For the sake of others (Titus 1)

October 19, 2018

Paul, a servant[a] of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, Titus 1:1

A group of young pastors were participating in a panel discussion concerning the call to the pastorate.  The question was asked, why did you become a pastor?  There were many different responses, but only one rated huge applause.  Here was the pastor’s response: “I looked high and low for the best employment and I discovered the pastorate was the only job I could get where I only had to work one day a week.”

We laugh at this response, but quickly the laugh’s stop when we consider the shape the church in American is in today.  Maybe there should be pastor’s who think differently about the call to pastor.

The Apostle Paul felt differently about his call as he wrote to Titus.  He gave Titus strong warnings about those who would destroy the church.  Paul gives four characteristics of such people:

  1. Insubordinate-they did not follow the directions of our Lord.
  2. Empty talkers-they do not preach the Word of God.
  3. Deceivers-they have a large following.
  4. Defiled-sin has so deadened the conviction of God that they are defiled in conscious and mind.

Paul tells Titus to strongly rebuke such people.  Brothers and sisters, we see such teaches on TV today and our rebuke will be to turn them off. Our rebuke would be to not buy their books nor attend their conferences.

Paul teaches us how to turn the tide in America.  We are to do as he did and as the early church did.  They raised up true leaders who have four characteristics:

  1. They care for the flock.
  2. They teach correctly God’s Word.
  3. They compassionately share God’s Word with a lost world.
  4. They  have the character of people who are pursuing God.

Brothers and sisters, such leaders are in our Sunday School classes sitting in Preschool rooms, infant rooms, children’s and student class rooms; College and Career; Young Adults, Medium Adults; and Senior Adults.

For the sake of others, let’s get busy turning our nation around!!!  You can do it.  They are beside of you and maybe you are one yourself!!!

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The musts of leadership (I Timothy 3)

October 18, 2018

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach I Timothy 3:1-2a

Brothers and sisters, where would the church be today without godly leadership?  When I think back to those developmental years of my life, I have to say, “God gave me godly leadership.”

I think of pastors like Eddie Follower; James Allan; Jed Limbaugh; and Butch Pennington.  I rejoice for godly deacons like Clarence Engle; Chris Maggard; Mr Adams; Phil Bentley; and John D. Harrison.

God has been so good to me. Each of the above men, and so many more, were certainly not perfect but they were powerful examples of men who passionately pursued God. I saw in them men who were meet the standards set by God.

The 14 qualifications given by God set the standard for all time as to what godly leadership must be like.  I often walk through these standards for both accountability and accuracy in leadership.  I am humbled that God has placed me alongside so many who have this vested call in my life.

This month is Pastor Appreciation month, so I want to challenge you to three things which are a must in a pastor’s life:

  1. Pray for your pastors.
  2. Come alongside their leadership and work with them for God’s glory.
  3. Ask the Lord if He is calling you to this good work of being a pastor.

I want to conclude today by saying what an honor it is to be the pastor of FBC Jackson.  I have never been loved the way I am loved here.  Our team of leaders are blessed more than we deserve.

Who should I vote for? (Psalm 110)

October 17, 2018

The Lord says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.” Psalm 110:1

Sherry and I were watching TV when it happened for what seemed like the one-hundred time.  Yes, you know what I am writing about.  Over and over we see the advertisements for those running for political office.  As we sat there Sherry turned to me and asked this question: “Who should I vote for?”

As I considered the answer, I commented: “It’s hard to tell because no one tells you what they are for, they only slander the opposition.”   Think through this with me.  Who actually tells you what their true views really are?

In Psalm 110 we read about Jesus.  David writes about His ministry in this messianic Psalm.

This leader, who was coming would come from the lineage of David but was alive before David and would be greater than David.  This leader who was coming would be the Messiah. He would die for mankind, He would be buried, and He would rise again.

Forty days after He would rise from the dead, He would ascend back to the Father to sit on the throne until that day when He would return to defeat the enemies of heaven.

Question:  Has any of this taken place?  Answer, “all but the last.”  In Mark 12:35-37 Jesus refers to Himself as the fulfillment of Psalm 110.

Brothers and sisters, all that remains is for Jesus to return to put down all of His enemies and to establish His Kingdom.

This is the one I vote for to be leader in my life.  He alone Has given Himself for us. He alone is always truthful and is totally for us.  This is the one I vote for and this is the one I campaign for.  Question: How about you?  Who will you vote for this day?

The Blessed Life (Psalm 112)

October 16, 2018

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
    who greatly delights in his commandments! Psalm 112:1

He would respond the same way each time someone would ask him how he was doing.  Here was his response, “I am blessed and highly favored.”  For those of us who know him well, we understand what he means by this response.  But others may not.

