Testing Testing 123

Jeremiah 27:14
“Therefore do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they prophesy a lie to you”

Not everyone who speaks is telling the truth. A salesman may tell you what he thinks you want to hear, rather that what is factual. A friend may tell you what they think is kind, so as not to hurt your feelings or damage the relationship. This principle is important to grasp, especially as it relates to those who claim to have the answer to spiritual questions. Just because a person showed up in Judah wearing a white robe, carrying a staff and speaking loudly, did not mean he was a prophet. In the same way, just because a person has an opinion about eternal life, godliness or spirituality, does not mean their opinion is valid. The litmus test used in Scripture to determine if a person was truly a prophet was the Word of God. Paul wrote,

1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

During my years as a high school teacher I wrote, administered, and graded a lot of tests. One common form of testing was to use a “scan-tron.” Before grading the test I would make an answer key, all other tests would be compared to this one. It was the standard by which all answers were compared. When it comes to determining the validity of someone’s claims about Christ, life, death, eternity, godliness, sin tolerance, righteousness, etc. we need to use the Word of God as the answer key. It is not what I think that is the highest standard, but rather what God has revealed in the pages of His Word.

Pastor Jim

 

Church

Ephesians 4:11-12
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”

The Church was designed by God, purchased with the blood of Christ, birthed by the work of the Holy Spirit, and plays a very important role in the life of the growing Christian. It is no wonder the devil spends so much energy trying to keep us from church. Many have had their feelings hurt by the way they were treated at church. For some the church put expectations upon them, making them feel as though they were only valuable because of their talents or treasures. Others have felt neglected. They have gone to church for a period of time, and when things became difficult, they felt as though they were abandoned. All of us have had the weekly struggles that make it difficult to even attend. When Sunday morning comes along, the kids wake up sick, we get in an argument with our spouse, or we are simply worn out from a long work week. The list of oppositions to simply getting in the door of our church is longer than my fingers can type. I think it is critical to remember, the reason there is so much opposition to regular attendance is because of the valuable role the church plays in your life and Christian growth.

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers”

When writing to Timothy, Paul stated, the church was the “pillar and foundation of the truth.” In other words, the primary purpose of the church is to hold up the truth of the Word of God. Peter was exhorted by Jesus to feed the sheep. In Acts, we read the Apostles gave themselves continually to the Word of God. While church provides a place for corporate worship and to establish godly relationships, the primary role of the church is to teach you the Word of God. In order for that to happen, God has given to the church the gifted men listed here. Their role was to dish out the Word of God to the people.

For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”

The reason the Word of God plays such a crucial role in the church, is because of the effect it has when taught. Paul states, these gifted teachers were given to the church so believers would be edified and equipped. The word ‘edify’ means to build up. It was a word which had its place in the construction world. After a foundation was laid, a building was constructed or built up. The Word of God has the ability to do that for the believer. As we are daily beat down by the obstacles we face in the world, the church was designed, by God, as a place for us to go hear the Word and be built up again. When we neglect gathering at our local church, we miss out on being edified with the Word.

Paul also says the Word of God has the ability to equip for ministry. Ministry is a big word which speaks of the things done for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. It would include sharing Christ with unbelievers, helping to disciple Christians, young and old, and training the next generation of Christian leaders. It refers to things that are intrinsically spiritual, like preaching the Gospel or teaching the Bible, but would also be concerned with setting up chairs, cleaning windows, running sound or picking someone up for church. It was never the intention of God that the work of the ministry be done by the professionals. Instead, He desires that we all recognize we have been called to the ministry, and attending church where we are taught the Word of God, is what equips us for the task.

It is important that we recognize the value of gathering regularly with our local church. The New Testament speaks of the people gathering at least every week on the Lord’s day. I understand, we all face opposition to attending regularly, but I also recognize the opposition comes from the devil, who wants to keep us from being equipped and edified. Before I end, allow me one more thought. Live streaming the services to your living room is a great blessing. To be able to listen to the Bible studies when we are sick, injured or away from our church is a great benefit, but it does not replace the need for regular attendance. It is hard to do the work of the ministry, if you are not physically in attendance. Enjoy the luxury, but don’t neglect showing up and getting involved.

Pastor Jim

You Gonna Answer That?

Luke 9:1

“Then He called His twelve disciples. . . “

IMG_1502When the Lord calls us to serve Him, there seems to be a universal response. Our hearts cry out, “I can’t.” This was the same response of Moses, Saul and Gideon. We feel this way because the Lord always seems to call us to do what is beyond our capacities. A young woman with small children senses a call to teach in children’s church, or a retired couple hears the call to the mission field, or a young man has a burning in his heart to become a pastor, and the voice in our head cries out “I can’t.” I think there is something encouraging here as Jesus calls the twelve. He is sending them out to serve Him. They will encounter many with needs beyond their capabilities to handle. They will cross paths with the sick, who will look to them for the answer, the demoniacs, who are held under by the powers of the devil, and some will will oppose the work of God. For their journey they are told to take nothing; no money, no provisions, no extra stuff.  These things will not equip them for the ministry. Jesus wants them to understand that those are not the things that enable them, nor will a lack of those things restrict them. Instead, Jesus provides everything that is necessary. We read, “He gave them power and authority” All of their objections, and ours, should be silenced by these six words. Whatever reasons they had for objecting to the call, whatever lack they may have felt, must be silenced when Jesus declares, “I have given you power and authority.” Just as their objections are silenced by His promise, so must ours be silenced. Whatever objections you have to the call of God on your life, understand what He calls us to, He equips us for. As He said to Gideon, He says to you “Mighty man of valor… Go in this might of yours”(Judges 6:14). Will you go?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Luke 9

  1. What did Jesus send the disciples to do?
  2. Why do you think Jesus sent the disciples out with nothing on their journey?
  3. Why do you think Herod wanted to see Jesus?
  4. How many men followed Jesus to the deserted place?
  5. How many baskets were left over after all the people were fed?
  6. What example does Jesus set for us in verse 18?
  7. Who do you say Jesus is?
  8. Verse 23 says that in order to be a follower of Jesus (a disciple) you must deny yourself. List some things in your life that may be hindering your walk with the Lord. Are you willing to give those things up for Jesus?
  9. What happened to Jesus face as He was praying on the mountain?
  10. Who were the five people present with Jesus on the mountain?
  11. Read verse 35. Are you taking time to listen for the voice of Jesus?
  12. Take a moment and think about the contrast of verses 43 and 44.
  13. What subject does Jesus come back to in verses 57 – 62?