Category Archives: Christian Leadership Principles

The Quick and the Dead

2 Timothy 4:1-2

 

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

So which are you?  Are you among the quick or the dead?  This is not a reference to how fast you can run!  This is a reference to the nature of your spirit!  Paul tells us that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will quicken your mortal body!  That word quicken means to make alive!  The Spirit of God, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit, brings life into our spirits when it enters in at the time of salvation.  It is a similar life giving as when God breathed life into Adam into garden.  He had formed the body out of the dust of the ground, but as of yet, there was no life, no part of God, in that body.  But when God breathed life into him, he became alive.  We need the breath of God in our lives as well. 

There is coming a day when God will judge us all.  The quick he will judge according to our works on this earth and we will gain our heavenly rewards.  The crowns are mentioned throughout the Bible, and we will receive those crowns we have worked for.  There are five crowns.  The Crown of life will be given to those who persevere under trials.  The. Imperishable Crown is given to those who demonstrate self-denial and persistence in their faith.  The Crown of Righteousness is given to those who everyone who is in an intimate relationship with God.  The Crown of Glory is given to those who shepherd others and lead a life that is a good example for others.  The Crown of Rejoicing goes to men and women who work as evangelists, or who wins souls to Christ.  These crowns are then cast down at Jesus feet in a sign of submission and worship in Heaven.

The dead will also be judged.  Those who do not have their name written in the Lambs Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire, along with the devil and his demons. This is the final judgment on mankind.  They will never have an opportunity to leave that burning lake of fire.  For all eternity they will feel the flames of torment that were never, meant for mankind.  All because they refused to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  This is the only way to get your name written down – a personal confession of faith in Jesus.  He said that no one goes to the father except through Him.  Please, if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, ask Him to forgive you today, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  He will hear your prayer and wrap His loving arms around you if you do!

Then comes the call to our hearts.  Paul declarers the mission Timothy has in dealing with the churches he has been assigned to.  But this mission can be passed to all of us.  It is a microcosm of how to bring people to Christ. and how to disciple those who come to Christ. If we follow this simple formula, we will see our churches grow, our friends saved, and disciples rising up to follow Jesus.  I fall short in utilizing these steps too often.  I must learn to incorporate these things in my daily living and conversation.  Let’s take a look at how this works out in our lives. 

Preach the word.  I think often we get intimidated by that word preach.  We think it means to be a great orator and to together a stirring sermon that will touch the heart of a person.  We think we have to study hard to get the message just right.  Our minds tell us we are not preachers – far from it. We are too imperfect to preach.  But our imperfection is the key to the whole message!  God loves us just as we are, and we can tell that truth with conviction, we are preaching.  Sharing what God has done for me is the best preaching anyone can do.  It does not have to be a long, studied out argument on the merits of being a Christian and all that it takes to become one.  Just a simple testimony of what He has done for me, for you!  Preach that message and the world will listen.

Be instant in season and out of season.  Here is where the study comes in.  This is really where the rubber meets the road, so to say.  If someone comes up to you and asks you why you are full of joy, or why you have such peace in the midst of turmoil, are you ready to give them an answer?  Are you a student of the word of God?  Can you defend your position with solid scripture?  You don’t have to know the address, although it is helpful to give validity to what you are saying.  But knowing the word is helpful what times are good or bad – in season or out of season.  Have a read through the Bible? Do you have the word of God somewhere in your brain?  If you do, then the Holy Spirit can bring the right word to your remembrance when you need it.  I can’t tell you how many times He has done that for me.  And he will give you the words to say when you are asked about your faith.  But they must be inside you in order for them to come to your remembrance.  Study to show yourself approved!

Reprove, rebuke and exhort.  These three things are essential ij discipling others in the way of Christ.  If we are not doing these, we are not properly leading people down the path to holiness in Christ Jesus.  I need to do these to myself as well.  But we must do them with two key elements always in mind.   The first is longsuffering, or patience.  It is easy for me to want someone to change their ways now, to take my rebuke or reproof now, to grow up and mature in Christ now.  But I must always remember that God was patient with me and I must exhibit the fruit of longsuffering with others.  The old saying says Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Well, neither was a mature Christian!  These things take time and we must bear with those who are trying to find their way.  The second element is with all doctrine.  I have a friend who loves to tell me what a particular preacher says.  I want to hear what God says in His word, not what some preacher says.  Sharing a message someone has given is OK, but give me the word of God if you are trying top build me up or correct me.  The word of God is what can change a life, not the word of some preacher.  Preachers can get it wrong, but God’s word is always truth and life.

