A Closer Look at Guilt

Guilt/conviction, when experienced by a genuine Christian, is a warning for us to deal with the cause of that guilt. It is intended that we deal with the sin(s) that caused the guilt so that God won’t have to chasten (correct; discipline) us. When He has to deal with us, His measures can range from slight to severe. If we repent and confess at once, His corrective measures will likely be mild. If we persist, He will likely intensify His disciplinary actions. Guilt is not intended to discourage us but is intended to change us. Discouragement is a tool of Satan to defeat us. John tells us, under inspiration, that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Some think that this means that we can sin and ask for forgiveness and since we are promised forgiveness every time, we can just keep getting away with sinning. What they fail to take into account is that a true Christian doesn’t want to get away with sin; he or she wants to get victory over sinning! If any  want to get away with sin, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves….” (From II Corinthians 13:5). False guilt is when we have not knowingly violated any Scriptural principle or command or knowingly refused to obey. Selah! Don’t be fooled by false guilt, “ Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices(II Corinthians 2:11). Two facets of forgiveness will be examined tomorrow, God willing.    Ron

The Grip of Guilt

Many genuine Christians are at a loss as to how they are to deal with guilt. (I read something back along to the effect that many beds in mental institutions could be freed if those using them could be rid of guilt). There are two types of guilt that I’d like for us to think on today. First is false guilt. This is guilt that we take on with no real basis for doing so. This is perhaps from an over sensitive conscience. A careful study of God’s Word and perhaps the help of a Biblical counselor should show us if there is any basis for this kind of guilt. If not, let it go. The second kind is justified guilt. We have refused to follow a Scriptural principle or command. This brings conviction and guilt. What do we do this kind of guilt? First, confess our sin(s). Second, accept His cleansing and forgiveness. Third, forgive yourself and resume obeying. Keep in mind that refusing to forgive someone who has offended you will lock guilt inside of you. So will neglecting to ask forgiveness for your own wrongs. Once we deal with either of these, a wonderful freedom and release takes place. If we have forgiven and/or been forgiven, let go of the guilt! Why harbor something God promised to forgive? Take Him at His Word and move on. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Selah! Calvary covers it all! Trust and obey!   Ron

Robots?

Robots can be made to look very life-like. They can duplicate and/or do many things that humans do. However, they are devoid of emotions. They just function. What happens when Christians begin to function like robots? They do all the things that Christians do, but without heart. Those watching them might find them interesting but they certainly wouldn’t want to be one! It’s even more pitiful when unsaved people are more excited about living than Christians who have allowed their walk with God to be reduced to the level of a machine. Until we invest the time and thought to internalize God’s Word and allow it to ignite our hearts with the fire of His resurrection life, we might as well be a machine. When we were first saved, we were excited and full of joy. Cares, responsibilities, entertainment, work, possessions, etc. have combined to distract us from nourishing that new life within. Like ashes that have all but died out completely, we must fan what spark there is left into the flame of abundant life. Our fan is when we depend on the Holy Spirit to bring the Word to bear on our lives daily. Until prayer and the Word become the most important part of our daily lives, we are functioning as mere machines. Jesus said, In John 10:10, “….I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Let’s give ourselves to the Word and prayer daily, no matter what it takes to do it. Selah! If we know Him, we are not machines. Have we been functioning like one? if so, it’s time to stop.   Ron

Individual Attention

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I know of a missionary that picks a few men that he can give individual attention to, in order to disciple them. This usually leads to some of them going into pastorates. Since it would be difficult to give individual attention to many, these who are being discipled can learn to help while they are being trained. Those who are not going into full time ministry can also be built up by those that are being built up on their way to a pastorate. Keep in mind that it is God’s Word that is the source of their training. This approach works well with my missionary friend and would work well in a local church. It is a practical application of Ephesians 4:11-13, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” It is also in harmony with Paul’s inspired instructions to Timothy. He wrote, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). Selah! I wonder what God would do in a church that did this in harmony with article 3 of this short series.  Ron

Following the Shepherd

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If you are blessed with a pastor like we discussed yesterday, thank God! Pray for him, appreciate him and support him. There is something else we need to do. Without a doubt, Paul followed the Great Shepherd. Paul was also like the shepherd that we talked about. He could, therefore, issue a remarkable admonition to those to whom he ministered. He said, in I Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” We follow by learning the Truth, commands and principles in Scripture and then  by applying these to our lives. When done from the heart in simple trust, motivated by love, our Christianity ceases to be sterile and becomes exciting and contagious. Because we are loved, fed and equipped, we let others know. We can testify from personal experience what God’s Word means to us and invite them to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. When they can see what salvation has done for us, we can encourage them to become involved in our church where they can share the blessings that we have experienced. Then reproducing occurs. Selah! This type of following seems to be what Paul was praying for in Ephesians 3:14-21. A careful study of this passage will reward you with a picture of church as God intends it to be. Read it prayerfully and thoughtfully. Then be a part of the answer to that prayer.   Ron

Majoring on Minors?

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Much Christian Education today, a number of para-church ministries, successful (?) pastors, etc. may be missing the point entirely. Many young men entering the pastoral ministry these days may be caught up in programs, events, publicity, methods and means. Churches are run as if they are a business, pastors are the CEO’s, deacons and/or elders are the board of directors. The bottom line is numbers, growth in attendance and membership, conversions (genuine?), meeting budget and keeping people involved. Could it be that we are truly majoring on minors? If we are blessed with genuine conversions, are we majoring on their Spiritual growth? Are we loving them, praying for them, feeding them, teaching them, training them and caring for them? Aren’t these our major responsibilities? What difference does it make if we start with one or two or many, as long as we are leading Christians to maturity? If we major on this, can we not expect the Holy Spirit to use them to impact the lives of others? Are we relying on what we come up with for ideas or are we depending on what God can accomplish when we major on the sheep and not the local church? Jesus asked, in John 21:15  “….lovest thou Me….Feed My lambs.” Selah! What will what we are majoring on in our local churches amount to when viewed in the light of eternity?  Ron

Job Description

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Does a shepherd devise programs for the sheep? He may have a regimen but I don’t recall any special programs for sheep. The shepherd has the responsibility to lead, feed and protect the flock. The Shepherd has called and equipped the under-shepherds for  “….the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (From Ephesians 4:12). In other words, healthy sheep reproduce! The primary responsibility of the under-shepherd is to be a means by which the sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). This is why, in II Timothy 4:2, Paul instructed Timothy to, “Preach the Word.” The under-shepherd is to, “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight  thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-3). The under-shepherd feeds the sheep the milk and meat of the Word. He is a servant-leader under the Chief-Shepherd. It is in the under-shepherds’ personal roles, as sheep themselves, that they are to model what is expected of the flock. Their right response to the Chief-Shepherd is to be mirrored in the lives of the sheep. Selah! What about programs, special events, social times? Come back tomorrow for a look into that subject, God willing.  Ron