September 24th, 2017
Are You Pursuing a New Ministry Goal?
It can be quite a emotional and spiritual process to ponder a new ministry goal, especially when its something that could really change your life. Are you thinking about going into missions? Are you considered launching a whole new ministry at your church? Is there a ministry opportunity that others are doing that you would like join, but are not sure if you should? Here are 7 points to consider to help you make that important decision.
1. Let us remember that God is not anxious about what you are trying to pursue, so you shouldn't be either. As the Scriptures tell us, "Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication let your requests be known to God." Have a passionate conversation about your ministry pursuit with God. You might be surprised how effective it is to bring you closer to not only knowing God more, but also know what His will is for you.
2. Do you have a passion to do something? Time will tell weeks or even months later if that passion is shortlived or sustained by God. If your passion dies out for your pursuit, don't be discouraged, be glad that you were patient enough to find out before you made a costly decision in haste.
3. You should realize that there are literally millons of worthy ministry goals to pursue. So be thoughtful and consider the fruit of any venture. Will it bring others closer to knowing Christ? Will this glorify our Father in heaven? Does it line up with my own spiritual gifts?
4. Are you both really gifted and truly passionate in the area of your pursuit? If so, there is a good possibility that you are actually 'called' to that pursuit by God. So it is well worth exploring and taking risks for, because there are real reasons why God has you spiritually wired in that way.
5. You should also remember that any worthy ministry pursuit is sure to challenge you to the core. Just because you are called to a ministry, does not mean it isn't without difficulty or suffering. But if you truly have a God given passion for something, that passion will carry you through the hard times. That kind of passion is generated by the Holy Spirit.
6. Make sure that whatever ministry pursuit you seek, that you make it all about Jesus and His gospel of grace. Ministry is not worthy of Christ that does not elevate Him. Have a real heart to heart talk with God about your real motives for pursuing a particular ministry goal.
7. Be willing to seek the counsel of some well seasoned believers who know you well. Perhaps they will either confirm your desire because they see the proper gifts in you to accomplish your goal or they will give you gentle caution to wait on the Lord until there is more confirmation. Don't take their counsel too personally. Be thankful that they can give you some words of wisdom to make sure you are headed in the right direction. The humble heart will listen even when its difficult to do so.
August 25th, 2017
Whom Do You Seek Approval or Praise From?
Have you ever desired praise or affirmation from others? I am sure all of us have. Sometimes we are insecure of our position. But have you ever noticed that even the famous people of this world will eventually become common or not very famous?
Even Pewee Herman and Max Headroom had their days of fame; but there are even some of you who do not even know who these people. Sometimes many famous people are hanging their entire self-worth or calling in life based on how others perceived them. What a sad thing to have our sense of self-worth attached to how others praised us or did not praise us.
But it could be equally detrimental to use yourself as the standard of what is the best. But shouldn’t we all use Christ as the focus or standard of what to strive for? When we use our self as the standard we are not very objective and not being very wise. Take a look at these passages in 2 Corinthians, which has something to say about this matter.
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
2 Corinthians 10:18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
We should first and foremost seek the approval of God, not men. He is our Master and Lord; not others. What are the pitfalls of looking for the approval of man? Many times you will end up giving into whatever others love rather than what the Lord loves; just so that you will feel approval. Everyone wants to be liked; but at what cost? How many people give into peer pressure only to be left empty and wondering why they went along with other peoples whim’s; when it more than sufficient to seek be simply faithful to God and His standards.
What about Pastors or Leaders in a church? What happens when the Pastor is faced with seeking to be liked by the congregation instead of simply teaching the Word of God with faithfulness? What would happen if a parent raised their child that way? If we truly seek to be approved and commended by the Lord we will be able to be faithful to the teaching of the Word which is actually of great benefit to the body of Christ, to our community and to ourselves. "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31
August 10th, 2017
Machines Who are Made in Gods Image
I didn't think this would have to be addressed years from now, but I was wrong. Nearly 20 years ago I thought about the possibility of robots being made more realistic, more like us, human and the consequences that would follow.
My view at the time and still is, that to the degree that the robot is like us, we should treat that robot with respect. Now many of you Star Trek fans will remember the episode "The Measure of a Man" on Star Trek Next Generation in which Star Fleet is determining if Data, an android has any rights at all, beyond being Pinocchio or an advanced toaster.
April 19th, 2017
1 John 2:6 "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."
…. it says that if we say that we abide in Him we should walk in the same way Jesus walked. How did Jesus walk? We will know how Jesus walked by truly considering what He said and did among the people in the gospels. This is why it is so important to let the words of Christ sink into your hearts and minds. Consider what He taught in such a manner as to not just admire it, but imitate it in everyway, to live in His teachings.
We see this in some young people who begin to admire a particular rock musician by not only buying their music with every last dollar, but they listen carefully to the music to see what the musician believes and feels and values. This person might even try to dress and act like the musician, get their posters and elevate their particular rock star to a status of being everything to them. Even to the point that they are willing to lose anyone in their life who will take them away from their devotion to their rock star, including their friends or parents.
This is actually a fairly good description of what should happen to a new believer in Christ when we are told that we who believe that we abide in Him should walk just as He walked.
ColossiansLet the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
April 6th, 2017
February 28th, 2017
February 13th, 2017
February 7th, 2017
What does real love look like? Look at Jesus!
John 15:12-13 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."
We see in verse 12 that Jesus gives us one of His commandments. Notice that the beneficiary of this commandment is not Christ, but others. We are also instructed to follow the example of Christ’s own love towards them. Christ defines the greatest kind of love is that which gives up one’s life for His friends. In verse 13 Jesus not only sets the standard for what His love is like, He is also revealing the reality of that love when in the near future He will die on a cross for them and for the whole world.
But what does this love towards others look like when we consider His sacrifice? Perhaps His sacrifice is a template for the love we should have for each other. What do we notice about Christ giving up His life for us?Jesus willingly gave up His life because He knew of the eternal benefit His death would have for so many. Isn’t this something we should consider when we die to ourselves in service to others?
Jesus was motivated by loving others and putting them before His own needs. As He said, “for the Son of Man came to serve and give His life a ransom.” This is something that we will constantly be challenged in our love for others in putting others first, looking to their needs. This is an ongoing challenge for all of us!!
Jesus even did an eternal good for others who will never accept the gift and in fact, will reject it. Doesn’t this mean that we should do good to others even if we will not receive thanks or do not see a possible return for our efforts on behalf of others?
Jesus left everything behind that was glorious in heaven for us. This speaks of the kind of love that is willing to leave everything behind so that others will be saved. Jesus was more occupied with saving the thief on the cross, than being occupied with His own suffering; which was horrible. This should challenge us to put our focus on the lost more than on what we feel we are sacrificing for God in our service of Him. Jesus’ words of “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” should be a challenge to love others and forgive them. If Christ could utter these words of those who were nailing Him to a cross, we can offer this kind of gracious response to those who hurt us a great deal.
I think I could go on about more examples of what Christ’s sacrifice means to us in our own lives on a practical level, but I think you have some better ideas where I am going with this. We should lay down our lives for one another for this is the kind of love that Jesus wants us to live out. This will be the most beneficial love that we can express for others.
Hebrews 12:2 "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
January 12th, 2017
Here is a portion of my sermon today regarding the question about discerning new teachings, doctrines or spiritual experiences.
Acts 4:7 "And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”"
The rulers and elders own inquiry demanded to know by what power or by what name Peter has healed this man who was lame from birth. It’s actually a good question, a very good question. If anyone makes a theological assertion, performs a miracle or even makes an outrageous assertion regarding someone being raised from the dead, it should be questioned. The Bible even instructs us to use discernment regarding those things that are miraculous or what might appear to be a new teaching or doctrine.
1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
The sad thing about the rulers and elders of Israel is that they simply reacted against the words of Peter, rather than testing them to see if what he was saying was true. How do we test those spiritual things that people believe to be from God? I have listed 7 things that I believe are good for the discernment of doctrines and practices that some might promote or teach.
1. Probably the easiest way is to search the Scriptures to see if something that someone says or practices in the name of God is truly something that is godly. After all, God will not promote something that is evil or sinful.
Titus 1.1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness.
1 Timothy 6:3-4 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.
2. Also use the Scriptures to see if God actually commands us to do the very thing that the person proposes as being from God.
3. Or use the Scriptures to test if what is being practiced or believed is actually condemned in the Word of God.
1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.
Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. 6 Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
Deuteronomy 12:32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
The Word of God should not be far from what we teach or practice. This is known as ‘sola scripture’ which means “scripture alone”. It should be noted that there were even many early church Fathers who subscribed to the idea of ‘sola scriptura’. In other words, the Scriptures alone were authoritative in Christian doctrine and practice. Anything beyond this is subject to question.
4. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment in the matter. You can know, if what you are sensing in the Spirit is true by the fact that it doesn’t contradict the Word of God. It also conforms to the wisdom from above as stated in James 3:17.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
1 John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
1 Corinthians 2:13-15 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
5. Test the fruit of what is being proposed or believed. Jesus said you would know them by their fruit. We know that if God is exhorting us to consider a teaching or doctrine that it will conform to the what we know to be the fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
6. Is the proposed belief simply based on a personal experience or by the Word of God? Personal experience can be deceptive in discerning the things of God. Feelings can seem to be quite right and experiences seem real, but do they conform to the Word of God?
7. As far as the miraculous, on a practical note, do your own investigation to see if what the person believes actually happened. This is what these rulers and elders should have done as the resurrection of the dead was already known in the Old Testament.