FORCED TO BE KING-The Best Temptation

 

What if humility is more than just putting yourself last?

If we follow the example of Jesus closely, we find that in its deepest form, humility is a way of life in which God comes first. As the story goes:

“…After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” – John 6:14-15

Suppose a crowd of people watch the way you live and believe God has great plans for you. That you know that is your calling –and you know that they are going to make you king. And you withdraw because you are choosing not to be king.

Paul lives a similar example:

“…there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?” – 1 Corinthians 1:11-13

Apollos and Cephas didn’t always or 100% agree with Paul on everything. So, in that sense, shouldn’t Paul have wanted people to follow himself specifically? At the same time, all men were followers of Christ, so why did it matter if men followed any man to follow after Christ?

Paul, like Christ, did more than put himself last here. He did more than what we think of as humility, saying “no, no, glory to God” or “who, me? I’m nothing in comparison…” Instead, Paul put the Lord first. He continues on, describing the Gospel and its power.

In both these passages, Jesus as man and Paul as man embrace humility as a position in relation to God instead of a position in relation to themselves, this world, or those in it.

Being king or being leader, even when encouraged and even when forced upon on them by man, was not an option. Because in these cases, to be king or to be leader was to try to be as a man, something God didn’t orchestrate.

That, there, is one of the most tempting things all of us face.

Temptation is not just about craving ugly sins like inappropriate relationships or gossiping about people. We face daily the temptation to:

· To choose the wisdom of man over the foolishness of God.

· To choose the way that is familiar over the way that seems lost.

· To choose to act on what we know to be true in our hearts before we know it in our lives.

You see, Jesus was going to be king. Indeed, He was king already. Paul was a great leader, with many followers. He had every right to baptize. He had every reason to feel accomplished and to accept the honor men bestowed upon him.

We, too, sometimes know these things in our hearts. We know what we’re actually really good at. We know what makes us special. We know, at times, what the Lord is preparing us for and training us up in.

But we get ahead of ourselves. Like children who can’t reach the next step demanding that we can do it ourselves, we often stumble and fall our way through steps the Lord has for us because we don’t let Him go first. We don’t want to accept what the Lord has made us and is making us into in His timing and His way, too.

Would Christ have been blameless had he been forced to be king and posed such a divisive threat to world powers? Would Paul have been a true agent of faith and the Gospel had He allowed it to become his version and “his” gospel?

Like these men, humility has to come when we look at temptations that even seem right, godly, and even as though they are natural occurrences. Humility has to keep us from doing as men what God has for us to do in the Spirit. We must be willing to put His Way first- before our way, and before the way of others. That is pleasing God, not men. That is humility in recognition of our position before Him.

LOSING TO WIN

 

The war is won: the outcome is final. Jesus Christ has defeated death, and He will save from the enemy all who believe in Him. There is, indeed, victory in Jesus.

We read in  1 John 5:4  that “everyone born of God overcomes the world.” But Jesus won and overcame all things by losing, and we must, too.

Living as overcomers in this sinful, broken world doesn’t look the way the world suggests it should. The idea of victory among mankind throughout history involves taking control, reigning with power, gaining for self, and being over others.

Winning, as the world would have it, is all about beating out the competition. Success comes at the expense of others. Battles depend on speed, strength, and strategy.

Not so in the Kingdom of God…and that’s where we get to be living already if we belong to Him. Though in the world, we’re already citizens of heaven. In His Kingdom, our idea of victory and how to get there is as upside down as Jesus’ was.

To be an overcomer in Christ, we start by dying to self. We begin by giving up our right to pride, to gain, to control, and to a desirable reputation. Our victory begins when we become losers according to the standards of man.

It is in giving all to the King of kings, a sacrifice still less than what Christ paid for us, that we are raised up in Him.

Through surrender,

losing the battle to win a better life,

ceasing to strive to earn the reward of salvation,

and stepping down from our plans to become great among men…

We lose our positions on earth, our lives as we know them, and we gain anew. We gain afresh. We gain the victory that trumps all victories.

That’s not just bound up in salvation, but in living our best now. In the battles we face day after day, as a part of this world, we are to lose in this same manner. Our loss makes way for His success. Our lives are His conquests- and we become treasure instead of captives. Servants instead of slaves. Children instead of orphans.

Overcomers by the grace of God.

