Come To God As A Brother

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Being the firstborn, I didn’t have a big brother, but I took being the big brother to my little sister very seriously! Like when young men would come to pick her up for a date, I would meet them on the front porch and say, “I hope you have a really nice evening. Just so you know, I will be home all evening waiting by the phone. You’d better pray that my little sister doesn’t have to call me!” Hopefully, that let my sister know I was ready to protect her whenever she may need it. 

 Whenever we go into any situation for the first time, there is always a natural fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen? How do I behave? What do I say? How will others treat me? How will I know who to trust? Or even, how will I know what to pray for? 

Those unknowns cause fear, and fear prevents intimacy. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love” (1 John 4:18). Where there is love, fear has to leave. But when there is fear, love is pushed aside. 

We learned that we can come to God in prayer as a Father—we can bring Him all our fears and concerns and problems—but did you know that we can also come to God in prayer as coming to a Brother? 

Jesus loves the fact that we can come to our Abba Father just as He did, which is why He taught us to begin our prayers with, “Our Father in heaven.” 

How wonderful it is to have a “big brother” to show us the ropes, to walk with us, to give us his counsel! One that says, “I’ve already been to that high school … I know that employer … I have experience with that kind of relationship … I’ve solved that problem … I’ve tasted that pain.…” That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. He is our perfect Big Brother! 

Jesus knows everything we will experience in life. There might be unknown things that we walk into, but they are never unknown to Him. And more importantly, they are never unexperienced by Him. Check out these assuring words from the Book of Hebrews—

Both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. … For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. (2:11, 17-18) 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (4:15-16) 

Jesus has been there, done that, and has the scars to prove that He is victorious! 

  • We never have to be at a loss of what to say (John 12:49-50)
  • We never have to be at a loss of what path to take (John 14:6) 
  • We never have to be at a loss of what prayer to pray (John 16:23)

(Check out all of those verses by clicking here.) 

Charles Spurgeon said, “The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the most imperfect prayer and perfect it for us. If our prayers had to go up to heaven as they are, they would never succeed; but they find a Friend on the way, and therefore they prosper.” 

Solomon wrote, “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). 

Commenting on these verses in his book Proverbs: Amplified and Applied, Dick Brogden wrote:

“We tend to crave God’s explicit direction for the momentous choices of life—marriage, study, career, transition, promotion, change—but sail through a thousand daily choices independent of consultation with Him. Functionally, we act as if we only need God’s help for big things because we can handle the small things without Him. The error in this dichotomy of dependence (thinking we only need God’s help for big decisions) is twofold. First, big decisions are not divorced from small decisions; they are simply the crowning act, the summary of a legion of choices. Second, big decisions are not more important than small decisions. It is the small, simple, silent, serial choices of daily living that make one wise. When we acknowledge the Lord in all the minutia, our course is chosen and our path is set, and we do not stand bewildered at the critical crossroads of life.” 

Walking with Jesus as our Brother keeps us free from fear. His perfect love opens our hearts to have intimate conversation with our Heavenly Father. You can trust our Brother to help you with every single decision at every single moment. Let’s learn to lean on Him more! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series on prayer called Intimate Conversation, you can find all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

When Jesus says, “I need you,” will you be able to say, “I’m ready for You”? Here is a great example of a man who stayed ready year after year for that precise moment when Jesus said, “It’s time.” Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Pastors, I was challenged by the insight from T.M. Moore, and I hope you will take a couple of minutes to read the full post and even subscribe to his regular emails. “John Calvin explained that one of the marks of a true church is that the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and heard. He did not consider a church to be fulfilling its mission simply by sound preaching. Sound preaching had to be coupled with sound hearing and obedience, for only as believers do the Word to they receive it as God intends.

“In this, Calvin and Columbanus are in agreement: ‘While we preach often we improve slowly; often are we offended, seldom patient, often conquered, seldom conquerors, often led astray, seldom wise. Then what will help us, like weak and unskilled fighters whose weapons turn and wound them, while it is no credit to hear these things, but to accomplish them? For the law does not make holy by hearing, but doubtless by performance; each should honour the Lord, not simply by words and bodily toil, but by ripeness of character and purity of heart’ (Sermon II).”

