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Cause Joy Not Grief

 

Why Cause Grief?

 — by Dave Branon


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Obey those who rule over you, . . . for they watch out for your souls. —Hebrews 13:17

Pastors make an easy target for criticism. Every week they are on display, carefully explaining God’s Word, challenging us toward Christlike living. But sometimes we look to find things to criticize. It’s easy to overlook all the good things a pastor does and focus on our personal opinions.

Like all of us, our pastors are not perfect. So I’m not saying that we should follow them blindly and never confront error through the proper channels. But some words from the writer of Hebrews may help us find the right way of thinking about our leaders who are presenting God’s truth and modeling servant leadership. The writer says, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account” (13:17 niv).

Think about that. Before God, our pastor is responsible for guiding us spiritually. We should want that burden to be joyous, not grievous. The passage indicates that causing grief for the pastor “would be of no benefit” (v.17 niv).

We honor God and make things better for our church when we give honor to those He has appointed as our leaders.

Our gracious Father, thank You for the person
You led to our church as pastor. May we provide
encouragement and support, and may You protect
our pastor from error in both word and actions.
Pastors who preach God’s Word need a good word from God’s people.

The fruit of suffering

From: Our Daily Journey

Feb
16

Luke 23:32-49

Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Read Romans 8:282 Corinthians 1:3-4, andGalatians 4:13 to see some examples of God redeeming suffering for the sake of others.

How might your suffering develop empathy in you for others who suffer? How might Jesus want to serve others through your pain?

“How are you doing now?” my friend asked as we walked down the path. The last time Adrian and I had spoken, I had told him that my wife and I were not able to have children and the pain this had brought us.

“On the whole,” I said, “we’re doing better. I guess we’re trying to focus on the upside of being childless and the opportunities it brings. You know, like being free to travel.” “Yes,” Adrian said, “although that can take you only so far.” We walked a little farther before he explained what he meant.

“There was no upside to Jesus’ suffering. His crucifixion was a dark, barbaric event. And Jesus never tried to find a positive side to it. Instead, He did something else entirely.” “Go on,” I said. “Have you ever noticed how many people Jesus ministered to as He hung on the cross?” Adrian asked. Then he said, “He ministered to His mother . . . ” “You mean, putting her in John’s care?” I inquired (John 19:26-27). “That’s right. He ministered to the thief crucified next to Him, and to the people who crucified Him (Luke 23:33-34,39-43). His death ministered to the Roman centurion who came to believe in Him (Luke 23:47), and He ministered to us—forgiving our sins through His sacrifice. All of this was done in the middle of Jesus’ suffering, before things came good at His resurrection.”

I thought deeply as we continued down the path.

“Yes, there may be some benefits in being childless, but you will also find it difficult and lonely. If you follow Jesus’ example, however, out of your suffering will come opportunities to minister to people in ways you otherwise couldn’t. For Jesus, crucifixion was a mission field. And with Him, the fruit of our suffering can be service to others too.”

Can You See Her?

From: Getmorestrength.org

Feb
16
2014

“and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”Luke 7:38

For most of us, prostitution represents a rather repulsive aspect of the underbelly of society. Given our disdain for such a godless practice, my guess is that few of us have ever thought about the people trapped in the “industry,” let alone the thought of taking the love of Jesus to them. We are far more prone to think of prostitutes with Simon the Pharisee’s sanctimonious aloofness—an aloofness that Jesus never felt.

Simon, the “good” person in town, was repulsed by the prostitute who had gate-crashed his party. The text indicates that he watched with revulsion the outpouring of her love at Jesus’ feet. His buttoned-up, spit-polished religious life had shut her out. Jesus, on the other hand, extended love and forgiveness to her and welcomed her in. What a contrast!

Lisa DePalma is the founder of a ministry to prostitutes on the dark street corners of Chicago. I have been stunned by Lisa’s stories of her work with these shattered lives, and I’ve been gripped by her example of what it means to extend the heart and hands of Jesus to them. Always used and never loved, these prostitutes hear—some of them for the first time—that God has wonderfully loved them through the person of Jesus.

To those of us who have a hard time feeling love and compassion for this kind of woman, Lisa writes these pleading lines.

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

Her face instead of her clothes? Her eyes instead of her body?

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

She has a name instead of a label, a broken heart instead of a hard one

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

The image of God instead of an object of scorn

Her worth to the Savior instead of her worthlessness to the world

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

His heart of forgiveness instead of your heart that judges

His blood that covers instead of your rules that condemn

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

And when you do see, what then?

What then? That’s a great question! Getting over a self-righteous, condemning attitude toward people who are not like us—and overtly sinful as well—is not an easy thing. Our “goodness” has a way of backfiring on us when we become proud that we are not like them and think of them as hopeless objects of God’s judgment—if indeed we think of them at all. The good guys in Jesus’ day were constantly shocked that He cared about sinners. But as He said, He came to seek and save those who are lost.

Getting over our infatuation with how good we are begins by asking ourselves if we want to be like standoffish Simon or like the compassionate Jesus. I choose Jesus! I’m tired of how I feel when I am self-righteous and proud. I find that following His lead to love the lost is a breath of fresh air in a stodgy and stagnant world of people who are taken with their own goodness.

 

 

The Gift

The Gift

From: Inspirationalarchive.com

Sharon was rich and lived in a large house. Beth was from a poor family and lived in a little house that had thin walls and bare pine floors. Sharon and Beth went to the same school, were in the same class and one day entered the same contest for reading books and writing reports.  At the end of the contest, both girls had completed the exact same number of reports and both girls had done reports of very high quality. The contest was declared a tie and the two girls were asked to draw straws—short straw to win.

