July – October 2011 RSS feed for this section
The Heart and Hands of Leadership

The Heart and Hands of Leadership

“He chose David also his servant and took him from the sheepfolds: from following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.” Psalm 78:70-72

Leadership is a subject of intense scrutiny today. In every sphere and at every level of our society it seems there is a great crisis in leadership. Leadership is a critical subject in any organization but nowhere is it more critical than in the local assembly of believers. It is a fact that cannot be dismissed; the spiritual health and success of any assembly is directly proportional, to the quality and spirituality of its leadership. The concluding verses of Psalm 78 give wonderful insight into the essence of David’s leadership and lessons for today’s leaders of God’s people.

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The World Chaos

The World Chaos

Economic experts are expressing a growing concern that fiscal chaos now unfolding could soon spread to all of the world’s big debtor economies. It begins to appear that such chaos could quickly bring the entire world into a state of economic paralysis. A glance at the economic map is most distressing. The world is aware that the Unites State’s economy is in deep trouble due to fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement. The US debt load is unsustainable, and will get worse unless the US government can back away from the edge of the precipice very soon. Canada has a large national debt, occasioned largely by its health insurance program. Europe’s economy is a mess. Several nations are tottering on the brink of total economic collapse. Present rumors indicate that the Euro is in real danger of total collapse, and that will ruin the economies of most of the European continent. Not long ago some were suggesting that the Euro could become the basic sustaining medium of exchange for world business, replacing the US dollar. It is now obvious that the Euro has suddenly and seriously become much the weaker of the two currencies. The two largest economies in Latin America, Brazil and Mexico, are both in serious financial distress. Even China appears to be in trouble. Admittedly, the Chinese do all they can to keep their true situation confidential. It now appears, however, that the per capita debt of China at the present time could actually exceed that of the USA. Russia’s economy is very weak. Put that all together and you have a world tottering on the brink of total economic chaos.

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Storms

Storms

Storms at sea are never pleasant. Awesome, frightening, but hardly enjoyable. Yet the lessons learned in the storm can be of significant value for another day and another circumstance. Almost the whole chapter of Acts 27 is devoted to the events surrounding a storm. There are lessons we may learn from this storm. God knows that each of us at some time or other must pass through our own deep waters. It is not “If thou passest through the water,” it is “When…”

One lesson is that God allows His people to suffer alongside the ungodly in the circumstances of life. God’s servants were in that storm because the sailors would not believe the words of Paul. Many of the Lord’s people must suffer because of the attitude of those who will not believe. Salvation of the soul is no escape from the common trials of life…not yet. The fallacy of the false gospel that declares, “God wants you healthy and God wants you wealthy” has driven many a simple soul into despair when they suffer pain and poverty. If it was preached instead, “God wants you holy,” that would be in harmony with the Word.

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The Sovereignty of God

The Sovereignty of God

The doctrine of the sovereignty of God is one of the weightiest and most important doctrines of Scripture. Although the word “sovereignty” is never used in the English Bible, other synonyms such as “majesty”, “almighty”, and “greatness” are used many times.  God’s sovereignty is expressed in one way or another on nearly every page of the Bible. In describing the sovereignty of God, it has been said, “God in His love wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His majesty He has the power to bring it about.” For some believers, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is a difficult doctrine to embrace. They ask why did God give Peter 3,000 souls on the Day of Pentecost, while faithful Stephen recieved 3,000 stones?  It is in the difficult times of life that God tests our faith. Obeying God is worked out within well-defined boundaries of God’s Word, while trusting God is worked out in an arena that has no boundaries. This poses the question: How can we trust and love the sovereign God? Surely the answer lies in knowing the character, attributes, and doctrine of the sovereignty of God.

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Notes on Christian Service

Notes on Christian Service

An All Inclusive Service
Once we receive Christ our daily activities are to take on a different character. We may be doing the same things as before but our motive is to be different. The word for us now is, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). That is a charge to all who believe and it embraces all things. We have to realize that we have not only been pardoned but purchased; bought with a price beyond measure, the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18,19). We are under new ownership from the moment we are saved. A false idea, one no doubt sponsored by the deceiver, is that we may take Jesus as our Saviour today and consider inviting Him to be our Lord tomorrow. But we forget who we have welcomed into our hearts; a Lord who saves and a Savior who lords. His person is not divisible. Christian development is only possible as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour” (2 Pet. 3:18). And Christian service is not something to be separated from the secular; it embraces and transforms all that we might once have considered commonplace, even our eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31).

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True Grace and Greatness of Humility

Its Meaning
The English word ‘humility’, and its adjective ‘humble’, are derived from the Latin word ‘humus’, which means ‘ground’, ‘earth’, or ‘soil’. It reminds us all that God formed us from the dust of the ground. After Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, God said to him that he would die, and that, since he was just dust, his body would return to dust again. This is a sobering thought, and one which indicates to us our true condition and position before God. In fact, in Genesis chapter 18 verse 27 Abraham described himself as ‘dust and ashes’ before the Lord when he was interceding for Lot in Sodom. Likewise, the patriarch Job, at the end of his traumatic sufferings and the Lord’s revelation of Himself to him, simply said that he abhorred himself and repented of his rash words against God ‘in dust and ashes’, Job 42:6. The Hebrew word most frequently used for ‘humility’, or ‘being humble’, has the idea of being ‘low’. It is sometimes used of low-lying land, but most frequently has the metaphorical sense of being humble, or humbled by others. The Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament uses the same word to translate this Hebrew word as the Greek New Testament uses to express the idea of ‘humility’, and ‘being humble’. It, too, basically means ‘low-lying’ physically, but, again, is most often used in a metaphorical sense to mean ‘lowliness of mind and attitude’. It is the opposite of being high-minded, proud, or arrogant. Scripture everywhere commends humility as being a thoroughly right attitude to take towards both God and other men and women around us.

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Advice or Command

While reading a commentary recently I was struck by a comment that emphasized that since Christians are not under the law but under grace that the commands of the N.T. are instruction or advice, not law. Is that true? Now it is true that believers today are not under the law of Moses as a basis for salvation. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom . 3:21, 24 NKJ).” We are saved through faith in the Lord Jesus and His finished work on Calvary. We glory in the grace of God and the gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). But believers acknowledge Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10). He is our Sovereign, our King. A man in the army does not view his officer’s commands as advice which he feels free to ignore. It is sad that too many who profess to be Christians take the commands of our Lord simply as advice which they may choose to follow or to ignore. Many marry unbelievers, ignoring the warnings of Scripture (2 Cor. 6:14). They divorce freely, disregarding Jesus’ warnings (Matt. 19). They trample under foot the verses which stress moral behavior and holiness.

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Editorial: Hid In God… Now Revealed

It has been observed that the universal church is in view in Ephesians and the local church in 1st Corinthians. And while that is true, it should not be pressed too rigidly. For we find there are complementary truths in both epistles. In particular the truths of the universal church found in Ephesians have a practical bearing on the life of the local church.

One of the driving forces of Paul’s life and ministry was the revelation given to him (and the other apostles, Eph. 3:5) that God had brought both Jew and Gentile together in one body, the church (Eph. 2:11-22). Further, the church would be the means to educate and enlighten for all to see the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ (Eph. 3:10).

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