Tag Archives: pray

4 “Plans” for Avoiding Sin

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Everyone is tempted to sin.  When our lust begins to control and consume us something is born called sin.  James chapter 1 speaks much to this process of temptation becoming sin.  While temptation is not sin, it leads to sin.  Could I suggest that allowing temptation to grow, or even actively nurturing it could also be sin?

John Eastwood made an insightful statement:  “People do not decide to be drunkards, drug addicts, prostitutes, murderers, or thieves, but they pitch their tent toward Sodom, and the powers of evil overcome them.”

Each of us know people whose lives were changed overnight, because of sin.  One temptation acted upon can alter an entire lifetime.  I have met teenagers who are not able to finish high school because of sin.  Many soldiers and sailors have made one bad choice and find themselves in legal trouble, or in the brig.  Ever notice the genuinely homeless people asking for food along the road?  Perhaps one bad choice, led to a whole string of bad choices and they end up with nothing.

If one sin can have such an impact, we should be looking to Jesus fervently and seeking His guidance and help to avoid sin! Here are 4 “plans” to help you avoid sin.

  1. Prayer Plan: Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
  2. Prevention Plan: Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
  3. Protection Plan: Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
  4. Escape Plan: 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

What happens if I falter and fail?   What should I do when I commit sin?  For sure we do not want to abuse the Grace of God – see Romans 6:1-2.  But when we sin, we do have an advocate with the Father – His name is Jesus.  We are instructed in 1 John 1:9 to confess our sin to God.  When we confess, we acknowledge our wrong and God forgives us.

Don’t forget about repentance.  Remember Romans 6:1-2?  That verse tells us to not continue in that sin.  That would be abusing the grace of God.  In other words, a person who confesses his sin to God, also should repent of his sin and turn around from it.  Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of direction.

So, can these 4 “plans” help you avoid sin?  Yes they can.  While we will never be perfect in our lifetimes on earth, we can choose to honor Jesus by living holy lives that are dedicated to Him.

Advertisements

Encourage Your Pastor

Encourage Your Pastor

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  1 Timothy 5:17

Bishop, Elder, Pastor.  Which one is the leader of your church?  How about all three?  Recently, as Dr Jeff Amsbaugh was preaching to our regional pastor fellowship in upstate New York, hosted by WBC, he pointed out the 3 synonymous terms in the Bible that refer to the “pastor” of the local church.  As Baptist we prefer to use the term pastor, because of it’s connotation – I will share soon, but these other terms are good Bible terms that can give tremendous insight to the responsibilities and calling of the pastor.

Bishop. 1 Timothy 3:1 says, This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  The word “Bishop” means “inspection or superintendent.”  While the pastor does not do all the work of any given church and ministry, he is to oversee or be the superintendent over all the ministry.  With many others coming together to serve the Lord, the pastor gives the general direction and offers organizational helps to guide the church administratively.  God is a God of order and Paul told the Corinthian church members in 1 Corinthians 14:40, Let all things be done decently and in order.

Elder. 1 Peter 5:1 declares, The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed…  Elders means “older” or “senior.”  It refers to the maturity of the individual leader.  Church leaders are to be mature in the faith.  While this does not mean the “he knows everything” it does mean that the foundational principles of Christianity are not new territory for him.  That is why Peter exhorted the elders to continue in their wait for Jesus to come back for them.  Keep going despite persecution or problems.

Pastor.  Ephesians 4:11-13 elaborates, And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ… In fact the verse goes on to describe the gift the pastor is to the local church and the end result of his shepherding ministry.  That is what a shepherd is.  He feeds and leads his people like a shepherd cares for his sheep.

  • Shepherds are concerned about spiritual growth in his sheep.
  • Shepherds are cautious for wolves among the sheep.
  • Shepherds are caring for the pain endured by the sheep.
  • Shepherds cease any nipping and bickering among the sheep.
  • Shepherds who are following the Great Shepherd (Jesus) attempt to get the sheep to keep their eyes on Him.

Baptist churches, like ours, prefer this term “pastor” because of the quality of care and the level of closeness a shepherd has with his sheep and the sheep for their shepherd. The model of the pastor being the “under shepherd” pointing people to the “Great Shepherd” is a good one to follow.  Show extra honor to those who faithfully are serving you.  The Lord will bless you, and him for it.

I commend the pastors (Bishops/Elders) that are faithfully serving the Lord and His people in the church.  Like Paul, I commend the teaching/preaching pastor’s especially.  Those who deliver Bible messages week in and week out and do not merely give lip-service to the Bible, but live it out as well, are to be encouraged and celebrated.  Their unending work causes much personal tiredness and at the same time joy.  Serving spiritual food to sheep can be a difficult thing sometimes.  Pastors cannot make changes in the life of his people.  The sheep must want to receive the Word for themselves.  They must make application on their own.  But the pastor keeps leading and feeding the flock.

Encourage your pastor today. Pray for him. Drop him a note.  Leave a gift on his door. Text or email and encouraging word or two.  Choose to know him as a person and choose to follow his lead.  Show respect.  Sheep who care for their shepherd in material things are sure to be prepared emotional, relationally, and spiritually to receive the spiritual teaching their pastor gives.

 

 

 

Fellow Servants in the Church

Fellow Servants in the Church

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  Acts 6:4

There is much to do in ministry.  Preach, teach, pray, plan, promote, organize, visit, encourage, make phone calls, send texts and emails, administrate, design, print, clean, build, repair, record radio, post messages and devotionals, read, understand current religious trends, cast vision, staff meetings, deacon meetings, special church training sessions, counseling sessions, develop materials, conduct weddings and funerals, and generally be available to encourage the saints while evangelizing the lost.  etc. etc. etc.

Depending on what ministries your local church hosts, there could be many more responsibilities that are connected to the Senior Pastor position in your church.  Even the assistant pastors have much responsibilities in their oversight.  Like Arron supported Moses and lifted his hands, assistant pastors also make a big difference. Ultimately the pastor will give an account of each ministry decision and direction and he may have his hand in nearly every aspect of ministry to a degree because of that accountability.  Speaking of the relationship of the church to its pastor, Hebrews 13:17 states: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The pastor is watching for the souls of his people, the sheep in his local pasture field.  His ministry in prayer and in the Word are his primary responsibilities. It could be called “leading and feeding.”  Like a good shepherd does for his sheep.  No matter what needs arise in your life, your pastor will try to assist, help and encourage.  But, he cannot be everywhere at once.  Only God can do that!  The pastor cannot meet every need, but he may be able to point you in the right direction.

The congregation is likened to a flock of sheep who are called to know their shepherd and are directed to follow his leadership.  1 Thessalonians 5:12 teaches: And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.  Do you know your shepherd?  Do you know his likes, dislikes, and personal characteristics?  Do you know his family or personal needs, and have you asked his thoughts about certain matters?  The church is to know and follow the shepherd God gifted them with.

With so much to do and with such a responsibility for both the pastor for leading and feeding, and the church for knowing and following, you can see why the Lord gave additional helpers in ministry.  They are called deacons.

The term deacon is defined as “an attendant, or someone who runs errands.”   Those who are called to the ministry of pastoring are focused on two main components: Praying and Studying/delivering the Word of God itself.  Therefore, the Lord gave deacons, to help with the material matters of the church.  They run the errands and conduct much business, supporting the oversight of the pastor.  It is the deacons, whose spiritual calling and enabling is to serve the church by freeing the pastors to fulfill their calling.  With so much to do, prayer and study can be hindered.  With so much needing to be built, repaired, meals delivered, saints cared for in physical ways, fellowships, hospitality, assistance, and more help in other material things, the deacons also have much to do.

During pastor appreciation month, I am thankful, not only for the pastors and servants preaching the Word, but I am also thankful for the deacons, who support the pastor, by serving the church people and looking for ways to minister to their material and physical needs.  We are blessed to have fine deacons at WBC.  It is a pleasure to serve with them.

Even if you are not a deacon, you are called to serve others.  Every Christian should find and fulfill his calling of God to “serve one another.”  There are many “one another’s” in Scripture to apply to our relationships at church. Some people are actually “deacons in training” who may fill that role in the future!

So, pastors – thank you.

Deacons – thank you.

Fellow church members – thank you.

Working together with God, we can see the Lord accomplish amazing things in our lives, homes, and church.  We are “fellow servants” in the church.

 

 

 

 

A Revival Prayer

A Revival Prayer

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.   Habakkuk 3:2

With our annual Revival Meeting nearing, it is good to pause and to pray for the Lord to send revival.  Will you pray for personal revival in your life?

What is revival anyway?  A basic and most thorough definition I have used for years is this: “Revival is falling in love with Jesus all over again.”  Simply stated, and right to the point.

As time goes by and we are further away from our conversion and new birth as Christians, we can become complacent.  Just like many people let their physical bodies get out of shape, or neglect proper eating and exercise, we can do the same thing spiritually. Many Christians have become lethargic in their walk with God.  Their service in church is pale and anemic, their pulse for loving God and other people has slowed down, and their appetite for the Word of God has decreased.  Even just opening the Bible at home causes difficulty in breathing.  If I was describing symptoms in a person’s physical body, you may think the person had a heart problem.

Some Christians have high blood pressure spiritually (in some cases literally) and are complaining and bickering with others then wonder why they do not feel as close to God as they once did.  All of this is symptomatic of a much bigger problem – a spiritual heart problem.  Are you loving Jesus more today than you were loving Him yesterday?

Why or why not?  It could be that loving sin, reveling in pride, or loving the world has diminished you love for Jesus.  Will you pray for personal revival?  Will you pray for family revival?  Will you pray for church revival?

