What do you want to achieve through your ministry in serving the Lord? Our Saviour said to the Scribes and Pharisees:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are” (Matt. 23:15).
This is a sobering warning for all who seek to serve the Lord in seeing people converted to Christ and becoming vibrant disciples of Him. Is it not the case that we, in such a ministry are seeking to win converts? The scribes and Pharisees were also convert-seekers, but their ministry was to attract followers to themselves and trap them within their religion.
What is our motivation in dealing with people? We must continually be checking ourselves as regards to what we are about. We need to be John the Baptist-type people who really point people to Christ. Read these scriptures which sum up something of the character of John’s ministry.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36)
And of the Lord, he said: “He must become greater” (John 3:30)
(Originally Published at Venabling on the 18th November 2013).
“Church making is heart-breaking; Church mending is never-ending”. So said R.C Chapman the “apostle of love” who in the nineteenth century was based in Barnstaple in Devon. The phrase expresses the heart of a true pastor-shepherd of the flock of God. If there is no care there will be no heart longing for the people of God. And if you have no heart longing then you will not experience the heart-break. Moreover, if there is no care then you are disqualified from being a shepherd of God’s flock.
And as we think of this theme do we not enter into the experience of the Great Shepherd, our Lord Jesus? He is the eternally caring One who ever yearns for the well-being of His church. He did everything to bring salvation to His flock and now he works to perfect His people for His glory.
(Originally published at Venabling on 21st March 2014).
I have listened to this more than one and the blessing continues. If you are a shepherd I think it is well worth your time.
We tend to view the goodness of God in a very earthly way. So if we have good health and pleasant circumstances that leads us to be thanking God for such great gifts. Most definitely it is good to thank the Lord for all his gifts. However, the Scriptures paint rather a different picture of what blessings should be focussed up by ourselves.. It is the spiritual blessings from the Lord that are seen to be the big blessings. And, dare I say, the biggest blessings are those things from the Lord which come into our lives so that we can bring glory and honour to the Lord. The greatest privilege we have is to bring before the Lord the glory of Christ. In doing that the Lord is most pleased. Anything that comes into our lives which leads to us glorifying Christ is a big blessing.
Interestingly, Joel writes of the Lord’s desire that His people return to Him as follows in Joel 2:12-14:
‘Even now,’ declares the Lord,
‘return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing –
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
The providing of offerings for His people by the Lord is seen as His biggest blessing here. These offerings speak of everything about who our Lord Jesus is and what he has done. The offerings were all fulfilled in Christ.
The biggest blessing we can have in our life is, to have revealed to us, that which is of our Lord Jesus Christ. We then process all the goodness of God in Christ through our beings so as to present before the Lord that which is of Christ. There is nothing bigger than this.
Some homes are full of punishments and as a result they are also full of disgruntlements. What I am referring to here is the issue of withdrawing privileges and the imposing of sanctions upon children. They are not allowed on computer, not allowed to have any pudding after their meal, not allowed to play in the garden. All of these are sources of grievance. Things that lead to a desire for vengeance.
Let me be clear I am in favour of appropriate punishments to be meted out in response to bad behaviour by children. The parents have a clear responsibility to do this. However, the means that God sets for the undertaking of such disciplinary activity is the rod. So we read in proverbs:-
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them (Prov. 13:24)
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away. (Prov. 22:15)
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die (Prov. 23:13)
In administering the rod it should be made clear to the child why they are being disciplined. The smacking with the rod, inflicts the punishment which they know is due to their wrongdoing. The child is then hugged and prayed for and life moves forward. Nothing is left around the home to fester.
Although “the rod” does not always have to be used, any alternative discipline that is used should follow this pattern. So the speaking to the child should be along these lines. The child is spoken to, the matter dealt with and life moves on. Order and harmony are restored in the house.
Disciplining by withdrawing privileges (and all that kind of thing) just leaves stuff hanging around which mars the harmony of the family.
I am not saying here that there are not times when a privilege can be withdrawn, but be careful of allowing them to become festering sores which mar family life.
Christians should be seen as being a little bit crazy by this world. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:13 If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. The context of the surrounding passage is that of Paul as an ambassador of the Lord seeking to persuade men. He is persuading them about the eternal realities of how salvation has been brought from another world. As a result some are saying he is a little bit crazy.
This very much strikes a chord as regards to our present age. At this time there is something of a conspiracy of silence as regards to speaking about salvation and eternity. To break into this silence and challenge people about their lives in the light of eternity and of a Saviour coming into the world, is seen as somewhat crazy.
Behind all this and motivating Paul was the conviction that there is more to life than life in this world. He lived for another world and for another Master. Christians are people who are living for another age. Paul says this in Galatians:6:14-15: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.
Paul had finished with this world when he came to Christ at the cross. He is now living as part of the new creation. And that is crazy according to this world.
I am not countenancing here the delight of some Christians just to be odd and thereby to think that they are really living for Christ. I am rather considering those who are deemed crazy because they do not live according to the way of this world.
So would people say I am a little bit crazy.
In Song of Solomon 5:9 the friends come and ask the Shulamite girl:
How is your beloved better than others,
most beautiful of women?
How is your beloved better than others,
that you so charge us?
To which she replies most wonderfully in vv:10-16
My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.
His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels.
His cheeks are like beds of spice
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh.
His arms are rods of gold
set with topaz.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with lapis lazuli.
His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars.
His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.
From head to toe and without hesitation she describes him. How can she do this? She does so because he is her beloved. Her heart is set upon him. She has observed him; she has spent time with him. She has observed his features. He is in the forefront of her mind. She has no need to fumble around for historic information in the recesses of her mind. Not at all! Day by day her meditation is on him.
So how is it concerning the One who is my beloved? The One who has won my heart through His grace. How much am I thinking and pondering upon my Lord Jesus? How much am I considering Him in all of His wondrous beauty? Could I similarly respond when asked about my Lord and Saviour? Would it come out straight away that there is beauty in His being from head to toe? Is He filling my mind?
So let me be soaked in the Scriptures. Let the descriptions of Him be my meditations. How about starting with Revelation 1:12-16
I turned round to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash round his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.