Be reminded of what we have and who we are

2 John 5-6 walk as Jesus

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 5-6

Passages to ponder: 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13-16; 4:12; 5:10-11; 2 Peter 3:17-18; 1 John 1:5-7; 4:10-16; 5: 11-13; 2 John 5-6; 3 Jude 21-23

These early Christians needed to understand that knowing God was not a one-time event.  Knowing God is a continual and continuing relationship in which we constantly rely on Him.  He alone is the Hope we have.  He alone gives us grace and peace.

Our place and security is in Heaven to come; our joy can be declared and lived out. Christ is sufficient for faith and salvation; there is no other and there will never be.  Yes, we do have hope beyond hope.  If our place is secured in eternity-and, it is; if we have a Savior in Whom we can have faith and trust-and, we do, then we can lead lives of endurance no matter what is thrown at us.  These are things we cannot accomplish by our own means; we need Jesus.  He needs to be placed first!

Christ is our living Hope that will never fade away!

We will face the sufferings and trials; we will even be persecuted for following the faith and being good witnesses.  How we grow and what we learn through the trials is what matters to God and is the value to us.  Jesus, being fully God, suffered on our behalf; we live in a world of sin that suffers due to the consequences thereof.  Jesus bore our sins and took away our ultimate, deserved suffering.

We are chosen by God and by God alone!  The Holy Spirit sets us apart.  

We are able to hear and receive His Words of grace and life.  We need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ.  If not, we will soon forget and replace His guidance either with our frailty or with the ways of the world. Our Lord modeled for us how we are to deal with suffering (1 Peter 1:16-21; 2:21, 4-25).

The key to the Christian life and spiritual growth is our faith that develops our trust in Christ, and our submission to His precepts which produces character and maturity (1 Peter 2:12; 5:10-11).

These early Christians were oppressed, confused, and struggling.  They are seeking to live for Christ in a world that not only does not understand but also persecutes those of the faith.  In the midst of the oppressions of the world and family, others come along who seek to deceive and entice them to live in sin and not for Christ.  Thus, the need to be encouraged, challenged, and hope to remain in Christ.  We need to be aware and be on guard to live for Christ, putting on His virtues and not the world’s.  These epistles are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago; what they experienced, we experience!  The early Christians needed hope and encouragement just as need these today; the Truth is for all for all time.

False teachings, mysticism, empty philosophies, legalism, and bad traditions also threatened the health and well-being of the Christians and their evangelistic opportunities.  Sound familiar?  The Christians were under siege by prideful men seeking sensationalism and mysticism rather than Christ as Lord.  Christ’s Deity was being challenged and rebuffed for more so-called “clever and newer” ideas (Acts 19).

© 2016, 2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

 

The Epistles were written to a Church under siege

Church under siege

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

Passages to ponder: 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13-16; 4:12; 5:10-11; 2 Peter 3:17-18; 1 John 1:5-7; 4:10-16; 5: 11-13; 2 John 5-6; 3 Jude 21-23

The siege was both internal and external with bitter conflicts and schemes from within the church and attacks from militant pagans and some hostile Jews.  Thus, the Apostles write to encourage how to cope with and prepare for the worst that would come-even more heinous persecutions. The encouragement is this:  Heed Christ as Lord, His Truth, and fight against anything that comes against this!  Be on guard and fight against heresies and false doctrines while being vigilant building faith and the Church.

The church was in a difficult place-surrounded by a Greek and pagan culture, they were having birthing and growing pains.  They were being negatively influenced and confused by the spectacle of cults and false religions that surrounded them.  They needed the Truth; they needed a Savior.  They could not just retreat inward or run away; they had to fight with faith and model the love of Jesus for those who did not understand or want it.  This was written for the early Christians; this is written for us.

Christ is our Redeemer who is our living hope even when we are hurting!

