One of the best models of generosity we can learn from is found the Book of Ruth. There is an amazing example of a spiritual leader named Boaz who modeled generosity in giving his resources to others. He lived a life believing a candle looses nothing when it lights another. Boaz was wealthy, he owned a large field, employed reapers and was a pillar in his community. When the reapers were done gathering the harvest, he opened the fields to the less fortunate to gather whatever remained of the harvested crops. Ruth was one such person.
You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. If you fail at generosity you have to ask yourself if you really love others. When great leaders fail, it is almost always because of generosity. They view the resource as being greater than the source. No leader ever gets ahead by mimicking Ebenezer Scrooge.
Jesus talked about this generous spirit when he said, "If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. (Matt 5:40-41)
A generous spirit drove Boaz to go the second mile with Ruth, even before he suspected she become his wife. He assumed she would be attracted to a younger man. (Ruth 3:10) Even so, Boaz gave her extra time, attention, grain, respect, favor and honor. Boaz never kept score in his generosity towards Ruth. He also displayed six qualities from which we could learn from regarding generosity.
1. He was generous with his compassion. He told Ruth not to glean from anywhere else. He made sure she would get all she needed from him.
2. He was generous with this compliments. He noticed her sacrifice and complimented her efforts.
3. He was generous with his courtesy. He invited her to join his staff for a meal, kindly serving her all she wanted.
4. He was generous with his harvest. He told his reapers to put out extra bundles of grain for her to find.
5. He was generous with his credibility. He showed respect by doing what was right by her requests.
6. He was generous with his commitment. He committed himself to ensuring that Ruth's former husband had offspring to carry on his name.
Hey Reaction Church. Here are four things I want you to know about faithfulness...it is because of your faithfulness that God raises you up.
1. Live AHEAD of your contemporaries. Joshua spied out the same land at the same time as the other ten spies, be he and Caleb returned with a different report. He lived ahead of his time. He was faithful that God would deliver his promises when the other spies weren't. He knew that God could never go back on his word. He had a trust in God that the other spies didn't have. His trust allowed him to live ahead of his contemporaries even when his contemporaries out numbered him. He trust in God gave him a supernatural vision of how wonderful the promised land was that God was giving to them. He was able to see beyond the immediate concerns of the spies because he wasn't seeing today, he was seeing tomorrow.
2. Live ABOVE your circumstances. Joshua no doubt faced several challenges as a faithful leader. He followed Moses; had to conquer mighty Jericho, he had to cross the Jordan with more than one million people. But he did it. He never let the magnitude of the challenges and circumstances be greater than the magnitude of God. Because of his faithfulness he was always able to live above the circumstances and challenges in his life. So often we view a circumstance or challenge as being to great for God to overcome, and in that moment we stop trusting and living in a place of faithfulness. It is also in those moments in life that we take control believing that we have a greater power to overcome the circumstance or challenge...basically becoming our own God. It is amazing that harder we try the harder we fail. Always staying faithful allows you to always live above your circumstances. God is never taken off guard by your circumstance. He knows exactly what you are going thru at every moment in your life and he knows all the possible outcomes as well. When you face circumstances it may because God is testing you, proofing you for the blessings he has in store for you.
3. Live DEEPER than your calamities. When Israel began to make progress in taking the Promised Land, some disobeyed God and brought defeat on the nation. Joshua overcame it all. Do you ever feel like you take 2 steps forward with God only to get knocked back 3? Does it feel like you never really come out of the storm? Sure you might get a momentary break and it seems like your through it, but then the dark clouds come rolling back in. Joshua experienced defeats while staying faithful. It would have been easy to say...What the heck God...I am doing my best here...help me out a little! But the one thing that Joshua did was stop being faithful. His faithfulness in God was always greater than the
defeats he faced. During his calamities he increased his faith even more, asking God for even greater and more radical miracles. It was facing a possible calamity that he asked God to make the sun stand still.
4. Live BEYOND your capabilities. Joshua's dream, his determination, and his ability to develop his leadership skill's enabled him to soar beyond his own personal gifts. Joshua never settled for his personal gift as being the tool to his victories. He always left ALOT of room for God to move. So often in life we force God out of the picture because we believe we are good enough...that we GOT THIS. Joshua was able to experience God in ways that others could only dream of. He learned that his abilities were good, but God's were GREAT. So many of Christians want to experience God the way you read about in the bible. To experience literally make the sun stand still in your life simply because you asked him to. The reality is majority of Christians never experience God like this because they rest in their abilities and not in God's. If they can't get the job done, then the job doesn't get done! The only way to experience God is to let him work. He will always come thru for you.
One of the craziest victories in the bible is the story of Joshua and Jericho. It is the only story where God's military strategy makes no sense! Think about how absurd God's military strategy must have seemed to the real men of war. March around Jericho 13 times in one week, blow some trumpets and that's it. No weapons...no fighting...no plan of attack. I can only imagine the residents of Jericho must have been laughing the entire time seeing Joshua's army marching around. The trumpets were blowing, the men were silent, not a word was spoken, and this went on for six straight days before God handed over Jericho.
Joshua was successful in light of God's rather unorthodox methods because he was willing to do whatever it took to gain the victory. If God said shout, the Joshua would discard his swords and spears and wholeheartedly go with the absurd. It was Joshua extreme obedience to God that led to the victory. Most of us in our own lives find it easy to follow the sane instructions of God, but then take over when God gives us an absurd instruction. We think that somehow God must be out of his mind.
About 15 years ago a friend of mine and her husband were cops in New York City. One night the husband came home to find his house empty. His first thought was that he had been robbed cleaned. He called his wife to break the news to her and to his surprise she already knew about it. Not only did she know about she was the one who gave everything in her house away to those in need. The husband naturally taken back by this asked her, "What were you thinking?" Her response, "God told to me too!"
If God told you to give everything you own to those in greater need than you would you? Or would think God was smoking some holy crack? Can I tell you that my friend today...impacts 10's of thousands of people in need every year. She is responsible for The Big Give in Fishersville, Va. Because of her act of obedience 15 years ago and continuously staying committed to listening to God's instruction, has seen thousands of people come to Christ. She started and run's a ministry that feeds hundreds of people every month on a regularly basis. Her life and her husband's life are radically different today then what they would have been had she not been obedient to God's instruction.
Here is 10 keys to help you with living victoriously.
1. Make obedience your first priority.
2. Never wait to see what the crowds in your life want you to do.
3. Make decisions from an eternal perspective not a temporary one.
4. Learn to act decisively. Delayed obedience is the same as disobedience.
5. You can appreciate the past but don't worship it. Your future will never live up to the standards by which you worship the past.
6. Value the results of your obedience more than you do your image or reputation. (This is a heart issue... you have to decide which reputation is more important to you. Your reputation with God or your friends.)
7. To truly impact others, you have to be willing to stand up and be counted. Even it means you are the only one standing.
8. Never waver from your understanding of what is right, no matter how loud the voice of the crowd is telling you are wrong.
9. Must trust God more than you do the gifts and abilities he has given you.
10. Make glorifying God your ultimate objection. Your personal glory should never outshine the glory of God.
When it comes to leadership there are two roads that must be traveled. Unfortunately, most leaders in life only ever travel one of the two. The road less traveled by leaders is the road inside of you. To be an effective leader for the long term you must travel on the inside before you can effectively travel on the outside, because the journey of growth and success is first an internal one. The first person you lead is YOU...and you can't lead effectively without self-discipline.
There is a period of preparation that needs to take place in all leaders. The issues is...that most leaders want what they want now. Why did a 2 week journey take 40 years with the Israelites? The real reason was they weren't prepared for the Promised Land. The people simply weren't ready for God's blessings until 40 years after they began their trip.
