Tag Archives: power

It’s not Weakness; It’s Strength

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Philippians 2:5-8
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

We live in an arrogant age. The race of men have deemed themselves worthy of all that is around them. They continually speak of all that is their right or what they are entitled to. When they are treated harshly, then they are consoled by others who explain that they don’t deserve such treatment.

I cannot simply refer to society as “they”; it is “we” and me as well.

Our children get everything they desire and aren’t taught how to do without. They don’t see what they are being given as being a privilege. They see it as a necessity or right. They deserve it.

I think of times when people drive down the road – if someone cuts them off or drives too slowly they get angry. In fact, people get angry for a lot of things these days. We don’t seem to know how to take it easy anymore – our society is a high stress society.

We are arrogant people who say we are right and everyone else is wrong. We condemn more than the lifestyles that others live, we condemn the people that live them. We get angry and make sure we have the “right” to say our piece or to get them back for what they said or did. This is all arrogance.

Arrogance and selfishness go hand in hand. Every sin ever committed had its roots in selfishness. I can’t think of a single sin that you can’t boil down to selfishness.

Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not pointing fingers at a lot that I’m not involved in. I’m just as guilty, though I’m learning to be more aware each day.

Through our arrogance we bicker and quarrel. We see humility as weakness, or at best we say we desire humility but keep acting in our arrogance. We have a hard time considering others as our equals or even as our superiors, though this is exactly what Jesus did. He put our needs before his own as he went to the cross for us.

Humility, I find, is not weakness. In fact, it takes a strong person to be humble, but those who are truly humble don’t find strength in themselves for we are all frail humans. True strength that sustains humility is found in the confidence that God is sovereign and cares for each of us.

It is because of Jesus that I can take the insult without retaliation. It is through his strength that I feel no need to put myself first. It is only through his wisdom that I can put my wants aside for the sake of others’ needs.

I have a long way to go as I seek the humility of Christ in me, but I desperately want it. Unfortunately, in order for anyone to learn humility God will put them in situations where they must practice it among people who aren’t.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. In fact, there has been a recent study of the most successful businesses in America that showed that the vast majority of those business’s leaders are successful because they are humble people who seek quality in their work without need for praise of others.

Even more so, however, the scripture reminds us over and over that God brings down the arrogant but exalts and gives grace to the humble.

May we become more like Christ as we seek true humility in our lives. May we do more than just say words that sound like humility – may we truly be humble. Then, may we be the catalysts for change in our communities as people see the nature of Christ in us, for if we continue in our arrogance we will only see decline and contempt for the church.

I hope this impacts you like it does me. I want this badly, and I’m going to be pursuing this. I don’t expect it will happen overnight, but I want the nature of Christ to be event in me – Philippians 2 calls me to that.

 

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Kingdom Living at Tax and Election Time

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Well, tax day has come and gone once again. Many of you got returns back for the taxes you have been paying all year. Others of you are now trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your taxes. In either case there are a couple of thoughts I’d like to share regarding how we think about our government and taxes and the like.

Praying for the Tax Man

People have always been disgruntled with the idea of having to pay taxes. Even back in the days of Jesus the tax man was considered an unrighteous sinner who was a traitor to the people. It was a pretty bold move when Jesus picked Matthew, a tax collector, as one of his disciples. The story of Zacchaeus flies in the face of popular culture as Jesus chooses to spend time with a tax collector who apparently had been swindling his people.

So paying taxes and dealing with the tax man were topics that were constantly on the mind of the people in the days of Jesus much as they are on our minds today.

One day, Jesus was asked whether or not the people should pay their taxes. Jesus was teaching about a new kingdom not of this world, and the people were looking for a loophole (or a way to trap Jesus in his words). They asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus told them that whatever belongs to Caesar needs to be given to Caesar, but what belongs to God needs to be given to God. Unfortunately for them, Jesus was saying that they did indeed need to pay their taxes (and we do too).

Even though Jesus knew of another kingdom that he was establishing by his presence on the earth, he still had a different perspective about the earthly kingdoms than the people had.

Here in America, we elect the officials that govern us. From the mayor and city council all the way to the president, the people who are in office are chosen by the voters. Hence we feel a certain a right about how good or bad they are doing. We have strong opinions about our elected officials.

When we are disgruntled with them it is not uncommon for us to make that a prominent topic of conversation amongst us. Here at tax time and election time there is much discussion over how right or wrong (mostly wrong) we think the government is handling our monies and our lives.

Jesus never dishonored the governing authorities of the day. Even when he was being mistreated directly by them with his trial he spoke no words against them.

Romans 13 reminds us that the elected officials and even those who are hired aren’t put there by us in fact, but by God himself for our good. Sometimes it is hard to believe that fact, but we must then do as it says in 1 Timothy 2 – we must pray for them.

