Monday, January 28, 2013

You can be a Kingdom Builder.....






God Can Use Anyone:


             Moses stuttered.

             David's armour didn't fit.

             John Mark was rejected by Paul.

             Timothy had ulcers.

             Amos' only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.

             Jacob was a liar.

             David had an affair.

             Solomon was too rich.

             Abraham was too old.

             David was too young.

             Peter was afraid of death.

             Lazarus was dead.

             John was self-righteous.

             Naomi was a widow.

             Paul was a murderer.

             So was Moses.

             Jonah ran from God.

             Miriam was a gossip.

             Gideon and Thomas both doubted.

             Jeremiah was a bullfrog;

             Elijah was burned out.

             Martha was a worry-wart.

             Mary may have been lazy.

             Samson had long hair.

             Noah got drunk, and that's not all.

             Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?

             But God doesn't require a job interview.

             He doesn't hire and fire like most bosses,

             because He's more our Dad than our Boss.

             He doesn't look at financial gain or loss.

             He's not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging,

             sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need.

A Christian minister once said, "I was never of any use until I found out that God did not intend me to be a great man."

The pattern was the same for many of God's servants: Joseph, David, Daniel, Paul, and John. Occasionally it will appear as though we have been set aside. Properly used, that time will equip the Lord's servant for the next level of ministry.

It reminds me of a true story which happened in South America...

This is the story of one of the brave torch-lighters who lost his life that fateful day. Jim Elliot spent his youth preparing to share the Gospel with those who’d never heard it. But nothing could have prepared him for the dangers and challenges he would face in the jungles of Ecuador. The remote Auca tribe was suspicious and antagonistic toward even the friendliest gestures from outsiders.

In 1956, news from the steamy jungles of Ecuador spread rapidly around the world. Five young American men had been mercilessly killed by members of the Auca (Woadani) tribe — the very same people those young men had gone to serve and befriend. That seemingly senseless tragedy has become an inspirational marvel as family members of those young men have now befriended that very same tribe!

Their martyrdom brought a sudden end to the project they called “Operation Auca,” but the tragedy became a defining moment in the history of evangelical missions. Hundreds of young people were inspired to take up missionary work, thousands were moved to deeper commitment to Christ, and millions of dollars in resources were mobilized.

Some Christians think that this role is given only to pastors, missionaries, or other people with an "up-front ministry." But all of us have the responsibility to be involved in whatever way we are able and in whatever opportunity God gives us. Not everybody is called to go abroad as a missionary, but we all can give, pray, and tell friends and family what the Lord has done for us.

But here is what is often left out of the Great Commission: "Make disciples of all nations." Listen, every Christian is called to go into the world and make disciples. But I didn't say that everyone is called to be a preacher. Not everyone is called to be a Paul or a Peter. You might be a behind-the-scenes person. You might be someone whom few people know about, but you are where you are, and you want to do what you do for God's glory. So we are all called to go and make disciples.

When you're truly committed to getting the gospel out, God will reveal what work He is calling you to do. He has a place for every one of us—nobody is insignificant or unusable. The limiting factor is not the Lord's ability to use us but our availability to His call.

 
Blessings,


Raj Kosaraju




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kingdom Builders




Sometimes we think that the meaning of life is found in accomplishments and recognition, but in the end we realize that this way of life is meaningless too!

Have you ever noticed how often it is that the private lives of famous people are a mess? And yet somehow the world still manages to convince us that it would be great to be famous, to be widely recognized and rewarded for our accomplishments. Some people have a list of things they want to accomplish in life; they are certain that these accomplishments will make them feel fulfilled. But when they accomplish all their goals and still feel empty, they become disillusioned with life.

Like Solomon, they discover that this way of life is not full of meaning. Accomplishments only become meaningful when God is at the center of them.

God has made faith the only way to live! No alternative is offered. 'Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him' (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

Let's take a moment and consider some questions arising from this life-transforming truth: 

(A) Who are 'the just'? Paul writes, 'Know that a person is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith...' (Galatians 2:16 NIV). Justification (just-as-if-I'd-never-sinned) can't be earned, it's a free gift that comes by faith. If you have placed your trust in Christ then you are fully accepted in God's eyes. How good is that?

