Tagged: bible

WHEN FOLLOWING GOD MEANS STAYING PUT

According to Matt. 16:24 Following God seems more like a dangerous walk than a stroll in the park, despite what some may lead you to believe.

Many of us tell God we will go anywhere or do anything for Him.

following God

And no doubt after 14 years of trusting in Jesus there have been many opportunities to go places and do some neat things.

But have you ever felt like Jesus has placed on hold the adventure and wants you to stay where you are?

Look at this verse:

38The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39 NIV)

Is it possible that the man was a little disappointed?

The following three truths will be helpful in deciding when and where to go:

1. Submit To Authority.

The man begged to go with Jesus but He told him to go home.

Of course we should submit to Jesus but also to those who are in authority in our life.

2. Be Obedient.

The man did just what Jesus told him to do which leads us to the next point.

3. Examine The Fruit

Are you producing fruit where you are?  If so, it could be a good indication that you should stay there.

So, how does God help you to keep a fresh perspective on “home”, wherever that might be?

PRIORITY AND PRACTICE OF THE BIBLE

The Bible is a tremendous collection of numerous letters and writings, written over a vast span of time, that is comprised into one consistent book. The Bible comes from the Greek word biblos which literally means books. In addressing scripture I hope to address the usefulness of it and why it is necessary not just for the Christian but for all people. I will categorize the application of scripture into two main areas: PRIORITY and PRACTICE. In doing so I will cover the importance of reading the bible, how to learn from it, and why it should be obeyed.

PRIORITY: Reading the Bible

Anyone who is sincere about growing spiritually must be willing to consistently spend time in God’s Word by reading and hearing its writings.

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). It has now been translated in many different languages, one of them being English. We also have various types of translations. All of the translations can be categorized into two main types of translations: Exact and Dynamic

An exact translation means that it is word for word from the original text intended to be a literal transcript. A dynamic translation seeks to translate the main idea of the passage in a thought for thought manner.

The Protestant Bible contains a total of 66 “books”, and was produced by about forty writers, but has only one author, God. It has historical significance due to the place and time in which it was written.

The discipline of reading the Bible can be difficult to initiate if we do not understand why the book was given to us, however its purpose is discovered within its own text . Most importantly, the Bible is spiritually significant because of its ultimate reason for being written. Consider the following passage:

“29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:29-31, NIV Bible)

Belief in Jesus is vital to life, earthly and eternally. The Bible tells us that Jesus is/gives life. Because Jesus came to give us life we can determine if we are experiencing this “life” the Bible promises is available by considering what our life resembles. We can conclude if we are living the life that Jesus intended to give by examining the differences between life and death and answering honestly which they relate to more.

Understanding that God’s Word is life to the reader provides good reason for it to be read. The Bible tells us it is inspired by God . In Greek the word used is theopneustos which literally translates: God-breathed.

There are basic elements of life that we cannot physically do without; air, food, and water. These things sustain our body and allow us to function correctly. We find in scripture that these same elements are represented in the personhood of God and are life to our spirit. Consider that scripture is breath , bread , and water . The Bible also tells us that Jesus gives water and that He is bread . We also read that Jesus is the Word . Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the Bible and the Bible is the perfect embodiment of Jesus. When we read the bible we are not just learning something but experiencing Someone, God.

If God’s Word is breath, bread, and water for us, and if Jesus is the Word, how can we expect to know Him or become like Him in image and character if we do not read the Bible?

If you consider how long the human body can physically last with food, water, or air it is easy to connect how vital reading the Word of God with understanding should be to all people. Simply put, you will be unsatisfied if you do not read God’s Word. There will always be uneasiness within without proper knowledge of God; this only comes through the Word .

PRACTICE: Learning the Bible

If one is going to truly learn a skill or understand an idea it will require practice of those things. In Romans we are instructed to “offer” our bodies so that we might live as a sacrifice unto God, one in which we are being transformed and able to discern Gods will . This is referred to as sanctification. We understand that God is the one who completely cleanses and sets us apart ; however, there is the act of obedience to what God calls us to that allows this work to take place. How can a person experience this work without the daily application and practice of what is read? This is a cleansing work that is for our good. Though, potentially painful at times it is an act of love so that the fruit of our life will be more productive and available to all who surround us. In the book Foundations of Pentecostal Theology the author writes:

“Sanctification is seen to be a continuing process throughout a Christian’s lifetime. It is not something negative. A man in not considered holy because of the things he does or not do. Virtue cannot be judged by the vices from which a person abstains. There must be a positive conformation to the image of Christ. This is seen as a gradual growth in, not into, grace…”

The believer in Jesus Christ should understand salvation in three ways or tenses: Past, Present and Future . When a person trusts in Christ He saves them from past sins and from the penalty that those sins warrant. Salvation from our past sins is referred to as Justification. We are righteous before God, the price has been paid, and the believer is justified before God because of Christ. In the above paragraph taken from FPT the writer is specifying the difference between the past and present tense of our salvation as he writes, “This is seen as a gradual growth in, not into, grace” meaning the believer is already into grace, he is righteous. However, because we live in the grace of God we can grow in it, or be sanctified. Sanctification is the saving work of Christ that frees the believer from the power of sin and death on a daily basis . And lastly, trust in Christ will save the believer from the presence of sin when Jesus comes back a second time for His people . This is known as glorification and is described in 1 John:
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

A sobering couple of sentences are found in John 8:
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

This passage is startling because Jesus makes it very clear who are true disciples: those who abide or hold fast to His teachings found in the Bible. Abiding in the Word of God is vital to one’s growth and understanding of how the words of the Bible should be applied. There are tremendous benefits mentioned for the one who will do so: 1) they will discover truth and 2) they will be free. Freedom requires knowledge of what is true. One can read this passage as an if/then series of events; if we will remain in the word then we will know what is true. If we know what is true then we will be free.

In a book I once read the writer described a conversation that he had with a drunkard. The two were discussing the bible and the issue of freedom. Suddenly during the talk the drunkard rebutted that he was free to drink; to do whatever he willed. To this the writer agreed but also asked the question, “Are you free not to drink?” For the one who is growing and learning the ways of God the beauty and power of His grace is displayed in the freedom to overcome, think differently, and to pursue what is honorable.

