Treated Like the World’s Garbage

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Treated Like the World’s Garbage

1 Corinthians 4:8-13

America today has become a nation of entitlement. This attitude of entitlement has spread like wildfire across our nation. Young people especially have this attitude that they are the smartest and the brightest and should get what they want and be given respect just for showing up. Now, when it comes to young people, this is nothing new. Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” The problem is that now, our 21-year-old people still think like that 14-year-old. Our colleges are perpetuating this phenomenon by telling them they are more educated and smarter than their elders. What does the Bible have to say about this? Job 12:12 says, “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” Over and over the Bible tells us that wisdom comes with age. Of course, in 1 Timothy 4:11, Paul told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” But Paul goes on in verse 14 to remind Timothy to remember the prophecies spoken over him by the elders. So, we shouldn’t despise their youth, as long as they are listening to the advice of the elders. Young people have a lot to offer, but they also have a lot to learn.

Paul was dealing with the same problem with the church at Corinth. Not with just the young people, but with the whole church. They thought that, because of their riches, they had arrived. He said in 1 Corinthians 4:8, “You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us! I wish you really were reigning already, for then we would be reigning with you.” They were so full of themselves that they thought they were already reigning in God’s kingdom. Doesn’t that sound like some of the TV pastors of today? Paul goes on in verse 9 to say that sometimes it feels like God has put the apostles on display and that they have become spectacles. In verse 10, Paul goes on to say, “Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed”. I have had several online discussions with young people lately, and that is the attitude they seem to have. Because I am dedicated to Christ, and not their religious views, I am a fool. They feel that I am weak, and they are powerful; they are honored, and I am ridiculed because I don’t follow the popular narrative.

In verse 11, Paul talks about them thinking themselves better than him because he had gone hungry, thirsty, not having enough clothes to keep him warm, and being beaten. But what did Paul tell Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12? He said, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Did you catch that? EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life WILL be persecuted! EVERYONE! So, if they weren’t suffering the type of persecution that Paul was, it wasn’t because they were superior to him, it was because they weren’t living godly lives.

In verse 12, Paul says something interesting. In the first part of that verse, he says, “We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living.” We, the apostles, work tirelessly with our hands to earn a living. Okay, it’s time to get controversial again. The command to bring the tithes into the storehouse was to provide for the Levites who weren’t allowed to work outside the church or even own property. There is no command in the New Testament to bring tithes into a storehouse and no mention of a storehouse at all. Instead, the New Testament teaches us to give our tithes and offerings; it actually tells us to give all our increase, to each other. We are to take care of each other. I know of a church that had a benevolence fund of over $200,000, and there were hardworking people in their body who weren’t able to make ends meet, and the church wasn’t helping them. This church has since realized the error in this and has started taking care of each other; in fact, their benevolence fund is very small now.

I realize there are pastors reading this who are gasping right now but study it for yourself and remember I am a pastor too. My church group meets in a park except on those few days it’s too cold to meet outdoors, and then we meet in someone’s home or business. We have found that by meeting in the park, not only do we not spend money on a building, but we can influence a lot more people who would never have darkened the door of a traditional church building. Also, as a pastor, I don’t take a salary from the church. I have my own business that God totally provided for me. I can make my living and at the same time, minister through my business. We don’t take an offering, although we do have a couple of people who God has led to give to our ministry, and that provides for the essentials. I encourage my people to give tithes and offerings, but to each other and those in need in our community.

Paul finishes this passage in the last half of verse 12 through verse 13  by saying that, even though we bless people who curse us, we are patient with people who abuse us, and when evil is spoken against us, we give a gentle answer. Still, they treat us like trash. Remember, Paul is talking about the church. Even though the apostles hold their tongues when the people of the Church are treating them badly, they are still treated like garbage by people who claim the name of Christ.

Each of us has been given spiritual leaders; in fact, Ephesians 4:11 tells us that these men are a gift from God. We need to start treating these leaders who God has put over us as gifts. We need to honor and respect them and learn from them, but at the same time, we are given the charge to test the spirits. If you test what your pastor is saying to scripture and it doesn’t line up, then you need to move on. But if it lines up with the word of God, then stand behind him, honor him and respect him as the spiritual leader God has put over you.

