Archive for the ‘Pastor’s Corner’ Category

Love to one another, and for one another is important. It’s intuitive, right? If I were to write a manual on this subject it might be titled ‘Love for Dummies’.  But that title has already been taken. Under this title is a highly secularized picture of love. The title itself implies that this is an easy matter, and dummies need it spelled out for them through the lowest common denominator.

Love one another, easy enough, right? And if others don’t get it, just say it louder!

Let it suffice to say, love really isn’t that easy. It is a matter that takes a lifetime to figure out, and the power of Jesus to function within. For the Christian the call to love each other is so common, if not altogether cliche, that it really isn’t heard.

In the Gospel of Matthew we see that this call extends beyond affection for those whom we are in fellowship with, or even those whom we find highly important. In Matthew 18:10–14, an exhortation on the love for souls is given, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”  

Here we read a command to value those considered unimportant. Functionally it is call to love. It might be skewed by some as children are almost deified in our society, and agricultural precepts are lost on most. Here is a command to pursue those who are lesser or obstinately off on their own and not worth the time.

In other cultures, and in particularly the historic context of the passage, children are regarded as less than. And stray sheep are regarded as an inconvenient matter that is handled according to economic measures. Jesus paints a picture with children and the singular sheep, as the lesser, and how they are not to be despised, but regarded as highly important. 

This example points to something greater than simply treating children well, or keeping the herd gathered. Rather it presses the hearer to consider the souls of others, even those of lesser value, as greatly important. Even within religious people there is a utilitarian tendency to cast aside those who are down trodden and unimportant, especially those who are burdensome. 

Don’t get me wrong, the church does many great things, we give many great things in an effort to love those in need, but the lack of love in the world would demand that Christians consider how we might fill that void. It has often been stated that Christians shoot the weak or wounded, rather than love those who are inconvenient. Kids are inconvenient, and so is a lost sheep, as are many people God places directly in our paths. Do we really regard the weak and wounded as too much of a burden? Do we really have a want of love for the souls of mankind?

I don’t think the church is as bad, or as good as some would frame it. Many regard others to be less than and insignificant. This is a heart matter that Christians must deal with. Remember Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost, to love the souls of men, and seek to keep them from perishing through the message of the cross. By God’s grace we are invited to do the same.

How do you love the souls of men? Do you despise the little ones? Do you seek after the one, rejoice over the one? Take the time this week to think about your want of love for the souls of others. 

“Weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief…” Psalm 6:6–7; Here are the expressions of a grieving heart. Many people feel such grief like waves crashing on the beach, a relentless soul eroding crashing of waves.

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Expressions of grief and sorrow can bear heavily upon body and soul. Whether sorrow is the result of incidents near or far, it is taxing. Grief, sadness, sorrow, mourning, and heartache are just some of the different forms, or various levels of strain upon the afflicted heart. The poetic expression of the heart’s cry and prayer of the soul should be where a follower of Christ goes when pressed in such a manner. Psalm 31:9, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.”

Even so, in the dark night of the soul where a heart is crying out to God, there is the hope of future glory to rejoice in, which is beautiful. Suffering and loss will only be for a season; “His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Though these measures of comfort do not always make the grief we share easier, nor do they take the evil we gaze upon away, thereby failing to make the situation better, there is at least the confident hope that suffering will only last for a moment. This is still true even if the moment spans the length of our vapor like lives; here one minute and gone the next. The suffering we share in Christ is something leading exultant rejoicing. 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

This momentary affliction has an end point because of the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross. His life and death bring about justice, mercy, grace, and a restoring of the fallen world in which we live. Isaiah 53:3–4, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

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While walking with one another in Christ Jesus our Lord, let us keep our eyes upon Christ Jesus, who is unseen and eternal; remembering Christ Jesus’ sufferings, acquaintance with grief, and bearing of sorrows for those whom He loves. Remember Jesus Christ came to save from the sorrows of sin and death.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) In a recent discussion, regarding the fear of the Lord, this passage came to mind. Upon first reading it was clear; misunderstanding the fear of the Lord and his law makes a verse like this totally indecipherable.

The passage makes a clear statement, but it is confused when making application to ourselves, based upon misunderstanding the fear of God and keeping his commandments. How do we walk in the ‘whole duty of man’ when fear is thought of in terms of punishment and terror? How can we walk in duty and keep his commandments when it is deeply felt that duty and the law only brings death?

While sin works through the law to bring death, it is not the law that actively brings death, (Romans 7:12-13). Even so, some how a fear of fear and the law is so common that the usefulness of Eccl 12:13, which is a concluding idea for the whole book of Ecclesiastes, makes about as much useful sense as a giraffe in the article circle doing polar ice cap research on global warming; it just doesn’t make any useful sense on multiple levels.

Shortly, let’s try to understand godly fear. The fear of God is a reverential love of God and an appropriate faith-relationship with him. Psalms can help us understand.  Psalm 5:7, “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.”; Psalm 19:9, “the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever…“; Psalm 118:4, “Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”; Psalm 147:11, “But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Fear and love for God rest hand in hand. The fear of the Lord is pure, and for the Christian is doesn’t deal with punishment, or an expectation of being ‘smote on the mountain’ if you miss step on Sunday ritual saying a bad word in front of the preacher.

Keeping his commandments also involves love. Matthew 22:36–37, ““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”; 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Keeping commands according to the Word of God is not for the sake of gaining the relational love of God. If we think about the commands in this way we’ve foolishly given way to the adulterous legalism Christ warns against. By faith we put to death the deeds of the flesh, in the power of the Spirit of God. By faith we obey the command to love, knowing that we have first been loved by Him, and are empowered by him to do such.

Hopefully this passage is less of a burden and more of a sweet word to encourage simplicity of life. The manner of simplicity that allows us to walk in freedom. The end of the matter is at hand; fear God and keep His commands.