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The church once owned the concept of servant leadership. When I say owned, I mean the church defined and demonstrated what it meant to be a servant leader. Throughout its history, the church transformed societies by leading as servants. We are now witnessing a reversal of this trend.

For its part, the world has done what the world does. As it has with so many Christian concepts, it has pirated and twisted the meaning and application of servant leadership. Make no mistake about it, the world’s definition and demonstration differ greatly from that of the Bible.

The purpose of this article is not to prove that point, but I will offer one example. In the kingdom of God, the ultimate leader genuinely humbled Himself unto death (Philippians 2:8). He subsequently commanded His followers to do the same (John 20:21). In the world, all things are ultimately motivated and constrained by the potential for greater profit.

The contrast between the world’s ways and those of God’s kingdom should not surprise us. Jesus came to establish a kingdom contrary to the world in every way. He is building His church as a counter-culture (i.e., not sub-culture) to the kingdoms of this world. Jesus Christ’s church is His catalyst for transformation.

So, what has happened to us?

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Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.

He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Psalm 37:5-6

One of the tricks our mind tries to play on us is the interpretation of Scripture to meet its preferences, and prejudices. This is perfectly normal… for the carnal mind.

But, we have the mind of Christ. We are empowered and responsible to think differently.

Consider Psalm 37:5-6. My carnal mind would prefer “commit your way to the LORD” to mean, “Here is my plan God, please bless it.” My carnal mind will pursue this line of thinking, hidden away in my subconscious. To avoid this deception, I must be diligent in my suspicion of the way my mind is thinking.

Jesus came to help us with that. His expression of Psalm 37:5-6 is “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It is important to note that Jesus made them disciple makers. That’s a lesson for another time. The point here is that God’s planning process is a following and making process.

Let me be clear: Failing to follow Jesus will result in the failure of God’s plan for you. Refusing to be made is a refusal of His plan.

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Business Man with TabletFor which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Luke 14:28-31

Counting the cost of following Jesus Christ has been lost by most of the church. If you have not been encouraged in this regard – or you have not been encouraging others – you will be blessed in reading our most recent lesson: The Lost Foundations – Counting the Cost… First.

Once you decide to count the cost (and/or encourage others to do the same), the following may help you get started.

  1. I have found that the most profitable starting point is a simple conversation with our Heavenly Father (imagine that). Here are some good conversation starters:
    1. Father God, stir up the desire you have placed in my heart – to hear your voice regarding the cost of following your Son.
    2. Father God, stir up the desire you have placed in my heart – to invest in Your kingdom.
    3. Father God, give me the opportunity to begin the investment strategy Your Spirit reveals.
  2. Keep in mind that a person’s perception of reality can be bent in one of two ways: Toward optimism, or pessimism. Both can be dangerous; pessimism, more so. Be wary of your mind’s leanings.
  3. Counting the cost may reveal areas where we are still reigning – in charge of our investment decisions. There is a fine line between what we would like to have, and what we demand, to be satisfied in life. If God and Christ are truly reigning, then everything we have been entrusted with is subject to their investment decisions. Repentance regarding ownership may be in order.
  4. Counting the cost may reveal areas where we are living in fear. Ask yourself: What do I fear losing? Remember, behind every fear is a lie, deal with the lie and the fear will fly. Ask God to identify the lie, and the truth that will overcome it. 
  5. NOTE: Beyond this point, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in determining which of these helps will best exercise your faith.
  6. One way to test your counting is to consider a past commitment. For example, you may have promised Jesus that you would follow Him anywhere. Or, you may have commitment some amount of time to serve those less fortunate. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the commitments you have already made.
  7. If you have not made a particular commitment, then allow the Holy Spirit to prompt your imagination for a particular kingdom investment opportunity. Be careful; our minds are tricky things. They have a tendency take what the Holy Spirit suggests out to something entirely farfetched; something to which we can easily say “no way”.
  8. Jesus did not hide, nor soft pedal, the investment required to follow Him. The lesson mentioned above highlights a number of specific costs. The Parable of the Sheep and Goats, the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission are also helpful challenges for our counting. Incorporate those in your time with the Holy Spirit (in #2).
  9. Our love of the LORD should be the primary motivator for counting the cost (and paying it). Ask yourself: Do I love Him so much that I would joyfully sacrifice my __________?

