by pastor david
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Must we always be popular? There seems to be an innate desire in all of us to be liked and loved by almost everyone. To think that there are those who do not like us is often a crushing blow to our inflated ego!
Let me say very quickly that trying to live in such a way that people like us and enjoy our company is a good thing! The Scriptures teach us that we earn the right to be heard and to share the Gospel with our unbelieving friends when we have a pleasant and winsome personality.
However, the message of the Gospel, when presented in its entirety, is not always pleasant and is not always readily received by those who have no personal relationship with Christ.
The Gospel contains both good news and bad news. The bad news is that we are all sinners, separated from God, and headed for a hopeless eternity. The good news is that Christ has paid the price for our wicked ways and has provided salvation to all who will turn from their sins and acknowledge Christ’s Lordship in their lives. (Romans 10:9-10)
All of which begs the question, “Am I willing to be unpopular in order to tell the truth and warn others about that horrible place called hell, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels?”
I am not suggesting that we should be harsh and hostile when sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ but that we should be honest, giving people the whole truth, right from the very beginning. Telling a half-truth is a lie and a lie will never produce the kind of disciples described in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, this compulsion to be popular has also worked its way into the fabric of many churches and church leaders. In their desire to be popular, to be well spoken of, and to maintain high attendance numbers, they have sacrificed the purity and simplicity of the Gospel and told half-truths. They preach only the good news and never the bad news.
Believe me, I understand that the Gospel means “good news” and should be presented as such. However, the “good news” is not good unless presented in contrast with the bad. In other words, why do I need a Savior if I do not know that I am a sinner? What does Christ’s sacrifice on the cross mean to me if I am unaware that my sinful condition has alienated me from God? The “good news” is only good news in contrast to the bad news and the gospel, when presented in its entirety, contains both!
Yet, presenting that message is not always going to make you the most popular person on the block or at your place of employment. Nor will that make yours the church that is breaking all the attendance records in town! I am not suggesting that we should try to be unpopular but that we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
As a Pastor, I had to come to a conclusion long ago that was very difficult for me to accept. I had to come to grips with that fact that if I was going to preach the Word of God faithfully and expositionally, I would not always be popular, might not have the most popular church in town, and would probably not necessarily have a very large church. If the Lord blesses me with those things, that’s fine but I am not expecting it.
This is not difficult for me to accept now but in the early stages of my ministry, when the fires of zeal burned almost out of control, these truths seemed to pour cold water on the blaze of enthusiasm. Yet, time and trials have proven all of these things to be true.
The Apostle Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” I am glad Paul did not say that it is required in stewards that one be found “popular”. We are not required to be popular but we are required to be “faithful” to Christ and to the Gospel.
Yes, we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Prayer! Prayer is a very real concern in my own personal life. A survey by Christianity Today revealed that the average Pastor prays only three minutes a day. Another survey showed that 93% of students preparing for the ministry in a well-known theological college confessed that they had no devotional life at all! My only comment here is that the curse of prayer-less preachers is powerless pulpits and problem pews!
However, prayer should not only be the priority of ministers, but also the priority of the members as well! It should be the equal concern of both pastors and parishioners!
That being said, should not each of us set aside a specific time each day for prayer? It was the Apostle Paul who cried out, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering”. (Philippians 3:10) The only way to “know Him” is to spend time with Him each day – listening to Him through His Word and then responding to Him through personal prayer.
God speaks to us through His Word and we speak to Him in prayer. That is called a dialogue!
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Let the day have a blessed baptism by giving your first waking thoughts to God”. It was the great expositor, Dr. Stephen Olford, who said, “If we want to pray well, we should pray early”.
When do you pray? Jesus prayed the first thing each morning. For some, the question might be, “Do you pray?”
The great Biblical characters we so often look to as examples of Godliness, prearranged their schedules to give God the first hours of their day.
• Abraham rose early in the morning to worship. Gen. 2:3
• Jacob rose early in the morning to make his vows. Gen. 28:18
• Joshua rose early in the morning to sanctify himself. Josh. 3:1
• Gideon rose early to seek God’s answer. Judges 6:38
• Samuel rose early to ask for guidance. I Sam. 9:26
• David rose early in the morning to battle for God. I Sam. 17:20
• Jesus rose early to spend time with His Father. Mark 1:35
This kind of prayer calls for solitude and silence.
Dr. F. E. Marsh put it this way, “The shining face of Moses did not come from a hurried call to heaven’s gate; it was obtained by dwelling in the Lord’s presence for forty days”.
Please understand that I am not throwing stones of guilt at you. I am simply challenging and reminding us, myself included, of the priority and privilege of prayer. Church, can we say with Christ’s disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray”? (Luke 11:1)
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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