Righteous Indignation

A True Sense of Worth

December 30 – A True Sense of Worth

How does a Christian establish a true sense of worth? Spiritual gifts are important for building up the body of Christ, but we don’t all have the same gifts. Therefore, “God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body” (1 Cor. 12:24). Our individual talents make a contribution to the kingdom of God, but God has given five talents to some, two talents to some, and only one talent to others. Does that mean that only the five talented Christian can have any legitimate sense of worth? The answer is a definite no, and those who try to find their identity and sense of worth in gifts and talents run the risk of not accomplishing God’s primary goal for their lives, which is godly character.

Are intelligence, beauty, and performance the means by which we gain a sense of worth? The answer again is no. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the lost. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:27-29). There is certainly nothing wrong with being an intelligent, attractive performer who seeks to glorify God. It was God who gave those life endowments. He has not equally distributed gifts, talents, and intelligence to all, but He has equally distributed Himself. We all benefit by His promises and we all participate in His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).

Unlike this world, the ground before the cross is level. We all have the same standing in Christ. Those who add on to their faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love will never be ineffective or unproductive (see 2 Pet. 1:3f). Peter doesn’t mention any gifts or talents, because God is a fair God. We find our sense of worth by being a child of God and growing in character. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (vs. 3). Those who know who they are in Christ and have a life characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will have a legitimate sense of worth and they will not be unfruitful. “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (vs. 10).

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Goals and Desires

December 27 – Goals and Desires

To understand how we can successfully live the Christian life, we need to make a distinction between Godly goals and godly desires. A Godly goal is any specific orientation that reflects God’s purpose for our lives that is not dependent upon people or circumstances beyond our right or ability to control. The only person we have the right and the ability to control is ourselves. Nobody and nothing can keep us from being the person God created us to be and that is God’s goal for our lives. The only person who can keep me from reaching that goal is myself.

A godly desire is any specific result that depends on the cooperation of other people, the success of events or favorable circumstances that we have no right or ability to control. We cannot base our identity, success, or sense of worth on our desires, no matter how godly they may be, because we cannot control their fulfillment. God desires that all would repent and live (Ezek. 18:32), but not all will. God writes to His children so that they may not sin (1 Jn. 2:1), but don’t deem Him a failure when we do. God has no blocked goals and He has no goal for us that can be blocked, uncertain, or impossible.

If your goal as a parent is to have a happy, harmonious, Christian family, you will suffer a lot of emotional ups and downs, especially if you believe that your sense of worth is dependent upon it. That is a wonderful desire, but every member of that family can and will block that goal sometime. But what if you made it your goal to be the parent and spouse God called you to be? Who can block that goal? You are the only one who can. Suppose a well-meaning pastor has one primary goal and that is to triple the size of his church and win his community to Christ. Every member of the community can block that goal. Relentless in his pursuit, he starts manipulating his people and pressuring them to produce. That church will suffer a lot of pain until the pastor realizes that his goal is to become the pastor God created him to be, and that is the best way to reach the community for Christ.

There is nothing wrong with having Godly desires like reaching your community for Christ, but don’t base your identity and sense of worth on their fulfillment, and don’t try to control and manipulate people in order to accomplish it. We don’t have to get angry, anxious or depressed if our desires are not met, but we may feel disappointed. Life is full of disappointments, but they are likely His appointments to greater maturity in Christ. Other people don’t always cooperate and events don’t always go our way, but that is not keeping us from becoming the person He created us to be, and that is God’s will for our lives.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

A Humble Walk with God

December 26 – A Humble Walk With God

Walking by faith may be likened to the game of golf. Suppose a five-year-old child hits the ball 75 yards, but is 15 degrees off the center of the fairway. Because of the short distance, the ball will probably land in the short grass. Now the child is ten years old and hits the ball 200 yards. The ball is probably in the rough or in a hazard when he is 15 degrees off. A ball hit 300 yards with a 15-degree error could land the ball out of bounds. If what we believe is 15 degrees off from the word of God, there may not be a lot of negative consequences when we are young. But there will be if we continue walking in that direction. Suddenly we find ourselves in the rough or out of bounds. A mid-life crisis can leave one thinking, “I always believed if I did this or that I would be successful, satisfied, or fulfilled. As our culture drifts further away from our Judeo-Christian roots, the consequences of what our young people believe are showing up before they reach adulthood.

We don’t have to wait until life falls apart to find out whether our walk is true or not. The emotional response to what we think and believe is revealing whether we are on the right path. Remember that our emotions are predominantly a product of our thought life. Consciously or subconsciously we have certain ideas or goals in our minds for how we should live and what must happen in order for us to live a satisfied and successful life, and often our sense of worth is tied into it. Suppose you just found out that your goal to be promoted at work was being blocked by your supervisor. You would probably feel angry. What if your promotion was uncertain? You would probably feel anxious every time you thought about it. You would likely feel depressed if you thought your goal for a promotion was impossible.

