HUMILITY THAT PUTS TO SHAME

“Though he {Jesus} was God, he did not think of equality … as something to cling to.
-Philippians 2:6 (NLT)

Living, as we are, in a “progressive” and much touted “egalitarian” society, we are continuously bombarded with the politically correct notion of “equality.” People fight about, march for and demand “equality.” While our founding Fathers expounded the notion that “all men are created equal” and that we are all “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights,” they did not by this mean that we are all endowed or entitled to equality of substance (i.e., all are equal in possessions, gifts or even abilities).

Those who use the political sphere and government coercion to attempt to “equalize” society are doomed to fail because nowhere in nature, or in any sphere of reality do we find “equality” – not in the plant or even the animal kingdom. In our world, it doesn’t exist. Life is not fair; life is not equal.

The idea that in order to be a just society, we must work toward equality of substance for all, and in all, is a manifestation, not of love, but of human perverseness. This false idea leads to a call to coercively take from those who have, to give to those who don’t have. This attempt at equality of substance through coercion far from being a manifestation of charity, is actually a manifestation of theft. Jesus, when confronted by this question of seeming unfairness and inequality of substance in Luke 12:13-15, warned those seeking equality of substance with covetousness/greed!

“And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’”
-Luke 12:15 (NKJV)

Jesus, on the other hand, invites us to follow His example of humility. But how can we best define humility? All human efforts at defining it precisely fall short. And while we might have a working definition that might suit us, there is something better – an example! The example of Jesus Christ set before us.

Jesus was fully God. He had equality with God, the Father. He existed as God before He came to the earth. However, when he came to the earth he humbled himself. This humility led Him to do something outrageous for the which he was “highly exalted” and given the name above every name! The Holy Scriptures declare that Jesus, “even though he was God” he did not grasp at equality. “He did not think of equality … as something to cling to.” Now this, mind you, was the example of One who WAS entitled to equality because He was God!

The example of Jesus shows us that humility before God, among others things, is the forsaking of the right to equality. It is the refusal of greed to demand equality. When I have the humility of Jesus, everything becomes about God’s glory, not my equality.

Are you demanding equality because you believe it’s your due? Just remember that Jesus, who did deserve the recognition of equality, did not grasp for it or thought of it as “something to cling to.”

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens … Let me teach you, because I am humble … at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29

We have much to learn about humility that Christ wants to teach us. But let’s at least learn this first and most important lesson from His example: equality, even if you possess it, is not something to cling to. Love and serve others in Jesus’ name and forget about whether you’re getting your “fair share,” knowing that you have a more enduring substance and reward for what you do with humility for His glory.

His is a humility that puts to shame.

’til next time,

Danny

Pray For Our Leaders

God’s word declares that we are to “first of all” offer “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks … for all men … who are in authority … for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior….” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 NKJV).

Most of us learned from our parents that we are not to “put the cart before the horse”. President Obama apparently has not learned this lesson.

In his first days in office, he announced that he would close the prison at Guantanamo Bay even though he had no idea where the prisoners would go when he did.

More recently, President Obama allowed his Attorney General, Eric Holder, to designate Manhattan as the city that would hold a civilian trial for self-confessed Muslim, terrorist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, without first checking with law enforcement officials to see what impact such a trial would have on the security of the city.

President Obama’s lack of basic executive competence should come as no surprise. Beyond his own campaign and his senatorial office, President Obama never ran anything. This presents a real problem and danger to the Republic.

Our leaders most definitely need prayer, especially our President. He is in charge of the most powerful, richest and most blessed of all nations on the face of the earth without having any real executive experience.

Although I don’t know why God would allow him to rise to power in our nation, I am thoroughly convinced that He never makes a mistake. Let us pray that America returns to the God of our fathers and that President Obama’s election will be a test for us and not a divine judgment upon us as a nation.

’til next time,

Danny

What Separates Jesus From All Other Religious Leaders?

Someone asked me, some time back, “what makes Jesus different from any other religious leader?”

What the person was actually wanting to know is why, as a Christian, I believe Jesus is unique among all the world’s religious leaders.

First of all, let me categorically state that I do not claim that Jesus is above all other religious leaders who came before or after him on the world’s stage.  No, I don’t make that claim.  I don’t need to.  He made that claim of himself.  I believe Him, and here’s why:

Jesus said,

I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  The only way to the Father is through me.”  (John 14:6 NCV)

All other religious leaders like the Buddha, Muhammad and Zoroaster taught various doctrines and teachings about the way to God.  Many of these teachings from each of these religious leaders are contradictory.  Be that as it may, however, the point is that their teachings pointed their followers to someone or something else beyond themselves.  Jesus also taught.  But His teaching was not just pointing toward life or toward God.  He didn’t just teach about life, he said, “I am ..  the life …. (John 14:6)

Another thing that makes Jesus different from all other religious leaders is that while all these considered themselves men of the earth pointing others toward heaven or toward the transcendent, Jesus declared that he was the one who “came down from heaven” (John 3:13). Heaven, not earth, is his home.

