Posts Tagged authority

Save the Wicked

Psalm 10: 15

Break the arm of the wicked and evil person. Punish his wickedness until you find no more.

This doesn’t seem a very Christian concept, does it? Yet, I wager most of us have felt the emotions articulated by this psalmist. You may wish to read the entire psalm, it isn’t long, in order to get the full flavor of this psalmist’s sentiments. He sees the poor and down trodden, the innocent, taken advantage of. He witnessed the arrogance of the wicked and their boasts that there is no God. No wonder in the last verses he adjures God to “Rise up.”

Why doesn’t God reach out his hand against these wicked people? Why doesn’t he just wipe them from the earth. I perceive two reasons why God does not simply obliterate them. First, He is love. If you know God and know that He is love, then that is always the first answer. Everything He does is colored by love. He wants these people saved rather than condemned. He wants all people to come to the full knowledge of His saving grace.

Second, He wants to give us room to exercise the authority He has given us. It sometimes appears that He is standing far off, but He actually is acting. He is nudging us, through His Holy Spirit, to defend the oppressed. We have been given the victory in Jesus and God’s plan is that we would enforce that victory. We have the sword of the Spirit and another mighty weapon, prayer. God is attempting to grow up His children so that we can take over the family business, now and through eternity. He has ministering spirits standing by, ready for action whenever we exercise our Kingdom Authority. That authority enables us to save the wicked and redeem the persecuted. We are not administrators of hate but rather of love and love is the most powerful force in the universe.

Pull out your sword and defend the weak. Wield your weapons and save the heart which is turned away from God for that is a brokenness that can be repaired by love.

Choices

John 14: 30

I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do.

Who killed Jesus? Some people say the Jews, other argue the Romans while the best answer may be you and me. However, the right answer is no one. Jesus gave up his spirit. He gave his life on the cross. The Jews tried many times to take him but he would disappear and they were never able to lay their hands on him. Jesus tells us in this verse that because he loves the Father and because the Father commanded him, he, Jesus chose the cross. He gave up his life out of his love for the Father, his devotion to God’s commands, but also so that all the world would see and know this love which changes the world. He sowed his life into this world so that all would see and would have the means to turn to God and be saved. What a choice.

I want you to see one other thing in today’s verse. Jesus was clear on his position with the Father. He also knew, without any doubt, that Yahweh is the benevolent Father. Jesus’ belief in the Father’s love and in His power never faltered. However, he was also cognizant of another authority, the ruler of the world. He was talking about Satan and though Satan had legal authority Jesus says, plainly, “he has nothing in Me.” You’ve got to love that.

This goes along well with yesterday’s Word of the Day. We get to choose whose back yard we play in. Jesus knew Satan had nothing in him because all the days of his life he served his father and his father alone. Jesus had to deal with hardships, he battled temptation but he knew that, although Satan had authority, position and even some power, he could not exercise any of it over Jesus because Jesus was founded in God. Yahweh was (and is) Jesus’ fortress. He is Jesus’ strength and the authority that Jesus has in the Father trumps anything Satan ever threw at Jesus. Sure, Jesus had to fight temptation. He resisted to the point of sweating blood but his Father empowered him for just such a stand of faith. Jesus exercised his partnership with the Father and he was always victorious. And, that is another way we know that Jesus gave his life rather than anyone taking it from him. No one could take his life because he was in the Father and the Father in him and they are an unbeatable pair.

Now the story gets even better. We have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If we work with them and connect with their life within us, we can have the same power partnership that saw Jesus through the toughest of times. Really, we have an even more powerful union because we have Jesus in addition to the Father. All of the power of the trinity resides within us right now. There is nothing we need that we do not already have. The trick is for us to learn to work with the Trinity the way Jesus did with the Father.

Are you rejoicing yet? The power of the Father, the glory of the Son and the creative energy of the Spirit are intertwined with your spirit right now. I want you to practice feeling your spirit. You know how to check your body. You know how to check your emotions. We need to be experts at connecting with our spirits. What is going on in your gut right now, non-biologically? What sensation is right behind your belly button? Do you feel peace, anxiety, rushed? When you have that sense of inner calm, how does that feel? Can you sense your spirit? Get accustomed to checking your spirit routinely and then branch out into the interwoven presence of the Holy Trinity within you. This is your power source. This is the boardroom of the partnership. You will feel the Lord within you and you will hear his voice. The more you hear his voice within you, the easier it will be to navigate all of life’s adventures.

Couch Potato

Exodus 14: 15

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. And as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.”

I have been having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine this week. The gist of it is that as Christians, we sometimes wait around for God to do things for us when He has already provided everything we need. We live a very passive Christianity when God has in mind a partnership. Perhaps we do not cognitively think that we can be idle and God will do everything for us but our behaviors indicate that we may believe this is the case.

Moses and the Israelites certainly had that mentality. They were backed up to the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was closing in. Can you imagine the wailing and caterwauling that must have been going on? God said, “Why are you crying out to me?” In other words, “You have and the sons of Israel have all you need for this situation. Stretch out your hand and part the sea.” Wow! Isn’t that something? “You lift up your hand”, God says.

But now, wait a minute. Haven’t we been taught that we are not supposed to be working in the power of our might? Absolutely! But do you really think Moses parted the Red Sea in the power of his might? Of course not. This is called moving in the power of God’s might, using your authority in Christ. This is the secret. We don’t sit on our hands and wait for God to drop things in our lap because He has given us His name and His authority. Likewise, we don’t move in our power or wisdom but rather in His. We are partners with God through Christ Jesus.

I see so many ineffective, powerless Christians and this just ought not be. Our Father is the big guy, the creator, Yahweh but we go around like orphans. Look, if you were the child of Queen Elizabeth would you go around like you had no authority? Of course not but one key is that you would need to understand your authority.

This is a really big deal. We need to learn to walk in the power of God. We must learn to work with the Holy Spirit and live in the blessing of our Lord Jesus. This is a life of balance, neither relying on our strength nor resigning ourselves to the couch awaiting miracles to fall upon us. I encourage you to ponder this subject and send us your thoughts. Perhaps we can have a good dialogue about how this actually works out in real life.

Lessons from Walt Disney

Psalm 12: 3          NIV

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips – who is our master?”

Most people wouldn’t come right out and defy God the way the speaker in today’s verse does but many of us say as much by our actions. Proverb 3: 6 which teaches us to acknowledge God in all our ways. Verse 5 of that same proverb tells us to not lean on our own understanding but rather to trust God. Do you see a picture forming here? We are not to try to excel in our own strength but instead to trust God and lean on Him. This teaching applies to us all but I think it can be hardest to accept by those people who: 1) have big personalities, or 2) have been successful in their earthly walk. Now, in order to really progress, they must deal with their egos and personalities.
I recently saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks which is the story of the making of the movie Mary Poppins. The Disney studios worked with the author of the book series who by all accounts was difficult at best. At one point I was rather impressed by Walt Disney’s approach. He, being Walt Disney, had a certain amount of authority, personality and success which he certainly could employ in order to get his way in matters. In this case, however, he did not try to overcome the difficult author by persuasive speech, his rather impressive record of successes nor did he try to cajole or intimidate her. This surprised me. I thought back in my own life as I tried to influence situations and obstinate, even intractable, people through the mere weight and power of my personality, persuasive arguments, reason and whatever other worldly tools were available to me. Of course, this is not the way the Father is leading us and I find that I end up feeling a little uncomfortable when I apply these techniques. Ms. Travers, the author, rather expected Disney to bully her but he didn’t. Instead of pressuring Ms. Travers, he endeavored to know her better. He sought understanding and wisdom. Once he did that he could meet her need and still make the picture. 
 
Our heavenly father would have us learn this same lesson. We are not called to win or overcome by the power of our personalities or our speaking skills. We are absolutely never to bully people into compliance nor to deceive them with half-truths and pretty speeches. There should be absolute honesty in all of our approaches and dealings with people. These are the children of God. Even if you don’t like them or they are standing in the way of what you want that does not give you the right to move them against their will or bully them. Your task is to find out what their need is and fill it. The person who wins is the one who fills the most needs of other people.

