Blessed Beyond Measure and Understanding

I recently was reminded of a Song.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

What blessings??

Have you ever found yourself wondering “when is God going to bless me”? I often find myself caught up in this thought. It normally comes up when I see how well off someone else is. Or how easy life seems for other families around me. I start thinking that God must have forgotten about me. Where are my blessings??

Mindset…

While spending a bit of free time surfing through Facebook earlier this week, I read a “status” posted by a friend of mine that made me realize that I have fallen victim to my own mindset:

It’s hard for God to bless us when we feel as if we deserve everything we get.

You see, for a long time now I have viewed everything I have with the mindset that it is a result of things that I  have done. This is an easy trap to fall in to. It is our human nature to glorify ourselves and our accomplishments, this is one of the many flaws of carnal man. We all too easily forget that without Him we would have nothing, without Him we would be nothing, without Him there would be nothing!

By changing this natural mindset to one that admits that nothing is ours it is all God’s, and He graciously gives blessings to us; we will have a complete change of our outlook on life. Our paychecks would look better, we would love our spouses better, we would treat our children better, we would give to the needy better, it would be a joy to give to the church, most of all we would make more time for God. No longer would we be relying on what we could do for ourselves, but praising and thanking God for what He has blessed us with.

1 Timothy 6:17

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

James 1:16 & 17

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow.

I Challenge you:

  • Count your blessings
  • Try to stop taking credit for those blessings
  • Apologize to God for claiming His glory
  • Thank God for your blessings
  • Live your life as if you have way more than you deserve
  • Be open handed, open armed, and generously giving (what you have isn’t really yours anyway)… It is a gift from God

This little light of mine…Im goin to let it shine!!

Have you ever wondered about the fate of those in our world who have never heard the name “Jesus Christ”?

It is scary to me to think of the many millions of people in our world and throughout history who have never heard the name of our savior Jesus Christ. We know from Gods word that the only way to eternal life with God is through Jesus Christ. So, why are there so many unreached people in the world? I would submit that it is due to a lack of participation by those who are already part of the Body of Christ.

The Problem

The Church is full of people who say they care about the lost, or that they want everyone to spend eternity in Heaven with God, but when asked to do something for the kingdom they think “someone else will do it” or “I am not qualified” or “I do not have time for that” or “this task could be too dangerous for me”. These people are, by omitting themselves from the work of the church, effectively cutting off the fingers of the Body of Christ.

Importance of EVERY Member

At First Baptist Church of Vidor, TX we have just finished a study and sermon series about spiritual gifts. One of the focal points of the entire study was the importance of every member doing their God given function in the Body of Christ. The Human body is a great way to stress the importance of every member being active in the mission of the Christian Church.

For example, recently a friend of mine, who is a maintenance man by trade, had a very unfortunate accident. While working on a large compressor, he leaned a bit too far forward and ended up loosing two fingers from his hand when they got caught in the cooling fan of the compressor. My friend is ok now, but he has lost some of the ability to accomplish his daily tasks due to a shortage of appendages (or members).

The Church is the same way.

If there are any members in The Church who are not participating in ministry, the Church suffers. It was God’s purpose for The Church to be “The city on a hill”, “Salt of the Earth”, “Light in a Dark World”. If the members of The Church are not participating, The Church becomes a “Hidden City” “Salt without Taste” “a Dim light in an even Dimmer World”

 

Romans 12:3-5 “Serve in The Body”

3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:6-8 “Serve Through Giftedness”

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:9-15 “Serve With Godly Attitudes”

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

 

C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity:

Here us another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and have been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man’s fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work.

A note on “Danger” in the ministry

One thing that has really bothered me about Christians today, especially in our American culture, is the idea that missions and ministry must be safe. On many occasions I have heard young men and women come up with great plans to reach people groups, or take trips to remote areas in hopes of claiming even one new member to the Body of Christ; only to be shot down by parents or friends or even by pastors saying “that would be too dangerous” or questioning “will that be safe” or warning “you could get very sick going there, or be killed for your faith”. And so these young men and women are talked out of doing their ministry so that they can stay home in their “safe” lives accomplishing little for the kingdom.

