Broken Pieces

God uses things that are small, weak and broken. I’ve said that many times so you may have heard it in a sermon, lesson or read it here. Every person in the Bible that does anything for God was flawed in some way, perhaps fatally so. Abraham believed God and God counted it to him as righteousness; but he still lied, twice, about Sara not being his wife. David was a man after God’s own heart but committed not only adultery but murder in an attempt to cover up the previous violation. Noah got drunk and naked, Lot was comfortable surrounded by sin, Samson was a pompous jerk and so forth. Continue reading

I Must Decrease

He must increase, but I must decrease. -John 3:30 

The ministry of John the Baptist preceded Jesus’ public ministry. People had speculated all kinds of things about John the Baptist but he was clear that another was coming after him that would be greater. John compared himself to a friend of the bridegroom. We might say today that his spotlight was fading and Jesus’ was coming up. His statement indicates that his popularity and even his ministry would be decreasing as Jesus’ ministry rose in prominence. It was his time. We sometimes apply this idea to our own lives. We must make less of ourselves and more of Jesus. I suggest there is more than one way to think about this. Continue reading

The Anger of Man

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. -James 1:19-20

There is such a thing as righteous indignation but that is reserved for, well, the righteous. Which is not us. I’m offering this as a timely reminder in an age when lots of people, Christians included, are carrying signs and share every waking thought on social media. We to need to be very vocal about the Gospel and keep everything else behind closed doors. Some conversations need to stay within the walls of a family’s living room or take place in the context of a Sunday School class. Some conversations need to not take place at all. What the world needs to see and hear is a group of people conforming to the image of Christ who are meek and humble in their behavior but bold with sharing the Gospel.

God is On My Side

jer 29“God is on my side.”  Consider for a moment the arrogance of that statement.  We’ve all said it, and probably didn’t mean to infer anything by it.  But the implication is that we have a position, a plan for victory, and that God chooses to support our position.  The truth is, we don’t even have a side.

Of all the children in a large family, Joseph was the favorite of his father Jacob.  (As in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also known as Israel.)  Joseph was also favored by God.  When his brothers plotted to kill him, a band of merchants just happened by and one suggested there was no profit in killing him but he could be sold as a slave.  That would get rid of him and they could make a little something on the side.  Joseph was carried down to Egypt, which was of course all part of God’s plan.  Perhaps that traveling merchant caravan didn’t just “happen by” after all. Continue reading

Who God Uses, Part II

Look at Who God Uses lists several characters from Bible history, pointing out the characters flaws and shortcomings of each one.  The original post points out that God uses the small, the weak and the broken to do his will and work, but does nothing to explain why.

Consider the nation of Israel.  By the time of Moses, the tribes of Israel were slaves serving the Egyptians.  God brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand, demonstrating his power by allowing Israel to plunder the wealth of Egypt and destroying Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea.  He led them to the land of Canaan, providing their needs and defeating their enemies for them.  Israel went from serving Egypt to building an empire of their own.  And all they could say about it was “look what God did for us.”

Ultimately Israel forsook God and worshiped the idols of others nations.  They rejected God and his Law, and as he promised the land was taken from them and given to others.  Our health, our strength, our prosperity, all that we have is a gift from God.  We are responsible for what we do with it, making us stewards of what is God’s rather than the owners of what is ours.  

No one used by God to do great things can really say “Look what I did.”  While I didn’t mean for this to be a Thanksgiving post, it is the perfect opportunity to say “Look what God has done.”  Christ humbled himself on the cross so that God could lift him up.  What greater example could be given?

The New Testament Model of Training Leadership

I was reading 10 Attributes of a Humble Leader at Catalyst Space (link here) when I came to this:

“Humble leaders know the vision is bigger and will last longer than they will, so they willingly invest in others, raising up and maturing new leaders.”

You will not find more prominent leaders in the New Testament than Jesus and the Apostle Paul, and this is exactly what they were doing. Continue reading

A Lesson in Humility: God is in the Manger Part II

When the wise men came from the east seeking Jesus, they went to Jerusalem.  They were looking for a newborn king, so they naturally went to the palace located in the capital city.  King Herod knew nothing of a king being born, because the birth of Jesus was not one fit for a king. Continue reading