Young man, Looking for Adventure?
I have recently completed fifty-five years of active duty standing, as it were, at the edge of the cliff of the Grand Canyon of life, warning lost souls of plunging over the edge to their eternal destruction in Hell and teaching God’s people the Word of God. It has been one adventure after another. There is nothing boring about serving God. As God gives me strength in my old age, I will continue to do whatever I can to continue this life-long endeavor.
Young man, if you are saved and serious about being used of God, perhaps as a pastor, I challenge you to take some time to read through the over 600 Bible studies on this HIDDEN TREASURES web site. Read with an open Bible, checking the references to guard yourself from being led astray. I recommend you start with the SALVATION category and then read through the series on SERVICE and on SEPARATION.
By the time you finish this assignment, you will have a much clearer understanding of the basic truths of Scripture and the issues you will face in this present evil world. It will also give you a head-start on the truths you are going to learn in college and/or seminary. God will protect you from going down some dead-end road attending some so-called ChristianSchool which has compromised Biblical principles to appear more academic. Such a school has led many would-be Christian workers astray and could lead you astray. By reading through Hidden Treasures, you will have a better idea of the further education you will need and you will be more aware of the dangerous so-called Christian schools which could ship-wreck your faith. Four to seven years from now you could be ready for your first pastorate, perhaps as an Associate pastor. Some of you may be called to a foreign country as a missionary. You can discover more about this by reaching out in friendship and with the Gospel to foreigners living in your city or community.
Don’t think that pastoring a church is going to offer you a chance to be a big shot and run things your way. Every church has their leaders. You may or may not be a leader. I’m not and never was. I do not have the gift of administration. If God calls you to be a pastor it is a calling to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. That is the highest privilege I can imagine. Listen to what Paul said about it in Ephesians 3:8-21
Enter the open doors of opportunity God gives you now, whether sharing your testimony or preaching in jail, or in a rescue mission or filling in wherever God opens a door for you to teach or preach. Pray earnestly for God’s direction and His provision in your life. If you are seeking God’s will concerning marriage, He will lead you to the one who is best fitted to join you in this adventure.
Ask God to break you and teach you humility. C.S. Lewis write, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
I think of a deacon, Al, in the Baptist Church where Pat and I were married in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. He was a mechanic who worked on my car. He had the nerve to tell me, a young preacher who was going to set the world on fire, that I was like a young colt that needed to be broken. He told me that when I was broken God would use me. I thank God for using Al for telling me what I needed to hear and I thank God for the many crushing experiences that God has enabled me to bear through the years. Though I’ve never pastored a church of much over 150 members, I’m thankful for the many lives God has allowed me to touch and shape for Him over the years. Only in Heaven will my wife and I know the full extent of our ministry.
Young lady, follow the same instructions and watch God direct in your life. Young pastors and missionaries are looking for a wife. Christian schools are seeking godly, well trained teachers or God may lead you to reflect Christ in a public school without ever teaching them the Bible, which would be prohibited.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, used to say to us in chapel sixty years ago “God has a prepared place for a prepared person.”
What is the purpose of being a Christian? Is it just to have my free ticket to Heaven, ignore others and live a self-centered life? Not at all! In I Corinthians 12 we learn that every Christian is gifted by the Holy Spirit and called to serve God by serving others.
Why should we serve?
In Romans 12:1-13 we learn how the Church, the Body of Christ on earth, is to function. The chapter begins by reminding each of us who have received the gift of salvation, of our obligation to God to present our lives to Him as a living sacrifice. Then with the gifts He has given to us, we are to serve God by serving others. No Christian is exempted.
How we are to serve?
We who claim to follow Christ as Christians have the responsibility to serve, even as our Master served when He walked this earth. Matthew 10:24-25 Jesus contrasts those of us who are in leadership positions in the church with those who lead in the world. He teaches that we can best exercise leadership by serving others and not by lording over others. Matthew 20:25-28
Read the following articles with your Bible for further Biblical teaching on serving the Lord.
Jesus is Lord, whether we bow to His Lordship or not. Read what the Apostle Peter said about the lordship of Jesus Christ in Acts 2:36 when he preached in Jerusalem his famous sermon at Pentecost. He announced “Therefore, let all the House of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ.” So Jesus is Lord whether we recognize and bow before Him or not.
Must one make Jesus Lord of his life to be saved? NO!
