Thursday, July 19, 2018

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

There are several documentaries I have seen that show how people in the special forces of the military are trained.  These people go through specialized training that is designed to equip them to be able to fulfill the duties required of them.  During their training, the special forces recruits are put into situations that are designed to take them out of their comfort zone and the things that they are used to doing.  The point is that through the training the instructors are trying to teach the recruits how to successfully adapt, improvise, and overcome in any situation.

It is easy for us to get used to doing things a certain way and to get into a routine.  Getting too settled and comfortable in our usual way of doing things and our normal routine can hinder us from doing things that we are not familiar with.  This can also mean that we then withdraw ourselves from anything out of the ordinary and we limit ourselves in what we are willing to do.  However, if we really commit ourselves to following God's plan for our life we will undoubtedly find ourselves confronted with situations that are not a part of our ordinary routine.

God has a wonderful plan and purpose for each and every believer.  But some Christians have difficulties when they face a situation that is new to them or that forces them to step outside of their usual routine and go beyond what they have done and experienced in the past.  This is why we need to learn to rely on the empowerment and leading of the Holy Spirit and realize that because we are in Christ we can do whatever God directs us to do.  With God's help we can adapt to any situation, improvise with the help of the Holy Spirit, and overcome in every circumstance of life.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Watching Over Your Prayers

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;"
Colossians 4:2 (NKJV)

Have you ever been cooking something, operating a machine, or working on a project that required some repeated attention?  It may have been that you were preparing some food, and once you started the process you needed to continue stirring or turning something over to make sure the food was prepared properly.  You might be working with some machinery that needs repeated attention once you start its operation to be sure everything is working correctly, or if you just started a project you may need to recheck what you did to be able to have things turn our right.

Prayer is simply talking to God and the Bible has a lot to say about prayer.  We can talk to God about what He has shown us in the Bible that has been provided for us through Jesus.  This kind of prayer can be called the prayer of faith.  We see what God's Word says, we ask in faith according to what God has said, and we expect results.  But, this prayer of faith does not always bring instant results and that is where we need to be watchful, or vigilant, with our prayers.  The word "vigilant" used here in Colossians 4 can also be translated as watchful, watching, and keeping watch.

After we have talked to God about something according to His Word, we keep watch over what we have prayed, we are vigilant about our prayers, through giving thanks.  Once we have prayed and asked we do not need to keep on asking, but we should continue to give thanks to God for the answer.  This helps us to keep our faith active as we thank God for His answering our prayer rather than complain and wonder when we will see the results we desire.  The next time you pray in faith for something God has promised in His Word, keep a watch over your prayers by giving thanks that God is faithful and the results are forthcoming.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

No New Direction Is Direction

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye."
Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

Traveling by car is easier today than in the past because of the of navigation help that is available.  In the past, if you wanted to know what route to take you had to rely on a map, which can be difficult to use while driving.  Today some cars have navigation systems built into them, some people have separate devices for navigation, and there are even apps for phones that will help to give you directions.  But, no matter what type of navigation you use, you must rely on the information given to you and not continually stop to question if you are really on the correct route.   

God has promised to lead us and give us the direction we need for our lives.  As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us to lead us (Romans 8:14) and we have the Word of God to give us direction as well (Psalm 119:105).  One problem that believers have in following God's direction is as we follow the direction we have from God we sometimes wonder if there might be something else we should do.  We sometimes think that maybe we missed something that God has said, because it seems like we have not had any updates to our course for some time. 

But, just like a navigation system would tell you to drive on a certain road, without constantly reassuring you that you are on the right road, once God gives us some direction for our life we can keep moving that direction until He tells us something different.  God is a lot smarter than we are and if we are pursuing His plan and will for our lives with our whole heart then He will find a way to let us know if we need a course correction or additional route information.  One thing that we need to realize with God's direction in our life is that if He has not given us any new direction then we need to just continue doing what He has already told us to do.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

What Kind Of A Book Is It?

"and he said to them: "Set your heart on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe - all the words of this law.
For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess."
Deuteronomy 28:46-47 (NKJV)

For as long as I can remember, I have always liked books and reading them.  Today, I own many books that cover a variety of topics.  There are some books that I mainly use for research and information, I have many books that focus on different Bible topics, some books that are historical in nature, and other books that are filled with pictures about different places in the world.  Of course, not every book is the same kind of book.  Knowing what type of a book you have will help you to get the most out of that book.   

People have many opinions about what kind of book the Bible is.  Some people think the Bible is just a historic book, recounting the lives of people who believed in God.  Some think the Bible is a rule book that was given to us so we would know right from wrong.  Others think the Bible is a book filled with great ideas that can help us to be wise and successful in life.  The truth is that the Bible is all of these things and much more!  The Bible has been given to us by God to help us know Him better, understand the significance of everything that Jesus did for us, recognize our purpose in life, and give us guidelines for successful living.

When Moses related to the people of Israel all of the things that God was saying to them, Moses emphasized that God's Words are not just some trivial, vain thing; God's Word is our life and it will help us in every area of life.  God's Word can counsel us (Psalm 119:24), revive and strengthen us (Psalm 119:25, 28), guide us (Psalm 119:105), give us understanding (Psalm119:130), and much more.  God's Word is really God speaking to us.  The more we know and understand the Bible and put it into practice in our lives the better things will be.  What kind of book is the Bible?  It is the best of all books.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Proof Of Purchase

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, though the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
2 Peter 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Normally when you go to a store to buy something you will get a receipt.  Once you have paid for the item it is yours and the receipt is the proof of purchase.  It could be that what you bought was expensive, like a phone or a computer, and it was something you had wanted for a long time, so at first it is almost too good to be true that it is yours.  Someone could stop you outside of the store to question you about what you bought, but no matter what they said you know the item is paid for and you have the proof of purchase to show it is yours.   

In the Bible we learn about all of the things that God provided for us through Jesus.  Through His death and resurrection, Jesus paid for everything we would need to live the abundant life that He came to bring.  When you learn about what Jesus did it might not seem real to you, like it is too good to be true, or someone may tell you that it does not really belong to you for some reason.  But, with God's Word showing us the proof of what Jesus purchased for us we can know what belongs to us, this is why it is so important for us to read and study the Bible.

If you are not sure something belongs to you, or if you do not have a proof of purchase, someone could claim that thing was theirs or convince you that what you had really belonged to someone else.  When you know something belongs to you, then you will not only ignore anyone who tries to tell you otherwise, but you would even resist any attempts of someone trying to take it away from you.  As we grow in our understanding of everything that Jesus provided for us we grow in faith and our confidence of what belongs to us.  The Bible is our proof of purchase for everything that God provided for us through Jesus.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Building On Our Foundation

"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building.
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.  But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
For no other fountain can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 3:9-11 (NKJV)

When I was a child, I would build what I called a "fort".  Either I would put some chairs together, draping a blanket over them, pile up some cushions from the sofa, or in some other way make an enclosure that was my special place to be.  In my mind, what I had created was a wonderful thing, but what I had built was not really very stable.  Because I was creating this "fort" in our house I had a good foundation to build on, but my flimsy structure would not have withstood anything.  Even though I had built something with good intentions on a good foundation, I had not built with the right materials. 

Paul talked about being a wise master builder who laid a foundation.  Paul went on to say that Jesus was the foundation that was laid.  Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Christian life and Paul spent his life telling people about Jesus.  Paul then helped people learn the significance of what Jesus did to help those same people build on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  Once we receive Jesus as our Savior our foundation is settled and then we build our life on what Jesus has done for us.  But, as Paul said, each person has to be careful how they build on the foundation.   

Just like Paul said, there are many things we can use to build with, but is what we build in our life based on Jesus and what He did for us?  Some Christians struggle in life because while their foundation is secure, they have never spent the time to get to know God through His Word and what they have built their life with is contrary to the Word.  What we believe, do, and say in our life must be based on what Jesus did for us, which is revealed to us in the Bible.  If we build our life using something else, we will not build a truly successful life.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

It May Happen Different Than We Think

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

The end result of something is always more significant than the process itself.  For example, you may have a task to accomplish and it turns out that you find a way to do it that was different than what you had done before, but you still achieved the desired result.  Or, when you are taking a trip to some place, the route you travel is not as important as reaching the destination is.  If in the process of doing something we find ourselves doing something we did not expect, or traveling down a road that we originally thought we would not be on, would it matter if we had the right result and reached our intended destination?

Some people have the idea that God somehow controls everything so they just say that God will always work things out, some way or somehow.  However, this is not entirely accurate, because God is not some great puppet-master in the sky controlling every detail of our life.  But, God is actively working in our lives and no matter what may come our way He will help us and guide us to what we need to have and where we need to be.  We can be sure that God will help us work everything out, but that does not mean that things will always work out the way that we think they will.

What often happens when we face a difficult situation is that we begin to think about what the answer might be and how we can we can work things out.  But, we either do, or should realize, that we do not know everything.  With our limited knowledge and understanding it will never be possible for us to figure out everything and know exactly what to do and how to work things out each and every time.  This is where we must put our trust in God and allow Him to direct us and show us what to do to find the answers and solutions that we need, which may not at all be what we had expected.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Experts Are Not Always Right

"saying, "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives."
Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.

Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me."
Acts 27:10-11, 25 (NKJV)

In every area of life there seems to be someone who is considered an expert.  Whether it is in some technical field or an area of study there are people who have spent time learning about that certain thing and because of the knowledge and experience they have about it they are referred to as experts.  They may or may not have some official title, but often these experts are consulted for their views about something in their area of expertise.  But, no one person knows everything and the term expert is very relative, because someone who appears to be an expert to one person may not be to another.

In the Book of Acts, we read about Paul and his trip to Rome.  At one point in this trip, Paul advised the people he was with that he had a perception, a sense, that their trip would have problems.  But, the centurion, who probably was in charge, did not listen to Paul but instead the centurion listened to the professional sailors, the experts, about what to do.  Paul was right and the ship was eventually destroyed.  But, Paul told everyone to "take heart" (to be of good cheer, to have good courage) because God had told Paul that they would make it through the storm.

Paul shared what I believe was a spiritual perception, a leading of the Holy Spirit, that did not agree with the expert opinion.  Paul said this when he was on a ship going through a terrible storm.  The storm was so bad that the people on board, including the expert, professional sailors "lost all hope of being saved".  No matter what storms may come, no matter what the experts might believe or say, no matter how we feel in the situation, we need to do like Paul and believe what God has said.  Standing in faith on God's Word will lead us through and out of the storm, no matter what the experts may have said.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Waiting For Waves

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

There are a lot of things that can make waves.  The main way waves are created is by the wind.  But, waves can also be created by passing boats or something large falling into the water.  One thing that waves are not really created by is people.  If someone was to stand on the shore of a lake, the ocean, or some other body of water that person could jump up and down, stare intently at the water, or even make a lot of noise, but they would never create any waves.  We may enjoy watching the waves and hearing their sound as they crash on the shore, but we can't really create the waves.

Every believer needs to learn who they are in Christ and what belongs to them as a Christian.  Through Jesus we have been provided with all the things that are necessary for us to live a successful, godly life.  We are not creating the benefits and blessings, that is something God has already done.  Our part is to learn what God has provided through Jesus and receive it by faith.  Then, once we have exercised our faith we continue to stand in faith and by doing so we will receive what we have believed God for.  How long it will take is not the question, we continue to do what we know to do and then expect results.

We can't create the waves but we can keep ourselves in the position to be there when the waves come in.  In the same way, we cannot dictate when and how the answer we need will come, but we can choose to continue to stand in faith and not grow weary while we wait to be able to reap the harvest we desire.  Too many believers expect something to happen sooner than it does and they get tired of waiting and they give up.  Once we have taken a stand in faith we need to continue to stand and expect the results God promises in His Word, in due season we will reap the harvest if we do not give up.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Switch To Silent

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him."
Psalm 62:5 (NKJV)

With all of the devices that people use today and all the different tones for phones ringing and notifications from different apps, we can sometimes experience an almost overwhelming level of noise.  There are some places that have signs, or there may even be an announcement of some kind given, asking to switch your phone to silent.  Doing this can eliminate distractions in places like concerts, seminars, movies, and in church.  By switching our phones to silent, it can be much easier to focus on what is truly important without all of the extra noise going on.

Just like there can a be a lot of natural noise from things like cell phones, we can have so much "noise" going on in our mind that we have a hard time focusing on what is important.  Our mind can be so busy with different thoughts that we get distracted from what we should pay attention to.  This can especially happen to us in the area of faith and taking a stand on God's Word for something that He has promised us and made available to us through Jesus.  David understood this and it is why he talked about keeping his soul quiet in Psalm 62.

One of the areas where we will have the biggest battles in our faith is with our thoughts and emotions, the soul.  When we take a stand in faith, which is of the heart, the devil will come with contrary thoughts, in our mind (our soul), to try and distract us.  David talked about quieting the soul and focusing on God, because God is where our faith, our expectation is from.  When the wrong, distracting thoughts come, that is when we need to quiet our mind, switch it to silent, by keeping our focus on what God has said in His Word.  This is how we silence our soul and continue standing in faith to receive the things that God has promised us.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

No Expiration Date

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."
Mark 13:31 (NKJV)

Many products we buy have a date included as to when the item should be used by.  Normally this type of thing is seen on perishable items such as food, because a time will come when the product will expire and no longer be any good.  Often you will see something like a date showing either when the product should no longer be eaten, or you might see a date given and a statement about how the product is best when used by that date.  Being aware of the expiration date that something has is better than trying to eat or use something and finding out that the item is no longer usable or edible.

In the four Gospels we have a record of the things that Jesus did and said.  Sometimes things are found in one Gospel that are not found in another and sometimes things are found in more than one Gospel account.  One interesting verse is found repeated exactly the same in Matthew 24:25, Mark 13:31, and Luke 21:33.  Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away, but His words would not.  Everything we see around us on this earth will one day come to an end, there is an expiration date.  But, it is good to know that God's Word has no expiration date and will last forever!

Some people have the idea that somehow God and His Word may have worked in the past, but it does not work the same way today.  Other people think that only certain people, like maybe the pastor, has an ability to access some of God's blessings while most people do not.  God's power still works today and God's Word is as valid and effective today as it ever was.  We need to simply find out what God has said to us in His Word, put our faith in what He has said, and act accordingly.  God's Word will work the same for anyone, anywhere, anytime, and all the time!  God's Word works and has no expiration date.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

When You Seem Surrounded, Attack!

"And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated.
He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his had stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder."
2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NKJV)

There are different types of strategies for different types of warfare.  When I have studied military history and various battles it was often the plans that the different armies had for fighting the battle that led to victory or defeat.  With the right tactics and strategy, a smaller group could defeat a larger group that did not take proper steps to plan and prepare for the battle.  No one would expect success in a battle without some type of planning or strategy that puts into use the best ideas available to be sure of having an outcome of victory.

As Christians we are told to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), the weapons of our warfare are not natural (2 Corinthians 10:4), and that we need to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).  All of these examples help us to understand that we have an enemy, the devil, who will do everything he can to hinder us from living the life that God has planned for us.  The truth is that the devil has already been defeated so he cannot conquer us, but he will try to make us quit.  Just like the example in 2 Samuel 23, even if some problems make others run, hide, or quit we never do that, we stand our ground in faith.

When problems come into our life it sometimes seems that one comes after another until we feel overwhelmed.  The devil will tell us that things are horrible and that they will never get better so we might as well just quit.  When this happens, rather than run and hide, we need to move forward.  No matter what we face, we need to find out what the Bible says about our situation and focus on that.  When it looks like we are outnumbered and surrounded by our problems that is the time to go on the attack in faith by continuing to speak and act on the truth of God's Word, that is our strategy for victory!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Whose Hands Are We Holding Up?

