May 9, 2014
1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Erwin Lutzer was speaking about D. L. Moody and mentioned that it was said of Moody that he had a combined persona of Peter, Paul and John. That is quite a mixture. He also did things that made people call him “Crazy Moody”. Describing Moody’s pulpit and chair we can see that he was short and as Erwin put it “rotund”. Moody had a fifth grade education and his first converts and ministry were to the poor and outcasts, but in his ministry he spoke in colleges like Cambridge and started four schools. It has been estimated that he won 1.5 million people to Christ. Ironically, his associate would be Dr. R. A. Torrey who studied at some of the finest German universties. Imagine a highly trained theologian being the associate of a fifth grade dropout.
Today Moody would have had to do ministry much as he did it then if he were to achieve what he did. He was not accepted, at first, by the respectable church and theologians. He would have neve been called to a church as he was not well trained nor good looking or height weight proportionate. He would hve had to fund his own Sunday School and ultimately start his own church. He would have never met the requirements of current job descriptions for pastors and staff that we find today. Even if he could have met them as Charles Spurgeon might have had a shot at them both he and Spurgeon would have been turned away by some because of their beards and others because they both weighed 350 pounds. Indeed, many of the people God has used greatly over the years would not have been able to serve in most churches today because they were not eloquent, highly trained and some would even be considered too plain or flat out ugly by current standards.
I once was being offered a position of Minister of Christian Education in a church where the pastor proudly chastised Baptists as being too legalistic. I had gone with the kids to a winter camp. I was told on the bus ride to the camp that I needed to have a short ten minute devotion every hour and preach a half hour message at lunch both Saturday and Sunday. I hate snow, but I was out playing with the kids anyway. A few days later I was asked to meet with the pastor at Burger King. He bought me lunch and praised me highly for the way I handled the weekend and wanted me to come serve on one condition. He wanted me to lose weight. I have struggled with weight most of my life even when I was in the military as I come from a long line of short, fat Germans so I knew I was “rotund”. I laughed and said something like why not bring me to a salad bar instead of Burger King if my weight concerns you. Also, for a man who despises legalism is it not odd that your bible must say, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ wieght 130 pounds and thou shalt be saved and be able to serve. I was unemployed and desperately needed the money, but I told him that I did not want my ability to serve God determined by what I weighed and my tenure determined by the scales.
Isn’t it interesting that 1 Timothy 3 and Ephesians 4 do not speak to physical attributes of those gifted for various places in the Body? Doesn’t even speak to education, eloqution or barely any of the things that are required by churches and other ministries today? Indeed, how could the Bible speak to those things when the passage we have before us indicates that the bulk of the saved would not have such backgrounds to have those qualities? Paul was well trained, but not very eloquent. He was nothing to look upon in his natural state, but being nearly blind and at some point severely scarred by stonings and scourgings it might have even been hard to look at him. How in the world did God use such a fellow? Once had a fellow tell me that a church that was asking him to come and preach asked him if he wore glasses becaue they did not want a pastor with glasses. Trying to find a place to minister can feel like Goldilocks and the three bears.
What if Moody would have accepted the criticisms of his day? He was a successful shoe salesmen. We might be still be wearing Moody shoes for your mood. Instead, he overcame all that nonsense and trusted God. There are at least 1.5 million people in Heaven that are really glad that he did! We are in a sad state of affairs and it is time to put away nonsense and seek God when we are looking for someone to minister in whatever capacity. We have to put down our business world criterias and stop looking at externals. You may be turning away the next Moody and Spurgeon. Indeed, if you caused them to stumble and fail because of your petty preferences you will have to answer for that one day. We are to encourage people to serve Christ, not shoot them dow because of some elitest concept.
My brothers, if you are called to preach/teach then get on your computer and start a blog, a website, use resources like www.sermoncentral.com, etc. Go to the jails, nursing homes, rescue missions. Knock on doors and win people to Christ. You can serve God no matter what people may say about you. That is not to say that you should not be in a church. Just because they may have some not so biblical standards for service doesn’t mean they are completely off kilter. You may be the one called to that Body to change their mind when they see what God is doing through you. There came a time when the people who called Moody, Crazy Moody, switched and called him Brother Moody.
See your calling! If you are weak, foolish and base you have three grand items on your spiritual resume. Give yourself to God and watch Him use you to confound the world and maybe even your church and denomination. You might even get a PhD as an assistant. Glory in the Lord and see what He can do through you that man said could not be done! Maranatha!
May 4, 2014
Scripture Reading: Acts 1:12-2:1-4
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
If you have been a Christian for even a short time, you know that there are plenty of opportunities for ministry. Indeed, you have either heard pleas from the pulpit for workers or had a ministry team leader ask you to consider joining their team. If you are an extrovert or introvert there is something you can do. If you are in a small church it is very easy to wear multiple hats as there is plenty to do and few people to do it. Statistically, less than twenty percent of the members do most of the work no matter what the size of your church.
A new convert can easily get in over their heads because of their love and zeal. They may not be given a leadership role to avoid laying hands on someone suddenly or to set up a novice for a fall, but busy does not require a title. There are many things to keep a Christian busy in church life to the point of trying to juggle those tasks with work, family and a hobby leaves little to no quiet time left except for sleep. Even sleep time is shortened because of the demands of “life”.
Once a new convert becomes a bit seasoned and proves to be faithful in the support functions he may then be offered some titular/leader positions. These will most likely be in addition to the other tasks as they still need to be done and no one else is jumping up to do them. It may all start out to be a joy, but because it is more than should be done by one person it turns from joy to duty to drudgery to burn out and often leaving the church.
If he tries to shed some of those duties he may get quoted Scripture about enduring to the end or reaping if we faint not or similar themes. Then he feels guilty and trudges on for a time and then the last straw comes. Too often that means leaving that church and either not going to another one for fear of getting into the same situation or guilt. He may become a church hopper leaving when someone asks him if he would like to serve in some capacity. Neither state is a good one.
I like what I read once about the early church not allowing anyone to serve until they have been saved a year. They went through a period of training and the church watched how they grew. Indeed, if a church did it right it would take a good year of Sunday School lessons to help ground a new convert in the foundations of the faith.
Rotations of leadership roles like deacon and Sunday School teachers are also a good thing. If a college professor can take a Sabbatical, why not church personnel? While I disagree with the practice of ordaining a deacon for life that doesn’t mean he has to serve on the board for life. If by ordination, you are recognizing that the man has the qualities of a deacon that is fine, but if you have enough men it would be good to rotate them off for their own good as well as the board to avoid a temptation of becoming an owner of the church or making it a place of power rather than a place of service.
Having a mix of three older men and three younger also provides a means of mentoring and preparing for the future rather than having six men in their eighties who have been on the board forty years and will remain until death or health forces them into emeritus status. Rotating also means you have many more men who have been trained and can fill in when there is an extended illness or death. Better to have more men trained than you immediately need than to not have enough and let a fellow get a baptism by fire.
We must fight the busy culture and seek to return to the era that prompted Martin Luther to say. “I have so much to do today that I must spend at least three hours in prayer.” It is doubtful that many of us may be able to have that grand privilege, though some might. Seasoned missionary, John G. Mitchell, once responded to a young missionary’s question of what should he say to the people, “Sit down at the feet of Jesus and tell the Chinese what you see.” It matters not what we are doing for ministry be it witnessing, policy making or preaching we must sit down and shut up before we can stand up and speak up.
The number one reason is we need to see Jesus! You do not know when He will speak. We are not told if this visit to Martha and Mary was a planned visit or a drop-in without notice. Of course, from Jesus’ perspective it was planned, but He may not have told them He was coming on a certain day. Indeed, we do not know the day or the hour of the Rapture, our death or the time He will come and change our lives and direction by revealing Himself and His will.
Thus we need to be available to receive Him. What if the sisters and Lazarus had been in town or vacationing somewhere? They would have missed this visit. Much like Thomas missed a visit with Jesus after the Resurrection since he was not with the other Apostles when Jesus appeared unto them. Fortunately, Jesus made sure Thomas saw Him to allay his doubts. We may have missed out on many things in our spiritual lives because Jesus, through the Holy Spirit and the Word, wanted to share what we needed at a given moment, but we were too busy to read, pray and just sit at His feet. The girls needed to be there to receive or welcome Him when He arrived or we would not have had this story.
God is omnipresent, but Elijah sought out a special place to seek God. It was where God first spoke to Moses and where the Ten Commandments were given. It was a perfect place to seek His face. Most of us cannot go back to the place we were saved or called into ministry, but we need to find a secret special place where we can closet ourselves like Elijah’s cave. We need a place where we welcome Him into our hearts when in times of earthquakes and whirlwinds. Elijah thought He would hear His voice in those demonstrations of God’s power.
God can speak that way, but He wants us to calm ourselves so He can speak to us in soft tones of love and to be focused on Him alone. That is when we get our best glimpses of Him, ourselves, His grace and His will. A child is comforted by leaning on the bosom of his mother and hearing soft whispers not harsh shouting. How much more so would our loving Father wish to speak to us in that way? At times, we sin and need a harsh admonition, but He would rather have us in His lap surrounded by His strong arms and whispering what we need to hear. He can’t do that if we do not sit down and if we don’t hear from Him what will we have to say when we stand up?
