Category Archives: Bryan Likins

Biblical Principles for Godly Fathers

For more than two-and-a-half years my wife and I tried to conceive.  (If you’re interested in the amazing story, my wife has blogged about it here.)  As soon as we found out we were pregnant my wife bought a book about what to expect during pregnancy – for me, not her!  I admit – I read the book and found it helpful.  As her pregnancy progressed I decided that I needed to also read about being a good father, not just a supportive husband during pregnancy.  But before asking for recommendations or searching for the perfect book, I spent some time reflecting, meditating on biblical and practical principles that truly reflect the essence of biblical fatherhood.

Bryan & KatieAs I spent a few evenings and late nights thinking about what I wanted for my daughter and, more importantly, what God wanted out of me, I came up with eleven principles. The list might have been longer, but just last week my daughter Addison made her grand entrance two weeks early!

Most of you are not new parents.  But these principles can serve as a challenge or a reminder of what God demands of fathers.

1- I will display the love of Christ in my home in a way that draws her to Him and doesn’t portray a distorted view of God the Father.  While Ephesians 5:25 is specifically related to the husband-wife relationship, the command to display Christ-like love in the home has impacts beyond this relationship. I pray that my love is an example of Christ’s love for her and her mother.

2- I will love her mother more than anyone on earth (even more than her) and devote prayer, time, and effort to this relationship, striving to ensure her mother & father are always together.  I could quote statistics about the high school dropout rate or incarceration rate for single-parent children.  But these statistics do nothing more than affirm God’s perfect plan as stated throughout scripture, including Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2.  God created the marriage relationship for one man and one woman for life, and protecting my marriage relationship is directly in my daughter’s best interest.

3- I will place my family in the penultimate place on my list of priorities, behind only my personal relationship to Christ and above my career.  As an attorney, my career can demand a lot of time and effort.  While the two are not mutually exclusive, if I have to choose between being a great attorney and a great father, I’d much rather be a great father.

4- I will keep my family under the authority of a local assembly of Christian believers, aiming to expose her to the gospel and godly role models from the earliest time possible.  God ordained the family, but He also ordained the church.  I cannot fulfill the biblical role of a father without ensuring my family regularly attends and participates in a church that preaches and teaches the doctrine of Christ.  No matter how busy life gets, church must remain a priority.

5- I will be the godly father she needs, basing my life decisions on the Word of God and her and her mother’s needs.  Selfishness kills many marriages, and selfishness also impacts children.  Basing decisions on God’s Word takes my desires out of the picture.  And, according to I Timothy 5:8, providing for your family’s needs is extremely important.  In fact, if I do not, God declares that I am worse than an infidel!

1084540_10153106929445215_808328346_o6- I will follow biblical commands when disposing of my resources, understanding that if I continue to put God first in my finances, He will ensure all her needs are met.  Understanding that a new life is completely reliant on me and that my decisions will now directly impact her well-being could be overwhelming.  However, because of promises like Matthew 6:33 and Philippians 4:19, I don’t have to be overwhelmed.  All I have to do is make God first in my finances (which takes a great deal of faith!) and rely on Him to keep His promise.

7- I will exert maximum effort each day, at work and at home, endeavoring to bring glory to God and provide for her needs (and, Lord-willing, a few wants).  Giving 100% effort in 100% of the areas of your life 100% of the time is a simply recipe for success – but it is by no means simple.  My preeminent motivation is, and should be, to please God and bring glory to Him.  And an important by-product will be that my family’s needs are met.

8- I will stay engaged in the political process and continue to influence my community, ensuring that she grows up in an environment that is as wholesome and safe as possible. Complaining about “just how bad things have gotten” or the direction of the country is easy, but it accomplishes nothing.  On the other hand, speaking up for righteousness at every opportunity, impacting the next generation for the Lord, and voting in national, state, and local elections do make a difference.  I can’t personally choose the next President or hand-pick every student that will share a class with my daughter.  But there are things I can do impact my country and community, and I will do them.

9- I will care for my physical body, knowing that this is ultimately for both her and my good.  Being a good steward of my body will enable me to be involved in her life for as many years as possible.

