The Master’s Men – Peter

Our friend Peter was always getting himself into trouble by saying or doing something he was soon to regret. John MacArthur coins him as “the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth,” and after reading the gospels, one might agree, it’s hard to argue with him.

Peter was a rugged fisherman with an aggressive, bold, and overeager personality. Peter was introduced to the Lord by his brother Andrew and immediately was recognized as the leader of the Twelve.  In the discussion on Simon Peter, MacArthur highlights several key character qualities that define a true leader. I believe these are essentials in the Christian leader today.

Submission – A true leader doesn’t just demand submission; he is an example of submission by the way he submits to the Lord and to those in authority over him. Everything the true spiritual leader does, ought to be marked by submission to every legitimate authority – especially submission to God and to His Word. Leaders tend to be confident and aggressive. They naturally dominate. Peter had that tendency in him. He always wanted to take control of the situation. Jesus taught him submission.

Restraint – Simon Peter had to learn to restrain himself in those moments when the domineering side of him kicked in. The Lord essentially had to put a bit in Peter’s mouth to teach him restraint. For this reason Peter bore the brunt of so many rebukes when he spoke too soon or acted too hastily. We all remember the scene in the garden when Peter, knowingly surrounded by hundreds of Roman soldiers, pulled out his sword and began hacking away at Malchus’ ear. Luckily for Peter, Jesus immediately healed the damage and sternly rebuked Peter saying, “those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” Peter must have learned his lesson because later in life he wrote in 1 Peter of the restraint demonstrated in Jesus, “They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became our healing.” (1 Peter 2:21-23)

Humility – Like Simon Peter, leaders are often tempted by the sin of pride. Early in Peter’s walk with the Lord it’s easy to observe he had a lot of self-confidence. It’s obvious in the way he jumps in with answers to all the questions. Or how bout being the first to jump in the water to walk to Jesus…don’t tell me there’s not a hint a pride and confidence in that. But the Lord used all Peter’s mistakes and shortcomings to teach him humility. Humility became one of the virtues that characterized Peter’s life, his message, and his leadership style. (read about it in his first and second epistle)

Love   Simon Peter also learned Love. All the disciples struggled with learning that true spiritual leadership means loving service to one another. The real leader is someone who serves, not someone who demands to be waited upon. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Jesus himself consistently modeled that kind of loving-servant leadership for the disciples. The Love Peter learned and later spoke of in his epistle wasn’t the “feeling” of love the world always talks about, but the kind of love that covers and compensates for others’ failures and weaknesses. This is the sort of love that washes a brother’s dirty feet. Peter himself had learned that lesson from Christ’s example.

Courage –   Finally Simon Peter learned courage. Not the impetuous, headlong, false kind of “courage” that caused him to swing his sword so wildly at Malchus, but a mature, settled, heroic willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake. The price of preaching would be death for Peter. Persecution. Oppression. Trouble. Torture. Ultimately, martyrdom. Peter would need rock-solid courage to persevere.  You can practically see the birth of real courage in Peter’s heart at Pentecost, when he was filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Tradition says that before Peter was crucified he was forced to watch the crucifixion of his own wife. As he watched her being led to her death, Peter called to her by name, saying, “Remember the Lord.” When is was Peter’s turn to die, he pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die the same death as his Lord. Simon Peter definitely lived up to the name the Lord had given him- the courageous ROCK!!

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The Master’s Men – Andrew

 I apologize for my delayed blogging.  I intended to write about the book I am devouring right now about the twelve men who went after Jesus, but it’s been a while since I have written.

I want to say a few words about the Apostle Andrew that I have been mulling over.

Andrew was Peter’s brother but was probably the least known of the four lead apostles: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Andrew was the first disciple to be called and immediately after Jesus found him he began exercising his spiritual gift of bringing others to Jesus.

I am so drawn to Andrew. Not because of his flashy, domineering personality – that actually belonged to his brother Peter – but Andrew had a quality I think a lot of us Christians could benefit from. Andrew had the perfect heart for doing ministry in the background. He did not demand the spotlight or center of attention, but actually thrived in serving behind the scenes. He was thankful for the gifts God had blessed him with and willing to do the best he could with what he was given.

Now don’t be fooled, Andrew wasn’t as meek and mild-hearted as he appears. He also had other characteristics of manliness. He was bold, decisive, and deliberate. He had a passion for Truth which drove him whole heartedly in pursuit of Jesus.

Another quality of Andrew’s that I truly admire and desire in my own life was the way he the saw value of individual people. Just about every time Andrew is mentioned in the Gospel’s, he is bringing someone to Jesus…I love that!  Andrew was poised and comfortable at introducing others to Jesus, because he did it so often. In john 1 Andrew brought Peter to Christ. In John 6, during the feeding of the five thousand, it was Andrew who brought the boy with five loaves and two fish to Christ. The other disciples didn’t know what to do. Andrew was not confused when someone wanted to see Jesus. He understood that Jesus would reach out to anyone who wanted to see him. So Andrew simple brought them to Jesus.

