How do you enjoy life? We enjoy life when we please our Maker who is the living God.
How do we know what please Him? We know what pleases Him through His law. His law tells us what he loves and hates.
So when we follow His law we are on the way into enjoying life.
God’s law is condensed into two core commandments by our Lord Jesus as follows in Matthew 22:37-39:
‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
So stop now for five minutes and before God consider:
- How can love God with all my heart soul and mind? Perhaps that means responding to God with thankfulness for some blessing from God or dwelling upon some beautiful characteristic of the Lord.
- How can I love my naighbour? That might lead you to thank about a kindness you can do, or a thankfulness you can offer or an encouragement you can give.
And then seek to do this every day. The outcome might be more drastic than you expect. This is because when you obey God’s law you please Him and that is when we enjoy life.
Here is our church newsletter for March 2018. It contains a further article on forgiveness
I want to muse here upon church members who absent themselves from church. Now there are many reasons why church members can be legitimately, even properly, absent from church. Ill health, work commitments, holidays and child care would be among these. However, there are times when people absent themselves from church and the reasons are not so substantial. Wanting a lie-in, wanting a day-off, watching something “special” on TV would be among these.
What I want to say is that if you are absent is that the church misses you. Paul makes the comparison of the church to a body in 1 Corinthians 12. In vv 18-20 of that chapter he writes: But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. When someone chooses unnecessarily to absent themselves from the activities of God’s people then the body is found to be not fully constituted. There is a deformity thereby. It is not good to be an absent “eye” or “foot” (or whatever) because you render the body to be less than what it should be.
Moreover, there is a sense of the people of God being yoked together in the church for the progress for God. When someone throws off the yoke and decides not to put their shoulder into the cause it is felt. Church members missing at the prayer meeting affect the prayer meeting, for example.
As believers we love one another and we love to see each others’ faces. We love to be stirred by others being together with us in church. Worshiping together, serving together, and praying together are beautiful things.
When people are not there, and we know not why, we are concerned. We love them and we want to know that all is well; their unnecessary absence causes us concern.
So just remember, fellow church member your absence matters.
Overnight between Wednesday and Thursday (17th-18th), last week we had a night of high winds. One thing that I observed was that in the morning there was plenty of evidence that the wind had been blowing. Parts of trees were on the ground, rubbish and various other detritus was blown around and old packaging was here and there. Obviously when the wind blows it has an impact and that impact is demonstrable.
One of the images for explaining the work of the Holy Spirit is that of the wind blowing. Our Lord said this The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3;8).
So we can make legitimate connections here to how the wind illustrates the working of God in our lives. So I ask is my life being re-arranged by the working of the Spirit? A strong wind has an impact so may the wind of the Spirit have an impact on me. When the Spirit moves sin is shifted, righteousness emerges and Christ becomes more precious.
When someone is “put out of fellowship” is that just a matter That relates to the church responsible for disciplining or does it involve other churches? I would strongly contend that it involves all other churches. To substantiate that assertion I would make the following points:-
As churches we stand together. We are all churches of one Master. When Paul wrote to the church at Colosse he said After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea (Col. 4:16). The implication here is that there is one truth for all churches. Accordingly when offence has been caused against one church there is a sense it is against all the Lord’s people; against all true churches. There is unity.
The whole purpose of a person being disfellowshipped is that they will come to repentance. When Paul says in 1 Cor 5:5a to hand this man over to Satan he is saying that the man who has engaged in gross sin should be placed in Satan’s place, the world. In such a place they feel the lack of fellowship with God and His people. Such a miserable experience should lead to repentance and restoration. If they can just go to another church then this gracious design of the Lord is enfeebled. The mechanism for bringing restoration is stopped.
Churches share together in the grace of God. Whatever our denominational label if a church is a true Bible church seeking to declare the gospel and honour Jesus as Lord then we are in fellowship with them. This means we share in the Lord’s goodness and grace grace together. Accordingly, if a sinning, unrepentant, excommunicated person is accepted by another church then that is a “slap-in-the-face” for the first church. It is indicating that we disagree with you.
If someone is just allowed to drift off to another church and become part of that church without any communication between the churches then trouble is being stored up for the future. This is because at some point it is likely that word will come to either or both churches of what has happened and there will be some messy unravelling that has to take place. It is best that right from the beginning, as much as is possible, there is communication between the churches.
…..and lost than never to have loved at all.” These words are apparently from Alfred Lord Tennyson. Yet they do express biblical truth. They do express a vital truth that you need to be aware of if you are entering into church leadership. So many times you will love and lose. People will reject you, they will misrepresent you, they will say and do all kinds of evil against you. And this even after you have loved them and given your time and energy for them.
But the call of the Christian is to love. As John puts it “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we do not love then we have never tasted or have ceased tasting of the love of Christ which has flooded towards us from the cross.
Yet at times we do feel like shriveling into our selfish cocoons. We want to shut down the love-flow so as to not allow ourselves to get hurt again. But to do that is to deny our calling as church elders; in a sense it is to deny our existence. After all the headline virtue in the fruit of the Spirit is love. To stop loving is to strangle the Spirits’s work.
Oh Lord I may have lost many times in love, but give me a fresh anointing to go and love some more. Thank you.
Now this is a principle for life, but is it particularly a principle for pastoral ministry. You must always be studying. I fear that a lot of pastors, including me, are failing in this area. I fear that they have got into a way of doing things and are not likely to change. So the thought of studying some more is not on their agenda.
In thinking of studying here I am thinking about observing what happens around them. In particular it involves assessing what they find works and does not work in a certain setting. So it might be a news reporter on TV who either excels or totally fails in bringing forth the story. Studying how they went about their work whether it led to success or failure can be so useful. Through this process we are learning about how to convey information for the benefit of others which is a crucial part of our pastoral calling whether taht be in preaching or personal interaction.
When in meetings with others, consider who are the most effective in helping others and seek to emulate the methods they adopt. So many in discussions just want to have their own say. So learn also from the verbose and tiresome who are active in the meeting and do not follow them.
We must always be learning. So when you go to another church observe how things are done and seek to glean that which would benefit your ministry.
God providentially is bringing us into a multitude of circumstances everyday and we should be learning continually.