Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Encouraging Exhortation for Pastors from Pastor Chuck

Having been a pastor now for 20 years I know what it is to question myself at times, as to whether or not I am doing everything I should be doing. Am I doing enough?  Or to ask myself, am I doing it right? Its always a blessing to have a reminder that reaffirms your calling and your job description. Recently I have been teaching through the book of Acts in our fellowship,  and I listened to one of Pastor Chucks sermons on Acts 20 and I found it to be a tremendous blessing. I was reminded what my role is in the body of Christ and what I am to be doing within that role.  Below is an excerpt from his message. I hope your encouraged.~PJ

Now take heed therefore unto yourselves, and unto the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, that you feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood (Act 20:28).
And this is the charge and the responsibility that God has placed upon the ministers: to feed the flock of God. But it is so difficult to find pastors today who will really feed the flock of God. We get letters by the hundreds. People are hungry to be fed the Word of God. And so Paul said to these overseers of the church of Ephesus, "Feed the flock of God." Peter in writing his epistle said, "Feed the flock of God which is among you." Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My sheep." I don't know why pastors don't realize that this is the most important function of a pastor is to feed the flock of God. We have those who are seeking to entertain the flock of God. And then God help us, unfortunately we have those who are seeking to fleece the flock of God. But how few are really feeding the flock of God.The reason why you feed them is in that they might become strong. Because wolves are going to come in. Paul shared his concerns, "after I depart grievous wolves are going to enter in among you, not sparing the flock (Act 20:29)."
Men who would try to draw groups after themselves. There's always that. God establishes a work, and then there are always those who try and come in. Even out of your own midst, there will come those who will try to break off a group, to bring them as after themselves. Sad and tragic. Paul when he was writing to the Ephesians said that God has placed in the church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry. That's what we're here for. That you might be fed the Word of God, that you might be perfected for the work of the ministry. The building up of the body of Christ. Until we all come into the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God. Into that complete person. Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the image of Christ. That you be no more as babes who are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine and slight cunning of men who lie in wait to deceive. ~ Pastor Chuck on Acts 20:28

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rejecting Good Advice

1 Kings 12:8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.

When Solomon reigned as King over Israel the nation reached its zenith. Solomon was filled with wisdom that God gave him to lead the people. Sadly Solomon did not finish as well as he started. For all the wisdom he had received he wasn't wise enough to turn from the deadly temptations that led his heart away from God. At the death of Solomon there wasn't a question as to who would be his successor. Everyone in the Kingdom looked to Solomon's son Rehoboam to be the next king. But although Rehoboam inherited his fathers kingdom, he did not inherit his fathers wisdom. 
On the day of his coronation Rehoboam met with two different groups for council. The first group were the elders who had been with Solomon from the beginning. They had observed his strengths and weaknesses. They had taken note of what was a blessing under Solomon's reign, and also what needed to change. No doubt the council they tried to give to Rehoboam was not to lord over him, but to help him. The council they gave was that Rehoboam speak kindly to the people, be a servant to the people, care for the people. These men had insight, they had been around a lot longer than Rehoboam and they wanted to see the nation stay together. At first Rehoboam listened, and then consulted another group. The second group was some young men that had grown up with him and stood before him. A group that had been waiting alongside of Rehoboam in the wings for their opportunity. Over time, they had developed their own opinions and come to their own conclusions. They told Rehoboam to do things differently then his father. They told him to be oppressive to the people, and to place a burden on them. It's as if they were saying, "change things up, be your own man Rehoboam. What do those old timers know anyway? Those guys are withholding progress in the kingdom. You know what to do. Don't live in your fathers shadow." I imagine this was a difficult decision for Rehoboam. For in addition to the council of his young men telling him to move forward, he had the buildings Solomon had built; and the bankroll that Solomon had amassed to get things done. 
Having received council from both groups Rehoboam decided to reject the council of the elders, and went with the council of the young men. And when he stood before the people and began to put forth his vision for the nation, the people rejected it. The tribes that had been united up to this point divided. The people formerly under Solomon began to leave, and those that left took their money with them. 
As Rehoboams Kingdom continued to decline the tribe up Judah went into carnal and idolatrous practices. Also their Egyptian enemies came in and stole the treasures of the house of the Lord, and they took the gold shields that Solomon had made.  In place of the gold shields Rehoboam made bronze shields. Although they were not made of gold they would still shine, and give off the impression that everything was as stable and fortified as they had always been. Yet sadly, not everything was as it appeared to be.  
You can't help but wonder if things would have been different if Rehoboam had asked the Lord for wisdom as his father had done.
The only consolation that you can find in this sad story is in 1 Kings 12:15 "the turn of events was from the Lord, that He might fulfill His word…." In other words God was still in control, and God still had a plan. Ultimately the Lord would use this for good. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Keep it Simple

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 

The church in Corinth had many things going for it. In his first letter Paul mentioned that they were a knowledgable church. They had been "enriched in everything in all utterance and in all knowledge." (1 Cor.1) He also sited the fact that they were a gifted church. There did not appear to be one spiritual gift missing within the congregation. Corinth was also an expectant church, that is they were waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ. Yet the church also had many problems that Paul addressed in his letters written to them. Among those things that deeply concerned Paul was a change of mindset concerning the simplicity that is in Christ. There were many false teachers that had gained entrance into the pulpits of Corinth preaching a completely different message and rather than stand up to it, they caved into it. This in turn affected the church body that Paul loved sincerely. 

IN THE GARDEN: Paul saw what the Corinthians were facing and likened it to what Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden. It was in Genesis 3 that the devil came in the form of a serpent and began to question and contradict the clear commands of the Word of God. Eve listened to the lies of the enemy, and the devil took advantage of her unsuspecting mind and turned her heart away from the Lord. The bible says in Genesis 3:6 "So when the woman saw that the tree was GOOD for food, that is was PLEASANT to the eyes, and DESIRABLE to make one wise, she took its fruit and ate. She also gave it to her husband with her and he ate." It is hard to imagine that something referred to as GOOD, PLEASANT, and DESIRABLE would be wrong to partake of. It would be easy to justify giving in based on that description. Nevertheless God had already said that tree was off limits. He had warned them before the encounter with the serpent that they were to stay away from it regardless of how tempting it may appear. 

SIMPLICITY: The Corinthians were listening to things that Paul feared were "corrupting their minds". The Word corrupt means to be led away from the state of knowledge and holiness in which one ought to abide. And when Paul used the word SIMPLICITY it meant: sincerity of mind toward Christ as opposed to false wisdom in matters pertaining to Christianity. 

There are many applications that one could make from this passage. When I read it recently it reminded me of how easy it is to get away from the simplicity of just knowing Jesus and loving Jesus. Also it reminded me of ministry. How we can easily begin to convolute what our calling is. Things can get quickly cluttered in a labyrinth of good, pleasant, and even desirable things that could make you wise.   But there are certain things that don't change, THE WORD OF GOD, the SPIRIT OF GOD, the LOVE OF GOD, DISCIPLESHIP, Evangelism, the Great Commission.. etc…
As I go into a New Year I don't ever want to loose that sense of simplicity that is in Christ. Knowing Him, loving Him, serving Him, growing in Him, being found in Him, and finding my treasure and hope in Him..

Keep it Simple, get back to basics..