We will be on an emotional roller coaster if we believe that our identity and sense of worth is dependent upon other people and the circumstances of life. If a pastor believes that his sense of worth is dependent upon the response of his congregation, then he may try to control or manipulate them into responding the way he wants. But every member of the congregation can block that goal. Suppose a mother believes that her sense of self-worth depends on having a harmonious, happy, Christian family. Every member of that family can and will block that goal.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience . . . self-control (Gal. 5:22,23). If our goal in life is to become the person God created us to be, then the fruit of the Spirit becomes evident in our lives. Regardless of circumstances, we would experience joy instead of depression, peace instead of anxiety, and patience instead of anger. When life is not going your way, as it wasn’t for Israel in Micah’s day, then learn to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Dr. Neil Anderson’s Blog – December 2013

12/2/13 – Seeking the Forgiveness of Others
12/3/13 – Forgiving Others
12/4/13 – Forgiving From the Heart
12/5/13 – Living by the Spirit
12/6/13 – Overcoming Legalism
12/9/13 – Overcoming Licentiousness
12/10/13 – Filled with the Spirit
12/11/13 – Releasing the Holy Spirit
12/12/13 – Living Under Grace
12/13/13 – The Christian’s Relationship to the Law
12/16/13 – Walking with God
12/17/13 – Led by the Spirit
12/18/13 – Enduring Hardship
12/19/13 – Letting Christ Rule in Our Hearts
12/20/13 – Choose the Truth
12/23/13 – Studying God’s Word
12/24/13 – Overcoming Anger
12/25/13 – The Incarnation
12/26/13 – A Humble Walk with God
12/27/13 – Goals and Desires
12/30/13 – A True Sense of Worth
12/31/13 – Righteous Indignation

The Incarnation

December 25 – The Incarnation

In the vast ocean of forever, there was one tidal wave of time. God stepped out of eternity into time in order that we may step out of time into eternity. It began with the incarnation, the sternest possible rebuke to humanity’s pride. Jesus humbled himself and became a man. It ended with the crucifixion, the sternest possible rebuke to humanity’s selfishness. Jesus gave up His life in order that we may live forever. How can we not thank Him? Christmas becomes merry when we accept His gift of eternal life, and we become happy when we decide to be like Him in this coming year. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Overcoming Anger

December 24 – Overcoming Anger

God-given emotions are like an indicator light on the dash of a car signaling something is wrong. Covering the light with a piece of tape would be suppression. Suppressing our emotions is dishonest and unhealthy. Stuffing our emotions is the cause for many psychosomatic illnesses. Smashing the light is indiscriminate expression. Venting our rage damages relationships and injures others. What we should do is look under the hood. That is acknowledgment. Spiritual maturity is dependent upon our emotional honesty. We can’t be right with God and not be real. If necessary, God may have to make us real in order to be right with Him.

Saul was angry, because David was getting more applause than he was (1 Samuel 18). Insecure people get angry when their social status is being negatively affected. Saul certainly didn’t look under the hood, and he vented his anger on David. A little self-inventory may have prevented all of that. David was the best friend of Saul’s son. He had saved Israel from the Philistine giant, and he had successfully done whatever Saul sent him to do (vs. 5). David was secure because the Lord was with him (vs. 12). People who are secure in Christ are less prone to anger, because their identity and sense of worth are found in Christ, not in the success or failure of others, nor in the positive or negative circumstances of life.

Saul was bitter after his confrontation with Samuel (1 Sam. 15). The Lord had rejected Saul as king over Israel for his rebellion and disobedience, and told Samuel to anoint David as king. There is no evidence that Saul ever repented of his sin or forgave David for up-staging him. At the heart of angry people is a bitter spirit. Such unresolved anger gives the devil an opportunity. After venting his anger toward David, “The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul” (vs. 10). The same could happen to us if we do not forgive from our heart. Jesus said the unforgiving servant would be turned over to the jailers [tormentors] to be tortured (Matt. 18:34). The Greek word for jailer is used almost exclusively for spiritual torment in the New Testament. That is why Paul said, “I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:10,11).

Paul wrote, “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:26,27). Our spiritual and mental health depends upon how well we learn to handle our emotions. It is not a sin to be angry, but in your anger do not sin. If you wish not to sin, then be angry the way Christ was, be angry at sin.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Studying God’s Word

December 23 – Studying God’s Word

If we are going to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we have to be a student of God’s word. There are no short cuts. Nobody else can study for us. Old ways of living in this world have to be replaced by new ways of living in the kingdom of God. The lies of this world have to be replaced by the truth of God’s word. God’s word sitting on the shelf will not transform us. The truth has to be in our hearts. It is not enough to think about Scripture. We have to think Scripturally. The wise person sees life from God’s perspective.

Ezra devoted himself to studying God’s word, but he also took the next step and that is the most important part of learning. He observed the law of the Lord (Ezra 7:10). We learn far more by doing than we do by just hearing. People retain only about ten percent of what they hear, twenty percent of what they see, but ninety percent of what they do. Only when we have incorporated the word of God into our lives are we in any position to teach others. Teachers have to live according to what they profess to believe in order to be effective in ministering to others. James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” (Jms. 1:22-25).

