It Takes All Kinds

1 Chronicles 9:3
“Now in Jerusalem the children of Judah dwelt, and some of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim and Manasseh”

1Chronicles 9 is a record of those who lived and served in the city of Jerusalem. Because the Temple resided in this city, it became the religious capital of the nation, and the place where much of the service of God took place. Here, we read about a vast array of people with diverse gifts and callings coming together to accomplish the work of God. Among those listed are leaders, priests, Levites, gatekeepers and singers. Each person had a different calling which required unique skills and gifts. It was when each one served faithfully within his own calling, that the ministry was accomplished in a way that glorified God.

This passage is an apt picture of how the church works today. We see in Scripture, and will find in our local churches, that if each person faithfully follows the Lord, and serves within the capacity they have been called to, the church will become a vibrant witness to the world around them. Every church needs godly leaders who will first listen to Jesus, then set a pattern for the people. Every church needs people who understand they are priests, both in the congregation and in the home. We need to understand we are called to spend time with Jesus, and bring our needs, and the needs of others, before the throne of grace. Every church needs Levites, who will do behind the scenes ministry that receives little attention or accolades. The New Testament uses the word “Deacon” for those who work hard, so the word can be preached, and the people can encounter God. Every church needs gatekeepers, who will open the way for others to get to he Lord. Jesus said we have been given the keys to the kingdom, and we can open the way for people to come to Christ. This is done in a variety of ways. We need to establish friendships with those within our circle of life who don’t know Christ. Keep in mind, you are the Christian someone’s family member is praying their unsaved loved one will encounter. We need to keep our eyes open for divine opportunities, when we bump into a stranger at the market, beach, or perhaps on a plane. These encounters provide opportunity to share Christ, or even to invite someone to church. Every church needs worshippers. Not everyone will stand on the stage to play an instrument, or use their vocal gifts, but a church that is filled with people who have come for the purpose of worshipping the High King of Heaven, is a church that will grow to have a tremendous impact upon their community for the kingdom above.

It truly takes all kinds for the church to become the city set on a hill that Jesus designed it to be. I wonder what would happen in the church you attend, if more people stopped complaining about what the church wasn’t, and to stepped into God calling. Don’t wait for someone else to serve the Lord for you, it is time to step out of our comfort zone and make investments in the kingdom of God. Time is short and the whole world needs Jesus.

Pastor Jim

 

No Experience Necessary 

1 Kings 20:13-14
Suddenly a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'” So Ahab said, ‘By whom?’ And he said, ‘Thus says the Lord:”By the young leaders of the provinces.”’ Then he said, ‘Who will set the battle in order?’ And he answered, ‘You.’”

Israel was facing almost certain annihilation; the forces of Syria had mounted against them and poised to attack. The troops and resources of Syria far outweighed that of Israel; and in a word, things looked bleak. It was with this backdrop that we are introduced to an unnamed prophet, who brought an almost unbelievable message. The message was that God would deliver Israel from the threat and he would do it through the young and inexperienced leaders.

I love the emphasis God puts upon young and inexperienced people. We read of great exploits being accomplished by Daniel and his companions, Jeremiah, and Timothy; all chosen while they were young. Jesus himself chose 12 men who had little or no leadership experience, and used them to lay the foundation for the church. I also love the way God chooses to train the inexperienced. Just as Ahab was to set the battle in order for the young leaders, God often will take those who have walked with Him for years, and use them to speak wisdom into the lives of the young men.

This principle is particularly important if the church is going to survive another generation. The older saints must trust the young leaders, and the young leaders must humble themselves and be willing to have their zeal guided by the wisdom of those who have gone before them.

Pastor Jim

 

Lessons For Leaders

Deuteronomy 17:18-19
Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, . . .”

Looking centuries ahead into Israel’s future, God speaks of the principles that should govern the life of the king. Four important principles are established which every leader would do well to observe.

First, the king was not to multiply horses for himself. Horses were used in warfare and gave an army a distinct advantage over those who did not have a cavalry. While it is true God wanted the king to trust Him for the protection of the nation, the real reason for not multiplying horses was, the people were not to return to Egypt. Egypt was always a picture of the past life, the life of bondage, the life before being delivered by the blood of the Lamb. If we are going to succeed in following Christ, and leading others, we have to leave the old life behind, and never resurrect the things that were laid down at the cross.

