Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Imitation

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray." - Galatians 2:11-13
It has been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. There were times that I wanted to be just like my father and there have been times that my sons have wanted to be like me. From time to time, we are all influenced enough to imitate someone. But do we ever consider that we too are influencing others to the point of imitation? If we are imitated, are we leading others astray or into truth?
Paul was led to rebuke Peter to his face for hypocrisy. Peter's conduct was confusing and inconsistent with Biblical truth. While his personal practice was disturbing enough, the fact that others followed his lead was even worse. Peter's fear of men led him into error, followed by other Jews, and finally Barnabas. By imitating Peter, many were being led astray.
It doesn't really matter who we are, other people imitate us. There will always be someone who looks up to you and is influenced by your life. When you walk with the Lord and live a godly life, this can be a good thing. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Be a consistent and godly example to imitate my friend, for as you follow Christ, you will lead others into all truth.

Think about this: "The world takes its notions of God from the people who say they belong to God's family."
                                                       - Alexander Maclaren

Monday, September 29, 2014

Who do you serve?

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10
The Sunday that I was being considered for the role as pastor at my first church, a young believer asked this question: "Do you serve God, or man?" The Next year Bob Dylan wrote the song "Gotta Serve Somebody". The issue is thought provoking and life directing. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters"
Paul faced quite a dilemma with the churches in Galatia. The believers had initially trusted in the finished work of Christ for their salvation, but now there were false teachers that sought their allegiance. These teachers were winsome and convincing, teaching a works salvation. They were seeking the approval of their own circle of peers and were determined to increase their followers. Paul sought the approval of the Lord alone and was simply saying, "No one can serve two masters"
There is no safer path than the one that follows the Lord alone. Do you seek the Lord's approval in every decision you make? Is His will the most important thing in your life? Serve the Lord and you will never go astray. Remember, "No one can serve two masters"

Think about this: "We put one foot on God's side and one on the side of human reasoning; then God widens the space until we either drop down in between or jump on to one side or the other."
                  - Oswald Chambers

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fluff

"I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing." -- 2 Corinthians 12:11
We live in a day when a smooth talker, pretty face and a winsome smile can win the public in a heartbeat. Political offices, leadership roles and other prestigious positions will often be awarded to those who may lack the heart and skill, but look and sound good. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.
I speak today for my fellow pastors who have heart and skill to feed their flocks. But Sunday in and Sunday out the congregation reminds them of how great the "super-preachers" were that week. They will often compare my dear brothers with those that tell better stories and funnier jokes in the pulpit. There are hundreds of faithful, loving and passionate pastors across this land that should be heard with open hearts and commended with grateful words. These are the men who feed your souls. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.
October has been highlighted as "Pastor Appreciation" month for a number of years. For myself, my church family appreciates me every month and I am blessed beyond belief, but what about you my friend? When was the last time you told your pastor how much you appreciated his messages and his care for you and your family? Unlike the "super-preachers", your pastor prays for you in the night and prepares his sermons with you on his heart. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

Think about this: "The life-giving preacher is a man of God, whose heart is ever athirst for God, whose soul is following hard after God, whose eye is single to God, and in whom by the power of God's Spirit the flesh and the world have been crucified; his ministry is like the generous flood of a life-giving river. Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul."
- Edward McKendree Bounds

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Masquerade

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." -- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
It's will soon be the time of year when children and even adults will "masquerade" as someone other than themselves. They dress in costumes for fun and entertainment, but there are those who regularly change their identity for evil purposes. Some wear masks to rob banks and others change names and appearances to deceive people out of money. The "masquerade" eventually leads to their condemnation.
In the spiritual life there are many who seek to lead others astray for personal gain. They talk the talk and appear to be true believers, but in fact they are simply false apostles. They preach and teach another Jesus than the Lord of the Bible. Paul wrote with great concern for his spiritual children, that they would not be deceived like Eve had been in the garden. Remember, if someone's righteousness is only a "masquerade", it will only lead to condemnation.
Costume parties may be fun for the moment, but we eventually need to take off our masks and embrace the truth. Be careful of those who are not the real deal and strive to lead you down the wrong path. Be discerning when listening to the teaching of others and settle for nothing short of the God of the Bible. Any other God is a "masquerade" and will only lead to condemnation.