This is a quote from John MacArthur the author of this book which I believe is astoundingly prophetic:

                One thing I have observed in all my years of ministry is that the most effective and important aspects of evangelism usually takes place on an individual, personal level. Most people do not come to Christ as an immediate response to sermon they hear in a crowded setting. They come to Christ because of the influence of an individual.”

“There’s no question that the most effective way of bringing people to Christ is one at a time, on a personal basis. Too many Christians think that because they can’t speak in front of groups or because they don’t have leadership gifts, they are not responsible to evangelize. There are few who, like Andrew, understand the value of befriending one person and bringing him or her to Christ.”

As far as we know, Andrew never preached to multitudes or founded any churches. He never wrote an epistle. He isn’t mentioned in the book of Acts or any of the epistles. The Bible doesn’t record what happened to Andrew after Pentecost. Whatever role he played in early Church history, he remained behind the scenes. Andrew’s legacy is the example he left to show us that in effective ministry it’s often the little things that count. What an Amazing Man of God!!

The Master’s Men

John MacArthur

Thoughts on Nehemiah…

Jared’s been teaching a series on the book of Nehemiah over the past few weeks at the River and God has given me some fresh revelation too. The book is jam packed with awesome truths and promises of the Lord. If you aren’t familiar with the book let me catch you up to speed.

The Nation of Israel – God’s chosen people – was the domineering, superpower kingdom in the ancient Bible times. King David and his son Solomon played key roles in fueling Israel’s flight to great prominence. But after David and Solomon died, Israel begins to stray away from God and return to its evil practice of pagan idol worshipping. Therefore God allowed the Nation of Babylon to conquer the Israelites, destroy their temple and its walls, and haul them off to captivity in Babylon. Eventually Babylon was overthrown by the Persians and King Artaxerxes. King Artaxerxes showed kindness towards the Jews and allowed them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city. Nehemiah knew that God wanted him to motivate the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and he knew God could use his talents to get the job done. But when Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem he found more than just a destroyed city with broken walls; he found broken lives and broken hearts. He found a nation who had lost their identity. A people who had once flourished under God’s hand and favor now meandered around without truly knowing the God of their ancestors.

But this is the part I love. Most of us would look at the situation God put Nehemiah in and say “Can’t do it Lord, these people are too far stuck into worldly things. They’re broken, depressed, and lacking confidence in their God…give me some passionate, zealous warriors of God and I’ll get ‘er done no problem…but these losers – Impossible!”

Nehemiah, though he may have been a little discouraged, refused to be defeated. In response, he gathered the people together to read God’s law, in hopes of returning them to their first love.  The people repent and promise to change their lives by obeying God’s word. Check this out! I love it –

                8:1 all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey.

 2 So on October 8[a] Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. 3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law…

6 …Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground…

9 ….Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law….

Nehemiah 9

5 …Then the leaders of the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah—called out to the people: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!” Then they prayed:

   “May your glorious name be praised! May it be exalted above all blessing and praise!
 6 “You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.

I am so encouraged by Nehemiah and his unwavering faith in the Lord. Instead of complaining to the Lord about Israel’s back-sliding into sin and pagan worship he remained faithful, steady, and obedient to God in the tough times.  Be and Overcomer!  

 

JI

The Master’s Men – Philip

I’m reading a book about the twelve disciples Jesus called to follow him and over the next couple weeks I plan to write revelations the Lord gives me and different quotes that catch my eye.

It’s funny, but when most people of the world think about the disciples, the first word that generally comes to mind is righteous or pious; They hold them on this high pedestal and assume they were the only men qualified to carry the anointing of Christ. When you take a fresh look at the disciples, you’ll be faced with a stunning fact: The men Jesus chose were plain, regular, and ordinary men – But they were obedient to the Master’s call.  

The disciple that I have learned the most from right now is Philip. Philip, was a facts-and-figures guy – a buy-the-book, practical-minded type of individual.  He was very cynical and generally thought with his head instead of his heart.  “Philip was apparently the apostolic administrator. It is likely that he was in charge of arranging meals and lodging as Jesus’ ministry traveled throughout the Judean region.” During the feeding of the five-thousand, as it was nearing meal time, the disciples all looked to Philip for ideas of how to feed all the people.   Even Jesus (who already knew what he was going to do) turned and tested Philip, asking, “How do you propose to feed all these people?” And Philip, who had witnessed Jesus perform miracle after miracle, responds with an immediate “it can’t be done Lord.” The limitless supernatural power of Christ had completely escaped his thinking.  He needed to set aside his fleshly, materialistic concerns and trust in the power of Jesus!

Another glimpse of Philip operating in his pessimistic flesh mode is seen in the upper room during the Last Supper. It is the last night of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the disciples gathered to spend their last intimate moments with their Teacher. Jesus has just spent 2-3 years raising up and training his disciples to carry out his work after he was gone, teaching them to use the same power and authority he had demonstrated. Jesus never explicitly told the disciples that he was God in human form, but after spending 3 years with him you’d think they’d figure it out. While they were eating together Jesus made a huge statement about his deity: “If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also; and from now on you know him and have seen him” (John 14:7). Philip spoke up and said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” What kind of a comment was that? What did Philip think had been going on the past three years? He’d witnessed Jesus stand in the face of demons and rebuke them back to the pit of Hell, he’d seen hundreds of miracles and healings of people with diseases and deformities, and yet he says “Lord, show us the Father.” For three years Philip had gazed into the very face of God, and it was still not clear to him.

“If we were interviewing Philip for the role to which Jesus called him, we might say, “He’s out. You can’t make him one of the most important people in the history of the world.” But Jesus said, “He’s exactly what I’m looking for. My strength is made perfect in his weakness.” I’m so thankful the Lord uses men like Philip to better his kingdom.

God can use anyone. He meets us with grace, mercy, and forgiveness and transforms our lives into lives that reflect his glory. Be obedient. Be open to the Lord and truly trust Him. You’ll be amazed at the ride He’ll take you on!!!   

Matthew

A few weeks ago I was convicted that I do not spend enough time in GODs WORD! I don’t think we can spend enough time in the WORD…so anyways, I started reading the gospels(starting with Matthew).I was reading about when Jesus call out Matthew.

 

Matthew 9:9-13.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him “follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in the house many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinner? But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call not righteous but sinners!

 

 

This was a very unpopular thing for Jesus to do. Tax collectors were not exactly the most popular dudes of the time. I find it crazy how Jesus used the most unlikely characters to further his kingdom. I m starting to see that everything is upside down when it comes to Jesus; Who and what Christ used! He hangs with the delinquents and reached out to the people who nobody cared about. He uses messed up people like me to do kingdom work…Everything about whom Jesus Christ is blows my mind!!! That’s what’s been rolling in my vacant space that I call me brain.

Peace Out

AC

Who is your Timothy?

The Lord has been heavy on my heart asking this question: who is your Timothy? Now if your not familiar with Scripture you’re probably thinking that question doesn’t even make sense…who is your Timothy? In the New Testament the Apostle Paul models perfectly this idea of raising up “Timothy’s” or the next generation leaders to replace the existing leaders position. For you Star Wars geeks its the same concept as a Pad wan .  In this case Obi Wan Kenobi takes young Anikan Skywalker under is wing and trains him in the ways of the Jedi. As you know Kenobi eventually dies and leaves Skywalker to fend for himself. But there is no reason to fear because while Kenobi was alive Anikan studied  and mirrored his every move, knowing the day would come when it would be his turn to replace Obi Wan as the greatest Jedi in the galaxy.

The same is true of Paul and his relationship with Timothy. Paul knew the day would come when he would not be around. He poured everything he had into Timothy, training him in the ways of Apostleship. Paul bolstered Timothy’s confidence in Christ, affirming him in the faith. In 2 Timothy, Paul gives his final charge to Timothy, spurring him on to his destiny found in Christ.

Go read 2 Tim. and be encouraged through Paul’s words.   Ask God who you need to be raising up to take your place when you’re gone.  It’s my prayer that each of us has someone that we are pouring ourselves out for.

I Have Hidden Your Word in my Heart…

A couple months back I was sitting in the living room reading and meditating on my morning devotional. The Psalm for that morning was Psalm 119. I began reading and came across verse 11 which says “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” My  mind began racing…I tried to think back to the last time I actually sat down and memorized Scripture. The only thing that came to mind was Bible Quizzing way back in 9th grade…and even that was because I wanted to win the stupid quizing competition. I honestly couldn’t think of the last verse I had memorized. I became disgusted with myself and vowed from that day on to begin hiding God’s Word in my heart.

The Word of God breathes life into our dry and weary bones. Without a daily dose of His word I find myself craving the things of the flesh; I become susceptible to everyone of the flaming arrows the devil attempts to throw my way. Don’t try to do it on your own…I’ve tried and it is impossible. Hide His Word in your Heart!! And pray the Devil would not snatch away the freshly memorized Scripture. Begin today with one Scripture. Write it on note cards and place them all over the house, office, car, etc. It will completely change the way you read scripture…

more on that later!!

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