Looking ahead to the New Year, it is my heart’s desire that Hillsdale’s ministries will experience a renewed passion for serving the LORD; to that end, I have chosen four words I pray will define our ministry this New Year: “Revive…Renew…Reach…Restore”
“REVIVE”…that we would see the LORD stir a flame of spiritual revival in our church (Romans 12:1-2); “RENEW” a passion for holiness and sanctification (2 Corinthians 5:17); “REACH”…the unsaved by sharing the Gospel and showing them the love and compassion of Christ (John 4); and “RESTORE”…ministering the grace of Christ to others (Galatians 6:1).
New Sunday Morning Sermon Series
I am excited to begin a new sermon series this Sunday morning titled, “Compassion and Grace: A Study of the Gospel of John”. Rather than an exhaustive, verse-by-verse study of this great book, I will be highlighting our LORD’s contact and compassion for sinners in John’s Gospel in 2018.
My sermon title for this Sunday’s 10:30 AM service is, “Quenching A Spiritual Thirst”, based on Christ’s encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4). It is my prayer this new sermon series will stir within our church family a spirit of revival and a renewed compassion for lost sinners.
A reminder to those who faithfully support Hillsdale through tithes and offerings: This Sunday, December 31 is the last day you can give and be credited for charitable giving in 2017. You can also go to Hillsdale’s website, www.HillsdaleBaptist.org, and give online.
If you are thinking of giving a special year-end gift, allow me to suggest designating to the purchase of new office chairs for our Conference rooms or toward the purchase of vacuum cleaners for our school classrooms ($69\each).
Today’s devotional commentary focuses on one verse, Proverbs 29:3 and was first posted on this blog April 29, 2014.
As I was considering today’s devotional it occurred to me how little has changed in the world since Solomon’s writings nearly 3,000 years ago. We share the same concerns in our day as those addressed by Solomon in his. Granted, we are more sophisticated and enjoy the conveniences of modern technology; however, the problems of humanity are the same. Poverty, rebellion, wickedness, oppression, heartache, sorrows and immorality are ever-present. How can this be, you ask?
Times have changed, but the sinful nature of man is the same from generation to generation. All humanity shares the bloodline of Adam and bear his nature and the curse of sin (“For since by man came death…For as in Adam all die” – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
Today’s proverb is timeless, as is all wisdom.
Proverbs 29:3 –“Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendethhissubstance.”
Solomon returns to contrasting a wise son with a foolish son. Someone might mistake Solomon’s observation of a son who loves wisdom with the more recent phenomenon of what I will describe as “perpetual students”—young adults who make going to school and pursuing degrees a career rather than the means to a career. No, this son who is a delight to his father is more than a learner—he loves and adheres to godly wisdom and counsel. A wise son who “loveth wisdom” rejoices the heart of his father!
The contrast to a son who walks according to wisdom is the son who is a heartache to his father and walks an ungodly path where he wastes his inheritance [“his substance”] in the company of the immoral. I believe this son was a child of privilege and grew up in a home of affluence. Like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), he has no appetite for wisdom and, once free of his parent’s constraints, follows sinful pleasures until all is spent.
Sound familiar? I have observed this pattern far too often over the years. It has become commonplace for well-meaning parents longing for their child’s affections and desiring to keep peace in the family, to become enablers of an adult child’s waste and wantonness.
There may be parents and grandparents reading today’s proverb who feel as though you are looking at the reflection of your home and family in a mirror. I know the pain of disappointments hurt, but you must accept that no amount of “substance” will earn your rebellious son or daughter’s affection. At the same time, you must weigh your stewardship of the material possessions God has entrusted to you as a sacred trust.
Don’t enable your children’s sins! Love them, care for their basic needs, but don’t become an enabler of sin.
I challenge sons and daughters reading this devotional to love godly wisdom, obey your parents and heed godly counsel.
Ephesians 6:1-3– “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Today’s scripture reading, 2 Chronicles 11-15, is not only filled with colorful historical facts, but is also bursting with opportunities of taking and applying spiritual principles that are as applicable in our day as they were nearly 3,000 year ago.
The setting of our study follows the death of king Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:30-31) and the ascension of his son Rehoboam to the throne of Israel (2 Chronicles 10). Hearing Solomon was dead, Jeroboam, an old adversary of Solomon returned from exile in Egypt and led an uprising against young and inexperienced Rehoboam.