Think about this: "A man can be outwardly conformed to the Christian way of life while he is inwardly conformed to the spirit of this world."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fame

"But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. "For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." -- 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
The lyrics to the Broadway song "Fame" include the following: “… I'm gonna make it to heaven, Light up the sky like a flame, Fame … I'm gonna live forever, Baby remember my name, RememberRemember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember my name” It's a catchy tune as well as a catchy concept. Many people live their whole life for "Fame".
A lot of people believe that living forever is being remembered for becoming someone famous. They commend themselves so often that they become legends in their own minds. But, Paul makes it clear that true "Fame" is only found in the Lord's approval. The lyrics of "The Famous One" written by Chris Tomlin are far more Biblical and true; “You are the Lord, The famous one, Famous one, Great is your name, In all the earth, The heavens declare, You're glorious, glorious, Great is your fame Beyond the earth” Wisdom says that we should live our whole life for God's "Fame".
Are you boasting in yourself or the Lord? Do you live for your own "Fame" or the "Fame" of God? The point is that the Lord is already the "Famous One". So, as you pursue "Fame" in your daily activities, let it be His "Fame"... not yours.

Think about this: "Seeking to perpetuate one's name on earth is like writing on the sand by the seashore; to be perpetual it must be written on eternal shores."
- Dwight Lyman Moody

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Be a blessing

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." -- 2 Corinthians 9:8 
We collect lighthouses. One lighthouse in our collection sits outside with a working light that shines in the dark. It has a little solar chip that soaks in sun rays all day and then lights up all evening. The sun rays are free and abundant, providing the blessing of continuous illumination. God's sunlight is a gift that just keeps on giving.
In the same way God provides for the needs of his children in abundance. His grace abounds, so that in all things at all times, we have all that we need. The Lord blesses us this way so we will abound in every good work. In other words, the light of God's grace is free and abundant, providing continuous blessing. His grace is a gift that just keeps on giving.
Have your daily needs been recently met by God's abundant grace? Is there food in the cupboard and gas in the car? Are your bills paid up to date and a little left over? Then God's grace has provided all that you need and enabled you be a blessing to others. Remember, God's grace is a gift that just keeps on giving. So let your light shine and be a blessing to someone today!
   
Think about this: "When we let go of money we are letting go of part of ourselves and part of our security. But this is precisely why it is important to do it. It is one way to obey Jesus' command to deny ourselves .... When we give money we are releasing a little more of our egocentric selves and a little more of our false security .... Giving frees us to care. It produces an air of expectancy as we anticipate what God will lead us to give. It makes life with God an adventure in the world, and that is worth living for and giving for."
                                                                                                            - Richard Foster

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Selfless giving

"For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." -- 2 Corinthians 8:3-5
Time and again catastrophes occur and financial help is desperately needed. Money is quite often raised through concerts and similar fundraisers. People are touched by the needs of others, but they still need to be motivated to give. Part of such motivation involves providing the donor with some personal benefit from their donation. Selfless giving is a rare commodity.
Paul noted a very significant quality in the churches of Macedonia. These believers were motivated to give toward the needs of others without receiving personal benefits. Why, you may ask; because they made the choice to give themselves first to the Lord. As a result of such spiritual devotion they pleaded for the privilege to share in helping others in need. When the heart is given to the Lord first, selfless giving is never rare.
Do you struggle when asked to give to the needs of ministry and compassionate care for the hurting? Are you one of those who need to be motivated? Or have you given yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord and consider it a tremendous privilege to share in the ministry of giving? Once you've given yourself to the Lord, the privilege of giving is no longer rare, it becomes an exciting opportunity.

Think about this: Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a LIFE by what we GIVE."