Tag Archives: power

The Courage to Be

“Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10 : 39)

Introduction 
Since the dawn of time mankind has struggled to find meaning in life.   Jesus posits a challenge in our text this morning. 

Jesus challenges us to find not only the true meaning for life; but also challenges us to dedicate the life we find to him for his purposes. 
Who am I?  Where am I?  Am I awake or asleep?  Alive or dead?  How did I get here?  What am I supposed to do while I’m here?  Is there life after death?  Why is there death? 
         

The Movie, “The Matrix” sought to answer these questions.  In this movie the world we know as reality is depicted as some form of pseudo-reality.  It was a sham, a hoax, perpetrated by those who sought to enslave humanity through use of its vices and weaknesses.  The real world in “the Matrix” was the machine world; a world of reality confined to numbers and cold, unemotional purpose.  If you had a purpose you were allowed to serve the Architect of this pseudo reality otherwise you were terminated. 
         

The key was to have your mind expiated from this pseudo reality by Morpheus and to be reborn as a cross between human and machine.  Once freed your powers were increased and you could fight the machine world to regain and protect the pseudo reality which you despised in the first place.  Zion as it were was the city of bliss and happiness that all humans coveted; it had to be protected at all costs.  Zion was the aim and object of those seeking to be freed.  It was a very intriguing movie but left us just as confused as we were before its production.  For you see trying to answer life’s questions apart from Jesus is futile, frustrating, and fruitless.
         

Jesus uproots us from this pseudo reality and transports us into a new reality, the reality of God’s Kingdom. We can choose to spend our life trying to discover what and who we are in this world or we can spend our time discovering what and who we are in the Kingdom.  In the former choice, we find a never ending story; but in the latter decision we find absolute power, purpose, and passion for living.  In other words we can spend our time finding out who and what we are only to keep discovering that we can’t fully discover it or we can find and discover who we are based on our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let us explore these two choices, seeking to find out about ourselves in this world or seeking to find out about our relationship to God in this world. 

These two choices are reflected in the words of this text:  “Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”  This is a strange and mind boggling text.  It seems to suggest two pathways; one that leads to death and one that leads to life after death. 

In other words, even after we spend a lifetime looking for the answers to the quintessential questions “Who Am I?” “Why Am I Here?” outlined before, even after we find the answers, we will still end up losing our life. 

So, should we spend our time looking for our life knowing that we will lose it anyway?  Or should we decide how we will live our lives in this world?

Move 2
Now consider this:  We are persons!  “A person is one who knows the world around him and particularly who knows himself in relation to that world and to other persons. . . . A person may be influenced from without, but the determining factor in shaping life and destiny is from within.  Others may influence us; we determine ourselves.  This means that a person has the power of looking ahead and of choosing one’s own course in light of moral distinctive. 

Thus the challenge that Jesus poses is a challenge that can literally be accepted.  This challenge is to “be or to become.”  It is to find out who and what you really are and to “be” that unique distinct person, and then surrender that person to him and his cause.  It is what Paul Tillich in his novel work The Courage to Be puts this spin on the text:. ” …  Therefore, Jesus says that we are to take accept the life we find or determine within ourselves to use that life for his purpose, power, and passion.  That passion is to help others discover their true selves and then commit that self to God through a personal relationship with Jesus as a disciple.  Since loss of life is inevitable, Jesus challenges us to lose it doing the will of God rather than our own.  But who can make such decision without first discovering who they are and “being” who they are in relation to this world?  None of us can truly decide to become disciples of Jesus until we first discover who we are without Jesus.  From such thinking is derived the saying of Shakespeare, “To Thine Own Self Be True.”  

There are obstacles to determining who and what we are.  They are three:  intimidation, domination, and manipulation.  Each derive from our relationship with others.  Your environment influences your choices; intimidation, domination, and manipulation negatively influence you becoming your true self.  All three of these obstacles are the forces of darkness that seek to cut you off from the light which shines once you obtain wisdom and knowledge about yourself.  Only after overcoming these three negative influences can we discover our true self and with that the “life” of which Jesus speaks.

Move 3
          Many of us quite frankly are hypocrites.  We pretend to be who we are not.  We have lived in response to intimidation, domination, and manipulation.  We have kept our true self hidden, protected from the world or those in our environment. 

Only when we develop the courage to be can we relinquish that true self to Jesus in discipleship.  Living as someone you’re not keeps you chained, isolated, imprisoned. 
         

Only when you decide to “be” can you realize the depths of your alienation from God and accept God’s Son, Jesus as Savior.

This notion of being is as a homosexual coming out of the closet.  It is as an alcoholic refusing to drink another alcoholic beverage.  It is as you and I determining to speak our truth refusing to allow others to intimidate, dominate, or manipulate us. 
         

Being you is tough.  Being you means accepting who you are at the core of your being: the good, the bad, the ugly.  People in the world often exclaim, “Don’t judge me!” “Accept me for who I am.” “What you see is what you get!” Then, go on to be who they think someone else wants them to be.  Being you is tough; accepting you is even more difficult.
          Yet, this is exactly the you Jesus is challenging you to be. 

He does so because this is the you God is after.  David, the King of Israel gave God his true self: whoremonger, murderer, selfish,warrior, betrayer, lover, friend, leader, servant, shepherd, singer, song writer, worshipper.  David was all these things; but David dedicated his total nature, his true self, to God.  And God accepted David as a son. David the Bible commends David on this one point, “David was a man after God’s own heart.” David sought to become who God intended him to be even as David dealt with his own true self.
         

This is discipleship: surrendering your true nature to Jesus and exchanging that nature for Christ’s nature.  It is an evolving, transformative relationship with Jesus Christ. 

