Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Free Family Movie Night

May 25, 2012  @ 7:30pm

 

 

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Sweet-Smelling Sacrifice
May 18, 2012

“I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)

The reference in this text goes back to the “sweet savour” that God smelled when Noah offered his initial sacrifice after disembarking from the year-long Flood. That offering triggered a promise from God that He would never again curse the earth or destroy every living thing with water, as the Flood had done. Furthermore, the Lord promised to maintain the seasons and functions of the earth until the end (Genesis 8:20-21).

Later, Moses would bring the Lord’s instructions for those laws of Israel that would keep the nation separate from the rest of the world and constantly remind them of the very personal relationship that the Creator of all things was establishing with them. Some of the sacrifices would be an “offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the Lord” (Numbers 15:3).

It is interesting to note that the twice-born are “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Our very existence as His children smells good to our Heavenly Father! We are also compared to living stones that are being built into a spiritual house that is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Our bodies are to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1) that render the “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15), while God Himself is making us “perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21). HMM III

Today In The WORD

Safe in His arms!
Verse for Today: Saturday, May 19, 2012

Psalms 37:24 – Though the godly stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord upholds them with His hand.

God’s children are often battered by the enemy through our circumstances to make us stumble and fall. Sometimes we tend to stumble because we walk faster than we are enabled by the Lord. If we are not sober and alert, our feet tend to stumble and shake. The enemy of our souls tries to push us forward by creating over-enthusiasm or pull us back with cold-heartedness. Sometimes the enemy manipulates our hearts and minds to become fearful about our circumstances. But we must know that if we do not put our feet in the footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are bound to stumble. The enemy creates enough and more deterrents and distractions on our way and on the wayside to take our focus away from the true pathways the Lord has created for us. The enemy’s ways and means are so subtle as to falter even the strongest believer at times and so we need to wear the whole armor of God as we walk along. We must always look at Jesus and walk so that we will not stumble. As we walk along, we have the promise from our Lord that because He holds our hands, we will not fall. It is a great reassurance for us to keep going by looking at the author and finisher of our faith. Our firmer grip on the Lord and His Word will help us to avoid stumbling. When we hand over the controls of our lives to the Lord and His Spirit, we will not stumble. When we lean on to the Lord all the time, we will not falter. This was how Joseph, Daniel and Paul kept going till the end of their lives without stumbling. But we must be alert about the wiles of the enemy to catch us unaware and make us stumble. We must continue to walk with absolute dependence on the Lord Jesus and His power.

Dear friend, are you aware of the fact that you are susceptible to stumbling? But this awareness ought to make you hold more firmly on the Lord and allow His firm grip on you. Your Lord will not force His control on you. He binds you to Himself with His love. But when your love to Him diminishes, you tend to stumble form His grace. He watches over you with compassion, but when you take His compassion for granted and allow your mind to digress, you tend to falter. He holds you to Himself through His Spirit and Word, but when you do not fill yourself with His Word and get yourself filled with His Spirit, you tend to falter and stumble. He walks with you all the time, but if you abandon His pathway and walk according to the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life which you find in the vanity fair of this world, you will stumble. Walking with Jesus is never a one-sided exercise. If you are willing to walk with Him and are committed to His pathway, you will be able to enjoy your sojourn. But in spite of keen commitment to Jesus, if you falter and stumble due to trials, the Lord who knows the genuineness of your heart will honor your shaken faith and will hold you close to Him. He is always willing to hold us, but we have to be willing to take the responsibility to walk with Him. The sovereign Lord is willing to hold us as long as we are responsible to Him and walk close to Him. Our walk with the Lord is a mutual relationship and so let us renew our commitment to Him in all that we do to enjoy His presence, fellowship and protection. Today He wants to extend His hands for us to hold as He holds us with His hands. Let us hold on to Him and enjoy His protection and walk courageously lest we stumble and falter. He is faithful to hold us in His hands and take us forward.

Psalms 145:14 – The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

 Thought for Today

The love of God that binds us to His heart is much stronger than any effort of the enemy to make us stumble and fall.

To read past messages, visit the blog: http://todayingodsword.blogspot.com 

There is Good News for the Troubled Heart

Are you living a life of total devotion?

