Facing The Problems and Dangers of Spiritual Leadership in The Church

[Second in the SERIES on the Book Of Malachi]

THE BIBLE PLACES HIGH STANDARDS ON THOSE WHO SERVE IN THE CHURCHES WITH A POSITION OF LEADERSHIP!

The Bible places high standards on those who serve as pastors, deacons and elders.  The Bible places high standards on those who serve in children’s ministry.  The Bible places high standards on who serves as Sunday school teachers.  We should expect those who work in the capacity of leadership to have high standards.  If leaders don’t lead the way they should lead then it has a detrimental effect upon the people.

What we have here is an entire chapter in the Bible that’s devoted to those who are supposed to be leaders.  So if you’re reading this blog and a leader in some capacity, then this chapter should speak to you where you are sitting.

You say I’m not a pastor, a deacon, a bible teacher, praise team member, or work in any capacity of the church.  Then you need to pay close attention to what’s coming next; the Chapter has something to say to you as well.  You see this chapter doesn’t only speak of leadership, but it also speaks to stewardship!  To have a chapter in the Bible devoted to speaking to those who are in leadership and also to speak to us about stewardship has to be one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  As we look together at the next 17 verses, I can’t help but to see that Malachi is dealing with some problems.  So I want to look at the problems and what the Word of God has to say about them.

The first one to deal with is what might be called MINISTERIAL PROBLEMS.

Malachi 2:1 (NIV) –  “And now, you priests, this warning is for you…”

Somebody reading this says, “I’m glad you’re starting out with the preachers, the pastors first!”  But remember, all of us in the Faith are believer priests, in that we are to be about winning souls for Christ’s sake.

Here, Malachi is dealing with a group of spiritual leaders (“priests”), who are not living up to the standard God has laid down.  He says in verse 2,

In other words, He was saying, as a preacher, pastor, minister, you are to be living a life that would bring glory to My name and not yours.

Then He says if you don’t do it, the very things that are supposed to be a source of blessing will become a curse to you.

Now look at VERSE 3:

He says in verse 3, “I will corrupt (rebuke, punish, discipline) your seed.”  

Most commentaries that I’ve read say that this verse is referring to their children.  Many times it’s the children that suffer from the lapse of spiritual leadership in the church and in the home.  I’ve seen it more times than not, those who God has set aside for spiritual leadership become unfaithful in their responsibility and they pay the price in their children.

But you also find in verse 3, that God says, I’m going to remove you from your responsibility of leadership:  “…and you will be carried off”

In VERSE 5 and some other verses, He tells us what a true minister is to be about.

(5)  My covenant [on My part with Levi] was to give him life and peace, because [on his part] of the [reverent and worshipful] fear with which [the priests] would revere Me and stand in awe of My name.” (AMP)

God’s ministers are to be born again.  They are to speak the truths of the Bible.

We have the right to hear the TRUTH from the pulpit even if it sort of works against the grain in our lives.  Yes, you have the right to hear the truth from your pastor and all leaders from your church even if it rubs you the wrong way sometimes.  I’m sure that my pastor is concerned about what the church body thinks about his messages from the pulpit but not half as concerned as what God thinks about it!

When we get to VERSE 8, God says to those unfaithful leaders, He is going to judge their failures because they have caused many to stumble at the law or at their preaching and living out their faith.

Many people today are unfeeling toward God and a lot of it is because of the leadership they have in their churches. 

I want you to notice now that He is dealing not only with ministerial problems but also MARITAL PROBLEMS – VERSE 11 – (Mixed Religious Marriages)

Malachi 2:11 (ESV)

[11]  Judah has been faithless, an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem.  For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.

The Bible doesn’t mix words and makes it clear that BELIEVERS are to marry other BELIEVERS [Bible Verses: Deut. 7:1-4; 1 Kings 11:4-6; 1 Cor. 5:9-12; 1 Cor. 7:15-16; 2 Cor. 6:14-17.].  

It’s no secret, we are in real trouble in our marriages in America today.  In 1920, one out of 7 marriages ended in divorce.  Today in America, 33% of marriages end up in divorce including the Christian community. (See Footnote [i].)

God’s plan for the marriage is one man and one woman for life!

One day a woman went to her pastor complaining because she wasn’t married.  He said you can’t improve on God’s plan for the marriage of one woman and one man.  She said, I’m not trying to improve on it, I just want to get in on it!

We’ve investigated together with the ministerial problems and the marital problems and finally we see that the Word of God deals with the MORAL PROBLEMS – Let’s look at Verse 17.

What I think the Bible is telling us here is that the people are out of the will of God.  They don’t get to the point, they don’t even have moral distinctions; they can’t tell what’s good and what’s evil.

What the people were saying in Malachi’s day is, God doesn’t care about right or wrong.  Saying that there’s no absolute right and wrong.  Doesn’t that speak to our world today?

There were others of that day, saying God is just too nice to judge sin.  You might be saying that people don’t be;lieve that in our day.  Well folks, if they don’t, they sure act like they do.

Now, what’s all this have to do with STEWARDSHIP?

I’ll try to make the point here.  Some reading this may be the only Christian in your surroundings (young or old)).  Then you have the stewardship of leadership–you ought to be the spiritual leader.

You may be the only Christian believer at work.  Then you have the stewardship of leadership–you ought to be the spiritual leader in your workplace.

I’m sure that many of you who are reading my words realize that God has given you a position of leadership in some capacity.  My question is, are you bringing GLORY to His name, or are you causing people to curse and blaspheme His name?

If you are lost, God is interested in you enough that He doesn’t want you to go to hell but to heaven.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS!

You can be saved from eternity lost and have the assurance that you are on your way to heaven through faith in Jesus Christ.  If that’s where you are, will you in the faith receive Him today? 

If you just made that commitment to follow Jesus, I want you to leave your thoughts, your words, in the reply comments section at the bottom of the page.  Not because I say so, but because God’s Word says so.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] : The Good News About Marriage, by Shaunti Feldhahn.

Photo/Images:  Googlr Image Search.

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or translations used in the images and so noted.

Using Our God-given Abilities for the Best Results

BLOG’S SCRIPTURE STUDY

Here in Matthew 25,  Jesus and His disciples are just about to enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  A similar account is also recorded in the Gospel According To Luke (Luke 19:11-27).  Both are referred to as the PARABLE OF THE TALENTS.  And by the way, the talents referred to are not the same as the TV show, America’s Got Talent, or from whatever the country you are reading this from.  TALENTS in the parable are monetary units.  Not really a coin but an ingot, weighing roughly 60-70 pounds and valued in that day $30,000.  Seventy-pounds of gold today in the millions.

Bear in mind that Jesus is using a parable to make a point.

What is a PARABLE?

A dictionary definition:  “a placing beside”.  It signifies “a placing of one thing beside another” with a view to a comparison (some consider that the thought of comparison is not necessarily contained in the word).  It is generally used of a somewhat lengthy utterance or narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances, the object of which is to set forth a spiritual lesson…” [See Credits]

Just to make another point: Exodus 38:24

[24] All the gold that was used for the work in all the building and furnishing of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was 29 talents and 730 shekels, by the shekels of the sanctuary.  [AMP]

You can do the math, and it boggles my mind!

And to make a quick side note: Revelations 16:21

[21] And great (excessively oppressive) hailstones, as heavy as a talent [between fifty and sixty pounds], of immense size, fell from the sky on the people…”  [AMP]

I think I’ve got a better understanding now–a mental picture–of what a TALENT is.

THE THREE SERVANTS

We have three servants listed in Jesus’ parable, each with different abilities or aptitude.  The master prepared to go on a journey, but first, he gave each of the servants a powerful gift, which in fact provided them with unbelievable opportunities to gain in wealth but also to do good among others.  After all, this wasn’t just about an opportunity for them.

In verse 15, we read that gifts were given to their ability.  The first was given five talents or 375 pounds of gold.  The second received two talents or 150 pounds of gold and the third received one talent or 75 pounds of gold.

We all have received blessings from time to time over the years in one form or another.  What we’ve done with those blessings is in need of reflection because of what Jesus is trying to get through to us.

The first servant went out and traded up his five talents and now has ten talents.  The second servant also doubled his talents to four.  The third servant did nothing with his single talent, he buried it to keep it safe.

It’s time for an accounting.

I believe this is such an important point and perhaps the most meaningful in the parable.  In verse 15 we read the master “gave” each servant according to his ability.

Now in verse 18, there’s a reference to “his master’s money.”  In the first part, there is no instruction or guidelines to reflect anything beyond a GIFT.  The why is the master asking for an accounting?

We may be given unrestricted use of God’s gifts, but we do have a responsibility to use them for HIS glory.

To squander them on frivolity, indecency, illegality is something that we’ll have to answer when our Master, The Lord Jesus Christ is going to return.  When He does, he will have us account for how we used or misused our blessings/gifts.

“But I only have one talent”

If you were setting the story up for dramatic irony, the guy with one talent should have been the good guy.  He would have been faithful with his one little talent and put it to work.  But Jesus didn’t go for dramatic irony, he went for what I think is pretty typical.

The guy who didn’t have as much as the other guys, he looked around and said, “I’m going to hold on to what little I’ve got.”

The guys with the five talents and the two talents do what they’re supposed to,  They get to work and invest their money, both getting a return.  And in both cases, they get the same reward.

You see, the Master didn’t care about the extent of the results, just that there were results.  As the results reveal, in both cases the reward is exactly the same:

They can live secure with the knowledge of two things:

  1. Before they had touched a dime, their Master knew they were worthy of His trust.
  2. And, once they were through, their Master was happy that they had been faithful with what had been given to them.

The LAST GUY, the guy with one talent, however, refused to believe that he was capable of doing anything for his Master.  

And his reaction isn’t shocking.

When he doesn’t think he’s worthy, he doesn’t think anyone around him is either.  He missed out on the fact that his Master thought him worthy to have a talent at all!  Frankly, he resented his Master.  Why me?  Why do I have this thing for him when he didn’t give me the resources to do anything?  Never mind that even at one talent, he still has a year’s wages in the bag to play with.  His attitude was that these gifts were burdens and tasks rather than resources and opportunities to revel with joy.

And so, he misses out!

The point is pretty simple, I think.  Don’t focus on what you don’t have.  That’s not important in the grand scheme of things.  Focus instead on what you do have!

We’ve been given a golden opportunity.

Jesus will someday return and will want to know what you’ve done with the opportunities.  God the Father has sacrificed His Son so that you and I might be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life as servants of His Kingdom.  So the question becomes, how are you investing what God has entrusted to you?

SALVATION

Have you shared the Gospel of Christ with anyone?

Have you invested by faith in the things of God?

Have you been a good steward and found ways to increase that which you’ve been entrusted with?

Has your faith grown, or have you put it in a hole in the backyard and covered it up?

Jesus will reward you for increasing that which He has entrusted you with and not the material things alone but more importantly spiritual things.

Our God has put into each one of us the GIFT OF SALVATION so there might be something more to take out.  Salvation by its very nature produces a return in you and those around you that’s measurable and that’s rightfully God’s to claim since He put in the seed money which was His Son our Savior Jesus Christ.

By the shedding of His blood, Jesus will rightfully lay claim the Heaven and Earth’s throne as a payment for all the sin of humankind.

By His victory over death Jesus’ resurrection has won for us eternal life and He will be proclaimed the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Revelation 12:10 (NKJV)

As Christians, let us make the most of this precious opportunity that has been given to us.

Our Jesus is returning and with Him, he will reward you for your faithfulness and stewardship.

Bring to Jesus an increase of your faith and devotions along with a good increase in godly character.  Let’s make our King’s treasury rich by risking to invest the great salvation into the lives around us.

I have inserted a video as a conclusion to this study.  I hope you’ll view it as a reminder:  We all come in different shapes.  God made us that way for the best results.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words – “PARABLE”, pg. 457, by W.E. Vine, Merrill Unger, William White Jr.

Photo/Images:  Google Image search.

Video:  YouTube – The Parable of the Talent

Bible Translations:  Amplified (AMP); New International Version (NIV); New King James Version (NKJV)

 

 

 

“RECKLESS GIVING” In the Upcoming New Year

MARK 14:3-9 (King James Bible):

total-lack-of-free-will-is-not-totalitarianism-44-728

One my favorite things to do is to activate my imagination while writing a script for a play, using stories in Scripture as the base.  The story in the above verses was no exception.  So let me start by SETTING THE SCENE.

I can only imagine how the TABLE CONVERSATION must have transpired.

LAZARUS speaking to Simon the Leper:

‘I’m thanking you for allowing me to come in your house.  I can’t think of any other place I would rather be–but to be here with you!  And since I’m her Scaly, I want to ask you a question, tell me–how was life before you met Christ?’

SIMON THE LEPER must have said,

‘Let me tell you that nobody would talk to me.  In fact, my life was on a narrow ledge.  I have no relationships or reputation with other people.  I only hang around with other people who were just like me.  And then one day, I heard that this Wonder Worker, JESUS, was coming through town and that He worked the night shift and that He made house calls–and all I know is that He spoke to me and my skin began to transform, like the skin on a newborn baby…You’ve asked about MT encounter Lazarus, what about you?  How did it feel being dead, sleeping in the grave?  How did that feel?’

The SCENE as they exchanged stories together:

  • The DISCIPLES sat there at the u-shaped table…
  • MARTHA was serving as Martha always does.

And Conspicuously Absent…

Martha’s sister, MARY, as usual.  MARY only had TWO cameo appearances prior to this one.

  • One, when Jesus visits the household of MARY and she sits at His feet.
  • And then again in the Gospel of John, chapter 11, when she rushes Jesus and says, ‘Jesus, please come and save my brother.’

And here in this passage in Mark; MARY does something out of the ordinary–

  • Because if you want to get what you’ve never had, you have to do something that you’ve never done.
  • God works at His best when we are bold enough to step outside of the box of human conformity.
  • If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.
  • Staying in the box of conformity and a narrow mindset doesn’t impress a God Who already declared that He’s more than enough!

The Extravagance of God’s GLORY is Connected to The Recklessness & Liberality of My Giving”  [Quote by Kraig Pullam, Pastor/Chaplain]

LEARNING HOW TO MODEL THE COST OF MARY’S GIFT –

Mark 14:3:  “a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment (perfume) of pure nard, very costly and precious; and she broke the jar and poured [the perfume] over His head.”

In my study this week, I found that MARY is mentioned 3 times in Scripture and each time she’s found at Jesus’ feet!

feet

  1.  LISTENING.  Luke 10:39.
  2.  SORROWING.  John 11:32.
  3.  WORSHIPING.  John 12:3.

And at His feet she found BLESSING; she brought her burdens, her cares, her fears, her anxiety, and she GAVE at His feet her best.

Looking At What Mary Gave (Verse 3):

In Matthew (26:7), it is called “very precious” or “costly” fragrant oil–“alabaster jar” or “flask” is made of marble and very expensive itself; breaking it was a sign that ALL was to be used.  The custom in the East was, if a glass was used by a distinguished guest, it was broken so that it would never again be touched by the hand of any lesser person.

So Mary was giving Christ her BEST and her ALL!

“Ointment (perfume) of pure nard, very costly…”

VERSE 5 teaches the value of the gift was “more than 300 denarii”…almost a year’s salary in the 1st Century.  For example, it was estimated that the 5,000 men, plus women and children, could have been fed with 2/3 of this amount [Mark 6:37; 200 denarii].

Mary with her lavish heart and hand–not cautious in giving, but RECKLESS!

QUESTION:  When was the last time YOUR GIVING could be regarded as “RECKLESS”?

When I say “reckless,” it’s not the value of our gifts which He regards, but the LOVE of the heart which gives them!  LOVE is not concerned to see how little it can decently give.  There seems to be a RECKLESSNESS IN LOVE which refuses to count the cost.

This woman acted on the impulse of LOVE because she knew in her heart of hearts that if she didn’t do it then, she would never do it at all.

Mary in the moment acted with absolutely controlled adoration for her Lord and Savior; she lost all sense of restraint and economy.

THE TRUE WORSHIPER & STEWARD GIVES JESUS WHATEVER HE HAS…knowing it is nothing compared to what has been received from Him.

MARY had lost herself in Jesus and as a result, wasn’t even conscious of others or her surroundings in her giving.

Our GIVING should always reflect the gratitude–our LOVE–toward the object of our affection.

After 52 years of marriage to the same woman, each year my GIVING daily is the reflection of my love towards her.  It is never about the dollar value of the gift.  It’s doing the unexpected!  It’s even EXTRAVAGANT at times!!

Extravagant Giving is what you should desire to give toward God because your desire for God is to be extravagant with YOU!

Look at Sis. Mary and her commitment–EXPENSIVE OINTMENT/PURE NARD.

– she didn’t just sprinkle a little bit of ointment on Jesus,

– she didn’t just take a small portion of the perfume out and place that on Jesus,

– she didn’t just measure it out so carefully, no, she POURED it out on Jesus.

IN OUR SERVING THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, WE DON’T MEASURE IT OUT.

If you are going to SERVE, don’t just see how little you can do for Him, or how little you can GIVE to Him and get by.

If you’re going to SERVE THE LORD JESUS, then POUR IT OUT upon Him-

  • Give Him ALL you got!
  • Give it ALL you can give it, because that’s the kind of SERVICE that Jesus demands!

For some, our GIVING has become conformed to our level of COMFORT–COMFORT GIVING.

  • We tip God (the better our week went, the bigger the tip!).
  •  We tease God (make God think we’re about to give Him part of us–and then, change our mind).
  • We trick God (we give to Him because He has something we want–and we at least have enough sense to know, He’s in the BLESSING business–so we’ll give to Him because we want a house, we want a car, we want a man, we want a woman…you get the idea).

You see, when you TREASURE Him–He becomes the FIRST thing that crosses your mind beginning every day!

When JESUS is your TREASURE–

Your GIVING is not limited or relegated to what is convenient for you; but by what God has not only required of you–but you want to give Him even more because He means just that much to you.

When you TREASURE Him–

Then your LIFE connects to the law of mutual dependency–where He gives me “treasure” so that I can break whatever it is that can release the “treasure” He gave me–so that I can give it back to Him–and the MIRACLE in MY LIFE is realized as He POURS His purpose in me through ABUNDANCE–because I was willing to POUR MY HEART into Him through my obedience.  I hope all this makes sense to you.

See, when we are POURING, then you recognize that YOUR CONDITION ISN’T YOUR CONCLUSION!

–Whatever you SOW, you shall also REAP!

  • IF you sowed during affliction, you shall reap!
  • IF you’ve sown during pain, you shall reap joy!
  • IF you sow in tears, you shall reap in laughter!
  • IF you sow when you didn’t have anything, you shall reap and have it all!
  • IF you sow when you were last, you shall reap when God makes you first!
  • IF you sow during your times of darkness, you shall reap during the light!

SO, WHAT WAS MARY DOING?

Mary, in a real sense, was in WORSHIP.  To her, it was worth it to POUR OUT ALL of what she had upon the Most High God.

“WORSHIP” as you might know, and our word “WORTH” are closely connected.  In fact, the Old English spelling of worship is “worthship”  [More Than Worship, It’s Worthship, Craig T. Owens June 24, 2010].

WORSHIP is realizing the “worth-ship” of a thing or a person.

The QUESTION becomes, “How much is JESUS worth to us?”  I can tell you what He’s WORTH to me–but “How much is He WORTH to you?”

  • It’s not a WASTE to pour your life out on Jesus.  HE’S WORTH IT!
  • It’s not a WASTE to wake up in the morning and enter holy conversation with a loving God.  HE’S WORTH IT!
  • It’s not a WASTE to come to the Lord’s house and drive 5 minutes or even 5 hours–to come into this house to gather in His name and WORSHIP Him.

What makes GOD worthy is because He is WORTH IT!

— You kiss up yo your boss, but is he or she worth it?

secretaries-kissing-boss-b6f67b

— You work so that you can make more to impress everybody around you, but are they worth it?

— You sacrifice your time because you want to get bigger and finer things accomplished–but are those bigger and finer things worth it?

My ANSWER is… NO!

— Your boss didn’t die for you.

— Your paycheck isn’t what makes your heart tremble or make the sun from light you see every morning shine.

— The bigger and finer things won’t answer you when you PRAY about your sickness or your fractured marriage, broken relationships or that prodigal child who strayed from home.

You better LEARN like Mary did; how to build your hope on things eternal while holding on to God’s unchanging hands.  All because His hand is the ONLY hand big enough to give you an 100 fold return on time, talent and resources that you have already given by Him.

A Critique of the Crowd’s Stupidity –

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There will always be people who identify themselves as followers of Christ Jesus–who say that they are friends of the kingdom, but in reality, they are enemies.

There will always be people who tell you, ‘Now it doesn’t take all of that!’

There will always be people when it comes to the giving of your time, talent and treasure–‘God understands’ (Well if God understood, then He wouldn’t have told me to do it!).

Let me just say here, that GOD’S WORD IS FLAWLESS and it is the FINAL AUTHORITY, period!

The WORD is the WORD and there will always be people who will try to best God’s Word.

— Either you BELIEVE that God was playing when He said you sow what you reap or you don’t.

— Either you BELIEVE that God was serious when He said present your body as a living sacrifice or you don’t.

— Either you BELIEVE that God owns it all or you don’t.

— And when it comes to STEWARDSHIP, you are either choosing true or false; multiple choice isn’t an option.

Watch the TEXT:  VERSE 4

“To what purpose was the ointment thus wasted?”

Now I thought it was interesting here, to know who was asking the question.

gospel-of-john-21-reaction-to-lazarus-resurrection-5-638

JUDAS’ criticism here sounds ‘spiritual’ and even though Judas spoke out, the DISCIPLES were “indignant”–“they answered and reproved her.”

JUDAS is a reminder to ALL of us every time there’s criticism of Christian generosity, that somewhere behind the CRITICISM there may be a JUDAS.

I don’t know about what your thinking while reading this account, but I think Mary must have been hurt, confused with emotions running wild.  I know I would have been.

The text doesn’t say it–but Mary must have thought in her mind, ‘Why are they criticizing ME?  They are the ones who are supposed to be His disciples!’

Adopting the Commendation of Jesus’ Word.

The DISCIPLES became “indignant”  (vs. 4).  In the Greek, it’s the sound of snorting horses.

And Jesus responds to the “snorting” with COMPASSION in His word.  The word COMPASSION means to step into someone else’s skin.

Jesus steps into her skin in a moment to empathize with her pain at the insult of their response.  And Christ responds in VERSE 6 by saying,

“Let her alone; why are you troubling her?”

We know that He is addressing ALL of the disciples, but more specifically, He’s addressing JUDAS.  It was Mary’s LOVE that motivated her to give her best; but JUDAS couldn’t take it.

MARY’S REWARD for her sacrificial gift was a moment of COMMENDATION.  

She couldn’t be a Pastor, or a Disciple, and she couldn’t write a book of the New Testament.  All she could do was this:  “She has done a good and beautiful thing to Me [praiseworthy and noble].”

And that’s all the LORD expects of us.  Jesus praised the LOVING NATURE of her GIFT.  She had done what she could and He knew it was done from LOVE!

Our GIFTS should be a SURRENDERED GIFT –

When we GIVE of our talents, our time, our resources–it shouldn’t be a GIFT that’s pulled out of you.  It should be a GIFT that you WILLINGLY surrender (Romans 12:1) and that “surrender” should be because you love Him.

ILL –my daddy got me a pinata.  I kept swinging.  He said, ‘Son…the name of the game is you have to break it; but you have to break it in the right place!’

MARY had been broken in the right place.  That’s why she could give what she had!

Some of you who are reading this–God is breaking you!  But He wants to get you in the right place!!!

  • ATTITUDE needs to be changed.
  • GRATITUDE needs to be altered.
  • CONDUCT needs to be modified.
  • CHARACTER needs to be sharpened.
  • STINGINESS needs to be destroyed.

GOD is breaking me as I write these words and He’s breaking you in the right place as you read this blog.  

AND JACOB WRESTLED!

Do you remember the bible story when JACOB wrestled with the “angel of the broken-vesselsLord’?  That angel said, ‘Let me go…for the day is breaking.’  But JACOB said…’I won’t let you go until you BLESS me.’  And all we know is the morning came and JACOB was on the ground.  But now he had a different walk.  Because when he takes a step forward, he discovers that he’s been changed.

“You can’t be BLESSED until you’ve been broken!”

 


CREDITS:

Bible Dictionary:  VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  King James Version (KJV); New International Version (NIV); Amplified bible (AMP).

Calculating the Cost 101

“The foundation supports the full weight of the structure” ; “The house foundation is the system on which the home sits”  (askthebuilder.com).

We are going to look today at what the Bible has for us when we begin the steps of “Calculating the Cost 101“:

“For which of you, wishing to build a farm building (a), does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it.  Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him,  Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish”   (Luke 14:28, 29, 30–Amplified Bible). [ a. James Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary]

COUNTING THE COST

When any of us begin a project, at home, work or church, we count the cost.  We estimate whether or not we can afford to complete it.  Or at least we should do that before we begin.  Jesus gives us the example of building a tower or in the Amplified Bible “a farm building“.

If a man was not to count the cost, went ahead and started building the structure, and had to stop, he would be ridiculed.

LIVING IN THE KINGDOM

When people around you find out you are a Christian, and that’s a good thing, they are going to be watching you.  Just like the builder of this farm-house.  It’s not going to be easy “leaving” your old lifestyle for the things of God.

Let us say you are going to build a block of apartments in your community, rent them to people and make a lot of money.  It’s been your dream, your goal as you begin the project in faith.  You have a good job, you’re confident in arranging finances for the construction.  The bulldozers are lined up and the foundation begins to take form.

What if, in the middle of the project, suddenly you lose your job and you can’t pay the loan back?  Or if you projected a cost, then made a wrong calculation.  It says here in Luke 14:28, before you start something like this, sit down with proper accountants and cost analysts for the projection.  Because if you start putting up half a block of apartments, or a building or even a barn, and you stop building because of bad finances, everyone in the neighborhood is going to laugh at you.  You might say, “So what! I don’t care if they are laughing.”

Jesus was essentially saying that the Christian life in the Kingdom of God is like that.  If you decide to become a Christian, people are going to watch you; if you decide that it is too difficult, and you no longer have the enthusiasm to continue.  Over my Christian life and experiences, I have seen many foundation started without completed structures built upon the concrete footings. That’s not good for non-believers to witness.  God not only wants us to start something, He also wants us to finish it!  Remember Jesus’ disciple warning in Luke 14:27.

“QUALITY” FIRST THEN “QUANTITY”

In The Book of Acts, we see the same foundation of church building principles: “quality first, then quantity

“And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper].  They par-took of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all people”  (Acts 2:47–Amplified Bible).

There you are church!  Pick out the priorities, the principles of good foundation building in that quoted verse.

“and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved” (verse 47-b).

STEWARDSHIP IS A “RELATIONAL ISSUE”

Stewardship IS a relational issue between God and us and part of foundation:

“EXCEPT THE Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it”  (Psalm 127:1).

Let us not get so caught up in the building process that we forget whose in charge here; the real Builder of the foundation!  We are but “managers” or “stewards” in the process.

“But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken, bearing this seal (inscription): The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it”  (2 Timothy 2:19).

The “of” is not subjective (i.e., consisting of the prophets and apostles), but objectively (i.e., “laid by the apostles, etc.).  So where am I going here?  I want to let you know, the foundation is NOT the church! Christ is the strong foundation on which the church is built upon:

“[Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others],  In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed”  (1 Timothy 6:18, 19–Amplified bible).

FINANCIAL PLANNING: BUILDING ON THE FOUNDATION

Having a well-designed budget protects us from making impulsive purchases.  It also protects us from misplaced priorities when there is no goal in mind.  We spend money where the pressure is the greatest.  An individual asks, “What is the biggest need; what is my strongest desire?”  Rather than, “What does the Lord want me to do with my income?”

