Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home;
it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.
The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted,
wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.
Having dismissed her serving maids,
Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place,
and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,
roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 9). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Here, wisdom built a university, furnished it out, opened up all the classrooms, then headed into town to recruit. Wisdom is recruiting prospects into the classroom of wisdom. This is an invitation to every single person, this is a beautiful thing. Money, education level, neighborhood, last name, color, creed, economic status, political affiliation, is not a determining factor to receiving an invitation to this university. It is open to every single person, the only prerequisite that is needed; do you want to learn? There is no tuition, loans, room and board to pay. It’s a free university if you are willing to leave the impoverished, confused life; and just walk up the street to a life that has meaning.
That is a pretty incredible deal. It’s offered every day, every moment, until Jesus comes. Just make a decision to leave that life that leads to nowhere, and come to this life that is abundant life.
Now, just to give you a warning, one that you should understand clearly. There is a course that is taught in this class in this university that you may not be able to handle. You might even want to drop out of this class. The course is called conviction and constructive criticism. It’s the corrective measure of God. He places a feeling (we call conviction) into us that gives a pause, warning, or command to either stop doing something or to start doing something. How you handle that course, determines whether or not you stay in the university.
Solomon tells the difference in the people taking this class in
If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face;
confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.
So don’t waste your time on a scoffer;
all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.
But if you correct those who care about life,
that’s different—they’ll love you for it!
Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it;
tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 9:7–9). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
I have heard that first line explained in so many different ways. “Never smack a man who chews tobacco” was the way that one Preacher said it. In other words you have to decide if the stain is worth the point you are trying to make. Or its like the story of the bulldog and the skunk. The skunk kept coming into the bulldogs yard. Everybody was waiting on the bulldog to go whip the skunk. He could do it, everyone knew that he could. He never did make a move towards the skunk. Finally, someone asked the bulldog, why he didn’t go run that skunk out of his yard? He said well I knew I could beat him, I just didn’t think it was worth the stink. You have to decide if the fight is worth the stink. Most often it is not!
So many people have a lot of knowledge, knowledge is simply knowing the facts. We are in the school of wisdom, wisdom is knowing how to apply those facts.
Here we are told to save our breath, why even bother dealing with some people, focus on the ones that want this kind of life, the life that Jesus has given to us.
Sadly, one area that many people get upset about is when their lifestyle, is contrary to the word of God. The scripture says that when you do make that confrontation, it will cause you pain. Why? They have been fooled by another voice.
Then there’s this other woman, Madame Whore—
brazen, empty-headed, frivolous.
She sits on the front porch
of her house on Main Street,
And as people walk by minding
their own business, calls out,
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Steal off with me, I’ll show you a good time!
No one will ever know—I’ll give you the time of your life.”
But they don’t know about all the skeletons in her closet,
that all her guests end up in hell.
People are fooled by the good time that they are having. However, they don’t see that there is a sudden stop coming to that good time. One cannot deny that sin is pleasant for a season (Hebrews 11:25). However, there is also no denying that it always ends in destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Just because something feels good doesn’t indicate that it is right. Emotions, or shall I say feelings often can lead us down a path that isn’t godly.
Feelings are the main way that the enemy fools people. May I remind you that the devil came at Eve, using one of God gifts to humankind: feelings.
We need to understand some things about feelings. Starting with the fact that God created them. He gave us the capacity to have them, just as he himself has feelings. Look at the scriptures, and you’ll see how God feels. He expresses pleasure, joy, anger, and sadness, just to name a few. He gave us the ability to feel all those things.While feelings are gift from God, they have limitations. Operating on a feeling isn’t the same as operating with truth, or even rational thinking.
Feelings can go up and down, but what we know as truth always stays the same. Feelings tend to react, thinking tends to keep itself grounded in what we know, truth remains the same.
The bottom line is that feelings can react to something we know not to be true.
That’s why, when it comes to responding to what God tells us, we must put what we know ahead of what we feel. We must make our knowledge of his truth the engine and our feelings the caboose.
We need to make sure that our feelings are guided by what we know, not the other way around.
Satan got Eve to turn that around and her feelings were driving instead of following. He wanted her to use the emotions that He stirred within her to be the choice maker on whether she ate or she obeyed God.
