Honoring The Wishes of Others

Karen and I are both in Houston this week. She came to help out with our newest grandchild, and I was here to teach a class. My class was cancelled yesterday because the ice storm that hit the Houston area, and many of the roads were closed. We went out for lunch yesterday, and she had a desire for Mexican food from a particular  Mexican restaurant. When we arrived at the restaurant, we found out that they were also closed. There were many other restaurants around there that we could have gone to, but I knew of another good Mexican restaurant a few miles from there. So we drove over to that restaurant and enjoyed some good Mexican food. I knew that she had a desire to eat Mexican food, and I tried to honor her. Husbands are told to honor their wives (1 Peter 5:7), and honoring her desire for Mexican food was just one way of honoring her.

The Scriptures teach us to honor God and to also honor all men. (1 Peter 2:17) Sometimes honoring the Lord or others is with our finances. (See Proverbs 3:9-10, 1 Timothy 5:3, 17.) However, there are many other ways that we are to honor others. Honoring someone’s wishes is an important way of honoring them. When Israel went down to Egypt, he charged his sons to bury him in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite in the land of Canaan. (See Genesis 49:29-31.) After he died, Joseph and his brothers honored their father’s wishes and took his body to Canaan and buried him in the cave. (See Genesis 50:12.) They honored their father by carrying out his wishes. Similarly, when Joseph was about to die, he asked the sons of Israel not to leave his bones in Egypt, but to take his bones back to the promised land. (See Genesis 50:24-26.) Many years later, Moses and the sons of Israel remembered Joseph’s requests and honored him by taking his bones with them to the promised land. (See Exodus 13:19.)

What are some keys to honoring others? (See Philippians 2:3-5.) First, learn to be selfless. Paul told the Philippians do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. Second, with humility of mind regard others as more important than yourself. Third, learn to look out for the interests of others. Find out what their interests are, and what you can do to honor their interests. As you do these three things, you will be living with the same attitude that Christ had.



Honoring our Heavenly Father (Ps 50:23)

Many years ago my father was on a business trip to the Middle East. He was regarded as one of the world’s experts in drilling operations, and his training classes were in high demand. While on that trip, my father was invited to attend a dinner party, where he was the guest of honor. One of the ways in that particular culture to honor someone was to serve a lamb’s eye on their serving of rice. I am glad it was my father they honored and not me, as I would not have wanted that treat.

Paul told Timothy his reason for writing the letter in 1 Timothy 3:14. He wanted the church to know how to conduct themselves in the household of God. As you go through Paul’s letter to Timothy, we find that the way that we conduct ourselves in God’s house is with honor. We are to honor the older men as we would a father, and older women as we would our mother. (1 Tim 5:1-2) We are to honor young men and young women. We are to honor the widows. (1 Tim 5:3) We are to honor pastors. Those that rule well and work hard at preaching and teaching are worthy of double honor. (1 Tim 5:17) And most importantly, we are to honor our Heavenly Father. (1 Tim 1:17, 6:15-16).

Tomorrow , at the Connection Church of Albuquerque, we will be looking at honor. We will be taking time to honor our Heavenly Father. We won’t be serving a lamb’s eye on a bed of rice. Fortunately for us, God tells us in Psalm 50 two specific things that honor Him. God tells us, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23) You don’t have to wait until Sunday services to honor God with your thanksgivings. In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you. Throughout each day live with an attitude of thanksgiving. The second way that God mentioned is someone who orders his way aright. This is also not a Sunday event. We should live uprightly seven days a week so that our lives continually honor our Heavenly Father.

Filled with Joy and the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52)

In Acts 13:52, we read that “the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” In that passage Paul, Barnabas, and the church were being persecuted, but in spite of this, they were continually filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Why were they so full of joy and the Holy Spirit? There are two things that stand out. First, the phrase “word of the Lord” is used three times. (See Acts 13:44, 48, 49.) The word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region, and people were rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord. God’s word rejoices the heart. (Ps 19:8) When we feed on God’s word, it produces a joy and delight in our heart. (Jer 15:16) As we have just begun a new year, have you started feasting on God’s word? Are you rejoicing in His word? Let me encourage you to feed on the word of the Lord every day.

The second thing that we see in this passage is that salvation was coming to the Gentiles. Luke records that “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” When the gospel is being preached, and people are coming to Christ, there is great joy. We get filled with the Holy Spirit in many ways. Prayer and worship are two of the primary ways. But, personally, I have experienced powerful fillings of the Holy Spirit and manifestations of the Holy Spirit when I share the gospel with others. Have you shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel? Are you praying and looking for opportunities to share the word of the Lord with others? May it be said of you and I this year that we are continually being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Customer Value Propositions

Recently I finished up a class sponsored by Goldman Sachs and Babson College. Babson College is ranked # 1 in America for Entrepreneurship. The class is called 10ksb (10,000 small businesses), and it is designed to help small businesses grow. Most of the work was done on-line, but I had to make two trips to Boston to go through sections of the program that were held on campus. It was an outstanding class, and I had many takeaways from the program. At Murchison Drilling Schools (MDS), we have already begun implementing many of the things that I learned in the class.

One of the topics covered in the program was the customer value proposition or CVP. A CVP is a business or marketing statement that describes why a customer should buy a product or use a service. There were several steps involved in developing a CVP. First, we had to identify our customers or segments of customers. Second, we had to identify our customer pain points or needs. At MDS, we have two primary customer segments and their pain points are very different.  Third, we had to develop a message to each of our customer segments that addressed their specific pain points and how our products and services would meet that need. I realized that I needed to change the messaging to our clients. We had focused on what we provide and what distinguishes us from our competitors, but had not addressed our customer needs. We made immediate changes in our CVPs and are now addressing our customer pain points.

When I was learning about CVPs I could not help but think about Jesus. He was the Master of CVPs. He knew who His customers were. In Matthew 9:12-13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:31, Jesus identified His customers as those who needed a physician. He identified His customers as those who knew they were sinners. He said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” In Matthew 11:28, Jesus called out another customer group. He said, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest…” He not only knew who His clients were; He knew their pain points. They were weary and burdened with sin. Jesus offered a solution. He offered a new covenant, not based on a law that burdened people, but one based on grace. Jesus was a Master at identifying His customers, their pain points, and addressing these in His message to us. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.” I am still learning from Jesus, the Master of CVPs, on how to effectively reach and touch the lives of people around us.

08 Priorities – Early Church Priorities (Acts 2:42)

Last week I did a Google search of things that growing churches are devoted to. I took the first eleven findings, and compiled their findings into a spreadsheet so that I could analyze them. Then, I compared them to the things that the early church was devoted to. In Acts 2:42, we find the church was devoted to four things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer. Here are the results from my Google Search.

Early Church Priorities Modern Church Priorities
Preaching of the Word Only four out of eleven list the preaching of the Word in their top ten things to do to grow a church.
Fellowship Four out of eleven sites list fellowship in their top ten things to do.
Breaking of Bread Zero out of eleven sites list breaking bread  in their top then things to do.
Prayer Two or three out of eleven mention prayer in their top ten things to do. One of those three said that the key leaders need to pray, but did not mention that the church needed to pray.

We find the results of the early church’s priorities in Acts 2:43 and 47. Luke records that “many wonders and signs were taking place” and they were “having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The early church experienced the power of God, and saw tremendous growth. Their growth was not from people switching churches; it was from people getting saved. I believe that the modern church needs to return to the priorities of the early church. Our churches should employ modern methods, tools, and technology need to be reach our generation, but we need to return to the priorities of the early church.

07 Priorities – Leadership Principles (Acts 6:1-7)

In Acts 6 the priorities of the twelve apostles was very clear, they were going to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. But, there were some outstanding leadership principles contained in these few verses that are worth taking a look at. First, the twelve apostles worked as a team. The “twelve summoned the congregation…” They said, “it is not good for us…but we will devote…” The twelve apostles were united and worked as a team. Peter was leading the team at this point, but they were moving forward together as a team. Peter’s name is not even mentioned in the passage. A good team leader is not about making a name for himself, but bringing the team together to work effectively.

Second, the leadership wisely dealt with the problem. Most problems do not go away on their own; they must be addressed. The apostles looked into the matter and came up with a great solution. Congregations appreciate leaders that properly deal with problems.

Third, the twelve involved the congregation. They summoned the congregation, and communicated their plan to them. They asked the congregation to select seven people, which they did. Luke also records that their plan “found approval with the whole congregation.” Good leaders were unified as a team, and were move forward with the approval of their congregation.

Fourth, good leaders empower others. The twelve did not try to do everything themselves; they raised up other leaders to do the work of the ministry. In order for them to do the work they were called to do, they had to raise up others to do the other important work. The apostles raised up godly leaders, and then laid hands on them, and empowered them. This freed them up to devote themselves to their priorities, the ministry of the word and to prayer.

The fruit of their leadership was very clear. In verse seven Luke writes that “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continue to increase…and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” Good leadership produces good fruit.

06 Priorities of Leadership (Acts 6:1-4)

In Acts 6 a problem surfaced in the church in Jerusalem. The church had grown incredibly large very quickly and some things were slipping through the cracks. The Greek widows in the church were being overlooked in the serving of meals. The complaint was brought to the apostles (the church leadership at that point), and after looking into the matter, they summoned the congregation to give their solution to the problem. They asked the church to select seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit, and of wisdom that they could put in charge of the task. Then, in Acts 6:4, they explained why they were not going to take on that responsibility themselves. They said, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The priority in their lives was prayer and the ministry of the word.

A leader’s personal priority is no different than anyone else’s priority. We are all called to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Our relationship with Christ is our highest priority. We must spend time in prayer and in God’s word. But, as leaders, the first priority in our ministry is to spend time in prayer and in God’s word. It is important for leaders to pray and watch over God’s flock. It is important for shepherds to feed their flocks, and it takes a lot of time to study and properly prepare messages from God’s word. A leader’s priorities must be to spend time in prayer and in God’s word. The apostles in Jerusalem made the right call. 

05 Priorities – Honoring God With Our Wealth (Proverbs 3:9-10)

One of the things that I have never hesitated to preach about in church is money. God rebuked Eli for honoring his sons above Him. Then, He said that He will honor those who honor Him. As a pastor, I have always cared more about honoring God than honoring sons. I have always striven to teach people to honor God in all areas of their life, including their finances.

In Proverbs 3:9-10, God tells us to “honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.” The principle of honoring God with our wealth is not an Old Testament law that we are no longer under. Honoring God is a PRINCIPLE that began in Genesis. Abel honored God with the first of his produce. He gave God the fat portion, meaning the very best. In Malachi, people were not bringing the whole tithe (10%) to Him and they were not bringing their best offerings. Notice what God said in Malachi 1:6-7. “’’A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is to be despised.’”

When we receive our income from our jobs or other sources, we should give the first of our produce to the Lord. Our tithes need to be a priority, before we do anything else with the money. In 2018, God is still looking for a people that will honor Him with the first of their produce, and with their fat portions. God promises some pretty neat benefits for those who honor Him with their wealth. (See Proverbs 3:10, Malachi 3:10-12, and Luke 6:38 to see just a few of the blessings for honoring God with our wealth.)

04 Priorities – Right Relationships (Matthew 5:23-24)

The Lord laid on my heart to do a series of blogs for the body of Christ on priorities for 2018. So, you have seen an increase in the number of blogs this past week. One of the priorities on the Lord’s heart is right relationships. I love to worship God. I like my individual times of worshipping the Lord. I love corporate worship. (There are many aspects of worship, not just song, and God loves all of our worship of Him.) But in Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus gave us a priority that is higher than worship. He said, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Broken relationships with others can hinder our relationship, fellowship, and worship of the Lord, so Jesus said to get those relationships resolved before presenting your offerings at the altar. (A wrong relationship with our wife will also hinder our prayer life. See 1 Peter 3:7.)

Many years ago at a church I was pastoring I went early on Sunday morning to be with the worship team as they prepared for the morning worship service. One of the guitar players came in that morning and I could see that he was troubled in spirit. I went over to him and inquired about what was going on. He replied that he and his wife had a fight that morning. I asked him if they had resolved it. When he replied that they had not resolved it yet, I shared with him Matthew 5:23-24, and sent him home to work things out. I told him if he made it back to church in time for service, great, but if not, then that was okay. Getting right with his wife was a higher priority than presenting his offering of worship that morning.

Recently, a man shared with me that I had offended him and his wife. I immediately apologized to him and asked for forgiveness. Then, I drove over to their house and asked his wife for forgiveness. (In that particular incident, I had not done anything wrong, and really did not need to apologize. But, I took full responsibility for the misunderstanding, humbled myself, went to their house and apologized in person.) We must be committed to right relationships.

God loves our worship and wants us to worship Him. But, He has prioritized our relationships with one another over our worship. Two thousand years ago Jesus gave us this priority, and in 2018 it is still a priority, and is on the heart of God for His church. All of us, including pastors, need to lay down our offerings and get our relationships right, and then go back to presenting our offerings at the altar.

01 Priorities – Knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8)

When planning my workdays I often make a list of all the tasks that need to get done. Then, I prioritize the list, putting the most important tasks on top. In our spiritual lives, there are many things that are extremely important. We know that we are called to serve one another. We are called to share the gospel with people. We are called to help the needy. There are many things that are important in our lives, so it is important to know our priorities so that we always get done the most important things.

The Apostle Paul understood priorities and what was most important. In Philippians 3:8, he said, “I count ALL things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” On Paul’s priority list, knowing Christ was at the very top and there were no close seconds.

Mary understood the priority of knowing Christ. One day Jesus came to Mary and Martha’s house. Martha was busy preparing the meal to serve Christ and Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Martha was busy serving while Mary was busy getting to know Christ. Martha got a little upset and complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping her. Look at Jesus’ response in Luke 10:41-42. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” There are many things in our lives, but only one is necessary – knowing Christ.

Here are several things that you can do in the coming year to know Christ more. First, create a list of all the names and characteristics of God that you find in your daily reading of the Scriptures. Second, meditate on these names and characteristics. Third, use the list in your praise, worship, and prayer times to hallow His name. Fourth, learn to listen to God’s voice and take time to sit at His feet each day and listen to Him. According to Paul, ALL things pale in comparison to getting to know Christ better in 2018.