The truth of God’s word is not supposed to be intellectually discussed without appropriation. The goal is transformation; not information. The truth is supposed to enter our hearts, set us free, and transform our lives. Interpersonal conflicts arise and our witness is compromised when we indoctrinate people with knowledge beyond their spiritual maturity. We will be perceived as noisy gongs or clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13:1) if we have no love. A lot of noise, but no substance. Studying God’s word is not an intellectual exercise. It is an interaction with God. The living Word transforms our lives, and it becomes evident in the way we live.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Choose the Truth

December 20 – Choose the Truth

Being transformed by the renewing of our minds requires a proper orientation towards God. Circumstances may not always allow us to be happy, but we can always rejoice in the Lord. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and this inner joy can be experienced in every circumstance, because “the Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). Paul admonishes us to get rid of our anxious thoughts by turning to God. He uses four words to describe our communion with God. Prayer is a general term describing a believer’s approach to God. Petition is a request for a specific need. Thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart that should always accompany prayer. Requests are specific things we ask for. With such an orientation, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (vs. 7).

When you find yourself thinking negative or immoral thoughts, just confess it to God. Don’t try to rebuke every negative thought. Doing so would be like the person in the middle of an ocean trying to keep twelve corks submerged while treading water. He should ignore the corks and swim to shore. We are not called to dispel the darkness. We are called to turn on the light. You win the battle for your mind by choosing the truth. Trying not to think negative thoughts is futile, because it just reinforces the negative thought.

Being created in the image of God, we have the capacity to choose. That means we can choose to believe or not believe, and we can choose what we want to think about. It is not enough to turn to God. We have to assume responsibility for our own thoughts. God will enable the process, but He will not do our thinking for us. Paul admonishes us to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (vs. 8). These six objects for our thoughts are excellent and praiseworthy. That does not mean that we deny reality or live in a fantasy world where everything turns out right. Being out of touch with reality is the first sign of mental illness. A mentally healthy person is in touch with reality and God is the ultimate reality, but there is also the reality of this fallen world.

We need to spend time with God away from the distractions of this world. There we find the peace that passes all understanding. But when we return to our daily responsibilities, we cannot just sit around and try to have positive thoughts. We have to put our thoughts into practice. Everything we do is a product of our thoughts. In other words, we don’t do anything without first thinking it. When we face the harsh realities of this world, we need to think, “Is this true or is it not true and how can I live the truth and speak the truth in love?” “What is the noble thing to do, i.e. how can I respond in a dignified manner that is worthy of respect?” “What is the right thing to do?” “What is the morally pure thing that I could do?” “What could I do that would promote peace and good will?” “What could I do that would be positive and constructive.”

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Letting Christ Rule in Our Hearts

December 19 – Letting Christ Rule In Our Hearts

Psalm 119 is a devotional on the word of God. It is has 22 divisions all headed by a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The Psalmist said, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (vss. 9,11). Paul expands upon this instruction in Col. 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Rule means to act like an umpire. How do we let the peace of Christ arbitrate in our hearts? By letting the word of Christ dwell within us (Col. 3:16).

Suppose you have stored a lot of filth in your mind. One day you decide to clean up your mind. The moment you make that decision, the battle got worse. As long as you are mentally giving into tempting thoughts, you will hardly feel the struggle. The battle begins the moment you decide to resist the tempting thoughts and choose to clean up your mind. How can we do that? Imagine your mind to be a pot filled with coffee. Because you chose to mix coffee grounds with the water in the pot, the liquid is dark, dirty, smelly, and opaque. There is no way you can filter out the coffee from the water, just like there is no delete button in your mind.

Now suppose there is a bowl of crystal clear ice next to the pot, with a sign on it saying, “The word of God.” There is no way you can dump the whole bowel into the pot at one time. But you can take one cube of ice per day and put it in the pot. At first you may not notice any difference, but if you continued to put in one cube per day, it wouldn’t be long before the liquid begins to clear up. If you did it long enough, you wouldn’t be able to taste, smell, or see the coffee in the pot. It is still there, but it has been diluted by the word of God. That will work provided you don’t put one ice cube in along with one scoop of coffee every day.

Our minds are like computers. If we put garbage in, we will get garbage out. The process of renewing our mind often begins with a couple steps forward and one step backward. We spend time in God’s word during our devotions, but then we go back into the world for work and leisure where we are mentally assaulted again. Learning to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ takes time and commitment, but it can be done. The next day we take three steps forward and one back, then four steps forward and one back. If we stay committed to the process, it will soon become 20, 30 and 40 steps forward and one back.

The Spirit of God will lead us into all truth if we choose that path, and He will convict us if we choose the wrong path. Make a commitment to be like the Psalmist, who wrote, “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (vss. 14-16).

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog