Category Archives: servanthood

Sauls and “Smalls”

LeeAnnRubsam.com

While attending a prayer gathering recently in which we were praying for our nation, I heard God speak that He wants to change the Christian leaders of America from Sauls into “smalls.”  This is true particularly of those who have the call of being an apostle upon their lives (whether their church tradition recognizes the existence of modern-day apostles or not).

The Apostle Paul’s name was originally Saul, and he was aptly named.  King Saul of the Old Testament was the epitome of zealously trying to accomplish God’s purposes in the power of man, and that’s what the New Testament Saul did, too — until His encounter with Jesus.  He eventually was affectionately nicknamed Paul, which means “small.”

God wants to take today’s leaders in the Church and turn them from Sauls to “smalls” — humble, dependent on Him alone, making themselves of no reputation, deeply servant-hearted.  The time is coming to an end when God will tolerate His leaders trying to fulfill the Great Commission through plans that they have devised from their own natural understanding or by trying to carbon copy someone else’s model of ministry.  The time of ministry empires which have forgotten their original focus and have become self-perpetuating entities is also coming to an end. 

What did Paul and the other early apostles have that many modern-day Christian leaders do not?  They carried a wide-eyed expectancy for unlimited miracles, stemming from utter dependency on Jesus, fueled by intimacy with Him.  They yielded themselves in obedience to whatever the Lord commanded them  — whether their reputations and popularity were ruined in the process or not.  They stayed small in their own eyes while keeping Jesus big in their gaze.

The power of the Lord will flow in America, with biblical signs, wonders, miracles, healings, deliverances, and even the raising of many from the dead.  But for that to happen wholesale, God must have leaders who carry His glory without usurping any of it for themselves.  That is going to take the turning of Sauls into smalls.

Understanding Honor (Part 8) — The Lord’s Reward

LeeAnnRubsam.com

We said in the beginning of this series that genuine honor can only come from God.  We also talked about the path to honor, which is honoring others before ourselves – God first, and then other people.

Humility is another prerequisite for receiving honor: “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (Proverbs 15:33).  But, as we said last time, humility is not putting ourselves down.  Humility is lining ourselves up with what God says and depending on Him to care for us, fulfill our destiny in His timing, and bring whatever vindication, recognition, and approbation are needed, as He sees fit.  Humility is a place of rest in Him.

The devil’s lie to mankind has always been that God is trying to keep us from having good things, including honor.  The story of Balaam and Balak in Numbers 22-24 is a prime example.  King Balak tried to flatter Balaam, a prophet who was also involved in sorcery, into cursing Israel for him.  The rewards dangled in front of Balaam were money, recognition, and power.

Balaam blessed Israel, rather than cursing them, although not out of a pure heart of obedience toward God.  And Balak responded with anger: “Therefore now flee to your place: I thought to promote you to great honor; but, look, the LORD has held you back from honor” (Numbers 24:11).  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  Had Balaam yielded himself in pure devotion to the Lord, God would have seen to his honor.  But Balaam believed what the king was accusing God of – because it was what he was already convinced of in his deceived heart.  The result?  Balaam devised a plan to destroy Israel, whom he knew were the beloved of God, and he was killed in battle while siding with Israel’s enemies (Numbers 31:16; Numbers 31:8).

We are all apt to make the same mistake that Balaam made – attempting to seize honor for ourselves by manipulation or by receiving the flatteries of men.  And the root of conniving to get honor for ourselves is believing that God does not want to give us good things.  Sometimes the opportunities that arise for temporary or premature honor are pretty tempting.  But if we care most of all about what God thinks of us and if we understand that He truly loves to honor His own, we will keep out of the trap. 

How can you believe, who receive honor from each other, and do not seek the honor that comes only from God? John 5:44 

If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. The man who serves me is the man whom my Father will honor.John 12:26 

By understanding the destiny purpose that God has for us, as well as who we are in Christ Jesus, we can function confidently in the position He has given us.  Sure, this requires stepping into that place little by little, as God releases us into it.  Coming into our destiny takes a great deal of patience and dependence on the Lord.  We have to let Him lead in the timing, or we are likely to make a mess by stepping ahead of Him.  (Moving ahead of God is often where we get into striving for honor.)

In conclusion, seek the honor of God above all else.  If you strive for the honor of men, it will always elude you.  But as you rest in the honor of God, the honor of men will overtake you without you ever knowing how.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 7) — Honoring Ourselves

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Understanding Honor (Part 7) — Honoring Ourselves

LeeAnnRubsam.com

You may have seen that title and thought I was going to talk about how wrong it is to honor ourselves.  Not exactly.

It is true that we should not boast, try to draw attention to ourselves, or otherwise seek to manipulate people to give us honor.  Jesus had a few things to say about the hypocrites  who stood on the street corner and let everybody know about their great spirituality (Matthew 6:1-16).  But, in this post, I want to present the positive aspect of respecting ourselves because we are the Lord’s possession.

We have great value, simply because we are His.  I mentioned in an earlier post that all people are to be honored because they are God’s creation.  That includes you.  Beyond our value as created beings, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:20 that we are “bought with a price.”  That price was the suffering and death of God’s own Son.  We are costly jewels in His sight, and therefore should treat ourselves as such.

Too many of us, due to emotional wounds that we have received, dishonor ourselves in our minds and in our speech.  “I am no good.”  “God doesn’t love me.”  “I don’t think anyone could love me.”  “I am ugly.”  “I am unworthy.”  “I am not as good as so-and-so.”  “I am stupid.”  “God can’t use me.”  These are all lies.

Some of us have been taught by our families or our church culture that putting ourselves down is the modest way to speak and think.  We argue when people try to compliment us on our appearance, a character strength, or a job well done. This is a false humility, though.  Any “humility” that causes us to say things that do not line up with what God says about us is false.

Really, righteous honoring of ourselves is all about accepting the honor which God bestows upon us and confidently walking in it.  We will wrap up this series by expanding on that thought next time.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 6) — Church Leadership
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 8) — The Lord’s Reward

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Understanding Honor (Part 6) — Church Leadership

LeeAnnRubsam.com

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who have the rule over [oversee] you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as those who must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief — for that is unprofitable for you. 

Honoring church leadership seems to be a lost art in our day, but quite frankly, God commands it – including obedience to them. 

I understand that there are abuses.  I went through the Shepherding Movement back in the 70’s and early 80’s, and experienced its extremes firsthand.  Yes, some church leaders are control freaks.  But a lot of them aren’t. 

Life in the Spirit is about freedom, not bondage.  “… Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). We have to balance between not permitting controlling people to enslave us and humbly submitting ourselves in accountability to godly leadership. 

In order to rightly discern whether someone is “controlling” or whether we are the ones with the issues, we must understand what’s going on inside of us personally.  I’ve seen good pastors who were not control freaks be accused of that — but the real problem was that their accusers did not want to receive much-needed correction.  Know your own heart before you paste labels on your leadership.  But if you are in a control environment, you don’t have to stay there.  Find the church where God wants you to be, under a godly shepherd who knows how to honor his congregation. 

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 

The literal meaning of “double honor” in this verse is concerning finances.  Corporately, the local church should honor good leadership by paying them well for the hard work they do.  Individually, we honor them by giving generous offerings to support their ministry.  If you don’t tithe and give offerings in your local fellowship, you are dishonoring your pastor.  You will inevitably put your money where your heart is. 

What we say about our church leaders is a strong indicator of whether we honor them in our hearts.  Having the pastor for lunch — shredding who he is and what he preaches at the dinner table — is not acceptable in God’s sight.  Numbers 12 is the story of Miriam and Aaron having a grumbling session, because they did not like some of the things Moses was doing.  God made it quite clear that He was not happy with their behavior.  I don’t think any of us would want God to deal with us similarly.

Our leaders are going to make mistakes — lots of them.  But give them grace.  Support them.  Love them.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). 

Honoring God-ordained leadership by receiving their correction, embracing their vision, supporting that vision with our finances, and pulling alongside them in oneness of heart brings God’s favor upon us, while bucking their authority, withholding finances, and speaking disrespectfully of them thwarts our ability to come into the full destiny that God intends for us.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 5) — Those in Authority  
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 7) — Honoring Ourselves

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Understanding Honor (Part 4) — Who Should Receive It?

LeeAnnRubsam.com

We said that on the most basic level, all people are to be honored, just because they are human, created by God in His image.  The Bible goes on to talk about specific people upon whom we should bestow honor.

You’ve heard the statement, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and it is true.  We tend to take for granted those we are closest to.  We see their faults clearly, and sometimes we forget how much we love them in the midst of current difficulties.  But we can train our minds and our mouths to dwell on their good points. 

Other believers – 

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each of us esteem [honor] others better [more] than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:3, 4 

Be kindly affectionate to each other with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. Romans 12:10

Honor all men. Love the brotherhood …. 1 Peter 2:17

Husbands/wives –

Likewise, husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; so that your prayers are not hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.Colossians 3:18, 19

Submission is not a popular topic in our day.  But essentially, submission is deferring to someone else and honoring him.  In the case of wives submitting to husbands, this honor is conferred by recognizing the husband’s role as head of the home and allowing him to move in the authority God has given him for the protection of the family unit.  For more on how honor between the husband and wife is meant to work, see Ephesians 5:21-33.  It is supposed to be a harmonious giving and receiving of honor, and when done rightly, blessing flows to all concerned. 

Parents/old people – Proverbs 30:17 gives us a vivid picture of what God thinks about those who do not respect their parents: “The eye that mocks at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.”  Bluntly, “If you don’t want to come to a bad end, don’t scorn your parents.” 

Throughout the Bible, the commandment to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long” (Exodus 20:12), is repeated time and again.  Paul points out in Ephesians 6:2 that it is the first commandment with a promise attached to it – long life.  Honoring our parents is important to God, not only while we are young and growing up under their roof, but also once we have reached our adult years – even when our parents are old and feeble. 

Because our society has lost its respect for those who are not beautiful and full of youthful vigor, it is easy for those of us in the Church to slip into not esteeming the elderly as we ought. Yet God says, “You shall rise up before [stand up in respect toward] the white-haired head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32). 

Children – If we would see them from God’s perspective – who they are in Christ, what they will become as they mature, how valuable they are to Him – perhaps it would help us listen to them better and be more patient with them.  We always see Jesus treating them tenderly. 

Years ago, Romans 15:1 came to my attention in connection with having patience with my small children: “We, then, who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”  The verse could apply to anyone who tries our patience through their weaknesses or their need for care, from the very young to the very old. For me, it became a verse to help me bear the nonstop needs of my little ones. 

So, children must be honored, too.  We must remember that they have feelings that can be hurt deeply.  We need to listen to them, encourage them, and otherwise give them time and affection. 

On the other hand, indulging their every whim, not disciplining them, and giving them the same freedoms as adults when they have not yet learned to handle responsibility is a false honor that only brings destruction to their future.  Genuine honor keeps things in perspective, looking at the long term goal of bringing them up into their full potential in Christ Jesus. 

Next time: Honoring those in authority.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 3) — And Moves on to Them 
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 5) — Those in Authority 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Understanding Honor (Part 3) — … And Moves on to Them

LeeAnnRubsam.com

Last time I said that if we wish to receive honor, we must first give it – first to God, and then to other people. 

When asked which was the great commandment, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).  God always comes first, but the second great commandment is to love one’s fellow man as oneself.  Giving honor to others is part of fulfilling this command. 

We honor people on different levels and for different reasons.  The most basic place to start is in honoring all human beings — no matter who they are, what they look like, what they’ve done, and whether we agree with them or not – just because they all are God’s creation, made in His image.  1 Peter 2:17  says to “Honor all men ….”

I think we’ve got a lot to work on at this basic level.  Respect for others just because of their human status has really been lost in our culture, and the Church isn’t doing much better with it than the world around us.  We seem to think that if people hold a different viewpoint than ours, or if they indulge in certain sins, that it’s OK to revile them, whether in our outward speech or in our heads.  But scorn is not a virtue.  “Blessed is the man who does not … sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1). 

I’m not saying that anything goes, or that we are to tolerate everything.  We can recognize and oppose wrong thinking and wrong behavior – but in the process, we must treat people with respect and tact.  Probably the primary reason that we have not had great success in reaching the lost is because we have not honored them.  To honor is to love.  Perhaps we’ve been too busy looking down our religious snoots to be able to see them as Jesus sees them — valuable, potential-filled, love-worthy beings.  We sometimes forget the muck that we ourselves have come out of and the grace that was given to us in our early days in Christ. 

When being right is more important to us than respecting those who may be in the wrong, we are eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, rather than the tree of life.  It got Adam and Eve into big trouble, and it still gets us into trouble today. 

Next time we’ll bring it down to some nitty-gritty details of honoring others.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 2) — It Starts with Him 
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 4) — Who Should Receive It?

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Understanding Honor (Part 2) — It Starts with Him

LeeAnnRubsam.com

There is a biblical principle that stretches across many facets of our lives, from finances to friendship: we must give in order to receive.  Honor is no exception.  The one who would receive it must first hand it out – first to God, and secondly to people.

How do we honor God?  Primarily through loving obedience to Him and through putting Him first, above other people and above ourselves.

You shall have no other gods before me.Exodus 20:3 

And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5 

If you love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15 

In addition to obedience, we honor Him with our genuine worship.  There are many verses throughout the Bible which demonstrate the honoring of God through worship in heaven and on earth: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen”  (1 Timothy 1:17).  

We honor Him with our finances: “Honor the LORD with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase: so shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst out with new wine”  (Proverbs 3:9, 10).

Quite honestly, if we cannot cheerfully give our money to God – the tithe (10%) and offerings above that, as mentioned in Malachi 3:8-11 — we are not honoring Him.  He held nothing back from us, giving His own Son, and yet, do we dare to presume to withhold from Him?

Say what you want about the tithe being an Old Testament principle that went out with the Law.  It’s not about following a rule.  It’s about a heart attitude.  New Testament believers who are governed by the Spirit of Life will find themselves honoring the Lord with their finances beyond the prescribed tithe and offerings mentioned in the Old Testament.  Even the Old Testament saints understood this, and we must, too.

So, if we wish to receive honor, we must first honor the Lord.  And we must honor other people.  We’ll talk about the people aspect next time.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 1)
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 3) — And Moves on to Them 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam