Friday, October 31, 2014

Keeping On Course

"Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth." - 1 Timothy 3:14-15 
Rules, rules, rules... growing up was so hard to do, with all the rules. "Don't run with scissors", "No cookies before dinner", "Wash behind your ears", "Call if you're going to be late" and the so the rules went on forever. What a relief to leave home so we could leave the rules behind. But then we found new rules at college, in the military or at the work place. Why so many rules? ... They keep us on course.
Paul was concerned and burdened for "God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth". He knew that certain rules of conduct were necessary for the health and effectiveness of God's household. Paul wasn't into legalism; he just wanted the church to be a spiritually strong foundation of the truth. Why so many rules? ... They keep us on course.
There is no home, business, school or army that can run smoothly or be "all that it can be" without rules. You may run from rules or fight against rules, but they are there for a purpose. Your church and its leadership are bound by the rules of Scripture to be a strong foundation of the truth. Don't fight it or keep asking "Why so many rules?"... They keep us on course!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lift them Up!

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." - 1 Timothy 2:1-2
Some historic trivia allege that President James Buchanan was so disliked by some that his picture was stamped on the bottom of hotel chamber pots. Criticism for our presidents has been a national pass time for generations. But when did disrespect for the presidential office ever bring change to the nation? Though we may disagree with our leaders, we must choose to tear them down with criticism or lift them up in prayer.
Paul lived at a time when the Caesars ruled the world as gods. They demanded worship, but their moral and social depravity was legendary. Yet, Paul called for prayer and thanksgiving for "kings and all those in authority" without exception. While others tore the Caesars down with criticism, Paul chose to lift them up in prayer. 
We can listen to any number of political commentators today that find unending fault with our national and local leadership. The more we listen to them the more unsettled we become and nothing is changed. Yet, there is a choice for change... you can spend quality time tearing your leaders down with criticism or you can lift them up in prayer.
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A CALL TO PRAYER


Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray—to really pray. Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight—all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ‘concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.


                                                                                      - Robert E. Lee

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Only God

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Timothy 1:15-17 
We live in a world that focuses on self-image to a fault. You can subscribe to such magazines as "Self", "All You", "Ego" or "Me" and learn how to be the center of your universe. In this world there is no place for "sinners" or people in need of mercy. In an age of "me, me, me", there is no place for someone else to be the King eternal... the only God.
Paul was more productive in his lifetime than any CEO could ever hope. He was a highly successful leader, writer and motivator. But when Paul looked in the mirror he only saw the worst of sinners who received mercy. It could be that God chose to use this man because he had a realistic view of himself and his Lord. In humility, Paul worshiped and served the King eternal..the only God.
Have you figured out what hinders your spiritual growth the most? As you begin each day, do you freshly establish this fact: There is a God... and you're NOT him? Are you willing to face each day recognizing that you are a sinner, saved by grace and living under the merciful care of the Lord? God uses humble people who depend on him. Believers grow to unbelievable heights when they worship and serve the King eternal... the only God. 
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A VERSE TO PONDER

 "For this is what the high and lofty One says— 
he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 
“I live in a high and holy place, 
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, 
to revive the spirit of the lowly 
and to revive the heart of the contrite."

Isaiah 57:15

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The fifth wheel

"Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith." - 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
I once had a very nice office chair. It rolled on five wheels and moved whenever and wherever I desired. Over time one of the wheels broke into a million pieces. For a while I replaced it with a tennis ball... but that didn't do the job. The whole chair lost its value and effectiveness because one wheel was gone. I needed five wheels, not just four.
Ministry is a lot like that chair. We can be well prepared with all the training and skill available, but without the fifth wheel of prayer, we won't roll. Paul was a premier missionary with a stellar record of conversions and successful church plants. He was thoroughly studied in the Scriptures and could stand toe to toe with any philosopher of his day. Yet, to keep rolling, he needed "fifth wheel" people who would pray for his ministry.
Your pastors and missionaries have been called of God, academically prepared, and chock full of experience. But they will never roll for God on a tennis ball. They need the fifth wheel of prayer. My friend, you can be, and need to be that wheel. "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored".

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lighthouses

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter." - 2 Thessalonians 2:15 
We collect lighthouses. We visit them while on vacation and regularly add to our collection of miniatures and pictures. Lighthouses remind us of being a light in the darkness and a guide to wayward. They are those great stone edifices that stand firm in the storms and send forth the light that saves from a watery grave. God also places lighthouses on the shores of this world to save souls from eternal damnation.
Paul writes of coming days of increasing evil and tribulation. He assures believers of their deliverance from this time, but until those days arrive he calls us to stand firm and hold to the teachings passed down to us. The winds of time may bring change, but the truth remains the same: Those who refuse to love the truth will perish, and those believe the truth will live eternally. As we spread the light of this truth, we are God's lighthouses.
There is no lighthouse of worth that doesn't stand firm in the midst of the storm. The lighthouse serves the mariner with the same purpose today as it did hundreds of years ago: it gives light to show the way to safety. Stand firm my friend, hold to the teachings passed down to you and be the lighthouse that God called you to be.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Personal

"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." -  2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
It's that time of the year when people begin shopping for Christmas gifts. As usual, there will be various gifts that need to be returned for exchange. They will be returned for another size, color or style. Some may even be returned because they just aren't needed. Gifts are best when they meet personal desires and needs.
Prayers are much the same as gifts. There are those prayers that seem to be an unending list of unspecified thoughts repeated with very little personal content. Paul prayed in view of his prophetic insight for the Thessalonians. He touched their spiritual needs and spoke about "every act prompted by your faith". His prayers were always personal and spiritually focused for the greatest growth and God's glory.
May I encourage you today to look carefully at this prayer and all of Paul's prayers for the churches? Learn from these prayers how to pray personally, powerfully and precisely. Move your requests for spiritual growth and success to the forefront and focus on each person's desires and needs. Check the registry before you pray.

PAUL'S PRAYERS: Romans 15:5-7; 16:25-27; 1 Cor. 1:4-7; Eph. 1:15-20; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:8-10; Col. 1:9-12; 1 Thess. 3:11-13; 2 Thess.1:11-12; 2:16-17; Philemon 4-6.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

E.G.R.

"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." - 1 Thessalonians 5:14
As every snow flake is different, so each one of God's children is different. We are different in many ways and our spiritual journeys differ in both speed and level of maturity. A lesson I had to learn early in my ministry was this: everyone is at a different place in their walk with God and I need to be attentive to this fact. I need to be sensitive to their diversity and be kind.
Paul urged the Thessalonians to warn, encourage, help and be patient. Some brothers were idle, some were timid, some were weak and some just needed patience. I recently heard someone use the term "E.G.R. people" (Extra Grace Required people) for those who had special spiritual needs. Showing the love of Jesus is needed by everyone, but especially by "E.G.R. people". Be sensitive to their diversity and be kind.
Who are the believers that live in your circle of ministry? Are they all up to speed spiritually? Or do you find many of them are still struggling in their stability and growth? Be a good brother or sister and be patient and kind to your "E.G.R. people.