Beware the Frightening Footsteps

October 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
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The rulers of God’s people had behaved sinfully and shamefully. Now they themselves would be shamed openly, as their enemies, the Assyrians, would conquer their land and humiliate them with smacks to the face.

Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.

Micah 5:1

They would also stomp through their palaces, terrorizing the people with the threat of captivity and destruction. However, the people could still choose to believe God’s promise that one day a Messiah would come. He would bring peace between God’s people and the God they had offended with their sin. And while He himself would be powerful enough to throw off the yoke of bondage on His Own, He would also graciously raise up Godly leaders and empower them to stand against God’s enemies.

And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.

Micah 5:5 (emphasis added)

If you have been born again by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are victorious in Him and do not need to fear the principalities and powers and dark rulers who tread through the palaces of this world. You may instead trust and believe that God is still ordaining seven (a metaphor for the the perfect number) and eight (meaning abundantly and plentifully) shepherds and principal men in Bible-believing local churches today to lead the flocks of the Lord Jesus in the ministries of peace and reconciliation.

Beware the Freedom of the Foremost

May 27, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, The Fives | 3 Comments
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There is a challenge in Jeremiah Chapter 5. Jeremiah was supposed to go through the streets of Jerusalem and find someone – anyone – who had been uncorrupted by the lies and unrighteousness in which God’s people had immersed themselves. If Jeremiah could find such a person, the Lord would stay His hand of chastisement and grant a pardon. Tragically, he was unsuccessful.

O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

Jeremiah 5:3

But Jeremiah was not finished. He had an idea that maybe the “common folk” were behaving the way they were because better could not be expected of them.

Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God.

Jeremiah 5:4

So he decided to go look among the big shots of his society – the “great men” – thinking that, if anyone had reason to know the folly of turning from the Lord, it would be the religious leaders of what was supposed to be a religious nation.

I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.

Jeremiah 5:5

Sadly, Jeremiah encountered even greater rebellion among the foremost men. They had seen themselves as rulers, but they had forgotten that they had over them an even greater Ruler. They had looked at the kind and loving and guiding hand of the Lord as a yoke of bondage, and, in foolishly trying to “break free” of His yoke, they would now learn what true bondage was like.

If you have been entrusted by God with any type of leadership responsibility – whether it be familial, ecclesiastical, or even related to your secular workplace – do not take this lightly. Remember that the “freedom” to lead is always a conditional freedom. It is conditional on remembering that earthly leaders are under a greater leader to Whom we will ultimately give an account. Obedience and submission to this Leader are not grievous because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Servant Movers (Character and Conduct)

December 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Previously we looked at the principle of commitment in servant leadership. Commitment will produce character. Character involves not only a person’s integrity (how he behaves when no one is watching), but it also goes into the perception people have of him based upon his integrity.

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Acts 6:3 (emphasis added)

Character produces conduct, and, for a servant leader, spirituality is more important than personality. Conduct, again, implies that we are going somewhere: a “conductor” rides on a train that is moving. A conductor on a non-moving train is not really a conductor. He’s a tour guide. As servant leaders, our job is not to lead people on tours of the church grounds or buildings. The person who helps people find a seat is an “usher,” but we have got to start “conducting:” getting them up and getting them moving.

A non-moving Christian is in trouble. Physically speaking, a lack of exercise leads to a condition called “atrophy,” which is weakness resulting from non-use. It’s the same way spiritually. Christians who don’t “exercise,” don’t grow in Christ.

As servant leaders, our conduct must be the conduct of men who are in love with Jesus Christ. Vance Havner once said, “A revival is the church falling in love with Jesus Christ all over again. We are in love with ourselves, in love with our particular crowd, in love with our fundamentalism, maybe, but not with Him.”

Here’s the solution:

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

John 21:15

Feeding lambs is busy work. Leading necessitates moving. The Bible describes the Christian life as “walking” with God.

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

I Thessalonians 4:1 (emphasis added)

Worshiping, studying the Word, praying, witnessing may be done while sitting, standing, or walking in the physical sense, but they are not “sedentary” activities, spiritually speaking. Servant leaders need to feed God’s people and fight for God’s people. We feed them the Word, and fight against the enemy with the Sword of the Spirit.

Servant Movers (Commitment)

November 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments
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When we talk about someone in a position of leadership in Christian ministry, I prefer the term “servant leader.” This is far from original, but I believe it is apt, because the New Testament paradigm for leading is to lead while, through, and by serving others. The Lord Jesus led by serving, and He was the greatest Servant Leader of all time.

Although we put an emphasis on serving, we must not deny the “leading,” either, and “leading” means “moving.”

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:3-4

Biblical patience is more than just a willingness to wait. It contains the concept of “perseverance,” and perseverance is evidenced by commitment. When we persevere in our commitments, we gain the right kind of “experience” and we develop the right kind of character. Our character then governs our conduct.

“Leading” implies that people are following, and leading and following imply that we are going somewhere – or at least that we are moving. “Church” is not just a place to come sit. It should be a place to come serve. After salvation, regular attendance at church is very important, but it should not be the end of your journey. Instead, it should be the place where we meet to restock, to refresh, to prepare, and to train for our journey. A local assembly of believers (a “church“) must be moving. If people in our churches are not going or growing, we who claim to be servant leaders must bear a great deal of the responsibility for failing to lead.

Qualifications of New Testament servant leaders include commitment, character, and conduct. We think of someone who is easily able to influence others or who tends to attract loyal followers as someone who has “charisma,” and this word is actually the Greek word translated as “gifts” in several New Testament Bible verses. I would argue that while the “gifts” of ministry given by God to leaders are certainly important, commitment is just as (and possibly even more) important than the gifts themselves. Gifts by their very definition are things “given.” In other words, they are not earned.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

Too much focusing on our “gifts” over and above our commitment can lead to boasting in our own “giftedness.” If we are not to boast on our gifts, then on what are we to boast?

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:24

What do we have that is any good at all that didn’t come from God? Gifts will attract followers to the gift-receiver, but Godliness will attract followers to the Gift-Giver. Therefore, being Godly is more important than being gifted. Godliness comes from being committed. Servant leaders are servants who are moving. People can’t follow someone who is going nowhere, doing nothing. That’s not leading.

Next time, I will say more about character and conduct.

Holy

June 30, 2010 at 11:04 am | Posted in I Peter, The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 5 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.onstant
H.oly

The H. in P.A.T.C.H. is for Holy.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

“Holy” means separated: cut and culled; set apart from the world, and separated unto God. Christian servant leaders are to consider themselves specially designated to be used by God.

God uses clean vessels; consecrated vessels; set-aside vessels. Holiness is out of vogue in this world, in this 21st Century. But it is not out of style with God. We ought not to be average, 21st Century American, one-of-the-crowd Christians. We ought, with God’s help, to rise to a higher standard.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

I Peter 1:15

Constant

June 16, 2010 at 11:19 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 3 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.onstant
H.

The C. in P.A.T.C.H. is for Constant or Consistent.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

A servant leader who is inconsistent is a poor servant, and is unqualified for being a “leader.” The Shunammite woman was impressed with this in Elisha: He passed by “continually.”

There is a sense in which Christian leaders ought to meet the true Biblical definition of being “charismatic.” “Charisma” is from the Greek word for the grace-gifts given to born-again believers by the Holy Spirit. This has nothing to do with the current meaning of “Charismatic” Christianity which has more to do with emotions, wild behavior, and counterfeit signs and wonders. We must remember, not just the idea of being “charismatic,” but the importance of being “automatic.” Do not be a “mood-swing” Christian – up one day and down the next; hot one minute and cold the next. Be consistent for Christ.

Peter learned this lesson when Jesus wanted to wash his feet. Peter went from being unworthy of Jesus washing his feet one minute, to wanting Jesus to wash his whole body the next. However, Peter overcame this as he grew in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will be consistent if you do the same.

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

Colossians 4:2, emphasis added

Next time: the “H” in P.A.T.C.H.

Advancing

May 7, 2010 at 10:04 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 11 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.
C.
H.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

The life of a Christian servant is a life of walking, of moving forward. Elisha was moving. He was passing by continually. If you are of the age when your flesh, this world, and our enemy, Satan, is telling you that you need to retire, to rest – then I exhort you, by the mercies of God, to reject this lie. As Christians, God has called us to a position of active service. He would not call you, and then fail to give you the strength and the energy to walk in His calling.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Ephesians 4:1, emphasis added

Keep passing by. Stay busy for the Lord until He comes back or calls you home.

Next time, the “T” in P.A.T.C.H.

Perceived

May 4, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 6 Comments
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And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

A patch is something that repairs a breach, or stops up a gap. Patches are used for protection and for restoration. In the Bible this is referred to as “making up the hedge” or “standing in the gap.” A Christian leader should be someone who is willing to stand in the gap and be a “patch.” He should be willing to stand in a place of protection and service.

Elisha was the protégé of Elijah the prophet. When Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot, in a whirlwind of fire, Elisha received his greatest wish: a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This was a great gift – and a great opportunity to serve – and a great responsibility.

The P. in P.A.T.C.H. is perceived: “I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.”

If you aspire to the responsibility of Christian leadership, you will be watched. You will be observed. Your job, as a servant leader, will be to watch for the needs of others, and, while you are not to be overly self-conscious, you must be aware that God’s people will be watching you. Many will be looking for encouragement as they watch, and, sadly, a few will be watching for faults. There is a requirement that you be found “blameless” – without fault. This is primarily between you and God, but, because people whom you serve will form a “perception” of you, you must, according to I Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

You have freedom in Christ Jesus, but it would be better to forgo the exercise of your freedom if it will cause another person to stumble.

Next time: The “A” in P.A.T.C.H.

Just Say (O)No

April 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Posted in Nehemiah, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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The Lord God had used Nehemiah in a great way. Some of the Jewish exiles had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem under his leadership. They had finished, despite great opposition and hardship, rebuilding the city walls. Now there remained the work of installing the city gates and re-establishing the community within the walls.

Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)

Nehemiah 6:1

What a day of defeat for Satan and the enemies of God! God was clearly empowering and blessing Nehemiah’s leadership. However, Satan was not finished. Having failed to stop God’s work with overt attacks, he began to use lies, treachery, and subterfuge. These methods were dressed up by Satan as the more friendly-sounding idea of “compromise.”

That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.

Nehemiah 6:2

Did Nehemiah fall for the trap? Did he heed the invitation to halt the work of the Lord, and “come down” to a meeting with those who wanted to “put aside their differences,” or “get in unity,” or “celebrate the positive?” Christians would do well today to take heed to Nehemiah’s response.

And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

Nehemiah 6:3

Do not let the work of the Lord cease. Do not “come down” to a place of compromise between the absolute truth of Scripture and the “imaginations” (II Corinthians 10:5) of men. Do not be afraid to say, “Oh no,” to an invitation to come down to the plain of “Ono.” Do not be afraid to claim that the work you are doing in obedience to God’s Word is a “great work,” because you are doing it for the “great God.”

Leading by Example

April 12, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in Ezra, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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The city of Jerusalem was in ruins. The temple there had been destroyed. The city walls were breached and broken. The Jewish people were in captivity in Babylon. Then, one day, God caused a faithful group of His people to return to Jerusalem to undertake the imposing task of rebuilding the walls, repopulating the city, and restoring the temple.

Progress was being made until around 530 B.C. For about 10 years the people were forbidden to continue by the Persian king, Artaxerxes, and they worked on their own houses, rather than the house of God.

Two main factors got God’s people back on track, and motivated them to resume God’s work. One was Godly preaching.

Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.

Ezra 5:1

There is power in the prophesying (preaching) of God’s Word.

The second factor was that the ones doing the preaching were not afraid to get their hands dirty, and set a Godly example by practicing what they prophesied.

Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

Ezra 5:2, emphasis added

Spiritual leaders are often called upon to use their mouths, but they should also be willing to use their backs.


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