10- I will provide for her long-term needs in acknowledgment of the reality that her life will likely survive mine, investing in adequate life insurance and expressing my wishes in written, legally-binding will.  I’m not an insurance broker, nor am I a financial or estate planner.  But I believe each father has the responsibility to provide for his family in life and in death.  And with the advent of technology, preparing a will or getting advice for life insurance has never been simpler or less expensive.

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11- I will not allow her to engage in activities or relationships that are not in the best interest of her spiritual, physical, social, or emotional well-being.  The epidemic of “friend parents” is disturbing, if for no other reason than the perceived need to make a child like them, often at the expense of the child’s true best interest.  Understanding that my role is foremost that of taking care of my daughter’s long-term wellbeing is important to keep in mind.

I can’t say this list is absolutely exhaustive, but I believe it represents the core of what God expects in a father.  Do you agree?  If not, what “principles” would you add, or how would you revise those above?  I welcome your comments below, or through Twitter.  Follow me, then tweet with hashtag #BiblicalPrinciplesForGodlyFathers.  May the Lord help me, and may the Lord help you, in being the father that He desires!

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Don’t Worship the Faucet!

03faucet-running-water-lgnShortly after World War I, Lawrence of Arabia took several of his greatest men to visit Paris.    When they were about to leave the grand hotel at which they were staying, Lawrence found his men attempting to pull the faucets out of the wall!  Lawrence was confused and asked what the men were doing.  The men responded: “If we could bring these faucets back to our desert land, we could have all the water we desire!”  These men clearly had an appreciation for water, but they had an unhealthy and illogical appreciation for the means by which it was transferred – the conduit if you will.

Many Christians know they have access to the “water” Christ offers (see John 4), but many of us seem to make a much bigger deal about the conduit(s) through which the water comes.  In other words, we tend to worship the faucet!  We rave about our church; we gush about our pastor; we are quick to tell what a talented, wonderful worship leader we have.  But Jesus – the one who gives the church significance, the one who the pastor and worship leader are there to serve, the cornerstone on which “Christianity” is built – we don’t make nearly as big of a deal about him!

To The Church

Most Christians love and appreciate the local assembly of believers in which God has placed them.  Scripturally, they should.  In fact, Christ loved the church so much that He died for it! (Ephesians 5:25)  But I believe far too many believers have an unhealthy, illogical, and unscriptural appreciation for the church.  How?  By worshipping it and loving it more than they love Christ.  Christians must realize that Jesus is Christ is the water, and the church is only the faucet.  The faucet is important, but, without the water, is meaningless.

When you last walked through the front doors of your church, what was your primary purpose?  Connecting with friends?  Christian fellowship?  These can be by-products of church attendance, but neither should be our purpose.

When you were talking to a friend, co-worker, or first-time visitor and explaining how great your church was, did you emphasize the groups, clubs, and activities offered to children?  Or did you emphasize Christ?  Youth groups are great avenues to reach the next generation; children’s clubs can be used to effectively teach boys and girls about the things of God.  But in the list you rattle off when touting what makes your church different or noteworthy, where do spirit-filled worship and Christ-exalting preaching rank?  Are you worshipping the faucet?

To Church Leadership

The culture in which we live encourages idolization of athletes, movie stars, singers – well, everyone really.  Unintentionally, some church members idolize their pastor and put him in a place that should be reserved only for Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately (and I hope unintentionally!), some leaders encourage this unscriptural practice by their words and actions.  The Jehovah God of the Bible is a jealous God – one who does not share the glory only he deserves. (Exodus 20:5)

A pastor or staff member placing himself in Christ’s rightful place or a congregant doing so of their own volition is a practice that can only end in disappointment and defeat for all involved.  And no matter the cause, we must remember that our ultimate affection should be reserved only for Christ himself.  To use the words of John the Baptist in John 3, the pastor and staff should strive to be a “friend of the bridegroom.”  Jesus alone is the bridegroom.  He is the water; they are but a faucet.

Christian: before you next enter the sanctuary, consciously acknowledge to God why you are there.  Spend a few moments in prayer asking the Lord to use the singing, giving, and preaching to reveal himself to you.

Pastor, staff, and Sunday School teacher: before you mount the pulpit or begin that next lesson, make sure you understand who the listeners should be talking about when you finish.  Better yet, as you prepare, ask the Lord to reveal exactly how you can emphasize Christ in your lesson or sermon.  Get out of the way, and give people the water!

