Saturday, September 30, 2006

Superintendency: An Elder's Role

The New Testament writers used two different Greek words interchangeably when referring to elders. The first word, “presbuteros”, is normally translated “elder” and was used to reflect the honor the people held for their leaders. This is the same word from which we get our English word “presbytery” and “presbyter.” The second word, “episkopos”, is normally translated “bishop” or “overseer.” This is the same word from which we get our English word “Episcopal” and “Episcopalian.” The definition of this word has to do more with function than with honor. An elder can be defined as,

“An overseer, a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian, or superintendent.” (Joseph Henry Thayer)

When defining “superintendent”, Noah Webster adds the notion that such a person has authority to direct the actions of others as to what should be done and how it should be done. A superintendent’s role is to ensure that what needs to be done is done and done properly. Elders function in this kind of supportive role. Their job is to insure that the will and plans of another are properly carried out. An elder's role in the church is very similar to the role of a vice-president of a corporation. It is the responsibility of the vice-president to insure that the directions of the president are carried out in a manner consistent with his (or her) policies.

While Moses’ main problem was the multitude of people he was called to shepherd, Paul faced a different problem. Paul’s major problem was not the number of churches for which he cared, but rather the distance between them. Often it was several months, or even years, between visits to the different churches under his care. Paul could not personally care for the day-to-day needs of the individual churches. Paul's solution was to establish leadership in the local churches through whom he could extend his care and love for the people of God. “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:21, 23)

In appointing elders, Paul was not relinquishing his care and authority for the church to them, but rather he was extending his care, authority, and anointing through them. Their authority came from Paul and they themselves were subject to him. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, rebuking them for not disciplining one of their members, he said that his main purpose in writing was to test their obedience to him. “For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.” (2 Corinthians 2:9) Paul goes on to say that they had passed the test with “flying colors.” “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:11-12)

The idea of being obedient to another and being earnest on another's behalf is odious to many in our generation. We like autonomy. We like having it our way. We don't want someone else telling us what to do or how to do it. Today, many pastors are held hostage by their “elders” and their board of directors. Instead of being extensions of the authority placed by God in the local church, many elders have rebelled and sought to impose their ways and agendas upon the church. As those who are called to superintend the work of God, we must once again recognize the apostolic authority which God has placed in the church and begin to subject ourselves to it, allowing God to use us as an extension of the pastor's ministry.

David Robison

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Delegated: An Elder's Authority

One of the problems the church has faced down through the ages is how to care for the multitude of believers. There has always been a shortage of leaders and an abundance of believers. Moses faced this problem when he was leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. Within a very short period of time, Moses went from tending sheep to shepherding a nation of about three million. The burden of caring for them began to wear him out. In his frustration and weariness, he complained to the Lord for some help. “So Moses said to the Lord, ‘Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.’” (Numbers 11:11, 14-15)

Over the years, I have met many Christian leaders who felt very much like Moses. They are continually confronted with the enormity of the work and the smallness of their strength. Fortunately, God had a plan for Moses. God directed Moses to gather some men to help him in his work. “The Lord therefore said to Moses, ‘Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone.’” (Numbers 11:16-17) God's plan was to provide Moses with men who would help shoulder the burden of the people. These men, who were the elders of the people, aided Moses in governing the people.

It is important to understand that these men operated in an “under shepherd” capacity. Their authority and anointing came from Moses. God could have given them their own anointing, but instead He took some from Moses and gave it to them. In the same way, elders do not function from their own authority and anointing; rather, they function with delegated authority. Today, an elder’s authority does not come from Moses but rather directly from Jesus. “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.” (Hebrews 3:1-2) Elders receive an anointing and authority that is delegated them from Jesus. It is not an authority that they take for themselves rather it is apportioned to them by Jesus. There are many Christians who function today as elders who have never been formally ordained as such. While they have never had hands laid on them, they are elders none the less and carry a delegated authority from Jesus.

While elders are not necessarily ordained as such, Paul did appoint elders in the churches he started. “When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:23) “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.” (Titus 1:5) The appointing of elders is primarily an apostolic delegation of authority to lead and govern the church. In this case the elders function as an extension of both the authority and the function of the apostolic ministry. Either way, an elder’s authority is delegated authority and their authority ultimately comes from Jesus Himself.

More to come… David Robison

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Understanding Eldership: A time for visitation

“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:42-44)

The visitation that Jesus brought when he came to live and walk amongst us was more than just a social, “Hi, how are you?” visit. Jesus came not just to socialize with man, but to experience first hand his plight, to feel his pain, and to lead him out of his suffering and into abundant life. The Greek word used for “visitation” is the word “episkopee”, which means to “inspect, investigate, or visit.” This is the same root word used of Moses when he left the palace of Pharaoh to visit his brethren. “But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel.” (Acts 7:23) The scripture reveals that Moses’ motivation to visit and to investigate the condition of his people grew out of his understanding of God’s calling on his life to be the deliverer of God’s people. Moses wasn’t going back to Egypt simply to visit some old friends, he was going back to deliver his people from the oppression of Egypt. In both the ministry of Jesus and the ministry of Moses, we see a picture of God sending forth one to not only identify the needs of his people but also to meet those needs. It is very much like the ministry of a shepherd who walks among his flock. As he walks he inspects his flock that he might know how to better care for his sheep.

The shepherding ministry of Jesus was later delegated to his followers after His death and resurrection. Using the same word for “visitation”, Peter made the following remark concerning Judas. “Let another man take his office.” (Acts 1:20) In referring to Judas’ former “office” he uses the same Greek word for “visitation.” It is clear that Peter understood that they were to continue Jesus' ministry of visitation. They were to extend Jesus’ shepherding ministry to those entrusted to their care. They were to be the ones who would watch over, inspect, and care for the flock.

The fact that God would call men to such a shepherding role was clearly prophesied in the Old Testament. “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15) “I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing.” (Jeremiah 23:4) Jesus noted in His day that the people of God were, “distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Even so, today many of God’s people are struggling through life like sheep with no one to care, feed, or guide them. If ever there has been a need for godly men who will care for and shepherd the flock of God, it is today. Today, as much as in Jesus’ day, there is a need for visitation.

I believe that those whom God has called as elders in the Body of Christ are those whom God intends to be the shepherds over His flock. As we consider the role of elders in the local church, I want to examine what the scriptures reveal concerning their authority, their role, and their function.

More to come… David

What's next?

Before I start my next big Bible study "project", I have a few short articles I want to post. First up, I have dusted off the covers of a paper I wrote 10 years ago when I was an elder in a church in Las Vegas. The paper is titled, "Understanding Eldership." I wrote this paper to express what I understand about biblical eldership as revealed in the New Testament. I hope you all enjoy it and I hope I still believe most of what I wrote 10 years ago (just kidding).

David Robison

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What is the benefit of speaking in tongues?

Samantha wrote,

Amen, amen, amen. I have some friends who are obsessed with speaking in tongues. I guess I don't understand why, since they claim they don't even know what they are saying? So who does it benefit? Is the gospel being preached? Are souls being saved? Not on account of them speaking in tongues. It's not that it's not a beautiful gift. In the early church it had great benefit!! But today, does it edify the church, or bring people to Christ? Not that I've seen...

While I would agree that there have been excesses and abuses when it comes to spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues, I would disagree that they have little value or benefit today. I think that the gift of tongues is just as important, and as beneficial to the church, today as it was in the early church. To understand its importance and benefit, however, it is important to first understand its purpose. Consider what Paul had to say to the Corinthian church regarding the gift of tongues.

“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.” (1 Corinthians 14:1-5)

The key point to understand is that tongues, unless given and interpreted publicly, is intended for personal edification. When we speak in tongues, our spirit speaks mysteries to God, and in the process, we are built up. When we speak in tongues, we allow our spirit to communicate with God without having to first filter everything through our intellect. There are times when, in prayer or worship, we are unable to find the words to express our hearts and our love to God. In these times, we can express our innermost feelings and prayers through the gift of tongues. I believe this is what Paul meant when he said, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) I can testify that many times, when I did not know what or how to pray, that by praying in the Spirit and I knew that God understood me and I believed that He would answer my prayers.

Another personal benefit of speaking in tongues is that it builds us up in faith. Jude said, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 20) I believe that there is a link between building up ourselves in faith and praying in tongues. I can attest that, when I pray regularly in the Spirit, my faith is increased and I find it easier to trust in God.

There is also one case where public speaking in tongues, without interpretation, is of benefit. Paul wrote, “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me,’ says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 14:21-22) The word translated here as “unbelievers” is different from the word used in the following verses. This word refers to those who refuse to believe. They are more than unbelievers they are unbelieving. To them, the gift of tongues is meant as a sign of the miraculous working of God which they themselves have rejected. It is meant to demonstrate to them that God is moving and He has passed them by because they have chosen unbelief.

So, how should we approach the subject of speaking in tongues? I think that we should follow the example of the Apostle Paul. “What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15) I think if we do this, we will do well.

David Robison

Monday, September 18, 2006

Love never fails

Love is eternal. Paul reminds us that only three things of this present world will remain to inherit the world to come, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Most of what we see around us is temporary and will perish along with the present heavens and earth. The Bible is explicit that this present creation will not last but will one day come to an end and will be replaced with a new creation that is permanent and eternal. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” (Revelation 21:1)

In contrast to the eternal nature of love, Paul lists some things that are merely temporal. “But if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8) Prophesy, tongues, and knowledge will all one day ceases. These “gifts of the Spirit” or “emanations of the Spirit” are not eternal; they are given for a specific period of time for the edification of the Body of Christ. One day, when we stand in the very presence of God, there will no longer be any need for prophesy, teaching, pasturing, evangelism, and other ministries and spiritual services. What I find interesting is how much energy is spent by the Christian church today on things that are not eternal. There are many conferences on finding and developing your spiritual gifts. There is also an abundance of books, tapes, and seminars on becoming and growing as a leader. While spiritual gifts and leaders are important, they are not most important. We can focus on the work of the kingdom and forget to give ourselves to things that are truly eternal. This was the problem with the Laodicean church. They had works and service, but they had left behind their love for God. Paul warns us about focusing on temporal gifts while neglecting eternal love.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Spiritual gifts are vital to the maturing of the Body of Christ, but they are fruitless unless combined with love. If we fail at love then our lives will amount to nothing more than a series of meaningless successes and failures bearing no fruit unto eternity. This is why Paul said, “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1) Notice that we are to “pursue” love and “desire” gifts, not the other way around. Let us pursue love while eagerly desiring spiritual gifts, and let us always remember that “the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

David Robison

Friday, September 15, 2006

Love endures all things

Love not only bears up under the load of difficulty and trouble but love also has the staying power to make it to the end. Love does not fizzle out but remains strong and endures, even till the end. In our world, it’s not always the big times of suffering and trials that tests the quality of our love. Sometimes, just the everyday pressures of life can wear us down. It is easy to start strong, but it takes strength and effort to not let the “wear and tear” of everyday life to wear us down and bring us to the place of simply giving up. Jesus warned us that in the end times, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12) Notice that the love of people does not suddenly turn gold but that it “grows” cold. The cooling of love may not be noticed from day to day but, over time, we may look back and see that our love no longer burns as hot as it once did. That is why Paul exhorts us to “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) We must keep our love fervent; we must not let it grow cold.

True love endures to the end, but the sort of love that endures is not a human kind of love but a love that only originates with God. “Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7) Not only does this scripture attest to the enduring and overcoming quality of love, but it also characterizes love as a flaming fire. Solomon understood that true love is the very flame of God. Love is inspired by God, love is fueled and flamed by God, and love is the very substance of God.

How does one nurture this flame of God? How does one cultivate a love that endures through all time? The secret is found in the counsel that God gave to the church at Laodicea. “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place -- unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5) First love is inseparately linked to first deeds. If we want to maintain “first love” then we must never leave undone our “first deeds”. Here are some “first deeds” that will help us maintain a love that will last.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3) When we live according to God’s commandments we will be living a life that expresses the love of God to other people. If we are to develop a heart that loves with the love of God then we must continually draw near to Him and must be willing to live in obedience to His voice. If we do not know how to love, the Spirit and Word of God will guide and instruct us. If we grow weary in love, God Himself will strengthen us and His word will encourage us. Love cannot exist apart from God and His word.

“But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:17-18) When we ignore those in need, our hearts begin to close. Over time, a life of indifference to others will result in a heart whose love has grown stone cold. We must allow our hearts to be distracted by the needs of others and, when it is in our power to do so, we must allow our care to be transformed into action. This is why John said to “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18) Love that is an emotion only will never stand the test of time. Remember, love is a verb. If we are to develop a heart of enduring love then we must regularly express that love to others in tangible ways; we must demonstrate live in ways that it can be seed.

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16) While many of us may be willing to lay down our life for our spouse or for a dear friend, fewer of us are willing to lay down our wills and plans for them. Laying down our lives is something we do everyday, in the little things of life. Zig Ziggler once said that we should do something everyday for someone else that they could have done for themselves. What Zig Ziggler understood is that love is often shown in the little things. It does not take some grand deed or elaborate gift to express love to someone, love can be seen in the everyday things we do for others. When we capitalize on the everyday opportunities to express love to each other we cultivate a love that will endure, a love that will stand the test of time.

David Robison

Friday, September 08, 2006

Love hopes all things

No one ever got married believing that their life would be miserable. All newlywed couples start out their married life with hopes and dreams of a life full of love, joy, and unfettered companionship, but, inevitably, difficult times come and the character and nature of their love for each other is tested. For many couples, the disappointment and disillusionment that is breed in these times of difficulty is too much to overcome and, for many, the marriage falls apart. Upwards of one third of new marriages in the United States will end in divorce. While the reasons for divorce are varied and often complex, for most couples going through a divorce, the loss of hope by one or both partners certainly contributes to their decision to end the relationship.

A former pastor of mine once said that all relationships go through three distinct stages: the honeymoon stage, the reality stage, and the redemptive stage. In the beginning, everything is great. You are so much “in love” that nothing bothers you and you cannot imagine ever having an argument or a disagreement. Then, as time goes on, you come to notice that the other person really does have faults and the little things that once seemed “cute” now start to get on your nerves. You become more irritable and even the littlest things often spark heated arguments. It is at this stage when many relationships fall apart, but if you can press beyond this point and love each other with a godly love, then you will experience a deeper relationship that few ever find. One of the keys to making it through the “reality” stage to the “redemptive” stage is hope.

Love does not always get what it wants when it wants it. Hope is the ability to wait for what we want. “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:24-25) But this waiting is not passive or inactive, but hope actually empowers us to continue laboring for good in our relationships while we wait for what we desire. “Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.” (1 Corinthians 9:10) If we loose hope, we give up, but if we hope all things, then we will continue in doing good even when we don’t see the object of our hope.

Another reason hope is so important in any relationship is because it is a precursor to faith. “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, ‘So shall thy seed be.’” (Romans 4:18 KJV) Abraham’s reality stood in stark contrast to the promise of God. God had promised him a son, but Abraham was pushing 100 years in age and Sarah was nearly 90. When faced with the improbability of the promise of God, it was Abraham’s hope in the promise that gave him courage to believe. Without hope, there is no reason to believe. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Love hopes all good things for its relationships and, in hope, it believes.

So where do we find hope when our reason for hope seems dim? Consider the following scriptures.

“Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) Paul makes it clear, without Christ, all our hope is false hope. It is only when we are reconciled back to God and enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ that we will find a hope that is not dependent upon us, our circumstances, or someone else. In Christ we have a hope that is backed up by the power and authority of God Himself.

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) While God is the God of all hope, it is important that we know the things that we might hope for. The scriptures are full of the promises of God. By reading them, we understand what is ours by our rebirth into God’s family. We understand what it means to be children of God. We learn of the nature and character of God. And our eyes are opened to all that God wants and has for us in this life and the life to come. As we read the scriptures we can then begin to hope for what they offer.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) As we learn to draw near to God, He fills us with His joy and peace. It is hard for a heart that is full of sadness and torment to hope, but when we experience the joy and peace that comes from God, hope is a natural response. Hope is not something we can muster up in our own strength, but is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts. It is not enough to know God, but we need to experience Him in the person of the Holy Spirit. As we experience God, our hope will increase.

David Robison

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Love believes all things

Faith is one of the three human character traits, according to 1 Corinthians 13:13, which will remain forever. “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” When we normally think of faith we think of faith in God and, when Paul says that “Love believes all things” he is certainly speaking of our faith in God. But in this verse, Paul is speaking about our faith in God pertaining to other people more than our faith in God relating to ourselves.

In believing all things, love makes a conscience choice to walk by faith in God rather than by what is seen. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Life is full of unforeseen challenges, disappointments, and even offenses from other people. If we live our lives limited only by what we can see, our lives will be as unstable as a ship floating helplessly on a storm tossed sea. Every day our circumstances confront us with reasons to doubt God, to doubt each other, and to doubt the value of our relationships.

Love takes courage and that courage does not come from examining our circumstances. Sometimes they will encourage us but other times they will discourage us to the point of despair. The courage that love requires comes only when we learn to view our circumstances and relationships through the eyes of faith. Only when we learn to see as God sees will we have courage to continue to love even through the times of discouragement and disappointment. So what should we choose to believe regarding other people? The Bible is a ready source of promises. Here are but a few.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God loves all people. Even the most unlovely of people are loved by God. We judge people from their outward appearance and behavior but God looks at their heart. God is able to find something lovely about all people and all people are precious to God. Love chooses to agree with God and believe that all people are worthy of love. Love believes that, even when we cannot find something to love in someone else, they are still precious to God and worthy of our love. We love, not because we judge other worthy of our love, but because God has already judged them worthy of love.

“They were even more astonished and said to Him, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27) No one is beyond God’s saving power or beyond His healing touch. Even the hardest heart can be soften and converted by the goodness and the power of God. No one is beyond hope. “For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4) Love chooses to believe there is no one, nor any circumstance, that is beyond God’s redeeming touch. Love continues to believe the best, to believe that any person and all circumstances can be redeemed.

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” (Revelation 21:5) God did not create the world and then abandon it to its own devices. Rather, God is still actively involved in the everyday happenings of His creation and His people. It is easy to become discouraged when we face circumstances that seem resilient to change. It is easy to succumb to hopelessness when faced with long term difficulties that seem like they will never improve. The truth, however, is that even when things seem to be at their worst, God is still working. Consider Joseph whom his brothers sold into slavery. Joseph’s life went from bad to worst. First slavery and then imprisonment, yet what Joseph could not see was that God was working to prepare him for the place of second-in-command of all of Egypt. God was preparing him for greatness. If we look with natural eyes we may get discourages, but if we look with eyes of faith we will see that God is still at work. Love chooses to believe and to not give up just because things look difficult and change impossible.

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8) Faced with a difficult situation, love realizes that we cannot just sit around and wait for change. Love chooses to sow into difficult situations that we might later reap change. Problems in a relationship do not grow overnight nor does change happed instantly. Change is a process and involves sowing and reaping. Love chooses to continue to sow godly things into its relationships even when the immediate result is more hurt and difficulty. Love believes that if it sows spiritual things it will eventually reap spiritual things. If it sows the love of God into a relationship, it will eventually reap the love of God from that relationship. Love sees the long term picture and chooses to sow in the present that it may reap in the future.

“Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6) No one wants to be made a fool of. You have heard the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” But God has given us a special promise, if we walk in faith with Him, we will never be put to shame. This applies in our relationship with God and also in our relationship with other people. If we love in faith, we will not be put to shame or made a fool of. There is a risk in loving people. People are not always predictable, they can bless you but they can also hurt you and break your heart. But God promises that if we extend the love of God to other people, no matter what happens in the relationship, if we love by faith, we will not be put to shame. Another translation of this verse is that those who trust in the Lord will not be “disappointed”. Let us live by faith and love by faith. Let us choose to believe all of God’s promises as we extend the love of God to others. And as we do, we can trust that we will never be disappointed or shamed by our trust in God.

David Robison

Friday, September 01, 2006

Looking for reviewers of by book

I'm looking for a few fellow bloggers who would be interested in receiving a free copy of my book, "The Blog of Job" and who would be willing to write a review of the book on their blog. Yes, this is a little self-serving, but I believe that the book has a message that will be a blessing to many and I am interested in increasing awareness of the book's availability. If you are interested, plese drop me an e-mail with your address and include you blog's address as well. Thanks in advance for all who choose to participate.

David Robison