Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pastor Appreciation Month - October

I often think about the 3 pastors who have been instrumental in my life since I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Saviour on May 2, 1993. They are:
1. Episcopal Pastor John A. Cherry, From the Heart Church Ministries, Temple Hills, MD (1993 – 1997 & 2003 – 2005),
2. Pastor Patricia Webster, Shiloh Pentecostal Church, Inc., Christian Love Center, Somerville, NJ (1998 – 2003), and
3. Pastor Robert S. Davis, Jr. (Robbie), Celebration Church, Columbia, MD (2005 to present).
These ministries are/were impeccable, either through their preaching or lifestyles (or both).

This is the month dedicated to the appreciation of our beloved pastors. They work diligently on behalf of those with whom they have been entrusted, by God, to shepherd. I believe that all pastors have a strong desire in their hearts for members of their respective congregations to come to know the simplicity of God’s Word. To this end, carefully consider how you respond to these five questions:

1. Will you spread the good news of Jesus Christ to at least 10 people this year, and each year, for the rest of your life?

2. God is dependent upon each of us to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in the earth. Can He depend on you to do your part?

3. The Prayer of Salvation is simple and available to everyone. Will you encourage someone with prayer? (Romans 10:9; 13)

4. What will you do today to help those who have a desire to know God?

5. As Christ’s representative in the earth, are you an effective witness?
(1Corinthians 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:20)

The Book of Romans tells the gospel message - The Good News of Jesus Christ. It is a message about personal relationships[i] and practical exhortation: Jesus Christ is more than just facts to be believed - It is also a life to be lived. The message is for everybody. It was designed by God to be meaningful and applicable to every person on earth, without regard to where they live, who they are, or the culture (geographic boundaries) in which they were raised.
The Book of Romans is an epistle (letter) written by Paul the Apostle to the Romans approximately fifty-seven years after the death and ascension of Jesus Christ. It is considered Paul’s greatest work and is placed first among his thirteen epistles in the New Testament. Paul was born a Jew in the city of Tarsus, he was a Roman citizen, tentmaker, and a Pharisee, responsible for the persecution of Christians before his conversion on the road to Damascus. He became a faithful follower of Christ, a dedicated missionary, and a respected leader in the early church. Romans explores the significance of Christ’s sacrificial death, whereas the four Gospels (Matthew, Luke, Mark and John) represent the words and works of Jesus Christ. During the time of the writing, the city of Rome was the greatest city in the world with over one million inhabitants, yet the majority were slaves.
The key words throughout this book are righteousness, faith, law, all, and sin. Each appear at least sixty times. Jesus Christ is presented as the Second Adam whose righteousness and substitutionary death have provided for all who place their faith in Him.
Paul’s message concerning personal relationships is immediately captured in verse 7 of the first chapter - His message is written to those called saints (believers in Christ) in Rome. Paul, himself, establishes a personal relationship with the readers of his message in verses 9 through 13 through a series of key messages:

I. Making mention of them repeatedly, to God, in his prayers,
II. By the will of God, he is coming to the Romans to deliver a message,
III. Shares with the Romans some spiritual gift (the gifts and calling of God are without repentance - 11:29),
IV. Desires to be comforted together by the mutual faith that they share, and
V. Comes to them so that they will not be ignorant and to share some fruit even as he did amongst the Gentiles.

Paul admonishes the Romans throughout this book to recognize and live according to the righteousness of God. That is, how it is revealed and how to apply it to their lives. In Chapter 2, verse 10 reminds the Romans that “There is none righteous, no, not one.” In Chapter 3, Paul proves that all humankind has sinned. The key words used during his instruction are “coming short;” “unrighteousness;” “trespass;” “iniquity;” “transgression;” and “ungodliness.” Each of these descriptions, according to Paul, interferes with our ability to establish and maintain personal relationships with humankind. Chapter 12 is perhaps the operative chapter in Romans as it relates to establishing and maintaining personal relationships with mankind. Responsibilities toward God and toward society are specifically addressed.
As it relates to God, we are instructed not to be conformed to this world’s system, but to be transformed with the renewing of our mind and to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (verse 1 and 2). In other words, the least that we can do is to conform to the kingdom standards that are clearly established in Jesus’ trial discourse (Sermon on the Mount), Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7. Do not rely on the world’s system, but God’s kingdom standards. As it relates to society, Paul instructs us to be humble, remove all hidden agendas, promote honesty, live peaceably with all men, if possible, and to overcome evil with good.
So…show your pastor how much you appreciate his/her teaching through your actions toward others. Looking to Paul as a teacher of the Romans, look to your pastor this month, and every month, as your teacher of God’s Word. Spread the love of God everywhere that you travel. Be a doer of His Word, not a hearer only!

[i] See Purpose magazine, “Roman’s Gospel Message: The Good News of Jesus Christ”, by Jim Davis, Melanie Diggs, and John Matney, May 2000, p. 32.