Live it! Blog

Friday, 24 June 2022 00:00

what they deserve

What They Deserve

1 Timothy 5:17-21

Leaders in the church should receive what they deserve. 

If an elder is doing a good job using his gifting to serve the church, then he should be appropriately honored and recompensed by those whom he serves. 

A remnant of this principle still hangs on in the federal tax code.  In the USA, ordained ministers can still write off a housing allowance on their federal income tax.  The existence of this benefit points to the fact that American governance was at one time influenced by Judeo-Christian ideas.  The fact that this benefit most likely will not remain points to the reality that American governance has moved away from biblical influence.  This is regrettable.  However, it was never the government’s job to support local church elders.  It was and remains the privilege of the members of a local church to honor and support their leaders in appropriate ways.       

Accusations against an elder should not be made lightly.  This is another way to honor elders in the church.  This is not the same as immunity from suspicion.  It is also not a rationale for blind devotion (the “partiality” and “favoritism” Paul talks about).  Sadly, there have been way too many cases of spiritual leaders being given the benefit of the doubt simply due to their position. An accusation must be taken seriously, but there also must be evidence to back it up.  The church must believe the victim but also practice due process on behalf of the accused.  This takes supernatural discernment.

If accusations against an elder are proven true by the testimony of witnesses, then he should be appropriately and publicly rebuked.  “Called on the carpet” is the idiom we use nowadays.  In other words, leaders must be held accountable.  When leaders are held accountable, it is a sober reminder to the whole church that everyone will have to give an account before Jesus of how they have lived their lives.

It’s easier to compensate a teaching elder for his work than it is to hold him accountable for his life choices.  Teaching is a very public activity.  What one does when no one is looking is harder to discern. 

We should not measure the health of our church based simply on the production value of the worship service, including a well-communicated and biblically sound sermon (as good and important as those things are).  Ultimately, the health of a church is related to the spiritual health of its leaders—it’s a heart issue.  A plurality of elders is good for governing the affairs of the church; however, they must also see their role as knowing each other’s hearts and lives.

KC

Thursday, 23 June 2022 00:00

Conflicts Attacks and Decisions

James 3:13 – 4:10; 5:19-20
Conflicts, Attacks, and Decisions

Imagine two hurting people. The first one said, “He has more stuff than anyone, then he called me a liar. I’m very angry with him.”

The second person said, “She told people I was stealing from the General Fund. She hurt my feelings and I am very bitter about what she did.”

Is it possible for a disciple of Jesus to hold on to an injury with heart-harboring bitterness and envy? Can we become aware of anger’s impact on us? According to Scripture the answer is, “Yes.”

Reported in the New Testament book of James, “…if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth” (3:13). Apparently, the possibility of such disasters reside within us. An event may not have started with us, but even an unfounded accusation can work its damaging fire.

While we may think of exposed sins like adultery and murder as soul-troubling-problems, undisclosed emotional anger scalds our souls as if it were hot-splattering oil, flaming from a fryer. James named it, “…bitter envy and selfish ambition…” When others make mean, hurtful, and untrue statements about us, we are likely dealing with our own spiritual pain.

Scripture insists there is a spiritual presence which forms the reservoir of this hot oil in our world. “Such [evil] ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (James 3:15, emphasis added).

Thus, we ought be most careful when we find feelings of anger, animosity, and animus against others. We may be experiencing a presence most evil. People can be horribly cruel. We cannot control their choices. As disciples we seek to follow Christ in all ways—including those times when foul events are foisted upon us by others.

Life Application Questions

What steps do you take to monitor your spiritual health?

During a spiritual injury, what is your usual response in guarding against being a Pretender?

What has helped you overcome injuries in your spiritual life?

When life is a heavy weight on your shoulders what helps you through the day?

If you observe yourself holding bitter feelings, what should form your response?

 ~ajs

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 00:00

Putting the Cookies of Galatians 6 on the Bottom Shelf

Putting the Cookies of Galatians 6 on the Bottom Shelf
Galatians 6:1-10
Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Paul has just shared the fruit of those living according to the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit from chapter 5. Christians are not to be conceited, provoking, and envying one another.

In chapter 6, Paul continues with this thought of how believers should live when we have a fellow believer who gets caught while sinning. Maybe his hand is still in the cookie jar. He’s caught in the act. We still are not to be acting with fleshly conceit, but with gentleness. What if this was me? What if I was stealing cookies and got caught? How would I want to be treated?

These are all things we can consider with this text. If your grandmother caught you, she would be ever so gentle. Maybe she would remind you that it’s only fifteen minutes until dinner time, and even though she appreciates that you like her cookies, let’s just wait and put that extra one back until dessert time. Will I approach a sinning believer with the spirit like Grandma did?

I’m certain the sin intended in Galatians 6:1 is larger and has greater consequences than spoiling your supper, but when finding a brother caught in the act, and if in our hearts we are manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, we are not to be conceited. The fruit of the Spirit reflects the heart of the one who is qualified to rebuke. Does it say a pastor or elder is the only one qualified to rebuke the sinning brother?

In our flesh, we might want to say “AHA! I caught you, naughty child, now you PUT THAT COOKIE BACK! I’m going to tell your mom how you behaved!” (Caps indicate a raised voice).

Our hearts would be saddened by the sin of our “grandchild”. But in the Spirit, we love them dearly and want the fruit of their lives to be all those on the list of the fruit of the Spirit. But sadly, we see the fruit of the flesh starting to emerge in our brother, and we know based on the laws of reaping and harvesting, that this sin will bear rotten fruit.

