Greeting Card Mentality

Who doesn’t like to receive a well chosen greeting card to help you celebrate a wonderful occasion, like a birthday or anniversary, or one that helps you get through an especially rough time in your life?

Greeting cards are meaningful among Christians when they contain a verse of Scripture that expresses hope and encouragement. We can all agree that these cards are sweet and kind expressions, and we appreciate every kind thought.

However, could it be that we are sometimes guilty of living a “greeting card” mentality while neglecting the most important aspect of the verses we use in our greeting cards?

For example, we often use a familiar verse in Romans 8:28 as a challenge that we can do anything with Christ’s help. But we ignore the over all context of the passage that admonishes us to pray without ceasing, and to pray being led by the Holy Spirit. It’s not about us achieving a personal goal with God’s help, but about developing an attitude of prayer and following God’s will.

I recently read a “Our Daily Bread” devotional that told the story of a man’s wife who had bought a birthday card for a friend. The card had a scripture from Deuteronomy 28:63 that read, ”The lord has found great pleasure in causing you to prosper and multiply”. She was so fascinated with the beauty of that statement that she wanted to look up the scripture and read the rest of the passage. When she read the whole verse it painted a different picture when read in it’s context. The whole verse read, “Just as the lord has found great pleasure in causing you to prosper and multiply, the lord will find pleasure in destroying you. You will be torn from the land you are about to enter and occupy.”

The proper context of the whole passage is not about God’s favor and blessing, but about His judgement because Israel had turned their back on Him. Yes, God takes pleasure in blessing His people, but He also warns us that we are destined for greatness and blessing only when we are serving Him with all of our heart.

Bottom Line

To walk with the Lord means we are intentional and radical about our faith. Being intentional is to have forethought. For me, that means I must have a time each day that I focus on my need for His daily guidance. I acknowledge that “Apart from Christ I can do nothing.” Some would call this daily devotions, I prefer to call it my God focus time. This helps me recognize and acknowledge a daily need for Him.

Being radical is simply being fully surrendered and abandoned to the will of God. It’s a reminder that there is nothing more important than being right with God and walking in daily fellowship with Him.

How would you characterize your walk with God, “Greeting Card mentality” or “Intentional and Radical?”

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14 NLT)

Silent Witness

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” (Philippians 1:27 NLT)

This challenge from the Apostle Paul is a great reminder of our role as followers of Jesus. We are to live our lives as if we are already citizens of heaven. Matter of fact, positionally speaking, in Christ we are already in heaven, “we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:6)

When I read the Philippians passage I am reminded of my responsibility to conduct myself as a yielded servant of Christ in my outward behavior. That produces what I like to call the silent witness. One of the highest compliments that I was ever given was when someone said, “There is something different about you. There is a presence that draws people to you.” I knew what that presence was, and it wasn’t my personality or a religious spirit, it was the presence of Christ.

This is a potential presence that every true follower of Christ possesses. It’s that presence that draws men and women to Christ. It’s a presence that causes unbelievers to want the peace we possess. We can’t manufacture that presence. There isn’t “5 Spiritual Steps to obtaining God’s Presence”, nor is it something that we earn by good works. Christ’s presence is only manifested as we learn to let go of our life and surrender the control of our life to Him. It happens when we practice trusting and resting in Christ as enough.

I desire to have that glow of God’s presence every moment of every day. But in reality, I know that it diminishes when I worry instead of trusting, or become fearful and stop trusting that God is in control. When I lose my temper and feel the need to set somebody straight, surely the glow fades.

God’s intention for us is to be so dependent upon Him that we willingly lay down our need to control and be in charge. Our life motto becomes, “Apart from Him I can do nothing.”(John 15). Our confidence moves from “I can do it on my own” to “with prayer and the leadership of the Spirit, in Christ I can do anything”.

Bottom Line

The Scripture tells us that “we are made complete in Him” (Colossians 2). That means when we commit to resting and trusting in the living Christ within, then we will manifest His presence and others will notice our Heavenly glow.

“For in Him we live and move and exist… (Acts 17:28)

The Death Process

The Cross is the central event that makes Christianity relevant and sets it apart from religion. The Cross is not only the means by which we have access and fellowship with God, but it is also symbolic of the struggle in our personal life.

