Sunday, September 9, 2012
Entitlements and Death
We have a name that we are alive, but inside we are dead
By Kevin J. Turner, President, Strategic World Impact (SWI)
Special to ASSIST News Service
BARTLESVILLE, OK (ANS) -- Entitlement has accomplished its heinous work. How could we not understand that the “man of God” must have the best: private planes, five star hotels and someone to serve as our personal chauffeur. After all, we may lose the anointing if we are found “slumming” it with the regular folks.
A few years ago, after a time of immense breaking that the Lord allowed in my life, some friends from a church called and requested that my wife and I come for a visit. Neither of us had any idea what was in store for us other than thinking that we would visit the church family and out of my brokenness, would try to share some of the Lord's dealing with my heart. Instead, my bride and I were treated to five days of bliss as the body of believers lavished love upon us. “Exceedingly abundantly” were the only words we could think of.
Tammy and I drove down the road in the car they provided for us, to stay at a wonderful hotel they provided for us, and eat our meals at amazing restaurants with money that, again, they had provided for us.
I still vividly remember looking into the love of my life’s eyes as we held hands and gave thanks to the “Giver of all good things,” and as words failed to express our gratitude towards God, we simply wept. The overwhelming graciousness of the Lord via the body of Christ had produced staggering humility in a time of deep need for Tammy and I.
Now ponder with me for a moment, that if after our friends had given so sacrificially, we complained or asked for a larger hotel room or more money for food?
I love to have people come to our house and eat. I love to cook and I love the satisfaction that comes after our guests have eaten a great meal -- enough to allow them to rub their bellies and say, “I am stuffed!” or “I could not eat another bite!” The knowledge that I have been able to satiate the appetite of someone who is hungry brings me great pleasure.
My brother from Africa, Fuzum, said that many people are like hyena's -- no matter how much they have eaten, they are still compelled to bite. Fuzum has taught me so much about life and people as we served together for over five years inside Sudan and Eritrea.
Just as I long to hear my guest say they are full, I believe God longs to hear us say:
“Father, all I have has come from Your hand, I deserve nothing but I have been satiated, not simply by Your hand, but from Your love.”
It is my prayer that we will stop peddling “Westernanity” to the world, stop marketing Jesus, and humbly preach the Good News of Christ and Him crucified, buried and resurrected.
The beauty of contentment cannot be overstated. Godliness with contentment IS great gain. As I see it, the move towards maturity in our walk with the Lord brings us to a position where the bit and bridle are no longer needed, and the hand of God need not be applied to lead us. Instead, we are led by the eyes of the Lord, just as a couple who have been married for years can glance at the face of their spouse and see pleasure or displeasure in their eyes. So in seeking the face of God should we be led in a like-manner.
May we reach a point in our spiritual journey where we can truly say, “Lord, You alone have satiated my deepest hunger and You alone satisfy all of my needs.” Only the most base and brute among us could dare to lift our voice to God and say, “I demand just this one more thing beyond all that You have lavished upon me!”
Or worse yet, who among us, given the propitiation of Christ, could then cry out for one more thing? Yet many among us today in position of leadership not only ask for more, but expect much more and would do so with the most vile of hearts, which is the heart of entitlement.
At this point, I must beg you to flee from such company and dare I say that you would find yourself in better company with murderers and thieves! In the heart of a man who thinks himself entitled, pulses the highest form of sedition towards a potentate as possible.
The penultimate treachery that is like a cancerous tumor among the leadership of Christians today includes the abandonment of servant hood as an inferior role, thus denying the very teachings of Christ. The total destruction of an anointing upon their lives comes, not as a rushing rapid that carries them away, but rather as a slow moving drift, that while discernible, can easily be denied.
A simple test to help each of us gauge the distance of our drift is to listen to our speech and see if we refer to the sacrifices in ministry as a thing of the past or as an ever-present reality of today.
Is our speech constantly recalling our past offerings of love and now demand that it is the other person’s turn? Do you use verbiage that lets people know you “paid your dues” and now it is time for others to pay up? These are the tell-tale signs that we view service and sacrifice as short-lived sessions of life that are only rendered as the stepping stones for leadership and benefits.
I wish to make myself clear at this point; I am not implying that we must walk in a false humility that has a leader of ministry running around and scrubbing toilets to prove that he or she is being a servant at the expense of neglecting duties that they are truly gifted to carry out. I am implying that it would be wise counsel to never think of ourselves beyond menial tasks due to an invisible graduation on to more noble things. The honor in serving is not the task you have been charged with, but rather it is because of He who calls you to service.
True growth in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ will constantly bring you to a place of a supplicant that, by faith, is assured of his position in the Lord; and that being an absolute debtor possessing neither the time nor energy to work yourself into a suitable position where one ounce of your debt has been paid back.
Hear the Lord Jesus in Luke Ch.17, v.5-10 in response to the (Apostles) asking for their faith to be increased:
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
For anyone with an ear to hear and a heart set to understanding, please know the “person” that this message is directed towards is me!
I have seen clearly that in retrospect, every step I have taken with a hand stretched out as a receiver, and not as a debtor, was a step of utter renunciation of the path that Jesus took Himself.
I have once again found that the dividing line between entitlement and graciously receiving of what the Lord alone can give is not measured in quantity or commodity, but rather in the desire and aim of the heart. The life of a servant is not a momentary passing season, but rather the very fabric of discipleship. One can no more graduate from that position than the Lord Jesus Himself could have submitted to the cross and not died before He was taken down from it.
There is no arriving to a higher plane of entitlements before the Lord in light of His cross and blood. The person who cannot be satiated of his appetites and give thanks for the fullness of all that the King of Glory bled and died for, is a most miserable wretch. An increase of Biblical faith leaves you a love struck servant that does all to serve and steps into eternity with lips that cry, “I am an unprofitable servant! I have done nothing to increase Your glory!”
Surely, Jesus delights in being our all-in-all and takes joy when we come to Him alone as the King of Kings. Yes, ten thousands times yes, He gives rest to the weary and loads us daily with benefits from His unseen treasury. However, this one thing I have learned: my heart is not captured with that which comes from His hand, but rather by the heart that causes His hand to be extended towards me.
Dear one, may you cry out with me today, “Deliver me from entitlements and a corrupt heart that refuses to be satiated by Him alone!”
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord of Light and Liberty, my putrid heart looks to things of this world to bring it joy, forgive me for the times I have prostituted myself with a strange idol and not found total contentment in You. Wash my wicked heart and try its reigns. My life is in Thy hands, oh Lord! May I learn the beauty of contentment and may I abhor that in me which would strive for position over you as my portion. As yesterday was and today is and tomorrow will be, I need a savior. Renew a right spirit within me and restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and fill me again this day with Your precious Holy Spirit. In the matchless name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.