All too often, in my ministry, I minister to people who suffer from the loss of hope. Hope should be one of the most powerful, energizing and enabling resources we have in the Christian life. When one loses hope it is the inevitable consequence of losing sight of Christ and focusing instead on earthly conflicts and struggles.
Like faith and love, hope is extolled as a primary and glorious grace of the Christian life. “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Continue reading “A Glorious Hope”
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyesî (Judges 21:25). ìLet all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
You and I both have heard countless summations, questions, and explanations as to the trend toward violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and other deviant behaviors that tend to be so prevalent in our society. Frankly, I have not heard much, if anything, coming out of the secular press that approaches the truth regarding the social ills that exist today. Continue reading “Biblical Order”
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Recently, I had a man share with me that he felt that he had no purpose. More than we might realize that typifies what many people feel today. One might be very successful in terms of making a living, raising a family, having significance in the community but still feel as if his life is being wasted–having no purpose. Continue reading “Purpose”
The methods Jesus used in resolving conflicts and those taught in the Old Testament seem to be at variance. The Jewish traditions defined the resolution of conflicts in terms of equal reciprocity, i. e. an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It clearly frowned on escalating the conflict with more severe measures than was originally meted out.
Before writing this message I took a tour through the Old Testament to see if there was any form of encouragement or command requiring a person to forgive his offender. Although there were abundant references of God’s forgiveness of man, the only time forgiveness was specifically mentioned between persons was when Jacob pleaded with Joseph that he forgive his brothers. There are illustrations of forgiveness such as Esau and his apparent forgiveness of Jacob. I have had to conclude that forgiveness of others is primarily New Testament principle linked totally to and enabled by the redemptive work of the cross. Continue reading “Resolving Conflicts”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Few people who suffer from victim tendencies would like to be free, mainly because of their inability to admit to themselves that their victim-hood is ultimately destructive in their lives or that it exists. Consequently they are doomed to live out their lives without the freedom they could get from Christ or until they come to the place of realization. Continue reading “Rising Out of the Slough of Victim-hood”
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Most of us desire good and Godly things for our lives and we should. God has promised them to us. “Delight thyself also in the Lord and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4).
Why is it that when we seek the things of God and believe that God will meet the desires of our hearts that nothing seems to happen. When the heavens seem to be made of brass and God does not hear us. Has he forgotten us? Continue reading “A Faithful God with Loving Answers”
“As he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17c).
Friday of last week and on Monday of this week, I shared something of my testimony concerning my illness and the insight I gained as a consequence concerning our true identity versus an “illness identity.” After reading the message, my wife remarked that the principle I had outlined in the message regarding illness would also apply in any area of bondage. Since then I have received letters in which the writers confirmed that the truth I had shared was applicable to other needs in their lives.
Many of lifeís problems are a consequence of our losing sight of who we are. It is obvious that I am not speaking of our physical or natural identity but rather of who we are in Christ. When we are trapped in any form of bondage, it is because we have developed a concept of who we are that is in conflict with who/what the Word says that we are. This happens because of what we entertain in our though life. Continue reading “Reaffirming Our Identity”
This morning’s title is taken from an old hymn that speaks volumes to our modern generation.
Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of Kings.
By William Pierson Merrill
So much of what we do today is trivial and insignificant in comparison to the greater works that need to be done in every community in America as well as the World.
On one occasion Jesus (with his disciples) was crossing Sea of Galilee in a boat. He gave way to His tiredness or the lethargy of the moment and was sleeping while the disciples tended ship. There suddenly came up one of the storms for which the Sea of Galilee is notorious with the high waves spilling over into the ship. All hands turned to to bail out the ship. Someone, evidently thinking that Jesus ought to share the same feverish work that they were doing, yelled at Him to wake up and help with the bailing. Jesus replied by stopping the storm and in doing so, saying in so many words: “I’m not a boat bailer, I’m a storm stopper!” Continue reading “Have Done With Lesser Things”
“But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil” (Psalms 92:10 NKJ).
We should all possess a yearning for a fresh work of God. I remember the years when everything was fresh and new. It is very easy when one has been in the ministry for a number of years for things to become mundane, routine, and professional. A trap that any of us can fall into is to learn a system of ministry and/or a message and content ourselves by equating that with anointing.
When God raises up a person in obedience and anointing, his first anointing is that of a servant. It is only when one has a servant’s heart that he can be trusted with greater things. All too often, personal zealousness and ambition will assert themselves to dominate one’s priorities–ultimately causing his heart to grow cold. A person should constantly keep in mind that the word “ministry”, in the NT Greek, is better translated “servant”. A servant is one cares for the needs of others. Continue reading “Anointing With Fresh Oil”
Criticism in its most benevolent form can be demoralizing and at its extreme, totally debilitating. I don’t know of anyone who really likes to be criticized. Whether we are right or wrong in the issue involved is not the point, the point is that to be criticized tends to leave us feeling betrayed, deflated, and misunderstood.
I am perfectly aware there is helpful criticism that should be welcomed but if we are the ones being critical we should remember that even when we are right there is a right way and a wrong way to accomplish our objective. The scripture warns us that we should not let our good be evil spoken of. Many factors should be taken into consideration before we open our mouths.
- Unless the person has made himself accountable to us we have little or no right to offer criticism.
- We should not answer questions that haven’t been asked.
- We should always be aware that there may be considerations which have governed the actions or speech of others of which we may be unaware.
- Many things of which we are critical, if left alone have a way of resolving themselves.
- We could be motivated by envy or jealousy instead of concern for the welfare of the person of whom we are critical.
- We should be aware that to criticize others makes us vulnerable to criticism in return.
- Any form of criticism we offer should leave others feeling good about themselves and their self-esteem intact.
- Will Christ be honored through what we do?
If we are the recipients of criticism, we can feel completely demoralized and defeated on the one hand or we can humble ourselves and see the hand of God even in things which seem to be completely destructive. Some thoughts that might be helpful if we find ourselves the object of criticism:
- We should humble ourselves knowing that even criticism delivered with ill intent can actually be a helpful message from God. Knowing that God works all things together for good, if nothing else, it might be working a much needed humility.
- We should earnestly search to see if there is validity to the criticism and if so make the adjustments that may be required.
- Look beyond the messenger and message to see if this is a message from God. Remember, God can use a donkey to deliver a message.
- Do not surrender the control of your life to another by taking offense. We become the slave of any one who has defeated us (2 Peter 2:19b) and when we take offense at criticism we are defeated by the one who is critical. From that moment on, we will be unable to function with complete freedom without wondering if we are pleasing our detractor.
- Practice the principle of overpowering evil with good (Romans 12:21) by employing the principles detailed by Jesus in Matthew 5:44: a). Bless them that curse you. b). Do good to them that hate you. c). Pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.
- Learn to listen with love and grace.
- Forgive instantly if we feel the criticism is unkind or unjust.
I trust that these observations will be helpful in your life.