While all religious leaders seek to point others, from their own perspectives, to the truth, only Jesus says, “I am …  the truth ….” (John 14:6)

And finally, while all other religious leaders attempt to teach the way toward God, only Jesus claimed to be “the way.” (John 14:6).

While all others spoke in some way or other about the after life, Jesus not only spoke of resurrecting the dead, He declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me will have life even if they die.  And everyone who lives and  believes in me will never die ….” (John 11:25-26 NCV)

Jesus is unique in that he not only taught about God, he is God come to earth from heaven.  He clothed himself in human flesh for the salvation of mankind (John 1:1, 14).

For all who hunger and thirst for righteousness, He is the bread of life.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”  (John 6:51 NKJV)

He is unique, among all others, because he doesn’t point the way to inner fulfillment, He is, in His person, the fulfillment of our deepest needs and the hunger of our souls.

He is the bread of life which satisfies.  I challenge you to believe in Him and your life will never be the same.

’til next time,
Danny

Where Will The New Year Take You?


Most people will embrace a very common fallacy and misconception as they begin this new year. That misconception is the belief that what one plans or purposes will be what one will achieve. I say that, not as a disbeliever in having plans, goals, dreams or any other measure of, or hope of, achievement. Those are necessary. What I am referring to is the idea or misconception that it is our dreams and intentions that get us to where we want to go. This is a grave mistake.

There is a very famous beach not more than 45 minutes from where I live: Port Isabel – South Padre Island. People come from all over to enjoy the sun and the beach on South Padre. If you’re coming by land you must go to the southern most part of Texas to get there. Now, you can make plans to come to South Padre Island from Dallas (if you happen to live there); you can dream about a great vacation at the Island; you can intent to get there and sun at the beach. However, if you take the interstate out of Dallas heading West, you will not arrive at South Padre Island. The reason is that the path to Padre Island is south, not west.

This brings us to where the new year will take you. Will the new year lead you to a better marriage? Will it bring success in your family relationships? Will it bring success in your business? The answer lies of course not in the new year; not in your desires, plans, goals or dreams for the new year. The answer lies in the path that your life is on in any of those (or other) areas mentioned. You see it’s not your intentions that determine where you end up in your business, your relationships, your marriage, it’s your path.


YOUR PATH DETERMINES YOUR DESTINATION


THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PATH

We understand, intuitively, when it comes to geographically walking a trail or driving our car that we will end up wherever the road we’re on leads. When it comes, however, to our life and the things that comprise our life, it seems we experience a huge disconnect between where we intended to go and where we actually ended up. This Path Principle impacts every area of our lives. We try to cheat it. But in the end, it ends up beating us.

There are many who lament where they’ve ended up: distressed, angry and perhaps mad at God. Their cry is, “I never intended to end up like this, but here I am. God, why didn’t you do anything to stop me. Why didn’t you warn me?”

We think that our intentions, hopes and dreams somehow will override the path we’ve taken. But they don’t. Your Path determines your destination. Understanding and living in line with the path principle will save you a lot of heartache, time and regrets.

Think about it …

’til next time,

Danny

What God’s Kingdom Means to Believers

The coming of Christ brought the culture of the kingdom into clear focus, particularly in terms of how it is lived out in this present world.  Nowhere is it clearer than in the book of Matthew, which, more than the other Gospels, features the theme of Christ as King.  And nowhere are the details of kingdom perspective and practices more specific than in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

From an earth-side point of view, this Sermon is a radical expression of the kingdom in contrast to the normal patterns of life in this dark domain.  Unfortunately, many have felt that the Sermon on the Mount was Christ’s prophetic statement about what life will be like in the literal millennial kingdom when He comes to reign on this earth.  And while that is certainly true, it ignores the fact that the perspectives and practices portrayed in this Sermon are eternal qualities that emanate from the very nature of the King Himself.  It would be a gross distortion of the eternal nature of righteousness to say that we can ignore this kingdom point of view and wait to express these practices until he reigns as King of the earth.  He reigns as King within our hearts now.  We, as His subjects, live presently under His authority and gladly submit all we are and have to Him.

To be specific, the Sermon on the Mount maps out 10 life perspectives that translate into clear kingdom practices in our lives.  These 10 perspectives form our attitude and action in every area of life and express an accurate reflection of the King who reigns within.  The 10 categories deal with a radically different perspective on people, a new sense of purpose, and unique perspectives on personal relationships, personal godliness, prosperity, inner peace, personal accountability, prayer, spiritual perception, and the authority of Christ’s proclamation.

Not unlike the Ten Commandments, these 10 perspectives of the kingdom become a means of managing our inner world and also measure how far we have come in terms of kingdom behavior.  They create, as well, a point of accountability by which we can ultimately give a good report to the King.

UNDERSTANDING THE SERMON

Before we can hope to apply the King’s point of view, there are certain keys that enable us both to understand the meaning of the Sermon and the effective implementation of the perspectives.