Links & Quotes

God made you uniquely YOU on purpose. So you can ask Him to show you why He put you together as He did—with all of the gifts that make you YOU. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

In my Halley’s Study Bible, I read this commentary on Matthew 24-25—

“It is best not to be too dogmatic about the events surrounding [Christ’s] second coming. But if language is a vehicle of thought at all, it certainly takes a good deal of explaining and interpreting to make anything else out of Jesus’ words than that He Himself looked forward to His coming again as a definite historical event in which He will personally and literally appear to gather to Himself and to eternal glory those who have been redeemed by His blood.

“And it is best not to cloud the hope of His coming with too detailed a theory as to what is going to happen when He comes. Some people may be disappointed if Jesus does not follow the schedule they have mapped out for Him.”

“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” —Ronald Reagan

“We are not called to punish the people for whom Jesus was already punished.” —Kevin Berry

Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote, “If you could stack up all handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament—Greek, Syriac, Latin, Coptic, all languages—how tall would the stack be? … I have said in many lectures that it would be the equivalent of c. 4 & 1/2 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. How did I come up with that number?” Check out his post to read how he calculated this astounding number. This is just another link in the chain of evidence for the historicity of the Bible.

I shared this commentary on YouVersion this week: We are made in God’s likeness. Ever since sin entered the world, man’s sinful nature is to flip this around—to make God in our likeness. Literally to say, “This is what I want God to be. I want Him to approve what I want.”

“Pure humor is the most difficult of all of comedy. Late night humor is funny because it is mean. It is relatively easy to be crude, cynical, and sarcastic. It comes naturally to our fallen natures to criticize, tease, mock, and scoff. It’s much harder to make people laugh by lifting others up.” —Dick Brogden, in his book Proverbs: Amplified and Applied, commenting on Proverbs 1:22

Links & Quotes

Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video that I posted the day after Christmas, and please subscribe on YouTube.

T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership. In an interview I then did on his Fellowship of Ailbe podcast, I shared my dismay over unbiblical ideas and practices that have crept into the church. Both T.M. and I share a passion to see our church leadership return to our secure biblical foundation. 

In a recent blog post, T.M wrote, “From the days of the apostles onward, a tendency has existed among church leaders to drift from the plain teaching of the Word of God into forms of Christian life and ministry that derive from sources other than Scripture. Or that stretch the meaning of Scripture to fit the shape of certain cultural forms.” Please check out T.M.’s post “Do not go beyond.”

In a fascinating post from Rabbi Benjamin Blech, I read these thoughts about the power of a name: “The Hebrew word for soul is neshamah. Central to that word, the middle two letters, shin and mem, make the word shem, Hebrew for ‘name.’ Your name is the key to your soul. … When the Torah says, ‘God created,’ it doesn’t suggest that He worked with what He fashioned by labor, but merely that He spoke—and the very words describing the object came into being. God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ The Almighty merely gave it a name, and the very letters defined its atomic structure.” Check out the full post here.

And once again archeologists discover evidence that corroborates the biblical accounts. In this case, more evidence is found from King Hezekiah. As I have said numerous times, the historicity of the Bible is amply verified.

“Success” doesn’t always mean bigger numbers. King David got into trouble with God when he wanted to measure his success by how many fighting men he had under his command. Consistently throughout the Bible God’s measure of success is our trust in Him. This thought was a key part of the sub-title of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace tackles an important topic: Does objective truth exist, and how can it be defined? This is a quite lengthy post but it is well worth your time.

“Pain nourishes courage. You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” —Mary Tyler Moore

Links & Quotes

Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video and subscribe on YouTube.

“The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the most imperfect prayer and perfect it for us. If our prayers had to go up to heaven as they are, they would never succeed; but they find a Friend on the way, and therefore they prosper.” —Charles Spurgeon

I love this thought from T.M. Moore: “We sometimes use the word reflect to express what we want to see happen in our lives as Christians. We say we want to reflect Jesus to the world, like a mirror reflects an image. As agents of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, believers are not so much like mirrors as they are like prisms. Mirrors reflect light. The light strikes them and bounces off, without bringing anything of the mirror with it. Prisms refract light.” Please take a couple of minutes to read Moore’s post Prisms of the Light.

Links & Quotes

God will give you everything you need to minister to others. But there’s one thing you have to do first…

“He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.” —Isaac Newton

Back in 1929, Donald Gee shared three temptations that Pentecostals needed to be cautious of avoiding: (1) selfish satisfaction, (2) fanaticism, and (3) the temptation to forsake the pure worship of God in exchange for popularity. Check out the full article here.

I really appreciate the leadership insights from Dan Reiland. That’s why I was so honored to have him write such a nice endorsement of my book Shepherd Leadership! Here is an important post Dan wrote for leaders, warning us of 5 ways we can misuse our spiritual authority

Fight The New Drug is right on-target in warning about the dangers of pornography. Check out this insightful post that gives 8 reasons why not watching porn can improve your real human relationships as well as your physical and emotional health

Another display of God’s masterful creativity in the Archerfish. I absolutely love these video from The John 10:10 Project!

Links & Quotes

“But friendship is precious; not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.” —Thomas Jefferson

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” —Abraham Lincoln

“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue.” —Augustine

When you praise God, despite your surroundings, you magnify Him. And when you magnify God, you invite others to magnify Him with you!

“Manhood first and then gentleness.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have blogged quite a bit about the historicity of the Bible. The Bible Archeology Report has a very informative post of the top 10 historical references to Jesus outside the Bible. These sources are from the first or second century AD, and specifically mention Jesus of Nazareth, not just Christians.

Dan Reiland wrote, “Church leadership always carries with it seasons of success and setbacks, momentum and grind, joy and discouragement. Yet, we all do better through those seasons when we have learned the rhythms of resilience—the lifelines we need.” Check out the 6 sustaining lifelines for leaders that he shared.

The Institute for Creation Research reported, “Two separate studies claim massive tsunamis and earthquakes from an asteroid impact profoundly affected the rock record. … [Yet] these global phenomena are better explained by the global Flood described in Genesis.”

“Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.” —Francis Bacon

The Gratitude That Influences

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Last week I mentioned over-dramatic kids complaining, “I’m starving!” Or people with expensive phones complaining about a slow internet connection. We’re really good at expressing what we want, aren’t we? In fact, we’re really good at loudly letting everyone around us know that we want something. 

But here’s a good question: Are we just as quick to loudly express our gratitude?     

It’s innate human nature to behave this way. No one has to teach a child to express their desires—loudly! But we do have to teach our children to say, “Thank you.” And sometimes it takes even more prompting to get them to say it loud enough for others to hear, and sincere enough for others to believe that they are truly grateful. 

So why would we expect it to be any different just because we happen to be older? That’s why we’ve noted that the attitude of gratitude is a great attitude, and it’s also an attitude that makes the grateful person stand out from the crowd. 

G.K. Chesterton noted, “In life you can take things one of two ways: you can take them for granted or you can take them with gratitude.” Sadly, it seems that “for granted” is what is typically exhibited. In fact, I think the granted-to-grateful ratio is 10-to-1. 

Luke alone tells a story in his Gospel about ten men with leprosy (Luke 17:11-19). All ten lepers had no problem calling out their need for healing “in a loud voice.” And they called out to the right Person, as they called Jesus “Master.” This word shows that they believed He could do something no one else could do. Indeed, Jesus shows His authority over leprosy with just the word, “Go” and “as they went, they were cleansed.” 

All ten were quick to loudly express their desire for healing and to call on the authority of Jesus, but only “one of them…came back, praising God in a loud voice.” Both Luke and Jesus affirm that all ten men were cleansed on the outside—their skin no longer showed the ravages of leprosy, but only to the one grateful man did Jesus say, “Your faith has healed and saved you” (v. 19 MSG). 

