Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Jealous God

Posted on: April 4th, 2021

When Oprah Winfrey was in her late 20’s, she was sitting in a church where people had to get there early to assure a seat. The preacher was charismatic, and she was caught up in the moment hearing how great God was. He was Omniscient, Omnipresent…and then she heard, “the Lord thy God is a jealous God.”

In an interview, preserved on Utube, Oprah said she “was caught up in the rapture of the moment until he said jealous…something struck me…God is all…and is also jealous? Jealous of me? This was a pivotal moment in the life of Oprah Winfrey for she said there was “something about that did not feel right in my spirit.” Oprah has found her “god” according to her own feelings, but her feelings has closed her mind to God who has revealed His character in the Bible.

What Oprah heard was a reference to Exodus 20:5. God is revealing the Ten Commandment Law to His people, Israel. He begins with commanding His people to have no other gods before Him. He then instructs them to not make images of anything of heaven above, of the earth beneath, or of the water under the earth. This second law also commands these images were not to be worshipped by bowing down before them and serving them. God then gives the reason for not having any other “god” before Him or any “image” to be worshiped as a god: “for I Jehovah Thy God am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:5).

We are immediately led to the wrath of God to understand the jealous quality of His character. He is a jealous God, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of them that hate Me” (Exodus 20:5). Our “Omnipresent” God does not die or forget in three or four hundred years. The sin of idolatry introduced by the fathers of one generation and practiced by future generations will feel the consequences of their sins before the “Omnipotent” God. His wrath comes with fury, for He is “jealous.” God considers idolatry coming from a heart that “hates Me” (Exodus 20:5).

What turned Oprah away from the God of the Bible is revealed in the context of God’s “lovingkindness.” While promising to manifest His severity, He also promises to manifest his goodness: “…and showing lovingkindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6). His mercy had been manifested to the Israelites by delivering them from the army of Pharaoh and guiding them safely through the Red Sea. God’s “…lovingkindness hast led the people that thou hast redeemed: Thou hast guided them in thy strength to thy holy habitation” (Exodus 15:13).

Who knows if the preacher would have skipped over the “jealous” God reference, and add to his rapturous presentation of how great God is with His merciful “lovingkindness, Oprah would have “felt right” with God? What turned her away from God is part of “His name.” In the context of condemning worshiping and serving “other gods,” Moses reveals the divine reasoning, “…for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).

God’s “name” connects us with salvation. Paul appeals to a “godly jealously” that Christians in Corinth would not fall away from their total commitment to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). God is jealous for He wants our whole heart and eternal salvation. “For thy name’s sake, O Jehovah, pardon mine iniquity for it is great” (Psalm 25:9). David did not turn away from a forgiving God because God is also a jealous God. Let us pray that Oprah and others like her wake up to the One truly Great God! Jerry Fite

Two Fellowships

Posted on: January 3rd, 2021

In 1 John 1 John describes his fellowship with God as one dependent upon his walking “in the light” of God’s truth. He had learned of Christ, first hand, and then wrote this truth for our benefit; so that we may have the same kind of fellowship he had, i.e., fellowship with God. There is no fellowship with God for those who walk in darkness — error and sin.

But in 3 John 9,10, John tells us of some of his brethren (evidently folk who had fellowship with God) who had been cast out of the church. Diotrephes had severed fellowship with them, and forbad others to have such fellowship. This was wrong, undoubtedly; but the fact remains that it could and did happen. This is a case where God maintained a fellowship which men refused.

The opposite is true in 1 Corinthians 5. Here, a member of the church in Corinth (whom we conclude to have had fellowship with God at one time) now lived in immorality. According to 1 John 1 (and implied here) the man had now severed his fellowship with God. He walked in darkness, but the brethren in Corinth continued to keep fellowship with him. This, too, was wrong — but it did happen. Men maintained a fellowship which God refused.

Thus, two types of fellowship are apparent — that with God, depending wholly upon our walking in truth; and that with men (even brethren), which is subject to man’s approval or disapproval. Saying we should approve only that which God approves (with which I agree) does not change the facts. Brethren sometimes approve that which they should not — or disapprove that which they should accept. God knows the difference; and judges accordingly; but the “party” doesn’t always act as God would have it act.

