According to "Pastoral Care Inc.", 20,000 ministers left the ministry last year! Many left because they felt inadequate, lonely, hurt and discouraged. Some of the reasons cited was lack of finances, that put a strain on their marriage. Others left because of some moral lapse in behavior. Whatever the reason, it is sad indeed, that lives that once touched so many, are now themselves in need of help.
Sadly, many pastors children are no longer interested in church because of the hardships their parents have faced. Probably half of the issues they experienced, are because of lack of training, wisdom and understanding. Oh how we desperately need an outpouring of the love and glory of God in our churches in the USA and elsewhere.
But there is something we ALL can do about this epidemic.
Galatians 6(Amp.)Vs.1 BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. God loves His people and will go to great lengths to strengthen and heal, body, soul and spirit. That's why He gave gifts to the people He calls, in order to do the work of the ministry. (Eph.4:8) We have a great responsibility, as His vessels to make sure that we do everything in our ability to help others stay in the plan and purpose of God for their lives.
"When we encourage and strengthen others,
we reap a harvest of encouragement for ourselves."
It is easy to be critical of others and find fault. That is not difficult at all. Especially when we really don't know what is going on in their lives. I wept when I read the report, that a well known worship leader, admitted to adultery, and was stepping down from ministry. His music had been such a blessing to me and thousands of others, I began to wonder whether I was sad that his music would no longer be heard or was I sad for him, who still loved the Lord, but was going through much emotional turmoil, guilt and shame. Whilst we cannot condone adultery, as it is against the laws of God, we can love the person and do everything in our power to pull them away from this soul destroying sin.
But often it is not "wrong living" that caused so many
to leave the ministry, but "wrong thinking".
They allowed the pressures of the ministry to become their focus or they got off on a tangent, on some little doctrinal side road, and became entangled in error, which ultimately robbed them of their fellowship with God. God gives us a clue in His word on how to deal with someone overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort. He says "you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him," We are to do whatever we can to restore the person to right standing with God. In the same verse, God warns us to make sure we do it ... "without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness" watching ourselves ... "lest you should be tempted also."
Over the past 45 years of serving God, I have seen preachers who have been critical of others and have openly attacked other ministers, who themselves were "overtaken in misconduct or sin" and eventually fell away from the grace of God.
Listen to "God is So Good"
The Body of Christ will never be perfect because it consists of imperfect people.
In fact, the great commission was not given to super saints, but to a bunch of unbelievers. Jesus had just finished rebuking the disciple's for "their hardness of heart and refusal to believe" (Mark 16:14 - Amp) and then commanded "Go into all the world and preach the Good News"
I know we hold preachers to a higher standard and the shepherd need to be beyond reproach, but we must remember that the shepherd is also a sheep and has sheep needs. So even though the vessel is not perfect, God inside us is Perfect. Thank God for the Holy Spirit who is our teacher, comforter and guide. Thank God for His word which is the road map we can follow.
Galatians 6Vs.2 " Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and [a]troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete [b]what is lacking [in your obedience to it].
Make a decision that you will do everything in your ability to encourage someone today and help them under the strain of their load. If you hear someone being critical of another believer or preacher, stop them and pray for that person. Can you imagine, what the world would be like, if every believer were to make a promise to God, that they would encourage someone that day.
Vs.3 For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.
Vs.4 But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [[c]in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.
God bless you richly
PS: Listen to our free "Worship Podcast" CLICK HERE
Have you ever heard the expression "The GIGO Effect" It means, Garbage In - Garbage Out. It's a secular saying and was birthed in the early days of computers.
I know I am giving my age away, but back in the early 70's, I worked for General Motors in South Africa. I remember walking through the computer department and marveling at all the "modern technology" (LOL) ... rows and rows of tape readers, with spools of magnetic tape flying through the reading heads at great speed.
What was considered a powerful computer back then, could not do a fraction of what the Lap Top I am currently writing this blog with, can do.
It was a giant IBM computer fed by thousands of book mark sized punch cards, with hundreds of punch holes in, later to be replaced by paper tape.
