Thursday, August 11, 2022

Why Did You Do That?

"And Samuel said, "What have you done?"  Saul said, "When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash,
then I said, 'The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord'  Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.
"
1 Samuel 13:11-12 (NKJV)

There are many reasons that people do things, and sometimes people do things for the right reasons, and sometimes for the wrong reasons.  Doing something for the right reason in the right way will usually bring good results, and doing things for the wrong reason usually brings bad results.  But it is possible that someone could do the right thing, but for the wrong reason, and that can lead to problems.  Whatever we do must be something that is done for the right reason and in the right way.

In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul wrote that we must walk, live, by faith not by sight.  Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  Christians are called to live a life of acting on God's Word and not on other things.  In the Old Testament, we see King Saul doing something based on his own ideas, and not following God given directions.  Saul went to battle and he was supposed to wait for Samuel to come and do the sacrifice, but Saul did it himself because of what he saw happening and what he thought might happen.

King Saul had the same problem many people have today, rather that follow God given instructions, Saul acted on his own ideas and he got into trouble.  King Saul's excuse was that he saw people leaving him and he thought that the Philistines might attack.  We can't do things based on how other people act or on what we think might happen.  We need to always go to God's Word to see what it tells us about how we should live our life, and not be moved by other things outside of the Word of God.  

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Most Liked And Most Used?

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

People on social media like and follow things that interest them and that they approve of.  It is the same way with different products, no one uses a product that they do not like or that has not given them some benefit.  It would be strange for someone to like or follow someone that they did not agree with, or pay attention to something that they were not in favor of.  The goal of social media companies is to show people more of the things they like, to keep those people engaged with their platform.

Of all the books that have ever been published, the Bible is easily the best-selling book of all time.  Millions of people own at least one Bible, or a portion of the Bible (the Old or New Testament, for example), and many people own multiple Bibles.  Using social media type guidelines, it could be said that the Bible is the most liked book of all time.  But, while this is true, it is also true that many people do not have a regular time of reading the Bible, and many people have never read the entire Bible

As Psalm 119:130 tells us, God's Word gives us light, it gives us understanding.  What we learn in God's Word will show us our true identity in Christ, and how to live a life that is not only pleasing to God, but one that is also truly fulfilling.  However, if we only like the Bible, if the Bible is only something we look at when we go to church, then we are not really making our most liked book our most used book.  By reading and studying the Bible, we can get the light, understanding, and direction we need for our life, and know how to do what God has called us to do.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

First Response

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

Police, firefighters, and emergency medical people are often called first responders because they are usually the first people that are called when there is a problem.  If there had been a crime committed, or a crime was actually taking place, the police would be called and not a car mechanic.  If there was a fire, people would naturally call the fire department and not their hair stylist.  In any situation, the first person you contact is someone that you trust to help you deal with that situation.

Many Christians know, and can even quote, Philippians 4:19 about how God will supply all of our needs.  Very often this verse is used in the context of financial or material needs, but we can see in God's Word that He wants to help us and meet all of our needs.  So, then it would only be logical that when we have a problem that we go to God first for the answer to the problem.  But, while most Christians would say that is what they do, in reality it is not what usually happens. 

When people, even Christians, get into a difficult situation, their first response is often to talk to their friends, ask someone they know for help, or they might even go on the Internet to search for an answer to their problem.  Too often people will go to other sources for their help first before they go to God.  So much of the time, people rely on, and even expect, someone else to help them rather than focusing on God and His Word to get their answer.  The next time you face a challenging situation, go to God first for His guidance and be sure He is your first response.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Self-Destructing?

"A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul."
Proverbs 18:7 (NKJV)

According to the dictionary, the word "self-destruct" started being used in the late 1960s as a part of a television show where a secret agent would receive his assignment, and then the device that carried the message would "self-destruct".  The device would destroy itself and then no one other than the specified secret agent would know what was said.  No one had to do anything to stop the device from working, because the device had destroyed itself.

The Bible has a lot to say about our words.  Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tonguePaul said in 2 Timothy 2:16-18 that the teaching of some was like cancer, and what was said overthrew some people's faith.  James 3:4 compares our tongue, our words, to the rudder that guides a ship.  Proverbs 18:7 says that a fool's mouth is his destruction, his lips are the snare of his soul.  Words are much more important than we may have thought they were. 

Some people, including Christians, would like to blame someone else for their problems, but the truth is that many people are simply self-destructing their own lives through their words.  We need to learn what the Bible says about our life and say those things, and avoid saying things that are contrary to the Bible.  We do not have to walk around quoting Bible verses, but we simply need to say the things about ourselves that we find in the Bible.  By doing this, we will be setting our life on the right course and we can be sure that we will not self-destruct.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

What Do You Want To Do?

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."
John 6:38 (NKJV)

When I was a child, sometimes I was asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?".  When I was in high school, I remember people talking about what they wanted to do after high school, what they wanted to study in college, or what kind of job they wanted.  When I was in Bible school, people would sometimes ask each other, "Where do you want to go after school?".  The one thing that all of these ideas have in common is the idea of, "what do you want to do?".

People sometimes ask me if I want to live in some place or if I want to do this thing or that thing.  When I tell them that what I want to do does not matter, but what matters is what God wants me to do, these people sometimes look at me strangely.  It is very normal for people to think and talk about what they like and want to do or where they want to go.  But, for Christians, the question should not be about what we want to do, but we need to find out what God wants us to do

Jesus made it very clear that His focus was on doing the will of God, not His own will.  Jesus followed the plan and purpose of God for His life, and that is the example that we need to follow.  If we are only following our own interests and doing the things we want to do, how are we truly serving and following God's plan for our life?  Following God's plan is the best way to find true happiness, fulfillment, and success.  The will of God, what God wants us to do, is not just some part of our life, it is our life!

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Communication Failure

"that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
"
1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (NKJV)

Having your luggage lost when you travel is something you never want to have happen.  One time, when I arrived at my destination, my bag was not there.  When I talked to the people from the airline about this, they said it would not be easy to locate my bag, because the baggage system and the reservation system did not "talk to each other", there was a communication failure.  That was a bit of a surprise to me, since the systems were a part of the same airline, but fortunately, my bag did arrive a few hours later.

After my experience with the lost bag, I was thinking about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12.  Paul compared the body of Christ to our natural body.  There should not be divisions in the body, and if one part of the body suffers or rejoices, the whole body either suffers or rejoices.  This is talking about unity within the body of Christ, and just like our natural body, if some parts are not working together, if there is a communication failure, there will be problems.

Unfortunately, there are times when Christians have trouble working with one another.  No matter what group a believer may be a part of, we are all a part of the body of Christ.  We must work together to reach the lost and preach the Gospel around the world.  Instead of working to build our own kingdom, we need to work together to build God's Kingdom and do His will.  It should never be that various Christian groups and believers don't get along or work with one another.  That kind of communication failure is unacceptable.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Fighting In Faith

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

To be successful in doing something, you have to do it the right way.  If someone wants to play basketball, he can't play by the rules of football and succeed.  In fact, that person would have all kinds of problems trying to play one sport by the rules of another.  If someone wants to be a better swimmer, but they spend all their time learning about racing cars, and they never get into the pool, that person will never succeed in swimming.  To succeed, to win, the right methods are necessary in whatever we do.

Whether they know it or not, Christians are called to fight.  But what and how do we fight?  The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-9 that we have an enemy, the devil, who walks around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Peter says that we must resist the devil, which literally means "to stand against", or "to oppose".  We have an enemy, so what do we do?  Peter gives us the same answer that Paul gave; we resist, we stand against the devil, in faith, this is the fight of faith. 

But, how do we resist the devil and fight in faith?  We fight the faith fight by taking a stand on God's Word.  We hold on to the truths about what God has done for us through Jesus, and when the devil comes against us, we speak, and act on, God's Word; that is how we exercise our faith and fight the faith fight.  Jesus has already defeated the devil, but we must resist the attacks the devil makes against us, through faith in God and His Word, this is the fight of faith.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Successful Direction

"Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
A
nd there was great joy in that city.
Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."  This is desert
."
Acts 8:5, 8, 26 (NKJV)

Usually when we are traveling to some place, we look for the fastest route, which is usually the shortest route.  But often there are other routes that can be taken to get to the same destination. However, sometimes you may not want to take the more direct route, because you want, or need, to see or do something along the way to your destination.  The shortest route may not always be the best route to get you to the place you are going to.

Philip went to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to the people there; his time in Samaria was successful, and there was great joy in the city.  But the next thing we see is that Philip is instructed to take the road the goes from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is a desert area.  If we would look at this like many people do, we might think that Philip was doing something wrong, because he goes from a meeting that touched an entire city into the desert where he meets just one man.

But, while the route that Philip took may seem strange to us, we can't look at this, or any direction we or others have from God, based on what we see and what we know.  There are times that God will lead us in a direction that does not seem to make sense to us, but we must trust God and His leading, because He will always lead us in the best way to go.  To have successful direction, we must follow God's plan to go where He leads us, no matter how it may look to ourselves or to others.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Finding, Or Having, The Answer

"And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him.
Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"'.

Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared, there make ready for us
."
Mark 14:13-15 (NKJV)

When there is a problem, or you have a question, you need an answer.  Knowing where to get the answer is always helpful, but what if your problem is concerning something you know about, and you already have the answer?  For example, if I have a problem or question about a car, I will ask one of my brothers who know a lot about cars.  I go to them with my problem or questions, but they don't ask me about car problems, because they usually already have those answers.

In Mark 14, we see Jesus sending two of His disciples to a city, and Jesus told them that they would meet a man with a pitcher of water who would take them to the place where they could prepare for the Passover.  The place already existed, they just had to find that place, it was the answer that they needed.  We know about Jesus and His disciples, but there are other people in the story: the man with the pitcher and the man in the house.  They already knew about the house, they already had that answer.

So often in our lives, we only focus on finding answers rather than doing what is necessary so that we are the person who has the answer.  We need to learn about everything that God has provided for us through Jesus, so that we will have answers for ourselves and answers to give to others.  Rather than always just looking to find the answer we need, we can have the answer that someone needs.  God can, and will, use us to help others, but first we have to have answers to give to them.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

You Can't Figure It Out

"So it was, when the cloud remained only from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud was taken up, they would journey.
Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey.
"
Numbers 9:21-22 (NKJV)

There are some businesses and government organizations that function as think tanks.  A think tank is defined as a group of people who come together to study a particular thing to provide information, ideas, and advice to others about that topic.  Something similar to this is what people call brain storming, where people discuss something to come up with ideas and solutions concerning that thing.  Think tanks and brainstorming can be very helpful in some, but not all, situations.

The Old Testament gives us examples of how God led His people.  These examples can help us understand how God leads us today by the Holy Spirit.  When Israel traveled to the Promised Land, they had the pillar of cloud in the daytime and the pillar of fire at night.  When the pillar moved, it showed Israel that it was time for them to move, and when the pillar stayed in one place, the people did not move.  No matter when the pillar of cloud moved, Israel had to follow it to be sure they were following God's direction.

Only God knew when the pillar would move.  Israel could have formed a think tank or done some brainstorming to try and figure out why the pillar of cloud moved the way it did, but that would not have worked.  Today, believers sometimes try to figure out what God wants them to do based on their circumstances, by positive and negative aspects of things, or by getting other people's opinions.  We need to allow God to lead and direct us by the Holy Spirit, without trying to reason it out.  We may not always completely understand God's plan, but we certainly won't be able to just figure it out in our mind either.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Do The Pieces Fit?

"The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endure forever."
Psalm 119:160 (NKJV)

If you are putting a puzzle together, you will need all of the pieces to complete the puzzle and see the result of the complete picture.  But what if you were missing a piece, or you used a piece from another puzzle, would you be able to complete the correct picture?  You need all of the puzzle pieces from the puzzle you are working on to complete that picture.  You may have a piece from another puzzle that you like, but it does not belong and it may not fit with the puzzle you are working on.

The Bible is God's Word, and God gave us His Word to help us.  God did not give us bullet points or a top ten list of important things, He gave us the entire Bible containing what we refer to as sixty-six books.  These writings tell us things we need to know, and give us some great examples of how we can apply Bible truth in our life.  But if we only use our ten favorite verses, or even our ten favorite books of the Bible, are we sure we have the whole truth of God's Word on any given subject?

While we cannot build any doctrine or belief on one verse of Scripture, we also cannot ignore one verse of Scripture, it all must fit together.  Often, I have heard people share something that they believe, but while they may even use Bible verses to prove their point, I find that they are ignoring other verses.  We need a view of Scripture based on the entire Word of God, or it is like we are missing pieces in a puzzle.  We need all of Scripture to have a correct view of every Bible topic.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Just Looking For The Benefits?

"Jesus answered them and said, Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
John 6:26-27 (NKJV)

At almost any place you work, you will receive some benefits.  Once you are hired at a place, they will usually tell you your responsibilities and the benefits you will have because you work there.  This is good, and there should be some benefit received when you work somewhere.  But what if someone only wanted to work at a place to get the benefits and they had no interest in the work?  What often happens is that this type of attitude in a person has a negative impact on their work.

