Daily Devotional for Saturday March 1, 2008

Keeping your Eyes on Jesus and Not a Man or Woman

(John 13:15, Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 2:21) This message should be forwarded to everyone you know who has fallen > under the spell of B. Hussein Obama. Millions are looking to him as some > messiah of hope, when in fact there is only ONE Messiah, Jesus, the only > one > true hope comes from. The warning I share with you often is to stay > focused > on THE MAN, and never a man. > > Keeping your eyes on Jesus and not a man (or woman). Today is a very > difficult Devotional for me to write since part of me is outraged by the > private conduct of some of those who have accepted the responsibility of > spiritual leadership, and the other part has great compassion and empathy > with these people who have to be going through so much turmoil and > heartache > on a human level. The fiery evangelist in me wants to lambaste them for > the > damage they are doing to the cause of Christ and to the lives of many who > follow them, yet the minister in me wants to love them, comfort them, and > help them heal. So after much prayer over this message, today I am going > to > do both! > > Throughout the history of the church, God has soverignly raised up men and > women for a season to guide and lead His people just like He did > throughout > the Old and New Testaments. These were men and women who faithfully served > the Lord, that He allowed to rise to a place of prominence for a season to > bring His Truth and hope to the people of their day. No doubt through the > years some have "manufactured" their rise through the use of man-made > schemes, devices, and resources. > > Simon the magician in the Book of Acts comes to mind as someone who sought > to buy the power of God on the open market. You have always had the false > prophets who duped people and led them astray, but they are always exposed > by the Truth of God's Word. The fact is you can't buy a sovereign move of > God, you can't manufacture a sovereign move of God, you can't duplicate a > sovereign move of God, and you can't fake a sovereign move of God. When > God > soveignly raises a man or woman up, there is an unmistakable power, > presence, and anointing that is obvious, even to someone who rejects God > and > His Truth. > > The problem we have in the year 2008 is that with the incredible amount of > media that exists, with a church that is for the most part Biblically > illiterate and operates with little spiritual discernment, and a hero > worship mindset most people have, it creates an environment ripe for men > and > women to rise up and take positions of spiritual leadership through human > efforts instead of being Divinely appointed. > > I know some well known TV preachers who will NEVER preach on sin or > sacrifice. I know some well known TV preachers who have preached the same > message for 20 years. I know some well known TV preachers who end EVERY > message with a reason your are supposed to send them money. They are so > clever they can preach on the verse, "Jesus wept," and make you believe > Jesus was weeping because you didn't help them buy a new Gulfstream!!! > > Also, in the past 20 years you have had the rise of the non-denominational > church on the Christian landscape. Trust me, with most of the old mainline > denominations either turning away from the Truth of God's Word and > embracing > sins like homosexuality and abortion or simply being "dead," there was a > need for a new breed of church and pastor who weren't interested in > denominational politics. > > The problem that became evident very quickly is that these churches had > little or no accountability They were run like dictatorships or fiefdoms > with the pastor being a ruling monarch. Over and over scandals involving > sex > and money have been seen in many of these non-denominational churches, and > the biggest contributing factor has been little to no accountability! > > So is it any wonder why in the past few months, two of the biggest > superstars of Christian TV who generate tens of millions of dollars a year > are both in divorce court? One is from the Tampa area and has been in the > news for years due to the lavish lifestyle she and her husband led, and > now > again once their divorce was publicly announced. > > The other who lives outside of Atlanta had the unmitigated gall to > broadcast > her wedding on TBN just 3 years ago, a wedding that reportedly cost well > over $1 million dollars. She begs people to send her money, and then > spends > that money, not on saving souls but on some fairy tale wedding! She was in > the news recently after getting into a literal physical fight with her > estranged husband in the parking lot of a hotel in Atlanta. > > These are two women who millions of people are being fed by every day! > Sadly, neither has announced they would be stepping down, taking time off, > or going through a time of healing or restoration. Neither one has slowed > down or missed a beat. If you saw them in person or on TV recently, you > would never know their personal lives were in shambles. They are both > still > preaching, primarily to women, on how to have blessed and successful lives > and marriages. > > Again, they have ZERO accountability and answer to nobody. Most disturbing > is the fact that despite their very public divorces, the Christian TV > networks and stations they air on, aren't taking their programs off the > air. > After all, these two women are both huge cash cows for these networks and > stations, not to mention they are also big money raisers during their many > telethons throughout the year. I hate to admit it but the non-believing > world is right about this one, it is simply a big business! > > The minister in me hurts for both of these women because I deal with women > and men daily who are going through the pain of divorce and know the > incredible hurt and pain it brings to a person's life. I've been friends > with the woman from Tampa and her husband for 13 years. The woman from > Georgia grew up on the south side of Chicago and comes from a family of > preachers. I knew her brother early in my ministry 16 years ago. > > So I have a great deal of empathy for both of these women and their > husbands > on a personal level. I can only pray that God will put the right people in > their lives to minister to them and help guide