Plato once said, "The first and best victory is to conquer self." The people and leadership of Israel lacked self discipline. As soon as Moses went up the mountain to meet with God, the people turned their backs and built a golden calf. They lacked the self discipline to wait for God and Moses.
So many leaders fail to travel on the inside. They private life doesn't match up with their public life. On the outside they look good and appear like they got their stuff together, while internally they struggle with self discipline. Let's take pastors for example...
40% of pastors leave the ministry after only five years.
89% of pastors have considered leaving their ministry at least once.
90% of pastors have stated they are regularly fatigued.
57% of pastors would leave their current ministry if they felt like they had a better place to go.
77% of pastors feel like they DO NOT have a good marriage.
72% of pastors only study the bible when they are preparing for a sermon.
71% of pastors are in constant state of depression
38% of pastors are divorced.
30% of pastors maintain an ongoing affair.
Only 26% of pastors spend time daily in devotion.
Only 23% of pastors feel content with who they are in Christ.
1500 pastors leave the ministry each month.
50% of pastors marriages will end in divorce.
80% of seminary students who graduate leave the ministry within 5 years.
63% of pastors have been fired from the pastorate position at least twice.
78% of pastors have been forced to resign from the pastorate at least once.
35% of pastors deal with sexual sin on a regular basis.
51% of pastors struggle with porn addiction.
(Study conducted by the Barna Research Group)
The point is this...when you look at a pastor their position as a leader is very public. On the surface most people who look at their pastor as being the example of having their life together. On the outside most pastors lead very well...but it's the leading of themselves internally where they fail. Like most leaders in life, the majority of their time is spent on the outside appearances and not the inside change.
Here a Five Points To Self-Discipline.
1. Develop and follow your PRIORITIES. All leaders are pressed for time, but the successful ones have a plan. If you can determine what's really a priority and release yourself from everything else, it will be much easier to follow through on what's important.
2. Develop a DISCIPLINED lifestyle goal. To be successful, self-discipline can't be a one-time event. It has to become a lifestyle. One of the best ways to nurture such a lifestyle is to develop systems and routines...especially in critical areas of your life crucial to your long-term growth and success. Reading the bible daily verse just in church on sunday, Praying daily, Spending time along with God daily, all of these should be top priority in your life. You don't have to let the world's priorities be your priorities.
3. Challenge your EXCUSES. Challenge and eliminate any tendency you have to make excuses. If you can name several reasons why you can't be self-disciplined, realize that they are really just barriers to your success. All of your barriers must be challenged by you if you want to go to the next level.
4. Remove rewards until you FINISH the job. This world preaches in everything to reward yourself because you deserve it! By you just being you...you deserve it! Rewarding yourself before the job is finished creates a false sense of security about the job. Do you stop a game in progress to reward the star player or do you wait until the game is finished and scores are in to see you actually won or not. If the game is lost was the reward deserved? If you can't finish the job you don't deserve the reward.
5. Stay focused on the RESULTS. Anytime you concentrate on the difficulty of the work instead of its results, you're likely to become discouraged. So many leaders burn out become because they become discouraged by the task. I know pastors who have become burned out, left the ministry because they were discouraged, blamed the congregation for their lack, and ultimately created a path of destruction, their churches closed down, and many of the people they had shepherded have not returned to church period. Their burnout resulted because they became the focused on the difficulty of the work and not the blessings of the results. This doesn't just happen to pastors, it happens to parents also. They literally give up on parenting their child, and then wonder why their child turned out the way they did.
The road less traveled is a difficult one, but if your desire to lead well and build a legacy it is a road you must travel no matter what.
What are you doing in your life today that is passing along your legacy to tomorrow's generation? This is a question we are currently wrestling with in our current series Outlaws. At the end of your life, when the dust settles, what will be said about you, and who will have been impacted because of you? As leaders it is our responsibility to lead well today but also to set up the foundation to leading well tomorrow.
I want to share with you today 3 steps to A Leaders Legacy by looking at the life of Moses and the relationship with Joshua.
Of all the wonderful ways Moses expressed his leadership, the most strategic had to be his training of Joshua, who was destined to become the key element of Moses' legacy. Joshua became the leader who would complete the task of leading the people into the Promised Land. Joshua was successful as a leader because of Moses' example and equipping and from Joshua's hunger and giftedness. Moses passed along his authority, abilities, and anointing to Joshua. He gave Joshua his time, his insight, created a learning environment by which Joshua could have the opportunity to prove himself, and a strong belief in his future. Because Moses spent the time necessary to equip Joshua, his dream of Israel entering the Promised Land came to pass even though he did not personally see it happen.
As leaders there are three lessons to be learned from Moses.
1. Moses EMPOWERED Joshua and gave him AUTHORITY. When the time came, Moses laid his hands on Joshua and publicly commissioned him. He gave Joshua part of his authority. As a result Joshua received positive recognition, a leader's approval and acceptance, and Moses' expression of faith in him. After Moses died, no one questioned Joshua's leadership.
We have to learn to empower others and pass on authority. So many leaders fail to leave a legacy of leadership because they are too concerned about loosing their power as a leader. What they failed to realize is that their real power as a leader is not in them leading but them empowering others to lead. A real leader equips other leaders around him to support his weaknesses. He looks for leaders who have strength's that are his greatest weaknesses. Most often, leaders seek to improve their personal weaknesses thinking that they themselves have to get better, instead of realizing that God has equipped others around you with your weaknesses as their strengths. As a leader always be looking to pass power and authority to others.
2. Moses gave Joshua EXPERIENCE and opportunities for APPLICATION. Joshua's apprenticeship went beyond the merely cerebral or passive. Moses and Joshua did more than talk over coffee, the apprenticeship involved hands-on experience. Moses shared his life and his responsibilities with Joshua by allowing him to prove his leadership as a spy, as a military commander, and as a personal assistant.
As a leader you have to be willing to give up your position. Moses trained Joshua to take over his position. One of the hardest things for a leader is to give up their position of power. When a leader fails to learn this principle when he is gone, what he was leading goes away to. If Moses failed to train Joshua to take over...when Moses died the people in the wilderness would have dispersed instead of taking over the Promised Land. I have personally experienced in churches where the senior leader fails to train up a apprentice. Those churches...no longer exist today!
3. Moses gave Joshua ENCOURAGEMENT and AFFIRMATION. Moses repeatedly affirmed his young protege by taking him along on excursions exclusive of anyone else. They shared a unique intimacy, almost startling considering the difference in their ages. Moses encouraged his apprentice both this words and his time.
One thing most leaders fail to due enough....(and I am guilty of this as well) is encourage and affirm those we are leading and those we are mentoring. In my own life I didn't receive much affirmation growing up. As a matter of fact I can't think of a single time when my father told me he was proud of me. The first I experienced someone telling me they were proud of me was from one of my leadership mentors. He made a habit of encouraging and affirming as often as he could, and it was a real confidence builder. Having a leader tell me how I was doing good encouraged me to want to continue doing good. It affirmed in my life that I could do it. Had Moses never encouraged Joshua's leadership abilities, Joshua would have crumbled as a leader at first sign of opposition from those he was leading.
The task of leading well is critical to the legacy of the leader. So critical that I believe it must be a cornerstone to the foundation of what and who you are leading because you may not be around to ensure the task is finished. Moses never made it to the Promised Land personally... but he made sure his legacy did!
And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." (Numbers 20:10-12)
Moses disobedience by the rock reminds us of the human flaws that bedevil us all. So many leaders like Moses start well but finish poorly. The lives they are entrusted to impact never make it to the promised land because of the leaders flaws. This was the case with Moses and Aaron. They had a calling....like you do....the started strong, but never made it to the end. In the verses above we can extract Four Spiritual Flaws that caused to the finish poorly. 1. Instead of the leading the people, they reacted to the people.