When Jesus was physically present on the earth, there were people who were drawn to Him because of His teaching, the healings that took place, and the miracles that He did, and many people came to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah.  But there were others who rejected Jesus, and some who seemed to be following Jesus just for the benefits, as we see in John 6.  Those people wanted to be around Jesus, not because of Who He was, but because of what they gained from Him.

Today, there are many people who follow Jesus, and are committed to serving Him and doing His will; but there are some people who see Jesus as more of a lifestyle coach, or even like a sort of Santa Claus who is only there to give them good things.  Jesus can help us have an abundant life (John 10:10), and good gifts do come from God (James 1:17), but these are the benefits that come from following Jesus and they are not the things that we pursue.  We have to be careful that we don't just focus on the benefits and get sidetracked from our commitment to following and serving Him.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Love It Or Hate It?

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
Luke 14:26 (NKJV)

Sometimes people say they hate a certain food, but that is really not the correct use of the word hate, and someone who says this simply means that they dislike, or would not eat, a certain thing.  The word hate means "extreme dislike or disgust, intense hostility and aversion".  To really hate something, it means you are completely against it, but it also often means that you are in favor of something else.  Most people who hate one thing would say they love something else that may be an opposite to the thing they say they hate.

In Luke 14:26, Jesus said that if people were going to follow Him and be His disciple, that they would have to "hate" their family and even their own life.  The word translated as "hate" in Luke 14:26 in the New King James Version means "to detest", with the implication of hatred.  When Jesus said a person should "hate" their family, and even their own life, was Jesus really saying that we had to have extreme disgust and even hostility towards our family and ourselves in order to follow Him?  That is hardly the case.

Jesus was not saying that His disciples had to be people who could not get along with, and who had to sever all ties to, their family and detest their own life to serve Him.  But what Jesus does expect is that we put Him and His will before our family, and even our own lives!  The contrast between how we value the will of God and following Jesus and the value we place on family, and even our own life, has to be as stark as the difference between love and hate.  If we love our own life more than we love Jesus, there is a problem.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Agreement And Action

"So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.
Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them."
Ezekiel 33:31-32 (NKJV)

When you agree with someone about something, that means that there is harmony between you and the other person about that thing; when you take action, you are doing something.  There can, and often is, action when there is agreement, but that is not always true.  Someone can agree that having a healthy lifestyle is a good thing and never eat right or exercise.  It is best when there is action involved with an agreement, otherwise the agreement may only be a theoretical opinion.

God spoke through Ezekiel to the people of Israel.  The people listened to Ezekiel, but they did not do the things that God was saying to them through Ezekiel.  God said that the situation was like people who listen to a song, and they hear the nice words, but that is the end of it.  In James 1:22, it says we need to be a doer of the Word and not just someone who hears the Word.  That was the problem with the people who listened to Ezekiel, they heard what he said, and even seemed to agree with it, but they did not act on it.

Today, there are many people who are hearing God's Word, and they may agree with it, but they are not doing the things that God's Word says.  The result is that people are not living the kind of life that God is calling them to, they are not doing the things God asks them to do, and they are not taking advantage of everything God did for us through Jesus.  We need to be people who hear God's Word, put ourselves in agreement with it, and then we put action to what we have heard.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Addition Or Subtraction?

"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established -
that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
"
Romans 1:11-12 (NKJV)

Two of the most basic things involved in mathematics are addition and subtraction.  Although they are both part of mathematics, addition and subtraction are opposites.  Addition involves increasing the amount of something, while subtraction decreases the amount.  Addition means that something is being added to what is already there, and subtraction is what is being done when something is taken away.

One thing that can be clearly seen in the life of Paul is that when he went somewhere he added something to the people he met with.  In Romans 1:11-12, Paul talked about his desire to see the believers in Rome, so that he could give them "some spiritual gift" to help establish them.  Paul went on to say that he and the Christians in Rome could be encouraged together by their mutual faith.  Paul was saying that his being with the believers in Rome would add something to them, and they would also be able to add something to Paul.

Paul was not someone who took anything away from what others had, he added something; Paul encouraged believers and imparted something to them.  In the same way, we can see that Jesus was someone who always positively added to a situation and the lives of others and that He never did things to harm others.  Jesus and Paul give us good examples of how we can add something to others and the situations we encounter, rather than being people who take away from and hinder others.  Are we people who add something to, or take away, from others?