These were created by punch card operators or teletype tape operators, who spent their days at typing machines that transferred data from various departments in the entire factory, into a punched out code that the computer could read and analyze.
Every department would get reams and reams of paper with columns of data which we would use in the day to day operation.
From time to time, operators would input the incorrect information and thus the reports we got would be incorrect. This was referred to the GIGO effect. Garbage In and Garbage Out.
It's much like our minds. What we feed our mind with today, will be affect what happens tomorrow. In other words, I can make sure my future is blessed beyond measure by feeding my mind with the right thoughts today. We are told to "guard our hearts" and "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" If you look at the greek meaning of the word "heart" it refers to the mind and thoughts. So we are to guard our thoughts.
There is so much negative stuff that we are being bombarded with daily. Whilst a lot of it is true, we have to make sure it does not affect the way we think. Just because there are so many problems in the world, it does not make God any less able to deliver us from the snare of the fowler and the noisome pestilence.
In the course of conversation, I hear Christians often speaking in a fearful way about some situation in their community, state or country. They repeat something they hear from someone else, as truth, without checking the validity of the report. The truth is, whatever happens, God is still God and His mercy endures forever. His goodness and mercy shall follow us ALL the days of our lives.
THAT'S WHAT I HAVE TO BELIEVE.
So, don't let every bit of garbage you hear, become a part of your thinking. Refuse to allow it to take root in your thoughts. Rather believe what God says and stand firm on His promises.
2 Cor 10:5 "Casting down imaginations" The word imaginations literally means ... a thought or obstinacy. It's an obstinate thought that dominates your thinking. Cast it down. Get rid of it.
Purposefully fix your thoughts on something of value.
"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Phil. 4:8 (New Living Translation.)
God bless you richly.
PS: Listen to our free "Worship Podcast" CLICK HERE
"The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength". Nehemiah 8-9
There is not a person alive that does not need joy. Every man, woman, boy and girl, needs joy in their lives in order to cope with the pressures of life. That’s why comedies are so popular. People love telling jokes and at gatherings of friends and family, there is often a lot of mirth and merriment. But human laughter, whilst good, is only sustained for a few moments. You laugh for 20 or 30 seconds at a good joke and then it’s over.
We have seen people get touched with the Joy of the Lord for an hour or two and even longer. But the result afterwards is amazing.
There is research that has found that 87% of illnesses stem from emotional and mental disorders. Stress, depression, fear, anxiety all contribute to the physical ailments that assail people.
God has an answer to these problems. It’s called “the Joy of the Lord” Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that dispenses God’s joy. It’s for everyone and is freely available.
All you have to do is yield to it. I realize that when you are in the middle of your problem, the last thing you feel like doing is laughing. But that’s where the miracle happens. When we are not able to in the natural, He is and will fill us to overflowing.
We have seen literally thousands of people all across the globe get filled with joy. Many testimonies of healings, marriages saved, depression, suicidal tendencies, and other victories, have come out of our meetings.
“When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dreamed. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, & our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.” Psalm 126:1 & 2
God knows the pressures of life that are on His people and has provided an antidote for them, His Joy. God's joy is an antidote for the pressures of life. Life is full of surprises and many of them are not enjoyable, and if we allow them to get to us, it will rob us of the little joy we have. So, everyone of us needs God's supernatural joy to fill us at all times.
Job 5:22 says "At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh" It's a command God gave to Job to prepare him for what was to come. God is saying to us, that His joy will help us through difficult times. It's supernatural and is God's provision for those that love him.
Whatever you are facing today, reach out and grab a hold of God's supernatural joy now and let Him refresh you, fill you and use you.
