Oct 15, 2011
I Hope You Like This Worship Video I Made
In John 10:12–13 Jesus is quoted as saying the following about the difference between a hired hand and a shepherd:
“The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (NIV)
What is the primary difference between a hireling and a shepherd according to Jesus? The primary difference is their motivation for tending the sheep. The hireling does it for his own benefit and the shepherd does it for the benefit of the sheep.
When tending the sheep no longer benefits the hireling, he is nowhere to be found and leaves the sheep scattered and unprotected.
In contrast, the shepherd stands in when things get tough and does what his can to protect and care for the sheep.
I have known of “pastors” who have worked the church job market the way that some seek to climb the “corporate ladder.” A true shepherd doesn’t start with a small congregation and then seek to find an opportunity at a larger church so that he can be more comfortable or improve his lifestyle.
Sure, God can call men to change and grow in their responsibilities, but it must be God directed and God focused for this to be a true calling. If God is behind the change, it will be good for both the former church and the new church. If the change is prompted by the desires of a hireling, the former church will feel as though it has been left in the lurch.
Speaking as a sheep, I want a pastor who has a sense of calling, who ministers because he cannot do anything else without violating who he is, and who is in ministry for the long haul, no matter how difficult it gets.
How can you identify the hirelings? It is not always easy since the hirelings are often very good at appearing spiritual and self effacing.
I think that Ephesians 4:11-12 provides some insight to help distinguish between hirelings and shepherds. These verses tell us that the goal of church leadership should be the “equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
If a pastor is seeking to control the congregation, if he is the center of all the activity, if he maintains his place in the spot light, you might find that he is a hireling and not a shepherd.
On the other hand, a shepherd will be seeking to develop the gifts in his congregation, he will be feeding them from Scripture, he will focus on equipping the congregation to fulfill the mission of the church. He will then turn them loose to do the work of ministry. His focus is on the sheep and their development, not on his own position as leader.
In the end, it comes down to motivation. If you are a sheep, ask yourself is your pastor is working for the benefit of the congregation. If the answer is no, then move on and find a true shepherd. Staying under the leadership of a hireling will not be to your benefit.
If you are a pastor, ask yourself the same question. If you are pastoring primarily because you need a job, save all of us a lot of grief and go get a job outside the church. You’ll probably make more money and the collateral spiritual damage will be greatly reduced.
All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8
When asked to define his role in a community that was sometimes uncooperative with law enforcement, a sheriff didn’t flash his badge or respond with the rank of his office. Rather he offered, “We are human beings who work with human beings in crisis.”
His humility—his stated equality with his fellow human beings—reminds me of Peter’s words when writing to first-century Christians suffering under Roman persecution. Peter directs: “All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8). Perhaps Peter was saying that the best response to humans in crisis is to be human, to be aware that we are all the same. After all, isn’t that what God Himself did when He sent His Son—became human in order to help us? (Phil. 2:7).
Gazing only at the core of our fallen hearts, it’s tempting to disdain our human status. But what if we consider our humanness to be part of our offering in our world? Jesus teaches us how to live fully human, as servants recognizing we are all the same. “Human” is how God made us, created in His image and redeemed by His unconditional love.
Today we’re sure to encounter folks in various struggles. Imagine the difference we might make when we respond humbly—as fellow humans who work together with other humans in crisis.
Father, help us to be humble as we respond to one another, human being to human being.
Humility is the result of knowing God and knowing yourself.
Have you noticed that when people receive a great honor for their accomplishments they often acknowledge their humble roots? Even legendary athletes admit that they were just an everyday kid from somewhere—just like us.
Peter sees how important it is for those who know they are God’s representatives to remember who they were. In recognizing their high honor (1 Peter 2:9), Peter urges followers of Christ to remember that once they had no sense of belonging to God; once they had not received mercy (2:10). Later in the same letter he reminds those who are leaders among the Lord’s people to recognize their own accountability to God and not to lord it over those entrusted to their care (5:3).
At best we are all common folks from somewhere who have been called to love others as God has loved us.
For further study see the Discovery Series booklet The Mind of Christ at discoveryseries.org/q0209.
Nothing that happens is beyond God’s control. Ultimately, whatever comes into our life is either sent by our Father or permitted by Him, and that which does not enter is withheld according to His will. But believers sometimes get so caught up in the moment that they forget about the Lord’s omnipotence. Then when life is challenging or uncomfortable, the temptation is to react against whatever seems to be causing them trouble. Fired? Blame the boss. Single? Blame the opposite sex.
