The Weekly PowerBreak – “The Battle with Self Sabotage”

There could be a variety of reasons behind a person missing the mark, seeming to sabotage what they are doing or the direction they are going. Sometimes a person is trying to live up to expectations to which they have not really been called. Others advanced way beyond their level of faith and the future looks scary. I have seen cases where a person seemed to be more given to the sin of sloth which becomes a means to self-sabotage to true progress in life.

In the case of Jeremiah, the prophet, he was discouraged when his faith was tested by the way God was handling things, so he expressed his dismay to God.

Jeremiah 12:1 (ESV) — 1 Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

Of course, this action was really a kind of self-sabotage to his ministry because as a spokesman for God he needed to believe God and trust Him; therefore, God challenged him to consider his complaint.

Jeremiah 12:5 (ESV) — 5 “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?”

What a great challenge! If you are really called to something, the small challenges become a proving ground to advance, not a means to give up. Jeremiah had a much superior calling to bring a great message to an even larger number of people.

What little thing has you tripped up in life and why is that getting to you? Is it a lack of faith? Is it the sin of being slothful? God often uses the little areas of our lives to test us and prepare us for the next level. God proves His people through testing and when we prove faithful, He is glorified as He entrusts us with greater responsibility.

Luke 16:10–13 (ESV) — 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Mark it down that God is constantly testing and challenging all of us. As He does, He is giving us opportunities to overcome whatever tendency we have that is sabotaging what He is doing in our lives. How great to come to the end of the way and know you did not give in and quit but kept fighting through each difficulty or challenge proving yourself faithful.

2 Timothy 4:7–8 (ESV) — 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

 

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Laboring To Rest”

Have you ever had one of those nights when you thought you were tired but couldn’t get to sleep because your mind was really active? Or you woke up in the middle of the night but couldn’t get back to sleep because you thought of one thing after another? Although the application is entirely different, the words of Hebrews 4:11 sound applicable, “let us therefore strive to enter that rest…”

Hebrews 4:11 (ESV) — 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

There is a plethora of studies that show the need for sleep and the benefits of getting a good night of sleep, yet a common complaint among the young and the old is how tired everyone is and how they long for good rest. Perhaps the words from the book of Ecclesiastes would apply to our society that seems to value comfort and ease over anything that would be least considered hard work or labor.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

So maybe our lack of rest is because we focus on the “easy life,” and take advantage of all the gadgets and devices that make life easier. Whereas, working hard physically will help us get a good night of rest, so does a labor or striving to do what is necessary helps us get proper rest. Things like going to bed at a decent hour, turning off devices long enough to calm our minds, proper hygiene, room temperature, keeping out light, etc. help to assure proper physical rest.

On the spiritual side, the words of Hebrews 4:11 teach us that entering into the rest that God promises, takes effort – not to earn it, but to submit to find it.

Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV) — 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When Jesus, by the working of the Holy Spirit in your heart calls you to “come,” you will find the promised rest when you respond, when you apply yourself to walking along beside Him, yoked together if you please, and apply yourself to learning from Him. Naturally speaking, a person would not even care about coming to Christ, walking along beside Him, nor learning from Him but those who are laboring under the heavy load of trying to find a way to please God because inside they know they need to please Him, then the Gospel message of the finished work of Christ in reconciling us to God by His work, brings us joy in knowing there is a promised rest. So why don’t we find that promised rest? Because we actually work at things that will not satisfy that longing which is like the way we work at staying up late trying to pack in all we can in a day and wonder why we can’t sleep at night.

Isaiah 55:1–2 (ESV) — 1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

What should we do?  Simply stop and assess your situation. Like the need for physical sleep and rest if not satisfied will run us into the ground, so the need for spiritual rest will likewise rob us of our joy in the Lord. The answer is found in striving or doing whatever it takes to come to Him, to walk with Him, and to learn from Him. The result is rest for your soul. Wouldn’t that be a delight?

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “The Rebekah Principle”

What is some great advice for those entering the workforce, taking on a new job,  or going off to college? How about the “Rebekah Principle.”

Genesis 24:10–20 (ESV) — 10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. 11 And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” 15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels.

This is quite the story of Abraham’s servant searching for a bride for Isaac. It’s the story of the servant depending upon God and the story of how the doing what was necessary and then some opened the door for great blessing. Hence many people call this the “Rebekah principle.”

This was no easy accomplishment, camels drink quite a bit of water and there would have been a caravan of camels. The extra, beyond giving the man a drink, meant an hour or more of intensive work but she thought nothing of it. Nor do people who practice the Rebekah principle at work, in marriage, in workouts, and in life. You just do what is necessary and always a little more.

I heard a commentator talk about this lacking in today’s business world. Where people would do what was expected and more, today he said it seems people are looking to do as little as possible. Hence anyone who practices this principle, although he did not call it by name, find great success because it makes a person really stand out from the rest.

Let’s face it. It’s easy to do just what is necessary and walk away. You haven’t cheated anyone. Well, when you know you could have added more, you have really cheated yourself. Rebekah didn’t do the extra watering of the camels to gain anything for herself because she had no idea who was asking for water and what his mission was. Nevertheless, by doing the extra, a door was opened for her to be part of God’s covenant line along with numerous blessings that came with that.

Once you do what you need to do today, think of this Rebekah principle and how you might add a little more on top of what you have done.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Where are those who are like Barnabas?”

