THEY CALL US IMPOSTERS

We can’t control what other people think. Even the most influential, integral men throughout history had people who found fault with them. Look no further than the Apostle Paul.

2 Corinthians 6:3-8 (NLT) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors.

There is scarcely a worse feeling in the world than someone accusing you of something that is just not true. It’s so frustrating when you realize that you can’t do anything to change their mind. I’m not sure there is a greater man in scripture than Paul. He endured so much hardship, was falsely acused, cared SO much for the church and the people he brought to Christ, lived with absolutely integrity, experienced God’s power working through him, walked in righteousness, yet people still looked at him and said, “you’re an imposter.”

Really?

Yet, He purposed in His heart that He would honr God regardless of how people treated him.

You can live the perfect life (well, you probably can’t, but still…) and people will still find fault in you, misjudge your motives, make false assumptions about you and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Our initial instinct is to push back and strive to prove them wrong, but ultimately that energy is wasted. Their mind doesn’t change and we feel miserable.

We need to learn from the example of Paul. We need to release our need to be perceived as correct, and I’m talking to myself here. We need to recognize that when we are falsely accused, God sees us as we truly are. If someone attacks our integrity, we know that God knows the truth. If you know you are right with God then you can release their false accusations and continue to be faithful to the work God has called you to do.

Integrity will be proven over time.

One statement I live by is that as I continue to be faithful, God will continue to be fruitful. So today, let us decide in our hearts to keep honoring God by the way we live our lives. Let us continue to walk in righteousness. May we keep our hearts pure for His purposes as we seek His presence. Even though they call us imposters, we know our hearts and so does the Lord. Continue to be faithful to the Lord and He will be faithful to produce good fruit in your life.

Do not be overwhelmed by the opinions on man, but keep your thoughts steadfast on the Lord and the purposes of the Lord.

Isaiah 26:4 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

The Great Conquerer

We all loves stories of mighty men who conquered cities and obtained great wealth. I especially love stories of the underdog, the man who started with nothing and fought his way to greatness. We love those stories, in part, because we want to be that person. We want to be great. We want to be the person who has it all. Ambition is not a bad thing, but ambition without discipline is dangerous.

Proverbs 16:32 (NLT) Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.

I love the way this is phrased because let’s face it, it’s not good to be powerful if you are not also patient. I think of the Hulk, he is powerful, but not patient and stuff gets all smashed up. He’s unpredictable and everyone has to walk on egg shells around him.  That’s not positive.

In the same way what value is there in conquering a city if you can’t conquer yourself? No matter what you gain, a lack of self control will eventually cause you to lose it all. How many people reach place where they have obtained it all, yet they are completely empty and hollow?

Proverbs 17:1 (NLT) Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.

The value of life is not in what we obtain or in physical accomplishment. Achievement mixed with conflict, rather it be outward conflict with others  or inner conflict within yourself, the ultimate goal is to be at perfect peace! Many times our focus is on outward gain and outward achievement. Too often we are willing to sacrifice our inward peace for outward gain. That makes us unhealthy on the inside. Our souls are not at rest. (Recently I read the book, “How’s Your Soul” by Judah Smith. I definitely reccomend it.)

What good is it to gain all you’ve ever wanted, if you’re not happy? If theres conflict in you or around you? If you’re mind is not at peace?

Of course true peace comes from Jesus. In fact, our souls are never more content than when we are right with the Lord. Jesus himself illustrated that it is better to be right inward than outward.

Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

I would rather have nothing and be right with the Lord than have everything and be spiritually bankrupt. So often as we get further in life, achievement, ambition and financial goals become more insistent in their demands. Our spiritual growth can sometimes be put on the back burner as more of our time is eaten up with pursuing educational, relational or career success.

Some people conquer the world, or at least they seem to succeed in all they do, but true greatness is achieved by conquering yourself. Work to be someone who is truly patient in all things, filled with self control and lives at peace, both within yourself and with others.

Most importantly make sure that you are right with the Lord. “Denying yourself” to take up your cross and follow Jesus is no easy feat. It is most unnatural, but the one who does finds true freedom and a peace beyond understanding.

Things in the spiritual Kingdom of God are often counter intuitive to our natural thinking. Just like Jesus said, if we try to hold on to our lives and all the things the world says are important such as power, money, and having the biggest house or the nicest cars then ultimately we lose our lives to them. However, if we are willing to lay all that down for the sake of Jesus then we will truly live. Then we will conquer ourselves. That is what it takes to truly be great. 

The Deceptiveness of Sin

I like to think of sin as a weed growing in the midst of a beautiful green lawn. It springs up seemingly overnight and spreads quickly. Sometimes we try to pull it out, but it grows right back unless we dig down and pull it out at the root. So what is the root of sin?

I think sin is rooted in two things, selfish ambition and deception.

All sin stems from selfish ambition. Sin started wth selfish ambition when Lucifer decided he should be God and got thrown out of heaven. It grew in the garden of Eden with deception as the serpent deceived Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.

I want to look at the very first King of Israel, King Saul and see how selfish ambition and deception played its part in losing his kingdom to David.

One early misstep of Saul is found in 1 Samuel 13:8-14. His armies are preparing for battle and they were instructed to wait for Samuel to perform the sacrifice, but Samuel didn’t show up and Saul took matters into his own hands.

There will be times in life when we will feel like God hasn’t shown up, it is in those times we must remember to wait on the Lord. Do not rush into action! Be patient.