 

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Psalm 23 – It’s Not About You

jesus_shepherdHow many times have you read Psalm 23?  For me, it is probably several dozen, if not more than one hundred.  Until recently I read it with a selfish focus.   When I read Psalm 23, I saw the promise of peace, restoration, and protection.  While it speaks to these subjects, none of them are THE subject.

The Temptation

If you or I had written Psalm 23, it might go something like this: 
1 I have a shepherd; I don’t lack anything.
2 I get to rest in luscious, green pastures: anytime I want, I get to drink out of clear, still waters.
3 When I’m tired, my soul is restored. . .

This is somewhat how I used to read it.  But that is not what the Holy Spirit inspired David to write, and, more importantly, that is not the message of Psalm 23.  The Bible is littered with promises, many of them being “personal promises.”  But, frankly, not a single one of them is about you or me.  Each one is about the one who makes the promise.  If you think it through, this only makes sense, for a promise is no greater than the one making it.

The Truth

Psalm 23 is not about how David received some special blessing from God.  Psalm 23, like the whole of Scripture, is simply about the greatness of Jesus Christ.  In this instance, God wants us to know Christ as a Shepherd.  He reveals the care and protection He provides.  I do not believe David is proclaiming how lucky he is because he is a “famous sheep.”  I believe he is informing us about the goodness and prosperity he found in the Lord when he made the decision to humbly become a sheep.

I’m no king.  I’m no great warrior.  Though I strive to be, God has never called me “a man after His own heart.”  But I have yielded to the Shepherd, and I have found peace, restoration, and provision.  If you are willing to come to the Shepherd, submit to His authority, and become one of His sheep, then you will – like David – be able to attest to the greatness of the Shepherd.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Are You Satisfied with Being an Average Leader?

leadership-iconLeadership comes in all shapes and sizes.  Many different types of leaders have impacted my life: pastors, youth pastors, parents, principals, teachers, coaches, bosses, friends, managers.  Some of these have been great; others…not so much!

What separates good leaders from bad leaders?  You can probably spit out several obvious responses with little effort.  Good leaders treat everyone with respect; they lead by example; and they aren’t hypocrites.

However, if you are a leader, this isn’t the question you should be asking.  Instead, you should be concerned with what makes a great leader.  I have outlined below three ways to guarantee your leadership will be nothing more than average.  By simply doing the opposite, you can ensure your leadership is both exceptional and effective.  These are not necessarily tailored toward ministry, but they certainly are applicable in many contexts, including ministry.

Convince Yourself that Intentions Are What Is Important,
Not Impact

Have you ever been misunderstood? I’ll be the first to admit that the impact of what I say is sometimes divergent from what I intended.  This can present significant challenges in non-verbal communication such as text messages and emails.  Many leaders’ attitude is as follows: “If someone misunderstands me or gets offended, so long as I didn’t intend to offend them, it’s not my problem.”  Great leaders approach communication differently.  Their primary concern is how their message is received, irrespective of what they intended.

Effective leaders understand that how you say something is just as important as what you say.  And they are concerned with their impact, not just their intent.  Have you ever stopped to consider that your message may be perceived in a way that undermines what you intended?

Treat Everyone Exactly the Same

Though it seems obvious, two people can perceive the exact same actions or words occurring in the exact same setting in opposite ways.  If person A is making a presentation and you don’t ask any questions, he may view this as you not supporting him.  Person B, however, may view your asking of questions as an attempt undermine to his authority.  Similarly, if there is a problem that needs to be addressed, a meeting in your office might cause person A to resent you, but this might be exactly what person B needs.

Effective leaders know how to encourage and correct each person in their organization.  They know how to tailor a message to a particular person or audience to obtain the desired result.  Are willing to learn about each person you oversee and impact in order to communicate more effectively?

Don’t Worry about Power Dynamics

When asked to rank their own importance within their organization, most people rank themselves lower than their inferiors do.  If you don’t realize the level of your own authority (or power) and how this should impact your behavior, you cannot effectively lead.  Why?  Because you do not know what impact you have on others.