We belong to God. He owns our mouths and our lips and we reflect on Him with everything we do. We have a master. Although our egos may rail at the thought of having a master if we are Christian then it is true. It is by His grace and His blessing that we are supposed to get the things that we desire. If we have to do it through the force of our personalities or by persuasion then we are operating in the flesh and outside of God’s will. This is a hard lesson but one that is so important for us to learn because on the other side is God’s blessing and peace.

Poised for Promotion

Ephesians 6: 5

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.

Just in case you thought Friday’s word was a fluke and could ignore it, here is another book in which God commands us to be good employees. God is concerned with the condition of our spirits and our testimony. In everything we do, we are representatives of Him. If we talk about others behind their backs, then we are being bad stewards of the faith God has placed in us. That is especially detrimental when that person is our boss or pastor or some other person God has placed in authority. You are damaging your own spirit and spiritual growth as well as sowing bad seeds and disobeying the directions of the Lord.

Your boss or whomever that person of authority is, will account to God for their actions and that really is none of your concern. Your calling requires you to be the best employee you can and to pray for all of those who are in authority positions. God wants to be able to use you. He wants to be able to send you into situations where you can do His work. You have to take your eyes off of yourself first. Do not be self-concerned but instead pray. God might have put you under that person just because they do need help. How is God supposed to move in the earth if every time he sends a Christian into a situation, they gripe and criticize, worrying only about themselves and their rewards? If the circumstances are not perfect where you work then maybe it is that very brokenness that has attracted God’s attention and the reason why He has sent you there. Be faithful in your current position. Show God you have what it takes to be one of his lieutenants. Then you will be poised for promotion.

Faithful Servant

Titus 2: 9 – 10

Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

The apostle Paul directs us to subject ourselves to the authority figures in our life. We are supposed to be subjected to them and serve them. In the context of this verse one will understand that the bondslave/master relationship most naturally converts to the employee/employer relationship in today’s society. You may be under someone for whom you do not have a lot of respect. Or your boss may not be as smart as you. None the less, God says that you are to show them respect, not argue with them but rather show faithfulness to them and the company. Why do we do this? First of all, because God said so. That will be enough for most of us. But also so that the light of God and his doctrine shall shine and God be glorified. 

I also notice that Paul again addresses that argumentative behavior which many of us contend with in our personalities. Father has not called us to be critical or contrary. The light should bless people. We also must confront a systemic problem that pervades our society but which Paul addressed 2000 years ago. That is pilfering. We are not to take the pens, paper clips and note pads of our employers but equally important is to not steal time. If we are paid to work from 8:00 to 5:00 then that means that by 8:00 we are settled into our work station and working, not on the way to the coffee machine. You should never get paid what you are worth because you should always give more value than your paycheck. Your employer should come to notice that Christian employees are a blessing because they are faithful, obedient and trustworthy.

Authority

Titus 3: 1

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed.

This passage says a lot and requires a lot. We are reminded that we are subject to authority. God has placed each and every one of us under the authority of someone else. Now that is something that really rankles in today’s society. We are becoming a nation of fierce individualists who have only our own interest in our mind. Paul is telling Titus to remind those in his charge that we are not the sun in our own solar system. We are part of organizations and groups. We are under authority at work, in our families, our churches and every other human institution as well as in the body of Christ. We are encouraged to be submissive and obedient to those authority figures. Instead of constantly putting ourselves at the top of the pyramid, we are to recognize those people who God has put in authority over us. We are to subject ourselves to their authority. As mature Christians, we learn to be grateful for those people and support them as they pour themselves out for us. As leaders, we must humbly and reverently concern ourselves with the well being of those God has put in our charge. Who are the people in your life that God has placed in authority? Stop grumbling about them and what you think they should do better and subject yourself willingly and prayerfully to their service. God has placed them there for your benefit not for ill. Pray daily for those people because they are caring burdens for you. Fulfill the will of God and the call of Christ by so doing.