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So, you want to be GREAT!

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“So, you want to be great?” Jesus said in responding to a dispute that broke out between His disciples.

What Jesus had to say about greatness can be seen through the many stories he told and just how he himself lived among us. The bible is full of illustrations that either directly or indirectly speak about greatness.

SEEKING GOD

Reading the gospels are so incredibly satisfying to me because they record firsthand accounts of God among us from those who were there. So, what Jesus had to say is very important because we will never have such an opportunity again to hear God speak to us in the way He did through Jesus. It is God with us, living among us, like us, but unlike us in that He wasn’t corrupted by sin.

Just think about that for a moment the creator embodied in His son reaching out to His creation at a level that shows such intent, faithfulness and love. That’s partial why the rejection of what Jesus offered through His sacrifice will be made so painful to man in the end, because it so painful to God.

When I read, I watch how Jesus behaved and what Jesus said, I truly want to know what Jesus might be thinking when He said the things he said and did the things he did because this is God himself.

I used to read the bible to find something for self-gain or promotion that I could pride myself in my faith. I couldn’t wait to put on an exhibit of my understanding of the knowledge of God for all to see so I could be great. Thinking back, it makes me regret some of those wasted days, those most embarrassing days, but it was part of a process of realizing the value of something. Over the years I have grown to realize this relationship we can have with God has such endless worth just from the treasures that come from it.

It is more than merely show and tell. Those treasures look wholly different today than what others and myself were trying to pass them off as back then. It’s not all about the treasures, but I am so grateful for all that God has given me. What the treasures do is speak to the greatness of the one giving them. God is great!

These days my journey looks different, my desire has grown to simply wanting to know him because of who He is and you never run out of what you will find. These are the true riches of life. So instead I seek, I seek Him in prayer, I look for Him in life’s evidence and through the scriptures. I really want to know the person who made me and learn about the creation he made around me to live in, how it works and how He influences it.

I want to grow as much as I can into what God intended for me which is found through that seeking. He promised one day to take me and all those who believe to an even better place with Him. This is what Jesus said and the rest of scriptures speak of the same. I want to be ready for Him when He comes being prepared out of the gratitude, I have for Him saving me. Just not for that one day to come in the future but out of gratitude seeking to live through Him every day.

This is also where I find God’s Spirit meets us and changes us and our lives by His power. What an incredible exchange, you come with really nothing but a trustful heart of dependency and a willingness to receive, learn, understand and obey, and in exchange you receive the true treasures of life. God is great! God is rich in mercy!

PURSUIT OF GREATNESS

Over 25 years ago I heard someone speak some things under the inspiration of the Spirit. Among the things that were said was this, “I did not call you to great things, but a great self that I am, says the Lord”. This one statement has stuck with me all these years. I have thought about it often. And as I have thought about it I would like to share insight into it with its reference to greatness.

I come to understand by the scriptures that we were created with a capacity to grow, be fruitful and multiply. This is also seen through nature’s workings. This was first spoken to us upon our creation found in the Book of Genesis. It is in God’s desire for us to do this. We live and walk out our life in this fashion, but how we go about this really determines what greatness is.

This present world seeks greatness by gathering the most; the most knowledge, the most things, the most fame, the most power. All the “most” can come in many categories and when we gather it we want to be recognized for it and given special attention or privilege because of it. What things in your life have you been gathering through the years or even presently that you want to be recognized for the most?

This route of our own pursuit of gathering can cause us to neglect other things like valuable relationships and responsibilities. This route to greatness the world seeks always compromises with sin to obtain it. This present world’s idea of greatness never says enough either but it has a tremendous appetite for more that keeps driving people on. The need for more promotes pressures and pushes us at times into some absolute worthless things that don’t edify a man’s soul. It is not easy to say no to what the world calls great when you look around and see everyone else pursuing it.

Greatness is being expedited now through social media which is proliferating the ideas to the world’s routes to greatness. Some of the objects of passions advertised on the way to greatness can be downright deplorable and your ruin can be swift if you get caught up in them. It’s why what the world calls “great people” can still be unhappy people even willing to take their own life because they didn’t find the joy and fulfillment they thought would be waiting for them there.

I’ll give a couple of common examples of man based attempt to achieve greatness. The first example doesn’t require wealth or for you to have great intellect, but to be great in this fashion requires gossiping and cutting others down to elevate oneself above others to feel your superior than your peers. This is the usurper, busybody, gossip.

