A Burden We Should All Bear.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:30

When I read this verse I always picture an animal such as a horse with a large pack on his back.  He is traveling with a burden.  This is his job.  There is a reason he is a beast of burden.  I want us to think how that we are intended to travel through life   We are to find our rest in the Lord as we are carrying a burden.  What is that burden we should all bear?

Consider the Gospel as the burden we should all bear.  We are familiar with the fact that we are commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.  It is hypocritical to support worldwide missions if we will not be missionaries where we are.  Can we be involved in worldwide missions and neglect reaching those around us?  Of course not.

To that end think of that message that we are delivering to those we see.  Whose message is being delivered?  It is God’s  He made it a simple message.  Because it is so simple many may say it is too easy to believe.  However, it is so simple we may have a hard time delivering it the way that it is written.  It is easy to muddy up the Gospel.

Romans 10:9-13 explains to us that all a person has to do is believe.  In other words all a person has to do is reach out their hand and receive the gift of salvation.  It is so easy to add to that message.

Adding to the message of salvation is false doctrine.  There is no way around it.  If we add our opinions to the Gospel it becomes a false doctrine.  If we teach a false doctrine that would make us a false teacher.

I get the opportunity to stand before my church three times a week.  My greatest fear is not standing before people, but delivering a false message.  God made salvation easy.  It is not my job to add to that simple message.  I am to deliver the Gospel message just as clearly as God wrote it.

My burden, simply put, is this.  I do not want to muddy up the Gospel.  We should all bear that burden.  By the way, if we do it God’s way we will find the rest He is speaking about in Matthew 11.

Wisdom and Discretion

One of the best things we can do for our daily walk with God is read a chapter of Proverbs.  We think we are wise, but if we neglect the wisdom that God gives in this down to earth book we are foolish.  Proverbs 2 is a powerful chapter.  It deals with discretion which we will think of as the result of wisdom.   Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:   Proverbs 2:11  
Everywhere we go there seems to be a lack of discretion.  We lack discretion with what we do, what we say, what we think, what we read, etc.  The list could literally go on until the end of this article.  My prayer today needs to be my prayer for the rest of my life.  “God, give me discretion.”
Take the time to read the entire chapter, but focus in on the first five verses.  The key word here is “if.”  If we want wisdom and discretion we must search for it.  If we want wisdom and discretion we must use what we read.  This is the greatest error we are all guilty of preforming when it comes to walking with God.  We do not put to practice what we read.
The Bible was written with the intention of being used on a practical level.  When was the last time we have heard a message that we needed but we did not use?  The same question could be asked about our daily devotional life.  God speaks and we often listen and we often forget.  
Wisdom is found in the Bible.  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.   Proverbs 2:6  God does not hide it from us.  It is written for all of us to have.  The Holy Spirit is our teacher.
A closer examination of verses 12-19 shows us the clear danger of ignoring the wisdom of the Bible.  Living a day without discretion would create situations we would need delivered from in order to survive.  The wise writer speaks of those who forsake the guide.  If we are without discretion it is our own fault because we are forsaking our guide.  God promises wisdom to those who ask it.  The answer is found in the pages of God’s Word.  
This chapter ends with a reward for obedience.  Really whatever decision we choose for today has its own reward.  If we seek after wisdom and use the wisdom we find through discretion we will be rewarded the blessings found in verses 20-21.  
My prayer for those of you who read this article is that you will have a desire to have discretion today.  This means that you will practically apply God’s Word you your life.  This practical application will make us more like Him.  God give us wisdom and discretion. 
wisdom-sign

A Thought on Pastoring

I have only been a pastor for a couple of months. I am by no means an expert. There is one lesson that has come to my attention rather quickly. There are battles that we are facing as a family that would not be waged if I was not a pastor. I am not speaking about people problems, counseling issues, etc. These are personal issues. These personal issues make the ministry the most exciting and the most difficult job in the world. Life has been a roller coaster from day one. People have been moved by the preaching. Visitation is making an impact on hearts in the community and in the church. God is working. So is the devil. Allow me to lift one verse from Galatians 6. This is an application of the the verse. It is Galatians 6:2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. I want to encourage you to help your pastor carry his burden. How can you help your pastor? The first thing that comes to mind is to pray for him. He needs you to lift him up in prayer. The devil has him in his cross hairs. When your pastor came to pastor your church he placed his family on the devil’s hit list. He needs to pray for a hedge of protection around him and around his family. He needs to pray for him when he is discouraged. He needs prayer as he prepares messages. He needs prayer before he preaches. He needs prayer as he plans. He needs prayer as he does the job of a pastor. Not only does he need prayer as a man of God, he also needs prayer as a family man. He is a husband and a father. If he looses his family you loose a pastor. He faces the same struggles every family faces. His family is not perfect. He wants to see his children grow up and serve God, but many children do not. Pray for them. So many speak of the pastor. They do not like his preaching, his direction he is leading the church, his people skills, etc. Criticism does not help him. Praying for him is also praying with him. You will be bearing his burdens with him in prayer. Make this a daily issue in your prayer life.

Count your Blessings

One of the songs I enjoy singing in church is “Count Your Blessings.” It was written in the late 1800’s by Johnson Oatman, Jr. The first verse speaks of discouragement. What do we always focus on when we are battling the devil? We think of the battle. Some have said that if Satan is not fighting you then you must be doing something wrong.

 It is true that as Christians we should see our battles through the lens of a spiritual warfare. The fight we may have with people, things, and circumstances are not fights with people, things, and circumstances. They are part of our spiritual warfare. We grow weary in the fight and become discouraged.

 Why do we focus so much on the battle? Scripture leads our focus elsewhere. Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. Psalm 68:19 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Psalm 103:2 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? Psalm 116:12

 We are told not look at our circumstances, we must count our blessings. It is so easy to be discouraged. It is so easy to have the attitude that leads us to sing the song, “Woe is me. Everybody hates me. I think I’ll go eat worms.”

 What did the Psalmist say? He said that we are loaded with benefits. Psalm 68:19 ends with a musical term, “Selah.” This word means to think about what you are singing. Remember that the Psalms are songs. When was the last time we thought about the hymns that we sing in church? We are creatures of habit. We tend to sing “Count Your Blessings” while we are thinking about a fight we just had, or while we are thinking about a bill that needs to be paid. Perhaps we are dwelling on a mistake we made. The point is we do not always think about what we are singing.

 If the purpose of the song service is to prepare our hearts for the preaching of the Word of God then we must meditate on those words we sing. This would lead us to the doctrinal truth this hymn was written to teach us. That truth is we are so forgetful of the benefits that God has given us. Let us stop what we are doing and just see how good God really is.

 My friend, are you dreary, are you heavy hearted? Then, “Count Your Blessings,” and just as the song says, “It will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

The Will of God

One of the major topics of concern with many believers is the will of God.  What does God want me to do?  I have come to think that we misunderstand the will of God.  We approach it this way.  We devise a plan and we pray that God will bless us as we launch out.  All though it is admirable to launch out into the deep, it is foolish to launch out into something God never intended for us.

I am trying to change the way I think by asking myself one or two questions.  First, where is God working?  Second, what is God doing?  We need to get in on His plan for this world instead of us trying to convince Him to get involved in our plans.  If we do this we are submitting to what He wants.

Christian, are you struggling in knowing what the Lord has for you?  I challenge you to immerse yourself in the Scriptures for the simple fact that we all need to know God better.  Develop a relationship with Him.  From there look for where He is working in your church, in your community, or maybe even in another location completely foreign from where you are.

We are living in the last of the last days.  These days are the most exciting days to serve God.  Get in on it.

When I think of church.

When I think of church I think of the people.  Church is not the place we go but the people we know.  God did not die for the building, but for the lives He is building.  The memories we hold are about the people.  The memories we hear about are about the people.  When we work with people we are investing in the lives of the same people God died for.

When I think of church I think of the preaching.  Preaching is front and center of every church service.  The preaching is what God prepares every preacher for.  The preaching is what motivates, molds, and moves.  The preaching is what establishes, errects, and edifies.  The preaching involves, invigorates, and inspires.  The preaching is called foolishness by the lost and wise by the Lord.

When I think of church I think of the music.  The music of the church is under attack.  The devil wants the music to change because his music is wicked, worldly, and weak.  It is the opposite of Godly music which prepares, pours truth in our hearts, and points to the Saviour.  The devil’s music undermines what God is doing in the hearts of man.  If a church’s music changes it can be guaranteed that the Bible will change as well, standards will go out the door, and church will no longer be church.

What do I think of when I think of church?  I think of a cause worth giving my life to.  I think of a cause worth helping others to get involved.  I think of how the God of the church is the only hope for this dying world.  When I think of church I am confronted by the fact that our mission, our mandate is the highest calling in the land.  The results are eternal and the rewards are worth reaping.  When I think of the church I think of our Lord and Saviour and His heartbeat for this world.  When I think of church I am forced to focus my life and desires on the things of the Lord.

The question must be asked.  We must be confronted with what we believe.  What do you think of when you think of church?  Is is a meeting place?  Is it the next thing on the weekly calendar?  Is it something you look forward to?  Is it something you are serious about?  The Lord gave himself for the church.  What are we giving our lives too?Image

The good report of Joseph. Hebrews 11:22

Hebrews 11 is a chapter often called the Great Hall of Faith or the Great Faith Chapter.  I see it as a chapter of good reports.  Every individual account is a good report given by God about these people.  God noticed their faith and not their faults. Their sins were washed underneath the blood, they also had the saving faith that Abel had. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Heb. 10:17

Now we have come to Joseph. Joseph is an interesting character. I may be wrong with this statement, but as far as I can tell he is one of four people in the Bible that we do not know about his sin. Those men are Abel, Joseph, Daniel, and of course Jesus. I do not believe he led a sinless life. The Bible says all have sinned, that includes Joseph and neglects Jesus because He does not have a sin nature.

We do not need to look at the entire life of Joseph for this message. Again we are just catching a glimpse of their life. Consider Jospeh. He lived a life that it would be easy to say, “that is not fair,” especially with today’s entilement mentality. He did not complain. He pressed on and he was faithful. I am sure he dealt with discouragement, but he did not allow that to hinder him.

I want us to notice our verse. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. Heb. 11:22 There are two expressions that give us an indication about his characteristic of faith. They are: “made mention,” and “gave commandment.” He had a stated faith. He talked about his faith.

For sake of context let us see what he is talking about. 29 And the time drew nigh that Israel must die : and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put , I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30 But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said , I will do as thou hast said. 31 And he said , Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head. Gen. 47:29-31 Jacob made Jospeh promise that he would be burried with his fathers. He wanted to burried in his homeland, not Egypt. He had what they call heritage in the land of his fathers. Joseph made a similar request. 24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die : and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying , God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26 So Joseph died , being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. Gn. 50:24-26 Part of his request made mention of a future event that he saw as a fact. This was his expression of a stated faith. His faith in the Lord allowed him to state what will happen, because of that he had a Biblical hope that led him to make a similar request. Although he was used greatly in Egypt and had a family because of Egypt he also had heritage in another country.

A faith worth having is a faith worth talking about. If faith in Jesus can save us then we should talk about it. If faith in Jesus can help us when we are discouraged then we should share what the Lord has done for us. If Jesus makes a difference in our lives then we should talk about it.

I know for some of Joseph’s life it seemed that his faith was a wasted faith, but God was working on putting Joseph in the right place at the right time so he could be help for his family. We don’t know what God is doing in our lives, but we must believe that God is working. We must have a stated faith even when right now does not seem like things are going are way becuase we have a God who is working in us and through us and becuase we have a sure future. (A future that we often undervalue.)