Archive for the ‘spiritual maturity’ Category

Patience: A Key Trait of Successful People

May 29th, 2017

A fool lets fly with all his temper, but a wise person keeps it back…Do you see someone who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:11,20 NET)

The Book of Proverbs teaches us godly principles of life. To read from it daily instructs us in the manners and key traits of successful people. God does want His children to succeed in life and we do this on at least three levels: inwardly with ourselves, outwardly with our careers and relationships with others, and upwardly in our thoughts and attitudes toward God.

The trait of patience is a key trait of successful people. They must learn to wait. They must learn the value of delayed gratification. They will express this value in any number of ways: the willingness to undergo years of schooling and training for their career; the willingness to do tedious and careful work under control when everyone is insisting that they hurry it up, the willingness to lay foundations in their heart and in their work even though it takes extra time; the willingness to bear with the failings of those around them, even their own failings, in order to teach and train and prepare someone (or themselves) for future success.

Patience is an expression of faith, especially faith in God. It is the faith that somethings are more important than immediately having something inferior or showing progress to others. So it values such matters as love, inner peace, Integrity, honesty, compassion, maturity, and righteousness. The key characteristic of Christians who are growing in this trait is regular time with the Lord in prayer and devotion. They make (1) the upward growth with God their first priority, (2) their inner growth in themselves the second, and (3) then and only then they place the outer growth of relationships and career as their priority. Mature people are honest people and they seek to be somebody inwardly before they are propelled into positions of leadership.

There are times and situations, of course, that demand immediate actions, that call us to respond quickly, and people of action get things done. Calm reflection in the face of a burning house is ludicrous. But successful people are able to distinguish between emergencies and normality. The fool always sees the house on fire, always lives in a panic, always gives into the demands, constantly lives in the fear of failure. Think of the fireman, or the emergency medical personnel, who are the most help in an emergency and have gone through years of training and constant preparation just for such events.

The one who lives in constant fear, in a constant state of impatience, has failed first within his own soul in the neglect of inner soul growth, and he has failed more significantly in the neglect of growth in his relationship with God. If on the other hand we can make these two the matters of first importance - specially our relationship with God - if we can succeed first upwardly, then inwardly, then we will be prepared to succeed outwardly with others and in our careers.

A close friend asked me to pray for him not long ago because he had received an invitation to serve as worship leader of a great church with a famous pastor. (I will omit their names.) At first he was honored and excited for this opportunity - who wouldn’t be? Then I asked him about his inner motivations and about what was God saying to his heart. The famous pastor, like all men, may die, or, even worse, may have a moral failing. Is the calling to the large church more than a mere desire to be in a position of fame and notoriety? He may go and see that his life, his family, and ministry have been thrown into a situation similar to Job. If God is calling him, he should go, but if it is impatience, a desire for personal glory, or any selfish or fearful motivation, he should decline.

All good things that are worth doing in life seem to be hard things to do, and they demand mature and patient people to accomplish them. The difficult circumstances and the hard jobs need people who do not panic in the midst of storms, who calmly keep their eyes on Jesus and trust in His acceptance of them, that lust not after fame or fortune or power, who stand secure in the love of God and are willing to obey Him even if all others oppose them.  No one ever truly succeeds in life until he has first succeeded with God through faith in Christ, and secondly has put his own heart before the Lord to grow and mature. Then and only then are we ready to tackle the difficult and challenging. Successful people do things not so that they will look good, but because they are important things and must get done.

Impatience is a sign of immaturity. Patience is a sign of maturity. As Rudyard Kipling wrote:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Authenticity in the Faith, discipleship, spiritual maturity , ,

Territorial Spirits

December 19th, 2016

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:13 NKJV)

The topic of territorial spirits has been treated by Christians by giving it both too much and not enough emphasis. The Bible does, however, present this spiritual reality in Daniel 10:13 and 10:20, and in Mark 5:10.

Over-emphasis leads to error: One of the tendencies of those who put too much emphasis on territorial spirits is to go about trying to cast these demons out, seeking out demons themselves to engage them. But there are no examples in scripture of people doing this. This method leads to error. We are not to go out and challenge demons but rather to take a defensive stance against his attacks on us. James teaches us to resist the devil, not to attack the devil (James 4:7). Ephesians 6:11 teaches us to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “Standing” is different from “attacking.” And though we do take on Satan’s kingdom whenever we preach and teach and evangelize, and though we do have the power to even cast out demons of people possessed by them (Luke 10:17 and Acts 16:17-18), the emphasis of our ministry must be the preaching of the truth of God.

We have the expression, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” and it comes from this biblical teaching. Jude especially warns us of the foolishness of us seeking to directly provoke the devil.

But even when Michael the archangel was arguing with the devil and debating with him concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” But these men do not understand the things they slander, and they are being destroyed by the very things that, like irrational animals, they instinctively comprehend. (Jude 1:9-10 NET)

The emphasis of the scripture is to preach the gospel, to teach the truth, to resist the deceptions of the devil, and to stand in the full armor of God the work of the devil as we depend on the power of the Spirit of God to enable us. We are not helpless - we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Rom. 8:37) - yet the power to resist comes from God, not us.

Satan’s kingdom is a genuine evil spiritual power that we are not to underestimate or play around with. God is greater than the devil, and Christ in us is greater than the devil that is in the world, but one of the chief tricks of the devil is to appeal to our lusts and our pride. Many a Christian has been brought down by in his pride overestimating his own power, rather than by confessing his own weakness and depending on God. Jude’s word was that not even Michael the faithful Archangel was so presumptuous.

Under-emphasis also creates problems: Yet there is something to this matter. It is not a figment of people’s imaginations but a genuine spiritual reality that is taught in scripture. Anyone who has traveled and ministered in Christ’s name to different nations will be aware that different cultures have different spiritual problems. Though Jesus Christ is the solution for all people and for all nations, there still are different ways that people are spiritually bound. Paul referred to all the world’s peoples when he wrote:

But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:2-4 NET)

This blinding comes in different shapes to different nations. Some are steeped in fear and superstition, bound by Satan’s deception as to the reality of the spirit world. Some are addicted to strong emotions and uncontrollable passions. Some are deceived in that they deny spiritual powers exist at all. Some are controlled by greed. Some are fatalistic and angry. And we can go on and on describing the unique traits of the different peoples of the world.

We may pass these differences off to the peculiarities of climate, culture, and history, as well as some unique individuals who have come along, and I suppose all of these things play some part. But could it also be that these differences reflect the unique touches of the different territorial spirits? Satan’s kingdom does have organization, as Paul wrote, we fight against: “the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Eph. 6:12).

Regardless of the manner of deception and spiritual blindness and enslavement, all the world needs Jesus, and Jesus can save and set free all who call upon Him in truth. This should call for some patience on our part, and not to be quick to judge or to think lowly of people from different cultures. We may notice their faults, while they notice ours, but neither of us have walked in the others’ shoes and can only say as Paul did:

And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest. (Eph. 2:1-3 NET)

But God in His mercy in Christ Jesus forgives us and sets us free. And that is the important factor.

Spiritual Growth, spiritual maturity , ,