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Monday, October 29, 2018

People of God Prepare Yourself, Because He's Going To Bless You, But FIRST HE'S GOING TO BURDEN YOU. Don’t Ask God To Hand You What You’re Not Ready To Carry!


“Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the Vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV) 
 

Before God blesses you with a plan of action He will first BURDEN You With The Problem You've Been Called To Help Solve! A ‘burden’ is defined as, ‘a heavy load; a cause of hardship, worry, or grief; something that is carried; something oppressive or worrisome; a thing to bear; a duty; responsibility; something that weighs down.’ You see, so many are running to God asking Him for a vision, but they don’t want the burden that comes attached to the vision. Receiving a vision from God will cost you. And the price is heavy. Oftentimes a vision from God will keep you up late at night; pacing the floor; spending countless hours in prayer; fasting for weeks on end; even separating yourself from familiar people, places and things. It often makes you uncomfortable because it takes you out of your comfort zone into unfamiliar places. Often a vision from God comes with the weight of burden. It doesn’t come cheap or easy. So before you go to God the next time asking for a vision, be careful, because you just may get more than you bargained for!  

When it comes to God’s vision and purpose, it comes with glory, and His glory always carry’s weight! Accepting an assignment from God, receiving vision from God, fulfilling purpose in God, will come with burden and glory, and both are heavy! Don’t Ask God To Hand You What You’re Not Ready To Carry! 

Yes, the prophet received a vision, but it came at the expense of him crying out to God; with him facing trouble and violence; unanswered questions; powerlessness and even being surrounded by wickedness. Are you really sure you’re ready to pay the price of carrying vision and burden? 
Lewis Braille wanted to read and write. But at three years of age he was blinded in a tragic accident while playing in his father's harness shop. Refusing to settle for a world of darkness he said, 'I will make a system so that the blind can read and write.As a result, millions of sight-impaired people have been blessed by the Braille system.  

People of God Prepare Yourself, Because He's going to Bless You, but FIRST HE'S GOING TO BURDEN YOU!

The Psalmist cried: 'The zeal for Your house has CONSUMED me...' (Psalm 69:9 NASB). Today, ask yourself the following questions, ‘What's my all-consuming desire? What am I passionate about? 

What has God called and gifted me to do?’ You see, the word ‘zeal’ is defined as, ‘eagerness in pursuit of an interest; a fervor; passion; enthusiasm; an intense, compelling emotion that requires action; it’s a deep stirring; a determination to do something.’ And where was the psalmist zeal? In God’s House! What are you doing in God’s House?! Are your gifts, talents, skill-set, ability, anointing, calling all being passionately utilized in the Lord’s House? Or are you simply warming pulpit/pew chairs until the Lord returns? What are you doing with what God gave you to do? 

Paul's burning desire was to reach the world for Christ. And he succeeded! When his enemies imprisoned him, instead of giving in to defeat he turned his cell into a writer's retreat and penned thirteen epistles that would change more lives after he left the world than he could ever hope to touch while he was in it! So, what are you willing to give your life to, and for, that will impact this world while you’re here and in an even greater way after your gone? Why is that important to ask? Because if your vision is truly of God, you will 'FEEL' a BURDEN for it! And that BURDEN will be COSTLY! And you need to be honest with yourself and find out if you're really willing to pay the price?

Notice two important things about Vision: 

