Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Week in Review

Are you a Coat Maker(part 3)?
South Suburban Church of God
May 17, 2009

A Nurturing Coat Maker

1 Samuel 2:18-19
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.

Hannah after she weaned Samuel, kept her promise and took him to the priest and dedicated him back to the service of the Lord. She said that as long as he lived, she would lend him to the service of the Lord. This might seem strange, if you remember the first part of this story. Hannah was bitter for wanting the Lord to give her a child and now she gives him away, that doesn’t make sense. As great as her desire was to have this son it was not greater than her desire to obey her promise to the Lord.

Even though Hannah gave Samuel to God, she did not remove herself from his life. Each year she come and brought him a coat. She knew that as he grew in stature his old coat would be too small and he would be in need of a new garment. She was aware of her son’s need, even though he was not in her immediate presence. We do not know how long she provided this coat, it may have been the remainder of her life or until he had matured and no longer needed her to bring him a coat.

What can we learn from this today? This lesson is bigger than what a mother does for her natural children, but how do we nurture those that are our spiritual children, those coming behind us? What Hannah did was ask God to fulfill her desire for a child, fulfill a dream and then she promises to give this son, this dream back to him for him to care for it. If you remember her enemy, her husbands other wife, continued to taunt her about how worthless she was because she didn’t have any children. But Hannah did not allow the enemy to keep her from seeking her help from God. Hannah in scripture came into the temple and fell to her knees and asked God for a child. She was so swept away in her request that the priest thought she was drunk. But she informed him that she was not drunk, but seeking God for something.

We were like Hannah. The enemy of our soul made it his business to taunt us and tell us we were worthless because we had no “life in us”, we had nothing to give to God. He told us we were worthless. But we came and fell before God and uttered to him the deepest desires of our heart, and said Lord save me from this hopeless condition I now find myself in. I have no life inside of me and without you, I will surely die. We asked him to change us give us a new life (this life wasn’t a physical child, but it was a seed of hope, it was a new dream, a new vision, a purpose). And then we promised God if you give me this new life, this new dream, this new vision, I will lend them to you for the rest of my life and for your service.

Those dreams that we have then are to be given to God just as Hannah gave her son Samuel to God for him to oversee his growing up. What are those dreams? Maybe somebody today dreams of starting a day care, or someone dreamed of mentoring or teaching or something else. The enemy has told you again and again, you that dream, that seed will never become a reality. Yet, you’ve sought God to bring it to being and when he does you promise to give it back. When you do, he wants to take that dream and use it for you to become a nurturer of the “spiritual” children he will bring through that dream. Hannah had a part in the process of seeing her dream grow. She created coats, which protected her son. Each year she went back and gave him a new coat. Why?

The coat of yesterday would not suffice for today. What Hannah was doing was establishing a relationship with her son. She had to be discerning to know what he needed and before he asked, she was ready to give it to him. Like Hannah, God wants to give us some spiritual charges. They will be granted to us because of the dreams we have asked him to fulfill in our lives. We must seek godly wisdom so that we can discern what they need from us. God requires us to be coat makers that “nurture” the growth of those coming behind. In doing so, we are in fact making disciples. Jesus nurtured his disciples so they would be ready to take this world for Christ. We are preparing the priest of God for the task of today, which translates into the world of tomorrow. Hannah was making a coat for her son, who would stand before God to minister to the people. Those individuals that God has given to us to nurture need us making some coats for them so they can continue to grow into the vessels of honor he has ordained for them to be.

What does it mean to be nurturing? A nurturer is one that helps in the development of others. They encourage others to be all they can be. They foster those things in individuals that will help them to grow to be vital parts of God’s plan. They cultivate the lives of those around them. They help by either planting seeds into lives or by watering the seeds already planted. A nurturing coat maker is one that is determined to help others grow. They are determined to be like Hannah, a coat maker that gives through the life of their spiritual charge until they have matured and no longer need you to make them a coat (come back for the next installment).

The Week in Review

Cultural Trends (part 2)
Written April 11, 2006 (posted 9/28/09)

One of the most disheartening ways that television influences culture is how it has changed the message of God. The image of some of the evangelist or televangelist gives the watcher a false image of what worship looks like. People have gotten comfortable with television serving them. One can watch television and receive a message or a feel good encouragement that really does not always call for change, involvement or decision. When these same individuals go to church, they go with the same idea of going to be served. “We now live in a consumer-oriented society where we no longer ask ‘What can I do to help?’ but ‘What will this job (or this church) do for me?’ People come to our churches asking ‘Do I like this pastor? Do I like this choir? Do I like this youth program? Do I like these people?’ And asking most of all, ‘Will this church meet my needs?’ It rarely crosses anyone’s mind to wonder whether or not he or she can contribute something or be used to meet the needs of the kingdom in the context of the local church” (Stowell, 21).

The other way that television confuses the message of Christ is in the doctrine taught to the listener. The images of some of the televangelist show one of “flashy” cars, clothes and jewelry. This can be a damaging image to combat for the average pastor or minister, because people are looking for the speaker that “looks” the part. Stowell states, “The platform of purpose focuses on power, and instead of urging the shepherd to become a celebrity reminds him that he is but a conduit of the power of God to His people…The quickest way to wear ourselves out in the ministry of proclamation and to want to ditch the whole assignment is to do it for our own glory and gain” (258-259).

The media, especially television, has a substantial influence on the culture. The television shows and even the commercials all point away from God and his truth. The pastor, minister or preacher must combat these influences. They must resist first the influence on themselves and then on their messages. If a messenger is to be successful in today’s culture, they must be grounded in the truth of the Bible. John MacArthur, the author of Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically states, “In the ministry, pressure to compromise, to mitigate the message, and to avoid offending sinners will always exist. However, the preacher’s job is to expose sin, to confront the lost with the hopelessness of their condition, and to offer the cure for their wretchedness in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ” (18).

To sum it up, the church leadership is responsible for teaching the members and equipping them to fight against the cultural messages of our day. “The church leader must see to it that God’s people continually devote themselves to the study and practice of the Word of God…The Holy Spirit in His sovereign wisdom gave biblical principles that can be applied during all ages to all cultures. The rest is up to Christian ministers” (MacArthur, 59, 63).

Work Cited

MacArthur, John, et. al. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005.

Stowell, Joseph M. Shepherding the Church. Chicago, IL: Moody Press. 1997.
Wright, Carl Jeffrey. God’s Vision or Television? Chicago, IL: Urban Ministries, Inc., 2004.