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Loyal
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Eph. 2:1-3 ESV

Before any of us believed in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we were dead in our sins, without God, without hope, going nowhere, having no real purpose, wandering, doing what we want, and coming up short of attaining God’s divine approval. We walked (lived, conducted our lives) according to (in agreement with) our flesh, giving in to our sinful cravings.

THIS should describe where we WERE. THIS should NOT describe where we ARE. If it does, then we need to repent of our sins, humble ourselves before God, and turn (or return) to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives.

Making it Practical

THIS, too, should NOT now describe us: You get up in the morning, get yourself ready, go to work, or work at home, but without even (or barely) acknowledging God, and without spending time with him in his Word, listening to him speak his words to your heart, in order to hear what he has for you for the day, with the purpose and intent in mind to obey him.

You go about your day, operating in the flesh, thinking worldly, fleshly, and perhaps even lustful thoughts, and acting accordingly. No one would single you out as a model Christian, for they can see your lifestyle doesn’t match your profession of faith.

Continuing on with that thought… Then, you come home, or you are home, and all you can think about is eating and watching your favorite TV shows or movies, or getting on Facebook or Twitter, or playing your favorite games, or surfing the internet, or getting on pornography, or chatting with a “love interest,” when you are married to someone else.

Granted, you have responsibilities, too, which you fulfill, but you are consumed largely with self, and with what is pleasing to your flesh, and God is really not important to your life, in the scheme of things, although you may profess that he is.

Then, before you go to bed, you spend your time watching TV, getting on the internet, and on social media, or playing games, or viewing porn, or chatting with a secret love interest, but again, God is not even on your radar, or if he is, it is for the purpose to perform religious exercises, perhaps to give the appearance that you are following him, when truly you are not.

Then, you go to sleep for the night, get up the next morning, and the worldly and fleshly cycle continues until Sunday. So, you go to a church service, and you may even be an elder or a deacon or a small group leader or a Bible teacher, or even the pastor. And, you raise your hands in praise to God during a worship service, and you put on the religious mask, but then as soon as church is over, it is back to business as usual.

Again, if this is what describes your life, or if you relate in some way, maybe not to these specific illustrations, but to being driven largely by your flesh, then you need to bow before God, humble yourself, repent of your sins, and turn (or return) to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with your life from now on.

Made Alive with Christ

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:4-7 ESV

For, you see, Jesus Christ did not give up his life for us on that cross merely to forgive our sins, to free us from punishment, and to give us the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15).

He died on that cross so that we would no longer be dead in our trespasses, but not just positionally, but practically, too. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will DIE in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity, no matter what we profess to believe or to practice. For Jesus gave his life up for us to deliver us from these bodies of sin and to give us NEW lives in Christ Jesus, no longer sold as slaves to sin, but now sold out to God as servants of his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25).

God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, following after the lusts of our flesh, without guilt, and without remorse. His grace to us is for the purpose to deliver us out of bondage (addiction) to sin, and to free us to walk in his holiness, godliness, purity and righteousness. His grace, which brings us salvation, in fact, instructs (commands) us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.

Saved by Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:8-10 ESV

For by God’s grace (his kindness; his favor) we have been saved, both from the punishment of sin (eternal damnation), and from slavery (addiction) to sin. By grace we have been saved through faith, which is divine persuasion. In other words, even the faith to believe is not of ourselves, but it is a gift of God, lest we should boast in ourselves.

We cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to Christ. In this drawing us to Christ he divinely persuades us as to God’s righteousness and holiness, his purity, his justice, and as to his mercy. He persuades us, too, as to what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, and of our need to humble ourselves before him, to repent of our sins, and to turn to him to walk with him in obedience, in surrender to his will for us.

All this is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in moving our hearts to respond to God’s salvation, so that we now say “No” to our old lives of living for sin and self, and so we say “Yes” to walking, by faith, according to the Spirit, and empowered by the Spirit, in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We cannot do any of this apart from God, in our own flesh. Our entire transformation from that of dead in sin to alive in God is the working of God in our lives, yet we must yield to God, and submit to his will, and we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and do what God and his Word say.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, through divine persuasion, thus we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are raised with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone. The new has come. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus, and since we are his creation, we were also created to do good works, but not the works of the flesh to earn our salvation, but works of the Spirit, which are evidence that we have true salvation in Christ. And, by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit of God we are to walk in these, in doing what God and his Word say, living godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, and no longer living (in practice) to please our sinful flesh.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!


Sunday, January 21, 2018, 4:51 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. May we take this truth to heart and apply it to our lives.
 
Active
I thought elders, deacons and pastors would be spending hours in prayer interceding for their flock and visiting the sick and lame and housebound. And reading the bible. I dont know if some pastors just get their sermons pre packaged and all they have to do is read it out on Sunday, but being a teacher takes a lot of preparation in advance. The time you spend teaching is short, it may just be one hour or even half an hour but the time you spend preparing is at least a whole days work.

For many vocations you need to do your homework first. You cant just wing it. Doing homework does not mean being entertaining yourself by watching tv every night. Someone who never prays in their closet spending quiet time with God does not sound like someone whos really living but someone whos a robot and just going through the motions. To them maybe being a pastor is just another job. Well it cant be, unless they are a hiteling and care not for the sheep. A shepherd watches over their sheep 24/7 as we know shepherds watched their flock by night when Jesus was born. They dont sleep unless they know for sure their sheep are safe from harm. At very least a pastor ought to be praying for his flock when he cant see them.
 
Loyal
I thought elders, deacons and pastors would be spending hours in prayer interceding for their flock and visiting the sick and lame and housebound. And reading the bible. I dont know if some pastors just get their sermons pre packaged and all they have to do is read it out on Sunday, but being a teacher takes a lot of preparation in advance. The time you spend teaching is short, it may just be one hour or even half an hour but the time you spend preparing is at least a whole days work.

For many vocations you need to do your homework first. You cant just wing it. Doing homework does not mean being entertaining yourself by watching tv every night. Someone who never prays in their closet spending quiet time with God does not sound like someone whos really living but someone whos a robot and just going through the motions. To them maybe being a pastor is just another job. Well it cant be, unless they are a hiteling and care not for the sheep. A shepherd watches over their sheep 24/7 as we know shepherds watched their flock by night when Jesus was born. They dont sleep unless they know for sure their sheep are safe from harm. At very least a pastor ought to be praying for his flock when he cant see them.
Lanolin, Truly there must still be pastors who shepherd their flocks as God intended and who are not feeding only themselves, but sadly enough, many are feeding only themselves, and to the detriment of the sheep.
 
Active
Lanolin, Truly there must still be pastors who shepherd their flocks as God intended and who are not feeding only themselves, but sadly enough, many are feeding only themselves, and to the detriment of the sheep.
You would hope so, at least we can rely on the Good Shepherd Jesus.
Thats why Jesus words to Peter are so important. If you love me, feed my sheep, feed my lambs. Looking after others spiritual wellbeing is not a job you can just fall into. Its a big responsibility and it has never been about who gets to speak in front of everyone else. A pastor has to minister to others and open the gate and close them, guide the sheep, keep them from going astray, making sure their wool is spotless and clean..,come shearing time..that the lambs have enough milk and the sheep enough grass and they arent eating anything sprayed with roundup....plus keeping predators away...even picking them up if necessary if they cant walk. Not just making a speech for an hour for people to listen to on Sunday. I mean anyone can do that on youtube now.
 
Loyal
You would hope so, at least we can rely on the Good Shepherd Jesus.
Thats why Jesus words to Peter are so important. If you love me, feed my sheep, feed my lambs. Looking after others spiritual wellbeing is not a job you can just fall into. Its a big responsibility and it has never been about who gets to speak in front of everyone else. A pastor has to minister to others and open the gate and close them, guide the sheep, keep them from going astray, making sure their wool is spotless and clean..,come shearing time..that the lambs have enough milk and the sheep enough grass and they arent eating anything sprayed with roundup....plus keeping predators away...even picking them up if necessary if they cant walk. Not just making a speech for an hour for people to listen to on Sunday. I mean anyone can do that on youtube now.
Very well said!
 
Loyal
@Sue J Love

I am reminded of my own situation with regard to the ministry. A pastor is defined not only in the natural world as a keeper of wooly creatures, but in scripture as the keeper of some of God's people, really an under shepherd, whose job should never be an easy or casual one.

Over the years I have had many pastors, but most of them I never really knew. Certainly in part it was my fault, but almost no one else knew them either as the one who was supposed to be watching out for their souls. But alas that is history.

Here and now it's like this:

My very old pastor (92) has always strived to be a real pastor. Unlike so many holding the position, he really had a calling from God for it. He has always visited all of his congregation regularly, not only in times of sickness, but just as a friend and as an available confidante and prayer partner. With him it has never been just a job, but a calling from God. Now with his own wife gone and as his own ability to do even minimal duties diminishes with his aging body his once closest fellow minister awaits almost impatiently to jump into the old pastor's chair.

Barring a miracle, which I cannot see, the one waiting so eagerly will become the pastor. My wife and I along with a few others are hurting for him because while we see what is happening, there is nothing now we can do to stop it. Our pastor recognized the problem a few years ago just before his wife passed on [2012], but her loss left him empty in many ways. He has tried but has been unable to reverse what is seemingly a foregone conclusion upon his death, which we expect will be soon... and not for health reasons.

We really now pray that God will keep him until the end of his walk without needless pain [not physical]. The younger ones of the flock will cry when he passes on, but generally they will not understand immediately the gap he will leave until it is too late. The older ones will understand, but like my wife and I they are unable to do more than pray and leave it all in God's hands.

My wife and I along with a few others who have worked to stop it, recognizing that most of the people involved in this are getting what they want [deserve?]. They don't realize how far their direction is from God's... at least as I see it. Pray with us for all the people on both sides of this struggle as well as for our pastor.

Give God the glory!
 
Loyal
@Sue J Love

I am reminded of my own situation with regard to the ministry. A pastor is defined not only in the natural world as a keeper of wooly creatures, but in scripture as the keeper of some of God's people, really an under shepherd, whose job should never be an easy or casual one.

Over the years I have had many pastors, but most of them I never really knew. Certainly in part it was my fault, but almost no one else knew them either as the one who was supposed to be watching out for their souls. But alas that is history.

Here and now it's like this:

My very old pastor (92) has always strived to be a real pastor. Unlike so many holding the position, he really had a calling from God for it. He has always visited all of his congregation regularly, not only in times of sickness, but just as a friend and as an available confidante and prayer partner. With him it has never been just a job, but a calling from God. Now with his own wife gone and as his own ability to do even minimal duties diminishes with his aging body his once closest fellow minister awaits almost impatiently to jump into the old pastor's chair.

Barring a miracle, which I cannot see, the one waiting so eagerly will become the pastor. My wife and I along with a few others are hurting for him because while we see what is happening, there is nothing now we can do to stop it. Our pastor recognized the problem a few years ago just before his wife passed on [2012], but her loss left him empty in many ways. He has tried but has been unable to reverse what is seemingly a foregone conclusion upon his death, which we expect will be soon... and not for health reasons.

We really now pray that God will keep him until the end of his walk without needless pain [not physical]. The younger ones of the flock will cry when he passes on, but generally they will not understand immediately the gap he will leave until it is too late. The older ones will understand, but like my wife and I they are unable to do more than pray and leave it all in God's hands.

My wife and I along with a few others who have worked to stop it, recognizing that most of the people involved in this are getting what they want [deserve?]. They don't realize how far their direction is from God's... at least as I see it. Pray with us for all the people on both sides of this struggle as well as for our pastor.

Give God the glory!
Praying for your situation in your church, Amadeus. God is still on his throne. Amen!
 
Active
@Sue J Love

I am reminded of my own situation with regard to the ministry. A pastor is defined not only in the natural world as a keeper of wooly creatures, but in scripture as the keeper of some of God's people, really an under shepherd, whose job should never be an easy or casual one.

Over the years I have had many pastors, but most of them I never really knew. Certainly in part it was my fault, but almost no one else knew them either as the one who was supposed to be watching out for their souls. But alas that is history.

Here and now it's like this:

My very old pastor (92) has always strived to be a real pastor. Unlike so many holding the position, he really had a calling from God for it. He has always visited all of his congregation regularly, not only in times of sickness, but just as a friend and as an available confidante and prayer partner. With him it has never been just a job, but a calling from God. Now with his own wife gone and as his own ability to do even minimal duties diminishes with his aging body his once closest fellow minister awaits almost impatiently to jump into the old pastor's chair.

Barring a miracle, which I cannot see, the one waiting so eagerly will become the pastor. My wife and I along with a few others are hurting for him because while we see what is happening, there is nothing now we can do to stop it. Our pastor recognized the problem a few years ago just before his wife passed on [2012], but her loss left him empty in many ways. He has tried but has been unable to reverse what is seemingly a foregone conclusion upon his death, which we expect will be soon... and not for health reasons.

We really now pray that God will keep him until the end of his walk without needless pain [not physical]. The younger ones of the flock will cry when he passes on, but generally they will not understand immediately the gap he will leave until it is too late. The older ones will understand, but like my wife and I they are unable to do more than pray and leave it all in God's hands.

My wife and I along with a few others who have worked to stop it, recognizing that most of the people involved in this are getting what they want [deserve?]. They don't realize how far their direction is from God's... at least as I see it. Pray with us for all the people on both sides of this struggle as well as for our pastor.

Give God the glory!
Don't be hesitant about forming camaraderie with the "new" guy, speaking about the good things done by "previous" ministers.
And keep him in your prayers.
 
Loyal
Don't be hesitant about forming camaraderie with the "new" guy, speaking about the good things done by "previous" ministers.
And keep him in your prayers.
Thank you! I am praying for him and working against the biases I already know to be in me.
 

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