Paradox - Following the Contrarian Wisdom of God

Paradox - Following the Contrarian Wisdom of God

Serve to Lead

June 18, 2017

Are you a leader? Some of you will say yes, but many of you do not think of yourselves as leaders. When I use the word, leader, you’re probably thinking of organizational leadership, but I’m talking about the essence of leadership.  According to John C. Maxwell, “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Do you know the way, are you going the way, and are you showing others the way? Leadership is more than a position, it’s about influence. But it’s also more about serving than being served. Because leadership is stewardship. It’s a call to serve!

In the book of Luke, Jesus taught his disciples that the true path to greatness in the kingdom of heaven was to follow His example of servant leadership. Jesus calls each of us to be servant leaders as He was. How can we be servant leaders like Jesus? The text gives three steps to becoming servant leaders like Jesus.


Bow Down to be Lifted Up

June 4, 2017

Have you ever noticed how we use words like “up” and “down” to describe not only location, but as metaphors describing our emotional or mental state? When we’re feeling strong, we say we are “up to it.” When we’re feeling sick, we say, “I’m down with the flu.” When we’re happy, we say, “I’m on top of the world!” When sad, we say, “I’m down in the dumps.”We love being “up,” but “down?” Not so much.

So, are you “up” or “down” today? God wants to show you today how down is the new up. “Down” actually puts you in a better position to hear from Him and get some things in order with Him. If you’re feeling up today, great! But is it based on circumstance or is it because God has lifted you up by His power? The paradoxical truth is this: In order to be at peace with God–– to experience His salvation and grace–– we must “bow down to be lifted up!” In God’s economy, we descend to greatness!

In the book of James, he taught his hearers that God lifts up those that humble themselves before Him. We can experience how God lifts up those who humble themselves before Him. How can we experience how God lifts up those who humble themselves before Him? The text gives three ways that God’s lifts up those who humble themselves before Him.


Weakness to Strength

May 28, 2017

The world makes heroes of the bold, the beautiful and the strong. Hollywood actors, professional athletes, self-promoting politicians… these are the ones that we elevate to power and influence. They receive glory and praise from the world. But that’s not how God works, He loves to take the humble, the small, and the weak and lift them up to such great influence that everyone gives glory, not to them, but to God.

Where do you feel weak today? Are you hurting? Some may feel tortured by physical or mental pain. Are you feeling inadequate? You don’t have enough money, or you feel inadequate as a parent, or you’ve been asked to do something that seems beyond you.  Are you feeling overwhelmed by difficult circumstances? You’re unhappy and discontent. How can God take your weakness and turn it into strength?


Talk Less to Say More

May 21, 2017

In a modern culture of self-promotion on social media and the constant chatter on our smart phones, texting and tweeting about every opinion that pops in our heads, the Bible says, “Be quick to hear and slow to speak.” That’s biblical wisdom, godly wisdom. Stop talking so much and start listening more. Even when we keep quiet, in our heads we’re already thinking of what we’re going to say. No wonder we’re having so much trouble in our society. Divisions within and without. Arguments everywhere. But no one is listening. And no one is really being heard.

What can be done? The book of James offers the paradoxical wisdom that we can actually talk less in order to say more. For real communication, real understanding to take place, we need less talk and more listening, and more appropriate action. The book of James is one of the most practical books of wisdom in the Bible. It is sometimes referred to as the New Testament’s book of proverbs. Written by James, the brother of Jesus, and the pastor of the first church of Jerusalem, it is also a very pastoral book, and a very practical one too.

In the first chapter of James, he told believers that the first place to apply this paradoxical principle of talking less to say more should be in rightly responding to God’s Word. We can learn to rightly respond to God’s Word.


Lose to Find

May 14, 2017

How do you answer the question, “Who am I?”  For many of you, you’ve tied your identity to your name, “I’m John or I’m Susie.” Others might say, “I’m a father or mother, or I’m a husband or a wife, I’m a son or daughter, I’m a teacher, I’m a nurse, I’m a coach, I’m a dog-lover or cat-lover. How do you answer the question? In Tim Keller’s book, Making Sense of God, he describes two ways that people have found their identity. One, he calls the “traditional path,” where the individual finds identity from the community in which they are born and grow up. The second path, Keller calls the “modern” or “secular” approach. This is the new emphasis on looking “inward” to find the true self, where one’s desires and dreams are to dictate one’s identity.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus told His followers that they must lose their former sense of self in order to find their true identity in Christ. The only way that we can discover our true, God-given identity is by losing our former one and finding our true identity in Christ. How can we find our true identity in Christ? The text gives three steps to finding your true identity in Christ.