May it never be! Living a godly life requires us to master the flesh and make it our servant, rather than our master:. Run in such a way that you may win. They then [do it] to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Sin uses the flesh to keep us in bondage Romans Satan and the world encourage us to live according to the flesh. But being a child of God requires that we live no longer for the flesh or in the power of the flesh. The prompting of the flesh must be brought under control, and we are to heed the prompting of the Spirit of God, as He speaks through the Word of God see Romans ; 1 Corinthians ; ; False teachers appeal to fleshly lusts.
They gather a following by proclaiming a gospel which indulges the flesh rather than crucifying it:.
The dangerous pursuit of happiness – Teaching Humble Hearts
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; … 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved 2 Peter , , Such false teaching is not uncommon in the pulpit today.
They promise that those who possess enough faith can escape suffering and adversity and be guaranteed peace and prosperity. They promise that when one gives a little, one may be assured of receiving much more in return. These rewards are not looked for in heaven as much as on earth, now. Let us not dilute the gospel to make it attractive to men by appealing to their fleshly lusts. We must proclaim the message of the gospel in its fulness and its simplicity, knowing that only through the Spirit of God are men enabled to grasp the truth of the gospel and quickened to do so 1 Corinthians , ; 2 Corinthians ; ; If self-control has to do with physical pleasures, perseverance has to do with pain.
Our natural tendency is to pursue pleasure and flee from pain. The gospel calls for us to identify with Christ, which includes identifying with Him in His suffering:. Perseverance is the frame of mind and character which persists in doing what is right even though doing so may produce difficulties, suffering, and sorrows. Perseverance is the commitment to suffer in the short term in order to experience glory for eternity.
Perseverance was exemplified by our Lord:. Perseverance also includes patience. The false teachers point out that our Lord has not returned as proof that He will not. Godliness is the religion we practice in our day-to-day walk. It is …. It desires a right relation with both God and men. Godliness brings the sanctifying presence of God into all the experiences of life.
The Old Testament Law related true faith to the daily aspects of living. The New Testament does the same:. Now that we have come to newness of life in Christ, we must put off our old way of life and put on the new:. It is a love based in part on what we share in common with the One we love. There is a certain element of reciprocity involved, for ideally we should be a blessing to our brother in Christ, and he should be a blessing to us. This love, based on a shared relationship with Christ, can be sensed immediately even though two saints may never have met before.
I well remember my first trip to India. Having arrived without anyone to meet me at the airport, I was very much alone. After a long train ride, I joined a group of Indian believers who were complete strangers. As we rode to our destination in an old van, we began to sing some of the hymns of the faith.
A deep sense of brotherly love was evident as we found a bond of love in Christ. This does not mean that brotherly love is a snap, that it is automatic. If it were, Peter would not have found it necessary to command us to pursue it with diligence, not only in his second epistle but also in his first:.
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Sin not only alienates men from God, it also alienates them from one another. Thus, when men come to faith in Christ, they are united with Him and also with their fellow believers. This union of believers with one another crosses every barrier, racial or social:. While God has removed the barrier between fellow-believers, this is something we must strive to practice and to preserve.
It is a humanly impossible task for which God has provided the means to accomplish. As believers, we must diligently strive to practice brotherly kindness by employing these means. It is also the capstone of all the virtues the Christian should pursue. Michael Green shows its uniqueness:. In both cases these feelings are aroused because of what the loved one is. With agape it is the reverse. It has its origin in the agent, not in the object That is what God did for us Jn.
That is what he wants us to do 1 Jn. That is what he is prepared to achieve in us Rom. Thus the Spirit of the God who is love is freely given to us, in order to reproduce in us that same quality. It is a love which applies both to believers and to unbelievers:. Agape love is not prompted by what the other person is or does, but by a love rooted in what God is. It is the love of God which flows through us. Paul speaks of this love as the greatest of the Christian virtues 1 Corinthians Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? This 2 Peter passage makes several contributions to the Christian.
First, it shows that the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are not incompatible. We need not choose one in place of the other. The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are interdependent truths. Man cannot contribute to his salvation. Though the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. All we must do is receive it, and even this occurs by divine grace. The sovereignty of God should never be an excuse for passivity or inactivity; rather, His sovereignty is the basis for disciplined living.
Our text also contributes lessons on discipleship for the Christian. Refresh and try again. The Pursuit of God Quotes Showing of There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves. They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.
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So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. Tozer, Pursuit of God. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who or what is ABOVE, and his true position will be exposed.
Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choice he makes day after day throughout his life. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease.
The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. This came after I had done a major study through the Scriptures mainly in the New Testament as to the concept of ministry. Ministry is mentioned over and over again using different words to describe it Ministry always has an object in Scripture.
To whom do we minister? Ministry is directed in three thrusts in the New Testament For our purposes in this reflection we will only deal with the first two. We are to minister to God — the vertical thrust of ministry - and horizontally to people. The vertical focuses on our walk and relationship with God We minister to God through worship, praise, dependence, and constant fellowship with the Father, intimacy, intercession, etc.
The Great Commandment is directed first to God then to people. When I ask others what words come to their mind when they think of ministry, they seldom think of intimacy and worship of God. The word "minister" is used in the Old and New Testament as a High Priest ministered first to God for the people, and then ministers from God to the people. Both of these are primary responsibilities of a minister.
God Is On A Quest
We have been called to be ministers of the New Covenant 2 Corinthians , ministering to God and then from God to people. We minister from God to people in love and respect by evangelism, teaching, counseling, affirmation, helps, etc. The Great Commission is directed primarily toward people But its ultimate goal is everyone under the Lordship of Christ.
In which direction do you think the Scripture places the greatest emphasis? Is it ministry to God or to people? What is most striking in Scripture is that the major thrust, our first priority, our passion is to be our ministry to God, rather than people. Both are vitally important, but our major focus of ministry is to be first God-ward and then man-ward.
Paul asked the right question of Christ on the road to Damascus — "Who art you, Lord", and then "What do you want me to do? The horizontal aspect of ministry to people should always be the result or overflow of our ministry to God. This order is trumpeted all through Scripture. In John 15 we are to "abide in Christ" and then He will bear fruit through us. In the Great Commandment we are to love the Lord first with all our heart and mind, and then love our neighbor as ourselves.
Acts indicates the same Greek order of words: take care of yourselves and then to the flock of God. In John , Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me"? Out of that love, Peter was to be a servant shepherd to care and feed God's sheep. Worship always precedes service in Scripture. We are to serve God and only then people.
The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine
Something else notable in Scripture is that the words describing "passion" "he sought the Lord" or "wholeheartedly followed the Lord" in the Old Testament or "love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind" in the New Testament are reserved only for our God -ward relationship. The word "passion" is never related to our ministry to people. Paul uses "passion" only to describe his desire to know Christ Philippians The words "compassion," "burden," "concern" always describes our ministry to people.
Compassion means "with passion" or love with fire that is the result of our passion for God. Compassion is pictured in Scripture as thread wound around the shuttle of our heart. This thread spins out in love to pull people in. The greater the size of our heart, the greater our capacity to reach out to people. The greater our passion for God, the greater will be our compassion for people. Paul chose his words carefully in Romans , saying that his burden not his passion for Israel was that they might be saved.
We often ask people what their passion in ministry is. In doing so we are asking a wrong question and teaching a wrong principle. Christ's compassion for the multitude is evident through the Gospels Matthew , ; Mark ; Luke , , , and always directed to people. His passion was reserved only for His Father.
The Great commission is not to be our Great Passion. The Great Commission Will never be accomplished if it is our passion, for we will quickly lose sight of Who is the real source of power and authority? It is His harvest, not ours. It is His ministry, not ours. He alone is responsible for the fruit, not us. The Great Commission is also His problem, not ours. He is in the process of getting His harvest completed.
Our responsibility is to be unreservedly available to Him, clean of sin, and under the power of the Holy Spirit. Never did Christ ask us to make ministry to people our number one consuming passion in life. We often use phrases like - "His last command, our first concern. We say the reason for being on earth is for the sake of the lost. That is partially true. But we are also here for the sake of His Body, and primarily to worship and know Him. The joy of knowing Him intimately is not reserved for Heaven. It begins now. Our role in ministry is not to make things happen, or to do ministry for Jesus.