Thousands of years after this scene in the garden, the apostle John wrote this of the sinful pleasures the world has to offer: for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the father, but is from the world 1 John 2:16 (NASB)
when you compare this verse with Genesis 3:6 – you will notice some striking parallels. John tells us that the world offers:
Lust of the flesh = the fruit look good for Eve to eat
Lust of the eye = the fruit was pleasing to eve’s eyes
Boastful pride of life = the fruit was desirable to make Eve wise
Satan knew then, and knows now that he can appeal to these kinds of feelings, which are in the heart of every human being. Each of us wants to satisfy the lust of our flesh, of our eyes, and each of us wants to think more highly of ourselves then God says we should.
Sin feels good, but for a season. Many people enjoy the feel good part, but that part will come to an end.
Part of the devil’s strategy in getting us to sin is to give us the illusion that we can control it. For a while, it even seems that way. We do what feels good thinking we are in control, but it’s only a matter of time before sin controls us. If you were to talk to anyone whose marriage, ministry, or life has been ruined by the effects of drugs, alcohol, or any other addiction, I think that that person would tell you, I never thought it would come to this. I was just dabbling in it, and then you got sucked into it.
What Satan did not want Eve to know and what he doesn’t want you to know today is that when we decide to disobey God, when we remove ourselves from the protection of God, then the devil is running the show. And when the devil is running the show, he’ll take you farther then you want to go and keep you longer than you planned to stay.
It’s time let our feelings go and walk by faith and wisdom!
Capacity: How much you can handle and how much you can produce
John Maxwell talks about the law of the lid. Maxwell states, “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential.” The lid represents the ceiling of your life.
Can you make the lid go higher, or better yet, can you take the lid off?
With God the answer is yes, the lid is off! Remember the words of Jesus when He said that with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. That sounds to me like there is a lid that has been removed. Restrictions have been taken off, and you can live a limitless life!
You must realize there is a vast difference in knowing that, and actually living it out. It is the difference in intention and action. We intend, but we never act.
A few weeks ago, in our staff meeting, we were going to talk about an exercise that we do here called Blue Sky Thinking! We begin by reminding them that with Blue Sky Thinking there are no obstacles, nothing blocking the way and you have unlimited resources. With no lids, no walls and no restrictions, what would you do? I’ve always enjoyed this exercise. The creativity at first is minimal, because we are accustomed to taking restrictions, liabilities, and weaknesses into consideration, that’s the world we live in.
Our current circumstances, past experiences and the culture in which we inhabit daily, creates an environment that stymies dreaming. All that stuff creates barriers, obstructions and restrictions to what we want to do. Even though I can tell you that the barriers are removed, the restrictions are non-existent, and no dream is too farfetched for God to bring about, most of us still dream and think within the man-made restrictions.
Let me give you an example from nature to show you how we behave as well.
Fleas (don’t start itching just yet) can be trained. Fleas have a natural ability to jump. They don’t fly and they would never be able to catch your dog in a foot race. How do these tiny insects get around? Fleas are amazingly adept at flinging themselves into the air. Cat fleas, our most common flea pest, can propel themselves a full 12 inches forward or upward. That’s a jumping distance equal to roughly 150 times its own height. Some sources compare this to a human landing a long jump of nearly 1,000 feet. Scientists placed fleas into a glass jar. They left them in the jar for three days, then removed the lid. When placed into the jar, the fleas adjusted the height of the jump to just under the lid, or their current limitation, so they wouldn’t hit their head any longer. After the lid was removed the fleas still jumped to the height of the lid. They then removed the fleas from the jar completely. Even though the jar had been removed, the fleas never attempted to move beyond the boundaries they had been introduced to. They were in the jar for three days and it affected them forever.
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-Dn2KEjPuc ) Click here to watch a video on this!
How long have you been in the negative environment in your life? How long have been bumping into those restrictions? Even though Christ has removed all of those them when you accepted Him, are you still living within the boundaries of your past or even your present circumstances?
You will never know the restrictions have been removed until you take a leap of faith! Martin Luther King Jr. said it this way, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
You have the capacity to make a difference! You have the capacity to move beyond the limitation or the perceived lid! Often times, we stay and jump with the rest of society because we are afraid to stand out, for fear of the criticism of others. Critics are a lid that you put on! Ignore them and go after what you’ve been born to do! Critics are like fleas, who survive by sucking the life out of others. There is a treatment for that. The first thing you must do is remove yourself from the environment of the fleas.
Capacity can be increased in your life. Here are a few suggestions for you:
You can never share dreams with those who aren’t dreamers. You can’t talk about achieving your goals with those who don’t have any goals!
2 Corinthians 9:10 in the New Living Translation says:
“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”
Make this declaration! Beginning today, I’m expanding my capacity for success. I’m taking the limits off. I’m enlarging my borders which are without limitations.
I no longer have a lid! I will be all that God has called me to be, in Jesus name!
Chemistry isn’t a word we normally hear in the church setting. We use a different word, unity! The Apostle Paul gives quite a descriptive take on the body of Christ. For a moment, allow me to compare it to a team. Every team has roles, and the members of the team fulfill those roles. The team doesn’t work or win, without each part playing their role to the best of their ability.
The body of Christ, or the team, has many roles. The Apostle Paul labeled them as body parts. The meaning though, and the consequences are the same as of a team. If the parts/roles are fulfilled and the individuals fulfilling those roles do them to the best of their ability, then the team wins! The church wins. The opposite is also true.
No doubt, you’ve witnessed a team with all the roles being filled, every person doing exactly what they are assigned to do, yet, the team wasn’t successful. Meanwhile, the opposing team may have been less talented people fulfilling roles, even have a few roles vacant, yet they came out victorious. It came down to team chemistry. One team was enjoying each other, feeding off each other, playing off each other’s ability. Through that, they overcame the insufficiencies they had because of the chemistry of the team.
Team Chemistry = Every part working seamlessly together towards a common goal.
To have team chemistry, each role must understand it’s importance! They must understand that the outcome is totally dependent on them. Now I know what you’re thinking. You mean the equipment manager is equally important as a Lebron James to the team? I could argue the equipment manager is more important, or at least equally important. Lebron James wouldn’t be able to play in his street clothes on the court, so the equipment manager having the uniforms there is of vital importance. No equipment manager means no team on the floor. The equipment manager doesn’t make the starting lineup, but he is of great value to the team.
In the church, there are parts that never make it to the headlines, but they are equally important. Chemistry is every part playing its role for the success of the organization. Every part must understand it’s value, and we cannot devalue another.
The Apostle Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 12
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it
Honoring one another and the gift that is within each of us, is what brings “harmony”. Honor is the key ingredient in chemistry. In the church, when honor is given is often when people, who’ve done equally important things, can feel that they’ve been left out. This leads to people becoming upset or frustrated. However, when one is honored all parts should be glad. Why? Because when one member is honored, we are to be glad for the whole, the entire body or team. That’s keeping the chemistry (unity) of the team.
When you witness people getting upset, frustrated or even angry over another individual’s accolades or success, you’ve witnessed the enemy at work. The enemy introduces pride into the situation and pride is a chemistry killer. Pride is about me, chemistry is about team!Humbleness and honor go hand in hand, and both produce unity in the body of Christ.
Chemistry is vital to the church, for when the church is in harmony with each other, there is a commanded blessing.
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
2It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
3It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility
21 But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 22 They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.
In both references above, the issue at hand is growth. Growth creates problems and for those problems to be solved, there must people who can help solve problems.
In Exodus, Jethro said these people had to be capable. In Acts, it reads they must be full of the Spirit and wisdom. Both are describing how a leader should have competency when placing people into leadership if you want to move the group forward!
Whether you know it or not you’re a leader. You’re leading yourself first and foremost, and more than likely you’re leading someone else. However, the most important person you’re leading is yourself. The capability of leading ourselves is a skill that many ignore. By ignoring it, we are not improving or increasing our capabilities; therefore, we become stagnant.
We often will get into a comfort zone. We get comfortable with the ways things have been and the way things are. We continue to do the things that we are comfortable in doing, but expect a different result. That doesn’t happen! What you’ve been doing will produce the same results you’ve been getting. Leading is about moving forward!
Are you moving forward, or have you become stagnated?
If you want to move forward and lead yourself better, you have to increase your competency. To increase our competency, we have to know ourselves. Do you know your strengths? Do you know your weaknesses? Beyond knowing them, are you willing to admit you have them, especially the weakness part? You’ll never improve yourself living in denial, nor can there be healing in hiding. You improve yourself by admitting you have weaknesses and a need for healing, and then take the necessary steps in improving yourself.
If you don’t know what areas you need to improve in, find someone who will be honest with you, and ask them. Ask your family, your friends, and trusted teammates. The things, or areas where you need to improve, are often completely obvious to those around you! Some areas to look at for developing your competency are: communication and listening skills, delegating, giving and receiving feedback, encouraging, hiring, work ethic, technology, or discipline. Take a moment and think on those things. What areas do YOU feel you need to change?
We have been using a simple little system for our staff called the Enneagram test. The Enneagram shows you how you view the world. You can find that here:
There is another tool called the Myers-Briggs. This tool shows you how the world views you. That’s a whole another level of charging out of your comfort zone. You can find that here: https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/take-the-mbti-instrument/home.htm?bhcp=1
I would encourage you to charge out of the comfort zone you are in! You charge out of a comfort zone by challenging the way things are.
Stretch your thinking, increase your understanding, do something you’ve never done, enlarge your capacity for increase by believing for something you previously thought was impossible.
The bible is filled with people who charged out of their comfort zones! They did it by believing God and then they went for it! You can too!
Believe God. . .like Abraham, who left what was familiar and held onto the promises of God.
Believe God. . .like Noah, who had never seen rain but built an ark.
Believe God. . .like the Centurion, who knew that one word from Jesus would bring life to a dead situation.
Believe God. . .like David, who took a rock and defeated the giant.
If God is going to enlarge your borders, you’ll need to leave your comfort zone and the predictable behind,so He can increase your capacity to believe and receive beyond your previous expectations.
Have you ever been ready to cook a meal, only to notice that you are missing some key ingredients? Suddenly,you find yourself scrounging around looking for substitutes! Or your mind starts wondering what the dish would taste like if you just altogether skipped putting those ingredients in. Maybe it will turn out and maybe it won’t, but it’s just a dinner dish, right? The truth of the matter is that we either didn’t put the effort in when it came to planning this meal, or we just didn’t take the time to go to the store and pick up the necessary ingredientsto make the dish!
Let me ask you this.
Do we make those same judgment calls when trying to become the individual God wants us to become?
If I just leave this out, maybe don’t tell the whole truth. If I just substituted this for that, then maybe I can just make it all work out. Far too many Christians and Christian leaders have been substituting and leaving things out,and then when we are put to the test, we don’t pass the taste test. We look, taste and sound nothing like the recipe book (The Bible) says we should.
Look at the litmus test placed before the disciples in choosing people to serve tables. Serving tables seems like such a mundane task. Can’t we just get people that don’t fit anywhere else and make them the servers?That’s not the way it went at all. You will find this in Acts 6:3 (Feel free to read the whole chapter in your study time).
3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.
Seven men who are well respected. This to me speaks that these men had to have good character. These men would be serving widows, so if they didn’t have good character they could possibly take advantage of these widows in their time of grief.
Regardless of the simplicity of the task in which you find yourself serving in, we as Christians are to serve with integrity! It’s a marker of your character. The small thing that doesn’t deserve your integrity or your best effort, will become the ceiling of your life. If you cannot be trusted in small things, you’ll never get the privilege to serve in larger ones.
Furthermore, as leaders we must ensure that we don’t lack character in choosing people to serve. I know the pressure of our day is to create a place for everyone to serve, and that is our duty as leaders. However, there is also a biblical mandate to ensure that we choose people to serve that are well-respected, full of the Spirit and of wisdom!
These seven men were going to serve in a hot mess!People were already grumbling and complaining! There was frustration that was being exhibited to the point that it reached the Apostles. Because of the emotions that were prevalent, these seven men were going to have to present a unified front. They needed to get along! Other people’s complaints and frustrations can be a wedge of division to those who are serving. When frustration from others begins to creep in, it will magnify the character flaws of the team. Strong character helps build team chemistry. Character is vitally important when serving a frustrated and devastated people!
In serving one another, we should do all that we can to strengthen and protect our character.
Myles Munroe stated, “Solid Character will reflect itself in consistent behavior, while poor character will seek to hide behind deceptive words and actions”.
In terms of building character, what you do speaks louder than what you say. If you are serving, then serve and act to build a character that is well-respected.