What Real Success Looks Like

The latest statistics on prescription drugs are proof that we truly live in a time where more and more people are dealing with massive amounts of discouragement, depression and despondency. This is happening during a time in which personal and corporate success is being heralded as the answer for everything.  While many have found solace through, money, their career, pastoral counseling or from a prescription bottle, others are still desperate for someone to step forward with words of encouragement.

 

Real success is not about wealth or fame. The reason? Success is fleeting. One can be successful today, without being effective tomorrow. For our lives to count in the long run, we must realize that it is what we do for others that truly counts. Sharing a kind word, a note of appreciation or a text stating our love is positive for both giver and receiver. Every one of us can be about the ministry of encouraging others.

 

Yes, there are people who possess the motivational gift of encouragement. And yes, they tend to get very excited when they are able to encourage another person. But, even if we don’t see ourselves as “gifted” to encourage others. We all must be concerned about the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health of others (than we are about ourselves).

 

As Christians, we should encourage the lost to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But we should not stop there. We should ask the Holy Spirit to stir our hearts and give us opportunities to love, encourage and console. How can we effectively do this? By caring about others. Let’s look at the example Jesus gave us.

 

Jesus cared about and saw the potential in every person He met. Whether well or ill, young or old, Jesus noticed, took time to talk and then encourage everyone around Him. One day when Jesus was teaching the adults, there were some children who were brought to be blessed by Him. His disciples, not wanting Jesus to be bothered, tried to turn away the children. The words Jesus spoke concerning their actions were not only directed toward His disciples, but for us as well. Matthew 19:13-14 says, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

 

The Gospels are filled with a great number of stories of Jesus blessing and encouraging adults and children. In them Jesus encouraged the hurting, discouraged and desperate people. Examples include Bartimaeus (a blind beggar who He healed), Zacchaeus (a well known tax collector with whom He had lunch with), Jairus (the leader of a local synagogue whose daughter had died, but Jesus raised her from the dead) and an unclean, outcast woman with a terrible blood condition who dared to transgress the law to be near Jesus. This unnamed woman touched the bottom edge of Jesus’ robe hoping to find some relief. While others ignored or dismissed her, Jesus stopped, turned to talk and then encouraged her (Matthew 9:20-22).

 

Barnabas is another example of a person who encouraged others. While Barnabas understood his talents, abilities, and especially, his limitations, he chose to stay positive by encouraging others. In fact, he did a very unusual thing. He went to Tarsus to look for man called “Saul of Tarsus.”  This religious zealot was prosecuting Christians for their faith. No one was interested in being a friend to him. No one, that is, but Barnabas. Barnabas encouraged, helped and became a friend to the person who would come to be known as the Apostle Paul (Acts 11:24-25).

 

The actions of Barnabas is the picture of encouragement. He was willing to accept, work with, encourage and then travel with the Apostle Paul when other leaders didn’t fully trust him or care to be near him. Even years later, when Barnabas chose to separate from Paul’s ministry, he chose to spend his time pouring into a young man named John Mark (who had abandoned Paul and Barnabas while on an earlier mission trip). No doubt Barnabas saw that John Mark needed encouraging. It is also evident that Barnabas could look beyond the faults of people and see their needs as well as what they “could be.”

 

Will you seek to encourage, bless and console the people around you today? Will you give positive reinforcement and remind others that God will supply all of their need according to His riches in glory? In doing so you will be a blessing. You will sow seeds to your own harvest of blessing.  For whatever we sow, we reap. If we give encouragement, encouragement will be given to us when we are in need of it.

 

I encourage you today with the words from 1 Peter 5:7. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” Yes, the Lord really cares. He really cares about you!

 

Because our Lord cares for us, let us also care about others and encourage them today!

 

Be Encouraged!

 

Robert

Choose to Be a Blessing, Not a Burden

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. Isaiah 46:9-11 NIV

 

These words are very comforting to me. The God of the Universe chose to bless me. His choice was declared long ago. These verses say that His plans will not be thwarted by anyone or anything. He is resolute, diligent and trustworthy concerning that which He has chosen. If He promised it, He will perform it. Hebrews tells us that the man sent to fulfill the Father’s plan and purpose was and is the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All of the Gospels tell of Jesus living out God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation. Everywhere Jesus traveled they watched Him beckon, bless, minister, teach, heal and guide. Even when they speak of Him chastising or disciplining His disciples, it was done with an eye on His divine purpose.

Everyone coming in contact with Him is called to embrace to the working of His redemptive purpose. That purpose is to see the blessing of God rest in, on and through every man, woman, boy and girl on the planet. The very essence of that purpose was declared and was perhaps best described by the Apostle Peter in a sermon to the household of Cornelius.

 

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. Acts 10:37-38

 

Peter declared the purpose of the Lord’s ministry was to break the power of darkness, to invoke the power of light and to bring all people, both Jew and Gentile, into complete union with the Son. This purpose was accomplished as Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and power.

 

After the resurrection and ascension, the union of believer with the Lord Jesus is described by the Apostle Paul as the believer being “in Christ” and at the same time having, “Christ in us.” Sadly, many in the Church today seen to miss the focus of or fully embrace the richness of this statement. While many may say that their true loyalty is to Christ Jesus, in the lives of most modern believers, it is the traditions they have grown up with or the theologies they have learned that have become more important than the purposes of Christ Himself.