We need to sit down because we want a better reputation. Martha was known as a believer. If you would have asked anyone there that day there would have not been a doubt in their mind that Martha was a believer. They may have pointed out how busy she was trying to make Jesus’s visit as wonderful as possible. Yes Sir, she was a servant’s servant and a believer for sure.
There is nothing wrong with hard work, but many of us work so hard trying to succeed in this world that we have no time for church or personal devotions. The allure to be rich is strong and some even preach it is a divine right of Christians to live in prosperity. Yet, we read, “Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”(Proverbs 23:4 KJV) Someone’s wisdom is teaching prosperity as a right and something to seek, but it is not God in His whole book of wisdom, which includes Proverbs.
I find the cartoon where the doctor responding to his patient that says he can’t fit exercising into his schedule by saying, “Can you fit dying in?” appropriate for the life of the Spirit as well. Many Christians have no time for spiritual exercises like prayer, reading and fellowship with the saints in worship and study then wonder why their faith is weak, success is eluding them and what furtive praying they do is not answered. Their faith and spirit are flabby and weak rather than strong and vibrant as God meant it to be when we follow His prescribed exercise program.
It is great to be a believer! Salvation is wonderful, but there is so much more. You want Mary’s reputation! She was known as a disciple! Wherever Jesus was teaching she was there! She wanted to know all she could about Him and His will. She was more tuned in than even the Twelve because while they argued about His death and wanted to prevent it she accepted it as fact and as part of His will hence her anointing Him with the most expensive and fragrant ointment she had. (John 11:2) Even though the Twelve spent more time with Him she seemed to have grasped some things better than they did.
That might be because she was not as distracted as they were wondering who would be the greatest in the Kingdom and when it would come and so on. In some ways, they were also distracted by many things like Martha. We must sit down and shut up because Jesus said it was needful.
Marthas may lose it all someday as they are too distracted. Much of what they are doing, like the meal Martha was serving, may have some value, but by majoring on too many things they cannot do anything of real value for they do not have time or energy to do it. The Greek word troubled carries the connotation of distracted and tumultuous like a sea in a storm. Cumbered also means to be drawn away or distracted. So many Christians are distracted from their relationship with God by politics, jobs, hobbies, etc. They have spiritual ADD.
None of these things are intrinsically wrong for the Christian to pursue, but if they leave you too busy to sit down and listen to your Savior and get to know Him then there is a problem. Even your family can be a distraction. Kids in school want to do everything they can. Sometimes you have to be selective. If team sports keep you out of Church on Sundays and Wednesdays then maybe you need to find another activity for them. If they require transportation nearly every day of the week so that after they get home all the time they have is to do homework and go to bed and you collapse shortly thereafter something needs to be dropped.
All that stuff fades away and if they get out of high school without a solid relationship with Christ their college or career days are going to reflect their high school days and they will always be busy. You won’t have the relationship you need either and it will be hard to start even when the kids are gone because other stuff will get in the way.
Christians get distracted even in ministry. They chase after every new ism and error either to become a part of them or in an effort to mark those who cause divisions or just to be in the know. I knew one fellow that would tell me about every new error by some TV preacher and he had the greatest arguments against them. He was a polemicist par excellence, yet his own personal life was up and down. For a while he was out of church and there were some rumbles about his marriage failing. He was too distracted with the false prophets and he burned out. Last I heard he is doing much better.
Some, like Martha, become over occupied with the gifts rather than the Giver. They spend hours seeking every book, conference and whatever to enhance their gifts to get the ones they want instead of using the ones they have. Others are more concerned about the labor than the Lord. They are working their sanctified sacroiliacs off trying to please Him. Yet, because they are not spending time with Him to find out what He wants them to do they can’t have real fruit. That is like the man who cut the lawn, painted the garage, washed the car thinking he was pleasing his wife when what she wanted him to do was take her to a dinner and a show. Were all those things good things? Yes, but they were not what she wanted.
Marthas may lose it all someday because they will find that all those great and wonderful things they were doing were wood, hay and stubble. Much of it might be good works, but done with the wrong motive, done in the flesh and maybe they even hindered the person God wanted to do those things by Marthas doing them. So much good stuff, yet not what God wanted, gone up in smoke because they did not sit down and shut up first. (1 Cor 3:11-15) Ouch!!!
Sometimes we may need to take a look at our Christian life through agriculture. I read an article in the Encyclopedia Judaica. It described how the Gentiles would plant a great deal of seed and get very little fruit. The Jews however planted less seed and yet harvested far more fruit. It was the same seed and soil so the yield should have been according to the amount of seed and yet it was not. As we have seen some Christians burn the candle at both ends and do everything one body can do and get very little bang for all that buck while others may be looked upon as just not as committed because they are not on that rocket bandwagon and yet seem to produce more fruit of the Spirit and even win more souls.
Marys will have treasure forever! Because they are the ones in tune with God and doing what He wants not what some denomination, preacher or ministry analyst tells them to do. Because they knew God more intimately none of that will be lost as wood, hay and stubble when eternity comes. It will be enhanced and perfected, but not lost. Because they have that intimacy, they know what God is doing and where and they just show up to cheer Him on, but He brings them into His work to bless them. They are not madly pursuing good works they are involved because God is doing a good work in them and showing His glory through them. Their fruit will abide and their knowledge of Him perfected in that day! What more treasure can we hope for than that?
Bible College actually hindered some of that intimacy for me and at least one other student that I knew. We were there about two years and one day he asked me if I noticed that my intimacy with God decreased since we came to college. I told him I did but we could not figure why. After all, we were studying like crazy, active in a ministry at church and had daily chapel messages. We should have been growing like fairy tale bean stalks and getting so close to God it would be like the Mount of Transfiguration, yet we weren’t and it wasn’t.
I didn’t figure it out until many years later. It was because the Bible was becoming a text book, a source for sermons and the means of pointing out the sinners, hypocrites and false prophets when before it had been a love letter from home and a means to get to know God through Jesus by the mentoring of the Holy Spirit. We were doing better in our relative ignorance than we were by all our increase in knowledge.
We studied many men’s theologies and heard our professors but we were not hearing from God as well as we once did. We were too busy working up to three PT jobs, carrying a full academic load, ministering at our local church as well as many of us trying to be a husband and father. The single ones were trying become a husband and father or wife and mother. It was hard to squeeze God in all that for some of us. Maybe more of us than cared to admit.
We came to school Marys and became Marthas. We will never know how many ministries that seem to be fruitful and growing are run by Marthas who can get things done rather than by Marys that intimately know the Son until we get to the BEMA and some not until the Great White Throne where we see the folks mentioned in Matthew 7 that seemed really fruitful and yet Christ never knew them.
Who are you today? Are you a sincere Martha or a hypocrite trying hide by all your flurry of activity? Are you a sincere Mary sitting at His feet preparing for His work or using some form of piety to cover your laziness and flesh? Only you and God knows your heart.
Maybe it is time for you to enter into some blessed quietness to find out before it is too late to change. As the old song says, “Death is coming. Hell is moving.” Be sure death is the door to Heaven for you, not a passage into Hell. Saint, while death is the door to Heaven for you wouldn’t you really like to meet Him as one meets a loved one at the airport and not as an adopted son who has met his birth father for the first time? The bond of DNA is there, but there has been not intimate fellowship and love. What an awkward moment that would be? Sit down and shut up for you may be surprised what He will give you when He wants you to stand up and speak up!!! Maranatha!!!
Draw Me Nearer
In The Garden
Take Time To Be Holy
May 3, 2014
8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
I may expound more on this at another time, but Dr. Lutzer spoke to hard living on the way in this morning and used this as one of his texts. It came to me that the devil and evil men do not learn from history. The Egyptians thought they were being wise by making it hard on the Jews to try and decrease their numbers and control their growth to weaken them. It backfired. They only became stronger and multiplied. Indeed, so many cultures have tried to exterminate the Jews and they now influence the world more than ever through their academic and technological prowess.
The same has gone for the Church. Many have tried to destroy it and it still lives. Indeed, it has even suffered under the rule of false Christians “which say they are Jews, but are not.” (Rev. 2:9,3:9) Around the world today many are suffering and dying only because they are Christians. Yet, the Church in those lands are growing.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” – Tertullian.
Indeed, evil has not learned this and so they continue to become fools as they profess wisdom and seek to destroy the people God has chosen; Jews and Christians. (Romans 1:22) I believe that there will be increasing persecution of both groups and they shall grow faster than they have in the last hundred years. They will also produce a hardier stock as under the peaceful years Christians have become fat spoiled brats and are sickly and sallow. Persecution will change that. When it costs more than saying a prayer, going forward in a meeting and being dunked to be a Christian the roots will go deeper and find hidden springs and food making a stronger, more fruitful tree. No one likes persecution or suffering, but it will become the greatest evangelistic move of the century and the best thing to happen to the Western World.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Even so, come Lord Jesus! Maranatha!!