The Equipping Word

the blog of Dr. Benjamin M. Foxworth
pastor, Bethel Baptist Church, Vandalia, IL

The purpose of this blog is to equip the saints for the work of service (Eph. 4:12). This will not be a digital soap box in which I will offer political rants or hammer home personal opinions about topics in the news. This blog’s whole purpose is to use the word of God and personal reflections to encourage, equip, and edify the body of Christ – the church. Anything other would be to waste an opportunity afforded to me by the grace of God. May you be equipped to serve the Lord for His glory!

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The Business of the Church

Blog post 21-1

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
(1 Cor. 14.30)

I will be the first to admit that a blog post on church business meetings is about as appealing as watching paint dry! Normally when church members hear there is going to be a business they head the other way – quickly! However, I want to share with you three reasons why business meetings are important. I also hope this post will help you with your church business meetings once you understand the why behind the what.

1 Cor. 14.30: But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

In 1 Cor. 14, Paul goes into a lengthy discussion on the place of the spiritual gift of tongues in the church. Paul simply states that if there are those present that have the gift of tongues, there should be no more than three speaking at a time, one at a time, and there must be an interpreter. The reason for the interpreter can be found back in v. 12: for the edification of the church.

In other words, spiritual gifts, regardless of the gift, are for the purpose of building up the church. If someone speaks in tongues but no one can interpret, the church is not built up because no one can understand what is being said. This is the reason Paul, in v. 30, stated that regardless of what happens in the worship service, everything must be done in a way that is pleasing to God and in an orderly manner.

When it comes to the business of the church, our business meetings should be done in a certain ORDER- that which is pleasing to God. Therefore, we have an agenda, and we have a moderator so the meeting will be conducted in a certain order. Earlier in 1 Cor. 14, Paul wrote:

1 COR. 14.33: for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saint.

There is an order that honors God in church business meetings.

1 Cor. 4.1-2: Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

A steward is a caretaker of someone else’s goods or property. As children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, we have been made stewards of the Lord’s church, stewards of the gospel, and stewards of His people. Paul wrote that he wanted to be found a worthy steward of what God had entrusted him with.

We have been entrusted with church monies, church property, and people – and we must be found faithful to do the best as stewards, to take care of the Lord’s property.

Stewardship is the purpose of printed budgets, for example, to demonstrate to the church how monies are being allocated. Business meetings help the church know those who are on the various committees are being good stewards with what has been entrusted them. We want to make sure that God would look at us and know that we are good stewards of all that He has entrusted us with.

The most important stewardship we have is the stewardship of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to make sure we are found faithful with the most important message in the world, that Jesus died for our sins according to the scripture, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day.

JOHN 13.34-35: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

How we conduct ourselves when we are together is just as important as how we conduct ourselves when we are out rubbing elbows with a lost and dying world. To love one another means we want the best for one another. It means we can correct to right living without being hateful, it means we might disagree, but we can still respect one another in love. It also means the only standard we have for right living is Jesus Himself.

The business of the church must be taken care of. Every church handles their business differently. Some churches have monthly meetings, some quarterly, some only twice a year, and some only once a year. However a particular church decides to conduct their business is based on each individual church. But the church needs to understand that these meetings are important, they must have ORDER, they signify the church’s OBLIGATION as stewards, and there is a defined OBEDIENCE based on Jesus’ command to His disciples to love one another.

“Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

© The Equipping Word blog, Dr. Benjamin M. Foxworth, 2010
All rights reserved.

Called to Lead

January 16, 2020  ●  20-1

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains, he was called Adino the Eznite, because of eight hundred slain by him at one time.
(2 Sam. 23:8)

What does leadership look like? Leaders and leadership styles are as different as there are people in the world. All leaders are the same in that they have been called and placed in a position to lead people towards a goal. Christian leaders are different because of their calling and their goal.

2 Samuel 23 gives us a picture of Christian leadership in two distinctly different pictures: King David and his mighty men. The first picture is one of humility and dependence. The first seven verses of 2 Samuel 23 is David’s recounting his humble background, the basis for his wisdom which was the inspiration of God, and the blessings brought about by being chosen by God and being in a covenant relationship with God. Verse five is very important, for in it David recounts the blessings of God’s covenant: it was everlasting, it was ordered, it was secure, and it was his desire. The first picture of leadership we gain from these seven verses is the picture of dependence on God and humility with being chosen as a leader. David knew all too well that God could take away His blessings just as easily as He had bestowed them.

The second picture is one of action. The “mighty men of David” had earned their titles on the field of battle. As 2 Samuel records, Josheb-basshebeth killed 800 men; Eleazar fought the Philistines, “until his hand was weary and clung to the sword” (v. 10); and Shammah, “took his stand, defended it, and struck the Philistines” (v. 12). Later, King David mentioned he craved water to drink. These three mighty men, “broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David.” (v. 16) David refused to drink because the water caused men to risk their lives for it.

Leaders are humble and dependent on God because they know that God is the source of their being placed in positions of leadership. Leaders are also people of action; when it comes time to act, they do so with decision. Often indecision can paralyze a leader into inaction, and inaction can be very costly.

Christian leaders are called by God to honor Him through humility and dependence on Him. Christian leaders are also called by God to act when necessary, but to act in a way that honors God. If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then let that picture be the picture of humility, dependence, and action; a picture painted by God in the lives of those He has called to lead.

The Path of Growth

December 20, 2019  ●  19-38

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(Rom. 15:4)

I recently preached on Genesis 19 which records the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the subsequent sin of the daughters of Lot. There are books and chapters of books in the Bible that are easy to read through and understand the meaning, and there are books and chapters in the Bible that are difficult to read through and understand the meaning. Genesis 19 is one of the more difficult chapters to read through and gain an understanding because of the subject matter. The issue with me was not that I did not understand what was going on, I understood clearly why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and I understood clearly the sin of Lot’s daughters. My challenge was to preach this chapter in a way that the Bible study group, and myself, could be encouraged and learn from it.

Paul wrote a great truth in Romans 15:4 : God’s Word has been given to us for several reasons:

  1. Instruction;
  2. Perseverance in our faith;
  3. Encouragement;
  4. Hope.

As I read, prayed through, and studied Genesis 19 my goal was to find what was encouraging in that dark and sinful story. God showed me where the encouragement of Genesis 19 is:

God’s justice encourages me;
God’s Word encourages me;
God’s promise encourages me;
God’s love encourages me.

Paul, writing to the young pastor Timothy, stated the Word of God is, “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).” God has given us His Word, not just for information, but for the purpose of spiritual transformation. When I read God’s Word I am taught, I grow, I am trained in the ways of God, and if necessary, I am corrected.

Sometimes I read God’s Word and say, “amen!”; other times I read God’s Word and say, “Oh my!” Stories such as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the sin of Lot’s daughters are difficult to read and even harder to find any encouragement or, “grist for the growth mill.” It is the Holy Spirit of God that helps me not just understand God’s Word, but also to gain clarity for application.

God’s Word, God’s justice, God’s promise, and God’s love all encourage me. I can skim over or skip stories such as found in Genesis 19 and I would miss what God would have me learn. The road to spiritual growth and maturity may not always be smooth but it always leads to a greater understanding and greater love, not only for the Word of God, but more importantly, the God of the Word.

Bringing It Back

December 13, 2019  ●  19-37

Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. (Gen. 33:4)

Twin brothers Jacob and Esau had been estranged from one another for twenty years because Jacob tricked their father Isaac into giving him the blessing of the firstborn instead of Esau. Esau was so angry at his brother that he planned on killing his brother after their father had died (Gen. 27:41) But when Jacob and Esau met after twenty years, Jacob discovered that God had changed Esau’s heart, and Esau no longer bore a grudge. God is honored when relationships are restored. The restoration of a broken relationship is the story of Christmas because Jesus came to restore man’s relationship with God that had been broken in the garden of Eden.

When it comes to restoring relationships, there are five important questions we must ask ourselves in order to gain a proper understanding of the importance of restoration:

1. Why is restoration necessary?
The word ‘restore’ means to bring something back to the way it used to be. Broken relationships result in separation. When man sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating of the forbidden fruit, he was thrown out of the garden and separated from God (Gen. 3).

2. What is required for restoration?
Someone must take the first step towards restoration. We think if we take the first step, then we have somehow lost, that we have given in, that we are perceived as being weak. Restoration is not about winning or losing, it is about being obedient to God and honoring Him in our lives.

3. How does restoration take place?
For restoration to take place, we must be willing to be restored. When we refuse to be restored, we are denying God’s desire for us to be restored in our relationships with one another. Restoration takes place when we not only take the first step, but when we accept the offer of restoration from someone else. In fact, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation which is what restoration is all about (2 Cor. 5:17-19).

4. When do we restore?
As soon as possible. It is a sad day when, at the funeral of a loved one, I hear friends and family members regretting not setting right a broken relationship with the person that had died. All the tears and flowers and regrets will not and cannot take the place of a relationship that could have been mended long before it was too late.

5. Where does restoration take place?
Restoration is a work of the heart, the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of the believer. Notice back in Gen. 32 how Jacob prayed that the meeting with Esau would go well, and it did. In fact, it went better than expected. Restoration is a work of the heart because the heart is the seat of our emotions. It is our hearts that God is going to work on when it comes to any type of restoration.

If there are relationships in your family, either between family members or friends, take the steps that Jacob and Esau took as an example:

  1. Pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance.
  2. Take the first step.
  3. Allow yourself to be restored.
  4. Let go of grudges.
  5. Make sure God is honored every step of the way.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.