PS: Listen to our free "Worship Podcast" CLICK HERE
Psalm 61:2 "From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
Rocks are majestic and speak of longevity, strength, endurance, and often beauty. As a child, I loved climbing rocks and was fascinated with caves. At every opportunity, I would spend hours exploring and enjoying the beauty of the rock formations. It is interesting to see the Psalmist, David referring to the Lord as a "rock", his place of refuge. David knew where his source of strength was, in the presence of the Lord. I am sure it came from his boyhood days as a shepherd. There must have been many a time when danger threatened his flock of sheep and he herded them into a nearby cave for shelter and protection. His prayer here is, "when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock" Lord, show me the way to the place of safety. There is a place of safety to be found in the midst of troubling times. The days we are living in are troubling times. If you focus on them, your heart is going to be overwhelmed. So many families are under the gun so to speak. Worry and anxiety are a constant companion for so many people and stress related illnesses are on the increase. But God has provided the ability for us to be protected from all these things. It's called the presence of God. It's called the "peace of God that passes all understanding." Phil. 4:7 It is peace that is not dependent on your own understanding. It's trusting God in spite of your surroundings, plight, problem, situation, lack, sickness etc. When your heart is overwhelmed, the "Rock - Jesus" is the ONE to go to and He has the peace and strength that we need. So we are to learn how to run to Him for comfort. It's not as if suddenly the thing we need, to relieve us of the stress we are under, arrives, but His peace fills us regardless of whether the problem is solved or not. It is not logical and may sound like "sticking our heads in the sand", but it is God's provision for us ... it is the secret place mentioned in Psalm 91:1"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high" The rest of this verse in the Amplified Bible says" shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]." Stable and fixed sounds good to me. Under the shadow implies "influence or protection" We are to remain under the influence and protection of God's presence. It's like an immunization against whatever is trying to overwhelm us. That's what helps us to "cast down imaginations" Verse 2 & 3 (Amp) says "I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence." Leaning on and confidently trusting Him to deliver us from the snare and deadly pestilence. That is powerful stuff and something worth pursuing. "How do I get into His presence?" you ask. It's a cultivated behavior, something I learn to do and comes from positioning my self to receive His blessings, by worship, reading His word, prayer and fellowship. It is like walking under the umbrella during the storm. The rain is all about you but you are not affected because you are protected by the umbrella covering. Even though there are issues and problems all around you, they do not overwhelm you because He is your fortress and strength.
Soon after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, he appeared to His disciples for the third time. He performed yet another miracle in providing fish for the disciples who had caught nothing all night. Then after preparing a meal of fish and bread for them, Jesus poses this question to Peter "Do you love me" Of course Jesus knows that Peter loves Him, but He is wanting to get a point across to Peter. Peter responds with surprise, wondering why Jesus would question his love for Him. "Yes, Lord, you know I do" Jesus then makes this statement "feed my lambs"
Jesus asks the same question two more times. The second response from Jesus is "shepherd or take care of my sheep" No longer lambs but sheep. The third response to Peter's reply is "feed my sheep"
Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep" These are commandments from Jesus to Peter and ultimately to all His disciples ie: "US". Jesus is talking about an ongoing process of shepherding and caring for the flock to adulthood and then some more. This is something that takes place over the lifetime of the sheep. It's not good enough just to feed lambs, but to take care of them, nurture them and make sure they grow up into adult, productive sheep.
Our job is not to take advantage of sheep, nor to use sheep for our own purpose. Our job is to make sure the sheep are following the Good Shepherd. To make sure the sheep don't stray and to encourage, protect, strengthen and nurture the sheep.
We as believers are all assigned this task. With the help and direction of the Holy Spirit, we can do it and do it well. It's one thing to lead people to salvation, but it's an entirely different thing to take care of the afterwards. We must ask ourselves ... "Are we winning the lost and losing the saved" To many Christians are being lost to the world because they are not being fed and nurtured to full maturity. God gave His very best, His Son Jesus, so that we could have access to eternal life. So we need to give our very best, so that He did not die in vain.
Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples in Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." But it is not just to preach the gospel, He also commanded in Matthew 28:19 (AMP) Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,We are to preach the gospel and make disciples out of the converts. Feed my lambs, look after the sheep and when they are fully grown, continue to feed them. Every thing we do and say should be to encourage people to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul.
PS: Listen to our free "Worship Podcast" CLICK HERE
Matthew 6:34 : "So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of it's own. Sufficient for each day is it's own trouble." Amp.
