I spent this past week on the campus of Harding University for the annual Kerusso conference. Kerusso is a preacher training camp for young men in high school who have a possible desire to pursue a career in ministry. It is always a rewarding experience to spend several hours talking with young men about the preaching life. I believe that the Kingdom has a bright future.
This year, the books we focused on were Hosea, Amos, and Micah. All of these “Minor Prophets” discuss God’s judgment for His people who had been disobedient, but also hope that remained if they would repent. One key characteristic of each book is the “prophetic edge” to the preaching of the prophets. All of them brought difficult messages to the people on behalf of God. It wasn’t easy for the people to hear. It certainly wasn’t easy for the prophets to preach. They were messages full of judgment. Harsh criticism. Impending doom. Political incorrectness.
As one reads through the messages of these prophets, it’s natural to ask, “Have preachers today lost that prophetic edge?” Are preachers as “politically correct” from the pulpit as politicians are on the campaign trail?
Granted, it was a different time in the days of the prophets. Not only did the prophets speak to the people on behalf of God, they spoke to kings and dignitaries as well. Their sermons weren’t confined to the church auditorium. To borrow our terms, they were preached on Capitol Hill and from the White House lawn. And the politicians allowed it. They may not have listened, but they allowed it. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. But at least the word of the Lord was proclaimed. Would our country be a different place today if preachers were preaching in the same environments today? Possibly.
But one thing we can certainly observe—preaching has lost its prophetic edge. Where are the sermons of judgment? Where are the sermons highlighting the danger and evil of sin? Where are the sermons of destruction? They seem to have become a “thing of the past”. That could be because in the past, the attitudes of those preaching them weren’t the best. One difference between prophetic preaching and preaching which has been done—the prophets threw themselves into the problem with the people. They said, “We’re going down with the ship, too.” If a preacher preaches a sermon of judgment but believes he himself is above the fray, that’s not only dangerous but equally as destructive. The preacher is a preacher for the people, but also of the people. He can’t believe he is any more “holy” because of his profession.
But preachers, we’ve got to regain our prophetic edge. We can’t preach judgment every week, but we can’t stop preaching judgment. We must call “sin”, “sin”. We must remind people that Hell is still hot. We must remind people that Jesus is still the ONLY way to the Father. We must remind people that God is serious about worship—the method and the meaning. We must remind people that a life that hasn’t been immersed in the blood of Jesus through baptism is a life that is still separate from God. Grace, mercy, atonement, forgiveness, patience, love, joy—these are wonderful sermon topics as well. But everything needs balance. And part of balance still includes that “prophetic edge.”
Yes, today’s article is more for preachers, but all Christians need to think about it. When was the last time you heard your preacher remind you that the same God who will bring you into Paradise has the power to send you to Hell? When was the last time you heard your preacher say that the only thing about truth that is true is that truth is absolutely true? There is so much “sugar coated” preaching that churches are becoming diabetic. Don’t lose that “prophetic edge”.
The importance of the attitude that is found within the members will make or break a local congregation. Sometimes it is necessary to look at ourselves and make adjustments to how we look at things. Here are some verses that we can look at and see how we are doing. The book of Romans says it very clearly. Romans 12:14-19 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind towards one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never payback evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God. And verse 21 continues, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Pick out a member of the body and thank them for the lives that they live and for the help they give you. Sometimes we pick out people in the world to look up to and these are not the ones who will be in heaven.
We know that none of us are perfect, and no local church is perfect, but we do know we have the perfect example in Christ. Just because there is no perfect person or church does not mean we should not strive for excellence.
I know that I am old, but that being said, I need to treat younger people with respect. And like wise, if I am young, I need to treat older people with the same respect.
When we are tempted to criticize someone, first pray for that person. It may not change that person but it will sure help you. When someone hurts us we sure would like to hurt them back, the last thing we want to do is to do good to that person. But that is not what the Bible tells us to do.
Sometimes we see a work that is being neglected and we want to be critical of the person who might be responsible. How about giving that person a hand, maybe they are doing some other good work and just haven’t had the time to get done what you think they should. The Bible is full of good attitudes that we should have, we just need to put them into our lives. If you talk the talk you need also need to walk the walk.
