Monday Motivational – Fear > Fool
Welcome to another Monday Motivational! I hope that these weekly posts have been able to encourage you and set your week up for success! It doesn’t take a lot to shift your week’s focus to Christ, and once you have, the opportunities to tell others about Him will start to add up. I like to think that focusing on Christ is very similar to how as children we would focus on our parents. Our parents, if they are doing the whole parenting thing right, should be pretty accurate examples of who Christ is for us—they sacrifice just about everything to make sure we get to be where we want to be, have the toys we want, go on vacation to our favorite places, get to do all the things we want to do; they love unconditionally even when we give them plenty of reasons not to; they teach us impacting life-long lessons in riddles or parables, I mean seriously how cryptic was it when you would ask “why” and you’re just told “because” as if that was going to one day click and make everything in the world make sense! To be fair, it does eventually make sense but by eventually I mean like 15 to 20 years down the road.
Those are just a few of the ways that us focusing on our parents parallel to focusing on Christ. For today’s Monday Motivational I want to look at one specific parallel—fear. Now of course I don’t mean fear in the sense of being afraid, or feeling unsafe. This type of fear is more in line with respect and la desire to understand something better. I don’t know what your family structure was growing up, but in the Sturgill household we had Tina (hands down the greatest mother to ever live) and it was her responsibility to balance love and discipline all on her own. To this day I have no clue how she managed to do it, but if I had to take a guess I would say that it came it down to her creating an atmosphere of this healthy and productive fear. For believers we are challenged to have this same fear towards Christ.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” How does fear lead to knowledge? Because like I mentioned earlier this isn’t the kind of fear that makes you want to hide or flee the presence of something, but rather the kind that is rooted in respect and a desire to understand. The more we learn about Christ the more we respect His sovereignty and authority. We begin to understand that He is in control and as we continue to surrender parts of our life to Him we gain the knowledge of what He wants us to do with our life. The second half of that verse is equally important for us to understand. It says, “fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Growing up I frequently tried to do what I thought would be best and that often led to me ignoring the instruction and wisdom that Tina was trying to give me. This approach always ended in me making a fool of myself, and I could have easily avoided doing that if I would have listened to Tina from the start. In the same way, Christ lived a wisdom and instruction filled life but yet we still try to do things on our own—like fools!
There is such a thing as healthy and productive fear. It takes respect and desire to understand the person it is for. If we start to live our lives toward Christ this way it will be “the beginning of knowledge” and lead to a fruitful relationship with Him! Take time this week to look at yourself and see if you have this type of fear for Christ. If you don’t, what needs to change so that you will? If you do, what sort of knowledge has He been giving you and how can you use it to help others?
Monday Motivational – Abraham
Hey guys, welcome to this weeks Monday Motivational! In our Camp bible study we have been walking through Galatians and within it Paul has been referencing Abraham quite a bit. Quick shameless plug about our bible study, we only have two left before summer (May 4th and 18th at 8 PM at the KCAB office) so if you can come, we would love to have you there! Back to Abraham. There are many reasons Paul speaks about Abraham in his letter to the churches in Galatia and it would take way to long to dive into each of them. So rather than doing that for this weeks Monday Motivational, I think we should instead look at just one facet of Abraham’s life. I want to take it back to when he was just called Abram. This week we are going to look at God’s covenant with Abram. It is important to note that a covenant is the same as what we would call a promise today. This covenant came from God, which meant it was concrete and guaranteed unlike most of our promises we make today though.
In Genesis chapter 15 we find the account of God’s covenant with Abram. We are going to look at two specific details of this covenant conversation that regularly get overlooked. The first detail that I feel gets frequently overlooked is Abram’s initial response to God telling him “look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them…So shall your offspring be.” (15:5). After hearing this Abram’s response definitely involved lots of questions and what seems to be a little bit of doubt (verses 7-16), but verse 6 tells us that Abram “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”. This happened before the birth, life, and sacrifice of Jesus, so righteousness was obtained through deeds (obedience to the law). Yet, we see here that before Abram was obedient in deed he was counted righteous because of his faith. I don’t know if Abram knew that faith was all it took to be counted as righteousness, but we, having the Word of God in it’s entirety know that truth. Should our faith lead to works that are glorifying to God and His kingdom? Of course! But without faith being in place first, our works are done mutely. Start your days off with putting your faith in God to provide, protect, and produce works opportunities—it will be counted to you as righteousness if you do!
The second thing that I feel gets overlooked is the actual constructs of the covenant. We find these constructs in verse 18 which says, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.””. This covenant was made with Abram, but it was for his “offspring”. In our study of Galatians Paul points out this covenant was “made to Abraham and to his offspring” (3:16) singular not offsprings plural. Paul makes this point because it was in Christ that the covenant would be fulfilled. In the same way that the new covenant is fulfilled only in Christ’s sacrifice. Both of these covenants were made for Christ and are fulfilled through Christ. It is only through our journey of sanctification (becoming more Christlike) that we get to be a participant in them.
We serve a God that is deserving of our faith being put in Him regardless of our circumstances. We have a Savior that cares enough about us to share what was promised to Him with us. That is amazing to think about! So amazing that we should want to share with anyone and everyone that is in our life! This week I challenge you to take time everyday and express to God that your faith is in Him and the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus, but don’t stop there…tell others about it too!
Monday Motivational – “But if not…”
Welcome to another Monday Motivational! I hope that you are enjoying these weekly post focused around making Mondays a little more bearable. Being able to write a new post every week has been a huge blessing and helped me to grow in areas that I did not know I needed growth in. With that being said, I want to take a brief moment to say thank you to the reader! I am not sure if anyone reads these posts hoping to learn anything, but through the process of writing them I have and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do so every week. Without further ado lets get into this weeks topic. I would like to look at a story from Daniel that we have all hopefully heard, read, or possibly seen the 100% historically accurate depiction from Veggie Tales. That’s right, we are going to look at the story of the fiery furnace and why chocolate is of the devil—especially when it is in giant bunny form!
Okay, so maybe the Veggie Tales depiction of what happened to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is not exactly how it went down. I mean while reading through Daniel chapter 3 I could not find one single mention of chocolate, a giant bunny, or talking vegetables. Although I reflect on my Veggie Tales watching days fondly, we will stick to what is actually found in scripture for this weeks post. To give you a little bit of back-story on the topic before we look at the fiery furnace event lets look at Daniel chapter 1 to figure out who these three brave believers are. Nebuchadnezzar is the king of Babylon at the time, and he decides to go into Jerusalem and besiege it (Daniel 1:1). King Nebuchadnezzar took some of the people from Jerusalem back to Babylon with him that showed promise in regards to education, appearance, and skills so that they could serve in the king’s palace (1:3-4). Four of the people brought to Babylon at this time were Daniel called Belteshazzar, Hananiah called Shadrach, Mishael called Meshach, and Azariah called Abednego (1:7). These four boys stuck together and God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams (1:17). Because of these gifts from God they were seen favorably by the king and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon, but Daniel remained in the king’s court (2:49). This brings us up to chapter 3 of Daniel.
King Nebuchadnezzar makes a golden image and orders all the people of Babylon to worship this image (3:4-5). The punishment for anyone who does not worship this image is that they will be cast into the fiery furnace (3:6). It came time for everyone to worship the image, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that they were to only worship God so they refused (3:12). The story continues on with an amazing demonstration of how God looks after and protects His people (3:23-26), but I want to focus in on what is said by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego just before they are put into the furnace. Daniel 3:15-18 says, “…And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”. Here is a great example of what our obedience to God is supposed to look like.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego know that they are to serve God and only God. They are obedient to this even though the outcome of their obedience is that they will be cast into the fiery furnace. Look at the first three words in verse 18—“But if not…”. We get caught up in the rewards of our obedience and start to think that we deserve something from God when we are obedient to Him. This is not true. We are supposed to be obedient to God because of His sovereign authority, not because obedience makes us deserving of anything. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that it was their job to be obedient in serving only God, regardless of what the outcome was to be. “But if not…” meant that even if God did not deliver them from the furnace or from the hand of the king, it was still an opportunity for them to show their obedience to the will of God.
Just because we are obedient to what God is calling us to do, we are not more deserving of the blessings He gives us. We are fully undeserving of any and every blessing we receive. As believers we need to be obedient to God because it is the right thing to do, not because our obedience makes us more deserving to be blessed by God. Obedience to God should be a lifestyle that we live out everyday, and when/if blessings come we should thank God for them. But if not, God is still sovereign and worthy of our continued obedience.