We see this in verse 10 when they gathered the people to the rock and said must "we" bring water for you out of this rock. Somewhere along the way their leadership began to break down to the point of the people no longer trusting. So often as leaders we feel the need to have to prove our leadership by reacting to the people by some grand action instead of staying focused on leading them. By this point in the journey in the wilderness, Moses felt unendurably weary of the complaining, the stagnation, and the lack of progress among the people. He was directed by God in earlier verses to simply speak the rock in order to get water for the nation, in his anger he struck it. He reacted in fury rather obeying with poise, and for his disobedience he was barred from entering the promised land. What we have to learn to recognize as leaders is to not make major decisions during an emotionally low time. (Which is often the case when your in the wilderness. Most of the decisions we make are made of out reaction to being the wilderness.) We must also learn to be proactive and not reactive. Don't let your mandate come from the grumbling of the crowd. Get your cues from God and the mission He has given you. 2. Making the presumption that what worked before will work again. (v.11)
Earlier in Exodus 17:5-6 God had instructed Moses to go and strike the rock, and water poured out. Moses made the fatal presumption that God would work the same way twice. What he failed to realize was the that people had experienced that miracle. The people knew there was the power of God in Moses and rod. He used it to part the red sea. He used the rod to strike the rock before and water came out. This time though God was trying to show that just Moses mere voice could draw water from a rock. God was trying to strengthen his leadership by the power of his voice. Remember Moses had doubted his voice earlier with God. Ultimately Moses, failed to obey the exact command of God. He followed it 98% but that 98% was not good enough. So often in our lives we fall into the trap of making false presumptions about how God will work in our lives because we are basing off how He he has worked in the past. We fall into the trap of the 98% follow thru. We can hear God's voice, begin to obey and somewhere along the way in our obedience we get ahead of ourselves and begin to make decisions that cause us to fail. As a leader you must know that God may not work the same way twice in your life. You must be willing to trust him and be obedient to him when you feel him calling you or speaking to you. Your obedience must be with 100% follow thru. 3. Compromising our obedience to God so we'll look better. (v11)
I could make an entire year long sermon series of this one...Most of us...including myself struggle with IMAGE issues. Our obedience to God stops at the point of our IMAGE to others being changed where it changes the opinion of others about us.
What if God told you like he did Isaiah to preach the word naked for three years. 99% of us would have no problems preaching the word for three years. It's the naked part we have a problem with. That would tarnish our image we have created about ourselves so that others won't think highly of us. Moses didn't fully obey the exact command of God regarding the water and the rock. In his frustration with the people he made a decision to try and elevate his leadership position and how they people would view him. All of this in an effort to keep the people following him. God was trying to do this for him, but Moses took matters into his own hands. How much greater would the people have responded to Moses having witnessed a new miracle instead of a repeat of a miracle that was already done. How much greater would the people have responded to the power of Moses voice had Moses spoke water out of the rock. His image would have been changed for the better, and it would have been done so by God, not by his own efforts. 4. Failing to trust God to complete what he began. (v12)
Because Moses failed to trust in the power of his voice...something he had struggled with before in front of God. Moses lost the right to lead the people into the land that God had promised them. God was trying to magnify Moses leadership and HIS own Godly authority to the people. Instead because Moses failed to trust God, and took matters into his own hands, what he ended up doing what displaying the picture of God to the people as hallow. "To hallow me in the eyes of the people," God said to Moses. In the exact moment of disobedience Moses painted a false picture of God to the people. When we fail to trust what God starts in our lives the picture we paint about God to our families, friends, and future generations is that of a hallow God. A God that only comes thru in certain ways at certain times. We put the power of God is a box with a set of standards. We must learn and always be aware that our absolute trust in God will always lead to the glory of God being revealed in our life.
