Here’s a quick, powerful lesson on the purpose of financially supporting ministries. At this time of the year, many ministries are asking for your year-end gift. Once you’ve discerned which ministries to support (which I hope includes your church!), you need to make sure you have the right attitude when giving.
Philippians 4:17 says, ““Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”
Paul made this statement after acknowledging the Philippians’ financial support to his ministry. Here’s the lesson: We give because we want to see fruitful ministry. It’s not about the money we give; our motivation should be the ministry fruit that will be produced.
A perspective for ministries:
Be good stewards. Don’t just seek the gift to say look at what we got, but set your hearts on how to use that money for the most ministry effectiveness.
A perspective for givers:
Don’t boast in your gift (the amount or the fact that you gave). Boast in what the Lord does (the fruit) with the gifts of the faithful.
Let’s be generous and see more ministry fruit!
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By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
If Jesus already came and we know that God is with us right now through the Holy Spirit, then how can we still sing this song with any meaning?
O Come, O Come Emmanuel–this prayer should change your perspective during the Christmas season. It represents Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
The mood at the time of the birth of Christ
We know this song was written long after the birth of Christ, but let’s apply the lyrics to that time to see why we can understand the mood.
What we call the “Intertestamental Period,” between Malachi and Matthew was roughly 400 years. There is no record of God speaking during that time. Much was changing in the political landscape and impacting the Israelites. The first divine revelation since the intertestamental period came through an angel, Gabriel, who told Zechariah, a priest, that he would have a son. Zechariah’s son, John (the Baptist), was the forerunner to the Messiah who would come.
Imagine being in that time period: Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping. Four hundred years without hearing from God. Changes in government. Different rulers, some of whom leave you alone and others who don’t. You’d be longing for the Messiah.
Now we are back to the same question: how can we still sing this song? Let me argue that:
We should still have the same mood.
Romans 8:22-25 is a great passage to show us that we should still be longing, aching, yearning, and hoping, even though the Messiah has come and He has accomplished the work of redemption that has secured our salvation for all eternity.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
God cursed the ground as a result of sin entering the world (Gen 3:17-18). All creation has been groaning in pains of childbirth, waiting for the joy that would come.
We can understand the pains of childbirth. It hurts, but a woman perseveres because a great joy is coming. In the same way, the whole creation is subjected to pains like childbirth. The verse before tells us the great joy coming for the physical creation: v.21– it is set free from this bondage and decay it is subjected to.
23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
One commentator describes the firstfruits of the Spirit as “Spirit as a foretaste of the future” (Conybeare & Howson, The Life & Epistle of St. Paul).
It is likely a reference to the Holy Spirit, who is a guarantee of our faith and that which is yet to come, like Paul mentions in 2 Cor. 5:5. We have the firstfruits of the Spirit—there is more to come.
[we] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Here is the “now/not yet” of our salvation. Though we have Christ and our salvation is secure (NOW), inwardly we still groan for something more that is to come (NOT YET).
Do you realize that what you are experiencing right now as a believer in Christ is not all that you’ll ever experience with Him? There is much more to come. You have the salvation of Christ and all its blessings right now in your life. But you still have the not yet waiting for you!
This verse says we eagerly await our adoption—this is interesting because just earlier in this chapter (14-17), Paul writes of our adoption as God’s children in the past tense.
You are adopted by God in the sense that you are saved and you are His child (NOW). But verse 23 refers to the full culmination of our adoption, which is the glorification of our bodies (NOT YET).
We groan inwardly as we live in the now because we know that right now is not the end.
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hope is a key theme in this passage, appearing 5 times just in verses 24-25.
We hope for what we do not see because we have not obtained that glorious inheritance yet. What we have right now is finished, fully sufficient. We were saved. It’s done.We are saved. And it changes your life right now, giving you purpose.
Now, when we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” we are not just thinking about the birth of Jesus. We are thinking about His coming again, about the time we will experience His full glory, which we have not yet seen. Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
We are still in a sinful, fallen world and experiencing its effects.
Death takes away.
Disease leads to misery.
Calamity still strikes.
In Sutherland Springs, TX, they are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
In Las Vegas, NV, they are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.
We are still waiting for “…the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
We are still waiting for final deliverance “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
We are still waiting “for the hope of righteousness” (Galatians 5:5).
We are Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping. So yes, we still sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. God, be with us. Finally, eternally, in glory.Post Views: 1,041
By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
Note: This post is part of a series.
You might be a legalist if you don’t practice what you preach.
If you demand others to be righteous but then don’t follow your own words, you’re acting like the Pharisees. And Jesus had some pretty harsh words for them.
