Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Survive The Recession

Some say that there is indication that the recession is coming to an end, however I still find that the information in this article may prove helpful regardless of the economic picture of our Nation. With this in mind I would like to share five timeless principles that can serve as a blueprint or roadmap that will guide one through the rough seas of a turbulent economy or keep one on course in the calm or steady streams of life. These five timeless principles all begin with the letter “D” and they are: description, diligence, discipline, denial, and destiny. A commitment to the application of these five “D” principles will assure one of survival regardless of the economic conditions.
The first timeless principle is simply a description. In the bible we see the description of the ant and this is a very practical and useful picture that we would do well to apply. We are told in the bible “Go to the ant, sluggard; consider her ways and be wise; who having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her food in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). We learn that the ant though a small and apparently insignificant creature is wise. They gather in season to store for times when there is lack. They gather enough not just for there household, but for others. We should be so wise that we remember to save for a rainy day. When we get some extra a good principle is to put some away and be prepared for times when we will have to tighten our belts. It times of a recession we may say that we “just barely have enough to survive”, and we do not have an overflow to save. This may be true in many cases but in such cases the principle to learn from this picture is twofold. First we should not waste, but use wisely that which we have, and secondly be willing to help others and at times be humble enough to realize that we may need to be helped by another. We should not feel as though we are alone in difficult times. If we are not recipients of help, we should be willing to be the providers of aide to those in need. It is a circle and the circle like all circles works best when it is not broken, but continues.
The next principle is diligence and I return to the description of the ant who provides for us also an illustration of the importance of diligence. The ant was not a slacker but a worker. I truly believe that if we are diligent in going about our daily work we will survive the recession, regardless of how difficult may be the circumstances. It may be a long haul, and we may have to ride a big wave in a seemingly tumultuous sea, but we should do so with a continuous attitude of diligence in our work. Now some may say that the problem in this recession is that jobs are scarce and many are without work and can not find a job, and this may be true. It is difficult to be without work regardless of the economy and many are looking for work and can not find a job. This is a true picture, but it is also true that there are jobs available and sometimes we may have to settle for a job that may not be our ideal job until a better job comes our way. My encouragement is to get busy and do what you can and keep at it until that better job is made available. It is a lot easier to get a better job if one has any kind of a job, than to get a better job while not working in any kind of Job. Diligence is a principle that will enable one to survive in times of recession.
In times of difficulty it is very easy to get off course and lose our since of direction and purpose. Getting back on course is often very challenging and if this is not rectified it may ultimately lead to disaster. The remedy for this impending catastrophe is discipline and this is our next principle. By discipline I am referring to self control and this involves staying on task, on target, and on a mission! While growing up I was frequently mischievous and got out of line. My parents would apply discipline and I would get back in my lane, which was the path I was to conduct my life under the authority of my parents supervision. The discipline was not pleasant but it was always helpful and as I have grown older I have learned to discipline myself so that I can avoid the pitfalls of life. If we are survive a recession we must be disciplined in our homes, in our work, in our study, disciplined in how we manage our time, disciplined to continue doing the things that will enable one to survive in times of recession.
This next principle may be extremely demanding, but it is necessary if we are to survive a recession and this is denial. I learned this by necessity while growing up, because we never had a lot, yet we always had a sufficient. We were rich in the things that mattered most, and what we did not have we learned to live without. We never felt deprived. We just adjusted and learned that life was just as happy even if we did not possess the things owned by many of the families on TV. In times of recession we can deny ourselves of what may appear to be things that make us happy. Our happiness should not be based on the abundance of things, but on the joy of spending quality time with others. We should ask ourselves are these things we want or are they things that we really need? Do we really need them or can we live without them? When we answer these questions honestly our lives will be richer for we will be able to deny ourselves of things and have more time to give ourselves to others. This will help us to survive in times of recession.
Lastly if we are to survive in times of recession we are to live recognizing that we are people of destiny. This is important because it will enable us to live above a mindset of defeat and despair. Sometime the pressures of a recession have the potential to wear us down, but if we recognize that there is light at the end of the tunnel, we can be confident knowing that things are going to get better. With this attitude we can overcome the worst that a recession may bring. Americans are a resolute people. We have overcome very difficult times and it is because of the strength of the people of this great land. We have fortitude because God has blessed and kept America strong and we can go forth confidently knowing that we will prevail even though we are facing a difficult recession. Destiny is the final tool in our arsenal of keys to surviving a recession and as we apply this principle, along with the others we will survive this recession.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Title: A Christmas Message According to the Psalmist

Psalm 40
Title: A Christmas Message According to the Psalmist
Psalm 40: 1-8
Let us pray
Introduction: Psalm 40 like many of the Psalms is Messianic and has a prophetic message. In light of this being the Christmas Season we are going to lightly deal with much of the Psalm and zero in on one part of Psalm which is prophet and which I call the Christmas message and this is found in verses 6-8. This is a Christmas message which is seldom told and seldom considered. The Christmas message depicted in Psalm 40 is not communicated in a way in which we normally view Christmas. The message of Christmas we often hear is a very nice message, but it is frequently a view of Christmas from mans point of view. In Psalm 40 we encounter the story of Christmas revealed from Gods perspective and it is marvelous.
Some know Christmas only in terms of:
Christmas trees, decorations, lights, reindeers, Santa Clause, new gifts, good food, and joyful sounds and joyful get togethers!
For many Christmas is the baby Jesus, a virgin, shepherds, sheep, a stable, wise men, and the heavenly host.
How do you view Christmas? How do you share the Christmas message? Perhaps I should ask how do define the spirit of Christmas or what is this thing called the Christmas spirit? It is a fitting question and I really grapple with this phrase Christmas spirit or spirit of Christmas. Well today I would like for us to see Christmas according to the Psalmist! I would like for us to learn that Christmas is more than Christmas trees, shopping malls and fine things. Christmas is more than the baby born in a virgin. God’s view of Christmas is before, before all that we normally consider in the Christmas message! Before the babe, before the manger, before the virgin, before the gifts and frankincense, and before the cross and the empty tomb! God’s view of Christmas is before all of this, in fact it is before creation, and it before time! God’s view of Christmas is seen from eternity past and it is the Christmas story in the heart of the Psalmist!
I see Christmas as an opportunity to tell the whole story! I see Christmas as a time in which God would have the entire world to see His Son as he has revealed him, but he is more than just a baby, and he is more than just one to be adorned one day a year. This Jesus is the crises of every life and the cornerstone of all humanity. Without Jesus there is not only no Christmas story, but there is no story period, for history is His Story!
Let’s look at the text: These are the words of David! These are the words of God as the Holy Spirit inspired David, but these are also words Christ, and these are also words written for us.
I waited patiently for…
David begins with a message that is hard. I do not like this principle because it is tremendously hard. I wish I could skip over this one because it is just not an easy application. Listen, what David is saying here is while waiting on the Lord I waited! David knew that:
All things work together for good to them that love….yet it is still not easy
He knew that God would never leave him or forsake him and it was still hard
David waited on God because he knew God would deliver him. He knew God would keep him. He knew that God would meet him in his time of need so he waited.
Some of us are in the school of waiting and the lessons are not easy. How difficult it is to wait on the Lord in a world where we are so use getting what we want quickly? We are a microwave society. We drive fast cars. We like our food delivered fast. We want fast banking, fast travel, fast service, and fast solutions to our problems.
In the text David gives us some anchors or support to sustain us in God’s school of waiting!
Vs. 1 Patience-It is required of the patient (p-a-t-i-e-n-t) that he or she exercise patience! James said count it all joy when you…. Be patient and God will produce in you endurance, steadfastness, enablement, and continuance until the task is complete. Wait patiently in the Lord! There are two very important aspects of biblical patience (1) is personal that is that we are to persevere patiently and God who preserves us will give us this patience, but (2) is forbearance, we are to be patient with others and God in His grace will also give us this ability to endure with others even when they test our patience.
Vs. 1 The next anchor is prayer-David knew the power of prayer! He cried out to the Lord and God heard him. In times of waiting we cannot abandon our prayer life! We cannot faint in prayer! Often times it is just when we are about to lose heart and give up God that is moving and we are only a prayer away from deliverance. Now we may not know what to pray for. My advice to still pray and let the Spirit of God interpret your prayer need to God!
Romans 8:26 says: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
God heard David’s cry and there was deliverance. David was delivered from a horrible pit, and the pit was one of miry clay. But God delivered him and set his feet upon a rock. What pit do we find ourselves in today’s world? How horrible is the pit? Is it a pit that is full of mud and seemingly with no escape? It may be a pit of alcoholism or substance abuse, it may be a pit of failed relationships, or it may be a financial pit, or emotional or psychological pit, perhaps our pit is deteriorating health, or failed dreams. Perhaps there might be someone who is in a spiritual pit? Perhaps you are just struggling day to day to live the Christian life and you are slipping and sliding deeper into the pit! Know that you have a rock and that rock is Jesus Christ and He will be solid footing and He will sustain you!
But you will have to trust Him! You will have to know He is there and you will have to be convinced that He is there!
I cannot help but think of those miners that were buried in that mine for several days. The story of the miners from Chili reverberated around the world. But sadly it was also somewhat of a soap opera as one mining was courting a wife and a mistress. This was interesting this minor said this in one interview:
"I think I had extraordinary luck," Sepulveda, wearing sunglasses to protect his eyes, told reporters later. "I was with God and with the devil, and I reached out for God."
Nobody had survived underground as long as the miners and their tearful reunions with loved ones on the surface sparked celebration after celebration.
I pray that God used this horrible pit to draw those miners and many others who viewed this situation to Himself, and God alone can do this!

Quickly verses 3-5 and then I will finish up with the main thrust of my message. I pray that God used this horrible pit to draw those miners and many others who viewed this situation to Himself, and God alone can do this!
A new song in my mouth
David was very gifted. He was a leader, a warrior, a shepherd, a king, a musician, and no doubt a singer. He had a heart after Gods own heart and no doubt God encouraged David through music and here God gave David a new song and this song was full of praise to God!
This afternoon the men are going to be singing a Christmas song! It is not my favorite Christmas song but it has grown on me! And yes I have practiced it. The song has encouraged me this Christmas Season and the men of GraceWay are praying that it will be an encouragement to you! I have to admit to you that the biggest blessing to me has been the fellowship with the men! I have enjoyed working with the Matthews men and the men of GraceWay!
God gave David a new song!
Many shall see it and fear! In other words this song will provoke a holy reverence for God! This song is not some idle chatter, but it is a song that exalts God! This is a song that glorifies God! This is a song that put’s God on display, and magnifies Him, and honors Him, and worships Him, and reverences Him, and adores Him! It is a song praise to God and many will hear and fear, and shall trust in the Lord!
The name for God in vs. 3 is Eloheim! This speaks of the Strong One! It is also a reference to the Trinity! The creator God! He is our Strong One and we can trust Him. He is the creator God! He is our Strong One and we can trust Him. He will sustain us! He has power to uphold us and He is trustworthy!
He has power to uphold us and He is trustworthy!
The name for LORD here is Jehovah-covenant keeping God. This is the God who keeps His word, again indicating his faithfulness and reliability! You can trust Him, He is the strong one and He will not disappoint you! He is eternally reliable!

David trust the Lord, vs. 4
Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust! David’s trust was in Lord and not in man. This is what salvation is all about trusting in the Lord! Trusting in the Lord exclusively! Trusting in the Lord Solely! Trusting in the Lord alone! This is faith and this is saving faith! Faith=Forsaking all I take Him! Forsaking all I trust Him! This is saving faith!
What are you trusting in for the salvation of your soul? What do you believe about the son of God? Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life…. There is only one way, there is only one truth, and there is only one life and it is His way, His truth and His life!
Proverbs 3:5 and 6
Psalm 56:4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me!
Psalm 62:8 is one of my favorite verses in Psalms and it says: Trust in Him at all times ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us Selah!
Psalm 91:2-11 (please turn to this one)
Now look at verse 5 in Psalm 40
Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
Jehovah my Eloheim! This is worship! He declares the marvelous works of God astounding and too numerous to count!
“Count your many blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done”!
This brings us to verses 6-8 and it is my primary focus in this Psalm.
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
This is a prophetic passage of scripture and it is clearly messianic. What David here is a reflection on David’s life, but it is also indicative of the life of Christ for He is that acceptable offering and He is the heart and soul of Gods book, and He always delighted in doing the will of His Father!
Jesus said in John 5:30: I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
In John 6:38 Jesus said: For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Now turn with me to Hebrews chapter 10:1-14, and while you are turning listen! I do not know who wrote Hebrews. Some claim that they know who wrote it, but I am not that smart and I do not see where God told us who wrote it, but if you press me for my opinion as to who wrote I would say the Apostle Paul, but that is just my opinion and I can be wrong. But it is obvious to me that Hebrews chapter 10 is a classic commentary on Psalm 40:6-8. The blessed Holy Spirit took from the vocabulary of the writer of Hebrews, undoubtedly using the writer’s knowledge of Psalm 40 and in scribes for us a classic and thorough treatment of Psalm 40. You know the bible is always its best commentary on itself, but I know of know where in scripture where this is so clearly evident as it is in the case of Hebrews 10 in relation to Psalm 40 and this is the Christmas message from God to man! And this is marvelous and I can preach this message, in fact I can preach this message from now until Jesus comes! For here we see it all, for this not just the Christmas message but this is the Gospel! We see here that God did it all!
It was purposed by God!
It was planned by God!
It was predicted by God!
It was pictured by God!
It was performed by God!
It was empowered by God!
It was presented by God!
It was punctuated by God!
It was all to the praise and Glory of all mighty God!

Look at the Hebrews 10 beginning @ verse one!
Vs 1. Law was just a shadow of good things to come
Vs 2. Why were the offerings not ceased?
Vs 3. What occurred every year-a reminder?
Vs 4. Impossibility of animal sacrifices
Vs 5. Only a body (human body), not an animal could deal with the sin problem
Vs.6 God had no pleasure
Vs. 7 The book-Search the scriptures for in them you think…
Vs. 9 Establish the second
Vs. 10 Body of Jesus once and for all sacrifice
Vs. 11 No satisfaction
Vs 12 Sat down!
Vs 14 Perfected for ever

This is the Christmas story as God would reveal it to us! The Christmas story is all about a person-Jesus Christ! It is all about purpose-God sent Jesus His only Son to die (He was born to die), and by His dying we might live!
This is the Christmas story-Here ye Him!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel

This is a very interesting post that was shared with me today. This is good encouraging reading for one who labors in the Word!

Those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel
by DAN on FEBRUARY 20, 2010

I know that’s a bold statement, but I didn’t say it. The apostle Paul did. That is a direct quote from 1 Corinthians 9:14, and it is preceded by saying that this is the Lord’s command (not Paul’s). Here’s the whole passage, in context:

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it (1 Corinthians 9:3-18, NIV, emphasis mine).

Matthew Henry wrote this in his commentary on v. 6:

[Paul] had a right to marry as well as other apostles, and to claim what was needful for his wife, and his children if he had any, from the churches, without labouring with his own hands to get it. Those who seek to do our souls good, should have food provided for them. But he renounced his right, rather than hinder his success by claiming it. It is the people’s duty to maintain their minister. He may wave his right, as Paul did; but those transgress a precept of Christ, who deny or withhold due support.

In other words, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel have the right to earn their living from it. This is the modern day pastor (which corresponds more to the biblical role of elder). Paul chose to serve in bi-vocational ministry, that is, he chose to earn his living from a separate job, that of tentmaking. But that was Paul’s choice. Paul makes it clear that biblically, ministers have a RIGHT to earn their living from preaching the gospel.

However, Paul also says that voluntary preachers receive a reward for their duties, while those who exercise their right to a salary “simply discharge the trust committed to [them].” In other words, their vocation is no better than the local plumber, teacher, tax collector, or nurse. Each of these is commanded to be a full-time minister of the gospel (all believers), but some may earn their living from it as a right, which has clearly been commanded by the Lord.

Paul recognized that as a missionary in his context, bi-vocational ministry was a more effective approach. He willingly sets aside his right to financial support so that people will not think his message is just a fancy speech designed to get money. Some Greek orators made their living by traveling and entertaining audiences with speeches. Others formed schools and charged students for lectures. Paul does not want anyone to think his message is motivated by selfish concerns. But Paul’s willingness to support himself does not change the Lord’s command. Ministers of the gospel have a right to financial support, and believers have an obligation to provide that support.

The command is not aimed solely at vocational ministers so that they should run around demanding their support (although it would be biblically warranted if their “flock” didn’t support them), the command appears to target all believers so that they recognize that it is their responsibility to support the work of the gospel.

1 Timothy 5:17-20 says:

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

Elders here are appointed leaders, not merely those recognized because of their age and experience. Those folks are actually addressed in v. 1: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.” In Acts 14:23, “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” “Double honor” in the 1 Timothy 5 passage does not refer to salary, but this passage does reiterate the point that “the worker deserves his wages.” It also establishes that those elders whose work is preaching and teaching are serving in an honorable vocation. It is a respectable career choice.

This becomes even more pertinent as more and more heresies abound and the resurrection of false teachings from the past continues. It is extremely beneficial to the church to have individuals who receive in-depth training in the bible, church history, theology, and practical ministry (counseling, helping people cope with traumatic events, addiction therapy, etc.). There is nothing wrong with this, indeed it is very helpful to the Church. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to go to seminary to learn about church history, biblical languages, etc. Many more don’t have the opportunity to go, and even more do not have the intellectual capacity to retain this knowledge. This doesn’t invalidate the education and training, however. A lot of people aren’t smart enough to go to medical school, but we’re all glad that we have doctors. The same is true of pastors. They are not better than other believers because of their training, but they are to be respected and should be able to earn a living from their work.

Not everyone is meant to serve in this role. Ephesians 4:11-13 says:

It was [God] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Clearly not all are called to fulfill these roles in the Church. The purpose of these roles is to prepare God’s people for good works of service, building up the body of Christ “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Since this hasn’t happened yet, we still need people to fulfill these roles. Not just anyone should jump into these roles, either. James 3:1 says:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

God apparently even has a higher standard of judgment for those who teach His people. This should not be taken lightly. To ensure that not just anyone became an elder, Paul set up standards for them. Hear his words in Titus 1:5-9:

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished andappoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

There you have it, the requirements of an elder and parts of his job description, and a reiteration of the fact that it is an appointed position. Paul also mentions here (and in several other places) that elders should not pursue dishonest gain. This precludes those folks who would serve in these roles solely to make money, or to make it dishonestly (such as through prosperity teachings). That would be wrong. But it doesn’t preclude them from making an honest living from preaching and teaching the gospel.

There are a lot more scripture passages that we could explore, but this post is long enough as it is. It is a topic that deserves attention, though. And it is one I should have posted at least a few weeks ago before I started shifting some of my terminology on this blog. I apologize for not sharing these thoughts sooner with you, my readers. I know I have written blog posts with the opposite stance in the past, but the clear teachings of the word of God prevail, as explained above. Undoubtedly there will be more discussion on this issue, feel free to comment and read the comments to gain more insight.