Elder’s Thoughts 2020

                                       Elder’s Thoughts
LOVING EACH OTHER - Phil Robertson  “The one who loves his brother abides in the light…” 1 John 2:10. Loving my family in Christ, i.e. West Metro, can seem to be an easy task. After all, I see them every Sunday and sometimes I even interact with them during the week. I put them on my prayer list when I am told they are ill, I send them cards when they have lost loved ones, and I attend their funerals when they pass away. But do I love them as God does? 
Leviticus 19 is part of God’s expansion on the 10 Commandments and generally concerns relationships between fellow Jews. Verse 17 states, “you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.” Verse 18 says we cannot take vengeance or hold a grudge, “but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We are to regard our neighbor, including our Christian family, as we regard ourselves. After all, there is very little difference between my neighbor and me.
My brother in Christ and I share the same Creator (Gen. 1:26). We share the same temptations posed by Satan (1 Cor.10:13) and the same protective God (2 Peter 2:9). We share the same Advocate and Savior (1 John 2:1) and we are to encourage each other (1Thess. 5:11). And I am to “turn my brother from the error of his way” (James 5:20). I am to forgive he who has sinned and to not look down upon him (Rom. 12:3) and I am to rejoice as God does by my brother’s return to God’s family (Luke 15:7). The advantage of abiding in the light is that I am able to better see that I am like my brother and that he deserves the same love, encouragement, and grace that God gives to me.
Have a Wonderful Day!

HAVE YOU TOLD THEM? -Jack Vanderpool  In 1989, Irish songwriter Van Morrison wrote a song that Rod Stewart took to the top of the charts. The lyrics ask the question, “Have I told you lately that I love you? Have I told you that there is no one else above you?”
Perhaps we need to ask similar questions of ourselves. Have I told them that I love them, that there is no one else above them? Is it regular practice to tell our Lord, mate, children, parents, grandparents, and close friends that we love them and value them? Yes, they may already know of our love. But who grows tired of being told of their importance to us? Not many persons, and certainly not our Lord! Example: I am well acquainted with a grandmother who smiles a huge smile every time she says of her young-adult grandson, “Whether it is in private or in public, he never leaves without giving me a hug and telling me he loves me.” It is a practice that makes her feel special. She loved it when he was a little boy, but it has become even more precious to her as he has grown and chooses to continue to do it.
Few things deepen love more than the expression “I Love You” spoken aloud. Saying this reaffirms to someone their worth and importance. Even the words “love you man” can depict a respectful bond between two close friends. 
In Matt. 15:18, Christ says, “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart...” Our words can reveal the depth of our feelings for other people and for our Lord. William Featherston once wrote a poem to describe his feelings stirred by a newfound relationship with Christ. His poem became a familiar hymn.

My Jesus I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious redeemer, My Savior art Thou.
If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus ‘tis now.

We may not all be poets, but we can all strive to do a better job going forward of speaking words of love aloud to the Lord and to the special people He has put in our lives. 

 ACTS 20 SHEPHERDING Phil Robertson –The books of 1 Timothy and Titus give us a “list of qualifications” for those that serve as elders or shepherds of a congregation of God’s church. These passages are often the subject of sermons when selecting men to fill those roles. I think we spend less time in considering what the shepherds/elders actually are called upon to do. Too often, an eldership devolves into a group of managers, of rule makers, or of conflict solvers. This results in a congregation that ultimately fails to develop its members and to attract the lost to God’s grace. In Acts 20, Paul called the elders of the church in Ephesus to meet him in Miletus for the purpose of encouraging them in their work as he was leaving to face an uncertain future. Beginning in verse 18, we find Paul’s words to them as directed by the Holy Spirit. These were men that had already been “qualified” for their role. Paul, knowing the church was facing perilous times, encouraged these men with words that define the work of elders in situations that all Christians and congregations face. Verses 28-35 tell them to be on guard, to be alert, and to be aware of the dangers to the flock. They are also to have the same regard for themselves. Each man was called upon to constantly evaluate his relationship to God and his relationship to the responsibility he had assumed. As “overseers,” elders are to know what the flock is to be fed, where it is to go, and to guard its health and safety. Paul warned of attacks by outside influences as well as those originating within the body. Like the Ephesus of Paul’s time, our world faces perilous times. God will direct and bless our shepherds as long as we trust in God and allow Him to lead us. We can do this by executing our responsibility 1) without compromise (1 Cor. 9-11, Gal. 5:19-25); 2) without changes (Heb. 13:8, John 14:6), 3) with clarity (1 Pet. 3:15-16, John 17:17); 4) with compassion (John 17:6-12); and 5) with courage (Eph. 6:10-17). In times like these (as in all times), we are not to look at the Bible through the eyes of culture; but rather to look at culture through the eyes of the Bible.
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