The moment we become a follower of Jesus and tell God that we want to be His servant and do His will, a death process begins in our life. In the midst of the new found joy and love, a struggle ensues. We soon discover that the Christian life is not just about going to heaven when we die. The new struggle is about shedding our self-dependency and self-reliance so we can learn to trust God completely.

As we allow Jesus to control more of our life we discover how our doubt, fear, and unbelief is inconsistent with our new identity in Christ. We begin to realize our effort to measure up in our own strength falls short of God’s requirement for Holiness.

Paul addresses this issue in 2 Corinthians 4. He speaks of us having a “treasure” within ourselves. The treasure is Jesus. God has given us Jesus so that we can manifest His life to our world. In Christ we no longer worry about having to measure up in God’s sight. Our worth, identity and our acceptance by God is all wrapped up in Jesus.

But in order for His life to show through us there must first be a death process. Our self-life must be dealt a death blow. In this passage, Paul gives us a picture of what this death process looks like. He says we are “afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed, but not despairing, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body”. (Verse 9-10)

It seems as if God allows us to come to the brink of disaster and ruin, but then He delivers us and keeps us from fallen off the cliff. But there is more to it than just being rescued and delivered. God’s intention is greater than showing us His ability to rescue and deliver. The overall purpose is to bring our self-life through a death process. This is the process of the Cross that God uses to push us toward abandonment.

“ For we are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” (Verses 11-12 NAS)

For years I’ve heard preachers say, “God’s in the midst of all your trouble”. I would think, ok, I want to believe that, but tell me how and why. I couldn’t connect God with my trouble and difficulty. If He was in the middle of it all, then it seemed like a cruel trick to play on His children.

Years later I discovered what God’s purpose is in our struggles. God, in His mercy and love, allows us to come to the end of ourselves. We experience brokenness through our failures and our troubles. It’s through that death process that God deals with our self-centeredness and self-reliance. He then reveals the power and the beauty of Christ’s work in and through us.

Bottom Line
The next time problems come your way, remember that God is in the middle of it. Even if your trouble is a result of an unwise decision you made, look for God in the process. Remember, He is allowing this to occur because He is engineering a death process in your life. He desires for you to develop a deeper level of trust and dependence upon Him. He will speak through the event and as a result “the life of Jesus will be manifested in you.”

The Answer Is To Trust

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27 NLT)

Everyone struggles in one way or the other with life. We may have money worries, concerns about our children, job dissatisfaction, unfulfilled dreams, recurrent physical problems. There may be marriage problems, betrayal by those we love and cherish, and we may even struggle with loneliness. Many have a general sense of discontentment, and that leads to not loving yourself. When you don’t love yourself it becomes difficult to receive love from others and from God.

Your specific struggle may not be in the list above, but if you are warm and breathing, you will eventually experience some type of recurring struggle. That’s just life. So the question is not will we have struggles, but how do we respond in the midst of our struggles?

Jesus knew the impact of the sin nature and how it would produce worry and angst at every level of our life. Each season of our life has a different set of challenges that attack our peace and contentment.

When we became a committed follower of Jesus, we entered into a new realm of thinking, it’s called “kingdom thinking”. It’s based on trusting God for every element of our life. It becomes the basis of how we view life and the world. Kingdom thinking becomes our worldview. We no longer deal with our circumstances as “on our own,” but we see ourselves as a “child of the King dependent on our Heavenly Father”.

The passage above in Matthew 6 is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is teaching Kingdom principles to those who will become His followers. He is teaching a new way of living, from a ceremonial law-based mentality, to living by faith. It was radical thinking in that day, and unfortunately, most believers look at this as radical Christianity today. Missionary statesman Watchman Nee called it the “Normal Christian Life”.

When we put our trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior he gave us the promise of eternal life, a home in heaven and He promised to be our “need- meeter” in all areas of our life. He wants us to live with the daily assurance that He is in control of all our circumstances. He desires for us to turn over all our worry and discontent to Him, and then “He will do it all for you”.

Bottom Line

Prayerfully read the following passage and meditate on God’s infinite ability to supply, guide and satisfy our every need.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. ” (Matthew 6:31-33 NLT)

Based on the above Scripture, ponder each word in the following statement; I Will Do It All For You.

I – God
Will – You can count on Him to honor His word if we trust Him.
Do – God will move whatever mountain that needs to be moved to accomplish His will for you.
It – God has an answer to every problem. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise.
ALL – God has a way of finishing the job “exceeding, abundantly more than we ever thought.”
For – God gets pleasure in meeting the needs of His children. If we as parents get joy out of providing for our children, how much more joy does it bring our Heavenly Father to meet our needs?
You – God is a personal God who knows and cares for His children personally.

Misfits

Have you ever thought that you just don’t fit in anywhere? Maybe you were like me and never felt like you belonged or fit in with any group. When I was in high school I was too “churchy” to run with the popular crowd and not smart enough to run with the intellectual crowd.

On top of all of that I was so shy and introverted as an adult that when asked by the Pastor to read the Sunday School report during the morning service I was so nervous I became nauseated. To even consider that I would one day stand behind a pulpit and preach was out of the question. I felt like a misfit.

Even as a conference leader and speaker, I have never had the support or endorsement of the larger churches, and popular pastors. I wasn’t denominational enough to be endorsed and promoted by the denominational leaders, and not radical enough to be drawn to the major independent church groups. I was even a misfit in my calling.

Yes, I am a misfit, yet I have had the wonderful privilege to preach, teach and counsel thousands of people on four continents. How can a misfit be used of the Lord? Somewhere along the way the Lord taught me a valuable lesson. He specializes in using misfits. He taught me that obedience, commitment to surrender, and brokenness is more important than popularity and acceptance.

This has always been God’s way, He uses misfits. The Scripture teaches us in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (NLT)

From a biblical perspective, being a misfit doesn’t mean that we are unwise, reckless, and irresponsible. It means that we clearly understand that our worldview is not determined by the culture that we live in. We recognize that we are strangers and pilgrims in the world. The world system does not determine our belief system, our belief system is based on the absolutes of the Scripture.

Being a misfit also means that God uses those whose life has been filled with past failures. Peter was a prime example of someone who once walked with Jesus, and then later denied that he ever knew Jesus. He even quit the ministry and went back to fishing when Jesus was crucified. But Jesus still redeemed Peter and used him greatly in the kingdom. Weeks later he preached a five minute sermon and thousands came to Christ.

“It shouldn’t surprise us that God handpicks the foolish to confound the wise. Those that were rejected locally often are promoted by God globally for His glory. Being unqualified is greater than a degree from an Ivy League school. Graduate with God today because the Lord doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called.” (Frank Shelton, author Carrying Greatness)

Bottom Line

If you are feeling that you just don’t fit, then be encouraged, you are in the best of company. God’s Hall of Fame is populated by unqualified misfits. He specializes in using and promoting those who feel the most unqualified.

When we come to Him and lay ourselves at His feet, acknowledging we have nothing to give or offer but ourselves, we then enter the realm of the qualified. By acknowledging that “apart from Him we can do nothing” we become an “eligible misfit” for Kingdom work. May this be our prayer:

“Dear Lord, I come to you as a misfit, and fully unqualified. I acknowledge that apart from you I can do nothing. I offer myself to you just as I am. Cleanse and change my heart so that I can be a reflection of the Christ who lives within me. Amen”

Walking in Christ

How does one know if they are walking in Christ or walking in the flesh? Walking in Christ is not based on a long list of religious activity, but rather it’s really a matter of allowing Jesus to live His life through you. It’s a matter of intentionally laying down self-effort Christianity and being led by the Spirit. It is the daily awareness that you are going to allow your words, actions and thoughts to be directed by the Holy Spirit.

This way of life is not, “I’m just going to wake up every morning and see how I feel” kind of living. It is an intentional act of the will whereby you declare that you are going to allow Christ to be manifested in all that you say and do.

There are some indicators along the way that let you know which way you are walking. Here are a few questions to consider that might be an indicator that you may be walking in the flesh.

We may be walking in the flesh if your conversation with others is inconsistent with how you would like to be treated. Do you have a habit of speaking down to someone as if they were beneath your status? If you are person of authority, how do you speak with those who are under your authority? Do they detect the love of Christ in your actions and your manner of speech? How do you treat others who may live “on the other side of the tracks”?

Walking in Christ is being able to display nothing but grace. How we respond to conflict and people who irritate or offend us is an indication of our Christ likeness.

We may be walking in the flesh if there is a lack of personal transparency? I am not referring to wearing your feelings on your shoulder and sharing all your fears and troubles with every person who will listen. I am referring to having the courage to admit you are wrong and also make mistakes. It is a willingness to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” Are you trying to appear more knowledgeable or spiritual than you really are? Do you try harder to hide your weakness, more than you do to be transparent and real?

When people encounter you do they walk away with an opinion that you are humble and approachable, or do they sense you have an emotional wall around you that makes you unapproachable?

I am convinced that the single most important trait that attracts unbelievers to a believer is a transparency that cries out, “I’m approachable, I care for you and you can tell me anything”.

You may be walking in the flesh if you have a judgmental spirit. The world is looking for someone who is real and understands their struggle. Most people know when they are failing at life, and they don’t need someone to remind them of their failure. It’s a refreshing thing for them to encounter someone who understands, cares and loves them just as they are.

I have been around those in the workplace who could quote much of the Bible. They were known as the religious guy or gal. However, their display of knowledge created such a judgmental spirit that they were unapproachable. Their daily walk was inconsistent with their Bible knowledge.

Bottom Line

Walking in Christ treats others like you would like to be treated. It’s displaying love and compassion in your communication, even when you are being disrespected. It’s learning to walk in transparency and humility, helping others understand that they are not alone, you also struggle from time to time. Walking in Christ is developing a listening ear that exudes love and compassion. Those around you care less about how much you know, and more about how much you care.

Walking in Christ is showing the essence of God’s grace in every situation, with everyone we encounter. That’s because every encounter is a God moment. It’s like the British preacher and author Roy Hession would say;

“Every person who crosses us, every person who discourages us is God’s way of breaking us. It creates a deeper channel in us for the life of Christ. The only life that pleases God is His life, never our life. Our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His. We can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared for God to bring our life constantly to death.”

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O  lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NLT)

Using Our Armor

When we became a follower of Jesus we were placed into Christ. That means wherever Christ is, we are also. We see this truth in Ephesians , “God. . .has raised us up with Him and seated us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6).

There is another element to that transaction of faith. Christ was also placed in us. That means that wherever we go, Christ is in us. (John 17:22-23). Jesus promises to never leave
nor forsake us.

Now because we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we can draw on the resources of heaven as we live our daily life. That’s the reason that Paul reminds us that God has equipped us with the tools/armor to live a victorious life (Ephesians 6:11-18). There should be nothing we encounter that the armor of God cannot handle and defeat.

Here is our armor:

1. Belt of Truth – “put on the belt of truth” (NLT)
2. Body Armor – “the body armor of God’s righteousness” (NLT)
3. Shoes – “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be
fully prepared”
. (NLT)
4. Helmet – “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is
the word of God”
(NLT)

As you consider the armor of God ask yourself these questions. Does my spiritual arsenal remain steady when adversity comes or do I shake with worry and doubt? Do various situations make me drop my belt of truth and fall toward an attitude that there is no hope? Do certain events cause me to lower my shield of faith and let doubt enter into my thinking?

When the storms of life come my way am I still a person of faith that brings peace to the situation, or do I bring trouble of chaos? Do certain situations cause me to lower my Sword (the Word), or do I raise it even higher and use it all the more to combat error and the negative that comes into my life?

Bottom Line
The Scripture tells us that we are made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10) Everything we need is found in the armor that God through Christ has provided for us. When we learn to daily practice “putting on the whole armor of God” then we will be prepared for whatever the world, the devil and the flesh puts before us.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)

Bringing Good From Bad

(Read Genesis 37-42)

When Joseph was relating his dream to his brothers little did he know that his life was about to take a dramatic turn. His brothers were burning with jealousy and anger and were plotting a way to destroy him.

Soon after Joseph’s brothers put him in the bottom of a dry well, intending on leaving him there until he died. This was just the beginning of Joseph’s difficulties. In the years that followed Joseph’s troubles continued. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and wrongly put in jail. To top it all off, while in prison, he correctly interpreted a dream for the baker, but the baker initially forgot about Joseph when his job was restored with the king.

Joseph couldn’t get a break. He went from receiving a prophetic dream from God to becoming a prisoner in a foreign country. Yet in the midst of all this trouble, Joseph remained faithful. He learned that God could bring good out of all his trials. Through years of rejection and betrayal God brought good out of all the disappointments that Joseph faced.

