Posts tagged ‘Paul’

October 18, 2012

Me Me Me…

by pastortimfowler

Help Others

Mark 9:33-34 33 Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 They were silent. On the road they had argued about who was the greatest.

Ministry is a beautiful thing. It allows the church to help those in need. It is a source of great joy. Unfortunately it can be a source of arguing and troubles. No, this did not start with my church or your church or even your grandparent’s church, it started with the very first people who were followers of Jesus. (see above)
The reason this happens is that we forget to put self aside and be more considerate of those in need. The Apostle Paul said that he died daily to himself so that he could live daily for Christ. Far to often Christians forget that this is needed in our lives. We forget that once we are saved, we become workers with Christ for God. We are to become like Christ to people. Christ died for people and lived for God’s will to be done.
The church is not a place to complain because someone else did something to help another. It is a place to rejoice because someone was helped by Jesus and Jesus happened to use one of His own. It is a place to find joy that others are ministering to those in need, even if we can’t or aren’t part of it. Jesus knows our hearts. He knows if we are doing things out of love or for self glory. I trust that and let Him worry about it. Meanwhile, if a person in need gets help and it is from a believer, I give God the glory.
When these disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, they were as far from being Christ-like as they could possibly be. Jesus goes on to tell them that they must be childlike, not childish, in order to become great. Children are obedient. He later tells them that if they want to be great they need to become servants. Servants don’t think that they are great, they too are obedient.
As we grow as Christians we must always be aware that not everything can be explained. Not everything can be communicated. And not everything is meant for us to do. I am sure that others who saw Peter walk on water were a bit jealous that it wasn’t them. I am sure that some may have wished it was them who received the vision of the book of Revelation. But the important thing to remember is that the people who God wanted involved were involved in the things that He wanted done. It just is not about us once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We must also remember that others are watching how we handle adversity. Every Christian has someone watching how we handle things to see if they want to follow us or not. It is not about them following you or me, but are we following Jesus and therefore they should follow us. Some may see our attitude and be offended because they don’t understand why we are upset. It may involve a weaker person and our reaction causes them to fall away. So be careful how you react to things.

Remember that children and servants are to be obedient, not important. Jesus is the important one and so is that person who needs help. We don’t want to hurt someone who is a weaker and younger believer.

Matthew 18:6-7 6 “These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.
7 How horrible it will be for the world because it causes people to lose their faith. Situations that cause people to lose their faith will arise. How horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose his faith!

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August 22, 2012

Forgive It

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/26015375@N06/3914730774/

2 Corinthians 2:5-11
5 If someone caused distress, I’m not the one really affected. To some extent—although I don’t want to emphasize this too much—it has affected all of you.
6 The majority of you have imposed a severe enough punishment on that person.
7 So now forgive and comfort him. Such distress could overwhelm someone like that if he’s not forgiven and comforted.
8 That is why I urge you to assure him that you love him.
9 I had also written to you to test you. I wanted to see if you would be obedient in every way.
10 If you forgive someone, so do I. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did in the presence of Christ for your benefit.
11 I don’t want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming.

The Apostle Paul is talking to a church who is not forgiving one of its members. I am not sure what was done, but what I do know, because of his other teachings, is that this person must have asked for others to forgive. You see, it is biblical that if you have wronged someone who you should ask for the forgiveness and if you ask another Christian, they are required to give the forgiveness. If someone does not ask, there is no repentance, and no forgiveness is required to be given. I am sure that someone is going to challenge me on this, but I am talking about a situation that is being dealt with in this church and this spans both letters that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things for anybody to do. When we get hurt, it is somehow in us to return the hurt rather than forgiving. Sure, some of this comes from that person not asking, but far too often I hear people saying that they just won’t forgive.

Paul says that in the case where it has been asked, and withheld, we risk overwhelming that person. Later in this same letter Paul states that Christians have been given the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, we are to fix broken relationships, not shatter the pieces even further, making things beyond repair. So when we are asked to forgive, we should, and in that, we strengthen that person and encourage that same pattern of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Paul tells them that by forgiving, they are assuring that person of the love they have from us. It is easy to love those who treat us right. Anyone can do that. But Christians are supposed to love like Christ loves, and we must remember that while we were still His enemy, Christ died for us, showing His love. Love is not warm fuzzy feelings and never having to say you are sorry. Love is patient, kind, not selfish and doesn’t keep track of wrongs, according to the Bible.
Far too many Christians miss being like Jesus when they don’t forgive. Many others miss feeling the love of Jesus by not asking for the forgiveness. Forgiveness is the act of giving up our right to be angry and instead of holding a grudge, hold our relationship with people higher than our pride. Far too many marriages crumble because they are too busy pointing the finger of blame rather than opening the arms in love.

I encourage you to ask if you need forgiveness and give it when asked. Satan wants Christians to hold grudges and act like we don’t love people. Paul says that we should not be outwitted and that we should know that this unforgiveness thing is part of Satan’s scheme. Kick Satan in the butt and forgive. You will be more like Christ if you do, and something tells me that you will feel better than if you continue to hold that grudge.

April 18, 2012

What’s Next

by pastortimfowler

I asked my church last Sunday night what they would like to study in the next few weeks. We are finishing up a study on anger and I like to see if they have any ideas that I can turn into a good couple of weeks of teaching. One of the suggestions was the men of the Bible. My wife teaches a women’s group on Wednesdays and they recently studied the women of the Bible. I am sure it was a great study, but I don’t do those kind of studies very well. It would be a great study, but I think I will leave it to my wife and her Wednesday night crowd to handle that. I am not sure what I will teach next.
Maybe I will start a basket weaving class. That way we keep our hands occupied and can take something home with us after we are finished. Everyone likes baskets and few folks nowadays know how to make one from scratch. If we get enough participation we can fill them with Easter eggs next year and sell them to the Easter Bunny.
Whatever I teach next I want it to be something that we can walk away from with an idea of how to do what we were studying. So many Bible studies just give us head knowledge. We walk out knowing something in our minds but have no idea how to put into our lives in a way that others see a difference. I really think that Jesus wants people to see how much we know by the way we act instead of how much we talk. Talking is the easy part.
I wonder what kind of Bible study it would be if we studied how Jesus and His teaching changed the way we act? Would it be a quick, one night study where we all agreed that we are doing fine? Would it be a boring night that is so boring no one will come back? Will it be weeks of talk about how messed up he or she is? Would it be a continual story of all the great things we think that we have done?
The Apostle Paul was an amazing fellow. He often had to talk about his self. When he did it was usually a defense of his calling into the ministry, because he was a very bad dude before he met Jesus or a reminder of the fact that before he met Jesus that he was a very bad dude. Paul said of himself that he was the worst of all sinners. He told people that he was nothing without Jesus and rarely talked about how good he was and never compared himself to others. He never bragged about his church or his group that he hung out with, but rather he bragged about God’s mercy and grace and calling in his life to preach the gospel.
The reason Paul talked like this is not because he spent time studying the deep secrets of the Bible. He knew them and for the longest time, before he met Jesus, went around quoting the Bible to people. He was a very religious man. Once he met Jesus, he got away from religion and started having a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He began to recognize that the less he talked about Paul, the more people would see Jesus. He showed people through his actions what he knew from the word of God. He lived each day as if it were his last and did not focus only on Sunday gatherings. One of his greatest teachings was to the church in Corinth when he taught about love. He said that even if he could do all things spiritual but did not have love, then it was all worthless. Love is the overwhelming factor that changes someone from a religious person to a person in a relationship with God. It changed Paul’s life.
Sounds like I may have found a good next topic for my Sunday evening Bible study.

