Thursday, June 1, 2023

Something For Everyone

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Some stores specialize in certain things, while other stores offer a larger variety of items.  For example, you can go to a bookstore to buy books, a shoe store to buy shoes, or a pet store to buy a pet, or what you need to take care of a pet.  But you would not go to a bookstore if you were looking for shoes or a pet.  But there are some stores, which in the past were called variety stores, that offer many different things, and practically everyone can find something that they need in this type of a store.

There are many misunderstandings that people have about God and the Bible.  One big misunderstanding that people have is about how God deals with people and what the Bible is all about.  There are people, including Christians, who believe that there are different classifications of Christians and that the Bible is mainly directed towards a certain group of people that God sees as a higher, or different, class of Christian.  This is completely wrong, because every believer is a part of the Body of Christ and the Bible was written for all of us. 

Many people think that the Bible is mainly for some type of super spiritual people, like pastors, missionaries, or Bible teachers.  People often fail to understand that the Bible has something for everyone.  As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, all Scripture is given by God, and it is given to equip the people of God for every good work.  God has given us His Word so that we can be prepared to do everything that we need to do in every area of our life. God's Word has something for everyone, and God's Word will equip us to do what God has planned for us to do.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Submit And Resist

"Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (NKJV)

Submit and resist are two words that mean different things, and those words could be said to be the opposite of each other.  One meaning of the word submit is "to yield to".  The word resist is the opposite of submit and it means "to oppose something or someone".  If you submit to something, it often means you are resisting or opposing someone or something else.  No one can submit to and resist the same thing at the same time; you are either submitting to something or you are resisting it.

In James 4:7 we are told to submit to God and resist the devil.  The word submit here means "to subordinate, to obey", and the word resist in James 4:7 in the Greek means "to stand against".  James tells us that we must obey God and stand against, oppose, the devil.  How do we submit to God?  We do what God says, we follow His plans and His direction in our life.  We are also told to resist the devil.  How do we resist the devil?  By opposing what he says and by not following his direction or plans.

The Bible shows us that we must submit ourselves, and every area of our lives, to God, and we must resist the devil and his influence in every area of our lives.  Jesus gives us a great example of this from when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  When the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus replied with the Word of God.  Jesus submitted to God by focusing on Scripture and Jesus resisted the devil by opposing what the devil said that would have taken Him away from what God had said.  We need to follow the example of Jesus as we submit to God and resist the devil.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Designed For A Purpose

"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)

Every product you can buy was designed for a certain purpose.  But if the product is not used for that intended purpose, then that thing will not be as effective as it could be if it was in fact used for the purpose it was designed for.  For example, if you took a nice pen, and put toothpaste on it and tried to brush your teeth with it, you would obviously have less than good results, because a pen was not designed for you to brush your teeth with.  To get the best use out of something, we have to use it for what it was designed for.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God's workmanship, God is the One who created us, and He designed us for a purpose.  One of the highest goals any Christian can have is to discover and fulfill the purpose and plan that God has for their life, what He designed them to do.  Once we are saved, we are then supposed to do the good works that God designed us to do.  Our good works do not save us or earn us some position with God, but once we are a part of God's family, we are then supposed to do the good works that God designed us to do.

In 1 Peter 4:10, it tells us that each of us has received a gift that we can use to serve one another.  But, if we do not understand what we were designed to do, we may try to do something God never intended for us to do.  By spending time with God in His Word and prayer, by taking advantage of the opportunities we have to serve others, inside and outside of the church, we can all learn what purpose God designed us for and then be faithful in that.  True fulfillment in life is found when we recognize God's plan and purpose and then fulfill it.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Rooted And Built Up, Or Uprooted?

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ
Colossians 2:6-8 (NKJV)

Trees need to have good roots to grow and develop; a tree without a developed root system could easily be uprooted.  A tree that is deeply rooted has more stability than a tree without a good root system.  If some storm would come, or something would run into the tree with enough force, the tree without the deep roots could be easily uprooted.  No tree could survive if it was planted in one place for a short time and then uprooted and put into a different place again and again.  Trees need strong, developed root systems to grow.

In Colossians 2, Paul talks about how those who have received Christ need to walk (to live) in Him, and be rooted and built up in Christ, established in the faith.  We are planted and rooted in Christ at salvation, but there are things that could uproot us and lead us away from where we are supposed to be, which is what Paul was talking about.  Once we are planted in Christ, we then have to grow and develop in our knowledge of God and His Word to develop deep roots in Christ and be built up and established. 

Paul warned us to be on guard so that no one would "cheat" us, which means to be carried away, through wrong doctrine.  Paul is saying that through wrong teaching we could be taken away from where we should be, we could be uprooted, instead of being deeply rooted in Christ.  By spending time with God in His Word and prayer, and spending time with other Christians, we can develop deep roots in God and our life in Christ.  We need to be rooted and built up in Christ and not let ourselves be uprooted and led astray by anything or anyone.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Who Are You Following?

"Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."
Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"

1 Corinthians 1:12-13 (NKJV)

On various social media platforms, you can like or follow someone or some group.  Obviously, the people or group you follow would be those you support and are interested in, otherwise you would not follow them.  You show what you think about someone or something by how closely you follow them, and if you like what they are doing.  If you really like someone or something, you would want to be closely connected to them, and you would not want anyone or anything to get in the way of your connection to that person or group.

There are many pastors, teachers, preachers, and groups in the world who are proclaiming the Gospel message.  Through social media, and other methods, we are able to connect with and follow these people and groups, which is a great way to continue to learn and grow in our knowledge of God, His Word, and the work that Jesus did for us.  But we all realize, or should realize, that we have to be sure that we follow God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God first and everyone and everything else second.

Most people would not say that they follow some person more than they do Jesus, but do we focus more on some person and their teaching than God's Word and what it tells us?  Are we more in tune to the direction that we receive from some teacher than we are from the Holy Spirit?  While it is good to follow people who are telling us about what Jesus has done for us, we must be sure that we don't get so caught up following them that we lose our focus on following Jesus first and foremost.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

All Shook Up?

"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (NKJV)

While there are some things that need to be shaken to be effective, most things and people do not do well if they are shaken up.  Shaking someone, as in an earthquake, rocking them back and forth in a violent manner, or forcing them up and down repeatedly, will have a negative effect on them.  If something or someone has been shaken too much, then something needs to be done to stabilize that thing or person.  We all need physical stability and security, without that, there can be a multitude of problems.

When he wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul let them know that he did not want those people to be shaken or troubled in any way.  It seems that somehow some wrong teaching had come to the Thessalonian believers, and the results were not good.  When there is wrong teaching, there will be instability, and people can become shaken and troubled.  Paul did not want them to remain in this position but to be stable, and he wanted to stop the shaking, so to speak, by giving them some right teaching.

Although Paul was specifically writing to the Thessalonians and encouraging them to not be shaken or troubled concerning the return of Jesus, this same thing happens in other areas too.  When Christians are not sure what is right and wrong, they can be shaken, and they are then not doing the things that they should be doing.  The solution is to give people correct teaching of Bible truths to counter the wrong teaching that has caused the shaking and the trouble.  We should not be shaken, but we need to be stable, solid Christians who do God's will.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Well Pleasing In His Sight?

"make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)

Were you ever with a group of people who were trying to decide on something, and there did not seem to be any agreement about that thing?  Often in these situations there are differences of opinion, because each person has their own ideas and their own desires about what they want to do.  The only way anything gets accomplished is if some people yield to the desires of someone else rather than insisting on doing what pleases them; they do what someone else wants instead of what they might want.

In Hebrews 13, there is what might be called a prayer, or a benediction, where it talks about God making someone complete (meaning equipped) in every good work to do God's will, and working in them what is well pleasing in His sight.  This is something that every Christian should want to do, to live a life that pleases God and fulfills His will.  Other places in the New Testament talk about living a life that fully pleases God (Colossians 1:10) and that our goal should be to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Our goal as Christians should be to live a life that is well pleasing to God, but it is easy to see that some believers have a greater interest in living a life that is well pleasing to themselves.  While God does not want us to be unhappy and live like we are His slaves, with no will or desires of our own, living a life that is well pleasing to God means that we must make His will our will, no matter what that means for our plans and desires.  If our goal is to please God, it can mean that there will be times we must yield to His will instead of ours.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Not Just A Part, But All Of It

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood
Acts 20:26-28 (NKJV)

If you bought a car, would you be satisfied if the car dealer only gave you the vehicle body without the engine or tires?  Or if you were ordering food in a restaurant, would you be happy if they only brought you a part of the order?  The obvious answer to both of these questions is no.  It would be foolish for someone to say that they only wanted to have a part of a good thing and not all of it.  We don't just want a part of something, we want to have all of it, because if we don't get all of it, we are missing something.

Paul made an interesting and enlightening comment in Acts 20:27, where Paul talked about how he had declared the whole counsel of God; he had not withheld telling the people anything.  Paul did not say he just gave people Gospel highlights or he focused on his favorite topic or two, but Paul was diligent to teach people all of what God's Word has to say, and not just a part of it.  It can be easy to focus on one or two things that we like, but we need the whole counsel of God, we need everything God's Word has to say.

Often people will focus on their favorite Bible topics and stay with that.  Pastors, teachers, and others who share God's Word can be guilty of this in their teaching and preaching, and individual believers can have problems because they become focused on what they consider to be the most important thing in their life at the moment, and neglect other important Bible topics.  God has given us so much in His Word and it is our responsibility to learn, teach, and live the whole counsel of God.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Warning Signs

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.

Proverbs 4:23-24 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a sign that warned you about a possibly dangerous situation?  Maybe it was just a sign in a store warning you that the floor was wet, or maybe it was a traffic sign telling you about a lane closure ahead, or some construction that was taking place.  In each situation, you needed to be aware of what was going on and be sure to avoid anything that might be potentially dangerous.  It is good to have a warning sign if there is a possibility of something being a problem so that more caution can be taken and the problem can be avoided.

In Proverbs 4, we are told to "keep our heart with all diligence", or in other words, we need to be sure to guard our heart.  It is interesting to see that the first thing that is mentioned in guarding our hearts, the first warning sign is to avoid the wrong kind of talk, wrong words.  While it is not possible to avoid every wrong word that might be said, because we live in a world filled with the wrong kinds of words, as much as we are able, we need to be sure that we avoid the wrong kinds of words that will hinder us spiritually and set us on the wrong course in life.

Proverbs 4:24 tells us to get away from a deceitful mouth and perverse lips.  In 2 Timothy 2:16, Paul wrote to Timothy to "shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness", and in Titus 3:9 Paul told Titus to "avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless".  These are all warning signs that show us the importance of the words we hear and the danger of listening to the wrong things. Right words are a blessing that will build us up, while wrong words will have a negative impact on our life.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Who Gets The Benefit?

"Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
Indeed I have all and abound.  I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

Philippians 4:17-18 (NKJV)

When I was a child, like most children, I did not always want to brush my teeth or go to bed when I was supposed to.  To me, it seemed terrible that my parents would ask me to do such things.  But, was it really the case that my parents were horrible people who were only asking me to do these things for their benefit, or were they asking me to do things that would be for my benefit?  The obvious answer was that the things they were asking me to do were things that would be a benefit to me.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul thanked them for their support of the work he was doing.  Paul shared that he was not simply trying to get something from them, but he was interested in the fruit they would have to their account because they helped him with the ministry he had.  Because the Philippians had supported Paul, they were also going to reap the spiritual fruit of the work that Paul did.  What we do ourselves in serving God, and what we do to help others serve God, will produce fruit and be a benefit to us.

When we hear of a need somewhere or an opportunity to be involved in our church, we sometimes look at it as though we are being inconvenienced or only being asked to do something that will help someone else.  But being involved in our church, helping others, financially supporting our church, and even missionaries, is really as much for our benefit as it is for those we help. When we use our time, abilities, or finances to help others, it not only does them good, but just like Paul explained to the Philippians, it is for our benefit as well.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Working On It

"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
Colossians 1:28-29 (NKJV)

Have you ever had a project that you were working on that you could not complete in just a day?  Maybe you were learning a new language, or it might be that you were doing some long-term home remodeling, or maybe you were in a physical fitness routine with the goal of losing weight or just being in a better physical condition.  Whatever your long-term project was, you would need to keep working on it on a regular basis and you would need to make it a priority, so that you did not lose sight of the project and fail to complete it.

In Colossians 1, Paul talked about his working to present everyone perfect in Christ Jesus, meaning he was helping people become mature believers in Christ.  We can see here, and with other things that Paul wrote about spiritual development, that this was a main objective that Paul had.  Helping people become mature believers was a goal that Paul had, it was something he was always working on.  Paul knew this was something that was not done in one day, and we can see from his life and writings that this was a priority in his life.

The Apostle Paul did many things, but he was always working on developing spiritually mature believers.  Paul traveled a lot, and he was also a tent maker, but his main goal was to help people understand their relationship with God through Jesus and to help people develop into mature believers.  Paul knew that unless someone grows up spiritually that they will not be in the position to do everything that God has called them to do.  Developing spiritually mature believers is something that Paul was always working on, and we should too, for ourselves and for others.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

A Ripple Effect

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

The term "ripple effect" is used to describe how one thing can have an influence on several other things.  For example, when you buy something in a store, you can then use what you bought.  Once you have made your purchase, the store needs to order something to replace what was sold, the company that made the product now needs to make a replacement for the item that you bought, and so on.  We do not always realize it, but one thing we do can have an effect on many other things.

Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16 that Timothy should pay attention to himself and his doctrine (teaching).  The reason Paul gave for this was that if Timothy would be sure to take care of himself, and if he would be sure to have correct doctrine, Timothy would save both himself and those who heard him.  The things Timothy did would affect his own life and the lives of those around him.  This same thing is true for all of us, what we do can make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others.

Most of the time, we think about our lives and what God is directing us to do in relation to how these things will affect us.  As Paul told Timothy, what we do for ourselves and the things we teach, the things we believe, will have an impact on others.  We think about the plan and purpose God has for our lives and how it will effect us, but God sees the ripple effect of how our obedience to His plan and purpose will benefit others.  We all need to realize that what we do, and what we believe, can be a major influence for good in the lives of others.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Who You Are And What You Do

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

When you meet someone for the first time, you usually want to know who they are.  Some people will tell you about themselves and where they come from, while other people will talk about their job and the work that they do.  Both responses are good and will help you get to know someone, but there can be a problem if someone is so wrapped up in the work that they do that it is the primary way that they identify themselves.  Who you are is just as significant as what you do.

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when we are born again, we become a new creation in Christ.  The Bible also tells us that we are a part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and that we are children of God (1 John 3:1-2).  As a new creation in Christ, because we are a part of the Body of Christ, and as the children of God, there are things we will do for, and with God, but the most important part of our life is our relationship with God, not the things that we do for God.

There are many Christians who base their identity on what they do for God, rather than on their relationship with God as a member of His family.  While we are God's workmanship and we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), the fact of being the workmanship of God itself is more important for us than the work we are called to do is.  It is not what we do for God that identifies us or gives us value, it is who we are in our relationship with God that matters.  We all need to realize that who we are in Christ is more important that what we do for God.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Do It Yourself

"Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters.  But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God."
1 Samuel 30:6 (NKJV)

Some people know about things like cars, lawn care, and home repairs, to the extent that they are skilled in those various areas, and they can do many things for themselves with those different things.  But then there are other people who are not very skilled in some of these things, and those people need to call someone else to do their work for them.  It is wonderful to know someone else who can do something for you, but it is even better if you can do it yourself.

In 1 Samuel 30, David was in a difficult situation.  While David and his men were away, an enemy attacked the city where David and his follower's families lived, burned the city, and carried away the women and children.  In this terrible situation it says that everyone was grieved, and the people even talked about killing David.  David could have given in to the feelings of distress that everyone else felt, but that would not have helped.  No, when things looked bad, David strengthened himself, he encouraged himself, in the Lord.

David could have waited until someone else did something to change the mood of the group, but that may have been too late.  Instead, David took the initiative and strengthened himself in the Lord.  David put himself in the position to hear from God, and God gave David direction about what to do.  The next time you have a problem, don't just passively wait for someone else to do something or just hope things will change, get your focus on God, strengthen yourself in the Lord, and take the steps that God will give you to bring you the victory you need!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Keep An Eye On That

"And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it:"
Colossians 4:17 (NKJV)

Have you ever had someone tell you to keep an eye on something, or have you ever told someone that?  The reason for saying this is that you or another person wants to make sure that a certain thing stays where it is, or because there is something that has to be monitored for some reason.  No one would tell you to keep an eye on something that is unchangeable, but rather the thing in question needs someone to pay attention to it so that everything is the way that it should be.

In Colossians 4:17 Paul tells Archippus to, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it".  The words "take heed" mean to "keep an eye on", or "to look at".  This shows us that it is also possible to not keep an eye on or look at something.  The reason Paul gives for this attention is so that Archippus could fulfill the ministry he received from the Lord.  An interesting question here would be that if Archippus had not kept an eye on the ministry he received from God, would he have fulfilled it?

Paul says that Archippus received something from God, but that Archippus had to keep an eye on it for it to be fulfilled.  Is it possible that without some attention given by Archippus, God's plan and purpose for his life would not have been fulfilled or completed, and is that same thing possible in our lives?  Even though God has a wonderful plan for us, if we are not keeping an eye on things, we may not receive or do everything that God intended.  We need to be sure to properly pay attention to everything that God has given us in our lives.