As we individually obey the gospel we pledge ourselves to serve God. To Him ·we must individually give account when life is through (Matthew 16:24; Romans 14:4,12). Following this agreement of allegiance, and subject to its obligations, we join hands with others to work and worship together in a local fellowship, or congregation. God commands this union; the ties of this association are grand and its obligations real; but it remains the means of serving the Master, and must never become our Master.

Fellowship of men with men is an earthly tie which has an acceptable religious significance only when it complements our service to God. It is given divine regulations, but men do not always follow those regulations. One who counts on the outward bond of “church” fellowship alone to guarantee his spiritual redemption, leans on a broken reed.

NO, I DO NOT DEPRECIATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH. I seek to emphasize the meaning of the true church, as God’s people, who do God’s work, in God’s way — praised for their allegiance and service to God, rather than for their faithfulness to the “party.”

Brethren who are primarily interested in keeping their fellowship with God intact, will be drawn to one another by this common interest, and find a congregational fellowship that forecasts the sweetness of heaven.

Robert F. Turner – Plain Talk (November 1964)

Psalms 70

Posted on: July 26th, 2020

Any reading of the psalms reveals that David turned to the Lord any time he was facing severe trials or was in deep anguish. Many of David’s subjects probably envied the life that he lived. To them, he couldn’t possibly have the problems that they faced. Yet, David’s writings revealed the great pressures and dangers that he faced.

Often, people will look upon a person who is rich and powerful and think, “Oh, I wish I could be like him. Why, he lives the good life. He doesn’t have to face the problems that I have to face!” What a false impression that is! Everything has its price and problems. Money and position do not automatically bring happiness. In fact, the opposite can be true.

Whether rich or poor, young or old, problems will always loom in life; and the only answer is to turn to the Lord for guidance and rescue. David knew that, and he seldom forgot to present his petitions before God.

Psalm 70 is a cry for help. In fact, David saw his need as being immediate. In verse 1 he wrote, “O God, hasten to deliver me; O LORD, hasten to my help!” Today people may pray for rain or no rain, they may pray to lose 10 pounds, or have a successful Gospel Meeting; but David was praying for his life! In verse 2 David wrote, “Let those be ashamed and humiliated who seek my life; let those be turned back and dishonored who delight in my hurt.” David had enemies that were actively seeking his downfall or death.

One can’t help but wonder if a person, a Christian, today would take the time to pray in such a situation. Too often prayer is the last resort, or it is done after safety has been achieved. But here, David wrote his petition while his life was in danger. THAT is true trust in the Lord!

Verse 4 indicates David’s great faith and trust in his God. “Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified’.” Simply because David saw that his life was in danger from his enemies did not keep him from thinking upon the power and mercy of the Lord.

Throughout the long centuries, Christians have died for their faith in Jesus Christ. They paid the ultimate price, because they knew that, in the Lord, there was a far greater reward. David believed that even without the added revelation of the Good News about Jesus Christ.

Christians have been truly blessed, but with great blessing and privilege comes great responsibility. All Christians should ask themselves, “How strong is my faith? Do I believe in the promises of the Lord enough to die for Him?” Let all rejoice that there is hope in the Lord in spite of the enemies found in this world.

In verse 5, David wrote, “But I am afflicted and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.” David was the King of Israel, yet he saw himself as having nothing. David knew (and oh do all Christians need to learn this today!) that his wealth rested on his relationship with God. If the revolt by Absalom, David’s son, had succeeded, all of his wealth and power in the kingdom would have vanished. Yes, physical worldly power and assets can disappear overnight. Only a relationship with God will stand the test of eternity.

There are many concerns on the part of Christians today concerning the path this nation is taking. Powers hostile to God seem to be growing stronger. Terrorism is a real threat. Immorality seems to be spreading like an infection.

But when enemies threaten to overwhelm the children of God today, each Christian man and woman can turn to the plea that David made so many centu­ries ago – ” O God, hasten to deliver me.” That prayer was heard then, and it will be heard today. <James Shelburn>

Soul Nourishment

Posted on: July 19th, 2020

Moral statements and positions will, necessarily, impact political issues. This is not because morality is inherently political, but because government has the task of recognizing the difference between good and evil, so moral issues will have to be dealt with (Rom 13:3-4). This means that, contrary to what is so often stated and argued, morality will be legislated by government, and it will be legislated from a worldview that either recognizes the significance of God or not. To say that God needs to be kept out of politics, then, is to default to the secularized view of morality; and secularized morality will then be legislated. Why is it that people default to keeping God out of it instead of keeping the secularized views of reality out of it? And why do some Christians seem to be buying into all of this?

