Thursday, February 15, 2018

Unshakeable Trust

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Looking For Love?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Walking In Love - Whose Parade Is It?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Shine Some Light On That

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Follow The Leader

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 11, 2018

You Choose Or You Lose

"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed."
Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV)

There are many choices that we make in life.  Some choices we make daily, like what to wear or what to eat, while other choices we only make at certain times, like where to take a vacation or what car to buy.  Some choices are not so important and others are very significant.  But, no matter what type of choice it is, a choice must be made.  When we face a situation where we have to decide something, we of course always want to make the right choice.  And one of the biggest and most important choices we will make in life is about the people we spend our time with.

We may have coworkers, neighbors, or even family members that had we been given the choice we may or may not have chosen, but we can make choices about who to build long-term relationships with.  We should not just latch on to the first person that seems nice to us, has something that we admire, or who even seems to be popular.  But, instead, we need to examine the lifestyle and standards of the people we have contact with to determine who to spend our time with.  We can walk in love and be friendly with everyone, but, there are some people we should be friends with and some that we should not.

It is a sad but true fact that many people put more thought into the food they will eat than they do on who they spend their time with.  One easy guideline for us in developing relationships is to be sure that the people we spend our time with have a relationship with Jesus Christ as the focus of their life.  In Proverbs 13:20 it says that the companion of fools will be "destroyed".  This word, "destroyed", literally means "to mar", which refers to something being damaged, possibly beyond repair.  By being around the wrong people we can bring damage to ourselves.  We need to pick the right kind of companions who will help to build us up in life and in our walk with God.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Don't Let The Dream Die

"Then the Lord answered me and said: "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.  Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NKJV)

People often make some kind of resolution at the start of a New Year.  Sometimes these resolutions are people just having a "spur of the moment" idea about doing something, but a New Year's resolution can come from a desire that a person has had for some time.  During the previous calendar year, someone may have noticed a certain thing that they want to change, or it could be that the resolution comes from a dream that someone has had for a long time.  The saddest thing is that like many other dreams and desires, people often give up on their New Year's resolutions and the dream fades away.

New Year's resolutions are not necessarily life-changing, but they are an example of how most people have hopes and dreams for things in their life improving and getting better each year.  But, some people have had hopes and dreams in the past that never materialized, so those people give up on their dreams.  Some people have had a dream or desire to accomplish something that seemed to be too far off, so those goals were abandoned and they too let go of the dream they once had.  Whether it is some natural thing, or more importantly, a desire to do something for God, there are things we can do to make our dream a reality.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 gives us good guidelines for what to do when we have a dream.  First, we are told to write down the vision, our dream.  We need to clarify exactly what we hope to achieve and consider what steps we should take to bring it to pass.  Secondly, we need to exercise patience and hold on to our dream no matter how long it seems to take.  In my own life, there have been dreams that I was sure were going to come to pass in a short amount of time that ended up taking much longer.  By having a plan for our dream, being persistent, and following God's direction for our life, we can see our dreams come to pass..

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Subject To Change Without Notice

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

There is a saying about something being "set in stone" that refers to something that is settled, something that is not going to change.  This is the opposite of the phrase, "Subject to change without notice", which refers to something that could possibly be altered and how that could even happen without prior warning.  If given a choice, most people would prefer something "set in stone" to something that is "subject to change without notice", but the reality is that there are many things in life that can be subject to change and we have no control over those things, the only thing we can truly control is how we respond to change. 

None of us, when we are born, received a guidebook for life that showed us everything that would take place, when, or how it would happen.  But, if we had, it may have had something written on the cover like, "this is not set in stone" or "subject to change without notice".  This is because life is full of things that are subject to change.  It is not a question of whether there will be any changes in our life, but it is a matter of our learning to be able to deal with the inevitable changes we will all face as well as being at peace and having joy no matter what comes.

Some people like the security they have in their way of life, they think they know exactly how things should be, so they don't like it when things change, they become inflexible.  When something new comes along that challenges their set ideas they resist a change, even if it is for the better.  This does not mean, however, that every time something new comes along we change what we are doing, that is not being flexible, that is being gullible.  As we go through life, and especially as we come to a New Year, we need to have a proper attitude about things by not only realizing that things will change but that sometimes a change is necessary.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Christmas Spirit?

"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)

Every year around Christmas, and as the current year draws to a close, you can find different organizations asking people for donations and gifts.  One reason this happens is because people tend to become more generous around this time of the year.  People will often say that they get in "The Christmas Spirit" and they are more interested in giving, because typically this is the time of the year when people exchange gifts and people somehow seem a bit more gracious and generous.  But, what often happens is that most of the gracious and generous attitude disappears as soon as January comes around.

While it is a good thing to give gifts around Christmas, donate to charities and religious organizations, and to be generous and help others during the holiday season, it does not have to end there.  If people kept their gracious and generous attitude and actions for the entire year the world would be a much better place.  We, especially as Christians, need to maintain a year-long attitude and lifestyle of living to give.  We should not just limit our doing good and giving to the time around Christmas, but we should do it all year long.

As it tells us in Luke 6:38, as we give it will be given back to us.  This shows us the principle that is repeated throughout the Bible of sowing and reaping, and it is the main principle that the Kingdom of God operates on.  Whether it is being nice to people, giving money to a person or organization, or simply speaking kind and encouraging words to others, the things that we give out, or sow, in life, whether positive or negative, we will receive back, it is what we will reap.  We all need to look for ways to give to others all year long and know that as we give we will receive.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hearing, Recognizing, And Understanding

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
John 10:27 (NKJV)

Several years ago, I was traveling by plane to speak at a church.  Before arriving, my pastor friend, who I had attended Bible school with, sent me a text message saying that he would be waiting to pick me.  But, after I arrived and stepped outside of the terminal, I found myself in a large crowd of people.  I looked for my friend but did not see him, until I heard his voice from somewhere behind me.  Once I turned around and I heard him call my name again I saw him.  Among all those people, who were also speaking, I not only heard his voice but I recognized it, because I knew his voice so well from our many years of friendship.

Recently I was thinking about what Jesus said in John 10:27, He said that His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him.  But, there can be a difference between hearing God's voice and recognizing and understanding His voice.  God is always speaking to us in His Word and He will speak to us in our heart as we spend time with Him in prayer.  God is ready to speak if we are ready to listen.  It could be that we are actually hearing God's voice but we do not realize that it really is God speaking to us. But, we can develop in our sensitivity to hearing the voice of God.

The problem is usually not that God isn't speaking to us, it is most often that He is speaking but we don't recognize His voice and we don't understand what it is He is saying.  Just like with my pastor friend, whose voice I knew well and was able to distinguish from the many other voices in the crowd, the more time we spend with God the better we will know His voice.  We need to spend time with God in His Word and in prayer to become more and more familiar with His voice so that it is easy for us to recognize Him speaking to us and so we can also understand what He is saying to us.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Under The Cover Of Snow

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."
Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)

When it snows and the snow covers the ground it can completely changes the appearance of everything.  While the snow may come down quickly or slowly, it can eventually blanket the landscape with a covering of white so that everything underneath it is obscured.  There are times that throughout the entire Winter the first snowfall might stay on the ground until Spring, when that happens you can almost forget what things looked like before it snowed.  But, when the warmer temperatures come, the snow melts and the regular conditions return.

Snow can be like the different situations we face in life, something happens that completely changes how things look, but underneath nothing is really different.  It may be one big that happens, or some little things that just seem to pile up, but it appears that everything has changed.  For Christians, God's Word is our foundation and no matter what circumstance or change occurs, God's Word does not change and it must remain our foundation.  If we are not careful, we can allow the different situations and problems we face in life to alter our perspective so that we forget what is reality and what it is that is just changing our view of it.

If we only see the problems and difficulties of life and forget about what we know from the Bible we can start living our life based on a false reality, this is why it is so important to have a good foundation of God's Word in our life.  We need to be so familiar with the Word and so well versed in it that no matter what comes to try and cover things up we always remember our firm foundation of the Word.  By knowing the truth of God's Word, we can always keep our focus on what the true reality is, no matter what happens and how things look on the surface.  Circumstances come and go, but God's Word remains the same!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Unity - A Key For Success

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV)

In every situation there are some things that are necessary for success.  There can be different things that are necessary in some areas that are not so necessary in others, but one thing that is very often a key to success is some type of unity.  If you have anything with more than one element involved in it then there needs to be a unity of operation, a harmony of function.  If you have a group of people, like a sports team, or some machinery, like a car, everyone and everything has to work together for the whole to succeed.  If one individual or part is out of unity with the rest then there will be problems.

In the New Testament, there is only one book that actually records the history of the Church, that is the Book of Acts.  One thing we see repeated again and again, in fact, it is listed six times, is how the early believers were "in one accord".  This means that they had the same focus, the same goals, and this is talking about unity.  The Early Church had a great deal of success, and one of the key factors was unity.  The one thing that is important for unity is that there is a common element that the focus and goals are centered around.  The thing the Early Church was focused on, after Jesus, of course, was the Word of God.