From the time we awake in the morning, until we close our eyes at the end of the day, we make decisions. Every day we make decisions that effect what we do, and how we do them. Something that our God has given to each and every one of us, is the right to make decisions. Each decision we make will have an effect on our lives. Some will have a long lasting effect and some will not.
Our Bible is full of good and bad decisions people have made. The bad decisions started in the book of Genesis with Adam and Eve, and continue throughout the Old Testament with people who did not follow the plans God had given them. A good example is Abram. He followed God’s plan to leave Haran and go to Canaan in Genesis 12.
Today it has continued in the New Testament with people who have not followed God’s plan, but made their own plans. It is something God’s word said would happen and we have the evidence before us today.
The good news is we can make decisions that follow God’s plan for us. It can start when we open our eyes in the morning. We can start our day with a talk to our God and close the day with God on our hearts.
We have been given important decisions to make in our near future, which will have long lasting effects on the church. The decision on who will be our next minister will have a major effect on who we are, and where we are going. Please pray every day that the man we choose will be the one who preaches God’s Word with power and truth. It is important that we pay attention to every aspect that this man brings. His love of the truth, his ability to communicate to all, his devotion to his family, and humility to others. Help us God to do Your will.
We also have a building to build. Pray that God will open doors to help us with this work. We also pray, that when we finish building a place to worship, it is filled with people listening to God’s Word preached.
Humility is a trait that we as Christian need to have in our lives to show the likeness we have in Christ. When we are humble it is then we show our willingness to follow Christ's will and not our own. We have all been around people who are the opposite of humble, people who are arrogant; none of us likes to be around this type of person. This person toots their own horn, but more often than not; it is just empty words. If we are arrogant it does not reflect the true nature of Christ.
In the book of James 4:10, James writes “Humble yourselves in the presentof the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Peter writes in the same tone in 1 Peter 5: 6 and 7. “Thereforehumble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him,because He cares for you.”
A great example of this is found with a parable Jesus teaches us in Luke 14: 7-14. To be humble, be like the man invited to the wedding feast, take a back seat and let some one usher you to a higher place. The Pharisees had an attitude of showing off. They wanted to look good and be seen, but Jesus corrected that idea. Our goal should be to be one who is humble and not to exalt one's self. Verse 11 says “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus considers our attitude about humbleness to be important enough to put it in a parable and so should we.
We sing the song in our worship service, Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and when you do He will lift you up. Always think about the words that come from our lips. Put God first and humble ourselves so that He might lift us up.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1Thess 5:11
Be an encourager, the world already has plenty of critics. When I heard this comment on a TV program I said “how true”. We as Christians really need to be encouragers if we are to let our lights shine. We have plenty of examples in our Bible to show us how to encourage others. In Acts the 18th chapter we see the encouragement that was given to Apollos by Priscilla and Aquila. Teaching people the scriptures with a loving spirit, will have more effect than beating them up with our knowledge. That is what Priscilla and Aquila did, and then when the brethren at Ephesus heard him speak the scripture with a fervent spirit, they encourage him to go to Achaia. It gave Apollos the strength he needed to preach the Word of God.
When we encourage someone, we give them comfort. This what our Jesus did. When the woman was caught in adultery in John 8:1-11, in verse 11 Jesus said to the woman “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on, sin no more.” Jesus knew this woman could lead a life that would let her light shine. We can take comfort and to encourage someone because we know the Lord is still in charge and will always be there to hear us. We can also take comfort and encouragement in the fact that our God has a place prepared for us as Jesus tells us in John chapter 14. How good is that our Lord has a place of comfort for us.
How do we speak to someone, does it encourage? That should be our goal. This world has plenty of critics to tell us how to do something, but our lives must be led in such a way that shows people how to live by example and deed. This little light of mine, let it shine, let it shine, all the time, so that I can be one who encourages people.
We have many critics in this world, but Jesus was not one of them. Follow the example that Jesus gave us and be encouragers.
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