QTVOTD: Don’t Be of the World…

Today the Lord took me down a route of understanding in what it means to not be of this world. It started with a verse from my current book of study in 2nd Corinthians and then though the Thompson Chain reference, took me on a small journey of other supporting verses. So, lets start with the verse in 2 Corinthians 6 which is verse 17.

2 Corinthians 6:17 [AMP]
So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor,

Like I was saying yesterday, at first glance this seems to be a super hard and fast instruction from Paul to entirely separate ourselves from unbelievers. However, there is more theology here we need to unpack. Jesus, through His great commission sends us out into the world to teach the world about Him and His Gospel. Everything Jesus did to received people to Himself was through relationship and even the missionaries we send out focus heavily on developing relationships with unbelievers in order to nurture an opportunity to tell someone the gospel.

So the next verses I was led to was Colossians 2:21&22

Colossians 2:21-22 [AMP]
Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them],
Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines.

Essentially, do not follow the desires of the flesh. Let’s keep going though; the next verse I was pointed was 3 John 1:11.

3 John 1:11 [AMP]
Beloved, do not imitate evil, but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen (discerned or experienced) God [has enjoyed no vision of Him and does not know Him at all].

This is pretty self explanatory and does not require anything additional to be said in my opinion and means what it says. Next up we have 1 John 2:15

1 John 2:15 [AMP]
Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

So this goes more hand in hand with Colossians 2:21&22 above. If our hearts are more fond of the world than what the Lord has shown us to be true in His word about Himself and the way He feels about the world, then we don’t have the love of the Father in us. The last verse I was brought to before I landed on my final passage was 1 John 3:10.

1 John 3:10 [AMP]
By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellowbeliever in Christ).

This passage follows right in line with the passage before. So not only will we not love the world but our nature will be desiring to do righteousness and not evil. I know I am moving fast but this coming passage is the one that pulls it all together. John 17:15-21 -> with everything I have said above, I am just going to now let you read through and listen to what the Lord lays on your heart. This is Jesus’ prayer to the Father before being betrayed. POWERFUL!!

John 17:15-21 [AMP]
I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one.
They are not of the world (worldly, belonging to the world), [just] as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.
Just as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
And so for their sake and on their behalf I sanctify (dedicate, consecrate) Myself, that they also may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the Truth.
Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching,
That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.

QTVOTD: Unequally Yoked…

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 [AMP]

This is one of those days where the Amplified Bible version really helps consume the intent and interpretation of God’s Word. At first glance it in other versions you might be inclined to see this as an instruction about marriage. However, it is more about linking yourself with any involvement or activity that is inconsistent with our theological understanding of what it means to surrender to glorifying God in all that we do. At work, I engage in business decisions and actions with unbelievers but those actions and partnerships are not always inconsistent with my faith…however, there have been some. I remember being asked to ensure that an application that I was involved with building, did not break or work improperly with sites that cater to voyeuristic endeavors that ARE inconsistent with my faith and purity. I made the decision to remove myself from that product and no longer be in a situation where I might even be associated with that type of work. God honored that decision and provided the next set of opportunities that brought me to where I am today.

We must be ready to walk away from friendships and partnerships where even our ‘above approach’ is questioned. God is honored when we make choices that put His holiness and glory above any earthly exploit.

QTVOTD: Identity, Trust, and Worth –> Jesus

Nice.Quiet.Day – I worked about six hours and spent a lot of time doing things other than work for a change. It was relaxing and invigorating all at the same time. Thank you, Lord, for a nice quiet day to recharge and rest.

11 Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians [we are hiding nothing, keeping nothing back], and our heart is expanded wide [for you]!
12 There is no lack of room for you in [our hearts], but you lack room in your own affections [for us].
13 By way of return then, do this for me—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also [to us]. 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 [AMP]

First Paul says that he is speaking with ‘candor’ to the Corinthians and not only that, but there is also an investment in Paul’s and his companions’ hearts for the church at Corinth.

The Corinthians lacking room in their own hearts means that there has been a narrowing of the space allowed for their apostle…likely because they have allowed the criticisms leveled against Paul to restrict the breadth of room they have in their hearts for him.

Paul, then talking as though he was talking to his own children, beseeches the Corinthians for reciprocal affection.

Application:

There will be times in my ministry that my love for another may be greater than that returned to me. I can hear Paul’s pleading in his heart for this to be different. I wonder how I, a Christ Follower that is not even in the same league as Paul, can make movement here. God is the one who can move and change the heart…it becomes an aspect of my prayer life, treating others with respect, and living righteously that must be enough. IN Christ I am seen by the Father as justified and without blemish because of His Son. That is where I rest my identity, trust, and worth.

QTVOTD: I Know Whose Opinion Matters…

Today I had a nonstop 9-hour meeting with the GOV that started at 9am and ended right at 6:00pm. I am whooped…but not too whooped to hear what the Lord has for me today. My Life Group guys and I decided to push a change in our daily execution to always get in a few moments with the Lord. Most of us feel that taking notes and in my case posting a blog entry, need to be a part of that quiet time…meaning, if we don’t feel we have enough time to take notes or blog then it won’t be a worthwhile QT. That is bunk! So, we have made a commitment to each other to have a time of deliberate reading in God’s Word every day and directed; in other words, we won’t do the ‘close eyes and open to a place in the bible to read’. We will continue to read in our books we are focusing on -> 2 Corinthians for me.

8 Amid honor and dishonor; in defaming and evil report and in praise and good report. [We are branded] as deceivers (impostors), and [yet vindicated as] truthful and honest.
9 [We are treated] as unknown and ignored [by the world], and [yet we are] well-known and recognized [by God and His people]; as dying, and yet here we are alive; as chastened by suffering and [yet] not killed;
10 As grieved and mourning, yet [we are] always rejoicing; as poor [ourselves, yet] bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, and [yet in reality] possessing all things. 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 [AMP]

On the surface, when reading this, it can come across as depressing; but after careful consideration I find this very encouraging. Paul is outlining 9 antithesis statements representing the view of his ministry from a worldly point of view and then from a spiritual point of view. From the view of critics within the church and from those who are walking in obedience to the Lord.

The reason this is encouraging is because it clearly shows me where my ear should be tuned. It should not be bent toward the world or an unrepentant believer living in a veiled existence thinking they and their personal views are right. No, my ear should be angled toward the Lord and what He has to say; what He has to say through my trusted followers of Jesus Christ. I should not expect a different response from anyone who has not aligned themselves squarely on the teachings of my personal Lord and Savior.

QTVOTD: All Weapon & Defense Systems Hot…

6 By innocence and purity, knowledge and spiritual insight, longsuffering and patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love;
7 By [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend]; 2 Corinthians 6:6-7 [AMP]

As I was reading through this passage today, I was really encouraged by the contrast of these 2 verses.

Verse 6 talks about having innocence, purity, knowledge, spiritual insight, longsuffering, patience, and kindness IN the Holy Spirit…in genuine/sincere love. All of these admirable attributes come after Paul telling us all about the things that he and his ministry have endured in persecution, imprisonment, and unspeakable hardships….BUT

…in Verse 7 he pulls out the BIG GUNS. These things in verse 6 are enabled through speaking the Word of TRUTH IN the Power of God. How? you might ask…

…with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend]

2 Corinthians 6:7b [AMP]

Hands full of everything you need to fight…weapons of righteousness. I just like this idea that what when both the right and left hands are full of righteousness there is nothing else that needs to be wielded to both attack and defend. There is just something very powerful about this.

QTVOTD: Sharing the Fate of Jesus…

Boy, am I glad its Friday! This has been one rough week. Microsoft Layoffs, high stress meetings with the GOV, and trying to find time to write 2 documents that carry a lot of contractual responsibility with them. All the while I have had this sore throat and cough that just doesn’t want to go away. However, God is so good…all the time. No matter my predicament, He is always there for me in full force; standing ready to give me the comfort, wisdom, and peace that I need at that moment.