It is clear throughout the New Testament that we are saved simply by understanding we are sinners, under the wrath of God and helpless to save ourselves and by receiving by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour from sin. PERIOD! Acts 16:31 John 1:12 John 3:16-18 John 5:24 Ephesians 2:4-9 Titus 3:4-6 I John 4:14
When I was nine years old there came a time when I heard the Gospel in a children’s meeting and realized I was a sinner, lost and headed for Hell. That night, as I knelt with a lady, she helped me to understand that Jesus had died for my sins and that if I would trust Him, I would be saved. I gladly received Him as my Saviour. At that time I knew nothing of His Lordship. I knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. All I knew was that I was a sinner; that Jesus had died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins; and that if I would trust Him, He would save me. I went home that night with a song in my heart. A heavy burden of guilt and fear had been lifted from my heart and I had peace with God. I knew for certain that if I died, I would be with Jesus in Heaven. That event was years ago and to this day I have continued to rejoice in the blessed assurance of salvation in Jesus.
Can one live the Christian life without making Jesus Lord? NO!
You may be a Christian, but if you have not bowed to the Lordship of Christ, you are not living the Christian life. That is a shame and an awful contradiction. When I came to an understanding, perhaps several months after my conversion, that Jesus is Lord and that He has a right to be Lord of my life, I gladly surrender my life to Him.
Listen as the Apostle Paul reasons with you in II Corinthians 5:14-15 “For the love of Christ constrains us because we thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead. And He died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.” How can one who has received the gift of salvation, go on living for Himself, as though Christ’s sacrifice meant nothing to him?
If you’ve never taken that step I encourage you to read Romans 12:1-2 and bow to His Lordship. “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world (world-system): but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what it that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
It is the only reasonable thing to do.
It is the least we can do in gratitude for what Jesus did for us.
It is the best gift we can give Him.
When I surrendered to His Lordship, this is what happened. I didn’t understand the theology of it then, but I enjoyed the reality of it.
The Holy Spirit had entered my life the moment I put my trust in Christ. He had convicted and regenerated me. Now He indwelt me. Romans. 8:9
When I surrendered to Jesus as my Lord, His Spirit filled and controlled me giving me His supernatural power to live the Christian life. Ephesians 5:18-21
What are the consequences of rejecting the Lordship of Christ?
When one rejects the Lordship of Christ, he has no other choice but to try to run his own life and suffer the consequences. That’s as unwise as trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean by yourself in a little swimming pool rubber boat without a paddle or navigation instruments. You are at the mercy of storms and sharks without a chance of success.
Furthermore it is ungrateful, to say the least; to receive Christ’s gift of salvation and thumb your nose at Christ and totally ignore His plan for your life. Who loves you more than the God who made you? Why would you even consider continuing the journey of life without Your Saviour and best Friend.
I encourage you to read and ponder Proverbs chapter 1 and then decide whether you will surrender to Christ or ignore Him and go your own way. If you decide to go your own way, don’t expect Jesus to be at your beck and call when tragedy strikes!
One day Jesus will return to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords. Regardless of whether you surrender to Christ or go your own way, understand this. Jesus is returning to this earth to exterminate His enemies and set up His Kingdom. If you are a Christian, you will meet Him at the Bema Judgement Seat to give an account of how you lived you life. I encourage you to go to the PROPHECY link and read about the BEMA JUDGMENT. I challenge you to do the right thing. Receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour and surrender to Him now as your Lord.
Salvation is a totally free gift of God to sinners who come to the end of themselves, casting themselves on the mercy of God and trusting Jesus as their sin-bearer. Though one can get to Heaven without ever lifting a hand to serve the Lord, it’s unthinkable that a genuine Christian would ever live such a selfish life that he would have no time for God. There is no question that when that one met Jesus in Heaven, it would be with shame and sorrow for having lived a life that ignored the will of God. For more on this go to the PROPHECY link and scroll to BEMA JUDGMENT
It’s Normal to grow.
It is as normal for a Christian to want to serve the Lord as it is for a husband and wife to want to please and care for each other.. It is abnormal and selfish for a Christian to live only for his own satisfaction and pleasure and ignore God’s will for His life.
As a baby must grow and develop before he or she is capable of helping the family with household chores, so a new born Christian must hunger after and feed on God’s Word to grow and develop into a normal, healthy Christian, capable of serving the Lord.
Don’t be in a hurry to lead! It is unwise to put a new believer into a leadership position in the church, until he has had some time to grow and develop and evidence some spiritual maturity. See I Timothy 3:6. Of course, the newest of Christians is capable of introducing others to Christ. The Samaritan woman from theVillage of Sychar, whose story is found in John 4, knew very little about Jesus; but she knew enough in the first hours of her relationship with Jesus to return to her village and invite others to come and meet Him.
As I said earlier, before a Christian can be given responsibility in a church, there must be spiritual growth and that maturity is evidenced by three things: a love for Jesus and His Word, faithfulness, and purity.