Rejecting the counsel of his father’s counselors, Rehoboam hearkened to the reckless counsel of his peers, provoking rebellion among the northern ten tribes who followed Jeroboam dividing the nation (2 Chronicles 10:8-19). The northern ten tribes became known as Israel and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin became one nation known as Judah. Rehoboam, son and successor of Solomon, thought to raise an army and seek the unification of Israel through war; however, the LORD sent a prophet named Shemaiah and deterred him from provoking war against his brethren (11:1-4).
2 Chronicles 11 illustrates how quickly a nation can depart from the LORD and turn to other gods. We read “the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him [Rehoboam] out of all their coasts… and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD” (11:13-14).
True to the character of a godless politician, Jeroboam consolidated the northern ten tribes not only politically, but spiritually, instituting a new religion worshipping calves, ordaining “priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made” (11:15).
For three years, Rehoboam exercised wisdom and discernment; however, it was his father’s proclivity to lust and immorality that proved to be his own destructive pattern of sin (11:7-23). Comfortable in his palace and enjoying the blessing of the LORD, Rehoboam “forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him” (12:1-2). Because Rehoboam turned his heart and the nation from the LORD, the LORD brought Shishak, king of Egypt against Judah to turn the heart of the king and nation back to Him (12:1-5).
The LORD sent Shemaiah, his prophet, to confront the king and leaders of Judah (12:5) who, hearing the warning of the LORD’s displeasure, humbled themselves before the LORD (12:5-8). In His mercy, the LORD spared Judah from destruction, however, He allowed Shishak to put Rehoboam and Judah under servitude. Adding to the nation’s humiliation, Shishak removed from the walls of Rehoboam’s palace “shields of gold which Solomon had made” (12:9). Rehoboam, rather than repent of his sins and turn back to the LORD, “made shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the king’s house” (12:10).
What a tragedy! Rather than humble himself and repent of his sinful ways, Rehoboam substituted a counterfeit, shields of brass, to adorn the walls of his palace. Where shields of gold once reflected God’s glory and blessings upon Israel, shields of brass, cheap imitations made of tin and copper, concealed the miserable state of the nation!
America, her leaders, her churches and Christians would be wise to take a lesson from 2 Chronicles 11-12. Emerging from the late 19th century, America was a rural, agricultural nation of family farms and Christian values; however, the industrial revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries transformed our nation into a power that was the envy of the world by the end of World War II.
Like Judah of old, our wealth and prosperity as a nation has deceived us and America has turned from the LORD. Our homes, churches and schools are no longer strongholds of moral virtue and, in the same way Rehoboam counterfeited the loss of “shields of gold” with brass shields, the leaders of our United States have enslaved our nation to a $20 trillion debt carried largely by enemies committed to our demise.
Our federal government can print dollar bills night and day and Americans can pursue possessions and sinful pleasures veiled in a mounting, crippling debt; however, in the words of the old evangelists… There is a pay day someday!
Like most of you, I have been watching the unfolding disaster in the Houston, Texas region and the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
As many of you know, Hillsdale is blessed to have people with construction skills and talents who often go to the mission field to work beside missionaries and their church members on construction projects. In the past, we have had teams go to help others in times of disasters. I would like to see Hillsdale send at least one construction team to Texas within the next two weeks and work side by side with a pastor and his church in the disaster area.
I believe we will need to raise at least $10,000-12,000.00 to send a team of 15 for a week, purchase construction materials, and pay expenses for housing, food supplies, water for the team and the communities in which our team will be going. What funds are not used by the Team will be donated to Operation Renewed Hope. Of course, your financial gifts are tax-deductible through the church.
If you are interested in helping financially, please go to Hillsdale’s website and look for the Donation button and beside “Other Designated Fund” type Hurricane Relief [https://www.hillsdalebaptist.org]…
If you are interested in participating on a Construction Team please email Pastor Justin Jarrett at firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is a letter I sent to our church leadership regarding an opportunity of teaming with Dr. Jan Milton of Operation Renewed Hope and sending construction teams to Texas to assist 5 churches, their members and their communities in this time of devastation.
I just got off the phone with Dr. Jan Milton of Operation Renewed Hope (ORH). So far there are 5 churches in the midst of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey that he has heard from and whose pastors need help for their church and homes of their church families. There is one church he has yet to hear from in the flood zone.
Dr. Milton told me the devastation is on a par with Hurricane Katrina. ORH will be working with pastors and their churches to minister to their communities. The timeline for sending teams is at least 2 weeks out (that would be the earliest given the standing water, electricity lines down, sewers flooded, etc.)—Because of the flood waters, the earliest date to send a team is probably the week of September 10, 2017.
