The Problem With Self Righteousness

The problem with self-righteousness is that it is oh so easy to slip into.  We scorn the Pharisees for how they treated the masses as well as Jesus, yet in many ways we can quickly act like them without realizing it.

  • When we begin to start thinking we know a person’s heart and feel like we can talk/blog/tweet/etc. about them because we’ve read clips of what others have read on them, we dive into self-righteousness.  Now this type of self-righteousness we easily justify as “holding someone accountable” or other spiritual responses on it, but it is still self-righteousness.  Example: Mark Driscoll – he shows up on a public stage after stepping down from a church a week prior and suddenly everyone wants to say his reasons for doing so as if we know his heart.  I’m not defending the man, I’m just saying we don’t know motives.  When we think we do and therefore elevate ourselves above someone, we start to get into self-righteousness.
  • When someone comes into our church dressed poorly (in our standards) or with styles that don’t match our tastes, and we are more concerned about that than excited they have chosen to fellowship with us at church, we start to become self-righteous.
  • When someone gets saved and we are more concerned with them confirming to our standards rather than continuing to be excited they are saved (and looking to invest into them and let the Spirit do His work), we start to become self-righteous.
  • When newer in the faith Christians start to wonder why the older in the faith Christians aren’t as excited as they are about the Gospel, self-righteousness can start to creep in.
  • When we write blogs or articles to talk bad about the church or others, we can elevate ourselves into self-righteousness.

There is always a place for exhortation in the body of Christ and it should be there.  The problem is when the one doing the exhorting is doing it without humility and love (and just saying “I’m doing this in love” doesn’t always make it love).  We must always examine our own hearts as to our reasons for saying this or that.

But the problem with self-righteousness is that it is so easy to slip into.

This blog post comes from the thoughts of the sermon on John 5:1-47 titled “Jesus: Seeker, Fulfiller, Defender” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings

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You Don’t Have a Boring Testimony

“Likewise I say to you, the is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15:10

As we studied John 4:27-54 on Sunday and mentioned how your testimony can help bring a harvest of souls, I spoke on that no one has a boring testimony and I want to reiterate that point here in this post.

Often times we hear “amazing” testimonies (sometimes brag-a-monies if the sin is highlighted over the salvation from it) where a person was in drugs or killing people or paralyzed and they heard the Gospel, received Christ and were radically changed.  Those that do not have a testimony that wows the crowd can feel as if they should not share their testimony because it is boring because they grew up in a Christian home and knew Christ at a young age, or because “there isn’t much too it”.  They can feel as if the world does not need to hear how they were lost and now found because they weren’t “into the evils of the world” as much.  If that is you (or you have ever felt that way of someone else’s testimony) let me say:

YOUR TESTIMONY IS NOT BORING…and for four reasons.

1. Angels rejoiced in heaven when you got saved.  Whether it was at 5 years old or 35 years old, they rejoiced in Heaven for you!  And Scripture only tells us of 4 other things they rejoice about which makes your testimony a big deal to them.

2. You were lost and now are found – it doesn’t matter of “how lost” because Heaven and Hell is not based on levels of righteousness (or lack thereof) that we can think in.  By nature we are sinners and the fact that we sin just proves that point.  We sin because we are sinners not the other way around.  A person who stole a penny but doesn’t know Christ is as lost as the person killing others who doesn’t know Christ.  Jesus died for you and saved you!  That is pretty miraculous.

3. Jesus is still working in you!  That is part of your testimony right there.  The fact He continues to shape you and grow you and conform you more to His image is unbelievably amazing.

4. Those of us who knew the ways of the world and did not grow up in a Christian home wish we had.  We wish we did not need to know the pain of a sinful lifestyle and could have been in that environment.

So don’t convince yourself your testimony is boring.  Get out there and share it!  It is the one thing people can’t argue about.  There are at least 2 billion people who will die without Christ during your lifetime (and to understand 2 billion, like I taught on Sunday, if I gave you $1 every 2 seconds from the day you were born to the day you died, you would still not reach 2 billion dollars).  These people need to hear about Christ, they need to hear about your testimony.  Share it! (but remember to keep Christ at the center…focus should always be on Him not you).

 

Sunday’s message from John 4:27-54, “White for Harvest”, can be heard in its entirety here: A Place of Refuge as well as other sermons from our teachings through the Gospel of John

Serving Through Weariness

Ever been weary?  No brainer question huh?

Every been weary and someone has wanted/needed something from you?  If you have/had small children you’re thinking “umm…everyday!”.

When you are weary, you just want to relax.  The bed, the couch, a warm bath, etc, are the places you just want to be.  Serving others is often the last thing on our mind.  We often feel we just don’t have the energy to do so.

Jesus understands.  He knew what it was like to be weary (and hungry and thirsty and sleepy), but it was at one of His weary points that He impacted a whole town of Samaria drawing them to Himself.  In John 4:6, Jesus weary from His travels sits at a well where He encounters the Samarian woman.  He needed to go through Samaria we read (verse 4) and I believe it was to minister to these Samaritans that were outcasts to the Jewish society.  Jesus did not let weariness keep Him from ministering.

In those times of weariness, ask Him for strength and rely on His strength (His strength is made perfect in our weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9).  Those times can be some of the sweetest time of ministry because we get to see Him come through.  But if we don’t minister anytime we are weary, then the enemy will find a way to keep us wearied and tired.

Jeremiah 12:5 states, “If you have run with the footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with the horses?  And if in the land of peace in which you trusted they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?”  In other words, if the small battles weary you and make you sit out, you won’t stand a chance when the bigger battles come.

So saints, keep serving no matter how weary or how hard your day was.  Understand Jesus is both our rest (Matthew 11:28) and our strength, and one day we will no longer have these battles.  Until then serve through the weariness and watch how the Lord will use you.

Often those anointed appointments we spoke about on Sunday come at the times of weariness.

 

Sunday’s message on John 4:1-26, titled “The Anointed Appointment”, can be found at www.refugesanger.com/teachings.  This blog post is a devotional thought based on a point from the message.

Ministry is Not Competition

We covered John 3:22-36 this past Sunday in a message titled “HE > i” (He Greater than I).  To hear this study and others, feel free to visit us here.  I want to focus this blog on verses 25-26 and get a little more in-depth.

The story unfolds with John the Baptist’s disciples coming to him in what seems like complaining that people are now following Jesus’ ministry rather than John the Baptist.  Perhaps there was talk of, “listen John, if people keep going to Jesus, we won’t have a ministry!”  John’s great response can be found in verses 27-30 but I won’t get to that.

It seems like these disciples viewed Jesus’ ministry as competition.  It was good at first when His following was small and it was exciting to see other people begin to get stirred up for things of the Lord.  But then it got a little personal when it “hit home” and the great ministry of John the Baptist was slowly giving way to the ministry of Jesus.  These disciples weren’t quite sure how to handle this fact and are maybe hoping for John to rally up the troops and try to earn more followers than Jesus.

Really it isn’t all that uncommon on what happens today within American Christendom.

In an attempt to prove ourselves worthy, we seek to throw out numbers to boast of why we are the better church.  We create billboards to show why you should leave your church and come to our church.  We denounce other churches different from our own or go to great links to make us vs them mentality (we dress in whatever is comfortable, we have contemporary worship, we teach such and such way, etc.).  And really, we can take it personally if someone goes to another church other than our own.  These are the things that happen when we take our eyes off Jesus and the reasons He created the church and instead focus on the church as some sort of business who is in competition with other businesses for parishioners.

We, at Refuge, are glad we have so many that call Refuge their home, but we also understand we aren’t “better” than any other church.  We do ministry in different ways not to be different, but because we believe in our methods for best accomplishing the vision God has given us to do ministry: to equip people, to know Jesus more personally, and to go to all the nations (what we call our “heartbeat of ministry”, our EKG).  We teach verse-by-verse because we feel it is what feeds the body the best, but it doesn’t make us the better church.  We are more casual and contemporary in service style because that is just what fits us, but it doesn’t make us better than the suit/tie church down the street.  In fact I’ve said that if someone feels they can get better fed and personal needs met elsewhere (and aren’t just leaving because of rift with another person or something arbitrary like that), then I want to help them find that place that will help with that.  Bottom line to use metaphors from Scripture: these aren’t MY sheep – they are God’s.  He allows me to shepherd them but if He moves them to another shepherd, so be it.  My reputation, my calling, my view of self is not based on the numbers that come through the doors.

I think it is time that as believers, instead of categorizing each other by denomination or theological terms, we understand we are all ONE body and He has made certain fellowships to meet the needs of certain personalities.  If a church is not heretical in their teaching, we need to celebrate with them when people are coming and following Jesus.  We need to see more pastors coming together with other pastors of local churches and praying together for the cities and towns they are in (blessing to do that here in Sanger with other pastors).  We need to be willing to do ministry together and not worry about “whose church will get represented more”, but how can we lead the lost to Jesus.  We need to examine how we do ministry making sure we are doing the things we do and using the tools we use, not to try and draw large crowds and have a following, but because for us it is the best way to reach people and grow them in their walks with Jesus. Instead of striving for more followers on Twitter to feel important, simply use the tool to engage people for Christ.

Ministry is not about competition.  Servants don’t compete – we serve – and ministry means service.

Pastor Mike’s Sunday morning study on John 3:22-36 and other teachings, can be found at http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings or by clicking here