Thursday, May 16, 2019

Untapped Resources

"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I will do for them, and not forsake them."
Isaiah 42:16 (NKJV)

When I first moved to the area of Bonn, Germany, I wanted to see the Rhine River.  I had seen the river before I moved, but I wanted to get right down to the river itself.  My only problem was that I did not know exactly how to get there.  While I had seen maps that showed streets leading from the city center to the river, I did not know which street was which, or what the best method was for me to get there.  The good news is that I found the route to the river and since then I have had many wonderful visits to the Rhine River.

As we move forward in our relationship with God, there will be times that we need to find the right way to go, as well as the wisdom and resources to accomplish the goals that God gives us.  However, very often what we need already exists, we just need to find it and make use of it.  This is similar to when someone wants to drill a well for water, oil, or something else.  They know that what they are looking for is there, it is just a question of finding it and making use of those untapped resources that are already available.

In Isaiah, God said He would bring people by a way they did not know, a path they were not familiar with.  The fact was that the path, the way to go, was actually already there, they just did not know about it yet, it was not a path they had taken before.  God has said that He would guide us and provide whatever we needed to follow His plan for our life.  As we spend time with God through His Word and in prayer, He will guide us to what we need and show us the best way to use those resources to fulfill His will.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Why Walk When You Can Fly?

"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 with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 
for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

A while ago, when I was in the USA, I was out for a walk with my mom.  As we walked, we saw a small bird nearby that was hoping around from place to place.  My mom made the comment, "Why hop when you can fly?".  While the bird had the ability to fly it was not doing so; it may have been injured, although it did not seem to be, or there may have been some other reason.  But whatever the reason was, the bird was just hopping and not flying, it was not doing something it should have been able to do.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said that they were carnal people and not spiritual.  They were born again, believers in Jesus, but their lives were dominated by natural things and not spiritual things.  Paul said that he could not speak to them the way he wanted to because they were so focused on the natural side of life and not spiritual truth.  Just like us, the Corinthians needed to live a life focused on everything that God has provided through Jesus and not natural circumstances.

Paul said that the Christians in Corinth were acting like "mere men"; they were acting like ordinary people and not like spiritual people. In other words, they were walking when they should have been flying.  Just like the bird that had the capability to fly but was just hopping around, Christians, because of Jesus, have the possibility to live a life above the things in the world.  If we try to live the life God has called us to while focusing on natural truth and not spiritual truth, we will never achieve what God has planned.  Why be carnal when you can be spiritual, why walk when you can fly?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Are You Ready To Run?

"If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?  And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?"
Jeremiah 12:5 (NKJV)

Years ago, when I first started doing running sports in high school, I remember that for the first couple of days I was so tired out and my legs ached.  But as I spent more and more time running it got easier and easier and I was not worn out as much.  As I continued to train and do more running I got to the point where I was running races of 3 miles (5.1 kilometers).  To just run that distance at first was difficult, but through practice I was eventually running races at that distance as well as running longer and longer distances.

Being a Christian, being a follower of Jesus, is a lifelong relationship, and in this relationship we should be growing and developing.  The Apostle Paul wrote about the need for spiritual growth in places like Ephesians 4:14-15.  In the same way that it would be bad for someone to remain a baby naturally, it would be bad for someone to remain a baby spiritually.  Just like I had to train to run further distances and babies need to grow up naturally, we need to grow and develop spiritually so we can run the race that God has called us to (Hebrews 12:1).

Wherever we are now spiritually, we need to grow to do more in the future; we cannot stay at the level we are at now and expect to do more for God.  If we find ourselves in a struggle just to live at the spiritual level we are at now, how will we ever do more in the future?  If we are not growing spiritually and we are not developing in our faith, the time will come when God will ask us to do something and we will not be ready to do it.  We need growth and development as believers so that we are equipped to do the things that God has called us to do.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Giving To Give Or To Get?

