File: Cleaver Then God Said

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         Executive Editor’s Note: The following are excerpts from Dr. Tony Cleaver’s new book, Then God Said.

It’s Your Funeral

         “He died to no one’s regret…” (II Chron. 21:20 HCSB).

      What do you want said at your death? Of all the things you may want said, you don’t want anyone to say the words of this Scripture, “He died to no one’s regret.” As a pastor, US Army Chaplain and minister, I have stood at many gravesites, hoping for some words of comfort to bring to a family. Most of the deaths were not difficult because the loved one’s life was a Christian life. However, on occasion and if the truth be known, some days I have been at gravesides when the words could be said, “He died to no one’s regret.” We write our own eulogy, even today.

My Job Choice — Not Really

         “I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry” (I Tim. 1:12).

      Let’s focus on the phrase: “appointing me to the ministry.” Ministry is not something one chooses for himself. Rather as it is written in the Scriptures, it is an appointment by Christ Jesus our Lord. In other passages, Paul recounts his own divine appointment to the gospel ministry. Today this calling must of certainty be a holy calling. It is not a job selected because family or friends said to you, “You would be good at this.” It is not a profession chosen because a standardized psychological instrument scored you high in the “interpersonal people area.” Paul’s thankfulness was a humble realization of his unworthiness to be called into ministry — not by his own choice but through the dynamic call from above. Dear Pastor, give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who will strengthen you even on a dark and dismal Saturday night after your congregation’s strident committee meeting. Yes, He will strengthen you even on a Sunday afternoon following a less than outstanding sermon delivery and worship service. It is He who appointed you, and it is He who will complete the work He has called you to do!

My Sermon Subject This Morning Is…

         “…you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching” (Titus 2:1 CSB).

      Good Preacher, what are the subjects of your sermons and teachings? Are your sermons about social theory, psychological self-help, politics or some other current news hot button? Sermons, according to this Scripture, must deal with sound doctrine concerning the historic principles of the Christian Church.

      This passage goes on to include all categories of humanity — older men, older women, younger women, younger men and slaves. The teaching for all these groups centers in reverence, love, purity, diligence, integrity, dignity, submissiveness and faithfulness. When is the last time you preached on subjects like these mentioned here?

      This kind of preaching and teaching equips Christian lives to adorn Christ. When those outside the congregation see the lives of those inside the congregation, they know a Christian. Those outside have no bad things to say of those in the Church because they magnify the Lord. May our pulpits be filled with speakers who do this kind of proclamation! May our churches be filled with these kinds of Christians so the land will see our Risen Christ and be drawn to Him.