Satan’s Cycle of Shame

A works mentality can really tie you up in knots. You start performing for God because you think a good performance can win His approval. You focus on doing good deeds in order to be saved. I think we’ve got that wrong. Salvation is not about doing good deeds. Salvation is from God, and He gives it to us for free.

Satan runs rampant over us when we get caught in a works mentality. He wants us to do good deeds. He uses that mentality to mess with us. “Go ahead, man, work to make yourself feel good.” Suppose you host a fundraising event, and you help a local charity. Or you fund one of your church’s mission projects. Then you feel so good! But then you sin. You can’t help it, because you live in your flesh. Maybe you have an envious thought, maybe you look at a woman with lust in your heart, or maybe you judge your neighbor. Satan has been waiting for this moment. “Oh man,” he says. “Oh, man! Now you’ve done it. See that? You messed up big time. Better hold another fundraiser, because you need to make up for that. Don’t you want to feel good again, like you did before?”

That is shame. Satan shames you. His goal is to get you into a cycle of shame. When you feel shame, you feel bad about yourself, and when you feel bad about yourself, you start trying to convince yourself that you’re not bad. So you do another good deed. You do it to feel better, but you also do it to prove to God that you aren’t a bad person. Now you’re in a works mentality.

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Shame: that’s where Satan gets to work. He doesn’t have to make terrible things happen. All he has to do is use what’s in your head to destroy you. And when you live in shame and guilt, you go further and further away from God, until finally, you stop trusting Him.

It’s a cycle and it kills you. You die, because you don’t trust God.

But God is right there with you, helping you and advising you. God tells you what to say. “Hey, Satan, I’m holy and righteous, so you’re not guilting me into anything. I’m going to hold a fundraiser because I love my neighbor as myself. It’s got nothing to do with how I messed up. I already know I messed up, because I’m in my flesh and my flesh is always going to mess up.”

This is the wisdom that God gives us to fight Satan. Believe and know that you are holy and righteous in God’s eyes! Tell Satan, “My flesh is the only thing you control. And you know what? My flesh sucks. So congratulations. You have control over something that sucks.”

Your flesh has nothing to do with who you are. Never forget what God sees when He sees you: His very own child, beloved by Him, a prince or princess of His kingdom. Never forget. You are holy and righteous in His eyes.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Trust Issues

When He taught, Jesus used the paradigm of the kingdom of God, because the people gathered around Him understood monarchies. We have to try a little harder to form a kingdom mentality, but we can do it because it’s in our past, and it’s in our movies. We can learn to trust that the King has made us His sons and daughters, princes and princesses of the realm. We can learn to trust that when we represent Him in the world and need help, we can send word. He will help.

Still, it seems like it can be difficult for us to trust the King. We have a lot of trust issues with our own government today. Our representatives in government are making deals without regard to morality. They’ll actually sacrifice their own morals to make sure their agenda gets done. That’s what we have in government.

No wonder we don’t understand what it means to trust. Imagine living in the 17th century and the King says to you, “Come and be my son.” What do you think someone back then would have said? “I’m in!” But now, we hesitate. Now we say, “I don’t know, I kind of like living out here, outside the gates of the kingdom.” Why? Because we see government and we don’t see trust. We don’t get trust.

So we don’t understand that we can trust God, the King.

April 3 BlogWe’ve lost so much trust that we love Jesus and thank Him for saving us, but we still struggle to trust God. We don’t trust that He accepts us as His sons and daughters. We go out into the world, but we don’t really believe that we’ll be allowed back into the Kingdom. We think God will shut the gate behind us.

We forget that we can trust the King! So we get into a works mentality. We think we have to perform for God. We’re not perfect so we sin, and then we feel like we have to cover for how we acted. “I judged somebody, so I have to read five psalms today.” Or, “I had a lustful thought, so I have to put in two extra hours at the food pantry.” Or, “I thought I was a better Christian than my neighbor, so I have to go to Nicaragua and help build a new school.”