Another example is on your way to gain you compromise with sin by lying a little, or cheating a little on forms, or just plain outright stealing what is not yours to achieve the “most” you can for yourself. This is the liar, thief, the fraudulent.

Or the flip side of that same example, you work yourself to death so you can be seen as having the most with no time to enjoy it or living with a family you started but don’t know. All these ways will bring destruction to you in some form and you will be filled with a life of pain that will always seem to catch up to you even if you try to run from it. Repent! Do not go another day in the evil way.

To become great by the world’s standards always evolves sin. It is a compromise we need to make to achieve its greatness. It is demanded by the fraudulent ruler of this world to share in the illusions of anything He has. We may say, “well, it’s for God” but God would not ask us to sin to achieve greatness as a testimony for Him.


THE FIRST LESSON ON GREATNESS

We can see this challenge to greatness in the story of the first humans wanting to be great in this way. The scene took place in the garden of Eden. We can find an account of this story written down for us to read in the first book of the Bible called Genesis, Chapter 3. There Eve was persuaded by a cunning serpent, a representative of satan, to do something she wasn’t supposed to do. This serpent begins to wave a curious tempting bait before her and the devil awoke a desire that is innate to her soul that now had her questioning something.

Here’s a question I have for you, please take a moment to answer it if you like; Is the sense of greatness (your worth) rooted in your own feeling of being valued?

Eve was now looking at her own sense of value through a series of questions that this enemy of our humanity skillfully crafted. She was now in the position of feeling less valued for not having knowledge of what this enemy was telling her. Those questions began to translate into her mind as statements pertaining directly to her value. If she was really valuable, she should have known these things, it had to be one of many thoughts. Why do I think she was thinking these things? We are susceptible to be tripped up in this way because of our human condition in our perceived dependence on others for our knowledge and understanding because we are communal (we want to be part of the group). Then along with this we also have that innate desire by God for God to be and feel valued.

The devil had her wondering about things she wasn’t even asked to think about. She was now coming to conclusions that had no bases of reality in truthful knowledge. God had not revealed to them the totality of the reason not to eat from the tree other than the day they do they shall surely die. What does that mean? You shall surely die? Only God would be able to help them understand knowledge in the way He wanted them to… in His time… in reference to Himself the creator of all things. No one can truly know what is in the mind of God except by His Spirit and whomever God desires to reveal His knowledge to. That is why as a believer we must pursue Him making every effort to prepare ourselves that we might know Him.

You have to ask, how many slick tongue devils behind many of the swindlers of the gospel exploited God’s people through the years and taking captive many souls by this type of deception he presented to Eve? Fraudulently baiting them through an emptiness of their lack of knowledge and understanding selling lies as truths causing them to sin against God.

This temptation awoke a desire for Eve to know more. It enticed her feelings of importance and value which was being used to twist what God had told Adam and herself. God had already placed value and importance on Adam and Eve when He made them. He lovingly gave to them parameters in which to live life. Is that hard to understand? In time God would make known to them the reasons for what He does and help them understand the “why?” because of the value He placed on them.

When we read, He made them in His image that doesn’t sound like a limited being God created, it sounds more like a being that can hold great capacity of whatever it is God has for them. We can also see this truth from the history of the human race interaction with God. God is always trying to get them to understand more about Him and His reasons why, but the appeals made by the deceptive illusions of the world are strong and can cause us not to see what God is saying.

DO NOT EAT FROM THIS TREE, seems simple enough but this was going to be the most important lesson God had for them and us to understand. How do I know this to be true? Basic observations concerning life shows that there are parameters that we must live in or pain and destruction comes. It is a theme throughout the whole Bible, spoken of through people’s lives that had been written down for us to see. It has been recorded that we might understand that there are parameters to life and that we need to know the one who made them in order to keep them.

We can see in Eve’s decision that God would not reign supreme by her in the disregard for the parameters he had set for them. Supreme means to be superior to all others. It didn’t of course actually mean God wasn’t supreme, but His position of authority over her would not reign supreme at least not at this moment in this woman’s life.

She was allowing Her thoughts to be diminished concerning the supremacy of God and what He said. Her thoughts were now meditating on something she perceived greater than God at that moment…herself and what she wanted. Through her act of disobedience, we can see her shortsightedness in her thinking, but I guess it is always easier to see faults in others. It is a lot less easy to understand why and how we ourselves and others are captured by them.

The scriptures do not say how much time had passed between the serpent’s introduction of these thoughts to her and the amount of time she spent meditating on them and justifying them within her heart. At some point, Eve decided what she wanted to do and brought Adam with her. She was about to show Adam how great she can be by what she knows.

I can’t help but think of the new feelings of shame, pain and regret that this unknown act of rebellion was soon going to bring to her and her husband’s life. I know too well this feeling of regret from the pain of my own share of wrong doing.

Eve- tempted by wrong thoughts, desire awaken and enticed, compromises by acting on sin, taking the fruit from the tree they were forbidden and eating it. Eve did show Adam she was the “most” by showing Him they could eat from this tree. Her pursuit of greatness to prove herself valuable/important was short lived and set a series of consequences into motion. It is partially true she would now know good and evil like God because God is about to make it known to them.

(you can read about the consequences that befell them and all of us because of their sin in the book of Genesis Chapter 3, verses 12-24, in the Bible)

Why did consequences involve the removal from the positions they were given to lessor ones that were accompanied with various trials that will make living much more difficult? We say, “they sinned” but is it just me or was the consequences seemingly harsh for what they had done? Some may say they deserved it because they were disobedient to God. But then I think of the disobedience we do, even worse things with much more knowledge of the consequence of sin then these two. I can never be thankful enough for the mercy God has on us. Why did they receive such harsh consequences?

Let’s look at this whole situation again in an overview. The devil was playing his part through the serpent. Satan was already black listed for His rebellion against God in heaven. Now we see him here trying to call into question God’s ability to reason, judge and set value. He thought he could accomplish this through two things by what he did to Eve.
The first, by showing that what God created is flawed. In this way, Adam then Eve who was created by God could rebel even though they were made in His image and set in a world that seemingly would give to you all of life’s advantages.

The similarity to the second reason is tied to the first. It’s because the devil also rebelled when He was an angel to God. The scriptures lead us to believe that he tried usurping God’s authority wanting to position himself above God as supreme. When he did not succeed in his rebellion, he himself and the other angels he had convince to rebel with him were thrown out of heaven. They are now awaiting, the great and terrible for them day of the Lord and their full punishment for their rebellion. These angels were removed from their position of value and importance because they wanted to be GREATER! The devil is now bent on showing to all that God is wrong, God is not supreme in everything. In simple words, God is not as great as everyone thinks and the devil is bent on pursuing this thought to the end.

Is it his hatred towards God because of God’s judgement pronounced on him? or is it now his only hope of redemption by proving God is not just in His judgments that is motivating him to corrupt God’s creation? Maybe it’s both.

For us in what we read in the Bible from the past, what we see is happening today and what is foretold will come in the future presents to us an open display that God has allowed all that He created to see He is just. It has been foretold and written down for us to know in the Bible. This display says, He is not only all powerful but His judgments are right and that we can place our trust and our dependence on Him who created us and everything that was created by Him.

Numbers 23:19 says,
God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?

I AM WHO I AM

God wanted us to know Him as “I AM WHO I AM” a name God gave to Moses for those who might ask what is our God’s name? It is I AM who sent me. This is what Moses was told to tell them. There were many gods of that day that men attribute their greatness to. These created gods became their object of worship and they gave them names to reflect man’s cause. Our God’s name that He gave to himself attributes to His own greatness without the need of men to do it.

Adam and Eve ended up suffering because in essence, like the devil and his followers, they called into question God’s Supremacy through His ability to reason, judge and set value. They turned from the only one who can give them value by removing their trust from God by doing what He ask them not to do. Adam and Eve placed their trust in their own self-importance, their own greatness.

Your value is in God. Apart from God’s value placed on you through His purpose for you, you’re a destructive work. God’s redemptive plan is to restore that value that we are so willing ready to surrender through our own ignorance being convince by the devil and a society in rebellion to do so. This is Lesson 1: There is a God and you are not it

JESUS ILLUSTRATION ON GREATNESS

Jesus used an illustration that to be great we must become as a little child. Jesus is helping us redefine greatness because the misunderstanding of it can become a stumbling block to our faith. It can twist our desire for what is right as we see happened to Adam and Eve.
Looking at this little child all they can do is trust. They are dependent on and look to you the adult for almost everything. When you are properly meeting their needs and providing proper parameters for them to live, you’re helping them understand their value. Knowing your value and feeling valuable helps take away the hunger to prove to yourself that you have worth. but that is only half of it.

This little child responds to a world in which they are subservient. A world where they are learning to be of service to others by not allowing them to grow into a life full of self-serving ways. We recognize those self-serving ways as selfishness and this can be model through us as parents/caregivers to them. Selfishness is where you believe you have a right to something for yourself with a disregard to the well-being or consideration of others. Sin is alive and well in that kind of atmosphere and so is the destruction that accompanies it.

When you grow to be of service to others, the things God puts in you and reveals to you allows God to lead you to a place of service a position the reflects God through you. You could be most gifted person but if you haven’t been loved properly and disciplined to be restrained to be helpful to others (to serve) you will struggle to find your place in God’s design for your life, your whole life. The Lord is a redeemer and though dependency on Him and obedience to Him he can make you useful. The Lord can satisfy that hunger by looking to Him to reflect value instead of having to seek others to affirm it in you. You will wear people out pursuing them for your value and they will want to get away from you because you are making ungodly demands. Most of the time those pursuing importance in this way become disillusioned with Jesus and fall away from faith in Him. They may show up for roll-call, but their desire for Jesus and what is right is replaced with hypocrisy.

States of selfishness hiding behind pride doesn’t work for those who desire to be partakers in the life of God. Jesus said, “unless you become as a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven” This life in Christ is not made for those who think they are greater than others it is made for a submissive trusting soul.

There are two roads to walk from which the scenery looks different. One road is in the service to others walked with God in which your life will find joy if you are following Him. God will bring you across others to be of service to and help by guiding you to them. The other road is different. This road you are driven to walk with others like yourself who are also trying to obtain gain from the people we were meant to serve. Then the people you come across is just a means of getting you to where you want to go and possess what your trying to gain. One road is to serve the other road to be served.

Being a foster parent with the few experiences I have in caring and watching little children not my own, my heart has been moved with compassion and understanding. I’m moved in how we influence these little ones to feel safe again to trust when they have been neglected or abused. Regardless of the amount of damage done to them by their parent’s sin and others which has had its work in eroding the image of God in them…even the little ones who have been greatly damage, you still find that they have some laugh in them, still have some play in them and they still have some HOPE in them.

These are little people who haven’t given up hope that someone might value them. What becomes sad in their set of circumstances is all the insecurities and fears that you see grip these little lives. They cannot even give words to express these fears that the devil and the sin of man has placed upon their souls, but we see the reality of the destructive work it does to them by the way they act.

When they grow up, they learn to mask to a degree the damage by neglect or abuse trying to maneuver in society but it’s destructive work is still their wreaking havoc in their lives. Their inability to trust because of the pain becomes the biggest hurdle.

This inability to trust keeps them from realizing their value. They feel their value is slipping away from them which now becomes a fight in them and to all who encounter them. It helps you to understand how God can have mercy on us because not all our behaviors are out of willfulness but some out of defense. Our reaction as we and others encounter people like this in their very bad behavior begins to affirm to them their diminishing sense of value, there are truly worthless. They live out their life in this war by self-preservation instead of the value God had set on them.

If you don’t feel like your worth anything, you begin not to care. Or you make your pursuit to prove you are worth something that you are great. It becomes a dog-eat-dog world to you and you must take care of yourself first, which leaves you very little time to reflect on the real God who can save you. It’s just one of the devil’s many plans to derail your life. This damage I have mentioned can start from the cradle. Only Jesus’s work in their life can save them from their path of destructiveness if they are willing not to follow the pattern of rebellion, they had been raised in.

Some people are just too wicked so you leave them to God and the devil to carry out their work, in hopes they will find an end in their madness and turn to Christ. The ones who are willing to sit with you by their own willingness, God may have their ear and may be calling them, have patience as God has had patience and mercy on you. But be the standard to them not the bridge, Jesus is the bridge to God. They need to see in you that there is another way, another place in which they need to live and that they can’t stay where they are then you have a door to share about Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

It was the innocence of child and their receptiveness in being guided that Jesus, I believe, was expressing through the image of coming to him as little child. He wants us to be of the same mind of a little child, but towards God.