CONCLUSION
The Bible informs us of a God who saves, enables us, and helps us to become more like Him. The practical application of the Word of God reveals His faithfulness and the truth of what is written. Because of this emphasis and focus should be placed upon reading and learning it. God offers to humanity grace that goes beyond the present and contains power to redeem eternally, saving from the power of sin in every way.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, Foursquare Media, 2008

Ethix: Being Bold In A Whatever World, Sean McDowell

New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

New International Version Study Bible, Copyright 2002 by Zondervan Corporation

http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=267

http://www.apbrown2.net/web/TranslationComparisonChart.htm

https://doylevan.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/the-specifics-of-gods-will-for-my-life/

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2315&t=KJV

http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=523

OPPORTUNITY: DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

Five years ago I wrote a short childrens story, for years it layed dormant in a file on a flash drive.
flash drive.
About a year ago I put a note in the dashboard of my truck next to my speedometer, that read something like this: “Finalize Book: 1. Find a illustrator. 2. Create blog. 3. Promote Book.” I believe now more than ever in the power of keeping a “vision” before your eyes. The bible talks about this in Habakkuk 2: Then the Lord replied: “Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”

More recently I was driving on one of the main streets in the small town that I work in and noticed a truck cap sitting in a empty parking lot with a sign taped on it that read: “FOR FREE”.

truck cap

I am somewhat of a scrappy guy and knew there was profit to be had. I quickly found a driveway to turn my vehicle around and then loaded the cap into the bed of my truck. After about five minutes of research I posted the newly found treasure to craigslist and within a few days sold it to a very happy buyer!

What to do, what to do with my new purse of cash. I waited and even asked God how I should use the money. I felt instructed to begin moving forward with the book. Long story (actually a rather short story) short, the money made from the cap was enough to pay an illustrator and even begin the printing process for the books. God has a way of working in our life that at first glance seems to be random and out of the blue. You want an example? A TRUCK CAP. What will make the difference is our ability to see and hear His very purposeful intentions for the presented opportunity.

I am not sure what will come of the book. I know what I hope to have happen… I also know that I am one more time going to, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it”.

I’d love to hear about the endeavors you are undertaking? Are there opportunities surrounding your life that you need to view just a little differently?

Want to check out the book? Visit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WhyGodMadeArmpits

You can also “LIKE” on: http://www.facebook.com/WhyGodMadeArmpits

THE LANGUAGE OF GOD

A few years ago I was a maintenance man at a hotel. The housekeepers would complete work orders and then I was responsible to fix what was listed on the work order. The only problem was ALL of the housekeepers only spoke Spanish, which also meant the work orders were in Spanish, I only spoke and read English. Needless to say, there were a few communication breakdowns. But, over time as we worked together the job was able to get done because we both desired to understand each other.

Communication is a transfer of information. Two parties are responsible for effective communication to take place: 1) the person sharing information must do so in a way that is understandable and 2) the person on the receiving end must desire to comprehend what is being shared.

God’s desire to communicate with us, and He does. God is an effective communicator. BUT, do we desire to understand what He is saying?

Regardless of what language you communicate in, God is speaking one language to mankind; GOD.

When God speaks, in all the varying ways that He does He is communicating one thing: He is God and we need Him.

When God speaks to us He is communication spiritual truth through human words (languages) and understanding. He has done this all throughout history:

A. God Spoke Through Prophets

Consider Daniel’s influence while serving under King Belshazzar. Once, while the king was throwing a wild party God used a hand to write a message to the king on a wall in his palace. No one in the king’s house could read or interpret the writing until they called for Daniel to do so.

Daniel 5:5-6
5Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.

Daniel 5:25-28
25 “This is the inscription that was written: mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26 “This is what these words mean:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Think about this, why was Daniel able to read the writing and interpret its meaning? Was it because he was fluent in the unknown language that was written on the wall or because He DESIRED to understand God?

The king and his men had no desire to know or understand God and therefore could not interpret what God was communicating to them.

Not only did God speak through prophets but He also spoke through His Son, Jesus:

Hebrews 1:1-2
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

B. God Spoke Through Jesus

Jesus only shared what the Father revealed to Him:

John 12:49
49For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.

But how did the people respond?

Matthew 12:38
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

This is an amazing statement! If you have ever read the chapters prior to this verse then you know that they are filled with signs, wonders, and miraculous events.

Up to this point the following events have taken place:
*John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.
*At Jesus’ baptism God confirmed His authority by descending like a dove upon Him and even spoke favorably from heaven about Him.
*Disease and sicknesses were healed.
*The demon-possessed were set free.
*He preached the Sermon on the Mount (the most radical, and applicable sermon ever preached).
*A dead girl was raised to life.
*The blind and mute were healed.

The Pharisees demanding a sign at this point would be like a reporter who has followed the career of a superstar athlete in the NFL. For years the reporter has recorded all of the plays and accomplishments, conducted interviews, and has even seen his trophies. Imagine the reporter asking the player after the final game of his career for proof of why he should be considered for the Hall of Fame. It would be ridiculous! The reporter has witnessed the events and has all the proof he needs as to why the player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Are we any different with God?

Do we demand proof from Him that He’s speaking to us, despite all that we have witnessed, read, and heard from Him?

God is speaking to us in a way that we can understand and will use any means necessary to communicate to us. But if we do not believe our understanding will be hindered.

1 Corinthians 2:14
14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Your understanding of God and His ways may only be at a very surface level. All you may know is that He wants you to follow Him. Until you do your understanding of Him and the plan He has for you will be limited.

What questions do you have? Do you carry insecurities, doubts, or fears? God is ok with you approaching Him with these things.

God is ok with your questions but He is concerned with how you respond to His answers.

Ultimately, no matter how much we know or how strong we think we are both are no match for what God has to offer.

1 Corinthians 1:25
25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Taken from sermon:

CONNECTING MELCHIZEDEK WITH JESUS

Recently I was asked about connecting the priesthood of Jesus with “the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:11). After reading through a few commentaries I found a collection of descriptions pertaining to Melchizedek. I believe the most important things to note concerning the connection of Jesus’ priesthood and Melchizedek’s are:

1. Both are priests and servants of God (Jesus is the Great High Priest, Hebrews 4:14)
2. Melchizedek gave bread and wine (Jesus gave His body and blood, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
3. Melchizedek bless Abram (Jesus blesses His children, John 17:20-26)
4. Abram payed tithes to Melchizedek (we pay our tithes unto God, Malachi 3:8-10)
5. Melchizedek priestly order was not Levitical (nor was Jesus’ He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Revelations 5:5)
6. Melchizedek was the king of Salem, Salem in Hebrew means peace (Jesus is the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6)
7. Melchizedek’s priesthood is forever (Jesus’ priesthood and rule is forever, Hebrews 7:24-27)

Some scholars believe Melchizedek to be a Christophany (an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament). However, this is not really important nor is it exactly clear. It is more important to see the similarities between the two and how Melchizedek is a foreshadowing of the present rule of Jesus Christ.

    Chuck Smith’s Commentary:

“The king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is in the king’s dale. And Melchizedek the king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of El Elyown, or the God, the most high (Gen 14:17-18).
Or the most high God.

And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of the heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And Abraham gave him tithes of all (Gen 14:19-20).
So briefly we are introduced to this interesting mystical person Melchizedek of whom the scriptures speak very little. It tells us nothing of Melchizedek’s parentage, nothing of his mother and father, tells us nothing of his genealogy. All that it tells us is that he was a servant or a priest actually of the most high God. He came up to Abraham with what? Bread and wine which are the symbols of communion. And he gave these unto Abram and then he blessed Abram.

Now the lesser is always blessed by the greater. Therefore, in blessing Abram it puts him a level above Abram. And Abram giving tithes of all that he had to him, again it was signifying of the lesser paying the tithes to the greater, to the servant or the priest of the most high God. So Abram received the blessing, recognized the man as the priest of the most high God, gave tithes of all of the spoils that he had taken unto him. Nothing more is said of Melchizedek until we get to the 110th Psalm. And suddenly out of nothing that seems to relate to the rest of the 110th Psalm, we read the words, “I have sworn, and will not repent, I have made thee a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4).

Now Abraham’s son Isaac had a son Jacob who had twelve sons, one of Jacob’s sons was Levi, and when the law was established, Levi was the tribe that was to become the priestly tribe. And so they were called the order of Levi or the Levitical order of priesthood, order referring to the family. Now here is an order of priesthood that precedes the Levitical order and is superior to the Levitical order in that Levi, in essence, when Abram paid tithes; great, great grandfather of Levi, Levi in essence was paying tithes unto Melchizedek.

So it puts the order of priesthood of Melchizedek in a superior order to the Levitical order. And God has sworn and will not repent; I have made thee a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek. That Psalm had to remain a mystery as did Melchizedek himself until we come to the book of Hebrews when the mystery begins to unravel.

For the author of the book of Hebrews when he begins to point out the fact that Jesus, though He is from the tribe of Judah of which the scriptures have nothing to say concerning the priesthood, but even though He is of the tribe of Judah, He is of the order of priesthood of Melchizedek, the superior order of priesthood. Thus, He can be the great high priest of those who will come unto God through Him.

Now Melchizedek was called the king of righteousness as well as the king of peace. King of peace is Salem, which is the early name for Jerusalem. So he was one of the first kings of Jerusalem. But he was also called the king of righteousness. Now it is interesting when he refers to Christ who is of the order of Melchizedek and he talks about Christ making intercession for us as our great high priest. “Wherefore we have a great high priest, even Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1). Again the repetition of that word the righteous, king of righteousness. We have a great high priest, Jesus Christ the righteous One literally, who has entered into heaven for us.

Now you see how the word of God is so beautifully tied together. Here is just a little snatch in Genesis. By itself we don’t understand it very much. If that was all that was said, Melchizedek would be just lost in history as a mystical character. We know very little about him.

And then when David comes along in Psalm 110 and said, “I sworn and will not repent, I made thee a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”, you think, What in the world is David talking about? Psalm doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense until it’s all put together in Hebrews and we realize that Jesus is our great high priest. He’s not of the tribe of Levi, true, for He had to be the lion of the tribe of Judah to fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah. But He is also the priest, but not after the Levitical order, after the order of Melchizedek who has neither mother nor father or genealogy.

Now there are many Bible scholars who believe that Melchizedek was none other than Jesus Christ Himself. Very possible. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day and saw it. They said, What do you mean Abraham saw you? You’re not fifty years old” (John 8:56,57). So Jesus could have been referring to this particular incident.”
http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=1&contentID=4727&commInfo=25&topic=Genesis

    Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

“This paragraph begins with the mention of the respect which the king of Sodom paid to Abram at his return from the slaughter of the kings; but, before a particular account is given of this, the story of Melchizedek is briefly related, concerning whom observe,
I. Who he was. He was king of Salem and priest of the most high God; and other glorious things are said of him, Heb. 7:1, etc. 1. The rabbin, and most of our rabbinical writers, conclude that Melchizedek was Shem the son of Noah, who was king and priest to those that descended from him, according to the patriarchal model. But this is not at all probable; for why should his name be changed? And how came he to settle in Canaan? 2. Many Christian writers have thought that this was an appearance of the Son of God himself, our Lord Jesus, known to Abram, at this time, by this name, as afterwards, Hagar called him by another name, ch. 16:13. He appeared to him as a righteous king, owning a righteous cause, and giving peace. It is difficult to imagine that any mere man should be said to be without father, without mother, and without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, Heb. 7:3. It is witnessed of Melchizedek that he liveth, and that he abideth a priest continually (v. 3, 8); nay (v. 13, 14), the apostle makes him of whom these things are spoken to be our Lord who sprang out of Judah. It is likewise difficult to think that any mere man should, at this time, be greater than Abram in the things of God, that Christ should be a priest after the order of any mere man, and that any human priesthood should so far excel that of Aaron as it is certain that Melchizedek’s did. 3. The most commonly received opinion is that Melchizedek was a Canaanitish prince, that reigned in Salem, and kept up the true religion there; but, if so, why his name should occur here only in all the story of Abram, and why Abram should have altars of his own and not attend the altars of his neighbour Melchizedek who was greater than he, seem unaccountable. Mr. Gregory of Oxford tells us that the Arabic Catena, which he builds much upon the authority of, gives this account of Melchizedek, That he was the son of Heraclim, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, and that his mother’s name was Salathiel, the daughter of Gomer, the son of Japheth, the son of Noah.

II. What he did. 1. He brought forth bread and wine, for the refreshment of Abram and his soldiers, and in congratulation of their victory. This he did as a king, teaching us to do good and to communicate, and to be given to hospitality, according to our ability; and representing the spiritual provisions of strength and comfort which Christ has laid up for us in the covenant of grace for our refreshment, when we are wearied with our spiritual conflicts. 2. As priest of the most high God, he blessed Abram, which we may suppose a greater refreshment to Abram than his bread and wine were. Thus God, having raised up his Son Jesus, has sent him to bless us, as one having authority; and those whom he blesses are blessed indeed. Christ went to heaven when he was blessing his disciples (Lu. 24:51); for this is what he ever lives to do.

III. What he said, v. 19, 20. Two things were said by him:-1. He blessed Abram from God: Blessed be Abram, blessed of the most high God, v. 19. Observe the titles he here gives to God, which are very glorious. (1.) The most high God, which bespeaks his absolute perfections in himself and his sovereign dominion over all the creatures; he is King of kings. Note, It will greatly help both our faith and our reverence in prayer to eye God as the most high God, and to call him so. (2.) Possessor of heaven and earth, that is, rightful owner, and sovereign Lord, of all the creatures, because he made them. This bespeaks him a great God, and greatly to be praised (Ps. 24:1), and those a happy people who have an interest in his favour and love. 2. He blessed God for Abram (v. 20): and blessed be the most high God. Note, (1.) In all our prayers, we must praise God, and join hallelujahs with all our hosannahs. These are the spiritual sacrifices we must offer up daily, and upon particular occasions. (2.) God, as the most high God, must have the glory of all our victories, Ex. 17:15; 1 Sa. 7:10, 12; Jdg. 5:1, 2; 2 Chr. 20:21. In them he shows himself higher than our enemies (Ex. 18:11), and higher than we; for without him we could do nothing. (3.) We ought to give thanks for others’ mercies as for our own, triumphing with those that triumph. (4.) Jesus Christ, our great high priest, is the Mediator both of our prayers and praises, and not only offers up ours, but his own for us. See Lu. 10:21.

IV. What was done to him: Abram gave him tithes of all, that is, of the spoils, Heb. 7:4. This may be looked upon, 1. As a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his tokens of respect. Note, Those that receive kindness should show kindness. Gratitude is one of nature’s laws. 2. As an offering vowed and dedicated to the most high God, and therefore put into the hands of Melchizedek his priest. Note, (1.) When we have received some signal mercy from God, it is very fit that we should express our thankfulness by some special act of pious charity. God must always have his dues out of our substance, especially when, by any particular providence, he has either preserved or increased it to us. (2.) That the tenth of our increase is a very fit proportion to be set apart for the honour of God and the service of his sanctuary. (3.) That Jesus Christ, our great Melchizedek, is to have homage done him, and to be humbly acknowledged by every one of us as our king and priest; and not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be surrendered and given up to him.”
http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=4&contentID=641&commInfo=5&topic=Genesis

PASTORAL RESPONSIBILITIES

In the Pastoral Letters (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus), Paul writes to younger pastors, Timothy and Titus, instruction concerning their primary duties and responsibilities.  Paul addresses both men as a “son in the faith,” indicating the mentorship that would make such letters welcome.  Also, the numerical and spiritual age of Timothy[1] and Titus[2] would make the letters necessary being that Paul was both older and more mature in the faith.

In writing, I will detail five main responsibilities that the pastor should be concerned with in order to fulfill the purpose of such a calling[3], while also adhering to biblical instruction pertaining to the pastoral ministry.  The five key responsibilities that I see in the pastoral letters are: 1) Prayer for Everyone, 2) Proper Teaching and Instruction, 3) A Godly Personal Life, 4) Appointing and Equipping Leaders, and 5) Enduring in the Faith.

Prayer for Everyone

In the first letter to Timothy, The Apostle Paul does not wait long to stress the importance of prayer.  In doing so, Paul makes a sweeping generalization to pray for all people, including those in authority[4].  Paul’s reason for emphasizing prayer is that it is “…good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”[5] For the pastor, it is vital to be reminded that their work is ultimately to reveal Jesus Christ.  Examining this instruction also reveals a direct link between prayer and fruitful work.  God’s goal is in accordance with this prayer which makes it one that can be prayed with confidence because, “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of Him.”[6]

Philip Towner writes, “Two obvious conclusions may be drawn from this instruction.  First, all believers have a necessary part to play in the church’s worldwide mission.  Second, each local gathering of believers is to participate directly and corporately in this work when coming together for worship.  Since Paul mentions this as being a matter of first importance, we ought to give careful thought to the place we give this task within our worship service and other church activities.”[7]

It would be natural for Paul to begin with this instruction because of his own hardships and victories alike both being covered in prayer.  We read in the Bible that Paul was in the midst of varying circumstances yet was sustained by Gods strength[8].  Paul receiving this strength throughout his life can be attributed to prayer: “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power…”[9]  If Paul prayed such prayers for others one can safely assume that he prayed that way for himself.

Proper Teaching and Instruction

In writing to Timothy and Titus, Paul warns them of the dangers of false teaching and that any such teaching must be stopped immediately[10].  In order to fulfill such a command the pastor must be studied and well versed, able to clearly distinguish between truth and error.  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”[11]  For Timothy, his first task in Ephesus was to command false teachers to stop teaching and studying worthless matters that were only useful for starting arguments[12].  Ephesus and Crete were both cultural “hotspots” which would make it necessary for both pastors  to recognize falsehood and be able to correct it with the Apostles teaching.  In Manners and Customs in the Bible Victor Matthews wrote, “Wherever the Greek, Roman, or Jewish merchant went, he took with him his goods as well as his culture.  Thus, in every commercial center (Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus), ethnic communities were established.”[13]  The people of Crete were known for being dishonest.  The Apostle Paul quotes one of the Cretans own who said that they were “always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”[14]  “In Titus 1:12 he quotes Epimenides a Cretan poet. Crete was without wild beasts; the poet’s sarcasm was that beastly men supplied their place: “the Cretians are always (not merely at times, as all natural men are) liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” “To Cretanize” was proverbial for to lie, as “to Corinthianize” for to be dissolute.”[15]

The young pastors were also instructed to soundly teach concerning the conduct of both male and female on a ministerial and personal level[16].  The Apostle Paul sees fit to give clear direction concerning the care of widows within the church and their family’s responsibility to the widow[17].  Such advice would be greatly appreciated concerning touchy issues like this which could have been difficult to navigate through without counsel for the young pastor.  Paul also addresses other issues such as money[18], authority[19], and correcting others[20].

A Godly Personal Life

A pastor’s life must be a life that is safe to examine at all times.  Who they are in the face of fellow Christians should also be who they are in private.  I have heard it said that “Integrity is doing what you say you will do.”  I have also heard, “Who you are when you’re all alone is who you really are.”  Both statements apply to the personal life of a pastor.  Paul wrote to Timothy, “…set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity… Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”[21]  These instructions make it clear that there can be no compromise in the life of a pastor/leader.   The pastor should do all that he can to maintain balance, be blameless, and to avoid “every kind of evil.”[22]  This is important for three main reasons: 1) So the pastor does not disqualify himself from receiving the reward.[23]  2) So that the pastor does not cause another to stumble.[24] 3) The “world” watches their life closely.[25]

Appointing and Equipping Leaders

Titus first instruction from Paul is to “appoint elders in every town.”[26]  Timothy was also told to “entrust to reliable men”[27] the teachings of Paul that had been passed on to him.  It is necessary to appoint and equip other leaders within the church so that each member can effectively minister and so that the Body of Christ may be edified.[28]  As an individual member in the Body of Christ each person has a unique role to fulfill and gifting’s to be used; without which, the body suffers.[29]  These leaders must be tested and worthy of such placement.[30]  This mode of operation was modeled in Jesus’ relationship with His disciples[31] and in the early church in Jerusalem.  The net result is that the “Word of God spread” and the “number of disciples increased rapidly.”[32]  This type of impact would be an obvious goal of any pastor.  Paul knew how to effectively spread the gospel quickly and the importance of having godly support and encouragement.  Both would be possible by establishing godly leaders within the church and the community.

Enduring in the Faith

Paul closes his first letter to Timothy by encouraging him run to from godlessness and to “…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith.”[33]  Paul begins his second letter to Timothy by encouraging him to “join with me in suffering for the gospel…”[34]  According to scripture, ones “calling” does not exempt them from suffering but may even induce such trials.  Paul is acquainted with difficulty[35] and for that reason can relate to the possibility that Timothy may have been discouraged or tempted to quit.  John Piper, pastor and theologian writes, There are a good many reasons in the Scriptures to believe that the Great Commission will not be completed without suffering. One of these reasons is that when Jesus said that the gospel will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations, he also said in the same context, ‘You will be hated by all the nations’ (Matthew 24:9, 14). In other words, wherever you go among the nations, your efforts to bring good news of everlasting life will be met with joy in some and anger in others.”[36]  Later, in the second letter, Paul gives reason for such suffering, For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”[37]

CONCLUSION

The Apostle Paul’s letters to both Timothy and Titus read much like it would if a father were instructing his son.  The epistles contain wisdom, foresight, sternness, and defined goals, all of which are shared with an obvious affection and love.  Timothy and Titus were left with weighty tasks of further establishing work that had already been started within the cities and Paul obviously trusted their ability to complete this task.  Following Paul’s instruction would be vital for their success in pastoral ministry and would also help to provide sustainability and longevity in their overall life and work.  Adherence to the five responsibilities listed help to provide a solid biblical foundation for fulfilling God’s purpose for calling pastors.

For further study on Pastoral Leadership I encourage you to visit: http://www.dailychristianhelp.com/key-elements-pastoral-leadership/ & http://www.dailychristianhelp.com/pastoral-leadership-development/


[1] Acts 16:1-3(The fact that Paul mentions Timothy’s parents when referring to him may indicate his younger age.  If he was older and more established it would not be necessary to make mention of his parents.), 1 Timothy 4:12

[2] The Zondervan NIV Study Bible points out an interesting observation concerning Titus 1:4: “In all of Paul’s other salutations Jesus is called “Lord”.  Paul uses “Savior” 12 times in all his letters, half of the references being in Titus.”  This is worth taking note of because Titus could have been a convert through Paul’s ministry which would make him a “young” disciple of his.

[3] Ephesians 4:11-12

[4] 1 Timothy 2:1-2

[5] 1 Timothy 2:3-4, NIV Bible

[6] 1 John 5:14-15, NIV Bible

[7] 1-2 Timothy & Titus Commentary, Philip Towner, pg. 63-64

[8] Philippians 4:11-13

[9] Ephesians 3:16-18, NIV Bible

[10] 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 2 Timothy 1:16-17,  Titus 1:10-11

[11] 2 Timothy 2:15, NIV Bible

[12] 1 Timothy 1:3-5

[13] Manners and Customs in the Bible, Victor H. Matthews, pg. 213

[14] Titus 1:12

[16] 1 Timothy 2:8-15, 1 Timothy 3:11, Titus 2:2-6

[17] 1 Timothy 5:3-16

[18] 1 Timothy 6:6-10

[19] 1 Timothy 2:1-3, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Titus 2:9-10, Titus 3:1-2

[20] 1 Timothy 1:18-20, 1 Timothy 5:1-2, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Titus 3:10

[21] 1 Timothy 4:12 & 16, NIV Bible

[22] 1 Thessalonians 5:22

[23] 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

[24] 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

[25] 1 Peter 2:12

[26] Titus 1:5, NIV Bible

[27] 2 Timothy 2:2, NIV Bible

[28] Ephesians 4:11-13

[29] 1 Corinthians 12

[30] 1 Timothy 3:10, Titus 1:6-9

[31] Matthew 10:5-14

[32] Acts 6:1-7, NIV Bible

[33] 1 Timothy 6:11-12

[34] 2 Timothy 1:8

[35] 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

[37] 2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV Bible

YOU ARE A INTENTION

While reading Acts 9 it is interesting to note that God was clearly speaking to both Paul and Ananias and how intentional He was in doing so.