Now we proceed to the verses of bearing our own burdens and bearing the burdens of others.  The burden we bear of our own is our daily backpack. These are our duties and responsibilities to handle. Sometimes, we as believers have a load to carry that is so much more than our daily backpack. This is the load we are to get help from the church with; not carrying their pack, but all of us with love working together to get that burden moved. We aren’t to try to handle that burden on our own, and while it takes a degree of humility, we are to ask for help. We deceive ourselves when we think more highly of ourselves than we ought and don’t request help.

And don’t forget your teacher of the Word should be paid for his instruction.

The Christian life is not an easy one. We reap what we sow, we bear burdens – ours and others. We help support those who are struggling with a heavy burden. And there will be a harvest of the seeds we have planted. Our deeds will yield a harvest according to what was done. But don’t get weary in these good actions. Because a day is coming when you will be paid accordingly. Actually, when our deeds fall in line with the fruit of the Spirit, we will be paid in eternal wages that are out of this world. So, let’s keep doing the good deeds to everyone, but especially to our Christian family. And enjoy a cookie when it’s offered.

~jlh

Tuesday, 21 June 2022 00:00

Debate

Debate
Galatians 2:6-8
June 21, 2022

Conflict appears to be a universal issue. Families, friendships, and churches have split because of unresolved conflicts. What are some conflicts that you have observed? Conflicts stem from many difficult and thorny problems. Resolving conflicts is critical. God’s Word and our churches can teach healthy conflict resolution. When my husband and I began dating, we discovered that our families had very different approaches to conflict resolution. My family debated for entertainment. We sat around the table and discussed the pastor’s message or how to correctly cut the grass. It was a free for all. Opinions flying through the air like armed missiles. It is no wonder that I joined the high school debate team. My husband’s family took a completely different approach to conflict resolution. They valued peace. There weren’t any arguments. They swallowed divisive issues and chose silence. You can imagine how these two different styles of conflict resolution butted heads in a marriage. How do you prefer to resolve conflict? 

The Bible has provided some guidelines for God’s people to resolve conflict using God-honoring methods. Read Galatians 2:1-18. What was the conflict about? Paul was transparent about the issue at hand. He did not change his commitment to the gospel. “We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Galatians 2:5). In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas came to the Council at Jerusalem because there was a dispute. Seeking wise counsel when there is conflict is a healthy response. Instead of stewing and continuing to debate this hotly contested subject, they sought wisdom. The Council at Jerusalem listened to the issue at hand. They wrote their answer in a letter (Acts 15:24-29) that was hand delivered to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. What was the response of the Gentile believers to this letter? The council and Paul and Barnabas also found common ground. We read in Galatians 6:10, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.”

Conflict among God’s people and in His church should never be allowed to fester. What are the results of unresolved conflicts within a church? What are the results of unresolved conflicts between individual Christ followers? Like a cancer that goes untreated, the results of unresolved conflicts spread and create great pain. In Galatians 2 and Acts 15, we see some clear methods to begin reconciliation. Address the issues with clarity and honest transparency. Seek wise counsel and find common ground. Jesus admonished his disciples, “…Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Will our love for each other be a unique light that draws others to Christ?

lkb

Monday, 20 June 2022 00:00

taking sin seriously

Taking Sin Seriously
Matthew 18:15-20; Luke 17:1-5
June 20, 2022

In addition to what Benjamin Frankly observed: “Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” what else is inevitable? 

There is something else. It’s called sin, and it's going to happen! Some people are going to be offended and some are going to offend others. Let's put it this way: Someday, someone's going to hurt you and, likewise, you are going to hurt someone else. Jesus said so, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!" (Luke 17:1, KJV) So, it's better that I be the one who is offended than the one who hurts someone else -- or is it? 

What do you think Jesus meant by offenses?

In the context of today’s Scriptures, it could mean something like leading others to sin, perhaps by flaunting your liberty (see Romans 14:13) or by false teaching (see Romans 16:17). "Essentially, Jesus said: ‘People are going to take the bait - but woe to you if you offer the hook. People are going to trip up—but woe to you if you set the stumbling block in their way’” (David Guzik in Enduring Word Commentary on Luke 17).

Why do we avoid naming our wrong behavior sin?

We prefer the words “offend” and “hurt.” Somehow, they don't seem as blunt as the word SIN. But consider this from Robert Deffinbaugh's commentary on Luke 17:1:

We live in a fallen world. Sin is, in this sense, inevitable, and so are those things which tend to prompt it. In biblical terms “the world, the flesh, and the devil” are all being utilized to promote sin. The world seeks to “press us into its own mold” (Romans 12:2) and to cause us to adopt its values and to imitate or join in with it in its evil deeds. The flesh is that fallen nature within us, which prompts us to act on our own behalf, to pursue our own pleasures, even at the expense of others. The devil employs both the world and the flesh for his own devious purposes, and even, at times, personally solicits men to sin, as he did with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) and with our Lord (Luke 4).

What should we do when we are offended, sinned against?

What's a Christian to do? The text is very plain. If a Christian brother sins against you, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. If necessary, do it over and over again. The temptation here can be to take pride in ourselves for being so magnanimous. As Deffinbaugh says, "...that fallen nature within us prompts us to act on our own behalf..." How easily then, do we become the sinner. Forgiveness offered by one whose life is Christlike requires humility and love.

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . .  (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT) 

jbd & gmd

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