Saturday, August 19, 2006


Rather than jump into chapter five today, I wanted to bring you all into a discussion that we had last night in Bible Study.

The discussion stemmed from an earlier one where we said that the church is not to be a democracy, but a Theocracy. A Theocracy is a system with God in charge. God wrote the rules (The Holy Bible) and there are no amendments! God is a God of order, not of chaos.

Shirley (Miss O. to some of you!) made a valuable observation. We have borrowed this concept from the world system. We have become so used to a democratic society (at least here in the U.S.) that we have tried to apply it to the "government" of the church. That begs the question, "What else are we borrowing from the world system instead of using the prescription that God has left us in His Word?"

Paul gives specific directions for choosing elders and deacons in Timothy and Titus. He outlines the qualifications that these individuals should possess and describes their function within the body. The problem is that much of the time we nominate people from the congregation that are merely "able bodied" or available, and then vote on who we want to be in that position. Is this not a "popular vote"? A more biblically principled idea would be rolling dice or drawing straws! Look at how Judas' replacement was picked in Acts 1:23 - 26 (NASB),

23. So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25. to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26. And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Proverbs 16:33 (NLT) says, "We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall."

The point is we need to examine everything that we as the body of Christ are doing and make sure that it is in line with God’s Word. We can’t simply continue to do something that “we’ve always done” because we assume it is right.

If we as individuals are to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), should not the church, the body made up of these individuals, follow the same principle?

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Friday, August 18, 2006

1 Corinthians 4:21 (NLT) 21. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?

What a fitting question. Do you view God’s Word as a source of punishment (can’t do this, can’t do that) or as God’s revelation of His incredible love for us?

The Law of Moses “came with a rod;” many rules and regulations to follow. Contrast that with the love of Jesus Christ on the cross for us with the admonishment to simply believe.

It is usually our pride and love of this world that causes us to view God’s Word as “a rod” or punishment. When we put that pride aside and bow in humility to the God of all creation, we find a loving Savior with a gentle Spirit who died to pay the price for our sins.

That’s the focus that we’ve been talking about; the focus the church is to have. If we, the “called out ones,” put aside our love of self and of worldly things, and focus on the incredible love that was shown to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, there will be no division in the body. There will be no quarrels and jealousy. There will only be the glorious sight of the united body of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, working in this sin-filled world; working to bring the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to all who would believe and receive the gift of eternal life.

Ephesians 4:4 - 6 (NLT)
4. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6. and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

1 Corinthians 4:17 - 21 (TMSG) 17. This is why I sent Timothy to you earlier. He is also my dear son, and true to the Master. He will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give all the churches on the way of Christ. 18. I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. 19. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. 20. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.

21. So how should I prepare to come to you? As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? You decide.

1 Corinthians 4:17 - 21 (KJV) 17. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. 18. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. 20. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

God’s way is “not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power” (NLT). A crucial point in looking at our church…is it relying on God and obviously “powered” by God? Or, is it a “lot of talk” and everything that we do “human powered?”

Henry Blackaby, author of “Experiencing God” and several other books, relates that if we (the church) are only doing things that are humanly possible, we’re not giving God the credit He is due. We need to take on projects that we know ONLY God can accomplish…and then trust Him to use us and show His mighty power.

Blackaby gave an illustration of a “faith” budget. He said rather than figuring out how much money is at your disposal and then allocating that to different areas, find out what God wants you (the church) to do. If it is something that costs a lot of money, perhaps more than you humanly figure the church can do, so what! If it’s God’s will He will provide the necessary tools, help and money to accomplish it. Then, it will be obvious to all that the church is operating in God’s power.

Is the life of our church just talk…or obviously “powered by God?”
Is my life just talk about the Lord….or is it obvious to everyone that God is working in me and through me?

Glory to God in the highest!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

1 Corinthians 4:8 - 16 (NLT) 8. You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us! I wish you really were reigning already, for then we would be reigning with you. 9. Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.

10. Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed. 11. Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. 12. We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. 13. We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment.

14. I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. 15. For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. 16. So I urge you to imitate me.

I think that this translation conveys the meaning of the original most accurately. Apparently, this church thought they were the “do all and end all” of Christianity. They didn’t need guidance from anyone. They had it all figured out.

Rather than trying to grow in the Lord they thought they were already “wise.” Paul had pointed that out in chapter three when he said they were mere infants and only able to drink “milk and not solid food”. This immaturity, though they didn’t recognize it, had produced quarrels, jealousy and factions in the church.

It isn’t enough for us as Christians to get “saved” by the blood of Jesus and then ignore everything else God’s Word tells us.

• That is why it is so important for the individual members of the body of Christ to be studying God’s Word, to be involved in discussing God’s Word, teaching God’s Word and helping each other to grow in the wisdom of the Lord.

• That is why it is so important to hear sound Biblical teaching from the pulpits of our churches. God’s Word is supreme Truth. It is infallible beyond even Paul and the other apostles.

We are “rich” in that we have God’s Word. How well are we acquainted with it?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

1 Corinthians 4:6 - 7 (NASB) 6. Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 7. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

1 Corinthians 4:6 - 7 (NLT)
6. Dear brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures, you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another. 7. For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?

God’s Word is the “Rule Book” for the church, just as Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. The problem that Paul is pointing out, is that often times we pay more attention to men, whether it be pastors, leaders, etc., than we do God’s Word and, in doing so, can be mislead.

While God has put the pastor in charge of the local congregation, the pastor is only human. Pastors can make mistakes. If a pastor is ignoring part of God’s Word, not worshiping God or not honoring Christ as the head of the church, he is in error. The same goes for an elder or a deacon. We, as members of the body of Christ, are to then turn to the scriptures for the solution.

1. Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Galatians 6:1 - 3 (NLT)

We can’t pretend to know the intentions of someone’s heart, so acting as if we did would be totally wrong. We can only “gently and humbly” point out that we see a discrepancy between actions and God’s Word.

Prayer: Lord, help me to examine myself first to make sure that all of my actions are in line with Your will as found in Your holy Word. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2006

1 Corinthians 4:3 - 5 (NASB) 3. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 5. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

1 Corinthians 4:3 - 5 (NLT)
3. As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. 4. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. 5. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.

Frequently we look at what someone has done and assume we know the motive behind their actions. We often act (or react) based upon our assumption.

• We get angry when somebody “hurts us on purpose.” But we really don’t know their intentions.
• We get frustrated when someone won’t understand something the same way we do and assume they are “against us.” It couldn’t possibly be the way we’re explaining it!

Paul is saying “I don’t even trust myself to know what my “true” motives are, so obviously, I can’t “know” someone else’s.

God alone knows each of our hearts. Let’s purpose today to “assume” the best of others intentions instead of the worst. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

”Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3 (NASB)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

1 Corinthians 4:1 - 2 (KJV) 1. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:1 - 2 (NLT) 1. So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries. 2. Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 (TMSG) 1. Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. 2. The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge.

I put this before you in the three different translations today to make it clear that Paul is talking about Apollos and himself as leaders of the church. In essence he is giving scriptural qualifications for leadership.

1. Ministers of Christ
•The Greek word here for minister is hupēretēs. According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions it means,

1) servant
1a) an underrower, subordinate rower
1b) any one who serves with hands: a servant
1b1) in the NT of the officers and attendants of magistrates as—of the officer who executes penalties
1b2) of the attendants of a king, servants, retinue, the soldiers of a king, of the attendant of a synagogue
1b3) of any one ministering or rendering service
1c) any one who aids another in any work
1c1) an assistant
1c2) of the preacher of the gospel

• Notice that this is not an elevated position in terms of “look at me, how important I am” but “I am a servant of the King!”
• At the same time it is important to note it does not say, “I am a servant of the people” but of Christ.

2. Stewards of the “mysteries of God”
• The Greek word translated here “steward” is oikonomos. According to Thayer’s it means,

1) the manager of household or of household affairs
1a) especially a steward, manager, superintendent (whether free-born as was usually the case, a freed-man or a slave) to whom the head of the house or proprietor has intrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age
1b) the manager of a farm or landed estate, an overseer
1c) the superintendent of the city’s finances, the treasurer of a city (or of treasurers or quaestors of kings)
2) metaphorically the apostles and other Christian teachers and bishops and overseers

• Both the Message and the New Living Translation bring out the idea that the Christian leader is in charge of “explaining the mysteries of God” or “guides into God’s most sublime secrets.” That is quite an awesome responsibility.

So, God has put our leaders, the Pastor at the head of the church as a servant of Christ (not us!) and given him the responsibility of guiding the body of Christ into God’s eternal, mysterious truths.

Do we treat the pastor as a servant of the Most High?
Do we give them the time needed to study the Word in order to guide us properly?


Do we treat the pastor as our servant and expect him to spend the majority of his time making us “feel good”?

Of course the pastor then has a structure that God has put in place under him to handle other affairs of the church, the elders and the deacons. As with any system there is a hierarchy of leadership. A good pastor guides those under him as fellow servants of Christ and helps them to understand their roles in the body of Christ.

Pray for and support with your words and your actions, the pastor as head of the local body and those in places of leadership under him.