When Joseph was at his lowest, God began to fulfill his vision for Joseph. Like many other situations throughout Scripture, Joseph experienced the death of a vision. That seems to be the pattern through out Scripture. Before a vision is fulfilled, there must be the death of a vision. Through all his trouble Joseph remained faithful. He knew God would somehow fulfill his dream.

After Joseph was elevated to Governor over all of Egypt he continued to trust God’s faithfulness. When he revealed himself to his brothers Joseph’s love for God was shown by his treatment of his brothers. Instead of anger and bitterness, he displayed forgiveness, love and mercy.

Bottom Line
How could Joseph show such love and mercy to those who wanted to kill him? It’s because Joseph learned four important lessons.

1. In the beginning of his journey he made the decision to trust God rather than dwell on the past. The lesson for us is leave your hurt at Jesus feet and look for God to show you what’s next.

2. He had learned that in all his circumstances, God was in control, regardless of what happened to him. He had a deep hope that was rooted in his assurance that God loved him and knew what was best. The lesson for us is to trust God in the midst of our problem rather than worry.

3. He learned that forgiveness is a greater tool than revenge. He could have used his power to severely punish his brothers, but instead he chose to use his power to forgive and serve them. The lesson for us is to have a greater desire to love and serve than to get even and make them pay.

4. Joseph learned that during the death of a vision God is at work preparing us for the fulfillment of the vision. The lesson for us is if God has given you a dream or vision, savor the moments while you are waiting, because this is time when God is doing his greatest work in building your character.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. “ (Romans 8:28 NLT)

The In’s and Outs of Obedience

If you have been a follower of Jesus very long you have heard or read multiple times about the importance of being an obedient believer. If you are like me, the question in my mind has been, “What does it mean to be obedient to the Lord?” In other words, other than obeying the commands of Scripture, what does obedience look like?

There is a lot written on the subject of obedience and the more you read on the subject the more confusing it gets. On one hand you could develop a law mentality and fall into religious legalism. The other extreme is you could become so passive that you never encounter or connect with God’s leading.

So in this devotional I would like to give you my view of what it means to be obedient to God. I am wired to be practical so my bend on obedience is from a practical standpoint. I don’t do well with complicated theological definitions, so my approach is to break it down into a practical but accurate definition.

Legal side of obedience
I view obedience from two perspectives. One is the legal side of obedience. These are God’s clear commands like we read from the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount or the epistles. These are clear-cut instructions given to us by God for us to obey. For instance, it’s never a question if we are to love our neighbor. We understand that lying is something that obedient believers don’t do. The Scripture plainly tells us not to lie or hate our neighbor. We don’t have to pray about if its ok to hate our neighbor or tell a lie because the Scripture is clear.

Practical side of obedience
This side of obedience is what trips up most believers. It’s more subjective and not quiet as clear as the written Word. We see an example of this principle when the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked him how to obtain eternal life. Jesus told him, “You know the commandments…”. The rich man replied, “ All these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus replied, “One thing you still lack, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and then you shall have treasure in Heaven, and come and follow me. “

This is an example of a man who had followed only the legal aspect of obedience. He missed the practical and heart side of what it means to be fully committed to God. Jesus wasn’t saying it was wrong to be rich or prosperous. He was teaching that even though the man had kept the letter of the law in his personal behavior, his money and wealth had become a God to him. He wasn’t willing to trade his wealth for peace with God.

One of the indicators that a person is really born again is they are connected to both the legal and the practical side of obedience. It is an inward thing. It’s more than keeping the commandments, it’s being willing to allow your life to be a living sacrifice.

We are sometimes like the little boy who was placed in the corner sitting in a chair for being disobedient. His mom told him to stay seated in the chair and not to get up until he was given permission. He then looked at his mom and said, “I may be sitting down in this chair, but on the inside I am standing up.” He looked like he was being obedient but on the inside he was still rebellious.

Three aspects of practical obedience
There are several aspects of practical obedience but I want to highlight three key components that most believers deal with on a day to day basis.

Obeying the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. When we were born again we received the Holy Spirit within us. This is the promised comforter and teacher that Jesus promised his disciples before he ascended to heaven. (John 16:5-15) It is the spirit of the living Christ living His life through us. This is what Jesus meant when He said that He would always be with them. The Holy Spirit is in us to not only be our teacher but also to reveal to us the will of the Father. It’s that inner conscience. Practical obedience is listening to and obeying the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. I call it intentional listening. As you commune with God through prayer and Bible reading, the voice will be clearer.