Jesus offers His forgiveness and grace; by, with and through Him, we are enabled and empowered to live holy lives.  He, indeed, has a plan and a purpose for us!   Life here-now-is preparatory and temporary.  Our citizenship is to come in a glorious, wondrous eternity!  Our God is in control and totally sovereign.  He gives us the faith and the ability to face whatever comes our way, so we do not become the hurting who hurts others (1 Pet 1:3).

We are called to set your hearts.  This means to have understanding, to think, and to have a desire for real, bona fide faith as well as Truth.  We are to think about Christ and consider what we have in Him to experience our new lives. Truth is something we want to learn for triumphant lives and effectual churches, something we want to live in.  As long as we are in Christ, our connection to purity is maintained; thus, we should not sin and live as we please.  We have no right to sin deliberately, and we have no right in thinking, “I am already forgiven so it is OK to sin” (Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2)!

We are called to set your mind.  This means to place Christ first.  Bad thoughts and actions lead to bad lives, so we are called to purposefully focus ourselves on Christ, His precepts, and His presence.  When we focus on Christ, our attention is off other things and distractions–even sin!  Heavenly values will translate into earthy values when we are centered on Christ, allowing His work in and through us (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 8:5; Phil. 1:23; 4:8; 1 John 2:15-17).

We are urged to put Christ first and move on to spiritual maturity.  This creates a healthy church, prevents false teachings, and facilitates a mutual faith and hope that is contagious and effectual.  We know His Truth, and we can still be triumphant in Him in the time we have here on earth.  In so doing, we need to be known for who we are in Christ, not for just what we are against.

© 2016, 2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

 

How far is your church’s reach with kindness and truth?

DEARCHURCH

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…” 1 Peter 1:3-4

Passages to ponder: 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13-16; 4:12; 5:10-11; 2 Peter 3:17-18; 1 John 1:5-7; 4:10-16; 5: 11-13; 2 John 5-6; 3 Jude 21-23

These early Christians who were grateful for Christ, placed Him as LORD, realized we need to guard His Truth so to live in truth and love.  How are we doing with that?

The people God brings you, that is the ones in your care need to know the importance of our relationship with God and with one another.  If you are not doing that you have a gaping hole in your church!

Realize the people are given to you for stewardship, but they are not yours, they belong to Christ! You are to minister and train them up for Christ’s glory. And in the character and precepts of Christ. In this way, we can be positive with those who do not know Christ.  And not manipulative or controlling or hateful or embrace those rotten fruits…. Let’s take it where the Church today is lacking…. We must be known for who we are in Christ, not just for what we are against.

In so doing, we must show kindness and patience–the key characters of love–to those we ‘feel’ we must hate.  We never will reach others for the Gospel by our negativity or argumentations.  Our reach is effective by our kindness, by holding on to Truth, not compromising Biblical theology, and mostly by being patient with those who are ignorant or even hateful of the Truth, the Word of God.

In the calls of Scripture, we are encouraged to remain faithful, live a life of submission, purity, godly living, and be steadfast and faithful even in persecution.  

Grace and truth, the covenant that God has with humanity and His steadfast purpose to keep and fulfill it.  The truth is that there is no guarantee of happiness as a Christian; our salvation only by faith in Christ Jesus is the guarantee.  Our living hope is our new birth in Christ.  Things will not always be what we want.  In a fallen world, there will always be suffering.

There is Truth!  There is ABSOLUTE Truth.  God’s Word-the Truth-remains unchanged and inerrant even when you may not feel it or when others proclaim otherwise.  

We are called to learn and know the Truth and be on guard against false truths.  He also reminds Christians to be faithful and prepare for the coming persecutions.  Be diligent to live out and guard God’s true Truth!

The early Christians were positive with the Gospel and the call to love our fellow believers and enemies.  They exercised kindness with one another and with outsiders.  They were patient with the decadent society and persecutions they were in.  However, they had to guard the Truth from those who come into the church, not seeking Christ, but who sought to destroy, wreak havoc, and to distract others with a prideful disregard for all that is Holy and Right and True.

© 2016, 2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

 

Truth is Divinely Commanded PI

Read Matthew 5: 33-37

Do you keep your word as a leader?  