First, Jesus intended that eternity be kept in clear view.  If there is no world beyond, then little in the Sermon makes sense.  For instance, you can give away a coat if possessions that truly matter are already reserved for you in heaven (Matt. 5:40; 6:19-20).  If there is a better, safer, long life beyond, then the Sermon’s demands on our lives are reasonable and applicable.

Second, since righteousness is the centerpiece of Christ’s rule, it becomes the highest law in every deliberation of life.  If we are to err in any direction, we should lean toward that which advances righteousness rather than that which would give ground to unrighteousness in our lives or the lives of others.  According to the Sermon, it would be better to be personally taken advantage of than to give cause for another to act unrighteously.

Third, throughout this kingdom proclamation, Jesus views life from the priority of that which is internal.  In contrast to the religious environment of His day, He moves beyond the outward scenery to the inner landscape.  With the King, people are like fruit.  It’s not how good they look on the outside; it’s the inside that validates the quality.

Fourth, it’s clear that the Sermon values that which is spiritual over that which is material and temporal.  Given a choice, the kingdom perspective always defers to the former.  The soul is of greater priority.

Fifth, we must understand and welcome the tension that is inherent in Christ’s teaching.  Jesus is imposing the standards of a perfectly pure kingdom culture onto a fallen and treacherous world.  If at times the Sermon seems to contradict this present world’s sense of what is reasonable, it’s because this world’s point of view is inevitably in conflict with Christ’s kingdom.  The fault is not with the Sermon but with the imperfect world.  True wisdom belongs to the King.

Sixthly, in applying the perspectives and practices that are taught in the Sermon we should not expect God to treat us in ways that we are unwilling to treat others.  If we are ruthless, unforgiving, and evil with others, then it is presumptuous for us to plead with God to be patient, tolerant, kind, and forgiving with us.

These then are the grid through which the Sermon must be filtered as we seek to understand and implement its teaching.  The Sermon is, in effect, the manual for managing the world within.  These guidelines are the essence of what it means to express eternity through the daily management of our lives.  No one will be able to ignore the reality of a righteous, conquering King when our redeemed world within is governed by these practices.

To God be the glory!

’til next time,

Danny

MADE TO SERVE

 

I’ve heard people say, “That’s not fair!” I myself have had occasions to utter the same words.

 

THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL

People, life, circumstances aren’t always “fair”. But God is. He’s the fair-est of all!

Many times when challenging things happen to us, we are apt to wonder whether God is somehow too distracted by the many other important things He needs to see to, to notice “little old me”. But those thoughts betray our knowledge of the Living God. It signifies that our thoughts of our God are too small. God asks through the prophet Isaiah, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God … his understanding is unsearchable.”

If no one can fathom or tap the depths of his understanding (of me?), why would I question his knowledge, dealings or “fairness” toward me? Hurt. When we hurt, we want others to take notice and even, at times, want someone to “pay”. It is a natural response of self-preservation that leads us to this.

However, the way out of our hurt and disappointments is not to become so self-focused on our own needs and desires that we trap ourselves in the prison of selfishness. This self-focus will ultimately consume our vigor and our usefulness to the Lord. Life is not always fair, but God is.

Hand over your hurts, disappointments and broken dreams to God and watch what He will do in and with your life! Jesus said that anyone who seeks to save his life will lose it. But he who loses his life for His sake (to follow Him), will find it.

God made you to serve Him and others. He has made the way for your fulfillment and life satisfaction in Him. It is found in doing all you do to the glory of His name (1 Cor. 10:31)

10 God doesn’t miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you’ve shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it.

11     And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish.

12     Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them. (Heb. 6:10-12 MSG)

 

God says He doesn’t miss anything! And you have to know that when you serve others in need, God sees it as “love you’ve shown him.” Jesus said,

 

“Whenever you did one of these [good] things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”
(Matt. 25:40 MSG)

 

God is not unfair. He encourages you to “stay the course with committed faith” (i.e., trust in His love and justice) and “then” you will get everything promised.”

So don’t forget, serving others has its privilegesGod’s rewards!


’til next time,

 

Danny

What God Wants You To Know In Your Trials

 

As Christians, our faith must be cast upon God at all times, especially during times of great trial and affliction. When we come out on the other side of the test or affliction with our faith in God intact, we come out the better for it and glorify God in it.

God led his people through the wilderness experience, Exodus teaches us, because He wanted them:

– to see what was in their heart (Deut 8:2)

– to learn that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3)

– to learn that He could preserve them even in those times (Deut. 8:4)


Everyone has faith. Some think that only “religious” people exercise faith. The materialist puts his faith in material things. But faith in material things has been shattered. The dollar’s value, for instance, is reflected on trust (that others will accept or recognize its value even though it has no intrinsic value of its own).

Maybe it’s time we wake up to the realization that faith, my friends, is only as good as its object. And God is the ultimate “object” in whom we can trust.

’til next time …

Danny