We are not the quarterback calling the plays, looking to the sidelines once in awhile for coaching from Christ. Jesus Christ is the quarterback, actively and personally involved in every move. Our role is to be a servant, a steward, a shepherd of Christ, a colaborer with Him 1 Corinthians , 10 , pointing people to Jesus. He doesn't bestow His gifts on the causal or hasty comer or goer. To be much alone with God is the secret of knowing Him and of influence with Him. M Bounds. To influence people for Christ, we have to first reflect Christ.
But to reflect Christ, we must first have a passion for Him that is singular, focused that puts Him first as the Father does. Then our passion for Christ reflects Christ, which leads to influence and spiritual authority in ministry. Both ministry to God and to people is important. It is not "either-or," but "both-and. But only one is to be our passion. The "Mary and Martha syndrome" has often been the concern of Christian leaders.
Should we serve People, like Martha did or choose to only sit at Jesus' feet? Both must be in balance. God blesses us so we might bless others. We must not selfishly hold this relationship with God for ourselves. It must go outward to others. We are not buckets, but channels of living water to others. But herein lies a critical, subtle problem - unlimited opportunities and our own burden for people often drive us to ministry far beyond the will of God for our lives into an extreme.
Out of balance, we become ministry-centered, with catastrophic results. As Dr. Kenneth Boa has said, "God alone is the worthy object of our total commitment and if we direct our highest commitment to anything else, we commit idolatry. An endemic problem is embedded within our Christian culture. It is that we honor, reward, and present as a model, people who are driven in ministry.
Often they are neglecting their own relationship to God and family, skimming over essentials. Knowing God and growing in character is less visible and measurable than service for God, and the Christian culture emphasize doing and accomplishing. Sometimes we are so busy in the Kingdom, we have no time for the King. Ministry has become to some an addiction, and we feed that addiction by our applause.
The results are tragic. We are driven to do more and more, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision was a compassionate man who began to make his love for children his deep passion. Burdened by overwhelming needs of children around the world, he burned out, running on empty too long. He never recovered. The history of Christian missions is strewn with such well meaning, but misdirected lives of people who thought of mission as primarily the task - crusading, preaching, ministering - and not a relationship to Jesus. The probing question How much ministry to people is enough?
We often think that we can do a just little bit more. If we feel that just a little more ministry pleases God, then more ministry should really please Him. God is not impressed by our doing His ministry without boundaries.
We need to not only decide what to do, but also what not to do. Need does not constitute the will of God for our lives. Janice Wise has said, "It is not how much I have to do that determines how much time I spend with God. Rather its how much time I spend with Him that determines how much I am to do. Jesus is a great model of having boundaries in His ministry. He often said "no" to people's needs, even those in desperate need and open to listen to Him Luke At the end of His three short years on earth He could say, "Father I have glorified you upon the earth, and finished the work that you gave me to do John Jesus did not heal everyone; He did not meet every need.
He did not minister throughout the world.
He did not please everyone. But He did finish what the Father gave Him to do. The key questions are: what does the Father want me to do, and who are the people the Father has given me to minister to? Consider the life and ministry of Billy Graham as He looked back over his life: "Although I have much to be grateful for as I look back over my life, I also have many regrets. I have failed many times, and I would do many things differently. For one thing, I would speak less and study more, and I would spend more time with my family. When I look back over the schedule I kept thirty or forty years ago, I am staggered by all the things we did and the engagements we kept Were all those engagements necessary?
Was I as discerning as I might have been about which ones to take and which to turn down? I doubt it Although much of that travel was necessary, some of it was not. I would also spend more time in spiritual nurture, seeking to grow closer to God so I could become more like Christ. I would spend more time studying the Bible and meditating on its truth, not only for sermon preparation but to apply its message to my life.
The Pursuit of Discipleship
It is far too easy for someone in my position to read the Bible only with an eye on a future sermon, overlooking the message God has for me through its pages. And I would give more attention to fellowship with other Christians, who could teach me and encourage me and even rebuke me when necessary " The only appropriate question for a leader is 'Who is God? Biblical leadership starts first and foremost with a person's relationship with God It starts first with the leader's 'inscape — their dependence on God Leadership begins in a relationship between a person and God.
There are three journeys that God is actively working in our lives. One is redemptive. It is a journey inward as the Spirit of God is conforming our character into Christ's likeness. This is our interior design, our inscape, and God's work in us. We are His workmanship. The second journey is missiological. It is God's outward journey through us to other people. It is our unique life purpose, our destiny.