick. So he grabs a pitcher of water and fills the jar to the brim, saying, “If this jar is your life, what does this experiment show you?” A bold student replies, “No matter how busy you think you are, you can always take on more.” “That is one view,” he replies. Then he looks out at the class making eye contact with everyone, “The rocks represent the BIG things in your life – what you will value at the end of your life – your family, your partner, your health, fulfilling your hopes and dreams. The pebbles are the other things in your life that give it meaning, like your job, your house, your hobbies, your friendships. The sand and water represent the ‘small stuff’ that fills our time, like watching TV or running errands.” Looking out at the class again, he asks, “Can you see what would happen if I started with the sand or the pebbles?”

God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If we treat God as an afterthought like the sand or water then we are only filling Him in whenever it is convenient. If we see God as one of the large rocks and make living His Word as the highest priority in our lives, then everything else we do will be blessed.

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith [believing] it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

What happens when we diligently seek God?

Matthew 7:7-11 – Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

As we seek God our needs are abundantly met.  He opens doors for us and makes a way where there may be no way from our point of view.

Matthew 7:9 – Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

This refers to a large stone that was used to hold down stacks of flatbread that they ate in biblical times.  It would take the shape and color of the bread over time and would have even looked like a loaf itself.  A father would not give his son a rock instead of bread.

Matthew 7:10 – Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

Many people were fishermen in biblical times.  Often they would catch all kinds of critters in their nets including water snakes or eels.  A father wouldn’t give a serpent to his son instead of a fish for food.

Matthew 7:11 – If ye then, being evil, [having human nature] know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

As good as a father is to his son, or as good as we are to our families and one another, how much greater is God the Creator who provides all of our physical needs!

All it takes is a full and complete trust in Him.

Psalm 37:3-7 – Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Let’s put our trust in God the Creator and He will bless our lives.

We are complete in Him:   Body Soul and Spirit.

Our soul prospers as we keep God first in our allegiance and priorities.  We acknowledge Him as our source of strength!

From a teaching in August of 2009
[brackets indicate my comments]
All scriptures from the KJV version of the Bible unless otherwise noted

Teachings from the Word of God