Sunday, March 1, 2015

Shepherding God's People

1 Chronicles 11:2 In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD, your God said to you, ‘You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’

I think one of the things often overlooked in this verse and verses in the New Testament for pastors is the pronoun, "My".
Israel's was the LORD's. He was their Shepherd. David was shepherding God's people. Pastors shepherd the Church of which Jesus said, "My church". The church belongs to Him.  Pastors shepherd His church. Pastor Joes' dream.

Ordination is a recognition of Divine Appointment and Anointing. We don't always get it right, unfortunately.  Samuel missed it 7 times before he got it right. Most of the time we do. If we could see the heart as God does... The way we should pray...

So shepherding God's people, whether it was David as King, the Son of David, Who is the King of kings or those today who are pastors under Him, it is His people, the flock under His care (Psalm 95) and so the ministry ought to reflect God, the Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. Kings and Pastors need to remember this. 

Those who are chosen to shepherd have a high calling to serve, to be men of integrity, to be like Christ.

1. David, The Man After God's Own Heart
Humbled by the calling.
Humbled by the task.
Humbled that He chose them.
David's words: 
2 Samuel 7:18-21 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in Your sight, Sovereign LORD, You have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is this Your usual way of dealing with man?" “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign LORD. For the sake of Your word and according to Your will, You have done this great thing and made it known to Your servant. 
Humbled that God works through our imperfections.  

A Shepherd
David was the family shepherd when God called him. He was trained like Moses the man of God. They were taking care of the family's sheep. Moses, the meekest man on earth.
Both were in the fields watching the family's sheep when they were summoned to lead God's people.

When we look at his story, we soon realize that all of David's life was a preparation for kingship. Beginning as a shepherd was certainly appropriate training for one who would one day shepherd the flock of God.

David learned how to be a king (the shepherd of God's flock) in the fields of Bethlehem.
He learned how not to be a king in the palace working under Saul. He got to see a man who once was anointed by God operate without that anointing while still in the position.

On several occasions, David barely escaped with his life as jealous Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear. Only those who know danger can learn to trust God for protection in danger. Later, David spent years in the wilderness running for his life from Saul. He learned more valuable lessons about trusting God and the corrupting influence that power can possess. All these things "worked together for good" to prepare David to fulfill his divine destiny.

In God's sovereign plan, David suffered significantly during those years, and the majority of his sufferings were entirely unjust. David didn't deserve the relentless, unkind treatment he received from Saul, whom he had served so well. But did God have a purpose in permitting it? It must be that David was being prepared. Once we've suffered under corrupt leaders, we're more apt to be incorruptible when God promotes us to a place of leadership.

I think next to shepherding the family flock in Bethlehem, the thing that made David the man he was to become, Israel's most beloved king, was the decade of nightmarish hell he went through as Saul hunted him down. It changed David. He suffered. He learned invaluable lessons during that 10 year period. If you are trying to understand the purpose of suffering in your life I would heartily recommend the book by Gene Edwards, A Tale Of Three Kings. It is a study in brokenness in the life of David and can be read in a few hours. It is book I have read over and over again.

The man who wrote, "The LORD is my Shepherd."

Of whom it was said:
Psalm 78:70-72 He chose David His servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep He brought himto be the shepherd of His people Jacob, of Israel His inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. 

May God give leaders today who would shepherd His Church with integrity of heart! LORD, give us men who have a pastor's heart.

2. Jesus, That Great Shepherd of the Sheep

The Good Shepherd John 10

Find Pasture
Have Life to the Full
He lays Himself down for us
He knows us by name

That Great Shepherd Hebrews 13.20-21
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

The only title (minister, priest, preacher, clergy) that Jesus ascribed to Himself.
He saw the people like sheep without a shepherd and had compassion on them.
He came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
He told Peter to feed His sheep, take care of His lambs.

He is at work today as our Shepherd.

