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Posts tagged ‘Spiritual Balance’

Spiritual Balance – Mature Leadership

Spiritual BalanceThe apostle Paul constantly engaged young men in on-the-job training to ensure that they would be mature, balanced leadership in the churches after he was gone.

Titus traveled with Paul, was given special assignments, and then made responsible for the churches of Crete.

In this passage, Paul stresses to him how right teaching lays the basis for a pattern of right living that fits both sexes and all ages in the church.

Interact with God’s Word:  Titus 2:1-15

  1. How is right living a reflection of right teaching (vv. 1, 7b?)
  2. What qualities (v. 2) make older men deserve respect?
  3. Paul states (v. 4) that older women should pass their values on to younger women. How does this letter demonstrate that the same applies to men?
  4. In what areas (v. 6) does Paul advise that young men need encouragement?
  5. Would following Paul’s guidelines for slaves (vv.9-10) make the gospel attractive where you work?
  6. Why, according to verse 14, did Jesus give His life for us?
  7. What should this motivate us to turn away from (v. 11)?
  8. What other positive motivation (v. 13) furnished us with God’s perspective on “this evil world” in which we live?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for a balanced understanding of His Word that motivates you to actively put it into practice in every area of your life.

Titus 2:1-15

1 But as for you, promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching. 2 Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have strong faith and be filled with love and patience. 3 Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good.

4 These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, 5 to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. 6 In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely in all they do.

7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. 8 Let your teaching be so correct that it can’t be criticized. Then those who want to argue will be ashamed because they won’t have anything bad to say about us.

9 Slaves must obey their masters and do their best to please them. They must not talk back. 10 or steal, but they must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way.

11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.

14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right. 15 You must teach these things and encourage your people to do them, correcting them when necessary. You have the authority to do this, so don’t let anyone ignore you or disregard what you say.

 

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, I realize that Satan would love to switch me off on some siding.  Please keep me on the mainline of Your will for me.

 

Spiritual Balance – Warning Signs

Spiritual BalanceKey Bible Verse: Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and affections.  – Psalm 26:2

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24

Like an out-of-round tire on an accelerating car, signs of an imbalanced life start out as a slow thump-thump-thump.

The truly important, eternal part of our lives—prayer, the spiritual disciplines—is usually the first to be overlooked, and ignoring the thump seems to bring no immediate consequence.  But as the pace picks up, the thump becomes louder, perhaps as the nagging complaints of loved ones and colleagues.

Turning up the car radio drowns it out, but soon the steering gear is shaking.  Your whole system’s out of whack, ready for a breakdown.

Maybe you should have run the diagnostics first:

  • Is relating to God a duty or delight?
  • Is your spouse complaining of loneliness?
  • Are you serving and enjoying fellowship in your church?
  • Do you make time to rest and enjoy leisure pursuits?
  • Have you isolated yourself from any deep, honest relationships?
  • Have you become more patient, kind, compassionate, or humble over the past year?
  • Will anything you’re doing earn eternal commendation? Or are you stuck on the hamster wheel of accumulating possessions and awards that will burn up at the end?

—Carolyn McCulley in Life@Work

My Response: Which diagnostic alerts me to a need for prayerful, prompt correction?

Thought to Apply: When [work] is carried to the extent of undermining life or unduly absorbing it, work is not praiseworthy but blameworthy.—Ralph Turnbull (writer)

Adapted from Life@Work (11-12/00)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I realize that Satan would love to switch me off on some siding. Please keep me on the mainline of Your will for me.

 

Spiritual Balance – Balance Beam

Spiritual BalanceKey Bible Verse:  Only simpletons believe everything they are told!  The prudent carefully consider their steps. Proverbs 14:15

Bonus Reading:   Acts 17:10-12

The Devil would love for you to believe that all moderation and compromise is of him.  But balance provides a stable base for building a revolution of love.

We need to find and maintain the middle ground about:

  • Work and worship. Some feel that praising God is the be-all and end–all. Others are more anxious to get out on the streets to start the Christian revolution. But if we’re going to do an effective job, it won’t be by our own might but by the Spirit of God.
  • Reckless faith and common sense. Christians are called to have faith, not to be credulous. It’s important to pray for discernment. Just because a man has a nice face, a good build, a pleasant manner, and a reputation for being godly, doesn’t mean that every word he says is true. Many naïve Christians, believing anything that sounds spiritual or involves a miracle—particularly if it’s in book form—have been misled.
  • Submission and individual guidance. If leaders lord it over their flock, serving themselves rather than God, they begin to lose their leadership credentials. If you’re under authority, be careful not to follow blindly or to let the leader carry all the responsibility for guidance.

—George Verwer in No Turning Back

My Response: Which of these three areas is my current challenge?

Thought to Apply: Enthusiasm is of the greatest value, so long as we are not carried away by it.—Johann Von Goethe (German poet)

Adapted from No Turning Back (Tyndale, 1983)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I realize that Satan would love to switch me off on some siding. Please keep me on the mainline of Your will for me.

 

Spiritual Balance – Either/Or Fallacies

Spiritual BalanceKey Bible Verse: Don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. … be mature and wise.  – 1 Corinthians 14:20

Bonus Reading:  Luke 11:37-42

Some believers emphasize attending retreats for a fresh peak of awareness and commitment. But it’s more than “letting go and letting God.”

The process of growth towards maturity is primarily your responsibility and should be happening 365 days a year. “Let the Holy Spirit fill and control you” (Ephesians 5:18) is a scriptural imperative.  But so is “Let the words of Christ … live in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).