1)   YOUR VISION MUST COME FROM GOD: There's a difference between setting your OWN GOALS and having a GOD-GIVEN VISION! When your vision is of God, '... it will surely come...' (Habakkuk 2:3). In other words, you won't have to orchestrate events behind the scenes; God will provide the resources and open the right doors at the right time and you’ll enter them with all the right people! Your steps will be directed by Him! But here's an interesting Scripture: '...TIME AND CHANCE happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time...' (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 NKJV). '...TIME AND CHANCE happen to them all..." God will reveal to you your destiny and give you an opportunity to fulfill it. But, you can resist it, or postpone it, or give your life to other things and end up missing your 'TIME' and 'CHANCE', according to the Scripture. Which is why I admonish you, DON'T GET CAUGHT IN THAT NET OR TRAPPED IN THAT SNARE AND FORFEIT WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU! Your ‘TIME’ and ‘CHANCE’ have a limit. You don’t accomplish them after death; you accomplish them in the time God has given you to live! Don’t die having let everybody use you but God! When God gives you the vision; sets the due time for it to come to pass; and grants you the perfect chance to go for it, don’t be caught like the foolish virgins missing out on what you could’ve got in on, if only you were prepared and ready when the opportunity presented itself!

2)   YOUR VISION WILL BE CONNECTED TO A CERTAIN FIELD: Joseph's dream started with a field of wheat (Genesis 37:6-7, “Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said, “Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat...” MSG). So, what's your field? Because, whether God calls you to the field of medicine, education, finance, ministry, real estate, or some other field, it's to be a blessing to others! It’s not for you to boast, it’s for you to be a blessing! God told Abraham, '...I will make your name great, and you will BE A BLESSING' (Genesis 12:2 NIV).Don't seek fortune, fame, popularity, stardom, or the like, but seek to serve others! If you do, your impact will be greater than your image and your eternal reward greater than anything you can drive, wear, live in, or hang on a wall! THEREFORE, FIND YOUR FIELD!

Jesus said, '...In fact, THE REASON I WAS BORN...' (John 18:37 NIV). When you know why you're here and what your God-given purpose is, you become virtually UNSTOPPABLE! You won't be flawless, but you'll have the innate power to overcome each obstacle as you proceed! If you get turned around, God loves you enough to get your attention, correct and redirect you, and get you back on track! But to find the right answers you must first ask the right questions, such as:  1) What desires have been living in me most of my life? 2) What motivates me to be productive? 3) What keeps me going forward when I'm worn out? 4) What makes me refuse to quit when I meet with resistance or opposition? 5) What do I do that doesn't seem like work? 6) What do I do that brings positive response and support from others? 7) What am I doing, or what's happening in my life when doors seem to open automatically and effortlessly? 8) What do discerning leaders and godly counselors think about my work? 9) What makes me feel good about being who I am? 10) What makes my creative juices flow? 11) What am I willing to sacrifice to accomplish it? 12)What am I doing that I'd be proud to offer for God's approval? 13) What would I do without being paid for, if I could afford to?14) What would I be willing to withstand Satan over, in order to accomplish it?  

You Need To Know: What is the reason you were born’? And it's not too late; so 'find' your vision and follow it!

Paul was on a mission! He traveled light, practiced personal discipline, avoided distractions and kept his eye on the ball. The Bible says, '...one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize...' (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV). Successful companies live by a mission statement every team member can understand; they keep it before them at all times. God told Habakkuk, '..."Write the vision and make it plain... that he may run who reads it.' (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV). YOU MUST WRITE YOUR VISION DOWN, READ IT REGULARLY, REMEMBER IT AT ALL TIMES AND RUN WITH IT! YOUR GREATEST ENEMY ISN'T THE OPPOSITION, IT'S THE DISTRACTIONS! SO LET NOTHING AND NO ONE MESS WITH YOU ACCOMPLISHING YOUR MISSION!

DON'T LET DISTRACTIONS DIVERT YOUR VISION! ‘Divert’ is to, ‘turn aside; deviate; to turn from one course or use to another; to distract; to entertain.’ You cannot afford to lose sight of your vision; nor to distort your vision because you’ve become so busy entertaining distractions. Which reminds me of a quote I heard: “Don’t Blame A Clown For Acting Like A Clown, Blame Yourself For Going To The Circus.” People of God, Stay Focused!

Five times in Genesis chapter thirty-nine we read: 'But the Lord was with Joseph.Be encouraged: God is at work with you and in what you're going through right now! Where did Joseph get the wisdom to lead a nation? By dealing with his own family problems, by handling Potiphar's household staff, and by running a prison system! Like rungs on a ladder, each one took him closer to the top! Notice how it worked: his brothers sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders, who sold him to Potiphar, who put him in prison where he met the butler, who introduced him to Pharaoh, who made him Prime Minister of Egypt, fulfilling his dream! Was it easy? No, “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him” (Psalm 105:19). Prepare Yourself: Your vision will be 'tried' by situations that either make or break you! And the word ‘tried’ is defined as, ‘to be found good and faithful; to be found trustworthy through experience, trials, distress or testing.’ And indeed that same text in psalm read in the Message Bible proves Joseph was tried by testing and he passed with flying colors! “Then he called down a famine on the country, he broke every last blade of wheat. But he sent a man on ahead: Joseph, sold as a slave. They put cruel chains on his ankles, an iron collar around his neck, Until God’s Word came to Pharaoh, and God confirmed His promise. God sent the king to release him. The Pharaoh set Joseph free; he appointed him master of his palace, put him in charge of all his business to personally instruct his princes and train his advisors in wisdom.” (Psalm 105:16-22 MSG) 

Now, some of you may ask, ‘but what do you do when you already received a vision, but it died?’ 
When your vision dies and God resurrects it, you begin to talk and act differently! With ego subtracted and grace added, you start saying with the Psalmist, 'I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living' (Psalm 27:13). At that point God smiles and says, 'You're finally getting it right! You’re finally ready to receive the resurrection of your dreams, purpose and vision.Once you get it right with God, you get to begin again. Remember, Joseph didn’t just have one dream, but the second was bigger than the first, and yours can be also!

When a vision comes from God and you commit yourself to it, it will 'SURELY' be fulfilled! Yes, you'll stumble, be stretched to new limits and maybe even stagger across the finish line, but you'll make it! You'll get to the Promised Land, even if failure is the road you have to travel in order to get there! Look at Moses: he had a history-changing message to deliver to Pharaoh, yet he was a poor speaker. He had marriage problems. He had to reach his breaking point before he learned to delegate responsibility to others. He experienced sibling rivalry. He even had a problem with his temper, and as a result God said, '..."This is the land I promised... I have let you see it... but you will not cross over into it." (Deuteronomy 34:4 NIV). But Moses finally got there, maybe not in life, but most certainly in death! 1,400 years later he stood with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration: right in the middle of it! Matthew 17:1-3, “Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.” (MSG) 

Lastly, there's an interesting picture in Amos '... "A shepherd who tries to rescue a sheep from a lion's mouth will recover only two legs or a piece of an ear. So it will be...' (Amos 3:12 NLT). Picture Satan as that lion, you as that lamb, Jesus as that shepherd coming to pick up what's left of you, and see how God brings victory out of defeat! Has life torn your vision to pieces like the image in Amos? If so, keep in mind, with God, you only need two things for a comeback according to what’s recovered in Amos:

1)   An Ear to Hear. Stop listening to voices that discourage you; it's not over until God says it's over! God told Ezekiel to prophesy to a valley full of dead, dry bones (Ezekiel 37:4): 'So I prophesied... and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.' (Ezekiel 37:10 NKJV). Your hopes may be dead and your soul dry, but if you listen to what God is saying your vision will live againKeep your hear to God’s mouth, receive His instructions, obey them, revive your vision, and this time let it live!

2)   A Leg to Stand OnThe God who gave Job twice as much at the end of his trouble as he started with before it, isn't finished with you yet! Read what He's promised and stand on His Word! Look at it this way: Achan was stoned to death in the Valley of Achor for stealing the spoils after the battle of Jericho. End of the story? Not a chance, later, God in His mercy said, 'I will give... the Valley of Achor as a door of Hope...' (Hosea 2:15 NKJV). You may be living with your consequences, but by God's grace you can still live to see your vision fulfilled! There is Hope in the Valley for Your VisionYour Valley of Achor may have started out with a Stoning, but it will end with You and Your Vision Surviving and Walking Through New Open Doors of Opportunity! Don’t throw in the towel, don’t give up and don’t quit! 

