Thursday, April 26, 2018

Whose Hands Are We Holding Up?

"And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed,
But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it.  And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun."
Exodus 17:11-12 (NKJV)

There are many kinds of public transportation systems that are found in the European countries that I have been to.  When using some type of public transportation, there have been times I saw someone struggling with luggage, a baby stroller, or something else.  Whenever I had the chance, I would help them.  With my assistance they were able to do what they needed to do.  But, when I helped that person I was not just helping them but anyone they were with and even the overall public transportation system because I helped things move quicker than they would have otherwise. 

When we have the ability to do something that will help another person with whatever they are doing and we can make their task easier we should.  In the story from Exodus 17, Moses got tired so two people helped him by holding up his hands.  When Aaron and Hur helped Moses by holding up his hands they were not just helping Moses, these men were actually helping the people of Israel and even helping God's plan come to pass.  When we help someone, like with what Aaron and Hur did, we are directly helping that person, but it can be that we are involved in something bigger. 

Do we realize that when we help in our church on some team that we are really helping the Pastor and also helping God?  Every person is an important part of their team, each team is an important part of their church, and each church is an important part of God's plan.  Every person on a team is a part of the team, a part of the church, and a part of God's plan.  If we don't work together then we won't fulfill the overall will of God because God's plan is bigger than just one person.  The question for us today is, whose hands are we holding up?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Light And More Light

"For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light."
Psalm 36:9 (NKJV)

If you were in a dark place, with very little or no light, and a distance away from you there was some light, would you move towards that light?  Normally the answer would be yes, usually we want more light and not less.  As you move towards the light you would be able to see things better due to the increase of the light.  If you just stayed where you were you would not have any more light than you did at the beginning, and if you moved in the opposite direction you would have less and less light.  For most people the simple thing to do when it is dark is to get more light. 

God's Word will give us light, it will give us understanding (Psalm 119:130).  Psalm 36:9 tells us how in God's light we get more light.  The more light and understanding we have from God's Word, the more light and understanding we will be in a position to receive from God's Word.  In other words, as we come to better understand what God has said in His Word, we can then receive even more light, wisdom, understanding, and clarity from God's Word.  But, when we do not follow, or even reject, the guidance we receive from God's Word it is like turning off the light.

If we do not receive the light and understanding that God's Word can give us, the less we will understand what God is saying to us through His Word.  This is the reason some Christians struggle, they have received some light from the Bible but they have ignored, rejected, or failed to act on that light and they have put themselves in the dark.  But, no matter where we are today, more light is available to us and God is ready to help us understand and follow His Word.  When we walk in the light and understanding of what we know from the Bible it is like bringing more light into our lives.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Strategic Positioning

"For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another."
Psalm 75:6-7 (NKJV)

Have you ever had the opportunity to watch someone play chess who is very skilled at it?  Some people even get to the level of being a Chess Master.  One thing that all good chess players have in common, especially if someone is a Chess Master, is that they play the game thinking well ahead of their current move.  Often someone who is very skilled at the game of chess is planning their next move while considering several moves beyond that.  Many times what may look like a very ordinary move is actually a setup for something bigger that is coming later. 

Like a skillful chess player, God moves people around and strategically positions people for His plan.  For most people, the movements do not look significant, but there is a reason for every move.  We may not see the purpose to it, but God is orchestrating something.  We may not always understand why God moves us or others into different areas or directs us to get involved in different things, but God knows exactly why.  God is often organizing something that we do not recognize until it all falls into place.  God is strategically positioning and preparing us and others for something great.

God moves people into positions just like a master chess player moves pieces.  There are times that God will move us geographically to prepare us for something that He wants to do and there are times that God will move us spiritually, so to speak, by helping us grow and develop certain things in our life that He will put to use at a later time.  This is why it is so important for us to learn to follow the course of life God has given us in His Word and to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit.  We may not see or understand exactly what God is doing in our life now, but we can be sure that His strategic planning is at work. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

This Is Not An Actual Emergency

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;"
Psalm 46:1-2 (NKJV)

When I was growing up, from time to time the television channels we received would run a test of what was called The Emergency Broadcast System.  When these tests happened, an announcement would be made that a test was about to take place and this would be followed by a test signal, a tone.  Once that was over there would be another announcement reminding everyone that this was only a test and if it had been an actual emergency further instructions would be given about what needed to be done.  Because it was not an actual emergency there was nothing to worry about.

Everyone faces challenges in life, no one is exempt from this.  We serve a wonderful, loving God, but this world is under the influence of sin and we will have problems.  But, no matter what difficulty we may be confronted with, God is with us to help us.  When we find ourselves in a difficult situation the devil will always tell us how bad things are and he will do everything that he can to persuade us that we are in a crisis that is too big, even for God to help us with.  This is when it is good to remind ourselves that no matter what we face in life it is no surprise to God and nothing is too big for Him to help us with.

Regardless of what we may face, we can be confident that God has already been working to prepare us for it.  Through His Word and by the Holy Spirit He will help us to overcome any negative situation.  God is constantly working in our life to help us live the life Jesus provided for us, and when a problem arises we can be sure that God has either already equipped us to deal with it or the answer is on the way.  If what we faced had been an actual emergency, then God would have already instructed us about what to do and further instructions would definitely be coming our way.  No matter how bad things may look, we can trust that God is with us and He will always deliver us.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Jump-Start Christians

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

There were times in the past that I owned cars that were not in very good condition.  Once, when I lived in northern Wisconsin, I had a car that had some problems getting started.  If the weather was good there was no problem, but when the weather was not so favorable I would sometimes need to have my car jump-started.  The main problem was that my battery was too weak and by itself it could not do the necessary work of turning over the engine to get the car started.  Unfortunately, I put up with this problem for a while, but I eventually bought a new battery and that solved the problem.

Some Christians are like that old car of mine, they have problems getting started on their own and operating the way that they should.  These believers are looking for someone or something to get them revved up and motivated to do things the way that they should; on their own they never seem to be able to live the life God has called them to live.  These are the kind of people who are looking for some special meeting to go to or some certain song during the worship service that helps them to get that feeling they need to move them to where they need to be.

If we base our life too much on the natural realm and not the spiritual we will struggle; I once lived that way too.  I remember how I was always looking for something to help me do what I was supposed to do, it seemed like by myself I could not do it.  Then I learned the truth about who I am in Christ, that the Holy Spirit in me is greater than anything I might face and I can do all things through Christ!  Do I still have challenges in life?  Certainly, but once I discovered who I was spiritually and lived my life accordingly I didn't have to find someone or something else to get me going.  I am able, with God's help, to be who God called me to be and do what He wants me to do.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Infiltrators

"casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,"
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)

Throughout history there have been spies, people who work for one group or country but try to infiltrate and get into another group or country, to either cause harm or to try to find ways to influence something in the other group or country.  The way a spy works is to try and somehow blend into the group or country that they are not from by doing everything they can to seem as though they belong.  A successful spy is someone who becomes accepted by the group or country they are working to infiltrate, and once this happens these spies can cause a great deal of damage.

One of the areas we will have our biggest challenges in is in the area of our thoughts.  We have to examine and check every thought we have by the Word of God to be sure we catch any wrong or misleading thoughts.  Not all bad thoughts are easy to recognize, the devil will try to find a way to make the wrong thoughts blend in and seem normal.  The devil will work to try and put thoughts into our mind that seem to be alright, but they lead to something bad.  Through the wrong kinds of thoughts, the devil will try to infiltrate our thinking to lead us into problems.

No one would immediately accept or yield to a thought like, "I should throw my Bible away" or "I would be better off if I never went to church again".  But, thoughts like, "I really don't have time to read my Bible again today, but that is OK, I can read my Bible tomorrow, or the day after that", or "Church is nice, but I have been so busy I need a day to rest, if I miss church just once or twice it won't matter".  Those kinds of thoughts don't seem so bad, but they can lead to other worse thoughts, which will lead us into trouble.  By checking all of the thoughts we have by what we see in God's Word, be can be sure that no wrong thoughts will infiltrate our mind and cause us problems.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fact Finding Mission

"He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him."
Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV)

One thing that I consider to be a very bad practice is when news stories are reported without all of the information being completely known or understood.  Many times, in an attempt to get ahead of other news organizations, things are reported at first that are later found to be inaccurate.  In our society today, everyone seems to be in a hurry and no one seems to want to wait for things, and this can lead to problems.  Rather than just being in a rush to find out whatever we can, from wherever we can, everyone would be better served by waiting until all of the information was gathered before saying or doing anything about it.

