Tuesday, March 22, 2016

""No one has ever become poor by giving." ~~Anne Frank
"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."
                                                ~~Sir Winston Churchill
Do You Pray for Your Pastor?

The following is an article written by my friend and former Missions Director for the World Baptist Fellowship, the late Robert O. Schmidt. It is taken from the WBF Reaper's Report (July-August, 1980): 1.

Do you pray for your pastor? There are good reasons why you should.

First, you should pray for your pastor in his sermon preparation. If his is the responsibility to feed the sheep, then he must know with assurance both the need of the sheep and what kind of food to give them. With discernment he must be able to diagnose the sheep's problems and to prescribe the right remedy.

That in itself is a tremendous task and responsibility. You need to pray "Lord, guide my pastor in the choice of his text for this Sunday. Enlighten his mind with regard to the truth of his text. Help him to find the illustrations best suited to make the truth clear. And help us as the congregation to receive the word as Thy Word."

Second, you should pray that your pastor may make the best use of his time. How many demands are made upon such men, and it is obvious that they cannot handle all the matters referred to them. A pastor needs to know when and how to say NO to a request for assistance.

Third, you should pray that your pastor may have a group of godly men to support him in his work. Indeed, he, too, is an elder, a teaching elder, it is true, but he needs a group of men -- deacons and trustees -- whose hearts God has touched.

fourth, a pastor needs prayer in all his dealings with people. He needs wisdom in counseling them, admonishing them, encouraging them. He needs to be gentle yet firm, manifesting both the gentleness and severity of God to all those he contacts.

Fifth, pray that your pastor may be MISSIONARY HEARTED. A pastor's heart is often the best thermometer for registering the missionary temperature of a church. Does he promote missions? Does he teach his people how to give to missions? PRAY THAT THE SPIRIT OF MISSIONS MAY GRIP HIS HEART. If He does, thank God and keep on praying.

A noted Missionary Pastor was asked : "How do you maintain interest throughout the year?" His reply was: "I have found that if a Pastor has been pastor of a church any length of time, the church members will reflect the interest of the Pastor. If the Pastor is interested in World Evangelism the church members will have the same interest in seeking to evangelize lost men and women around the world. If the Pastor's main interest is in brick and mortar, you will see an abundance of buildings, and so on down the line.The Pastor is the key to the missionary success and the missionary interested of every church.

Again, let me say, if your Pastor does not possess the spirit of missions, pray for him. If he is more concerned for the lost of the world than temporal things, thank God for him daily. For you are blessed, indeed.

Sixth, pray for your Pastor in his relationship with the young people of the church. The world, the flesh, and the Devil, have confronted our young people with every conceivable temptation known to man. Our young people must have our best effort toward them and therefore pray that both the Pastor's life and message may mold them and draw them closer to God.

Seventh, and finally, pray that your Pastor may be able to get proper rest and some needed recreation. If he is to continue in his work for God, he needs adequate periods of relaxation. Remember that most of the members work at jobs and they can forget about their work until time comes for them to check in at the appointed time in the morning [or at whatever other appropriate time]. Not so with your Pastor. His phone rings at all times of the day and night. People, his people, that God has given him to shepherd, have problems and also real difficult troubles. He has to bear those burdens along with the members. It is difficult for him to even relax for days on end because of the many burdens that rest upon his shoulders. I can safely say that many a pastor is in his grave prematurely, because of overwork. The Pastor that loves God and His people, has burdens and work that the average layman knows little about. If you don't pray for your pastor daily, begin NOW and keep him on the top of your prayer list DAILY. He deserves your support. ###

NOTE: Though this was written more than thirty five years ago, the Pastor's situation has not lessened. If anything, the attacks of Satan against the church of Jesus Christ have only worsened. Consequently, the Shepherd given the task of not only leading but also protecting Christ's flock from these attacks, needs all the strength and support he can get. If your answer to the question Dr. Schmidt asks is no, then begin now to pray fervently and daily for your pastor. I do.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Lamb of God

Did you know that that phrase appears in the Bible only two times?  In John 1.29, John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"  Again, in John 1.36, he simply said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"  If this expression doesn't appear anywhere else in the Bible, where did John get the idea to call Jesus the Lamb of God?

Because it is the Easter season, the question piqued my interest right away.  And most likely, John would have derived the idea from the Old Testament.  Yet the more I searched the Scriptures, the less I found there that fit.  There is the Passover lamb, the "lamb led to the slaughter" in Isaiah, the lamb for a burnt offering, among others.  None of them, however, is called the Lamb of God.  Still they all have one thing in common.  Nearly every passage in the Old Testament containing the term "lamb" refers to a sacrifice of one kind or another.  Perhaps by calling Jesus the Lamb of God, John intended for us to see in Him the fulfillment of all that is foreshadowed in all of the sacrifices taken together.  All the truth to which the entire sacrificial system points finds its embodiment in Him.  He is the perfect sacrifice, rising above all others and perfecting all others.

One of those Old Testament truths I found particularly fascinating because it showed me so vividly what Jesus did for me.  Genesis 22 contains the story of the offering of Isaac, called in Jewish writings The Aqidah, the "Binding of Isaac."  In so many ways, Isaac is the perfect Old Testament picture of Jesus.  I'd like to share some of these ways with you.  For instance, Isaac was a  child of promise.  God Himself promised to Isaac's mother not only a child but a son (Genesis 18.10,14).  Furthermore, because she was physically no longer able to bear children (v. 11), Sarah would have her son through a miracle produced by God at "the appointed time" (v. 14).  And, for all practical purposes, Isaac was Abraham's "only begotten son" (cp. Hebrews 11.17).  We know Abraham fathered Ishmael as well, but Ishmael has nothing to do with the promises of God.  So, God Himself called Isaac Abraham's "only son" (Genesis 22.2).  For me, God gave the promise of Jesus's birth to His mother (Luke 1.26-37).  Like Isaac, He was a promised "son" (v.31), a miraculous birth (v.35), and the "only begotten Son" of the Father (John 3.16).  Finally, He, too, came at the "appointed time" (Galatians 4.4: the "fulness of time").

And this is only the preliminary!  Of all the pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament, Arthur Pink tells us, "This is one of the very few...that brings before us not only God the Son but also God the Father.  Here, as nowhere else, are we shown the Father's heart.  Here it is that we get such a wonderful foreshadowment of the Divine side of Calvary."  Isaac is greatly loved by his father.  God told him to "take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac...and offer him...as a burnt offering" (Genesis 22.2, italics are mine).  Of Jesus, more than once we hear the Father's voice say, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3.17; Mark 9.7).  But Isaac's father like Jesus's not only loved him, he offered him as a sacrifice.  When they reached the mountain of the Lord, the Bible says Abraham "built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood" (Genesis 22.9).  When Isaac asked, "'Where is the lamb...?'" (v.7), Abraham answered, "'God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son'" (v. 8).  The message is clear at this point although Isaac may not have fully understood it.  The son was the sacrifice, but it was his father who offered him.  On the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared this same message for us, "this Man [Jesus, the Son], delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God [the Father], you nailed to a cross...." (Acts 2.23).

The Father not only delivered the Son as a sacrifice, the Son willingly submitted to the plan.  Isaac was not a young child.  According to Josephus, he was at least twenty five years old, old enough and strong enough to overcome a father of a hundred twenty five years.  But he submitted to be bound as a sacrifice.  Interestingly, the word translated "bound" in verse 9 is, according to Leon Morris, a "technical term for tying up an animal for sacrifice."  Isaac submitted to the same treatment as a sacrificial animal without a trace of complaint.  Furthermore, he carried the wood upon which he was lain as a sacrifice up the mountain just as Jesus carried the cross up Mount Calvary and submitted to the sacrifice there for our sins.  Abraham laid Isaac on the altar just as the Father truly laid Jesus on the cross.  In truth, as Arthur Pink said, "what took place on that mount of sacrifice [Moriah and Calvary] was a transaction between the Father and Son ONLY."

Finally, the story of the Lamb of God would be incomplete at this Easter without the resurrection.  Symbolically, Isaac was in effect dead from the moment God commanded Abraham to sacrifice him (cp. Hebrews 11.17-19).  The journey to Moriah was three days.  And on that third day, Abraham received him back from the dead as a type (v. 19).  This Easter, we remember that our Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God also came forth from the grave on the third day (cp. Luke 24.21) to provide life for all who receive Him.  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!