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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saved But Suffering

"Accept God's will in every situation." - Andrew Murray

Things happen.  If you read it on a bumper sticker, you would probably get another version of what happens.  We just have to come to grips with the reality and fact of the matter.  Things just happen.

Things happen that are out of our control.  Things happen that are caused by our bad decisions.  Things happen because of what do or don't do, what we say or fail to say.  Things happen.

We have to learn to accept God's will.  We cannot simply toss around the notion that Satan is out to get us every time that we come across an uneasy situation.  We have to realize that God's will is perfect.  He allows things to happen, even to us as his children, so that He may get the glory in the outcome.  He is always at work.  He may be working on us before He ever works it out in our favor.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials - James 1:2 (NASB)

God is able to work everything out.  He has a plan that is carried out through His will.  Both are perfect.  His will is perfect and so is His plan.  How He works it out will work together for our good and His glory.

Read God's Plans for You by Andrew Murray and discover some of the unique things that God desires you to through your life and your ministry for His glory.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pointed Prayer

It's Wednesday night.  You can see them coming into the sanctuary.  They have been beaten down and broken down by the business of the day.  The boss didn't understand.  The kids aren't listening.  The neighbors don't care.  You're the shepherd of the house of God and this worn-out flock.  What do you do?

Offer that lengthy sermon that God laid on your heart late last night? How about that solo that Sister Moore promised to sing once she recovered from tonsillitis? Maybe you can ask Brother Deacon to read the church's treasury report and just ask for an offering, then send them on their way.
"Short prayers are long enough," C.H. Spurgeon said.

That sounds right on time.  Inspire them as they sit and listen to you call on God for their sakes.  Lift their spirits with a brief calling upon the Almighty.  Share in prayer.

Don't drag it out.  Don't drag it on.  Just say a short prayer.

Lead into it with an anecdote or a summation of what a hectic day may have entailed for some of your congregants.  Start with a story, then say a short prayer.  Send them home lifted up by your prayer and encouraged to know that the man of God is in prayer for them, not just looking for their tithes and offerings or volunteer time.

By the way, that lengthy sermon may have been meant more for you and your own edification than a bunch of busy people who came to church in the middle of week.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Our Merciful God Loves His Children

When Israel was a child, I loved him,

and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
-Hosea 11:1-4 (ESV)  

God speaks of Israel as a loving parent speaks of his beloved child.  He speaks of a time when Israel was a child and the love that He had for His chosen people.  God speaks from the perspective of a loving and caring father.  In fact, God points out that He loved Israel so much that He truly went out of His way to extend His love to the nation of people.

Isn't Hosea the perfect book of Bible for such love to be stated and shown? I asked it in another blog: Who is your Gomer? Could you love like Hosea loved Gomer? Could you love like God loved Israel? Could you love like the Lord loved the world and gave His only begotten Son for all who would believe on Him to have everlasting life? The Lord is trying to teach us to be more like the Father, to be merciful, forgiving and loving.

Take a clue from the Father.  Love despite the response.  Love in spite of the lack of gratitude or praise.  Love without any conditions or hang-ups.  Love.  Love like Jesus.  Love like the Father.  In a word, love.  Just love and just keep on loving.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Encourage as You Evangelize

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

- 1 Corinthians 14:26 (KJV)

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. - Romans 15:2 (NIV)

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, - Ephesians 5:19 (NIV)
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. - 2 Timothy 4:5 (KJV)
Our work is to dispense the Word into the world.  That sounds simple.  However, that is only the main thrust of what we are called to do as God's people.  We have to have some tactics to go along with our teaching.  We need some methods to go along with our message.
Paul's instructions to Timothy in one of his pastoral epistles states that Timothy should do the work of an evangelist as well as fulfill his ministry.  It didn't mean that Timothy was to simply evangelize in any manner or method that he saw fit.  The directive exemplifies the teaching and training necessary for a newly-established pastor in maintaining his station as spiritual leader.  If no one else can lead someone to Christ in that local church, the pastor better be able to walk someone down the Romans Road to salvation as part of the work of an evangelist(my understanding of the Holy Spirit leaves doubting that He would leave any of His churches so barren and fruitless, though).  Additionally, he should be able to teach and train others in biblical methods in reaching others for Christ.
Encourage others along the way.  If you simply leave it at we all have sinned and fallen short or that the wages of sin is death, you just left someone dangling in suspense and plagued with wonder until worship service on Sunday.  That's not evangelism.  It surely isn't encouraging either.  That's a scare tactic.  Some of our people have mastered such techniques.  Rather than seeking what the Lord has to offer, people are turning to Jesus as the way to avoid going to hell.  Some of our brothers and sisters are persuasive in literally scaring the hell out of some folks rather than sharing the unsearchable riches of Christ.
We need to spend some time encouraging folks in the Word.  We need to use methods and mannerisms that build up people rather than manipulating them into a twisted-arm decision about what to do to gain eternal life.  Jesus didn't use that methodology.  That wasn't how John the Baptist did his evangelistic work.  Paul surely did not force anyone to accept Christ in such a way.  There is a way to reach someone for Christ and encourage them by your words and other things.
  • Encourage with your words
  • Encourage through your works
  • Encourage by your ways
As I have shared before, people may need to see more Christ in you before they hear anything about Christ from you.  Live it out and let it be known.
Amen Me!