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

Have you ever thought about why you do what you do?  Are you acting on a principle and doing something because it is good and right to do, or are you just following a practice and doing something as a ritual or because you think you are supposed to do it?  One person focuses on the outcome of what they are doing while the other is doing something because what they are doing is the right thing to do.  It is always good to do the right thing, but if you understand why you are doing it then it is even better.

The Bible talks about giving and receiving, sowing and reaping, seed-time and harvest.  It is true, as Luke 6:38 and other verses tell us, that if we give we will receive.  No farmer would go out to sow seed and never expect a harvest.  But if the harvest is the only thing in mind when seeds are being planted problems can occur.  Without the proper focus during the planting the harvest can be much less than it should be.  Is the seed being planted and cared for properly?  What type of ground is the seed being planted in and is it the right time to plant?

If we only give with the benefit in mind, we are not really giving in faith expecting God to bless us, we are just giving to get and expecting that our own works will reward us.  Why and how we give is just as important as the giving itself is.  We give to our church, other people, ministries, and missionaries because it is the right thing to do, and because God has directed us to give in His Word and by the Spirit, not just because of some benefit we may receive.  Give with the right motives, expecting God to take care of you, and you will reap a harvest.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What Is That Worth?

"knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen anything of great value, maybe in a museum or somewhere as a part of a collection?  There are several museums and places I have been to that contain some very valuable things, like different works of art and sculptures.  In some of these places you are not allowed to get too close to these things and they are worth so much that they are kept in separate cases or behind glass to protect them. One reason they are so valuable is because they are either irreplaceable or the cost to replace them is so high.

Things are valued by what someone is willing to pay for them.  No one would pay a million dollars for an old shoe, but someone might pay millions of dollars for a painting by Rembrandt.  What are we worth, what value do we have?  In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it tells us that we were redeemed, ransomed by God, paid for by Him with something much more valuable than silver and gold, the precious blood of Jesus.  Do we realize that God was willing to give the most valuable and precious thing, the blood of His Son, for us? 

Do we see ourselves as valuable and worth something or do we see ourselves as nothing special?  We need to realize that God places a high value on us.  The Bible tells us that we were redeemed, purchased with the blood of Jesus, and there is nothing more valuable than that!  If we do not see ourselves as valuable to God that will impact how we treat ourselves, which in turn impacts how we treat others.  See yourself and others as valuable to God, realize that He paid the highest price possible to make you a part of His family.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Trying To Live In Two Places

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV)

What if you moved into a new house or apartment, and even shipped all of your belongings to your new place, but you continued to try and live in your old house or apartment?  It could be that your new home was not too far from the old one so you could go back and forth trying to live in two places, but that would not make any sense.  With all of the things you need to live your life located in your new home it would be foolish to try and keep living in your old place, but you could actually still try to do it.

In that same way that you cannot really live in two places at once physically, the same thing is true spiritually.  We have a choice as to what we identify as our home, naturally and spiritually.  Spiritually speaking, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).  If we focus and base our life on natural things it will keep us living the same way we always did.  As we focus and base our life on spiritual things this helps us to live the way that God has designed for us to live. 

Spiritually or naturally, you choose what to focus and base your life on, but you cannot live in two places, your head and your heart, at the same time.  This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 8.  It is our choice as to where and how we will live, in the natural or the spiritual.  What we focus our life on will determine whether we partake of the spiritual blessings that belong to us, or if we will continue to live as the same type of person we were before we became born again.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

You've Got That Backwards

"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
James 1:19-20 (NKJV)

Have you ever made the mistake of putting your shoes or boots on the wrong feet?  There were a couple of times in the past that I did that because I was not really paying attention to what I was doing.  But before long I noticed that things just did not seem right.  A quick examination of the situation showed me the obvious problem, I had gotten things backwards, my boots were on the wrong feet!  While I did have something on my feet, things were not going to work very well for me until I made a change and got things straightened out.