Do you love Jesus?
It is unthinkable that one who shows no love for Christ nor for His Word, nor for others is prepared to serve the Lord. After Jesus rose from the dead, He confronted Peter about serving Him. Read the touching story in John 21. As Peter had earlier denied Jesus three times, so now Jesus called on Peter three time to reaffirm his love for Him. Only when Peter loved Jesus with all his heart could Jesus use him in His service.
Are you faithful in small responsibilities?
A second evidence of a growing spiritual maturity is faithfulness even in the smallest of responsibilities. In fact I Corinthians 4:2 makes faithfulness a requirement for anyone before he is fit to handle any responsibility. Would you want your children crossing a busy intersection if the school crossing guard sat by the side of the road, distracted in conversation with a friend while the children tried to cross on their own? . A Christian who cannot be counted on to fulfill a minor task, I Corinthians 4:2 tells us, is not ready yet for responsibility in the church.
Are you pure in heart?
Purity is another requirement for one who is serving the Lord. As cleanliness is the most important factor when choosing a cup to drink from, so purity is the most important quality God looks for in those vessels that He chooses to use for His service. II Timothy 2:20-22.
Pastors, elders and deacons, as well as older men and women, are to set a high standards of purity in their churches as taught in I Timothy 3 and Titus 2.1-5
Have you met God’s prerequisites for His service?
Our greatest assets as Christians are our weaknesses and the attacks that come on us from Satan. Our greatest liabilities are what we perceive to be our strengths and abilities. Before you write me off as a lunatic, please read on and let me prove to you these seemingly outrageous contradictions from Scripture.
The Church in Corinth was one of the many churches the Apostle Paul founded. Shortly after he left them, they were infected by false teachers claiming to be Apostles of Christ. The false Apostles attempted to undermine Paul’s authority and message. In order to counteract division and confusion Paul wrote I Corinthians. Later he wrote II Corinthians to expose the false Apostles who were trying to take over the church.
This was a difficult situation for Paul and he needed to deal with it wisely. He could have attempted to out-boast them as far as credentials and accomplishments were concerned. He could have boasted about his vision of Heaven which he mentions in chapter 12. Instead Paul turned to three assets that gave him the edge over the false teachers.
II Corinthians 11:13-20 describes how these false teachers, servants of Satan, were coming as messengers of light and deceiving the people. They were also abusing the Christians and living as fat-cats off the offerings of the people.
On the other hand, Paul was living sacrificially and suffering shame and persecution for Christ. Jesus had warned His Apostles of the persecution that would follow them. Matthew 10:16-39 John 16:18-21. Paul writes in II Corinthians of the persecution he endured for Christ. Read of it in II Corinthians. 1:3-10, 4:8-12, 6:3-10, 11:22-28. He faced suffering and death daily. The point is that persecution for Christ proved Paul was a genuine Apostle. Persecution was an asset for him in his defense of his Apostleship.
In II Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul speaks about the thorn. This thorn was like a stake driven right into his flesh.. If it had not been for the thorn, no doubt Paul would have been a very proud man. After all, God had saved him in a very unusual way. He taught him first hand in the
Arabian desert. God had used him to found many churches. He wrote thirteen inspired epistles of the New Testament. To top it all off, he had been to Heaven and back. In verse 7 he makes it clear that the thorn in his flesh was given to humble him. Whatever that thorn was, we know it was a messenger of Satan to buffet his flesh.
There are those misguided Christians who use the phrase in Isaiah 53:5-6 “By His stripes we are healed” to try to prove that Christian have no business ever being sick. That Isaiah passage is speaking of how we are saved from our sins. It has nothing to do with our physical health. In fact, Romans 8:22-23 makes it clear that we Christians still have unredeemed bodies. Though our souls are saved, our bodies experience pain and suffering just like the unsaved. I John 3:2 speaks of the redemption of our bodies which is still in the future.
We are invited to pray for healing for ourselves and for others. But we are to pray asking for God’s will. If God sees fit to allow us to continue to suffer, we are to accept it submissively and joyfully.
In this life, God still allows Satan access to our bodies, as He allowed Satan access to Job’s body. But never forget that this access is measured out by God and. God never allows Satan to go beyond His permission. Read about this in Job 1.
Since this is true, we must learn to understand that all attacks of Satan are by permission of God and only for our good. Romans 8:28 teaches that everything that touches our lives comes by permission of God and it is all working together for good. If that is so, and it is, then why do we get upset and depressed by Satan’s attacks. Why do some Christians try to command Satan to leave them. We have no business commanding Satan and telling him where to go. Learn from Job. Though Job spoke often with God, he never once spoke to the devil. It is silly of us to try to get rid of Satan. Folks, Satan is an asset to us. Psalm 76:10 tells us that the wrath of men, including Satan-inspired men works for our good and for the glory of God. Anything beyond that, God does not allow. He restrains it. If this is so, and it is; then Satan himself is an asset to us as God uses him to draw us to Himself and make us more like Jesus.
