June 5, 2013

Why Pastors Deserve Honor From Church Members “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” (I Tim. 5:17,18) The careful student of the Bible understands that when “elder” or “elders” is used in the New Testament that it’s typically speaking of pastors. The text leaves no doubt that this is the case in the verses above (i.e. – “rule well,” “labour in the word and doctrine”). Under the inspiration of God, Paul wrote that faithful pastors are “worthy of double honor” (vs. 17). Most involved with independent Baptist churches are highly supportive of their pastors and gladly submit to his God-given leadership role. However, anyone is susceptible to developing a wrong attitude towards his or her pastor. There are few things more harmful and dangerous to the local church than a wrong heart about the pastor because unless corrected it will eventually bring some degree of discord and division. What follows isn’t an exhaustive coverage of “Why Pastors Deserve Honor From Their Church Members;” however, it should be more than enough to convince any humble believer of his or her need to do so. Pastors deserve honor for their “work’s sake” I Thessalonians 5:12,13 says, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” Here we see that honoring a pastor isn’t so much about “who he is” as a person, but “what he does” alluding to his God-ordained office. The carnal mainly esteem pastors for humanistic things such as doing and saying what pleases and gratifies them. In verse 13 we see that the spiritual esteem pastors “very highly in love for their work’s sake.” What comprises the works of the pastor? Well, as the elder (ruler), bishop (overseer) and under-shepherd (leader) the pastor’s works involve the mission and welfare of the local church. He’s to lead the church to follow God and His Word in carrying out the most paramount mission which exists, propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of this his works also entail following the Lord’s leadership in the care of the church which includes trying to help all members to grow in Christ, doing whatever’s required to ensure that sound doctrine and practice are maintained, leading in bringing forth God-honoring services, overseeing business matters, and a whole myriad of other duties. So, since the works of the pastor involve the mission and welfare of the local church, the members need to do everything the Bible and Holy Spirit direct in order to help him, including giving him a high degree of esteem and honor. Esteeming and honoring the pastor have to do with actively demonstrating great respect for his under-shepherd role, which inherently includes willingly submitting to his God-given leadership. The word “rule” seen in I Timothy 5:17 means just what it says, “rule.” It speaks of “presiding over” and “having the care of.” Obviously, it’s indicating that the pastor has the undisputed leadership role. The thing is, when a person or persons don’t highly esteem the pastor — when people don’t provide him with the proper respect through attitudes and actions — it hinders his work, which “is unprofitable” to the church and the entire cause of Christ. Pay careful attention to what it says in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Remember, the pastor’s work is the mission and welfare of the church, so when a member doesn’t respect him and his office, but instead resists and rebels against his God-appointed and anointed leadership, the work of that entire local body of Christ is hindered. And guess what can happen when such disrespect of pastors grows within churches? Those churches may be destroyed, at least as true New Testament Churches. Who was the first in history to refuse to esteem and honor the One in spiritual leadership over him? It was Lucifer, the devil. So who is the church member emulating when he or she has a wrong attitude toward the pastor? Yeah, that’s right! Folks, what is the devil always trying to do to churches? He and his forces are continually seeking to hinder and destroy. The serpent will be very happy to use you to try to run off God’s man and tear apart the Lord’s church. Only a lost person could enjoy being used in such a way. Christian, don’t ever allow yourself to become a pawn of the devil against Christ’s church! Part II A church cannot possibly be of one accord, of one heart, and of one soul for the Lord unless every member has the proper attitudes and actions of respect for the pastor. (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32,33) We can become so consumed with self that we refuse to see the biggest and most important picture. The mission and welfare of God’s church are much more vital than anyone’s personal whims, fancies and feelings! Every Christian must fight self. We must always love the Lord and His church enough to get “me” and “I” out of the way so that we can see and focus on the biggest and most important picture – the mission and welfare of the Church of Jesus Christ! Pastors deserve honor for the Lord’s sake You know, when one gets right down to it, to refuse the proper respect to a God-called pastor is to disrespect the Lord Almighty Himself. First, it disrespects God’s plan and organization. The Lord’s plan has always involved using under-shepherds in the position of spiritual leadership (i.e. – Moses, Joshua, the Judges, prophets, priests, several Hebrew kings). To the God Who is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), all believers are equal in person, but we’re ordained to different roles. As much as some folks might