Some people could be thinking he is arrogantly responding as one who things he deserves all he has been given.  Still others could be thinking he is confidently responding as one who believes he has the world by the tail.  Finally there are some who might be thinking the man doesn’t know what he is saying.

However, truthfully the man is speaking out of awe for God.  This brother loves the Lord with all of his heart and it is his desire to do God’s will.  This man’s life exemplifies what it means to be blessed and highly favored.

This is what the Psalmist is writing about in the chapter.  Here are six characteristics of a blessed person:

  • They are wealthy in God-they have riches of Christ.
  • They have Godly wisdom-the light of God has entered the darkness of their lives and has given them a new way to live.
  • They are filled with kindness for others.
  • They leave a legacy for others to follow.
  • They are steadfast in the Lord.
  • They  overcome of evil.

Question: How are you doing today?  If you are a Child of God in love with God and obeying God, you are blessed and highly favored.

The words of Paul fill my heart, I Corinthians 15:57-58

57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Neglect (Matthew 23)

October 15, 2018

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23

The word itself stings when someone points this out in our lives.  The word embarrasses and the word speaks volumes about who a person is.  What is the word?  The word is neglect.  In the KJV the word is translated, “omitted.”

The word omitted does not sting as bad.  But consider the word this way.  “You read God’s Word but you omitted obeying it.”  This changes the word completely.

But still yet we are not at the depths of the shame.  The Greek word can be translated, “to push away or to ignore.”  Now let’s consider the word this way: “You read God’s Word and you push it away.”

Now we are getting at the depths of the word.  Jesus is saying, the Pharisees and Scribes were teaching God’s Word in a way where they were pushing away parts and ignoring other parts in order to live in the way they wanted to live.

In Matthew 23, Jesus gives seven illustrations of their neglect.  Question: How do you respond when you either read or hear God’s Word?

On this Monday I want to lead you to understand how God intends for you and I to read and hear His Word:

  • God wants us to clearly understand who we are. He wants us to see what He sees so that we will want to change, Hebrews 4:12-13.
  • God wants us to be convicted concerning the sin in our lives, II Timothy 3:16.
  • God wants us to be celebrating when we are obedient to what He has said, II Timothy 2:15.
  • God wants us to be challenged to grow in obeying Him more and more, II Timothy 3:17.

Brothers and sisters, did you look up the references I gave in the above bullet points? If you did not, please stop and read them.

Now that you have read them, pray this to God, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  

This is what it means to not neglect God’s Word.

Reputation or reality? (Revelation 3)

October 12, 2018

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:2

For some reason the young man began to believe it was true. At first he did it for a joke, but when it brought success, he just keep on living the lie.  He lived this lie for years, until the day everything came tumbling down. Now, no one believes anything he says.

Question: “Do you have a reputation of being a Christian or are your really a Christian?”

In Revelation three Jesus addresses a real church that had come to a place where they were Christians by reputation only.  The reality was, a few people, in the church, were truly Christian, but most were not.  Here are the character traits of both groups:

The reputation group:

  • They were spiritually dead.
  • They were soiled with sin.
  • They were facing the judgment of God.
  • They had no access to heaven.

The reality group:

  • They were spiritually alive.
  • They were not perfect, but are growing in their faith.
  • They had been purified by the Blood of Christ.
  • They had their names in the Lambs book of Life.
  • They would be welcomed into heaven by Jesus Himself.

In this letter to Sardis, Jesus was challenging the reputation group to three things:

  1. Wake up-come to reality where you are with God.
  2. Repent-confess your sin to God.
  3. Keep it-keep the reality of Christ’s salvation before you at all times.

Jesus warns the reputation crowd, “If you refuse to repent, I will suddenly scale the wall of your hypocrisy and tear it all down.”  History records that it did happen.  The question is, what will happen when you and I meet God?

On this Friday, let us each make sure we are awake, confessed up, and cleaned up.  The Lord may return at any time.

The Reality of what has happened (Hebrews 6)

October 11, 2018

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. Hebrews 6:7

It was that time again.  One Saturday a month our church hosts a food pantry ministry.  As I prepared myself to serve, I prayed, “Lord let me lead someone to You today.”  With each person I met I wondered will this be the person.  About half-way through our time I would met the person.

As this person sat down for help, I casually asked, if you died today where would you be in eternity?  She replied, “I would be in heaven.” I asked, “how do you know this to be true?”  She responded, “Because I do good works.”

This opened up a window to the truth!  Hebrews 6 also gives us a window of truth. We see two types of people in this chapter:  Those who are genuine Christ-followers and those who are not genuine.

Those who are genuine have the following character traits:

They are maturing in faith (5:19); They are needing to grow (6:1-3); They are bearing fruit in the world (6:7-10); They will be rewarded by Christ (6:10); They have complete trust in Him because He is their anchor (6:15-21).