We need to see what has happened here. Many have bought into the notions that 1) God and religion must be kept out of politics, and 2) morality is not something that can be legislated. In fact, both are false. God is never out of politics, and we are fooling ourselves if we think so, given that God rules in the kingdoms of men. Every worldview says something about God. If a worldview says there is no God, then a notion of God is still a part of the position, and actions will be taken that demonstrate that disbelief. Further, every law is a legislation of morality in one form or another; there is no way around it. The question is, will the legislation come from those whose worldview respects God as the foundation or not?

I don’t say all of this in order to argue that Christians need to get more political. I’m arguing that Christians need to say more about God and morality in every area of life. We don’t check our God at the door when we enter a political arena, and we don’t set aside godly morals when we engage the culture. We don’t take a moral view of something based on politics, but surely our political views ought to be based on godly morality. The point then is not that we need more political activists. The point is that we need to be more engaged in the moral discussions of our culture and take a stand for what is right, regardless of political fallout. In other words, it’s not about being political; it’s about standing for what’s right in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation.

Even more, we need to hold up the gospel itself to the world. The answer to our problems is not to vote in or out this or that politician. No government in history has been a bastion of godliness, and I don’t expect that to change. The answer is always where it has been: in Christ. The problems of this world won’t be fixed by human government, but by the gospel. “The kingdoms of earth pass away one by one, but the kingdom of heaven remains.”

So Christians should be concerned with 1) holding out the gospel to a lost world, and 2) standing up for Christ and His morality. It’s not politics. It’s just what’s right. (Irvin Himmel)

Time and Truth

Posted on: July 12th, 2020

Early in the first century Christ sent the Spirit of Truth to of Englguide the apostles into all truth. (Jn. 16:13; Acts 2: 1-f) The New Testament records that truth which these inspired men wrote and taught. This gospel truth was being preached, believed and obeyed before the middle of that first century. Over 1900 years ago souls were being saved from sin through the knowledge of this truth. The implications of this simple fact are profound.

Think of it! A sinner could be saved in obedience to this gospel over 250 years before the Nicene Creed was formulated; long before there was a Catholic church to establish Divine Tradition or interpret the scriptures; over 500 years before Catholicism had a universal Pope; before Catholic doctrine of celibacy, sprinkling for baptism, instrumental music in worship, transubstantiation, purgatory, extreme unction, holy orders, Mary-worship, confession before priests — and over 1800 years before the doctrine of Papal infallibility.

Think of it! An individual could be reconciled to God through Christ over 1450 years before the Catholic monk Martin Luther made his historic protest; before he advanced the false notion of justification by faith only; before his name was worn by anyone except his family.

Think of it! Men and women could become CHRISTIANS, live and die with the hope of heaven, over 1450 years before there was a Church and (Episcopal) or a Presbyterian church; before John Calvin and his false teaching on predestination, direct operation of the Holy Spirit and infant baptism!

Think of it! Men were being redeemed by the blood of Christ over 1500 years before John Smyth began his work which resulted in the establishment of the first Baptist church; over 1650 years before John Wesley and the Methodist church; over 1750 years before Joseph Smith, the father of Mormonism, received his alleged revelation; which was about the same time the Adventist group had its beginning under the leadership of William Miller; over 1800 years before Mary Baker Eddy’s revelation and Christian Science; over 1800 years before there was a Jehovah’s Witness sect to knock on the door or distribute the Watchtower paper!

Think of it! The simple gospel of Christ was providing men with ALL THINGS pertaining to life and godliness over 1900 years ago! (2 Pet. 1:3) It was furnishing men completely unto every good work at that early date. (2 Tim. 3:17) That gospel. truth provides the basis for mans becoming, being and doing ALL that God requires of him, is further evidenced by the fact that men will one day be judged by this very gospel. (Jn. 12:48)

Think of it! If ALL of the combined religious creeds, ideas, doctrines, concepts, opinions, revelations, and traditions of the past 1900 years should perish, men could STILL know how to serve God and be saved! Is it not time you considered uncluttered, unadulterated New Testament Christianity??
Dan S. Shipley

If Today Is The End

None of us know when the end will occur, neither the end of our own lives or the end of time. (James 4:14; Matthew 25:13)
Am I living with a purposed heart? Col. 3:1-2
Am I living with a purposed service? Col. 3:23-24
Am I confident in the way I am living? 2 Timothy 4:7
Am I ready to meet the Lord? 2 Timothy 4:8
Terry Starling

Destructive Complexes

Posted on: May 3rd, 2020

We shall be using the term “complex” rather loosely in this article. A simple definition of complex is, “The term for a psychological cause, hidden or repressed, having a strong influence on one’s character; an obsession (Webster’s National Dictionary). In our examination of some destructive complexes we shall not use the term altogether in keeping with psychiatry. As Christians, we should enjoy mental hygiene. Physically, people who experience complexes are mentally abnormal and, consequently, suffer mental imbalance. Many of these mental complexes virtually destroy people mentally and physically. This is also true spiritually. The complexes we shall consider can render the child of God fruitless, useless, and miserable.

Introvert Complex

Introversion is “a concentration on one’s inner life, to the exclusion of other interests.” Beloved, we cannot have a preoccupation with self and fulfill our obligations to God and our fellow-man. Christians are to “bear the infirmities of the weak,” “consider one another to provoke unto love and good works,” and “support the weak” (Rom. 15:1-3; Heb. 10:24; 1 Thess. 5:14). How can we perform the activities enjoined in these passages if we do not associate with others and allow them to associate with us?

Local churches on occasion experience problems because some are suffering from an “introvert complex.” For example, many who holler clique are blinded by this concentration on self – they do not allow or desire other members to associate with them and they resent other members associating one with another. God’s people are to be gregarious. We are to mix and mingle that we might influence one another for good (cf. Acts 2:47; Rom. 15:14; Acts 8:4; Heb. 10:24, 25).

Persecution Complex

Individuals who possess a “persecution complex” believe nobody likes or appreciates them. They think everybody is out to get them. Every word spoken, every plan contemplated is directed to their hurt, they believe. Because they think in this manner they frequently misjudge the deeds and motives of others (John 7:24). Many, when asked about their failing to attend the local church of which they are a member reply, “The members of that church could care less about me.” Or, “They had rather I didn’t attend; they resent my presence.”

Not infrequently, members who are characterized by this type of thinking are not only destroying themselves spiritually but are also a threat to the unity of God’s people. The paranoid member who does attend feeling everyone is out to get them, often seeks to destroy others. In many cases, you will find a “persecution complex” behind the gossip, lying, and malevolent deeds.

Inferiority Complex

I have personally known capable individuals who wasted their ability and potential because they felt they could not perform the task at hand. They were constantly belittling and castigating themselves. They actually believed that they had no worth and value. The person who suffers from what we call an inferiority complex believes he does not know enough to teach others, he is not good enough to associate with other Christians or he cannot encourage the weak because he feels he is weaker.

This type of thinking involves and results in fear which can cause one to lose one’s soul. The one talent man said, “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth . . . .” (Mt. 25:25, all emphasis throughout mine, DM). John wrote, “but the fearful . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone . . .” (Rev. 21:8). Beloved, you are not “inferior” to any; you too were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26)!

Narcissus Complex

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a youth who one day saw his reflection in a pool of water. Upon seeing his reflection he fell in love with it and suffered because it was unattainable. Hence, a Narcissus complex is excessive self love.

Paul in writing of the last days stated, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves . . .” (2 Tim. 3:2). Presently, many aliens are not leaving the world because of self-love; they will not deny self (Lk. 9:23). Confessedly, some members of Christ’s body are so in love with themselves that they are puffed up and living simply to satisfy their own desires (1 Cor. 10:31-33).

Anxiety Complex

Doctors are informing us that anxiety contributes to, everything from tooth decay to cardiovascular disorders. Worry drains us and can kill us physically and spiritually. Yet, we go on worrying over every little thing. Some worry so much that they have developed an “anxiety complex.” Notwithstanding, Jesus taught, “Take therefore no thought (do not worry) for the morrow . . .” (Mt. 6:34). Paul exhorted, “In nothing be anxious: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6, ASV).

