Thursday, September 12, 2019

What's My Motivation?

"For in fact the body is not one member but many."
1 Corinthians 12:14 (NKJV)

Sometimes during the filming of a movie or TV show, an actor may ask the director, "What's my motivation for this scene?".  What the actor wants to know is, why is the character they are playing doing what they are doing?  The actor is trying to understand the motivation behind the character's actions, why they are acting the way that they are.  We might even ask ourselves the question, "What gets me out of bed in the morning?" or something like that.  This kind of question again goes to motivation, why do we do what are doing?

Many people do not have much motivation in their life because they see no real purpose for their life.  People sometimes get involved in some cause because they are looking for something bigger than themselves to be connected to in order to bring a sense of purpose to their life.  For Christians, our motivation should be easy; we are a part of the Body of Christ and God has a plan for our lives.  Just like our natural body was designed with every part having a specific and important function, the same is true with the Body of Christ. 

Some Christians wander aimlessly through life because they do not understand that God has a plan for them, they are important to God, and they are a valuable part of His Body.  There are no extra, unnecessary parts to our natural body and the same is true with the Body of Christ.  We need to get into God's Word to find our place in the Body of Christ and allow that to motivate us and let that be the reason for why we do the things that we do.  When we have an understanding of who we are in Christ and that God has a plan for us in His Body, we won't have to look somewhere else for our motivation in life. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Focus On The Truth

"Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness."
2 Timothy 2:14-16 (NKJV)

What if you were interested in learning about the history of England, but you only read books about the history of Norway?  The obvious answer is that you would not learn much, if anything, about the history of England.  And what if you wanted to learn how to be a good cook, but the only thing you searched for on the Internet was stories about people who climbed mountains?  Again, you would not learn anything about the desired subject.  To learn about a certain subject, you have to focus on that subject.

There are three letters in the New Testament that were written to ministers:1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.  When I read these letters, it always stands out to me how often Paul talked about avoiding the wrong kind of teaching, and arguments about things that do not really matter.  To be successful in ministry, and to be a mature believer, we need to feed ourselves on God's Word and avoid things contrary to the Word.  While I realize that this sounds extreme to some people, it is still the truth. 

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul talks about being diligent to correctly interpret the Word of God.  If we spend more of our time focusing on things that are not Bible based than we do with Bible truth, we are going to have problems.  Paul says how the wrong kinds of things will "ruin the hearers" and "increase to more ungodliness", which is obviously bad.  Focusing on the truth and avoiding the wrong kind of teaching is very important; the things we spend our time with will do something for us, either positively or negatively.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

What Time Is On Time?

"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do?  Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?"
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)

What time is on time and when is something late? People have different ideas about this.  For some people, if something is going to start at 10:00, then they will be there by at least 10:00 and maybe a few minutes earlier.  For others, they believe it is fine if they are there close to 10:00, but they don't necessarily need to be there before that.  And for some, no matter when you tell them something is going to start, they will usually arrive after that time.  But what time is on time?

Is God on time all the time, or is God sometimes behind schedule?  Some people believe that God will do what He has said, but they are not sure when God will do it.  Our problem is that sometimes God does not fit into our time schedule and He does not do things as soon as we would like Him to.  But we can trust that God will do everything He has said in His Word He would do and we should not spend our time wondering when or how something will happen.  Even though it seems that God is often not early, God is never late.

Just because something has not happened as soon as we wanted it to does not mean that it will not happen or that God has somehow forgotten us.  As we take a stand in faith on God's Word, we can be confident that what God has said He will do.  We need to learn to walk by faith in His Word and continually trust in Him to meet the need, give us the answer, and show us the way to go.  Whatever the situation and no matter the need, God is faithful, He is always on time, and He will always to do what He has said He would do.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Choice Is Yours

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."
Romans 6:12-13 (NKJV)

A choice is something that is made based on one or more options that are available.  For a choice to be a choice, there has to be more than one variable involved.  For example, you might have the option of choosing to eat a pizza or spaghetti.  But a choice is not a choice if there is only one thing available.  If you wanted to buy shoes and there was only one style and one color available, then there is really no choice involved, you have to take what is there, whether you like it or not. 

Some people think that they really do not have a choice in some things.  They believe that everything is up to God and even their own personality and actions are more in God's control than their own.  But, the choice of what we will do, say, and how we will act has been given to us.  What we choose to yield to and follow will either allow God to work through us or allow sin to reign over us.  By choosing to allow God to work through us, we will benefit our own life and the lives of those around us.

Romans 6:12-13 tells us that we have a choice as to whether we will yield to and follow the desires of our natural, fleshly nature or choose to yield to and follow what God's Word shows us is possible for us because of Jesus.  We do not have to live a shallow, sin filled life of problems because we always simply yield to our carnal desires, God has provided something better for us.  Each of us can choose to live a life above the natural tendencies we have and live a life that pleases God; the choice is ours; the choice is yours. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Alternate Routes

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye."
Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

When you are planning to go somewhere, you start with a destination and then figure out how to get there.  When you plan your route, there are several options you could choose.  You may have an option of how you want to travel, whether in a car, by airplane, or even with a train or other public transportation.  You also need to decide if you want to go directly to your destination or if there is something along the way you need to, or want to, do or see, there are many alternate routes you could take.

As Christians, there is a destination we all should have, to find and fulfill the will of God.  Spending eternity with Jesus in heaven is not our main goal in life; it is certainly something to look forward to, but God has a plan for us while we are here on the earth.  In doing the will of God, there are different routes available to us and we want to be sure to take the right one and not some alternate route that does not help us.  The good thing is that we don't have to try and figure out the entire route for ourselves, God said that He would guide us.

Psalm 32 talks about God instructing and teaching us in the way we should go.  God has given us His Word that we can read and study to get God's general direction and the Holy Spirit will direct us.  If it was up to us, we might take a route based on some things we want to do, but that alternate route may actually take us off the path that God has for us.  We need to leave the route planning in our life to God so that we don't find ourselves on some alternate route.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Regular Checkups

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

We need to have checkups for things like our cars and our teeth.  By having regular checkups, we can be sure that everything is working the way it is supposed to.  It can be easy to let things go with our car or our teeth and not think about them until there is a problem, then we really think about them and dread the expensive consequences we may face.  A regular schedule of maintenance and checkups for our car and regular dental care and checkups for our teeth can help prevent major problems in the future.

In Colossians 3 it says that if we are believers in Jesus, we need to have our focus on heavenly things; we should not have our focus on things in this world.  We need to use the standard of God's Word to see if we are in tune with God's plan or if we need some adjustments in our life.  If we use the standard of the world to try and live our life we will be out of tune with God and His plan.  We all need to be sure we are having regular maintenance and checkups through the truth we find in God's Word.

To know who we really are, we have to find out about our true identity, our life that is hidden in Christ.  God has given us His Word to see who we really are and how we can live the life He has called us to.  This of course means that we need to have a regular time of reading and studying God's Word to be sure we are in line with God's plan and purpose for our life.  Reading and studying God's Word is a checkup for us, it helps us to see who we really are and what we should be doing.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Telling Stories

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

In the past couple of decades, social media has become more and more poplar.  People can share pictures, comments, and even videos about themselves and what they are doing.  People telling their stories and sharing about their life experiences through videos is a current trend that seems to be increasingly popular.  Some people like to do short videos or an update on a daily basis, while others do it weekly or sporadically.  But whatever the method may be, many people around the world are telling their stories.

When I see people sharing things and telling their stories on social media, I sometimes wonder about the significance of what is being shared.  As Christians, we have to be careful that we are not so caught up in our own story that we miss out on the fact that God has a plan for our life and a story He wants us to follow.  Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God's workmanship, we are His creation, and God created us to walk in and carry out some good works that He has pre-planned for us.

Are we following God's plan and His story for our life or following our own plan and living out our own story for our life?  To really live a happy, satisfying life we have to follow God's plan and get involved in His story for our life.  The great thing is that God's story for our life is a good one with a happy ending.  Our own story may not always be so great, but God's story is.  Instead of only thinking about what we want to do and what we have done, we need to think about what God wants us to do, what is His story for our lives?  That is the story we need to live out and tell to others.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Do What I Want

"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask."
And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory."

But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you ask.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
Mark 10:35-38 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen someone, most likely a child, asking for and insisting on having something?  If they are denied having the object of their desire, they can become very unhappy and even unruly.  The child may have no idea what the item costs or if it is a good thing for them to have, but they know they want it and they are convinced they should have it.  The child's desire has blinded them to anything other than that they want this thing.

It is not really surprising that we all tend to be like the child, we want something and all we can think about is having that thing without realizing what it really means to have it.  This is the situation Jesus faced with His disciples.  They wanted to be with Jesus and to have a high position with Him.  Without any real understanding of what they were asking for, like children, they said to Jesus, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask".

We often have the same problem that James and John had; we really do not even know if what we are asking for is right or not, we just want God to do what we want.  When we talk to God, we should not just focus on what do I want, but what does God want?  Prayer is not a magic wand that brings us what we want just because we want it; we must first know if what we are asking for is really God's will.  God loves us, and wants us to have good things, but we must know if what we ask for is in the will of God, in His Word. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hot Outside, Cool Inside

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;"
Romans 12:10-11 (NKJV)

Temperatures in the Summertime can get very high, more so in some places than in others.  Some places I have been, like Oklahoma and Texas, can have some very hot temperatures during the Summer months, this is why air conditioning is so nice.  The temperature can be extremely hot outside, but with air conditioning things can be very cool inside.  You could pass by a house or some building during the hot weather and although it does not look so from the outside, where it is hot, it is very cool inside the building.

In the same way, Christians can look one way on the outside but have something different going in inside of them.  Some believers may jump, shout, and do a lot of great things in church, but that is not who they really are.  Too many Christians are "hot" when it comes to an exciting service or a special meeting, but unless something outside of them "heats them up" they are cool and lack any zeal to do anything God might be calling them too.  They may be hot on the outside but they are cool on the inside.

Romans 12:11 says to be "fervent" in spirit; this word literally means to be hot.   We need to have a fervent, "hot", desire within us to spend time with God and His Word more than just when a special meeting takes place.  We should have a zeal to reach the lost and take the Gospel around the world more than just when we hear a touching story from a missionary.  We should have an interest in helping others more than just when it directly benefits us.  By staying full of God's Word and following the direction of the Holy Spirit we can be fervent, hot, inside and outside spiritually all year long.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lessons From The Lazy Man

"I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:"
Proverbs 24:30-32 (NKJV)

When we think about learning something, we often think of going to a school of some kind, that is a very common place for learning.  If we wanted to learn a certain kind of skill, we could contact someone to teach us the things we needed to develop that skill.  But there are some places we may not associate with learning that we can still learn from.  In fact, if we are open to the idea of learning through a variety of methods, we can find that we will learn some lessons in unexpected places and in unusual circumstances.

Learning is a life-long process; we should continue to learn so that we will grow and develop to be more useful and effective in our lives and in the things that God calls us to do.  It will help us to have the mentality that we can always learn new things.  Some people seem to have the idea that there is only so much learning anyone can do and then that is the end.  If this was the case then it would be a sad way to live.  But, as Christians, with the Holy Spirit living in us and helping us, we can have a life-long learning process.

In Proverbs 24 there is a story about someone passing by the field of the lazy man and the vineyard of a man with no understanding.  This is certainly not meant to condone these people, but the idea here is that by just observing the world around them a person can learn in every situation.  God has great plans and purposes for us, and part of how we will do what God has called us to do is by always learning and growing.  If we keep ourselves open to learning, and pay attention to our real teacher, the Holy Spirit, we can learn new things and develop all the time.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Walk The Talk

"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,"
2 Timothy 3:10 (NKJV)

In our world today, it is easy for people to say pretty much whatever they want.  While there are various laws that limit some of the things people can say, what I am referring to is how people tend to build themselves up beyond who they really are.  People can say that they are this, that, or the other thing, but in reality they are none of those things.  The sad part is when you might happen to actually meet that person and then you find out that who they claimed to be had nothing to do with who they really are.

Jesus had some very strong things to say to the religious leaders of His day, Jesus called them hypocrites.  What did Jesus mean by that?  Jesus was saying that these religious leaders talked the talk, but they did not walk the talk.  In other words, what they said and did were not the same thing, and that is not good.  In Matthew 23 Jesus even mentioned how some of what they said was fine, it was just that they did not do what they told others to do.  While the Pharisees were a bad example for others, Jesus and also Paul were good examples.

The Apostle Paul was a good leader and Christian because he walked the talk.  Paul even mentioned to Timothy how that Timothy knew what Paul taught and Timothy saw how Paul lived, there was no gap between the two. In James it talks about being a doer of the Word and this is really the same thing.  Many people can talk about what God's Word says, but do their lives show what they believe?  It is easy to talk about something, but it is quite different to do something about it.  How about us?  Do we live what we believe and walk the talk?  If not, we should.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Content In Every Condition

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:"
Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a chameleon changing colors?  This is something a chameleon might do to for several reasons.  Sometimes a chameleon will change color to blend into their environment as a means of camouflage, sometimes the color change is due to a change in temperature, and sometimes they change color as a way to signal their intentions to other chameleons.  They can turn a brighter color to show aggression or a darker color to show submission.  These color changes help the chameleon fit into their environment.

When we look at the life of the Apostle Paul, we can see that he had the ability to adapt to his environment.  Paul was certainly not one to compromise, which we can see in the story where he confronted Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) or when he refused to take Mark with him on a second trip after Mark had quit during the first trip (Acts 15:36-40).  Paul knew when to stand his ground for what he believed, but he also knew how to fit in and be content in whatever situation he found himself in.

Paul said that he had learned to be content in every state, in every condition.  While Paul did not change his outer color to adapt, like a chameleon would, Paul was able to maintain an inner stability through Christ to be able to do what needed to be done in every situation.  Paul's satisfaction was not based on outward conditions but on an inward connection to God.  It is what the chameleon has on the inside, because of its nature, that it can change color.  It is because of what we have on the inside, our new nature in Christ, that we can, like Paul, be content in every condition.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Continual Cleaning

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

Have you ever noticed that nothing really stays clean for very long?  Where we live, the clothes we wear, our car, and even things like our teeth need continual cleaning.  Most people are not too excited about the cleaning process, but most people like to have things clean.  Even though cleaning something can take some time and effort, the results are worth it.  If we don't clean things on a regular basis, and pay attention to what we have, then all kinds of dirt and other bad things will accumulate.

In our world today, we are bombarded with all kinds of information, images, sounds, and ideas that can fill up and clutter our mind.  If we are not careful, we can easily have so much stuff in our mind that how we think and what we think about become a mess.  This is why we need a continual cleaning of our thinking and of all the things that try to make their way into our thought life.  We need a daily, continual process of cleaning up our mind by renewing our mind with the Word of God.

We need to guard our thoughts to make sure that what we allow ourselves to think about is in line with God's Word.  We also need to make sure we have a continual process of cleaning the thoughts and ideas we have by filling our mind with the Word of God and replacing any wrong thoughts with right and godly thoughts.  This continual cleaning process with God's Word will not only improve our life and make us more effective in God's plan for our life, but it will help us be a greater blessing to those around us.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Reliable Source

"And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
Luke 24:27 (NKJV)

Usually when there is some story on the news, or something being written about, whoever is reporting the story will cite the source or sources that they received their information from.  Sometimes someone will say they have an unnamed source or they do not want to say who gave them the information, but for something to be accurate there has to be a reliable source for what is being reported.   Without a trustworthy, credible source for what is being said, the story itself is questionable.

After His resurrection, Jesus met two disciples on the road that leads to Emmaus.  At first, these disciples did not recognize Jesus.  When Jesus met them, the disciples seemed to be sad and Jesus asked why this was.  The disciples were surprised by His response because while some other disciples said they had seen a resurrected Jesus, these two were not sure what was going on with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  To help them, and to clarify what was going on, Jesus used the Scriptures to explain what had happened and why it happened.

Jesus gave us a good example and a pattern to follow, when we have questions or we face a difficult situation we always need to go back to the Scriptures.  Jesus did not tell the disciples about His personal experience with the resurrection or how He felt after being raised from the dead, Jesus went back to God's Word because it a reliable source, it is the only thing we can absolutely trust as our source of information.  Just like Jesus used the Word to help the disciples, we need to use the Scriptures for ourselves and when we work with others; God's Word is our reliable source.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Head Or Heart?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

What would happen if you were taking a trip somewhere and you used directions that led you to some other place?  Obviously, this would be a problem.  If you wanted to travel by car to a certain place, but you only had a list of the flights leaving from the airport, you would not only never reach your destination but you would be following the wrong information.  Or if you wanted to travel to someplace within a city, but you only had a map of the Interstate Highway System you would not really have what you need to get to where you want to go.

In our life we have a choice about what we will follow, our head or our heart.  By our heart I don't just mean some emotion or a feeling, but I am talking about what Peter referred to as the "hidden person of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4), our spirit. As it tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6, we must trust in the Lord and the direction He will give to us through our spirit, our heart, and we cannot rely on, or trust in, our feelings or the thoughts we have in our heads.  In fact, our feelings and our thoughts can at times be completely wrong and lead us in the wrong direction.

Romans 8:14 says that we are to be led by the Spirit of God, we are not led by our feelings and we are not led by our figuring things out in our minds.  To properly follow the guidance that God will give to us, we must trust in and lean on the things God will speak to our heart by the Holy Spirit and not what we have in our head.  If we make the right choice to listen to God's direction, no matter how we feel or what we think, we will always choose and stay on the right path.  Learn to listen to the direction that God gives in your heart and don't just rely on what you have in your head.