Thursday, January 7, 2016

Raising the Bar – Part 1 – The Higher Calling of God

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”


This week Michael writes that the politically correct of this sin-sick world always attempt to silence the gospel of Jesus Christ. The leaders of the temple in Jerusalem commanded Peter not to speak in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”– Acts 4:19-20. As Jesus said, "If we don't speak, even the rocks will cry out" – Luke 19:40. The devil can stand anything except the gospel of the Word of God rightly divided. Even the demons fear and tremble at the truth of Jesus Christ, the Living Word. Many aspire, but few attain. Many begin well, but few end well.  Paul said that I discipline my body to keep it under control, so that I might run well and then finish well – 1 Corinthians 9:27. In the disciplined walk, we need to condition ourselves to follow after Christ and not be distracted by the things of this fallen world.  Paul saw all things in light of eternity.  In Philippians 3:14 he said, "I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The path to the heart of God begins with total abandonment of self and absolute trust.  

The mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus is a high bar. The Christian church in America has lowered the bar to appeal to the "average guy and gal." What is the characteristic of the "average" guy and gal?  Average means "typical of the group." By this definition the average guy or gal is lukewarm, neither hot nor cold.  The church at Laodicea was lukewarm. They were an "average" church. Because they were neither hot nor cold, God said that he would vomit them out of his mouth. Church is an easy target for the adversary (the devil) when their "target demographic" is the "average guy and gal." If a church is focused on donations, age-specific outreach programs, missions, and attendance, then its members miss the mark of the high calling. There is nothing wrong with serving and giving to the "work of the ministry." However, God does not want your money or your obligation, rather He wants your heart.

Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”


God did not call his men and women to be "Casual." Casual Christians become casualties in the spiritual warfare. "Casual" means feeling little or no concern, indifferent, and lacking a high degree of emotion.  A casual person is Spiritless, careless, reckless, and apathetic. To the “Casual Shepherds” of the flock of Israel God said in Ezekiel 34:2-4, "Woe to you shepherds who feed yourselves but not the flock.  You have not bound up the broken, nor healed the diseased, nor sought those who were lost.  Rather, you have forcefully and cruelly ruled over them.” In Ezekiel 22:30, the people of the nation of Israel had turned their backs on the truth of the Word of God.  God said through his prophet, "I look for a man who will stand in the gap and build up the hedge wall so I would not have to destroy Israel but I found no one."

Let's continue Michael's message on "raising the bar" tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian

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