Articles

Presumption & Surrender

Recently, God has impressed upon me the issue of presumption. I define presumption as those expectations (however illegitimate) I have placed upon God; how He should act, how He should treat me, how He should treat others, how He should treat those who persecute/harm me, how He meets my needs, etc.

Over time, it has become clear to me that presumption is a soul crushing, silent, cancer of character which must be continually identified and purposefully removed to avoid harm to me and others around me. Apart from the filter of the Bible, one may not even realize how much presumption they have in their life. In many ways it is like the sin of covetousness; you don’t even recognize it as sin until the Bible defines it for you. Then you need to ask God to show you this sin in your life and repent. Admittedly a painful process, but powerfully healing.

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The ‘Feel-bad’ Religion

It is essential that all who would hope for forgiveness realize they stand as the Tax Collector, an object of wrath. Tears cannot soften the heart of God; seven times Jesus informs his disciples that the unrighteous will bewail their fate (eg. Matthew 8:12). Mercy is only possible by the intercession of Christ.

Thus, the time for grief is now – but this is not misery for its own sake. Paul does not rejoice that the Corinthians are indulgently maudlin, rather that they have been ‘grieved into repentance’. Grief, an emotion, leads to repentance (μετάνοια metanoia, change of mind), a volition.

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Like-mindedness

I ask myself in today’s world with all the differing opinions and thoughts, how do we do this? This is a huge problem if we think this means we need everyone to think and act exactly like us. Paul says to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and that he and the other apostles have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The only way we can agree, cherish the same views and be harmonious is by imitating Paul as he imitates Christ. The same mind we seek is Christ’s, rather than convincing others to agree with our thoughts and opinions.

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Remember, Watch, Hope

As Christians, we are called to live and minister in a fallen world while not becoming a part of it. That anyone succeeds at this is a miracle. The world around us is so “real,” our needs so strong, and the promise for which we labor so ill-defined, that to walk the narrow path that leads to salvation is impossible. Thankfully we are reminded that what is impossible with men is possible with God. To succeed in this journey, He gives us three imperatives: Remember. Watch. Hope.

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“Waiting”

“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” – Romans 8:25

Hope is the unseen benefit we long for. It drives us. We walk by faith because of it. Hope is powerful—it defines our realities. They may be unrealistic, indescribable and unobtainable. But nevertheless, our actions in faith are a function of our hope. Most of us likely eat, work, exercise, spend our money, worship, love and rest because of it. You define a man’s hope, you can predict his actions. And conversely, you can see a man’s hope by his behaviors.

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Life in Neutral

One of the great spiritual deceptions is that there is a neutral position or state in which the disciple of Christ can idle. When back-sliding Israel became idolatrous, they swung from worshiping God to bowing to idols. Many in the Church today, think this example no longer applies; apostates do not erect a statue to Baal or Molech, yet think that ‘time away from the Lord’ is not an evil; however, Jesus’ teaching is crystal and warns that a person cannot serve two masters:

‘Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money…’ (Matthew 6:24)

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Why?

Psalms 77:19 “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.”
One of the first questions a young child learns to ask is “Why?” They ask it repeatedly and relentlessly, eager to learn about the world around them. Even as adults, it is the question we all want to know. About everything. Always. Why did this happen? Why did you say that? Why am I being taxed like this? And on and on and on until we die. But even then, we ask it – why am I dying now? And we reserve special questions for when we’re actually dead. “When I get to see God, I’m going to ask him why….”

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Seeking Praise and Glory

Romans 2:7 “…to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life…” This is not a condemnation of desiring glory, affirmation, approval and credit—this is natural–all men do it. The bible actually affirms seeking glory—but only from God, not from men. The scripture teaches the hope of receiving glory from God, on His terms, is a legitimate biblical motive.

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Searched By God

Psalm 139:23-24, says, “Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” Every follower of Jesus must be open and actively seeking to be searched by God so that we don’t become numb to the pending judgment every one of us will face. This Psalm provides three essential areas that we must give God access to if we want to live under His leadership.

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The Tongue-Tied Evangelist

From the earthly and temporal perspective then, the cross is an offense as Billy Graham once remarked; hence, for every rational man or woman only God can bring about the repentance that reverses this view. There is no humanly power, whether that of oratory, argument or persuasion, let alone intimidation or threat that can bring people to faith. It is God that reveals the truth of the Gospel through his Spirit; therefore, the Gospel is not only sufficient, it is the only message the evangelist should bring lest arguments or confusion ensues.

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