Tag Archives: Gospel

An Open Door

An Open Door

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.  Revelation 3:7-8

Today as I type this post, the temperature is negative 8.  That is right -8.  Frigid!  Opening the doors for people as they came in today, I opened and shut the door very fast in an attempt to keep some cold air out and some warm air in!

I don’t think I was too successful.

The Lord Jesus is speaking of an open door He gave to the church in the Greek city of Philadelphia in the verses above.   Chapters 2-3 of Revelation are describing the “church age” in which we live.  Each of the 7 churches listed were real places with real people and are also “types” of churches that are found in the church age.  In other words, every Biblical church today is in some way like one of these 7 churches.

As Jesus gives His message to the church of brotherly love, he tells them that He is giving them an open door.  Jesus is holding a door open for them to freely move in and out of and to freely bring other people through as well.  With the Philadelphia church being very weak, they are not able to hold the door open.  It is only a door that Jesus can open.  They do not have political clout or economic power, but they have a responsibility to go through the door and take others with them.

Many Bible students believe this is an open door through which to deliver the Gospel to this lost and dying world.  God is giving His church the opportunity to freely distribute the Word of God and Gospel message.  While the church is diminished in society today and even with the political climate growing in angst against anything Christian, it is the Lord Who is holding open the door for Gospel witness.

Have you noticed how spiritually cold our society has become?  Even this week, the Governor of Virginia is talking about delivering a newborn and then killing it as “OK” in his book.  This following the Governor of New York pushing his love of abortion right up until birth.  We live in a cold, cold climate, not just in atmospheric temperature, but in spiritual temperature.  We cannot hold the door open for people, but thank the Lord, Jesus is holding it open for us!  In addition, as fast as many non-Christians would be to close the door, slamming it shut, it is something that they cannot do.  Only God can open or close it.  That is good news.  We have as much time to witness as God will give to us, but we don’t know how much time that is. Historically in the Bible, the Lord opens and closes doors based on the people’s response to Him.

Today, take a moment and pray for a friend that you can bring to church this Sunday.

Would you invite them to sit with you at church this Sunday?

The door may not be open much longer.

Go through the door with another person while you can.

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I Missed the Conference

I Missed The Conference

Red face. Swollen brow. My left eye was nearly swollen shut.  It was somewhat difficult to breath. The headache was paralyzing.  “You look terrible.” My doctor said to me Monday morning.  I appreciate it when my medical doctors are straight up with me.  “Take this medicine and you will be better in 3-4 days.”  I would rather be “better” in 20 minutes, but I was grateful.

That night was our Mission Conference.  I fought through the pain the previous day or two, but after several nights of not sleeping well and with the eye still swollen and headache still pounding, I knew I was a “no go” for the conference.

I do not recall ever missing one of our church missions conference.  Never. Ever.  Even as a young person, it was a priority in our home to be at every church service and every church event.  Our parents were faithful to see us be involved in church.

Missions conference holds many special memories in my mind as a young person.  The kid’s conferences, meeting the missionaries from around the world, and seeing the pastor call “all those willing to serve as missionaries” to come to the front so we could have a word of prayer.

As I have been reflecting on the message I heard Dr. Scott Caudill deliver on Tuesday night (I was well enough to attend) I began thinking of a verse he referenced, Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Of course, the context of what Jesus is speaking is dealing with money and stuff.  It applies to our time and talent as well.

Because my parents placed their treasure in the things of God; church, missions conference, youth group, etc. they made sure that their sons were at these events and services.  Ball games, piano practice, art class, overtime at work, and other stuff (even school) were not more important than the church stuff.  This made a difference in my life.  Their “Treasure” eventually was where their heart (and where my heart also) ended up – invested in the things of God.

Check out this verse again, “Where your treasure is…”  Before the heart is moved, the treasure is already in it’s place.  The heart catches up to where the treasure is.  It does not say “Love God with your heart and then your treasure will be at the right place.”

No, Jesus is saying, “Put your treasure in the right place and then your heart will be in the right place.”  There is a big difference in this approach.

Where is your treasure today?  I can’t believe I missed a mission conference service!  I feel like the sickness “Providentially Hindered” me from attending on Monday.  That said, most of the time, when my treasure is not in the right place it is my personal choices and my own decisions that hinder me.  Believe me, I know we can’t be at everything the church offers, but shouldn’t I make an attempt?  At least for the Mission of the Gospel?  We have no reason for living were it not for the Gospel.  I don’t expect everyone to be at everything.  But what about your treasure?  Where is it today?  When you find your treasure – you will find where your heart truly is.

Be encouraged today to put your treasure in the right place.  Only then will your heart be in the right place.

 

 

 

 

God’s Desire for Missions

With our annual missions conference starting Saturday, I thought I would search out several Scriptures that indicate God’s Desire for Missions.  God’s heartbeat should be the heart beat of His church.  The most important indicator of any churches vital signs (indicating good or poor health) is it’s pulse for missions and Gospel witness.

Psalm 67:2 That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

Psalm 96:3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.

Isaiah 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

These 10 Scriptures give us a glimpse of the will of God for the Gospel to go into all the world.  The Lord uses His people to take His Word and Gospel message to other people.  If you are saved, the Lord used a person to either talk to you, preach to you, hand you a tract or Bible, or you found a Bible or Gospel tract that a person printed.

God can use you to give the Gospel in your local community.  The Lord can use you in global missions too.  Prayer for and giving to missionaries through your church will honor the Lord, help Gospel preachers, and will plant the Seed of the Word into the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, all around the world.

Do you have the same heart beat of God?  Are you doing your part to see the Gospel propagated throughout the world?

Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

The leaves are falling.  Soon the snow will be flying.  Before long, the grass will shove through the earth and the flowers will blossom.  The heat of summer will emerge, and the fall will be here before we know it.  Seasons make the year interesting.  Just as with the seasons and natural progression of hot and cold that God established, the Christian life and God’s church also goes through changes.

Change is something that human nature is resistant to.  We get comfortable.  We become accustomed.  What is “Normal” is what we have known to this specific point in our lives.  We can arrive at “new normal” when we willingly adjust our expectations.

Change in the Bible is good.  If you are a Christian, the specific moment you trusted Jesus for salvation, a big change took place.  You passed from “death unto life!” In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Change for the Christian is good. For example: we are to be “transformed” (Changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1-2.

The Christian is to be continually changing to look more like Jesus.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul teaches, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Change is good.  Individual Christians are changing to look more like Jesus.  Churches also go through changes.  One preacher aptly stated: “Churches are always in transition.”  Very true.

A local church cannot remain stagnant.  A church must strive to be vibrant, meeting the edification needs for its members and the evangelism needs of its community.

Here are three areas a church can benefit from change:

  1. A renewed spirit of unity. We are to strive together to fulfill the Great Commission. We are unified by Christ around the Gospel.  Philippians 1:27, commands, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Perhaps this humorous story will help: “Intending to raise cattle, a family from New York bought a ranch out West. When their friends visited and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would be rancher replied: “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying-W, and the other liked the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the BAr-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”

“But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked.

“None survived the branding.””

There are casualties in a church when the members are not united around the main thing. Don’t be distracted in your service to the Lord!  Preferences, nuances, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And personality issues should not divert your attention.  Keep serving Jesus.  Stay united to the cause of Christ and do not allow side issues to get your eyes off Jesus.

  1. A restored community of trust. Paul’s ministry even encountered seasons of disunity and discouragement.  When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, some of the believers were divided.  Read 1 Corinthians 1 for more details.  Some liked Paul’s preaching, others preferred Apollos (A great orator), and others enjoyed the passion of Peter.  The division was causing problems in the church.

Paul makes a hasty trip to Corinth in between these letters to try to resolve their issues.

Later, in 2 Corinthians, we find Paul sending another letter, not to elevate himself, but to elevate Jesus and help the people start to trust God again.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles (letters) of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

The church belongs to Jesus.  He purchased her with His own blood.  We can trust the church to God.  Jesus can overcome any doctrinal, personal, or preferential problems a church may face.  Paul knew that he was not sufficient to solve the division, but Jesus was (and is) sufficient.   Paul was not boasting in his ability, but in the fact that these Christians had started to yield their sin, personalities, and problems to the Lord and God healed their church.  Jesus said: “I will build my church.”  We can trust Him!

  1. A revived attitude of respect. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instructs, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”

Pastors are not dictators.  If pastors were dictators, then no church member would ever miss a service, and no one would ever not bring their tithe to church, and members would bring Snickers candy bars to every church function. Lol… if you like.  The role of pastor is that of “Servant – Leader.”  It is an accurate and healthy description.

Pastors are to be gentle shepherds leading and feeding the flock.  Sometimes that includes protecting the sheep from wolves (in sheep’s clothing), false doctrine (bad spiritual food to eat), and dangerous pasture fields (emergent church models).

There should be a mutual respect among the members of a congregation for one another.  Church members should be trusting the deacons.  Church members and deacons should have an attitude of trust with the pastoral staff as well.