The Greek word here is sōzō. This is the same word used for the eternal salvation that Jesus alone can bring. Check out John 3:17, John 10:9, Acts 2:21, and Romans 10:9. This is better than just physical cleansing, it’s wholeness that lasts for eternity! 

E.M. Bounds wrote, “Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time.” Sadly, the ratio of grumblers-to-praisers is only going grow as we move closer and closer to the end of the age, culminating in people who have the outward appearance of godliness (like the nine cleansed lepers) but ignore the true power of God for salvation (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5). 

In this take-everything-for-granted, focus-on-the-outward culture, those 1-in-10 stand out. Those who have gone beyond skin-deep cleaning to soul-deep salvation, and who loudly express their gratitude, are the ones the apostle Paul declares shine brightly and influence those around them (Philippians 2:14-16). 

The origin of the word influence comes from a power people thought those bright stars had to affect the lives of humans. So your consistent gratitude is influencing those around you, and giving them a star to chart their course, more consistently than almost anything else you can do. 

So shine on! Praise God loudly, quickly, and sincerely for what He has done for you! Be the 1-in-10! And then watch your influence impact everyone who encounters you.

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series The Great Attitude of Gratitude, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

Don’t wait until you feel like doing the next good thing, just do the next good thing and the good feelings will follow. Not only that, but you will motivate others too!

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” —Booker T. Washington

This is a cool mini-biography of Gottfried von Leibniz, a German polymath, committed Lutheran, and one of the most wide-ranging intellects in all of history.

“Forgiveness does not excuse the offending behavior. Forgiveness excuses the offender. The fact that God forgives us of sin, does not make sinning okay. The fact that we forgive someone of their sin towards us, does not make the sin okay.” —Kanayo Situ

“The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.” —Alfred Lord Tennyson

“In life you can take things one of two ways: you can take them for granted or you can take them with gratitude.” —G.K. Chesterton

T.M. Moore has an excellent post on how we can prepare for temptation before it even comes. Please check out this whole post which concludes with this thought, “Make up your mind, each day, that you’re going to resist temptation with prayer, preparation, and resting in the Word of God. Let the Spirit Who brings conviction and repentance be at work within you before you come upon the nets and snares of temptation, and you’ll be in a much better position to overcome the evil that threatens to engulf you, with the good choices and conduct that please the Lord and honor Him.”

More amazing evidence of the creativity of our Creator. Researchers have discovered how plant roots adapt based on the presence or lack of water.

Links & Quotes

Shepherds individualize their care. Good shepherd leaders don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone around them. Good shepherd leaders know how to individualize the care that each and every person needs. Check out my book Shepherd Leadership where I go into more detail about these kinds of leaders.

“The Bible really seems to clinch the matter when it puts the two things together into one amazing sentence. The first half is, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’—which looks as if everything depended on us and our good actions: but the second half goes on, ‘For it is God who worketh in you’—which looks as if God did everything and we nothing. I am afraid that is the sort of thing we come up against in Christianity. I am puzzled, but I am not surprised. You see, we are now trying to understand, and to separate into water-tight compartments, what exactly God does and what man does when God and man are working together. And, of course, we begin by thinking it is like two men working together, so that you could say, ‘He did this bit and I did that.’ But this way of thinking breaks down. God is not like that. He is inside you as well as outside: even if we could understand who did what, I do not think human language could properly express it. In the attempt to express it different Churches say different things. But you will find that even those who insist most strongly on the importance of good actions tell you you need Faith; and even those who insist most strongly on Faith tell you to do good actions.” —C.S. Lewis, on Philippians 2:12-13

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.” —Albert Einstein

The safest place to vent our hurts and frustrations is in God’s presence. He is not going to fall off His throne when you tell Him what’s really in your heart (because He already knows!). But it can bring healing to your hurt when your ears hear what’s really going on in your heart.

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