As an example, imagine you are an associate pastor who has spent a significant number of years at one church.  You must understand that a joke poking fun at someone might be appropriate if directed at a fellow staff member yet could be very inappropriate if directed at a congregant or teen.  The appropriateness of having a one-on-one meeting in your office with someone is likely dependent on factors such as age and gender.  An interaction that leaves a college-aged male intern feeling like you are his friend may make your female secretary very uncomfortable.  Power dynamics are multi-faceted and dynamic.  That is, they change over time.

Effective leaders are cognizant of how factors like age, gender, experience, and title can impact communication.  As their role within an organization changes, great leaders understand they often must modify their approach.  Do you understand your role within your organization and, more importantly, how that should affect your conduct?

Leadership comes with authority and responsibility. Both are important factors in determining how you can and should communicate with members of your organization.  If you want to be an effective leader, keep these three points in mind.  If you are ok with being mediocre, feel free to ignore them.

Read more about LEADERSHIP at P4G…

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Stone-Caster or Stone-Catcher?

woman-in-john-8A recent edition of Smithsonian Magazine focused on a handful of individuals who had won the magazine’s American Ingenuity Awards.  It highlighted one person who made an outstanding contribution to science, cinema, teaching, and social justice.  As an attorney, I was drawn immediately to an article about Bryan Stevenson.  Stevenson is a Harvard-educated attorney who has devoted his career to representing minors who face the death penalty.  (To set you at ease, this post isn’t about the constitutionality of putting minors to death.)

There were discussions about his religious upbringing, attending a Christian college, and what had drawn him into defending accused minors.  Towards the end of the article, he indicated the reason for his chosen career path; he said, “There is no such thing as being a Christian and not being a stone catcher.”  He spoke about Jesus’ actions in “defending” the woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery in John 8.  Christ’s willingness to protect this stranger – who everyone present knew was an adulterer and worthy of death under the law – seemed to be his inspiration! While he did not say so explicitly, it seemed he was just trying to stand between those who were undoubtedly “guilty” of some wrong but who faced a world ready to levy the harshest penalty allowable under the law.  He called himself “a stone catcher.”

“There is no such thing as being a Christian and not being a stone catcher.”

I was immediately convicted. While I would readily admit that mercy-and-truth and mercy-and-judgment must be balanced, I thought of times when I, like the scribes and Pharisees in John 8, was ready to pronounce swift and harsh punishment because it was “deserved.”  I thought to myself, “How many times have I been the stone caster rather than the stone catcher?”

Stone catchers must get in the way.

When someone has damaged their reputation or fallen into sin, the easiest thing to do is – well – nothing!  But Galatians 6:1 commands something very different.  It states: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  Frankly, I don’t know if there is a verse in the Bible that is less practiced in today’s Christian world.  But God has been clear.  If you are “spiritual,” it is your duty to get involved in restoration of the fallen – to become a stone catcher.

Stone catchers might get hurt.

If you get truly involved in protecting or restoring those who need it most, you might get hit yourself by those throwing stones.  That is, despite your innocence, you may become a target based on nothing more than your affiliation.  This can hurt.  However, there is another, more hurtful possibility.  The person you intervene on behalf of – the one in whom you invest time, effort, and love –  may let you down by rejecting your offer or reverting to their old ways.  Both are likely reasons why some are afraid to become stone catchers, but neither is a legitimate excuse for not get involved in the stone catching ministry.

Stone catchers many times get heckled.

If you make the decision to become a stone catcher, I can guarantee you that you will not be the most popular person with certain people – including some “religious” ones.  Questions, jokes, or insults might come if you take up stone catching.  Sadly, most prefer to talk to others about someone’s problems rather than talking with the person about their problems.  But what did Christ do with the woman caught in adultery?  He encouraged, and He restored.  When Christ extended mercy instead of harsh judgment, the scribes and Pharisees were not happy!  And if you review the chapters that follow (including John 9 and 11), you will see that the Pharisees began levying attacks with new fervor following this incident.  This also should not deter us.

Commit this year to mentoring a struggling teenager and taking him out to lunch, or to sending a note of encouragement to and regularly praying for someone who is rumored to have gotten upset about something at church, or, most importantly, to practicing mercy like Jesus did.  Give up your stone casting and take up stone catching.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Want a Better Marriage? The Answer Is Surprisingly Simple – Part 2

side-coupleRead Part 1 first.