The immediate need would be for teams that could haul all their own tools (battery operated would be especially needed). The team will need to prepare to:
1) Do demolition in the churches and homes…tearing down to the studs
2) Purchase Drywall locally (or on the way) and haul to Texas (he suggested 40 pieces)
3) Hang drywall
4) Inspect and Repair electrical damages
I believe we should plan on using Hillsdale’s newest Van which can carry 15 adults…and will need a trailer for luggage. We would also need someone with a pickup truck large enough to pull a large trailer filled with supplies, tools, etc.
The first teams will need to take cases of water for their own use. Housing in the area may be limited to sleeping in the church or in gyms (you will need to take cots or inflatable mattresses). If hotels are available in driving distance, we will look at funding that expense.
Until the churches are able to help with meals, the team will need to either drive out of the devastated areas to purchase meals or have food prep with them.
We will need to begin raising funds for supporting the team, paying for gas, food, hotel, truck or trailer rental expenses and purchasing construction materials. I am guessing $10,000-12,000…if there is a balance, leave the $$$ with the churches to minister to their neighbors.
Please make Pastor Justin Jarrett the key contact person:
Today’s scripture reading contains stories that have enriched the hearts, lives and imagination of children in Sunday School for centuries. The book of 2 Kings picks up where 1 Kings finished with no introduction. The old prophet Elijah is in the last days of his earthly ministry and his protégé Elisha is prepared to take up the “mantle” of Elijah, literally and figuratively (2 Kings 2:13).
Due to the length of today’s reading, I will content myself with a few highlights. Ahaziah, king of Israel, became deathly ill after falling through the lattice-work of his upper chamber. Wondering if he would recover from his fall, the wicked king sent servants to enquire of the pagan god Baalzebub (2 Kings 1:2). God, however, intervened and sent Elijah to send word to the king that his decision to enquire of Baalzebub would result in his death (1:3-4). The king’s messengers described Elijah as the bearer of the news concerning the king’s death (1:5-8).
Three occasions the king sent a captain and fifty soldiers demanding Elijah come to the king. The first two times the captain and the soldiers arrogantly demanded the prophet come to the king, and each time the captain and soldiers were slain (1:9-12). The third captain and his soldiers humbled themselves before God’s prophet and requested their lives be spared (1:13-14).
2 Kings 2 records the momentous occasion God sent a fiery chariot to take Elijah to heaven. Elijah promised Elisha he would receive a double portion of the old prophets spirit if he saw him taken up (2:9-11). A “double portion” was that amount of inheritance that would be allotted to a firstborn son. In that sense, it was Elisha’s longing that he would be the inheritor of Elijah’s ministry, and indeed he was!
God promotes the ministry of Elisha as God’s prophet before three kings in 2 Kings 3. The king of Israel, Judah, and Edom all learned God had a prophet in the land and that prophet was Elisha.
Elisha performed four miracles in 2 Kings 4. The first, multiplying a widow’s oil to pay her debts and save her sons from becoming bond slaves (4:1-7). The second miracle, blessing a childless, elderly woman and her husband with a son as a reward for serving as Elisha’s benefactors (4:8-17). The third miracle was raising that same elderly couples’ son from the dead (4:18-37). The fourth miracle was turning a poison pottage into one that nourished the “sons of the prophets” (4:38-44).
I close with Elisha directing the healing of a leper named “Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria” (2 Kings 5:1). The description of Naaman’s character aids us in understanding why his welfare was so important to his king. We read, he “was a great man [noble; but perhaps great is size as well] with his master, and honourable [exalted; respected]…a mighty [heroic; valiant; champion] man in valour [virtuous; strong], but he was a leper” (5:1).
Every man has his flaws and challenges; however, for Naaman his was an illness…leprosy. There was no cure for leprosy and a leper would eventually face exclusion from the living as the disease slowly took hold on the face, limbs and extremities of the body.
Providentially for Naaman, a slave girl from Israel waited upon his wife and shared with her there was a great prophet in Samaria who could heal her husband (5:2-3). When the king of Syria heard there was hope for Naaman’s healing in Israel, he sent a letter with Naaman and gifts requesting his captain would be healed of leprosy (5:4-6). Knowing the request was impossible for him to fulfill, the king of Israel “rent his clothes” fearing the king of Syria was provoking a conflict with Israel (5:7). At his request, the king sent Naaman to Elisha (5:8).