Monday Motivational – Count Everything as Loss
Welcome to another Monday Motivational! I hope that you had a great time last week and that you are preparing to have an even better time this week! Over the past few weeks my day to day happenings have been progressively more enjoyable, which is slightly ironic because my days have been stretched out with different activities each night and my nights have become almost nonexistent with minimum sleep being had. The past month or so I have been alternating my Mondays with Job Fairs for Camp and “boys night” (an excuse for a group of friends to get together every week), my Tuesdays have been filled with soccer practice (I get to coach an amazing group of kids at Sevier Heights), every Wednesdays I get to lead the youth at The Church in The Valley in a bible study, on Thursdays I get to be a part of a men’s bible study that has been insanely encouraging to me and continues to grow, twice a month on Fridays I get the chance to lead our Camp bible study and through preparing, teaching, and engaging with our staff that come to that I have been tremendously blessed! If you asked me to describe my ideal week I probably would not have put any two of these things together in one week, but luckily for me God has placed all of these activities into my life! And that brings to our topic for this weeks Monday Motivational.
You could probably tell by reading the past few Monday Motivationals that I have been very influenced by the writings of Paul. This week we are going to look into what he says to the saints in Philippi in Philippians chapter 3. Paul gives us a list of reasons why his life was perfect from the outside looking in. He says “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”(3:4-6). Here Paul is showing how he relates to the people who place their confidence in the flesh. He states that he is of God’s chosen people(the Israelites), of a well known and respected tribe(tribe of Benjamin), a part of a well educated group(the Pharisees), a man with purpose and mission(persecutor of the church), and by the standards of the law he was blameless. In Paul’s time these credentials were more than enough for him to be a well respected and revered man, but don’t stop reading the scripture there. He continues to explain how none of that compares to the worth of knowing Christ.
Picking up in verse 7 we read “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”(3:7-9). Paul was a man who had it all seemingly, but once he gained a true understanding of who Christ was he realized that all of it was “rubbish” in comparison to knowing Christ as his Lord. How often do we caught up on things of this world that show those around us how special or important we are like status, heritage, occupation, deeds, etc.?
I shared with you earlier what my life has been like the past few months to let you know that even if what we are doing has good intentions behind it we can still be missing the point of why we do it. Does God want me to be involved in all of these different ministries and activities? Maybe. Are they good ministries and activities to be involved in? Yes. However, they are all just gains that I have confined to this world. If I am not using my involvement in these things to bring God glory than I might as well not be involved in them. If I am not taking time to intentionally share the surpassing worth of knowing Christ as my Lord with the people around me in these activities I am wasting my time and the time others involved. All of these great things that I get to be a part of are worthless in comparison to knowing Christ as my Lord. It is my job to make sure I live that truth out by telling others about how Christ can be and wants to be their Lord also.
Are there things going on in your life that need to be placed in perspective of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ as Lord? What worldly status, role, or activity are you a part of that has become more important to you than the redemptive power of knowing Christ as your personal Lord? Throughout this week take time to put things in perspective by lining them up with who Christ is. If doing this does not make everything else seem worthless in comparison, maybe you need to do some self reflecting and figure out why. The gift we have been given by Christ on the cross is so much better than any activity, gathering, or feeling we can find in this world! Let’s start living that way!
Monday Motivational – Did you miss it?
Welcome to another Monday Motivational! If you are a first time reader it is great to have you here, and if you are a frequent visitor of the blog it is great to have you here too! I hope that everyone enjoyed their day yesterday celebrating Easter. I had a wonderful Easter packed to the brim with all the essentials—went to a 7 AM sunrise service (still trying to recover from waking up that early) , went to a breakfast potluck where I ate more food than any human should ever need/want to consume , went to the 11 o’clock service at SHBC for some more Sunday morning fellowship , swung by Tina’s house to see the family , went back to Camp to do some Easter fishing (unsuccessfully, but that was to be expected when you are as bad at fishing as I am) , watched a movie , and then called it a day. All around it was a great day of fellowship with family and friends, paired with some great messages about the Gospel of Christ and doing my part to advance it. However, I did not write this post just so I could brag about how awesome my Easter was. I want to talk with you guys about something that I clearly overlooked growing up in the church with hopes that you finish reading this post and think “yup, I knew that”, or “hmm, I’ve not looked at it that way before”.
I hate to admit this, but I am sure if we are all honest with ourselves you have experienced something similar. Growing up in church you find yourself hearing lessons, sermons, studies, etc. about things you already know or still have the notes for. I am not proud of this, but when those moments came up for me in my younger years I would just sort of check in and out of what the speaker was saying. My favorite way to do this was by occasionally tuning into what was being said and then trying to draw pictures to animate the lesson. First thing to note about this is that I am in no way, shape, or form an artist, but that did not stop me from thinking “oh, the speaker is talking about Daniel in the lions den. I bet he wants me to draw him a picture of a guy hanging out with lions rather than listen to what he is trying share with us!”. Second thing to note about this is that it is insanely rude. Picture a tiny kid walking up to the pastor at the end of the service and instead of being able to tell the pastor that they learned something or enjoyed the sermon, the kid hands him a picture of a stick figure man standing beside what are supposed to be lions but the kid didn’t know how to draw the back legs so they all just look like overweight deformed chickens. It would have been more polite for me to just walk out, but instead I would give them horrible pictures that inadvertently said “I know you put a lot of effort and prayer into sharing with the congregation what God has put on your heart, but I already heard that story so here is a picture for you to decipher later”.
Easter was a time for me when this would regularly happen. I knew who Christ was and what He did for me, so did I really need to listen while someone explained it to other people? Short answer, yes! I am sure if I had it would not have taken so long for me put together the thought I had last week while reflecting on Easter and what it means to me personally. In my mind I have always combine all the events of what happened leading up the crucifixion and resurrection so that they were one joined story with only one purpose—show that Christ died on the cross for my sins. It is all one story, but there are many purposes to what happened, and how they happened. Because of this limited thinking I missed something that is very important.
While thinking about the events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection I thought about Judas betraying Christ and Christ still loving him through that and even eating the Passover meal with him. I thought about how Peter was told that he was going to fail Christ and when he did Christ still loved him. I thought about Christ praying to God in the garden of Gethsemane for a way out, but knowing His prayer was going to be met with a no because it was the will of God for Him to be our sacrificial lamb. I thought about Christ’s interaction with the man on the cross beside him and how Christ did not loose sight of his purpose for being here (Luke 19:10). I thought about God turning His back to Christ in the final moments and how that is a crystal clear picture of what our life is when sin is in control. Then I started to think about His resurrection and I found myself at an internal roadblock. Christ’s resurrection has a lot to do with the story of Christ at this time, but does it have the same purpose of pointing out where my salvation comes from?
To be honest with you, I don’t know for sure. I know that I have sin in my life and because of that I fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) so I on my own cannot be in His presence, but I was justified through the redemption in Christ who was put forward as propitiation (Romans 3:24-25). I know that we are cursed by the law when we try to live through works of the law (Galatians 3:10) and that Christ redeemed us from that curse by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). But where does the resurrection of Christ come into play when discussing my salvation? I am not sure that it does. I think that Christ had to be the perfect sacrifice and die on the cross to redeem me from my sins, but outside of my salvation purposes He conquered death to make an example of it. For us to be free from the stronghold of sins in our life and the wrath of God for those sins Christ sacrifice was essential. His resurrection was a picture of His sovereignty and authority over all things. An opportunity that could only come after His death so to not distract us from the purpose and power of His death, but an opportunity that had no other association with His death beside it being a step in the direction of showing us His Deity and Sovereignty over all facets and constructs of this world.
I was so focused on keeping the story together with a common application that I allowed myself to miss the purpose of the ending. How often do we fall victim of doing this? How often do I fall victim of doing this? Sometimes we are so close to something that we don’t allow the intentions behind it to grow in meaning or application. What are other things that I have missed because my own limitations being put on the Word of God? What are things that you have missed? Make an effort to remove your limitations from the Word of God when you read it during your daily devotions or when you are listening to it being read on Sunday mornings. Allow your eyes, ears, heart, and mind to be open and accepting of what the Spirit tries to reveal to you in God’s Word. Who knows…you may find out that you missed something before.
Happy Monday guys!