As I sat at lunch with a friend the other day, he made and interesting observation and said, “where are the Barnabases today?” The thought of that really triggered my mind to think of how nice it would be to have someone come along beside me in ministry who was like Barnabas. Not just me, but everyone needs someone like Barnabas in their life. We are flooded today with critics. It seems people, even Christians are on the sidelines waiting to pounce on just about everyone with criticism. It’s almost like the “sport of choice.” How sad to criticize and pile a person who makes a mistake or is cast down. Indeed, “where are the Barnabases today?”

Let’s take a look at this man named Barnabas in the Bible and see if we can learn a thing or two about being a blessing to others in the “spirit of Barnabas.”

There was a man described in the book of Acts in the Bible as the “son of encouragement” whose name was Barnabas.

Acts 4:32–37 (ESV) — 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

The “son of encouragement” lived up to his name. When God took an enemy of the church, Saul of Tarsus, a man who persecuted believers and made him a follower of Jesus Christ, people were skeptical of his conversion and quite frankly scared of him. Barnabas steps up to encourage and defend him, paving the way of acceptance which furthered the ministry of the man now known as “Paul.”

Acts 9:26–27 (ESV) — 26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.

Barnabas continued living up to his reputation as the “son of encouragement” when his nephew Mark wanted to travel with Paul and Barnabas. Paul was not too keen on the idea since Mark had previously deserted them when things became a little difficult. After some words of disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, the son of encouragement stood with the rejected Mark so much that he was willing to separate from his dear friend Paul, and travel with Mark.

Acts 15:36–40 (ESV) — 36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

This account may seem small or insignificant, but this is believed to be the same Mark who spent time with Peter, the same Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark, and the same Mark of whom Paul wrote later was very useful for ministry.

What about Barnabas is needed today? We need someone who will believe in us, stand by us, defend us, and be willing to suffer loss as a result of standing with us. Quite frankly, that is a definition of a true friend.

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) — 24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Of course, that is a perfect description of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the ultimate source of encouragement.

Back to Barnabas and how we might find someone to be a Barnabas to us. There’s good advice in the proceeding verse in the KJV.

Proverbs 18:24 (KJV) — 24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

If you need a Barnabas in your life, someone who will defend you in the midst being surrounded by critics, then be a Barnabas to someone else. If you take up the mantle of Barnabas and stand by your friend, pointing them to the One who sticks closer than a brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, you’ll soon realize there are people around you who are like Barnabas, but you may not have realized it when you focused on your need, rather than on being a Barnabas to someone. In other words, when we imitate the real son of encouragement, the Lord Jesus Christ, we find the blessing of His consolation, which often comes through others.

Where are the Barnabases today? Look first in the mirror.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Worship 101”

Corporate worship seems to be downplayed in our current society.  By corporate worship I mean the value of being part of the church body worshipping together as one body, rather than people worshipping as individuals in a meeting place with other individuals. It seems corporate worship has been devalued to the place where singing seems to be optional, and the essence of coming together is to gather information and leave feeling good. Therefore, it would be good to go back to recover the basics or worship.  Psalm 33 is a great place to go for the basics.

Psalm 33:1–6 (ESV) — 1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. 2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 4 For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Notice first the imperatives or commands that are listed. We are called upon to “shout” which is to express great joy in the Lord with passion, we are to give thanks to God with instruments and song, we are to keep things fresh with a new song or keep from getting in such a rut that we just go through the motions, we are to do whatever we do with excellence applying skills and preparation, and we are to sing or play with great passion which is again expressed with the call for “loud shouts.”

How would you grade a recent worship service in which you were a part? How would you grade yourself? You may not have ever thought of such imperatives to attending to worship, mainly because it’s really not something that is taught. People have become used to the fact that most churches are just happy to have their presence in attendance so have become consumers, even shopping around looking for the church from which they can “get the most.” The call in Psalm 33 is to apply the effort to give everything you have to the worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God. And the scripture says … “it befits the upright.”

Praise, adoration, and gratitude are beneficial to every child of God. Another translation says it is “comely” or makes a person attractive in the sight of God. Now we know the Bible is clear that in ourselves, there is nothing in us that would make us attractive to God. It is by His sovereign grace and pleasure that He looks to anyone of us.

Titus 3:3–7 (ESV) — 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Think about this: when you praise God, the scriptures teach that you are “blessing Him” by speaking well of Him. How does it make you feel when people speak well of you? How do you think it makes God feel when His children actually take heed to His word and act accordingly?

Psalm 100:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Secondly, consider the impact of gratitude upon yourself. It has been proven that gratitude and the expression of gratitude feeds the most powerful emotion you can have. No wonder the Bible is clear to “be grateful.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) — 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Thirdly, consider the impact of praising God upon others around you in the corporate worship service. As you are part of the body giving everything you have to singing and making melody in your heart to God, you are ministering to the people around, even teaching them.

Colossians 3:16–17 (ESV) — 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Here’s how Psalm 33 describes the work of song upon the church body in the building of faith, love, and hope:

Psalm 33:20–22 (ESV) — 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

The next time you attend a worship service, think about the impact your singing has upon God’s view of you, your emotions, as well as the encouragement to others to follow in the way of the Lord. Sing out with all you have or if you play and sing, do it with excellence. Prepare for the worship service through prayer, thought and meditation upon the ministry of worship. Encourage others to be active participants and not just spectators. Above all, come as a ministering servant and you will leave being blessed for blessing God and others.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker