Exalting God, Edifying Believers, Evangelizing the Lost

Humility in Leadership

1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 both list the qualities and qualifications for men who seek to be pastors/elders in the church. All of the items included in these lists are important in considering whether a man should be ordained as an elder, because those men that God has called, He has also qualified.

One important quality that does not appear on these lists, yet is just as essential for a pastor or elder, is found in 1 Peter 5:5.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

In this passage, the Apostle Peter admonishes all pastors and elders to be submissive to each other in humility.

No matter how qualified one may be otherwise, the absence of humility will cause his ministry to be completely ineffective.

Earlier in 1 Peter 5, the apostle calls pastors and elders to “shepherd the flock…being examples to them.”  If the leadership of the church cannot live and minister with the right attitude about themselves, how can the congregation be expected to follow them in submission and humility?

How true it is that we cannot lead others unless we “practice what we preach.”

Who Is Church For?

More and more churches today are making their worship more like the world in an attempt to attract unbelievers to their services. While the goal may be to expose more people to the Gospel, the idea itself is unbiblical.

The truth is that the worship services of the church were never intended for unbelievers.  Ephesians 4:12 says that pastors and teachers are givenfor the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”

 The purpose for leadership and teaching within the church is to help Christians mature and to prepare them for ministry.  Unsaved people cannot benefit from that.

1 Corinthians 2:14 says,

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 

Unbelievers cannot understand the truth of God or how to apply it in their lives because they lack the Spirit of God to guide them.

If we, in an attempt to appeal to unbelievers, water down the truth of God or change the worship of God into something that worldly people can relate to, we have abandoned God’s very purpose for the church.  Let’s remain faithful to God and His Word in our worship in order to fulfill His goal for the church.

Shepherding the Flock

Most people in churches today are familiar with the 23rd Psalm which presents Jesus Christ as our Shepherd.  Jesus called Himself the “Good Shepherd” in John 10:14, and said that He knows His sheep and they know Him.

But the term shepherd is applied to another group of people in the Bible as well:  elders and pastors.

In 1 Peter 5:2-3, the apostle addresses elders in the church and exhorts them to

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;   not domineering over those your charge, but being examples to the flock.

God has called pastors and elders to lead and care for the congregation as a shepherd would take care of his sheep.

Since Christ is the “head Shepherd” and the sheep are His, then pastors and elders are just “under-shepherds” who work under the Head Shepherd’s authority.  As Christ’s sheep in response to that authority, believers should then submit to the godly leadership and example of our under-shepherds, as Hebrews 13:17 says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls…”

God’s Plan for Prosperity

When it comes to preparing financially for the future, there are a multitude of financial advisors out there who will tell us what savings and investment plans will yield us the best return.  And while it is wise to invest our money carefully for the future on earth, it is even more important that we be investing into God’s Kingdom.

God’s investment plan for the future is clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 9:6 –

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

This verse comes in the middle of the Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians that they should be generous givers. The principle in this verse is that when we give generously of our money to help others, God will give money back to us generously. This is the principle of sowing and reaping. What we sow we will reap in like kind.

Although this sounds a lot like the “Prosperity Gospel,” there is one big difference. The verses following tell us WHY God will give back to us so abundantly—so that we can give to others even more, not so that we can keep it and use it for our own pleasure.

2 Corinthians 9:8-11 tells us,  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  (9)  As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”  (10)  He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  (11)  You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

Generous giving is God’s path to prosperity. But real prosperity is only experienced as we abundantly bless others with all that God has blessed us with.

The Channel for Blessing

In Acts 20:35, we have recorded for us some very famous words of Christ: It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

Most people, especially Christians, are familiar with this phrase, but not many people actually believe it.  When you really believe something, it will affect the way you live. So, if we truly believed this principle of giving, we would be more generous in our giving.  Yet, most people, including many professing Christians, live their lives in a way that shows they are more concerned about receiving than giving.

What it comes down to is really just a lack of faith.  We don’t trust that what Christ said is really true, or we think that, in some way, it applies more to others than ourselves.

In Luke 6:38, Jesus expounded upon this principle with a promise:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Jesus was not promising that for every dollar we gave, He would give us two. What He promised is that for those who had a heart focused on giving, they would be abundantly blessed by God.

God’s blessings do not always have dollar signs attached to them, but His blessings are worth more than anything we could gain on earth. So, if you truly value God’s blessings over earthly treasure, be a giver.