A third asset for Paul was his human weaknesses. II Cor. 12:9-10 After praying three times about a weakness, Paul quit praying about it and began thanking God for it. Listen to this wonderful truth Paul learned from his weaknesses. “And God said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Please, note that God did not answer Paul’s prayer by healing him of his weakness. Rather He answered his prayer by giving Him His grace for the weakness. Paul had learned that his weaknesses were assets.
Our greatest assets to serving God include our persecutions and sufferings for Christ, Satanic attacks on our lives, and our physical and emotional weaknesses. Our greatest liabilities to serving God are our perceived strengths.
I’m not discounting our strength and abilities. Thank God for them; but be more thankful for your weaknesses. God is going to use you if you are aware of your weaknesses and lean on God for His strength. Rejoice in your weaknesses and use humbly your strengths. If you fail to learn this lesson, God may allow Satan to run a thorn or two through your flesh to humble you and make you useful for His glory.
Jesus taught an important attitude about our service for Him in Luke 17:7-10. In this passage He likens it to a typical slave/master relationship in Bible times. Today we could apply it to the employer/employee relationship. Ultimately, these truths apply to our relationship with Christ as His bondservants.
PLEASE HIS MASTER
Is a slave to care for his own needs first, or is his responsibility to care for his master’s needs first? Obviously the correct answer is that the slave is to primarily fulfill his responsibilities to his master.
When he fulfills those responsibilities, does the master thank him each time? Probably not. His loyalty and effort are expected of him as a slave.
Then in verse 10 Jesus makes an important observation for all of us who have surrendered to our Master, Jesus. “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded; you, say, (think and take this attitude) We are unprofitable servants. We have done that which was our duty to do.”
SLAVERY THROUGHOUT HUMAN HISTORY
Because we abhor the evils of slavery today, we have trouble with passages like this. The Greek word doulos used here is the word for slave, but translations have translated it servant to be less offensive; but the word is slave.
Slavery has been a fact of life throughout human history. It was a fact in Old Testament times. God’s Word gave Israel laws concerning the care and well being of slaves. Slavery was also in vogue in the time of the Roman Empire when the New Testament was written.
The Apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to Philemon, a Christian slave owner, concerning his run away slave, Onesimus. Paul had found Onesimus and led him to the Lord and instructed him to return to his master. The letter to Philemon was Paul’s plea to this Christian slave master to accept Onesimus, not just as a slave, but as a beloved brother in Christ.
Paul also wrote in I Corinthians 12:13 of the oneness of all Christians in the Body of Christ, whether we be Jews or Gentiles and whether we be bond or free.
We’re all familiar with slavery in America from Colonial days until the end of the Civil War, just one hundred and fifty years ago and most of us are aware of the fact that slavery continues in parts of the world, even today.
In Bible times people became slaves by being born to slaves, by being purchased on the auction block, by failure to pay a debt, and as prisoners of war. In Colonial days, one who had no money to come to America could come as an “indentured servant”. That is, a wealthy man would pay for his passage to America and hire him as his slave or servant until he worked off his debt.
Though slaves through history have been treated with cruelty as sub-human, the Bible teaches that they are to be treated with kindness and respect. In America many slaves were mistreated as animals or worse. At the same time, many slaves in Christian families were treated lovingly and kindly and were considered as part of the family, as grandparents or uncles and aunts.
When the Civil War was over and the slaves were set free, some slaves were so happy and satisfied in their relationship with their masters, that they continued to work for them the rest of their lives.
In Exodus 21, we learn of slaves who had served their time and were free to leave their masters, but chose to remain with them. In that chapter we have a description of a ceremony whereby a slave could remain with his master for life. It involved going to a door post and having an awl driven through his ear lobe and, no doubt, a ring placed in the ear as a sign of his desire to be faithful to his master for the rest of his life. In the ceremony he would declare “I love my Master. I Will not go out free.” Thus he would become his master’s slave for the rest of his life.
THE SLAVE IN THE LUKE 17 STORY
The slave in this story Jesus told was probably his master’s only slave and so took care of all his master’s needs in the field as well as in the home. He, no doubt, worked all day in the fields until he was weary. When he came home in the late afternoon, he did not take care of his own needs first, but prepared supper for his master. Afterwards he prepared his own supper. The question this story brings to our attention is whether we as Christ’s servants are in this world to be served or to be of service to others.
