Paul told the Philippians to “stay true to the Lord.” This is all about being totally committed to God, not letting anything come between you and your relationship to God. In Matthew 5, we read that those who are pure in heart are blessed. They will see God! How awesome is that?! Staying true to the Lord is having a pure heart—a heart for Jesus.
James speaks of a divided heart, a heart that is for the world and for God. This isn’t a pure heart. This is not staying true to the Lord. In James 4:7, we read that we should submit to God, resist the devil, wash our hands, and purify our hearts. We should stop being double-minded, and stay true to the Lord.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Do all you can to stay true to the Lord. When you find your heart divided between God and the world, ask that He give you a clean heart and a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10).
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.” – Philippians 4:1 [NLT]
When Korah had a problem with Moses and Aaron, it wasn’t a matter of taking it to Moses and Aaron and dealing with it. Ironically, the problem wasn’t with Moses and Aaron, but with God, because He was the One Who put these two men in their positions. Nonetheless, Korah stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron.
We were created to be communal people. We have friends. We have people we go to about our problems, our worries, our joys, and life in general. Sometimes we get upset with someone, and we take that to our friends. In doing so, we often stir them up. It makes us feel better. Our friends agree with us. We have someone on our side. But what does it do to help the situation? Where is the relief? Now your friend is sharing your opinions about someone. Your friend is thinking poorly about this person who wronged you. By sharing all this, you have stirred up the pot. Now there is something between you and this other person, and something is between your friend and this other person. Stumbling blocks and more stumbling blocks. Imagine if your friend tells another person. Before you know it, everyone knows what this person did to you.
Proverbs 16:28 speaks about a troublemaker planting seeds of strife. This is exactly what Korah did– planted seeds of strife. We are called to be peacemakers, not troublemakers. If we are too busy making trouble, we will never be able to make peace. Remember, the fire goes out without wood. When you get upset with someone, go to the person and make peace. Ask the Lord to help you to forgive. Allow the fire to go out. Keep the peace. You will be blessed (Matthew 5:9).
“Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to the whole community.” – Numbers 16:19 [NLT]
“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” – Proverbs 16:28 [NLT]
“Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” – Proverbs 26:20 [NLT]
I love what happens in Genesis 13:8. Abram recognizes that the conflict or strife between Lot and himself could not continue. When we get wrapped up in conflict, it may keep us from keeping our eyes fixed on God and His call on our life. It also may cause division. God’s Word speaks a lot about unity, not division. He wants a united people, a united people with a heart for Him.
Abram takes the initiative to do something about it, rather than allow the conflict to continue. What a great example of a leader—one who can notice a situation and take steps to ensure it would not lead to something worse. This meant a separation from his nephew, but it was necessary. It reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
God has great plans for His people. It requires us to humble ourselves and have a unity of mind. What does this mean? It means we are united for one purpose – doing the will of God. We don’t allow ourselves to get in the way, to be a stumbling block, to what God is doing. We don’t put ourselves first, but we show brotherly love to others and look out for their best interests. We trust that God has the best plan, and we surrender to it.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [ESV]
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 [ESV]
As I was walking the dogs, I noticed a car stopped halfway in a parking spot. At first, I had those dramatic scenes from the television shows flash through my mind. But after I shook all that off, I realized the man was being considerate. He had started to pull into his parking spot, but showed us some courtesy by stopping until the dogs moved along, so as to not frighten them.
When he parked the car, he let me know the reason he waited. Perhaps he read my mind when I was having those television flashbacks. I thanked him for the courtesy. He didn’t know that Max has major anxiety issues. What a blessing to be shown courtesy on our evening walk. At least once a week, Max experiences trauma because others aren’t very courteous.
In Luke, we read about doing to others as you would like them to do to you. We hear this quoted often (some call it the “Golden Rule”), but this is something that we don’t always see in action. Be reminded, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” These are the people who are called children of God. Be considerate. Show courtesy. Treat every person as valuable. Don’t look out for your own best interest and neglect others. Take an interest in them. Desire the best for them.
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [NLT]
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” – Luke 6:31 [NLT]
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
Here’s a sermon outline from a message I shared on the Slavery of Self-Reliance. You may download the outline below. Please note there was no illustration with this message but instead I spoke of King Asa of Judah from 2 Chronicles 16 giving the gold and silver from the Temple to Ben-Hadad King of Syria.
Slavery of Self-Reliance
Everyone needs: Meaning / Purpose / Security / Safety / Significance / Worth / Value
Self-reliant / Self-determination / Self-Dependence / Independent / Self-Sufficient / Self-Contained
The world sees these as good things / the world applauds these things
The problem: These things enslave us. Burden of Self-Reliance à when all relies on you à Slavery
The solution: God wants to free us from ourselves
God is our: meaning / purpose / significance / security / safety / protection
- God provides you meaning and purpose
- Isaiah 43:7 – God has made you for His glory.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
- Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before others to glorify God
- God provides you security
- Proverbs 3:26 – “For the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap” (NLT).
- God provides you safety
- Psalm 18:2 – “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
- Psalm 91:2 – “… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety…” (NLT)
- Proverbs 18:10 – Godly run to God and are safe
- God provides you significance and worth and value
- Genesis 1:27 – God made you in His image
- Psalm 139:13 – God created each of us individually – knit you in your mother’s womb with certain abilities & gifts – allows certain experiences – all so you can be of great worth to His Kingdom – YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS! (John 14:12 – “… anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…” NLT).
- Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Only those who stand in need of a savior will look for and recognize one.
Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)
Jeremiah 17:5-8 – “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
I love to paint and I love to take photographs. I love capturing a lot of different colors, especially bright colors and colors that are not seen so often. I remember when I was in Australia there were many times when I tried to capture the sky at a particular time in the afternoon. My camera could not quite capture what my eyes could see. Again and again I failed with my attempts. I am always amazed at God’s paintbrush. I often say, “Wow, You really outdid Yourself today.” He is awesome.
Matthew tells us to be the light of the world. The Message says, “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.” God colors. Wow. God has some amazing colors. Just think about all those awesome brilliant skylines I saw in Australia. I couldn’t capture them with my digital camera. And we are to be God colors in the world? Wow.
Each one of us is a different bright color of God that can shine for others. We are the salt of the earth. More and more we see the darkness of the world. We see a lot of things God never intended for His Creation. Too much darkness. Too much gloom. But God uses His God colors to shine through the world, to shine a bright light, for His glory. May you be a God color today and always. Never hide the Light. God is not a secret to be kept. Shine on.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.”
-Matthew 5:14 [MSG]