Leaders

Luke 22: 26

But it is not this way for you; rather, the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.

Today, like many of you, I am stunned at what transpired at our nation’s capital yesterday. (Of course, I am writing this on Thursday.) Maybe you are finding it hard to recover today. I know I am and nothing I studied in Political Science or Law School prepared me for the recent events. We barely even have Political Science terms to explain what we have witnessed.

However, the minister and pastor in me has overridden the political scientist. I am in awe of our God who on Tuesday led me to a Word of the Day from July of 2015 entitled “Leadership Trait” which I reposted yesterday. Yesterday, leadership values were tested at many levels. What stands out to me is God sending that post, for I am now, fully aware that I didn’t send it, nor was it happenstance that I came across it on Tuesday or that my interest was piqued to read it. It was God who sent “Leadership Trait” on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 and I am both awed by that and humbled.

Here is what I wish to say about these events and each one of us. The people we send to Washington or to our state capitals are not the leaders. We are! And unless we take our role seriously, our democracy will fail. Jesus bought our freedom with his life, but it is up to each one of us to guard these precious privileges that have been granted us.

In the church, and certainly in ministry, we talk about servant leaders. God ordained that leaders be first, and foremost, servants. This is a truth needfully remembered. The people we elect to represent us are to serve us and the power is to remain and rest with the people. This is another truth we would do well to remember. I think we need to remind those we elect that their job is to serve us. Equally important is for us to remember that it is incumbent upon each and every one of to be a leader. It is we who are supposed to be role models and teachers.

One of our number commented Wednesday on “Leadership Trait” that he was going to put his leadership to work immediately on his job. I cannot express how grateful I was for his comment for that is the exact work of the ministry. I am called to mine the Word and give you its nuggets, but it is you, my beloved, who go out into the world and demonstrate the compassion of Christ, love, forgiveness, generosity, service and all the other great things Jesus teaches us.

Some of the people in Washington have let us down this week but others have stood up and proclaimed their Christian values. And lest I lead you down the wrong path, by Christian values I do not mean opposing abortion. I am not talking about policy positions. I am talking about character traits and the fruit of the Spirit. We need to send a very strong and very loud message by our words and our actions to all elected officials and others in “leadership” positions about kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, love, etc. (Galatians 5: 22). We need to lead by example every single day in our routine lives and by so doing, we set the bar and proclaim our expectations. We cannot lie, cheat, steal, argue, gossip, backbite or serve our selfish ambitions. If there was ever a sign that it is time for the church to rise up and be counted, you saw it on Wednesday and the fact that our Father sent out a message about leadership on that day without me having a clue what was coming is a prophetic call to each one of you! You are the leaders of this country and I trust your hearts.

I do not intend to sound meek or quiet. I am explicitly calling upon you to stand for what Christ died for. It is time for each of us to, daily, take our role in God’s great plan seriously. You have been called, by God, and we must each one answer that call devotedly and solemnly. I beg you to write yourself a 3 X 5 card and post it prominently where you will see it routinely and be reminded how important, nay, vital you are to the Kingdom. In His grace.

 

Forward this to everyone you know.

 

Words of the Heart

Matthew 15: 18

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those things defile the person.

Matthew 12:34

You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.

Jesus said that in the last days, wolves would come dressed as sheep so we must be adept at discerning who is of the truth and who is not. Jesus said you would know the wolves (and the sheep) by their fruit. Yesterday, I sent you the test. It comes out of Colossians 3 and Galatians 5. Here is another way to tell the difference between those who say they follow Jesus from those who actually do. Check the fruit of their mouth.

No one who is of Christ lies. Period. End of story. Does that mean if a person ever tells one lie they are devil spawn? No. It means they relaxed their guard for a moment, perhaps have not been spending enough time with the Lord. However, a habitual liar or one who doesn’t have a strong relationship with the truth is not a Christ disciple. I’ve said it before, lying comes from the devil’s house. You can’t dance to his tune and be in harmony with Jesus.

