Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart


Stethoscope

Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

The first church was, “devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer; and everyone was filled with awe.”

This stethoscope is used to hear heartbeats from your church devotion, teaching, fellowship, and breaking of bread, which means community and doing it all in love.

What does the stethoscope “hear” from your church?

What is your church devoted to?

What and where is your awe and wonderment?

These will be the questions, and if answered honestly, will be the measuring rod to the health of your church. This passage in Acts gives us the purpose, vision, and call of the Church, both as a whole and individually. Not just a certain church down the street, but your church, and all churches together as one body. The healthy church looks like Acts 2!

This means we look like we are devoted to Christ and His callwe are teaching effectively, we are in fellowship and community with one another, we are forgiving and honoring of one another, and doing all we do in love. We also look like people who are focused on prayer and our growth in Him. It is not just what we look like, it is because we are. And we do this, with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. The healthy church can be your church; perhaps it already is, or maybe it needs to be reformed. So, strive to catch that AWE, that passion and devotion to our Lord and the reason for our being!

            Most churches that are failing did not wake up one day and just decide, “Hey, let’s fail.” They did not start off with “me first” intentions, ignoring our Lord’s call.

They probably did not choose a purposeful direction of being critical and condescending to one another, and especially not with non-Christians. They did not write their mission statements with a “how to do a disdainful disposition,” or hold seminars on modeling attitudes of puffed-up pride! Or let’s chase a meaningless trend and forget about God’s Word. There was a process that led up to the point of decline and apathy from a starting point of new birth and excitement. There was a point where the first love became clouded, and other dispositions took over the role of the church. Just as the divorcing couple did not go into their wedding with the vision and plan for the divorce, or say in their vows, “say, in five years, let’s become so miserable that we will divorce and live frustrated and disillusioned lives.”

Here, too, was a process that went from the love and excitement of newlywed bliss to bitterness, criticism, patronizing, defensiveness, and withdrawal, and finally, the decision to end the relationship.

How? By losing focus on Christ. By not being in the Word. By weak and irrelevant teaching with no Bible or application. By leaders who are not growing in the Lord. By tracing trends and not Christ as Lord. By accepting the ways of the world and not His Way?

Are we His sheep? Do we hear His Voice?

masters voice

“…to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:10

If so, do we respond and follow? God calls us to Himself and to love Him and one another with the love of God. God calls us out of our self-love pride that mutes our effectiveness and purpose and changes us so we are effective and purposeful for Him. So, we need to ask ourselves how is my love life? How is our love for our Lord and the response of love we are to have for one another? We are the sheep of the Lord, and He has given us endless love and care. He gives His sheep endless life and abounding fellowship with Him. He gives us His perfection and His protection, gathering us in to the fold of His wings, as a hen calls her chicks. Giving us the confidence and support for us to stay away from the dangers of the world, protecting us from Satan’s grasp while we engage the world for Christ. Christ perseveres in us, modeling to us how to persevere in our walk with Him and our call to one another.

Our shepherd desires for us to be true and faithful because He is that way with us. This is our call to be true and faithful in our love, in our care, in our walk, and in our talk.

So, are we hearing the voice of God?

Are we practicing the centrality and supremacy of Christ? Are we? If not, where is the call? What do we need to do to build His kingdom church? As Christ bore witness to the Father, so we are called to bear the care for one another and bring it back to Him. We cannot be as the so-called “expert of the law” and debate whom our neighbor is, thus excusing us from our responsibility. Nor, can we ignore the sheep in our care, ignoring our Lord’s call. Yet, so many churches do.

Consider this: how we see others, whether it is a spouse, child, friend, boss, or stranger, will be the measure of how we see our Lord and how seriously we take our faith. What if we were measured by how we see others? What if this is how Christ sees us? Not a very pleasant prospect, is it? Fortunately, grace covers us¾His amazing and loving grace for which we could not venture to do anything to earn it, be acceptable, or receive anything eternal except damnation.

We are to forsake our pride, arrogance, and selfish nature and receive our Lord with joy and eagerness so we can help build His church as He has called us to do!

Remember, the doctrine of Scripture and the call of our Lord will cut “against the grain” of our pride and will. We are fallen, but He will lift us up, as our Lord is our shepherd, guiding us His way and showing us the way of the shepherd, the way of love and care.