From the stance of losers who know their victory is certain, we witness to all people. Because all people lose, as is the nature of man. In joining them there, glad to lose so that Christ may win, we have the chance to speak the Gospel truth:

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” – 2 Corinthians 2:14 

 

LIES THAT MAKE SECRET SIN ENTICING

You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.” 

–Psalm 90:8

Characterized by being committed alone or in such a way that no one may be able to detect it, a secret sin is often enticing even to those of us who try to do what’s right. Whether discreetly wasting our time on something illicit like porn or silently thinking ill of someone, the idea behind secret sin is that it’s “ours”…and that’s a big part of what entices us.

There are other reasons why secret sin is enticing and lures us in, but each reason is based on a lie.

Lie #1. That Sin Can Actually Be Secret

One of the biggest lies we believe about secret sin is that it is actually secret. Just because no other person will “catch us” or even know about it doesn’t make it a secret sin, though.

Manifestations of the sin will still occur and affect our lives. The person who secretly dislikes someone else will sabotage the relationship, even if they act nice. A porn addict will reap the consequences in relationships as a result of dissatisfaction based on unrealistic expectations.

No matter what, the Lord will know as well. There are no secrets kept from God. Imagine that- the very one we sin against (even when we think our sin hurts no one) is the one who always knows!

Lie #2. That We’re Getting Away With Something

It’s in our nature to get a thrill from getting away with something. Something very foolish in our hearts believes that when we fool others, we’re powerful. To evade unwanted attention or due consequences makes us feel that we’re in control. Pride is at the root of the problem, making us feel “smart” and “look good” for circumventing the system scot-free.

But, we never actually get away with sin. Beyond knowing everything, even our secret sins, the Lord by His nature must address our sins. He is perfectly just. Natural consequences (including guilt, shame, and anxiety) are often punishment.

Lie #3. That Some Sin Can Be Excused as Inevitable

Everybody sins. It’s part of human nature. We can’t avoid it. Sometimes, though, we, use to act like our nature is a valid excuse. Sinning secretly seems like a good option. We look less dreadfully, wretchedly human than we are. And our sins tend to hurt ourselves more than others when they are secret….so that’s good, right?

Minimizing reality is not the same as living it well. We are not excused from sin simply because it is inevitable in our lives. Jesus has saved us and offers the Holy Spirit to fight our flesh, helping us to be victorious despite our sin. Likewise, sinning secretly is not a valiant way to deal with our inevitable failures. Rather, sin in the light is exposed and more readily turned over to the Lord for His forgiveness, purifying, and use.

In Just a Moment

 

“A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” – Job 14:5

PHOTO: https://pixabay.com/en/clock-black-and-white-time-watch-692416/

Most of us don’t like to think about death. Even worse than the thought of our own death is that of our loved ones. We avoid considering what happens when our spouses or parents or children die. The prospect is grim, but inevitable.

Have you ever noticed, though, the questions that are asked when someone dies?

“Who found them?” is often one of the first things asked. Along with it, we ask “what happened?” Among our chief concerns is “was it quick?” Finally we arrive to the other inevitable: “poor (insert loved one). What will they do now?”

In just a moment, a life ends. In that same moment, another’s life is changed indefinitely.

Imagine the difference if the “end” and the “change” occurred earlier. Imagine if it could be joyous, positive, and hopeful. That’s what happens in the other single moment that matters forever: the moment of salvation.

In just a moment, soul-death ends. In that same moment, a person’s life is changed forever.

Just as we don’t talk about death often despite its inevitability and the fact that it affects all of us, so also do we avoid the topic of salvation.

Even among Christians, salvation is a subject too sensitive, too offensive. The reason that both topics are taboo is this: none of us likes to acknowledge the reality of our condition –sinful and mortal.

But we must.

We must know that it only takes a moment to repent and ask the Lord for the free gift of eternal salvation. And it only takes a moment to die and miss out on that gift forever.

We all live in dread of a moment that must come but must not be the end. And yet so few of us will bravely and humbly stop one moment to end the end! How fragile our lives, Lord! How wicked our hearts!

Isn’t offense worth catching the one moment and changing forever rather than waiting for the other moment to question and regret? Take the time to share without apologizing and pray for wisdom that the Lord can use just that one moment, that once sentence, to make an offer that lasts forever.

“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12