Pray like the old-time prophet Habakkuk, who poured out his heart to God after hearing the Word of God spoken: O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.   Make his prayer – your revival prayer today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stops and Steps

Stops and Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31

 

“The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.”  —George Mueller

With summer break it is easy for parents to disengage, to go into autopilot and to lesson expectations for their children.  Taking a break is not the same thing as being lazy.  While taking a break is good, we should still have some basic Christian and family life expectations in our homes.

Here are some ideas for students this summer:

  • Take a break from school work, but keep reading the Bible.
  • Take a break from classes, but still attend Sunday School.
  • Take a break from Physical Education, but still exercise prayer and discernment.
  • Take a break from academic teachers, but never stop learning how to live from your parents.

Here are some ideas for parents this summer:

  • Keep structure in the home. While a little more relaxed there should still be a bedtime and wake up time and normal times for meals.
  • Communicate expectations concerning chores. Each child should have several jobs in the home that help you, that add value to them, and gives them a purpose and a role to fulfill in your home.
  • Have limits on media. Vegging out in front of a TV or a small media device for hours on end is unhealthy. Cultivate real people interaction.  Give play time outside.  Try a new sport.  Take a hike or a bike ride. Have friends come over to do more than play video games.  Get a ball and enjoy the weather.
  • Get several interesting books from the bookstore or the library and except your child to read 1 or 2 books during the summer months. Ensure the mind stays sharp!

My prayer is that you will have a safe, fun, and God-honoring summer break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Discernment

Spiritual Discernment

“The story is told of an atheistic barber who was talking to a pastor. The barber asked the pastor, “If there is a loving God, how can He allow poverty, war, and suffering?”

Just at that moment a disheveled man crossed the street. The pastor said, “You are a barber and claim to be a good one. How can you allow that man to go unkept and unshaven?”

“He never gave me a chance!” the barber replied.

To which the pastor said, “Exactly, men are what they are because they reject God!””

There are many things in life that a person will not be able to understand apart from the “new birth” that takes place at the moment of salvation.  The Christian is made a new man (while living in his old body).  He, with the guidance of the Word of God and the Spirit of God has a whole new sphere of understanding that opens up to him.

1 Corinthians 2:14 teaches, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Clearly, Christian men and women are to possess spiritual discernment.  Sadly, many times we do not exhibit sound thinking and reasoning. Why?  Why do some Christians not exhibit good reasoning skills? Here are three thoughts as to why.

  1. We lose our objectivity when we are more in love with the world or the things of the world. 1 John 2:15 says, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
  2. We lose our Christian rational when we do not know the Bible like we should. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. One reason some Christians do not make good decisions is because their devotional and Bible educational life are not what it should be.
  3. We lose our clear mind when our soul is spiritually dry. A parched soul trying to find satisfaction with world relationships, philosophies and things cannot be quenched by anything other than the Word of God.  When people lost in desserts are found after surviving death, they are dehydrated and deranged.  They clearly cannot think right in that dry condition.  David, the shepherd boy did not want to dry up spiritually.  While out in the wilderness he said in Psalm 63:1-2, O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 

Paramount to any relationship is real communication.  Prayer and Bible reading are vital aspects of your growth and development as a Christian.  Enriching your fellowship with God is dependent on a devotional life.

When we read and study the Bible, it penetrates into our soul, affects our mind, and enlightenes our decision making.

Many men reading this do not study the Word like they should.  As a result, their wives feel lonely and their children feel displaced.  A man like that is spiritually coasting, hoping that his home does not fall apart.  Some women scanning this article read Facebook more than they read the Bible.  Their discernment is lessened, and they have become more gullible to false teachings about health, relationships, and what is valuable in life.

Pray today.  Read the Bible today.  Proverbs and James are great places to learn God’s wisdom.  Ask the Lord to give you a discerning spirit.  Then make your discernment even stronger with Bible study.

 

 

 

 

 

The Blurriness of Christmas

The Blurriness of Christmas

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11

Consider the last few days in this month of December.  Lots of people are talking about “holidays” and Christmas. Many people appear to worship Christmas instead of worshiping Christ.  It is an easy thing to do.  There are holiday parties, travel to grandparents, gift exchanges and more.  I enjoy the holiday decorations, lights and nativity scenes we see all over the place.  The movie industry, commercial sales industry, and society as a whole are celebrating.  But, it is clear they are celebrating something other than the events in the Bible. The busyness of Christmas can give us blurry vision.

When the wise men saw baby Jesus they kneeled down to worship Him.  They did not loose sight as to why He was here and what Jesus was doing on the earth.  Just like when the cold temperatures outside and the warm temperatures on the inside causes the windows to fog up sometimes, we can have a hard time seeing Christmas for what it really is.  There is such a disparity in the perceived “reasons for the season” in the world today.

Pray and ask the Lord to help you not loose sight or have blurry vision during this holiday season.  With all the busyness and possible distractions of this season, take some time to kneel in prayer, thanking and praising God for His Son and our Savoir Jesus, the Christ.