A Living Sacrifice

In Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul says,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Paul here is strongly urging, to the point of begging, believers to give themselves to God in worship, using the analogy of Old Testament sacrifices in the Temple.

The difference is that the animals that were sacrificed in the Old Testament had their lives taken from them by the priest, while here, God is giving us the choice about whether we give our lives to Him or not.

Also, the sacrifice that Paul references is not that we literally kill ourselves for God, but that we be a “living sacrifice,” remaining alive physically, but dying to our own will spiritually.

The message for us here is that we are to become a “slave” to God, doing only what He desires for us.

Jesus taught many times that following Him would require sacrifice and loss and that we should expect to be hated by the world. But what we lose on earth as we follow Christ is nothing compared to the value of the spiritual riches we gain in being His disciple.

What are you willing to sacrifice in following Christ?

Joy to the World

 

Although most consider the hymn, Joy to the World, to be a Christmas carol, the song was actually intended to be a song about the Second Coming of Christ.

Its composer was Isaac Watts, a pastor and prolific hymn writer who lived from 1674 until 1748. When he penned the words to this hymn, his intention was to convey the message of joy that the world, and especially the Jews, would experience when Christ comes back to earth at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom when He will destroy His enemies and establish His reign over all the earth.

The context of “Joy to the World” is found in Psalm 98, which looks forward to the Messiah’s return at the end of the Tribulation.  Verse 4 is the pinnacle of the psalm as it proclaims:

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” 

From this Psalm comes the message of joy that will flood the earth because Christ has come as its King. All of heaven and earth will sing His praises as He rids the world of sin and restores His people, Israel.

Therein we can truly find joy, knowing that our Redeemer lives and is coming back to rule in righteousness forever!

No Room for Them

In Luke 2 we read about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem that took place over 2000 years ago.

In verse 7, the Bible tells us,

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

The last phrase of that verse is a sad statement, but it reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas.

Mary and Joseph were not out in the wilderness alone. They were in the middle of a crowded city, surrounded by thousands of people doing their own thing. I am sure that Mary and Joseph knocked on many doors but were turned away at every place. No one had room for them, in their houses or in their schedules. Everyone in the city missed the most blessed event in the history of mankind, because they were too busy in their own lives to make time and room for someone in need.

How many times have we turned away a Joseph or Mary and missed the blessing that God wants to give us through serving others?

Christmas is about God giving us His Son to meet our greatest need. Let us not be so focused on our own lives that we miss practicing the real meaning of Christmas with others.

 

Fear Not

Luke 2:10 tells us that when the angels appeared on the night Christ was born in Bethlehem, their first words to the shepherds were

“Fear not.”

These two words perfectly summarize the good news of the real message of Christmas.  While we can imagine that the angels were just trying to calm the nerves of the shepherds, there was much more to the angels’ message of “Fear not.”

The angels were announcing the birth of the promised Messiah, who would deliver men from sin and bring peace between God and man. In this Savior, hope for reconciliation with God had been restored, and fear of eternal punishment for sin was erased.

1 John 4:18 says that

“perfect love casts out fear,”

and Romans 8;39 assures us that

[nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

When we understand the depth of God’s perfect love, demonstrated in the sending of His Son to the earth to be the sacrifice for our sins, we also understand that we have nothing to fear. In Christ our Savior, we find perfect peace, eternal security, and overwhelming joy.

The angels’ message to the shepherds is God’s Christmas message to us: Rejoice in the coming of Christ, for He has vanquished everything which would cause us to fear.

God’s Stars

In Matthew chapter 2, we read the account of the star which led the wise men to the house where Jesus was in Bethlehem.  Although we know that this was not any ordinary star, we do not know much about it other than what is told us in Scripture.

The Bible says that “His star” appeared in the east and it caused the wise men to set out on their journey to find the new King and worship Him. The Bible does not say that the star led them to Jerusalem, where they inquired of Herod about the new King.  It just says that they saw the star and came to Jerusalem in search of the new King.

Matthew 2:9 tells us about the final leg of their journey:

After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

Much like the pillar of fire and cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness, the light of this star led the wise men to the exact location of the newborn Christ.

Just three chapters later in Matthew 5, Jesus tells his followers that we are “the light of the world.”  God has appointed us as His “stars” in this world to use the light of the Gospel to lead men to Christ, just as that Christmas star led the wise men to the newborn King.