The Weekly PowerBreak – “Taking Instruction”

There is something in all of us that makes us resist taking instruction. It’s called pride and the Bible warns us about falling into the trap.

Proverbs 15:32 (ESV) — 32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Proverbs 13:18 (ESV) — 18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.

When is the last time you heard a proven way of doing things but decided to try it on your own and blow off the advice you just heard? When is the last time you tuned out what you were hearing while thinking, I don’t need to do that, I can just…

That’s what people do in regard to clear instruction in the Scripture and that makes it clear that they are satisfied with living in darkness rather than light.

John 3:17–19 (ESV) — 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Do you love instruction? When you get instruction, do you actually receive it and more importantly do you act upon it?

Several years ago, I was ministering in Brazil and my friend who was driving us to each appointment set out on a 15-hour trip without specific directions to the destination within the city to which we were going. However, when we arrived in the city where I was to preach he asked directions and unbelievably he got us to the exact location and on time. All it took was being humble enough to ask for instruction, then respond by acting upon those instructions.

How diligent are you when it comes to acting upon instruction? Do you follow it, or do you put it aside and try to come up with your own way? That’s the way of pride and it’s sure to fail.

Proverbs 11:2 (ESV) — 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 29:23 (ESV) — 23 One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

How about when it comes to God’s Word? Are you willing to take the instruction? It’s filled with instruction, as you know.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV) — 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Whether we read and study the Word of God, or we sit under the preaching or teaching of God’s Word, we are to understand this is God’s instruction and we are to take it and act upon it.

2 Timothy 4:1–4 (ESV) — 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

James 1:19–25 (ESV) — 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

May you be a wise person this week by taking instruction when it is presented, by pushing away your pride and receiving what is said, and by acting upon it without procrastination. It’s the way to have a great week.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “I’ll Just Take My Ball And Go Home”

Have you noticed how this passive aggressive action seems to be most prevalent today? People seem ready to walk out on marriages, contracts, and vows at the drop of a hat. And what is behind their actions of leaving? More often than not is a desire to hurt the people or organization for not doing things in accordance with their way of thinking. It’s very much like a child who owns the ball with whom other children are playing, but when he doesn’t get his way he picks the ball up and walks off.

What would Jesus say to such action? How is this addressed in the Bible?

We know there are times when there will be conflict with others no matter what the organization be it in the world, in marriage, or in the church. The Bible teaches clearly that we are all sinners and even those who have been saved by the grace of God and have the power of the Spirit within, they still have an old and selfish nature that seeks to be predominant and wants to hurt all that stand in the way. Therefore, when two or more people are involved you have multiple sin natures at war within which often moves without.

Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 8:7–11 (ESV) — 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Even so, the Bible is also clear that we are to do all that we can to live at peace or get along with others, and we do that by living in submission to God’s word, thereby submitting to one another.

Romans 12:18–21 (ESV) — 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Philippians 2:1–4 (ESV) — 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

There is no room for quitting and seeking to hurt others by taking your ball and leaving. Again, that passive aggressive behavior is not Christian and will only make you an isolated miserable person that is lacking in basic relationship skills.

Let’s go back to a basic premise that is often overlooked. The most hurtful passive aggressive seems to center around relationships where a vow has been made, particularly in marriages and church relationships. It’s almost like the enemy works at tearing apart the family and the church but God has spoken on this as well.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 (ESV) — 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.

Ephesians 5:18–21 (ESV) — 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:22–28 (ESV) — 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Matthew 18:10–14 (ESV) — 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) — 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

God has a way of dealing with difficult situations and that is why the word submission is used. We submit to one another, even when a person is wrong, we submit to their need of being rescued by apply the word of God in understanding and love. Never does the Scripture exhort us to seek another’s hurt by walking away. Passive aggression is NOT biblical, therefore does not come from God or honor God when applied. Passive aggression actions never solve anything and only create greater problems.

May God help us all to stop and think before we “take our ball and go.” May He help us live by His word and do all that we can to be at peace, promote peace, and honor Him by submitting to His word and the needs of others.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Did Jesus really mean it?”

Jesus seemed very serious about being “all in” when it comes to following Him or serving Him. Take a look at the following and see what you think:

Luke 9:23 (ESV) — 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:62 (ESV) — 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 14:25–33 (ESV) — 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

What does a true follower of Jesus Christ look like?

He or she looks like someone who is totally sold out to Him. After all, to be saved is to look to Him as “Lord,” which means sovereign ruler or the one who has complete charge over you as in He is the Master and you are the servant.

Romans 10:8–10 (ESV) — 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

OK, then what does Jesus say about following Him?

First, it’s costly – you are to deny yourself. That means as you are planning your schedule and managing your time, you deny what you want on His behalf.

Secondly, there is the taking up your cross, whatever it is in your life that is difficult, you use to honor Him by dying to self and living to Him.

Thirdly, you are not to keep looking back or around for that matter and thinking about what you are missing in life. When Lot’s wife looked back at what she had left in Sodom, she turned to a pillar of salt. Jesus makes it known you can’t move forward in serving Him by looking back.

Fourthly, Jesus made it clear you are to count the cost before following Him. Too many don’t count the cost and they quit when things get rough. When you go to countries where Christians are persecuted, you’ll find that people who follow Christ know exactly the cost. They know that following Jesus will likely mean prison, beating, and probably death BUT they are glad to do it because they have counted the cost.

Fifthly, Jesus said unless you are willing to renounce all that you have you haven’t really stepped out to follow Him.

He’s not asking you to follow Him out of convenience but follow Him sacrificially. Can you truly say your life demonstrates one who is following Christ in that manner or are you holding back, serving Him when it’s convenient? He is calling for a life of continual sacrifice.