Free Family Movie Night

May 25, 2012

7:30 pm

“We need men of God again.”

The Church at this moment needs men [and women], the right kind of men, bold men. The talk is that we need revival…

We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul, who cannot be frightened by threats of death because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. The will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances; their only compulsion will come from within—or from above.

This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits [and Sunday schools, and neighborhoods, and homes] instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.

Much that the church—even the evangelical church— is doing these days she is doing because she is afraid not to. Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reason than they are being scared into it. Whatever their ear–to–the–ground, fear inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe the world expects them to do they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped–up zeal and show of godliness. The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah.

The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching the crusades. Her leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or lack of it. They knew their Lord’s will and did it, and the people followed them—sometimes in triumph, oftener to insults and public persecution—and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.

Another characteristic of the true prophet has been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self–assurance that has led men to try to crush others under their feet. These have had some interest to protect, some position to secure. So they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee for their own safety. But the free man—never; he has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. If they follow him, well and good; if not, he loses nothing he holds dear, but whether he is accepted or rejected he will go on loving the people with sincere devotion. And only death can silence his tender intercession for them.

Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive she must have men again, the right kind of men. She must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of. God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt. And He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way among men.

And when the deliverers come—reformers, revivalists, prophets—they will be men of God and men of courage. The will have God on their side because they will be careful to stay on God’s side. The will be co-workers under Christ and instruments in the hand of the Holy Ghost. Such men will be filled with the Holy Spirit indeed, and through their labors He will fill others and send the long delayed revival.

AW Tozer

First of all it should be mentioned that the idea of leadership by elders is not new. Down through the ages various reformation movements have inclined in that direction. The Presbyterian Church derives its name from its form of church government, leadership by elders (Gk presbuteroi). The pastor is called a “teaching elder” and the other elders are called “ruling elders” and are chosen by the congregation. In practice the system is similar to a Baptist church where they are called deacons instead of elders. The teaching elder would have theological education and would do the bulk of the teaching and preaching. The clergy-laity system is kept intact. Frankly, there is no basis for such a division in Scripture. All elders are on the same footing. Even the apostle Peter when working with local leadership called himself a “fellow elder” (I Peter 5:1 NKJ). All elders are to be teaching elders; “apt to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2) is a qualification for the elder.

A current teaching is similar to that of the Presbyterian Church where a teaching elder in an assembly has a salary and is supported like the pastor is in many churches. The terms may be different but the work is much the same.

Certainly the local flock needs to be fed but is it true that men who make their living are unable to study the Word and feed the flock? Must all elders who teach be “free of the burden of providing for their families through outside employment?” May I suggest that the Scripture teaches the opposite? The norm for the elders of an assembly is to have employment, to study the Word and to share the responsibilities of shepherding the flock. Paul gave a moving charge to the elders of the church at Ephesus: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood….You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:28, 34, 35)

There were times when Paul worked at his trade and there were times when he was completely supported by the gifts of God’s people. But here he says he labored to give them an example. He does not encourage them to appoint one man to be their teaching elder and to support him. Quite the opposite! He urges them to have employment and he states that all of them are responsible to shepherd the flock.

1 Tim. 5:17 has been horribly misused to support the clergy system. Paul was a rational, consistent thinker. “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim. 5:17). What does he teach here? The Greek word time is always used of value, respect or honor in other places. It is never used of a wage or salary. Paul here teaches that all elders should have respect but those who rule well and especially those who work hard at teaching should be accorded more respect. The ox received his food for his work; the elder should receive honor for his labor. If the word time means money all elders are to be paid; those who teach often and those who rule well should get twice as much. Really? Is that the Biblical teaching on elders? Is that the way an assembly should function.

Some assert in connection with this passage that in addition to receiving respect this honor includes financial support. But where is the proof for this. There are verses that apply to those men who felt called of God to give up employment to spend their time preaching and teaching the Word. The sphere of labor for these men reached out beyond the local church and at times would involve some travel. This is the pattern seen in the Acts as the Gospel spread. These men called themselves “servants of the Lord” and looked to the Lord to provide for their support through His people. They were never hired or salaried, but lived lives of faith. There are thousands serving God in this same way today.