To illustrate this idea, think about a child who must swallow a nasty-tasting antibiotic. In a fit of frustration, he slaps away the bottle from his mother’s hand, even though the container is only a “secondary agent.” Mom is the one who dispenses the medicine, but since he cannot slap her, he turns his irritation against the vessel.
When we “slap away the bottle,” we take out our anger and resentment on the vessel the Lord is using, instead of accepting that His will is at work. God does assure us He’s working out the details of life in a way that will ultimately benefit us, but we can’t assume this means everything will turn out to our liking.
Sometimes it’s easier to turn our wrath against an earthly agent than to be honest with our heavenly Father about frustration over our circumstances. But the Lord welcomes honesty. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul cried out to Him in anguish (Matt. 26:39; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). If we recognize that God is in control and guiding our future for good, then we will not stay discouraged for long.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
As recorded in John 14–16, many of Christ’s last words to His disciples as He was about to leave them regarded abiding. The word meno occurs 18 times in this discourse and is translated not only “abide” but also “remain,” “dwell,” “continue,” and “be present.” Let us look at what He told them about abiding while He was “yet present” (14:25) with them.
First, “the Father . . . dwelleth in me” (14:10), “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (v. 11). That is, they are one and the same, inseparably abiding together, giving great power to those believing on Him (v. 12).
Furthermore, the very Spirit of God, the “Comforter,” will “abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive . . . but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (vv. 16-17). “I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (v. 20).
Abiding in Him, as we see in our text and in verse 7 (as opposed to the tragic end of those who “abide not” [v. 6]), brings forth much fruit, and that fruit shall “remain” (v. 16).
There is one requirement—that we keep His commandments (14:23 and 15:10), and if we do so, we will “continue” and “abide” in His love (vv. 15:9-10). “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (15:11). Not only are we to abide while in this world, but throughout eternity. “In my Father’s house are many mansions [same root word, meaning abiding places]: . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (14:2-3). JDM
2 Chronicles 22:1
Very special had been his deliverance from death; let us hope that he felt deeply grateful for it. He had by his own folly put himself into harm’s way, and it was great mercy which resetted him from peril. We find, however, that he did not go unrebuked.
2 Chronicles 22:3
The father had rebuked Asa, and had been roughly used for so doing, but this did not prevent the son from doing his duty. He spake very plainly and personally to Jehoshaphat, and did not hesitate to deliver to him the solemn threatening of the Lord: nor was his message a fruitless one, for the king saw his sin, and set about doing all the good he could, as a token of his hearty repentance.
2 Chronicles 22:4
When we turn to God ourselves, we cannot do better than use all our influence to convert others.
2 Chronicles 22:5-7
In all our dealings we are bound to be strictly just, and never should we allow ourselves to be perverted by the threats or smiles of any man. Our heavenly Father is righteous, and so should all his children be. It is not only judges who may be bribed, but servants may be bribed to allow tradesmen to rob their masters; masters may be tempted to be unjust to servants; and children may be led to be untruthful in their statements by gifts and threats. Such things must not be, or we shall grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
2 Chronicles 22:8
This was to be a central court of judicature where hard cases would be decided. What a blessing is it that in the New Jerusalem we have one who is called Wonderful Counsellor, and no case is too hard for him.
2 Chronicles 22:10
Very needful is it even now to exhort one another to do the right whether we offend or please. Disciples of Jesus should be strictly upright: if honour be banished from all the rest of the world, it should still dwell in the bosom of believers.
2 Chronicles 22:11
Let this be our motto in all our dealings. He who acts uprightly has never any cause to fear, for God is with him. Children, learn this line by heart, “Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good.”
I send the joys of earth away,
Away, ye tempters of the mind;
False as the smooth deceitful sea,
And empty as the whistling wind.
Lord, I adore thy matchless grace,
That warn’d me of that dark abyss,
That drew me from those treacherous seas,
And bade me seek superior bliss.