 

His purpose is to transform us into the image of God’s dear Son, by and through the same anointing He was anointed with. He wants to reconcile us to our original purpose, which is, to embrace and enjoy union and fellowship with the  Heavenly Father, Him and with each other. Only then can we really know Him. When we embrace and enjoy “Christ in others” a revelation occurs. The Holy Spirit opens our spiritual understanding and we begin to see the opportunity that has been afforded each of us. That opportunity is to “become the blessing.” Such can only occur as we choose to give that which we have been given. We must open ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to flow from us as a stream or channel. Then, as other do the same, we will be joined to other streams (believers) for the purpose of eventually flowing together with all believers into the great river of God, which is the Holy Spirit, and purposed to bless all humanity.

 

The manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit was upon Jesus to heal the sick and set the captive free. The same should be expected by us all as we worship together, pray together and be together in His Name. It is in that place that all who are under the power of the devil are healed and delivered. In that place is fullness of joy, even life evermore. In His Presence the blind see, the deaf hear and the cripple walk. Let us lay aside any weight that besets us, keeping us from embracing and enjoying Christ in us—the Hope of Glory.

 

I encourage you to pray concerning this with me today. I believe we are standing in front of an awesome opportunity. But, we will have to choose. We will need to choose to be like the Lord Jesus. We will need to pray for His ultimate purpose to fill our thoughts and to become a blessing to Him and to all we meet. It is His desire that we come together in one accord and purpose. It is His will for the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing and flow from each of us. The flow of His Manifest Presence will “water the earth” where we live and minister. This water of life will bring forth the purposes of blessing and bud into the fruit of the Spirit. Let us ask for the Holy Spirit to help us learn to pour out the glorious life He has blessed us with so that others may be healed and blessed. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Serve Today. Be His Hands Extended.

I am continuing my thoughts on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  It has become more and more evident that the modern Christ-follower understands little about the purpose of the Holy Spirit other than to bring about a person’s salvation.  In the last chapters of John, Jesus shared with His disciples that the Holy Spirit’s ministry would be to take of the things (words, will, and ways) of Christ and reveal them to, in and then through the believer.

Such revelation (by both information and installation) enables the believer to follow, live for and then minister not only “for” the Lord Christ Jesus, but “as” Him. Paul used the term “ambassador” to convey the same idea in 2 Corinthians 5. The Lord Jesus Christ desires to shine from and through every Christ follower by the Holy Spirit. But, the Holy Spirit can only do this as the Christ follower submits to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s expression is limited by our level of our surrender, knowledge, understanding, fears, experiences, etc. 

The Holy Spirit seeks to do more than to remind us of the words written in our Bibles. He seeks to make the Word of God experientially known to, in, and through us. His full expression can be prevented and/or limited by many different things. These things include, pride, unconfessed sin, lack of faith, fear of men, lack of spiritual understanding or by our lack of understanding concerning God’s Word.

Why is this so important to understand? It is because the Lord Jesus Christ will not glorify Himself by His own self-expression. The expression of Who the Lord Jesus Christ “is” was given to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must not be prevented or limited in the very purpose for which He was given to us. Max I. Reich put this beautifully when he said, “If we make room for the Holy Spirit, He will make room for the Lord Jesus.” The converse is also true, that if we do not make room for the Holy Spirit, He cannot make room for the Lord Jesus.4

The Galatian Christ-followers had deviated from the gospel by accepting the teaching of the Judaizers. The Judaizers were Jews who were saved by grace but believed that to be “completely saved or completed in their faith” a believer had to follow the Law of Moses (including all of the fence laws created by the Pharisees and Sadducees). They taught that a Christ follower was not completely saved by grace, but was completed by keeping the Law. In response to them Paul wrote, “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)

Paul is asking them a rhetorical question as to their belief of being justified by grace and then sanctified or completed through keeping the law. Paul presses the point in Galatians chapter five, verse four, by saying, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4 KJV)

And while Paul does not seem to be telling them they have fallen from grace to the point of losing their salvation. Their salvation (which was a spiritual and legal matter) should and would have been producing a sanctified life—if they were making room for the Holy Spirit to fill and manifest in and through their lives.  

So while Paul does not seem to be addressing their salvation, he is directly addressing the spiritual development of the Galatians. He is telling them that it is impossible to start out in the Spirit and finish in the flesh. It wasn’t that Jesus (their Savior) had become of no use to them. It was that their spiritual development in Christ (the Anointed One and His anointing revealed in and by the Holy Spirit) had become of no effect or use to them. They had drifted away from the original gospel. They saw themselves as being saved without the need to become what God has intended—Christ Ambassadors that were full of the Spirit.

Paul’s solution for the Galatians was for them to stop trying to live the Christian life in their own strength and to experience the victorious Christian life through the Holy Spirit. They had been saved. Their lives had changed. But, they had only experienced a limited amount of victory over sin. But as far their lives radiating the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus, there was very little of that. Why? The Lord Jesus has given that ministry over to the Holy Spirit5 and they were unwilling to recognize and embrace the Holy Spirit’s purpose for their lives.

I want to encourage each of us to come to the following revelation, which is, if the Holy Spirit is not recognized and depended upon for the work of completing and developing our spiritual lives, He simply cannot perform it. We see this same pattern of thought in Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians, “Quench not the Sprit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We must stop “trying” and start “being.” Our being in Christ produces a becoming that is inspired and conducted by the Holy Spirit. The more we give of ourselves to Him, the more He will develop and reveal Christ in and through our lives.

Take the step. Declare that you are in the state of becoming totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit. Ask the Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus to help you make room for the Holy Spirit. Pray to experience Him. Seek to depend upon Him. Walk and live in Him. I promise your life will never be the same. Why? You will become Christ’s hands extended to the hurting and the hopeless. Your hands will be His hands—open, loving and conveying the love of God to everyone around  you.

God bless you.

Robert