Other language will give one away too. Is the person’s language kind, gentle, peaceful, patient, filled with goodness and faith? Or are their words harsh, critical, and judgmental. You can tell what is in a person’s heart by what comes out of their mouths.

Wolves and Fruit

Matthew 7: 15-16

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

Galatians 5: 22- 23

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Jesus gave us a warning in chapter 7 of Matthew. He told us that in these days there would be people who would represent themselves to us a part of the flock of Jesus but in reality, they are ravenous wolves who would devour us if we let them. Fear not though. There is a way we can tell real followers of Christ from those who pretend to be sincere believers. You will know them by their fruit Jesus said. “What fruit,” you ask. The fruit of their character.

Do not attempt discernment by listening to what they say. Anyone can say anything. That is what Jesus was pointing out when he said they would be dressed as sheep. They will say the right things and will sound convincing but ask yourself about their fruit. They can even quote scripture and sound all holy but Satan quotes scripture too. That is what he did in the temptation of Christ (Matthew 4: 6) Being able to quote scripture does not make you holy or a Christian.

Also do not let their works persuade you. These false people will do many of the things that the children of light do in order to appear as sheep rather than as their true selves. But our salvation and our redemption are not in works. They are in faith in Jesus Christ, our redeemer. As a matter of fact, these people may even be leaders in the church. They may be on every church committee. They may participate in charitable works. But these things don’t make you a Christian any more than swimming makes you a fish.

Jesus explained that the way we can know about people is to check the fruit that is on their tree. Galatians 5: 22 tells you what fruit to look for. While none of us is perfect, if Christ is really inside of you then, you should increasingly bear the fruit that is of Him. You cannot give yourself to Christ without His light showing through you. As you walk through life don’t be mislead by people who purport to be Christ centered. If they truly are, they will not have to tell you. You will see that their lives are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The Role of the Holy Spirit

John 14: 16               (Amplified Version)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever.

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s psalm, indeed that you are enjoying Psalm Mondays. It is a good way to start the week. Today I want to continue the series I began last week on the Holy Spirit. It is my hope that these several days we are spending on the Holy Spirit give you an inside look at who the Spirit is and what role he plays in our lives. You may want to copy these “Spirit” Words of the Day and paste them into a document of your own. Also, if you visit my website, www.iveyministries.org, you can search Spirit or Holy Spirit in the Daily Devotion tab and discover an entire treatise, practically, on the Holy Spirit.

The central role of the Holy Spirit and God’s main reason for sending Him to us is for the Holy Spirit to accompany us continually and aid us in whatever capacity necessary. That is why He is often referred to as the Helper. Jesus frequently called the Holy Spirit our “Helper.” If the kind of help we need is prayer, then the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. If we need strength, then He strengthens us. He was sent to us to be our constant companion, to standby us every minute of every day to help us in every situation. That is the role of God’s Holy Spirit. I think that is exhilarating. Just think, God’s own Spirit has been assigned the job of being with you constantly so that He can help you every second of every day. He is to stand by you and await any opportunity to aid you.

Now, some people may say, “Well, He doesn’t seem to be at my side helping me daily.” That could be true because one thing you can bet on is that the Holy Spirit of God is a gentleman. He must first be invited. He will not horn in on your life; He will not push his weight around on you. The Spirit of God is gentle. Remember that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). He is powerful but He absolutely will not force Himself on you. So just invite Him into your life. Give Him permission to take up permanent residence with you. You are going to experience a whole new life with God through His own Spirit when you do.

Armored Fruit

Proverb 3: 3

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Within this short, little passage we have the makings of greatness. First of all, there is the command quality of the statement. It is a declarative sentence. It makes a statement, not a suggestion. Here wisdom is speaking; a wise father telling His kids what to do so that they will experience success. There is also a promise attached which is in the next verse. It promises favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and man if you will keep truth and kindness as your trademarks.