Are you praying for those who are in authority over you? Are you praying for those who may be elected this year? As we fill our minds with prayers for others we often find our own perspective changes.

This World is Not My Home

Jesus wasn’t killed because he was a good man who healed the sick and raised the dead. He was killed because of the religious and political implications of his message. He bucked the typical religious ideals of the day and also created an ideal of a new kingdom that his followers were to be citizens of.

This royally aggravated those who were addicted to their power and manipulation.

We are called to that same kingdom today. We are called to live in this world but not of this world. we need to pay our taxes and respect our authorities, but if our focus is only there then we miss out on the beauty and fruitfulness of being citizens of the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the reign of God in our lives. Some people are still waiting for that kingdom to come at the end of days, but Jesus clearly said that the kingdom was going to begin in his generation and that it would be a kingdom of people, not a kingdom of places. There would be no castle and throne or land to measure out its borders. This kingdom would consist of God being on the throne in our lives. And we, as citizens, would then live accordingly.

As kingdom citizens we are called to act completely different from the world around us. Just this last week I overheard a person using some pretty colorful profanity in a conversation he was having. Then, when I got a chance to meet him he made sure to let me know he was a member of a particular Christian denomination. This is not how the kingdom operates.

Sure, we can have opinions of how things are going. We are called to be involved and help make this world a better place, but we are to have a different way of doing things. We are to detest evil wherever it rears it ugly head – even if it may be in our lives.

The kingdom of God is a way of life in which God reigns in our hearts and the law of the land is love – love God and love others. If we truly live this kingdom life we can change the world beginning with our own lives.

It’s tax season and election season, and in response to all that is going on around us we have an obligation to pay our taxes, respect those in authority over us, and pray for them. We also have an obligation as citizens of a kingdom not of this world to live differently as we love and interact with others in this world around us.

May you be different. May the change begin in your life. May the world be different because of you.

If you’d like to know more about this kingdom of God and how to become a citizen, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you and God bless America.


What Are You Afraid Of?

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What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of snakes or bugs or creepy crawlies? Are you afraid of the dark?

I know people who say they are afraid of heights, but that is merely an easy way to explain that they have a fear of falling from high places.

Some people are afraid of wicker furniture or clowns or the number 13. Some people even have pantophobia – fear of everything!

I have agliophobia. It’s a fear of pain. Apparently it’s not a very strong fear because I was able to do the Tough Mudder with all the shocking and bleeding involved. However, it is something I had to really psych myself into accomplishing.

I’m writing this article on Valentine’s Day. Why would I be writing about fears on Valentine’s Day? The answer is found in 1 John 4:18.

We all have things of which we are afraid. Certain things, when we even think about them, cripple us and freeze us in our tracks. I remember growing up with Mom being afraid of snakes. She couldn’t even see pictures of them in magazines. Movies that had snakes in them were out. Those scenes in Indiana Jones where he is in the pit with all the snakes made her leave the room. If I left my bullwhip (a boy’s gift from a loving grandmother) on the floor overnight, then I would get in trouble because it would freeze her in her tracks. She would automatically see that bullwhip coiled up and think “snake”.

When you think of fears, however, what is the root source of that fear? Are you afraid because of the actual object or event? More often than not we are afraid because during that moment all we can think of is ourselves. When I am paralyzed in fear my thoughts are consumed with myself and what might happen to me and how it might hurt me…me, me, me.

When we love we aren’t concerned with “me”. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that “Love is not self-seeking.” If we are concerned about ourselves then we are not loving someone else. 1 John 4:18 sets fear and love as opposites. They are mutually exclusive of one another. It says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The man who fears is not made perfect in love.”.

This has many implications on our loves. It’s Valentine’s week. Have you shrunk back in your desire to show love to someone for fear of how they’ll treat you in return? In that case you aren’t truly thinking about them but yourself. Have you distanced yourself from someone because you just weren’t sure the outcome of your interaction? That’s fear, and that fear is all about you.

God’s promise to us is that He “did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). That fear that you feel did not come from God. What comes from God is a powerful ability to love others even against out knee-jerk reactions to shrink back. That’s love done out of self control in a powerful way.

When we get this idea deep into our psyche, then we will have much less difficulty telling others about the love of Jesus. Think about it. We have the greatest message in the world about the greatest event in the world offering the greatest gift to their the world, yet we don’t bother to tell even the people we claim to love about this. Is that love? Love would want them to have what we have. Yet we are paralyzed in our fears and don’t speak.

May you make a resolution today to live according to the Spirit of God. May the Spirit fill you with that power, love, and self discipline. And may the world be changed starting with the relationships we have at home because we are no longer afraid to love others. I know that’s my prayer for me; it’s my prayer for you too.

Thanks for reading this each week! Have a blessed day, and if you’d like to talk more about anything you read here or would like me to pray for you please let me know at jddobbs@verizon.net. Remember: power, love, and self discipline – they are yours in Christ!!


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