Jan 29, 2008
Taken From Alan Jackson’s Dvd ‘Precious Memories’ LIVE AT THE RYMAN
Jan 29, 2008
Taken From Alan Jackson’s Dvd ‘Precious Memories’ LIVE AT THE RYMAN
Calling all spiritual leaders: We need you now more than ever!
Have you ever wondered why pastors are called shepherds throughout history?
The Greek word for pastor is Poimen, which means shepherd or overseer.
A pastor’s calling is much like those who care for sheep. They care for the wounded and sick, rescue the lost and trapped and guide to places of nourishment and rest. The result of this relationship builds a trust in the sheep that recognizes and depends on the shepherd for healing and direction.
Thank God for our spiritual shepherds!
But there’s another thing good shepherds do. They watch for wolves and fight them off to protect their sheep. Like David when he was a shepherd boy. He fought off devouring beasts and would not let them touch a single one of his flock.
So the question is: Would a shepherd be good if he refused to identify and fight the wolves?
Let’s read the words of the ultimate, good Shepherd:
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15).
The spirit of Christ compels all spiritual shepherds to recognize danger and lay their lives down for those that follow them.
If you want to be a good shepherd, you can’t run away from wolves.
This was the understanding of pastors in colonial America. Listen to the words of William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth Plantation, when he spoke about his spiritual shepherd, Rev. John Robinson:
“For besides his singular abilities in divine things (wherein he excelled), he was also able to give directions in civil affairs and to foresee dangers and inconveniences, by which means he was very helpful to their outward estates, and so was every way as a common father unto them.”
Wow. Good spiritual shepherds are like fathers.
Can you imagine a father camping with his family and sitting idly by the campfire roasting a marshmallow as a wolf shows up and devours his children? No chance! Not a real father – not a good shepherd.
In the same way, spiritual shepherds are called by God to not only nourish and care for their sheep but also to identify and defeat the wolves that seek to devour them, like a loving father for his family.
Last week, when we read George Barna’s research about how few pastors felt it necessary to address the “issues” of the day, we felt an urgency to pray for goodshepherds to rise up and step in.
Barna shared withpastor is Poimen’s “Today’s Issues” the results after two years of research:
“What we’re finding is that when we ask them (pastors) about all the key issues of the day [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues.’ Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?’ – and the numbers drop … to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”
Did you catch that? Ninety percent say the Bible has answers to the cultural issues of the day, yet only 10 percent are willing to speak about those things. That’s a problem.
Scripture shows us that shepherds are some of the few people with the ability to identify good from evil. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” Hebrews 5:13-14.
So if pastors, who have their senses trained to discern good from evil, will not shepherd their flock to do the same, of course the flock will get devoured by evil. The flock can’t discern the wolves.
And as expected in this situation, today we see wolves devouring the flock. These wolves – ideas and agendas set against biblical values and religious liberties – are free to roam and eat up anyone they please. It’s like a feeding frenzy right now.
So we’re asking spiritual shepherds around this nation to rise up!
One of the quotes that encourages us to never run from the wolves is by Martin Luther:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all battlefields besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”
Spiritual leaders, if you’re reading this, please know that you have a flock of sheep that’s longing for you to stand up to the wolves. We know it’s tough, and you may lose a lot in the world’s eyes, but you have been called to be a good shepherd for such a time as this!
by BENHAM BROTHERS
1 Kings 18:19-39
God has given His children the privilege of calling upon Him for all they need, and what’s more, He’s promised to respond. He has also included the right to petition Him on behalf of others. In fact, Scripture tells us that the prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much (James 5:16).
To be righteous in the Father’s sight, we must accept His offer of salvation. Before redemption, we were unrighteous people under His judgment (Eph. 2:1, 3). Through faith in Christ as our Savior, we are made new and declared holy in His sight. Then, after we are able to approach Him as righteous people, we must align our prayers with His will—that’s the only way for our petitions to be powerful and effective (1 John 5:14-15). And the key to aligning our requests with His plan is getting to know our heavenly Father’s character and priorities.
Elijah is a good example of someone who prayed with authority. The Lord sent him into battle against the evil king Ahab and the 450 prophets of Baal. This was a spiritual conflict to prove who was the real God—Baal or the Lord of Israel. Elijah’s weapons were his knowledge of the Father’s plan and the authority he had in prayer as a prophet of God. His request—that Jehovah would make Himself known, voiced publicly before his opponents, matched the Lord’s will (Ex. 7:5; 1 Kings 18:37). And when God responded to Elijah’s prayer, the people declared, “The Lord, He is God” (1 Kings 18:39).