3 We put no obstruction in anybody’s way [we give no offense in anything], so that no fault may be found and [our] ministry blamed and discredited.
4 But we commend ourselves in every way as [true] servants of God: through great endurance, in tribulation and suffering, in hardships and privations, in sore straits and calamities,
5 In beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless watching, hunger;
 2 Corinthians 6:3-5 [AMP]

There is a lot here today and covered 3 verses that have some very important points to the Corinthians in Corinth regarding Paul’s ministry. Remember that yesterday Paul was talking about not accepting God’s grace in vain. In verse 3 and 4a, Paul is saying that his own conduct as God’s messenger does not constitute a stumbling-block which might hinder the ‘proper’ acceptance of God’s grace by others. What he means he makes clear in what he says next, “so that no fault may be found and our (lit. the) ministry blamed and discredited”. If fault could be found in his ministry, and there were those in Corinth only too ready to find it, then presumably that could be used as an excuse to reject his message. So, then he says, “but we commend ourselves in every way as [true] servants of God”. This is not really a personal commendation but more appropriately a commendation of a ministry.

Paul now goes into listing a bunch of factors to give evidence in commending his ministry.

  • General Terms
    • Great Endurance
    • Tribulation and Suffering
    • Hardships and Calmities
  • Particular Examples
    • Beatings
    • Imprisonments
    • Riots
  • Voluntary Hardships
    • Labors
    • Sleepless watching
    • Hunger

It kind of seems strange that Paul would call out these hardships to ‘commend’ his ministry…but underneath this is Paul’s recognition that the true servant of God is the ‘Suffering Servant’, and that the one who is the ‘Loyal Follower of Christ’ will share the fate of Jesus.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor is a servant or slave above his master.

Matthew 10:24

Application:

This really made me question whether I have really internalized ‘sharing in the fate of Jesus’ in my ministry. It might be easy to interpret this passage as Paul being boastful about himself and his ministry, but it is actually quite the opposite. When I think about my ministry, I need to be sure that I can stand with assurance that I am not standing in the way of someone properly receiving the grace of God. I must maintain a humble heart and crucify the prideful ‘Old Ben’ every day. I am the new Ben where that ‘Old Ben’ no longer lives but it is Christ who lives in me. This life I now live in the faith, I live by the grace of God Who loves me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 personalized to me)

QTVOTD: Be Careful of Ignoring God’s Grace…

2 Corinthians 6:1 [AMP]
LABORING TOGETHER [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [thatmerciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them—do not receive it to no purpose].

We so often hear about the abundance of God’s grace; however, here Paul gives a warning about receiving God’s grace without the appropriate reverence and respect due it. I think the way this looks lived out is when we are in a situation like a church service or night at High School camp where you hear the gospel and are convicted, yet push down that conviction not heeding God’s call on you at that moment. This is what it means to receive it with no purpose. The very next verse confirms:

2 Corinthians 6:2 [AMP]
For He says, In the time of favor (of an assured welcome) I have listened to and heeded your call, and I have helped you on the day of deliverance (the day of salvation). Behold, now is truly the time for a gracious welcome and acceptance [of you from God]; behold, now is the day of salvation!

This is that moment – the moment God extends His gracious gift of salvation by forgiving you of all your sins through your acceptance of His Son as your personal sim bearer. Even after salvation I think that ignoring a call God is putting on your life as a born again adopted child of His, can put you in this place of grace applied with no purpose.

QTVOTD: Be Reconciled to God!

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 [NKJV]
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Today I came up on 2 of the most important verses in the Bible for believers. I just love that the heart of ambassadorship for Christ is imploring others to be reconciled to God Himself. As though God were pleading through us. This is one of the places in Gods Word where we see how even though God is so mighty and powerful, He still partners with and chooses to work through us to reach others and grow His Kingdom!

Then right after then amazing ambassadorship acknowledgement, Paul throws down the Gospel that leads to reconciliation. The most powerful line in these two verses for me is “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. When we are reconciled through Christ’s she’d blood, God sees us clothed in His righteousness, but He sees us that way IN His Son. Sooooo awesome!

QTVOTD: Dwell, Gaze, and Seek…

The passage today is a little deviation from my reading in 2 Corinthians but I just wanted to share a little bit about the opportunity I had today at Hope Community Church in South Everett this morning. Hope Community is a church plan of Canyon Hills Community Church in Bothell, the church at which I am an elder. This morning 2 new lay elders were installed at Hope Community and the elders at Canyon Hills were invited to come be a part of this process. It was such a great moment as it represents a milestone of growth for this new church. I was asked to pray as we commissioned these 2 men (Micah and Clint) as new elders. Below is what the Lord laid on my heart to share through my prayer.

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire [seek] in His temple. Psalms 27:4 [AMP]

I know this verse and following verse 5 by heart because they are Bella’s life verses. As I sat there praying about what the Lord would have me pray over these 2 men, this is the verse that came to mind. More importantly the 3 words that jump off the page as it relates to being elders the Lord calls us to be.

  • DWELL
  • GAZE
  • SEEK

2 Timothy 3:1-5 and Titus have a nontrivial number of qualifications called out for elders. Having been an elder for over 2 years now, the most effective elder is one who does not let his pride, position, or own feelings get in the way of what God is doing or wants. So, when I remembered this verse it just called out so well how to be this conduit of God’s will and purposes.

An elder must desire to DWELL in the house of the Lord forever. That this body is not his home, our heavenly hope in an eternity with Jesus is our home. We must dwell here on earth by living a life that is focused on our faith.

An elder must GAZE upon the face of God and Jesus as a representation of Who they should strive to be like. In some versions it says ‘gaze upon the beauty of the Lord’ as being this thing that a person desires from the Lord. It implies that when we look at Jesus or God, we see beauty and cannot take our eyes from it. Also, when we gaze at beauty, we are able to see that beauty in our minds when we look away; we can remember and stay true to that definition of beauty.

An elder must SEEK God in His temple. I interpret this for us here on earth to be a diligent search to understand God’s character, personhood, and heart desires for us through His Word and prayer. When a person is seeking, the hunt is not over until the object has been found so this implies a fervent search with purpose and intent.

So, all of these put together show that an elder is right where God can use him when he is DWELLING in the presence of God, GAZING on the TRUTH of Who God is, and SEEKING God’s word for His desires and will to be done through that elder.

QTVOTD: Confidence in Approach and Appropriate Status…

The work drama continues into the weekend. With all of the new commitments and challenges, it becomes a difficult planning game versus scheduling/resources. I will have to work more through the next couple of days but hopefully I can keep it segregated from the time I need to be spending with my family.

11 Therefore, being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence, we seek to win people over [to persuade them]. But what sort of persons we are is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood by God, and I hope that it is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood also by your consciences (your inborn discernment).
12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but we are providing you with an occasion and incentive to be [rightfully] proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who pride themselves on surface appearances [on the virtues they only appear to have], although their heart is devoid of them. 2 Corinthians 5:11-12 [AMP]

Today’s passage gives us a little deeper look into the perception struggles Paul dealt with in his ministry. Verse 11 can have 2 different meanings but when you look at Paul’s use of the Greek words he uses in this verse in other areas of writing, this is the definition that sticks out.

Verse 10 was talking about the Judgement seat we will all stand before when the Lord returns to launch the beginning of His forever Kingdom. In light of this eventual judgement, Paul feels led to ‘win people over’ or persuade them to ‘FEAR THE LORD’. What Paul is saying here is that his way of ‘winning’ or ‘persuading’ people is biblically supported and he has already denounced crafty and dishonest manipulation of God’s word…so this winning or persuading is God honor. The thinking is that this message was in his letter because there were detractors in the Corinthian church who were challenging and criticizing his approach. Paul is saying he has confidence in his approach because he has faith that this being wide open and visible to the Lord, is pleasing to Him.

This above interpretation is then supported by verse 12 where Paul is saying that those who are converts to Jesus that were led to their Salvation by Paul, can be proud of the ministry that brought them to that Salvation. Now he levies the target against those detractors by telling this church in Corinth to have pride in Paul’s ministry because it is God honoring; that the church can admonish those who pride themselves on ‘external appearances’ yet lack the pure heart which is God is really looking at.