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Sunday, March 18, 2012

More Than Just Talk

1 Corinthians 4:20 (NIV) 
20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

You have probably heard someone spout off about how good he is at something. He may say he is a great guitar player, singer or even fighter but when the time comes he is either nowhere to be found or can't measure up to his own words. We say, " He is all talk."

Many Christians fall into this category. They tell others what needs to be done but do not do it themselves. They speak of how the preacher, the deacons, the Sunday School teachers or any other person at the church should act when they fail to do so themselves. They fail to see the irony in the words, "I won't go back to that church because they are the most unforgiving people I have ever met." How can anyone make that statement and be a forgiving person?

Many people will endeavor to live up to the words they have spoken. Somehow people justify their actions by saying that, "I am only doing what I said I would do." Of course this would all be fine and good if they said good things all the time but out of the mouth come blessings and cursing. The real problem comes from the heart.

 Matthew 12:34 (NIV)
34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.


The problem of evil actions resides in the heart. The overflow of the heart results in words be spoken.

One time I asked a man what it would take for him to forgive me. He immediately answered before he thought. He said, "You can't do anything to get me to forgive you." He corrected himself because he realized another minister was listening. He didn't want this repeated among the church members. Yet, I believe I heard the overflow of his heart before he was able to think.

The mouth can be a deadly evil in two ways. It can produce an outright curse that is easily seen as evil. It can lead the person who says righteous things into a false sense of security. He may genuinely believe he will do what he says. The problem is that he has no power to do it.

This would not be the case if our hearts were fully committed to the Lord. Then, our mouths would speak from the overflow and our actions would follow those words. The power to live the believer's life is seen in the ability to speak and do the word of God. It, also, should be hidden in our hearts so that the overflow is one of power.

The problem Paul had with the Corinthian church was their lack of faithfulness to the gospel. They certainly talked the talk. They were like Saul claiming that he had done all that God had commanded without realizing he had edited God's commands. He did not know that God's word does not need to be edited. It simply needs to be done.

So, my prayer is not to do what I say but to have both words and heart be in harmony with the Lord. I think David said it best:

 Psalm 19:14 (NIV)
14 May the words of my mouth
            and the meditation of
            my heart
      be pleasing in your sight,
      O Lord, my Rock and my
           Redeemer.

4 comments:

high-expressions said...

I am NOT saying that if you work for the Lord, then you will NOT be caught in situations where you are "powerless", but for a Christian, it is power may manifest, when one is acting in line with God's will and desires. And that includes living our lives AND serving God. Now, I specifically use the conjunctive, "AND", although, serving God is within and part of our lives; it is just that, in many believers' concept of life, that “serving God”, is non-existing, or serving God is being too generalized, even to the extent that, if “I do NOT steal, kill and destroy, then I am already living according to the will and desires of God”.

While going to school to study as a student, or going to work in the office or the farm, and going back home and attending to our immediate family cannot be said as outside of God's will and desires, the question is: Is doing the very minimum, the way of one who loves God (I am sorry, you do have to love God!), or claims to be loving God? That is exactly what many do, attend to such "their own businesses", and for all other things, just talk about them. N.A.T.O is the acronym for it - [N]o [A]ction [T]alk [O]nly.

Believers with such mindset only want to do the minimum, but they demand the maximum power to manifest for them. Is there anything wrong with this mindset? Yes, it is bordering to saying, “God owes me; He owes it to me. It is He has to be faithful to make it happens for me, since it is said that He loves me unconditionally, He is all powerful, and He is all faithful. He wants me, right(?), then He got to do it, for me; make sure I do NOT shame Him, that I, NOT, be a bad example of a God's child (will reflect badly on Him). See, if I am NOT above the Jones, it only reflects on Him and His claims; you know, He has blessed and He is supposed to bless!" With this mindset, one will be prone to acquire related mindsets of the "same class", like, "God does NOT need our help; or God is OK that we just sit around and do nothing; God wants us to be happy-what; or God is our father-lah, He doesn't mind!" Hello, many fathers do mind, including me, NOT to say the Father God. We mind to see that our children don’t just sit around doing nothing, most of the time.

Even though God is faithful, and cares, we cannot use "He doesn't mind" on God! Scripture is also clear that paying lip-service or “talk only” is NOT adequate. Minimal mindset as portrayed above is bordering into paying lip-service and “talk only”.

In addition to the above “minimal mindset”, there is the 1 Cor 4:20 verse, about both arrogance and N.A.T.O (talk only, no action). Some people, they "talk big", and they cannot and will NOT deliver; they will NOT act on what they said. Others, they "talk big" and then they have to "pay through their nose", to "save face". When we talk and act according to the Kingdom's ways, it is different; there is a definite element coming into play, and that element is the power of God or the power of the Holy Spirit, NOT our power, NOT our might.

As a Christian, we must NOT be arrogant, what we talk, we must be prepared to deliver, meaning we mean what we say, and we have to “walk our talk”. Because we must mean what we say, and we must be prepared to deliver, we cannot be arrogant. So, as a Christian, when we do hold out to others, something "difficult" to achieve, we must be of the attitude that we are fully aware that we are looking to God to render His power by His Spirit, for our situation.

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high-expressions said...

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My understanding of the will and desires of God is that God desires His children to be deployed for His Kingdom; in other words, God is desiring that a believer be serving God in some way, and NOT just attending to our own things ONLY. If you are always saying, “Don’t mind Him (God)”, or “He (God) doesn’t mind”, you may find the power of God manifesting in your situations, to be very little; for God’s power is readily rendered for (His) Kingdom purposes or agendas. If you want to see more power of God in your lives, then, be engaging in the Kingdom’s affairs or be deployed for His Kingdom.

I am NOT saying everyone is to be a pastor; that is NOT the idea; it was NEVER such an idea, ever! Not all of God’s “original” children, the Israelites, were Levites, only some were. Others had other roles. NOT everyone needs to be a full-timer either. The central idea is “doing unto the Lord”. For example, this is hardly doing it unto the Lord: “Dear, it is time you go serve in the church for 6 months, so that our child can get into the church-affiliated primary school which is the feeder school for the prestigious junior college. You only need to serve 6 months as an usher, and then you can quit. In any case, you don’t have to sacrifice anything; you just need to be in church 30 minutes earlier, which we do anyway, because I always shop at the supermarket near the church before service.” Can you think of something you do as “doing unto the Lord”; or is it you cannot find even a single thing can be said to be close to “doing unto the Lord”?

Recently, I met a believer in his fifties, who is in affliction for a long time; he requested for prayers, and related that he had been going from churches to churches and other fellowships, requesting for prayers for his affliction. While there is nothing wrong with pursuing breakthrough for one’s condition, including getting prayers from more than one party (I dare NOT claim for myself or my church as the only channel that people must be helped or blessed by God), but he appeared to be a “rolling stone” (which will gather no moss), and he said he was doing a multi-years biblical studies leading to a diploma or degree. I asked him if he is serving in any way, and the answer is “No.” The point is this, he is wanting this and that, from God, but he was NOT and is NOT lifting a finger to do something for God. It is NOT that we have to earn God’s release of His power for our affliction, it is if we say we love God and His Word, we ought to, at least, do something for the One we love.

Helping as an usher or helping at the hospitality corner, serving coffee and snack do NOT need great biblical knowledge and understanding. I told the man, I would pray for him, but added that he should cease being a rolling stone, and do something he can do, for the Lord, just to love God. We do NOT necessarily have to understand how it is all linked-up, we just have to believe God’s power is manifest in His arena; and His arena is the arena when His ways are deployed, His will and desires are given heed to. Be involved in that arena, don’t be a bystander, all the time or in every situations.

If you get involved you are favored, relative to a bystander, or saboteur: Hebrews 6:7-12 –

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high-expressions said...