Practical obedience involves placing our trust in God during every crisis, situation or decision. This is when we give every situation to God and trust Him to show us direction. During my life, I would like to say that every major decision I’ve made was in line with God’s will. But I am sorry to say that I haven’t always made the right decision. Out of fear or rebellion I chose to do it in my own strength and wisdom rather than trusting God and following His leadership. But in those times when I trusted God to show me the way, He never failed to give me direction and peace in the midst of the storm.

Practical obedience is learning to wait on God. When I think back to the times that I made a bad decision it was because I didn’t have the patience to wait on an answer from God. We have all heard the familiar phrase that God has two answers when we pray, “yes or no”. I have found that there are actually three answers, “yes, no and wait”. I can handle the “yes and no” answers fairly well, it’s the “wait” that I struggle with. Learning to wait on God is a spiritual virtue that results in practical obedience.

Bottom Line

Obedience involves two aspects, following the written commands of God (the Legal) and the practical aspect (a practical living out of the commands). God didn’t give us the commands and then throw us to the wolves, hoping that we can persevere. He gave us the indwelling Christ to enable us to fulfill both the legal as well as the practical aspect of obedience. The Scripture tells us that we are made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2) His life is in us, enabling us to live in obedience. (Romans 8:1-10) It’s not just up to us to do the best we can, but rather it is Christ, who is the fulfillment of the law, living His life through us empowering us to be obedient. As a result, our obedience allows us to fulfill the will of God.

“The quality of our character is directly related to the level of our obedience. “

Working Past A Cain Mentality

If you’ve ever entertained the thought that Satan’s old tactics are ineffective in today’s contemporary society, then consider the affect of the “Cain mentality.” Cain, who was a son of Adam and Eve, was a farmer that took a great deal of pride in his ability to produce beautiful garden vegetables.

When God demanded a blood sacrifice to atone for personal sins, Cain brought an offering of his best garden vegetables instead of the required animal sacrifice. I am sure that Cain’s vegetables would have been a prize winner at any Home and Garden show. He probably had hundreds of hours invested in grooming and harvesting his vegetables. Adam probably mentored him, teaching him how he had kept the garden of Eden.

But there was one problem with Cain’s offering. God required a blood sacrifice, a lamb without blemish. God’s requirement was not personal sacrifice and self effort, but it was one of obedience and faith. The blood sacrifice was a foretaste of the Lord Jesus’ substitutional death. This was a picture of the Lamb of God without blemish who would die in our place for us, and as us.

When Cain brought vegetables as his sacrifice he was refusing to acknowledge that salvation is of the Lord. He was showing that his self-righteousness, demonstrated by his presentation of his vegetables, were good enough to earn him salvation. When God rejected Cain’s offering it revealed his rebellious heart.

As a true follower of Jesus we trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for our salvation. We call it salvation by grace through faith. But many believers forget that their everyday life is also to be one of faith and trust. They develop a Cain mentality by attempting to please God in their own strength. There are least two ways that we display a Cain mentality.

1. We develop a Cain mentality by refusing to cast our worry, our troubles and our fears on Christ. Like Cain, we develop a sense of self-righteousness that causes us to think that we can do this on our own. But the Scripture teaches that we are to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

2. We develop a Cain mentality when trusting God becomes an after-thought rather than our first thought.The Scripture teaches us, “Trust God with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Bottom Line

Living the Christian life and working past a Cain Mentality is not based on human logic or reasoning, but it’s about giving every element of our life to Him. God wants our walk with Him to be intimate. He wants our relationship to be one of transparency and trust. Faith is not just about believing, but it’s also about giving…giving our life, our burdens, our present and future to Him. Why is it all about faith and giving? Because when we trust Him with all of our life, He has promised that “God will do it all for you.”

Over twenty years ago, I heard Dr. Bill Gilliam give an acrostic that really nailed the point that “God will do it all for you”. Notice the emphasized word in each line. It goes something like this;

I will do it all for you.
I will
do it all for you.
I will do it all for you.
I will do it
all for you.
I will do it all for you.
I will do it all for
you.
I will do it all for you.

Will you be willing to let go of your life and let Him do it all for you? Besides, that
is the normal Christian life.

“Lord, if I don’t have the strength to give you everything, them draw me by the sweetness of Your love.” (Fenelon)