PEOPLE OF GOD, IT'S TIME TO WRITE AND RUN!

Blessings
J.P. Olson

Monday, October 22, 2018

Three Things People Never Ought To Trifle With: A Little Poison; A Little False Doctrine And A Little Sin. A Little Sin Will Add To Your Trouble, Subtract From Your Energy And Multiply Your Difficulty


Galatians 5:9,
 “Be careful! “Just a LITTLE yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise.”  (NCV

One year I can remember that one of the Outreach team members got pretty sick. Lisa first developed a high fever; then muscular pain and then these excruciating headaches. It actually took several tests to uncover what had caused her debilitating symptoms. However, the doctor finally concluded that Lisa had contracted Lyme Disease; which of course is carried by little deer ticks. And as Lisa thought back, she remembered noticing a big red bite on her body a couple of months ago. It occurred to her that it might have been a deer tick, but you know, she didn't think much about it...UNTIL NOW.  

So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating effect.” (Eleanor Roosevelt). Or, better said in the Word of God: “Our vineyards are in blossom; we must catch the LITTLE foxes that Destroy the vineyards.” (Song of Solomon 2:15 CEV). Can you just get a mental picture of what that looks like? A LITTLE fox, DESTROYING a BIG VINEYARD!              

Well, Lisa's recovering from her extreme pain, but she'll be feeling the big effects of what that little deer tick did for months to come! One LITTLE tick - a lot of BIG problems!  

You see, that’s why it’s so important for you to check for those LITTLE things that can hurt you in a BIG way for a long time, and then get rid of them quickly!  

Let us beware of the BEGINNINGS of backsliding, however SMALL. We never know what we may come to, if we once leave the king’s highway. The professing Christian who begins to say of any sin or evil habit, “it is but a LITTLE one,” is in imminent danger. He is sowing seeds in his heart, which will one day spring up and bear bitter fruit. It is a homely saying, that “if men take care of the pence the pounds will take care of themselves.” We may borrow a good spiritual lesson from the saying. The Christian who keeps his heart diligently in LITTLE things shall be kept from GREAT falls.” (J.C. Ryle). Apparently, the Word of God indeed agrees with J.C Ryle because it states: “A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church].” (Galatians 5:9 AMP). The danger of a LITTLE, is that it perverts the WHOLE CONCEPTION OF FAITH AND WHOLE CHURCH! Not just you! Remember, as the BODY OF CHRIST, every member is affected and infected by whatever transpires in ONE of the members! That’s why it’s so vital to address what’s ‘LITTLE’, because left unaddressed, it can lead to BIG destruction!

1 Corinthians 10:11-13, “These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (MSG)

We have to do better, because we’ve already been warned of the danger of letting sin fester! Furthermore, if God wouldn't give us anything that we couldn't handle, why is it we can't seem to get a handle on a 'little sin?!'              

Which is why I reiterate, you have to check for those little things that can hurt you in a big way for a long time, and you need to get rid of them quickly! Actually, you need to do that spiritually, too! Because there are "little ticks" that we get bitten with that can, if they're not removed quickly, cause us more pain and more problems than we could ever imagine!

Don’t ever underestimate it; a minor invasion can cause major damage!  

There's an enlightening example of that in Hebrews 12:15, (“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby MANY be defiled;”)In this case, the "bite" is something that makes us have some hard feelings toward another person - something we all go through. And Scripture warns us: Hebrews 12:14-17(The Message Bible): "Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A THISTLE or two gone to seed can RUIN a WHOLE GARDEN in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears."

