Ministers Must be Mild

February 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In I Corinthians 4 the Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to teach that Christian ministers must be managers. Paul went on, through the literary device of holy sarcasm, to show that ministers must also be meek. Then he got literal again.

I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

I Corinthians 4:14-15

It is as if Paul was saying, “Despite my harsh and mocking tone in the previous thoughts, I do – I really do – have a special love for you. And you, of all people, should know that I’m not out to shame you, trick you, or lead you astray.”

Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

I Corinthians 4:16

How would such a statement be received today? We are used to Christian leaders (at least orthodox Christian leaders!) emphasizing that only Christ Himself should be our role model, and that men, no matter how blameless or holy they may appear, are unworthy of imitation. However, what Paul says here (being infallible Scripture) is sound. Christian ministers do need to be striving to be able to say this honestly, first of all to our kids, and, for those of us called to servant leadership in a local church body, as leaders in our churches: “Follow me – as I follow Christ.”

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

I Corinthians 4:17

Timothy was not Paul’s biological son, but his “spiritual son,” probably having been brought to Christ and personally discipled by him. Paul made a point of saying that Timothy has been “faithful in the Lord,” carrying on the theme of the primacy of faithfulness in ministry. Timothy would remind the Corinthian Christians that Paul was in Christ, and that, as such, he could be and should be followed. The Holy Spirit could inspire Paul to appeal to his own consistency without fear of contradiction.

Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

I Corinthians 4:18

This was a very pointed accusation – threatening even – as if Paul was saying, “You talk big when I am not around, but I’m coming to face you in person.”

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

I Corinthians 4:19

He alludes to God’s sovereignty (“if the Lord will“), and makes it clear that the Knows should be able to recognize the Know-Nots, as he proposes a showdown, almost Elijah-style, for any who would question the Lord’s power upon him.

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

I Corinthians 4:20

This means not in word ONLY, and, more specifically, not in professions only, but in the power of transforming Truth.

What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

I Corinthians 4:21

This is the practical equivalent of a dad warning rowdy children in the backseat of the car on a long trip, “Don’t make me come back there. I will pull this car over. I can get everyone an Icee or ice packs. Pucker or duck. Hugging or mugging.

Heman and the Master of the Universe (Part Three)

February 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Heman and the Master of the Universe | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Psalm 88 Heman prayed openly. He prayed obstinately. And he prayed obnoxiously. Note some of the broad generalizations he used, and the self-centered assumption that God was doing His absolute worst to Heman:

For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.

Psalm 88:3

Full?” We often feel this way when we are in extreme distress, but this is an exaggeration that attempts to disguise the fact that God truly sees to the very depths of our soul.

Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.

Psalm 88:6

The lowest?” No matter how low we may feel, the pit of anguish in which we languish is far shallower, by God’s grace, than the one we deserve, apart from Him.

Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy waves.

Psalm 88:7

All Thy waves?” No, not a one of us, from the strongest to the most faithful to the most affliction-hardened, could withstand one instant under the full tide of God’s wrathful surf. We would be obliterated. Only Christ could, and has, experienced this type of wrath in our place.

Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

Psalm 8:16

What Heman was truly experiencing was not the “fierce wrath” of God. What he was actually experiencing was the chastisement of His loving God, which, although no doubt severe, is done out of kindness, with the goal of correction, the way a good father disciplines his son, not out of petty anger, frustration, or perverse joy, but with the intention that the son may benefit, grow, and learn – not be “cut off.”

That Heman’s feelings, although sincere, were not valid in their extremity, is evidenced by the fact that He was still given grace to pray, and that he had the consolation of knowing that the Master of the Universe was listening.

Next time we will see that Heman also prayed obstetrically.

Our Kids Are Not Good Kids

February 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As Christian parents we must talk to our children about some hard truths and difficult subjects that are page one headline material in the Bible, even though it might be tempting to shield our children from these truths when they are very young. The temptation is there because, in our sentimentalism and worldly conception of “love,” we do not relish the idea of giving them information that might make them uncomfortable. However, they need to know, understand, and believe that:

1. You are not a good kid.

According to the Bible, children come into the world as simple, but not virtuous. They are ignorant, but not innocent. As parents we don’t want them to be “wise” ABOUT sin, but we do want them to be humbled by the truth that they ARE sinners.

Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Psalm 58:2-3

We think of using these verses about wickedness when witnessing to strangers (and we should), but look at Psalm 58:1 and see to whom they are addressed: “the congregation” (which would include the children of God’s covenant people).

The Bible makes it clear that children are not exempt from the classification of “wicked sinners.”

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

Why is it so important for our children to understand that they are not inherently “good?” Because we want them to be looking for a Savior, not a participation trophy. We want them to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, not to hear that they have something about which to be proud. We, as their parents, are charged with the task of utterly convincing them of the absolutely supremacy of God.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

As a Christian father, I do not want the children that God has entrusted to my care to have self-esteem; I want them to have “God esteem.” I do not want them to have self-worth; I want them to recognize God’s worth. Children will not naturally want to admit they are evil, but it’s true. They are not basically good – they are basically evil – just like Dad and Mom. They will love God more truly and deeply when they understand that they themselves are not the initiators, nor the instigators, of God’s love for them. We ONLY love God because He first loved us. And He ONLY loves us because He is love.

Next time we will face another difficult truth for children.