Acts 9:3-15  3As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  5And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”  Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”  6So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”  Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  7And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.  10Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”  And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  11So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”  13Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”  15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  16For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

In realizing that God spoke to a man who believed in Him (Ananias) and one who didn’t (Saul) one should ask the question, “Does God speak to me?”  According to the bible, He does.

quotations

GOD SPEAKS TO EVERYONE.  There is, however, a difference between hearing and listening.  Surely you have been in conversation with someone who no doubt can hear you but is clearly not listening.  Depending on how focused the person may be on something else determines their ability to accurately understand what you are communicating.

Listening for provides a better opportunity to understand rather than simply hearing a faint voice, noise, or static.

1.      Have confidence that God speaks to you.

  • Creation Speaks To Us On Behalf of God (Psalm 19:1-4)
  • God’s Teachers and Preachers Speak On Behalf of God. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
  • God’s Word Speaks To Us (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • The Holy Spirit speaks To Us

John 16:7-8  7Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

If you have ever wondered if you are sinful, the Holy Spirit will prove to you that you are (I am too).

The conviction of the Holy Spirit is a work of love in that He does not push you away from God but points you to Him.  While the Holy Spirit does seek to prove our sinfulness He does so because provisions have been made.  And really, if you and I are honest we are already aware that we are capable of doing and thinking things that are not right.

God’s goal is more than proving sinfulness.  He has made provisions because we are.

The New Testament of the bible is a freeing read because salvation is not based upon abilities but upon receiving.

2.      God wants to use you to confirm what someone else has been hearing.

Acts 9:17-19  17And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

19So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

The location of Damascus is interesting for at least two reasons: 1) Saul could have had very logical reasons for going there to stop the potentially rapid spread of Christianity because of the trade and commerce that took place.  2)  Ananias could have been dispersed to Damascus because of the persecution that was taking place in Jerusalem.

With that in mind, one should never forget that there place in time, both physically and geographically has the potential for GREAT purpose.

Put yourself in Ananias’s shoes:  Damascus could have been a city that He had always lived in.  Like, for many of us, Damascus could have become the “same old” town to him.  Or, he could have been forced there due to circumstance and for that reason he may have longed for what was familiar.  Either way, he was there for a significant purpose.

Like Ananias, you are where you are for a reason.

As purposeful as Saul was in going to Damascus, Ananias was just being faithful living life.

Where is your Damascus?

Your city?  Your family?  Your job?  Your church?

Concerning your place of familiarity or unfamiliarity will you be content in waiting for Gods plan to be revealed?

Saul could be coming to your Damascus?  Will you be there?

Taken from sermon:

WHEN GOD’S CALLING IS QUESTIONED

God calls each person, 1) To know Him and 2) to make Him known.  God has also gifted all people in specific ways that are supportive of how He would use us to make Him known.  These specifics could be referred to as “calling”.  The matter of “calling” is typically a pressing issue for all believers and non-believers at some point in one’s life.  For more content concerning our ultimate calling read https://doylevan.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/the-specifics-of-gods-will-for-my-life/.

There are times, however, that despite an understanding of your purpose and calling these matters become questionable and even doubtable.  How does one respond in a time like this?  What keeps a person driven, intentional, and unmoved from their God-given calling?  God once pressed a question upon my heart that also revealed a key to moving forward despite doubt or insecurity.  The question:  “If you lack boldness to speak your calling, how will you ever have the courage to walk in it?”

His point I believe is that if we are too fearful to speak what God has called us to, probably more accurately, to hear ourselves say what we believe, how will we ever be able to actually live out the calling?

When something moves from the inside to the outside it becomes exposed.  It is revealed.  This can be startling because when our thoughts, dreams, or beliefs move from being internal to verbal one is opening the door to accountability.  It is much easier to keep your mouth closed.  However, accountability is foundational to long-term success, no matter the mission.

Before you decide to grab a megaphone and tell the whole world the secrets of your heart keep in mind the following principles:

1. Speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

In other words, don’t feed yourself a line of bologna. If you ask me bologna never tastes good, it’s the lowest form of lunchmeats. Living a lie is the lowest form of living.

When it comes to your calling don’t exaggerate.  Answering the call of God will typically not require one to change their personality, interests, or gifting’s.  What I mean is be you at all costs.  While the calling will mean that one’s character and the practical use of their gifting will need improving, continually, it will not demand that you be someone you’re not.

Sometimes we would rather walk in another’s shoes. They seem more exciting and look cooler.  The only problem is the shoe might not fit you.

Live out your calling.

Speak your convictions, what you know to be truth within your heart of hearts. Nothing could be more uncomfortable than trying to live out something contrary to what is within.

Psalm 86:11 (NIV)  Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

2. Don’t trust yourself.

If your heart desires God then your heart desires what He wants.

Romans 8:5  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

If your passion is to live out what God wants (the things of the Spirit) then you can rest assured that the calling(s) that you feel impressed to speak about are placed there by God for you to live out (live according to the Spirit).
This is why God tells us to commit our ways to Him:
Psalm 37:5-6  Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Measure the weight of Gods promise in this scripture.  God said that if we commit our ways to Him He will bring it to pass.  This should take the pressure off of our shoulders.  God has made Himself accountable… to Himself, and really, who better?

Look at the example between God and Abraham.

Hebrews 6:13-15  For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

It is like a guaranteed guarantee.  Human guarantees are based on circumstance and the words in fine print.  God is not like you and I.

He does not say one thing and then do another.

I once entered a car dealership because there was a guy holding a sign that said “BLOWOUT DEALS”. I naturally expected to see at least a few good deals. The salesman came out to greet us and I asked him, “Where are all the deals?” He then answered, “Deals? That is just a sign.”

I was a little ticked.

God is not like this.  He does not offer promises to us and then back out saying, “Well, that was just a promotional stunt.”

If God gives us a calling He will certainly help us to walk in it successfully. He only asks that we commit our ways to Him.
Don’t trust yourself. Trust God.

3. Realize, at times you only need to speak loud enough for yourself to hear.

There is definitely a time and a place to share with the right people what you believe God has placed in your heart to do or say. That time will come and when it does we should be ready to share.

However, there are times if we were to share with everyone our dreams or plans we would more than likely be laughed at, looked down upon, and even called foolish.

It can be hard enough to take your own eyes off of the surrounding circumstances, you certainly do not need any added unbelief and doubt from friends, family, and peers.

In those moments, like David, we only need to know what God has said, and to remind ourselves of it.

1 Samuel 30:3-6  So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

Imagine standing alone, realizing that you have lost everything to the enemy and yet the calling to become king is still inside of you. What once may have been a blazing fire in David’s heart at this point may have only been a burning ember struggling to keep its flame.

If you have tended a fire then you know when a flame reaches this point special care is to be given. Too much at one time will suffocate the flame and cause it to go out.

David could have stood up at this point and began to shout in the face of those following him, “I AM STILL GOING TO BE KING! KEEP FOLLOWING ME!!!

The people may very well have killed him. The flame would be suffocated.

David took special care; He tended the fire and gave it exactly what it needed: He strengthened (encouraged) himself in the Lord his God.

David spoke just loud enough for himself to hear.

Wherever you are concerning your calling may determine who you speak to and how loud you say it, nevertheless the fulfillment of your calling is dependent upon your willingness to speak up whether you need to hear it or someone else.

God bless.

THE NECESSITY OF THE BIBLE

While considering the importance of the Bible I recalled how vital it was to me when I decided to follow Jesus with my whole heart.  I began to sort through old journals and found one that I wrote in during that transitional time of my life.  There were many bible studies recorded in the notebook but one entry stuck out the most.  The entry was written as I was spending time in prayer and contained what I believed God was speaking to my heart.  One portion of it read, “You know the Word, now read it; learn it; obey it.”

I understood that statement on a very surface level at the time but now realize God was speaking something much deeper to me.

You need to understand, I knew the Word of God.  I had studied it most of my life to some degree as a result of attending christian schools.  But, there is a big difference between knowing something and honoring it.

I believe the following is what God was really getting at with me:

Reading =    Priority

Learning =   Practice

Obeying =   Proof

If I was going to be a Christian who was sincere and if spiritual growth was going to consistently take place then spending time in God’s Word would be necessary.

The discipline of reading the Bible can be difficult to initiate if we do understand why the book was given to us.

The bible was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament)

It has now been translated in many different languages, one of them being English.  We also have various types of translations.  All of the translations can be categorized into two main types of translations:   Exact and Dynamic[1]

Exact Translations:   word for word, literal translation

Dynamic Translation:  thought for thought translation

There is one author of the Bible, God.  There were about forty writers.  And there are sixty six individual books and letters that compose the entirety of the Bible.

Also, the Bible has historical significance due to its place and time in which it was written.  However, most importantly, the Bible is spiritually significant because of its ultimate purpose for being written.  Consider the following passage:

John 20:29-31  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  30And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

1.       The Bible Was Written So That We Would Believe In Jesus.

Why Does God Want Us To Believe In Jesus?

JESUS IS/GIVES LIFE.[2]

John 10:7-10  Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus came to give us life.  The thief comes to bring death.  The condition of our life resembles one or the other.

To help determine if you are living the life that Jesus intended to give you examine the differences between life and death.

HOW DOES DEATH AFFECT ME?

1. DEATH REMOVES OPTIONS.
2. DEATH REMOVES LIGHT.

3. DEATH CAUSES SORROW.

If we find ourselves relating to the results of death than it is time to question our relationship with Jesus Christ and our obedience to His Word.
HOW DOES LIFE AFFECT ME?

1. LIFE PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY.
2. LIFE PROVIDES FREEDOM.
3. LIFE PROVIDES FULLNESS.

When a sheep goes through a gate it is either entering confinement or openness.

Did Jesus say whoever enters his gate will find the confinement?

In other words, Jesus opens up the pasture not the pen to us.   

Where are you living?

A pasture is open, peaceful, it contains provision; all the room needed to fulfill destiny.

2.       The Bible Was Written So That We Would Be Equipped For Life. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            A.        The Word of God Sustains The Believer. 

Inspiration of God = God Breathed

Stack the following truths upon one another:

*Scripture is God breathed. (1 Timothy 3:16-17)

*Scripture is spiritual “bread” and “water”. (Matthew 4 & Ephesians 5:26)

*Jesus gives “water” so that we are no longer thirsty (John 7:37) and that He is the “bread” of life (John 6:35).

*The Bible also tells us that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-14)

Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the Bible and the Bible is the perfect embodiment of Jesus.  When we read the bible we are not just learning something but experiencing Someone.

If God’s Word is breath, bread, and water for us and if Jesus is the Word how can we expect to become more like Him if we do not read the Bible?

When considering the necessity of the Bible compare the needs of the spiritual with the physical:

How long can a human physically go without food? Around 40 days

Water? Around 3-7 days

Breath?  Minutes

You and I will not be satisfied if we do not read God’s Word.

B.        The Word of God Teaches The Believer.

Have you ever tried to teach someone who is only willing to learn what they want to learn?

My sophomore year of high school my German teacher taught us the following question:  “Darf Ich Auf Das Weissay (unsure of spelling)?”

In English this means, “May I get a drink of water?”  Because of my attitude toward spending time in class I learned if I raised my hand and asked the appropriate question that I could go to the water fountain.

Understand, I was not learning how to speak German but how to get out of class.

I tell that story because when it comes to the Bible many times we interpret it according to what we want to learn.

This is a problem because many times people do not learn how to follow Jesus but only how to get out of a problem.

The Bible is not a cafeteria of instruction that we get to choose from according to what we agree with.  It’s either all or nothing.

John 8:31-32  Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

If you’re frustrated as a believer it is because you are not remaining in God’s Word.

To further illustrate God’s intentions to teach us consider that God’s word is like an umbrella.

Much like an umbrella provides an area of protection, the Bible provides truths and principles that if applied will keep us from bringing self-inflicted storms upon our life thus enabling us to stay out of the rain.

In another sense the Bible is like an umbrella in that it helps one to get through the storms of life that are out of our control, storms that we did not ask for or bring upon our self.  Life has a way of sometimes smacking us in the face.  In these times God’s Word doesn’t necessarily remove us from the storm but it does help to get us through by its promises, encouragement, and wisdom.

Is the Bible just a book to you or is it literally breath, food, and water to your spirit.  I hope you are encouraged to read, learn, and obey the Word of God.  Or in other words to make it a Priority, to Practice it, and have Proof of its existence in your life.

God bless.

Taken from sermon:


http://mycfm.org/church-series/steps-towards-christ

THE SPECIFICS OF GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE

What is Gods will for my life?  A common question for those who care about what God would want to do in their life.  The question is usually asked in the context of what God may want a person to do, where to live, who to marry, which job to take, the future, etc.

God certainly does gift and call individuals to do specific things or to complete a special task.[1]  The bible is filled with history of individuals “called for such a time as this”[2].  Within these stories we find encouragement, wisdom, opportunities to learn from another’s mistakes, and maybe most comforting, God using people just like you and I.

You would think it would be best to know Gods exact plan and to always understand the details that surround your life.  However, this is not always the case.  For me, His will seems to become clearer looking backwards rather than looking forward.  What I mean is Gods faithfulness is realized in the present and while reviewing the past.  With a puzzle the picture can only be seen as the pieces are put together.  This is similar to faith as I trust that God will put the pieces that are scattered on the table into a picture that others can look upon and see Christ.  In other words, I believe God has a plan for my life but that plan is best understood when I review my life not when I plan it.

God’s plan and calling for our life will no doubt lead us to specific areas of the world, place us in certain positions, allow us to hold titles, and provide opportunity to use the gifts that He gives us.  However, ultimately there are greater destinations that God desires for us to reach other than geographical locations, titles, etc. Without reaching the destinations listed below, the gifting, calling, abilities, and purpose we possess will be meaningless and in vain.

Destination #1 LIFE
John 10:7-10
7Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus came to give us life.  The thief comes to bring death.  You and I are living in one or the other.  Noting the differences between life and death is a great way to determine if what I am doing, where I am at, and how I feel is in agreement with Gods will for my life.

HOW DOES DEATH AFFECT ME?

1. DEATH REMOVES OPTIONS.
When someone is dead the deal is done. There is no choosing or decisions to be made, what has been done is done.

2. DEATH REMOVES LIGHT.
Death means lights out.  Have you ever been in absolute darkness, so much so that you cannot see your hand in front of your face?  This type of darkness will leave one in confusion, without an accurate sense of direction, and feelings of hopelessness.

3. DEATH CAUSES SORROW.
When there is death there is loss. Loss results in sadness and emptiness in some form.

Death is not Gods will for our life.  If we find ourselves relating to the results of death than it is time to evaluate the decisions we are making and our attitudes.  Is our heart content in Christ or does it long for what is contrary to Him.[3]

HOW DOES LIFE AFFECT ME?

1. LIFE PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY.
When we wake up in the morning a whole new day full of decisions and possibilities are before us.

2. LIFE PROVIDES FREEDOM.
Jesus tells us that we will find pasture when we enter life through the gate that He provides.  When a sheep goes through a gate it is either entering confinement or openness.   In other words, being in Jesus opens up the pasture not the pen to us.  Where are you living?   When I think of pasture I think of openness, expanse, provision and space. In a pasture there is peace, beauty; all the room needed to fulfill dreams.

3. LIFE PROVIDES FULLNESS.
Being full of life, referring to John 10:10, is actually speaking of two different and unique attributes to the kind of life Jesus intends for us to have. The first is quantity. Not a little, not some, not even much, but it actually says super abundance. The second attribute is quality, in which it says it will be superior, or in other words, unbeatable.  Are you still searching for a better life?  You may not be living in Gods will.

Destination #2 TRUTH
Titus 1:1
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness–
Knowing the truth is necessary to discern between right and wrong. When we know the absolute facts in a matter we stand to be correct and not in error.

When I know Gods Word and His voice I am able to accurately apply truth in my life.  According to scripture, knowing the truth provides opportunity for godliness in my life.  Godliness does not lead me to truth but truth will lead me toward godliness.  I will not have a desire to honor God if I first do not know who He is.  Knowing the right response without having the right heart does not mean I am godly but simply religious.

Breaking free from religious actions and attitudes only takes place when the realization that the only action of mine that makes me right with God is the action of surrendering my heart to Jesus Christ initiated through repentance.  Jesus is the truth.[4]

Destination #3 HUMILITY
Philippians 2:3-8
3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Humility will cause servant hood.
Humility will cause worship.
Humility will cause compassion.

A humble heart understands that any value that one has to share, whether it is knowledge, skills, finances, or care, was all given to you in the first place. Outside of our relationship with Christ we are self-absorbed, selfish, and arrogant people. Thank God we now have the capability to serve God and mankind with true purpose.

Becoming focused on the specifics of what God would have us to do or where He is leading us in our day to day is easy to do and even important. But we must remain aware of the greater destinations that He desires to be reached within our life on a daily basis. Without the life, truth, and humility that God makes available to us, any calling, position, or location will remain just what it is.

You and I may be fulfilling God’s intended plan for us (position, location, calling, etc.), but don’t forget the greater destinations to be reached that will keep us there.


[1] Romans 11:29, Jeremiah 29:11

[2] The Book of Ester

[3] 1 John 2:15-17

[4] John 14:6