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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Pastor Must Be Fond of Guests

619 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; Next on the list of pastoral qualifications is the pastor must be hospitable. The word means “fond of guests.” A person who is fond of guests, does not view visitors as an interruption, and again we see this modeled in the Good Shepherd, Jesus. He had no place to call His own and His office was wherever HE traveled, and HE never viewed an encounter with another human being as an interruption. He was genuinely fond of guests, even suffering little children to come unto Him! Sometimes we confuse this gift with the notion that the hospitable person is gifted at entertaining others in their well appointed homes, with elegant dinners, and stimulating conversation, but really, it is what it says it is. It is anyone who is fond of guests. Some of the most hospitable people I know have pots and pans in the sink, unmade beds, laundry everywhere, and maybe they have something in the fridge they could throw together for that lunch they insist you stay for. The key is, they are just plain glad to see you. Abraham's attitude is instructive here: Ge 18:2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he RAN from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, 3 and said, "My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. 4 "Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 "And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant." They said, "Do as you have said." Here's a man who WAS “fond of guests.” You want to be a pastor? Be “fond of guests,” Be genuinely glad to see them, because as a pastor, you never know when they will drop in, with a need for conversation and fellowship, and isn't that the nuts and bolts of one on one ministry? Father, You have been so welcoming with us, help us to be welcoming to others.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Able To Deal With Mis-guided Ideas

617 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, Next on the list of pastoral qualifications is the pastor must be s”sober-minded.” The first thing we think of in the matter of sobriety is usually connected to drunkenness, but that's not what is meant here. The matter of “not given to much wine” is addressed later on in these qualifications. To be sober is to be self-controlled. And it's easy to see how the word gets connected to drunkenness. After all, the first thing that someone loses when they have too much to drink is their self-control. The Zodhiates Greek Study Bible defines this concept as follows: One who has a sound mind. A person who limits his own freedom and ability with proper thinking, demonstrating self-control with the proper restraints on all the passions and desires. The opposite of being sober minded is to be one whose insolence and contempt of others breaks forth in acts of wantonness (undisciplined behavior) and outrage. You can see how important this trait is when it comes to shepherding a flock of new converts! We sheep do some pretty dumb things and it serves no purpose to have a shepherd who breaks out into an outrage at every misstep. Think of our great Shepherd Jesus as it relates to self-control. How often He had to deal with the misguided ideas and behavior of His sheep, and kept His cool. Even when He overturned the tables in the temple and drove the vendors out, it was a calculated reaction to a grievous sin. So you want to be a pastor? Get a handle on your emotions. Learn to NOT overreact to situations that come your way. Father, help us all to learn to be disciplined children.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Life Well-Ordered

618 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, Next on the list of pastoral qualifications is the pastor must be of good behavior. The Greek word used here is “kosmios” a derivative of kosmos, where we get the term “cosmos.” Cosmos is defined as “an orderly systematic universe.” It is the exact opposite of chaos. In short, a pastor ought to be one who has his act together. Plato said that such a person is “quiet in the land, fulfilling the duties which are incumbent upon him and is not disorderly.” A pastor should not be a rabble rouser stirring up trouble outside the flock. Now PLEASE, I'm not saying that Christians shouldn't be stirring the pot outside the walls of the church. Why just proclaiming the Gospel and the Word of God in public settings is enough to stir the pot, and it's part of our call to be “salt and light” in this world as we confront the self-destructive behavior of the world apart from Jesus Christ in accordance with God's Word. But remember, the pastor is a shepherd, and his first responsibility is to the flock, the members of the individual congregations. He is to be given to prayer and study of God's Word, for the purpose of ministering that Word to his sheep! It is as the Apostles urged the disciples in the early church in Ac 6:4 "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." This “well-ordered” qualification of the undershepherd is a reflection of the Good Shepherd, who was there with God and the Holy Spirit when it all began. Ge 1:2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be,” and there was! What was chaos became the cosmos, a well-ordered universe. Pastors should reflect that character trait of Jesus, as they tend to the oftentimes chaotic lives of their sheep, bringing order and peace to their lives as the Holy Spirit helps the pastor minister the Word. Father, help Your shepherds to prayerfully minister Your Word.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Considering Circumstances and Consequences

617 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, Next on the list of pastoral qualifications is the pastor must be temperate. The King James says “vigilant.” The Greek word means “circumspect, which means to “look around, to be cautious.” The idea being to be careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences before acting.” It's not difficult to see how important this qualification is for the leader of a flock. A real life shepherd is constantly on watch for any and all circumstances that might put the flock or an individual sheep in danger. Likewise a shepherd in the flock of God is ever vigilant against false teaching, and ever vigilant about the cancer of sin doing harm to the flock or a member of the flock. This quality is especially important as the pastor deals with messy situations that can arise between two people, or even two factions in the flock. As he seeks to mediate the dispute, it is important that he listen to both sides of the story. These disputes can involve anything from business deals, to marital conflict, to gossip,...anything that can cause a rift between members of the flock. A vigilant pastor is one who will gather all the facts, and then bring appropriate Scripture into play, seeking to correct any wrong ideas or actions that are creating the rift. The goal of course is restoration to unity. The devil loves to create these kinds of situations in the Body of Christ. To divide and conquer is one of his major tactics. His very name (devil) comes from the Greek word “diablo” which means to divide. A vigilant pastor is one who recognizes this tactic and then takes measures to nip it in the bud. It's not easy to mediate disputes in the flock of God, but it is necessary, and this qualification for a pastor guards against the danger of hasty decisions, that can be made without first having all the facts. Father, help our pastors to be wary of all the devil's schemes, and help them to remain prudent in all things.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Matter of Moral Failure

615 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, Last time we talked about the procedure for appointing spiritual leaders (pastors) in these newly planted New Testament churches. New church plants still occur in cultures where the old way of life included polygamy, and sexual immorality, and it is imperative that any indigenous pastors meet this particular qualification of “husband of one wife.” God's original plan for marriage and sexual purity is to be reintroduced to these cultures, who through the course of time have allowed it all to become a bit muddy. But what about pastors in cultures that have been evangelized? What about pastors in the churches of America for instance? Should not the same standard of “husband of one wife,” be upheld? Remember, the main point here is that ALL shepherds of the flocks of God, must be men who cannot be taken hold of (they must be blameless) on the score of sexual promiscuity or laxity. The “post” converted pastor must meet this criteria. A morally compromised pastor must step down or be removed from office. Adulterous lifestyles are just not permitted, and the Bible has much to say about what constitutes adultery, and here's where it gets a little tricky. For example, Jesus said in Lu 16:18 "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery. And in Mt 5:28, He said, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Now, I do not intend to be the self-appointed “pastor police,” but these two verses tell me that the matter of divorce and pornography addiction need to be addressed by the local congregation as it concerns fitness for the pulpit. The first concern of course is always the restoration of the erring brother, and then congregations must decide in accordance with the Word of God, what there next steps must be. Father, I pray that it would never come to this in Your church, but if it does, grant wisdom, love, and mercy to all involved as the truth of Your Word is applied.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Setting the Sexual Purity Standard

615 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, Continuing a look at qualifications for spiritual leaders in the New Testament church. It's important to realize the settings involved in planting these churches. They were starting from scratch! These new congregations were made up entirely of new converts, and they were coming from cultural backgrounds that were firmly rooted in the ways of the world. One of these practices was polygamy and still another involved temple prostitution, and the use of concubines. These unbiblical sexual practices needed to come to an end, and the Holy Spirit saw fit to begin with the leaders of the congregations. In order to be the pastor of these fledgling flocks, one needed to set the bar high in accordance with God's Word as it concerns marriage and sexual purity. This issue of multiple sex partners is not just some ancient problem in the church. As the gospel is preached to cultures who accept these practices today, many of the converts have multiple wives. What to do? Make them divorce all their wives and disown their children? Or should mercy be extended to these existing arrangements, with a line being drawn in the sand, that says these practices must come to an end? It would seem that the biblical concept of mercy trumping judgment ought to win out. It's a dicey situation to say the least, but the matter of multiple wives must be handled graciously and judiciously, while all other illicit sexual activity must be dealt with immediately, and the indigent pastor must be one who does not have multiple wives. What about the “multiple wives” that come into play in the matter of those who are divorced and remarried that desire the good work of pastoring in the modern day American church? This is a matter that the calling congregation needs to take into consideration, graciously and judiciously, relying on the guidelines found in the Word of God.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Teflon Pastors

614 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, Continuing a look at qualifications for spiritual leaders in the New Testament church. The first qualification of the spiritual leader of the congregation is he is to be blameless. Well, good luck with that one. Especially given the fact that he is likely a recent convert to Christianity and who knows what kind of sins lay in his past! I don't want to say that Zacchaeus would be a qualified candidate to serve as a spiritual leader, but he is a good example of someone, who upon meeting Jesus and being converted, became a man who was blameless or without reproach. He made it clear to all that if they had thought ill of him before as he carried out his tax collecting duties, they would no longer have cause to do so. Lu 19:8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." In the culture of these church plants, it's likely some of these candidates were former scoundrels like Zacchaeus, who were now blameless! So the pastoral candidate must be a man, who literally is “not able to be taken hold of.” He is that new creation spoken of in 2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. He is a changed man in accordance with Eph 4:20-22, “But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, Ronald Reagan was known as “the Teflon President,” because try as they may, no one could make any attacks on his character stick to him. This is the first qualification of the pastoral candidate. A proven track record of a man touched by Jesus! A man who is still a sinner, but not to the point where people would have cause to speak evil of him.