Let’s remember, it was the LITTLE foxes that DESTROYED a BIG VINEYARD! A LITTLE BITTERNESS that PERVERTED the CONCEPTION OF FAITH AND THE WHOLE CHURCH. And now, it’s ONE OR TWO THISTLES that RUIN THE WHOLE GARDEN! REMEMBER THAT THE NEXT TIME YOU DON’T THINK A LITTLE CAN DO A LOT OF BIG DAMAGE! 

Bitterness and resentment always begin just as this little rootBut bitterness never stays a little root! It keeps growing into a poisonous plant that ends up hurting us and hurting othersA root of bitterness has destroyed marriages, churches, friendships, and ministries because it wasn't pulled up when it was SMALLBecause the little tick wasn't removed immediately after it affected someone's system, big pain and disease followed!

Nothing darkens the eyes of the mind so much, and deadens the conscience so surely, as an allowed sin. It may be a LITTLE one, but it is not the less dangerous for all that. A small leak will sink a great ship, and a small spark will kindle a great fire, and a little allowed sin in like manner will ruin an immortal soul. Take my advice, and never spare a LITTLE sin.” (J.C. Ryle).
For whosoever keeps the Law [as a ] WHOLE but stumbles and offends in ONE [SINGLE INSTANCE] has become guilty of [breaking] ALL of it.” (James 2:10 AMP).

This principle of dealing with sinful urges while they're SMALL applies to so many things in our life. Like a sexual fantasy or fascination, for example. You have to, as the Bible says, "Run from anything that Stimulates youthful lusts..." (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT), which by the way, aren't just a problem for youth! If you dwell on that wrong thought, that lustful attraction, it will quickly lead you where you never meant to go! You've got to yank it off the stage in your mind the second it shows up there, or it will embed itself in your mind like a tick and do damage that you never imagined! The word “stimulate” means to “trigger, arouse or spark.” And pulling a little trigger can take a life; arousing a lion can turn someone into a lunch and the damage of a little spark can be found in the Word of God: A BIT in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A SMALL rudder on a HUGE ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a SPARK, remember, to set off a FOREST FIRE. A careless or wrongly placed word of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can RUIN the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” (James 3:3-6 MSG). Maybe it’s just me, but it sure sounds like a “LITTLE” trigger, arouse and spark can do some BIG damage!

"Run from anything that Stimulates...Lusts..."! You have to get out of a wrong relationship sooner rather than later. Why? Because, you're going to be less likely to do the right thing the more time passes. It will never be easier to do it than now. When you start feeling the pull of an old weakness, respond immediately by running, not walking, in the other direction. In other words, follow Joseph’s lead: “On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the household servants happened to be there. She grabbed him by his cloak, saying, “Sleep with me!” He left his coat in her hand and ran out of the house.” (Genesis 39:11-12 MSG).

Even those urges to hurt back, to get even, to brood over a wound; are all “little” "ticks" that, if you let them get under your skin, they will cause problems bigger than you ever thought and for much longer than you ever imaginedWhen the urge to respond sinfully bites you, you can't just let it go. You have to quickly and aggressively get rid of a spiritual "tick"! It may seem like "no big deal" right nowBut if you don't deal with it now, it will do damage that will hurt you for a long, long time!

Satan’s big sins (stealing, adultery, murder, etc.) start with little ones! The devil uses deception and trickery to tempt us into doing bad things. Littering, rolling stop signs, telling little white lies, keeping too much change from a cashier, padding our expense accounts at work, lying on your resume, gossiping, making fun of other people, disrespecting elders and etc. Just remember:So then, brethren, we are debtors, but not to the flesh [we are not obligated to our carnal nature], to live [a life ruled by the standards set up by the dictates] of the flesh.” (Romans 8:12 AMP).

So the next time you find yourself dismissing a “little” sin as no big deal, remember that you are training your conscience to accept unacceptable behavior.” (Kathryn Lehan).

Therefore, church, let today be the day that we re-exam our lives; habits; thoughts; speech; heart and the like and see what LITTLE we need to get rid of before it causes BIG damage! Be honest about your attitudes and behavior, because in the end, no one can correct these things but you. Take full responsibility and personal accountability to remain in the reflection of the image and likeness of the Godhead whereby we were created. Let's remember that we are Children of God; Ambassadors of Christ; and Representatives of Heaven! We are to carry out the characteristics of our God in our day-to-day lives, publicly and privately. And we can't do such a thing while entertaining that which would hinder us from seeing Jesus face in peace; hearing well done or making heaven our home.

"Don't let a little sin in; all hell will break loose." (Adrian Rogers)

"When men talk of a little hell it's because they think they have only a little sin and believe in a little Savior." (Charles H. Spurgeon)

"A little sin, like a little pebble in the shoe, will make a traveler to heaven walk very wearily." (C.H. Spurgeon)

"If you let even a little sin into your heart, it's going to contaminate your prayers. Your Christian life will not achieve its full potential." (Bill Hybels)

"If you're tolerating sin in your life, my friend, don't waste your breath praying unless it's a prayer of confession." (Bill Hybels)

"A Little Sin Will Add To Your Trouble, Subtract From Your Energy, And Multiply Your Difficulties."

"Little sins multiplied, become great. There is nothing less than a grain of sand - yet there is nothing heavier than the sand of the sea when multiplied. Little sins are very dangerous. A little leaven, leavens the whole lump; a little knife, may kill; a little leak in a ship may sink it. Though the scorpion is little - yet will it sting a lion to death! Just so, a little sin may at once bar the door of heaven; and open the gates of hell! The least sin will damn us - if not pardoned by the death of Christ." (Thomas Brooks)

"When Satan cannot get a great sin in, he will let a little one in, like the thief who goes and finds shutters all coated with iron and bolted inside. At last he sees a little window in a chamber. He cannot get it, so he puts a little boy in, that he may go round and open the back door. So the devil has always his little sins to carry about with him, and we let one in and say, 'O, it is only a little one.' Yes, but how that little one becomes the ruin of the entire man!" (Charles Spurgeon)

"There Are 3 Things Men Never Ought To Trifle With: A Little Poison; A Little False Doctrine; And A Little Sin." (J.C. Ryle)

"If there be a man before me who says that the wrath of God is too heavy a punishment for his little sin, I ask him, if the sin be little, why does he not give it up?" (Charles Spurgeon)

"If you allow one little sin to creep into your life, and think it doesn't matter, it will grow and grow until it affects your whole spiritual life, deflecting you from your primary aim of serving God." (Angus Buchan)

Blessings
J.P. Olson 
          www.thewordwithjpolson.com

Monday, October 15, 2018

You Can’t Water Down The Message Of Christ And Yet Expect To Quench The Thirst For Jesus In The Souls Of People! We Are Messengers With a Message Bigger Than Us. What Does Your Message Say?

1 Corinthians 1:10-17, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (NIV)

Witty, engaging Christian Preachers and Speakers and vibrant, charismatic Spiritual Leaders still have the power to mesmerize and motivate believers today! And there is nothing inherently wrong with such power. The danger comes when the speaker, preacher or leader, and not the Message, becomes the focus of attention! Christian Preachers, Speakers and Leaders are Merely Vessels Through Whom God’s Word is Communicated. Exalting Them for the Message They Proclaim is a Misunderstanding of Their Purpose. Put Simply, It’s the Message, NOT the Messenger That Matters Most! As believers today, we must guard ourselves against identifying too closely with Human Leaders or placing too much emphasis on them or chasing personalities. Our Loyalty and Identification Belong Only to Jesus Christ and His Unadulterated Gospel Message!

The sad truth is that today’s church has not changed much from the Corinthian church. And if we were to tell a deeper truth, today’s church just may be worse off! There is still dissension, discord and division. There is still the highlight on the Messenger and the dim light on the Message! This however, should not be! Which is why it’s so vital that we emulate John the Baptist! “He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so]” (John 3:30 AMP). Can you imagine what the church, and more important what the pulpit, would reflect if we took on such an attitude?

Sadly, Pride and Arrogance have become the “Norm” in today’s churches, and it’s simply masked as “Self-Confidence” or worse, “God- Confidence”. When the truth is, making Our name great, at the expense of using His is what’s actually being done! For some reason we’re under the sad impression that if your name is not heard, you aren’t accomplishing much! However, I beg to differ! 

We’re never told Naaman’s servant girls name, but could you imagine his story without her?
The woman caught in adultery, her name is never shared, and yet for all who have fallen short in this area, she is a reminder that God forgives and grants a fresh, new start without judgment and without punishment of your past!

It wasn’t a person with a grand name that impressed Jesus with his “Thank You”, nope, it was an Unnamed Leper that was simply Grateful!

We would never know the heart of kindness if we didn’t have the story of the Good Samaritan, who remained nameless, but deeds were unforgettable!

And dare we not mention the unnamed boy with a lunch that fed a multitude! Surely he should have had his name read in the credits! 

The woman with the issue of blood is still renown, and yet, No One But Jesus Knows Her Name!
There was the man with an unclean Spirit and a maniac in the tombs, both healed, and no one knows the name of these two powerfully delivered men!

The two thieves on the cross with Jesus, surely the one who Made It In, despite his past, would want everyone to know his name?

The wise men who brought wonderful gifts to Jesus (now of course they would want their names known, after all, they bought Him gifts, and you know we don’t know how to give a gift without telling the world we gave it; secondly, they saw Jesus as a baby and became a part of His early-days story – now you know folks will stand in line to make sure you include them in the book of your life, because they “knew you when”…)

And can we really leave out the wise virgins? Naturally they would want it known that they came prepared, with oil flowing!

Do you know how long this list can go on?! A Multitude of Nameless People In the Bible Made An Impact and Didn’t Need Their Names Mentioned To Do It! So, Leaders, Can You Handle Being Nameless?

What happens if God calls you to write tirelessly, encouragement that inspires and empowers daily, all over the world, and yet you never write a book of your own to put a price tag on? Can you handle it?

Can you handle preaching and watching multitudes be saved and yet your name isn’t even known in your own backyard? Can you handle it?

What if God calls you to lay hands on people in the hospital and they recover, but never say thank you and never mention you in the telling of their testimony…Can you handle it?

Never forget, that the purpose for us is simple: We Are Messengers With a Message Bigger Than Us! 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!” (MSG)

Listen: If we never live in the mansion; if we never own the yacht; if we never drive the latest car; if we never travel the world; if we’re never on TV or radio or never write the book…If We Share The Message, We’ve Done A Remarkable Work On Earth for the Kingdom of God!
People of God you don’t need a pat on the back; you don’t need accolades, applause and entourages! You don’t need a ring the size of your hand, a cross covering your chest and 12 different robes to change monthly! You don’t need a special seat in the church! You don’t need to hand out your business cards to every person you meet! Just Share The Message! God Himself Will Commend You, And Isn’t That More Important? 

In A Nutshell: It’s Time To Stop Wearing Crosses, And Start Carrying Them! It’s Time To Stop Perfecting Our Image and Mirror His Instead! The focal point of ministry is the Message, nothing else! That’s it in a nutshell! Preaching Jesus! It’s not about being in the church that pays you the best salary; it’s not about being the “favorite” in your circle of influence; it’s not about your name being called more than anyone else; it’s not about you receiving preferential treatment; it’s not about your cross, ring, robe, organization or fellowship, It’s About the Message of Salvation! The focus of the church should not be on anniversaries; birthday celebrations; conferences; convocations; gala’s, brunches or banquets! It’s about the Message of the Cross! 