Naaman, feeling slighted by Elisha’s refusal to greet him and perhaps expecting some great, ceremonial act of healing, was instead directed by Elisha’s servant to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times (5:9-10). The thought of the great warrior of Syria humbling himself to wash in Israel’s small river infuriated Naaman who at first refused (5:11-12). Fortunately, his servants prevailed upon him and persuaded him to obey the prophet. When Naaman came forth from the Jordan “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (5:13-14).
Following his healing, Naaman offered to reward Elisha for his service; however, the prophet refused his gifts (5:15-16). Naaman responded to the prophet and his miraculous healing with a moving statement of his faith that his sacrifices would forever be only unto the LORD, Jehovah, the Self-existent, Eternal God of Israel (5:17-18).
Reminding us a spirit of covetous (Exodus 20:17) might take root in the hearts of those who serve the LORD, “Gehazi, the servant of Elisah” set his heart on a portion of the reward Naaman offered to Elisha (5:20-22).
With a greeting of shalom, “Is all well?” (5:21) and Gehazi responding with shalom, “All is well” (5:22), Gehazi lied suggesting Elisha had sent him for a portion of the reward. When Naaman granted his request, Gehazi hid the gifts (5:23-24) and took his place before Elisha (5:25).
When Elisha asked Gehazi where he had gone, he lied (5:25); whereupon, Elisha cursed his covetous heart and his unfaithful servant was smitten with the leprosy that had plagued Naaman (5:26-27). Leprosy marked the end of his ministry to Elisha and became Gehazi’s lifelong reminder God hates covetousness and lying lips.
God called Moses to go up to the Mount and gave him His Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, His governing Laws in Exodus 22:22-24:8 and His assurance He would be with His chosen people when they went up to the land He had promised them for an inheritance (Exodus 23:20-33). God also gave instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Ark and the altar for sacrifices (Exodus 25-27). God established the Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 28:6-30), consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests (Exodus 29:1-37; 30:22-33) and defined the robes and ornaments the priests were to wear.
While Moses was in the mount with the LORD and away from the tribes of Israel, the people rebelled, returning to the ways of Egypt, they demanded for Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship in Moses’ absence (Exodus 32). Angered by the sin of the people, God vowed to judge them in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-8), but Moses interceded for them (Exodus 32:9-14). There were consequences for the sin of the people and God did judge them; however, in answer to Moses’ prayer, the Lord did not destroy them altogether (Exodus 32:12-34:28).
With God’s judgment past, Moses directed the construction of the Tabernacle, the temporal dwelling that symbolized God’s presence in the midst of His people, according to all the plans God had given him (Exodus 35:4-36:38).
I close this brief devotional commentary with an observation concerning the manner of people enlisted to construct the Tabernacle, the Ark and its implements and the spirit with which the people gave and served.
The condition and attitude of the hearts of the people was important to the Lord. Those who gave of their possessions and those who labored in the construction of the Tabernacle were “wise hearted…stirred…willing…willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29).
Exodus 35:10 – 10 And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded;
Exodus 35:20-22 – 21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. 22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.
Exodus 35:25-26 – 25 And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. 26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.
Exodus 35:29 – 29 The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.
God called, inspired and employed the most skilled workers in Israel to build the place He would meet with His people (Exodus 35:30-36:2).
Exodus 35:30-35 – 30 And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; 32 And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 33 And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. 34 And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.
Exodus 36:1-2 – 1 Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded. 2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:
The offerings the people gave so exceeded the need that Moses “restrained” them from bringing any more (36:5-6). We read; the people gave “too much” (36:7).
Imagine being a part of a congregation where the hearts of the people is so stirred to give and serve the LORD that the pastor tells the people, “Please, stop giving! You have given too much already!” Such is the manner of a people when they are “wise hearted…stirred…willing…and willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29).
The city of Corinth was the most important city of ancient Greece. In the apostle Paul’s day it served as the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. Located on a major East to West trade route, Corinth was the 4th largest city of the Roman Empire. However, like most major cities, Corinth was known for its wealth and licentious lifestyle.
Paul established the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey and his first letter to the church was both pointed and direct. The apostle rebuked a whole litany of shameful sins present in the church: Immorality; Covetousness; Idolatry; Drunkenness; Slander (1 Corinthians 5); Christians suing Christians in secular courts (1 Corinthians 6); and the sacrilegious treatment of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11) were among the sins the church had tolerated in its midst. Paul concluded his first letter to the Corinthian believers, exhorting them to take up an offering to minister to the needs of the suffering saints in Judaea.
