Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pastor Appreciation


Proverbs 18:12  Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

To all my pastor buddies out there... I love you and appreciate you!!!

I suppose one of the unfortunate things to happen to ministry in America in these past several years is the idea of a Pastor Appreciation Month. Boy, has that backfired on the clergy!

 I don't think we can blame this fall-flat-on-its-face occasion on the greeting card companies like the extreme proliferation of Val's Day, Mom's Day, Grand Parent's Day, etc. The reason being, that they aren't making anything off this special occasion.

I suppose some very well-meaning, big-hearted individual thought it would be extremely appropriate to give honor to pastors by setting aside a whole month to appreciate the pastors. That month, the pastor could be showered with texts, tweets, e-mails, FB messages expressing gratitude for their labors. Church families could invest a Sunday afternoon meal for the preacher and his family, whereby Tyson could make a killing (literally and figuratively) in chicken sales. A special service could be set aside in the church during October to do a "this is your life" for the preacher. Gift cards to Amazon or Barnes and Noble would be given the preacher to enhance his library. The church may invest in a conference on ministry to help the preacher better tend the flock or to preach the Word more effectively. Some churches may even use this opportunity to send the pastor and his bride away for a weekend at a resort or, possibly even a cruise, mission’s trip or Holy Land excursion for pastors who have led and fed well for many years. (Really, most would be satisfied with a personal note, handshake or pat on the back.)

May God richly bless whoever this person is or was had these noble intentions. 

However, for the most part, the common church goer either has no idea that such an appreciation month even exists, or, they have an inkling but assume somebody will carry the ball in such matters then they will just participate when the secret note has been passed.

But the memos generally fail to initiate. Somebody assumes someone else will generate the real-good-feel-good effort on behalf of the church and before you know it, the ghosts, ghouls and goblins of October are exchanged for the cornucopias of November and, to the pastor’s chagrin, the moment was not seized.

I have two things to say to you, dear co-laborers in the vineyard.

One, this pastor knows of and recognizes your labors and gives thanks to the Lord for you. This fellow servant offers his hand in fellowship, his shoulder in sorrow, his heart in compassion and his appreciation in the work.

And, more importantly, two, your appreciation day is just over the horizon. The crown which will never tarnish is on order now. Listen to what Peter has to say about the Hallmark greeting you will be met with in the Halls of Glory...

1Peter 5:1  The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3  Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

So preach on preacher. Encourage the hurting, exhort the laborers, rebuke the unruly, feed your flock, win the lost, disciple the saved. God is not is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Heb. 6:10

Friday, October 17, 2014

Marriage on Hold


I have a very important question for you that deserves an honest answer. Your answer just may determine your future, your happiness and your marriage. Are you ready?

Friend, is your marriage on hold right now? I mean, if I could ask your spouse, and they were up front with me without fear of the doghouse, “Is your loved one distracted from your marriage?” How would they answer?

“Well,” you might say, “You have to understand, I am just so busy these days.” Or “I am up against so many things right now.” Perhaps “I am so tired.” Or, “The pressures are just crazy.” The next question then is, when are we all not busy, up against things, tired and pressured? If you are waiting for things to normalize, guess what? Your marriage will never get back on track.

Life happens, but your vows were said to ensure that your love and fidelity would trump sickness, poverty and bad times. You said, for better or for worse, remember?

So why now are your goodbye and hello kisses mere pecks? Why is your intimacy purely perfunctory? Why are your “I love you’s” so unconvincing?

It is because life has happened and your priorities are conflicted.  If you were to be honest, an observer would guess that, to you, God has become a spare tire, your mate a lump that lays next to you at night, your children, necessary evils and your church, a back-burner dweller.

Your job, however…that place where dog eats dog, where fingers crunch as one miserable worker ant climbs over another on the ladder to success, where the bottom line is king, where you are despised, ignored, neglected, over-ruled, under-supported and unfairly compensated…. It is the lottery winner for your time, your passion, your energy and your very best.

The left-overs, the crumbs from the table go to your spouse. Is this what you meant when you parroted the preacher at the altar? “Love, honor, cherish and obey.” Have you truly forsaken all others? Other priorities, people, passions? Or does your family continue to expect left overs?

