Word of the Day

Rest & Restore

My laptop is getting a much needed rest, so I might as well take a vacation while it recovers.  My trusty laptop, Heavenly Father and I have just completed our 2800th Word of the Day devotional.  I pray you are enjoying them and that they are bringing new life to your day and your life.

We will all return to our labor of love on September 19th.  Hold a spot for us in your morning.  You bring the coffee, we’ll bring the Word.

Until then, be abundantly blessed!

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day 

From

Ivey Ministries

May you enter into your Father’s rest and be blessed!

 

Discrimination

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Boy, do we need to get a revelation of this! This is what I call tough love, which usually amounts to being told what we do not want to hear.

Most of us do not want to hear what we need to hear. We will even shy away from the people who are best able to guide us. It is hard to face ourselves at times. Better to hide from the truth than face those uncomfortable revelations. Well, this verse is one of those revelatory mirrors which reflects a face most of us would rather avoid. Discrimination within our ranks.

The early church leaders had a job on their hands reconciling the Jewish believers and the gentiles who were flocking to the message and person of Jesus. The Jews had lots of rules they wanted the new converts to adhere to. They definitely thought of themselves as superior to the gentiles. After all, they were the children of Abraham and those gentiles had probably never even heard of Abraham.

In this new covenant, this new dispensation, all kinds of people are treated as the beloved of God. Each person is recognized as an heir to the promises. See that this includes women. It also includes slaves and Greeks. Frankly, it includes everyone. God is not one to show partiality (Deuteronomy 10: 17, Acts 10: 34). It is easy to read this passage as told to someone else. We can sit quietly by and watch them be rebuffed. However, let’s apply this to our world. What does it mean to us today?

We are all one in Christ. That means that Episcopalians and Methodists are meant to be brothers. Lutherans and Baptists are all one in Christ. And even Catholics. Yep. It is time we got off of our high horse and begin to love one another. Whose theology is perfect? Yours? Then why are we all called to continue learning and growing? The key words here are “in Christ.” That is where we are supposed to be. It is not a goal to be attained to be a good Baptist or a good Catholic. The goal is to be “in Christ” and to help others to be in Christ too. We are supposed to lead people into a relationship with Jesus. This is not a private club, as the Jews found out. And while we are about it. God still loves the Jews. Don’t think He doesn’t. He wants them to hear and embrace the good news about Jesus, who himself was a Jew.

God does not see all of these labels that we use to categorize people. He sees hearts. He doesn’t care what you call yourself or what others call you. He is attracted to all those who love Him with an honest, sincere heart. And just in case you wondered, I don’t care either. If you love Jesus, you are alright by me. That is this ministry’s official position, that we do not love according to labels. Your denominational affiliation is between you and God. I just want you in a church that teaches you the Word and supports you. I hope you are in a church which understands today’s scripture and is doing all it can to eradicate denominational prejudice. And for that matter, that includes every other type of discrimination. All people are welcome in the house of God and in this ministry. Come all who are weary and heavy laden. Jesus wants to wrap himself around you and give you his rest. Enter into his rest. Enter into his love, regardless of your label. Check your label at the door and just be free in Christ. God loves you! Those are the important words.

Selah

Psalm 32: 7 – 8       Amp

You are my hiding place; You, Lord, protect me from trouble;
You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance.
    Selah.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.

This is a good time to learn about the word “Selah” because it impacts the understanding of this psalm. One of the primary ideas about this word is that it indicates a pause. We find this word mostly in the Psalms so one might ask if it represents a musical interlude or just a pause in the lyric or instrumentation. It turns out that it has more to do with ideas represented in the lyric than it does to the lyric or melody specifically. It calls the listener, or in our case, the reader, to pause and consider the immediately preceding lyric. Today’s psalm was written by David. When we hear or read “Selah” in the above passage, he wants us to stop and consider the meaning. He has just said something very important and he wants us to stop and be sure that we have taken in that important thought.

There is a second use of Selah. It is used as a bridge or a connector. It alerts the listener that the stanza which is about to follow is thematically tied to that which has just preceded. In other words, the psalmist wants us to hear the next passage with the former still in mind. So stop and hear what has been said with a mind to integrate it with what comes next.

In today’s scripture selection, David confesses his confidence to God. He is able to hide himself in God, receiving protection and deliverance from trouble. He says, also, God surrounds him with joyous songs and exuberant shouts. That isn’t the end though, because in the next stanza, God answers him.

In the combination of these two verses we see a great deal of their relationship. Not only does God protect David but you hear David’s confidence in that protection. David is the one who proclaims that he is protected from trouble. His trust in God is the unspoken refrain. Yahweh answers his confidence and trust with, “I will lead you. I will counsel you. I will be your mentor and will guard your way and keep my eye on you at all times.”

There is a relationship between these two verses and these two people. That is what we are supposed to see in this psalm and that is what the word Selah reveals to us. These are not two independent ideas but rather a revealing of the intermingling of their lives. This is a model of how our lives are meant to be. We also have a hiding place, we are hidden in Christ. We should have the same confidence is the three persons of the trinity as David sang of here. I am hidden in Christ and thus protected from the danger and trouble of the world. God is my helper, my right hand and my deliverer. God, for his part, will lead me and guide me in the way that I should go because I have hidden myself in Him. Selah!

Rest, Relax

Psalm 37: 7

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

Here is faith and trust in action. Patience is not supposed to be a nail-biting period of endurance. It is supposed to be easy for us because of our faith in God. We should be able to rest during the time of patience rather than being in a barely contained frenzy. Patience is the product of absolute faith that God is well able to carry out all of his good promises. When you have that kind of trust in Him, you are able to relax. Rest and await His deliverance. Do not be anxious. He has your every need in mind and is already moving resources to their proper place so that at the appointed time, all will be in readiness. Rest. Relax. He has it all well in hand.

Understanding the Bible

John 9: 1 – 5

And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Which Bible translation should you use? In my study, I use many translations. In some passages, they can all be very similar. At other times, different translations pick up on different nuances of a word. The first thing we must fully appreciate is that the Bible was not written in English. You know that, but it slips our minds as we read. It makes a difference, though, because someone had to take all those words and translate them into English. If you have ever tried to translate an idea or phrase from another language into English, you appreciate that there is not always a perfect word which fully captures an idea that is found in other languages.

Then, of course, languages change over time. Just read the Canterbury Tales. You see how the English language has changed. In fact, English is changing before our very eyes. The word I have known all my life as “yea” is now being spelled “yay” and no one even seems to have noticed the change. The word “invite” was a verb only. Now people are using it as a noun in place of “invitation,” a word which will, likely, soon vanish. So, what is my point and why this scripture to make the point?

Notice the two italicized words in the passage above. The New American Standard Bible is my choice of Bible for several reasons. It is one of the most precise translations but also, the editors were good at indicating where they made editorial choices. This aids our understanding. You should also know that the original text did not have punctuation. So, the first thing I want you to do is to take your NASB and, with a pencil, line through all italicized words. You will receive a huge revelation when you do. The editors added words to make the sentences flow. In this case, as in others, their additions actually change the meaning. Look at this passage without the edits:

“It was neither that this man sinned nor his parents but in order that the works of God might be displayed in him we must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day night is coming, when no man can work while I am in the world I am the light of the world.”

Now punctuate it yourself. I suggest Jesus was saying, “In order that the works of God might be displayed we must heal this man.” What these verses specifically are not saying is that God caused or allowed this man to be blind in order that God can show off. It also does not say that he was born blind because of sin. God does not strike people because of sin. If so, we would all be blind. Second, how much sense does it make for God to make someone blind and Jesus heal him. We cannot honestly believe they are working at cross purposes. Some would argue that God made him blind so that He and Jesus could show their healing prowess. Okay, that is just sick. This isn’t a game. God wants people healed and saved. He is not trying to wow us with His healing power and miracles. In fact, they are not even miracles to Him. Healing and miracles are simply putting things back in proper order. Therefore, in order that God’s works in the earth be displayed, we must lay hands on the sick and pray. We are the agents of God’s works in the earth.

So, when you read the Bible, line through all italicized words. Choose a Bible like the NASB with references because the references also include editor notes. Also, when you ponder a passage or study it, read it without punctuation thinking about how that might change the way you think about it.

Pastor for Hire

Luke 10: 7

The worker is deserving of his wage.

There is an emerging trend in pastoring/mentoring in the church today of which you should be aware.

The very fabric of pastoring has changed substantially. Once upon a time, most mentoring, counseling and pastoring came through one’s local church. The church hired ministers and paid their salaries. The congregation tithed (10% of their gross income) to the church, the church using those funds, in addition to offerings, to meet the needs of the budget, including salaries. Things are very different today. There are hosts of ministers who are not affiliated with a specific local congregation. Think of all of the preachers you know from television and books.

These ministers are also called upon in a pastoring capacity. Pastoring may be thought of as caring for the flock. That may mean teaching, as it so often does, but it may also include counseling, guidance, and responding to questions. Most of these are roles which were traditionally the purview of the local pastor.

The modern church, however, is less restricted to a church building. Many Christians are what I term “the great unchurched.” These are people who receive most of their teaching and guidance online, through television or other outlets rather than the traditional attendance of Sunday Services. These are not pagans. They are the faithful. It is simply that the modern church is the product of a more mobile society and wide-spread media opportunities. We can bounce a message off of a satellite and send it around the world now. And, so we do.

There are two factors which have serious impacts on these ministers as well as on the local church. First, we have not translated our tithing and offerings to the church to those ministers from whom we draw sustenance from television, the internet or other media outlets. Second, even in our home congregations, Christians are not substantially tithers. Per capita, we give less than Christians did during the Great Depression. Some sites report that only 5% of American Christians tithe. The charitable say that the number may be as high as 20%. Regardless, there is a trend towards not giving to the church. There may be any number of factors which contribute to this trend including that people carry little cash and rarely write checks. In any event, the church is not receiving as much support as it did. It seems to me, also, that we are becoming accustomed to receiving something for nothing. Certainly, this is not to say that no one ever gives to independent ministries. That absolutely is not a true depiction. Many ministries, my own included, are dependent on contributions and are blessed by people sending unsolicited donations. None the less, there are large groups of people who take a lot, but give little. The solution?

Ministers must begin to charge for their services. Where ministers could once rely on people to honor them with donations, that may be changing. Pastors have lived on faith; giving freely. Jesus lived by faith and that has been the model others have followed. That is the space every minister and every ministry wants to live in. However, I see it changing. As the demand on independent ministries increases, those organizations are increasingly having to charge a fee for what they do. I will not be surprised when the local congregation begins to charge for some of their services too. This is not the model most of us wish for but I believe it may be the new reality.

We have lost our way in our relationship to giving to the church and to ministries and this may be a simple realignment. Our thrust was once what our donation could do for others. Christians wanted other people to benefit from the good news they heard. So, our gifts were part of our evangelism and for the support of those who carry the good news. The focus of the current church may be more inwardly focused, both corporately and personally. Corporately we must ask if our desire is only for a bigger building of if there is something the collective donations can do for our congregation and beyond. What can we do in the community to bless God’s kids?

Individually, do we give only so that we can receive. Is there a private incentive to our giving? I completely agree with expecting a harvest from your seed. I want you to expect God to be true to His word and give you a return on your donation. However, as I mentioned last week, there seems to be an element of “What can God do for me” mentality in our present working theology. This may also impact our individual giving. If I believe I will get something out of it personally, will that belief influence my giving? Sure. I might, though, balance giving away my money with buying something I want and the donation suffer in the balance. Truly in this age of consumerism, that is an impactful dynamic.

What should we do about this? Whatever you choose to do. Nothing if that is your determination. In the main, the answer is both corporately and individually that we should turn that question into the Father and get His answer. Is this a trend we should even be concerned about and if it is, is there anything we should do about it? Do you believe in your heart of hearts that there is anything you should do about it personally? Should you write a letter? Make a speech? Ask your friends their thoughts? Should you start your own ministry the entire purpose of which is to encourage people to fight back against this emerging trend by giving more of their income to the church? Should you demand more services from the church and independent ministries and encourage ala carte pricing? Maybe you can find a way to make giving easier so that people who have a heart to give are not frustrated by the process.

If you think I came bearing the answers, you are wrong. I am not even convinced it is a problem. I do think, however, that it is wise to notice emerging trends and ask ourselves the important questions so that we augment the development of them rather than await their establishment and then complain about that which is becoming entrenched. Even more importantly, I think all wisdom resides in the Father and that you, yes you, have a direct pipeline to Him. I also think that you are every bit as responsible for what happens in the church as the pastors. YOU are the church. We are only employees of God first, and you second. You are the body. The body moves the fingers not the fingers moving the body. Although the pastors are leaders in many respects we are also instruments of the greater whole. How do you want the modern church to deal with finances? What model makes sense in this day and time? What does Yahweh say to You when you ask Him these questions? I will admit that I do not want to end up in a “Buy a prayer, rent a sermon” paradigm but I also do not want to minimize the important work that I believe these anointed people are doing for us and for the Kingdom of God. Please put in your quarter and receive a prayer.

I would have you know that our prayer line is open. There is a prayer request page on our website. The Word of the Day is free to everyone and you are encouraged to freely distribute it. These things are gratis and will remain so. They are not the subject of today’s devotional nor should this message be construed as a solicitation of funds. If it is a solicitation for anything, and I think it is, it is a solicitation for prayer and meditation; a request that you talk with the Father about church finances and a solicitation of your thoughts, which I whole heartedly desire. Let the body of Christ be heard.

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