If we want to please God, then we must understand God’s Will. This reflection considers how God’s Way and the World’s Way are often in conflict with one another. Walk with me as we reflect on nine key problem areas. I encourage you to take your time reading and reflecting as you contemplate God’s Will in your life. Let’s begin with a consideration of what is success in God’s eyes.
The Quest for Success – Results, Process and Effort
What is success to you? Well the devil wants you to believe that success is all about money, power, prestige and pleasure, and he will teach you to ‘dress for success’. But can the expensive suit hide the character flaws that lurk beneath the surface?
The world focuses on results. Have you ever had a boss who said, “Get to the goal, I don’t care how you get there”. Well it’s critical to know that Jesus cares a lot about how we achieve our goals. If integrity and honesty is compromised in the process, in God’s eyes we have failed irrespective of the results.
In the world of big business I commonly saw a “power play” strategy that I would call “checking your competition out of your way”. Ever watch hockey and notice how the game is not just won by great skating but by ‘checking your opponent’ into the boards and taking the puck? Well this is what I witnessed. People would make negative comments about their colleagues, questioning ever so subtly their talent, their experience and their likelihood to succeed so they could score the promotion. This is how Satan wins but it’s not how God declares victory.
Jesus values our efforts. The world typically sees efforts that don’t produce results as a waste of time. Jesus sees differently. Where we focus our efforts is critical. Jesus tells us to love; we lose Jesus when we forget that in our pursuit of success.
“The LORD rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness.” 1 Samuel 26:23
“…Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Power and Weakness; Arrogance and Humility
People generally strive to be powerful and strong, yet the greatest works of God are often done by the weak. Jesus said to St. Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So if God’s power is made perfect in weakness, perhaps it is because the stronger we get, the more invincible we feel and the less we think we need God. God values humility not arrogance and often it is in weakness that we find greater humility. We lose Jesus when we stop needing His help. When we become arrogant enough to feel self-sufficient, we need to turn back to God. Remember Satan wants you to believe that there is no God and that you don’t need to please anyone but yourself. Jesus, however, wants you to trust in Him and understand that you cannot accomplish anything important without Him.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
The Dignity of Life
Consider this world view: “Restrictive abortion laws violate women’s human rights based on agreements made at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Source: https://www.womenonweb.org/en/page/619/abortion-laws-worldwide )
Abortion violates the human rights of the unborn child!
Approximately 25% of the world’s population lives in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, mostly in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In most of the world, however, abortions are readily available. Since 1980 over 1.4 Billion unborn children have been murdered in the womb globally! Source: http://www.numberofabortions.com/
Why has the world failed to consider the rights of the unborn child and legalized abortion?
How much innovation, creativity and love did our world lose when the world chose to kill 1.4 billion lives since 1980.
Why is the child growing in the womb not perceived as a human being with a right to be protected?
My God help us! “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139: 13-16
Let’s now consider prostitution and pornography.
God’s view is: “A prostitute is a dangerous trap; a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well. She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful.” Proverbs 23:27-28
According to the following source, 77 countries in the world, for example Argentina, Western Australia, Austria etc. have legalized prostitution. Source: http://chartsbin.com/view/snb
In the western world, pornography is considered legal, adult entertainment and it is a big, big money-making industry. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_by_region . Years ago I read about a new business model emerging in the pornography industry. The business model involved eliminating the fee associated with prostitution. Men could have sex with a prostitute at ‘no charge’ as long as they were willing to be video taped for subsequent airing on ‘adult TV’! God is greatly offended!
Our growing global sexual immorality and our complacency to the moral indignity associated with promiscuity, prostitution and pornography needs to be challenged!
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” 1 John 2:16
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.” Colossians 3:5
Pleasure and Personal Gratification vs. Denial, Suffering and Purpose
The world promotes pleasure, self-indulgence and personal fulfillment, but God honors denial, sacrifice and suffering for His sake. Satan gives empty pleasures that weigh on the good conscience, but Jesus gives true joy that endures.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
St Paul said, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8
One of the greatest spiritual mysteries is that denying ourselves for the glory of God is a pathway that leads to inner peace, enduring joy, infinite hope and true personal fulfillment.
Vengeance and Mercy – War and Peace
The world continues to pursue violence, vengeance and war as appropriate pathways to peace and justice, but God desires prayer, mercy and reconciliation as pathways to peace and justice.
The media reports that “North Korea has refused to shut down its nuclear development programme despite international condemnation, fueling World War III fears across the international community. US Secretary of State Tillerson said the threat of a war with North Korea is now growing despite Pyongyang’s recent diplomatic talks with South Korean officials.” Source: express.co.uk, Jan 18, 2018
Politicians may try to convince us that we must kill our enemies before they kill us. In their diplomatic language they call this a “preemptive strike”.
God gives us this commandment “Thou shall not not kill”. Exodus 20:13
Jesus tells us to “Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) God reminds us that we are to “Turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14
The world fights with guns and amasses nuclear arsenals. God calls us to fight a spiritual battle with prayer and sacrifice, embracing His Holy Will in all that we do. Satan takes souls in a continuous battle where one evil deed leads to another and another. One day, God’s justice will prevail: “Vengeance belongs to me, says the Lord.” Hebrews 10:30. Meanwhile let us continue to pray for peace and reconciliation and for nuclear disarmament!
