Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Do you understand what you're reading?

Acts 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

I recently had a conversation with another church member over the telephone. As we talked about spiritual things, she made a remark that made me laugh....and made me think...and inspired me to write. She said (and this isn't word-for-word, but close enough since this is an anonymous source) "Yeah, I just got through reading a lot of good stuff in Romans but I can't really tell you what any of it means."

I wonder how much of a common occurance this is for born-again believers? How many times have we read over a passage-had no idea what it meant- and then we just leap-frogged onto the next chapter...only to find that the next time we run across the's still in the bible...and we still don't have a clue what it means? I know this used to be my approach when I was a young convert. I was very concerned with memorization, but not exremely concerned with application. Consequently, I got pretty good at quoting verses (shucks even whole chapters of smaller books)...but probably had no idea what many of them actually meant (in context).

I know that as a pastor I can preach a sermon with a definite aim or focus....and yet....I can have 5 different people come up to me and they have 5 totally different takes on what I was trying to say.....many times- nowhere near the intent of the message. I think the devil delights when we don't "understand what we're reading." (ref: Acts 8:30)

Thankfully the Ethiopian eunuch wasn't content with his misunderstanding of scripture. And as always, our faithful Lord had Philip at the right place at the right time to help guide. Clarity of the scriptures brought salvation to the Ethiopian man that day. I believe that for the diligent student of scripture, God will give that individual a clear understanding of His written Word. So the next time you're confronted with a difficult passage....instead of procrastinating and skipping over it- why not dig deep, pray, and let God give you the understanding? I wrote an article about this on my website- have a look if you're interested : Do you understand what you're reading?

Monday, September 26, 2005

"The Comparison Trap"

II Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise

I love the Corinthians. (It's evident that Paul loved these guys too!)

They seem to have had almost every conceivable "church problem." Seems like a biggie was due to factions in the church....not much different than today is it? Anyways...I want to focus on the last part of II Cor 10:12..."but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." We get in trouble almost EVERY time we try to compare or measure ourselves by anything other than the Word of God. We can err on either side of the equation.

We may look at others more carnal than ourselves (at least in our estimation) and judge that we are better off or spiritually superior. It is easy to preach with fervor and zeal against the things we have no affinity for. When we use other men and women as a measuring rod....we have no true plumb line. God's Word is the standard by which we will all be judged and we would do well to look to it for a true reflection or indicator of our spirituality since the Word is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb 4:12)

There is another error we must guard against-an inferiority complex based on the perceived success of others. The older I get, the more I realize that the grass usually isn't greener on the other side. How often do we look at the success of others and deem ourselves failures because we are on a (perceived) lower level? We rarely take into account the sacrifices these individuals have made and we rarely consider that to whom much is given "much is required" (Luke 12:48). With greater promotion comes greater responsibility. Sometimes we are not at a level of maturity to handle "greater things" and so God in His mercy allows our character to develop before we are thrust into greater responsibility. Consider the life of Joseph; had he never experienced the sufferings at the hands of others, would he have been qualified to be the "prince of Egypt?"

There is no room for jealousy/envy in the body of Christ. God has given each one of us gifts according to our abilities (Matthew 25:15). So if God has entrusted me with 5 talents...then I shouldn't get all bent out of shape comparing myself to the guy with ten. Likewise I shouldn't look at the guy with one talent and "think more highly of myself than I ought." (Romans 12:3)

Just my thoughts today...I welcome your comments

Friday, September 23, 2005

I Timothy 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality

As I was reading this scripture the other day, the thought occurred to I really observe every area of my life (especially ministry) without partiality? We are warned numerous times in scripture not to be a "respector of persons." I suppose it is easy to just give a pat answer and say "I would never do that"...but I fear that like most sins....the sin of partiality may be more evident in our lives than what we would like to admit. Christ warned of things that are "within" a man's heart that would defile him. We often look at the sins which are so easily outwardly manifested and condemn them (drunkenness, adultery, murder, etc.)...but we cleverly and conveniently overlook the inward (invisible) sins of pride, envy, and partiality.

In Paul's charge to Timothy above, he says that the Father, the Son, and the angels were observing what he was about to say. This tells me that all of heaven is offended when we partake in the sin of partiality. I am a pastor, so these things take special significance for me. I must always be on guard against the sins of partiality. The individual in the church who pays the biggest tithe is no more important that the widow who casts in out of her penury. The man from a prominent family is no more important than the man who can offer me nothing in the way of political advancement.

In Paul's charge to Timothy he also says "them that sin rebuke before all that others may fear." This means that I cannot rail against the sins of those "under me" (as if we should really have a sharp clergy/laity distinction anyway) while sweeping the sins of my fellow ministers (or myself for that matter) under the rug. I wonder how many of our actions have impure motivations? Do we associate with a certain group of people, hoping to gain influence with them and others? Or do we serve unselfishly and give to those who cannot repay us (monetarily or politically?)

These are some things I'm thinking about this week....and seeing where I line up or fall short in this regard. May we all do everything "without partiality."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Greetings in the Wonderful name of Jesus Christ!

This will be a place where I post random thoughts, sermonettes, diatribes, and probably some off-the-wall ideas as well. I am grateful to be a pastor and that God counted me faithful-putting me into the ministry. I look forward to dialogue with others here, and hope that this can be a place of mutual edification, exhortation, encouragement, and inspiration. I believe that we all (in the body of Christ) have something to offer and that we need one another.

Feel free to add your thoughts and comments- hopefully we can benefit one another.

In Christ's Service,