Jesus loved the church first; Jesus loves even when His love is not reciprocated; He loves unconditionally; and He loves eternally.  There are also many characteristics of His love.  I’ve outlined a couple below, those that I believe are the most important for us, as Christian husbands, to remember.  Jesus’ love is a…

Calvary Love

You might be thinking “Ok, I’m good here.  Even my wife would admit that I would die for her.”  Sorry to burst the proverbial bubble, but there is so much more to Calvary than Christ’s death.  Calvary was the culmination of Christ’s life; it was the crescendo to a life of sacrifice.  Christ left Heaven to become a man; we must be willing to take on things we might believe are “below us.”  In the Garden, Christ submitted His will to that of His Father.  We must also fully submit to the Father’s will for us as husbands, even when it is outside our comfort zone.  The sacrifice associated with true Calvary love will result in humility, in willingness to serve, and ultimately in sacrifice.  Are you willing to give up your dreams, your career, and yourself to better your marriage?

Curing Love

Sometimes the answers to the world’s most-asked questions seem too simple.  If you want to be successful, work hard!  If you need to lose weight, eat less and exercise more.  If there are struggles in your marriage – whether they appear to be caused by you or your wife – exercise Biblical love.  There are long-standing problems that might have been festering for years, but the first step in strengthening your marriage is loving your wife like you have been commanded.  God created marriage; He understands you and your wife perfectly; and He has commanded husbands to set the tone in the marriage with love.  I am firmly convinced that the overwhelming majority of problems in Christian marriages could be solved if husbands really and truly would love their wives as they are commanded, as Jesus loves the church.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Want a Better Marriage? The Answer Is Surprisingly Simple – Part 1

When our nation has a divorce rate that exceeds 50%, I think it is safe to say that many either are or should be asking how to have a better, stronger marriage.  I do believe people are looking for answers.  For example, a search of Half.com for books on “marriage” yields more than 23,000 hits!  These books were written to fill demand created by people searching for books on the topic.  But rather than filling out an online quiz, attending couples’ therapy, or reading a dozen books, I believe the answer to most problems in most marriages is quite simple.  It is time for Christian husbands to get back to Biblical basics.  It is time for us to understand and fulfill the role God has designed for us, as defined in Ephesians 5:25-31.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

couple-arguing

I am a relatively young man, still south of 30.  Though we do not pretend to have a perfect marriage, in our almost 9 years of marriage, my wife and I have attempted to fulfill the role of husband and wife as commanded in Ephesians chapter 5.  The most accurate description I have heard for the husband’s role is “loving dominion” and for the wife’s role is “influential submission.”  Almost every reader of this blog likely knows the word for love used in this passage is agape, or God-like love, yet many men fail at this basic task – loving like Christ.   His love is a…

Causing Love 

As I John 4:19 puts it, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  Similarly, when we display Christ-like love to our spouse, we create a desire within our spouse to reciprocate.  This is basic, but it is important.  And it is important because it places the burden on the husband to create an atmosphere of love in the home.  This also means that if there is a lack of love in our relationship it is squarely our fault!  But be careful not to love or care for your spouse in order to create a sense of indebtedness or obligation.  Rather, love in order to lay the proper foundation for your marriage.   Would your wife say that you create an atmosphere of love in your marriage?

Calming Love

In order to properly respond to problems your wife or marriage might experience, you must react in a spirit of love.  I John 4:8 says that “[t]here is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear[.]”  Whether it is a problem your wife is experiencing at work, an issue with the kids, or a financial difficulty that seems to be out of your control, confronting the problem with an attitude of love will be calming.  More than knowing that “you have all the answers,” you have a “plan,” or you have the money to pay that bill, your wife needs to know you love her unconditionally.  She must know that, despite how enormous the issue seems while you’re in the midst of the storm, you are there to help her get through it – and you always will be.  Do you approach each marital challenge you face with an attitude of love?

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Is Peace in Every Human Relationship Possible?

I was recently watching a TV show and saw a character, a grown man, who was talking about his list of “mortal enemies.”  The comical part was the reasons the man had that led them to get on his list.  One “enemy” was a TV character he idolized who failed to make a scheduled appearance the man had attended as a child.  Another was “on the list” for opening the package of a collectible toy that apparently was valuable.  The reasons this guy had “enemies” was not because they committed some atrocious act against him; in many cases the reason had practically nothing to do with things the “enemy” had done but was instead about his reaction and his pettiness.

Shortly after this I read Proverbs 16:7, which says: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  That’s powerful!  Implicit within this verse is the idea that there is peace in all relationships, even those relationships which humanly you cannot imagine being peaceful.  According to Matthew chapter 5, when we, as believers, remember that our brother has anything against us, we are commanded to make reconciliation.  Immediately following, we are also instructed to agree with our adversaries quickly.  These verses put the onus on us, not the other person in the relationship!  We are commanded to consider whether someone has a problem with us and, may I add, when we have a problem with someone.  We are told to take the steps necessary to reconcile and to do so quickly.  Few of use regularly practice step one; and I fear even fewer even consider step two!

Inspection

Most of us rarely stop to evaluate our human relationships.  We may look at our marriage or our family, but, assuming we do even this, we almost never evaluate our workplace relationships or our friendships.  It’s as if we think things are unchangeable.  Are there regular conflicts with others in your life?  When you do recognize a conflict or strained relationship, do you think things like “so long as he works here it will always be like this” or “I wish those people would just find another church” or “why does my spouse always create problems?”

Introspection

When we are dealing with issues in any relationship, especially with people we’ve never gotten along with, the tendency is to complain about and blame them.  Our first reaction should be inspection, followed immediately by introspection.   What should you and I do?  Look inward and see if “our ways please the Lord.”   Biblically speaking, this our duty.  Are you living life according to God’s commands?  Are you exercising patience, love, and forgiveness towards others?  Have you taken affirmative steps to mend relationships, even when you think you weren’t in the wrong?

The Exception

Bible study reveals that sometimes there are times when Satan attacks Christians, but contentions and strife generally are of our own creation.  Our biggest mistake is not that we fail to realize there is conflict or a lack peace; our mistake is often that we want to blame it on “the Devil” when it likely is “our ways” that need examining. Don’t try use the exception as an excuse to avoid inspection and introspection.

In Proverbs chapter 3, God tells us that the ways of the wise are “ways of pleasantness” and “paths of peace.”  Does this describe all of your human relationships?  We can claim God’s promise of peace but only after we have look inwardly and know that we are living our life in a way that pleases the Lord.  With God, peace in every human relationship is possible.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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God’s Greatest Promise?

God’s Word is filled with promises. It often seems that you cannot read a single chapter without finding at least one promise. A few weeks ago I was reading Romans 8. I hit verse 28, a promise most Christians have claimed on more than one occasion- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” It is a great verse and a great promise.  But as I continued reading in this chapter I came to a verse I had probably read two dozen times before (verse 32).

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

I stopped and read it again, and again. I probably read it six or seven times before I grasped what it was saying.

The Fathomless Promise

Many of God’s promises are amazing. In Matthew 6, verses 25-34, he who seeks the kingdom of God first is promised that “these things” (food, clothing, and shelter) will be provided. God gives us the promise of rest and relief if we bring our burdens to Him in Matthew 11:28-30. But in Romans 8:32 He promises us more than this- He promises us “all things”! I love things that include the word “all.” All-time greatest, all-inclusive resort, all-you-can-eat buffet.

For the child of God, the breadth of this verse is limitless. As the saying goes, “All means all and that all that all means.” Think about it. The very God of heaven is promising you and me all things- salvation, forgiveness, mercy, love, protection, provision, wisdom, righteousness, friendship . . . ALL THINGS! What could be greater than a promise of all things from an all-knowing, all-powerful God?!?

Glad you asked. I told you I liked things that contained the word “all.” I also really like things that are free! Here, God doesn’t just promise all things; He promises to give these things to us freely! I did not catch this the first time I read it. But it makes the promise even more amazing. It’s so amazing it is a difficult to understand what is being said, and to do so fully we must consider the doctrinal underpinnings of the promise.

The Foundational Principles

At least two things undergird this promise – the omnipotence of God and the fact that He purchased and now freely offers salvation. If someone other than God Himself was making this promise it would be much less amazing. As a matter of fact, it would not be believable. Also, if God the Father had given something less than his most precious possession (His only Son) to begin with or if He had not offered salvation as a free gift, the promise would similarly lose its significance. To put it differently, the first half of this verse is what provides substance to the second half. But the fact is that God IS the one making the promise and He did FREELY sacrifice Jesus Christ for each of us. Because God did not withhold what was most dear to Him, I can be confident that there is absolutely nothing He will withhold. It is on this basis that I can fully, unwaveringly rely on this promise.

