Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What Should a Pastor Do? (Part 1)

"preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." -2 Timothy 4:2

In 2 Timothy 5:1-5, Paul gives Timothy a weighty charge. It is critical for Pastors and Churches to understand the biblical expectations for pastors. Being on the same page with expectations prevents much heartache. As Paul pens the words to his son in the ministry, Paul prepares for the end of his life. Soon the time will come when Timothy will not be able to send a letter to Paul asking for instruction. Paul gives a charge that will last timothy for a lifetime. The charge Paul gives Timothy gives an excellent charge to present day ministers as well. Here are five of the nine commands Paul gives Timothy in order that he might be a faithful Minister of the gospel:

  • Preach the Word – Literally it means to herald. It is a very public aspect to this command given by Paul. This imperative carries the weight of the passage. Pastors are to clearly instruct what the word means and how it applies to the listeners’ lives. Sermons must have a human and divine connection. Preaching should look past the preacher to the message of God.
  • Be ready in season and out of season – This command is straightforward, carrying with it a command to give God’s Word when it is desired, and when it is not desired.
  • Reprove – Literally means expose or convict. Used several other times in the Word of God, it carries the idea of convincing someone of his or her sin. Other examples include Titus 1:13, Titus 2:15, Hebrews 12:5, and Revelation 3:19.
  • Rebuke - means censure or prevent an action or bring an action to an end. Reprove and rebuke appear very similar at first reading. However, a closer review of these two imperatives reveals that "reproving or correcting" is a charge to speak to those who are in error or doing wrong and an attempt to convince them to that; "rebuking" is a charge to tell those doing wrong to stop. The same for rebuke is used in Matthew 8:26 when Jesus "rebuked" the winds and the sea, and they become perfectly calm immediately. 
  • Exhort – means be encouraging in your speech not irritably zealous, nor without proper comprehension, but rather “with great patience and instruction.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What does God expect us to do with the blessings He gives us?

God's people receive God’s blessing daily, and God’s people must allow the blessings to flow to others. The blessings of God give great benefit to God’s people providing both happiness and comfort, but happiness and comfort are not the only goals. God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12:2 and God blessed him, and then God expected Abraham to be a blessing to others.  It appears to be a flow of blessing from God to Abraham then from Abraham outwardly to others. With this flow of blessing from God to man then to other men comes a return blessing.

After one understands the flow of blessing, God’s people must believe that God will take care of all His people’s needs. In Luke 18:29-30, Jesus said, "I assure you: There is no one who has left a house, wife or brothers, parents or children because of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more at this time, and eternal life in the age to come.” A guarantee comes with the blessing of God. Anyone who gives up anything for the kingdom of God will certainly receive many times more than what they gave! Believers will possess a great blessing in the world to come, and a boomerang effect occurs when blessing others in this life.

God’s people must believe the biblical truth that God’s blessing to others will come back to His people. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”  

Ask yourself this question, “How can you be a blessing to someone today?”  Now go bless them, as God has blessed you!

Monday, March 7, 2016

What is the Principle of the Harvest?

“Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest”- John 4:35

Church growth advocates have followed Donald McGavran’s lead stressing the principle of the harvest. The principle of the harvest serves as a launching pad for planning strategies of church and kingdom growth. In John 4:35, Jesus said, “Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvestThe people Jesus spoke to in John 4:35 understood agricultural principles, because they lived them daily. While there were some large cities, most citizens were rural people. The rural Roman citizens knew what it meant to work the soil. In twenty-first century North American culture, food is around the corner at the local grocery store or a click away. Because present day North American culture is so far removed from ancient rural roman cultural, it is important to explain the principle of the harvest.
The most fundamental principle of farming is the principle of the harvest. It brings the vision of the fruit for the labor. Farmers plan a simple, effective strategy of gathering a crop of what has been planted. Jesus was giving a vision when he spoke  in John 4:35 to the disciples. Jesus mentioned that in some cases one person sows the seed while another gathers the fruit, but they all rejoice together, because their combined labors have resulted in harvest, see John 4:36-37.

Professional farmers prepare the ground and sow the seed, as a step toward the harvest. They dig out weeds and build fences as protection against predators in order to increase the harvest. All resources, which include time, energy, and money, funnel towards a maximized year from the harvest. Therefore, if the end is the maximum yield of the harvest, the means to achieve it must be constantly reviewed and adjusted. The harvest principle demands that we are constantly evaluating and adjusting to move from what is good to what is best. We must continue to assess and adjust our outreach methods to reach the largest harvest yield for the kingdom! The methods we use may change, but our message and principles do not.