Too many Christians only see the church as a consumer entity, which becomes “what I can get out of it.”  But, are we reciprocating that care or are we just catering to our clique and ourselves? We cannot expect others do be the “doers” while we sit comfortably in a pew. We cannot even expect a return on our investment (money given to the church) for personal gain of some sort. The consumer church will become the demise of the church before Satan even has a chance at it. We can utterly eliminate ourselves and achieve total annihilation without any external help from below. God calls us out of the “consumer” mentality and into His reality. Ask yourself if you only see the church as what it can do for you or what you can get out of it.

We do need to be in a church that will take care of us. It is our attitude and determination that will set us apart to either be fully used by Christ, or sit in a pew for our selfish gain and receive our judgment later. I know I do not want that to be me; do you?

Do you have the Attitude of Christ! P2

What does it mean to exemplify the attitude and conduct of Christ? What would that look like in your life?

We Are To Have the Attitude of Christ! Read 1 Peter 4: 1-11

This passage also gives us comfort in suffering because Christ Himself suffered. He, who is God incarnate, who totally did not deserve to suffer, suffered on our behalf. He endured great physical, mental, and spiritual pain on our behalf, and exemplified the attitude and conduct we are to have when we go through the tough stuff of life.

Thus the call for us in church leadership is to be focused upon Christ as LORD so to be prepared and equip ourselves for what lies ahead in life. We must have our expectations based on reality and in faith, so when something comes our way-whether it is a blessing or a problem-we can take it, handle it with excellence, learn, and grow from it. Then, in turn, we can pass it on as we lead and pastor His people. In this way you can be a blessing to others because of it.

Consider these key words:

Christ suffered.” Our Lord withstood the full brunt of all human temptations needlessly, yet purposely (Mark 1:12-13, Heb. 2:12; 4:15). He was a man, subject to the power and enticement of sin. He did not need to do this, but for our sake He did. He was fully man and identified with us. He remained sinless and took our sins upon Himself. Now, sin has no power over Him or us other than what we allow on ourselves (Rom. 6:1-10; 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 5:14; 1 Pet. 2:22)!

Regard to the Spirit.” We now have spiritual renewal and assurance because Christ has obtained for us victory and triumph over death and sin (Rom. 6:5-9; 1 Cor. 15:25-26).

 This applies to leadership as we are in union with other Christians as we are all bonded to Christ and we may suffer unfairly when we do good. Suffering also bonds and helps form us deeper in Him. It is not to be seen as shame. Rather, it is an honor to serve our King (Rom. 6:1-14; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Pet. 3:21).

The challenge of leadership from 1 Peter is sin that calls us to the world’s ways. From lust and seduction to chasing a mindless trend so the focus is on what is new and not upon Who and what Christ has done. A Good leader needs to be aware that sin is so enticing we can easily slip anyone off God’s path. Thus, we need to be willing to suffer so sin does not entice us and lead our church off God’s purpose and plan. So, as a leader, we must set the tone and become more guarded against sin because a bigger picture is in our sight-Christ, His example, and our willingness and commitment to lead so others can follow. When we see Christ as LORD and not our personal viewpoints, pride and desires, we will grow, mature, and be prepared for anything! Then our church will grow healthy and secure in Christ.

When something comes your way, whether it is a blessing or a problem, how can you take it, handle it with excellence, and learn and grow from it? What would that do for your congregation?

 How would your walk with Christ grow and in turn be a blessing to your church if you did this?

 

Do you have the Attitude of Christ! P1

Are you chasing your desires or our Lord? How can the answer to this question help determine what direction you take in life?

We Are To Have the Attitude of Christ! Read 1 Peter 4: 1-11

This is essential in church leadership to remember who we are leading and to Whom we are leading them to! So, we must ask the question earnestly and honestly: Are you chasing your desires or our Lord?

The answer to this question will determine what direction your church goes. This will actually determine what direction in life you go as well. Consider the context of the 1 Peter passage in leadership and life, sin. When we fail to lead people to Christ as LORD, we sin, this, as if, when, and how sin will entice you to fall!

Consider these key words:

“Arm yourselves” refers to as soldiers train and prepare for battle, we are to be trained and are to be prepared with Christ’s attitude, outlook, knowledge, and experience. We are to prepare for injustice and suffering!

God’s will” is the determining factor in life! It all comes down to this; will you follow His will, or yours and the world’s? Which one do you think brings the most blessings and contentment to your family and the church you lead?

Debauchery” means unrestrained indulgence, seeking sinful, physical gratification, or giving into one’s desires. This leads to being merciless and unscrupulous in one’s dealings with others! When we fight against one another, especially in the church, it is hurtful and even pathetic in God’s eyes (Gen. 4:8; Duet. 25:17-19; Joshua 7; Matt. 21: 1-17; Luke 9:54; Rom. 13:13; 2 Cor. 12:21; Eph. 4:19).

