The Call to Advancement

“For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy IN the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17).  Notice that the Kingdom of God is IN the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Sprit lives in every born-again Christian and so we know that the Kingdom of God is IN every Believer. The Kingdom means the King’s domain, it is the rule and the reign of God, the government of God.  Isaiah prophesied, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” (9:7). The point is this; the Kingdom of God is in me and that positions me for the purpose of advancement!  God desires to advance His Kingdom through my life.  I am never called to settle down or shrink back, I am called to advancement! As Believers, we should want to see the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God.

Here are two things that can keep us from advancement…

#1.  Wrong Priorities

Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these other things will be added to us.  Whatever you seek first will organize every other area of your life.  For example, if you seek money first than money will impact every decision that you make and organize every other area of your life.  The Kingdom of God must be our number one priority as Believers if we want to live a life of advancement. I want to seek His rule and reign in every area of my life.

#2.  Wrong Views

Jesus said to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. Notice that we are told to seek His righteousness, not our own.  Christians have been made righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  “He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21). Living a life of advancement requires us to understand our identity in Christ. We cannot afford to entertain thoughts about ourselves that God does not think about us because identity determines activity. Advancing the Kingdom gets hindered in my life when I have a wrong view of who I am.

In conclusion, I want to encourage all Followers of Christ to be intentional about seeking the Kingdom of God first.  Let us remember that we have authority in Christ to overcome all the works of the devil and that we are a powerful people called to a life of advancement.  “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Cor. 4:20). 

 

 

The Legalist Test

Are you a legalist?  The answer may surprise you.  I have never met a legalist who believes that they are a legalist.  Legalism fosters pride and self-righteousness in a person and therefore it’s hard for a legalist to repent because they believe they are standing for truth.  As Believers, we have been set free from sin, but not from ignorance.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” - 2 Corinthians 13:5

Here are 8 questions to help you see if your heart is bent toward legalism...

1.  Do you keep records of your service to God?

- Example: Older brother in the story of The Prodigal Son. He kept a religious resume and thought the Father owed him because of his service.

2.  Is it important to you that other people know how much you do for the Church? 

- Legalism wants to be noticed.

3.  Do you tithe down to the last penny yet struggle with generosity?

– Legalism is calculated Christianity, it measures everything.  The problem isn’t with tithing, it’s once you have paid the tithe, thinking the rest belongs to you.

4.  Do you apply the sermons you hear to someone else?

– When you are self-righteous, conviction doesn’t apply to you.

5.  Are you “concerned” about people who don’t have the same disciplines that you do?

- Legalists only see black and white and they struggle with grey areas. Example: Drinking alcohol. Scripture doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t drink, it just tells us not to get drunk. 

6.  Do you often get into arguments about the Bible?

– A legalist will not let what they perceive to be an error pass them by.  Example: The Pharisees condemned Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath.

7.  Do you have a hard time forgiving the failures of others?

– Legalists love the idea of penance.

8.  Do you use the Scripture to tell God what He can or cannot do?

– God will not violate His word but He will gladly violate your interpretation of it.

Repentance is a gift from God! The purpose of this test is to set people free from the bondage of legalism, not to condemn anyone.  If you are struggling with legalism, repent and be set free by turning to Jesus Christ.

*Not all of these questions originated with me but were compiled from a number of different sources on the Internet.

Why Are We So Apathetic Toward Spiritual Gifts?

“Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”  1 Corinthians 14:1

The Greek word for desire in 1 Cor. 14:1 means to covet, to be jealous for, or to show zeal.  The Word of God tells us to be zealous for the gifts of the Spirit.  Why are so many people in the Church not passionately pursuing the gifts?  Here are four reasons…

The Past Tenses of God’s Word

The gospel is good “news," not good prophecy. News refers to things that have already happened, things that have already taken place. In lieu of this Easter season, I thought it would be appropriate to write about what Jesus provided over 2,000 years ago when He said, “It is finished!” In fact, many of the promises in God’s Word are past tense. The past tenses of God’s Word mean a settled, sealed, and final decision of His will. If God puts something in the past tense, so should we. Here are three examples of past tense blessings that every follower of Christ already possesses.

Three Things God Cannot Do

According to Luke 1:37, all things are possible with God.  Would you be surprised if I told you that just because all things are possible with God, that doesn't mean God can do all things?  While God's power is unlimited in reference to things that are in accordance with His divine nature, He still cannot do anything that is contrary to His divine nature.  There are some things God cannot do because of who He is.  The issue is not power, the issue is nature.  Here are three examples of things that God cannot do.....

A Pastor's Thoughts on Love and Forgiveness

Love is what bonds us together in the Church, not doctrine.  When we exalt doctrine above love, we will use doctrine as an excuse to not love others who disagree with us. Love is bigger than our disagreements and therefore must be the center of our fellowship. Love is the one thing that binds us together in perfect unity. 

Love and forgiveness go hand and hand.  We cannot love someone and at the same time be unwilling to forgive them when they have wronged us. Forgiveness through Jesus is a way that God showed His love for us. For God so loved the world that He sent His son and now through faith in Jesus we are completely forgiven of all sin. At the same time, forgiving others is a way that we show our love for God. Forgiveness is a commandment of God and 1 John 5:3 tells us, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments." Let me share three things I have learned as a pastor about love and forgiveness...