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." KJV
Being anxious is very human. There are millions of people who go to bed and wake up every day in an anxious state. Considering the state of the world, the cost of living, unemployment, not to mention wars and rumors of war (rumour's for our English visitors), natural disasters etc, it is not hard to realize why.
But Jesus tells us not to worry or be anxious about tomorrow. But that is easier said than done. So why would Jesus say this to us? Does He not understand and does He not have compassion? Absolutely He understands and has made a way for us where there is no way. He will "even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." Isa 43:19 He promised that we "can do all things through Christ that gives us strength" Phil 4:13
I have been through many trials in my 62 years of life. Some of them seemed insurmountable, but God always brought us through. Life is full of surprises and things go wrong in this imperfect world. Learning to trust God in all things is not something that we can do overnight, but as He proves Himself to be the faithful provider, merciful, compassionate and long suffering, we will change from being negative to being more positive.
So what exactly does God mean when He says "do not be anxious or worry about tomorrow"? He is saying "put your trust in Me, I will see you through" and take care of your future.
Luke 12:28 (Amp) says : "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith? : Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear?
He is giving us a clue here. Saying what we do not have is not the answer, because the more we say it the more we are going to believe it. The more we believe it, the more negative we are going to become. Faith and negativity don't mix. I cannot be negative and be in faith at the same time.
What I have found, in my life is, having things does not make me more positive. In fact, when having things becomes our priority, we open ourselves to frustration, anxiety, worry and fear and when we don't get them, we feel like failures.
Think about this for a moment. What made people feel prosperous and successful, just a few years ago? People felt secure when they purchased their own home and felt prosperous as they watched the value of their asset increase year after year.
But for millions, that feeling of security changed quickly when the housing market went belly up. People lost hundreds of thousands in a very short space of time. The feeling of prosperity and security was gone.
The truth is there is no security in the worldly system. Without a deep fellowship with God many will not make it through these times of distress, without falling into depression and all the negative things that brings. That's why Jesus says "take no thought" Don't dwell on it and fill your minds with negatives. Worry and anxiety about how we are going to make it through, will only keep us awake at night and cause our bodies to suffer physically.
Mat. 6:33 states : "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." The kingdom of God is where He is and about what He wants to do in and through us. As we stay in fellowship with Him and allow Him to direct us, He will make a way for us.
There is hope in the final outcome. Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified Bible) "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome."
"Father, help us to overcome our fear and anxiety about tomorrow. Fill us with your peace today so that we can stop worrying about tomorrow. Thank You that You are our provider and will never leave us nor forsake us. Amen"
God bless you.
PS: Listen to our free "Worship Podcast" CLICK HERE
2 Corinthians 5:11 "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."
God's word instructs us to "persuade men" The Greek root is peithō (pronounced "pie tho") means to prevail on (a person) to do something, as by advising or urging: and "to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; to convince." It's synonyms - urge, influence, move, entice, impel, induce, imply influencing someones thoughts or actions.
There are no absolutes on how this action of persuading people should take place. Because there are so many believers with such diverse understanding of God and His word, that I cannot say how you should persuade people. That is something between you and God. Everyone of us needs to have a personal relationship with God, that allows Him to lead us in the direction that He intends for us to go.
But we do get a clue from 2 Corinthians 5:11 - The Amplified says it well " Therefore, being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence, we seek to win people over [to persuade them]. But [a]what sort of persons we are is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood by God, and I hope that it is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood also by your consciences (your inborn discernment).
"We seek to win people over [to persuade them]. " It's something that I want to do. It is the desire of my heart. I seek to win people over by my words and action and my lifestyle. The Amplified continues ... "But what sort of persons we are is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood by God" God knows our hearts and motives and understands how to use us best to fulfil His plan and purpose.
Have you ever looked at people and thought how their lives inspire you. Their manner of speech is inspiring to you. God has someone for everyone. Not every preacher or believer has inspired me. But God had specific people whom He brought across my path at the right time who "persuaded" me and inspired and encouraged me.
