I was putting together a lesson on Naaman from 2 Kings chapter 5 when it occurred to me, and I suppose it already should have, mankind has adopted the same attitude Naaman had when he was told what to do to cleanse himself. Mankind wants to things THEIR way. They have prejudged what God wants out of them and try to satisfy that NOT by doing what is asked, but by doing what they THINK comes close enough without inconveniencing themselves. This has long been a problem for man and just as Naaman was wrong, and allowed his servant to talk him into doing what was prescribed by the prophet Elisha, mankind today needs to set aside what they want to do to please God and do what He has asked us all to do. I would encourage all to read 2 Kings chapter 5 and realize what allowed Naaman to be cleansed was his obedience to God and His prophet and that is the same thing that will allow us to be cleansed today. Our obedience is what is required not anything else.
I recently purchased a few tracts from a religious bookstore and one that caught my eye was titled “Why do people give up?”. That topic seems to be one that we don;t address as much as we probably should. It is one I want to talk about today in this article. One of the reasons that people give up is a lack of, or a weak, faith. This prompts the question “How does one’s faith weaken?” There is an answer to that question that may be one of many. That is the person has an event in their life that does not initially take them away but as they see that situation fail to improve then they give up on God because they feel that God gave up on them. That is unfair to God. What that response does is program how God is to answer our prayers regarding the situation we are praying for and also putting a specific timeframe on God’s response to our prayers. We must understand with ALL situations that God’s timeframe and ours are two different things. God answers prayers as He sees the NEEDS and in HIS time. This is sometimes difficult for mankind to grasp, but our inability to grasp this concept does not mean it is any less true. Jesus prayed in the garden “not my will but thine be done.” When we pray we need to have the same mindset. This will lead us, in turn, to have a stronger faith in God and not allow events that don’t go the way we want them to to drive us from God. What will develop in us is a greater understanding of His will and that will, in turn, lead us to heaven when this life is over. The author of the tract I mentioned at the beginning of this article is Abraham Smith. The tract is produced by Truth books.
In the last few blog articles I have posted we have been discussing the direction the church which Christ died to save is going in regards to leadership. I have written about my concern for our teaching the next generation so that men are qualified to be elders as the New Testament defines elders. I am going to write today about something else we are starting to see more of in the church today.
The point I want to make regards the preacher of the congregation. In many places it is becoming the preacher’s job to organize the business meetings and run the meetings if anything is going to be done. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, however it can lead to a situation like the denominational world has with the “pastor” running the whole show and that is not what God intended. We see no example of that in the New Testament as the church was established. In this way we become less different than the rest of the world and become more like the world. The question we need to ask is do we want to have the same organizational structure as the denominations around us where the “pastor” is THE authority figure in the local congregation. I don’t think so. If this was desired by God we would have examples of the full-time preacher making unilateral decisions, but we don’t see that in the New Testament. We see the men preaching the gospel setting up elderships wherever they go, as long as there are men qualified. That last phrase needs to be looked at as well. These men in the first century saw to it that men were taught the gospel and were educated in the ways of truth well enough to lead once the preachers had moved to the next city. I believe this is an important example for us to learn from. Teaching the gospel to our own family is the most important thing we can do. As fathers this shows us to be “able to teach”. (1 Tim. 3:2) That is important to God as well. He wants to see us educate our families in regards to His word so that the soul receives the nourishment it needs to thrive. I think we need to get back to the proper organization God wanted for His people. We need to do our part to help that to happen. Have a blessed day in His service and check back tomorrow toes what we discuss.
As we look around us today we see a similar issue cropping up in churches of Christ throughout this country. That issue is a lack of leadership in the local church. I do not mean that there are not men who want to take responsibilities I mean that there are fewer and fewer men who are qualified for the leadership position in the local church. That position is elder. I have written a couple of articles recently on my blog regarding this and as I consider the title of this article I cannot help but think back to the Israelite nation in the days of the judges and the time of the kings after Solomon’s death. These people had the same issue in both times. There would come a generation that knew God and they would fail to teach the next generation and then that generation would leave God. In Judges 2:10 it is written ” When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which he had done for Israel.” This is right after the death of Joshua and we see this issue develop for God’s people concerning whether they would obey God or not.
This begs the question how can a generation follow one that serves God and not know Him? It has to do with a couple of basic principles. One is a failure to teach and put an emphasis on the importance that goes with learning what is being taught. The other is a failure to listen and within that a failure on the part of the instructor to recognize the lack of listening. I have written articles about teaching and am sure I am not the first person to go over the topic again and again, but this is how things are taught and learned. Repetition is important in any instruction and we should not refrain from this practice in teaching the word of God. As we look at the Israelite nation in the Old Testament we see something lacking in these historical accounts if we look closely. We do not see a lot of verbal instruction from parent to child in this era of time. One of the fundamental problems that faced God’s people was that they became people who took their instruction from the example they saw day-to-day. As New Testament Christians our example is important, I am not trying to diminish that, we also though need to verbalize instruction and make sure that who we are teaching understands that their soul is important to us and God and make sure that they are listening.