Conclusion

Concerned reader, we must watch and be aware of our thinking and mental status because, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” (Prov. 23:7). Many fail to become Christians and some who are Christians are fruitless and unproductive because of the destructive complexes herein set forth.

Don Martin

Be Careful What You Say

Posted on: November 17th, 2019

Be careful what you say. James said, “Be slow to speak, swift to hear and slow to wrath” (Jas. 1:9).

If everything you said today were tape recorded and played back at the end of the day, how much of it would you be proud of saying and what would you want to erase?

As quaint a question as that is, it is terribly convicting! We have the choice to hurt or to heal every time we open our mouths. If you would like to honor God and others with your words consider these safeguards:

Think first. Before your lips start to move, pause and mentally preview your words. Are they accurate or exaggerated? Kind or cutting? Necessary or needless? Wholesome or vile? Do they pass the Phil. 4:8 test? Do they direct your thoughts toward things that are noble, true, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praise worthy?

Plan ahead. If you know you will be talking to someone with whom you tend to gossip or be negative, pray ahead of time about conversation. Ask God to help so that your conversation will be productive. When the phone rings, when you go back to lunch with friends, when your spouse comes home from work, ask God to set a guard over your mouth and keep watch over the door of your lips (Psa. 141:3).

Talk less. Your chances of blowing it are directly proportional to the quantity of your words. Compulsive talkers find it difficult to keep friends or honor God. King David said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue. I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle” (Psa. 39:1).

Be purposeful. As you guard what you don’t say, be purposeful in what you do say, Follow the advice of Paul in Col. 4:6. “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt.” Consider who needs to hear you say words of affirmation like, “I’m so proud of you.” You probably know someone right now who needs to be forgiven or restored. Speak those healing words to them. Who needs your words of comfort? Who would been encouraged by hearing you say: “You are doing a great job!’ “I am thankful to God you are in my life!” “I appreciate you..” “I love who I am when I am around you!”

This process takes courage! It is much easier to let your words fly thoughtlessly from your mouth, but don’t let them! Take some time each day to think how your words can change the life of someone – beginning with yours!

Rickie Jenkins

Avoiding the Big Rocks of Sin

Posted on: November 10th, 2019

First, we fail to take all our sins seriously. Proverbs 28:13 tells us “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Do you see the Biblical way to deal with sin? Confession and forsaking. Not some sin, not just large scandalous sins, but all sin. All sin is the same to God. The truth is, talking about the “big rocks of sin” is risky because I don’t mean to imply some sins are worse than others. I’m just trying to say there are some behaviors so clearly legislated against in Scripture, so definitively marked out, looming so LARGE in the Bible with so many repeated warnings and admonitions that no Christian should ever get involved in them.

But do I see all sin as an affront to God and His holiness? Isn’t it true that one of the ways to run aground on the rocks of big “monster” sins is to pretend that when we got involved in “smaller” sins, it wasn’t really a big deal? Nothing much to be concerned about? Nothing I needed to confess and forsake? Isn’t the mindset that says, “I can ignore the Bible on this ‘small’ one” the same mindset that may eventually decide, “I can ignore the Bible on this ‘big’ sin” too?

Secondly, we let “little” sins lead us farther and deeper. Want to see how someone commits adultery? Proverbs 7 describes a young man making a series of small mistakes that lead to a tragic, final disaster. He’s in the wrong part of town (v. 12). Prostitutes frequent a certain part of town, so what’s he doing over there? He becomes physically familiar with the immoral woman (v. 13). Can’t you just hear him say, “Show me in the Bible where it says I can’t kiss someone”? Then he listens to her lies (v. 14). The devil may know that we won’t smash ourselves against “big” sin today, but he is pleased if he can navigate us just a little closer to those rocks, one small step at a time. That’s how the young couple who spent time alone one evening got carried away and a little kissing became sexual immorality. That’s how someone who had an occasional drink … that got less occasional all the time … became an alcoholic. We started the day far away from the rocks and then suddenly, we find ourselves nearly upon them, battling mightily to keep from being broken on them. But some Christians battling in the surging tide of sin aren’t victorious. To change metaphors, when we don’t see sin as a roaring lion and we get close enough to pet it, we very well may get eaten (1 Pet 5:8).

Thirdly, we aren’t as strong as we thought. When something terrible happens, we all say, “How can such a strong Christian get involved in that?” We’re mystified because all the outward behaviors of a good disciple were in place. Then we’re stunned when they leave the Lord because we thought they were so strong. The reality is, of course, that person wasn’t that strong. They just looked that way. It was all outward appearance. Perhaps that is why Jesus was so concerned with the Pharisees and their empty religion (Matt 23). I consider framing someone and having the state murder them to be a “big rock,” don’t you? And yet, the Pharisees had no reservations about doing that very thing to Jesus (John 11:49-50).

I get it. No one thinks, “If I miss my daily Bible reading today I’ll probably become a heroin addict.” However, the reality is, as we neglect core disciplines like prayer and Bible reading and genuine worship (not just being there!), the inner man gets weaker and weaker. As we renew ourselves day by day, as we consistently listen to God and allow His word to permeate us, we develop His eyes to see things in His way. We adopt the eternal perspective that exposes temptation and sin as so empty and vain, and as something we want nothing to do with. Always remember: looking strong isn’t the same as being strong. It takes daily effort to become and stay strong.

How does a giant supertanker hit the most famous and well-marked rock in Prince Williams Sound? The government investigation found a bunch of stuff that was wrong, broken, neglected, and inadequate—a bunch of little stuff that led to a big disaster. How does a preacher or elder or Bible class teacher or good disciple get involved in big-time sin? We ignore a bunch of little stuff … and it leads to a big disaster. Let’s take some spiritual inventory and do what it takes to be sure we’re sailing closer and closer to Christlikeness and further and further away from all God-dishonoring sin. Mark Roberts

Soul Nourishment

Posted on: October 20th, 2019

Moral statements and positions will, necessarily, impact political issues. This is not because morality is inherently political, but because government has the task of recognizing the difference between good and evil, so moral issues will have to be dealt with (Rom 13:3-4). This means that, contrary to what is so often stated and argued, morality will be legislated by government, and it will be legislated from a worldview that either recognizes the significance of God or not. To say that God needs to be kept out of politics, then, is to default to the secularized view of morality; and secularized morality will then be legislated. Why is it that people default to keeping God out of it instead of keeping the secularized views of reality out of it? And why do some Christians seem to be buying into all of this?

We need to see what has happened here. Many have bought into the notions that 1) God and religion must be kept out of politics, and 2) morality is not something that can be legislated. In fact, both are false. God is never out of politics, and we are fooling ourselves if we think so, given that God rules in the kingdoms of men. Every worldview says something about God. If a worldview says there is no God, then a notion of God is still a part of the position, and actions will be taken that demonstrate that disbelief. Further, every law is a legislation of morality in one form or another; there is no way around it. The question is, will the legislation come from those whose worldview respects God as the foundation or not?

I don’t say all of this in order to argue that Christians need to get more political. I’m arguing that Christians need to say more about God and morality in every area of life. We don’t check our God at the door when we enter a political arena, and we don’t set aside godly morals when we engage the culture. We don’t take a moral view of something based on politics, but surely our political views ought to be based on godly morality. The point then is not that we need more political activists. The point is that we need to be more engaged in the moral discussions of our culture and take a stand for what is right, regardless of political fallout. In other words, it’s not about being political; it’s about standing for what’s right in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation.
Even more, we need to hold up the gospel itself to the world. The answer to our problems is not to vote in or out this or that politician. No government in history has been a bastion of godliness, and I don’t expect that to change. The answer is always where it has been: in Christ. The problems of this world won’t be fixed by human government, but by the gospel. “The kingdoms of earth pass away one by one, but the kingdom of heaven remains.”

So Christians should be concerned with 1) holding out the gospel to a lost world, and 2) standing up for Christ and His morality. It’s not politics. It’s just what’s right
Irvin Himmel

Preparing a Leader – Moses

Posted on: October 13th, 2019

There is an old saying that Moses was a “somebody” for forty years, and then a “nobody” for forty years, and then learned what God could do with a nobody for forty years. There’s a lot of truth to this summary of Moses’ life! These three phases of Moses’ life afford us some vital lessons in understanding how God prepares us for leadership.

First, Moses’s life teaches us that God uses the experiences we have when we are “nobodies” to prepare us for leadership. After Moses threw his lot in with his fellow Hebrews and struck down the abusive Egyptian taskmaster (Exodus 2:11-15), he fled from Egypt to the land of Midian, where he became a shepherd (Exodus 3:1). This period did indeed last forty years (Acts 7:23, 30). Forty years of obscurity.

And yet, God was using this time of apparent insignificance to prepare Moses for the work of shepherding the people of Israel, the flock of God. “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psalm 77:20). And indeed, whether it is the later kings of Israel, modeled after David (Psalm 78:70-22), or the elders of churches, modeled after the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4), the leaders of the people of God are frequently described as shepherds.

And just like Moses, David and our Lord himself both experienced periods of relative obscurity. David as the smallest of his family, watching his father’s flocks, and Jesus as a carpenter like his earthly father, Joseph. But when the time came, all three of these men were ready to embrace the responsibility God gave them, precisely because God had prepared them.

Those who desire to serve as elders likewise must go through a time of preparation. That maturing process is what Paul has in mind when he describes the character of overseers as those who are experienced in managing their homes (1 Timothy 3:4), mature in the faith (3:6), and respected by those outside the faith (3:7). All of this takes time. Similarly, those who serve as deacons must be “tested first” (1 Timothy 3:10). Leaders must be those with proven character, and it is that refining work that God does even when we may think nothing important is happening. That is how God prepares “nobodies” to be leaders. When we are faithful over little, God will set us over much (Matthew 25:21).

Second, Moses’ transformation into a leader by God’s power is a reminder that spiritual leaders must rely on God and not on themselves. Moses’ excuses in response to God’s call at the burning bush are well-known. What is important to see is that in response to each excuse, God provided Moses what he needed. Need a name to give to Israel? No problem – “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). Need a sign of authenticity? No worries – God gave Moses miraculous signs to persuade the people (Exodus 4:1-9). Need help articulating your message? No trouble – “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:11-12).

Perhaps this is why it is so common for leaders in the Bible to go through periods of obscurity. Those are the very moments when any puffed-up sense of self is deflated, when self-reliance is impossible, and the only way forward is through dependence on God. David came to know through his lonely experiences as a shepherd, fending off a lion and a bear, that it was ultimately the Lord who delivered him (1 Samuel 17:37). And Jesus may have grown up in a village of little reputation, but he grasped that his sustenance was doing the will of the Father (John 6:38).

In fact, Moses’ greatest failure – the episode of the waters at Meribah – was caused by a lack of reliance on God (Numbers 20:10-13). That is always the way godly leaders are derailed. Success and prosperity seduce leaders into imagining that they are the ultimate cause of their own success.

For all leaders, it is especially important to ask the question, “What do you have that you did not receive” (1 Corinthians 4:7). God literally took what was in Moses’ hand – his staff – and made more of it than Moses ever dreamed. So long as leaders recognize this utter dependence on God, they will lead with humility and integrity.

There is a third lesson from the preparation of Moses. Leaders must lead themselves before they can lead others. The end of Exodus 4 contains a jarring story: At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision (Exodus 4:24-26).

This unexpected development only makes sense when we keep a few big picture things in mind. First, God was using Moses to keep covenant promises he had made long ago to the patriarchs (as Exodus 2:23-3:6 explains). The sign of that covenant was circumcision (Genesis 17:9-10). So, God called Moses to lead the people in fulfillment of a grand covenant, and Moses was not even following the expectations of the covenant in his own family!

The point is that Moses could not lead the people as part of a covenant that he himself did not respect. He had to keep it himself, first. That is part of what he should have been doing in his time of preparation. He needed to “lead” himself, in other words. And that is why God has always expected the leaders of his people, whether physical Israel or spiritual Israel, to be men of proven character. You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t lead if you don’t follow Christ.

Moses was not a perfect leader, but by God’s grace, Moses was a great leader. God empowered him to lead the people in the most amazing time of Israel’s history in the Old Testament. And God’s estimate of Moses speaks volumes: “He is faithful in all my house” (Numbers 12:7). That is the highest honor any leader could ever receive, and it is the honor that awaits us if we allow God to prepare us, empower us, and admonish us. Shane Scott