Let’s take the long look, shall we? If things continue on their present course, what can we expect? If we keep thinking that tomorrow we might have more energy, next week we might be able to carve out some time, next month things will settle down, if we continue to procrastinate about our most vital relationships…We can count on loved ones who are beyond caring anymore. We can picture ourselves alone in bed and in life. Is the job worth it? Isn’t it better to have little with the fear of the Lord (and a cohesive family) than to have great treasure and trouble therewith, Proverbs 15:16?

Oh, but wait. I see that there is more to life than the job. At the end of the day there is some time and energy and passion to spare! Yes, the computer, the internet, the smart phone - - look at the extra effort we suddenly have to put forth for them. It’s a miracle!

STOP saying, “Well, right now, I just can’t afford to be passionate about my marriage.”  Instead say, “Right now, I am going to reinvest in my marriage and my home, the job be darned!” You promised to have and to hold. I am not sure that meant you were going to put your marriage on hold.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Abiding Fools



Proverbs 14:7  Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

Jesus told us to not cast our pearls before the swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you.

There are people who could use our company, our fellowship, our counsel.

But then, there are those with whom we deal who are a complete waste of time and effort. Trying to impart wisdom to them is akin to putting money into pockets with holes.

They have little or nothing to offer when it comes to knowledge or wisdom. They are not receptive of truth. This passage, Proverbs 14, warns that what they offer is perverseness, pride, BS (go ahead, read in in verse 4), lies, deceit, mockery, gullibility, rage, over-confidence, anger, error, haste, envy, rottenness, oppression, wickedness, reproach and shame.

There are contexts where we are pretty much stuck with fools; at the job, in a class, perhaps even living under the same roof, and maybe in the same pew. But, when possible, we should avoid their folly. “Hi, how are you?” and “Bye” should suffice.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ladies, are you a Crown or Bone Cancer to your Husband?



   
Proverbs 12:4  A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but
she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

A virtuous woman (according to Proverbs 31):
Is of great value
Is able to always be trusted by her husband
Is industrious
Is wise
Is frugal
Is strong
Is a self-starter
Is compassionate
Is confident
Is supportive
Is kind
Is praised by others
Is God-fearing

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Surprises of Heaven



 Rev 21:1-12

Heaven IS for REAL!
To Jesus every day I find my heart is closer drawn,
He’s fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn;
He’s all my fancy pictures in its fairest dreams, and more,
Each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before.

The half cannot be fancied
This side the golden shore;
O there He’ll be still sweeter
Than He ever was before.

People have some strange conceptions about heaven, don’t they? I have been at the funerals of unbelievers, atheists and complete unregenerate people and folks have stood by the casket and said the nuttiest stuff. How they are really raising hell up there. How they are really partying. How they are now our angels watching over us.

Some people envision us lounging on clouds with wings and halos strumming harps – or maybe throwing lightning bolts at us.

Here are a few of the things that just might surprise you about heaven:
1.     We really will strum harps in heaven
Rev 14:2  And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3  And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

2.     We are not angels in heaven – Angels are another class of being created by God apart from the human race. They are super human in their strength and abilities. When we go to heaven, we don’t become angels, we don’t get wings or halos. We sing songs that angels cannot sing, because they have never been redeemed.

3.     There is only one street in heaven
Rev 21:21  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 2  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

         4.     Heaven is a cube!
Rev 21:16  And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

5.     There will be tears in heaven until the Great White Throne (after the tribulation and the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth)
Rev 7:17  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Rev 21:4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

6.     We will work in heaven. (But there is no curse – it is blessed work!)
Rev 22:3  And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

Look what the Tribulation saints are up to in heaven. Rev 7:14  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

7.     It will not be about us (for the most part) After all, we are His kids and are therefore pretty special and it seems to be in His nature to lavish His own with the very best. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.  But primarily Heaven is going to be about the One Who made it all possible.