Why would consistent integrity be essential for the person who claims Christ as Lord of his/her life? What about the pastor and church leader? 

Oaths in the ancient world were extremely important. They were so important, they were almost acknowledged as currency. The Jews during Jesus time swore to all kinds of things, from serious matters to the trivial. They were a statement of the person’s truthfulness and ability to meet a commitment anywhere, from the paying of debts to the promise of marriage.

Most of the Jews would make elaborate oaths to testify to the truth of their words and their commitment by claiming the importance of the Temple, or their house and goods–anything except God and His standards. In so doing they elevated the importance of material things over spiritual things; they measured their word and integrity by others, not to the standards of God.

The Law forbids irreverent oaths, especially the misuse of God’s name! If the Lord’s name was used in a transaction, the depth had to be paid also to the Lord. Thus, Jesus cuts through the complex additions the Pharisees have made to the law, right to the heart of the matter, and simply states, we are to tell the truth- period!

They had a good reason, so they thought, because, if they broke their word, God’s name was not in vain. But, this became epidemic as the oaths became more and more elaborate, the integrity became worse and worse, and those oaths quickly became broken and worthless. So, the Pharisees and various Rabbis would judge what oaths were binding and what ones were not. As long as God’s name was not in it, the oath could be broken, and people were free of responsibility to their word and commitment.

 Jesus calls us to be true to our word as a testimony to our Faith in Him. We are not to be worldly with our words or integrity or drag His good name and defile it with feeble, easily retracted words.

There is nothing complex about truth. If you seek to make it complex, you have no regard to truth or to the God of truth!

So, why do we seek to make it complex, seeking loopholes to escape responsibility and righteousness?

Is your Church pointing to Christ or to something else?

We got trouble in our churches–a lack of loyalty. A tough question needs to be asked of ourselves, are we being “harlots” with His Church? 

Read Revelation 17-18

Yes, there are far better ways to make a point than to use the “harlot’. However, this is the word God uses, and it may wake us up to our dysfunction and the predicament we have in how we lead and manage churches these days.

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! The problem is, many of us are doing the opposite!

The main prostitution we should worry about as Christians is Church Leadership falling to pride, apostasy, and the ways of the world versus faithfulness to Christ! 

So, how is your loyalty to Christ?  

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this.  Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else?  Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

  • Is our church about a personality or a Person?
  • This is about who you pledge your life to.  Is it to your own pride? Or, is it to His Church and the glorification of Christ?
  • Or, do you chase bad trends, sins, and the ways of the world?
  • Are you so concerned with your way of doing things that His Way is pushed aside or skewed? 

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 replace discipleship with entertainment and lead others to do so, too.  In so doing, she is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin. 

Why is this 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.  

The main call for us is to heed Christ’s love, grace, and call, and that any evil power–past, present, or future–is not to be feared by us Christians!

The phrase, God has put it in their hearts, refers that He is still in control.  Even when the world seems to be in chaos and discord, He is there with us, ever faithful and still in charge.  Our duty and call is to fix our eyes on Christ, not on the troubles.  This is the key to dealing with suffering and when life does not seem to make sense. The answer is not making up our own Gospel or changing His Message to our own (2 Cor. 4:18; Heb. 12:1-3). 

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 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! 

More here: http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/?articleid=84331&columnid=4544

 

The Pastors Role is to point people to Christ!

John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:15-16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:1-5; 1 Pet. 5:1-2

Preach, teach, and point your flock to the LORD Jesus Christ and not to yourselves!

“You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in your pastor. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person, we would be on shifting sand.”  Francis A. Schaeffer

 We are not to point to trends or to ourselves, we are not to be sloppy in our studies or devotions, we are not to have dinner conversations in the pulpit, we are to preach!

