Wednesday, February 1, 2017

PBJ Devotions 02/01/2017

Philippians 3:10-11 (AMPC) [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly], and that I am may in that same way come to know the Power out flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into his likeness even] to His death [in the hope] 11 that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

What the Lord is saying to me:
This is the glorious call to those who would follow Christ, to fully know Him and the surpassing power of the resurrection progressively transforming a believer into the likeness of Christ, putting to death the sins of the flesh, and having the mind renewed by the transforming power of the Word of God in this there is life abundant, True freedom, overflowing joy and hope for tomorrow.

My responsive prayer to Him: 

Lord Jesus Christ, help me to unreservedly yield to your spirit! Oh how I desire to know you more and to experience the continual transforming power of the Resurrection. Give me the courage and the humility to face the day in full faith, and trust in you, and your Word. Help me to rise above my doubts and fears that I may live a full life that glorifies the Father eternal. Not my will, but yours be done!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Shepherds Heart

By George Stahnke, 08/2016

When considering a topic of this nature, I realize that volumes have been written over the centuries by noted theologians. My desire is to simplify those many volumes into a concise, yet theologically correct article.
The greatest example of a shepherd’s heart is found in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are two key verses that describe that heart, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.”[1] These verses speak of devotion, self-sacrifice, and a close personal relationship between the one who shepherds and those under his care.
Because of God’s love for his people he has promised to provide shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” [2]  These are not simply “men for hire” who work for a paycheck and then abandon the sheep when trouble comes knocking.[3] Ministers who have a “Shepherd’s Heart” are compassionate, self-disciplined, bold, and relentless in defending the flock and biblical truth. They do not shrink back for fear of reprisal and are not afraid of self-sacrifice. Though not perfect, they are heroes of the faith. 
There are two interwoven aspects of the Shepherd’s Heart in the context of the church: feeding and tending (governance). This is clearly seen in the conversation between Peter and Jesus.
John 21: 15-17 (ESV) When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Feed: Tend G1006 boskō  portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church. Those with a Shepherds Heart will:
Ø  Feed and nourish with balanced biblical teaching.

Ø  Provide individualized care through counseling, prayer and visitation.

Tend: Shepherd G4165 poimainō rule, govern, furnish pasture for food, to nourish: from G4166:  to tend as a shepherd (figuratively to supervise).

Tending in governance is essential for the stability of a local congregation. It also helps to maintain spiritual and relational well-being within the people. The lead shepherd with his team will do the following:
Ø  Establish and defend sound biblical doctrine.
Ø  Formulate and teach vision and purpose regarding the mission of the church.
Ø  Establish operational ministry systems and protocols.
Ø  Correct and discipline where needed to bring about repentance and reconciliation.

Those with a Shepherd’s Heart endeavor to serve with humility and lead by personal example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.[4] In the Shepherd’s Heart there can be no room for petty striving for position or recognition. There is no need to boast about accomplishments for the shepherd recognizes that any measure of success is by God’s grace.[5] He is always careful to give praise to God for the honor and privilege it is to serve the body of Christ!
The Shepherd’s Heart recognizes that it’s a team effort.[6] The Shepherd’s Heart is by its nature a Servant’s Heart![7] Those of us who seek to live out of a Shepherd’s Heart also understand that it is by God’s grace and mercy in their lives, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.[8]
Paul, in writing to his dear friend Timothy said, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”[9] The word overseer is episkopē (G1984) meaning bishop, elder, the presiding officers of the church.

In my understanding, this would include the lead pastor, associate pastors, elders, those who are publicly set forth in the local church who provide spiritual leadership and oversight.[10] This “noble task” requires a Shepherd’s Heart. I have been in ministry forty years and can attest that acquiring this heart is a progressive work that can only mature as we remain wholly submitted to the Word of God and Holy Spirit. This heart is still being formed in me!

[1] John 10:11, 14
[2] Jeremiah 3:15
[3] John 10:11-14
[4] 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Timothy 4:12
[5] 1 Corinthians 15:10, Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:13;
[6] 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; 2 Corinthians 10:12
[7] Matthew 20:26-28; 23:11; Mark 9:35, Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:25
[8] Ephesians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:1; Colossians 1:29; 1 Peter 4:10-11
[9] 1 Timothy 3:1
[10] Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1

Monday, November 28, 2016

Honesty in all Things
George M. Stahnke 11/28/2016

Last week, while doing my devotions, I was impressed with Deuteronomy 25:15-16. “Yes, always use honest weights and measures, so that you may enjoy a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. 16 All who cheat with dishonest weights and measures are detestable to the LORD your God.(NLT)

As I quieted my heart and listened, the Lord impressed the following on my mind. “As followers of God we live our lives representing His character in our interaction with people. To deal unjustly with anyone for any reason is to misrepresent Him! How can people know that God can be trusted if we as His people are not trustworthy in our dealing with them? To act unjustly, to be dishonest and deliberately cheat another person is not only sinful; it is a disgusting thing to the Lord!”

Wow that is strong! I felt a sense of the “fear of the Lord” as I reviewed the passage and the thoughts that came to me. It caused me to take a quick inventory of my life and I recognized that in times past I have not always been honest in my dealing with people.  

As always I concluded my devotional time with a responsive prayer to the Lord. “Thank you Father God for your forgiveness! Help me to be a man of honesty in all things, to walk with integrity in all areas of my life. Help me to always represent You with truth and righteousness all my days. I desperately want people to see your character, to see Christ, when they see me!”