SEALED BY GOD …
…I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD Almighty – Haggai 2:23
We don’t often hear about signet rings anymore; but in Bible times, they were very significant. The signet ring was used to identify the message or messenger and the authority they had. In other words, you knew something was from the king because it was marked by his signet ring. It was representative of power and authority. This verse is saying that you are the mark of authority of Almighty God. You have been chosen and set apart to be identified with Him.
When you have someone’s power and authority, you have access to everything they have. It’s like having power of attorney; you have the authority to act on behalf of that individual. As a believer in Jesus, you are marked with His seal. Think of all you have access to today! Think about the authority you have. Everything He has is available to you—healing, provision, strength, peace, joy. You have been given authority to “sign His name” in order to receive His blessings. You are God’s seal, and you are marked to live the abundant life He has in store for you!
GIVE AGAPE LOVE
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.- Matthew 23:10-12
In Romans 12:10 we are admonished to desire the welfare of others more than our own; to like others better than ourselves. That is an awesome command that is only obtainable through God’s supernatural love. If this very simple, yet very profound truth could be understood and applied, then strife would cease (Prov. 13:10). The world would see Christianity as never before, and we would discover the true joy that comes from serving someone besides ourselves.
There is much confusion today on the subject of love because we have only one English word (love) to describe a broad aspect of meanings. For example, if I said, “I love my wife, I love apple pie, and I love my dog,” obviously I am not talking about love in the same degree or definition.
God’s type of love; the highest kind of love, is AGAPE. This is when we seek the welfare or betterment of others even when we don’t feel affection. AGAPE love does not come from one’s feelings. Jesus displayed this AGAPE kind of love by going to the cross and dying for us even though He didn’t feel like dying. Jesus sought the betterment of you and me, regardless of His feelings.
We, too, can AGAPE love our enemies even though we don’t have a warm feeling of affection for them. If they are hungry we can feed them; if they are thirsty we can give them a drink. We can choose to seek the betterment and welfare of others regardless of how we feel.
If anyone becomes a servant and humbles himself with the motive of being exalted, then he is not truly fulfilling Jesus’ command. Jesus is teaching about a true, servant’s heart, that loves others more than itself and will joyfully go without so that someone else may prosper.
WHAT ARE YOU CALLED TO DO?
‘…Jesus…went around doing good…’ Acts 10:38 NIV
Your value in God’s eyes was established at the Cross. The Bible says, ‘He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32 NIV) Notice the words ‘all things’. We are all equal in Christ. But when it comes to your career, your value is determined by the problem you solve. That’s why we pay a cardiologist more money than a chef in a fast–food restaurant. Jesus was a problem solver. People were spiritually hungry so He said, ‘…I am the bread of life…’ (John 6:35 NIV) They were sick so He ‘went about doing good…healing all.’ He discerned what He had, that others needed, and provided it for them. What do you have to offer? What would you attempt to do if you knew it was impossible to fail? You are not here by accident. God told Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV) Everything God makes is to meet a need and solve a problem. So what are you called and gifted to do? That’s where you’ll find your highest level of joy! Think of your contribution to others as an assignment from God. Paul made tents to support his ministry. So your ministry may be supported by your job. But whether you are in a full–time ministry or a part–time ministry, don’t leave this earth until you have found and fulfilled what God called you to do.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GODLY LEADERSHIP
‘…If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously…’ Romans 12:8 NLT
Leadership in business, politics and public service doesn’t automatically qualify you for leadership in church. J Oswald Sanders says, ‘The overriding need of the church… is for a leadership that’s authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial.’ Let’s look at each of those qualities:
(1) Authoritative leadership. People respect leaders who are certain about where they’re going, and inspire confidence in those who choose to follow them. Tentative leaders don’t motivate others to get on board and stay on board. Uncertainty confuses and disheartens followers. People follow, almost without question, someone who’s wise, strong and faithful to what he or she believes.
(2) Spiritual leadership. We’re attracted to leaders who are gifted and charismatic. But these natural characteristics alone aren’t enough. Followers can be captivated by human traits—often to their own cost. Don’t settle for being a popular ‘Pied Piper’. Godly leaders are committed to connecting their followers with Jesus, not with themselves! Do your people know, love and serve God more because of your leadership? If so, you’re a godly leader.
(3) Sacrificial leadership. Would you still lead if, like Paul, you were betrayed, falsely accused, beaten, half–drowned, starved, stoned and left for dead? Godly leaders lead when it’s uncomfortable, inconvenient, unrewarding and costly. They’re dedicated to the sheep they’re responsible for, and the ‘Chief Shepherd’ they’re responsible to! They recognise that Jesus drafted and modelled the prototype of godly leadership at the cost of His own life: ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.’ (1 Peter 2:21 NIV)
LET THE LORD BE YOUR DEFENSE
Psalm 94:22 – But the Lord has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge.