To reprove is to show someone the error of their ways, or to correct them.  This has to be done with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  You should never just walk up to someone and say they are doing this or that wrong.  And it should never be done in front of anyone else.  This is a private matter, and you must use wisdom m and the word to show them the error of their ways.  Remember that if they have offended you for some reason, that reproof can only come after forgiveness is granted.  Forgiveness to them for the offense, forgive ness to you because you took offense.  You should never give reproof if there is an offense that has not been corrected properly.

The same is true for a rebuke.  A rebuke is more of a warning that going a certain direction can cause one harm.  I get caught up on certain things from time to time and if I don’t get them under control, that can cause me harm.  One example is chocolate!  Once I start eating chocolate, it is hard for me to stop.  But if I don’t stop, or at least use temperance, I will balloon in my weight, which I do not want.  So, I must rebuke myself and remind myself that this is bad for me to keep doing.  This is a simple example, but I think you can see what I mean.  The spiritual applications are many.  Perhaps someone is listening to bad doctrine, or they have fallen into a pattern of sin, or they had stopped attending church.  All of these can be cause for rebuke.  But remember the lovingkindness and doctrine part!

To exhort is to uplift or encourage someone.  This is a positive thing but still must be done with patience and doctrine.  Too much of this can instill the wrong kind of pride in a person, and that is dangerous.  Exhortation should be true and justified, not just pretty words flowing off our lips.  If you enjoy your pastors’ message, tell them and tell them why!  Often, we just say “Good message”, but we never tell them, how it affected us.  Exhorting explains why it is a good message.  Exhorting lifts a person spiritually, not in the flesh.  Exhortation should come sparingly, but it should always come.  This is a sure way to see someone grow in Christ. These two verses show us how we should conduct our everyday conversations with others.  I pray you will go out and keep these words in mind as you go about your day.  Find someone to peach the word to.  Be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you.  Have the right words to say to those around you, and use them sparingly and lovingly.  If you do thisl sopuls will come closer to Jesus Christ all around you.

Thoroughly Furnished

2 Timothy 3:15-17 King James Version

15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

I debated on splitting this up into more than one post because there is so much depth here.  But it all fits together so well that I did not want to sacrifice the integrity of the scriptures together, so I will just try to be a little briefer.

It is once again mentioned that the teaching Lois and Eunice shared with young Timothy.  Paul is well aware that they brough him up knowing the scriptures.  This is probably once of the reasons Paul found him so useful to the ministry.  He had a solid foundation of truth.  I know that we endeavored to do all we could to raise our children in the ways of the Lord, but I never was able to instill the love of scripture in their hearts.  They knew the word fairly well, having attended church from the time they were born until well into their teens, attended Sunday School and youth group regularly and went to summer camp.  But I was not a very good priest in my home.  I did not show them how much I loved the word and in some areas I was hypocritical to what I was saying and teaching them.  I studied early in the morning so they did not see me in the word very often.  Prayer was not around our table.  I did not help at all to teach them to love the Lord.  I am so glad they do in their later years, and they would tell you I set a good example, but I feel in many ways I failed.  I know they have all professed their faith in Jesus Christ and I can only pray they will live it out in their lives.

The reason it is so important to raise our children knowing the scripture is so they can understand what it is to be saved.  They can know that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation does not come through works, or good deeds, or riches.  You can’t buy it or earn it.  It comes by faith.  Not only our salvation, but our deliverance, our healing, our provision and protection.  They all come by faith.  This is the wisdom we gain when we know the Holy Scriptures. Our faith in Jesus Christ makes us heir to the promises of God and brings our adoption into the family of God.  There is no greater thing that can happen in our life but the saving of our souls.  We are no longer the same, but we become new creatures in Christ and our old man starts to pass away as we take in more of this wisdom that comes through the Scriptures.  It is then that we begin to realizer the scripture is given for four things.  It is there to doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness,  Let’s look at these four things and see how they apply to each of us.

Doctrine is defined as “a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group.”  Doctrine is what guides churches on their journey to reach souls for Christ.  Doctrine is what unites one church to another.  Churches with like doctrine will be more likely to draw like-minded people.  The Bible spells out doctrine in many ways, most of which are in Paul’s letters.  Paul was a great teacher of doctrine.  Peter, James, John and Luke also added their insight to what the proper doctrine should be.  The trouble is that there are many different doctrines out here from the same scripture, and there is a boastful way individuals go about saying their doctrine is right and another is wrong.  Can we truly know which is right and which is wrong when there are so many?  Now, if a doctrine is clearly outside of scriptures reach, or if it is based on one scripture alone and is not backed up by others, we can be pretty sure it is a false doctrine.  There are many verses in scripture that speak of avoiding false doctrine and we must take heed to these.  How do we know?  Well, first of all, do they claim Jesus Christ as Lord and King, or do they pronounce some other office to Him?  Do they say they have fresh revelation that supersedes the scripture? Do they claim some of the scripture is only for the past and does not apply today?  All of these things are signals you could be hearing false doctrine.  It is rampant in our world today and we must be wise, just as Timothy had to be wise, to make sure we are following the scripture that makes us wise unto salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

Reproof is defined as “Blame expressed to the face; censure for a fault; reprehension.”  If we have a fault against our brother or sister, it is our duty as Christians to go to them with that problem.  Not their sister, or co-worker, or our spouse or boss.  To them and only to them.  As expressed here, blame should be to the face, not through text or voice mail or e-mail.  Face to face.  This is the only way reproof should be brought out.  One of the big problems we have in our churches is that we do not handle offenses properly, and we do not bring reproof when we should.  Instead, we take our problems to everyone else except the person we have the problem with.  Then the people we talk to have to take one side or the other and it pits us against each other.  The Bible is very clear about how to handle reproof, or offenses.

First, if we have offense with our brother, we should go to them and explain what the offense is.  If they refuse to acknowledge said offense, we should bring someone else with us and go over it again.  This would preferably be a pastor or deacon.  If they still refuse to acknowledge the transgression, it should be brought before the whole church.  The problem is that we often do this just the opposite.  We tell everyone else before we go to the one that hurt us.  It’s no wonder that the church is seen as a house of hypocrites by those on the outside.  We gossip and murmur and complain with the best of them!  This should not be so!  Secondly, if we have offended someone else, or even if we think we have, we should go to them and ask their forgiveness.   This is even more important than bringing your tithe and offering to the church!  We should never hold onto an offense, whether to us or by us.  It is our duty as followers of Christ to make sure that offense is cleared up because, if it is not, bitterness can set in, and that will separate people faster than anything.

Paul says that the word of God is given for reproof.  This means that if we are going to someone as prescribed above, we should make sure that the offense we have is scripturally sound and that we have scripture to back up our forgiveness, or reason to forgive.  Make sure that the word can be applied to the situation and that we are not flying off the handle for some earthly reason.   If it is your flesh that is offended, remember that we are supposed to die to the flesh so that we may live in the Spirit.  Offenses should flow off your back like water off a duck’s back.  As Christians, we must be above offense.  You never see Jesus getting offended because of fleshly reasons.  He always had sound, scriptural reproof for anyone who came at Him with accusations, and we should be able to do the same.

The  third use of scripture is for correction.  This is fairly self-explanatory so I won’t spend too much time on it.  You have all found times that people misuse or misquote scripture.  They use the word to gratify their own desires rather than knowing the real meaning behind the text.  For example, there are many who say to be a Christian we must love everyone and accept them exactly as they are without making judgment or asking them to change.  They cite the truth that God is love, so we must echo that love.  While this is true, the ;logic used is a bit off.  We must love everyone – this is a command.  But we cannot leave that person in there sin.  They must leave that sin  behind to gain access to heaven and eternal life with Christ.  Jesus always told the sinner to go and sin now more, Paul tells us to lay aside every weight that so easily besets us.  Jesus told us to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect.  Repentance, which means turning away, is key to our salvation.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.  We must use scripture to correct these misunderstandings of truth.

In the same way, we must use scripture to instruct people in righteousness.  There are millions of self help books, spiritual books and other motivational books that can help us in life, but to learn righteousness, we must get into the word.  There is no substitute.  I can read every self-help book out there, but if it is not scripturally based, and does not use scripture to back up it’s points, it is useless in teaching me righteousness.  Am I using the word to learn righteousness, or am I trying to learn it on my own from other sources?  Make sure good book is your source for this type of instruction.

Once we have applied the scripture to our life in this manner, we will become more mature.  The example used here is of a thoroughly furnished house.  Picture a house with all the fixings.  Every need met, every piece of furniture in the right place and no excess. All the curtains hung and the pictures straight.  Things put in their proper place, all cleaned and ready to be lived in.  Like those beautiful houses you see in living magazines.  This is how you will look to God if you utilize the scripture the way He intended.  And for what purpose?  To do good works, of course.  Scripture will bring that about if we utilize it properly. Let us all aim for this kind pf perfection!

Know Your Teacher

2 Timothy 3:13-14 King James Version

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, of whom thou hast learned them;

I think we all know this to be true.  Evil men and seducers are all around us, trying to lure us away from those things we know to be true.  They come by with new revelation, new theories, new translations, new interpretations.  These things get worse and worse as times goes on, distorting the true gospel and making it what it is not.  It is so important that we know our teacher and where they come from.

Knowledge is rampant in this world of ours.  People have so many avenues that they can search out and make up their own “truth” .  The many search findings that come up on.  Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines online can bring us a multitude of information at a milliseconds notice and we have to discern what is right and what is wrong.  Some men think a certain scripture passage means one thing and others think it means another.  This is why denominations arise, why churches spilt and why there is such division within our own churches.

Typically it is because people take one or two verses of scripture and ignore the other scriptures in regards to the same thing.  For example, let’s take the LGBTQ? Community.  Are we supposed to love them as they are?  Of course we are.  It is our command to love others and help them see their way to salvation in Jesus Christ.  But can they stay in that sinful state of behavior?  Not if they expect a home in heaven!  The Bible is very clear, in more than one place, that this behavior is sin.  Our problem is that we place mercy over truth, when in fact mercy and truth are side by side.  We must apply both to come to the truth about the way we should live.

Knowledge can also drive us away from the truth.  There are so many I have met who used to be lovers of God that are now atheist and I have had discussions with them.  They said once they learned about this, or learned about that, they decided God just could not be real.  So they gave up on God altogether.  Their worldly knowledge was more important to them than their heavenly connection.  Worldly wisdom surpassed Godly wisdom.  There are so many today who think man knows more than God.  The teaching of evolution proves this.  God says creation, man says evolution.  Creation is taught less and less ion our schools and evolution is taught more and more.  Man’s ways replace God’s ways.  This is becoming the norm rather than the abnormal.  It will lead to destruction because if we do not believe the beginning, how can we fully believe anything that happened after that?  How can we believe man was formed in God’s image?  That man was formed from the dust of the earth?  How can we believe original sin, the flood, Abraham, the plagues, the Red Sea parting? Denying one can easily become denying all.

I have a very good Catholic friend whom I believe is reading this post.  We have had lengthy email discussions on the subjects of Salvation, Truth, the Bible, the will of God, and many other topics.  We disagree on many things, but we also agree on many things.  We both have the ability to utilize scripture in backing up our beliefs.  I have learned a tremendous amount about Catholicism from him, and I believe he has learned a lot about evangelicals from me. I truly believe he is a very good teacher of the Catholic faith, as I have been told I am a good teacher of the evangelical faith.  If I was a Catholic, I would love to sit under his teachings.  We have gone back and forth over which one of us actually shares the truth in our faith.  He is thoroughly convinced that his version of what truth is can be the only truth.  I am convinced that what I am saying is truth.  Yet we have many disagreements.  But I believe our disagreement are over doctrinal issues, not what real truth is.  Doctrines are different all over the word, but the real truth is Jesus Christ crucified and risen again.  That is the gospel message we both share.  Giving our lives to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice is the only truth that matters.  I think Him and I both agree on that!

The point I am trying to make is the same as what Paul is making in these verses.  There are many excellent teachers of the Gospel in the world.  There are also many who subvert the word of God and teach lies of half-truths.  We must be prepared to discern the truth from the heresy.  How do we do that?  Through reading the word and asking God for wisdom, which He says he will give to us if we ask (James 1:5).  It comes down to how much time and effort you have put into your own growth in His wisdom and knowledge.  Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  That is where it starts.  Without a sense of the majesty and sovereignty of God, we will always fall for false teaching.  We must have a sense of just who God is.  Some of the teaching nowadays makes Hm out to be our buddy and our pal.  That demeans Him!  Father is a great term to use.  A father disciplines, teaches, corrects, rebukes and exhorts us.   He is loving in all his ways and only does what is good for us, even if we thinks it is not.  A good father holds us to a certain standard and expects his word to be obeyed by those in his household.  If it is not, there are consequences.  Not because the father is cruel or mean, but because he is the one who provides for us, protects us, gives us direction and purpose.  We owe him our lives.

Our heavenly father is no different. He always wants what is best for us, and often will allow us to fall into this trial or that trial in order to help us grow.  These trials should never cause us to turn away from God, but should draw us closer to Him.  He loves us so much that he gave His only Son to die on a cross!  Why would he ever allow something into our lives that will harm us.  So when you hear something that appears to be new “revelation” or just doesn’t line up quite right with what you have believed before, study it out.  This tries your faith but can be a great way to grow in wisdom and grace.  God has a great desire to see us grow and become disciples, not just believers!  A disciple is one who is disciplined in the word of God.  That discipline comes through listening to the right teachers and studying out what they say, not just taking it for truth.  The truth is Jesus Christ, and He alone can reveal the real truth to you.  Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?”  The better question would be “Who is truth!”  The truth was standing right in front of him, and he did not see it.  Will you?

From Such Turn Away

2 Timothy 3:1-5 King James Version

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

This is quite a list of people to turn away from.  The admonishment is not that we should not witness to these people groups mentioned here.  We MUST witness to them, but in the loving, gentle, patient way that we talked about in our last lesson.  The people on this list are certainly opposing themselves, and must learn to restore themselves to the place where God can guide their path.  They have lost their way and will have a hard time coming back if we are not apt to help them along.  The types of people mentioned here are indeed the hardest of all to witness to as well.  Most are so full of themselves there is no room for anyone else, especially God.  But if we can help to get just a little bit of themselves put to the side, there is where our opportunity is to chare the gospel with them.  We must watch for these moments carefully and take advantage when we see them arise.

The condition of these men is the reason perilous times have come.  When more and more people start to act on the manners described here our society starts to break down.  People will not care as much about others.  The neighborly manner in which we treat each other will slowly vanish.  Responsibility for one’s actions will disappear and accountability will vanish.  As a result, people will think they can do whatever they want with impunity.  If they are called out for their immoral behavior, the one who is on the right side will be called wring and will face persecution.  Right will become wrong and wrong will become right.  The biblical morality we once lived by will be replaced by an ever-changing worldly morality that will cater to the whim of those who have given into the lusts of the world. 

Can anyone truly deny that we are currently seeing this happen today more than just 10 years ago?  I can give a hundred examples of this but I will stick with a few.  We see school shootings and mass shootings going up all the time. Instead of centering on the critical problem that is driving these shootings, we say it’s the fault of the gun that person is handling.  Instead of doing a better job tracking and tacking care of those with mentality issues. We let them loose on a society that has little protection from them.  Instead of defending our schools in practical ways we simply lock the doors, making it even worse if a shooter does get in somehow.  The shooter is rarely held accountable as they should be.  They get a prison cell where they are catered to and the taxpayer pays for their life to the tune of $50,000 a year.  There they can finally get the help they need, but they rarely do.  Here we see these attributes form the list above: disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, fierce, despisers of those that are good.

The second example I will site is the prevalence of the gender identity discussion.  We are adding genders all the time instead of just looking at a person and knowing what sex they are biologically.  I hear on Facebook you can now choose from 56 different genders when choosing a sexual identity.  We wonder why our children are confused?  In our schools, it is taught that it does not matter if you identify as any of these genders.  All should be accepted for who they are and what they are.  In many states it is against the law to council those that are claiming such status as is against their biological identity.  You have to let them do whatever they want to do.  I cannot imagine what our society will look like when the next generation takes over.  It will be sexual nirvana for those who are raised in it, but total sexual chaos for everyone else.  In the list above, we see lovers of their own selves, covetousness, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, without natural affection and blasphemers in this group.

This is only the beginning of what we are seeing today.  Our society is falling farther short of the glory of God every day and people are caring less and less about it.  In fact, our minds are being numbed to what God wants as our ability to express disgust with these things is challenged more and more by what is becoming the mainstream.  Godly ways are called wrong, worldly passions are indulged in and no one seems to care.  It is harder and harder to find someone that will stand up for what is right and decent.  Harder and harder to speak the truth.  Harder and harder to witness to those whose hearts are gone so far away.

We must turn away from hanging around with such people all the time because we might get pulled into their own ditches and mistruths.  We might find ourselves sympathizing with them.  We must turn away from all these practices, which I am not going to try and explain one by one.  We must turn away from close friendships that might entangle us.  But we cannot turn away from doing everything we can to get them to trust us sop that we might bring the truth to them.  And we must present that truth in the method that Paul explains at the end of the previous chapter: with gentleness, patience and meekness.  We must slowly instruct them in the ways of a God who loves them just as much as He loves us.  God’s desire is to have them turn from their ungodly ways, to stop opposing themselves and to come back to Him.  Can we be such witnesses for the Lord?  They may all look on the outside like they are godly but they do not know God’s power to save.  Many would love to be saved from their ways, but they deny there is a power that can do that.  We must show them the power of God unto salvation that is Jesus Christ.  They need that power to touch their lives, and we can be the instrument of God to make that happen.  Let us not leave them to the devil’s whims.  Let us shine our light so brightly that they will be drawn to us!

Instruct Those that Oppose Themselves

2 Timothy 2:24-26 King James Version

 

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 

What an interesting thought.  People that oppose themselves!  They are their own worst enemy.  Have you ever heard someone say that?  “I am my own worst enemy.”  I have – it was me.  Oh, I was having a good time.  Drinking all through the night, smoking pot, hanging with friends, enjoying good food and good times on a regular basis.  I was making good money and travelling where I wanted, when I wanted. I worked as a computer programmer back in the big computer era in the early 70’s, before PC’s even started to be thought of.  I was doing well.  I lacked nothing that I wanted.

 

But I was drowning.  Drowning in a sea of despair.  When I was alone, I was really alone.  I knew I needed more but I had no idea what that more was.  I was raised in the church, but had put it behind me and taken on the life of an agnostic.  I knew there was some power out there, but had no idea who it was.  I thought I was headed to heaven, but I was bound for hell and I didn’t even know what that meant.  We made jokes about partying in hell, not knowing what really awaited us there.  I was indeed my own worst enemy.  I opposed myself at every turn.  Thinking I was making the right turns when all the time I was going left.  I was lost!

 

I am so thankful for the men and women who slowly led me to the right place.  They took on the attributes mentioned here.  Gentle, patient teachers who were humble and approached me with meekness.  They instructed me about Jesus, about His love, about His mercy, about His sacrifice.  Over time I learned how to walk with the Lord and stop doing things that would oppose the spirit within me.  There are still times that the old man rises up again and tries to oppose me, but I have an adversary now.  I have one who will come alongside and help me through any situation I may get into.  He keeps me from opposing myself.

 

Now it is my turn to help those who oppose themselves, to pass on the blessing that has been given to me.  But I must do it the right way.  I cannot force Christ on them.  I cannot force them to conform to my idea of what serving Jesus means.  I must not strive with the, argue with them, manipulate them or be angry with them.  Paul gives us a great formula here for winning the lost to Christ.  First, we must be gentle.  Our words and our actions must be alluring so that they want to hear what we have to say.  We should not come from a position of power, but of meekness.  We must be patient with them as they try to find their way out of their own way.  Too often we get stuffed up in our pride and think they should come to maturity sooner.  We forget that they have been opposing themselves for a long time.  Transformation of the mind does not happen overnight!  It can take years to come out of the bondage and chaos that a troubled mind can leave.  Believe Me, I know.  But God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can think or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20).  We have a mandate to tell people about this amazing God we serve.  He is the one who sets the captive free!  Those who are in opposition to themselves will find the greatest advocate of all time when we introduce them to Jesus.

 

The truth is that those who oppose themselves are in the enemy’s clutches.  He has them right where he wants them, and has no desire tom let them go.  It is our responsibility to help them find themselves, to recover themselves, and become the person God designed them to be, not the one the enemy has tricked them into.  I was tricked by the enemy into a lifestyle of drugs, booze and sex.  The riches of this world trapped me into believing I was fulfilling the plan for my life.  But I was not even close to it.  I was in such opposition to the plan God had for me that I would not even begin to see His plan.  God’s plan was for me to be His witness, my plan was to be isolated and alone.  God’s plan was to have me minister the word; my plan was to hurt people with my words.   God’s plan was for me to sing the songs he gave me, my plan was to sing in silence.  God’s plan was there all the time but I did not see it.  I had to recover myself before I could see it.  The real me that God had created needed to be turned into the clay so the potter could mold it.  I was in the enemy’s hands.

 

I was so glad when God finally urged me into His plan.  There is so much more peace here.  So much more joy and so much more love.  There is little to fear and so much to be thankful for.  There is little doubt about who God wants me to be and a lot of faith that I can become that person.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still oppose myself at times.  There are still times that I do not walk where I should walk.  There are times the snare of the enemy tries to capture me once again.  But I have been set free and am no longer bound by it.  When the snare catches me, God quickly opens it and I escape.  That’s how much He loves me, and He loves you too!

 

How about you?  Are you opposing yourself today?  Are you living a life that is not in line with what God wants for you?  I ask you to come out of that place.  Come meet the Savior, Jesus Christ.  He can help you recover the real you and walk with God once again.  Just trust Him!