September 20, 2011

From Slave To Servant

by pastortimfowler

Reading the New Testament letter of Philemon that the Apostle Paul wrote to his friend is quite an eye opener. It is one of the shortest “books” of the Bible and yet there is so much to learn from it. I thought I would share some observations that I saw.
This is a letter that Paul wrote to a friend while Paul was in prison. It is near the end of his life and yet he still seeks every opportunity to encourage others and share Jesus with anyone that will listen. He opens the letter by addressing Philemon and his wife and son who had a group of folks that had church in their house. He expresses his passion for their faithfulness and encourages them to keep up the good work. There is no whining about being in prison and how unjust the court system was, only praise and admiration for what Jesus was doing in his life and theirs. He called Philemon not just a fellow worker, but a brother in the faith and Paul took this relationship very serious.
Philemon had a slave that had run away by the name of Onesimus. This slave was arrested and thrown into the same jail where Paul was held as a prisoner. I am sure that most of the guys in prison were all proclaiming their innocence and maybe Onesimus was too, but Paul was focused on one thing. Sharing God’s love with others and he did this with the slave and fellow prisoner. Once he was convinced of this man’s position in Christ, Paul obviously told him that He needed to go back and make things right with his old master and that was the purpose of this letter.
He tells his good friend that his old slave was no longer a disobedient slave but now a brother in Christ. Paul instructs Philemon to receive his old slave as if he were receiving Paul himself. He tells him that if there is a debt that is owed to charge it to him and to treat him not like the criminal that he was, but as a brother that he had become.
Isn’t it amazing that whatever we use to be before knowing Jesus as Savior is totally wiped out in Christ and we become new people? If only we acted that way toward others instead of only expecting it for ourselves. Paul met a man who was a runaway slave that by law could have been put to away for a long time or in the worst of cases be put to death, and saw someone who desperately needed Jesus, not a Judge. He didn’t just lead him to Jesus, but he took actions to help him live a life pleasing to Jesus. He didn’t worry about what others would think if he helped a criminal, but thought about what God would think if he didn’t help a sinner in need of a Savior.
If we could all look at the need instead of the problem. If we could all look at a potential brother instead of a potential bother. If we could all see people like Paul saw people and like Jesus sees people, then maybe more people would turn to Jesus, than turn to their troubles of the past and face them as a pardoned criminal, grateful to the Righteous Judge, who gave us over to the Perfect Savior. Maybe more people would see our forgiveness and our compassion and become forgiving and compassionate themselves.
Funny how this slave of a master was set free to become a servant of The Master.

July 12, 2011

I Need Your Prayers

by pastortimfowler

I feel very blessed to have people as wonderful as my church folks in my life. I have so little to complain about and even when I do have stuff I try to keep them under wraps. I am constantly reminded of how fortunate I am and I know that God has blessed me far more than I deserve. From time to time I get feeling overwhelmed at how awesome God is and how I deserve nothing as amazing as my life is.
It is hard to follow such statements as I just made with a prayer request, but I do need your prayers. For years I have suffered with chronic back pain. On good days the pain is like a that of a bad headache and on the worse days it is like having a knife lodged in my lower back that causes shooting pain if I move the wrong way. Normal days it is like a bad toothache and few things help to give any relief. It effects my sleep because being in any one position for too long hurts, so sleep is rarely more than an hour uninterrupted.
That said, I don’t want sympathy. I can function and have learned to accept it. But I do want your prayers because it sometimes wears me down and in times of spiritual battles and stressful situations this can be a challenge. Now is one of those times. There are many things happening that require my focus and Satan is masterful at taking advantage of our weakness. One thing he can’t defeat is the prayers of God’s people.
The Apostle Paul had a physical problem that He wrote about and God told him the His grace was sufficient. Paul accepted that and I do too. But Paul also knew the power of prayer and often asked for it from those he loved and was not ashamed to do so. Even Jesus asked for prayers in His moments of pain and stress. So I guess I have nothing to be ashamed about, I am in good company among those who have asked for prayer.
Usually, these things level off in a week or so, and I even have a vacation coming up next week. But in the mean time, if you be so kind as to pray for me, I would be grateful.
God is so awesome and He never gives us more than we can handle. We just need learn when to pass some stuff off to others and say, I need your prayers.