Thursday, March 26, 2020

What Is In The Toothpaste Tube?

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

What would you do if you bought a tube of toothpaste, brought it home, and the when you squeezed it ketchup came out?  That would be really strange and no one would like that.  When you buy a tube of toothpaste you expect to get toothpaste, but why is that?  Why is there toothpaste in the toothpaste tube and not something else?  It is not a trick question and the answer is really very simple.  There is toothpaste in the toothpaste tube because that is what was put in there.

In Romans 10:17 we learn how we get faith, through hearing God's Word.  As we continue to spend time hearing God's Word, through teaching or preaching and our own reading or studying it, we are building our faith.  But what people often don't realize is that while this principle works in the area of building our faith, it also applies to all of the things we hear and spend time with.  Just like spending time in God's Word will build our faith, what we spend our time with will build something in us.

People become afraid because they hear things that build fear into them.  People become depressed because they hear things that make them sad.  In the New Testament we are repeatedly encouraged to hear the right things and avoid the wrong things because of what each will do to us and for us.  To build faith, we need God's Word, and if something we hear does not agree with what God's Word has told us, then that thing will not build faith in us and we should avoid it.  What we spend our time hearing, and even thinking about, will do something in us.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Stocking Up

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)

Every Winter in Wisconsin there is snow.  Sometimes there are snowstorms that bring a lot of snow.  One thing that happens when there is the threat of a snowstorm is that people will go to the store and stock up on essential items and food.  People do this because they think that there might be so much snow that it is not possible to get out again for several days.  While some people do go overboard and buy more than is necessary, it is good to be stocked up with what you need to be prepared.

In Colossians 3:16, Paul wrote that we need to let God's Word dwell in us, richly.  There are a couple of important things to notice here.  First of all, it is up to us.  Paul said we were to let this happen, we have to allow it; God's Word is not going to just jump into us out of the Bible sitting next to us on a table.  Secondly, it is not just getting God's Word into us, but we are told to have it in us to a "rich" measure.  We need more than just a little bit of God's Word, we need a lot of it.

We could say it this way, we need to stock up on God's Word.  When there is potential for a problem situation, like a snowstorm or something else, people will stock up on what they need.  We will always need to know God's Word, so we should be in a continuous mode of stocking up, filling up with God's Word, we don't want to wait until the problem comes.  We need to be prepared for whatever might happen by stocking up on God's Word.  We need to read it, study it, think about it, talk about it, and fill ourselves with the Word of God.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

What Are You Looking At?

"And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots.  And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master!  What shall we do?"
So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see."  Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
2 Kings 6:15-17 (NKJV)

If several people were sitting in a room and they were all looking out of a window, you could ask them what they see and they would probably give you several different answers.  One person might say that they see some trees, while another person might talk about seeing some birds, and another person might say they see some clouds in the sky.  It is not that they are actually seeing different things, but these people are all looking at different things that are outside of the same window. 

In 2 Kings 6, it tells us that the King of Syria was angry with Elisha so he sent the army to capture him.  When Elisha's servant looked out in the morning, he saw that the city was surrounded by the Syrian army.  This was shocking and upsetting to him, so he ran to ask Elisha what to do.  Elisha simply said that there were more on their side than on the Syrian side.  Elisha prayed that his servant's eyes would be opened and the servant then saw horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha; God's protection was already there for Elisha.

What was the difference between what Elisha and his servant saw?  They were in the same place in the same city, but they were looking at different things.  The servant was looking at the natural situation while Elisha was looking past the natural situation to the spiritual situation.  It is easy to be upset, afraid, and discouraged when we only look at the natural situations we face, but we must look past the natural to the spiritual.  We must focus on the spiritual truth we see in God's Word and not just the natural situation; we need to look at what God says about our situation. 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Labels

"Do not let your adornment by merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - 
rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV)

Most of the food we buy has some kind of a label on it that identifies it by its brand name, the contents, and the nutrition information.  But what if the label was wrong?  What if there was some mistake and the information about the product was not correct, or if somehow the right label was switched with a wrong label?  If that was the case, you would not be able to trust what the label said, you would need to contact the manufacturer or see inside the package to know what was really in there.

There are a lot of labels that people use to identify themselves and others, and very often these labels are not correct.  Sometimes people are labeled things like "stupid", "failure", "victim", "worthless", or "underachiever".  But, are these labels really correct, and if so, why would they be?  How can we know if the label we or others have been given is the right label?  Could it be that sometimes people are given a label that is not right? Usually the label given a person is no real indication of what is inside of them.

We could say that God is our real "manufacturer" and He would know best what we really are and what our label should be.  We may have acquired a label though some experience in our life, but that does not mean that this is the correct label for us to wear for the rest of our life.  Don't just accept the label you have been given, even by yourself.  We need to look into God's Word and find out who we really are, who we have been made to be by God, and use that as our label.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Rare Or Just Not Used?

"Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli.  And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation."
1 Samuel 3:1 (NKJV)

There are some things that are rare and precious and some things that are very common.  Gold is something that can be difficult to find, it is rare and that makes it more valuable, it is even called a precious metal.  But dirt and grass are found in so many places that they are considered common and not rare or valuable.  While people do not handle dirt and grass very often, they are still not considered rare or valuable things, dirt and grass are easily available and therefore common.

In 1 Samuel we see that when God began to speak to Samuel, Samuel thought it was Eli the priest who was speaking to him.  Samuel did not yet know God or God's voice and Eli himself did not realize it was God speaking to Samuel.  There was no widespread revelation of God's Word at this time, it was rare and so it was precious.  Although God's people already had the first five books of the Old Testament, they had gotten away from God and His Word, so when a prophet spoke for God it was a rare thing and people considered that precious.

Today we are very blessed to have God's written Word, the Bible, easily available to us.  But just because something is easily available does not mean it is widely used.  And because God's Word is so readily available, people do not often consider God's Word as valuable and precious as they would something made of gold.  Don't let a revelation of God's Word be rare to you, put the proper value on God's Word, treat it as precious as it really is and make it a common practice to spend time with God and His Word every day.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Watch Out For The Weeds

"Now the ones that fell among the thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity."
Luke 8:14 (NKJV)

If you have ever had a garden, or worked in a garden, you know that one thing you have to watch out for are the weeds.  Weeds will hurt the plants you actually want to grow because weeds will take the water and other valuable nutrients away from what you have planted.  If you are not careful to watch over your garden and get rid of the weeds, then your plants will be choked and not grow the way that they should and you will not have the results in your garden that you could have had.

God's Word is like a seed and it can grow in our life.  In the parable of the sower, Jesus talked about the seed of the Word of God being sown and what happened to that seed in different situations.  The sad part in the parable is that Jesus said that only a portion of what was sown, 25% of the seed, actually bore fruit and produced as it should.  Was the problem with the seed or even the one who sowed the seed?  No, the productivity problem was with what happened after the seed was sown.

When God's Word is sown into our life, through our own time of reading and studying God's Word, or in some other way, we have to be careful that we don't allow other things to choke off that Word; that prevents fruit from being produced.  Just like weeds compete with plants for water and nutrients, there are things in our life that will compete for our attention and with our responsibility to act on what God's Word tells us.  We have to be sure that we do not allow anything to choke off the Word of God in our life.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Tuning Fork

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

Have you ever heard of a tuning fork?  It is definitely not something you eat with, but it is a tool used to keep things in tune.  When a tuning fork is stuck, it resonates at a certain pitch, a specific tone is produced that can then be used to tune musical instruments.  Over time, pianos, guitars, and other musical instruments will get out of tune and a tuning fork can be used to check and see if these things are in tune.  By using a tuning fork, you can be sure to keep things in tune.

God's Word is like a tuning fork, it helps to keep us "in tune" with God and His plans and purposes.  It is easy to get away from a biblical perspective in our life when we are constantly bombarded with ungodly input.  You don't have to go looking for some bad things or even be involved with things that you know are wrong, the world is filled with things that are contrary to God and His Word.  This is why it is so important for each and every believer to have a regular time of reading and studying God's Word.

Every day as we live and work, we are surrounded with things that will get us out of tune, so to speak, with God; we must do something to keep ourselves in line and in tune with God.  In John 17:17, Jesus prayed for His disciples to be sanctified, to be set apart, by the Word.  Through daily time in the Word of God and by spending time with God in prayer we can be sure that we are keeping ourselves in line with God's plans and purposes, God's Word is like a tuning fork that helps keep us in tune with God.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Take Your Medicine

"My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart:
For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh."
Proverbs 4:20-22 (NKJV)

Knowing what medicine to take, when, and how, can be very helpful.  It would be sad to have some medicine available to you that could help you physically, but you never take it and so you never receive the benefits of it.  You could visit a doctor and they could give you a prescription, or you might even know about some kind of medicine available to you without a doctor's prescription, but if you never make use of what is available to you then you will never experience the benefits of it.

While I am certainly not against doctors or medicine, what many people don't realize is that God has given us medicine to help us with physical problems and as a preventative.  In Proverbs 4:22 it tells us that God's Word is "health" to our flesh.  That word "health" can actually be translated as "medicine", God's Word is medicine for us.  If we will spend time reading and studying God's Word, listening to God's Word, and thinking and talking about God's Word, it will help us physically.

Again, I have nothing against good doctors or medicine, but when God has already given us something that will give us life and health, something that is already available to everyone, why not follow God's prescription and take His medicine?  You don't have to throw away what your doctor may have given you, but make sure you are diligent about taking God's medicine.  As we fill ourselves with God's Word it will help us physically, God's Word is medicine for us.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sundays, Pastors, Or Emergencies

"For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."
1 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

If someone wants to be a pilot, they have to go through a lot of specialized training to be able to fly an airplane, I have never taken that kind of training because I am not a pilot.  If someone plans to be a doctor or dentist there is some training they need to have to do that kind of work, I have never studied in those areas either, I am not a doctor or a dentist.  There are some types of jobs that require training that most people don't take because that kind of training is only for people working in that area.

In all the years that I have been a Christians, and especially since I have been teaching people about God and His Word, there is something I have come across repeatedly.  Some people think that God, God's Word, and living a godly life are just for Sunday, the pastor, or emergencies.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.  People often have the mistaken idea that only certain people and situations require you to know about God's Word and how it can work in our life.

As Paul told Timothy, godliness is profitable in ALL things.  What God has given us through Jesus is beneficial for everyone and for every part of our life, and not just on Sundays, for pastors, or in emergencies.  It is very sad that so many people live a life far below what God intended because they do not understand God, His Word, the operation of the Holy Spirit, and basic godly life principles.  We all need to live a godly life based on the Word of God to be profitable to God, ourselves, and others.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

It Is A Necessity?

"Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'do not murder,' 'do not steal,' 'do not bear false witness,' 'honor your father and your mother.'"
And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth."
So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, "You still lack one thing.  Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich."
Luke 18:18-23 (NKJV)

A necessity is something that you really cannot live without.  If you asked people what things were a necessity for them to live a happy and productive life you would have a lot of different answers, depending on who you asked.  Most people would agree that food, water, clothing, and shelter are basic necessities.  But, beyond that, what people might consider necessities can vary.  There are many things people may consider necessary to their life that in reality are not necessary. 

When Jesus met the rich young ruler, this man wanted to know what was necessary to inherit eternal life.  In response, Jesus listed several of the Ten Commandments.  The rich ruler told Jesus how he had kept these commandments, in his mind he had done what was necessary.  Jesus then told the ruler to sell his possessions and follow Him.  This brought a sad reaction from the rich ruler, unfortunately he considered his riches a necessity and this hindered him from following Jesus.

The problem was that this ruler did not know what was really a necessity, he did not want to let go of what he had to go and follow Jesus.  Many people talk about being a follower of Jesus, but they are unwilling to leave behind some things that they consider necessities, which are actually hindering their relationship with God and the things He wants them to do.  We all need to be willing to let go of anything God talks to us about, He knows best what is really necessary for us to have to follow His plan for our life.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

You Give Them Something

"When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late.  Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food."
But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat."
And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."
He said, "Bring them here to Me."
Matthew 14:15-18 (NKJV)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you thought that what you had was not as much as what you needed?  This can happen in several different areas, like with our talents, our strength, and our resources.  In these types of situations, we tend to think that what we have is not enough and look around for someone or something else that can meet the need.  However, what is often the case is that what we have will meet the need if it is used in the right way.

We may look at what we have and think that it is not enough.  This is when it is time to turn our attention away from ourselves and turn our eyes on God to see what His solution is for the situation.  In the situation with the hungry multitude of people, the disciples looked at themselves, what they had, what they could do, and compared to the natural situation it was not enough.  The disciples thought that they could not meet the need and just wanted to send the people away.

Jesus told the disciples that they should give the people something.  This was a surprise to the disciples, but when they took what they had and allowed Jesus to work with it the need was met.  We may find ourselves in similar situations where we don't know what to do and we hear God say, "You give them something".  The idea is not for us to scramble around trying to figure out how to meet the need ourselves, but to allow God to use what we have to meet the need.  Next time you find yourself feeling inadequate, let God work in you and through you to meet the need. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

No Time For Fear

"You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow the flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you."
Psalm 91:5-7 (NKJV)

There are many things associated with a certain time or time period.  For example, in the Summer it is vacation time for many people and in December it is Christmas time.  When it rains you know it is time to use an umbrella and when the sun is bright it is time for sunglasses.  There are time schedules for trains, planes, television shows, and sporting events.  All of these things have a time that they are connected to in one way or another so that when the time comes you know what is supposed to happen.

There are people who get afraid at certain times or when certain things happen.  Some people have a fear of flying, so when it is time to go to the airport, they have a lot of anxiety.  Some people feel afraid when they have to go to the dentist or when they have a checkup with their doctor.  But the Bible tells us first of all the fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7) and Psalm 91 shows us that there is really no time that we need to be afraid.  While there may be a certain time for a lot of things, there is no time it is appropriate to be in fear.

Psalm 91 talks about how God will protect us, no matter what.  Verses 5 and 6 tell us about things that come by night, by day, in darkness, and at noonday, which covers all possible time periods.  These verses talk about a variety of problems and verse 7 tells us these things will not even come near to us, so there is no reason to be afraid.  The key is found earlier in Psalm 91 where it talks about trusting God and making Him our refuge and fortress.  There are bad things happening in the world, but with God on our side there is no reason to fear.  While there may be time for many different things, there is no time for fear.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Where's The New In The New Year?

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

Sometimes a product will advertise that they have just come out with a "new and improved" version of what they sell.  However, it is often the case that there is not much that is new or improved with the product, except for the word "new" and maybe the price.  You might buy some product like this and then feel disappointed because what you expected was less than what you received and experienced.  You anticipated something that did not live up to your expectation.

At the end of every December we leave one calendar year and then begin another the next day, the first day of January.  This is where people wish each other a "Happy New Year" and people look forward to some new things happening in the new year.  What often happens is that once the new year starts it is really not any different than the previous year.  This should not be much of a surprise to us because all that is changing is the date on the calendar and really nothing else.

Sometimes people wonder where the new is in the new year.  Some people seem to think that when a new calendar year starts something is somehow just going to change and improve.  God gave Joshua, and all of us, the way to have a better year and a better life.  By learning from God's Word about what God has provided for us through Jesus, thinking about those things, talking about them, and putting those things into practice, each year can be better for us than the last.  The key is for us to do something with what God has given us.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Wise Men?

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
Saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?  For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
Matthew 2:1-2 (NKJV)

There are many books, blogs, and articles you can find about how to succeed in life.  You can learn about how other people have done things in the past to see how you can be successful.  There are also things that talk about the habits of successful and unsuccessful people.  In my view, we could say that to succeed in life we need wisdom to do things the right way.  We can learn from what others have done and gain wisdom for ourselves so that we too can succeed.

Most people know the story of Jesus' birth.  Most people know about Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds, and the wise men who came to worship Jesus and bring Him gifts.  These men who came from the East were referred to as “wise men”.  Matthew 2:1-2 tells us that they saw a star that led them to Jesus and they came to worship Him.  While some scholars say these people were just astrologers, it cannot be disputed that the goal of the wise men was to find and worship Jesus. 

These wise men are a good example for us, they were paying attention to and following the right things.  We also need to pay attention to and follow the right things and be sure that the focus of our life is on Jesus.  Too often people, including Christians, put other things in their life ahead of Jesus and this is not being wise.  What are we paying attention to and following?  We need to be like these men who came to Jesus, we need to be wise men and women and put Jesus first in our life.