Are you a child of God? If so, you can pray with spiritual might by making sure your requests are in agreement with His will.
“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)
It is certainly worth noting that the command for children’s obedience is in the context of a godly wife and mother and strong leadership by a godly father. If and when both parents are setting a godly example, then children are given greater freedom to obey and a more likely outcome of stable maturity.
However, this instruction is part of the timeless Ten Commandments and therefore independent of the internal circumstances of the family. Children are to obey their parents “in all things.” And even though the parallel verse in Ephesians 6:1 includes the qualifier “in the Lord,” the emphasis throughout is on obedience. That is, when children obey their parents, the outcome is a longer life than otherwise (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:3) because obedience is “well pleasing” to the Lord.
This most basic of behaviors begins in the home and is either enhanced or disdained by the parents. However, the responsibility lies directly with the children to obey those who have the initial authority over them. Broken homes, single-parent homes, and absent parents aside, obedience lies at the core of all human relationships. If a child embraces obedience in spite of circumstances, his or her life is more likely to succeed in school, in business, and in all social endeavors.
Obedience is an “ornament of grace” and “chains about” the neck for godly children (Proverbs 1:8-9) and will bring “favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:1-4). Abraham is cited for his godly care for his children, who because of his leadership would “keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19).
It is the obedience that “is well pleasing unto the Lord” and brings about the fulfillment of life “long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:3). HMM III
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. —Galatians 6:7
Sin, I repeat, in addition to anything else it may be, is always an act of wrong judgment. To commit a sin a man must for the moment believe that things are different from what they really are; he must confound values; he must see the moral universe out of focus; he must accept a lie as truth and see truth as a lie; he must ignore the signs on the highway and drive with his eyes shut; he must act as if he had no soul, and was not accountable for his moral choices.
Sin is never a thing to be proud of. No act is wise that ignores remote consequences, and sin always does. Sin sees only today, or at most tomorrow; never the day after tomorrow, next month or next year. Death and judgment are pushed aside as if they did not exist and the sinner becomes for the time a practical atheist who by his act denies not only the existence of God but the concept of life after death….
The notion that the careless sinner is the smart fellow and the serious-minded Christian, though well-intentioned, is a stupid dolt altogether out of touch with life will not stand up under scrutiny. Sin is basically an act of moral folly, and the greater the folly the greater the fool.
Keep me from sin today. Deliver me from “moral folly.” again in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
… If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him…. John 14:23
The gravest question any of us face is whether we do or do not love the Lord!
Too much hinges on the answer to pass the matter off lightly, and it is a question that no one can answer for another. Not even the Bible can tell the individual man that he loves the Lord; it can only tell him how he can know whether or not he does. It can and does tell us how to test our hearts for love as a man might test ore for the presence of uranium, but we must do the testing.
If we lived in a spiritual Utopia where every wind blew toward heaven and every man was a friend of God we Christians could take everything for granted, counting on the new life within us to cause us to do the will of God without effort and more or less unconsciously. Unfortunately, we have opposing us the lusts of the flesh, the attraction of the world and the temptations of the devil. These complicate our lives and require us often to make determined moral decisions on the side of Christ and His commandments.
When with honesty and serious minds we ask ourselves, “Do I love the Lord, or no?”, there will likely be any number of personal workers standing by to quote convenient texts to prove that we do.
But our Lord told His disciples that love and obedience were organically united, that the keeping of His sayings would prove that we love Him. This is the true test of love and we will be wise to face up to it!
The Bible tells about man’s being alienated from and an enemy to God. Should this sound harsh or extreme, you have only to imagine your closest friend coming to you and stating in cold seriousness that he no longer has any confidence in you.
“I do not trust you. I have lost confidence in your character. I am forced to suspect every move you make”—such a declaration would instantly alienate friends by destroying the foundation upon which every friendship is built. Until your former friend’s opinion of you had been reversed, there could be no further communion.
People do not go boldly to God and profess that they have no confidence in Him, and they usually do not witness publicly to their low view of God. The frightful thing, however, is that people everywhere act out their unbelief with a consistency that is more convincing than words.
Christianity provides a way back from this place of unbelief and alienation: “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). God took the wrong upon Himself in order that the one who committed the wrong might be saved!
Father, You have pursued us passionately and diligently in order that our relationship with You might be restored. Yet so many have turned a cold shoulder to You. Jesus, I love You and appreciate all that You have done for me and my family and friends.