3. The Ministry

I Peter 5
1 Peter 5:2-3 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 

Be shepherds, not CEO's, not Executives,  not Dictators
Shepherds are unique people.
The ones I met in Israel and Haiti were very committed to their work. They cannot focus in distractions.
It is all about their relationship to the sheep.
Pastors and Kings all bout their relationship to God and the sheep.

The Chief Shepherd will appear
1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Captive Because Of Unfaithfulness

I Chronicles 9.1

1 Chronicles 9:1 All Israel was listed in the genealogies recorded in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. They were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness. 

Freedom and captivity are words that are used to describe certain states.

They are misunderstood, greatly misunderstood.

The safeguards I was given as a child growing up were good for my soul as well as my body.

Take cigarettes. I have never smoked one in my life! I did not have much peer pressure with this issue because of running track and our coach. I had parents that held me to a high standard. The young man at Target this week- dealt with him with the money first $10 a pack, 2 packs a week, $80 a month, $1,000 a year- 10 years, $10,000 dollars plus your lungs.
Proverbs 13:11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.  Dishonest- vaporous, empty, meaningless, vain
Speaking of empty money...
I have never bought a lotto card or gambled at all. I don't know how to play cards!  My grandfather had a gambling problem. I dare not open the door.
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. 
Mark 10:22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 
Sad, because of great wealth. Never met a person who came into money quick that were happy. 35 years ago, mother telling me the worst thing that happened is when those boys inherited all that money... more recently lotto winner regrets winning... a few years ago hostility between family members over inheritance

Many other addictions today...

Like the demoniac in Gadarenes, sin enchains you.
It is pitiful.
Mark 5:5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 

1. Captivity is not only a punishment by the LORD to the unfaithful. It is their state.

captive to do his will
2 Timothy 2:26 that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 
captive=to hunt, to take by hunting, catch, pursue eagerly
Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 

Sinful habits are of the devil. These all have guilt and a feeling of hopelessness.
He enslaves people with them. Jesus can deliver us!

To be free from the guilt and power and penalty of sin is the most wonderful thing in the world.

2. Freedom is not doing whatever I want. 

It is doing whatever the LORD wants.
Isn't this slavery? No, it is servanthood. Sin is slavery.

When you do for others as unto the LORD you are doubly blessed and it is full of joy.

Benefits of servanthood:
*You get to see the water that is turned into wine.
John 2:9 the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. 
Some of the things I have seen just this year alone!

*You get to yoke up with Jesus.
Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

*You get to cooperate with the Holy Spirit- joint venture partner

*You get to store up treasures in heaven.
Matthew 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

* Your house will be filled with treasures here on earth, the kind that are out of this world.
Proverbs 3:33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. 
Proverbs 15:6 The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin. 
Bettina's picture, Gifts from all over from missionaries- just a few- the Scotts when they served in Romania, The Mezas from Columbia, John Anderson from India, my friend and Bible College classmate, Christian Sarmiento from South America, Agiar Valvasorra from Campinas, Sao Paolo Brazil, Missionaries from Africa, Madagascar, Dr. Perkins who served in Mozambique and others.

It is living in God's Kingdom now! 

Just think of the power of this two sentences of the prayer Jesus taught us.
May Your Kingdom come. May Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
in Heaven... we are to be in tune with heaven, in touch with it continually. I believe we can get overwhelmed by the evil in the world today. And we know what Paul wrote to the Romans  in 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Psalm 71:15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—though I know not how to relate them all. 

It is joy unspeakable.
1 Peter 1:7-8 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 

Henry Ford said that the church was the only argument he needed for the existence of God. "No other organization  could be run so poorly and still survive!"

I think in my 35 plus years as a pastor I have probably validated his view. We have our problems, we have made mistakes, we have made errors over the past 2,000 years.

Yet whether you are in northern Iraq where refugees are flooding in from fleeing from ISIS or you are in Haiti where the poverty is extreme and earthquake recovery is still taking place 5 years later or you are in a hospital in Africa today, if you are in Malawi where floods have devastated the land, or in Madagascar where children are abandoned or in China  or Cuba where gatherings are illegal, you will find the church helping others and doing it out of love.

The Methodist Missionary to India, Dr. E. Stanley Jones said it best, "The Church with all her faults is still the best serving organization on the earth, so get into and serve!"

3. Freedom and Captivity are misunderstood.

The person who is addicted to alcohol is not free. He is in capitivity.  He has no choice in the matter. He has to drink.

The person who is free from alcohol addiction is free from many things. He has the freedom to drink but chooses not to. Freedom from cirrhosis, brain cell damage, odor, disrespect.

Proverbs 8:32-36 “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise;do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me,watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find lifeand receive favor from the LORD. But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.” 

Safeguards by God are for our own good. The Ten Commandments are to give us a life with boundaries. The boundaries make sense. They provide order in a chaotic world. 

As our nation goes further down the path of breaking down the boundaries of moral absolutes we see the impending destruction getting closer.

Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people. 
Sin puts to shame.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. 

Saul of Benjamin. Benjamin, Israel's youngest son. Started off in humility. Died because of pride.
David of Judah but birthplace was Bethlehem, smallest clan in Judah. Started off in humility and remained there his whole life. Was amazed God chose him and his family.  

Be completely humble. Pray to God about your struggles. 
1 John 1:8-9 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 

Jude 1:20-23 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Will Build My Church

Matthew 16:13-16 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

Matthew 16:17-18 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

1. The Great Confession was Personal.

Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is seeking to get people to confess Him as LORD.
He asks.
He does not force, manipulate, coerce, threaten. He asks.
He asks simply, directly, awaiting for an answer.
Peter, the first to do so.

Romans 10.9-10 
Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

During Jesus' ministry: Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Jesus and Peter had more personal  recorded conversations than any of the other disciples. Peter was the spokesman, John was the writer.

Confessing Christ as LORD, the Son of God is what life is all about. You are not living until yo do that. You may be seeking or getting close but you are not living until you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is LORD. When you do you are saved. Christ comes into your heart and you are made alive in Him.

People you know may be a thousand miles away from Christ today but they are really are only one step. If they turn, look and live!

We arrived back in Haiti on Thursday. Kevin told me it seems like we have been here for a long time. It is because of all that the LORD is doing. Serving Jesus you become alive. How good it was to see your pastor on Friday! How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.

2.  The Great Confession was in the backdrop of comparison. 
Greek gods, Roman Government

Who do men say I am?

What do they say today?
Great Teacher

C.S. Lewis's quote 
In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg--or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call him LORD and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us"

We need to ask  people the question today, "Who do you say Jesus is?"
No one has had more influence on the human race than Jesus Christ.
No one even comes close.
The Fulfillment of the Ages. I Corinthians 10.11 

I will build my church- build means grow a family
all the persons forming one family, a household
the family of God, of the Christian Church

We are family! You are my brothers and sisters! 
What a blessing to be part of it! Prayer, giving, loving and eating together!
Nijet met us on a walk last evening. We hugged each other like family does when they haven't seen each other for a while! Praise the LORD!

3. I Will Build My Church And The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail Against It
When the earthquake came 5 years ago it destroyed the building but it did not destroy the church! You have been faithful in meeting here and now God is beginning to reward that faithfulness by giving you your building back and much more. If He told you what He was going to do you wouldn't believe it!

God brought us together because of the earthquake. He is the LORD Almighty! He works all things together for good for those who are the called according to His Purpose.

It had affected people in America! People have seen the pictures I took and the ones sent to me and have responded with tears and giving. Your faithfulness is being used by God to touch people's hearts in New York and around the world!

We will bring video back and pictures. Next Sunday my church will see them. Then we will pass them onto others. Some things have already been seen by them on the internet this week and later today around the world people are going to hear this message!

We have this promise today. We rest in it. We work in it. We celebrate it

It enabled Paul to say this to the Philippians:
Philippians 1:4-6 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus. 

To the Ephesians:
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 

The is a lot of work to do but we are off to a wonderful start, a blessed beginning. I can hardly wait to see what God is going to do!