This, my friends, is the courage to be.  Jesus invites us to trust Him with our true selves knowing that Jesus has paid the price and knows the way for us to live free eternally.  I urge you to submit your true nature to Jesus today! Amen.

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You Can Handle It!

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”              (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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Life’s difficulties are proportionate to what we can handle.  Getting laid off from your job may seem overwhelming, but you can handle it.  Losing your baby at an early age or at birth may throw you into a fiery furnace of turmoil and pain, but you can handle it.  Being abused by your husband or disrespected by your wife resembles being tossed to and fro by angry waves and fierce winds which propel a hurricane, but you can handle it.  You may have insufficient funds to pay your bills and creditors are threatening or have already come and repossessed what they loaned you, but you can handle it.  That’s right, Life’s difficulties are proportionate to what we can handle.

In other words, whatever you’re going through, God has already worked out a plan for you to be able to handle it.  That’s why you need not turn to the left hand or to the right hand in search of resolution of your various trials and tribulations.  That’s why you need not toss in the middle of the night frustrated and wondering how you’re going to make it.  The answer to your dilemma is found within you, and all you need do is pray and fast and allow the Holy Spirit to show you the way that God has already made for you to be able to bear up under the weight of that burden until the door is opened for your exit.  Is that not why the old folks in the heat of the day exclaim, “I’m so glad that trouble don’t last always.”  Hallelujah!

What a Mighty God We Serve

“Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power? Which of their gods was able to rescue its people from the destructive power of my predecessors? What makes you think your God can rescue you from me? Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. And the lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword.” ~ 2 Chronicles 32:13-14, 20-21, NLT

Voices of sure defeat took up residence in my head; their bold taunts reverberated through my ears. My faith was being tested severely.  The forces against me were more powerful than the resources I had at my disposal.  For a moment I became afraid. 

Then I heard another voice remind me: “What time I am afraid,  I will trust in the Lord.” I called on the Lord only to discover that what I was powerless to handle God was more than able to resolve. 

Don’t believe the voices that threaten your safety and security; we serve a mighty God.  Our God will hear and our God will deliver.

What do I do when I sense sorcery afoot

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Do you sense something supernatural being used against you? Are you experiencing something surreal, something too real to be true? Have you ever sung “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right?” 

Anything that pleases you but displeases God is cause for concern. You may be engaged in spiritual warfare of the sorcery kind. You may have been bewitched (Galatians 3:1). 

Numbers 23 contains an excellent example of how God’s people, minding there own business, were targeted by Satan. But God intervened with a word. Hallelujah!

First, accept it as a real attack of the enemy. You are not dreaming or losing your mind. Throughout the Bible God’s people had to deal with witchcraft, sorcery, and divination (Acts 8 & 16). This tool of the enemy is used by enlisting both spiritual and secular people. It is a powerful tool because God’s people crave spiritual power. But Jesus cautioned against trusting in power. Jesus emphasized salvation as the surest source of victory (Luke 10:16-20).

Second, pray to God and communicate with all affected by this attack. When you sense someone is using sorcery against you, be still. Go to God’s Word, build your faith and pray. This is really a time for fasting and prayer. Also tell those mature enough in the Spirit to join you in prayer. If this attack is targeted toward destruction of your intimate relationships or ministry, talk to those involved about your intuition. Let them know that you are waiting on a word from the Lord. When you’re incapable of discernment about the next steps, sing order my steps Lord. 

Third, remain steadfast. In other words, keep doing right because it’s right. Do not work in concert with your emotions, especially those emotions that are contrary to God’s Word. Keep doing and being the person you were before you perceived you were under attack. When things seem too good to be true, they probably are. Stay true to what you know is God’s will and make no excuses not to do it. If you’re hurting someone whose done you no wrong and for no reason, believe me when I tell you the devil is out to destroy you.

Finally, let God’s Word lead you through the storm until God’s love delivers you. As Jekalyn Carr sings “Greater is Coming!” God is greater than any spiritual curse the devil can try to use against you. Faithfulness, persistence will be the key to your breakthrough. Our God is awesome, remember that.

The Power of Your Character

Miss Ceely points her finger at Mister and declares, “Until you do right by me everything you touch gonna fail. ” She cursed him with her words or did she?
Bricks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me.” This sounds true but has been found to be flawed.

Proverbs 18:21 reads, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” I am intrigued by the phrase “in the power of the tongue.” I would add “in the power of the tongue of the person speaking.”

The question how does one develop ‘power in one’s tongue’ leaps from this passage. The answers include such things as power, position, and influence relative to the status of the one to whom the words are spoken.

However, let’s think deeper. Was it Miss Ceely’s words or even the way she demonstrably said them that influenced Mister to fail? Did her words produce death to his livelihood? I think not.

The one thing that gave Miss Ceely’s words power was her character. It was the strength of her life, her integrity that gave power to her words. When you develop character you gain influence in relationship to others and your words matter. This is true in all adult relationships where the probability of abuse is eradicated.

If one has no character, her words either fall on deaf ears or are easily overcome by effort. You determine whose word influences you; don’t give that power away easily. Evaluate the person’s character and ask yourself if he has a right to speak into your life. If that person does not have character then speak back and reclaim your power. If she is a person of character, then analyze the critique so you can grow.

Mister, by his unwillingness to do the right thing by Miss Ceely caused his own decline. His conscience held back his blessing until he did the right thing. In other words his character grew and he regained his power.

My friends remember, “No weapons formed against you shall prosper and every mouth (word) that rises in condemnation shall be stopped (refuted); for this is your heritage (birthright) in the Lord.” The key is your character; invest in your character and your words will have power (influence).