Rev 4:8  And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

8.     There will be one more war in heaven
Rev 12:7  And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8  And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

          9.     There is a Tree in Heaven that bears a different fruit each month! It is somehow in the middle of the street and on both sides of the river of the water of life.
   Rev 22:2  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

              10.      The Throne of Jesus is going to be a huge surprise to you.
Rev 4:1  After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

a.     The appearance of Jesus Himself.
Rev 1:12  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

b.     There are 24 thrones surrounding Christ’s throne. On these thrones set the 12 apostles of the NT and the 12 patriarchs of the OT, therefore representing all believers of all time.
Rev 4:4  And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

c.      There are 7 Spirits before the throne
Rev 1:4  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
Rev 3:1  And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Rev 4:5  And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

d.    There are some interesting creatures also surrounding the throne
Rev 4:6  And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8  And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

e.      There are 2 different kinds of bottles setting around the throne, salty and sweet. The salty ones contain the tears of the saints. The sweet ones contain the prayers of the saints.
Psa 56:8  Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
Rev 5:8  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Rev 8:3  And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4  And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

11.             You will get a tattoo in heaven (name of God on your forehead)
Rev. 7:3, Rev. 9:4, Rev 14:1
Rev 22:4  And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

12.           You get a personalized white stone and a secret name! (and even some hidden manna)
Rev 2:17  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

What? Well, some things are best left to be mysteries! However, we can speculate.
• In ancient Greece, jury members would cast a white stone to signify an acquittal, whereas a black stone proclaimed the defendant guilty.
• A small object called a “tessera,” made of wood, stone, clay or bone, conveyed special privileges to its owner. The ancient Romans used tesserae as tokens of admittance to events in the arena.
• One of the better-accepted explanations of the white stone has to do with the high priest’s breastplate, which contained twelve stones. Each of these stones had the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved on it (Exodus 28:21). As he ministered in the temple, the high priest bore the names of God’s people into God’s presence. In the same way, the “white stone” with the believer’s name written on it could be a reference to our standing in God’s presence.
• The white stone may be a translucent precious stone such as a diamond. The word translated “white” in
Revelation 2:17 is leukos and can also mean “brilliant, bright.”
* The best meaning of the white stone probably has to do with the ancient Roman custom of awarding white stones to the victors of athletic games. The winner of a contest was awarded a white stone with his name inscribed on it. This served as his “ticket” to a special awards banquet. According to this view, Jesus promises the overcomers entrance to the eternal victory celebration in heaven.

13.         You will not always be in heaven once you get to heaven. The Bible says that where He is, there we may also be. It also says that we will behold His face. Suffice it to say that wherever Jesus is, that will be heaven. The 1000 year Millennial reign of Christ will find us back here on earth, ruling and reigning with Him as kings and priests. The New Jerusalem comes down from God out of Heaven to the new earth.

14.        The Judgment seat of Christ is going to be a complete shocker to all of us!
a.     You will discover just how complete the cross was and is.
b.    You will discover the extent of God’s grace
c.      You will discover the lavishness of His riches glory
d.     You will discover the wasted time and effort of your earthly journey (knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men)
e.       You will understand, finally, how relatively insignificant your earthly sufferings were.
Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
f.        All of the things that will be revealed about you, your work, your heart, that you thought nobody ever noticed.



But here are the 3 main surprises of heaven I want to share with you...
1.     You will find that there will be those in heaven who are there that you did not expect
 2.  You will find that there are those who are not there in heaven whom you did expect
 3.  You will find that you are finally, actually there! Not that you are there, if you are saved, that should not surprise you. But that you have actually made the move.

It will be like going on a trip, you have saved up for it, planned it, looked forward to it, desired to get out of town, get to your destination, but until you are finally there, even then it takes a bit for the realization to set in. Once you are getting into vacation mode, it is time to go back home and back to work or school… but not so with heaven!

*Don’t let heaven surprise you. If you have not truly come to Christ for the forgiveness of your sin, you aren’t going to heaven. Heaven is only for those whose sins are washed away in the blood of Jesus.
*Don’t get to heaven and think you are going to get a ton of rewards if you are unfaithful to Christ here.
*Don’t go to heaven thinking that your family and friends are all going to be there just because they are good people, or Americans. Someone has to bring them to Jesus or they aren’t going to be there. You are that someone.