Speaking of sacrifice, notice how the apostle Paul calls followers of Christ to make a sacrifice:

Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The passage above is a call to offer yourself to be consumed by the Lord Jesus Christ because it’s only reasonable when you consider all that has gone into your salvation. Otherwise if you are not consumed by Christ as a totally sold out follower, you’ll be consumed by the world and you don’t want that.

So, what is it going to be? Half-hearted service or an “all in” follower of Christ.

Consider these examples:

Mark 1:16–20 (ESV) — 16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Simon, Andrew, James, and John were successful professional fisherman. Jesus called and immediately they left what they were doing and followed Jesus. That is what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ, “all in.”

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Participating In Holy Combat”

We sometimes balk at the phrase, “prayer warrior,” because we have lost sight of what happens when we pray so when we hear that phrase we think the person thinks they are at war with God in prayer. And if you hear the way some people pray or talk about prayer it seems like they are at war with God as they make demands and seem to tell God what to do. On the other hand, “prayer warrior” seems quite adequate when we consider the part of prayer in spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 6:10–12 (ESV) — 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

It sounds pretty clear that our battles in life involve much more than we can see or touch because it’s a spiritual battle. Once a person is blessed by God to receive a new heart, one that fears God and is submissive to Him, he/she is a new creation, enjoying the blessing of the “saved” and the assurance of victory in the battles of life as the gift of faith is applied with the tools that God has given us to fight the spiritual battle throughout life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) — 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

1 John 5:4–5 (ESV) — 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

With what do we fight the spiritual warfare?

Ephesians 6:14–17 (ESV) — 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

You will notice the above is all defensive armor, with the exception of the word of God, about which I shall consider in a moment. Look again at the list but first the imperative to “stand” that simply means be ready to hold your ground. The point being if you are not working at holding your ground you will be pushed around in this spiritual battle. But remember you are not standing on your own strength and power, it is the power of God that enables you to stand and keeps you while you put forth the effort to hold your ground. Notice then the call for effort in applying the battle suit of armor. There’s the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the Gospel, shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. You’ll notice that the armor does not cover the back since you’re to hold your ground or advance, not turn and run from the enemy. Don’t stop there. There are two pieces of the Christian armor that are offensive which are as affective as the stones in David’s sling as he slew Goliath. The offensive weapons are the word of God and prayer.

Ephesians 6:17–20 (ESV) — 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Did you realize the more you are in God’s word, the more you are attacking the powers of darkness in the world, the flesh, and the devil? Remember when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil and each time Jesus’ weapon of warfare against temptation was the word of God. No wonder the Psalmist said the word of God will keep you from sin.

Psalm 119:11 (ESV) — 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Along with the word of God, the other offensive weapon against the powers of darkness is prayer. Too many times we act like prayer is almost a useless activity because it seems so meek to humbly seek for God’s grace and favor. Did you realize however, that when God’s people pray they are actually “reigning on the earth?”

Revelation 5:9–10 (ESV) — 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

This is the song of the redeemed to the Lamb of God, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom they have been ransomed from eternal damnation and have been made a kingdom of priests that reign on the earth. What do priests do? They represent others before God. How do they reign? God uses the prayers of His people to bring about His sovereign plan and because they can pray anywhere, at any time, under any condition, and no one can stop them, they are reigning upon the earth.

No wonder then we are told the prayers of the saints come as sweet incense to God and are a vital part of worship.

Revelation 5:6–8 (ESV) — 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Now that should enliven your prayer life!

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Almost Won’t Cut It”

It was a feeling of frustration for a four-year-old boy, who every time he visited his grandmother, longed to be in the school playground behind her house. The playground seemed within easy reach. However, a six-foot chain link fence appeared to be the monster for a four-year-old that kept him from his heart’s desire. One day the boy could take it no more.  He overcame his fear and climbed the fence. Straining to get to the top, he pulled himself up, put one leg over, paused for just a brief moment, and got stuck on the top of the fence. Sitting on the top allowed the rough edges of the metal chain link to puncture his jeans and being unable to untangle himself and getting more frightened by the height with each passing moment, he did what any four-year-old would do.  “Help! Help”, he screamed. When his father came to his rescue, his father’s words were simply, “Son, go one way or the other, but don’t just sit there.”

As I said later in life when recalling this event, “I don’t know how many times that happened before I got enough sense to not stop half way but just keep going when I hit the half-way point!”

It’s like that in life.  We get all enthused about a course of action we are going to take, take some initial steps, even make some progress toward our goal when it hits us that we aren’t there yet, and we get discouraged. The advice is the same as my father gave to me while sitting on the fence, “Son, go one way or the other, but don’t just sit there.”

The Bible is clear that fence sitting – straddling between believing God and moving forward and stifled by unbelief just doesn’t cut it with God.

James 1:5-8 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

It’s like the picture in the Old Testament when Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.  Once they hit the half-way point, the opposition came out and discouragement set in.

Nehemiah 4:6-7 (ESV) 6 So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. 7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry.

It’s a matter of keeping our focus on the finish line and not stopping until it is reached.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV) 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Half-way won’t cut it. We can’t just sit there half committed. If we are going to finish the course, it takes discipline to just keep going. If we see we have made a mistake in the course, then stop, turn around (the Bible calls this repenting), and begin a new course of action. It’s that simple.

Our problem is like the problem the boy had in the story, when we stop and relax in our progress we often get stuck half way, making it very difficult to go one way or the other.  To keep this from happening to you today, don’t just sit there straddling the fence, leaning one way or the other, get going or go back and try something different.

Joshua put it this way:

Joshua 24:14–15 (ESV) — 14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker