Beth Moore - Shining Like Stars in Deepening Darkness - Part 4
For some of us, we think our circumstances are our problem. No, our thinking is our problem, our thinking. We're always gonna have hard circumstances. Those are never, ever... one will fix and another will break. "Thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited, but he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross".
Even to death on a... adopt the attitude, adopt. I kept thinking about that word "adopt," adopt, adopt, adopt. We know what adopt means. Adopt means it's not something that's going to be birthed from within us. In our natural person, we don't have a servant, in our natural. Nothing of us can birth sustained humility. Humiliation, yes, I'm talking about humility, that we would actually esteem others as more important than ourselves. There is nothing that comes out of our... we can't birth it. There's nothing in our natural body, in our natural psyche that can birth that, it has to be adopted in, adopted in. Adopt that same attitude.
I want you to write down number four, because this is so huge and it's so contrary to the way we think. Number four is this, this is an awkward sentence, but I couldn't figure a better way to say it, so just go with me here. The fuller each star is of self, the dimmer its light. The filling of the spirit, or the filling of ourselves and our egos and our self-interests, but they cannot coexist, so the more full of ourselves we are, the more that's covering over that light in our core and it can't be seen. It is only in our humility and servanthood that the light shines. Is it any wonder, based on that, and the culture that we live in, that there is so little light in this darkness when there are millions of believers in this state, in this nation, and on this globe? Where are their lights?
Hidden under all of our self. Hidden under all of our ego. It's only the indwelling Spirit that's luminous. The more we quench it, the dimmer it gets. I gotta tell you something. I have had a privilege that I do not take lightly. Over the last exactly 46 years, I have gotten to serve in places spanning what I think I could fairly say is very possibly 80% of the broad spectrum of Christian traditions, and denominations, and streams in American Christianity. I may be overstating that some, but I don't think so.
When I just think what is out there in the broad spectrum of the body of Christ, all the way from one extreme to the other, I bet in the last 46 years, at one time or another, I have probably had the privilege of serving about 80%, not 80% of those places, but of those streams, or traditions, or denominations. And so, I practiced for all of my life up to just this last year a very denominational personal life in church world, but the ministry was very interdenominational, and I wouldn't have had it any other way, either one of 'em. I so love my denomination and I loved interdenominational ministry. And you know, the thing about being with people in this broad spectrum, I'm a people person, so I just love it. It doesn't bother me.
Now, if something's just like, whoa, that's not remotely biblical, that's one thing, but I sort of like going to all the different places and the quirks that go with it, and kind of the people dynamics that go with that. I love the body. I've just been immersed in church life, and I have loved it. And so, I think it is fair to say, and I'm wondering if you would think it's fair to say, that there are certain sounds and ways with words and figures of speech and even rhythms, intensity of volume, anywhere from soft spoken to really, really ear splitting, that are often really, really familiar in particular worlds. In other words, there's a way that this world does, and there's a way that this world does, and this denominational world, and this part of the.... would you agree that there can just be a style that... it's not that there are not lots and lots of exceptions to it, but like, you could see someone and you could go, well, I bet anything they're this denomination.
When you've done as much interdenominational ministry as I've done, you can almost peg it. I have said so many times, listen, if you just give me a podcast, give me ten minutes on any podcast, don't tell me who it is and where they're from, I can not only tell you almost 90% of the time what denomination they're from. I could probably tell you, if I've been around it enough, which sect of that denomination they're in. Anybody know what I'm talking about, why? Because there's a sound. There's a certain kind of sound, a certain kind of cadence, a certain kind of haircut, but that's really, that's another story.
So, for 40 years of ministry in all these diverse places that share in my basic tenants of faith, and these are the things that are deal breakers to me. These are the things. This is what I sand on, Jesus Christ the righteous, the Son of God and very God incarnate, crucified for sins, dead and buried, raised on the third day, and after 40 days ascended, seated at the right hand of God and returning. I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the Godhead three in one. I believe the holy Scriptures are God-breathed, complete, true, and full authoritative for all life in godliness. But I'm gonna tell you something, these have been my unshakables, but I hit a season of my life watching a baffling phenomenon take place in the world that was most familiar to me that shook everything in me, everything in me, and I'm just still sort of recovering from it.
The details of it are not important to the message, but it has everything to do with five through seven. "Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. But he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity". He humbled himself, adopt that same attitude. Because what occurs to me is that in so much of what we have seen displayed before us in American Christianity, it is a reversal of everything that is in these passages. And it seems to me that we humans, who are often the quickest to invoke the name of God, do indeed consider not equality but association with God as something to be exploited.
Oh, yes we do. And we don't empty ourselves but fill ourselves with ourselves by assuming the form of masters not servants, taking on the likeness of deity, the exploitation of God. It is rife, and it is not limited to one denomination, one way, one stream, it is rife. We use God to get our way. And somehow in all of this, something hit me in a way that was not just spiritual, intellectual, or theological, it was, like, primal. It hit so deep because I had so identified, I'd patterned so much of my life after it. My family, my ministry, so much, and staked so much on it, even at times when I thought, oh, something doesn't feel right here. I would go against my own gut, why? Because I thought, you know what? I have a terrible history. These people have great records. If we differ, it's me. It's that I'm messed up. Anybody know what I'm talking about?
And I can't even tell you, I'm never not messed up in something, never not messed up in some way, but all of a sudden, I developed an allergy to something that was so commonplace in my world, I had digested it fine for 64 years, and all of a sudden, God help me, I couldn't take it anymore. But I could not identify what it was. I wonder if anybody's relating with me. Have you ever been allergic to something but you don't know what it was? You didn't know how to define it, but something. There's something I can't bear. Something happens in a situation and I wanna run for my life. Anybody know what I'm talking about? And you can't identify it, it's like what is it? What is it that is bringing this out of me that has this, like, flee, run, run for your life? And I started thinking what in the world is it, this X factor?
And so, at first I thought I had developed an allergy to volume, which is so ironic. And anyway, I knew it couldn't be true because there was certain people that could speak with a lot of passion and volume that I didn't have that X factor thing crawl all over me, so I thought, okay, it's not that. Then I thought, well, maybe it's pretense. Well, I knew that wasn't fair, because I know many more very true servants of God than I know who seem not to be. I really, really do. I don't have cynicism where that's concerned, so no, it can't be pretense, because there were genuine servants of Christ that I knew were genuine, but I could still hear them preach or teach and I'd still have that same feeling come over me.
What is this X factor? Just this irresistible urge to bolt in a sermon or a teaching. And after several years of not being able to define it, it hit me. I mean, like a lightning bolt, it hit me. I'd seen online someone had said this is a really good podcast sermon, you ought to listen to it, and it was by somebody I dearly love. It's very important that you know that I dearly love 'em, and I would probably 90% line up with them doctrinally. So, it's someone I not only love, it's somebody I agree with. And I began to listen to it, and the X factor hit me, and I was just like, whoa, what in the world is that? There was the allergy. I had to finally come to a place and stop, what just happened?
And then, all of a sudden, I knew what it was. It was the sound of rightness. I don't meant the sound of righteousness, I mean the sound of rightness, the air of certainty that he was unquestionably right, and not only was he right, but this X factor always involves making the point that we are right by showing who all is wrong. It always has to have that side with it.
So, it divides the world into two kind of people, those in the know and the ignorant. Those who are right and those who are stupid. Those who are anointed and those who are morons. I bet I know a question that some of you are asking in your head right now. So, was he right? I do not know, and he could not know because it was apocalyptic literature that has been studied for centuries of the New Testament church that no one can get to the bottom of. All the figurative language, all the symbolism, it happened to be about something you can't be positive about, but he was sure. No, you can't be sure. You can't be sure. You cannot be sure. You know why I'm saying that? Why can't we admit that we're sometimes wrong, that we're just sometimes wrong?
There are matters about which at the end of the day, we are left to say, "Lord, thou alone knowest," anybody? Thou alone knowest. But not to some, Lord, thou and I knowest, or then there's the group of 'em. Lord, thou and we alone knowest. And I had the question answered for me that had mystified me for ages, and I knew that's what really undid me some years ago, is that I had believed that some of my peers that I had patterned so much after were unquestionably right and could not be wrong, and that's not true. You do not know anyone who has ever been right so many times they can't be wrong.
I want you to know that, because you know what happens? It's not just the sin of rightness and pride that is involved here, it is that with that rightness, presenting it as right, everything is right, everything I teach is right, everything, all of my interpretations are right, that what we do then is we invite people to put their trust in that we are always right, and then when we are, somebody stay with me, inevitably wrong, inevitably duplicitous, inevitably make a mistake, inevitably blow it, then they don't just lose their faith in us, because they've got us completely conflated with God, and suddenly they're gonna walk away from the faith because we presented ourselves, me and God, we're like this, we're like this. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Let me tell you something that can get used, because we so stood and stand for the inerrancy of Scripture that it can seem like our interpretations of everything, things that have been studied for centuries, and that sound scholars, sound theologians have differed over, sound theologians that believe in the authority of the Scriptures have differed over, and what can happen is we can get confused and think that a certain people who believe in inerrancy, that their interpretations are also inerrant, and they're not. Human interpretations, you can never take what I say as inerrant.
