What a Church Leader Needs

Local churches need leaders but what do those leaders need? Here we find a clear answer from the Apostle Paul and a vivid example from the Prophet Jeremiah.

Today’s Reading

Jeremiah 9-10; First Timothy 3

Selected Verses

Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not.  Jeremiah 10:24-25

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. First Timothy 3:14-15

Reflections

Jeremiah was devastated by the sin of his people, God’s people, but he did not become self-righteous.  He knew that even as he preached against the sins of the nation, he himself needed God’s guidance. He pleaded for God’s just correction with restrained anger.  Jeremiah understood the power and holiness of God and his own failures that could bring him to nothing.

Paul, in writing to Timothy, instructs him in the standards for elders and deacons in the church. Their personal lives need to be exemplary in every way. These instructions cannot wait until Paul’s next visit to Timothy. The matter of godly behavior is urgent. The Church, he writes, is “the household of God.” God lives in His people. Furthermore, it is God’s Church, not Timothy’s, not Paul’s.  Finally, it is “the pillar and buttress of the truth.” Although living in a different era, Jeremiah was the kind of man that Paul would have wanted Timothy to have as an elder or deacon in Ephesus.

Think about it

A local congregation must not have phony, hypocritical, self-righteous leaders. They will not be perfect, but they must be teachable, repentant, god-fearing men. God is a God of holiness and wrath.  He will not let His name be associated with sin in His Church.  It is a dangerous thing to be a leader of His church without a broken and contrite spirit.

If you are a church officer, do you seek to grow in conformity to these Scriptural standards? We who lead in the church must be teachable and repentant, recognizing our need for guidance and gentleness from our Lord. Do you pray humbly for yourself that God will correct you gently? As a church member, do you lovingly hold your officers to such standards knowing that we all stand in need of God’s gentle correction?  May we be diligent to honor God in our churches.

The King at Home

There is evidence that David had plenty of flaws in his personal life as a husband and father.  Nevertheless, on one occasion, at least, he showed care, love and sensitivity on the home front.

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 14:1-16:43

Christian husbands and fathers are exhorted to love their wives and to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 5:25-6:4).  Having major responsibilities in their work does not exempt men from family duties and loving service.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Godly Leadership: Wise and Fearless

Today’s reading: Joshua 16:1-19:31

Rare is the leader who is wise enough to see when his people need help and when they need to be challenged to rise to the occasion.   Rare is the leader who is fearless enough to risk the displeasure of his people by making them take responsibility for themselves. Joshua was a rare leader, worth emulating.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Godly Leadership: Giving Reassurance of His Presence

Today’s reading: Joshua 3:1-6:27

Secular leaders generally attempt to convince their followers of their own competence, intelligence, and wisdom. Godly leaders point their followers to God. Which kind of leader are you?

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Foolish Presumption

Those who disregard the light of God’s word will find themselves overtaken by their foolish presumption.

Today’s reading: Micah 1-3; Revelation 10

11 Its heads give judgment for a bribe;
its priests teach for a price;
its prophets practice divination for money;
yet they lean on the Lord and say,
“Is not the Lord in the midst of us?
No disaster shall come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you
Zion shall be plowed as a field;
Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
and the mountain of the house a wooded height. Micah 3:11-12

5 And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven 6 and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, 7 but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. Revelation 10:5-7

Of all the varieties of sin which man commits, none is more heinous than the abuse of  political and, especially, ecclesiastical power stemming from the presumptuous attitude that God is always on our side.

Through Micah, the Lord indicts the leaders of Israel and Judah for corruption. Bribes are taken so that justice is not carried out. Priests and prophets are not faithful to God’s word, but seek easy money. How do they commit these evils so glibly? It’s not that they are oblivious to the presence of the Lord. On the contrary, they actually presume on God’s presence, that He is with them and will not touch them no matter what they do. “Is not the Lord in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us,” they say in their foolish presumption.

In John’s vision, he sees an angel straddling land and sea. This angel announces that “there would be no more delay” but what God had foretold by the prophets would come to pass. This is a message which is bittersweet. It proclaims the judgment upon all who have lived as if there were no God, or presuming that He is always on our side, but it also brings the end of the long delay that has extended down through human history since the serpent deceived Eve in the Garden.

There is still time to flee to Jesus Christ and away from foolish presumption. Do not delay for the time is coming when the bittersweet message will be fulfilled. Seek the Light of the world who illumines our dark and foolish presumption (John 8:12).

Defying Authority

The solution to abusive authority is not to question the concept of authority but to reject authority which defies God.

Today’s reading: Daniel 11-12; 3 John 1

36 “And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.           Daniel 11:36

9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.                                                                3 John 1:9-11

As we see in today’s readings, the problem of defying authority is prevalent down through history and in all areas of life, political and ecclesiastical.

Daniel had a vision about a self-exalting king who lifted himself up above every other god and spoke against the true God of Israel. He would seem to be invincible for a time conquering kingdoms and amassing wealth, but in the end he would fall with no one to help (11:45).

In John’s time there was a man named Diotrephes who had a similar defiant attitude. He disregarded the apostle and spoke against him. He was inhospitable and excommunicated those in the church who attempted to be hospitable. He was a picture of selfishness and pride. No wonder John tells his readers not to imitate evil but to imitate good. A person like Diotrephes can influence many to follow his wicked example.

“Question authority” may be a popular bumper sticker but the solution to abusive authority is not to question the concept of authority. We need to submit to God’s authority and to duly instituted authority in the civil sector. Beware of defying authority (Romans 13:1-7; Hebrews 13:7,17).

Church Leaders

The Church must have authentically godly leaders or she will stand in danger of divine discipline.

Today’s reading: Jeremiah 9-10; 1 Timothy 3

24 Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;

not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.

25 Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not… Jeremiah 10:24-25a

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.                           1 Timothy 3:14-15

Jeremiah was devastated by the sin of his people, God’s people, but he did not become self-righteous. He knew that even as he preached against the sins of the nation, he himself needed God’s guidance. He pleaded for God’s just correction with restrained anger. Jeremiah understood the power and holiness of God and his own failures that could bring him to nothing.

Paul, in writing to Timothy, instructs him in the standards for elders and deacons in the church. Their personal lives need to be exemplary in every way. These instructions  cannot wait until Paul’s next visit to Timothy. The matter of godly behavior is urgent. The church, he writes, is “the household of God.” God lives in His people, the Church. Furthermore, it is God’s church, not Timothy’s, not Paul’s.  Finally, it is “the pillar and buttress of the truth.” The church must not have phony, hypocritical, self-righteous leaders. They will not be perfect, but they must be teachable, repentant, god-fearing men.

Jeremiah was the kind of man that Paul wanted Timothy to have as elders and deacons in Ephesus. If you are a church officer, do you seek to grow in conformity to these Scriptural standards? As a church member, do you hold your officers to such standards, in humility, knowing that we all stand in need of God’s gentle correction? God is a God of wrath. He will not let His name be associated with sin in His Church. Think about it.