23/8/2020「Sunday Message」 www.lifechurchmissions.com
To Seek Breakthroughs in the Ordinary <1 The 4:1; Mt 5:48; 1 Co 15:10 ; Col 3:23-24>
Prelude: Usually, when we are doing something new or are in a new situation (for example: just changed a job, just developed a relationship with a romantic partner, just gave birth, just joined a ministry, etc.), we will be more excited, and hence naturally we will put more effort and thoughts on these things. But when we humans do something for a long time, or become accustomed to something or to a relationship, we will start to do as we like, get too comfortable or bored and tired, such that we take that thing or person for granted, and not seek improvement or breakthroughs. But this spirit is not in line with what the gospel gives us. God wants us to put our prayers and thoughts into "ordinary things" instead of managing them carelessly.
1. The gospel's standard of "good" and "excellence"
1）Purpose and values are above results
Generally, people in the world assess whether a person is good and capable by the "results" he delivers. But when Christians seek breakthroughs and improvements, they must be driven by correct values and motivations. Think about it, why do we seek breakthroughs and improvements in what we do? Is it merely just to achieve better results and success? This is the driving force of people in this world in general. But we believers pursue breakthroughs and improvements not because of results as the main objective but because the pursuit of improvement is itself a Christian virtue. Moreover, even if a person is very hardworking, he may not get the desired results he want; or the results are not immediately visible, but instead can sometimes be seen only after a long period of faithful effort. If we only look at the results to work hard, then it is difficult for us to persistently seek breakthroughs. Moreover, if we link the pursuit of excellence with any achievement, what happens when we attain that achievement? For example, we may be winning awards, getting promoted, serving in ministry that is seeing revival, raising children who are outstanding, and our entire family have believed in the Lord, and so what then? Will we start not to put in our best because we have already reached a certain goal, or because there is nothing left to pursue? In this way, we can easily fall because of our own success. Therefore, "the pursuit of completeness, improvement, and breakthroughs" emphasizes a mentality, value and life direction, and is not established on the foundation of results. Otherwise, after a certain result is achieved, we will no longer have the heart to seek a breakthrough from then on. But regardless of the results, it is still a Christian virtue to make every effort to improve. In the process of seeking breakthroughs and improvements, we will also build up our patience, faith, wisdom, character, and humility in the Lord. We can also glorify God when we are willing to pursue improvement in all things and in the ordinary things we do.
2）Let God's perfection be the Standard <Mt 5:48>
*<Mt 5:48> Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. The God we worship is the most glorious, perfect, outstanding, and powerful God. After He created the world and everything in it, He saw that everything He created was very good <Ge 1:31>. When God blesses us, He does not use the second best, but the best, to bless us - He gave His only son, and His entire life to bless us abundantly. Therefore, we should imitate God's perfection.
3）Must make every effort to realize God’s greatest potential in us
Although when we are in our flesh we cannot be 100% perfect like God, God still wants us to pursue perfection and improvement, because God wants us to maximize His potential in us. Therefore, we cannot say that it is good enough that we have reached a standard that is “not bad" and there is no need to seek further improvement, because if we do not seek breakthroughs, how can we make the most of the potential God has given us? Some people pursue breakthrough in order to be a level higher than others, be more superior to others and hence be satisfied by these. This can make them proud easily rather than please God. God does not want us to enter into unhealthy comparisons and competitions with others, where we only want to win others to glorify ourselves. We do not have to be the “best among the others,” but God wants us to be our “best selves” in the Lord, that is, seek the gifts and talents God has given us, and use them in the best and most faithful way so that we can give the greatest glory to God.
4）The ability to improve and achieve breakthrough comes from God rather than from ourselves <1 Co 15:10>
The excellence and improvement that the world emphasizes is centred on man, and are based on man's abilities and achievements. But the good and excellence taught by the Bible is centred on God. The object of our glorification is God, and the source of perfection is also God, and God Himself is a portrayal and embodiment of "perfection" and "excellence." Paul also said in <1 Co 15:10>, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them---yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."