Lust” refers to sexual immorality, meaning evil desires that trap us and bring down others who are around us-the very opposite of God’s call for us.

We must be always aware that sin is coming. And our biggest problem is pride. As we lead; we can either draw near to God to stay clear, or draw near to sin and our pride and thus away from God and His best for us and the direction He wants His church to grow and go.

The great news is that Christ gives us the ability to stand firm in Him. The key is, we need to want to! Peter’s people were being slandered and taken advantage of, and they were becoming disillusioned. Peter’s call was to stand firm in faith and not worry what others do as long as we look to Christ wholeheartedly. Just as we are to do in our churches today. Thus, the best defense to sin, pride, wayward trends, past mistakes is the offense of righteousness and demonstrating the good life in Christ (1 Pet. 2:12,15, 23; 3:9, 16; 4:4,14)!

Sin has and unbelievable power to weigh us down so it defines who we are and traps us in the past. We all have past mistakes and wrong choices, but Christ freed us so we no longer need to be weighed down by them! Peter’s congregation had a pagan background that was very alluring; he is telling them (and us) not to let it draw them or become a part of their new life.

Be the leader who leads people to the Wonder of our Lord, not to sin, not to your pride and not to faulty trends (Rom. 1:12:13; 6:1-14, 19; Gal. 5:19-21)!

 

Do you have the Attitude of Christ!

Attitude of Christ

When we are leading His Church, consider that we are called to have the “Attitude of Christ!”

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5 – 8)

However, we cannot do that if we are not following Christ and taking heed to His example, His grace, and His love so we want to respond. That means we can be living in sin, pointing to ourselves, leading by power and control or by pride. Otherwise, our desires will fill that gap and will get the best of us. The sins of others and the sins of our heart will break us down and take us over and destroy the church you serve, unless we focus on Christ, His ways, and His path.

What does it mean to wholeheartedly look to Christ?

How can you better implement this in your life? What would your church look like with this mindset at full blast?

False Prophet

False Prophet

Be aware of the False Prophets!

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-16

Are you concerned about false prophets today? In what ways have you seen false prophets switch “gates” (Matthew 7:13-20) on you, claiming lies as truth? How do they make them seem attractive?

False prophets will switch the gates on you and claim lies as truth. They are denying who and what Christ has done for you and replacing the truth with lies! They seem attractive at first, until you realize you have been shamed, hopefully before it is to late.

The warning to the follower: Because even though you may have been misled, you are still responsible for your choices!

What did Jesus say about them? He called them “Wolves in Sheep’s clothing,” and where we get this phrase, as the phrase is quite true! It is saying and representing what is not really what you intend or mean to deliberately misreport truth, even though you may believe it as true.

What did the Jews feel about false prophets then? Most Jews did not accept any new prophets after the Maccabees (time after Daniel, 175-135 BC) period (Jer. 2:8; 5:30) and considered all who claimed to be a prophet as false. Josephus (first century Roman historian) lists many, during Jesus’ times, who attracted the crowds, but were soon flushed out as vicious wolves.

How do we know a False Prophet?

We can know them by their character, by how they live (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:43-45), and if their words come to pass (Duet. 13; 18:21-22).

Do they live by faith, humility, Fruit of the Spirit or by pride, arrogance, extravagant living.

Do they point to themselves or to the Work of Christ?

They will have the spotlight, because humility prevents those who are godly from promoting themselves.

The only way you can tell is to know the truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them (Gal. 1:8-9; 1 John 4:1). In addition, know this: their lifestyle and character will soon give them away (2 Cor. 8:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:14-16; 3:13; 2 Pet. 2:1-3).

False Prophets are dangerous!

They will lead you astray and must be corrected. If they refuse to listen (Matt. 18), they must be silenced.

They are slick and tickle people’s years. False teachers will rarely come across as the evil type, with shifty eyes and whispers in the dark. They come with fancy suits, flashy cars and eloquent, emotional, and attractive speeches to captivate you. They will have large ministries because what is false is what is attractive. As people will give them money, thinking they will get a greater return which will never happen.

They will also cause divisions, strife, and lead people away from the True faith (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:18; 2 Pet. 2:1).

They usually will not teach, but just give off emotional rhetoric and grandstanding, pointing to themselves rather than glorifying God. Or, they will mix in truth and falsehoods to confuse you, as most Christians have not been discipled, and therefore cannot discern the difference!

Heresy is not about interruptions and opinions. It is about adding to the Bible what is not there, or taking away from what is there. This is very destructive, both personally and collectively, to a body of Believers (Rev. 22:18-19).

The only way you can expose a false prophet is to know the true Truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them.

Reflection
Do you believe that a lot of pastors, especially the ones on TV, need to be “set straight,” as we have so much false teaching in the church, adding what is not there and letting people far away? Concider this, when we take away essential truths of the faith, and believe what we want, how would this grow your faith and your church? Think about how does this neutralize the Majesty and holiness of Jesus, His teachings, how much we have been forgiven, and cheapen His Gospel?

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6)

Why is Loyalty to Christ and not Trends so Important?

 

Our loyalty helps us lead the life that bears the life of Jesus, the character of Jesus and the theme of what it means to be a real authentic effectual Christ like Christian.

This is the essential mark, the most important thing we can accomplish in our life, to be Fruitful, to be faithful and be His and act like it. This means to allow the Holy Spirit to nourish and energize us, to speak to us and work in and through us.

Do you want to be safe and adequate or powerful and used in ministry and life? Really think about this. We do not have to lead the Christian life as a Christian. We can peach merely feel good messages do not instruct or edify.

We can be bullies in the boardroom or apathetic and uncaring and even obtuse to our families–frankly, most of us are. We don’t live with Fruits of the Spirit. As a pastor, may I say honestly, very few Christians do. Few pastors do. I met very few real Christ-like fruitful pastors in my thirty plus years in ministry. This is sad. Most of us just do not get it. We live our lives to ourselves. It may not be outright sin, but it is placing our desires first, and we do not want to learn and grow. We do not what to be convicted and grow beyond where we are.

Most pastors do very little time to build their spiritual life. That is why the cheap messages that tickle our ears and move our emotions are so popular-more popular than the meat of the Word of God.

It is why so many of us stopped growing so we stopped teaching. We created congregations who want to be told, we are OK, we want to hear encouragements and feel good stories, and we do not want to be taught the true Truth of Scripture so we can be used to further renew and transform the people in our care by the example and flow the Fruit of the Spirit.

Remember this very important point: sin and wrong desires, factions, and immorality bring us only “darkness.”

Darkness refers to having no peace, contentment, or happiness; chasing evils and pleasure, even our wants, only leaves us destitute of what is really important. This can be in a family, in a nation, in the world, and even in the Church. A defiant heart will only bring pain, chaos, strife, disillusionment, dysfunction, discouragement, distress, and grief. Who wants that? Remember, He will equip us with what He requires for us to live a triumphant, purpose-filled life ( Is. 57:15-21; 59:1-21; 59:15-18; 65:1-15)!

Do not refuse God. Teach, preach, be loyal, be fruitful, be faithful, be real for Christ and live it out.

By our example, we are used for His glory, giving people known and unknown to us a chance to repent and be saved.

Are you prideful and ministry is about you?

Real, effectual leadership is always characterized by humbleness as well as indebtedness and gratitude to God. Anything else is a waste and an insult to God who came as the Ultimate Suffering Servant!

We have to realize some of the depth, such as the passage in Hebrews 7 showing us Christ’s intercession on our behalf. He goes to God the Father, pays our ransom, purchases our salvation, and He lives to do this!

Who and What Christ is and does must manifest itself in how we respond back to Him and ministry. And make intersession by prayer and action in others’ lives too, just as our Lord demonstrated as He walked this earth.

But for this to work, to be a good pastor, to be a godly leader, is to actively seek God’s presence and intercession so it flows from Him into us and to others around us, we have to look to Christ as LORD. We have to see our weakness and need for His continual intervention into our lives so we have a heart for Him and others.

Christ was our offering; how can you be an offering to bring Him honor and show Him your gratitude? How would that improve your life and ministry?

If you desire to be a mature, effectual Christ-follower, if you are in pastoral work or Christian leadership or desire to be, you must in prayer seek Him and ask these questions:

Do you have a heart after God?

Do you have a heart for His children?

Are you prideful and ministry is about you?

Now think and pray about this one: Do you realize His role that paid your debt of sin? Jesus Christ is our Perfect substitute for punishment. He faced temptation on our behalf, lived a perfect life on our behalf, and in so doing, perfectly obeyed God and set a tone that we can follow and hold on to forever.

Now how will you serve, by pride or by gratitude? 

