Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teacher


“I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes” (Psalm 119:26).

Teachers are very important in every aspect of life. Just think how ineffective you would be in life if there was no one able to teach you. How effective could you be in your work if there was no training for your position? You could not be good at what you do without an example to follow or a person to show you the ways of your occupation. And what about parenting? If we do not have good examples to follow we are not going to be very good parents ourselves. And in our spiritual life if we do not have an example we are the blind leading the blind. We need good teachers to show us how to follow Jesus. Paul encouraged the church to follow his example: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul’s words show that if we want to be good teachers we need to be great followers of the Example that is in Christ.

The world is full of people who can teach. But what makes a good teacher in the Lord’s kingdom is someone who is humble enough to be taught: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…” (Matthew 11:29). God is looking for people who will take His yoke so they can teach His way and not the ways of the world. This kind of teacher is born of a different seed: “[F]or you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). God has made His abundant life available to His church through their faith in His plan. They have dedicated their lives to becoming the person that God wants them to be and have died to the old ways to be molded by the “logic” of God. When this decision is solidified in the hearts and minds of the individual it is made evident to the people around them: “[S]o that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 1:27). God’s church teaches the world by being taught by God.

To teach God’s word we must not only take Jesus’ yoke upon us, but we must also learn what He teaches. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different beliefs in the world even though in Ephesians 4:1-4 God states that there is only one faith? The reason for this is as simple to the faithful believer as first grade arithmetic is to a rocket scientist. Not many in this world are humble enough to accept the fact that we as humans do not have the ability to know God’s way: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Mankind has a great desire, maybe even a lust, to be independent. Although this is an achievement in the physical life it is a mistake in our spiritual walk with God. He dressed His love in flesh and sent Him to earth so we could learn two things. One is to know how to love and the other is to know how to be loved: “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we are going to be teachers of God’s way then we first need to learn His love.

Teaching is not just the ability to get facts out to others, but it is being able to teach others how to use effectively what is being taught. As the Lord’s church we must be willing to learn from Jesus as He totally dedicated His life to fulfilling His Father’s will. And when we say totally dedicated we mean there were no limits to His willingness to follow God: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). It has been said that God only had one Son and He was a teacher. He taught us by being obedient (Hebrews 5:8-9). Let us be eager to learn all we can about the true Person of the Christ so we can avoid the false teachings that entrap the souls of the world.
In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, May 17, 2013

Odd Jobs of the Tent Maker


“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Paul was never seen as a lazy man. In fact, he preached against the attitude of slothfulness: “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). He was someone who was never too prideful to ask for help from the church, but he was also never too lazy to give his all to see his own needs being met. His work in the physical side of his life was only outdone by the work he did in the spiritual side. He gave his all to everything associated to the work of the kingdom: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6). Paul was a man that never shied away from getting his hand dirty as a worker.

One of his “odd jobs” in his spiritual work was as an accountant. He said he did not consider his life of any account as dear to himself. Accountants have been trained to place proper value on the proper priorities of life. They counsel others on what and what not is worthy of their hard earned dollar. Paul saw his life as a gift from God and he was not going to use it for his own purpose. He understood God as Creator, meaning God gave him life, and he was going to use it for his Lord’s glory and not his own. Also, he did not see it as too valuable to risk for God’s purpose. What he had been given in this life was never his to take credit for so he was going to make sure everything that he owned was going to be used to bring glory and honor to God. He knew any other way of viewing his life would have been a hindrance to accomplishing the Lord’s will.

Another odd job of the tentmaker was that of a runner. He associated his life with a long distance runner. He was going to live in a way that would bring him the prize: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Paul did not see himself as trying to earn God’s prize but knew it would take endurance to complete the race. And that is what a winner is when it comes to the prize of salvation, someone who will endure the pains of the race and finish the course (Revelation 2:10). An ancient event in the Olympics was a race that began with lighting a torch. The runner then would go through a rigorous course of high winds, water and other obstacles that would be set up to put their flame out. The objective was not to be the first runner to complete the course, but to finish the race with the torch still lit. Our course has been set in this world in which we are living. Satan is using the trials in our lives as obstacles to put the flame of our faith out. We must be like Paul and run in a manner that will keep the fire burning brightly.

The final odd job in this text is found in the idea of Paul being a steward. He knew the ministry in which he was toiling was given to him by His Lord. He understood that God had entrusted him to do well with the message of the good news of Christ (1Timothy 1:11). The last thing Paul wanted to do was go to see His God knowing he did not do his best with what God had placed under his stewardship. And we should have the same mindset when it comes to spreading the gospel. God has called us to work and given us the tools we need for victory. The only thing that will cause us to fail is our lack of obligation (Romans 1:14-16). We have been given the same treasure as Paul and we should have the same diligent mindset to do what is right with what God has given each of us. He has given us life. Let’s give our life to see His life in those around us.

In His Grace,
Cub

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Hungry Church

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

It has been said many times that a pregnant woman’s craving is a motivating force for her husband. When she wakes up at two o’clock in the morning and desires pickles and ice cream, like a hungry lion running to catch a gazelle to feed his starving pride, her husband jumps out of bed and will not return until he has obtained the sufficient items to quench this desire. This passion not only reveals his love for his wife but also his love for life. Well, maybe a slight exaggeration but the concept remains true. There are things in life that we will not be hindered from obtaining knowing nothing else will suffice. Hunger is one of the greatest motivators known to the human being for flesh needs food. Spiritually speaking, souls need feeding also.

The church is made up of hungry souls that know what they need to nourish their soul and they will not settle for anything short of the “real thing.” That hunger and thirst for truth is what motivates the church of Christ to learn. Hungering for righteousness drives the church’s search because the reward of discovering truth is a deeper relationship with God. That is why the preacher of the Lord’s message must be concerned about what the congregation is being fed. The souls that are listening are hungry and in need of solid food for the nourishment of their soul.

When the church is hungry they seek God’s teaching so they can observe His commandments: “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end” (Psalm 119:33). We become foolish when we think to find the interpretation of God’s truth in the mindset of flesh. No one but God can make known to flesh the way of holiness that keeps His church separated from the world. And just wanting this teaching is never enough. We must develop inside us a heart-felt necessity for God’s truth. We must know in our hearts that we will die without God’s truth feeding our starving souls. This is the hunger that motivates faithfulness.

We not only hunger for the way of God’s truth but for understanding: “Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart” (Psalm 119:34). David shows a heart for God in this prayer because only a heart that cannot live without God’s approval will seek understanding. Oh, there are many that will come to hear the word of God preached, but their desire stops there. Only a soul searching for the way to please God will commit to understanding. This is the reason James reminds us to prove ourselves “doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Some people’s desire for truth is satisfied with man’s opinion and, in hearing this false interpretation, will convince themselves that this is the truth that will set them free. This is where heresies originate, in the minds of man and not the word of God. When Jesus prayed for His church He prayed for the unity only souls starving for righteousness will find (John 17:19). The church desiring understanding will not be denied.

One more aspect of God the church hungers for is His leadership: “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it” (Psalm 119:35). One of the greatest weaknesses of many in the church is where they find their delight. This kind of attitude can and will only be found in the hungering and thirsting church because they have disciplined their minds to a specific purpose. Their delight is not in pleasing the world but knowing they are pleasing God.

In His Grace,
Cub

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