Now fulfilling the royal law becomes work. When you start doing stuff to make yourself feel better because you sinned, then you have a works mentality. This is legalism.

If you do something in order to show people what you’ve done, you’ll be dissatisfied. You won’t feel very good when you’re done. But if you do something to help a struggling neighbor simply because you love your neighbor, you’ll feel so good and fulfilled. Your heart will be right where it needs to be.

So trust the King! And when you struggle, send word to Him. Tell Him, “I need some help here.” Trust Him. Help will come.

The Royal Law, Part 3

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well…James 2:5, 8

When Jesus described the kingdom of God, the people listening to Him understood the paradigm. Kingdoms were very common then, so they understood the mentality. Rule by kings continued in Europe until the 20th century in some places, and some parts of the world continue to have monarchies today. Americans had a revolution in the 18th century, so it’s a little harder for us to understand the paradigm. But we can do it, since it’s in our history. We can understand how kingdoms work.

Child of GodIf you use a kingdom mentality to understand the royal law, you will realize that when you accept Christ, you are no longer a pauper. You are royalty, rich in faith and an heir of His kingdom. Think about that! The King is going out, and looking over the land saying, “Whoever wants to be a part my kingdom, I’m adopting you. Now you are my son. Now you are my daughter. You are now a prince, or a princess.”

That is a really good way to live! You were poor before. You were lost. But now you’re found.

When Jesus died, He rose again. Because of what He did, the gate to the kingdom is unlocked for everyone. Because of what He did, anyone who wants to come to the King can come. The drawbridge never closes. You want to come in, come in. And when God adopts you, you don’t have to stay in the castle. You can come and go as you please.

And when you go, understand that you are holy and righteous. That is your identity. No matter where you came from, no matter who you were, you are no longer a pauper. Where you came from is over. That life is over. God gives you a new life in His kingdom, and you leave His kingdom as His son or daughter. You are a prince or princess of the realm.

People are going to ask you, “What did you have to do become a member of His family?” And you can tell them, “I simply believe what His son did for me. And I love that He’s my savior. I love that there are no strings attached. I gave my life over to Him, and I said, ‘Jesus, thank you.’ Now, because of that, the drawbridge is open. I walked in, I went before the King, and I said, ‘I’d like to be your royal child.’ And He said, ‘Come on in!’”

As His royal child, you represent God to the world. You represent His kingdom to the world. So go, and invite people in. Love on them. Encourage them. Tell them, “You can trust the King. He wants you with Him. He’s not going to destroy you. He’s not going to execute you by guillotine. He’s not going to put you in the stocks. He’s not going to treat you as a traitor or a spy. He’s going to simply love you! That’s a freeing thing!”

The Royal Law, Part 2

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well…James 2:5, 8

Love your neighbor as yourself. That is the royal law, the commandment of the Kingdom of God. The trumpets sound, and the King says, “Go and love.” That’s the warriors’ command from the King. The trumpets sound, and Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself, and then love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.”

Alright! So go love your neighbor. That’s your war cry. Go out of the Kingdom’s gates, figure out what is wrong with your neighbors, and love on them. Don’t worry about having the means to help your neighbor. Trust God for that! When you need help, send word to the King. Tell Him, “We’re filling a need here, and we need more resources.” He’ll provide what He needs to provide.

RoyalLawImagine this as if it were a movie about medieval Europe. The King’s forces have gone to war, and there’s a moment when the tide of battle seems to be turning against them. They realize, “We need more men!” What do they do? They send word to the King that they need more men. What does the King do? He provides more men!

We can use the same mentality, and show the same trust for our King. We are His children! And as members of His family, we say, “I am a part of God’s Kingdom. I am going to go forth to fulfill the royal law. I’m going to get on my horse and go out of that gate and into the world. I’m going to love my neighbor, and when I do that, I’m going to represent the Kingdom of God.”