Getting things backwards or in the wrong order can be a simple mistake, but if it is not corrected it can create major problems.  James 1:19 talks about the correct way to do things, being swift to hear and slow to speak.  The problem is that too many people, including Christians, have gotten that backwards.  So many people are quick to speak and slow to listen to others and really hear what is going on.  While people are doing the right things of speaking and hearing, they have gotten things backwards and that is not good. 

Often, we are so busy saying what we want to say that no one else can even get a word in.  Many times, we are just ready to say what we want to say and we are not really listening to other people.  But if we don't listen to other people, we are not going to be able to help them, and we give the impression that we are more interested in what we have to say than we are in the other person and what they think or have to say.  We all need to get things in the right order and be swift to hear and slow to speak, that is the biblical pattern and a way to walk in love with and help other people.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Magic Pill

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

What would it be like if you had to go to the doctor and they told you that you had a medical problem, but there was a pill you could take for that problem and you only had to take the pill once?  If that was the case you would probably be very happy, but unfortunately there is no magic pill that you can take one time for anything.  Normally, you have to take a pill or some kind of medicine repeatedly to get the desired results.  The same is true with most things, just taking something once or doing something once will not get the same results as doing it repeatedly will.

The thing that is true in the natural world is also true in the spiritual world, frequent repetition is important.  While you can do something over and over again just as a ritual, there is a spiritual truth behind the concept of doing something on a regular, repeated basis.  For example, Romans 10:17 does not say that faith comes by having heard, it says faith come by hearing, and hearing.  Romans 12:2 talks about our being transformed by the renewing of our mind, which indicates a continual process.  Building faith and renewing our mind is something that is not just done at one time. 

Sadly, many Christians don't spend the necessary amount of time learning, meditating on, and practicing God's Word to get the desired results.  Too many Christians are looking for some magic spiritual pill, so to speak, that will solve all of their spiritual issues.  Some believers go from meeting to meeting looking for someone to pray for them or give them a "special word" from God to do what will only come through repeatedly reading, studying, hearing, and practicing the Word.  Don't be a "magic pill" Christian, make it a regular habit to spend time in God's Word building your faith, renewing your mind, and developing spiritually.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Gerbil Wheel Christians

"Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!
You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!"
Haggai 1:5-7 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a pet gerbil and the little wheel that people have for the gerbil to run on?  The wheel is there for the gerbil to use and supposedly get some exercise.  The gerbil can get on that wheel whenever they like and run, and run, and run.  The only thing is, even though the gerbil is doing a lot of running, they are not going anywhere.  There is action taking place, the gerbil is moving their legs, and energy is being used, but nothing is really happening.  And even though this could happen day, after day, after day, the gerbil will still get on the wheel and run some more.

Even though no one really has a giant human wheel that they run on like the gerbil wheel, there are a lot of people, including Christians, who are doing the same thing as the gerbil.  These people have a lot of activity going on, they are busy, and they are using a lot of energy but they are going nowhere in their life.  In the case of a Christian, they go to church, they even read their Bible and pray, but their spiritual life is stagnant.  One reason for this is the same thing that God spoke to Israel through Haggai about, that Israel had been spending time building things in their own life without building what God desired. 

Haggai compared the lives of these people of Israel to a person who did a lot of things that brought no real results, all because their priorities were out of order.  In the same way today, some believers have seemingly been doing all the right things but seeing no real results because their first priority is always what they want and not what God wants.  We can have all the right activity, but will not get the right results if we have the wrong priorities.  To really move forward in life, we not only have to do the right things but we must be sure that what we are doing is a part of God's plan for our life and not just our own goals and desires.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It's Just A Book

"Sanctify then by Your truth: Your word is truth."
John 17:17 (NKJV)

Over the years I have had many people talk to me about some book they read or heard about, some movie that is being released, or some current thing going on in society that is ungodly, unbiblical, or that mocks God and His Word.  Often these people are upset and they first ask me if I have heard about this thing and then they want to know what I think about it and what should be done.  Usually I don't pay much attention to these kinds of things so I don't always know what the people are referring to.  But once I do know what they are talking about I usually give them the same answer: "It is just a book", or movie, or whatever.