Most people, including most Christians, have a problem with humble servanthood. When we are asked by others to perform a task, we fire back angrily, “I’m not your slave!!!”
We, who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, have the responsibility and high honor of presenting our bodies as Christ’s bond-servants, to serve Christ by serving others for the rest of our lives. I challenge you to read Romans 12:1-3 and II Corinthians 5:14-21 and then make that commitment as Christ’s servant for the rest of your life. No matter what you do with your life, that surrender to Christ must be foundational. Whatever you do with your life must be related to Christ’s Great Commission to all Christians to preach the Gospel to the world and make disciples for Christ.
EVERY CHRISTIAN IS GIFTED FOR THE TASK
We have the responsibility of discovering our gifts, as they are listed in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4:7-16. Remember, these gifts are not given to make us feel important, proud and pious. They are given to help us fulfill the task of leading people to Christ , edifying Christians and bringing Christ’s Church to maturity. If you as a Christian are not involved, you are AWOL.
EVERY CHRISTIAN IN THE BODY OF CHRIST IS NECESSARY
By the grace of God, every member of the church is gifted by the Holy Spirit and we are all necessary to the furtherance of the work, just as every member of our body is necessary. You need your big toe. You need an ear. Better yet, you need both ears. You need your eyes, even your eye lashes. You need your internal organs, such as your spleen or your thyroid gland. But the point Jesus is making, is that even though we are each necessary to accomplish the work of the Body of Christ, we must not think too highly of ourselves.
ARE WE PROFITABLE SERVANTS?
Eliphaz, a friend of Job’s in Job 22:2 asked that question. “Can a man be profitable unto God? Jesus answers that question here in Luke 17:10 We are all to recognize ourselves as unprofitable to God.
That’s difficult for some of us preachers, especially. We get to thinking too highly of ourselves, of our accomplishments, our scholarship and our people skills; as we listen to the praise and compliments of others.
We are often like the little three year old girl who asked her Mommy if she could help her wash and dry the dishes. Her mother wisely gave her permission to help. In the process of drying them she dropped and broke a cup. Though unprofitable to her Mother, her Mother appreciated her daughter’s love and desire to be a help and do her best. That’s how God see us. Yes, we are unprofitable to Him. The angels could probably do the work more skillfully. But God, in His love, chooses to allow us to work in partnership with Him. What love!
Let us continue to offer Him our best, but at the same time, let us keep a humble attitude. Let us never lose sight of the fact that even at our best, we are still unprofitable servants to God.
CHRIST’S SEEKS LABORERS FOR THE HARVEST FIELDS
In John 4:34-38 Jesus reminds us that over-ripe fields are already to harvest. He is searching for laborers from each new generation to continue the works of former generations. Listen to His Word.
II Chronicles 16:9 “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.”
In Ezekiel’s day God told Ezekiel to say the words recorded in Ezekiel 22:23-31. Listen to what God said in that day.
Ezekiel 22:30 “I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, BUT I FOUND NONE.” As millions around us move steadily towards the cliff of death and eternal destruction, are you willing to be one of the few who will stand in the gap for God to warn people of the destruction ahead and give them the Gospel of salvation from the coming judgment?
I am reminded of my high school days in Los Angeles back in the early ’50’s. One day I visited The Church of the Open Door in that city. Dr. Vernon McGee was the pastor then. I attended a great missions conference. I don’t remember who spoke. I don’t remember any of the music. All I remember was a constantly moving scene on the platform of masses of people from both sides of the platform dropping into the pit of hell in the center of the platform. This moving scene continued throughout the entire service and left a lasting impact on my heart.
It strengthened my resolve to be one of those men who would stand in the gap for Christ and warn the lost to flee to Christ from the coming judgment on this world.
Thank God, that in every age, He finds faithful men to speak for Him and do His will.
When Isaiah got a vision of God and His holiness and of his own sinfulness and the sinfulness of those around Him, He cried to God for salvation and cleansing and God cleansed Him. Then He heard the voice of God calling for faithful men to serve Him and He gladly responded, “Here am I, send me!” Isaiah 6:1-8.
Note, that God did not hand pick Isaiah and call Him to serve Him. If you’re waiting for God to call you, you will probably never serve Him. What Isaiah heard was a general call for someone to serve Him. Isaiah simply volunteered to serve and God directed him and used him.
