Lead Well: Work on Our Character

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. [Proverbs 6:12-19]

Nobody wants to be known as someone with bad character, yet this is the state many of us find ourselves in, if only for the lack of a little focus and intentionality. Such a state  brings calamity, demotion and in reality means people don’t want to hang around us.

Good character is not our default position.
Good character comes through purposeful design.

Think about it. We are inherently selfish. We give most of our attention to ourselves. We want to make sure we have what we want, not just what we need. We will bump people out of the way to make a way. We expect as much as possible for as little as possible. We praise and curse with the same mouth. The list of our character flaws is probably endless.

I have learned this lesson by getting it right and getting it wrong. Through awkward conversations and times of confrontation by people who care for me. I have discovered that to lead well in life is to be watchful and protective of the right kind of character. And such watchfulness takes concentration and effort. Start by avoiding the list of those things which don’t look good from Gods point of view…

Pride.
Lying.
Killing people.
Scheming.
Quick to do wrong things.
False witness towards others.
Bringing discord.

Then remember how Jesus took the standard higher on many of these in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6 & 7. Let’s be honest, we all have our weaknesses, those unredeemed aspects of our personality which we can use to quickly blame our words and actions on.

Instead let’s be those who are different. Living by design. Who lead well. Are above reproach. Live a life worthy of the calling to which you are called. Honour God in all things. Watch. Be alert. Sin and temptation are always at the door. Stay focused on Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him. Don’t allow yourself to drift. Hold fast your confession of faith. Do not be afraid. Repent quickly.

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A Readiness to Receive

“You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again: Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing. The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them [Matthew 13:11-15]

This intrigues me. I want God’s word on situations, after all, there are plenty of voices out there. It can be tricky to hear the right one.

It’s important for me to position myself well in order to receive the right input, the right message. It makes me think of the old-fashioned dial on my parents radio that was so frustrating when I was trying to listen to the football when I was younger. If it wasn’t quite tuned in correctly you very often got a few stations all at the same time and that was pretty annoying.

I need to get the dial on my heart set right. According to these words of Jesus, with a ready heart, insights and understandings flow freely. You have to have a readiness for receptivity. No readiness then any trace of receptivity disappears.

That leads to an obvious question – am I in a position of readiness?

I must learn to see and not just stare.

I must learn to listen attentively so that I get it.

I must learn to unblock my head, take my fingers out of my ears and open my eyes.

Like a successful athlete waiting for the starters gun, I need to be ‘in the zone’. When they are in the zone, athletes are better able to suppress and ignore negative thoughts, achieving a flow that can give them a remarkable advantage.

There must be a similar benefit for me as Christian. If I am in the zone, with my heart set right, dialled in, receptive to the insights and understandings God revealed by His Holy Spirit then surely I am helping myself to be better able to suppress the enemy of negativity or fear and thereby experience life in all it’s fullness and the blessings of living for God.

Just a thought. What do you think?

Grace Through The Eyes Of…

Excited about this new series at Xcel Church. Grace is such a hugely important and powerful aspect of the Christian faith, yet it also seems to be one of the most misunderstood and misused aspects of the Christian faith.

I need the grace of God. Every day.

How does grace look through the eyes of some of the people of the Bible? How does grace look through my eyes? I need to understand the fullness of this amazing grace that God has given which not only saves me but is equipping me for the life He wants me to live.

Too often we are great receivers of grace but not great givers of grace. We like to judge others based on their actions, while we want to be judged on our intentions. We want to pass out truth, while we are only willing to welcome grace in return.

As we journey through the Bible we may discover that God’s grace is surprising. That God’s grace is not fair. And for that we should be thankful otherwise we may have already disqualified ourselves.

I can only encourage you to be at Xcel over the next 6 weeks and discover all that the grace of God is for you. It could just change your life.

Things to Help Keep you in Step With the Spirit

Continuing with some previous thoughts.

Remember that when you became a Christian: YOU CHANGED. Something happened. Your spirit came alive to the things of God. Easy really. Or maybe that was just the choice. The daily management of that choice is where the battle lays. Being lead by your flesh or being led by the spirit.

Paul wrote in Galatians 5:25 ‘keep in step with the spirit’. Maybe its like the spirit that is alive in you is calling you forward into the things of God but the flesh is holding you back. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing catch up with what God has for me.

What can I do to make sure I keep in step with the spirit? To tip into the things of God?

Remember whose KINGDOM you are in
We know we are part of God’s kingdom. We have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. A transfer price paid through Jesus.

Why do live some days as if we have forgotten this?
Why do we try & fit God into our kingdoms instead of remembering that we are in His?

Knowing whose Kingdom you are in creates confidence. It brings assurance. It’s why David could stand in front of Goliath and tell him that he was ‘going down’.

Let go off ME
Read this ‘I cannot embrace the Kingdom of God if my arms of full of ME’.

We want all that God has for us but we are too consumed with getting everything we want. You can’t have both. We cannot pursue our dreams and God’s dreams at the same time.

Letting go of ME makes space for God to move. It’s scary. It’s not easy. But a rush. What an adventure.

REPENT
This is the tough one.

We repent. We turn away from our old life.
We get on with life.
We then turn round and go back to the old life. [Or is that just me]

Maybe repentance is a one-off. I would like to suggest that we need to repent more often.

We need to repent…
…of our lack of desire
…of turning back
…of allowing ‘others’ to cut in on us while we run the race
…of thinking the pursuit of our dreams & Jesus can live in harmony when that’s impossible
…for saying we seek first the kingdom of God as in Matthew 6:33 but then not fully trusting God to fulfill it

Keep in step with the spirit…
…remember whose Kingdom you are in
…let go of ME
…Repent

Let’s see what difference it might make.

Tipping in to the things of God

I am challenged.
I have a deep desire to make sure I am always tipping in to the things of God.
I know I AM changed. When I became a Christian I was changed. I was dead in my sins. Then I was made alive to the things of God. All because of what Jesus did for me.

The BIG THOUGHT I had was this…my Spirit has changed, is alive to God but maybe the rest of me needs to catch up. I either keep in step with the Spirit or I drift the wrong way. It’s easy to drift!

I have an ‘obligation’ to live according to the Spirit. Not according to the flesh. Romans 8 tells me that. Sinful nature is death. The spirit is life. Jesus is worth that much. I am indebted to him for everything he has done for me…right?

So I keep tipping into the things of God…
…in my THINKING
…staying FILLED with the FULLNESS of God
…in my FOCUS

I don’t want to just labour at somethings that is important from an earthly perspective but misses the mark when it comes to eternity. Christianity is my calling. So I ‘ought to labour after & pray earnestly for clearer insight into & and a fuller acquaintance with the great objects of a Christians hope’

My personal challenge: to be honest enough to look at my life and answer the question – am I truly dwelling with Christ? Am I tipping into the things of God?