A little over a month ago I completed my final DMin ministry project. Included in this project were 20 devotionals (five per week for four weeks) I wrote which were distributed to the adult Sunday School classes. The devotionals served to reinforce the four purposes of Sunday School (reaching, teaching, caring, serving). This week’s the focus in on caring for people.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:1-4)
Each one of us has a burden to bear. The word “bear” in verse two communicates the idea of giving a hand to someone carrying a heavy load. There are some burdens that can be shared: stress, finances, grief, etc. Some burdens are heavier than others. The word Paul uses for burden in verse five is different than in verse two. This word “bear” in verse five communicates a load impossible to share. It literally means, “a soldier’s pack.” A soldier’s pack must be borne by the soldier alone. Some burdens that can’t be shared include: suffering, death, sin, judgment. Caring for people means involving yourself in their lives. Burden bearing is simply love in action and it is the fulfillment of Christ’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves.
What do you believe to be the number one reason why Christians do not step in and help carry another’s burden(s)?
Do you know of someone who is struggling with a burden that you may be able help carry?
“I have declared my ways, and You answered me; Teach me Your statutes. Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wondrous works. My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word. Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously.” (Psalm 119:26-29)
The Psalmist begins by confessing his sins to God, believing God has heard and cleansed. He then goes on to ask God to teach him, using language such as, “teach me,” “make me understand,” and “strengthen me.” On display here is a teachable spirit. He wanted to know more about God’s ways and His statutes, understanding strength is found in them. However, there is a pre-requisite to a teachable spirit; a repentant spirit. Before any blessings from God’s teachings could be experienced, his sin needed to be reconciled. God is the foremost teacher. His Word is the primary source of our instruction. His children need to be taught by Him, led by Him, encouraged by Him, and strengthened by Him. Each one needs to seek Him through a teachable spirit and repentant heart.
To be teachable means to have the capacity to receive instruction. Would you say that you are in the best position to receive instruction from God? If not, what is in the way?
Is there a time in your spiritual walk with the Lord that you know for a fact you missed the opportunity to be involved in something He wanted you to do? What did you learn? Are you more teachable as a result?
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.” (Acts 17:10-12)
Once Paul arrived in Berea, as was his custom, he made his way to the local synagogue and preached Jesus Christ to the Jews. Contrary to negative reception by the Jews in Thessalonica, the Bereans welcomed him and the Word. We are told that the Bereans received Paul’s instruction with “readiness.” They did not receive God’s Word with an implicit faith. They devoted themselves to reading and searching the writings of the Old Testament, to see whether the things which he preached concerning the Messiah, His incarnation, sufferings, death and resurrection from the dead were true. They were ready to reject his teachings if it did not align with what God had spoken. This they did continually day after day. Their example to us is a powerful one. Every Christian has the responsibility to search and study God’s Word to ensure what is being taught is aligned with God’s truth. In our day, we can never assume that simply because someone says, “The Bible says ________” that they are being truthful. Investigation is the key to combating false teaching. Personal study of the Bible is a tremendous luxury that has been afforded to us. Let’s not waste it.
What does it mean to you to receive the Word, “with all readiness?”
Upon their investigation of the Scriptures, many people in Berea trusted Jesus Christ for their salvation. Imagine for a moment that every copy of the Bible you own has been taken away from you. Do you know enough without it to lead someone to Christ?
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible was written by men divinely inspired by God and is the revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It is profitable, meaning it is beneficial or useful. It comes from a root word that has the idea of heaping up or accumulating something that will give you a benefit or an advantage. The Bible provides everything necessary to make you the person God wants you to be. There is an accumulating benefit that comes from the regular study of God’s Word. It builds into your life day by day, things that are beneficial to becoming a mature person in Christ. That’s how education works. Take math for example. First you learn basic math, then algebra and trigonometry, and finally – calculus. It all accumulates to making you a competent mathematician. God’s Word functions the same way. Paul states that God’s Word is profitable in four areas of life: doctrine (what is right), reproof (what is not right), correction (how to get right with God), and instruction in righteousness (how to stay right with God). One piece builds upon the other, equipping you to be a well-rounded and faithful Christian. The more you study, the more profitable it will be.
Do I have a plan as to how I am going to study God’s Word? (reading plan, morning, evening, etc.)
Do I have a period of time that I will spend in the study of God’s Word?
Do I have a person whom I have given permission to hold me accountable in my study of God’s Word? If no, why not?
“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.” (Psalm 119:97-99)
Love is complex, meaning that love involves many things. To love someone means that you also love the things about that person. This is most true of our love for God. We love Him, and that leads us to love everything about Him. One of the many treasures to love about God in His Word. The Psalmist used words such as, “law,” “commandments,” and “testimonies,” to refer to God’s teachings. His attitude toward God’s Word is interesting. He acknowledged the benefits of His Word, saying they made him, “wiser” than his enemies” and they were, “ever with” him. The Psalmist thought about God’s Word, made it a part of his day. He loved it for what it would produce in his life: wisdom, boldness, and understanding. Do we love God’s Word the same way? Do we allow ourselves to be taught His ways? God’s Word can produce lasting results. Have you given Him permission to change your life through His Word?
Which passage of Scripture that means the most to you as a Christian. Why is that passage so important to you?
One of the benefits of God’s Word is that it convicts the individual of sin in his/her life. Is there an area of your life that God is convicting you of through His Word?
I am thankful for the many voices, resources, institutions, and ministries who are assisting the local church to live out a missional lifestyle. The purpose of Missional Monday is to raise awareness and foster conversations (whether here or elsewhere) around the need for the New Testament churches to be missionaries where they are. I regularly share my own thoughts about this subject, but mine is not the only one. Because we are involved in kingdom work, I want to connect the readers here to others who are speaking on the subject of missional living. I hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live mission lifestyles. Enjoy.
Read: I recommend Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission by Larry E. McCrary. As God calls missionaries to the field, they develop the necessary skill-sets for a cultural translation of the Gospel. Tradecraft pulls back the curtain on tools once accessible only to full-time Christian workers – tools that will enable the local church to be more effective in its ministry to the community.
Follow: Henry Criss. Henry is the Lead Pastor of Ridgeland Baptist Church in Ridgeland, SC. His approach to the revitalization work he has been called to is encouraging and insightful. You can follow him here – @HenryCriss.
Get to Know: Pure Water, Pure Love. PWPL is an initiative of the National Women’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention. The primary goal of PWPL is to provide missionaries with water filters and the people they serve with wells that offer clean water, free of disease and contamination. PWPL provides thousands of water filters to missionary families and helps fund clean water projects. You can read more here.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
As a New Testament church, the source of our instruction is not driven by social commentary. The source of our instruction is not personal agendas or platforms. The source of our instruction is not past personal experiences. The source of our instruction is God’s Word. Why? It is God’s Word that reveals man’s condition, as well as the remedy for that condition. It is God’s Word that searches, convicts, and cleanses the heart of man. It gets down to the “joints and marrow” of our bodies and shines a light on the places in our hearts we like to keep hidden. The lost person does not need to hear what we think. The lost person does not need to hear a softened, watered down version of the truth. We owe them more than that. His Word is living, it is active, and it has a definite and determined plan. The Christian has the promise that as God’s Word goes out, it will not come back void. Although we may not see immediate fruit from our teaching and evangelism, we can trust that God will do a great work within the hearts and lives of the people who hear. There is no such promise if we make our instruction about us or about things that will not last. This world needs the unchanging, truthful, and living Word of God. Anything else is an injustice to the hearers whose spiritual lives depend upon it.
In your opinion, what does the writer of Hebrews mean by saying that God’s Word is, “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart?”
What challenges exist today that make it more difficult for the church to keep the Word of God as the focus of our instruction?