CONTROLLERS

Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, received us not… prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” —3 John 9-10

I’m sure you have met those in the church like Diotrephes who seek to control everything that goes on and everyone who is involved. Everything must revolve around them. They are like “miniature Popes” who love to “lord it over” others in the body of Christ. One might expect this of leaders in a cult, but not among Christians.  Jesus told His disciples that “princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over” others, but it should “not be so among you” (Mt. 20:25-26).

Martin Luther once wrote, “I am not as concerned with the Pope that resides at Rome as the one that lives within me.”

Beware of becoming like Martha and try to control every aspect of the lives of others. The Bible is clear on this matter—No believer, including a pastor, is to have supremacy over another person’s faith. The Apostle Paul writes, “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand” (2 Cor. 1:24). Amen!

Safety Within the Flock

“…come together… that Satan tempt you not…” —1 Corinthians 7:5

While the context of this verse refers to a marital relationship, it also applies to our relationship to each other in a local church. It is vital for us to stay close and stick together as a church.  As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:25, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.”

In the May, 1987 issue of National Geographic there was an article about the arctic wolf.  It described how a pack of seven wolves had targeted several musk-oxen calves who were guarded by eleven mature oxen.  As the wolves approached their prey, the musk-oxen bunched together in a impenetrable semicircle, while the calves remained safe during the long standoff.

But suddenly one ox broke rank, and the herd scattered.  A skirmish ensued, and the other adult oxen fled in panic, leaving the young calves at the mercy of the wolves. Not a single calf survived.

Paul warned of “wolves” that attack the church today (Acts 20:29).  As long as we stick close together and watch each other’s back, we are safe.  But, when believers break ranks they become easy prey for the enemy.  An isolated sheep usually ends up the victim of our adversary, who is “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

We need to stick together as God’s flock.  There is safety in numbers! Lets embrace the concept of “we” rather than “me” in our church. With Christ as our Shepherd and fellow believers surrounding us, we find safety in the flock.

Petty Cash???

 “Who hath despised the day of small things?” —Zechariah 4:10

God is interested in “little” things (Micah 5:2).  The smallest fragment is important to God. Jesus instructed His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost (John 6:12).

Most organizations have a stash they call “petty cash.”  I really dislike that term.  The word petty means “small; trivial; insignificant; of little importance.” The word petty suggests something that is inferior and doesn’t matter much.   In most cases “petty cash” is treated accordingly and is wasted.  However, in God’s work there is no such thing as “petty cash.”  There are only petty purposes, petty motives, and petty excuses.  Every second… every penny… every effort… and every person is important to God.

God’s money should be used and invested, and He expects a return.  It is sad that often our investment in God’s work is no larger than our “petty cash” stash.  If you are really concerned about lost souls, shouldn’t your budget reflect it?

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Waste

Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. — John 6:12

A few weeks ago in one of our Life Groups we were discussing things we hate.  I mentioned one thing I hate is waste.  I don’t like to throw anything away that could be reused.  Therefore, we eat a lot of “left-overs” at our house. We give away a lot of clothes to Goodwill and Arc.  Any clothing not worth giving away, I reuse as rags in the garage.

According to National Wildlife, every week the people in the United States generate four million tons of trash.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we throw out even more—five million tons per week. Most of this “trash” is simply wasteful.

Consider this—If each person in America throws away just one bite of Thanksgiving turkey, that amounts to 8.1 million pounds of edible turkey in the trash can.  If each person throws away one tablespoon of stuffing, 16.1 million pounds of edible stuffing is wasted. Think about that next time you have a family gathering for a Thanksgiving dinner!

New Year celebrations add to the trash heap.  After the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, for example, the New York sanitation department cleans up an extra forty-two tons of garbage.

I’m not the only one who is bothered by waste. God also hates waste (read Prov. 12:27; 18:9; Isa. 55:2; Luke 15:13).  He doesn’t want to see the valuable resources He richly bestows upon us—such as, spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, time, money, vitality—lost or wasted on the trivial things of the world.  We must be good stewards of EVERYTHING God places in our control. One day we will give account to God about our wasteful living.

One of the greatest regrets I have is how many days, hours, and minutes, I’ve wasted on things that will be burnt up at the Judgment Seat of Christ. As Red Foley used to sing, “Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish.” Amen—Foolish!

As God Sees It

“…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth…” —1 Samuel 16:7

God sees the end from the beginning. He sees a year from now. He sees what is coming ahead of us.  We only see what is in front of us, but the eye of faith sees “things that be not as though they were” (Rom. 4:17).

Picture yourself in New York City, watching the St. Patrick’s Day parade.  A band marches by, followed by some floats and big balloons.  Your friend, standing a mile down the road from you has not yet seen the band, the floats, or balloons that pass before you. You’re enjoying them presently, and you know he will enjoy them eventually when the parade reaches where he is at.

But suppose on this St. Patrick’s Day, you were sitting in the Goodyear blimp above the parade.  You would see the whole parade simultaneously.  The people down below would be watching the parade go by. But you would see the whole thing in its entirety—from beginning to end. That which is coming towards your friend on the street, you already see. From your vantage point, it would all be happening in the present.

That’s how it is with God. We’re marching through the parade of life. But God sees our whole life—past, present, future.  He sees the whole thing in totality.

What do you see in your life?  You may seen ill health… a sinful past… a financial problem… a domestic conflict.  What does God see? If you are a Christian, He sees you already glorified and sitting in heavenly places.

Leading from Redemption to Spiritual growth…