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Monday, October 12, 2020
Amish harvest wagon near New Holland, PA
Each week as we travel through Amish and Mennonite areas in rural Lancaster County we are always delighted to see colorful displays like this wagon. This photo is on a pristine Amish farm near New Holland. Notice the wide variety of colorful gourds and pumpkins.

"A Good Minister"

Message summary: Today we examine a Scripture that describes a fundamental characteristic of a good minister.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). "If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed" (1 Timothy 4:6). "Preach the Word" (2 Timothy 4:2).

We were blessed by a surprise visit yesterday afternoon from Mel and Eva. I (Stephen) met Mel almost 20 years ago when we first moved to Lancaster County. He works at a company I visited as their chaplain and although we have different backgrounds we developed a long-time friendship. A short time later he was selected to serve as a minister in his church, a branch of Mennonite. He has served his church and the Lord faithfully in that role ever since and for some time has been a Bishop overseeing several church congregations.

Mel and Eva were in our neighborhood on a very thoughtful mission. He recently relinquished oversight of several churches in our area to a new bishop. Janae, a young lady who has Down syndrome, was struggling with the change in bishops. Mel expressed his ongoing interest and concern for her by visiting with her family and joining her dad on a ride on the golf cart she drives. We often enjoy seeing Janae come down the road with her mom, dad, or nieces and nephews who might be visiting. She turns on the trail across from our house that goes alongside farmland and Donegal Springs Creek for a mile.

The new Bishop had also already gotten acquainted with Janae by taking a ride on her cart on an earlier visit. Both of these acts of kindness were very reassuring to her in accepting the transition. To show real interest in an individual we need to show interest in what they most enjoy.

Now, in our view, that's certainly an example of being a good minister. In this particular Mennonite branch the congregations run several hundred in attendance. So as Bishop over several congregations Mel has many hundreds of people in his charge and thus the act of kindness is especially notable, demonstrating Matthew 25:40.

There are many elements we may look for in a good minister; being caring, sensitive, living morally and in integrity, being faithful and so forth.

But in second passage quoted above there is one major criterion* for what constitutes a "good minister": "If you point these things out to the brothers…" The KJV translates, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things." The Amplified Bible states it, "If you lay all these instructions before the brethren".

"These things" are Paul's instructions to the Timothy in the immediate context and by extension the full counsel of God's Word.

Mel shared with me that his church had communion yesterday. In their tradition several ministers speak on Communion Sunday with the topic being an overview of the Bible beginning at Creation. If I am not mistaken the service lasts several hours. Mel as Bishop had the final message which was a reminder of Christ's death on the Cross for our sins followed by sharing Communion. Coincidentally our church also had Communion yesterday with our pastor using the same theme based on the great kenosis passage in Philippians 2! Both Mel and Beau (our pastor) were faithfully discharging the duties of ministry in preaching God's Word and putting the brethren in remembrance of these things.

Bible commentator John Gill comments that Timothy was admonished by Paul to "refresh the memories of the saints, who are apt, through negligence and inattention, and the weakness of the natural faculty, to be forgetful hearers of the word; one part of the business of Gospel ministers is to put the churches in mind of what they have received and known, and are established in."

Believers, especially my fellow "ministers", we have a great assignment here. Stay in the Word, give those whom you serve a steady diet of the sound, immutable truths of Scripture. We are to be, "brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed". That's what Scripture describes as a good minister!

As Mel departed yesterday he shared a two word exhortation, "Stay Faithful", likely exhorting back to me the times I have often said this to fellow believers in my chaplaincy role. I also exhorted parishioners over my 25 years of pastoral service with the same message and I've shared it with you, our faithful readers, via daily encouragement. It's a "good minister" exhortation to each of our readers today, Stay Faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we pray for our ministers of the Gospel; that they will preach the unadulterated truth from Your Holy Scriptures, while also expressing compassion and genuine interest in the parishioners entrusted to their care, meeting them at their level of need. May we be on guard as we are attentive and responsive to the warnings in Scripture, just as we are also consoled and encouraged by the verses of promise and assurance. May our pastors instruct, warn and console us by delivering the entire counsel of Your Word. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.
I Timothy 4:1,2

* Criteria is the plural form of criterion. It is used when referring to more than one criterion. Criterion is singular and is used to refer to a single thing.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Ancient of Days"  Video   CityAlight

In light of the contemporary view of ministry we ask, "What is a good minister of Christ Jesus?" Is it based on the size of the church, how many degrees one has earned; the number of speaking engagements one acquires; appearances on radio or television, number of Twitter followers, etc, etc? These are all means by which we as humans may judge the success of a minister; including fellow ministers who evaluate each other's "success". But God's Word says, "If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed".

The Precept online commentary makes this point, "The modern evangelical church in the new millennium (2000 and counting), is in grave danger of stepping off of the ancient paths (Jeremiah 6:16, Isaiah 35:8) especially as it seeks to "emerge" from the tried and true old paths. Consider the Lord's words to Israel in Jeremiah 18:15, "But my people have forgotten me; they make offerings to false gods; they made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient roads, and to walk into side roads, not the highway." Things have not changed much because man's heart is still as deceitful as ever (Jeremiah 17:9).

We mentioned our pastor's sermon yesterday based on Philippians 2:1-11. For those who may have the time and interest we commend this message as a good example of expository preaching. Video cued to start at message.

Last week we shared a message on "A Vital Reminder". Sunday, a careful reader from Lagos Nigeria, pointed out we had missed a word in this sentence, "Even after we depart this earth and join the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 God will forget our work." Of course we intended, "Even after we depart this earth and join the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 God will not forget our work." (Corrected in the archive version). We are blessed by careful readers!

Finally today:
Backyard fire
On chilly evenings we enjoy using our backyard fire pit!
Campfire Worship - Christian Mix to worship/relax/study to Video

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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