Tag Archives: Pride

Sound Doctrine for Young Men

Titus 2:6-8

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

We are not exactly sure of when Titus was born, or how old he was when he traveled with Paul as an interpreter and fellow missionary.  He was a gentile, born in Greece, and Paul sent him on several journeys by himself, so Paul trusted him to carry out the peaching of the gospel and sharing the truths of – be sober minded!

This idea of being sober, or sober minded has caught my attention.  To all three groups of people, he gives this instruction – be sober.  Today, we really only think of it in one term.  To be off drugs or alcohol not having our mind affected by those things.  But it means so much more than that as used in the scripture.  This same word is often translated “of sound mind”, and is used of the state of the lunatic that ways brought before Jesus and had the demons cast out of him.  After this event, the bible says he was of sound mind, sober.

The word used here is Sophreneo.  It is from the root word Sophron, which means to be of sound mind and judgement.  It also means curbing one desires, or temperate.  So, there is a double meaning here that Paul is trying to get across to the young men especially.  It’s odd to me that we had several points to make to each of the three groups of people before, but to the young men only this one thing is mentioned.  Control yourselves is the basic message.  However, right after saying this Paul goes on to tell Titus that he should be a good example in everything he does.  Be a good example, show uncorruptness, gravity and sincerity, and use sound speech that no one can condemn.  Could this speak to the fact that young men need to see an example of how they should live rather then be told how they should live.  I think it does, and I think it points out a major problem in our society today.

In our wonderful country, 25% of all children live without a father.  1 in 4.  That is a staggering statistic.  Where are the men!  They have abdicated their role and not used self-control, or been sober minded.  Another staggering truth we see is that almost 90% of men in prison grew up in fatherless homes.  90%.   85% of men who are homeless come from fatherless homes.  Why is this?  Because they do not see an example, of how to live right.   The young men will turn to those who show them love, and more often than not in the inner city it is the gangs, who lead them to drugs and violence.   There really is an easy fix to the over population of our prisons and the homeless situation – get fathers to really be fathers, and not just loose canons spreading their seed all over the country side.  They are not using sound judgement or self-control and are thinking without really thinking right – they are not sober-minded!.

Paul tells Titus he must live as an example, and these same patterns apply to all of us as well.  We must have a pattern of good works, and in our doctrine, we must not have corruptness, and we must be grave and sincere.  These 4 points are addressed to Titus, but should be evident in all of us as well.  People can see a pattern of behavior.  Either they look at you as a good person, or they look at you as someone who just doesn’t care about people and goes about doing their own thing, regardless of how it affects others. Every move we make, every word we speak and every act we carry out affects someone else.

I have talked of this before but this is a perfect place to share it once again.  In 2008, I went to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky because I had been guilty of mis-using company equipment to view pornography.  This was a statement of the pride that was so strong within me.  I broke rules that I myself had written for the company and thought I was above them. My pastor said I must go or I would never set foot in his church again.  This was not my first transgression, and I had appeared all good and noble when doing ministry in his church, but behind me there was deep sin and pride festering.  I went because I knew I needed to get help for this addiction that cost me my job and threatened my 30-year marriage.

At this place, where I thought, they were going to center on my porn addiction, it didn’t take long before I began to realize my problem was not the porn, but pride.  I define pride as paying too much attention to oneself.  It did not take long for me to see the monster that was inside of me and learn of his ways and his deeds.  Life was all about me and what I wanted to the detriment of everyone around me. I could only see how I had been affected by this revelation and could only concentrate on getting better because I wanted this for myself.  One day I was walking on the prayer trail listening to an audio sermon by a speaker I came to admire.  He was sharing a story of a missionary in India who had become infatuated with another woman.  Although he was married, he started to have fantasies about being with this woman.  One night he drove to her house and was going to visit her when the Lord suddenly impressed upon him how this liaison would affect his wife, children and all those who he was ministering to.  Right there in his car he broke down and wept when he realized how his actions would affect the people around him.  He had never thought about that.

I fell to my knees right there on the prayer trail, weeping.  It finally dawned on me how much I had hurt my wife, my kids, my employer, my church family and all those around me.  My actions had betrayed their trust and I might never get that back.  I can’t remember how long I stayed down there on the ground, but it was at least 2 minutes.  I was devastated.  As the day wore on, that sense of shame and guilt grew in me.  I knew now what my pride had done and how my actions had affected those around me.  That night, actually early the next morning, I went down to the cross that was erected at the head of the trail, knelt down before it and slowly prayed Psalm 51.  My pastor had told me I needed to memorize that psalm, and I had done so.  Tears rolled down my face as I recounted in my mind exactly what I had done.  Just like David, I need God to have mercy on me and forgive my transgressions.  I needed Him to create a clean heart within me.  I needed Him to restore His Holy Spirit and not take it from me.  My life changed that night due to the revelation\n of the day on that prayer trail.

Your life has an affect on other people.  You are not a lone soul on this earth just travelling your way through a few years of existence.  You are a vital part of society, and your life can have a profound effect on other people.  I pray you will take that into account with every step you take, every word you speak and every prayer you pray.  The people in your world are depending on you to be an example of goodness, being uncorrupt in your doctrine, sincere in your speech, and in a position that no one can say evil about you.  This is not only Paul’s admonition to Titus, but to all of us as well.  Make your life count!


A Charge to the Rich

1 Timothy 6:17-21

17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

21 which some professing have erred from the faith.  Grace be with the.  AMEN
I discussed at length in an earlier post the trap rich people can get into. I can only surmise these things because I am by no means rich. At least not in earthly possessions. Well, now that I think about it, compared to many in this world, I am rich. I have a car; my wife has a car and we have a camper. We have a roof over our heads and a garage over our cars. We both work more than one job and I receive social security and do some lay ministry. Our cupboards are full and so is the fridge and the freezer. We do not lack for anything necessary for life. We are blessed and sometimes we forget how many riches we have. Compared to about 90% of the world’s population, we are rich.

I always have to be careful that I do not look down on those who do not have as much as I do. It is easy to see the homeless or the destitute, or the one living on welfare and food stamps, or the one who cannot buy decent clothing and lives in a ragged house, and wonder why they can’t do better. Maybe if they worked harder or even found a job, they could improve their lifestyle. Why do they live in such deplorable conditions? Then I think about the fact that a person in the heart of Africa my be rich beyond his wildest dreams in his present living conditions. He may be the richest man in the village! But coming to America and seeing what most of us have, he would see himself a poor man with endless possibilities to enter the richness that is our great country.

This is something we always need to keep in mind. It is not the wealth and material possessions we gather on this earth that make us godly or even show that God is pleased with us or not. I hear many say that they are rich and therefor God favors them more. This is one of the ways we become high minded. Thinking we are better or closer to God because of our material worth is pride, pure and simple. Our closeness to God does not have a price tag, and our blessings from God vary depending on the call of God on our lives. God knows who he can entrust with riches and who would simply get into worse trouble if he had riches. I am a perfect example of the latter. In the early 1980’s I worked for a retail outlet called Pamida. I had risen to the place of store manager and moved to the small town of Belmond, Iowa (where we still reside) the company had an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) and in 1984 they dissolved the plan and distributed the money to the employees. I received about $73,000! We bought a house, a new van and a few other things, not thinking to out a whole lot back in a savings account. Two years later we got so far behind we foreclosed on the house and moved into a smaller, less expensive place. We were broke and getting broker. That money did me little good.
My aversion to riches started when I was a kid with a paper route. Every week on Friday I would collect for the paper back then. It was a lucrative day because people liked to give tips. I was a very good paper boy! The problem was that the last stop on my paper route was a candy store. They had about a hundred choices of candy, many for a penny a piece. My sweet tooth ruled my mind in those days and I typically spend all my tips on candy to be eaten as I walked the mile back home. Ever since those days my ability to save money has been less than admirable, even when I came into extra money. I never learned that principle of life.
I know I can overcome that but it seems every time I have money, I just have to spend it somewhere. We get our bills paid and we stay afloat, but barely. Paycheck to paycheck is our lifestyle and has been all our married years. But we are blessed. We have all we need and more. Would we like a new camper, or a Caribbean cruise, or to finish our long remodeling project on our house? Of course, we would! But to this point in life God has not brought the finances to support such an investment in ourselves. I am not really a trustworthy investment for God. He provides my needs and I am content with that. He is always merciful to me! I have come to a place where I do not trust in riches or material things, but in what God supplies day to day and week to week. By faith he takes care of me.
To me, this is what Paul is getting at with his words. He is saying that what we do in our lives is much more important than riches we can acquire. And if we do acquire riches, we must not think we are any better than anyone else. We should still do good works, communicate with kindness and gentleness and give when God asks us to give. This is how we build a solid foundation of faith. It is not the riches that build our foundation but what we do with them. Whether God has blessed us with much or with little, we are accountable to Him for what we have. Especially in these last days this holds true because it is a witness of our devotion to Him.
Verse 20 fascinates me. I understand the part about keeping what has been committed to me and avoiding vain babblings. We should be grave about life. Laughter is good when it is appropriate. But the dirty little joke is all around us all the time, and that is not for a Christian to take part in. God has committed a great trust to us – the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ! If we are joking around all the time and the jokes, we tell are off color or prejudicial, how will someone take us seriously when we try to tell them, about Jesus? If we are just babbling in the breeze and not making any sense with our topics or words, why would they think we are genuine? God has entrusted His greatest treasure to us. We must treat it as such. I was listening to a wonderful video by Mark Lowery this morning as I drove down the road. I laughed out loud several times. It was clean and funny and had no sexual inuendo anywhere. So, when he brought the gospel message into it at the end, I could listen. Let us so hold onto and appreciate those things he has entrusted us with.
The last words in verse 20 are “avoiding oppositions of science falsely so called.” Even in Paul’s day they had scientists who were coming against the gospel and the word of God. For all I know about it, there were scientists who questioned the genesis account way back then. Scientists who tried to refute everything about the gospel, from Jesus birth to His resurrection. Scientists who said the world was coming to an end. I am not sure what scientists were thinking back then, but I know what they are saying now. It has not changed. This is science falsely so called. Science is based on fact, not theory. Evolution is still a theory. Evolution if false science. The science that says people are born with an LGBTQ gene is a false science – God made them male and female, plain and simple. Scientists try to come up with all kinds of false science on how the universe was created or ma0de or came into being. They go from a coming ice age in the 70’s to global warming to climate change trying to justify their theories and forgetting God is in control. We have false science all around us these days. Avoid arguments about these things and keep the main thing the man thing. Keep those things that are committed to your trust – the Word of God and the principles of Godly living. Doing this will keep you more than all the riches of this world.

Take Care of Your Beam

Matthew 7:3-5

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye

We can see it so clearly! It glares at us like the sun shining off the snow on a crisp, clear winter day. It shines so brightly we almost have to turn away or cover our eyes. Our eyes focus in on it and must go and tell others about the amazing sight they have just witnessed. We must spread the word that it exists, and that it is there for everyone to see. We just can’t miss it and we want to make sure they don’t either. What is it? It’s our brothers faults and shortcomings, that’s what.

It is so evident what is wrong with those around us, isn’t it? If they are full of anger, we know it. If they are prideful we certainly know that. If they are gossips of busybodies we will make sure everyone knows that. The truth is, we are so quick to see what is supposedly wrong with everyone around us that we forget we are imperfect beings as well. We all are!

The admonition of Jesus in these verses is quite clear, and it follows the exhortation to not judge one another. As always, perfect timing! When we try and figure someone out by looking through our imperfect eyes, we most likely will see them wrong. We most likely will look through a lens that is cloudy or warped by our own preconceived ideas and notions. Our vision is blocked by who we are and what we have seen or heard. There is a beam in our eye, and that beam is our own faults and failures.

It boils down to this – take care of your own problems first. Take care of your own shortcomings, whether they be in the things of this world or spiritual things. Paul tells us to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) What this means is that we are all flawed when we compare ourselves to Christ. That is the only comparison we should make. We should never compare our spiritual progress with someone else’s. We have our own problems when it comes to perfection. While it is true that we are saved when we confess Jesus Christ and accept His sacrifice as an atonement for our sins, that salvation comes into our innermost being. We are made new creatures in Christ at that moment (2 Corinthians 5:17). But we are still clothed with this flesh and all it’s imperfections. For the rest of our lives, that perfect salvation that entered our soul needs to be worked outward to affect the flesh we are burdened with.

Our brother is also clothed with that flesh and God is working on Him as well. The trouble is that we have no idea what God is working on in their lives or where He is taking them. They are on their own journey, with all their flaws and faults. God is working on them. Why do we feel a need to point out their weak areas? Don’t you think God can point them out and take care of them? Doesn’t He know all about them already? And if God was concerned with that imperfection that you see, won’t He take care of it in His due time? Of course He will!

Then why do we insist on pointing out someone else’s faults? I think it is because of pride. We want to see ourselves as better or more important. We may see this other person as someone smarter or more entertaining then we are so we bring up their weaknesses as a way of making us feel better. That’s pride. Anytime we compare ourselves to others thinking we are better or worse, it is pride. Pride is simply thinking an inordinate amount of time about ourselves, whether it is thinking good of ourselves or bad. Our pride will look past our own faults but look directly at someone else’s.

Reading Psalm 139 can really put some perspective on our lives. Gpd says He knows every thought we have and every word we say. He says no matter where we go, He is there. The psalmist says God always knows exactly where I am. If you think you’re pulling one over on God because you have a secret sin lurking in your life you are sadly mistaken. He knows that sin, and He knows others that you may just ignore, He does not reveal everything that is wrong with our lives all at once. He reveals things to us a little at a time and gives us the grace to deal with one thing at a time. If He showed us all our faults at once, we would be devastated at our wretchedness.

He follows this same process with every one of His children. And if He is dealing with their lives, what right do we have to intercede? Can’t we just let God do His job instead of trying to do it for Him? Remember what the serpent said to Eve when He tempted her to take the fruit? He said You shall be as God (Gen 3:5)! And when we look at the mote in our brothers eye that is exactly what we are doing. We are trying to be like God, showing them their imperfections, when we have our own huge imperfections to deal with.

Later in Psalm 139 vs 17-18 the psalmist writes that God has precious thoughts toward us. Even as He sees all our imperfections and all our wandering off the path He has designed for us, He still has precious thoughts toward us. So many precious thoughts that they cannot be numbered! If He can look at us, with all our faults, and still think of us as precious, why can’t we do the same to our brothers and sisters on this earth? Instead of pointing out their failures, lift up their successes! Instead of trying to point out what they are doing wrong, help them see all they are doing right. Lift them up, edify them and encourage them in all things. This is what we are supposed to do.

Then at the end of this precious psalm (vs 23-24), the psalmist makes an extraordinary statement. He asks God to search Him and see if there be any wicked way in Him. He has already acknowledged that God knows every thought, every word, every action that he takes. Why then does he ask God to search Him? It is so God can reveal to him his own wicked ways so that he, the psalmist, might be able to understand the thing he needs to correct. Then he will be able to remove the beam out of his own eye and see clearly.

There are times that God will work with us to help someone overcome a fault. I will readily admit that. But we must make sure it is the stirring of the Holy Spirit within us that is causing us to feel we must help. If it is not, we are most likely going to bring an offence between us, or we will sow discord among the brethren, which is listed as one of the things God hates in Proverbs 6. I can honestly say it is very rare that God has ever asked me to help correct someone else’s faults in my 40+ years as a Christian, and that person was my best friend for 60+ years. We know each other inside and out so when God starts to deal with me about him, I can be blunt with him and know he will still love me. Not many of us have that kind of relationship with someone else. If you ever feel God is dealing with you in this area, pray earnestly before you say anything and make the Holy Spirit bears witness.

First and foremost work on yourself. Work on your salvation. Work on your trouble areas. When I think about that, I think of a song my kids used to sing when they were little. I still sing it to myself sometimes today. I want to close the lesson with this:

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don’t judge him yet, there’s an unfinished part
But I’ll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

In the mirror of His word
Reflections that I see
Makes me wonder why He never gave up on me
But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He’s the potter, I’m the clay

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me

“He’s Still Working on Me” by Joel Hemphill

Where is Your Treasure

Matthew 6:19-21

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

My brother used to have a fun game he played with his grandson. It started when he was just three and went on for about 6 years until the young man outgrew it. My brother would draw up treasure maps They would feature keys areas in and around his yard, and his grandson would try and decode those. At first. He needed help. But then it got harder and harder for my brother to make them difficult. Somewhere along the way, his grandson started making up maps for my brother which got more and more challenging. It was a fun game that I’m sure they will remember for the rest of their lives.

I can remember as a teen doing a lot of scavenger hunts. You were given a list of items and you had to go around and find them somewhere. One of those lists might include a pine cone, a paper clip a tube of lipstick and other very diverse items. We always had fun trying to win those scavenger hunts to win some silly little prize. Sometimes I feel like doing one again.

All of my life I have been hunting treasure though. For 24 years I hunted the treasures of this world. Wealth, fame, status, respect, power – these are all the treasures of this world. I was drawn away from this quest by what I perceived as the treasures of the flesh. These are the things we want so that our physical life will be more exciting and more provocative – sex, drugs, booze. These things dominated my life and distracted me from those fleshly treasures that most go after., They made me unable to function to my fullest capacity and I fell way short of the things I could have accomplished. They caused me to drop out of college and waste my mind. They caused me to pour out my income like water into the abyss. They caused me to become a lost soul. This is what the treasures of this world will do to a man.

Moth and rust corrupt. This is an interesting saying to me. A moth will eat away at natural fibers like wool until it is destroyed. When I think of moths, I think of wool Moths can destroy a wool coat quite quickly. When wool was stored in old days, people used moth balls to keep the moths away. They really stink, in case you didn’t know. I’m not sure whether people still use them or not. I used some to put under my deck and keep the stray cats out, and it worked!

Rust uses the oxygen in water to corrode items made of iron. Iron is known as a very strong metal, but it is no match for rust. I remember once having a Dodge Opal car which was made in Germany. It came overseas on the deck of the boat and all that salt water had quite an effect on the car. As much as I loved that car. It had rust everywhere, and it just kept getting worse. When the floorboard started rusting through, it was time for it to go!

These two items are known for their durability and strength still today. Yet that durability and strength are vulnerable to a small insect and the natural elements of the world. Our lives are the same. No matter how strong we are, it’s the little things that will seep in and destroy us. Paul wrote that a little leaven will leaven the whole lump (Gal 6:9). Leaven in this case is referring to sin. If just a little gets in, our whole body is infected with it. The riches of this world can bring all kinds of sin alive in our lives. Greed, jealousy, pride, arrogance, haughtiness, boastfulness, and the like. These seeming little things will corrupt us, and people will easily see past our Christian façade.
The other thing about the worlds riches is that thieves can steal them. People can take them away from you. We hear of this all the time not only with traditional robberies, but with the many scams that are going on, money making schemes galore. And people just being plain dishonest. All of these things rob our of our earthly riches.

So then, are we to not put aside money for retirement or the future of our family? This is not what Jesus is talking about here. He is talking about gathering to yourself riches to lavish upon yourself. He is talking about getting riches so that we can appear better than anyone else. God hates pride, and riches can easily lead to pride if we are not careful. If you are accumulating wealth for your retirement and future generations, do not think for a moment that God is not pleased with that activity. That is part of being a good steward. But if you are heaping up treasures and just storing them to lavish on yourself then beware lest you be carried away by their allurement.

We are to lay up treasures in heaven. What are these treasures? Many believe these are souls saved because they hear our testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and want the same blessings on their life. In Rev 11:12, we read that we are saved by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and by the word of our testimony. This testimony that we share might be the story of how we came to Christ, or a healing He has done in our lives, or peace that He has given us in the worst of times. We do not have to wait for some mighty miracle or special discernment from God to share a testimony. The every day blessings He gives us make a wonderful testimony and can minister just as effectively to those who do not know Christ. I think many Christians shy away from giving a testimony about the Lord because they don’t feel anything “spectacular” has happened to them that would sway another person. Never feel this way. Share what Christ has done for you with anyone where the Spirit prompts you. Your treasure awaits you!

Another thing that is promised to believers are the five crowns. These are mentioned in various places in the New Testament. They are the Crown of righteousness, the incorruptible Crown,, the Crown of Life, the Crown of glory and the Crown of rejoicing. Let’s briefly look at who earns these crowns (yes, they are earned).

The Incorruptible Crown:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 KJV

This verse tells us that those who are willing to sacrifice everything, including their earthly body, will earn this crown. It is not given to those who just barely make it into heaven, or those who just do what they are told and nothing more. It is given to those who go all out, those who are seeking more and more to do from God. Think of the missionary who goes into the jungle seeking out tribes that have never been reached. It is for those who “strive for the mastery” in a controlled, concise way.

The Crown of Righteousness

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 KJV

This crown is given to those who love to see Christ when He appears. I am not convinced that this means only those who rejoice at His second coming. I also think it includes those who rejoice to see Christ at work in other people. They rejoice in the right thing being done in the name of Jesus, because that means Jesus has been present among them. They rejoice when others are touched by the Lord. They also rejoice in hearing from the Lord. Speaking to us is a way that He appears to us. They even rejoice at the Lord’s rebuke and correction because that means He is there. To receive the Crown of Righteousness we must eagerly await His presence among us.

The Crown of Life:

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12 KJV

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 KJV

This is the only crown mentioned in two different places. Both verses tells us that this crown goes to those who endure temptation and put up with the trials that they might face in their Christian walk. They do not shy away from trouble on behalf of Christ. They accept it as part of the price they pay and they remain faithful through every test the world might bring their way. We should not be afraid of these trials because we can rest assured He is with us in the midst of them for Her loves us.

The Crown of Glory:

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 KJV

This crown is for the Pastors and teachers of the Word. They have faithfully shared what God has placed on their hearts, delivering His message week after week. They have not shied away from the truth contained in the Word, and they have not altered their message for the sake of monetary gain. They are not forced to preach but enjoy sharing the truths of the Bible wanting everyone to walk in that truth. They shepherd their flock, leading them to still waters and green pastures.

The Crown of Rejoicing:

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” 1 Thessalonians 2:19 KJV

This is given to those who witness to others about the Lord, sharing their testimony freely so all they come in contact with will know the saving power of Jesus Christ. They have no backed off or shied away from confrontation when it comes, but have persevered with patience to win souls to the Kingdom of God. The are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for they know it is the power of God to salvation (Rom 1:12).

There are many who have done long studies about these crowns, but I am going to leave it at that. Some will only receive one crown, others might receive them all. Most of us will fall in between. These treasures are only gained in heavenly realms. They are no earthly good. But the results of what it takes to receive them will bring us even more treasures in heaven. And that is a good thing to strive for.

Your heart will belong to the place where your treasures are.  It will long after them and want to stay in that place.  If your treasure is on this earth, you will be  reluctant to leave this earth.  Heaven will not seem so glorious, because the glorious things in your life are here on this earth.  Don’ let that be your attitude!  I pray that you are seeking those things which are above, not those things you can gather for yourself here below. This life is but a vapor. Why would anyone store up things that would last for a minute rather than have treasures for eternity? Let’s get out there and earn those crowns!


When You Pray

Matthew 6:5-8

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Prayer is a fascinating subject. I have spent a lot of time studying prayer over the past 9 months working on a book that is close to the publishing point. It is called “The A.S.K. Principle: Developing An Effective Prayer Life” This study was first done by me over 30 years ago and I was going to write the book then, but did not. As I was going through cancer maintenance I came across the notes and decided it was time. Some of you might remember me blogging a good portion of the book on this blog earlier this year.

I learned a lot about prayer doing this study, but will spare you the whole book here to concentrate on the point Jesus is making in this portion of the Sermon. Once again He mainly addresses pride, as He does many times throughout these passages. It always amazes me how much the Bible talks about the evils of pride and yet the church still goes on in its prideful way. I know I did for years, something I have shared over and over again on these pages. When will we begin to understand the heart of God is humility?

In this portion, Jesus is specifically discussing how we should pray. The Pharisees were well known for standing on the street corners in their ornate robes and praying very fancy prayers so that all could see them and hear them. The prayed loud and long for God to intervene in the nation and in people’s lives. Their prayers also included praise to God. They often sang these prayers, or recited them in lyrical form. They could be very beautiful. You can still here these types of prayers sung and chanted in both Israel and in many Arab nations. The sound of praying fills the air in many places.

The problem here is not the prayers. God loves prayer, and He loves it when we come to Him with our requests (Proverbs 15:8). He loves it when we express our praise and our need for Him in our lives. He wants nothing more than to bless us and give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). The problem here is not that they are praying, but the reason they are praying. Jesus says they are praying so that men might see them. In other words, their prayers were meant to draw not only the attention of God but the attention of men as well. They desired to be noticed because of their fancy, elaborate prayers. This is one of the reasons they stood on the street corners – not to cry out to God, but to be noticed by men. This act of drawing attention to themselves is pride. The attention of men is their reward.

Jesus tells us to go into our closet to pray. Our prayer should not be an open show. It should be a quiet conversation with God about the needs of others around us and our own needs. The closet is a place of solitude. God wants us to get alone with Him when we pray. He wants us to give Him our full attention and not try to draw the attention of men. Prayer is a solemn time when we come before the creator of all things and present our requests. It should not be taken lightly. At the same time, it should be like a casual conversation between us and God. We do not need fancy words to pray. We just need to talk to God.

The other thing I draw out of this scripture is that we should not go around telling others that our prayers were answered. If we are doing that to draw attention to the fact that we prayed and it was answered, that is pride and only builds us up, not God. If we are glorifying God about His answer to prayer, that is OK. People need to know prayers have been answered. We just make sure they know for the right reason. Jesus tells us to let our light shine so people can see our good works and glorify the Father (Matthew 5:16). He does not say so people could hear about our good works. Keep your prayer life to yourself unless you speak of it to bring glory to God.

Then the wonderful statement comes in that God knows what we have need of before we ask. I have had so many people ask me “Then why doesn’t He just supply it?”. I believe the answer is simple. Do you recall the story of Blind Bartimaeus? He was a blind beggar who sat on the street every day looking for alms. When Jesus came to town, He cried out over and over “Jesus, thou son of David, Have Mercy on me.” The crowd tried to hush him, but he just keep crying out. Finally Jesus heard him from the back of the crowd and asked that he be brought forward. Jesus then asked Bartimaeus what he wanted. It was quite obvious that he was blind! Why did Jesus ask the question? I am convinced that Bartimaeus could have asked for anything he wanted and Jesus would have granted it for him that day. He asked for his sight and his eyes were opened.

The question is never if God knows what we need. He always knows what we need for any situation we find ourselves in. If we are sick, we want healing. But God may know we need faith more. If we are in financial difficulty, we want finances, but God may know that we need patience more. He knows what we need the most. That is why it is so important that we come to him asking for wisdom so we know what each trial is meant to teach us in this life. The same is true for those we pray for. They may be having big difficulties in their marriage, and we may pray that God will bring them closer together again. But God might know that the husband needs to learn more empathy for his wife’s physical needs. God knows exactly what they must go through in order to come out the other side. Our prayer should be that God will strengthen them until He decides to bring the solution. We often pray against God’s will because we pray for the solution we think is right. God may want a totally different lesson to be learned before that battle is over. God is looking at the long term benefit while we look at what our heart desires for the moment.

You may say that God’s will is healing for all, and it is. After all, Jesus healed everyone that came to Him and He is our example. Shouldn’t we always prayer for healing? Of course we should, and we should expect God to heal. But we also must expect God to heal in His time and in His way. He may perform a miracle and heal instantly. Or He may heal over a period of time because there are other lessons we can learn in the midst of that trial. Some are healed only in dying, where they will have no more pain or sorrow. God has the final answer and we must do our best to pray that His will be done, not our own. It took two and ½ years of chemo to get me to the point of remission I am in today,. God could have healed me instantly, but He had much greater things in store. Over 1,000 poems and songs, studies in Psalms, James and other books that built my faith. A book is being published top build the body of Christ. All because God healed me slowly, not right away. I am in awe of His wisdom, and hope everyone will be patient and await God’s healing in His time.

Watch your prayer life carefully. See if you are praying to get noticed. Observe how you are praying for others and if you are boasting about answered prayer. Be sure you are glorifying God and not yourself when prayers get answered. When we pray in the closet and keep those prayers to ourselves, God gets the glory.