Teachers Need to be Careful!

Teachers Need to be Careful!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

The interesting thing is that we see a lot of teachers (both inside and outside the church) getting into a lot of trouble! They say their information is accurate. This may be true, but a lot of teacher’s lives are far from God.  Too often churches that need teachers throw just any person into the classrooms. Often times these individuals are not spiritually mature or knowledgeable enough to be teaching! Let us look, albeit briefly, today about teaching.

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
James 3:1 (NKJV)

 

Today we are starting out the subject by looking at a stern warning from James. You see a Rabhi (teacher) was supposed to be one who was given respect because of their life and their knowledge. In the fledgling church of the New Testament era there were many who would go out and proclaim themselves teachers of God’s Word saying half-baked things in order to draw a following (kind of like today). So James issues this warning. He says, “Hey! Be careful if you want to be a teacher, because God is going to hold to a pretty HIGH STANDARD!”

There are far too many people in Christianity today who live like they want to and then come to church and teach! I personally knew of a ministry student in seminary who had no problem going out on Saturday and having “a little too much to drink” and then would go to church on Sunday and not only worship and serve, but teach! He would even teach against what he himself had just done the night before! There was a minister who was very popular in the 1980s that fell due to his constant railing about righteous living and staying away from the dangers “of the flesh” and got caught going to strip clubs! Not only did he apologize for his behavior, but he continued going and got caught again. I have heard of testimonies of ex-strippers who say that preachers and teachers of God’s Word would come into the clubs on a regular basis! Folks this is shameful! These kinds of things give Christianity a bad name! God forbid that we become teachers if we are going to not just undo the work we have done for Christ, but destroy some people’s chances of ever coming to Christ because of our actions!

Now the attitude in the church is not merely about these hypocritical situation, no the new attitude is far more insidious. We have people out there who get a tickle up their leg and they say that God has called them to start a church. Well, if they are called of God then perhaps they should get some training. Paul was very well versed in the Word of God before he was ever a Christian and even he spent three years studying with the new spiritual eyes God had given him before he started ministry! How much more should we who are called today to start a church?

So what is the problem with starting a church or entering into ministry before you are prepared? Simply put, you will end up hurting people. How? Through false teaching or not being spiritually prepared to handle what is coming your way. Only a stubborn individual would say that this is incorrect. If you have been in ministry (or in the church) for any time at all you know you have seen this happen.

Now I would like to switch gears for a moment (since our time is running short). What happens to a teacher who has prepared himself but stops going to conferences and learning opportunities? Well this person has said to himself that no one can teach him anything! How awful is that! Often these teachers won’t listen to the people they are teaching and become cold to God’s presence and moving in people’s lives.

So what does this mean to you? You need to decide, if you are a teacher, if you are becoming cold. If this is the case maybe you should re-evaluate. Or if you are one who is honest and is not prepared you need to evaluate whether or not you should still be teaching and you need to get on your knees before God in prayer. If you are a person who is being taught by someone who is immoral, unprepared, or cold how you want to approach them about the issue and hopefully, through prayer and love, bring it to their attention for correction. I pray God would bless you this day as you attempt to teach and be taught God’s Word.

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Is the Church Really Necessary?

Is the Church Really Necessary?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Not only is this a good question, but one that at this juncture must be asked! The church (universally speaking) has a ton of faults and failures. We must ask, is the church what God really wants? You may say the church has a lot of excesses. I will concede that point (see previous articles which talk about some of the problems with the church)! That being said, is it really necessary to God’s plans? Find out in today’s article.

4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

“Behold, I lay in Zion

A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,

And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,

“The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone,”

8 and

“A stone of stumbling

And a rock of offense.”

They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:4–10 (NKJV)

 

 

This section of scripture is all about being a living building. The mindset of the Jew was on the temple where they would worship God, but God was done with temple in Jerusalem. God was and is building something new. He is building a people who will be the temple. Not only are we (individually) His temple, but the group of people (the Church) is the place of His dwelling. The place where is presence and glory dwells. No longer is it in buildings built by men, but men have become the place where His glory will now dwell.

In verse four it states that Jesus, the chief cornerstone, has been rejected by man. Indeed He was rejected by man, primarily the Jews at this time and subsequently by many today.  The Jews continued to reject Jesus and hardened their hearts toward God. The continued rejection of Jesus today causes spiritual blindness amongst those that are rejecting Him. The rejection today is not just among Jews, but among many people from many nationalities.

Peter then makes the contrast between those that have rejected Jesus and the people he is writing. He is writing to Christians and states that they have not rejected Christ and therefore their hearts are open to God and are a part of the Spiritual temple that is being built.

Now in verse five Peter talks about this spiritual house that is being built.  He is talking about the Church. The Bible uses many metaphors to describe the church. Among them are a body, a family, and a city. Continuing his metaphor of a temple, Peter relates the church to each of us by saying that we are a holy priesthood, solely dedicated to God.  The job of a priest is to stand between God and needy individuals. This is what a priesthood was designed by God to do in the Old Testament. While it is true that we have no need for someone to go to God for us, this metaphor was not used for this meaning. This metaphor means that Christians are supposed to stand between God and the unsaved in the world and bring them to God. That is the intent of the metaphor as it is used in this passage.

Now in verse six there is a quote from Isaiah chapter twenty-eight verse sixteen. Notice that Jesus is called a cornerstone. Without going into too much detail, a cornerstone is the primary stone of a building. This stone must be laid as perfect as possible so that as things are built on top of it the building stays sturdy and does not collapse. Jesus is our perfect and Holy Cornerstone. This verse also says that the individual who believes in Christ will not be put to shame. Notice that this is an open invitation to everyone, not to the Jews only but to everyone.

In verses seven and eight it says that to the Christians (those that have accepted Him) He is precious to them, but to the ones who rejected Him he has become a stumbling block to their faith. This was undoubtedly a reference to the Jews of Peter’s day because of what they had done to Jesus. To come to Christ they had to admit that their action is what lead to His crucifixion and because of that many continued to reject Him. At the end of verse eight Peter writes that they, the Jews, were disobedient to the Word, but they were also appointed to the word. What does this mean? It means that the Jews were given the promise of the Messiah (Christ) and were to be the ones that He was coming to bless, but having the Holy Word (Old Testament Scriptures) they still rejected Him! How ironic that the ones that were the keepers of the Word of God, would end up rejecting Him!

With verses nine and ten Peter ties his thoughts together. In verse nine, Peter is moving on from those that rejected Christ and he does this with one phrase, “but you.” He says that Christians are chosen people. They are called to do ministry and are called to be the informers of God’s Word and proclaim the good news of Christ.  In verse ten we find that Christians were not always God’s people, but they are now His people through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus has taken many people from all nations who had no affiliation with each other and builds a spiritual church on the earth to proclaim who He is and what He has done for the world. These people will be His witnesses throughout the world. It is because of this marvelous transcendent organization that people will be brought to salvation and cleansing so that they can be put right with a Holy God.

So in this text we have seen that the church is not only necessary but the primary way in which God has decided that the world should come to know about His marvelous plan, even with all if its’ faults and failures. So the question is what are you doing right now in your church? Are you one who is causing some of these failures? Or are you one who is going to co-labor with Christ to try to spread the good news of what God has done for us? The choice is yours.

Christianity is a Safe Harbor for Bullies

Christianity is a Safe Harbor for Bullies
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

I was thinking today about the subject of bullies, becauseI have a five year old. Bullies have existed throughout time and have found a safe harbor in churches! So what should our response be? How do we handle it? Find out today!

 

12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
-Psalm 55:12–13 (NKJV)

Today we are going to only scratch the surface of our topic. We will be looking at certain events in David’s life to see what we can glean and apply to ours.