Those who are not genuine have the following character traits:

They profess Christ but do not possess Christ (Vs: 4-6).  They taste of the faith but it never takes in their lives (Vs: 7-8).  They live a life that proves they do not know Him (Vs: 5-7).

As I sat there proclaiming the gospel to this person, they began to realize there is only one way to heaven.  That way is Jesus.  This person finally realized they could never earn their way to heaven.  In that moment the person asked, “how can I be saved?”

I watched as God opened her heart to Jesus being the way, John 14:6.  When we finished praying she smiled and said, “I now have a clean slate.”  As she left her life was anchored in Jesus.  This is the reality of all who come to Him.

May our lives be anchored in Christ today!!!

When He Comes (Matthew 25)

October 10, 2018

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Matthew 25:31

This mornings reading caused me to inhale and exhale with peace because I know, in a world that is upside down crazy, Jesus is coming again!!!

Yes, Jesus is coming again!!!  When Jesus returns those who lead us toward certain moral and spiritual destruction will no longer be leading us.  Those who fill their days with evil and their nights planning evil will not longer have their way. Those who rob from the poor to keep themselves in a position of authority will give account to God.

Yes, Jesus is coming again!!!

Maybe you ask, how do you know this to be true?  The Bible tells me so.

  • All the nations of the world will some day stand before God to be judged, Vs: 32.
  • Each person will be judged based on whether they received Jesus or not, Vs: 33.

Three questions come from these truths:

  1. Will you and I be ready when Jesus returns?  In the parable of the 10 virgins, only half were ready, Vs: 1-13.
  2. What will you and I give our lives to while we wait?  Will we properly invest all we have or will we improperly invest what we have?  Vs: 14-30.
  3. Where will you and I spend eternity?  It will be either in heaven or in hell.  Vs: 31-46.

“And these will go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into eternal life.” Vs: 46

Brother and sisters, here is my midweek challenge to you.  Do not get caught up in the rhetoric of our day.  Cease being so mad at people and focus on what is really happening in our world.  Commit yourself to knowing Jesus as the solution to the world’s evil.  By the way, “Jesus is coming again!!!”

What’s on your heart? (Deuteronomy 6)

October 9, 2018

 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  Deuteronomy 6:6

Recently I walked by a person who was so deep in thought that they did not even hear my greeting to them.  I turned around and came back to them.  I got where they had to see me.  The person looked up with the saddest of faces.  I could not help but ask this question: “What’s on your heart?”

The truth is you and I have many different things that come before the door of our hearts each day.  These things and these circumstances knock on our door and they each want in because they are saying, you need to think about this.

Some of those things are good.  Some are not so good.  But only one thing is great.  This one thing is what Moses is emphasizing in our reading for today.  Moses directs the people to keep God’s Word in their heart’s!

Moses has taught the people God’s Word.  Moses has given them God’s Word.  Moses directed them to be empowered by God’s Word.

The question comes to us in this moment, how do we keep the other things from getting on our hearts?

5 directives from Moses:

  • Be careful to do what God’s Word says.
  • Be all-in loving the God who gave you His Word.
  • Be disciplined to always have the Word in front of you.
  • Be intentional in making the Word the focus in your home.
  • Be diligent to never forget God’s Word when times are easy.

Brothers and sisters, we must understand, God wants us to care about people, problems, pain, and potential.  But these will never better us or others unless these things have as a base the Word of God.  This is what we call having a heart trained in a Biblical World-view.

Question:  “What’s on your heart?”

The solution to what’s on your heart and my heart is God’s Word!!!  When the person above told me what was on their heart,  I was able to share with them what God said about their heart circumstance.  Suddenly a smile came.  This is God’s heart for you today.

As Yourself? (Leviticus 19)

October 8, 2018

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

“I love me!”  This was my answer as to why I would not attempt a dangerous feat that someone else was asking me to attempt.  The person just looked at me as if I were very self-centered.  Question: was I being self-centered in wanting to stay alive?

Paul wrote the following to the Ephesians in 5:29 “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but he nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

Every person should want to nourish and cherish his or her own life.

In the same way Moses teaches the people of Israel to love others as they love themselves.  Take a moment and apply the Scriptures:

  • You and I make sure we eat, Vs: 9-10.  So, we should make sure our neighbors have food to eat.
  • You and I make sure we have enough income to live on, Vs: 11.  So, we should make sure our neighbors have enough income to live on.
  • You and I make sure we are treated fairly, Vs: 13-15.  So, we should make sure our neighbors are treated fairly.
  • You and I love ourselves, Vs: 17.  So, we should make sure we love our neighbors.

When you put this all-together you come up with this viewpoint:  “I am to treat others as I want to be treated.”

I believe Jesus said this in Matthew 7:12.

This is what it means, “as yourself.”  Oh how differently our communities would be if we lived this way.   Read the words of Paul as you consider any changes you need to make in loving others:

Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.