You do this whether you already have the resources lined up or not. You begin even if you don’t have any money. Just send word to God. Pray. Tell Him, “I need a way to get more money.” He will give it to you. Jobs will open up. Maybe a donor will come along and offer to help you. Trust God in this. He will provide what He needs to provide.

The Bible says we’re all royalty now. This is what it means to be holy and righteous. This is what God means when He says, “You are mine now.” You are His child. And as a child of the King, you are a prince or princess of the Kingdom.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Let’s Work Together

Anyone can change the world. Anyone can have a huge impact, just by joining forces with a lot of other people. If we work together, we can do anything.

A lot of people doing a little bit will do far more damage to this world’s injustices than one or two big corporations doing it all. A lot of people working together will produce a lot of energy. That’s more sustainable over the long run than trusting the work to a couple of large donors.

You know what else it is? It’s much more fulfilling! When you expect big corporations to shoulder the burdens of building the Kingdom, you quit. You say, “You know what? They have a lot of money, so I’ll just let them do it. And I’ll go on with my life.”

But when you do that, you don’t learn to understand why you’re here! When you leave it up to someone else, then you don’t learn to understand the purpose of the human race. You don’t learn to understand humanitarianism. You don’t learn to understand why Jesus came down the set the captives free. You don’t get the grace of Jesus Christ.

working together for the gospelJesus didn’t go to the biggest city He could find, teach its inhabitants to follow Him, and then say, “Now you change the world.” No. He left it to a small group of people. He left it up to them to go get more people. And then it was up to those people to go get more people, and then get more people. It was up to them to grow the church of Jesus Christ. That’s what Jesus did.

He didn’t want us to leave the Kingdom work to someone else. He wanted us to do it. If He didn’t want us to do it, then He probably would have just opened up the heavens so everybody could see God. He would have said, “Either follow Me or don’t, but now you know I’m real. You can see Me. I suggest you follow Me. Now that you see Me, you’re going to love Me now. You’re all going to do it.”

But that wouldn’t make any sense! If He did that, then what was the game? What was the journey for? What was the creation for? What was the reason for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What was the point of that?

The point is, you have to choose to love Him. He’s no dictator. Think about it: Jesus left the Gospel with twelve young men, and he said, figure it out! He left the Gospel with a prostitute and said, figure it out! He said, “Hey! I want twelve young men, a prostitute, and a couple of businessmen. You go put the Gospel into the world. You create the church of the Book of Acts.” That’s what He did! And the church grew!

That’s what He wants from us. He wants us to join together and build His Kingdom. Just a whole lot of people, doing a little bit each, and working together. You’d be amazed how much you can do!

See you Monday.

Bringing the Kingdom Part 3

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Last time I wrote about how believers respond to famine by bringing abundance. We bring the Kingdom the same way that Jesus fed the five thousand: with leftovers to spare! We bring it with abundance!

We don’t want to give food to hungry people and then just disappear. Once those kids finish the food we bring, we don’t just shrug and say, “Oh well, hope someone else helps.” When we host a Something to Eat event, we don’t give up.

With your help, our December 3rd Something to Eat even in Palo Alto will send 135,000 meals just like these to famine-stricken families in southern Ethiopia.

We want to give them food, but we also want to help make their communities healthy and sustainable. Continue reading

A Lot of People Doing a Little Bit

In my recent posts, I’ve been reflecting on how anyone can have a huge impact just by joining forces with a lot of other people. If we work together, we can do anything.

A lot of people doing a little bit will do more damage than one or two big corporations doing it all. A lot of people working together will produce a lot of energy. That’s more sustainable over the long run than trusting the work to a couple of large donors.

You know what else it is? It’s much more fulfilling. When you expect big corporations to shoulder the burdens of building the Kingdom, you quit. You say, “You know what? They have a lot of money, so I’ll just let them do it. And I’ll go on with my life.” Continue reading