David was a man after God’s own heart. When David faced Goliath on the battlefield (found in 1 Samuel 17) he was calm and collected, ready to face the enemy of God and his people. He did not let Goliath’s threats and name-callings trouble him whatsoever. No he saw the giant for what he really was, a bully. Goliath looked imposing but he was just a bully. But before this fight ever took place David was criticized by his own brother and told that he came only to watch the fighting. But David knew in his heart that this was a lie. So he ignored him and went on with what God had ordained him to do, slay Goliath

So why did we start with the scripture in Psalm? Because this scripture more than any other is what really hurt David. He is not talking about a Goliath type of bully here, but someone who was close to him. Now this could have been Saul (some believe it to be) or his son Absalom who betrayed him and stole the kingdom from him, only to die at David’s army’s hands. Notice in verse twelve that David says he could handle someone who would fight against him, that he could hide. In verse thirteen he calls this person who is his enemy someone that he loved and trusted, but who has been sneaky and undermined his power and authority.

In case you haven’t figured out what we are talking about today it is how to handle difficult people (i.e. bullies). Bullies are pretty insidious. They tend to be people that you are supposed to trust, and maybe you do, but they (over a period of time) begin to try to control you with words and actions. They begin to turn people away from you and change public opinion about you. No, bullies in adulthood are much more hard to spot (unless you are one of their victims) than the bullies on the play-ground. So let us look at some things today that may help you (if you are a bully or a victim).

 

With Bullies There is a Time to Flee

12 Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? 15 Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.”
-1 Samuel 24:12–15 (NKJV)

Why did I list fleeing first? The reason is that as a Christian this is the best option. Saul was the King of Israel and he became a bully to David because of God’s anointing on David. He was jealous (Unfortunately this happens a lot in churches today. Christianity, being a religion of love and forgiveness, can become a safe harbor for these sorts of tactics and people.). But David refused to do anything to Saul. He refused to touch someone who was once anointed by God, and trust me he had plenty of opportunity to kill Saul!

 

Fleeing from a bully is not cowardice! It is actually a wise decision. Most bullies (in the church or the workplace) will play the political game and make you look terrible! It is important to do things God’s way and let Him handle it! God knows the truth so let Him work it for your good!

 

 

Bullies Take Their Anger Out on Others

4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5 And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. 6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
1 Samuel 30:4–6 (NKJV)

Here we have David’s men very upset! They had a right to be! You see the Amalekites had taken their families, and instead of putting their anger on the ones who perpetrated the event, they wanted to stone David! He said a prayer and went and got their families back.

Now while this doesn’t directly discuss our topic there is a parallel here to bullies. Bullies often have areas in their lives they can’t control. So instead of dealing with those areas, they take it out on someone else! Usually it is someone under them (like an employee, or someone they perceive as weak). While taking their anger out on them they usually belittle them or make them feel insecure and inferior.

When dealing with a bully it is important to not lose your cool. Say a prayer like David did and listen for God’s response. His response may be for you to defend yourself, it may be to flee, it may be to completely leave their presence and cut all ties with them. Just make sure you don’t lose your cool and let God’s Word and His presence guide you to your response, after you are no longer angry.

 

Are You Sure You Haven’t Been a Bully?

13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
-2 Samuel 12:13 (NKJV)

 

You see David had a man killed so that he could take his wife from him (Bathsheba). He did a despicable thing! When Nathan went to him and shared a story of a man whose animal was taken from him, David became incensed about it! Nathan at that moment pointed his finger in David’s face and said that David was that man. Now David was faced with a choice, you see he had acted like a bully. He could have done what most bullies in the church/workplace do and had him removed and cover up his own problems or he could tear his clothes and repent before a Holy God. Thank God, he chose the latter.

 

Have you acted like a bully? Have there been times when you have acted out of anger and malice toward someone, and then to cover it up you make them look bad and you destroy their reputation to cover up your own sin? If so then you need to REPENT RIGHT NOW AND ASK FORGIVENESS FROM GOD AND FROM THE PERSON YOU HAVE BEEN HARMING! The Choice is yours.

If you are being bullied, remember that God knows. Seek out wisdom for this situation in God’s Word and seek out wisdom from others, maybe a pastor. But most of all seek God in prayer in how to deal with your situation.

Church, One of the Most Prejudice Places Ever!

Church, One of the Most Prejudice Places Ever!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

There are a lot of churches out there that are doing God’s work and not playing games. That being said, there are even more who destroy people and run them out of the church!

10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
-Matthew 9:10–13 (NKJV)

15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV)

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31–32 (NKJV)

 

I have received a comment that I tend to write too harshly. Why? Because the truth needs to be heard! People need to understand that as Christians we have problems and we must address our problems in our own lives and personalities if we want to see the church (by church I mean no specific church) advance instead of flounder, like it has been doing for years, we need to get right with God! Now that I have said that, let us move on.

What did Jesus intend for Christians to do and churches to be? To be a place for the broken hearted to be healed (seen in our first scripture)! Unfortunately too many churches shoot their own! This is a sad state of affairs! So what has church become? The Pharisees! The church has become a place of Pharisees saying, “How dare you hang out with that sinner!” This is a shameful practice folks and needs to be changed! Remember Jesus desires mercy and not sacrifice, desires righteousness not self-righteousness, he desires sinners to repentance! Including the sinners that are already in the church! Who are they? Christians! We need to have more mercy, respect, and love for each other than what we have! No, too many Christians are full of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and gossip! It has been said that the church is the only hospital in the world that shoots its own wounded! How despicable!

The people who do these things often hide behind Paul’s words on dealing with those who are in sin in the church, and they need to deal with it! But they forget what their attitudes and motives need to be! They forget what Paul said in First Timothy! He says that Christ came to save sinners, of which he is the chief of all of them! If Christians would stop gossiping and beating each other up and realize what they truly were, sinners. Perhaps they would show mercy and grace, instead of hatred and bitterness toward those that need mercy and grace. If our pastors (me included) would remember this, then perhaps our churches would be packed to over flowing! Do you know what these kinds of people often say? They say, “I am here to please God and not man.” But they are doing neither when they don’t remember restoration and mercy in their rebuking and correction! No these people tend to make churches that are social clubs, full of self-righteous people who must not who any descent; because if they do, they are kicked to the curb! God forbid this in our lives!

So what should a Christian/Church do when they find themselves going down this path? Well that brings us to our third and final scripture. We need to put away all that bitterness, anger, gossip, slander, politics, manipulation etc. and be kind hearted toward one another, showing each other grace and mercy! We need to be honest with ourselves and ask God to show us where these things exist in our lives and attitudes!

How about you today? Will you be brave enough to ask God to show you where these things exist in your life and attitudes? Or will you go on being who you are and continuing to allow the churches in America to flounder because of their own selfishness, self-righteousness, and pride? You may be asking, “How am I doing that?” What are you doing in prayer about it? Are you letting those around you do it, and not stopping them? If so, then you are contributing to it! Will you turn around and ask God to show you so that you can confess it to Him and stop doing it in your life? The Choice is yours!

Did Jesus Really Know?

Did Jesus Really Know?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

The following question came in a little bit ago and I just haven’t had the time to go over it. This is one of those questions that many people have suppositions about (Their own ideas that are based in fact, but can’t be dogmatic about it).

 

Did Christ foreknow the weight of the sin of the world on his shoulders at the time He prayed in Gethsemane just before He was crucified? By that I mean the sin of mankind from the creation of man and including all future mankind.

 

39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
-Luke 22:39–44 (NKJV)

Gethsemane literally means “oil press.” In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was pressed and overburdened due to the weight of what faced Him. We find that Jesus did what He often did; He withdrew to be by Himself and His Father. When he knelt down because of his foreknowledge of what was coming, in His flesh He wished and prayed to God asking for this to be taken away from Him, but said He would not do His will, but God’s. An angel came and strengthened Him for what was coming and Jesus was in agony over this and He prayed for quite some time to follow. His sweat even became blood.

So did Jesus truly foreknow what was ahead of Him? I think the answer to that is yes. I think He knew. You see we must remember the two natures of Christ. He is 100% God and 100% man. Being God and coming to earth as a man He chose not to have access to some of His knowledge for that short time. This is a hard concept for us to understand. Why? Because we aren’t God! Some people may disagree with me on this matter, others not. The Church is quite divided over this subject.

The reason I believe He knew is because of His sweat becoming as blood and the fact that an angel came to strengthen Him for what lied ahead of Him. The sacrifice Christ made is important because the flesh had to be crucified for our sin, but no mere man could do this job because man is inherently sinful! So Christ came from heaven to be that Sacrifice. When He speaks from the cross “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” he speaks as a man who has just received the entire sin of man on His shoulders! He speaks as one who has never been separate from God, now he is completely separated (in his flesh, because his nature is God and cannot be separated from being God). When it was all over His sacrifice was complete and his mission was fulfilled.

The question you have to ask yourself is can you believe the sacrifice that Christ had made? Many men and women have written on that subject and have all come short on explaining the power of what happened! So there is no way in one short post that we can explore all of this today. The purpose was to answer my thought on the question and to spur you on for further study.

The question is do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and savior? Can you believe that because of your sin, Christ came to earth to deal with it and take it upon Him and on the third day rose again to proclaim victory over death, Hell, and the grave? If not then I challenge you to do some research on the subject. If you would like some resources, feel free to contact me. If you can believe it, why not get on your hands and knees and ask God to come into your life? It is real easy; it is not the words you say, but the intent of your heart. You could simply scream HELP! JESUS COME INTO ME AND MY LIFE! Doing that would make it a done deal! The Choice is yours!

Too many Christians are Too Busy Being Judgmental

Too many Christians are Too Busy Being Judgmental
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Here we are looking at Paul at the end of his life. He is coming to the end of his race of faith. Unfortunately not many Christians can say what Paul said, at least not with a clear conscience. No they are side-tracked and being judgmental toward each other.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6–8 (NKJV)

 

In verse six Paul says he is being poured out as a drink offering (He also makes reference to this in Philippians 2:17). Now to the Jewish mind this would have seemed a normal part of the offertory system, before Christ. A drink offering was often found to be done with the offerings of meat (Numbers 15:5). A drink offering was to be done in the “holy place” (Numbers 28:7). So what is Paul trying to tell us here? Well I tend to depart from most of the commentators here. The drink offering was considered to be a lesser offering in the minds of the Jews. The greater offering was the meat or grain offerings. So why was Paul calling himself a drink offering? He is trying to say that Jesus is the major offering for us and the church and he is telling us that he is being poured out as an offering for the people and the church as well, but he is a lesser offering! He is telling us that his sacrifice is nowhere near as important as Christ’s.

Now in verse seven Paul says some things that I don’t think there are many Christians today who can say what he says. He says that he has fought the good fight; he has finished the race, all the while keeping the faith. Most Christians today are too busy fighting the good fight amongst themselves! They take sides in all matter of things that have no eternal value! They want to divide the churches and continue the lifelong battles between denominations.

Too many Christians today continue to look at the temporal and not the spiritual. If they would just realize that God loves them and continue to look to God, He will take care of temporal (food, money, clothing, shelter)! These same Christians who are so concerned about the temporal things in life are the same ones (to borrow a song lyric) who pick and choose who should come! How ridiculous it is for Christians to fight amongst themselves and shun the hurting! When Christians get their eyes off of things that have eternal value (i.e. helping the broken hearted) they end up hurting people and themselves. They end up playing too much politics and not spending enough time bandaging the hurting, spiritually speaking.

Now look at verse eight. Verse eight talks about his reward in heaven being a crown of righteousness. This crown will be bestowed on him when he gets to heaven. You know what, when many of these carnal Christians, who are wrapped in self-righteousness, when the get to heaven what will they hear God say to them? Well, the Bible talks about those that will make it in as by fire; by the skin of their teeth. You know what they may hear? “Well, you made it.” Not, “well done my good and faithful servant,” that is for sure!

So the question I have for you today, can you say like Paul that you are running the race? That you aren’t sidetracked in temporary matters? That you aren’t looking around at man and the splinter in their eyes, and not the 2×4 in your own? Choice is yours! Will you repent? Or just keep on pretending everything is alright and God is blessing your messes?