Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The minister's REAL job...

Although I spent many years as a pastor, I don't usually write about "pastor stuff" in this blog.  I typically write general material, applicable to everyone.  However, this IS applicable to everyone.
(Matthew 24:44-51, NASB)
44 "...you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
45 "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?
46 "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
47 "Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
48 "But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,'
49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;
50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,
51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


This is an amazing set of verses, and especially so since the translations seem to miss one of the major points:
We (ministers, and everyone else who is responsible for the care of other people) will be judged by how we took care of our "fellow slaves." This is an immense responsibility.
On the one hand, Jesus discusses the "faithful and sensible slave" (sensible is "phronimos," someone who uses his head), and notes that the Master puts him in charge of his "household."  The meaning is, "household servants." So the real point of the parable is not just how we "did the Master's business," but how we cared for our fellow-householders, the people committed to our care.
This has a strong bearing on both the minister and his people.  If you are in a church, house ministry, Bible study, or whatever, where there is love and care, and that love and care flows from the leader, then you are truly blessed.
On the other hand, if you are in a ministry where the minister uses you and abuses his office, that minister is cursed. He is a "bad guy,"  no matter what his station or prominence is.
This puts the concept of ministry in a completely new light.  Essentially, there are always two kinds of ministers:
One who cares for the people,
And
One who uses the people.
So there are really two kinds of questions here:
1. Who am I? (If I'm in the ministry)
2. What are the people who minister to me like? How do they treat me as a parishioner, attendee, member of a small group, etc?
If you are in the ministry, you need to digest these words with care, whatever the size of your ministry.
If you are a parishioner, member of a small group, member of a larger group, whatever, Jesus has given you an effective way to see through phony people.
Does he care for you?
Or
Does he use you?
What does he do with the money? Does he use his position with the ministry to do good, or to do evil? Does he abuse his fellow slaves (note how Jesus categorizes ministers--a slave temporarily given charge of other slaves).
And if you are in the ministry, beware. When Jesus does return, you definitely don't want to be found "eating and drinking with the drunken," and treating your fellow servants badly. Terrible things will happen to you.
Jesus said, "What I say to you, I say to all: WATCH." Be ready. Do I know when Jesus is returning? Of course not.  Neither do you.  So the wisest course of action is to be ready. Always.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sin is crouching at the door...

In one of the most famous Old Testament passages of all time, the LORD says to Cain, "...Sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it..." (Genesis 4:7, NASB). The picture is stark.  Sin is like a wolf, or a tiger, or a huge bear, waiting to pounce, waiting to destroy.  You have to go outside.  There will be a battle.  It will be to the death.  Who will win?
That's how sin is represented--as a powerful top predator (note also 1 Peter: "[the devil] roams about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
We are just men and women, with no huge jaws and teeth, no giant paws and claws. How can we win?
The message is simple.  We have powers that no spiritual predator has:
First, assuming that we're watchful, there's always warning.  Cain had warning.  the LORD Himself warned Cain. In doing that, He set in stone for all time the fact that sin is always "crouching at the door," waiting... And so He warns us.  Sin waits.  But if you are watchful, you'll be in time to resist.
Second,  RESIST.  You cannot win if you do not fight.  you may wind up bloodied and hurt from the battle, but that's the nature of war.  You get hurt. However, it's like the man in the old myth, who grew stronger each time his adversary threw him to the ground. Every time you fight, you get stronger.  Every time you resist, you win.  Satan will say to you, "You cannot win, I am too powerful for you." And so it is. He is the mightiest of the fallen angels, and certainly mightier than you.  But he's wrong about not winning, because...
Third, you have the Lord.  "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world..." When you resist, you win.  When you fight back, you are the victor,  because even though you feel weak, you are mighty in Him. When you fail, there's another opportunity, because forgiveness is yours, and because your life is in Him. Satan is stronger than you, but he's not stronger than the Almighty, who is with you and in you.
Resist. Fight. Don't give up.
You may lose a battle, but as it is written, the righteous falls seven times, and arises again.  It's in getting back up, in resisting, in fighting UNTIL you win, that victory comes.
Never give up. Always resist. Always get up if you're defeated. Always.