In contrast to his first letter, the Book of 2 Corinthians is a letter of affirmation and exhortation to Christians in Corinth. The Corinthian believers heeded Paul’s admonishment concerning sin in the church and dealt with sinners in the midst. In addition to his affirmation, Paul exhorted the believers in Corinth to fulfill their promise to send a sacrificial offering to the suffering saints in Judea.
Paul used the churches of Macedonia[Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea] as a model to motivate the Corinthians to fulfill their obligation to send a generous offering. Unlike the wealthier people of Corinth, the believers of Macedonia, had given out of their poverty (2 Cor. 8:2), giving generously beyond their ability (2 Cor. 8:3)
“Sparingly” and “bountifully” are two adverbs Paul used to define attitudes towards giving. Paul writes, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
A believer who gives “sparingly” is stingy, miserly and tight-fisted. Paul warns, sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly! Be a miser when you give, don’t be surprised you reap the same when you are in need. In contrast, give “bountifully” knowing generous givers are recipients of generous blessings!
The analogy Paul draws in 2 Corinthians 9:6 is from Solomon’s pictures of two farmers, one who scatters seed and another who hoards seed (Proverbs 11:24-26).
Proverbs 11:24-26 – “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth [God rewards generosity]; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty [covetousnessness leads to poverty]. 25 The liberal soul [gives, bestows blessings] shall be made fat [satisfied]: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself [Gal. 6:7 – You reap what you sow].26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”
I close with three spiritual truths on giving:
1) God rewards generosity (Proverbs 11:24).
2) Covetousness leads to poverty (Proverbs 11:24).
3) A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7; Prov. 11:25-26): A generous soul will be content (Proverbs 11:25), but a hoarder is despised (Proverbs 11:26.
I do not know about you, but sign me up for giving and its promised rewards!
After nearly 40 years in ministry, I have yet to see a U-Haul truck or trailer trailing a hearse to a cemetery (I have heard of a U-Haul truck employed to transport the deceased to a mortuary). The psalmist states the same sentiment when he wrote of a rich dead man, “For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him” (Psalm 49:17).
I once read a story of a conversation between two men following the death of John D. Rockefeller, perhaps the wealthiest man of his time. One man asked of Rockefeller, “How much did he leave behind?” The other man answered, “Everything; he left everything!”
The same is true of you, dear friend. Rich or poor, famous or infamous, popular or hated…You own nothing that you will take with you! When you die you will be no richer than you were the day you were born…you came forth from your mother’s womb naked (Ecclesiastes 5:15) and you will go to your grave with nothing more than the clothes on your back! Uncle Sam will pilfer all you have amassed with “death taxes” and the rest will be distributed as you directed; however, for you there will be nothing.
Psalm 49 reflects the pondering of a man who faced the reality many of us put off…his own mortality. Regardless of what you have amassed or how rich or poor you are, every man and woman will “leave their wealth to others” (49:10). Some, by acts of charity, and others by calling “their lands after their own names” (49:11), go to their graves hoping their legacy will live after they are gone; however, no man or woman can escape death (49:12, 14).
The apostle Paul reminded Timothy of these same truths when he wrote:
1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
I close with Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: In light of the temporal nature of riches and the passing fancy of fame,“flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness”(1 Timothy 6:11).
I have studied and taught 1 Corinthians 10 and the subject of Christian Liberty in sermons and devotional posts; however, I confess the subject addressed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 is one I have neglected. Knowing this devotional commentary will be read Sunday, March 26, 2017, I cannot think of a better time to remind the church you have an obligation to the men who will minister before you this day of worship.
Paul had fallen victim to critics who not only questioned his credentials as an apostle, but also his authority over the church (1 Corinthians 9:1-2). In answering his critics, Paul goes a step further and addressed not only his apostleship, but also the material obligations of churches to to their pastors (9:3-14). Paul reasoned that God’s servants have the “power” (lit. the right and authority) of all who labor… “to eat and to drink” (9:4) and to support their families (“to lead about a sister, a wife”; meaning a companion – 9:5).
Continuing his argument on behalf of God’s servants receiving compensation for their labor, Paul reasoned we compensate soldiers when they go to war, farmers eat the fruit of their labor, and shepherds profit from shepherding (9:7). Surely the pastor is worthy of the same!
Moving beyond human portraits of workers receiving just compensation for their labor, Paul challenged believers that the Law demands that servants of God receive a fair compensation for their labor (9:8-9; Deuteronomy 25:4).