I mean, I think we're doing good if you can take what I say 60% right, and that's if I'm Spirit-filled, anybody? Anybody know what I'm saying? I mean, take all my stuff down in pencil with an eraser. Philippians 2 is a word to our generation right now. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus who existing in the form of God, not even Jesus exploited God. He emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant. That's what we are called to do. We are stars who are servants, not celebrities. A little humility goes a long way in protecting those who wanna believe we're always right, teachers.
In matters of God serving, truth seeking, scholars and theologians on matters that they have never been able to settle for centuries, I'm for binging back phrases like, "I tend to think," "I really believe," "I'm pretty convinced," "Based on these verses I would think," and especially let's have the humility, teachers, to say you know what? I believed this for years was the sound interpretation of this, but I'm not as sure as I used to be. I think after all it might be this. Can you imagine? Listen, listen, listen, our humble self is the only honest self we've got, it is. Because those that do not see any reason for humility in themselves do not see. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Those that do not see in themselves any reason for humility do not see, period. Because if we're looking honestly at ourselves, we have reasons to be humble, would anybody agree with that? I mean, we just, like, do, use 'em, use 'em, use 'em.
Number five is this, in God's universe, stars help other stars outshine them. I love this point. In God's universe, you wanna know how this works in God's universe? Well, in God's universe, one star goes, "What can I do to help you shine? Hey, I see that light in your core. I see some gifts in you. What can I do to pour into you"? I got chill bumps because I'm looking at some of the ones in my ministry that I just, they've got such light. You just, like, try to shove 'em out front, shove 'em out front, shove 'em out front. You're so gifted, get out there. Get out there. Take the risk. Don't feel like you need to get it perfectly, you're not going to.
Perfectionism will kill your calling. It'll kill it. You're not going to be perfect at it. You're gonna mess up at a lot of stuff, but you're gonna serve because stars help other stars. Hey, hey, hey, is there anything I can give you? What do I have? What do I have that I could give you? Because you have such light in you. Let's carve out some space and let's let that thing shine. Oh, that's the fun of it. That's the fun of it. I want you to see these verses, I love it. Let's go 12 through 14. "Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling".
Now, it doesn't mean that we are saving ourselves by our works. Nothing could be further from the teaching of Paul. The salvation's already in us, he's going, like, let it come on out. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Let that inner salvation in you, the Holy Spirit in you, let him overtake you until he's so full in you, he overflows you. I love to think of the anointing, and this is just figuratively speaking, but I love to think of the anointing, because so often we'll really want to be anointed without being filled with the Spirit and yielding to his authority. And it's all, we just wanna be showy, but I love to think of the real anointing as a filling up of the Holy Spirit until he's so full in us that he overflows the top of our heads.
I love the thought of that. Work it out. Keep working with him. That that which he's put in you, he keeps bringing back. It is so in keeping with Paul because it's in 3 that he says I've not attained all this, but I just keep pressing on, so that that which Christ apprehended me for, I will follow through. And then 13, this is so mind blowing. "For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his purpose". Do you know, listen to me, if you have half a wit to please God, he's gonna see to it. This is the gorgeous part about him, is that he's gonna see, he will even develop your desires that he wants you to have so that you will be inclined toward the ministry and you're thinking ministry, I wanna explain this. We all have ministry, all of us. This is not about vocation, it's about ministry.
This is chapter 4 of Ephesians when he says for the work of the saints in ministry. All of us, we minister in the body of Christ to this lost world, so we all have one. Well, he's at work in you constantly to see, okay, Christine Caine, do you all know who Christine Caine is? Alright, here is some years ago, maybe just ten, I don't know how long it's been now, maybe 11. She was just in the airport, she's Greek, and she was in the airport in Thessaloniki, and she saw just a little piece of paper with a young woman's face on it, black and white, that was just thumbtacked there, and it says, "Has anyone seen her"? It was a missing girl. That one moment, God would not leave her alone about it. It turned into A21, which is one of the biggest global anti-human trafficking organizations in the world, why? Because he just kept working with her insides, and working with her insides, and working with her to turn it, to turn it, to turn it, to turn it. You just keep going.
Let me tell you something that's gonna happen. This is what your older sisters get to tell you. You just keep trusting God and walking with him, because even when you're walking through a season and you think this cannot possibly have anything to do with my calling, I've completely detoured somewhere. Like, this doesn't, I don't know where I am, but I'm about to fall off the earth here, because this is not going where he's going. You're gonna get to my age and go, how did you know? How did you know I was gonna need all that? How did you know you were gonna use that season to get me where I was gonna lean in that direction with that kind of... I believe that this is hard, this is hard to hear, I know it is, I believe and I know that abuse is not of God, it's never the will of God, but I do believe in his sovereign will, that what happened to me was allowed so that I would have a burden for the abused, and so that I would advocate all my life for women to not be hurt, and for them to know that there is a Lord who heals, and that we can still thrive, not just survive.