Moses failed to move from Faith to Faith and Glory to Glory. He rested on previous faith and previous glory to strike the rock instead of having a new faith and allowing a new glory to be displayed. It doesn't take much new faith to rest in what God has already done in your life. And heres' the thing...God doesn't want you to rely on old Glory. Old Faith and Old Glory causes to see God one way. His plan for your life and your leadership is to grow you and stretch you, to expand your borders and your capacity of what you think is possible. For you always me moving from faith to faith and experiencing glory to glory to be experiencing God in new ways. all the time
Many individuals who at first seem ineffective give up as leaders. I know many a father that has felt ineffective and has given up! The reason...they fail to realize that influence as a leader isn't instant. If you are feeling a struggle in your effectiveness as a leader here are five thoughts that may help.
5 Thoughts On How To Grow Your Influence As A Leader.
1. Your influence grows based on the relationships you keep. Joshua's influence grew because of relationship with Moses. Who are you allowing to mentor you in your life? Through Mose's mentorship, Joshua not only polished his skills, but the people accepted him as their leader.
2. Your influence will grow with time and maturity. Too often leaders want instant influence. The purpose of influence is impact, and impact happens over time and with maturity. Leaders who want instant influence fail to realize that long term trust and confidence has not been established. People follow what they trust. The people of Israel had seen Joshua's leadership skills in action, and his track record as a leader gave them the confidence to follow his directions.
3. Your influence grows because of timing. Sometimes as leader you will wield little influence until it's time to go somewhere. Only when the Jews tired of wandering in the desert did they heed the words of Joshua. Initially when Joshua suggested to go in and take the land they were promised, the people wanted to stone him! (Numbers 14) By Joshua Chapter 1 (1:16) they responded again by saying, "All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.
4. Your influence grows because of patience and integrity. It is easy to give up when people reject you. Rejection causes us to become angry, melancholy, disgruntled, and cynical. To overcome this as a leader you have to display great consistency and credibility. The people around you have to see you pushing ahead for the long term...even while they are testing your fortitude during the short term.
5. Your influence grows because you a right. From the beginning, Joshua (Josh 23:1-11) tried to do the right thing. He attempted to lead the people in the right direction. After the exodus from Egypt, most of Israel considered his words foolhardy and rash...yet Joshua's words stood the test of time. His message never changed, and eventually everyone saw that he was right.
Leadership is all about influence...at the end of the day that influence comes down to character and conviction.
In Numbers 13:1-14:10 we read a story about 12 spies who are sent out to investigate the Promised Land. One spy from each of the twelve tribes of Israel entered Canaan, explored the land, and returned with a report. All 12 spies had the same external experience, but the internal conclusions of ten were different from two.
After their return, ten of the spies displayed a horrible attitude about the Promised Land. The difference between the their report and the report of Joshua and Caleb which was extremely positive about the Promised Land was their attitude! Specifically their attitude regarding God.
The attitudes of the majority:
1. Disobeyed God.
2. Believed the land had no future.
3. Displayed cowardice based on fear.
4. Utterly ignored God in their report.
5. Suffered from a grasshopper complex.
The result of their attitude was wide spread anxiety about the promises of God. Through a negative majority report regarding the promised land, nearly two million people were deprived of their inheritance in Canaan. Ultimately, God delayed in fulfilling His purpose for His chosen people for 40 years. If only the people the had listened to the minority.
Consider their attitude:
1. Obeyed God.
2. Insisted they should enter and possess the land.
3. Displayed courage rooted in faith.
4. Felt calm assurance.
5. Saw themselves in relationship to God.
The end result...Caleb and Joshua stayed alive for the new area, while the other ten spies perished in the wilderness along with the rest of the adults of that unbelieving generation.
Attitude is the Difference Maker.
7 Thoughts To Consider About Your Attitude.
1. Our attitude determines our approach to life.
2. Our attitude determines our relationships with people.
3. Our attitude is often the only difference between success and failure.
4. Our attitude at the beginning of a task will affect it's outcome more than anything else.
5. Our attitude can turn problems into blessings.
6. Our attitude can give us an uncommonly positive perspective.
7. Our attitude is not automatically good just because we belong to God.
There are seven sacrifices in the bible that we can learn from and apply in our lives. Six of these sacrifices are in the old testament and one in the new testament.