The same was true of Saul of Tarsus. Saul, a Pharisee and the chief persecutor of Christians, was traveling towards Damascus to find and arrest more Christians. As he traveled, he was confronted and struck down and physically blinded by the glorified Christ. Immediately he recognized Christ as His Saviour and rightful Lord and cried out, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” Acts 9:3-6
In Acts 9:1-22 we have recorded how God found Ananias, a Christian in Damascus who knew Saul, the persecutor of Christians. God used this courageous man, Ananias, to introduce this new convert to the Church he had been persecuting.
Ananias could say, “Behold, I am here, Lord (ready for further instructions) In Acts 22:10-16 Paul refers to Ananias in his testimony What amazing spiritual insight this unknown man was given as he testified of how God was going to change and use Saul the persecutor of Christians to Paul, the blesser of Christians through the inspired Epistles he would write.
It just goes to show how God uses famous men such as Paul and little known men, such as Ananias. Who would know anything of Paul if it hadn’t been for courageous Ananias who introduced him to the Church?
I’m not ruling out God’s sovereignty in calling and using Isaiah and Paul and His servants today. Certainly, God in His sovereignty choose men and women to serve Him. But what I am saying is that we should not sit idle all our lives waiting for a voice from Heaven to give us a supernatural call.
Today, as in Bible times, God calls all of us who are Christians to be His ambassadors to this sinful world in which we live. Read the challenges to every Christian found in II Corinthians 5:19-21 Christian friend, you are an Ambassador of Christ. Are you faithful to this calling or are you sneaking through life, trying to be as inconspicuous as you can, withholding the Gospel from the lost around you who are headed for eternity in Hell?
Jesus urges us to pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest fields. Luke 10:2
QUALITIES AND ATTITUDES OF HIS SERVANTS
Consider the attitudes and responsibilities of Christ’s servants. We live in a culture where some work two jobs and long hours to meet needs. Our boss often expects long hours of overtime to meet goals and needs. Though he pays us our overtime wages, he does not always thank us or show his appreciation. We expect gratitude, but do not always get it. That’s tough, but that’s life. Quit whining how overworked you are. I’m speaking primarily to those of us in full time Christian ministry.
Too many of us have been pampered and grown soft and lazy, excusing ourselves from hard labor and long hours serving the Lord. Let us not presume upon God, expecting to be thanked and rewarded in this life. Continue to give Him your best and leave the full reward to the day when we stand before God and give an account of our lives and our ministries. Remember, if you are not thanked and rewarded in this life, it doesn’t matter.
Faithfulness is essential. I Corinthians 4:2 says “It is required, it is essential that a steward be faithful.” If we can’t be faithful in little things, we will not be trusted for the big responsibilities.
Loyalty to Christ and to His cause is essential. Demas, a companion of Paul, turned out to be one of those disloyal friends. He was pulled away from the ministry by the tug of the world system.
We must keep a good attitude. We are not to be gripers and complainers. Instead we should be willing to offer constructive suggestions and if we are leaders, we should be willing to receive and consider constructive suggestions with openness and humility.
As the slave in Luke 17, we should be willing to go the second mile. After working all day in the field and being bone tired, when he got home that evening, he was willing to prepare a meal for his master before he prepared his own meal. It was required of him and so he did it without complaint.
He was humble and teachable; not a know-it-all.
In our youth we must take the time and effort to prepare ourselves. Proverbs 18:16 reminds us that “A man’s gifts make room for him and brings him before great men.” The more prepared and surrendered the Christian is, the greater doors of opportunity will be open to him.
TIME FOR SELF-EVALUATION
In this story in Luke 17:7-10 Jesus is teaching us what our attitude should be as His servant. It is false humility that says, “I am nothing and can do nothing” when we know we are gifted in certain areas and are good at what we do. But at the same time, we are to avoid excessive pride in our abilities and think that we are indispensible. Proverbs 25:14 warns us that those who boast of false gifts, that is, those who boast of gifts that they really don’t have, are like the dark clouds and wind that appear to be bringing rain, but never does.
Take an honest, sober evaluation of your gifts and abilities; but at the same time guard against pride and self-importance. Understand that you will not always be thanked and appreciated for speaking the truth, even when it is spoken in love. So don’t expect it and don’t be discouraged when you do not receive it. Remember, you and I are to recognize that even though we give our best, we are still to understand that in many ways we are unprofitable.
Paul warns us in Romans 12:3 “not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
I Corinthians 4:2 warns us that if we can’t be trusted in the little things, He is not going to entrust us with greater responsibilities. Proverbs 20:6 reminds us that ” most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness; but a faithful man who can find?”
Learn to live by the motto of John the Baptist in John 3:30 “He (God) must increase in my life; I must decrease.”