If elders are hired and wages agreed upon, then they can also be terminated or fired. Wages imply a financial agreement, a contract. Is this the New Testament pattern?

Although Lenski is a Lutheran and believes in a salaried ministry, he makes this statement: “It is generally assumed that the elders were paid for their services in the apostolic churches. We are convinced that this assumption is not tenable. The probability is that none of them were paid. The elders of the synagogues were not paid or salaried. Each synagogue had a number of elders, too many to have a payroll that would be large enough to support them. The apostolic congregations imitated the synagogue in this respect. Our passage speaks of ‘twofold honor,’ not of twofold financial pay or salary” (Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p. 683). Hendriksen agrees with this view (I-II Timothy and Titus, p. 280).

Full-time workers should live lives of faith, depending on the Lord to provide their needs through His people. They may feel called to do a pioneer work and stay much of the time in one place. They may feel called to more of an itinerant ministry of preaching and teaching and travel much of the time. Each worker must determine the Lord’s mind for himself. But none were salaried in New Testament days. Thousands still serve the Lord around the world in such a simple pathway of faith. It is interesting to note that the Mormon churches flourish with no salaried workers in their churches, a rebuke to many who insist on a professional clergy.

In the early days of the United States there was a general consensus
about what was right and what was wrong.  No one would publicly question
whether adultery was wrong.  The consensus came about because there was a
common reference point for morality, the Bible.  This is emphasized in
the Supreme Court chambers where Moses is seen  holding the ten
commandments of Exodus 20.  Not all of the founding fathers were devout
Christians but all agreed that the Bible had good moral instruction.
Today the Muslims are united in belief by the Koran.  They all appeal to
it for moral guidance.

But today the courts,  and the country as a whole,  no longer have a
common ethical code to which all can appeal.  The Bible has been excluded
from our class rooms; teachers can be fired for writing the ten
commandments on the black board.  A judge was deposed for having the ten
commandments near his courtroom.  A decision by a jury was recently
overturned because one of the jurors carried a Bible into the room.  The
nation is like a ship on the high seas without a compass, uncertain of
its direction.  Because of this there is much bickering and strong
feeling about moral issues today.  How can one know what is right?

The prevailing virtue of today is tolerance.    This translates into
autonomy for the individual.  Each is free to pick and choose his moral
convictions.  If it makes you happy, do it!  Do not judge another and do
not lay your moral convictions on others.  Be tolerant!

Homosexuality was once viewed as aberrant behavior that needed
counseling by psychiatrists.  Now it is viewed as normal for some people
by the psychiatric profession..   Divorce was once viewed as wrong.  Now
it is viewed as a good thing, giving one more choice.  To take the life
of the unborn was once a criminal offense, subject to prosecution.  Now
it is viewed as liberating for women, their right to choose.  Now liberal
courts make decisions based on what most of the people seem to tolerate
rather than on objective truth that applies to all in every age.  More
people use drugs and alcohol to excess than ever before..  Be tolerant;
many would say.  Do not be judgmental.

An ancient proverb states: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a
reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).  The proverb affirms that what
makes a nation great is righteous living.  To be righteous means one is
conforming to a righteous standard.  A builder constructing a house has a
building code to which he must conform.  Man desperately needs a moral
standard outside of himself by which he can measure his conduct.  But one
may say, “Is not conscience enough?”  No, history attests to the fact
that mankind has been very adept at rationalizing and twisting the
message of conscience.  Hitler could rationalize that it was good for the
German people to weed out the disabled, the retarded, and even the whole
Jewish race, all to maintain racial purity.

The Bible is realistic.  Man is terribly flawed and prone to sin.  “The
heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.  Who can know
it?” (Jer. 17:9).  The Law of God gives man an absolute standard to warn
him of wrong doing.  God states that these are for “our good always”
(Deut. 6:24).  America was once viewed by the world as a good nation,
moral and compassionate.  Today Muslim nations warn their peoples against
the immorality and pornography that spews out of American media.  Shame
on us!  It is time for the nation to repent and to return to God and the
moral standards of our forefathers based on the Word of God.

                    Donald L. Norbie
April 1, 2005