The only way for Christians to truly have unity is that there has to be an agreement that God's Word is our basis for what we believe.  If we leave what we believe as Christians open to any other factor outside of the Bible, which is where we actually learn about Jesus and what He did for us, there will not be harmony in the Body of Christ.  To have unity we must keep our focus on the Word and we must walk in love with others in areas of minor issues of style and personal preference that are not clearly addressed by God's Word.  God's Word needs to be our standard for what we believe and it is the only focal point that will bring and maintain unity in the Body of Christ.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt

"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

When I was a child, I used to read stories about pirates.  I was fascinated by the stories of these men who sailed the seas and captured ships and their cargoes.  But, what really caught my attention was stories of pirates' buried treasure.  Even though I grew up in the mid-western United States, as a young child I somehow thought that there might be pirate treasure somewhere near my home.  My goal was to find some of this treasure, and no matter how ridiculous the idea really was, I was continually looking for signs of lost treasure.  As you may have guessed I never found any treasure, but it was not because I didn't look for it.

We tend to find what we are looking for and see what we want to see.  The weather report may say that it is partly cloudy, but doesn't that also mean it is partly sunny?  You could be driving a long distance and think of how many miles you still have to travel, or you can look back at how far you have already come.  Rather than just looking at the negative side of things we can look for something good, something to be thankful for, in every situation.  For example, if we are stuck in traffic we can at least be thankful we have a car, or if there is a long line at the grocery store we can at least be thankful there is a good place where we can buy food.

If we were seeking a treasure we knew was buried somewhere, or if there was something of value that we had lost, we would look and look until we found it.  In the same way, if we will look for something to be thankful for in every situation, it is likely that we can find something.  If we will make it a habit to hunt for something to be thankful about, like we would hunt for lost valuables, it will help us and our attitude as well as in our interaction with other people.  There are many things that we experience in life that are not so good, but no matter what the situation, we can always look for something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Help Wanted

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me.""
Isaiah 6:8 (NKJV)

When a business needs to have more people working for them they will do something to try and find new employees.  In the past, companies would put ads in newspapers and sometimes place a "Help Wanted" sign in the window of their business.  Today, companies list employment opportunities online, some hire other companies to help them find employees, and there are also job placement services that can help to fill employment needs.  But, no matter how it happens, a company needs to find people to work for it to be able to do what they are doing.  If a business had no employees it would accomplish nothing.

In Isaiah we see that God was looking for someone to go for Him and speak to the people; you could say this was God putting out a "Help Wanted" sign.  This is the same thing that God is doing today because God is still looking for people who will help Him to do His will.  The Bible tells us that as born again believers we are the Body of Christ, and there is no such thing as unemployment in the Body of Christ; God is looking for people to help Him carry out His will on the earth.  There are things that God wants to do today that are not being done because no one has responded to Him.

God has given each of us a gift to use to serve Him and one another (1 Peter 4:10), all Christians have a supply to give to the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:16), and God has a place for us, where He has set us, in the Body (1 Corinthians 12:18).  All of us are important in the plan that God has today and we all need to see where we can help and do the will of God.  Every believer needs to be ready to answer the call that God is giving to do His work.  If each member of the Body of Christ would fill their position and give their supply tremendous things would be done today.  God still has His "Help Wanted" sign out, how will we respond?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

That Stuff Won't Fit In There

"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
Deuteronomy 4:2 (NKJV)

Today most airlines have some fees for any bags you may want to check.  This has led to some people trying to carry all of their luggage on to the airplane.  In recent years, it has been almost comical as I have seen some people try to bring large bags and other things on to the airplane and then have those people try to fit those things into the overhead storage areas.  It makes me think that some people have no comprehension of size and space or of the laws of physics, because there is no way that the stuff they have is going to fit, so the people end up having to check the bag or item anyway.

God has given us His Word to show us who He is, to tell us what Jesus did for us, and to help us in our life.  One thing that we see repeated in the Bible is how we should not add to, or take away from, anything that God has said to us.  However, some people still try to claim the Bible says things that it never says.  People have told me several things that, "the Bible says", that are not really in the Bible.  This leads to problems and confusion on the part of the people who have the wrong ideas about what the Bible says, as well as those people who hear them.

Some people try to take their personal beliefs, cultural background, traditions, and other things and add them to the Bible, but we can't fit those things into the Bible.  God and His Word do not change and what we believe must always agree with what God has said.  If we are just trying to find a way to fit our own ideas into God's Word we are only hurting ourselves and the people around us.  We need to know what the Bible says so we can be sure that what we believe about God, who we are in Christ, and how we should live our life are all correct so that we can do what God has said and live the life He has planned for us.