God’s people under the Old Law struggled to serve God the way they should have and because of that there was needless pain in their lives. We do not want to be responsible for raising a generation that knew not God let us make every effort in our lives to see to that and the Lord’s body will be strong for generations to come because we will have raised a generation that knows God and knows how to teach God. This is our charge let us take it with great pride and joy. Have a wonderful day in service to our God and Father in heaven.
I wrote at the end of my blog post yesterday that I would write today about another direction the church of Christ is heading in as far as finding leadership is concerned. As I start this post it is important to note something in yesterday’s article. Paul and Barnabas appointed “elders”. This is a plural terminal I believe it to be incredibly important to acknowledge that God never intended one man to lead a congregation. He knew the importance of the exchange of ideas in leading, or shepherding, the flock of God which is among them (1 Pet. 5:2). It is also important to notice the instruction Peter gives to the elders to whom he is writing. They are to serve “not under compulsion, but willingly” (1 Pet. 5:2). They are not to be “lords”, rather “examples” to the flock. The question then comes when there are not enough qualified men to have elders what happens then?
It has been my experience that what happens is the men hand out responsibilities to those who will take them and random acts of leadership and communication happen. It borders on anarchy and this is not what God wants for the local work. It then becomes the job of the preacher, more often than not, to try to organize the efforts and this is not supposed to be a function of the preacher. The preacher’s job is to teach the word and preach the word primarily not to be the authority figure of the church. This pattern looks more like the denominational world where the “pastor” is the leader of the church by himself, or herself in some cases, and this is another failing of the denominational world. What we need to value is teaching the next generation the word and seeing to it that the church works and lives on the way that God intended it to.
I will write tomorrow on how this generation of the church compares with God’s people in the past. I hope that you who read this and any articles from this site realize how important it is for us to be teachers constantly and I hope you have a wonderful day in service to our Creator and the architect of our salvation.
It has been a little while since I posted an article here and I am disappointed in myself for allowing the events leading up to the return to school distract me from one of the things I enjoy doing. That is the challenge of being a parent, though, we have to juggle many things sometimes and we fail in certain areas.
I was talking to a friend of mine last week, trying to encourage him in his work as a minister, and as we visited we came to a similar conclusion about the “business” side of “running a church”. Throughout this country there are a growing number of congregations of the Lord’s body that do not have elders and deacons in them. I have come to be alarmed at this as I see more and more local churches struggling to find men who are qualified to do so. This amazing considering that when the apostles first started teaching and preaching the gospel there were very few congregations outside of Jerusalem. In Acts 8 we see Saul begin his persecution against the church and then those who were followers of Christ were spread all throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). In Acts 9 there were followers of Christ in Damascus that Saul was going to throw in prison until he met Christ on the road to Damascus. My point in referencing this is that we don’t see elders referred to here either. The apostles were taking a leading role in the church at this point in time. We do see, though, as Paul and Barnabas went on their first missionary journey they “appointed elders in every church” (Acts 14:23). They recognized the need for leadership in the local church and this comes from God as He, through His Spirit, inspired Paul to give Timothy and Titus the qualifications for elders. (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1) Our generation apparently does not see the need as much because we are having problems in many local works throughout this world we live in. God wants leadership in His local churches and we are failing in this area and because if that there are groups that lack direction. These groups lack direction for the simple fact that the men have to make decisions as a group and sometimes that can take some time to do. I don’t think I have ever feared the disappearance of the church, rather one thing I do fear is that groups will become less and less active due to a lack of leadership than anything else and tomorrow’s article will address the other direction that the church is going.
Have a wonderful day in service to our Creator and encourage those around you as you can to shine their lights bright so that Christ can be seen everywhere possible.
As we get ready to “get back to school” I am reminded of an old phrase that i always heard growing up as a child with Christian parents. That phrase was “book, chapter and verse”. New Testament Christians always went to this when there were questions about a practice, whether that practice involved the work of the church or the worship services themselves. I would always hear the preacher from the pulpit use this phrase as both a defense for what is being done, also it was used to prove whether or not something could be done as a work of the church. It was also used to help format the worship service. Well as we look at this phrase what does it really mean to the New Testament Christian today? It should be a phrase that the Christian has always in the back of their mind, especially in this age of denominational growth. This phrase is not used by the denominational groups today because they simply cannot defend their beliefs from the Bible, in fact most denominations will reference some creed book for their “beliefs” and ignore the Bible. Is this where the church that Jesus died for is headed? I fear brethren that do something because a dear friend of theirs who was a Christian thought it was a good idea. We, as New Testament Christians, need to use this phrase today the same way it was used in generations past. It was also used in conjunction with phrase “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent”. These phrases should be part of our thought process for all that we do as a local church. They define our thought process. They define where we get permission to do what we do as a group and as an individual. How does the Christian use these phrases today? We use them to defend against instrumental music as we are told to sing and make “melody in your heart to the Lord”. Eph. 5:19. That passage does not mention the use of an instrument just our voice. So then, how do we sing as a group? We see no example of a leader in scripture so can we have one? Paul in writing the first of two letters to the church in Corinth wrote the following: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Cor. 14:40. What that means is the worship service should have structure and proper flow to it. To have structure in any aspect of the worship service means one leads and the rest follow through that part of the service. The question then becomes who is the leader of any aspect of the worship service. The only examples we see in the New Testament leading in any part of the service is when we see men preach the gospel. Peter on the day of Pentecost. Paul, on Mars Hill in Athens. We do not see evidence of women being allowed to have a leading part in the worship service and we certainly don’t see children doing so and we also do not see men who are not baptized believers take a leading role in this area. This is what it is to use “book, chapter and verse” to prove something. We need to keep this practice else we become like those who have fallen away to follow their own wants and desires. There is a necessity to please God first in our lives and ourselves last if we are to be the servant that God desires us to be. May God bless you always as you seek to serve Him above all others.
I have been away from this blog for a couple of weeks and as I get started again I remind you that what is put in here is meant to encourage you to focus on God and seeking to please Him in your everyday affairs. I was reading an article last night in which was detailed a lawsuit involving an employee who was terminated 3 days after his hire date because of something he had said in a public forum the previous year regarding gay marriage. The employer was Fox Sports Southwest. The employee was Craig James. The comments stemmed from a debate that he attended as he ran in the primary race against Ted Cruz for his seat in the U.S. Senate. His comments regarding gay marriage were based on the fact that it is an immoral lifestyle that is being perpetuated by society today. He believes that homosexuality is a choice. I think that it is important for us to realize as Christians that these are stands we need to be taking in our everyday affairs. We may not have the same outlet to express ourselves that Mr. James had, but we still should not fear speaking out against the perversions we see in the world today and have book, chapter, and verse to back up what we believe. 1 Corinthians 6:8-10 is clear about this lifestyle choice. We should be proud to speak where the Bible speaks. As we get started in this week let us have the confidence to boldly proclaim the truth whenever we have the opportunity knowing that our Father in heaven is watching over us and will care for us and lift us up. Have a wonderful rest of the day in service to the one true and living God.
I have taken a little break from posting to take care of my children while my wife finishes some summer classes and am reminded of God’s creation. I wrote about the order of the creation in a blog I posted titled “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.” I look around today and see a beautiful creation and am reminded of the power of God as I see the blue sky and the peach trees in my backyard and the pecan trees in my front yard. I am reminded that our God and father in heaven who has set the order for all things set this as well and we should be reminded of God’s awesome power in this creation. We should also think about the intricate details that show God’s ability as a one who shaped all of this. I was recently at Big Bend National Park in southern Texas for a vacation with my family and was reminded again of the beauty of God’s creation and also thought to myself how powerful a God I serve that could just speak these things into existence. Let us not diminish God’s power by saying that these things were naturally created over millions of years, rather let us understand that by reading our Bibles we can understand that the world is only about 6,000 years old at the max and probably closer to 5,500 years old. The Creator of all of this spoke all of these things into being as we are told in Genesis chapter 1. Take time this weekend to notice the wonderful creation of God around you this weekend.
I looked up on bible gateway.com what the 10 most read books of the Bible are and I was not really shocked to see that the Psalms and Proverbs were there. Three of the gospels were there with the exception of Mark. Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians and Genesis and Isaiah were there as well. In seeing this list what struck me is that most people want to read about the story of Jesus as well as the creation. When it gets down to the “brass tacks”, as it were, people are not not as interested in the doctrinal issues that Paul wrote about in the rest of his epistles. They are not interested in the writings of the other apostles or James and Jude for that matter. It brings about the idea that most people today only have a small cursory knowledge of the Bible and have not been interested in learning the intricate details of God’s will for man and because of that we have a society like what we live in today. In the epistle of Jude we see an apostasy, or “falling away” predicted by the writer Jude. He warned his readers of the type of attitude these would have and he also gives some advice on things that will help reduce the number that would be susceptible to this “falling away”. The book is short and a necessary read, I believe, for the 21st century Christian as they navigate their way through their day-to-day life in service to God. This “falling away” is still happening today as we see so many denominations that are breaking away from the teachings of the New Testament to teach false doctrines to a world that has heaped to themselves those who would teach what people want to hear rather than teach the truth as the Bible teaches it. If we are to evangelize a lost and dying world then we have to increase the level of expertise we have in the word of God so that we are equipped as Paul encouraged Timothy to be in 2 Timothy 2:15. Have a blessed day in His service.