Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Blind Leading the Blind

In Matthew 15 Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites for promoting their traditions above God’s Word. The disciples reported to Him that He had offended the Pharisees. Jesus said, “Let them alone. They are blind guides of the blind, and if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (15:14).

Leave them alone? Didn’t He care about their destiny? For the longest time I couldn’t understand why Jesus said to ignore them. Sure, the Pharisees were set in their ways and wouldn’t change, but didn’t Jesus care about all those lost people who were following them? His statement makes it clear that the followers are just as accountable for their actions as the leaders. Even though they saw Jesus perform miracles, the people who followed the Pharisees chose to follow the false leaders.

Multitudes of people in Germany during WWII enthusiastically followed a demon-possessed dictator. Not one of them can say on the Judgment Day, “Lord, how can you blame me for following a dynamic leader? He was so magnetic and produced so many great military leaders. No one dared to question his leadership. I didn’t know that he was wrong.” Many pastors today are emphasizing leadership in church to the point it has become an idol. (If “leadership” were that important, Jesus would have taught us how to be great leaders instead of teaching us how to be servants and slaves of others!)

What can we learn from this? Be extremely careful about the spiritual leader that you choose to follow. Is that person feeding you spiritually or are you starving to death? Some people will follow a pastor who isn’t feeding them spiritually simply because they have been a member of that church for a long time. Is it your goal to become like that leader? Jesus said, “Everyone, after he is fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Life is too short to blindly follow a blind leader. If you aren’t growing closer to Jesus through that person’s ministry, take off your blindfold and find another church.

Some church members will blindly follow a rebellious deacon to overthrow a godly pastor. (See Korah's rebellion in Numbers 16:1-3, 31-33). I know of an associate pastor who orchestrated a rebellion against his senior pastor and split the church. The associate pastor led a group of his friends out of the church to start a new church in that town, appointing himself as their pastor. God will not only hold the associate pastor accountable for his rebellion but also the members who chose to blindly follow him.

What about you? Are you blindly following a blind leader? Have the courage to change course if necessary, and follow someone who is living a godly life and teaching the truth of God’s Word. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com  www.makinglifecount.net

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mental Reference Points

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is God’s will for us to be a continually thankful people. How is it possible to do this? Thankfulness is an act of your will. I believe that having a “reference point” in your mind is the secret to being thankful. A reference point is a predicament that’s worse than what you are currently experiencing. You can become thankful in any situation if you will compare it with a worse set of circumstances. Here are three mental reference points:

Reference Point #1: Trading places with a less fortunate person.  
What if God made you swap places with a less fortunate person whenever you complained? Perhaps you’re complaining about your car that keeps breaking down. Now you get to swap places with a poor person in another country who would love to have your old clunker—and you get to ride a burro to your next destination. In your mind think about what it is like to be a person in a less fortunate situation and you’ll suddenly become thankful for your situation.

Reference Point #2: Memories of doing without
I know a man has always been thankful for his shoes. When I asked him why, he said, “When I was a boy during the Depression, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me new shoes. I put cardboard in my shoe bottoms whenever they got holes. When I walked through rain and snow, I had to keep replacing the cardboard. I’ve always been thankful for shoes because I’ve never forgotten wearing those shoes with holes in the bottom.” That’s a mental reference point.

Reference Point #3: Losing blessings and recovering them
Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until we lose it. My father had radiation treatments for throat cancer and lost his ability to taste food. His inability to enjoy a meal made eating a dreaded duty. After eating flavorless food for over a year, he sat down to eat dinner and was shocked that his taste had returned! It was the best meal he had ever eaten because he had a reference point—losing a blessing and then recovering it. You don’t have to actually lose the blessing if you’ll just grasp what it is like to be without it and then thank God for it.

Can you think of some reference points? Now try to remember them in every difficult situation and you will find yourself becoming more thankful.  
        
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Hands of Jesus

Many of the people in Nazareth were astonished by Jesus’ teaching and asked, “How are these miracles performed by His hands?” (Mark 6:2). Here are some of the miracles that came through His hands.

1. Provision through His hands. Have you ever wondered how Jesus turned 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough food to feed over 5,000 people? At some point in time the multiplication had to take place. Mark 6:41 gives us the answer: “He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them.” As the food was passing through His hands it multiplied!

2. Healing through His hands. He touched the leper with His hand and healed him (Matthew 8:3). He laid His hands on a blind man’s eyes and he could see everything clearly (Mark 8:25). He laid His hands on a woman who had been bent over double for 18 years and immediately she stood up straight (Luke 13:13). How was God’s healing power transferred to others to make them well? Through His hands.

3. Salvation through His hands. When the Romans crucified Jesus, they drove nails into His hands. As they did this, the blood He shed purchased salvation for all who will place their trust in Him (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 1:18-19). After He rose from the dead, He showed Thomas the imprint of the nails in His hands and said, “Reach here your finger and see My hands” (John20:27). He will have the nail scars in His hands for all eternity to remind us of what He did to obtain our salvation.

Although Jesus is not physically on earth anymore, His hands can still touch you. He promised to be with us (in Spirit) even until the end of the world (Matt. 28:20). Do you need a touch from God? Call out to Him in faith and those same hands that fed the multitudes, healed the sick, and paid for your sins can still touch you.
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Listen to the song “One Pair of Hands

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Who will be #1 in Heaven? Part 2

Jesus said the way to become greatest in the next life is by being a humble servant to everyone during your time on earth. You'll view everyone in a higher position and you'll consider it a privilege to joyfully serve them. You'll never get offended when you aren’t appreciated. All glory and thanks goes to God alone. Just do this every moment of every day for the rest of your life and you might be a candidate for #1 in heaven. (I have a sneaking suspicion that the #1 position will go to someone we never heard of). Last week we listed 3 qualifications. Here are 3 more:

4. A “servant of all” is willing to do any job no matter how undignified it may be
E. Stanley Jones told a story about a man in India who became a Christian. The man was a Brahmin convert from the upper caste in India. Stanley asked him to clean the latrines, which he had never done before. The Indian man replied, "Brother Stanley, I'm converted, but not that far.” To be the servant of all we must be converted “that far.” No job is beneath you, including cleaning toilets, because you are serving God.

5. A “servant of all” doesn’t seek to be recognized. Many times we want others to compliment and recognize us for what we have done. Jesus said, “He (the master) does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded of you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:9-10).

In case you’re wondering, it’s not wrong to be thanked for your service. If someone serves you, you should show your gratitude by thanking that person. And if you serve others and they thank you, you can humbly and graciously say, “I’m glad I was able to help you.” Keep in mind that we live to please the Lord and one day He will reward us for our service and “each man’s praise will come to him from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).

6. A “servant of all” sees everyone as more important. In God’s eyes the homeless man out on the streets is just as valuable as the most admired movie star who lives in a mansion (see Prov. 22:2). Philippians 2:3 says, “With humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” This does not mean that others are more important than we are, but that we are to regard them as more important. That means that the “servant of all” will not look down on anyone but will look up to those who are considered unimportant by this world’s standards.

Now you know what it means to be “the servant of all.” All that’s left is to put it into practice.

NEW BIBLE STUDY: Are all sins equal or are there degrees of sin? The answer might surprise you!

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