One service I was preaching through this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, and suggested that it helps the pastor of the church when the church members are not fighting or bickering and that when a church was at peace, the true work of the ministry can thrive.  It is a true thought.

A thoughtful man, a genuine student of the Bible, suggested to me that the peace among the members was also connected to their respect or lack of respect for the pastor.  Read that verse again please.

“Esteem” means to “deem, consider, or count.”  A faithful church member must be able to count the pastor as respectful and worthy or he will not be able to learn, grow, or develop in that church.  A result of disrespect is that the pastor is not able to lead as effectively as he should.  Why can he not lead effectively?  Because of the lack of peace.  A pastor constantly putting out fires cannot commit the time called for – for the actual work of the ministry.  It could look like this old saying: “Too many chiefs – not enough Indians.”  Let the pastor be the “Servant – Leader” overseeing the overall work of the church.

These are 3 examples where change is good!  If these areas are lacking – Change!  Change to the glory of God.

  • Are you united with your church family in the purpose of the Gospel?
  • Do you have an attitude of trust for the other members, deacons, and pastoral staff?
  • Is there a mutual respect that you have for the church leadership that creates a peaceful environment?

Change is good.  Christians as well as churches go through “Seasons of change.”  Transitions and changes are sometimes difficult and even turbulent because human nature does not like change; but when we see Jesus – it will be worth it all.  When we make the needed adjustments as individuals and as a church, the Lord is glorified.

And. His. Work. Will. Continue.

 

 

 

 

Summer Time is Busy Time

Summer Time is Busy Time

He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.  Proverbs 10:5

Do you find the summer months to be extra busy?  With school out of session, most people are out of routines.  Some people get more accomplished, while others get less accomplished.   Some get up earlier to work or play and others remain sleeping!

I see an increase in business for sure.  With brighter sunshine mornings to extended daylight evenings, there seems to be more to do and a little more daylight to do it.

For our church, we see more opportunity to witness and take the Gospel to the households in our community.  In the winter it is more difficult to share door to door with people avoiding opening their doors to talk as it lets the cold in.  The winter is more slippery and I have fallen on ice several times out visiting.

That leaves us the warm weather sun kissed days of summer as the best time to plant the seed of the Word of God, water the fields with the Gospel and see the Lord add to the Harvest.

I encourage you to participate in giving out the Gospel this summer.  Go door to door.  Hand out some tracts.  Bring someone to church with you.

While boating, fishing, camping, hiking, 4 wheeling and more are at their peak – it is also the peak time to do the work of the ministry in telling others about Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”  1 Kings 19:19-21

Have you ever been to an ordination council?  Have you observed the questions that season pastors and preachers asked the candidate for ordination in the “interrogation?”  It is fascinating and I love being on the ordination councils for these men.  It is a good challenge to read the doctrinal statements and attempt to encourage and add insight to the candidate that will help him in future ministry.  What an honor it is to recognize the calling of God on a man for the ministry.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah runs away to a cave from the hateful Queen Jezebel.  After the Lord meets with Elijah, God encourages him that he is not alone that there are many others who are faithful to serve the Lord.  God then gives Elijah an “assistant prophet” named Elisha.

Elisha comes from a wealthy family with many oxen.  He is a hard worker, plowing in the family fields when Elijah meets him the first time.  From there – Elisha follows and helps Elijah everywhere, “ministering” to him.  I am thankful for the assistants the Lord has given me over the years.  I need help in ministry!

When Elisha is called by God to assist Elijah, he asks if he could go home and explain it to his family.  There are many men in ministry today whose families do not understand.  “How could he leave the business world, his hometown, or the family farm?” are common questions.  Elisha kisses his mother and father goodbye but then he throws a celebration.

Elisha takes 2 oxen, butchers them, then has a gigantic cookout.  I love barbecuing on a grill or over an open flame!  That is what he does.  He cooks the beef and throws a celebration to mark the day he answered the call and entered into ministry.

Whenever a man enters ministry – it is a thing to be commended and celebrated.  I hope that when ordination events are held at your church that you do everything possible to be there and to participate because it is a big deal.

  • It is a big deal to God because a man has willingly answered the call to vocational ministry.
  • It is a big deal to family because a son and a husband is entering into the ministry.
  • It is a big deal for the church because they are ordaining and commissioning a man to the gospel ministry.

It is hard to imagine, but Elisha went on to do even greater things than Elijah. (2 Kings 2:9). It all began when a man answered a call to ministry.  It was recognized by all around him and a feast to mark the special occasion was celebrated by all.

We may have cake and a chicken dinner today.  Whatever is used to mark the occasion – know that it is an occasion worthy of respect, honor, and recognition.