# 26 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 26 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word equips the believer for spiritual proficiency and ability in serving God and living for Him. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work …  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).


Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27).

My friend Isaac Mathembe and his wife have a daughter who is almost one year old. Every day little Kimberly is being taught new things about life. She’s learning to walk, to talk, to feed herself, to solve conflicts with her brother and sister, to obey those in authority, and to follow Jesus faithfully.

The goal of her parents is that one day Kimberly will grow up and not need to rely upon them. Instead, she will be mature enough to live on her own, care for herself, and care for others. She won’t need to constantly run to Mom and Dad to meet her needs but she’ll be strong enough to rely on what she’s been taught about herself and about her God. This process is called maturity.

Spiritual maturity is very much the same. The work of the pastor is to teach the Word of God so that your faith matures. It is the Scriptures that mature the believer (2 Tim 3:16-17). As your faith in God grows, you’ll apply God’s Word to your life to meet your needs. You don’t rely on the pastor or your own strength, but you rely upon the strength of the Almighty God.

The past year and a half I’ve been teaching through the Book of Revelation verse-by-verse. One of the threads woven through the fabric of this book dealing with the end times is that God’s children will face overwhelming troubles in life. Despite those trials and difficulties, the sovereign God is in control, working all things together for good to them who love God and are the called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Rather than worry or doubt or give-in or call for the pastor, the child of God knows how to lean upon the everlasting arms of God and rejoice.

Do the Right Thing

I’d only been the pastor a few weeks when the church secretary called. A man of the congregation was in the office to get my permission to organize a visit to another man in the church who was ill. I was glad to hear of his desire, but explained that he didn’t need an organized effort or my permission to do the right thing.

As Christians, we don’t need organized plans by the pastor to show our care for one another. That’s a program, and churches don’t need any more programs. There’s no need for love to be discussed and orchestrated like a government committee. That isn’t love, it’s a arrangement.

Christ-like love is motivated by devotion in the individual heart. It simply and quietly acts without needing a bandwagon, publicity, and organized labor. When you love someone, and see a need, you do something.

Love. Do.

You don’t need permission and a group to do the loving thing.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart (First Peter 1:22).


The Parable of Jasmine


She’d never known anything to really call her own. She couldn’t keep a job or a friend. There were men she thought she could confide in, but it turned out that they only wanted one thing from her. So desperate for acceptance, she gave in, but there was no love. Every time she gave the result was only greater emptiness.

One October morning she suspected and a test at a local clinic proved her suspicion true. The little one growing inside her womb needed her, and needed a chance like she’d never been given herself.

She brought the baby to term, but the past wouldn’t stop stalking her. The habits were bad, but the way of life and the self-destruction were even worse. As much as she loved her little Jasmine, she knew that for her daughter’s sake, Jasmine needed more than she could provide. She put Jasmine up for adoption.

Honestly, my first choice wasn’t a newborn, but when I received the long awaited call from the agency, I hurried into the city. Jasmine was as beautiful as any baby could be, and the moment she took my finger I knew … I just knew. She wasn’t expected, but she was selected. I chose to make make her my own, loved her as my own, treated her as my own, and gave her my name. Everything I was and had became hers that day.

Now, 23 years later, Jasmine is the most wonderful daughter any father could have, perfect in all her ways. Anyone who sees us together would believe I’m her father, because I am. To her, I’m Dad; to me, she’s my daughter, my precious and fragrant flower, my very own.

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as children by Christ Jesus to Himself  (Ephesians 1:4-5).


A Responsibility to Help One Another

Americans are outraged at the number of poor living on our streets without food or shelter, yet individual acts of compassion are replaced with the question: why doesn’t the government fix this?

Over the past 100 years, the nations of the Western world have created extensive government programs of caring for the poor. The poor are still with us in even greater numbers despite taxpayer-funded housing, medical care, education, and even food, clothing and cell phones. No such government welfare existed in the ancient world.

In the Law of Moses, God required Israelite farmers to not harvest the edges and corners of their land. This food was to be left for the poor to collect. This system of gleaning (Lev 19:9-10) is expressed in the story of Ruth (Ruth 2:2-23). Individual Israelites had an individual responsibility to help one another.

In the New Testament, God also has a means of caring for the poor in the local church. If a congregation had the means, widows could be given food under strict guidelines found in First Timothy 5:3-16. A widow had to be: (1) married only once and her husband was dead; (2) without any other living relatives or financial means of her own; (3) over the age of 60 years; (4) known for her good works; (5) above accusation of sin in the community; (6) consistent in a life of prayer; and (7) trusting in God as her provider and not expecting others to meet the need.

Women younger than 60 are commanded to remarry (1 Tim 5:14), families are to care for their own relatives (1 Tim 5:4, 8), and a widow must also be active in meeting the needs of others (1 Tim 5:10).

Why is God so strict with His rules for the Church? Doesn’t He care about people? Of course He cares, He gave His Son to die for the salvation of sinners; but the primary work of the local congregation is the spiritual ministry of teaching the Word of God – not social welfare. His rules are strict to ensure the most needy are helped. Individual Christians have an individual responsibility to help one another.

Whoever has this world’s good, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:17-18).


I’m the Sexiest Man Alive

Jesus said to them, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

If I claimed to be . . . ohhhhh, let’s say . . . the sexiest man alive . . . at some point I’d have to either put up the proof or give up the fantasy.

Let’s also say that a group of children became my social media fans and took to devoting their lives to me.  Soon parents, the public school system, and the federal government determine I need to be stopped. I’m arrested, put on trial, found guilty, and scheduled for death.

By this point one of three things would happen: I’d either change my story and admit I’d made up my claims, everyone would know that I’m mentally insane, or people would accept my testimony as true.