Luke 14:27 says, “Whoever does not persevere [doesn’t quit] and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.”

Those who fail to plan often find that they have no funds left to accomplish the Lord’s will.  Believers may miss out on opportunities to help others, support missions and serve God in other ways when their finances are not in order.

FINANCIAL PLANNING PROTECTS US FROM INDEBTEDNESS

Some people get into trouble spending impulsively, running up their credit card balance.  Others occur debt because they fail to plan how to use their God-given resources.  In a typical month, they spend everything they earn!

When my wife and I were being raised in the 1940’s and 1950’s, our parents seldom or never spoke in front us about financial planning.  In Dianne’s house, her parents never spoke in front of her about financial planning; they paid “cash” for everything.  In my house, mom was the ‘budgeteer’, the ‘vacation planner’, the ‘wizzard of expenditures’.  She would explain how our family could afford a vacation that year; she would “Rob Peter to pay Paul”!  And no, that isn’t biblical!  She would later have to pay Peter back, but she knew exactly how to budget for it.  At the time, I thought she was amazing and she was!

A year after I was married in 1964, my mom asked Dianne, “Have you ever planned a budget before?”  Dianne knew that if something cost, you would need the income, the money to pay for it.  But an actual budget or financial plan? Her answer would be,”NO!”

I believe that a household financial plan or budgeted expense should be a mandatory curriculum; “Foundation Building 101” in high school before graduating.  Statistics say finances are the number one cause of divorce in this country.  Married couples argue more over money than any other subject; sex, child-rearing, etc. 

What is a ‘wisely planned budget’?  It sets aside money for future expenses!  Sounds easy doesn’t it?  Then how come people are budgeting in the negative; causing bankruptcy and failed businesses almost daily?

Bankruptcy filings actually declined this year, falling 11 percent for the first nine months of 2011.  However, filings reached more than 1.06 million thru September in 50 states and the District of Columbia.  How does those numbers happen?  Today, neighbors aren’t laughing at the bankruptcy filings but are wondering how they got in such a position.  Were they building on the wrong foundation to start with?  Maybe!

“(10)According to the grace (the special endowment for my task) of God bestowed on me, like a skillful architect and master builder I laid [the] foundation, and now another [man] is building upon it.  But let each [man] be careful how he builds upon it,  (11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)”  (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11; 12-14–Amplified Bible).

MOM’S BUDGETING EXAMPLE

My wife and I have been following this example for almost forty-seven years now; no computer, no accountant, just a practical, common sense tip to building on the foundation; calculating the cost

Mom had been taking care of my expenses; cashing my paychecks, paying my bills and giving me what was left, to do what I wanted to do [from the age of 17 to the age of 22].  Mom sat down at the kitchen table one day with my 20-year-old bride, a pencil and a sheet of paper.  Because I got paid every week, she divided the sheet of paper into four quarters.  We are using this Master Budget plan to this day except the paper is divided in half [paid twice per month].

Mom gave Dianne the amount of what I earned each week and what my expenses had been:

1.  Income

2.  Expenses: Rent, gasoline, food, utilities, insurances, etc.

She explained that our future rent should NOT exceed 25 % of our income.  Anything left over after paying the expenses could be considered “extra” spending money.  That was the master plan!

Over our married life, there were times there wasn’t anything “extra” left over; lost income to unemployment, children’s needs, etc., etc….But, we stuck to the budget!  It’s hard not to want extra things in your family but you have to calculate the cost before spending what you don’t have!.  As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail!”  Here is another cliché:  “If you throw darts and aim at nothing, you will hit nothing every time!”

The apostle Paul reminds us and encourages us by saying,

“May the God of your hope so fill you with ALL JOY and PEACE in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.    Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with ALL [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also”  (Romans 15:13-14–Amplified Bible).

Here is your chance to begin calculating the cost of building on a strong foundation; laying up “a good foundation for the future” (2 Timothy 2:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:19). 

Don’t be like the man who is remembered by his mistake of not building on a strong foundation of Christ Jesus:

“This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish”  (Luke 14:30).