GREATNESS THAT COMES FROM GOD

We want to be a people of God knowing God as He is because that understanding conforms your life to something greater. This kind of greater is something that is birth into your being by God and as your knowledge of Him grows He begins to fill the things in your life that you are part of as a result. Your life starts to become an overflow of Him of Jesus into it. It is this overflow of His greatness in your life that produces outflow of something really great. The good news is you don’t have to manufacture it. It’s from Him, through Him, to Him the scriptures say are all things. You don’t have to look for greatness God is greatness.

Isn’t that remarkable, by just knowing God and putting into practice those things you learn from Him, His power begins to transform your life into something of great worth. Isn’t that the essence of greatness, something of great worth- great value? Does this not speak to God’s supremacy consisting of His ability to reason, judge and set value? It is everything that is in God that is making you valuable. Think about the Hebrew children in Egypt they were a slave people. They were debased in their sense of value so isn’t it extraordinary when you think about the name God gave to Moses “I AM” as the name of their God. I AM everything you will ever need.

It is not your set of circumstances that dictate your value it is who you know. It is through this willingness to submit to the One who is greater than you that leaves all the unimaginable and all the unbelievable open for God to fill. Does that make your life valuable? Yes! More valuable than what you could trade it in for; the momentary claim of greatness with its limits that accompanies sin and destruction. It has been those things I look back on that have been through and by God’s power that I say, “I could not have imagined that or could have never believed that would have happened, I am most thankful for it”. These are such great treasures of His kingdom, maybe small to others but very valued by me because of the peace of God that accompanies it.

This trust in Him is the opposite of going out accumulating whatever it is for yourself to prove your value. What if your circumstances don’t permit you to get what you want? What if it does but you fail in your endeavors trying to get what you want? Or what if you lose what you had gained. Does that mean you are not worth anything? Well, the world would tell you…yes. That one lie keeps many trapped in their mind and occupied in their busyness unable to come to God.

I know one question you may have reading this. What about all the great inventions we have and all the good things that have come from people trying to pursue greatness? First, I won’t accept the premise that all things we have created or our pursuits in them have been great or good for us, but let’s look at it a little closer. When something good does come forth out of us can we truly say this gift to humanity was from me, that it came as a result of my pursuit to greatness. If you are honest, good things don’t come that way. Many times, you hear it said, “we were lucky enough to stumble on this discovery or we were fortunate to save this life, or it happen to be a coincidence”. If you really think every process out fully, when it is something good, God’s fingerprints are on it by His mercy or through His grace in some way.

The Apostle Paul in a book to Timothy said,” godliness with contentment is great gain”. Please, Please, please take some time to think about that because it is from that godly contentment that all great actions are churned out into our life and the lives of others.

Paul also said in Acts 17: 22-31 (please read) in an excerpt from a speech Paul made, “For in him (God) we live, and move, and have our being”

If that is true, doesn’t that set our value? It should give us our reason to respond to the one through whom we exist. Why would we devalue ourselves but settling on something lessor?

I would like to leave you with God’s thoughts found in the scriptures expressed through His son Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:19
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:1-5
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Mark 10:42
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

God does not call us to great things. God created us and calls us to know Him who is a great God. This puts anyone who is willing to believe Him, know Him and follow Him into a realm of greatness without any need for worldly accomplishments. That is greatness and then God fills our life with Himself and we do not know what will happen as He does. What we do know is the temptations of this world grows dim in the brightness of His presence and our life is change by His greatness.



THE INVITE

If you do not know Jesus, but you want to, Jesus is God. In your own words or these, Tell Him you repent from your sins, you are turning away from wrong doing. Tell Jesus you want Him to be your Lord (that means you will look to give an account to Him). And that you want Him to show you the right way to live and the way to the heart of the Father the creator of souls. That you will make every effort by the help of His Spirit and your own willful choice to seek Him to find His “will “for your life because you want to be blessed and at peace by living a life pleasing to Him.

If you believed what you just prayed, God says by His word you are accepted. You are put back into right relationship with him. Nothing you can do made this so, except accepting His offer. Now go live a life worthy of what you agree to. Never cease to ask in prayer for Him to help you maintain your relationship with Him. Your cares become His and He wants to show you how to care for things properly by depending on Him. Obtain a Bible because in it you will find the words of life that pertain to the one God in three– Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Also find the best church you can with what you have learned in from this site. I am very happy for you.

Sincerely, Mark Balicki
 
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