2. Obstacles in the pursuit of breakthroughs and improvements
1) The attitude of “just wanting to fulfill responsibility”
Such an attitude will cause us to only meet the lowest expectations so that we can considered our job done. When we just want to fulfill our responsibility, we will not pray to seek breakthroughs and renewal. We will not think about how to do things better and more creatively. Therefore what we do will not change. Actually, if we have the heart, even in the simplest and most ordinary things we can seek breakthroughs. Sometimes, the problem is that our standards are too low. We are too easily satisfied with what we have accomplished that we neglect to imitate God’s perfection. Even if we truly believe we have done a good job in some area, we must continue to seek breakthroughs in the Lord, so that we become the expert in that area. Just like Paul, though he is already an outstanding great apostle, he still worked harder, so that he can become a more effective witness for the Lord. In what areas have we fulfilled our responsibility and done a good job? Do not think that is sufficient. We still have a big gap from God’s perfection, and we may not have fully realised the potential that God has given us.
2) Heart that loves comfort, not labour
Our sinful nature causes us to be lazy, love the world and have no self-control, and lack the heart to improve. Even believers who are saved, we will very much enjoy the care of God’s grace. Grace gives people a very pleasant feeling, as though we do not do give anything in return and can receive blessings without hard work. Therefore, sometimes we become too comfortable because of grace. Rev Spurgeon ever said, “the idle man tempts the devil to tempt him”. Think about it, if we are not working hard in the things God wants us strive for, we will waste our time on meaningless things, and even things that offend God. Therefore, may we not tempt Satan to tempt us.
3) Easily discouraged
For some people, it is not that they do not seek breakthroughs, but they get discouraged easily. They are discouraged either because they have tried but did not see results, or sometimes it is just too difficult to have breakthroughs and they think that things are beyond their power. However, we must not be limited by our conditions. When Joseph was a slave, he did his best in the roles that God has given him, such that no matter where he went, his master can see the glory of God on him. In seeking improvements and breakthroughs, God is not looking at the results, but our attitude. He sees if we are pursuing the virtues of a Christians, if we have the heart to imitate Him and glorify Him.
4) In seeking breakthroughs, end up in wrong motives and methods
Sometimes, people strive for improvements to gain man’s approval and personal glory. Or what they rely on is not God, but his own strength. However, we cannot seek breakthroughs apart from God.
3. Rely on God’s grace to seek breakthroughs in all that we do
1) Grace gives us the motivation to pursue improvements and breakthroughs
Before we received grace, we are powerless to seek perfection. Because often we know what to do but we are unable to do so, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. However, after receiving grace, God gives us the power to improve. The grace of salvation we received from God is not for us to be comfortable, lazy, but to call us to be liberated from our sin, temptations and distractions, so that we can restore strength to do what God wants us to do. Grace is not an excuse to not seek improvements. Instead, it is the power for us to have breakthroughs and improvements. When humans strive and do their best to live up to God’s grace, they will achieve breakthroughs.
2) Restore a right heart <Col 3: 23-24>
Our strength comes from our heart <Prov 4:23>. When we do not wish to have breakthrough, that is when our heart loses strength or vision. However, when we restore the right heart again, this blessed heart will help us overcome many obstacles and have breakthrough in the things we always do. Especially in things we always do, things we are used to doing and things we are good at, we often use old methods and are content with status quo. However, if our heart always thinks of glorifying God and pleasing Him, we will naturally be motivated to “improve more” in whatever we do, instead of simply aiming to just get by.
3) “Dignify” the common things
Not just in spiritual matters, but even in what we do daily, we must see the dignified meaning God has placed within them, then we will have the heart to seek breakthroughs in those areas. Whether it is our studies, work, family relationships, serving, etc, if we think those are very ordinary and trivial things, we will not think of how to manage them better. However, all these are meant for us to rely more on God, refine ourselves more and accumulate more testimonies to edify others. In fact, the daily affairs of believers can be related to eternal meaning.
4) No matter how small the breakthrough is, do not look down on it
Even if it is a small breakthrough, if it is achieved by relying on God, He can use it greatly. If we rely on God to consider how to have breakthroughs and do better in the fine details of the daily things we do, God can accumulate those little breakthroughs into a great blessing.
5）Are there things to breakthrough in various areas?
Examples: Work, marriage, children education, serving, relationship with God, understanding toward God’s word, love for others, etc.