Sometimes people will go on what they call a "Fact Finding Mission", to check into something and investigate it to find out what is really true.  These Fact Finding Missions can be very beneficial in learning all of the necessary information to make a wise decision based on all the available facts.  In Proverbs we are told that if we answer or respond to something without really hearing and knowing all the facts we are acting foolishly and the result will be shame.  We can have ideas about what the Bible has to say about a certain thing, but if we really don't know what the Bible actually says we can have problems.

Just like people go on Fact Finding Missions to learn all they can about a thing, we need to be on a continual mission to learn and understand all we can about God and His Word.  This means we need to have a regular time that we spend reading and studying the Bible, as well as regular attendance at a good Bible-believing church that teaches the truth of God's Word, and learning what we can from men and women of God who have insight and understanding of biblical truth that we can benefit from.  By doing this, we will keep ourselves in a place of spiritual growth and development and we can be a help and benefit to others.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Place Of Provision

"Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.
And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there."
1 Kings 17:3-4 (NKJV)

There is a saying about how there are three very important words for people involved in selling real estate, location, location, location.  Being in the right place at the right time is very important; it is definitely one of the keys to success in life.  When we are in the right place, and at the right time, we will do much better than if we are in the right place at the wrong time or in the wrong place at the right time.  If we are not in the right place at the right time we can miss out on some very important, and some very necessary things.

Elijah was a prophet in the Old Testament who was led by God to places where God was able to work through Elijah to help others.  In 1 Kings 17 God gave Elijah direction to go to a certain place where what Elijah needed would be provided.  Some of what Elijah needed was already at that place, and some of what Elijah needed was going to come to him when he was there.  If we continue reading the story, we can see that the time came when Elijah's provision where he was came to an end, but Elijah did not change his location until God told him to do so. 

What if Elijah had not followed God's direction?  Elijah would have missed what God had wanted Elijah to have. There are times when God is directing us to a place, and when we get there we don't see what we think we should and we don't find what we think we need.  But, if we follow the direction that God gives us, all of the things we need, and even things we don't know we need, will be provided.  By following God's direction to go where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do, until He tells us something different, we will always be in the right place at the right time, the place of provision.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Faith And Wisdom

"Now Jacob's well was there.  Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.  It was about the sixth hour."
John 4:6 (NKJV)

Having the right tools for the work you need to do is essential, and you need to know how to use each of the tools you have and what they are best suited for.  You may have one tool that you like more than other tools, but that does not mean that this tool is always the best tool.  You could have a tool that is good for several applications, but that does not mean that it is good for every application.  While you may prefer one tool above another, or one tool may work in more settings than others, you still always need to have the proper tool to get the job done right.

One of the main elements of Christianity is faith.  But, faith is not the only thing necessary for a successful Christian life.  One of the most important, and often neglected, things that we need is wisdom.  The Bible repeatedly talks about wisdom and how valuable it is.  We may think that wisdom is not as important as something like faith, but faith and wisdom both have their place.  Some people think that they can do whatever they want and then somehow just take a stand in faith and overcome any negative consequences that they have as a result of their actions.

We can have problems if we somehow think that faith can overrule wisdom, even if we make poor choices with things like our health or finances.  But, for example, as we see in John 4:6, even Jesus got tired and He was wise enough to take the opportunity to rest.  Jesus did not just try to use faith to have more physical strength.  In the area of finances, David set aside gold, silver, and other materials in preparation to build the temple; he did not just expect that somehow the financial resources would be there when he needed them without any effort on his part.  Make sure you use all the tools available, including wisdom, to have a successful walk with God.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Untouchables

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Acts 20:24 (NKJV)

In the USA during the 1920s and 1903s there was a law enforcement agent named Eliot Ness.  Eliot Ness was involved in the work of bringing an end to the career of the gangster Al Capone.  Eliot Ness and the group of men he worked with were known as "The Untouchables" because they refused any attempts to bribe them by people like Al Capone.  At a time when corruption and bribery of government officials was rampant, Eliot Ness and his men ignored those who tried to get them to stop their work and they were ultimately able to help stop Al Capone and his criminal activities.

It has been said that everyone has a price, that everyone can be bribed or coerced into not doing what should be done.  Eliot Ness and his men were called The Untouchables because this was not true about them, no matter what others tried to do they would not be stopped.  During his lifetime, Paul was also "untouchable" in that nothing mattered to him except doing the will of God.  For Paul, his goal and ambition in life was to serve God and no matter what others did or what happened in his life it did not alter his course; nothing could stop Paul, he was untouchable.

How could Paul ignore the opposition he faced and the difficulties he endured to continue in his ministry and say that not even his life mattered to him as much as doing the will of God?  The answer is that Paul's main focus in life was the will of God.  None of the things that happened to Paul or anything others tried to do to stop him moved him, none of those things could touch him.  God has a purpose for our lives as much as He did for Paul.  Are we "untouchable", or are there things that we have allowed to hinder us from fully serving God?  As we continue to focus on God and His will it will help us to stay on the course that God has given to us.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Unshakeable Trust

"Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge;
For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips,
So that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you."
Proverbs 22:17-19 (NKJV)

Trust is something very important to have in any relationship.  We know that if you do not have a relationship with someone it is hard to really trust them.  But, how do you develop and maintain trust in someone?  Is just being in the same physical location with someone enough for you to develop trust in them?  How secure can we be in our trust for someone if we don't know anything about them?   We need to spend time with someone to develop a level of trust with that person and we need to know what they believe to have an unshakeable trust in them.

The Bible talks about the importance of trusting in God.  The majority of believers have at least a basic understanding of the idea of trusting God, but many of those same people find it difficult not to waver in their trust in God when things are difficult.  The reason for this can be that those Christians know God as their Father, but they have never fully developed their trust in God because they only have a limited knowledge of Him and His will.  This is why it is so important to know and understand God's Word, the better we know God through His Word, the deeper our level of trust will be.

Proverbs 22 gives us a key to developing and maintaining trust in God.  When we face a challenge in life, keeping our attention on God's Word and reminding ourselves of what God has said through our Bible-based confession of it will help us keep an unshakable trust in God.   What situations are you facing in life today?  Find out what the Word says, fill yourself with that truth, continue to make that Bible fact your glad confession, and maintain your trust and faith in God.  If we focus on the Word, and keep speaking the Word, it will help us develop an unshakeable trust in God.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Looking For Love?

"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love."
1 John 4:8 (NKJV)

Several years ago, there was a song where the singer lamented that he was "looking for love in all the wrong places" before he found the right person.  This song talked about the desire that everyone has to be loved by someone.  Most people think of love only as finding the right person and spending the rest of their life with them.  So many people think that if they just find the right person that they will be swept off of their feet, their head will be in the clouds, life will be sweet, and their desire for love will be satisfied. Sadly, many people just go from one relationship to another searching for that elusive "right person".

The problem is that no person can give the love that each of us truly seek.  The love that people are seeking in their natural relationships is really a spiritual craving and not physical.  We need to understand that God loves us unconditionally and that we have total acceptance with Him; God gives love like nobody on earth can give.  In 1 John 4:8 it tells us that God is love.  In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 it tells us what true love really is and what it's characteristics are.  If we want to know what God is like then we should read about His characteristics in 1 Corinthians 13.

We have to be careful not to get caught up in the "looking for love in all the wrong places" trap.  Building a relationship with someone is certainly fine, but there is a love that no person can give us that will only come from God.  Empty relationships that leave people used, abused, and confused won't do anything to help anyone deal with that inner desire we all have to be genuinely loved.  No matter what kind of natural relationships you have, or don't have, you need to understand that God loves you more than you realize.  Next time you are looking for love, look for it in the right place.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Walking In Love - Whose Parade Is It?

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself; is not puffed up;"
1 Corinthians 13:4 (NKJV)

There are many different kinds of parades.  There are 4th of July Parades, Veteran's Day Parades, Thanksgiving Day Parades, and even a Circus Parade.  In 4th of July Parades, there are always a lot of flags and symbols of the USA, for Veteran's Day Parades, there are a lot of military things involved.  But, wouldn't it be strange for there to be things from the Thanksgiving Day Parade in the 4th of July Parade?  And wouldn't it be odd for things from the Circus Parade to be in the Veteran's Day Parade?  The answer of course is yes, those things would be inappropriate, they would be in the wrong parade. 

In 1 Corinthians 13, we have a detailed description of what love is.  In the New King James Version of the Bible, it says in verse 4 that "love does not parade itself".  The word "parade" used here literally means "to boast", with the idea of boasting about oneself.  We learn that if we are walking in love we will not focus on ourselves, telling others about what we have done and putting our own deeds or character on display.  This is where I like the use of the word "parade".  If we are walking in love we do not make a parade out of what we have done, but we might do that for others.

It is never a good thing to brag about yourself, talk like that is self-centered and arrogant.  But, what if we know of someone else who has done something deserving of praise?  Would it be good, and walking in love, to let someone know that what they did was good and appreciated?  Instead of focusing on ourselves and hoping someone will notice us, what if we would pay attention to others and look for opportunities to share and promote what they have done and point out their good deeds?  That is what love would do, love does not focus on itself, it looks for ways to say good things about, and promote, others.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Shine Some Light On That

"The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple."
Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)

Have you ever noticed the difference between how some things look in the light of day compared to how they look at night, or how things become easier to see when you turn on a light?  Pretty much everyone has had some experience like this.  When something is in the dark you can't always see exactly what it is, but once you shine a light on that same thing it is not only easy to see, but you also have a clear view of what it actually is.  The worst thing would be to have something obscured by darkness with a light at your disposal, but never using that light.

In Psalm 119:130 we are told that God's Word will give us light and understanding.  This can apply to many different situations.  God's Word can give us light and understanding about the questions we have, about which direction to go and what to do in our life.  God's Word can give us light and understanding about how to deal with people, and how to be successful with our family and business.  Psalm 119:130 gives us some information about the light and understanding that God's Word gives to us, it is the entrance of God's Word that will bring the light and understanding that we need.

God's Word is wonderful and the Bible is filled with many great things, but if we don't allow it to have access into our lives, if we never spend time with it, we will not have the light and understanding we need and we will continue to stay in the dark.  We need to have a regular and consistent time of reading and studying the Bible, as well as attending a good Bible-believing church that teaches us about God and His Word.  No matter what situation we face, what we are dealing with, or what questions we have, God's Word can bring us the light and understanding we need.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Follow The Leader

"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me."
John 14:6 (NKJV)

When I was a child, there was a game we used to play called, "Follow the Leader".  The way we played this game was to choose one person as the leader and then as they ran around and did different things we had to follow them and do everything that they had done, the way they had done it.  While you may or may not have heard of that game before, in some way we are all doing this same thing today because everyone is somehow following some "leader" of some kind, and the way those "leaders" go and the things that they do can have a great influence on us.

Some people have money or popularity as their leader, some people choose a set of rules, a religious leader or an organization as the thing that they follow.  Then, no matter what direction their "leader" takes, they will blindly follow them because they feel that somehow, someway, by doing this they will ultimately find the happiness and success that everyone desires.  Unfortunately, many of these people will just end up following their leader down a dead-end street that ultimately leads them to hell.  But, this is not to say that money, popularity, rules, or even religious leaders or organizations are all bad.

If our main leader is not Jesus and our main goal isn't knowing Him better and fulfilling His will, then we are following the wrong leader down the wrong road.  Because Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, He must be the One we follow if we are to have the good life that we all desire.  We must always follow Jesus, which means listening to Him and doing what His Word says in every area of life, that way we can be sure we will be following the right leader.  No matter what people do or say, and no matter what we want to accomplish in life, Jesus must be the leader that we choose to follow.