1. Burnt Offerings. The meaning behind the burnt offerings was to purge ourselves of sinful acts. We have Jesus for this today. He did this for us, however the application of the burnt offerings still applies to today. We are to live our lives pursing moral purity. The Apostle Paul talks in great detail about moral purity throughout his letters to the churches. Living a life of moral purity is your GPS to avoiding sin.
2. Grain Offerings. The meaning behind the grain offerings was to give the best of your property. Today we can apply this in our lives by choosing to offer our very best effort and service for God. Think of this as your attitude towards God. Are you willing to do whatever it takes joyfully for the Lord?
3. Peace Offerings. The meaning behind the peace offerings was to express praise to God and fellowship with others. Today we must be willing to commit to prioritizing our relationships. Have you ever noticed how some relationships add to your relationship with God while others seem to draw you away? God wants you to have the right relationships in life...ones that magnify him and his love. Who you choose to spend your time is a picture of your love for God. Are you more worried about hanging with friends or reaching the lost?
4. Sin (Guilt) Offerings. The meaning behind this offering was to atone for sin when restitution was impossible. The application to today is this...seeking forgiveness when wrong. Jesus forgave us of our sins...we were wrong in the eyes of God but now are made right by his blood. He petitioned on our behalf. When we wrong somebody we should be seeking their forgiveness not matter how difficult it may by for us. The bible tells us that our tithe and offerings are hindered before the Lord when we have outstanding forgiveness that has yet to be resolved.
5. Trespass Offering. The meaning behind this offering was to atone for unintentional or lesser offenses. The application to today is that we must desire to maintain communication. When communications stops, offenses start.
6. The Tithe Offering. The meaning behind this was to trust God. Today the Tithe still stands as Jesus himself taught extensively about money and trust. When we Tithe (10%) we are showing God that we not only trust him but that our love is focused on the source, not the resource. God doesn't need your money...what he needs is your love and commitment to seeing the resources he gave you used to reach the lost.
7. The Jesus Offering. Jesus gave his life for ours to be set free. The meaning behind this is simple....LOVE! We must be willing to LOVE others no matter what the cost. This is also the hardest offering on our part with our lives. The amazing aspect of Jesus Love is that it holds no records of our wrongs. The Love we have others should be same.
God takes seriously the issue of character. We see his concern repeatedly throughout the bible, from the sin of Aaron's sons to his detailed detailed instructions for life. God focuses some much on character because he is trying to mold us to put "being" before "doing" in our lives. He wants us to be right before we can do right.
So often in life we rely on the mechanics, methods and techniques to be right for right doing. We have a tendency especially as the church to put style ahead of substance. We focus on the charisma of a leader and in doing so can become blinded by the lack of character in the leader. I have experienced this time and time again in church were the leader is dynamic and speaks well and on the surface seems to lead well.....only to later realize his personal character was all wrong. With enough time this became evident and ultimately his ministry collapsed as a result. You may even know a leader that this has happened too! For years he seemed to be leading so well and then all of a sudden one day he steps out and says he can't do it anymore.
There are 8 fundamental truths we must learn about Character.
1. We are given our gifts, but character is developed.
2. Our character earns the trust of others, not our charisma! People are initially attracted to your charisma but will follow you because they trust you.
3. Only good character creates a lasting success with people. God wants your ministry to be around for the long haul. Short term success creates long term distress.
4. Sound character communicates credibility and consistency. People will follow you when they see you doing and living consistency what you preach!
5. Our gifts will only take us so, it is our character that sustains us over the long haul.
6. Our character colors our perspective. It is our character that allows us to feel apathy and empathy towards others to realize this world isn't black and white.
7. Ability may get you to the top, but character is what keeps you there. Your gifting to speak well may draw a large crowd, Jesus's did... but it was character as a person who was willing to die for us that has sustained his people for the last 2000 years!
8. We cannot rise above the limitations of our character. To grow in character, you have to grow in your relationship with God. You have to always be pursuing him and responding to him.