He has someone like that for you. But He also has you for someone else. The secret is to let the Holy Spirit in you "persuade" others through you. 1 Peter 4:11 "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified ..."
The dictionary meaning for the word "oracle" is ... a person who delivers authoritative, wise, or highly regarded and influential pronouncements. A divine communication or revelation. Any person or thing serving as an agency of divine communication. Any utterance made or received as authoritative, extremely wise, or infallible".
Every believer is a messenger of the Lord and whatever we say or do, we need to make sure that God is glorified through it. Ask God for wisdom and He will give it to you.
James 1:5 (KJV) " If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
"Father, give us the wisdom to know what to speak and only when You direct us by Your Holy Spirit, In Jesus Name, Amen"
PS: Listen to our free "Worship Podcast" CLICK HERE
Isaiah 26:3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Perfect peace ... aah ... what a great thought. Can the word of God actually mean we can have peace. Yes, as hard as that sounds, we can enjoy peace. Peace is the absence of turmoil.
There are many definitions of peace at Dictionary.com, but I want to focus on two of them. The first is - "cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension" and the second is - "freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquility; serenity".
Our peace or lack thereof stems from what is going on in our minds. The mind is a powerful thing and left to it's own devices, it can create havoc in our lives. I make it sound like the mind has a "mind of it's own". The brain was designed by God to think. Thought processes, unless checked, can really become muddled. It especially depends on what we feed our minds. If our minds are constantly being fed the wrong material, our thoughts will become entangled in all the wrong emotions.
Annoyance, distraction, anxiety, obsessions, all rob us from tranquility and serenity. A mind full of negative thoughts leads to a negative life.A mind full of positive, creative thoughts leads to a life of productivity and blessing. It's not what we have or don't have that is important, but what is taking place on the inside.
I know a lot of people who own an lot of "things" and have a lot of money, but are not happy. Why? Because they have internal turmoil which stems from a lifetime of negatives. There are areas in their lives they have covered up and have not dealt with, that keep resurfacing and causing them problems.
Isaiah 26 : 3 says God will "... keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed" on Him. The word "stayed" means "to sustain or strengthen mentally or spiritually" or "to rest on (something, as a foundation or base) for support." It's something that I have to actively do. I have to keep my mind "resting on the foundation" of the Lord for support. So when the first negative thought enters my mind, I have to put it out of my mind and immediately put my thoughts on what God's word says. I lay it aside and refuse to think about it.
Have you ever been hurt by someone and over time you have forgiven them and forgotten about the incident. Then suddenly one day someone says something or you see something and immediately that emotional thought rises up in you. The reason that happens is because you have a memory and the emotion attached to that memory is stored in the brain. But just because your memory triggers that emotion, does not mean you have to yield to it. Immediately you feel that old thing arise, you have to put it aside. Say to yourself .. "I am not going to think about this anymore" and purposefully begin to think about something positive.
Now, obviously, if it is something God wants you to deal with, then don't suppress it. It may be that you have never forgiven that person and still harbor resentment and anger. You need to forgive that person and immediately ask God to forgive you for the anger and resentment you are feeling. You cannot change people, but you can change you with God's help.
People often say, "Lord please give me peace" but wonder why God does not give it to them. To illustrate it simply, if I am hot, I get out of the sun into the shade. If I am cold, I put on warm clothing and turn on the furnace or light a fire. It does not help me to complain to God about the cold. So it is that I must put on peace. I make a conscious effort to redirect my thoughts towards the Lord.
The Lord told us what to do ... "keep our minds stayed on Him" As we saw earlier, one of the definitions of peace was the "cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension" Strife and dissension will rob your peace. Before you get into strife and arguments, it is good to make a quick mental note of the outcome. You don't want to lose your peace so why engage in the thing that robs your peace.
"Lord, thank You for the "Peace of God which passes understanding" Thank You for your Love and Mercy that fills me to overflowing. Thank You that I have a sound mind and I am full of the purpose and plan of God. That your Anointing dwells on the inside and that Your Anointing will teach me of all things. "