1 Timothy 6:19
When Russian Czar Peter the Great died, his daughter Elizabeta Petrovna came to the throne and became the Empress of Russia. She was perhaps the most flamboyant ruler ever to reign over Russia. The extravagance of her lifestyle was legendary. She owned more palaces than she could use, and the Cinderella-type carriages she owned were hand-carved and gold-leafed. In addition, the carriage doors and spikes of the wheels of each carriage were studded with dazzling diamonds to match the solid gold crowns that were laden with emeralds and rubies and affixed to the top.
The Empress Elizabeta also had an abnormal love of clothes. She completely changed her attire three times a day and never once wore the same article of clothing twice. This was no problem for her, given the fact that she owned 15,000 regal gowns, many of which were spun from pure silver and gold and encrusted with precious gems.
This ruler of Russia came to be known as the “party queen” because she threw hundreds of parties in her massive gold-gilded palaces. To make sure no royal woman ever wore the same gown to such an event twice, she established a new rule: Servants were to be stationed at all the doors; then as each woman left the palace parties, the servants were to stamp the back of these fabulous gowns with a huge black ink stamp. The ink stamp declared that the dress had already been worn to one party and could never be worn to another one. That stamp literally ruined the dress, ensuring that no one would ever dare attend one of the empress’s celebrations in an already-used garment.
During the rule of Empress Elizabeta, she ordered the hundreds of massive columns and statues that adorned all her palaces to be covered with pure gold. However, when Catherine the Great came to power and became the Empress of Russia, she considered that much gold on the exterior of a palace to be garish and unfitting (although Catherine’s lifestyle was actually no less ostentatious than Elizabeta’s). Therefore, Catherine ordered her servants to scrape all the gold off the columns and statues and to throw it away, replacing it with white paint.
When the news of this disposal of gold reached the ears of the wealthy class in Saint Petersburg, a successful merchant came to Catherine the Great and asked if he could purchase the gold she was throwing away. Catherine sternly replied to him, “Excuse me, but who do you think I am? Do you think that I, the Empress of Russia, am so poor that I need to sell my rubbish?” With that, she ordered all the old, scraped-off gold to be thrown away.
Once when I was visiting Saint Petersburg and touring some of these vast historical palaces, I pondered the way these wealthy rulers spent such massive fortunes on themselves. I thought, Today we visit the palaces of people who once lived luxuriously but whose bones now lie in their graves. Although these people lived in opulence during their lifetimes, what good does their wealth do for them now? Did they spend it all on themselves, only to spend an eternity in spiritual impoverishment? What is the eternal condition of these people?
If we are to live wisely, we must invest not only in temporary moments of pleasure, but also in the eternity that lies before all of us. Moments of pleasure in this life are enjoyable but fleeting; however, what we invest in eternity never fades. This is why Paul told the rich in Timothy’s church that they were to be “laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19). The same message applies to us today.
The words “laying up” are from the Greek word apothesauridzo. This Greek word is a compound of the word apo, which means away, and the word thesaurus, which is the Greek word for a treasure. The two words compounded together mean to store away treasure or to amass a fortune. The new word depicts people putting their investments in a safe place where they cannot be stolen, ruined, or diminished.
Most affluent and prosperous people work very hard to see that their money is invested in safe, profitable, money-making investments. This is why they put their money into stocks and bonds, property, art, or other investments that will eventually reap healthy dividends. They want to see their fortune grow. And if they are wise, they will not invest in ventures that are too risky because they don’t want to see their fortunes stolen, ruined, or diminished.
Likewise, God expects you to be wise with the finances He has entrusted to you. This is made clear in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, where Jesus commends the servants who caused their resources to grow and rebuked the servant who did nothing to increase his financial capacity.
Based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25, we know that each of us should do everything possible to increase the size of our wealth. However, this financial increase isn’t to be gained so we can hoard it or spend it on ourselves! Paul says that if we’ve been blessed with wealth, we need to also think very seriously about how to “lay it up” where it will never be diminished. In fact, he goes on to say that we should use our money to amass “… a good foundation against the time to come….”
The word “good” in the phrase “a good foundation” is the word kalos. As noted in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, the word kalos pictures something that is sound, healthy, fine, or excellent. The word “foundation” is the Greek word themelios. This word is most likely an early combination of the Greek word lithos, which means stone, and the word tithimi, which means to place. It depicts that which is set in stone; a foundation that cannot be easily moved or shaken; or something so solid that it will endure the test of time. This is the reason it later came to be translated as the word foundation.
