All posts tagged: bible

“From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’.” Matthew 4:17

Check out what Matthew Henry’s Commentary has to say on this verse: “This he preached first upon; he began with this. Ministers must not be ambitious of broaching new opinions, framing new schemes, or coining new expressions, but must content themselves with plain, practical things, with the word that is nigh us, even in our mouth, and in our heart. We need not go up to heaven, nor down to the deep, for matter or language in our preaching…This is preached often upon; wherever he went, this was his subject, and neither he nor his followers ever reckoned it worn threadbare, as those would have done, that have itching ears, and are fond of novelty and variety more than that which is truly edifying. Note, That which has been preached and heard before, may yet very profitably be preached and heard again; but then it should be preached and heard better, and with new affections; what Paul had said before, he said again, weeping, Phil. iii. 1, 18.”

In our endeavors to be creative, relevant, and fresh, we can never forget the most basic fundamental message of Christ: “repent and turn to God”, “for it is an unspeakable privilege that room is left for repentance.”, as Matthew Henry’s so eloquently puts it.

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(Dr. Charles R. Phelps)

Many pastors struggle with stress and the lack of ministerial fulfillment. I would like to suggest that making one decision can provide the cure for both of these diseases. You must decide to delegate.

D.L. Moody said, “It’s better to get ten men to do the work than to do the work of ten men!” Moody’s sage advice is filled with scriptural wisdom. Myron Rush makes this point: “A person may be in a leadership position, but if he isn’t willing to delegate, he isn’t a leader at all ??? he is a hired hand”*

The Bible is filled with detailed descriptions of delegation. Solomon mastered the fine art of managing through men, and the kingdom was enlarged. The fourth chapter of I Kings introduces us to those responsible for Solomon’s armies, meals, and taxes. Our Savior was certainly willing to delegate. The first eighteen verses of Luke 10 record the sending out of seventy itinerant preachers. After the Lord gave them detailed instructions, He sent them to preach. Though these messengers were inexperienced and far less capable than the Master, their ministry was blessed by God. Eventually these messengers would “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6)

Solomon and the Savior both knew something that we in ministry often forget. They knew that disciples are made through delegation. They knew that delegation is godly and that the failure to delegate is ungodly. They knew that when God created Adam He placed Him in Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). God brought “every beast of the field” and “the fowl of the air” before Adam “to see what he would call them” (Genesis 2:19, 20). The Psalmist explicitly reveals God’s intent to delegate in Psalm 8:4–6, saying: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.”

Many in ministry need to hear the wise counsel of Jethro, who told his very capable son-in-law Moses to “divide and conquer” or else be conquered by frustration (Exodus 18:18–23). Moses listened to his father-in-law and followed his advice. Soon seventy men were recruited, trained, and commissioned. Moses discovered that “it is better to get seventy men to do the job than to do the job of seventy men.”

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But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. Matthew 3:11

That’s John the Baptist, who in reality was a preacher. He was preparing the way for Christ to come, encouraging people to confess their sins and be baptized. He had quite a following and was creating quite a buzz, so much so that the religious leaders of the day were coming to see what He was all about. Yet in the statement above it would seem like he keeps a good perspective and stays humble.

I wonder how many of us pastors, leaders, or anyone who claims to be a Christian for that matter have lost that sense that we are “not worthy to even be his slave and carry his sandals”? Imagine being the leader of a large successful church, or ministry; or being in the Christian music & worship scene, or being a best selling author…

How tough must it be to remain humble in a world that is constantly looking for the “next best thing”. We idolize our leaders, read their books, build entire ministries based on their successes. We play their songs, go to their concerts, buy their CD’s, and wear their t-shirts. Now I am not one of those who takes the pessimistic view and says that this is awful and we shouldn’t respect successful leaders and learn from them, or even model after them – I am just saying that it is a vicious cycle that we are all a part of that breeds pride – and that is the ugliest word ever.

So the challenge is to stay humble, don’t let pride creep into your life. Pray for leaders, pray for your pastor(s). And most importantly, remember that God is in control and he will always humble the proud and make his name greater than any other name. Remember that the most mundane, insignificant task we do for God is a privilege!

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“And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.” Matthew 2:6 is actually a quote from the Old Testament prophet Micah (Micah 5:2). I love prophecy in the Bible – it’s so interesting to think that Micah “preached” this message almost 700 years before it became reality, when Jesus was born in the small town of Bethlehem.

In keeping with the theme of humility – Jesus Christ was born in an insignificant town, in a stable, a feeding trough as his cradle. He never owned a home, didn’t amass wealth, didn’t marry or have children, and didn’t build a church building. He knew his purpose and lived his life constantly moving towards that purpose . I wonder how fragmented our lives become in our search for purpose or significance – we spend our entire lives in a search, on a journey, adhering to the world’s standards of significance: getting a decent education, getting a great job, getting married, having children, amassing wealth, and finally ending up with enough wealth to retire and “enjoy” the last 10-20 years of life with that feeling that we lived a significant life, only to realize that we missed the point entirely. I hope this doesn’t sound too pessimistic…

I am just thinking that in the grand scheme of life, our true significance comes not from worldly possessions or accomplishments, but from our position in eternity, our position in “Christ” as some preachers put it. Significance is now, not when you feel like you have measured up. Realizing that God sacrificed everything to be in relationship with us, realizing that he has promised to give us a life that is significant now (abundant life, John 10:10), he has promised to take care of us, never leave or forsake us, and give us the desires of our hearts – all this puts us in an incredible position. I’m not even sure what to say.. I am just encouraged to look at life differently, to take more chances to love God, and to love people – what being a Christian ultimately boils down to.

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Spending time daily listening to God is crucial for developing a deep and meaningful relationship with God. Someone once said that “those who read his Word the most, hear his voice the best” – and so I am encouraged and challenged to spend more time reading and studying the Bible, listening to what God is saying. All that to say that I am going to begin posting my personal devotions here as a challenge to myself and as an encouragement to others. We’ll see how it goes – Here’s todays:

Matthew 1:21-23
…and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

This was the moment in time when God stepped into time to fulfill his promise to send a Savior to redeem man. It’s like one point in history that changed everything – ok, so it’s not “like”, it is that point in history that changed everything. God sent his son Jesus to save people from their sins – He became Immanuel: God with us. And to think that God, existing outside of time and space, the creator of the Universe, came down to Earth, a tiny spec of a planet in the vast world that he created. He took on the form of his creation, and as the story goes, allowed himself to be completely humiliated by his own creation – all to redeem that which was lost: man’s relationship with God.

I think the word of the day is: Humility. It’s so easy to let pride creep up into our lives – humility is the Godlike character that we should be striving towards. Living every day knowing it is a gift from God, realizing that it is him who holds our lives in his hand gives us perspective and reminds us that God is on the throne, not us.

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