Now, if you feel ministry is about you and or pride; then, get out, get out, get out of ministry, leave, vamoose, hit the road and let the door whack your rear on the way out…then pray, humble yourself, read the Word and ask Christ if and when you can come back….

Why are Christians so interested in chasing fads? PII

 

Read Revelation 17-18

Here in this passage, being a “harlot” does not just mean standing on a street corner soliciting for unlawful relations; rather, it means for church leaders that we are engaged in and promoting apostasy!

Thus, betraying our Lord as in being a harlot to Christ. And this gives us a vital depiction on how God feels when we false teach, become prideful, lead His children astray, we are in fact betraying Him, insulting His Lordship; thus, being a prostitute with His Most precious Word!

What does this look like? The bad pastor and church leader is into themselves, and they lead their people away from God’s path, becoming disloyal to God and His true Truths to the point they blaspheme God. They focus their people to trust in materialism and trends that neuter the Bible, water down His Word and in so doing replace discipleship with mere entertainment and lead others to do so, too. In so doing, a harlot, just as Scripture shows us, is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin.

What about factions, gossip, and pride? These are the things that God hates the most and cause the greatest destruction to any given church, something even Satan himself could never do.

Point? We are the real enemy, our sin building and conniving and converging upon one another, while we ignore Christ and His supremacy, precepts, and call!

God is calling you and me–those who lead and pastor churches, who influence people in the church, who sit on committees, teach, or the like to flee from manipulating and gossiping behind the scenes-to wake up and SEEK HIM, not ourselves or ideas or plans or trends!

Are we being “harlots” with His Church?

If so, stop, pray, and get right with God. If you can’t, then get out of leadership until you are right with God and His call and His precepts!

Keep in mind in this passage–it is a stern warning that sin will cause ruin. Their sins are piled high, and God wants to remove the sin. Instead of seeking God’s grace and mercy, they pile on more sin and seek the evils of pleasure without responsibility, which will bring them torment, sorrow, and extreme helplessness. Those who sought favor and wealth from sin will mourn, but those who are righteous will be joyful and jubilant. Those who trusted in luxury and splendor will mourn; those whose trust was/is in Christ will praise God. In a single moment, what they thought was important will be gone.

What really is important will remain and increase. God’s glory and eminence is steadfast and proclaimed; the hope of the faithful comes to its fruition!

 

Why are Christians so interested in chasing fads?

Read Revelation 17-18

Do you chase bad trends, sins, and the ways of the world? I know I have.

Another question we need to ask is to whom and/or what are we loyal–fads, trends, ideas, personalities or the precepts of Scripture and the glorification of Christ?

A fad many of us in ministry tend to chase is trends on how to lead and manage His Church. Sometimes, we glean new ideas on how to do things better. However, most of these are like chasing the harlot while ignoring the beckoning of Christ and His Way.

When trends move us away from the Cross to something else we become obsessed, like with building projects and forget to build up people in Discipleship. We like to get so creative with our messages, we end up not teaching anything effectual. We become so guarded with our pulpit, we do not allow other good communicators of the Gospel to expound on Scripture. We become so busy with programs that we forget what the programs are for.

We seek to water down His Holy Word to attract people just as the devil manipulates people to trick them to his ways while we are called to disciple, teach, and worship Christ as Lord, His Way. The harlot in Revelation represents evil and the manipulations of forcing and tricking people to compromise–forsaking faith to embrace the devil. Such groups in the early church and throughout history sought to hide God and prevent people from knowing about true salvation.

Paganism, godlessness, false religions, and manipulating religion for personal gain and false teachings are all extreme corruption and hiding of the real God in the shadow of man’s pride and corruption.

By the way, chasing bad trends and compromising the teaching of the Bible does the same thing! Consider this as a form of corruption that destroys everything as it prevents goodness, cooperation, and growth in your church. It tears down rather than builds up. It hides people for God’s Truth and stagnates discipleship and the glorification of our LORD!

Look at the definition of the harlot, read the passage, be in prayer and ask Christ, how am I doing?

All too often, and I have done this, we try to use it as an easy way to their goals, but it never works; rather, it causes breakdowns of self and society whereas Christ cleanses us with His blood and equips us with His Word to help build up the world. Thus, “building” is a primary theme of Christianity that creates community and cooperation with the goal of faith and the building of the Church. This is our call and duty and purpose as church leaders, to glorify our Lord, make disciples be loyal to Him and be for Him! The contrast is the devil, as well as misguided megalomaniac pseudo pastors, destroys and tricks people to think that self destruction, the poverty of personal faith, and the breakdown of societal development are good things!