Salt and Light? Really?

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1.10

The letter of 1 Corinthians is written by the Apostle Paul to address some questions the Corinthians had about certain aspects of the doctrine that he had taught them. I find it interesting that in v. 7 that “ … ye come behind in no gift;” meaning that all the spiritual gifts were present in the church.

He starts out with a plea from his heart to this hurting church. This word “beseech” literally means to beg. He says, “I beg you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing.” That is a very powerful plea. But he continues: “ … that all of you agree …” This is a 1st century church, not that far removed from the actual cross experience, but they must be reminded how important it is for the members of our churches to agree in order that the church can move ahead.

He presses his point: “ … that there be no divisions among you … ” When a church is divided over any issue that prevents the church from being salt and light in a sin sick world, we have become useless to the kingdom and may even be a stumbling block to those who are watching.

Here is his last plea in this verse: “but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” You might be thinking, “That is totally impossible for the church that I attend. We can’t agree on anything.” For someone to be disagreeable just because they want to be disagreeable indicates that they are more concerned about how THEY feel about things than about what GOD has said about things.

Let’s be a committee of one to take our congregations to God in prayer so that we can and will be salt and light to this lost world. Just my thoughts …

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What Does the World Have to Offer?

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6.14

These words of Paul to the Galatian Christians give us cause to examine our own lives today. Read these words carefully: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ … ” It is SO easy to want to glory in ourselves when something happens in our lives. But when things are NOT going so good, we begin to look for someone to blame for what has happened to us.

The Apostle Paul spent a substantial amount of time in Roman prisons, but he did not allow his external circumstances to affect his joy and his ability to “glory … in the cross …” Whether he was in chains with a Roman guard on each side or on the street preaching, he gloried “in the cross of … Christ.”

Now see his perspective: “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” What does it mean to be “crucified” to the world? The only purpose for crucifixion is death. Paul is telling us that he is dead to the world. When someone is dead, nothing that is going on around them has any effect on them. You can say what you want about them and it has no affect. You can do what you want to the body, and it has no affect. Paul is telling these Galatian Christians and us that the world has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to offer him that could possibly make any difference in his life.

Here is the question we must answer: “How are WE responding to this world and all that it offers us?” Are we affected by what people SAY about us? Are we adversely affected by what people DO to us? OR … are we DEAD to the world? To use Paul’s words, have we been “crucified” to the world? Only you can answer that question and the answer is between you and God. Just my thoughts …

I MUST Please HIM!

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6.1

We have heard the word “pharisee” tossed around in conversation and also have seen references to them in Scripture. A Pharisee does everything he does in order for others to SEE what he did and praise him for it. ALL of his praise came from the lips of men. Jesus spoke directly to this practice and this is what he said: “…otherwise ye have NO REWARD of your Father which is in heaven.” That is a statement with heavy consequences.
In the counseling field, we work with people on something called “the performance trap.” This person is investing all their time and energy in an attempt to make someone else accept them or like them. This is the result of having a poor self-image and they believe no one can love them unless their performance measures up. Their underlying tape that plays in their head 24/7 says, “If you knew the real me, you wouldn’t like me.”
Let’s see if we can fix these two issues with a better understanding of what Jesus wants from us. Paul speaks about this in Romans 12: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; ” (Romans 12.11.) There is another translation that reads: “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” So what does JESUS want from us? Simply to serve Him. When I have pleased Him, no one else matters! If you set out each day to bring glory to God and to serve Him by doing that which He asks of you, you will stop seeking the praise of men and stop performing so that others will like you. Just my thoughts …

Did God REALLY Say That?