GOD SUPPORTS HIS FAITHFUL SERVANTS
As you seek for the best training possible, God promises His faithful servants that He will provide for every need. Paul in I Thessalonians 5:24 reminds us “Faithful is He that calls you who also will do it.” God doesn’t just provide the finances for our preparation, He continues to provide His strength and wisdom, as well as our material needs as long as we serve Him.
Isaiah 45:2-3 assures us that He will cut through all the impossibilities that we face through life and He has treasures for us hidden in the dark and difficult times of life.
Finally, in Matthew 11:28-30 Christ invites us in our weariness as we serve Him to come to Him for rest. He invites us to take the yoke that is on his neck and allow Him to place it on our neck. He wants to help us pull the load. He carries the heavy part of the load and only allows us to pull that which will strengthen us. As we are yoked with Christ, remember, He leads the way. Walk always seeking His will and the yoke will not rub your neck and make it sore. His yoke is easy to the yielded neck and His burden is light as we stay yoked with Him.
Slavery was an economic fact of life in America for the first 200 years of our existence. It has been a fact of life in world history from the beginning of time. Even today women and children are sold into slavery to satisfy the lusts of evil men.
Slavery in America
In the days of slavery slaves were sold as animals on the auction block here in America. Many slaves had cruel masters and were mistreated. Others had Christian masters and were lovingly treated as part of the family. Even in the past century, a form of slavery has been practiced in mining communities. Mine owners virtually owned their employees. They provided them homes and schools for their children and a company store where they could buy all their groceries and household needs. These people were in total dependence on their mine owners and could not better themselves. This also is an oppressive form of slavery.Even today some Americans are slaves, stuck in the rut of the welfare system. They have no desire or incentive to better themselves and the welfare mentality is passed on from generation to generation.
Slavery in Bible Times
The Apostle Paul wrote an epistle to Philemon, a slave owner. In that epistle he taught Philemon to be kind to his run-away slave and treat him as a beloved brother. He taught Onesimus, the slave whom he had won to Christ, to return to his master and submit to him.
In the Old Testament in the book of Exodus we read of Israel’s bitter bondage in Egypt for 400 years. In God’s time God used Moses to lead His people out of bondage; but slavery continued to be practiced by God’s people. Slaves could be acquired:as prisoners of war. Numbers 31:7-9by purchase, Leviticus 25:44-45as a gift, Genesis 29:24by accepting a person in lieu of a debt if the thief had nothing to pay for the things stolen. Exodus 22:2-3
God’s Laws for Slavery
In Exodus 21 God gave His laws for the treatment of slaves. These laws are strange to our ears, but they are God’s laws.If an Israelite bought a fellow Hebrew, the slave worked for him for six years. In the seventh year he was free to leave his master. If the Israelite slave came with his own wife, she was freed with him.If the master provided a wife for him, when he left in the seventh year, she stayed with the master. If children were born to this union, both the wife and children stayed with the master.But if at the end of the sixth year the servant/slave loved his master and his family, he was free to remain in servitude to his master. Exodus 21:5-6 describes the legal procedure for remaining with his master. “If the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife and my children. I will not go free, then the master shall bring his servant unto the judges. He shall also bring him to the door or unto the door post. His master shall bore his ear with an awl, and the slave shall serve him forever.”
We Christians have been delivered from Satan’s slavery by Christ. One day we stood bound by Satan on the auction block of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ made the ultimate bid for us, His own precious blood shed on the cross for us. With that sacrifice, He freed us from Satan’s bondage. If we love and appreciate our Master, even though we are free to do with our life whatever we desire; it only seems right that a Christian should go to the door post of surrender and allow Christ to bore his ear, figuratively speaking, and become His bondslave for the rest of his life.
Have you made that surrender of your life to Christ? Are you serving Him faithfully, using the gifts God has given you for his purpose and glory?
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher
From silken self, O Captain, freeThy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
By Amy Wilson Carmichael
A missionary to India’s children a century ago.
Fig trees and olive trees, as well as grape vines, are indigenous to Palestine. The fig tree and olive tree are used in the Bible as a type of Israel. See Deuteronomy 8:7-9.
The first-ripe figs come about June from the old growth and then the fall harvest begins about September, coming from the new growth. Figs come first, then are followed by the leaves.
No effort is too much to get the fig trees to produce, as the farmers dig around them and work in the cattle dung to encourage their productivity. Fruitless fig trees are rooted up and destroyed to make room for new fig trees. Destroying the fruitless trees is no more immoral than pulling weeds in a garden.
In this article I want to deal with two issues.
1. Prophetic truths concerning Israel as they relate to fig trees.
2. Practical truths concerning spiritual barrenness, illustrated by barren fig trees.
Prophetic truths concering Israel.