An ecstatic Beth won the prize, a music box of bright blue plastic. When the music played, a tiny screen showed a series of different pictures as the wheel revolved. Beth placed her prize next to the front door of her small house so if there was ever a fire she would be able to rescue it on her way out.

Sharon was very disturbed that she had not won the drawing. After all, she had written just as many good book reports as Beth.  She went home and complained loudly to her parents.  The next day her parents came to school and complained loudly.  Before you know it, the contest judges decided to buy another music box for Sharon.

Sharon was pleased to have gotten her own way, but after playing the music box she was not impressed.  She shoved it on a shelf in her closet with many other forgotten toys.

While it was Beth who worried about fire, it was Sharon who suffered that catastrophe.  Early that winter, a fire caused by a careless maid destroyed Sharon’s home.   The family escaped but all their possessions were destroyed.

When Beth heard about the fire, she was dismayed. At school, it was said that all of Sharon’s many toys had burned except for the pony cart that was in the barn. All her clothes had burned.  Many of the little children were not too kind about Sharon’s hardship.  One little girl even said, “It serves her right for being so hoity-toity all the time.”

Beth, however, was sad for Sharon. On the way home after school, she thought and thought.   She was home only a minute before she rushed back out the door carrying a small bag.  She raced to a large brick house—the home of Sharon’s grandmother where Sharon was now staying.  When the maid brought Sharon to the parlor where Beth was waiting, Beth opened the bag and pulled out her cherished music box.  “I’m sorry about your fire,” she said.  “I want you to have this in place of the one you lost.”

“Thank you,” said Sharon.  “I’m sorry I can’t visit now.  Grandma is taking me shopping to get new clothes.”

A few minutes later, the maid closed the door behind Beth as Sharon raced upstairs to the bedroom she had been given in her grandmother’s home the moment she was born. As she pulled out a warm coat to wear on her shopping trip, she took a moment to shove the music box to the back of a shelf.  “It’s a stupid toy,” she thought.  “No wonder Beth gave it to me.”

Sharon went off shopping with Grandma with no understanding of the great gift she had been given while Beth went home to her little house, watched and guarded all the way by a thousand angels.

B. Killebrew

 


26 guards

From: Inspire21.com

Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and then just put it on a list and said, “I’ll pray for them later?”  Or, has anyone ever called you and said, “I need you to pray for me, I have this need?”  Read this story – may it change the way that you think about prayer and also the way you pray.  You will be blessed by this.

biking through the jungle— Author unknown

A missionary on furlough told this story while visiting his home church in Michigan. “While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point.

On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord.

I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident.

Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, “Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards. At this I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however, and said, “No sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.”

At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story: “On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?”  The men who had met together to pray that day stood up.

The missionary wasn’t concerned with who they were, he was too busy counting how many men he saw. There were 26.


can anybody see God?

From: Inspire21.com

— Author Unknown

A small boy once approached his slightly older sister with a question about God.

“Susie, can anybody ever really see God?” he asked. Busy with other things, Susie curtly replied: “No, of course not, silly. God is so far up in heaven that nobody can see him.”

Time passed, but his question still lingered, so he approached his mother: “Mom, can anybody ever really see God?” “No, not really,” she gently said. “God is a spirit and he dwells in our hearts, but we can never really see him.”

Somewhat satisfied but still wondering, the youngster went on his way. Not long afterwards, his saintly old grandfather took the little boy on a fishing trip. They were having a great time together — it had been an ideal day. The sun was beginning to set with unusual splendor as the day ended.

The old man stopped fishing and turned his full attention to the exquisite beauty unfolding before him.  On seeing the face of his grandfather reflecting such deep peace and contentment as he gazed into the magnificent ever-changing sunset, the little boy thought for a moment and finally spoke hesitatingly: “Granddad, I – I wasn’t going to ask anybody else, but I wonder if you can tell me the answer to something I’ve been wondering about a long time. Can anybody, can anybody ever really see God?”

The old man did not even turn his head. A long moment slipped by before he finally answered. “Son,” he quietly said. “It’s getting so I can’t see anything else.”

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
— Psalm 19:1-4

Are You Fresh for Everything?

From: My Utmost For His Highest

Jesus answered and said to him, ’Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ —John 3:3

Sometimes we are fresh and eager to attend a prayer meeting, but do we feel that same freshness for such mundane tasks as polishing shoes?

Being born again by the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, and as surprising as God Himself. We don’t know where it begins— it is hidden away in the depths of our soul. Being born again from above is an enduring, perpetual, and eternal beginning. It provides a freshness all the time in thinking, talking, and living— a continual surprise of the life of God. Staleness is an indication that something in our lives is out of step with God. We say to ourselves, “I have to do this thing or it will never get done.” That is the first sign of staleness. Do we feel fresh this very moment or are we stale, frantically searching our minds for something to do? Freshness is not the result of obedience; it comes from the Holy Spirit. Obedience keeps us “in the light as He is in the light . . .” (1 John 1:7).

Jealously guard your relationship with God. Jesus prayed “that they may be one just as We are one”-with nothing in between (John 17:22). Keep your whole life continually open to Jesus Christ. Don’t pretend to be open with Him. Are you drawing your life from any source other than God Himself? If you are depending on something else as your source of freshness and strength, you will not realize when His power is gone.

Being born of the Spirit means much more than we usually think. It gives us new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything through the never-ending supply of the life of God.