Sunday Review, October 28, 2012

Righteousness by Faith – Part 2 (you can listen to this here: Today was a great day in the Lord Jesus Christ! Today we continued to preach the Gospel message that Paul the apostle was preaching in Galatians 3:10-29. In these verses, Paul argues that faith in the death according to the Scriptures, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures is vital to one’s salvation. As a matter of fact, it is only by faith that one is saved! Paul argues from the standpoint of the Mosaic Law. He teaches us that the Mosaic Law itself teaches us that we cannot keep the Law, that we need a Savior. We cannot do it! The only One who was ever able to fulfill the Law was Jesus Himself. Because the Law teaches us that we cannot be saved by the Law, it also teaches us that if we live by the Law that we are then cursed by the very Law that we are not able to keep.

Then Paul the apostle claims in Galatians 3:13, that Jesus Christ kept the Law and became the curse of the Law for you and for me. Astonishing…amazing…GLORY! Jesus fulfilled the Law and made the payment for us. Thanks be to Jesus Christ in whom I by faith live!

The God of the Storm

Over the last 28 years, I have had the privilege of serving the Lord Jesus Christ in vocational ministry. For the first 20 years of my ministry I served in student ministry. I am currently in my 8th year of pastoring. Someone asked me one time, “What’s the difference between student ministry and pastoral ministry?” My answer is always the same: “The only difference that I’ve seen is that adults have more money and insurance. Other than that, people are just people.” In other words, through the years I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly (not necessarily in that order).

Now I have to admit something. In all of these years, even through the bad and the ugly, there is no greater thing for which a man to be a part than that of ministry. I have the opportunity to share Jesus Christ mostly on a daily basis. I get to minister to those who are already part of the Church. I get to study daily the Word of God and bask in what I learn from the Words of Life. I get to go to hospitals and pray for the dying and cry with the living. Ministry has its advantages. But ministry also has its disadvantages.

It seems that over these 28 years of ministry, the church has had a radical shift in the way that ministers are treated. They are no longer treated with the respect they once held. Early in my ministry, when someone asked me what I did for a living, once they found out that I was a minister, they had a way of changing the way they behaved in front of me. Their language changed. Their demeanor changed. Their attitude changed. I would go so far as to say, whether they knew it or not, they were following what the writer of Hebrews says:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

Nowadays, it seems that no matter what you do to minister to people, there are so many who cause ministry to suffer by the way that they treat their ministers. And they do this sort of thing not realizing how unprofitable it is for them. Don’t misunderstand me with this post. After all, there are plenty of “ministers” who are doing things to cause the ministry to suffer just the same. There is no doubt in my mind that I have caused ministry to suffer at times.

But I have heard of friends of mine who are really going through the storm. They have called on me for advice or for someone to just listen to all that they are going through. Many of them are dealing with people in their congregations that for some reason think that they are in charge of ensuring that the pastor or ministers in their congregation is “humbled.” And they do this under the auspices of spirituality or because they claim to be a “Biblicist.” Some go so far as to jokingly say that they have been sent to stir up things to keep the “man of God” in his place. Why I’ve even heard as of late where even the children of ministers is being attacked because they are not being the example to their own children who are hooligans. Firestorms are raging in the church of Jesus Christ and some even justify this sort of behavior saying that if the devil is attacking that means that God is doing something. Huh?!? What does that even mean? The winds blow here and there and the people seem to go where it blows.

Admittedly, in my 28 years of ministry, I have seen some storms. And I have asked the question, “God, for what reason am I going through this? What have I done to deserve this?” The answer always come to my mind,

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2, 3)

You see, God is the God of the storm. No, it’s not that He is necessarily causing the storm, although there are times that He does (consider that He sent an evil spirit to torment King Saul in 1 Samuel 18:10). Sometimes we cause our own storms. Sometimes others cause our storms. The fact is, God uses whatever storms in our lives so we might consider it all joy. The God of the storm affords us the opportunity to go through these storms knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. It is the idea that we can keep going through whatever comes our way knowing that God is helping us to go through the pains, the stains of blood, sweat and tears, and all the while He is helping us to endure more and more.

It never ceases to amaze me when God takes each of us to what we think are our limits and He stretches us even more. Thanks be to the God of the storm…He is worthy of all glory, honor, praise and blessing!

Education: Is It Really the Answer?

Over the past several months, the candidates for the Presidency of the United States of America have been telling the American people that we need to put more and more money into education if we want to see our Country move in the “right” direction. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have exceptional educations. They studied in the most prestigious ivory towers in the land. However, if education is really the answer to put America back to a “right” direction, then why isn’t education working already? After all, when you think about it, America has the most educated people that she has ever seen in her history. The reality is that education may not be the answer at all.

The education that I received was alright. I was in public schools all of my life, and I think that I turned out to be alright. However, I have a father who taught me early on how to live life. My mother taught me how to think through so many different issues that would arise the older I grew. My family is full of teachers: both my sisters and some of my cousins and aunts and uncles. The joy of teaching runs deep in my family and through my veins. I teach on a regular basis, too. But education in and of itself doesn’t change a person necessarily. People who have great educations end up being criminals just as much as those who are uneducated. If education is the answer, why are some of the most imaginative, creative and smartest of people in prison today?

Education will only change the course of someone’s life if the education itself is good and right. What I mean by this is that not all education is worthy of one’s attention. For instance, I can educate you on how to make certain street drugs, but that education may land you in prison if you go out and apply what you have learned. I can educate you on how to make a bomb, but if applied, you may not only kill others, but you may injure or kill yourself in the process. You see, education is not always the answer to life’s issues or even the issues that our United States is facing today.

The ultimate goal of education is knowledge. We teach and we learn so people can have the opportunity to think through various issues for themselves. Knowledge is priceless, at least this is what many people believe. But what knowledge is good knowledge? What knowledge is the best knowledge?

The Scriptures tell us from where good and right knowledge comes. Read the following verses:

And to man He said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. (Psalm 111:10)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility. (Proverbs 15:33)

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14)

 It is evident just from these verses that good and right knowledge leads to wisdom and instruction. In other words, when man fears the Lord, then knowledge, wisdom, understanding and instruction are part of a man’s life. To fear the Lord means that one reveres Him as the One to whom all allegiance is due. In addition, to fear the Lord is also to realize who He is and who we are. God is the Maker of us; man is the destruction of us. God is the One who blesses us; man is the one who curses us. God is the One who loves us; man is the one who hates us. God has given to us in His Word life and liberty in Jesus Christ; man has given to us in his word death and slavery. In other words, what comes out of a man’s mouth will be what is man’s heart; what comes from the mouth of God is who He is. And knowing who He is will bring good and right knowledge.

Education, then, is good and right when fearing the Lord is the theme of that education.

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