Saul sacrificed the offering himself and as fate would have it, right as he was finishing Samuel comes into the camp and sees what has taken place. He confronts the king, “What have you done?!”

Saul is quick to defend himself, “You didn’t arrive when you said and I didn’t want to lead the men into battle without first asking for the Lord’s help, so I did what I thought was right.” Verse 13-4 tells us Samuel’s response, 

1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT) “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end…”

Saul’s reasoning was sound, I read Saul’s thought process and I’m like, “Yea, that sounds good.” But Good is often the enemy of God. Human reasoning leads to deception when we should just trust in the Word of God.

Saul is again deceived in 1 Samuel 15. God had given Saul specific instructions and he again disobeyed the Lord, but again when he was confronted Saul defended himself and his actions as right and pleasing to the Lord.

1 Samuel 15:13-15  When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”

14 “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.

15 “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”

God wasn’t interested in Saul’s sacrifices, he was interested in His obedience, but Saul was deceived and it cost him his kingdom. What if Saul had acted in humility and repented before the Lord? Instead he doubled down on his wrongful action and guarded it as right.

All throughout Saul’s story he is deeply deceived. Even though God told him that he would lose the Kingdom and another would be made King, Saul still found himself controlled by a strong and selfish desire to hold onto power and make his son the next king.

1 Samuel 18:13-14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him.

 At this point Saul’s heart has become completely ruled by deception and selfish ambition. He no longer desires to see God’s will succeed. He is afraid of David because God is with him. Immediately after this Saul attempts to have David killed in battle.
The deception keeps getting worse. In 1 Samuel 20 Saul confronts his son Jonathan, who was fiercely loyal to David. “Jonathan, my son! As long as David lives you will never be king!” Jonathan questioned why David had to die and because of Saul’s deep deception he attempted to kill his own son.
When we hold onto selfish ambition rather than letting go in surrender and submission, we become more and more deceived.
Psalm 111:10 (NLT) Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!
We must lay down our own desires and submit to Jesus as Lord. When we obey we grow in wisdom, but when we choose not to obey we decrease in wisdom and deception creeps in.
I want to encourage you today to examine the motives of your heart. Are you fully driven by a desire to please the Lord in all things or do you sometimes find that you’re still attempting to do things your own way rather than relying upon His divine direction?
It is never too late to become a person fully submitted to the Lord. Let us daily decide to lay down our lives for the sake of His truth. God’s way leads to peace, joy and hope. Our way ultimately leads to dismay, deception and death.

Spiritual Fruit

We’ve come to the end of our second week together. Once again I’d like to close this week by evaluating our Spiritual progress. Last week I briefly made mention of the fruit of the Spirit. This week I’d like to take a closer look.

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

There is good news and bad news. Would you like the bad news first? If the answer is no then skip this paragraph. These are all spiritual qualities that we are incapable of producing in our own ability. No matter how hard we find, there is no true joy or peace unless the Spirit produces it in our lives. Sure we can find worldly substitutes, worldly joy, worldly peace, but such peace only lasts so long as our present circumstance. Spiritual joy lasts no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

The good news, because we cannot produce these qualities in our own ability we don’t have to freak out about not having enough of one of them. We can simply go into our prayer closet, shut the door and get alone with our Father. As we grow closer to God many of these fruits will automatically become more apparent in our lives. The Spirit produces them.

If you’re like me and you find yourself struggling with some of them from time to time, you don’t need to panic. Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you are really struggling to speak kindly to a specific person for whatever reason. You don’t panic and say, “I thought I was a Christian, why am I not more kind?!”

You simply go and pray, “Lord, I am struggling to treat this person with kindness, please produce this fruit in a greater amount in my life. Help me to speak to them with kindness, help me to show them kindness with my actions, so that You might receive glory.

That sounds simple, but like many simple things it isn’t easy. Many times we feel they deserve the attitude we are harboring for them, and maybe they do. However that doesn’t change the fact we need to treat them with kindness.

I challenge you to find some time today and reflect on each of these fruits and ask yourself if you  are truly displaying them in every area of your life.

Start with love. This is the most important one for me. I believe that as we grow in Christ, our love grows in correspondence. The more spiritually mature we are, the more love we have, not only for the people in our lives, but for the world. Our compassion for those in need is increasing as well.

Joy and Peace. I know they’re not the same thing, but similar thoughts come to my mind. These are difficult to have in challenging situations. I think they may be the best tool we have in evaluating our spiritual life. If we are living in the Spirit, I believe we will have sufficient joy and especially peace. When times come and we find ourselves lacking in this department, it’s time to evaluate. Ok Lord, where have I stopped living in the Spirit and started living in the natural?

Patience is also a challenge! How many times do we act impulsively instead of waiting on leading from the Lord?

Kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. These qualities are so vital to us as Christians and we should display them in every situation. Are we always kind? Are we always good? Are we always faithful? Are we always gentle? No, but everyday is an opportunity to grow greater fruit.

Self-control is last, and I am sure it is by design. The ability to truly control oneself in every way is a true test of maturity. This is our goal, to be completely spirit led, to surrender every ounce of control and let the Spirit have His way. To not act in every situation, to hold our tongue on when needed. Yet also to act boldly and speak truth as the Spirit leads. This should be the goal of every believer.

If you’re reading this today, I just want you to know that you’re gonna make it. You’re not forgotten and you haven’t made too many mistakes. Today is perfect day to determine in your heart a renewed determination to live for Jesus, to develop spiritual fruit and display to the world the love of Christ.