While I do realize that we need to take a stand for the truth of God's Word, and that there will always be some unbiblical things that come around, we can't allow ourselves to get so concerned about them; it is just a book, movie, or whatever and it does not change God's Word.  We need to know the truth of God's Word, live according to the truth, and be ready to share the truth with others.  But we must be careful that we are not dragged into debates and arguments about some false teaching.  When some wrong teaching or thing comes along remember that is it just a book, it is no comparison to the truth of God's Word.

When Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17, He did not pray that God would give them wisdom to root out all the false teaching and be able to debate well with others.  Jesus prayed that His followers would be sanctified, set apart to God, by the truth of God's Word.  It is the application of the truth of God's Word in our life that will build us up spiritually, give us the answers we need for ourselves and others, guide us in our life, and help us do whatever we need to do for God.  The most important thing we can do is to be firmly established in the truth and not allow ourselves to be swayed by the latest ungodly thing that comes around.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Glancing Or Searching?

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:11 (NKJV)

There are different ways you can look at something, you can take a long, hard look or you can just glance at something.  Recently I was in a museum where there was a lot of art work.  As I passed through the museum, I noticed a person who was sitting in front of a certain painting just looking at it.  While I had seen the painting and appreciated the work that the artist had done, this other person was taking a much longer and more in depth look at the same painting.  By doing so, this person was going to be able to notice more things than I had and have a better overall understanding of the painting than what I had.

There are different ways we can "look" at God's Word.  We can read and even study it to get a basic view of it.  By doing this we learn more about who God is, what He is like, and how He wants us to live.  But, as with the story of the people in Acts 17:11, we can also search through the Scriptures to get a thorough view and an even better understanding of what God has said to us.  Too many people take a more casual approach to the Bible and they do more glancing at it than searching through it.  But rather than just taking a glance at God's Word we need to spend the time searching through it.

In the same way that someone can take a few moments to get a general appreciation of a picture, we too can have a general view of God's Word as we take a little time to read over it occasionally.  But, in the same way that someone could take a longer time to view and study a picture, by having a more regular time to read and study the Bible in depth we will not only gain a greater knowledge and understanding of God and His Word but we will be better prepared for the things we deal with in our life.  We need to become skilled in searching God's Word and have a thorough comprehension of it. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Lack Of Knowledge

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ..."
Hosea 4:6 (NKJV)

Recently, I took a flight to an airport where I planned to take a bus to another city and then a train to my final destination.  I decided to buy a ticket from the machine and not wait in line to buy the ticket at the counter.  As I went through the process of buying my ticket, I pushed the button for the city I was traveling to.  But I was surprised a while later when my bus arrived in a different part of the town than where I had planned, so I had to take another bus to the train station.  Because I did not really know the bus routes my trip took an extra hour and cost me more money, all because of what I did not know.

God has given us a wonderful, supernatural book that we call the Bible.  The Bible is God's Word to us and it is filled with many, many things that we need to know about so that we can have a great relationship with God and know how to live a successful, fulfilling life following the plan that God has for us.  But, as wonderful and marvelous as all of this is, if we don't know what God's Word has to say, we are not only at a disadvantage but we can have some serious problems due to our lack of knowledge and understanding of what God has said.

Too often Christians have problems and it is not the devil that is hindering them, it is their lack of knowledge of God's Word.  Yes, there can be times that we are in a storm or trail while we are completely in the will of God, but this is not always the case.  Over, and over again, I have talked to people who were having problems and suffering in their life because they did not know what God had already said, so they were not acting on it in their life.  The solution to a lack of knowledge is a simple one, take time to read and study God's Word; that is the best way to be sure that we are not struggling simply because we do not know what the Bible says.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Seed Needs Water

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:6 (NKJV)

Most people have planted something at some time in their life.  One thing that everyone who has planted something knows is that the seed you planted needs to be watered.  Watering a seed is not a one-time thing, it is something that is done over a period of time.  You don't water the seed you planted just once, it is a continual process that can use a lot of water.  If you only plant a seed but you never water it, then the seed you have planted will never grow; without water the seed will die and your efforts will be wasted.  A seed that is planted needs water.

Paul preached the Gospel he had received by revelation from God (Galatians 1:11-12), of how we are saved by grace through faith and not through our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We need to learn about and fully understand these Bible truths, as well as many others, which is why we need to have things repeated and hear them again and again.  This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 3:6 when he said that he planted and Apollos watered.  Paul himself traveled to some of the same places more than once to further help the people he had already taught, he was watering the seeds he had sown. 

In 2 Peter 1:12, Peter said he was reminding the people about something, even though they were already established in that truth.  There was something that they already knew about, but Peter said it was important for him to remind them of it, Peter was watering the seed that had been planted.  Peter, just like Paul, knew that we all need a continual reminder, a continual process of hearing the truth, the watering of the Word of God, to grow and develop in our faith.  We need to see to it that we have a regular time of reading and studying God's Word to plant it in our heart and continually water it so that it grows and develops.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Wishing Well

"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
Matthew 21:22 (NKJV)

A "Wishing Well" is something that was probably seen more in the past than it is today.  A Wishing Well was some type of a well and the idea was if there was something you desired, some wish you had that you wanted to come true, you could go to the Wishing Well and toss in a coin while you made your wish.  Supposedly by doing this it became more likely that you would be able to have your wish fulfilled.  Most, if not all, people knew this was not a way to actually bring a wish into reality, but it was a nice way for people to dream and wish for something in their life.

For some Christians, prayer and faith are like the experience of a Wishing Well.  There is something they need or desire in their life and all they have is a wish that someday, somehow, that wish might come true.  Because some believers do not know what God has said in His Word, they have no basis for faith and they really do not believe that what they are asking for will actually come to pass.  It can be a very sad thing to see someone in their time of need only wishing for a solution to their problem and the answer that they need.  But this is not faith or how a Christian should behave.

We need to learn through the Word of God all about what Jesus did for us and what God has provided for us through Jesus and then put our trust and confidence, our faith, in that.  When we face a challenge in our life, when we have a need that must be met, when we have questions about what to do in our life, God has an answer and will help us as we ask in faith.  As we take a stand in faith on God's Word, we can know that we will have the answer that we need.  We can do more than just wish for our needs to be met, by faith we can believe and receive the things that we need.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

"X" Marks The Spot

"So they said to Him, Where do You want us to prepare?  
And He said to them, Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters.  
Then you will say to the master of the house, "The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"  
Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready."
Luke 22:9-12 (NKJV)

Did you ever see a movie where someone was looking for something of value using a "treasure map" of some kind?  Often the map had an "X" on it to mark the spot where the treasure was hidden.  But what also often happened was that the person had to follow a series of clues or directions that led them to the spot where the treasure was.  While the "X" may have marked the spot, its location was not always so obvious or easy to find for any casual observer.  The treasure could only to be revealed to the person who followed the directions to the right location.

The story in Luke 22 of where Jesus had the Passover meal is one that I find to be very interesting.  It starts with the disciples asking Jesus where they should prepare for the Passover.  Jesus did not just tell them to go to a certain address in a certain city; Jesus did not directly identify the place that they needed to go to, but He told them how to get there.  It would seem like Jesus should have just told them exactly where to go instead of running them around in circles.  But there are some valuable lessons we can learn here about how God will guide us.

God knows exactly what we need, where it is, and what we need to do to have what belong to us because of Jesus.  So why doesn't He always just give us a straight path to what we need?   The answer is faith, we live a life of faith and if everything we needed was just laid out for us we would not be living a life of faith we would just live by our senses.  We need to develop in our relationship with God and learn to trust Him and follow His direction.  This will not only lead us to the answers we need today but it will also help us develop a greater trust in our heavenly Father to take bigger and bolder steps of faith in the future.