Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sober Thought


Romans 12  (NKJV)
1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

“I guess I am allergic to alcohol because when I used to drink it, I would get dizzy!”

Some of you know from experience what it is like to reason with someone who is not thinking soberly. Alcohol is not the only thing that can cause a person to be drunk. Some are drunk with power, others with passion, still others with delusions of grandeur or emotional pursuits which silly the mind and numb the brain to clear and conscious thought.

This is the picture the Apostle Paul painted when referring to the world and the way it processes life. We cannot afford to be conformed, twisted up in, or shaped by the world’s viewpoints, opinions, or philosophies. But how can we avoid this trap … to think, believe, want and act just like everyone else in this deluded world? It begins with our focus ... those things we continually look at and pursue – for example:

2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

But you know – we can read the Word, believe the Word, quote the Word and even live the Word and still be off base in some of our life pursuits. What else can we do to examine ourselves to insure we, our family, our business or our Church is not thinking or acting contrary to God’s best for us and the others we affect?

One of the methods I use to help confirm the direction of our Church is to survey the greater Body of Christ, especially Churches which I believe are making a true impact in this Kingdom of God, and see where we are in relation to them. I avoid falling into the trap of judging our Church by the measure of other Churches in size, popularity or assets, but I do consider their focus, vision, passion and direction.

I often tell my grandsons that if they look around in their larger peer group and they are the only ones doing what they are doing, dressing like they are dressing, saying what they are saying – then they are either:
·        A leader – (doing it first before others catch on – ahead of the wave)
·        A follower – (doing it after everyone else did – missed the wave, yesterday’s news)
·        Way off the boat – (doing what nobody else has done, is doing or will do – an island to yourself)

To be a leader means that you are an example and others will be coming along shortly. If we are truly leading, we should soon see the change in others.

To be a follower in this sense means that others used to do what you are still doing and the train has moved on without you. I liken this to some people of my generation being stuck in the 60’s or those 60 year old “beach bums” who never grew up and got a real job.

To be way off the boat on an issue simply means that you are odd, and that’s not always good. To not comb your hair, iron your wrinkled clothes, bathe regularly or brush your teeth – that’s way off the boat! If you have these habits then you are probably not going to be a leader and most likely not even a follower, unless you are following cave man ideals … rather some things are just way off the boat.

I know that is a drastic example but I use it to drive home a point that there are some things which are just odd and unproductive and they will never catch on or make the difference in lives we are called to make.

I think one of the best places to be is to be going along with the right and righteous group, a little ahead of the middle and right in step with God’s timing for your life. Not too far ahead, not too far behind and definitely not too far off to the side – but nestled safely in to the sweet spot of God’s will and purpose for the season.

I not only see this in individual and group lives, but I also see it in Churches.

You know, truth does not change – texture does, methods of teaching do, tools of the trade change, but the truth itself never changes.

Our Church has often found itself leading or at least riding the wave of the will of God for a certain season of the Spirit which God is emphasizing.

A person, or a Church for that matter, should not look around at others trying to get a vision or find something to do. Taking somebody else’s prescription does not always help your situation. Nonetheless, when we receive direction or have a heart to pursue a vision we feel has come from God it is vital that it be tested – first with the Word of God and then in other ways including the consideration of peer review. There is safety in the multitude of counsel and with wise counsel we make war.

If a person feels that they are the only one in the world or the only Church that God is doing anything with – they are deluded. This is one of the sure signs of a cult. Isolation and delusions of grandeur are danger signs along the road of life. God would not take Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Caleb into the promise land by themselves, even though they were right … Unless the whole congregation, all 12 tribes, every clan – moved forward into Canaan – God didn’t want to take any of them. It was more important to God that there was unity in His family than progress … in fact God considers unity of heart and purpose among brethren one of the greatest achievements under heaven.

Walking in agreement with others is good as long as the group with whom you are identifying is going towards the will of God for their lives too. We can always find others willing to walk with us, even if we are headed to hell. Why we walk with those with whom we walk is always something we should consider. Remember, people rub off on us and our children … who is leading who?

I have said all of this to say this: Our Church has embraced a season of discipleship as the will of God. In surveying those credible ministers and ministries around the nation and across the globe, leaders in all the tribes of God’s people are hearing the same things. The way we make disciples, the tools we use and the methods we employ may differ somewhat but the purpose remains true to the course of God’s Word. We are in a season of discipleship brought on by the Spirit of God.

Recently, through a series of humorous events one evening, God again confirmed the need for His children in this generation to be discipled.

So I want to encourage you, along with encouraging myself as well, to get with the program – God’s program – and offer God a chance to handle your life in a spiritually practical way. God has opened the floodgates of heaven to deliver opportunities for people to be taught the discipline of a Godly lifestyle. If we aren’t somehow affected by what God is doing wholesale around the world in this season, we may well be missing the boat and walking dizzily off to one side of the right path.

What will it require for a person to take best advantage of this spiritual season of discipleship?

Let me challenge you to consider these three things as a start:

1.  Be open to change
a.   Beliefs which don’t line up with the Word of God
b.   Habits which ill reflect a spiritual discipline
c.   Focus, Goals, Commitments & Pursuits which are taking you farther from God’s will and destiny for your life
d.   Priorities, motivations and rewards which are out of line
2.  Get alone with God

Genesis 19:27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD.

Mark 1:35  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

Matthew 14:23  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

a.   One day for an honest appraisal of your life

2 Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?  — unless indeed you are disqualified.

                                         i.    Talk to God like you should be talking to yourself
                                        ii.    Ask God about your calling and His will
                                      iii.    Allow God to answer you
                                      iv.    This is a beginning appraisal of your life
b.   One hour each day
                                         i.    To go to God’s Word for your daily bread
                                        ii.    To get your orders for the day and order the day
                                      iii.    Pray for yourself and others over whom you are responsible
3.  Put yourself in the place of change
a.   Take advantage of the opportunities God is giving you
                                         i.    To be mentored (spiritual input on purpose)
                                        ii.    To mentor others
                                      iii.    Fellowship with friends who are like iron