Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Is Trusting God Practical?

I am writing tonight from beautiful Florida.

I am writing tonight from beautiful Florida.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Many years ago, a small church where I was a Bible Worker, had a wealthy member who owned his own business. He told me to do the exact opposite of what the pastor instructed me. I told the wealthy member, “no.” Not just because it contradicted the pastor but it was also just plain wrong.

The wealthy member then threatened me, by saying  most all the money in the church came from him, and if I did not do as he said, he would withdraw his support of the church, and there would go my salary. I told him, “no” again. I also told him his church donations do not support me. God supports me! The wealthy man then became angry and told me to get real and be practical. He claimed he supported me and not God!

You know what really broke my heart? This man was an elder in the church, and here he was telling me God’s promises are not practical or real. I lost a lot of respect for that man, not just for trying to threaten me, but for saying his money was more real and trustworthy than God’s promises.

Sadly the wealthy man left our church, once he realized he could not control us with his money. Not only did the church survive without him, it thrived! While he claimed the church and I could not survive without his money, God richly blessed me more than ever after he left, and the church built a new fellowship hall and several classrooms. All paid for. Years later, when I left to take another assignment, the little church hired another Bible Worker and the church has been growing by leaps and bounds.

Yes, trusting in the Lord with all your heart instead of man’s understanding is a very practical thing to do!

 

Matthew 7; Moral Authority

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:  For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.  Matthew 7:28-29

 

 

This verse makes it clear, that while the scribes were all full of themselves because of their supposedly exalted positions, that in reality they had no authority or influence over the people. Why? Because, while an organization had given them a title of authority, they still had no moral authority. I like the way The Message Bible translates this verse. “When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.”

 

 

I remember growing up as a teen, wanting to follow Jesus, that there were older people that I looked up to and had spiritual relationships with, not because they had a title or position in the community, but because I sensed they truly walked with God. I also remember I chose them as my mentors, they did not choose me. I was not alone. A few years ago, I went to a youth leadership workshop. I am sorry I don’t remember the name of the man giving the workshop, but he confirmed that even today, children choose their own mentors. A child may belong to a church with three pastors and a youth director, but may feel more comfortable sharing their burdens with the church janitor. Chances are the janitor has an intimate relationship with God that the youth want to find. The janitor has moral authority when his or her life is harmony with God’s Word.

 

Last week I was in a youth evangelism council meeting, where a video by Andy Stanley was shown, where he talked about moral authority. He put a label on a concept that the Holy Spirit had been revealing to me for some time. Stanley calls it “moral authority.” I had never thought of that label before. Authority does not come from a title or position, it comes from character. In heaven, Lucifer wanted God’s authority but did not want His character. Problem is, the authority comes from the character. While Lucifer, like the rest of us can never be God nor should we seek to be God, we should be seeking His character instead of his power. Where there is no morality there is no authority. Your authority is limited to your morality, regardless of any position or title you may or may not have. In other words there are people with influence that have no position, and there are people with positions that have no influence. This is why many of them seek to use force and manipulation when they can’t lead naturally. Meanwhile there are others who lead, while using no titles, positions, force or manipulation, but are quite successful, because, they have moral authority.

 

Position does not give holiness of character. It is by honoring God and obeying His commands that a man is made truly great.  {Conflict and Courage, p. 189}