Well, we could sum up, in just seven words, the weight of so many of our self-inflicted ills; “...ye have not, because ye ask not”. (Jms. 4:2). We find ourselves living in an age of tremendous prosperity; of comfort and ease; a season where it appears that in the Western world no one lacks for anything. Outwardly; materially, we are filthy rich, yet inwardly; spiritually, we are poverty stricken! Such is the temptation to find our comfort and take our ease in this world. Where is our confidence truly found? Is it found in God or in our material surroundings?
This sermon is a heartfelt call for the people of God to sense again their pressing need for God in everything and to cry out to the only one who can sustain His people in this critical hour. Oh, that we might discover again the secret place of prayer!
Great has been the mercy of God towards every one of us who find ourselves a new creation in Christ Jesus. Great was the wrath of God upon us and fierce was the pending judgment which hung above our heads. There was not one of us that was righteous; not one of us that was deserving of God’s mercy. Yet, while we were still sinners, Christ in His love died for the ungodly. In light of this great mercy which has been demonstrated towards us; what ought to be the attitude of our hearts towards our fellow human in the same? Surely it ought to be, to extend mercy in like manner. Yet sadly some, though they themselves have been forgiven of much, are simply unwilling to forgive their neighbour a far lesser debt.
The challenge goes out in this sermon for those who name the name of Jesus Christ, to speak and to act in a way as those desiring to be judged by the law of liberty. By the standard of judgment that we have judged others, and to the degree in which we have forgiven those who have wronged us; to the same degree will God exercise mercy towards us in forgiving our sins. “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee…” (Ps. 130:3-4). Go then and do likewise…
As human beings, I tend to find generally, that we don’t deal too well with change. If you’re anything like me, once something has been laid, I don’t like disturbing it too much thereafter. “Do a job right the first time (so the saying goes), and it won’t need re-doing again a second”. Yet, in my experience, I’ve found that it doesn’t always work that way in life and that there are times when through unexpected circumstances, we are shaken from our complacency and forced to move out onto new ground. One thinks of that persecuted Pilgrim sect known as the English Separatist Church, who in the early 1600’s, were forced to flee England to the Netherlands to find a better home. From the Netherlands, again through the difficulty of circumstances, they planned to relocate to pastures new. In September 1620, some 100 people, many of them seeking religious freedom in the New World, set sail from England on board the Mayflower, landing two months later on the shores of present-day Massachusetts; the rest from there is history. No, friends, change is never usually welcomed; never usually embraced with open arms; much rather we’d prefer to remain settled on our lees and get on with things as we’ve always known them; but more often than not, a prod here and a prod there brings one into unanticipated blessing!
Nowhere perhaps is this more true than in our Christian walk. Whether we see it or not, the Christian life is a journey! God Almighty is at the wheel of the helm, turning the ship at will. The cost to follow God is everything and where He leads His children must follow!!
Part 24 – What Is Church Leadership?
Mention the words church leadership today and you’re bound to be greeted with a mixture of different responses ranging from the pessimistic, to the mundane, to the optimistic. Sadly, it is not without good reason that church leadership has gotten a bad rap over the last few decades. What is one to say when secular news outlets expose nationally the money racketing scams of some of the wealthiest Evangelical pastors in the US? When I say wealthy, how much are we talking about; hundreds; thousands; hundreds of thousands? How about tens of millions and in the case of one pastor by the name of Kenneth Copeland, a self-confessed billionaire! The world and indeed many outside the Mega-Church scene, look on in horror at this catastrophe of justice and cry out, how can a minister/servant of God, appointed by God to serve the people in Christ’s stead, profit off them to the tune of millions of dollars? Naturally, this is a scandal and an outrage!! Then there is the growing epidemic of Evangelical pastors being caught out in gross sexual immorality and being exposed nationally for an on-looking world to see? No wonder then, when one mentions the words church leadership eyebrows are raised. As a result of all these abuses, along with many more not mentioned, many of the poor sheep of Christ’s have had enough and have vowed to never enter a Church building again. Instead, they choose to meet at home with small groups of believers without the added burden of being under these types of pastors.
It is crucial in this final teaching part that we take a look biblically at the function and appointment of church leadership and what the proper response is to be of those who sit under their authority.
Download teaching notes (pdf)
The longer I tread the pathway of this Christian life, is the more that I realise just who’s carrying who. In my younger days, the fiery zeal of passion blazed the way and the steam engine of human strength and ingenuity set the wheels in motion. I was God’s handyman, lending God my helping hand, not realising that there was a fountain of grace full and free from which I could exchange my wearisome labours for His abounding grace. It had not dawned upon me, though I knew it after the head...the cattle on a thousand hills belong to God, what could I add besides that which He already owns? “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Is. 66:1-2).
The message going forth in this sermon is a call to humility! Would you to receive of God’s sustaining strength in place of your tired and wearied labours? Would you to know of His compassionate favour? Would you to taste of His sweet and tender mercies; to know in place of ashes, beauty; in place of mourning, the oil of joy; in place of the spirit of heaviness, the garment of praise? Would you to know the secret of strength with God? Down into the dust of the ground we must go and there to kiss goodbye to our own wisdom and power; there to bury our pride on the sacred ground of humility!!