them thru this time of > personal tragedy. Both of these women and their husbands need to step down > for a season, take some time off and get their spiritual and personal > lives > in order. You can't lead others when your life is a mess! > > My word for you today is simply this, KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS. One of the > major complaints of nonbelievers is that Christians are hypocrites. Those > who don't even know the great stories of the Bible, can tell you in great > detail the stories of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and the preacher down > the > street who ran off with his secretary. It is one of the most common > objections of an unbeliever, that he would be a Christian, but those who > claim to be Christians don't act like Christians. > > I am sure there were many in the first days of the church who said, "I > would > be a Christian, but look at what Peter did. This man who claimed to be a > follower of Jesus denied him. Not once, but THREE times!!" It is a valid > point. The fact is, however, a Christian is nothing more than a sinner who > is saved by grace. Even though we are saved, we are still frail, > prone-to-sin creatures living in a sin-filled environment. That in no way > excuses our sin, but it is the reality we live in. > > The quickest way to fall away from your faith is to put too much emphasis > on > a man or woman of God. God uses human instruments to plant the seeds of > salvation. He uses human instruments to disciple us in our new-found > faith. > He uses human instruments to impact our spiritual lives. In a society that > is prone to idolize others, such as entertainers, athletes, and successful > people, we take that into our Christian lives as well. > > We place our spiritual leaders on pedestals. We normally only see them > when > they are "on", when they are doing what God has called them to do. Because > of that, we almost tend to forget they are humans, men and women who walk > in > the same frail clay bodies as we do, prone to the same weaknesses we are. > Since we rarely see these spiritual leaders other than the times they are > doing the Lord's work, we lose sight that it is only a part of their life. > They have lives outside of their work for the Lord. THEY ARE ONLY AS CLOSE > TO GOD AS THEIR DAILY WALK WITH THE LORD. > > Because they are in the spotlight, when they fail, when they sin, it is > often made known to the public. Our first reaction is "how can that be > possible?" Nobody is immune to sin. No matter who you are, your life flows > from your personal relationship with Christ. A minister, a priest, a > spiritual leader is only as close to God as his or her daily walk. Like > anyone, if they neglect their daily time with the Lord, they get farther > away from God. It is only possible to minister to others from your own > personal walk with Christ. As you neglect that daily time with the Lord, > you > start to be disconnected. You may have some spiritual gasoline left in > your > tank, but eventually you will use that up. > > Those spiritual leaders who fail, fail because they have neglected their > time with God. Someone who is in the Lord's work has to guard more than > anyone else against neglecting their daily time with Christ. There is a > very > real enemy who is out to kill, steal, and destroy. The enemy is very wise > in > the art of warfare. Why waste time working on taking out people one by > one, > when if you can take out a leader you can wipe out many people at once. > The > enemy knows that to take down a Jim Bakker or the pastor of a local > church, > he can take out many people at one time. > > I love you and care about you so much. The key point I want you to > understand today is that you must keep focused on THE man, and not A man. > Christ was the only one who did it perfect. My personal philosophy is to > take the spiritual wisdom from other men and women of God, but never > idolize > them, never expect them to be more than the man or woman of flesh and > blood > they are, but realize that God has touched them in a special way and given > them something that can benefit our spiritual lives. I have always called > it > my spiritual filter. > > Being in full-time ministry for the last 18 years, having been in over 500 > churches of every type of denomination, having spoken at hundreds of > conventions, being involved for many years in the TV world, I have had a > unique opportunity to see an incredible number of God's choicest servants > of > our day. The list is a who's who of spiritual giants. However, no matter > who > the person is, I always do two things. I always line up what they said > with > the Word of God. That is number one. I don't care who it is. If it is not > in > line with the Word of God, it is not something I want. > > Second, I always look at the man or woman of God as an instrument God is > using. I never expect them to be supernatural or anything other than a > vessel God is using to bring spiritual truths into my life. The only > person > I ever idolized, or tried to pattern my life after, was the life of > Christ. > I have always taken what I can from men and women of God and tried to use > that to help me in my quest to be more like Christ each and every day. > > Today's word is an important reminder to never get so focused on a man or > woman of flesh and blood, that you let it get in the way of your own > personal walk with Christ. God has placed men and women of God in our > lives > to help teach us and show us the truths of His Word. However, no matter > how > close to the Lord they may be, the only one we should ever try to pattern > our lives after is Jesus Christ, because He is the only one who lived this > life without sin. He is our example and the one each one of us should > strive > to be like. > > Take time today to pray for those God has placed in spiritual leadership > over you, your pastor or priest. Pray for those that God brings into your > life to share the truths of His Word and to help you grow spiritually. But > never lose sight that they are mere mortals, men and women of flesh and > blood like you. Never let your eyes focus so much on A man that you lose > sight of THE man. After all, no man could die for your sins. It was THE > man > who loved you so much that He willingly bled and died so that you might > have > everlasting life. Keep your eyes focused on HIM.