Thursday, November 15, 2018

What World Will You Create?

"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."
Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)

When I was in high school, I took several art classes where I learned to draw, paint, and sculpt things.  When I wanted to do one of these things I would get the proper materials and then begin my work.  If I was going to paint a picture, I would get a canvas, some brushes, and some paint.  If I was going to create some sculpture I would get some clay, and possibly some tool to use to shape the clay.  It would have been foolish of me to attempt to create a painting with some clay or to make a sculpture with some paint or drawing materials.  To create the right thing I had to use the right materials.

In Hebrews 11:3 it tells us that God framed, which literally means to complete thoroughly, the worlds with His words.  Through the words that He spoke, God created the world.  In Genesis 1 we see the phrase "God said" repeatedly as God created the world and everything that was in it.  In a similar way, the words that we speak will create the world we live in.  If we talk about fear, failure, problems, and other negative things then it will be difficult to have a life that is free of those things.  If, on the other hand, we talk about what God has said in His Word we will create a different type of world.

The Bible shows us over and over that our words are very important.  The things we say will have an impact in our life, positively or negatively.  The more we talk about something, the greater it will become in our life.  We can talk about the natural situation we find ourselves in or we can look to what God has said in His Word and talk about that.  We will never achieve the success we desire or fulfill the will of God for our lives if we do not speak the right kind of words.  It is our choice as to what we talk about, and whatever choice we make, those words will create the kind of world we live in.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Where's The Trouble?

"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."
Matthew 24:6 (NKJV)

If you have a problem with a car, and it is not something you can easily fix by yourself, you will have to take it somewhere to fix it.  Very often what will happen is that the mechanic will connect your car to a computer that will diagnose the problem to see where the trouble is.  It would be foolish to have a car problem and then just randomly try to fix different things without knowing where the actual trouble was in the car.  If the engine is not running correctly you would not just change the tires and if you did have a problem with you tires you would not replace the steering wheel.

In Matthew 24 Jesus talked to His disciples about some things that would happen before He returned again.  Jesus said that the disciples would hear about wars and rumors of wars.  Jesus did not specifically say that the disciples themselves would be in these wars or that they would even be somehow affected by them.  But Jesus still told the disciples not to be troubled.  Jesus was not telling them there was a physical or even spiritual threat to be dealt with, the trouble would be located somewhere else.  Jesus said that things like this would happen but the disciples should not allow these types of things to cause them to be distressed. 

Often when we have problems in our life, whether it is something big or small, we will have questions about what to do and even thoughts about what might go wrong or how things might not work out.  Even if we are not facing a problem, we could still have similar negative thoughts.  This is very much like what Jesus talked to His disciples about, not being troubled in our mind.  We do not have to be troubled by things we experience or even hear about.  By filling our mind with God's thoughts, His Word, we can successfully deal with wrong thoughts that would trouble us and not allow them to distress us.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Put Your Own Mask On First

"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine.  Continue in them, for in doing this you will both save both yourself and those who hear you."
1 Timothy 4:16 (NKJV)

When you are on an airplane they will go over the safety procedures to make sure everyone knows what to do if there should be an emergency.  One of the things they talk about is the air mask that will drop down from above you if there should be a sudden drop in the pressure of the airplane cabin.  But, when they talk about the air mask, the flight crew will always tell you to put your own mask on first before trying to help someone else.  The reason for this is simple, if you are unable to breathe properly you will not be able to help someone else, so you first have to put on your own air mask before you can really help someone else. 

The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, who was a young minister.  Paul gave Timothy advice on ways that Timothy could be successful in ministry and Paul also reminded Timothy that Paul himself gave Timothy a good example to follow.  One very important thing that Paul told Timothy was to pay attention to himself and the right kind of teaching.  Paul said that if Timothy did this then Timothy would not only save himself, but he would also save those who heard him.  If Timothy had focused on trying to help others first he would not have been as successful as he could have or should have been.

If you take care of yourself and what you know and believe first, then you can help others.  But, if you don't take care of yourself and the things you know and believe, then you will not only have problems yourself, but you will not be able to help others.  Paul encouraged Timothy to continue with and stay in this pattern because it is the way to really make a difference in the lives of others.  If someone has problems in their own life and does not really know what the Bible says then that person is not going to be very effective in helping others.  Just like Paul told Timothy, we all need to first take care of ourselves and know the truth so we can help others.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Other Side Of The Gospel

"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
Philippians 1:27 (NKJV)

It has been said that if you climb a mountain from one side you have one view, but if you climb a mountain from the other side you will have a completely different view.  Also, two people can tell a story from two different perspectives and while they are talking about the same thing they might emphasize different aspects of that same story.  Someone who has only seen one side of a mountain or knows just one part of a story may say that they have the correct view.  But, neither side of the mountain or story is the right or wrong side necessarily, but to have a complete understanding of the mountain or story you usually need both sides. 

If you ask Christians what the Gospel is, many would talk about how Jesus came from heaven to take our place and die on the cross for our sin.  Some would say that the Gospel is good news and that through Christ we have been made right with God.  Others would talk about how Jesus came to give us an abundant life or about our future hope of being with God for eternity and not going to hell.  All of these things are true, but they mainly focus on one side of the story, the aspect of our benefits because of the Gospel.  The Gospel is indeed good news for man, but it is also much more.

We often look at the benefits we have received from God through Jesus, and there are benefits, but we fail to see the responsibilities we have also been given.  As Paul mentioned to the Philippians, we have a responsibility to live in a way that pleases God and promotes the Gospel.  We are not just told to go and live a happy life of our own making, we see that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives and we must focus on fulfilling that: being a good representative of Jesus Christ, walking in love, spreading the Gospel around the world, and living a life worthy of the One who saved us.  Get both sides of the Gospel and you will have a complete picture of what it means to be a Christian. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wasted Motion

"But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless."
Titus 3:9 (NKJV)

Over the years I have been a member of a few health clubs and I have also owned some exercise equipment.  One thing that I did before getting involved in a health club and using any exercise equipment was to familiarize myself with what exercises I could do and the proper way to do them.  But, I have noticed over the years that there are some people in health clubs, and who exercise on their own, who do not really know how to exercise correctly so that what they are doing is not helping them, in fact what they are doing is just wasted motion.  While they are doing something, what they are doing will have no real, lasting benefit. 

God gave us His Word to help us learn His will and to see how to live the kind of life that pleases Him.  God knows the challenges we face in life and His Word gives us the guidelines we need to know what to do in every situation.  The Holy Spirit will direct us as to how we can do the things we need to do and help us as we step out in faith to act on God's Word.  But, if we are putting our focus on and efforts into something that God has not said in His Word then we will not have the results in our life that God has promised and we are seeking.  If what we do is not based on the Bible it is just wasted motion.

The Apostle Paul talked about avoiding some things because they were unprofitable and useless.  Too often Christians are doing things that may seem nice and look good, but they bring no real benefits because these things are not based on the Bible.  People are sometimes taught to do certain things in a certain way as a method for success, but if these things are not in agreement with the Bible they are unprofitable and useless.  We need to get into God's Word to have a thorough understanding of it so that we are sure what we are doing is in line with the Word and not just wasted motion.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Greatest Validation

"For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV)

When we do something good, it is always nice if someone notices and says something positive about it, especially if the person who notices what we have done and compliments us is someone we look up to in some way.  While we normally do not do things just to earn someone's praise, we all would have to admit that we like to hear people say something positive about us and the things we do.  It is a natural thing to enjoy someone recognizing our efforts, but it can be a trap for us to pursue these types of complements as way to validate what we do and not just recognize the value of doing something simply because it is the right thing to do. 

When we have something to do, especially when it is something we are doing for God, we need to do that thing no matter who sees it or notices what we are doing.  If God is leading us to do something, if He has directed us through His Word or by the Holy Spirit to do something, then we need to do it no matter who recognizes us for our efforts; we will not always have praise and recognition from others for the things that we do when we follow God's plans.  If we look for someone to validate what we are doing before we are willing to do it, then we may never really fulfill God's plan in our life. 

Paul talked about people who wanted some kind of letters of commendation to show who he was and to validate what he was doing.  However, Paul realized that the greatest validation of his efforts was not going to come from men but from God.  In the same way that Paul understood that seeking the compliments and accolades of others was not a wise way to judge the value of what he did, we too must understand that God's plan and the gifts and abilities He has given us do not need to be validated by other people to be significant.  We all need to recognize the value of God's plan in our life, no matter who does or does not validate it for us.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Do You Know Your Name?

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."
1 John 3:1 (NKJV)

My last name, Rogahn, is of German origin.  But, no matter if I am in Germany, the USA, or in some other place, my name has been mispronounced and misspelled many, many times.  When I was younger and someone would incorrectly spell or pronounce my name I was quick to correct them.  The problem was that no matter how many people I would talk to about how to correctly spell or say my name the problem persisted.  Although people have had and continue to have a problem with my name it does not bother me because I know what my name is; it is not a problem for me because that does not change my identity. 

In the Bible we learn about our true identity in Christ and who God says we are.  1 John 3:1 is one example, where we see that God has called us His children.  Even if other people do not understand that or accept that, it does not change the truth about who we are.  Some people may try to explain why we cannot be who we say we are in Christ, why our past should disqualify us from being in God's family, or how we do not deserve a place in God's Kingdom, but that does not change what God has said about us.  The most important thing is that we know who we are and what God has called us.

God's Word is the place we need to look to find out how to correctly say who we are and what we are.  If God has called us His children, then we are His children.  If God has said we are a new creation in Christ and righteous in Christ then we are (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21).  If God has said that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:10), and blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) then that is exactly who and what we are.  Know who and what you are in Christ so that no matter what anyone else says about it you know for sure who you really are.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Right Place To Keep It

"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart."
Deuteronomy 6:6 (NKJV)

There is an old saying that states "A place for everything and everything in its place".  The meaning behind this phrase is that to keep things organized there should be a place for everything and when that thing is not in use it can be stored in its proper place so that it can be easily found when it needs to be used the next time.  For example, if you had a regular place to put your car keys it would then be easy to find them when you needed them.  If you did not have those keys in a place where you can easily find them again, then you may have trouble locating them when you need to use them. 

Deuteronomy 6 shows us the proper place to keep God's Word, in our heart.  It does not say to keep God's Word on a shelf or just in our notes.  We need to have God's Word in our heart to help guide us in our life and so that it is ready for use in our life as we need it.  In Psalm 119:11, the Psalmist said that they kept God's Word in their heart so that they would not sin, Proverbs 37:31 talks about the righteous having God's law in their heart and the result being that their steps did not slide, and Proverbs 4:20-21 says that we need to keep God's law in our heart because it is life to us.

If we don't keep the Word in our heart, but only have it somewhere on a shelf or don't even know it, we will not only miss out on all the benefits of God's Word in our life, but we can find ourselves in some difficulty as we will not be able to use it as we should in our time of need.  Having God's Word in our heart is a result of having a regular time of reading and studying the Bible as well as acting on the Word, this is how we make it a part of our life and get it into our heart.  We all need to be sure we are taking the time necessary to get God's Word into our heart, that is the right place to keep it.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Stay With Your Race

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)

When I was in high school I participated in some running sports.  One thing I was a part of was what was called track and field.  This consisted of different types of running events and things like pole vaulting and the long jump.  My area was running the one and two mile races, I was a better distance runner than sprinter, and I was definitely not a pole vaulter or long jumper.  Once, when we were missing some people at an event, my coach had me run the 400 meter dash.  That was not my usual event and the results showed it as I finished behind most of the other runners.  While I was good with running longer distances I was not very good at the sprinting events. 

In Hebrews 12, the Bible compares the Christian life to a race and Paul also used that example in 2 Timothy 4:7.  As Paul neared the end of his life, he talked about having finished the race.  Paul was confident that as his time on earth was coming to an end that he had done the will of God for his own life and run the race God had given him.  This is similar to what it says about David in Acts 13:36, that David served his generation by the will of God, in other words, David ran his race for God.  Jesus Himself said in John 17:4 that He had finished the work God had given Him to do.

Just like Paul, David, and even Jesus, God has a plan for our life; God has a race for us to run.  You can't run my race and I can't run your race, each of us must run their own race according to the will of God.  We must first find out what the will of God is for our life and then fulfill it.  Through the Word of God and by the Holy Spirit, God will help us to discover the race He has for us and He will help us run that race.  We can't just choose our own race, we live, or run, in response to His will.  Discover your race and find the will of God for your life so that all of us can say we have run our race, served our generation, and done the will of God.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Staying Sharp

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)

Things like knives, scissors, and various kinds of blades need to be sharpened on a regular basis.  If you only use your knife, scissors, or blades without the regular maintenance of sharpening them, then the time will come where you will no longer be able to use them effectively.  If you keep cutting instruments sharp, it is not a problem to cut through whatever it is you need to cut.  It is easy for some of these things to be dulled through normal use, and without those things being sharpened they will end up dull and useless.

The things that we do and the people we spend our time with will have an impact on us.  It is interesting to see that people can do many of the right things, but if they spend a lot of time with the wrong kind of people it will have more of a negative impact on them than the positive things that they do will have.  The people we spend our time with should be those who help us stay spiritually sharp and do more for God, people that discourage us and take our focus away from the things of God are really just making us dull.

The Bible talks about the kind of people we need to be and the kind of people we need to spend our time with.  Yes, we can walk in love and be kind to everyone.  But, the question is whether or not we have people in our life who are helping to build us up, people who help us to be "sharp".  Do the people we spend our time with help us to be "sharp" and godlier, or do they dull us to the things of God?  We can also ask that about ourselves, do we help to improve other people or do we make them dull?  Our goal should be to build relationships with people that will help to build us up and to be that kind of person for others. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Standard We Should Have

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)

What kind of attitude should we have with the work that we do?  Is there one attitude that is right for one kind of job but not for another, or is there a certain attitude we should have for every job?  Is there a level of work that is acceptable sometimes and not at others, or should our level of effort be consistent no matter what job we are doing?  The answer, which most people would agree is correct, is that our attitude and our effort should be the same with everything that we do, because we should have a standard that does not change from task to task.

In the Bible we can see the standard that God has.  When the temple was built, when God gave the details about the clothing that the priests would wear, and when instructions for the different sacrifices were given these things needed to be done in a certain way.  God gave a standard of excellence in everything He instructed people to do and this should be our standard as well.  No matter who may or may not be paying attention to what we are doing, we need to realize that even if no one is watching us or approving of what we do on earth we have a Master in Heaven who is paying attention.

As Christians, no matter what we do or who we work for, we should do it as to the Lord because He is the One that we are really serving.  Our natural work on the earth should show a pattern of excellence because of Who we serve and represent.  We can always ask ourselves the question, if this was some work I was doing directly for Jesus how would I do it?  That is the standard we should have all of the time for everything that we do.  No matter who our earthly leader or boss is, no matter what standard they might require, we serve someone even greater and our standard should reflect that.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sensitivity Training

"For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil."
Romans 16:19 (NKJV)

Sensitivity can be a very subjective thing.  Some people are more sensitive to light than others while some people are more sensitive to certain smells.  In both cases, the person with the heightened sensitivity is more aware of, and more influenced by, the things they are sensitive to than other people are to those same things.  Some sensitivities can be developed, like sensitivity to certain sounds or tastes, because of someone's repeated exposure to and experience with these things.  While many types of sensitivity seem to occur naturally in a person, some sensitivities can be developed.

The things we spend our time with will develop a sensitivity, an awareness, within us.  If, for example, someone was to listen to classical music all day long it would become easier and easier for them to recognize certain selections of music and their composers.  This same kind of thing can, and should, happen with Christians.  As we spend more time in God's Word, talking to God in prayer, and being with other like-minded believers our sensitivity to the things of God can increase.  Spending less time with these things would make us less sensitive to godly things.

As with most things, we can develop in our sensitivity to what is good and God honoring. We can develop an understanding of how God sees things and what He considers to be right and wrong, rather than having our concepts of these things being influenced by society and other people.  By our continuing to spend time in God's Word and in prayer we can develop a sensitivity and awareness to be wise towards what is good, as Romans 16:19 says.  This helps us to follow God and live a life that is not only satisfying, but one that is pleasing to Him as well.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Delays Do Not Determine Destiny

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Having a flight, train travel, or a trip delayed is not much fun.  But, as long as the flight will still leave the airport, the train will reach its destination, and the trip will still take place then the delay is not a serious problem.  If our travel plans are delayed, but not cancelled, we may be inconvenienced or even be a little late for something, but we will still reach our destination.  In the overall scope of things, a simple delay is not the end of the trip we are taking and not the final outcome of the plans we have.  A travel delay does not determine whether or not we will reach our destination.

Most of the time, things do not happen as quickly as we would like them to.  It can be that we are expecting something to happen in our life and in our walk with God and that thing does not develop as soon as we expected it to, and we can become frustrated.  But, just because something does not happen in the time frame that we expected does not mean that the thing we desired is wrong or that it is not actually coming to pass in our life.  Just because something is delayed does not mean that it is not on the way, that thing could in fact be just around the corner, so to speak.

God has a great future planned for us; God does not make bad or negative plans.  But, that does not mean that our destiny will show up overnight.  The Bible is full of examples of people who were promised something or had great plans and those things did not come to pass as soon as those people had hoped.  But, a delay in a plan coming to pass is no determination of destiny.  We must discover God's plan and purpose for our life and then continue on in our relationship with God knowing that He will help to lead us into His will.  We cannot get caught up in the timing of God's destiny for our life, but we can be sure that as we follow Him that His plans will come to pass.  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Relationship, Not Rituals

"Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
John 14:23 (NKJV)

If you look in a dictionary, you can find several definitions for the word "ritual".  One of those definitions is that a ritual is something that is done in a certain way and repeated, something done in a predetermined method.  Rituals are not necessarily a bad thing and some rituals are helpful.  For example, we can have a certain way that we do some things at home, or at our place of work, where the routine of a ritual helps us to remember what it is we need to do and how we need to do it.  But something could also become such a ritual to us that we lose the real meaning and purpose behind what we do.

When Jesus walked on the earth He talked about His heavenly Father in a way that was different than many of the religious leaders of the day, it was more personal than what most people were used to at that time.  In the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we can often see Jesus confronting the religious leaders about how they had turned what was supposed to be a relationship into nothing more than a ritual. The sad thing is that today many believers are falling into the same problem, they have a set of rituals and a routine that they follow without the corresponding relationship to God.

While the Old Testament did prescribe rules for how many things needed to be done to please God, the religious leaders had completely lost touch with the God that the Old Testament pointed to and the Redeemer who was to come, which was Jesus.  It is true that there is a right way and a wrong way to live, but if we only focus on those guidelines and rules we will fall into rituals that will hurt the real relationship we should have with God.  We build our relationship with God through His Word and by spending time with Him in prayer, it is not just a ritual that we follow, it is a way for us to maintain a close relationship with God.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Holy Spirit, Our Helper

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you."
John 16:7 (NKJV)

Years ago, I worked at a company that produced wood paneling.  Logs were cut down into pieces that would then be manufactured into paneling.  For a while I was involved working in this process as the logs were being cut.  My job was to take the log that had been cut and put it on the conveyor that took it back to the operator to cut another piece.  This job was too much for one person, so a helper was always needed.  With someone helping me I was able to do the job that I could not do alone.  To be most effective, my helper and I had to work together, we had to cooperate.

When Jesus operated in His earthly ministry He led His disciples, taught them, and helped them do what was necessary.  The time came when Jesus was about to leave the earth and Jesus said that it was better for Him to leave.  This must have been a shock to the disciples, how could it be better if Jesus left them?  The answer was that after Jesus left the disciples He sent the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to them.  When Jesus was on the earth He could only be in one place at one time with the disciples.  The Holy Spirit is not limited to one place and He is not only with us, today the Holy Spirit lives in believers!

The Holy Spirit was sent to be our Helper.  The Holy Spirit is not called the Doer because He does not do everything for us and then we just sit back and watch things happen.  The Holy Spirit is not called the Watcher because He does not just stand by and watch all the things happening in our life without offering us assistance.  The Holy Spirit is our Helper and whatever it is we need to do, He will help us to do it.  No matter how big the task, no matter what God is leading us to do, no matter how it may look to us, we can trust the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to work with us and help us get the job done!