What would the Apostle Paul say to this? I remind you that Paul was taken outside a city that he was preaching in, beaten, stoned, and left for dead. What did he do when he woke up from the beating? He got up, turned and walked back  to the city, and began to preach again.

Paul, and Jesus Christ himself who DIED on the cross, did not play it safe. They did not SIT and let others do the job. They Cared about people, and made sure they did everything they could to add members to the body!

Ask yourself:

  • Do I really care about the lost
  • Are there things I could be doing to further the Kingdom of God
  • What are my Passions
  • Do I put my safety or my comfort ahead of the eternal fate of others
  • Am I doing my part in The Body of Christ
  • Am I even a member of The Body of Christ

 

According to The Measure of Faith

I was recently thinking back to a time in my life when I felt I had no place in the local church.

My entire life I had been sitting through the 1 hour to 1.5 hour Sunday School classes, hearing the same old stories year after year. Then I would find my spot in the sanctuary of the church and sit through yet another 1 hour to 1.5 hour service. Then leave the building that I called church, and feel that it was just another day spent doing my “duty” as a christian. It seemed so shallow and pointless. I was not connecting with anyone. I did not feel any communion with God. I would leave every week feeling unsatisfied and always had the thought in the back of my mind “why am I still doing this, I will just stop going soon”. Only to repeat the same story again the next week.

Have you ever seen/met one of those people who seem to really enjoy everything about church?

As I think back on those times and thoughts, I remember how it seemed that unlike me, there were a few people that I saw every week at church that really seemed to like being there. Just by watching them, one would think that “this is what they live for”. At first, I thought that these guys must have something wrong with them. Or, that home life must not be so great if being up here is so joyful. But, then I started to feel a little bit of wonder and jealousy.

What is their secret?

While I was off at college, I was introduced to the secret to joy within a church body. While driving to class one day I got pulled over and given a citation for speeding. It was much deserved, I was typically speeding due to not waking up in time for class pretty much every day. To avoid having the ticket on my driving record, I made a deal with the judge that I would do community service at the local church for a set number of hours.

I thought this would get me off easy… I was wrong…. I spent the next two weeks of my free time demolishing a rebuilding the youth department of the church. It was hard work, and I got really good at doing some “tape and bed” sheet rock work!

The entire two weeks there was one quiet man who I knew right off was running the show. It seemed like he could do everything, and do it well. The entire project probably could have been done at the same pace and with better precision if he had done it all himself, but He lead all of the volunteers with humility and grace. The atmosphere in that work place was awesome, and everyone learned how to do things that they did not know how to do before. When the project was done, we had one of the best looking youth departments that I have ever seen, and there were a lot of people who could take some pride in the work.

That was my first real introduction to Jay Boshart. A man who really showed me  what church membership, self sacrifice, and humility are. Over the next 5 years I had many opportunities to fall in love with serving the church and God’s people, a lot of those opportunities his working side by side with Jay.

I had finally found the secret to a worshipful and joyful membership in a local church! It was through Serving with Humility and Faith. I quickly found my place in church. It was almost like an addiction. I would help lead worship on Wednesday night, help in the nursery, serve meals, help widows of the church with things that they needed, and find ways to bring new college students into the church.

This is what we are made for!

It is our “measure of faith”. Our faith can be measured by how well we do the things that God has given us to do. In Romans, Paul teaches us the correct way to accomplish what God has assigned to us, and if we do these things we will find joy within the body of our local church!

Romans 12:3-5 “Serve in The Body”

3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:6-8 “Serve Through Giftedness”

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:9-15 “Serve With Godly Attitudes”

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

 

Before Next Sunday, Think about these questions:

  • How would you define Humility?
  • Does being humble mean downplaying your abilities? Explain…
  • What is YOUR role in your local church?
  • Why is identifying your spiritual gifts important?
  • What gifts do you see being used in your church?
  • Why is Love foundational to all Christian attitudes and actions?