Let’s Be Grownups

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Let’s Be Grownups

Last week we looked at what our Pastor’s jobs are and how he is not there to spoon feed us but to train us to do the work for ourselves. So, what happens when the body starts doing the work for itself? The next 4 verses tell us exactly that, this passage says in Ephesians 4:13-16, 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

What is it this passage is saying will continue? The training from the Pastor will continue, and it will continue until we become united in our faith. This is the first goal of God’s work through these offices of the church, working towards the edification of the saints. This lines up with both the ultimate purpose of God, seen in Ephesians 1:10 which says, And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth” and the mystery of God which was revealed through Paul in Ephesians 3:6, “And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”

Notice that Paul calls it a unity of faith. He didn’t call it a unity of organization, but a spiritual unity around a common faith and knowledge of Christ. When I was 19 years old I joined a Christian musical drama group. I traveled with this group for 3 years, in fact, that is where Michelle and I met and married, the people we toured with on that team became our brothers and sisters in a very literal way and that is a spiritual unity that no one can break. We all went on with our lives and live all over the country. We all are from different backgrounds and denominations, but even though it has been over 30 years, if I find myself in Fayetteville, North Carolina, I know I can stop in on Dave and Sonja or Ken and Deb and it will be like we were never apart. And, the same goes for any other of the members of that group, there is a relationship there that can’t be broken. You see, when these spiritual leaders work together to train us to do the work for ourselves, we will become united in Christ and the result is an increased maturity and greater intimacy in our experience with God.

Paul goes on to tell us that, once we are mature and know how to study the Word of God for ourselves, we won’t be blown around by every wind of doctrine. You see, that is what has happened to the Church. We don’t know how to study the Word for ourselves, so we rely on what we are taught by men and accept whatever doctrine they are teaching. This is where all these denominations and divisions come from. We don’t have very many mature Christians anymore, there are a few mature Church leaders, but the Bible tells us that we all need to be mature.

Look at 1 Corinthians chapter 3, I won’t copy it here because it is the entire chapter, so stop and read through it before you read on. What does this chapter say? First Paul is rebuking the church at Corinth for not maturing. He said in verse 2, “I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready.” He goes on to tell them that the reason they are so immature is that they are controlled by their sinful nature. He said the proof of this is their jealousy and quarreling. He tells them in verse 4, “When one of you says, ‘I am a follower of Paul,’ and another says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ aren’t you acting just like people of the world?” Doesn’t that sound like today? Except, today it’s “I’m of Martin Luther” or “I follow John Calvin,” but isn’t it the same thing? Isn’t this just more spiritual immaturity? Paul goes on through Chapter 3 explaining to them that the men don’t matter, the only one who matters is Jesus Christ.

Going back to our main text, Paul says at the end of Ephesians 4:14 that, if you know the truth, you won’t be tricked by people who tell you things that just sound like the truth. He says that instead of being swayed by things that sound true, we will speak the truth in love and that, by doing this, we will become more and more like Christ. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did all throughout His ministry? He always spoke the truth in love. Paul goes on to remind us that we are all one body and that Christ is our head.

Paul ends this passage in verse 16 by reminding us that because Christ is our head, all of us different parts of the body fit together perfectly. Then he says, “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

You have your own special job within the body of Christ and we need each of us to be mature and do the job that Christ has assigned to us so the whole body will be healthy and grow full of love. So, let’s all get out there, put aside all our differences, get to work, do our special jobs, and grow in the love of Christ.

My Book is Here!

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Available on Amazon

Well, it’s finally here. My book has been published and is available on Amazon in both paperback and electronic versions. My book is the same title as this blog and, although there will be some of the same content, it is different.

This book compares the early church we see in the New Testament to the Church today and looks at where we went wrong as well as what we can do to get back to where we should be. Together we are His house. Cathedral Made of People is a book to the Church and for the Church. Have you ever wondered why the Church today isn’t world changers like the early Church was? When studying to plant my first church, God led me to compare the Church today to the early Church of the New Testament. As I did this, I began to see vast differences that answered many questions for me. The first Church fought against religion, they focused on unity and were world changers, while the Church today is religious, divided, and largely ineffective. It is my goal through this book to awaken the Church to seek to be more like the Church of the New Testament.

