Sacrifice and Discipline

Studies in First Corinthians – XIV

In chapter nine, Paul writes about his policy on financial support to teach on discipline and sacrifice, illustrating a mature use of Christian liberty. Paul had every right to accept pay for his labors, but he set aside his rights to reach a higher goal. He waved his rights so that the Gospel wouldn’t be clouded by greed. He was giving up the good for the best; sacrificing the immediate for the eternal.

The sort of discipline of the body and sacrifice of personal rights Paul speaks of throughout this chapter are only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also evidence to the Christian and to the unbeliever alike of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

Paul vindicates his apostleship by pointing out things that were absolutely legitimate rights, but to which he had said “no” for the Lord’s sake. Within the scope of that test, what counts is not my success, my connections, my blessings, or my skill, but that my heart and life bear the marks of the cross and sacrifice. It will cost you something to follow Jesus.

Paul also speaks of the disciplining of the body. “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others I should myself be a castaway” (9:26-27).

I like the way J.B. Phillips paraphrases it in his Letters to Young Churches, “I am no shadow-boxer, I really fight! I am my body’s sternest master, for fear that when I have preached to others I should myself be disqualified.”

While we are saved by grace through faith, we also know that faith without works is dead. True faith gets into our hands, our feet, our tongue, our heart, and our mind. Simply put, faith is expressed in the physical. If faith in Jesus Christ does not begin to make the whole body move in the will of God, there is no evidence of faith at all. Saving faith disciplines the flesh by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.

Let us all examine our lives for the marks of sacrifice and discipline. Have we left behind certain things to which we are entitled for the sake of the Kingdom? Are we triumphing in our daily walk, not allowing the flesh and its appetites to dominate our life?

Remember, even the Apostle Paul could not do these things if it had not been for the power of the Holy Ghost. Jesus is the only one who could live such a life, and He did. He renounced His rights and brought His body under subjection even unto His death. When we are filled with His Spirit, these same characteristics will begin to work themselves out in us!

Marching Orders: 2

Part 2 of 4

Last week I started a series called Marching Orders (first post) which I intend to finish this week.  In the first post I gave three orders given by the Apostle Paul to the Church at the end of the Church age (Hebrew 10:22-25).  Each order begins with the words “let us”.

1. Let us draw near.

2. Let us hold fast.

3. Let us consider one another.

In part two of this series, let us look at the first of these orders.  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

First we must understand what a miracle it is that we even have this ability!

All throughout the Old Testament men were separated from the presence of God.  The presence of God dwelt in the tabernacle within the Holiest of Holies.  The only person that was allowed to enter that place was the high priest and even he was only to enter one time in a year.  There was a veil of separation between God and man.

Thank God that there is a new and living way, that being Jesus Christ.  When He died, the veil was rent from top to bottom.  Through Him, we have direct access to the presence of God.

But it doesn’t stop there, He poured out His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  He no longer dwells in temples made with man’s hands, but He dwells in the hearts of men!

The greatest miracle is the fact that a sinful man can be forgiven and granted access into the presence of a Holy God!

How do we draw nigh to God?  We need to have a relationship with Him.  We draw near to God by basic spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting, study of the Word, etc.

If you have ever been to a Hibachi grill, you have watched as the Chef prepared the food while performing all sorts of amazing tricks; the onion volcano, the twirling spatulas, the tossed eggs.  After watching one of these performances, I asked the chef what the most difficult part of his job was.  His answer shocked me.  He told me the most difficult part was stirring the food.

All the tricks are nice but the most difficult part is often the most basic!

The Church needs a revival of spiritual discipline and meaningful relationship with God.

Warriors of Morning Draw Near to God!

Some Problems With Prayer

The past couple of weeks have been about prayer.  I have been praying that God would teach me about prayer.  The importance of personal and corporate prayer cannot be overemphasized in the day and hour in which we are living.  I don’t see how someone could stay unspotted from this world or keep from being blown about with every wind of doctrine without a strong prayer life.  I can’t imagine why anyone who has ever been in the presence of God wouldn’t want one.

Let me tell you why I am seeking a deeper, more meaningful prayer life right now.