1 Corinthians 9:9 – “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?”
What is the application of 1 Corinthians 9:9? Because God is concerned with the fair treatment of oxen, there is no doubt He is particularly concerned about the welfare of His servants (9:10). Taking that truth to its conclusion, Paul admonished believers they are debtors to those who minister to them spiritually and under material obligation to minister to their physical needs (9:11). 1 Corinthians 9:12 indicate the believers in Corinth had given to meet the needs of others who ministered in the church; although Paul had not asked the same of the church. In case the Corinthian church were tempted to practice the same lack of support toward other ministers, Paul reminded them how priests who ministered in the Temple received a portion of the sacrifices as compensation for their families (9:13; Leviticus 6:14-7:36; 27:6-33).
Principle – God has ordained in both the Old Testament and New Testament that His servants should be supported and fairly compensated for their labor (9:14).
Sadly, many church members give little thought to the personal sacrifices and needs of their ministers. If you believe “the labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7), you should see to it that your pastor(s) is fairly compensated and financially secure.
Paul takes that principle a step further when he writes, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17).
How about it, does your pastor deserve a raise?
* Note from the author of “Heart of A Shepherd” – Please accept my apology for my devotional commentary posts being somewhat erratic this past week. I am back home and looking forward to being back in my daily routine.
“Buyer Beware!” is a lesson we have all had to learn, many of us having learned it the hard way! False and misleading advertisements in television, radio, magazines and sales flyers have made people and corporations rich; however, their victims are often the ones who can least afford the hook and line in deceptive advertisements!
Proverbs 20:10 pictures a business transaction from a bygone era when dry goods, meats, and precious metals were traded using certified weights and scales.
Proverbs 20:10 – “Divers weights [stones; weights used for measurements], and divers measures [measurement for grains], both of them are alike abomination [disgusting; abhorrence; loathsome]to the LORD.”
Nearly every aspect of business transactions in our day is electronic; however, not too long ago a butcher or a feed store transacted business by mechanical scales much as they did in Solomon’s day. The opportunity of cheating unsuspecting customers was present and many men exploited the naïve with false weights and deceptive practices.
Regardless of the excuse “everybody does it”, God demands that His people be honest. Allow me to cite several verses that emphasize the same principle.
Deuteronomy 25:13 – “Thou shalt not have in thy bag [money bag; purse] divers weights, a great [greater than its marked value] and a small [less than its marked value].”
Proverbs 11:1, 3 – “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. 3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”
God hates dishonesty and demands that His people are upright in business.
Psalm 25:21 – “Let integrity [innocence; complete; perfect] and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.”
A second proverb states the actions of a child are a reflection of his character.
Proverbs 20:11 – “Even a child [youth; young servant]is known [acknowledged; revered; regarded]by his doings [works; actions; deeds], whether his work [acts; deeds] be pure[clean], and whether it be right [straight; just].”
It amazes me to hear parents insist their child could do no wrong. Far too many parents are either blind or unwilling to acknowledge the fallen, sinful nature of their children as evidenced in their sinful actions. You need only observe your child’s attitudes and actions to discern their spiritual bent.
A spiritually minded child will do right. They will obey and honor their parents and other authority figures in their life. However, a child who is disrespectful, habitually lies and deceives should be recognized for who he is—a young fool who desperately needs parents who will discipline and direct him on a path that is righteous and God-fearing (Proverbs 13:24; 29:15, 17).
Our third proverb is an acknowledgement of God our Creator.
Proverbs 20:12 – “The hearing [obedient; hearken; attentive; understanding]ear, and the seeing eye[discerning; perceptive; beholding], the LORD hath made [fashion; create; construct]even both of them.”
I have heard it said, “God has given us two ears to hear, two eyes to see and only one mouth to speak! We should do less talking and twice as much listening and seeing!”
There is a lot of truth in that simple adage. Sight and hearing are wonderful gifts God has bestowed to man. I recently saw a video where a toddler had been given a hearing device and the smile that came across his face when he first heard his mother’s voice was priceless!
The psalmist challenged man to look at the heavens and see God’s glory displayed in His handiwork (Psalm 19:1).
Our ears give us the privilege to hear the Gospel declared and the saints of God lifting their voices in song and praise to our Savior and God. They enable us to hear the first cry of an infant and the words “I love you” from those we love.
We are in God’s debt for the wonderful gifts of sight and hearing.
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