"And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed,
But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it.  And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun."
Exodus 17:11-12 (NKJV)

There are many kinds of public transportation systems that are found in the European countries that I have been to.  When using some type of public transportation, there have been times I saw someone struggling with luggage, a baby stroller, or something else.  Whenever I had the chance, I would help them.  With my assistance they were able to do what they needed to do.  But, when I helped that person I was not just helping them but anyone they were with and even the overall public transportation system because I helped things move quicker than they would have otherwise. 

When we have the ability to do something that will help another person, with whatever they are doing and we can make their task easier, we should.  In the story from Exodus 17, Moses got tired so two people helped him by holding up his hands.  When Aaron and Hur helped Moses, they were not just helping Moses, these men were actually helping the people of Israel and even helping God's plan come to pass.  When we help someone, like with what Aaron and Hur did, we are directly helping that person, but it can also be that we are involved in something bigger. 

Do we realize that when we help in our church on some team that we are really helping the Pastor and also helping God?  Every person is an important part of their team, each team is an important part of their church, and each church is an important part of God's plan.  Every person on a team is a part of the team, a part of the church, and a part of God's plan.  If we don't work together then we won't fulfill the overall will of God because God's plan is bigger than just one person.  The question for us today is, whose hands are we holding up?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Light And More Light

"For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light."
Psalm 36:9 (NKJV)

If you were in a dark place, with very little or no light, and a distance away from you there was some light, would you move towards that light?  Normally the answer would be yes, usually we want more light and not less.  As you move towards the light you would be able to see things better due to the increase of the light.  If you just stayed where you were you would not have any more light than you did at the beginning, and if you moved in the opposite direction you would have less and less light.  For most people the simple thing to do when it is dark is to get more light. 

God's Word will give us light, it will give us understanding (Psalm 119:130).  Psalm 36:9 tells us how in God's light we get more light.  The more light and understanding we have from God's Word, the more light and understanding we will be in a position to receive from God's Word.  In other words, as we come to better understand what God has said in His Word, we can then receive even more light, wisdom, understanding, and clarity from God's Word.  But, when we do not follow, or even reject, the guidance we receive from God's Word it is like turning off the light.

If we do not receive the light and understanding that God's Word can give us, the less we will understand what God is saying to us through His Word.  This is the reason some Christians struggle, they have received some light from the Bible but they have ignored, rejected, or failed to act on that light and they have put themselves in the dark.  But, no matter where we are today, more light is available to us and God is ready to help us understand and follow His Word.  When we walk in the light and understanding of what we know from the Bible it is like bringing more light into our lives.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Strategic Positioning

"For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another."
Psalm 75:6-7 (NKJV)

Have you ever had the opportunity to watch someone play chess who is very skilled at it?  Some people even get to the level of being a Chess Master.  One thing that all good chess players have in common, especially if someone is a Chess Master, is that they play the game thinking well ahead of their current move.  Often someone who is very skilled at the game of chess is planning their next move while considering several moves beyond that.  Many times what may look like a very ordinary move is actually a setup for something bigger that is coming later. 

Like a skillful chess player, God moves people around and strategically positions people for His plan.  For most people, the movements do not look significant, but there is a reason for every move.  We may not see the purpose to it, but God is orchestrating something.  We may not always understand why God moves us or others into different areas or directs us to get involved in different things, but God knows exactly why.  God is often organizing something that we do not recognize until it all falls into place.  God is strategically positioning and preparing us and others for something great.

God moves people into positions just like a master chess player moves pieces.  There are times that God will move us geographically to prepare us for something that He wants to do and there are times that God will move us spiritually, so to speak, by helping us grow and develop certain things in our life that He will put to use at a later time.  This is why it is so important for us to learn to follow the course of life God has given us in His Word and to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit.  We may not see or understand exactly what God is doing in our life now, but we can be sure that His strategic planning is at work.