Photo above: The Hertford Bridge in Oxford, England. Used by Permission. © Tom Ley 01302 782837

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rising Above Circumstances, Part 1

By Gary Roberts
Robertson School of Government

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight

Most non-believers and many Christians are circumstance focused, evaluating their situation in the workplace based upon the naturalistic evidence provided by the senses. This walking by sight isolates us from God’s power. As we approach Memorial Day weekend, one of the “signature” elements of servant leadership as demonstrated by our military men and women throughout history is the ability to rise above the storm of circumstances. By its nature, life presents many painful external situations that we cannot change, but we do possess the ability to transform our reactions with God’s help. This is a fertile area for Christian growth through the implementation of applied consecration principles that contribute to character development (dying to the self).

Many Christians mistakenly say to God, “First change my circumstances and how I feel, and then I will believe or obey.” A clear spiritual law is that we must have faith in God, in spite of our circumstances and the evidence of the senses. In essence we choose to follow and believe God in spite of how the intellect directs us. Once we act on faith, God will either change our circumstances or he will transform us and provide the ability to cope and transcend. In certain cases, we learn to cope within the pain and suffering, preparing us for future trials and Kingdom service. God will fulfill our true needs (not our wants) at just the right time (not on our time schedule). The reason for this is to perfect patience and endurance in our character.

A related point is the importance of maintaining our commitment to excellence in helping others in the midst of the storm of trial. When we willingly and unselfishly share our time, talents, resources and encouragement when we are suffering, it is a powerful act of faith and trust in God that will not go unnoticed by unbelievers. The light of God will shine brightly in the darkness. As evangelist Joel Osteen notes, God recognizes our efforts and stores up blessings to be dispensed later in our lives when we are in great need. Most people follow the selfish and self-defeating principle of how they can be blessed, rather than on how they can become a blessing to others. Agree with the word of God rather than our senses, and watch His power released in your life!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Powerful Weapon of Grace

By Gary Roberts
Robertson School of Government

Romans 5:21 "So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." NLT

Have you ever felt under condemnation because you believed you lacked the courage or strength to face a trial? Are you ever concerned that you will fail and let God “down”? I frequently question and doubt myself by fearing that I will not “measure up” in the time of crisis. In most cases, this catastrophic “what-if” thinking is a lie from the pit of hell designed to discourage us from following God’s will. I was recently lost in the wilderness of self-defeat when the Lord revealed a powerful manifestation of grace, a pre-emptive “lightening strike” against the attacks of the enemy through scripture. The life and ministry of Jesus demonstrated that in spite of His omniscient knowledge of the disciples failures and sins, their serious lapses and deficiencies in judgment, character and courage, Jesus always loved and forgave, disciplined, encouraged, showered grace, and said “peace be unto you”! The amazing fact is that God knows our actions, feelings, emotions, thoughts, desires, sins, temptations, and failures before we feel and act on them. David Seamonds, in his book “Healing Grace,” states that because God is pure love, our failings do not influence or change His love towards us. God loves unconditionally, and the ministry of Jesus consistently demonstrates unconditional love, patience, and loving discipline towards the disciples, who doubted, denied, betrayed, and abandoned Him. God earnestly desires fellowship with us, to walk with us, to love and serve, even with full advanced knowledge of our weaknesses. What amazing grace! The best way to defang condemnation is to recognize that the only failure is to bury our talents and quit trying, but even then, God still loves and provides opportunities for redemption. If you desire to achieve a higher degree of inner peace, become more Christ like and emulate Jesus and die to the prideful self and embrace the same spirit of pro-active grace, love, and forgiveness and Godly discipline with your own failures, sins and weaknesses as well as the weaknesses and sins of others. To God be the Glory!

Seamands, D. (1999). Healing grace: Finding a freedom from the performance trap. Indianapolis, IN: Light and Life Communications. ISBN: 0-89367238-6.