Second, the king was not to multiply wives to himself. It was a common practice among ancient Oriental kings, to have many wives. Their harem was a sign of their position. I think one of the principles behind this, Israel was not to establish their sexual morals based upon the standards of the world around them. Today, it is not common for men to have multiple wives (at least not at the same time.) However, it is common for people to have sexual relations before marriage, outside of marriage, and to treat marriage as a disposable contract that can be erased because we are no longer happy with our spouse. If we are going to successfully follow Christ, we can not let the world determine the way that we are to live.

Third, the king was not to greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. It was not wrong for the nation to have an army or for the king to have a wife. Nor is it wrong to succeed financially, and even acquire great wealth. Often the Bible is misrepresented when we declare “money is the root of all evil.” The Bible actually declares, “the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) The principle: the king was not to have a divided heart, loving mammon and the Lord. Nor was the king to put his trust in the bank account of the nation, but in the provision of the Lord. If we are going to succeed in following Christ, we cannot have a divided heart.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the king was to transcribe his own copy of the Bible, and read it every day. This would ensure that he did not exalt himself above the people, or wander from the ways of God. The most important principle in leadership, is to be a good follower. If we want to lead others to Christ, we must follow Him ourselves. The more we get to know the Word of God, the easier it is to follow him.

What transformation would our nation experience if our leaders put these principles into practice in their lives, and leadership?

What transformation would your life, family, and community experience, if you put these principles into practice in your life and leadership?

Pastor Jim

 

Pray For Our Leaders

Exodus 22:28
“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”

IMG_1431The purpose of Israel’s time at Mount Sinai was to develop as a nation upon the foundation stone of the Word of God. Moses went up the mountain alone, and came down the mountain with clear and detailed instructions from heaven regarding how the people should live. These instructions are referred to simply as “The Law” and can be divided into three groups. The Moral Law is a list of unchanging standards God set upon mankind. The Religious Law was designed to instruct the people regarding relationship with God, and the Civil Law was created to keep order. Since God was forming this traveling band into a nation, it would be necessary to also establish leadership, and because of the nature of men, it would not be long before the people would begin to complain about those who are in charge. Knowing this was coming, God declares,

Exodus 22:28
“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”

Simply put, God made it illegal for the people to curse their rulers. This is not because the rulers would always prove to be faultless, nor did it mean they were above the law, or their actions could not be questioned. In fact, God always puts a higher standard on rulers, than he does on the rest of the people. What this law was designed to do was point out the folly of sitting around complaining about those who are in charge.

Instead of grousing about our leaders, the laws, or the direction the nation is heading, the Bible gives us a far more productive way to handle poor leadership, and a declining culture. God instructs us to pray for our leadership, and to infiltrate culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I wonder what would happen, if we took half the time we spent complaining about the condition of our nation, and invested that time in prayer and seeking effective ways to bring the Gospel message to others.

Pastor Jim

 

Next Generation

Exodus 18:17
“So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing that you do is not good.'”

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As the leader of the congregation of Israel, Moses was sought out for advice for the issues of everyday life. Whenever people had a dispute with a neighbor, or a family crisis, they would set up an appointment with Moses, who would give them godly counsel. While it was good for Moses to be available to the people, and understandable that they wanted to meet with their pastor, this schedule was not good for either Moses or the people. Jethro, as an outsider, was able to see the flaw with this approach right away, and counseled Moses. The solution to the problem would be in raising up good, gifted, and godly men, who could assist him in the ministry. This approach will prove to be God’s method down through the ages.

Whether it is the nation of Israel or the local church, God is in the business of reproducing leaders. The way this happens is that godly people are given ministry opportunities. It would take great faith on the part of Moses to let go of some of his ministry and put it into the hands of others. It would take great faith from the people, to trust that God would speak as clearly through another, as He had through Moses. And it would take great faith from this new group of “Pastors,” that God would speak to them, and through them, when they met with the people. When Jethro’s advice was followed and this system implemented, we find that an entire new generation of leaders will be raised up to serve the Lord.

God has established a method of ministry that is sustainable. It is not built on the strength, gifts or leadership ability of one man, but on the fact that God will use anyone who is devoted to Him. Perhaps the proper response to this passage of Scripture is to seek to become a person who God will choose to use. The more we set ourselves apart to the Lord, focus on growing in Christ, and learn the Word of God, the more ready we will be when the time comes to raise up another generation to do the work of God.

Pastor Jim