Christianity 201

November 11, 2015

gods Forget GOD

by Clarke Dixon (click here to read at source)

We have a prosperity problem. Prosperity causes us to forget God. We intuitively feel this in Canada as our relative affluence seems to be related to our religious apathy. Scripture seems to point this out also:

12 When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8:12-14 emphasis mine)

This being the case, perhaps we should be praying for a downturn of the economy? If, as we Christians believe, there is nothing as important as one’s relationship with God, then perhaps more misery might make many souls merry?

Or is prosperity really the problem? Let’s take a look at those verses again, but let me move the highlighting:

12 When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8:12-14 emphasis mine)

Or as another translation puts it, “your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God”  (NIV). We do not have a prosperity problem. We have a heart problem. Proud hearts are prone to forgetting God.

The heart problem was to be the heart of the problem for God’s people as they entered the Promised Land. Things would be better for them, this is the land flowing with milk and honey after all. But in prosperity and all that has been achieved would be the danger of self-congratulations:

. . . then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, 16 and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. 17 Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. (Deuteronomy 8:14-18 emphasis mine)

We are prone to being self-congratulatory. We are prone to wanting the glory. Just look at all we have achieved. A great team of men and women worked hard to put a man on the moon. We might ask who should get the MVP award for making such an achievement possible. Who deserves the most glory? The astronauts? The scientists? The technicians? The taxpayers? And in deliberating the question we forget that God put the moon there in the first place, not to mention the earth, not to mention the materials in the earth fit for building a spacecraft, not to mention the rules of physics, not to mention the potential of the human mind to dream, and the capacity of human hands to create. Even in the greatest of human achievements, God deserves glory.

As humans we have great potential. Yet we do nothing without God’s gift of potential. We innovate. But we do not innovate without God. We succeed and achieve. But we do not succeed and achieve without God. We live. But we do not live without God. We love. But we do not love without God. To God belongs the glory.

Deuteronomy chapter eight does not leave us without an antidote to our forgetfulness. Though some translations take verse ten as concluding verses 1-9, I think the NIV gets it correct with putting it with what follows:

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, . . .  (Deuteronomy 8:10-11 NIV emphasis mine)

Praise is the cure for forgetfulness. It is in praising God that our hearts are humbled. It is in praising God that our hearts are filled with the wonders of God. It is in praising God that we recognize where the glory truly belongs.

Praise keeps us from stealing God’s glory. Even in matters of salvation we are prone to wanting to steal God’s glory. We think we can be good enough that God will have to accept us. “Yes, He is holy, but I can be holy too.” Actually no. We can no more be good enough before God based on our own righteousness than the Israelites could cross the Red Sea on dry ground by their own miracle working. We depend on God’s grace, God’s work of salvation through Jesus Christ. We cannot steal God’s glory.

So do we have a prosperity problem? We have a heart problem. It is in trying to be gods, we forget GOD. If we have no appetite for God, perhaps it is not that we have too much stuff, so much as we have stuffed ourselves with too much of our own glory.

Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
(Psalms 115:1 NIV)

All Bible references are from the NRSV unless otherwise noted.

 

October 23, 2012

Building Your Platform — Without God

As a blogger I often see articles about “building your online platform.” Perhaps you know people who have dedicated themselves to building an offline platform as well. Like the tower-builders at Babel, they long to “make a name” for themselves. So I was attracted to this article at SermonIndex.net which begins with a verse many of you know by heart, but adds an extra verse of fuller context.  To read this article at source, click here.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’” (Zechariah 4:6-7)

There is a busyness that we are all prone to in the work of the Lord. Though there is nothing wrong with being used of God and sharing His truths with others there is a pit of self-promotion that we can fall into.

We can act like it’s by our own strength, power and influence that we will make ourselves successful.

There can be a feverishness of activity in someone wanting to build themselves a a platform so they can promote their messages for God. Yet God’s calling and purpose could be 100 miles away from this person’s present activities.

It can seem from our perspective to have a voice in Christianity world seems impossible. Unless we have a radio show, tv program and best selling book with endorsements. Yet God says “What are you, mighty mountain?” (Zechariah 4:7). God is able to raise up any leader overnight for the entire nation to hear. With God anything is possible as we trust Him.

Sadly the Church takes it cue from worldly business methods much faster then it sits at the feet of Jesus and hears the quiet promptings of the Spirit. I do not believe it is wrong to do simple steps that are practical in building a platform. Yet the dangers are great when we are fixated on these things.

It is God who gives us a platform. His sovereignty even sets up circumstances for us to be used in His plan. God is concerned with primarily with His Church and has had an eternal purpose in Christ before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:9).

There is a great rest that can happen when we can trust Him for a platform and simply say to the Lord we are:

“only servants…” (1 Corinthians 3:5)

Servants are only mindful of what their masters want. That is a great test to see if you are a servant of the Lord is if you are preoccupied with what God wants not what you desire. May God keep us in His will as we desire to be used of Him to spread His Good News. Here are some practical points in summation:

1. We are only servants.

2. It is not by our strength but by God’s Spirit

3. It is God’s message, not ours.

4. Busyness does not mean success.

5. God’s ways do not always match up with worldly methods.

6. God has an eternal plan, we can trust Him in that.

7. God raises up leaders in the body of Christ.

Consider this prayer to the Lord today we seek to be useful for Him in His work:

Lord, we are so thankful for the great salvation that you have given us. We only want to show our appreciation for your love to us by doing a work for you. Please us me for your glory so that I can bring your Good News to others and share your truths. Lord please empty me of myself so I can be usable and mouldable in your hands. I accept it is your will if you will give me a platform to speak for you. Amen.

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.  Ps. 75: 6, 7 ESV