Some maintain that a half-hour quiet time is indispensable. They insist on planning everything in detail.

Others feel that such disciplines are a devilish restriction of freedom, a temptation to rely on the flesh rather than the Spirit.

I’ve heard several (rather bad) sermons for which the preacher felt it was unspiritual to prepare. Yet both messages are in the Bible. There’s a time to step out in faith that things will work out—sometimes we have no choice; but there’s also a place for using the wits God gave us.

Some Christians so emphasize the anointing of the Spirit that they insist Bible schools, and careful teaching are of the Devil. What nonsense!

We desperately need trained theologians, pastors, and missionaries who are humble, broken, and filled with the Spirit.

—George Verwer in No Turning Back

My Response: An “either/or” I need to start viewing as a “both/and” is …

Thought to Apply: Scripture nowhere condemns the acquisition of knowledge. It’s the wisdom of this world, not its knowledge, that is foolishness with God.—H. A. Ironside

Adapted from No Turning Back (Tyndale, 1983)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I realize that Satan would love to switch me off on some siding. Please keep me on the mainline of Your will for me.

 

Spiritual Balance – Negate the Negative

Spiritual BalanceKey Bible Verse:  He is the divine Yes—God’s affirmation.  For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him.  – 2 Corinthians 1:19-20

Bonus Reading:  Titus 2:1-15

Many people have a basically negative outlook on life, with a streak of cynicism. If this continues to fit you, you and your wife will end up miserable, and your children will end up negative—about you!

There’s nothing wrong with seeing the negative side provided you’re prepared to work your way through to the positive side.

Sometimes we have to reprove another believer, though always in love. If you can’t speak hard truth in charity, then let someone else do it. You’re disqualified.

If we make our message and concerns 80 percent love and 20 percent judgment, then I reckon we have the balance about right.

Perhaps you’re a young Christian, anxious to impact your neighborhood with an aggressive outreach. Already you can see the elders at your church shaking their heads and muttering, “We tried that in 1954, and it didn’t work. You’ll only turn people off.”

Satan is keen to polarize old and young, pitting zeal against experience. Youths often condemn the established church.

One cult called it the “system” and urged people to leave it. Rebellious young people did so in great numbers.

Ironically, they ended up probably more regimented than in any branch of the Christian church.

—George Verwer in No Turning Back

My Response: I’d score my own love/judgment ratio as …

Thought to Apply: God, help us not to despise or oppose what we do not understand.—William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania)

Adapted from No Turning Back (Tyndale, 1983)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I realize that Satan would love to switch me off on some siding. Please keep me on the mainline of Your will for me.

Spiritual Balance – Devilish Division

Spiritual BalanceKey Bible Verse: Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly … and working together with one heart and purpose. Philippians 2:2

Bonus Reading:  Hebrews 5:11-6:1

Our enemy isn’t a funny character with horns and a pitchfork, but a clever, even attractive, being who deceives and sows havoc.

Once a person commits his life to Jesus, Satan does all he can to get him off on a tangent so that his Christian life will lose its impact.

His goal is to polarize us into different camps, sniping away at one another, rather than working together against him. Tempers rise, people grow upset, and start reacting to one another in the flesh. After polarizing comes paralyzing, and the Devil has won!

We are in a war situation. But that doesn’t mean our fingers always need to be on the trigger. Those who are militantly orthodox can often be unloving. It’s easy to end up with your doctrines all correctly labeled, ready to hit your neighbor over the head!

We also need to distinguish between basic Christian principles and the policies of a particular church or movement. I’m amazed at how Christians can get so uptight about trivial matters. Musical tastes, style of dress, using pews or chairs in church, all can cause confusion and division.

—George Verwer in No Turning Back

My Response: A distinctive I treasure, but which should not alienate me from faith-brothers, is …

Adapted from No Turning Back (Tyndale, 1983)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I realize that Satan would love to switch me off on some siding. Please keep me on the mainline of Your will for me.

 

Spiritual Balance – Swinging Pendulum

Spiritual BalanceWho Said It…James I. Packer

Time recently called him a “theological traffic cop.” “The [evangelical] movement has no formal arbiter,” it noted.

But “J.I. Packer, 78, an Oxford-trained theologian, claimed the role informally with his 1973 book Knowing God, which outlined a theology deeper and more embracing than many Americans had encountered.”

Jim, a Christianity Today executive editor, teaches theology at Regent College in Vancouver.

What He Said…Swinging Pendulum

Fifty years ago, evangelicals taught Christian living legalistically: “Don’t smoke or drink, cheat, lie, or chew, and don’t team up with those who do.”

In those days, avoiding the world’s defilements was the main concern. This school of thought discounted the idea that Christians are free to enjoy God’s creation while they try to change the world for the better.

Reaction against that thinking has led now to an opposite extreme. Many Christians have uncritically bought into the self-indulgent lifestyle of the secular world. Biblical condemnation of sexual irregularity and the self-serving quest for wealth, pleasure, and power is ignored, and the behavior patterns of most Christians seem indistinguishable from those of unbelievers.

In short, ghetto legalism has given way to uninhibited worldliness. Reaction? Yes. Recovery of balance? No.

Shall we ever achieve Christlike balance and involvement in the world on the basis of being utterly different from it? Let us try!

Adapted from Leadership (Fall/88)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, I realize that Satan would love to switch me off on some siding.  Please keep me on the mainline of Your will for me.