You Can’t Water Down the Message of Christ And Yet Expect to Quench the Thirst for Jesus in the Souls of People! And You Can’t Persuade Them to Come to “Your Church”, Because That’s Irrelevant! It’s not important whether they receive Jesus through Paul or Peter, It’s Important That They Simply Receive Jesus! So This Coming Weekend Think Hard About the Message You’re Sending to the Multitude! Do the People You Preach to Know that it’s about the Message and NOT the Messenger? And to take it a step further, What Exactly is the Message You’re Proclaiming? Is Jesus In It? Is Salvation In It? Is Healing In It? Is Deliverance In It? Is Heaven and Hell in it? Is Holiness in it? Is Forgiveness in it? Is Growth, Maturity, and Development In It? Is it even Biblical? Does It Challenge? Does It Change? Does It Confront Issues? Does It Correct, Instruct, Reprove and Rebuke? What Does Your Message Say? 

Are People Coming to Your Church Because They Know They Will Hear an Impacting Message From God, or are They Simply Coming Because They’ll Hear an Inspirational Memo From You? 
One of the main problems facing the first-century Corinthian Church was Division!
When Paul wrote to Corinth, the church there was divided into at least four factions, each of them aligned with one of four Prominent Christian Leaders.

One group identified itself with the Apostle Paul. The members of this faction may have been attracted by Paul’s emphasis on his ministry to the Gentiles. Acts 9:15, “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a [deliberately] chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” (AMP); Acts 22:21, “And the Lord said to me, ‘Go, I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’” (AMP)

A second group identified itself with Apollos, one of Paul’s fellow missionaries. He may have attracted a following because of his eloquent speaking abilities (Acts 18:24-28, “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent and cultured man, and well versed in the [Hebrew] Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and being spiritually impassioned, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things about Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John; and he began to speak boldly and fearlessly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained more accurately to him the way of God [and the full story of the life of Christ]. And when Apollos wanted to go across to Achaia (southern Greece), the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples, [urging them] to welcome him gladly. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who, through grace, had believed and had followed Jesus as Lord and Savior, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public discussions, proving by the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed).” (AMP)

A third group identified itself with Cephas, another name for the Apostle Peter. This group may have been mostly of Jewish background. Galatians 2:8, “(for He who worked effectively for Peter and empowered him in his ministry to the Jews also worked effectively for me and empowered me in my ministry to the Gentiles).” (AMP)

A fourth group identified itself specifically with Christ. While on the surface, it might seem that this group was the “godly” contingent of the Corinthian Church, this may not have been the case at all. 

Paul does not commend any of the groups, not even the “I am of Christ” faction, suggesting that all of their professed allegiances were causing division and dissension in that church as well.
Paul then uses three rhetorical questions, each expecting a negative response, to show the absurdity of the Corinthian divisions: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Paul pointed out that in the act of baptism, a person Identifies Himself or Herself With Christ, PERIOD! Baptism does not align the believer with any Human Leader or with any Faction of Christianitybut with the Lord Himself! The Corinthians, who prided themselves on their wisdom and understanding, had misconstrued this truth. They had begun to identify themselves with the men who had performed the baptisms rather than with Jesus Himself!

Now, we might be tempted to write off this problem, attributing it to “those silly, immature Corinthians,” if it were not for the Fact that the Tendency to Exalt Dynamic Leaders is Still Prevalent Today! 

Are You a Voice Crying Out In The Wilderness For Repentance, Or Has Popularity Tamed Your Tongue?

Remember: It’s About the Message NOT The Messenger; And the Message Should Always Be About Jesus!

“And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race].” (Mark 16:15 AMP)

 “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMP);

“But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.” (2 Timothy 2:16 AMP);

 “From that time Jesus began to preach, crying out, Repent, (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17 AMP)

“Behind most church fights and unresolved divisions is ugly human pride. And the worst kind of pride is religious pride, the Pharisaical pride of self-righteousness and superiority.” (Alexander Strauch)

“Preachers who should be fishing for men are now too often fishing for compliments from men.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

 “If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.” (Oliver Goldsmith)

“Modern Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak that if it were poison it would not hurt anyone, and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone!” (A.W. Tozer)

Blessings
J.P. Olson