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; ” Matthew 5.44

Who is your worst enemy? When was the last time you prayed for them? You say, “Oh, I prayed for them alright. I prayed for God to kill them.” I don’t think that is the kind of prayer Jesus had in mind. Take a look Jesus’ instructions to His followers. Regarding our enemies He said this: (1) love them; (2) bless them; (3) do good to them; and (4) PRAY for them. None of those things will happen automatically in our lives. The world teaches us that if someone has wronged us or hurt us, we should get even with them – make them pay. But that is NOT what Jesus says.
So, how does one love our enemies? Do something for them they would never expect. If you find out they are sick, take a meal to them as an act of kindness. They would NEVER expect that. “Bless them” – figure out what kind of blessing would be helpful to them, then ask the Lord to show you how you can do that as an act of love. “Do good to them.” When they go on vacation, mow their lawn. Find some way to reach out to them that allows God to work through you and they would never expect. “Pray for them …” This is something you can do and they never have to know. Hold them and their family before the throne of God and ask God to do something they need. Ask God to save them. Don’t limit God by saying, “None of that will work for me. I just can’t do it.” What you can do and what God can do through you are two separate things. Give God a chance to allow you to be a blessing to an enemy. Just My Thoughts  …

The ULTIMATE Trust Factor!

“In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56.4

Throughout the Word of God we find phrases like, “Fear not” and “Do not be afraid” or some similar instruction. I pray that by now we have come to realize that God is the only One (clothed with Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence) with the authority to make such a statement. So, when the psalmist writes the words recorded in this verse, he is remembering the greatness of his God, the overwhelming power of His God’s love, and the absolute confidence that His God is greater than any enemy he may face.
Encourage yourself today with these phrases: (1) In God I will praise his word – when we spend time in God’s Word, absorbing it truth for that day, it is much easier to praise the God of His Word. (2) In God I have put my trust – David knew what it was to be betrayed – by his own family, no less. So, in contrast to all of the people he CANNOT trust, he anchors his trust in His God. (3) I will NOT fear what flesh can DO unto me. One translation reads, “What can flesh do to me?” Solomon reminds us that “the fear of man brings a snare.” Jesus tells his followers and us: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10.28 Take God at His Word. Let this day be filled with PRAISE, TRUST, and the absence of FEAR. Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Give THIS to God Too!

“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (10) Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. ” James 3.9-10

One of the most powerful things in your body is your tongue. As this verse clearly states, we can use our tongue for good and we can use our tongue for evil. The choice is ours. All of us know people who say something like this: “Well, that’s just the way I am. I will tell you what i think no matter what.” Of all the important things we need to learn in life, one of the greatest ones is WHEN to be silent. As I look back over my life, there are specific things that I have said that I wished then and I wish now that I had never said. I can’t take them back, but I should have given some thought to WHAT was said BEFORE I said it. Matthew 12.36 says, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Now, before we start throwing stones, remember who is speaking here. It is not some baptist preacher, but rather it is the Son of God cautioning us about our words – and our tongues speak the words.
What would it look like today, if God’s children surrendered their tongue to the control of the Holy Spirit and allowed God to choose our words? Do you think you would speak DIFFERENTLY or would your conversation be just what it was yesterday? I confess to you that my heart’s desire is for God to help me carefully choose the words that I speak – to my family, to the family of God and to those in this world who need to hear the words of eternal life from God. Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

Just Listen!

“The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. (32) He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.” Proverbs 15.31-32

I don’t know anyone who likes to be corrected. Whether you are a student in the classroom, a child in the home, or someone in the workplace, we all struggle with someone “correcting” us, especially in the presence of others. But what I hear Solomon saying here is that the one who is WILLING to hear reproof (constructive criticism) is actually “among the wise.” Conversely, if one is UNWILLING to hear any kind of instruction Solomon says he “despises his own soul.” The final thought here is that when we hear reproof (constructive criticism) we actually “get understanding.”

So what do we do with all of this “reproof” stuff? I believe God sends people into our lives, people we respect, to give us help when we are struggling with decision making or basic life issues. Sometimes we don’t want to listen to what they or anyone else has to say, but if we want to “abide among the wise” it is best for us to listen to those whom God sends our way. As hard as it is to listen to someone give us constructive criticism, I have found that when I can calm down, let the steam out because I was offended, there is always some good truth contained in their words that I would not have heard otherwise and I will be the better for this learning experience. Let’s just tuck these words away for future reference when we may need them. Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry