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.
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.”
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 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?
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.)
Abraham is known as the friend of God. He is the only hero of faith mentioned twice in this chapter. He was a man that not only lied but also committed adultery to help God’s plan. I am glad God is not like me. We can look at the life of Abraham and realize that God is a friend of sinners.
When we first looked at Abraham we saw he had a submissive faith because he was called to go and he was submissive to the will and call of God. This message will focus on Abraham and his sure faith. I know what your thinking, “Faith is sure.” If our eyes are on the Lord shouldn’t our faith be sure? Yes, because a sure faith is about hope. I am not speaking the hope the world speaks of often. This kind of hope is a Biblical hope. Remember back to our first lesson when we were defining faith. Faith has substance and it has evidence. The substance of our faith is Jesus. The evidence of our faith is the Bible. A Biblical hope is rooted in the Word of God.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Ps. 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Ps. 42:11 We are encouraged here to hope in the Lord. We don’t just hope in what He can do, we also Hope in who He is. Even when his son was on the altar Abraham still had a sure faith because he had a Biblical hope. Hope is need in times of turmoil and trials because without it we would give up.
We don’t just trust God when times are good. Faith is not just intended when we are comfortable. Faith is suppose to be a way of life for a believer. Circumstances change, the Lord does not. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Mal. 3:6 If Jesus is the substance of our faith then He cannot be a God who changes. His unchanging nature brings us security. Our circumstances may be out of control, but He is not. We are thinking about a sure faith. Our faith is sure because our Lord is sure.
Have you ever been faced with a decision? Of course, we all have. There are times when those decisions are like a fork in the road. What to do? God shows how to make these decisions.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
I have come to the conclusion that the decision has already been made by God. We need to be willing to follow His lead. Our problem is that we are full of ourselves. We are afraid, or we feel incompetent, or we just want something else. It is a pride issue. Any time we get in the way of God it is really pride. We are saying to God, “I know better.” Pride gets in the way of trust.
I only have my life to look at and see how I have made decisions. Some decisions have been based on trust. Some have also been based on pride. The decisions based on trust have victories, while the ones based on pride have regrets. I have determined that life is to short for more regrets.
I am not saying that when we trust God it will be easy. There will be obstacles. However, when we face those obstacles we already trusted God about the decision. Consider Paul. He allowed God to direct him. His path lead to being shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned, and beheaded. His path also lead him to starting many churches, he saw many saved, he was a hero for Timothy, and he wrote much of the New Testament. Did he make a bad choice by following God?
I know we want things to be smooth. It is only natural to wish for ease. It is also natural to trust ourselves. If Paul is an example of making the decision to follow God then Lot would be the example for making a prideful decision. Lot used his eyes to make up his mind. Because of his poor decision making he suffered the consequences. The worse consequence of all is that he could not turn back time and make the decision over.
When we are at a fork in the road of life we don’t need to over complicate the matter. We are told to simply trust and He will direct us.
8 The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind:
the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down:
the Lord loveth the righteous:
There is no doubt in my mind the God loves righteousness. I know our text says, “the righteous.” The righteous could be the saved. We all know saved people who do not love righteousness. I am not saying in any way, shape, or form that God does not love people. I do believe that when we love our “guilty pleasures” (sin) that God is not pleased with that. We are predestined to be like Him. We cannot be like Him if we are hanging on to our sinful ways.
Consider the first part of the verse, “The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind…” Do you remember when the Holy Spirit convicted you of your sins? We were blind. We did not know our sins separated us from a Holy God. We did not know we were enemies of God.
We were blind to the fact that our sin carried a penalty that is impossible to pay off. That penalty is death in Hell. That is the reason I got saved. I did not want to go to Hell. Scripture opened our eyes to the fact that Hell is a real place.
We were blind until one day someone pointed out from the Bible how that we can know for sure that when we died we could go to Heaven instead of Hell. I remember that day my eyes were opened and I saw what God saw, a sinner who deserved Hell.
The question is a simple question. The question is a direct question. If we were blind, why do we close them? We know what God says about sin, and about living a righteous life. We know that we are to put no wicked things before our eyes. Yet, we do. We are comfortable in our sin. Some may be even comfortable in the chastisement of that sin. Our country is hurting because our churches are hurting. Our churches are hurting because Christians are not Christians.
The term Christians was given to people who lived like Christ. The first Christians did not give themselves that name. The world gave them that name. They were not given that name because they lived like the world. They loved righteousness and it showed.
Believer, we must wake up and determine to be a Christian. God opened our eyes at salvation. We must keep them opened.