Wary Watching

February 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, parables, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Usually when we see the word “watching” in the Bible it refers to something more than just idly looking at something. It typically has the connotation that we think of in connection with a night “watchman,” someone who is actively trying to stay alert, awake, and on guard, keeping a lookout for some sign that could mean either trouble or glad tidings.

Because the Bible sometimes uses the metaphor of farming in connection with Biblical evangelism, we have already noted that good farmers are concerned with planting, watering, and weeding. It would be nearly unthinkable to imagine a farmer, whose livelihood depended on a successful harvest, planting with care, watering diligently, pulling up weeds with zealous regularity, but failing to keep an eye on his crop, being oblivious to harmful insects, marauders, bad weather on the horizon, or sundry other forms of trouble that might befall his fields of produce. Therefore, we might apply the same principle to evangelism.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:35-40 (emphasis added)

No one likes to get caught loafing. Because the Lord has given us a serious responsibility, and because we know the time to accomplish it is limited, and because we know that the day of accounting could come unexpectedly, we need to be serving Him faithfully, diligently, actively, obediently, and warily.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18 (emphasis added)

We do well to pray, but our custom of praying with our eyes closed must not be a hindrance to our engagement in the reality of spiritual warfare.

praying-with-eyes-closed

Faithful farmers hope that God sends rain, protection, and favorable conditions, but they also know that He expects them to be on guard, prepared to spring into action at the first signs of infestation, unexpected trouble, or the ripeness that means it’s time to harvest.

Kingdom Teaching for Children

February 14, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

God’s kingdom will never merge with this world’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is already far greater than any kingdom of this world, and God’s kingdom will one day overcome this world in a very visible way. As Christian parents we want our children to start, from as young an age as possible, thinking more about God’s kingdom than this world’s kingdom.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

“In thine house” means during casual times of conversation, including play and relaxation, but also during formal times of family worship. “By the way” means outdoors, but also in social settings and commercial transactions. “When thou liest down” means a review of the day’s activities, events, and lessons, including the expressing of gratitude and confession of sins. “When thou risest up” means prioritizing God (demonstrating our conviction of His supremacy), in addition to consciously consecrating our bodies and that day’s planned activities to Him.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

Psalm 78:1-4 (emphasis on Verse 4)

We should glean spiritual truths from redemptive history and use them as teaching tools for our children.

Furthermore, we need to be training our children to grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52

Notice the order: God and then man. Here are some areas and activities where we can talk to our chldren, and teach them about the importance of that order:

I. Look for examples in nature and daily life

II. Talk about what happened in church
A. Preaching
B. Baptisms
C. Lord’s Supper
D. Singing
E. Offering
F. Prayers
G. Fellowship

III. Rehearse history lessons with them
A. The history recorded in the Bible (redemptive history)
B. Church history
C. Personal history
1. Your ancestors’ personal histories
2. Your own personal history
3. Their personal history

The Family of Faith

February 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Christians should be well aware that they are supposed to love their neighbors as themselves. So, when we see someone hurting or someone with a need, we are to fight our “natural” instinct to look out for number one, and instead make a genuine effort to help the other person (our “neighbor“) even if it means sacrificing our own comfort.

However, it is also true that, in a world where suffering and neediness is so plentiful, we are allowed and encouraged to place a special emphasis and attention on the needs of our family.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

Your “household” is your family and those who live under your roof. The “household of faith” refers to those who are related to you as brothers and sisters in Christ, especially the fellow members of the local church to which you belong. We have a relationship of shared faith in Christ. We are to be on the lookout for opportunities to minister to Him by serving those who have like faith and are ministering alongside us.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Ephesians 2:19

Not only are we of the same “household” as part of a church family, but we are members of God’s household, having been brought into His family by both “birth” (the second birth of regeneration) and adoption. We willingly and lovingly minister to “strangers” (those who seem alien to us in our everyday experience of life) and to “foreigners” (those we may commonly encounter, but who do not seem to “belong” to the family of faith). We are like ambassadors: hailing from another country (citizens of Heaven), but also representing a benevolent and generous King, Who would have us accurately represent Him in this temporary, and sometimes hostile, world.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

I Timothy 5:8

Finally, while we are to care for outsiders, and focus on the needs of our spiritual family members, we must not forget our blood relations. Parents must not use “church ministry” as an excuse for neglecting their children. Children must honor and respect their parents even when they perceive that the parents are lacking in spiritual maturity. Families must care for, and attend to, their elderly family members.

In every sense, the “household of God” is truly a “family of faith.”

Here are the the previous posts in this series:

1. Especially the Family (Galatians 6:10)
2. Becoming Part of the Family
3. Family Responsibilities (Galatians 6:10)
4. Family Privileges (Ephesians 2:12, 19)
5. The Privilege of Patriotism
6. The Privilege of Participation 
7. The Privilege of Protection
8. The Privilege of Provision (Philippians 4:19)

The Privilege of Provision

February 2, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

Those who belong to the family of faith enjoy the privilege of protection, and the privilege of provision.

The citizens of earthly nations pay taxes so that needs will be met; the citizens of God’s family have their REAL needs provided for by God according to His riches in glory in Christ.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Citizenship in an earthly nation is supposed to provide safety and acceptance; citizenship in God’s nation and family provides a home and unseverable relationships (although fellowship may be tested, strained, and even broken).


Entries and comments feeds.