I trust and pray this will help you become a more active investor in the kingdom of our LORD. Please, let me know if I can help you further.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Shining Light (Biblical concept-Hiding your light under a bushelLet your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The workplace was created by God to provide man with the means for loving Him; and not just with our finances. We are to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. All our talents should be invested into His kingdom work.

To love God fully, we must love our neighbors as ourselves. We love God by loving others, in and through our work. Furthermore, kingdom enterprise has supernatural power to transform communities through works of mercy and service.

When we do our work for others – to meet the needs of employees, customers and those less fortunate – they will see beyond who we are and recognize the One that gives all good gifts to men. They will glorify our Father in heaven. In beholding His glory, they will be transformed (2Corinthians 3:18).

As you make plans for the remainder of this year, be sure to include at least one strategy and project for the One that you serve. Include others in the work. Plan to sacrifice.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Roughly ten years ago, God pushed me out of the corporate workplace; and stirred a desire in my heart to help Christian leaders find joyful, Spirit-filled ministry. Of course, I wanted to know how He expected that to happen. He told me:

Surrender to My purpose;

Sacrifice for My plan; and,

Submit to My power.

I did not realize it at the time, but later discovered that this process is found in Psalm 37.

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Psalm 37:4-6

God has placed a desire for joyful, Spirit-filled ministry in the heart of every Christian. That ministry may manifest through a pastor, business owner, elected official, teacher, homemaker, etc. It may look as expected (e.g., leading a church, running a business); and it may include rescuing unborn children, feeding the homeless, taking the gospel to the nations, etc. The common denominators are: God’s promise to give us these desires; and – now this is important – our being soft in the LORD (the literal meaning of “delight”). In other words, we must surrender to His purpose in the desires of our heart.

Furthermore, for God to give us the desires of our heart, we must turn over our plans (i.e., way) to Him; trusting Him to do what He desires with them. As followers of Jesus Christ, we can expect to encounter sacrifice – even suffering (Philippians 2:5-8); for His plan is as much about our transformation as it is about our desires (2Corinthians 3:18). Trusting Him in this way marks us as His heir (Romans 8:17). Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowJesus only spoke what the Father was speaking; and that with intentionality. In the Chapter Five Summary, we recognized that Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, in order to lay a foundation for our understanding of the normal Christian life – a life of being, and being made.

Only Jesus Christ can live the normal Christian life. We know that He has come to live that life in and through us. The first disciples did not have the advantage of that understanding; and still, they determined to trust and follow Him. For the modern disciple, this is a challenge and encouragement to embrace the truth: Jesus would only command that which the Father was willing and capable of doing (Philippians 2:13).

It is essential that we understand this from the beginning; for the sayings of Chapter Six are otherwise confusing and/or discouraging. Jesus made it clear from the beginning that our hope must not be in our self will and power. If you have not understood and embraced the sayings of Chapter Five, go back and allow the Holy Spirit to transform you through the renewing of your mind. Only then will you be prepared to hear and do the sayings of Chapter Six.

General Message

The overarching theme of Chapter Six is sacrifice. From giving up the praises of men and our right to hold them accountable, to forgoing earthly treasure and security for that which is eternal, Jesus’ sayings leave no doubt that we must sacrifice our earthly desires to participate in His plans. This, of course, should not surprise us.

… whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. … whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27 and 33

As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. John 10:15

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

Sometimes we just have to hear the most obvious truths over and over again; because our minds have a sneaky way of passing over (or forgetting) them. Jesus’ walk on this earth, from start to finish, was one of sacrifice. He calls His disciples to follow Him. Where do we think that following will take us? Why would we expect it to look any different than what He experienced?

Specific Sayings

As you consider the following list of sayings found in Chapter Six, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance toward the ones that you should be working out with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Yes, that is the way we find the normal Christian life.

  1. Resist the Enemies’ Temptations
  2. Do Things God’s Way
  3. Learn to Pray
  4. Forgive Their Trespasses
  5. Fast to Please God
  6. Store Up Treasures in Heaven (Part 1)
  7. Store Up Treasures in Heaven (Part 2)
  8. Store Up Treasures in Heaven (Part 3)
  9. Get Focused; Stay Focused
  10. Do Not Worry About Your Life

There are many sayings like these within and outside of the Sermon on the Mount. Most Christians know and give assent to their existence. Far less hear and do them with the necessary passion. We have been lovingly and justly warned: Waiting until the storm hits to begin hearing and doing the sayings of Jesus – even the hardest to hear and do – is to wait for our destruction. It is foolishness. Amen.

Humbly yours and forever His,

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