 

 

Blueprint for Love?

I recently saw a clip of Brian Regan talking about the instructions on a pop-tart package. Hilarious short skit one of my favorites! Here it is if you have not seen it:

YouTube – Brian Regan at the improv.

As I was watching the pop-tart skit I began to think about how important instructions are for us in life. Think about it! Just about anything that you use, put together, build, or try for the first time; has some kind of instruction that make the entire process more enjoyable and understandable. It tells you what to do. Sure, like the pop-tart example, these instructions may not be needed. Some things, however, get very complex and need quite a lot of explanation before a person can fully understand.

One step above pop-tarts may be something as simple as making a paper airplane. A person could probably make something out of paper that flies without instruction, but with instruction, one could make something rather impressive!

Almost infinitely more important is the blueprint for a home! It gives the builder or contractors the instructions for everything from the size of each room to the placement of every electrical outlet and to even the color and texture of every  room in the building!

And, when we cannot find the instructions for something that we do not understand, we find an expert who can guide us or show us what we need to understand.

While thinking of these things and how blueprints and instructions are used for things easy and hard, I realized that we were also given the blueprint for one of life’s toughest subjects, LOVE.

1 John 3:16-18  “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need–how can God’s love reside in him? Little Children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”

Jesus Christ IS our blueprint for love. Through a study of his life, the nature, power, influence, and ultimate sacrifice of love is made perfectly clear! Would a contractor try to complete a job without consulting his blueprint?.. Then why do we live our lives without consulting Jesus Christ? One of the specific ways that Christ calls us to love our brothers, is to be generous. Generous with our time, money, talents, and in some cases our lives!

This week, read 1 John 3, and the Gospel of John 10, then ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the most powerful expression of love you’ve observed or received?
  • What is your first response when you see a person in need?
  • When have you had intentions to help someone but failed to follow through?
  • What are some practical ways that you could show love to others the way Christ showed us love?

How Much Stuff = Contentment??

Have you ever walked into a store and as soon as you made it through the front door, the idea you had about something you owned suddenly changed? This object that you owned had previously brought you pride, or joy, or attention from others. It was the newest, had the most bells and whistles, could out perform the objects or items that any of your friends or family members owned; but now, just because you walked through the front door of your favorite store, you lost all of the pride, joy,excitement and contentment that you had just a few steps previous! WHY!? Because the new and improved, best thing upgrade has just been put out on the shelf to out do whatever now OLD version of the object that you have poured you time money love and obsession into! From that moment on you begin to rationalize why you need the upgraded model, you begin to scrutinize any minute blemish or glitch that had never bothered you before about the thing you already own.  Until, you finally talk yourself into trashing, selling, or trading in yours to get the new one! All of this, so that the whole process can start over again.

I am sure that we have all experienced moments like this. I have recently been trying to justify spending extra money on myself that could be better used elsewhere, so that I could have the new iPad 2. I did the same thing for my wife when the new Barnes and Noble Nook came out, I just HAD to have it so that I could spoil her with it. I can think of countless other times when the same process was going on in my head to the point where it literally becomes the aim and agenda controlling my thought and the motivation of life.

Where does it end? Moreover, Where does this process, motivation, lifestyle, or world view even get me?

Can one really find contentment in the accumulation or improvement of possessions?

1 Timothy 6:9 “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul warns about the dangers of this lifestyle that has become the norm in our society. He also offers the solution. Godliness with Contentment.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 “But godliness with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.”

Read all of 1 Timothy 6, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you define godliness?
  • What circumstances in life impact your sense of contentment?
  • Which would you prefer: a simple life with few possessions or a complicated life with riches?
  • How has materialism trapped you?
  • Do you possess cravings and desires that are ungodly and harmful?
  • Do you find it hard to rejoice in tough times?
  • When have you experienced Christ’s power to overcome anxiety and frustration?

Check out this Link Money: Currency for Christian Hedonism – Desiring God.