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7 Land {you and I or vessels} that drinks in the rain {Holy Spirit} often falling on it {we got to take in His Spirit; it is by His Spirit, power comes} and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God {favor of God}. 8 But land {we} that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned {Hell fire!?}. 9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him {unto Him} as you have helped his people and continue to help them {helping people in the Name of the Lord, God will NOT forget}. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end {diligently and faithfully do, in other words, persevere in doing}, in order to make your hope sure {What does it says, concerning what we are to do, to make our hope sure? – diligent to the very end}. 12 We do not want you to become lazy {don’t be a bystander}, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Heb 6:7-12) {words in curly brackets, mine}

Look, it is NOT too difficult to understand: When you are on God’s side as fighting men, has NOT God’s favor to be upon you, more; even when His favor is also on the “civilians”?! I mean God cannot be looking after the wealth-being of the civilians and NOT that of the fighting men. Now, no Great Commander feeds the civilians thus empowering them (but they are NOT fighting), but does NOT (feed, empower), his soldiers and then, still expect the weary soldiers to fight well! There is a lot of good sense in “We do God’s business, and God will take care of our business”; it is NOT we earn God’s care; it is God “cannot help” but cares, for we put Him and others, according to His will, first.

It is also NOT difficult to understand why God’s power is seen in the pursuits of the Kingdom. God is on a mission; so, it is obvious that His power is focused on that mission. What is that mission? It is NOT to love men while they live on earth, per se; that is NOT the mission of God. If it were, then, we should perhaps see lesser sufferings and afflictions, by believers, especially those with many years into the faith, or nearing the end of their runs; but it is NOT. The mission’s overriding goal, I believe, is to enable and prepare men to make it to live in a permanent setting, for eternity; which means relatively, earthly life is way, way too short, and it is being viewed as a temporal stay, which all men will transit out.

The mission is getting people to “sign up” and undergo the course or passage, and merge as graduates to go to the permanent place. Of course, God loves throughout, but His mission is that; and so, His powers are poured out for that. In other words, the power of God goes with the Kingdom. In this mission of God, Kingdom of Heaven is to invade the Kingdom of the World, and we are to enforce that. So, when it is for the Kingdom (of God), His power can be expected; when it is against the Kingdom, His power cannot be expected (to be in our favor); and when it is “neutral”, actually there is no such a thing; it only means it is NOT for God, and His power cannot be as predictable.

Empty talk, big talk, boastful talk or arrogance in speech (which comes from arrogance in the heart) are NOT in line with the ways of the Kingdom, and is NOT for the Kingdom, God’s power cannot be expected (to come in our favor). The authors of Scripture wrote about the undergirding grace coming from the love and faithfulness of God, and yet they often did NOT fail also to teach on how we can expect. It is NOT wrong to expect; great men and women of God expect, and when they expect (power of God), they experience/see; but it is we got to know if we have the favor of God.

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high-expressions said...

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Scripture said Jesus grew (even Jesus need to grow) in favor with God. Study the life of Jesus and we will know that Jesus diligently and faithfully do, NOT just talk, or just bask, but persevere in doing. Doing what? Clear in Scripture, “I am to do what my Father has me do, and I will do them and complete them”.

Can’t the favor of God be had, unconditionally? Yes, because it is in the same vein as the undergirding grace. Jesus started with favor, and He grew in favor. He grew because He acted, NOT just mere talk; He grew because He acted in the direction of the Kingdom mission; He grew because He rather suffer than be a bystander or saboteur. Judas Iscariot, in comparison, was with favor, but did NOT grow in it, and according to the ways of the Kingdom, what little he had, God took it away from him, and Judas’ ending, we all know. He did NOT truly embrace the ways of the kingdom, even when Jesus said clearly that the Disciples were a privileged lots, for the ways and truths of the Kingdom were made plain to them (others, had them, mostly in unexplained parables); in other words, Judas, still chose to be a bystander, and in the end, he chose to be a saboteur.

Talk is cheap, get moving in the direction of the Kingdom, stop being a bystander, and please don’t be a saboteur!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions