Friday, 9/1/2017

 

Good Morning, Saints of God,

 

A couple of Fridays ago Linda and I were planning on going to a place that existed years ago as a franchise but they closed it down in our area. It was called Prime Quarter where you can grill your own steaks over an open BBQ pit. The pit was rather large so that it could accommodate quite a few people around all four sides of the pit. They served a good meal with our choice of steaks all at the same price. We would get a filet mignon and we would butterfly it which means that we would cut it in half and it would be the same price for a cut of meat that was less expensive. It came with a baked potatoes, a great salad bar, some Texas toast and butter, and our choice of a drink (extra cost). We always chose water for our beverage. We would usually go early and avoid the crowded restaurant and be gone by the time the place filled up. It was near us (about two miles from our home) and we could use the rest of the evening to do our shopping, searching for things, or just bum around on our date night. But, they did close to our disappointed hearts. And because we wanted to do something special, we searched for the closest one to Milwaukee. It was in Janesville, Wisconsin over one hour away. We talked about it…the time, the gas, and the cost of the meal (the price probably went up and up). So, we decided to go to a newly opened store called Fresh Thyme. We went there and found a good cut of filet mignon, we had our baked potatoes, and freshly picked corn on the cob. Wow! It was one of the best meals that we have enjoyed for a long time. What a blessing. We are ready to do it again!!! God is so good!!!

 

1 Corinthians 9:12-15 - 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. (ESV)

Subject:  Paul Gives Up His Rights

 

Sometimes it is hard to give up our rights or entitlements. Not only do we enjoy our rights, but we expect them to continue to come our way. We appreciate the right of free speech, the right to bear arms, and many of the rights written in our United States Constitution. I am thankful for those rights and privileges and trust that we will have them for many decades to come.

 

Paul stated that he was not using this right or engaging to collect funds from the Christians in the Corinthian Church. He was willing to forego being paid for his spiritual duties in order to make the gospel “free of charge.”

 

But, he continues to develop another analogy of those who were priests in the Old Testament and were employed in the temple service of the Jews. They were to get their needs met from the temple. They would receive part of the animals and other items sacrificed to God and a portion would belong to the priests who were serving in the temple at that time.

 

Taking from that example, Paul says that the Lord Jesus stated that those who preach the gospel should get their living from the gospel (see Luke 10:7). As Jesus sent out the disciples to minister to the towns and villages in Judea he expected those who were believers to provide for their housing and needs along the way.

 

But, Paul said in verse 15, “I have made no use of any of these rights” that I have talked about in this chapter. And, he was not writing to get the Corinthians to provide for his needs at this time. He was content to work with his hands and to preach the gospel without charge to the Corinthian people. Warren Wiersbe writes, “We wonder what sinners must think when they attend “Gospel meetings” where a leader spends thirty minutes taking offerings or scolding the crowd for not giving more![1] There is so much of that going on today in our religious world.

 

When I was a young preacher and pastor, I was told about the 10% discount the clergy could receive for a purchase of any item (if the store offered such a discount). I have never asked for that discount from any establishment because I did not desire for the owner or the worker(s) to see me as greedy. I have at times surrendered my rights in the churches that I have served in order that the church “might survive financially” at that time. I have never regretted it and God has taken care of our needs as a family.

 

Paul said, “I would rather die of starvation or not having my needs met than to have anyone “deprive” me (take away the power or significance of this step of faith) and my ground for boasting.” Paul was honored for doing such a sacrificial thing for his Savior and the right to share the gospel “free of charge” to all who would hear him. What an honor this is!!!

 

Honored to preach the gospel,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

 

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 445). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Thursday, 8/31/2017

 

Hi There, August Ends,

 

It seems like fall has been here for the past couple of weeks in West Allis, Wisconsin. It has been cool, at least to me, but my wife is delighting in the weather this summer. I thought we were out-of-bounds temperature wise, but I looked at the historical range of temperatures…71 to 96 degrees. We are at the low end, so I guess we are bringing those very hot August’s to the proper average in Wisconsin. Not that I am complaining, but another 10 degrees would suit me well…but, not my wife. We tease each other about it. The last month I have been able to work with my grandson, Collin (15…going to be 16 soon), on the parsonage project. We did the cutting of the door frames and doors for the Saturday “door project”. This past week I was able to work with my younger grandsons, Logan (6), as we worked around the parsonage and doing some projects that have been put off for the Kitchen Project. Logan is usually eager to help…he even wants to help when the project is too big, too complicated, and over his head. He is willing to help all the time. Not only does he like to help but he does a good job for a little guy. We worked on the canopy for the swing set that we had ready since April, but the Kitchen Project prevented it being done. We got out the tools, screws, washers, and step ladder for the job. We worked like a well-oiled team getting the job done. He was asking questions all the time and learning as we worked together on the project. It was done in no time. It is such fun to work together these young men and watch them learn as they grow...far too quickly. I thank God to still be around to be with these guys and for their help.

 

1 Corinthians 9:9-12 - For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. (ESV)

Subject:  Sowing Spiritual Seed, Reaping Material Things

 

Yes, God is concerned about those that have secular jobs and provides the wisdom, the health, and the opportunities to work with the brain and the muscles to get the job done. God is concerned about the apostles, the pastors, and the missionaries who labor in the spiritual fields of our world. Paul divides the work into sowing (scattering spiritual seed over tilled ground) and reaping (gathering material or physical blessings from one’s labors).

 

If one sows spiritual things among God’s people, is it too much to harvest physical things from those very same people? The answer is, “It is not too much to expect material things from working in the spiritual area of life.” Paul now comes to the bottom line of his argument or defense of the people who are accusing him of not being a true apostle.

 

Paul says that he has not used (engaged) in this right of receiving payment for his work as an apostle for the Lord (v.12). The reason: It is because he was willing to suffer in order that there was nothing to be as an obstacle (hindrance) in the path of the gospel that he presented. He wanted to preach the free gospel without any strings attached among this pagan society. He did not want to be accused of being concerned only about the money and not the people.

 

Paul was willing to endure (put up with) anything rather than be a hindrance of the greatest news in the world. How often have you heard it said by church-goers: “All they want is our money?” It is a very delicate subject in our religious culture with so many TV evangelists and those have been accused of embezzling funds from a church or Christian organization. There have been pastors in our area that have been accused and convicted of taking funds illegally from their church. It makes it important for the honest pastors and churches to have financial integrity and a high priority to our congregation and in our community.

 

Yes, the pastor and missionaries of today have the right to receive their living from offerings to a church. But, the church’s responsibility is to make sure that there is meticulous steps to make sure that only a few people with godly integrity are working together to have the funds be received and spent according to the steps laid down in the by-laws of the church. One of the rules we have in our church is that the pastors do not handle the offerings or the funds of the church in any way.

 

God is concerned about the spiritual leaders who are paid by the church or the non-profit organization. Great pains should be taken that there be no ability for any funds to be embezzled by anyone. Simple but clear steps to maintain financial integrity should be maintained at all costs to prevent being embarrassed in our church or local community for the glory of the Lord!!!

 

Thankful for my paychecks,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 8/29/2017

 

Hello, Believer in Christ,

 

Last Friday afternoon Linda and I had the opportunity to attend a wedding for one of Linda’s closer friend’s, Ellie Colombo, for her daughter, Katie. In one way it was unusual and yet it was very important to Ellie who had been waiting for this event in her life since Katie was born. About three months ago Ellie asked me to have a “Ceremony of Blessing” and a prayer of blessing on Katie and her husband, Nicola. He is from Italy. They were in the same apartment complex when they met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They met and a short time later they were engaged. Within five months after they met they were married on the same rooftop on which they met. The first marriage took place on July 1, 2017. Shortly afterward they flew to Italy to have Katie meet Nicola’s family and have another wedding ceremony and celebration. It was a joyous occasion for Nicola’s family and the festivities were magnificent. They took a honeymoon trip in Italy and flew back home to Florida. On Friday, August 25, 2017, Ellie had planned a third wedding ceremony and celebration at the Botanical Gardens near West Allis. It was an informal time of gathering before the ceremony…trying to get all the cues for the bride, groom, ring bearers, and flower girls together. It was a very fun wedding ceremony as I enjoyed the light-hearted time of recalling some of the events before their first wedding and entered into sharing the gospel message and a message to the bride and groom. There was a time of taking pictures, a few snacks, and a time of chatting with one another. The meal and celebration was later. I had a short time to share the gospel with one person and prayed for her since that time. Yes, three marriage ceremonies inside of two months. Ellie was very pleased to be a part of this special time with her daughter, family, and friends.  It was a privilege to be a part of this occasion and especially of sharing the gospel to about 100 people.

 

1 Corinthians 9:4-6 - Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

 

Subject: The Rights of an Apostle

 

We live in a world where we are concerned about our rights (privileges, entitlements) in our lives. What does one expect when we are told since we are young, “You have to take care of #1…YOU!” You must focus all your time, energy, and attention upon yourself, if you do not, who will? We have become a very self-centered society even among Christians.

 

It is what we call the disease of PRIDE. The third letter in that word is “I”. Many times the only person who does not know they have this disease is the one who has it. It may seem like Paul is speaking with some pride about himself, but his bottom line is the issue of having the rights of an apostle which he has “given up”.

 

Yes, the other apostles have accepted the rights that those things that their followers of Jesus Christ had given them the privilege to maintain. These rights go back to the Scriptures which support the financial and material needs of a full time minister of the Word of God. That is why he asks the question, “Do we not have the right to eat and drink or take along with us in our travels a believing wife?” The answer to those questions would be, “Yes, you have this privilege and entitlement.”

 

But, the last question is about “refraining from physical work” outside the ministry for a living? Again the answer the answer is yes! If you jump ahead in this passage to verse 12, Paul writes, “Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right.” We will learn more about his reasoning later in the text.

 

Paul is laying the groundwork for speaking about the right of a full time worker for Christ be it an apostle, a prophet, a teacher, a pastor, or a missionary in our culture. God has ordained that a man of God has the right to expect financial remuneration (payment, salary, compensation) for his spiritual ministry. As you may know, some church groups would deny this for their pastors. But as you will see, it is something that God has made plain…tomorrow we shall pursue this matter in greater detail.

 

In His grace,


Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 8/30/2017

 

Good Morning, Christian,

 

It was a busy week and we had “tons” of things to do. I worked out at our Wisconsin Athletic Club and was returning to the parking lot to open the tailgate. The latch to open the tailgate did not work, it was broken. I called up my mechanic, Lance, a super guy and told him my problem. It was Thursday and we were heading for Prairie Du Chein on Sunday afternoon. I asked him if he could fix it before the weekend. He said he would like to have the vehicle for that day so he could try to get a part for the 2000 Toyota van. As I was traveling after WAC to pick up my young man, Jesus (his real name), and go out to lunch with him before he heads out to college as a sophomore, I was rolling down my driver’s side window, it stopped mid-way to the bottom. I worked on trying to see if it would move up or down…nothing. As I picked up Jesus, I told him of the change in plans to drop off the van at the mechanic’s shop and then go out to lunch. Linda was on her way to pick us up and we would drop her off on the way to our restaurant. To make a long story short…he found the part and the van was ready by noon the next day. What a blessing. We could now use it for our trip to Prairie Du Chein. God is so good!!!

 

1 Corinthians 9:6-10  - Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

Subject:  The Law Applies to Apostles

 

The discussion is about paying apostles for their spiritual labors for the Lord Jesus Christ. Yesterday we saw the questions that Paul brought up about having the right to earn his living through his apostolic ministry for food, drink, his family, and not having to work physically at a secular job for a living.

 

Today Paul deepens his arguments about this matter by a whole series of questions. He speaks about a soldier who works for the government and where he gets his pay check. Does a soldier expect to work for nothing and pay for his own expenses? This would include his clothing, shelter, weapons, and other needs in his life.

 

What about a farmer who plants a vineyard and when the harvest of the fruit comes, does he not eat of the grapes from the vine? What about a shepherd of a flock of sheep and goats, does he not take some of the milk for himself for nourishment? Both the farmer and the shepherd earn their living from the work that they do with the plants or cattle. In fact, they are dependent upon the harvest at the end of their journey of the day or harvest season to care for their needs.

 

Paul uses the Old Testament Law to support his perspective of a man who does spiritual work to expect to be paid from that source. He quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 as his source regarding the oxen and the grain. When the ox is treading out the grain, he should not be muzzled so that he may eat as much of the grain as he wants. That is how he gains enough strength to do his work for the farmer.

 

Is God only concerned about the oxen? Paul says here is the application of this verse in the Bible. It is for the sake of the apostles that this verse is stated (as well as in 1 Tim. 5:18 regarding pastors). That is why the plowman and thresher (v.10) work so hard because of the hope (expectation) of sharing in the crop. We as spiritual workmen serve as ministers of God’s people to share in the crop of our labors. This is the application of this passage. Your pastor(s) labors and serves the Lord in the work of God to bear fruit from their labors. As they minister in the spiritual realm they are expected to be paid in the material realm. As Paul shares in 1 Tim. 5:18, “The laborer (pastor) deserves his wages.” This goes for missionaries and other full time workers for the Lord!

 

Privileged to serve Christ,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Monday, 8/28/2017

 

It has been about four months ago that Linda and I talked about leaving Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) because the price for the “bundle” was becoming cost-prohibitive for our pocket book. I had begun to investigate other options but had to stop because the Kitchen Project took so much time. I dabbled in my investigation during the months that went by, but had not taken the step to disassociate ourselves from Spectrum. About three weeks ago, I took a concerted effort to investigate the options and take the plunge. After hours and hours of checking on the options and the prices, I nailed it down to using Spectrum as my internet provider, to use Vonage as our telephone provider, and to begin streaming with Sling TV. We have Hallmark movie and mystery channels for Linda, so we are all set. We are happy with our choices so far, yet the Spectrum ended up costing us $20 a month more than originally quoted by a service representative. If that remains to be true, we shall probably change to U-Verse for a while and if it provides us with a good Internet speed, we shall keep it.

 

PS Please pray for the Beyer family. Del is in hospice in the hospital at this time. He was given 24-48 hours to live a week ago and is physically hanging on. Pray for God’s grace at and patience as to God’s timing regarding Del’s home-going. The family is weary and tired as they have someone in the room 24 hours a day. Thank you!

 

1 Corinthians 9:1-3 - 1Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defense to those who would examine me.

Subject:  The Seal of Apostleship

 

The apostle Paul switches to a different topic of a defense of his apostleship. The bottom line is that he defends the fact that he ministered without taking resources for his work as an apostle. It is sad to note that there were those that were striving to undermine his apostleship and, even worse, those that were believers who believed what was being stated about Paul. Paul had ministered to the Corinthians for a period of about 2 years. Many were saved by his ministry and were now assured of their salvation. It is heartbreaking to have to defend one’s apostolic authority to a people that he loved very dearly.

 

He begins writing in this chapter with four questions. The first question of freedom relates to being free to not accept financial payment for his services as an apostle (context in verse 12). The second question is related to the subject of being a special messenger of God. He was sent by God but there were those who denied his apostleship. The third question relates to the fact of being a true apostle, that is, one has to see the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. This is one of the criterion of being an apostle to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:22). Of course, Paul had seen the resurrected Lord Jesus as he states in 1 Cor. 15:8.

 

The last question regarding his apostleship is the results of what he did in Corinth in those months of ministry and the souls that were saved. If there is one evidence of a person’s workmanship in the field of God, it is the leading of souls to Jesus Christ. Paul had led many to Christ in this city. He poured his heart and soul into the lives of the people and God bore the fruit of his labors.

 

Yes, to some of the people in the assembly Paul did not seem to be an apostle, but to those who trusted Christ under his ministry, they should acknowledge that God sent him there. The true seal (credential, validation, proof, evidence of genuineness) is the believers in Corinth. It is with that in mind that he sets out to defend his apostleship before those who would examine (interrogate, questions, hear a case) of his defense.

 

What are the evidences of your salvation? What are you doing that shows some fruit or results of your work for the Lord Jesus Christ? One day we shall all be examined before the Judgment Seat of Christ for what we have done in this body. Are you ready for that day? If you are a Christian, you will not miss being fairly judged for the life you lived as a Christian. God will hand out the rewards without partiality.

 

Ready for my judgment,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.