Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavored
to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate;
the which he did, but could not get out because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld
in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him what he did there.
. . . Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way, and fell in.
– Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Bunyan’s protagonist is aptly named Christian. He struggles with which way to go and who to listen to as he searches his way through life. That may sound familiar to many of us as Christians. We have spent some time trying to find our own way and the help of others have sometimes led us astray. That appears to be nothing new.
Pilgrim’s Progress is a book full of symbolism. Yet, it is a tale that should resonate with most of us. It should remind us of our constant struggle to stay on the right path. Through this christian classic, we should remember that life is full of dangers ahead and just around the bend. It may not simply be the things that we encounter upon the road itself. It may be the danger of the very people who cross our path along the way. We may do well to not listen to some of the folks who seem to know so much and cause us so much trouble as we follow their lead.
Paul wrote it this way: “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV). Don’t simply look into what people say and take it as gospel. The Bible warns us of false teachers and their twisting of the Word of God for their own benefit and gain. Learn to discern the truth based upon your understanding of the Word and the urging of the Holy Spirit.
Even in his letters from prison, Paul is careful to state: “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains” (Philippians 1:15-17, NIV). Jude urged the believer to “contend for the faith,” while John shared that we should imitate and do “what is good.” We cannot spend a lot of time following behind this manipulators and workers of evil. We have to focus on the good that comes from God that produces love and peace, even joy and forgiveness. If we do as He has said for us to do, we will uphold the truth that comes from Him and he will destroy that which defies His Word.
Be careful to hold onto the Word of God as truth. Otherwise, when you least expect it, you will find danger ahead.
Read Full Post »
Posted in study, support, teaching on December 21, 2011|
Leave a Comment »
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. – Ecc. 4:9-10 (NASB)
Prayer partners work well. Accountability partners keep you honest and on your toes. A teaching partner should do the job of both as well as help you lead the Bible lesson.
For those of you who teach the Bible, find you a partner. Find you someone who can pray with you and for you as you prepare your Sunday school lesson. If you lead a small group, let your partner know as you begin to prepare. Invite your partner to check in with you or to study the Scriptures with you in preparation. Let them share insights with you and hear your concerns about nervousness and issues.
You might need this same person to hold you accountable. You may be ready to skip some tough issues that are in the Bible lesson. Be sure that your partner is a person of conviction who will tell you to keep to the text and keep it real. You need someone who will force you to cut it straight and ensuring that you are rightly dividing the word of truth.
Read Full Post »
Then Jesus said unto them,
Take heed and beware of the leaven
of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
– Matt. 16:6 (KJV)
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered,
so that they were trampling on one another,
Jesus began to speak first to his disciples,
saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees,
which is hypocrisy.
– Luke 12:1 (NIV)
Your glorying is not good.
Know ye not that a little leaven
leaveneth the whole lump?
– 1 Corinthians 5:6 (KJV)
The church has to watch out for a lot of confusion. Confusion can creep into the church and consume it. Confusion can come in all sorts of ways. It can take over. It can take some folks out. It can turn off and turn away other folks.
Here are some samples of the types of church folks who breed confusion:
These few examples just touch the surface. They certainly do not represent all of the confusion creators in church, but they surely are present in some churches. We have to guard ourselves, as the Lord said, against such hypocrisy.
As the church of Jesus Christ, we have to wage war with confusion in our midst. We must battle confusion with clarity. We must teach Christ with clarity. Our clear teachings on Christ, His life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection should help others to understand the example that Jesus provide for every believer. We need to teach the Gospels, Acts and the New Testament Epistles clearly and continually. We cannot forget our calling for perfecting the saints.
Be sure to visit these blogs for more on the body of Christ and sound doctrine:
Read Full Post »
Posted in inspiration, instruction, pastors, preaching, teaching, tagged Bible, calling, church, exhortation, ministry, service on October 23, 2011|
Leave a Comment »
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness– 2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
We are called to inspire the others around us, especially those within the church. We do so when we teach, preach and train those within the church to live by the Word of God and do God’s will through good works. We are endowed with such gifts to inspire others to do what God calls them to do.
We give inspiration in some major ways:
The people under your spiritual leadership should learn the way of the Lord through the Word of the Lord. You are called to teach them, to equip them for the work, and to strengthen them in their faith as they learn to do good works. That comes with the calling. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that those within their own flock are equipped for the work of the ministry.
That is exactly what Paul was sharing with both Timothy and Titus. We call them the pastoral epistles today. They reveal how Paul was trying to teach these two newly appointed pastors on their jobs. He wanted them to be certain to teach the people as they should be taught.
As spiritual leaders, we need to be sure to ensure that people are: educated, equipped and empowered by the Word of God.
Have you made sure that your people have been educated?
Have you take even precaution to ensure that your people have been equipped properly with the right training?
Have you exhausted your resources of time and energy to make certain that every member under your leadership has been empowered to do what needs to be done within your ministry?
These are the types of questions that we need to ask of ourselves in order to strengthen the body of Christ in the Word of the Lord. Use some of Life Path’s training materials to help with equipping your ministry. Also, check out some of the inspirational poetry offered on our storefront as a means of kicking off your ministry meeting or a focal point for a Bible lesson in Sunday school. Use all of what is available to you to inspire those who serve under your leadership.
Read Full Post »
Posted in acceptance, assurance, belief, expectations, Jesus, perception, priority, teaching, truth, tagged Bible, Christ, discipleship, gospel, Jesus on October 21, 2010|
Leave a Comment »
But I tell you the truth. . . – John 16:7 (NIV)
Jesus combatted tradition with truth. He shared the truth openly. He did so with His disciples. He also did so with the multitudes. In fact, He even did so with those who opposed Him like the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus took on tradition with truth.
In Matthew 5, Jesus takes on tradition with two repetitive phrases: “You have heard that it was said” and “But I tell you.” He speaks of “You have heard that it was said” in verses 21, 27, 38, and 43. Verses 31 and 33 are some variation of the same phrase. He speaks of “But I tell you” in verses 22, 28, 32, 39, and 44. Jesus addresses tradition, but He accentuates truth. Jesus opens with what has been said, but He discloses how to truly do what pleases God the Father. He offers the truth as opposed to tradition.
Are hearing truth or honoring traditions? The Lord offered truth that outweighed tradition. If you have truly heard the truth, test tradition against the truth. Does it withstand the test? If so, uphold it and continue with it. If not, you may need to discard it and discontinue it. Put your traditions to the test with truth.
The teachings of the truth allow us to live and lead by the truth. Learn the truth. Live in the truth. Lead by the truth.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.- John 8:32 (NLT)
Read Full Post »
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-14 (NKJV)
Good works are to be part of the Christian church’s DNA. Paul stressed that to Titus, his “true son” in the ministry of sharing the Good News, as he instructed him about establishing elders and setting things in order in Crete. Paul instructs Titus, as the appointed pastor over the Cretan believers, to show himself as a pattern of good works. The people are to learn to become zealous for good works as the Lord’s “special people” by following after the Lord’s example and the example set by their spiritual leaders in the name of the Lord. The people have to hear about it by sound doctrine and they have to see it by demonstration. The church becomes more engaged with good works due to what the Lord showed and shared with the world over 2,000 years ago and what the pastor shows and shares with the congregation as the spiritual leader day by day.
We are not to simply sign up and show up for opportunities to do good works. That’s not the essence of the message from Paul to Titus. We are to become “zealous for good works,” according to Titus 2:14, demonstrating a fervent spirit for our calling to do good works in accordance with Ephesians 2:10. Paul stresses that godly people should not only “be ready for every good work,” as in Titus 3;1, but also learn to “maintain good works” in Titus 3:8, 14. According to Titus 3:14, our good works lead to our fruitfulness as we meet urgent needs.
- Is your ministry demonstrating a “pattern of good works?”
- What sort of trail are you leaving behind? Good works and good fruit?
- Are others learning to minister to others based upon the example that you are providing?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works – Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
Read Full Post »