Imagine being a poor widow, a stranger in the land and holding one of the lowliest jobs in society. That was Ruth’s situation, so it would have been easy for her to feel vulnerable and defenseless. But because she trusted the Lord (Ruth 1:16), He placed her under Boaz’s protection.
Boaz, the owner of the field she worked in, commanded his young men saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.” (Ruth 2:15) What he was saying to his men was this: “She might be a gleaner, but because I care for her, treat her with respect and make sure she is not put to shame.”
Boaz is a picture of our Lord Jesus. If you are feeling vulnerable and defenseless right now, imagine Jesus commanding His angels, “Watch over this one who belongs to Me. Make sure he is treated with respect and not put to shame because he is someone I love and someone whom I died for.”
God’s Word tells us that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) No one who has set himself against us can prevail because when God is for us, His protection is upon us. That is why I have never answered any of the poison email messages which I have received in the course of my ministry.
My attitude is this: Jesus is my defense. If He does not defend me, it means that there are things in my life that are not to be defended, and I would be glad to find out about them now rather than later. On the other hand, because I take the Lord as my defense, and He defends me, what can those who are against me do to me?
When you defend yourself, you have only your two hands and your own human resources. But when you let Jesus take up your defense, He defends you with His nail-pierced hands and His legions of angels! The results will be amazing.
Beloved, the Lord is your defense and refuge. Trust Him to defend and protect you!
Thought For The Day :
If the Lord is your defense, what can those who are against you do to you?
HYPOCRISY IS AN ATTITUDE
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. – Matthew 23:12
He who thinks that he will be exalted by acting as a servant, pretending to be humble so that he will receive the promise of God’s Word, is sadly mistaken. Hypocrisy is an attitude or motive.
There are two main types of hypocrisy: 1) People don’t practice what they preach. 2) People’s motives are wrong even though their actions are right.
The second type of hypocrisy is why Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees.
It is more subtle than the first type and is very prevalent today in religion. They were seeking self-glory instead of seeking to glorify God.
Their priorities are wrong, and their focus is on outward displays instead of on the inner condition of their heart. Furthermore, they always persecute the true worshipers of God.
Universally, people dislike blatant hypocrisy; although this subtle type of hypocrisy has been encouraged and even promoted by religion. Religion teaches tithing and giving for selfish motives while 1 Corinthians 13:3 and 2 Corinthians 9:7, make it clear that giving will profit us nothing unless we have the proper motive. The same thing happens when people try to achieve holiness by performing many other religious acts. It is not always the acts that are wrong, but the motives behind the acts. These wrong motives can also make you a hypocrite.
Anyone who rejects salvation because he doesn’t like religious hypocrites, should remember that if he doesn’t receive Jesus as his Lord, then he will spend eternity with these hypocrites in Hell.
LIFT SONGS OF PRAISE TO THE LORD
Ephesians 5:17 – Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
God wants us to walk as wise men and women, and not as fools. (Ephesians 5:15) Now, He will not tell us to walk in wisdom without showing us how. That is why His Word goes on to say, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
So what is the will of God? The next two verses tell us how to identify it: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”. (Ephesians 5:18–19)
As you allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit by lifting songs of praise to the Lord, singing or speaking (God knows some of us can’t sing!) psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and making melody in your heart to the Lord, God promises that you will know what His will is for your situation. You will then have the wisdom to decide wisely what to do next.
I have found this to be true in my own life. Whenever I face a difficult situation, the more I think about it, the more confused I get. The more I try my best to come up with a smart solution, the further the answer seems to get from me. But when I turn away from my problem and turn to God, singing in the Spirit and praising Him, I get a clearer perspective of the problem when I come back to it later. I also find an inner prompting to make certain decisions which in the end, turn out to be better than anything I could have come up with on my own.
So my friend, lift up songs of praise to the Lord, whether times are good or bad. For when you fill your mouth with praises to God, He will lead you and guide you in all the affairs of your life. Even if you are stuck with a problem, He will show you the way to go or make a way out for you. Either way, you will get the wisdom and help that you need!
A NEW CREATION
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. —2 Corinthians 5:17
Early in my work life I had a coworker who seemed to delight in using God’s name as a profanity. He mercilessly taunted Christians who were new to their faith or who tried to talk with him about Jesus. On the day I left that job to move to another community and a new place of employment, I remember thinking that this man would never become a follower of Jesus.
Two years later I visited my old workplace. He was still there, but never have I witnessed such a dramatic change in a person! This man, so antagonistic to faith, was now a walking, talking example of what it means to be a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). And now, more than 30 years later, he’s still telling others how Jesus “met him where he was—sin and all.”
It occurs to me that the early Christians must have seen something similar in Paul, their fiery persecutor—a riveting example of what it means to become a new creation (Acts 9:1-22). What great hope both of these lives are to those who think themselves beyond redemption!
Jesus sought Paul and my former coworker—and me. And He continues today to reach the “unreachable” and model for us just how we can reach people too.
No one is beyond the reach of God.