(B) What is 'walking'? Paul says, 'We walk by faith and not by sight.' Walking requires that you get up and start moving. You can't just sit around aimlessly, waiting for the rapture. Walking involves: Motivation - you're moved by a purpose. Direction - you've chosen a destination, a goal to reach. Motion - you're committed to mobilizing your energy and resources in the pursuit of your God-given destination and purpose. To walk by faith you must be engaged in consistent, forward movement intended to bring you into God's destiny for your life.

God often takes each leader through four major tests

(C) When God anoints a person, a pattern of testing appears to take place at specific times in the leader's life. God often takes each leader through four major tests to determine if that person will achieve God's ultimate call on his or her life. The person's response to these tests is the deciding factor in whether they can advance to the next level of responsibility in God's Kingdom.

(D) Control - Control is one of the first tests. Saul spent most of his time as king trying to prevent others from getting what he had. Saul never got to the place with God in which he was a grateful recipient of God's goodness to him. Saul was a religious controller. This control led to disobedience and ultimately being rejected by God because Saul no longer was a vessel God could use.

(E) Bitterness - Every major character in the Bible was hurt by another person at one time or another. Jesus was hurt deeply when Judas, a trusted follower, betrayed Him. Despite knowing this was going to happen, Jesus responded by washing Judas' feet. Every anointed leader will have a Judas experience at one time or another. God watches us to see how we will respond to this test. Will we take up an offense? Will we retaliate? It is one of the most difficult tests to pass.

(F) Power - Power is the opposite of servant-hood. Jesus had all authority in Heaven and earth, so Satan tempted Jesus at the top of the mountain to use His power to remove Himself from a difficult circumstance. How will we use the power and influence God has entrusted to us? Do we seek to gain more power? There is a common phrase in the investment community, "He who has the gold rules." Jesus modeled the opposite. He was the ultimate servant leader.

(G) Greed - This is a difficult one. Money has the ability to have great influence for either good or bad. When it is a focus in our life, it becomes a tool of destruction. When it is a by-product, it can become a great blessing. Many leaders started out well - only to be derailed once prosperity became a part of their life. There are thousands who can blossom spiritually in adversity; only a few can thrive spiritually under prosperity.

As leaders, we must be aware when we are being tested. You can be confident that each one of these tests will be thrown your way if God calls you for His purposes. Will you pass these tests? Ask for God's grace today to walk through these tests victoriously.

God chooses and  through the Holy Spirit anoints them.

 (H) While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.

Acts 13:2-5
  
God Entrusts the Kingdom Work

 (I) Do you know one thing I love about ministry? It's that when it comes to Kingdom work, every person has a job to do. Even Paul and Barnabas, two of the greatest missionaries to ever live, had John with them to assist them in their ministry.

Now you probably know this John by a different name: John Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark!

Isn't that amazing? God used this young servant to Paul and Barnabas—who was probably used to carrying around their heavy scrolls and transcribing letters as they dictated—to give the world what is widely regarded as the earliest Gospel account!

You see, servants like John Mark are so important to the work of the Kingdom. And God will use ordinary servants like him to do extraordinary things!

Let me tell you something. On the day when rewards are given out in heaven, there will be countless men and women who ministered behind the scenes who are going to be standing at the head of the line while many of the ‘up-front' people will be waiting on them!

So whether you are more of an up-front person when it comes to ministry or you like working behind the scenes, don't underestimate the impact that you can have by being a humble Kingdom servant.


Blessings,


Raj Kosaraju



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cultural Relativism


Cultural relativism is the mistaken idea that there are no objective standards by which our society can be judged because each culture is entitled to its own beliefs and accepted practices. No one can object to any society’s intolerance that reflects its indigenous worldview. Because there is no objective moral truth that pertains to all people and for all times, one moral code is no better or no worse than any other (i.e., the moral equivalence doctrine). Thus, we should not impose our values on other societies. It follows that, according to cultural relativism, we cannot object to Hitler and Nazism, Mayan infant sacrifice, China’s massacre of students in Tiananmen Square, South Africa’s apartheid, genital mutilation (i.e., female circumcision) of young girls in Africa, and so on, because each of these practices is justified by the worldview within which it exists. Nor could we contend that one culture is superior to another culture. In addition, we would also be prevented from criticizing our own culture’s practices such as slavery. Further-more, within the perspective of cultural relativism, there would be no need for, or argument for, social progress. Toward what objective goal would we progress?

As Christians, we value all people, regardless of culture, because we recognize that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We also recognize that diversity of culture is a beautiful thing and differences in food, clothing, language, etc., should be preserved and appreciated. At the same time, we know that because of sin, not all beliefs and practices within a culture are godly or culturally beneficial. Truth is not subjective (John 17:17); truth is absolute, and there does exist a moral standard to which all people of every culture will be held accountable (Revelation 20:11-12).

Our goal as missionaries is not to westernize the world. Rather, it is to bring the good news of salvation in Christ to the world. The Gospel message will kindle social reform to the extent that any society whose practices are out of step with God’s moral standard will change—idolatry, polygamy, and slavery, for example, will come to an end as the Word of God prevails (see Acts 19). In amoral issues, missionaries seek to preserve and honor the culture of the people they serve.

God's Heart toward the Lost

In our culture of moral relativism, the statement that Jesus Christ is the only way to God rubs a lot of people the wrong way, because the statement itself seems so narrow and dogmatic. In a way, it is. But this is what Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

The Bible clearly teaches that there is one mediator between God and man, and it is the Man Christ Jesus (see 1 Timothy 2:5). And Acts 4:12 says, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Many hearing this will assume this verse means that those who have never heard about Jesus automatically will be sent to hell. But that is a false concept of God and His nature, because if the cross of Calvary proves nothing else, it proves this: God loves people deeply. Why else would the God the Father send His Son to suffer and die?

Here is God's heart toward lost humanity. In Ezekiel 33:11, He says, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live."

The Bible also tells us that God is patient and doesn't want anyone to perish (see 2 Peter 3:9). So God wants everyone to repent. You see, God is compassionate. He longs for fellowship with humanity, for friendship with us.

Jesus described God as a shepherd looking for a lost sheep (see Luke 15). That is God's heart toward all of us. I believe that God will judge us according to what we know. God loves people. And I know He wants to save them.

Culture Relativism- Where are we headed

Cultural relativism is closely related to ethical relativism, which views truth as variable and not absolute. What constitutes right and wrong is determined solely by the individual or by society. Since truth is not objective, there can be no objective standard which applies to all cultures. No one can say if someone else is right or wrong; it is a matter of personal opinion, and no society can pass judgment on another society.

Cultural relativism sees nothing inherently wrong (and nothing inherently good) with any cultural expression. It is widely accepted in modern anthropology. Cultural relativists believe that all cultures are worthy in their own right and are of equal value. Diversity of cultures, even those with conflicting moral beliefs, is not to be considered in terms of right and wrong or good and bad. Today’s anthropologist considers all cultures to be equally legitimate expressions of human existence, to be studied from a purely neutral perspective.

Relativist theories may vary in what they take to determine morality. For some relativists, it is majority opinion that is important; for others, typical practice may effect moral values. For all relativists, though, the fundamental claim is the same: morality is merely a product of culture, and there are therefore no objective moral truths, only truths relative to specific cultural settings.

What are our Priorities

Many times we think we need something when we really don't. Sometimes we want things we don't need. We get our luxuries and our necessities confused.We live in a day that has confused luxuries and necessities. Material things can never bring contentment, for they can never satisfy the deepest need of your heart. Either you can't get enough of them, or when you get them, you find out they don't meet your need.

This round world will never fit into your three-cornered heart. There is nothing wrong with material things; they just cannot satisfy the deepest longing of your heart. Your deepest needs will never be met by material things, only by the living God. I don’t know how much of God you have, but you may have all of God that you want.

Part of the message that we carry as Christ-followers states unapologetically that there is a right and wrong when it comes to cultural, ethical, and moral issues. It's clearly written in God's Word. And we've been given a message of hope and transformation that the world desperately needs to hear and to embrace.


Blessings,


Raj Kosaraju