The command alone should be enough to compel us but if the command does not, the promise certainly should. Yet there is more. In this little verse we also see the application of the fruit of the Spirit and the armor of God. You see, kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). Truth is part of the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 14). Here God has combined his armor with the fruit of the Spirit. Your protection and success are here. God is leading us into success in all areas of our lives by teaching us to walk according to the Spirit instead of walking according to the flesh. If you walk by the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The fruit will protect you from the lusts of the flesh. You have to decide to live by the Spirit though.

Secondly, God wants to protect you with His armor. Again, though, it is your decision to walk by truth instead of deceit. You have to choose to put on His armor. Then His protection surrounds you and you can call on all of His angels to reinforce you. Kindness and Truth will go before you like a guard. When you out of an act of your will, choose to operate in Kindness and in Truth, then you are marshaling the forces of God into your ranks as your soldiers. If you lie and deceive or behave unkindly, you are using the weapons of the enemy and you will defeat yourself.

God would have you wear kindness and truth close to you, even inscribe them on your heart. He wants you to do this so that He can cover you with His favor and bring all His blessings to your house. Don’t let the devil deceive you into lying and or being unkind. Don’t let him steal your blessings from you.

Fruit Bowl

Galatians 5: 22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

We have seen that the Holy Spirit comes to us laden with gifts. When he moves in with us, he brings his gifts with him. The same is true of his fruit. Jesus told us to check people’s fruit, that in so doing we can know the nature of a person (Matthew 7: 16). Well, the Holy Spirit has fruit too.

As you re-read the list above, let me ask a question, is this the kind of person you would like to know? Do you want to hang out with people who bear this fruit? The Holy Spirit never loses control. He is always patient and kind, faithful and gentle and above all things, he is characterized by love. What a good buddy to have.

There is a second benefit to his fruit. When the Spirit moves in with you, his fruit fills the house. He lives in you and his fruit is also, therefore, resident within you. Most of us would like to be known to have the character traits listed in this verse. When the Spirit moves in with us, his fruit becomes part of us. We are learning that the Spirit is our leader, that part of his role is to guide us. He is also our teacher. As we follow his leading, we begin to release that which he teaches us. The more we follow him and yield to his ways and to those things which we learn with him, the more we manifest his characteristics. Becoming integrated with him yields the expression of his fruit.

The best part of this is that you do not have to change yourself. If you have been trying for years to become patient, quit. Yes, give up. Or should I say give in to the leading of the Spirit. You can spend the rest of your life trying to learn to be kind and probably never make it or you can simply yield to the leading of the Spirit and begin expressing kindness today. You can be an overnight sensation if you will let the Spirit lead you instead of yielding to your human frailties.

Invite him to become completely intertwined with you. Ask him to take up residence within you. Then begin practicing letting him speak to you and through you. It is a much less stressful way to live. I find that the more time I spend praying, the more I am able to release his ways. It is his desire to help you in everything you do today. He even wants to give you the fruit of his being. So, have a bowl full of Holy Spirit fruit and enjoy your day.

Power and Might

Daniel 11: 32

And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know God will display strength and take action.

God is not raising up a generation of weaklings. He has called us in strength and in the glory of his dear son. There will come those who will lead the weak spirited away. He will trick them by the eloquence of his speech but those who know the Word of God will recognize the lies. 

Jesus was tried by the tempter (See Matthew 4: 1 – 11). He tried to trick Jesus too but Jesus knew the Word. He could not be led astray. He defeated the devil’s scheme’s then and ever since. We learn from Daniel that because we are called according to Jesus’ victory, we too can display strength and we can take action.

Do not be fooled by those who come to you in smoothness of speech. Check their fruit. Are they demonstrating Galatians 5: 22 fruit? If not, step away. You are not required to be friends with everyone; you are only required to love them. Secondly, prepare yourself now for the trickster. We already know he is waiting like a prowling lion, just looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5: 8). Feed on the Word daily so that you will recognize truth from the lie and can protect yourself and your family. Adam and Eve didn’t abide in the Word and they were deceived. Look where that brought us all.

Be strong in the might of the Lord and in the power of His Word.