desire the leadership role in the church, it’s clearly and undeniable bestowed upon the pastor by the Lord Himself. Filled with pride many believe that they can improve on God’s plan which gives rise to board-run churches, committee-run churches, domineering man or woman run churches, family-run churches and devil-run churches. I Corinthians 14:33 tells us “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” In verse 40 we read, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” When there’s rebellion against a faithful pastor’s leadership, when there is slander being brought forth about him within the church, when a certain member or members are dedicated to getting their way, it certainly doesn’t bring peace. Rather, it brings chaos. We know that God isn’t the author of chaos, so who is? Secondly, refusing proper respect to a God-called pastor disrespects the Lord by disregarding His Word. How can someone who truly fears God read Proverbs 6:16-19 and still possess a wrong attitude towards his or her pastor? There we read these words, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Not honoring pastors brings discord to churches; and God hates sowers of discord. Pastors deserve honor for the church’s sake If the church member believes that the pastor has offended him or her in some way, or done some grievous wrong, the Bible explains what to do. (Matt. 18:15-17) Jesus taught that we’re to “go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” Why is it then that folks usually go to everyone except the pastor to tell about his alleged fault(s)? We should strive to be 100 percent behind the pastor. If someone comes with complaints about him, you should immediately tell them that you don’t want to hear it, and to take the matter to the pastor alone, not to anyone else. If fact, for the welfare of the Lord’s church, those who even smell the slightest stink of discord from anyone should be quick to report it to the pastor so that he can deal with the situation. Certainly the welfare of the church should be of much higher priority than any human relationship. The Scriptures describe the devil as a “roaring lion.” Have you ever seen how elephants protect the herd from lions? The most mature males and females will band together, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to form a near half-circle wall. Inside the wall will be their immature and babies. Guess what happens? The lions back away! Church members need to take a lesson from the elephants and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the pastor against those whom the “roaring lion” would use to attack. Have you noticed that it’s almost always the immature and baby Christians who are the first to be devoured? How utterly heart-breaking and angering! How dare any church allow it to happen! Conclusion Honoring or not honoring a pastor really comes down to a person’s heart. Those who are humble and seek to be servants will have little trouble submitting to a Godly pastor’s leadership. Those who are prideful and seek to have their own ways will not properly submit to a pastor’s leadership until they get their hearts right with God. Indeed, we should love the Lord and our pastor so much that we love him as Jonathan loved David. Do you know what I mean? By the way things operated, Jonathan was supposed to be the next king of Israel after his father Saul would die. However, even knowing that David would still get that honor instead of himself, Jonathan stood behind the one who God had called to that position. (I Samuel 23:16-18) The church member who truly loves God will love his pastor as he loves his own soul. Rather than tearing him down to people, we should stand up for him if anyone ever dares to disparage him, raising up in righteous anger against such enemies of the church. (II Thess. 3:1) Let us hold up our pastors, their wives, and children in fervent prayer everyday. Let us seek to encourage them often. And, let us have the courage to stand up for them whenever anyone would seek to tear them down. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” (I Thess. 5:12,13)

May 18, 2013

Stnkin Thinkin

Here is our thesis – What you choose to think about and dwell on in this life will make or break you as to what type of person you will end up becoming in this life. Scripture puts that thought this way – “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7). The key word in this verse is the word “thinketh.” The word “thinketh” is telling you that God is targeting your thought process – what you think about on a daily basis. Interpretation – you are what you think! You can become what you think! This principle is easily seen in our world today. You can easily tell who is operating on this principle in the way the Lord has intended and who is not. The people who always seem to be upbeat and fulfilled with their lives are the people who have a good sound mind and who are always thinking about the positive things in this life. They choose, with their own free wills, to dwell on the positive side of life. The people who are always pessimistic and have negative attitudes towards anybody and anything, are choosing to think and dwell on the negative side of this life. Granted, this is a cursed and fallen world in which we all live. Jesus Himself said that we would all have to go through various types of trials and tribulations in this life from time to time. However, there is a flip side to this coin. On the one side of the coin is the darker side of this life, but on the other side of this coin