Reputation and Discipleship

Reputation and Discipleship

“But made himself of no reputation…”
Philippians 2:7

The God and creator of the universe made Himself of no reputation. He was not motivated by the approval of men, He required no support system to propagate His message. He did not need marketing efforts and promotional strategies for the proliferation of His purposes. He was born in a lowly stable, raised by simple folks in a village of no regard as evidenced by the question “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

This passage has deep things that can be learned in our own interaction with Him in this world. There is a freedom from strife, from craving recognition and acceptance. Sooner or later there comes an acknowledgment that truth requires nothing but His Spirit to stand. We stand in His righteousness, His merit, and we are fully dependent upon His Fire burning within our own hearts. We are to be witnesses of Him, not of ourselves, and for that reason we feel the great responsibility to be faithful to represent Him.

Humility is a fruit of the Spirit rooted in the power of relationship.

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that, he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”
John 13:3

Jesus’ ability to gird Himself as a servant and to wash their feet was based on the security of being in a right and pure relationship with His heavenly Father. His freedom was a revelation of true power; to Peter, it was an offense. Service to God will often offend the carnal aspirations of men. The same freedom that allowed the Son to speak the truths of the Kingdom of God without restraint is to become ours. Freedom from self allows us to be free in His Spirit. There can be no true freedom in Christ while we cling to the corruption of self.

As we walk with Him in the experiential realities of life we discover the taint and malaise of self. We see it in our interactions with others, in our own internal conflicts, and in the hidden motives of our hearts. Thankfully He is faithful to correct us, and we must be willing to heed those corrections. Failure to do so will result in selfish living and disappointment.

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”
Matthew 6:1

There is a precious internal work of the Holy Spirit whereby our intentions are freed from the lust of the acceptance of men to live for His approval only.

“Because of this, we also are striving to be pleasing to Him,
whether being at home, or being away from home.”
2 Corinthians 5:9

Why was Paul so passionate about this?

“For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to what he did, whether good or bad.”
2 Corinthians 5:10

Only by the fear of the Lord are we freed from the fear of men. Accountability to God frees us to live right and to walk right. He who made Himself of no reputation will free us to do the same

True humility is always predicated on the power of truth.

“If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31-32

The fear of man, and the need for acceptance, bring men and women to the snare of conformity to a group, a congregation, or to something other than Jesus Himself. The scriptures declare emphatically:

The fear of man bringeth a snare:
but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe”
Proverbs 29:25

There are many precious people in God who because of their own insecurities develop unhealthy alliances to leaders, denominations, groups, or teachings. Too often this results in tragic and heartbreaking situations, broken and impoverished lives. The disillusionment and realization that they have been bound to something other than Christ leave them isolated and wounded. Freedom in the fear of the Lord must be the atmosphere of serving God.

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
John 12:42-43

See: Faithful and Wise Servant

___________________

“Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest”
– Oswald Chambers (Disciples Indeed)

Brian Troxel

 

 

Power To Become

Power to Become

“Thine eyes did see my substance,
yet being unperfect…”
Psalm 139:16

The work and wonder of God within our lives is a mystery. He shapes and orders our steps as we follow His leading. There is a contingency to our birthright in Christ. Many years ago I was struck with this verse:

“But as many as received him,
to them gave He power to become the sons of God…”
John 1:12

The emphasis of the Spirit of God to me personally was the word “become”. I realized at that moment that the purpose of Christ coming into my life was not that I simply believe in Him, but to grant to me His power to become a life that glorified Him which was only possible by receiving that power. In that moment of revelation, I realized my inherent poverty to affect this genesis in my own life. All the forces and willpower of self would be utterly impotent to realize the Call of God to grow into something which would honor Him.

The concept of becoming has implications in our lives. The mystery of this call is wrought with ambiguity and perplexity which can be a source of angst and discouragement at times. Yet there is an indomitable faith that presses through the obscurity to where the mystery becomes an adventure. As time passes the heart no longer needs to understand the journey; it is enough to know the wonder and simplicity of obedience. We see doors of opportunity open before us. Rivers part as we step into them, and we feel His joy in us. It is called the “Joy of the Lord”! It is His Joy filling our hearts and in those moments His Joy becomes our own.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared…”
1 John 3:2

The becoming is a work in progress but the press of God within the hearts of those who feel the spirit of adoption pursue Him through the power of Him at work within. John goes on to say this of those who have this press of God burning within their hearts:

“And everyone who thus hopes in Him
purifies himself as he is pure”
1 John 3:3

The validity of this living hope within is revealed in a growing purity of heart. To simply believe in Christ without a passion to be pure is incongruent with His Life.

“As many as received Him…”

To them gave He power, the right, the privilege to become. The verity of His Life within is a quest and longing to “…know Him and the power of His resurrection”. A religious person is content with believing; the true child of God hungers and thirsts for actual righteousness which is ours in Christ.

“But now we see not yet all things put under him…
But we see Jesus…”
Hebrews 2:8-9

There remain obstacles to our becoming; pride, brokenness, and the carnal things of our nature are not yet fully “put under Him”. Nevertheless, in the beholding of Him we do not grow weary, nor do we settle for a compromise in our lives.

“Everyone” who has the living hope of Jesus burning within “purifies themselves… even as HE is pure”! Perseverance is the pulse of the Holy Spirit. All who have received Him have the power to press into the battle of faith until every enemy of our heart is brought under the feet of Jesus. God has an answer to the mountains of self which stand before us.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
Zechariah 4:6-7

Our hope is not in a grace which is a sentiment; our hope lies in a grace which is the power of God. Let us not grow weary. Let us not allow our hearts to become complacent, apathetic, or lukewarm. Rather let us encourage and exhort one another to finish the race with God as our chief joy and purpose in life.

“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it”
Zechariah 4:9

Jesus the Christ is our Zerubbabel! What He has begun in us He will surely finish!

See: Discovering the Call

Brian Troxel

Thought for Today – Little Children

Thought for Today

Little Children

“And said, Verily I say unto you,
Except ye be converted, and become as little children,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

The other day I was holding my newest grandchild and was simply basking in the wonder and the handiwork of God. Her freshness of life and the incredible spontaneity of being was not only a joyful experience but one of instruction. As she was looking at the largeness of the world around her and trying to absorb what she was seeing the thought came to me “Every thought has a face”. The spontaneous expressions on her face were the mirror of what she was thinking. Sometimes it was puzzlement and the next minute sheer joy when she caught a glimpse of a someone she knew. In the environment of surrounding love, she had no need to filter or mask her spur-of-the-moment responses. This freedom from concern or worry of what others think is a liberating lesson.

“And the servant abideth not in the house for ever:
but the Son abideth ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free,
ye shall be free indeed”
John 8:35-36

Authenticity of being is the only means by which we are truly free. The purpose of truth is to make me true. In my becoming true within I will know the wonder and joy of being right and free in God. The child-like being of whom Jesus spoke is the fruit of a true and full conversion by the ministration of His Spirit. Here we discover the quality of heart required to enter into the Kingdom of God. It is as we become as a little child that we have the rightness of being to enter into all that He has so graciously made available to us.

Spontaneity is the fruit of Authenticity

Brian Troxel