Thursday, June 13, 2024

Filled With What?

"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Colossians 1:9-10 (NKJV)

If you had a container of some kind, you could fill it with whatever you wanted to.  If you had a bottle, a box, or something similar, the space in this object could be filled with one thing, or a mixture of things.  For example, you could fill a bottle with water, milk, or some other liquid.  If you had a bottle already filled with water, you could also add milk to that, and that bottle would still be full, but it would no longer just be filled with water.  Once you fill the bottle with something, it will be full.

In Colossians 1, Paul prayed that the believers in Colosse would be filled with the knowledge of God's will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.  In Colossians 1:10-11, Paul talked about the results of being filled with the knowledge of God's will: a life that is worthy of God, fully pleasing God, being fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, and being strengthened with all might by His power.  If we have a mixture of God's will, our will, and something else, will we have the results Paul prayed about?

If we are filled with the knowledge of God's will, as Paul prayed for the believers in Colossians 1:9, then we would not really have room to be filled with something else.  Paul prayed that these believers would be filled with the knowledge of God's will, not that the knowledge of God's will would just be an optional addition to their own will.  God wants us to know His will and to live the life He has planned for us, but the only way to do that is to know and be filled with the knowledge of God's will, and then do His will.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

That Is Not A Real Lion

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9 (NKJV)

Recently, I was out taking a walk, and as I went by some trees, some birds came flying out making a lot of noise.  My guess was that they had a nest nearby and they did not like me getting too close to their nest.  While this chirping that the birds were making was a bit annoying, it only lasted for a minute or so as I walked by, and there was never any real danger.  The birds were not going to swoop down and carry me away or really hurt me somehow.  The noise they were making was just to try and scare me away, but they could not do me any real harm.

The Bible makes it clear that we have an enemy, the devil, who will do everything he can to keep us away from God's Word and the plan of God for our lives.  The Bible also makes it very clear that Jesus defeated the devil, and while the devil is still out there, he is actually powerless to destroy us, because Jesus stripped him of his power.  The devil still exists, and although he cannot really harm us, he will make as much commotion in our life as he can to try and get us off course.

Some Christians fail to understand the point that Peter makes in 1 Peter 5:8-9, that while the devil walks about as a roaring lion, he is not a real lion.  The devil would like us to believe he is big and powerful and ready to destroy us.  He will "roar" by bringing thoughts of defeat and failure to our mind, but, as Peter tells us, we need to resist the devil and stay firmly rooted in God's Word.  As we stand in faith on God's Word, knowing that Jesus won the victory for us over the devil, we can resist the devil and not allow his work to hinder us in our walk with God.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

What Do You Pay Attention To?

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,"
1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV)

If you were with a group of people, visiting a historic site or some other attraction, you might talk about what you were looking at, and that could be different things for different people.  For example, if you were at the Rhine River, some people might talk about the river itself, while others talked about a castle or some other building on the river.  If you were at a zoo, different people would likely talk about different animals.  In each case, the river, the buildings, and the animals were all always there, but some people choose to focus on them, and some do not.

What we pay attention to does not just exist when we pay attention to it, but until we pay attention to it, it is not relevant to us.  Paul told Timothy to pay attention to some things, but to not pay attention to others.  There are many good and bad things around us, but we choose what to focus on.  In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter said that just like there were false prophets among God's people in the past, there will be false teachers among God's people today.  The wrong kind of teaching is out there, but we do not have to pay attention to it.  

In 1 Timothy 4:1, we are told that in the latter times, some will depart from the faith.  Why would people do this?  We are told that this will happen because people paid attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.  These seducing spirits and false doctrines were always there, the problem was that people paid attention to them instead of paying attention to God's Word.  People get deceived and in trouble because they focus on and pay attention to the wrong things.  What we pay attention to is important in so many ways; we need to pay attention to God's Word.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Well, That Works For Me

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV)

If something works well for us, does it also work well for other people?  If we are benefited by something, are other people benefited by it as well?  While we do need to pay attention to what is necessary for our own lives, also paying attention to what is helpful for others is definitely a good thingSo many people live self-centered lives, and what they do is mainly in relation to their own well-being and how things work for them.  While this is a natural human tendency, and people generally tend to be selfish, this is not a good way to live.

Paul wrote to the Philippians to be like-minded, to not give in to selfish ambition, to esteem others better than themselves, and to look out for the interests of others.  This kind of thinking goes against the way of the world, where most people seem to only be interested in what works for them in their life.  The point is not just that we need to be nice and considerate to other people, but there is a spiritual principle here.  What may work well for us, and what we might understand, may not work well or be understandable for others.

As Paul told the Philippians, we need to pay attention to the interests of others and what works well for them.  When we look at Jesus, and the life He lived, we never see a time where Jesus insisted on His own way or what He wanted.  Jesus was not focused on His own interests and what might work well for Him or benefit Him, but Jesus looked for what was best for others.  Jesus looked for ways to help people, to teach people what He knew, and to help people understand spiritual truths that He understood.  This is what Jesus did, and it is something we should do too.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Dietary Restrictions?

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
I fed you with milk and not solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NKJV)

If you are selecting a meal for an airplane flight, ordering some food in a restaurant, or if you are planning a meal for other people, the issue of dietary restrictions may come up.  Some people have allergies to certain things, so there are some foods that they should not eat.  But this is not the same as someone who just refuses to eat something, or they have a dislike for something.  Sometimes what someone eats, or will not eat, is not a matter of a dietary restriction, but it is simply a personal preference, and there is a big difference.

When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he said that he could not feed them (teach them) some things, because they were so carnal.  But it is good to see how in this situation Paul still continued to feed the believers the "milk of the Word", which is what they were able to receive.  It was not that Paul was unwilling to teach some things to the believers in Corinth, but there were some things Paul was not able to teach them, because they were not ready to receive it.

God has given us His Word to help us grow spiritually, to see who we are in Christ, and learn what belongs to us because of Jesus.  We do not want to be like the people in Corinth who were too carnal to receive some of the teaching that Paul had, but we want to continually develop spiritually and feed on all of God's Word.  We do not need any spiritual dietary restrictions with God's Word, there is no part of it that should be avoided, because God's Word is good for us and we should willingly receive all of it.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Walking In Love - Fulfilling Requirements

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."
Romans 13:8 (NKJV)

To fulfill, in the sense of a contract or obligation, means to meet all of the necessary requirements.  If you signed a contract to rent an apartment for a year, to fulfill that contract you would then need to rent the apartment for a year.  If you were obligated in that rental contract to pay the rent by the first day of each month, then doing that is what would be necessary in order to fulfill that obligation.  If you did not meet the requirements, or did not do what was necessary, you would not have fulfilled the contract or obligation.

In what we call the Old Testament, God gave the Law to Israel to show them what He required from them as His people, to live the life that they should live.  No person was able to fulfill the Law, until Jesus came and fulfilled it for us.  Today, as New Testament believers, we are not under the Law or the requirements of the Law.  But, the principles of what is found in the Law are still valid for us today.  The New Testament says that if we are led by the Holy Spirit we are not under the Law and that by walking in love we fulfill the Law.

While we no longer live under the Law, we still want to do what is right and not violate any of God's Commandments that were given to show us the right way to live, and we can do this by walking in love.  If we live a life demonstrating the love of God, if we are walking in love towards others, and we always respond with the love of God, we will never violate any of God's commandments.  Love never fails, and living a life of walking in the love of God not only fulfills the requirements of the Law, but it is the best way to live.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Is That Your Fault?

"Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God.
And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart.  So he prospered.

After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah, he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself.
2 Chronicles 31:20 - 32:1 (NKJV)

Newtons' third law of motion says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  This is the same as the idea of cause and effect, saying that something happened because something else prompted that thing to happen.  While this is true, there still has to be some first action to cause a reaction or effect.  Someone or something has to first do something to cause the reaction or effect.  Just because something happens does not always mean something else happened first.

In the Old Testament, we can read about King Hezekiah, and how he was a good king who served God.  But, as we see in 2 Chronicles, King Hezekiah did everything correctly and was still attacked by an enemy.  We can see stories of different kings and people in the Bible who made a mistake or disobeyed God, and they had a problem.  But we can also see examples in the Bible, like the story of King Hezekiah, where people did everything right, and they still had problems.

When something bad happens, is it always our fault?  We need to realize that problems will always happen in this world, even if we do everything right.  King Hezekiah was faithful to God and he was still attacked.  Paul preached the Gospel and people tried to kill him.  Jesus did the will of God and was still persecutedWhen we have a problem, we should not just try to blame ourselves, or even other people.  Instead, we need to look into God's Word and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit to see how to successfully deal with the problem.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

What Are You Called?

"Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
For with God nothing will be impossible
Luke 1:36-37 (NKJV)

A call sign is a name that is given to someone to uniquely identify them, but it is not someone's actual name.  Call signs are said to have originated around the time of WW II, and while they are most often used in the military, people outside the military use nicknames in a similar way.  Usually a call sign, a nickname, what someone is called, is based on something that the person did, some physical characteristic, where they are from, or something else unique to that person that is used to identify them.

In Luke 1, we read about Zacharias, who was a priest, married to a woman named Elizabeth, and they had no children.  One day, an angel appeared to Zacharias and told him that his prayers had been heard and that Elisabeth would have a baby.  This was quite a surprise to Zacharias, as the Bible describes him and Elisabeth as "well advanced in years", but God said they would have a baby.  Up to this time, Elisabeth had been called "barren" because she had no children, but God changed her situation, and what she would be called.

After the angel told Mary that she would have a baby, Jesus, the angel said that Mary's cousin Elisabeth was also going to have a baby.  Elisabeth was called "barren", because she had no children.  But with God all things are possible, and Elisabeth would no longer be called barren, but mother.  No matter what we have been called in the past, with God our name can change.  We can go from being called failure to success, from weak to strong, and from depressed to joyful.  We need to look into God's Word and see what God calls us, and be sure that is what we call ourselves.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Pleasant Words, Or Poison Words?

"Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.
Acts 14:1-2 (NKJV)

What we do can cause a reaction, either positive or negative.  For example, if you went outside without an umbrella when it is raining, you would get wet.  If you went outside without a jacket in the wintertime, you would be cold.  In the same way, if you had an umbrella with you in the rain you would not get wet, and if you wore a jacket in the wintertime you would not be cold.  The point is that what happens in different situations depends on what we do, or do not do; our actions can help to create the results.

Words are powerful.  Words are containers that carry our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs to others.  The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about our words, and we find this idea of the value of our words throughout the Bible.  The words we say can have a positive influence on people, or they can have a negative influence on them.  In James 3, it compares our tongue to the rudder on a ship that sets the course for where that ship is going to go.  Our tongue, our words, can do the same thing, for ourselves and others.

In Acts 14, Paul and his group were preaching the Gospel.  What they said influenced a great multitude of people to believe the Gospel message.  But there were some unbelieving Jews who stirred up the people and "poisoned their minds against the brethren".  Before long, Paul and his group had to leave the city because of the opposition.  Our words can help people believe the truth, or our words can cause people to be poisoned towards something.  The words we say can have a positive influence on people, or they can have a negative influence on them.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Oops, I Accidentally Succeeded!

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

Have you ever started to do something that you were not very confident about, but then you ended up doing it right?  While that can happen, most of the time when we get something right and succeed it is because what we did was intentional.  If we want to do something right, we usually need to have some idea about what should be done, and a plan about how to do it.  People who are successful are not aimlessly going about their business, but they are diligently working with a purpose and doing the things that will bring them success.

When Joshua became the leader of Israel, it was a big thing.  Not only was Joshua taking over for Moses, who had successfully led the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and to the Promised Land, but now Joshua was in charge of a nation of people, with the responsibility of leading those people into the fulfillment of God's plan for them, that was a huge responsibility!  But God was not just sending Joshua out on his own, God gave Joshua a plan on how to succeed in what he needed to do.

In Joshua 1:8, God gave Joshua a plan for success: speak the Word, meditate in the Word, and do the Word.  This is the plan that worked for Joshua, and it will work for us too.  It was not a matter of Joshua trying something, hoping it would succeed, and if it worked that would be great, God told Joshua exactly what to do.  God is giving us the same plan today, so we do not have to just hope for success, and be surprised when it happens.  Our success with God can, and should be, intentional, not accidental.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Value Of Good Relationships

"And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.  And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.
Acts 9:26-28 (NKJV)

Relationships are valuable, and with the right relationships we can accomplish great things.  We all have some relationships: relationships with people we work with, relationships with people in our church, relationships with people where we live, and relationships with people in our family.  Good relationships help us grow and develop, and we can even learn things from negative relationships that we have had, although we need to cultivate the good relationships and avoid the bad ones.

Relationships are important, because they are ways for us to connect with others who we can help, and who can also help us.  Relationships are a key in our life, because relationships can benefit us in the areas of growing and developing in our personal and spiritual lives.  Relationships are important for several reasons, and we see the value of relationships in many places in the Bible.  A great example of the benefits of good relationships is seen in the life of the Apostle Paul in Acts 9.

In Acts 9, Saul, who later became known as the Apostle Paul, wanted to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him and did not trust him.  Paul was not able to make the connection himself, but then another disciple, Barnabas, helped connect Paul with the disciples.  Paul had the right intentions, but was unsuccessful in what he tried to do, until someone else helped him bridge the gap.  We need to develop the relationships we have and be open to new relationships, because sometimes a relationship will help us connect to someone, or something else, that is vital to God's plan in our life.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Success Comes From Following Directions

"For there were about five thousand men.  Then He said to His disciples, "Make them sit down in groups of fifty."
And they did so, and made them all sit down
Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.

So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.
Luke 9:14-17 (NKJV)

Not following directions is something that is fairly common with many people.  Not in the sense that someone will not listen to reason, but very often people will ignore instructions on how to build or operate something that they have purchased, because they believe they already know how to do what needs to be done.  While it is true that sometimes we can figure things out for ourselves, to be sure we successfully do what needs to be done, we should always follow directions.

In Luke 9, we read about the feeding of the 5,000, and we can see that Jesus took what was available, what the disciples had, and Jesus used that to meet the need and feed the people.  We can see that Jesus cared about helping the people, and how the need was met with everyone not only eating but being filled.  But there is something in the story that we may not recognize as one of the keys to a successful outcome; the disciples precisely followed the directions of Jesus.

When Jesus fed the 5,000, as we see in Luke 9, Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50.  But what if they thought they had a better idea and they said that groups of 25 or 30 are fine, would they have been successful?  While there is no way to know for certain, and there are times the direction God gives us may seem unimportant, we do know that to be successful we need to follow the directions that God gives us through His Word and by the Holy Spirit.  We need to listen to God and follow His directions to have success in whatever we do.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Look At This, But Not At That

"Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel.  And Samuel said to Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen these.".
And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all the young men here?"  Then he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep."  And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him.  For we will not sit down till he comes here."
1 Samuel 16:10-11 (NKJV)

Every day we are bombarded with information; some of it is information that we are looking for and some of it comes to us without our directly seeking it.  For example, we may be watching a television show, and then a commercial comes on.  We wanted to see the television show, but not necessarily what was on the commercial.  This same thing happens in social media, movies, television shows, and the news that we see.  There are things some people want us to see and hear, and other things that they do not.

God told Samuel to go to Jesse's house in Bethlehem to find the next king of Israel, but God did not tell Samuel specifically who the next king was going to be.  When Samuel arrived, he saw the oldest son Eliab and Samuel thought Eliab was the perfect choice, but Eliab was not God's choice.  What happened next is that Jesse brought out seven of his sons for Samuel to look at, but Jesse left out his youngest son, David, who was to be the next king.  Jesse wanted Samuel to look at some of his sons, but not all of them.

When Samuel arrived at Jessie's house to find the new king, Jesse only presented seven of his eight sons for Samuel to consider to be the king.  This same kind of thing still happens today; society, other people, and even the devil have things they want us to see and look at.  Just because the world or other people tell us to "look at this," and do something only based on what we have been shown, we need to listen to God to help us see what is right and to base what we do and believe on God's guidance, not just on what people have shown us.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Can You Prove That?

"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
Mark 16:15-16 (NKJV)

Often when people are trying to make a point about something, they will cite facts to try and prove to whoever they are talking to that what they are saying is true.  Many people will spend time debating about things, using different facts or personal experience in an attempt to prove their point.  Usually this is done with good intentions, where one person or group is trying to help someone understand that what has been said is true, based on the facts that were given.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He told His disciples to take the message of His triumph over sin and death to the whole world.  The Gospel, which means good news, is something that everyone should hear.  We should make a good presentation of the Gospel, and share the truth in a way that will persuade people to receive Jesus.  But once someone hears the Gospel, that person needs to take a step of faith and believe the message about Jesus, and receive Him as their personal Savior and Lord.

While Jesus said we need to preach the Gospel so that people would believe, Jesus never said that our job was to prove that the message is true.  It does not say that just because someone has seen a lot of evidence that this person would be saved; and this same principle applies to everything in the Bible.  It is one thing to hear the truth, but once we hear the truth, we must accept it, believe it, and act on it.  The key is that we believe and act on what we have heard, not just that someone has proven something to us.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Just Like He Said

"saying, "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat.  Loose it and bring it here.
And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you loosing it?' thus you shall say to him, 'Because the Lord has need of it.'"

So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.
Luke 19:30-32 (NKJV)

It is good when you know someone you can trust, and when they tell you something, you have confidence in what they said being accurate and trustworthy.  But it is unfortunate that there are some people you cannot rely on and you cannot always trust what they say.  If someone you did not trust told you something, you might be hesitant to act on what they said.  But when you really trust someone, and you know you can rely on what they say, then it is easy to do things based on what that person told you.

Luke 19 tells the story of Jesus instructing His disciples to go and get the donkey's colt that He then used to ride into Jerusalem.  What Jesus said was a bit unusual, but the disciples knew that Jesus could be trusted, so they acted on what He said, and everything worked out according to what Jesus had told them.  These verses in Luke 19 are great verses about following God and also how He will provide for us.  We can always trust God's guidance and know for certain that things will work out for us just as He said.

When we follow God's direction, it will always be just as God said it would be.  If God said we need to do something or go somewhere, we can be sure that everything is going to work out for us just the way that God said it would.  For provision in our life, for direction, for healing, and anything else that God has said in His Word, we can always be confident that it will be just as God said it would be.  Whatever God has said is true and reliable, and we can do what He says, knowing that things will always be as He said they would be.