Please read it and share it. If you are a pastor, share it with your church, if you are not a pastor, share it with your pastor. This is a message that we all need to hear and changes we all need to work on.

You can buy a copy by clicking on the link above, or contact me and I will ship you a copy. Also, and most important, pray for me and this book that the message will spread across the country and the world.

Live Free and Love Others

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Live Free and Love Others

In honor of the 4th of July, I wanted to talk a little about freedom. Freedom is something we talk a lot about in America, and we must protect our freedom as Americans at all cost, “against enemies both foreign and domestic.” But, today I want to talk about real freedom, I want to talk about what it means to be “free indeed”. Jesus said it Himself in John 8:34-36 when He said, 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” You see, we were slaves to sin, but when the Son sets us free, we are truly free. Isn’t that beautiful, to be free indeed? So, if you want to know where to find true freedom, 2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

We see that in Christ we are free from sin. There are many more verses about this, verses like Romans 6:14 where it says, “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” Do you see that? Before Christ we were slaves to sin, that means that sin was our master. Now that we are in Christ, we are free from the mastery of sin. It also says this in Galatians 3:22, “But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.” So, there is no promise of freedom outside of Christ.

Christ has not only set us free from sin, but He also set us free from the law. Look at Galatians 4:5, “God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” You see, as it says all through the book of Romans, and for that matter all through the New Testament, the law was never meant to save us, it was only meant to show us our need for God. The Hebrew people of the Old Testament made it about keeping the law because we humans always want to make it about us. There are many churches today who still do the same thing. I’m sure we all know people who believe that if you are a good person you will go to heaven, but the Bible is clear in the fact that that isn’t true. We are not only free from sin, but we are free from the curse of the law and need to make sure that we never put ourselves under that curse again. Look at Galatians 5:1, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” If we are TRULY free in Christ, why would we want to put ourselves under the law? That doesn’t make any sense at all. Let’s not even think of going back there. Look at Galatians 2:4, Even that question [the question of Titus’ circumcision] came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations.” Do you see that? The people who try to put us under the law, the Bible refers to as “the false ones.” They are false teachers trying to deceive and enslave you! In fact, in Galatians 4:12 Paul pleads with them not to fall for this, “Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws. You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you.” In fact, even creation looks forward to this freedom, look at Romans 8:21, “the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”

Here’s the thing though, freedom doesn’t come for free. First, we see that there is a responsibility that comes with freedom. 1 Corinthians 8:9 tells us, “But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” So, do I have the freedom to drink a glass of wine at with dinner? Of course, I do unless I’m having dinner with an alcoholic or a nonbeliever who doesn’t think it’s right, then it is my responsibility to abstain so as to not make them stumble. We see this scenario in 1 Corinthians 10:27-33. In this passage, it is dealing with a believer being asked to someone’s house and served meat that was offered to an idol. First, it tells us to eat and not ask questions, but if they tell you, don’t eat it for their conscience sake. Then it asks the question, “why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks?” His answer is in verse 31 through 33. Verse 31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” And, then he finishes it up in verse 33 by saying, “I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” So, the answer to the question is that if we are offending unbelievers with our freedom, then give them up so they can be saved. Do everything to God’s glory.

Galatians 5:13-15 sums this all up so well, it says, 13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.” First, don’t use your freedom to do sin. We are not free to sin, we are free to live in Christ. He says to use our freedom to serve each other in love. To the world that seems like an oxymoron, “I’m free to be a servant?” Yes, exactly. Our world today lives for themselves, but as Christians, nothing gives us more joy than helping someone else. Then he says the whole law can be summed up in one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s that simple.

The last thing I want to look at today is that freedom always comes with a price, and that price is always blood. Our freedom as Americans came with the price of the blood of many soldiers who have fought and died for our freedom. Men and women who have laid their life down for our freedom, and we want to salute them today. But our freedom in Christ came with His blood. He laid down His life for you and me. His first sacrifice was to leave heaven to live here on earth, then he was beaten, humiliated, and crucified for you and me, and He did it at just the right time. 1 Timothy 2:6 says, “He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” So, Live Free and Love Others.

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