1.  There are a thousand voices screaming at me everyday (no, not voices in my head):  Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Magazines, Books, Commercials, Advertisements, Songs, and even preachers who have different views on this or that.  I am careful to immediately cut any “voice” that is harmful, and I am in the process of cutting some of the “voices” out that aren’t harmful, but simply aren’t necessary.  I need to hear from the Lord.  I need to be in the presence of the One who will lead and guide me into all Truth!

2.  My prayer time is often very distracted.  I typically pray the first thing in the morning.  It isn’t rare that I catch myself thinking about what needs to get done that day or I race from prayer request to prayer request without giving them the attention they really deserve.  I desire more order in my prayer.  In fact, I would like my prayer to be ordered and directed by the Lord.

3.  There are times that I finish prayer and I don’t feel like I really prayed.  I am sure that this has a lot to do with #2, but it just simply won’t do.  Prayer is such a mighty weapon for the Kingdom of God.  When we pray, we open the windows of heaven for God’s will to be accomplished in our lives and in our world.  Pray should move us forward.  I desire spiritual advancement in my prayer.

All that being said, God is teaching me about prayer.  I am excited to learn and see where He leads me!  I would like to share one of the sources of this teaching with you.  It came at a perfect time; Bro. Anthony Mangun recently began a series on praying through the Old Testament Tabernacle.  These lessons (link) are wonderful and I would highly recommend them to anyone who desires a deeper prayer life and walk with Jesus.

Do you have any favorite resources concerning prayer?

Pulling Revival From My Hat

I am currently reading John Maxwell’s latest book Everyone Communicates Few Connect.  I will be giving a review of the book for Booksneeze this weekend or early next week, but I want to take a moment now to share a brief story that Mr. Maxwell tells and some thoughts that I had.  This what Mr. Maxwell had to say…

“A few years ago, I was being interviewed on a television talk show.  The host held up a couple of my books and said, “John, I’ve read several of your books, and they are all so simple.”  His tone of voice, body language, and mannerisms made it clear to me and the audience that he did not mean it as a compliment!

My response was straightforward: “That’s true.  The principles in my books are simple to understand.  But they are not always simple to apply.”

First of, all I must admit (sorry Mr. Maxwell) that I have been that television talk show host.  I read a lot of Mr. Maxwell’s books  in my teen years and skipped several of his books because I thought they were too simple.  But he is exactly right, it is the application of those principles that is important, and having the discipline to apply the principles is not always easy!

Second, let me apply this to the Church and our desire for revival, victory over sin, and lost souls to be saved.  I think that sometimes, perhaps without realizing it, we look for some magical formula that will bring the results that we are looking for; some complex mashup of the right programs, the right atmosphere, the right charisma, the right social issues, etc.  Instead, the answer is right in front of us in the simple principles taught in the Word of God.

Read & Study your Bible.

Pray.

Fast.

Serve Others.

Worship.

Share the Gospel.

Fairly simple principles to understand.  Not always easy to put into practice.

ABRACADABRA!  Hmm…didn’t work.  I better go pray!

Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 5

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010

Speaker #9: Steve Uzzell – Award-winning corporate photographer and former staff member of National Geographic

Mr. Uzzell was one of the most interesting speakers of the conference.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, I would highly recommend that you take advantage.

I want to share with you one “takeaway” from Mr. Uzzell’s talk…

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”

People say Mr. Uzzell is lucky because he get shots like the one below.  He says being at the right place at the right time has less to do with luck and more to do with being prepared.

Our dreams are realized in our preparation. 

Things aren’t going your way?  Have you prepared?  Have you studied?  Have you put the work in?

This reminds me of the lyrics to a Newworldson song:

Lady Luck ain’t always in the mood.

Four leaf clovers are hard to find.

Fortune tellers can be so shrude.

Quite pokin round inside my mind.

I don’t believe much in luck.

God’s the only one that I trust.

How often have you heard somebody say (maybe you said it yourself) about someone who is experiencing success, “they were in the right place at the right time.”  Did you ever stop to consider that maybe it had less to do with the place or the time, and much more to do with the fact that person had learned to BE wherever and whenever they were?

We can’t afford to wait for the fulfillment of our God-given dreams to start acting like we belong there.  Be faithful with the little that God has given you.  Start treating your reality like it is  your dream and God will make the necessary changes to bring the dream to pass.

Live the dream on the way.