In Jeremiah 8:4-13 God speaks through Jeremiah about Israel‘s rejection of Him as they turned to idolatry and refused to repent. I encourage you to read this passage that describes how Israel has become like a barren fig tree. Hosea 9:10 continues this theme and Joel 1:6-7 prophecies their judgment by Babylon and Assyria, pictured by a lion ripping the bark off the fig tree and destroying it.
During Jesus’ short ministry with Israel, He cultivated them and worked with them, but they refused to repent. In AD 70 the Roman Empire destroyed them. That’s the warning Jesus is giving Israel in His parable in Luke 13:6-9.
Not only does Jesus warn of their dispersion and judgment, but He also speaks of their restoration and blessing, as prophesied in Matthew 24. There in verses 32-34 Israel is pictured as a budding fig tree. The budding has already begun to take place as Israel has become a nation and returned to their homeland in the past sixty years. This prophecy of Israel‘s restoration and blessing will come to full fruition at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, prophesied in verses 15-31 of that same chapter.
Practical truths concering spiritual barrenness
As God made fruit trees to produce fruit and glorify Him, so God saves sinners to bear fruit. Fruitless Christians dishonor God. Read through John 15, noting Christ’s expectation of fruit in verses 5,8 and 16.
The fruit produced is the Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. This is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian who is surrendered to Christ.
The fruit is basically Christ-like attitude and actions. Giving to the work of Christ is also a fruit of the Spirit. See Romans 15:26-28 and Philippians 4:16-17.
Although no one becomes a Christian through his good works, these are the fruit of one who has come to Christ by faith. Normally, one can distinguish a Christian from a non- Christian by his works. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 7:16-20.
Even praising God can be a fruit of the Spirit. There are times when circumstances are going badly for us and we don’t feel like praising God. It is at such times that we can make a sacrifice of praise to Him, as Hebrews 13:15 encourages us.
Every Christian has been gifted by the Holy Spirit and called to exercise those gifts for the glory of God and for the building up of Christ’s Church. Those gifts are listed in Romans 12:6-8 and another list is given in I Corinthians 12:4-31. Each of us have different personalities and different blends of gifts, but God has given our gifts to us for a purpose. The gifts are given to us; not for our glory, but for the building up of others. I Corinthians 13 teaches us that without loving those to whom we are ministering , our gifts and Biblical knowledge are totally useless.
In John 4:35-38 Jesus teaches us that we Christians are to sow the Seed of the Gospel and we are to reap as we have opportunity. Some may reap more than others. The point is that all of us have occasions to sow, if we will just take those opportunities. If the Gospel is preached in your church, invite others to go with you. Invite them to a home Bible study. Invite them to our Hidden Treasures web site. If you are faithful in sowing the Seed, you are going to eventually reap a harvest. In Heaven you may meet people who came to saving faith in Christ because of your invitation. Won’t that be exciting!
I Peter 3:15-16 encourages us to always be ready to give an answer to one who asks of the hope, or the assurance within us. The more you study God’s Word, the stronger you are going to be to give an answer to those who ask you of your joy and confidence in Christ.
What must we do to bear fruit?
First, make sure you are trusting, not your works; but Christ alone for salvation.
Secondly, make sure you are abiding in Christ and that His Word is abiding in you. John 15:1-8 To abide in Christ we must continually walk in fellowship with Him, confessing sin to Him whenever the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. Read I John 1 on this topic of fellowship. For His Word to abide in you, you must read it and study it and obey it.
Third, be morally clean before God. He will only use clean vessels. II Timothy 2:20
Fourth, be prepared for Christ’s pruning in our lives. John 15:2 He often cuts things from our lives to make us more fruitful. The pruning may be painful at times, but it always works for our best.
Fifth, travail in prayer as a mother travails in labor before a birth. Isaiah 66:8
Sixth, surrender yourself to Christ and make yourself available to Him for His use.
Are you blessed of God? Psalm 1 tells us we will bring forth fruit for Him if we read and meditate in His Word. Psalm 92:12-14 encourages us that even as we grow to old age, we can still be fruitful. I thank God He is still using me in my 70’s.
One of the jobs of a pastor is to deal with sin in his preaching. That can be done kindly and lovingly and plainly without insulting people. Jeremiah 4:3 warns preachers to sow not among thorns. Sin needs to be dealt with before God will bless a church or ministry.
Those Christians who refuse to be fruitful, God will eventually root up as servants and cast them aside as useless stubble. Luke 13:7-9. If they are trusting Christ, they will not lose their salvation; but they will suffer the loss of rewards.
I encourage you to follow these six steps and discover the joy of bearing fruit for Christ.
Remember, Luke 12:48 reminds us that “to whom much is given; much is required.”