The Final Point

You may think that salvation is God’s greatest promise. Salvation, as great as it is, doesn’t compare to the promise made in verse 32. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the basis for this verse, just as it is for salvation. But salvation is simply one side of this multi-faceted promise. You may disagree, but I truly believe this might be the greatest promise of the Bible precisely because it is rooted in the greatest gift ever given.

Read Romans 8:32; meditate on it. As I did a few days ago, I was left with one thought. It has come to mind numerous times since.

The fact that the God of heaven gave up His Son Jesus for me is proof that there is NOTHING that He will withhold from me. 

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Scriptural Steps to Secular Success – Part 2

Read Part 1

Title Is Earned

Genesis 39:4-5 “And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.  And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.”

God Rewards Faithfulness, As Do Bosses

The Christian life is a call to faithfulness.  In the secular world, consistent productivity is noticed.  While some members of management may seem to “have it out for Christians,” today’s economic climate dictates that they not only notice but reward productivity.  When your testimony improves, opportunities will present themselves.  As Joseph found grace (or favor) in Potiphar’s sight, he continued to serve.  That is exactly what you must continue to do.  Beware!  There is a tendency to get comfortable, to relax, to become lazy. Put simply, be faithful!  Remember, the honor of Jesus Christ is at stake every day of your life!

Temptation Often Comes Before and After Success

I’ve never worked to obtain a title.  But I will be the first to admit that I enjoy recognition and affirmation.  Just like Joseph, I have been made an “overseer” of some sort at almost every job.  However, I never compromised to obtain it.  The temptation was there.  They threw out the infamous, “Well, we really are going to need you to work Sunday morning.”  I always respectfully said no, and God never went back on His word.  He blessed my faithfulness just like he blessed Joseph’s – and just like He will bless yours.  As we see in verses 7-12 of Genesis 39, temptation came to Joseph – and it came at some point following becoming the overseer of Potiphar’s house.  But, I am confident that temptation and opportunities to compromise had presented themselves much earlier as well.  Maybe Joseph was asked to participate in some pagan ritual or eat food offered to false gods.  Maybe he was mocked for his belief in only one God, rather than the Egyptians’ many gods.  Had Joseph compromised, his success would have been “his” and not “His” (i.e., the Lord’s)!

Trust Is Exhibited

Genesis 39:6 “And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat.  And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”

A Title Is NOT Synonymous with Trust

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute!  You earn trust before you get a title.”  That is not what we see in this passage.  Joseph is made “overseer” but only of Potiphar’s house and what Potiphar put into his hand.  Later, in verse 6, we see that Potiphar leaves “all that he had” in Joseph’s hand.  My experience has been that managers often do not trust other managers; as a matter of fact, managers will often trust their employees more than other managers.  Stated differently, you can have a title without having trust.

Trust Is Superior to a Title

Trust is more difficult to earn than a title and much easier to lose.  If you lose your temper, stretch the truth, or fudge the numbers – even once – you can lose or diminish the trust you have built over many months or years.  But each time you “do the right thing” you increase the trust.  If a co-worker told your boss that you swore at them or mishandled money, would they question you or summarily dismiss this as “something I know he/she would never do”?  I have had co-workers defend me to my boss, not because I was a supervisor, but because of trust.  As a Christian attorney, if I had to choose, I would much rather be a trusted associate than a distrusted partner.  However, following simple, Biblical principles and trusting God to reward as He has promised means that you will rarely have to choose!

No matter what your occupation or geographic location or the level of your compensation, you can be successful in the secular world.  Over time, look for ways to display Christian qualities in your work.  Make your testimony a priority, higher than friendship or recognition.  Faithfully work and look for opportunities to serve your boss; they will result in your boss giving you a place of leadership.  And, most importantly, build and guard the trust that you earn.

If the life of Joseph teaches use one thing, it is this: Doing right is not always easy, but it is always right.  And, right is ALWAYS blessed by God.  


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Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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