Look at Jesus’s words in Matthew 23:2-4:
2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Within Judaism, the Scribes were experts on the Torah because they interpreted it. The Pharisees were experts in the theological matters that the Torah brought about. They had authority (Moses’ seat), so people were to respect them and observe what they interpreted properly, although they weren’t to mirror their works. They would maybe say the right things, but they wouldn’t do it themselves.
A similar situation is mentioned in Acts 15 during the Jerusalem Council. Peter condemned some there who were trying to put unnecessary demands on Gentile converts.
Today there could be:
- legalistic preachers, who preach one thing to their people and then neglect their very words;
- legalistic parents, who demand their children to act in biblical ways and then don’t act that way themselves.
We can so easily be legalistic simply by not practicing what we preach. We might know what’s right and how to proclaim what’s right, but we don’t always live as if it actually is right.
I believe the answer to this problem is that we need a softened heart that realizes the power of the grace of Jesus Christ. As Peter said, “. . .we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:11, ESV).Post Views: 723
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
Note: This article was written by Kelly Marsh, communications director at Central Baptist Church, Marion, OH, and used with her permission.
Somebody should, Someone needs to……
It’s a phrase I hear often today and it’s a phrase that tends to bug me when I hear it. It’s an attitude that so many take and it’s a frame of mind that is growing, and I don’t think it’s a good thing. As a mother of teenagers I would often get frustrated when I would find empty plates or cups lying around, clothes dropped in the middle of the living room carpet. I would gripe at the kids, “Who do you think is going to pick this up? “Do you think if you just leave it there and walk away, somebody will take care of it?”
It frustrated me to no end that they were so self absorbed, and disrespectful to not pick up after themselves and just assume they could leave things for someone else to take care of.
Last weekend my husband and I took the afternoon to ride the full Tallgrass bike trail. On our way down the trail we passed a much older gentleman on a trike bike, riding along and balancing a leaf blower at the same time. He was peddling down the trail blowing off the leaves. I was blown away (no pun intended) at his thoughtfulness of doing this.
It was amazing how much nicer the ride was with the path blown off for us and so many others. It was not for just a small section, but his path went on for miles. I thought of him my whole ride just how neat it was for him to do this.
Yesterday we again went to the trail to get a ride in, and not to my surprise we passed him on his quest to clear the trail. I tried to say hello and thank him as we rode by, but I felt a bit guilty because he did not hear us coming over the blower and jumped a bit when I said “thank you” as we rode by :).
Since yesterday I have not stopped thinking of him and his willingness and kindness to serve others in this way.
Two things strike me I feel compelled to write about.
First….at a stage in his life when some things are more challenging and frustrating, he is still finding a way to contribute and help others. How much easier and natural would it be for him to sit at home, feel sorry for himself, throw his towel in and say “someone else can take care of that.”
He has seen a need and he finds a way to step up and serve his community. He may not be able to do all things he wants and would like to do, but this is something he can do, and he does it. He could resolve to thinking a task like this should be done by someone else, someone younger, someone more agile, yet he finds a way to still contribute and fill a role that is important and needed.
Maybe there are parts of things that each of us can’t do, that’s ok…find what you can do and be selfless enough to do it. Thank you sir for stepping up and doing a job that means so much to many. You are a fine example to so many and a reminder to me of the blessing you can be when you put yourself aside and serve others. You ARE a blessing to me and I appreciate you and your selfless heart.
Second…no matter what age and stage you are in life, try to BE that somebody else. Too many people sit back in the peanut gallery and constantly offer up their contribution statements of “someone should” or “someone needs to”. Who is that someone? Who is the somebody that needs to? Why can’t YOU be that someone?
It’s easier to sit back and pop shots on what all should be done than to step up and lead these needs. It’s like we think in every school function, church ministry, work project, and community need- there is a mystery staff of people behind the curtain that is responsible for making things happen. We offer our opinions of how it should be done, criticize how it is being done, and even suggest ideas of how it needs to be done.
Who do we think is responsible for DOING it and why aren’t we asking ourselves what part of this can I step up and help do? We are all busy and we are all stretched thin, I get it, I live in this same busy life too.
I’m not suggesting that we need to jump in and lead in everything, this can be very unhealthy as well. But I will be as forthcoming to say I’m tired of the attitude that someone else will do it. Someone else will lead that group, someone else will plan the meals, someone needs to pick up this conference room, and I wish someone would organize _________ (you fill in the blank).
BE that someone else. Try switching your mind from thinking someone needs to step up and lead and fix or do something better, and accept that you can be that somebody else.Post Views: 702