Feed your sheep!  16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

Shepherd your sheep! 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28

Equip your people! 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Ephesians 4:11-12

Be right with God! 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:5-9

Have Character and Fruit of the Spirit! 3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Do your best due diligence! 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Be worthy! 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17

Teach true Truth! 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Preach and teach correctly! 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Point to Christ as LORD! 5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;… 1 Peter 5:1-2

Pastors, you must teach the Bible in full clarity with power, conviction and in the full true Truth. If not, then quit…and go sell insurance….run do not walk to the nearest exit, leave, vamoose, hit the road, and give your pulpit to someone, who knows the Word, loves the Lord and who will preach Truth, teach and disciple! Why? For the reason, you are not a ‘real’ pastor, in the biblical sense, who is called to equip, inspire and train; rather, you are just a noise of 1 Cor. 13:1….

How is your Churches Unity?

Do you have His Complete unit? See John chp 17!

Where Jesus’ prays for all Christians through all time, that we know Him and make Him known by spreading the Gospel! It is God’s role and work that are empowering and saving; we merely respond. Our faith is a response, not a work; we realize Christ because He is revealed to us. All the blessings and wonder that we have and can have are in Christ and He gives us the faith that we turn into more faith by our commitment and obedience (John 3:30; Rom. 6:12; Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 2:8-9; 5:15-17; Phil. 3:1-21; Col. 1: 3-6, 10-12, 15-29). 

So we can be set apart and holy for God’s work and purpose of conforming us to the image of the Son, and not to stray from Him. Jesus sets Himself apart to do God’s will and work.

For us, with the image of consecrating priests for God, it is the application of our redemption, of setting us apart from sin. This is the growth we have and do in Christ—in our trust and obedience that He provides. This is not saving action; it is a response action where we become more like Christ’s character. The work of the Spirit is to intercede in us; our response is our progressive growth and spiritual formation in Him. God can use anything to be sanctified, even places and things (Gen.2:3; Ex. 28: 38-41; Num. 18:9; Isa. 10:20-22; Joel 2:32; Amos 9:8-12; Luke 24:26; John 8:31-32; Rom.15:16; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:1-10; 5:26; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Thess.2:13; Phil.2:13, 3:10; Heb. 2:10-11; 9:12-13).  

God calls us as leaders of His Church to carry out His plans and accomplish His mission of reproducing communities of Christ-formed authentic disciples.  

We do this by equipping our people to know and teach Christ’s redemptive reign as missionaries sent by God, to be real and to visibly live and proclaim Christ’s Kingdom to the world. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world, because our unity has an evangelistic intention and example! Our infighting and often bitter divisions destroy churches and create an extremely bad witness. When we do not live as we should, our un-forgiveness becomes malice and actually grieves the Holy Spirit! We should be clear on this. A healthy Christian is one who puts aside the malicious traits of an evil, sinful nature, and embraces others in love. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of betrayal and hurt. The Christian is called to model kindness, love, empathy, and compassion; out of these, forgiveness will flow. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. An unforgiving attitude and its ugly rotten fruits will choke us off from His wonders (John 13:34-35; 15:13-17; Gal. 5:22; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16)!  

We are called as a church: “May be one.” Unity is a crucial attribute of the Godhood—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is our call as a Church to be unified by His indwelling and the fulfilling of His purpose. This means to be in unity with those outside of our culture and/or our socioeconomic, age, and ethnic standings as we are all one in Christ for mutual survival in an oppressive situation and cooperation for a successful church and the example and work of the Gospel (Psalm 78:3-7; Isa. 46:13; John 10:16; 11:52; 12:20-23; 14:23-24). 

When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, a radical change and new birth occur. We are no longer of the world; we belong to Christ. However, we will continue to live in the world until we are called home to eternity. So, in the meantime, we become the “salt and light,” the example of the Gospel while not being corrupted by the world’s ways. This also means we do not retreat into seclusion; rather, we engage our culture with the power of the Gospel, good character, and social action, and by being positive influencers (Matt. 5:13-16; 6:19-24; 32; 24:14; Luke 12:13-21; Rom. 12:1-3; 10:18; Col. 1:6; 23; 2:20-23; 1 John 2:15-19).