Money and Charity
The world loves money but God appreciates charity and tells us to give to the poor.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 19:17
Jesus tells us to “do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure I, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6: 19-21 We lose Jesus when our heart is not on the things that are important to God.
“Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.’” Mark 12:44
Charity is more than opening our wallets to make a financial donation to a good cause that results in a tax receipt. Charity is at the heart of who God is and if we want to be ONE with God then we must demonstrate our charity and kindness through every word and every choice.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” 1 John 4: 16-17
The world focuses on external beauty but God sees the beauty in the soul. Satan will have us investing in our outward appearance but God wants us to invest in our spiritual lives and in the beauty within us. Too often the world holds up super skinny fashion models as examples of ‘true beauty’. Eating disorders have become all too prevalent as young girls try to become what the world portrays as ‘beautiful’.
The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
We lose Jesus when we fail to see through His compassionate, wise eyes.
Love, Sex and Marriage: Serious and Casual Perspectives on what is sin
The world has become casual about sin. People joke about sin. Satan has people flaunting their status as “bad boys” or “players” or “swingers”. Marriage has given way to ‘new lifestyles’ where ‘open sexual relationships’ are considered reasonable adult choices.
St. Paul reminds us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4
God wills for people to marry and not simply live together. ‘Swinging’ or ‘Trading Spouses’ for entertainment and sexual pleasure is something I have never been able to understand. People ‘in love’ have a jealous love for their spouse and they do not share them like they do their physical possessions. God has a jealous love for His people and He wants to help us to find the right partner for life, all we have to do is trust that He knows best and PRAY for His divine intervention in our life!
True Faith and Atheism
Gallup International conducted a global survey to determine the percentage of people who consider themselves ‘religious’. The survey question was: ‘Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist.’ Overall 59% of the people surveyed considered themselves religious, 23% claimed to be not religious and 13% claimed to be atheists. When they looked more deeply at the data they discovered that ‘religiosity is higher among the poor: people in bottom income groups are 17% more religious than those in top income groups.’ Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25
In addition the survey found, ‘religiosity is also lower among college educated people. As formal educational attainment rises, fewer self describe themselves to be religious.’ Is it because the more ‘capable’ we become, the less we feel we need God?
We live in a world where ‘religion’ has become a source of great conflict. God is both understood and misunderstood. When Jesus was on earth He told His disciples this: “the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” John 16:3
This time has come! People are killing in the name of God. People are committing suicide bombings believing that they are dying as martyrs.
The people that called for the crucifixion of Jesus were considered to be ‘religious people’. Do you know any ‘religious people’ who are really ‘wolves in disguise’? Wolves entered the church in the disguise of priests only to target and abuse little children. I can only imagine God’s pain in seeing His little ones violated, but let’s not hurt Jesus more by leaving the Church. That’s exactly what Satan’s bigger plan was: make people stop worshiping.
Satan is waging a war on earth where he persistently uses the tactic of ‘deception’ to convince people to commit atrocities.
God wants there to be a surrendering to His Holy Will on earth but He DOES NOT want us to kill people to motivate that surrender.
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20
Jesus died to fulfill an ancient promise spoken of in the Old Testament and this is the promise:
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36: 25-27
When Jesus died on the Cross, a soldier pierced His side and from His heart flowed ‘blood and water’ – the blood of redemption and the water of purification received in Baptism.
The death of Our Saviour Jesus Christ enables us to receive the ‘new heart’ and the ‘new spirit’ that was spoken of in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.
“On one occasion, while he (Jesus) was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 4-5
People of God, it is the Holy Spirit of Jesus that enables us to know the TRUTH that God is LOVE and He wants all people to EMBRACE LOVE, PEACE AND RECONCILIATION NOT HATE, OR VIOLENCE, OR WAR.
I am going to be bold in summarizing this reflection with one key thought: THE MAIN PROBLEM WE HAVE IN OUR WORLD IS THAT PEOPLE ARE REJECTING JESUS CHRIST, OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR AND THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD!
We would have the power to know what is good and just and the power to accomplish what is good and just IF WE EMBRACED GOD’S ONLY SON, OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST AND RECEIVED THE NEW HEART AND THE NEW SPIRIT WHICH IS THE HOLY SPIRIT.
What to do?
I invite you to understand that we are living in dangerous times. God is greatly offended by the sin and violence in our world and He calls us to come to Him for forgiveness and wisdom.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
I invite you to join a global Christian peace movement called A Peaceful Revolution in the Name of Jesus Christ that honours Our Saviour Jesus Christ as we stop to pray and remember the Passion of Christ every day at the time Jesus died for us on the Cross (3pm – in our local time zones). Let us unite as One Body of Christ to pray for a coming of the Holy Spirit upon our broken and suffering world to bring forth true spiritual conversions and a turning away from sin. Learn more about A Peaceful Revolution in the Name of Jesus Christ here.