The words “time to come” are taken from the Greek word mello and describe events that are coming in the future. Later in the verse, Paul proceeds to talk about eternity, leaving no doubt that he is referring to eternity when he speaks of a “time to come.” He wants to urge people to invest not only in the present, but also in the eternity that lies in all their futures.
You see, the money you spend on your own pleasures right now is gone once it is spent. As noted earlier (see November 23), it is normal for you to enjoy the finances you have worked so hard to attain. You should enjoy them. But to spend all of it on yourself here and invest none of it into your eternal future is simply stupidity. What you spend on yourself right now in this life is gone once you have died. On the other hand, what you sow into the Gospel reaches into the next life as an investment that keeps growing for all of eternity—an investment that amasses for yourself an enduring, never-ending reward in the life to come!
If you are a wise investor, you are already aware that you must think long-term when you make your investments. Likewise, as you sow your seed into the Gospel and into those who take it to the ends of the earth, you must remember that you may not see the tangible fruit of your investment in this life. But one day when you get to Heaven, you will at last see the phenomenal reward of your giving. Then you will reap the dividends of the finances you sowed into the Kingdom of God!
So don’t spend all your money on your earthly existence and forget to lay up a good foundation for the eternity that lies in your future. Give now, and by faith prepare for yourself a wealthy existence in the eternity that lies before you!
Lord, help me to always keep in mind that eternity lies before me. Too often I get so consumed in the affairs of this life that I forget to think about my eternal existence. I don’t want to be so focused on making myself comfortable in this life that I forget to do what I must to make myself comfortable in the next life. Help me lay up a good foundation for the eternity that lies in my future. Holy Spirit, I ask You to teach me not only how to cause my personal wealth to grow here and now, but also how to sow financial seed into the Gospel that will benefit many and cause me to reap great rewards when I pass into the life yet to come!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I boldly declare that I am investing in my future! All of eternity lies before me, so I am sowing seed into the Kingdom of God, believing that it will be multiplied back to me now as it is also laid up for me in my eternal future. I am a wise investor, so I sow regularly and faithfully into the work of God’s Kingdom—and my faith investments are reaping for me a great harvest in the days to come!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Let’s face it. We live in a society where the powerful, the beautiful, and the bright usually get the recognition, the accolades and the promotions. It is a pride-driven world of self that takes on at least five forms of expression:
1. SELF-PROMOTION — In our effort to command center stage, we have become masters at crafting just the right image, and uncommonly adept at manipulating people and circumstances. Thus, we artfully name-drop, apply pressure at strategic moments, flatter, pout, and intimidate. The Scriptures, however, do not allow us the luxury: “Should you then seek great things for yourself ? Seek them not… ” (Jeremiah 45:5a) (See Genesis 13; Romans 12:16)
2. SELF-PITY — As a people, we have nurtured a “victim mentality” by refusing to take responsibility for our lives: “No one appreciates me.” “No one understands me.” “I had a rough childhood.” “They took advantage of me.” By way of contrast, consider St. Paul’s response to his severe victimization: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… As servants of God… [we are] known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9; 6:4b, 9,10) (See 1 Kings 19:10; Job 10:1)
3. SELF-SUFFICIENCY — “Hey… with enough guts, brains and raw hard work I will make it happen!” While God affirms a can-do spirit, He despises self-sufficiency that is rooted in pride:
“In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” (Psalm 10:4) (See Genesis 6:5, 6; Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 3:34; 11:2; 16:18; Isaiah 2:11, 12, 17; 14:11-15; 65:2; Romans 1:21, 28; James 4:6)
4. SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS — “There are a lot of people out there doing a lot worse stuff than I.” “I‘m doing the best I can.” “I lead a clean, moral life.” “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10, 11) (See Isaiah 64:6; Luke 18:9-12; Romans 3:10-17; 10:1-4; Philippians 3:9)
5. SELF-WORSHIP — “Hey, if ya got it, flaunt it! Right? ‘Cause if you don‘t toot your own horn, who will?” “Herod… delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man‘ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:21b, 23) (See 2 Chronicles 26:16-21; Daniel 6:6-9; James 4:5, 6; 1 Peter 5:6)
The only hope – the only focus – the only option for the sincere follower of Christ is to climb up on the cross with him and die. And then allow his life, moment by moment to live through ours See Galatians 2:20. QUESTION: Today, are you willing once again to climb back up on that cross?