is the good, positive, and brighter side of this life. It is not all death, doom, and destruction. Even in the worse case scenarios and situations, there is always a hope and a light at the end of that storm cloud. As Christians, we all have God Almighty Himself on our side to help us take on any storm clouds that may come our way in this life. The difference between these two types of people is in their thought life. The people who are upbeat, and positive have chosen to look on the brighter side of things, even in some of the worse case scenarios imaginable. The negative type of people have chosen to think and dwell on all of the bad things that can happen or go wrong in this life. No matter what good may come their way, they will always think that something better could have come their way. As a result of all of this negative and morbid type of thinking in their thought process, nothing ever makes them happy or content because nothing is ever good enough for them. The Bible is very clearly telling us in the above verse that we can all choose what to think about and dwell on. We do not have to become slaves to negative type thinking. Our thinking and thought process does not control us – we control it! Negative type thinking can be broken. For many, it has become an actual mental stronghold because they have been mired down into this type of negative thinking for such a long period of time. However, as you will see in some of the Scripture verses below, the Bible tells us that we can actually take “captive” what we think about. We have to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus. What this means is that we are directly responsible for choosing what we think about and dwell on – and then make sure that our thinking always lines up with the Word of God and how He wants us to think about things. We cannot blame anyone else, including God Himself, if we have chosen with our own free wills to constantly dwell on the negative and darker side of this life. The Bottom line – we all have to learn how to develop right thinking. Our part is to do the best we can to try and think and dwell on the things that God wants us to be concentrating and focusing on. However, as we all know, most of us only have a certain amount of mental strength in this area. Some will naturally go farther in this realm than others will. This is where the Holy Spirit will really be coming in big time to help you get your thinking process straightened out and grounded in the Lord. This is all part of the sanctification process that God wants to start with each one of us. This process will not be accomplished overnight. If you have been operating in a negative type of mindset for a long period time, God will start to gradually and progressively move you out of it into a better, clearer, and healthier type of thinking. Your job will be to work very closely with the Holy Spirit once He starts this sanctification process within you. You will see Him start to target specific areas in your thinking where you are really off base. Once this revelation has been given to you by the Holy Spirit, then it will be up to you as to whether or not you will choose to work with Him to get this particular area cleaned up to the degree that the Lord would really like. If He tells you that you are too judgmental and too critical of others – then your part will be to do the best you can to try and cast down these types of negative and destructive thoughts and replace them with more positive and godly types of thoughts. For many, this will be a very painful process because you will be forced to admit that you have some character flaws and imperfections that will need to be dealt with in your mind, soul, and personality. The Holy Spirit is the Master Surgeon and He will be attempting to do inner spiritual surgery on you to take out what He does not want to be operating in your mind and thought process, and put in what He does want to be operating in it. Your job will be to choose, with your own free will, to work and cooperate with the Holy Spirit once He makes it very clear to you what specific changes He will want to make with you. He will not force these changes on you. He will let you know very clearly exactly what it is He wants to put in your system and exactly what it is He wants to take out. If you choose to move and cooperate with the Holy Spirit on what specific changes He will want to make with you, then God the Father will allow the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit to truly begin to transform and sanctify you in the way and manner that will most pleasing to Him. Romans 12;1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Ephesians 4:22-24: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” II Corinthians 4:16 – “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Many Christians are not operating with very sound minds. One of the most incredible blessings that we can be given as a Christian, especially in the type of world we live in today, is the blessing of being able to have a good, clear, sound mind in the Lord! For those who are walking very close with the Lord and have your act together with Him, the Holy Spirit will really move to impart this sound mind to you. II Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” To those of you who are into memorizing Scripture verses, I would highly recommend that you add this one to your memorization list. Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” II Corinthians 10:5 – “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”