Jesus didn’t hide or run away from the claims He made about Himself. In fact, he was tried, convicted, and then executed for His claims. He never walked back His claims. His press secretary never suggested, “Oops! Did He say He was the Messiah? He meant ‘Carpenter’.”

Accepting Christ means accepting who He claimed to be. Who did He claim to be? Almighty God, the Creator, in human flesh! “I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).


Justice For All

Justice is getting what you deserve.

So what do you deserve?

Coretta grew up in the back country of Virginia during the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. She was politically angry at what she perceived as injustice against herself, her family, and her black ancestors. She’d lived for the fight of justice.

One Sunday morning I was preaching from the Biblical Book of Philemon. It’s the story of a runaway slave in ancient Rome, being sent back to his master by the Apostle Paul, and how both men should act to reflect Christ Jesus.

In my sermon I stressed the fact that Paul never urged either man to demand justice, but to show mercy. Getting what we deserve from God means eternity in the Lake of Fire, for the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). As sinners, eternal death is what we deserve. But God, who is rich in mercy … made us alive together with Christ (Eph 2:4, 5). Mercy is compassion, pity, love-in-action.

Coretta interrupted my sermon. Standing, tears rolling down her face she said, “Pastor, all my life I’ve been angrily demanding justice from politicians and people, but what I’ve really been needing is mercy. May God have mercy on me, a sinner!

No matter who you are, you will never experience justice in this world; even in America. Do you really want what you deserve? Seek ye first justice instead of righteousness. Demand what you think you deserve. Stir up strife and hatred in the name of justice. After all is said and done, you’ll be let down because true justice only comes from God who will make it certain in His day of Judgment (Rev 20:11-15).

Desire mercy.


Honor Your Father

Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12).

Mark lived nearly 400 miles from his childhood home, but he visited his father when he could, which wasn’t often. Mark sent cards on major holidays and prayed for his dad every day. Mark had a life and family of his own, worked hard and lived simply like his dad had done.

As a teenager, Mark rejected his father’s beliefs. It didn’t take long living in the real world for Mark to realize that there was a reason his father lived and believed as he did. He learned to take to heart the man his father was and taught via his life. His father was a godly man, for whom his faith was always preeminent. His spiritual health and the kingdom of God always came first. Always. Mark lived the same way … now.

Mark’s younger brother David kept busy with his wife and two sons. During the week David overspent his time begrudgingly maintaining the family business with his dad. He had to work long and hard to pay for his ever-increasing lifestyle: mortgage, two cars, the new iPhone X, and everything else the modern person feels necessary.

Weekends were just as hectic filled with soccer games, Boy Scout meetings, and a constant list of honey-do chores on the home and yard. There were chores for his ailing father. Sunday was his only day off, so he spent it on himself watching television sports, playing golf, or fishing.

David was his own man who longed to make his own choices. The only real choice he’d ever made was to not be like his father. There would be time, especially for religion, later in life when life settled down. He was a good enough guy anyway.

When their father died, David angrily took responsibility of making the funeral arrangements. He blamed Mark for not being there to help when their father got sick. Now Mark wasn’t able to attend the funeral and pay his final respects.

Which son honored his father?


Blind Spots

By pride comes only contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom (Proverbs 13:10).

One of the first lessons of driving a car is to watch your blind spots. These are areas where because of the design of the car, you can’t see in certain areas around you. Every car has them and when driving a car that is new to you, you have to beware of.

In my car, when I’m making a lane change, after I check my mirrors, I always turn and look behind me. I know the blind spots in my car.

You and I have blind spots too. Areas where we don’t – or maybe can’t – always see. The thing about personal blind spots, is that very often we are blind to areas in ourselves. We might have great perceptions of others, but we can’t see ourselves clearly. Self is always going to be your greatest blind spot.

Personal blind spots are interesting because they reveal our pride.

How do you know if you’re proud? By the way you react when someone pops into your blind spot.

When someone points out a possible area of sin, a blind spot, how you respond reveals either pride or humility in you.

A short time after Kim and I married, she said a certain aspect of my driving frightened her. If I’d had a policeman in the car with me, would I be driving the same way?

What did I do? Get angry? Defend myself by saying I’m not breaking the law? Justify myself by saying everyone does it? Excuse myself because I’ve been driving 35 years? Strike back with, “You don’t trust me! Besides, when you drive you …”?

Pride angrily defends ourselves, justifies ourselves, excuses ourselves, or strikes back to make the other person look as bad as we feel.

What if Kim was totally wrong in pointed out what she saw as a blind spot?

Whether Kim was right or wrong wasn’t important. Because I loved her, I didn’t want to scare her. So I apologized for frightening her and worked at changing my driving habit.


Godly Fathering – Part 4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

My son isn’t a musician, a scholar, or a fan of rugby. Parents must take care not to push their children to be something they are not.

As a young boy, Daniel loved to read and study his Bible. He’d show up in the adult Sunday school class having his weekly lesson finished and ready for discussion. One morning he shared his answer to a question only to be rebuked by a jealous adult as a “show-off” and “know-it-all.” Daniel never opened his Sunday school book again.

Children who are pushed to standards that are impossible for them will become frustrated and rebel. Whether it’s a sport, a subject in school, or physical chores, when a father sets expectations that are not within the child, the father sinfully discourages the child and the child will discourage himself.

My son has a knack for entertaining. He has his own Youtube program that he broadcasts live several times a week from his own internet television studio. He has thousands of viewers and gets paid for what he does. It’s not my thing, but it is his, and I encourage him to be the best in what interests him. He plans to pursue his interest through college and into the workplace.

Every child is gifted in some special way by God. It’s the responsibility of the father to help his child discover that God-given gift then nurture and encourage it. When your child pursues her gifting, encouraged by you, her love of it will carry her throughout her life.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).