Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Good Fight

"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)

There are many kinds of fights that can take place. People might fight over ideas, material possessions, or a location.  There are also different ways that people fight, either in some type of physical confrontation or with words.  But one thing is certain, the only kind of a fight that is a good fight is the one you are on the winning side of.  While it is true that not all fights need to be fought, if you are in a fight, and you want it to be a good fight, you would have to know how to win the fight.

In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul encouraged Timothy to fight the good fight of faith.  In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul said that he had fought the good fight, which means that he must have fought by faith.  Paul knew that the Christian life is a fight, and that the only way to win the fight was to fight in faith, because we are fighting a spiritual enemy, not a physical foe.  Paul understood that the only way for a Christian to fight is by faith, and Paul was successful because he knew how to fight the good fight of faith

Whether we like it or not, the devil is real and he will try to stop us from fulfilling the will of God in any and every area of our life.  So, what are we going to do?  We are going to have to fight the faith fight.  How do we do that?  We fight the fight of faith by keeping our focus on God and His Word and by speaking God's Word in any and every situation in our life.  No matter what we face, the way we deal with it, the way we fight the good faith fight, is to find out what God's Word has to say and then act on that in any way that we can and say what God's Word has to say. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Getting Stronger

"If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small."
Proverbs 24:10 (NKJV) 

If you go to a gym for the first time to do a workout, you do not try to lift the heaviest weight possible.  No matter what physical condition you are in, it would foolish for anyone in their first workout to try and lift the heaviest weight they could find.  The only result from something like this would be someone getting hurt.  And, if you were to go into a gym to exercise and someone told you that you were not strong enough to lift the heaviest weight, you would not get upset; you would just realize that you need more strength to do that.

Years ago, I remember reading Proverbs 24:10 and getting a little upset about it.  There was a situation I was dealing with and I was not doing so well in overcoming the problem.  When I read Proverbs 24:10, I first got upset, but then I started to consider what that verse was saying.  Instead of looking at it as an obvious statement that my not doing so well in adversity was the result of a lack of strength, I realized that this was an encouragement for me to get stronger to be able to better deal with my situation.

The goal of people lifting weights is to get stronger, and our goal as Christians should be that we too are getting stronger, spiritually.  A simple way to be a stronger Christian is to grow and develop spiritually.  God's Word will help us grow and develop spiritually (1 Peter 2:2) and God's Word itself will strengthen us (Psalm 119:28).  By spending time reading and studying God's Word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to direct us as we put God's Word into practice, we will grow spiritually and be strengthened to be better able to face any challenge and overcome it.  We need to be spiritually getting stronger every day, and God's Word is an important part of that.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Hoping For Hope?

"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
Romans 15:4 (NKJV)

When people struggle with something in their life, they naturally want to find a way out of the situation.  However, there are times when people do not know what to do and they find themselves feeling hopeless and helpless.  These people are sometimes hoping for hope, in the sense that because they are at a loss for what to do, they are just wishing something would change to make things better.  Unfortunately, the only thing that usually happens in this situation is a continuation of the problem.

There are many people today who are just hoping for hope and living in a hopeless situation.  The problem is that these people are often just wishing something would change, but they have no basis for any hope.  The Bible speaks about hope, and it is more than just wishful thinking.  When the Bible talks about hope, as in Romans 15:4, it is really referring to a positive expectation.  Real Bible based hope is a positive expectation, a joyful anticipation, that has God's Word as its foundation.

God has given us His Word to give us hope, a positive expectation for solutions to the difficulties we face in life.  What we see in the Bible helps us to have hope, a positive expectation, that God is working in our life, He has given us His Spirit, and He will help us in every situation.  We don't have to be like so many people who are only wishing things would somehow change and are hoping for some hope, with God we can have a positive outlook for the future and know that whatever we face God is there to help us!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Fact Checkers

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:11 (NKJV)

Getting the right information is vitally important.  Today, there is a lot of information coming at us from so many different places that it can be challenging to know what is true and what is false.  Someone can claim something is true, and someone else can check those facts and say that it is not true, but how can we know who is right and who is wrong?  It could be that the person who first presented the information and the "Fact Checkers" were both wrong and the truth could be in the middle of those two positions.

One of my favorite examples in the Bible is about the people in the city of Berea.  These people were biblical fact checkers as they searched the Word daily to see if what they were hearing was correct.  What is really amazing to me is that it was Paul and Silas who came to speak to the Bereans.  Paul and Silas were not just some recent converts or people who had never done anything before, they were well established ministers of the Gospel, and still the people in Berea checked what Paul and Silas had to say.

It can be easy, and a little dangerous, to just assume that what we are hearing is the truth because of who we hear it from.  Just because what we hear comes from a well-known speaker, an "expert", or some "trusted" source, does not mean we should automatically accept what we are told as the truth.  We need to be biblical fact checkers who examine everything we hear in light of God's Word to see if it is truth we need to embrace or something we need to reject as false.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Where Is Your Faith?

"Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples, and He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake."  And they launched out.
But as they sailed He fell asleep.  And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.
And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!"  Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water.  And they ceased, and there was a calm.
But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be?  For He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him!"
Luke 8:22-25 (NKJV)

Locating something is necessary for us to make use of it.  If, for example, you need to get some gasoline for your car, you need to know the location of a gas station.  If you drive your car to a restaurant, you can find something to eat but nothing to fuel your car.  If you need a dentist, but you don't know the location of a good dentist and instead go to a bank, you will not find a dentist.  Knowing where something is located, knowing where it is, is an important thing. 

In Luke 8, Jesus was crossing a lake with His disciples, and there was a storm.  Jesus had gone to sleep and when the disciples were in danger, they woke Jesus up.  Jesus calmed the storm and asked the disciples an important question, "Where is your faith?".  The answer is that their faith was not in what Jesus said about crossing the lake, or even that He was with them, their faith, their confidence, was in what they saw and what they were experiencing.

Today we could ask ourselves, where is our faith?  Is our faith in God and what He has said, or are we focused on our circumstances?  Do we put more emphasis on God and His Word or on what we have been, or are, experiencing?  Do we trust in our own abilities, knowledge, and expertise more than we trust and have faith in God?  We need to develop a strong faith in God and His Word, which shows us the importance of knowing God's Word. Then, when the storms of life come to us, we are ready to deal with them.  Where is our faith today?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Not Far Away

"For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.
It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'
Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'
But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it."
Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NKJV)

There are some things that are near to us and some things that are far away.  For example, the ground we walk on is obviously very near to us.  On the other hand, the moon is very far away and only a few people have ever been there.  If something is near to us, it is easily accessible, but if something is far away, it is not as accessible and not so easy to get to.  If you needed something, it would be good to have it nearby rather than far away where you could not make use of it. 

People have a lot of different ideas about who God is and how God speaks to us; some people think it is all very mysterious.  Some people think that God is too distant and uncaring to interact with us and it would be extremely rare to actually hear from God.  But God has given us His Word, the Bible, and we have it available to us in so many ways.  This is really great news for us!  The God who created the universe has given us His Words to read, study and learn from.

We don't have to wish some angel would come down to us from heaven with God's Word, we already have it!  We don't have to find some explorer to go over the ocean or search through the deepest jungle to find God's Word, we already have it!   There is no need to climb a mountain or cross the desert to find God's Word, we already have it!  Yes, thank God, we have the Holy Spirit and God has given us men and women who are great teachers and preachers of God's Word, but thank God for His Word, the Bible, that is available to each one of us.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Right Question

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV)

If I was interested in what the temperature was, should I ask someone if it was raining?  If I did ask someone if it was raining, should I be surprised that they did not tell me if it is hot or cold outside?  If I said to someone, "What time is it?", when I really needed to know what the date is today, should I be unhappy and frustrated when they do tell me the time?  If we have a question, and we want the right answer to our question, we would of course have to first ask the right question.

One thing I have seen over all the years I have been a Christian, and in the years I have been teaching in Bible schools and churches, is that many believers are frustrated and living below the standard that God has for them.  God has provided so much for us through Jesus, and God has a great plan for our lives.  As we find and fulfill God's plan and purpose for our life, we will experience the abundant life that God has promised us and that Jesus talked about in John 10:10, but we must put God and His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33).

God tells us that if we call on Him, He will answer us, and show us things that we don't know.  But we first have to ask and we also need to be sure we are asking according to God's will.  Our first question should always be, "Heavenly Father, what is your will for my life?" rather than, "God, how can I fulfill my dreams and plans?", or "God, how can I have all your blessings?".  As we ask the right question about God's will for our life, we will find the answers to the other questions that we have about the details of our life.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Walking In Love - How Hard Did You Look?

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;"
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NKJV)

When you lose or misplace something, you usually look for it until you find it.  How hard you look for something depends on how much you want to find it.  For example, one time I misplaced my passport.  If I am not carrying my passport with me, there is one place I usually keep it, and when I could not find my passport, I looked as soon as I could, every place that I could, until I found it.  But, if I had lost an old pen, I would not bother looking for that, because it has no real value to me.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talked about what real love is and how love acts.  One characteristic of love is seen in 1 Corinthians 13:5 where it tells us that loves "does not seek its own".  In other words, love does not seek what it wants, love seeks what others want and need.  If you are really walking in love and displaying the love of God towards someone, you are not focused on what you want, you are interested in what the other person is interested in and you are looking for the things they are looking for.

In the area of walking in love, how hard do we look to help others and meet the needs of others compared to our own?  Are we only seeking what benefits us, or are we considering others and seeking what is best for them, regardless of our own interests?  If things were reversed, how much would we want others to help us find what we are looking for?  True love helps others find what they are looking for; this is an area that we can all develop in.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Take That Step

"So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"  Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
Acts 9:6 (NKJV)

Most people like to have things figured out in advance.  Some people are more spontaneous than others and are willing to take a step without knowing what the next one might be, but almost everyone likes to have a plan where they know what is going to happen next and what needs to be done to be successful.  For many of us, the more information and details we have, the more willing we are to do what we need to do.  But whether we know one step, two steps, or three steps we need to take, we still need to take the first step.

Paul, who was formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, did great things for God once he met Jesus.  Many people admire the Apostle Paul and desire to do great things for God like he did, but they don't know where to start.  The good thing is, that anything we do for God starts with the first step.  And, we can learn a great lesson from the life of Paul, we need to take the step we know to take, no matter how many steps after that we may or may not know about.

In Acts 6, we see that Paul wanted to know what God wanted him to do, and all Paul got was a first step.  What if Paul had not taken that first step, would he have ever known the next step and done the things God wanted him to do?  What if Paul had said he was going to wait until God gave him some more information before moving?  If that was the case, Paul would never have moved.  We need to be like Paul and take the step we have now.  As we do, God will give us more steps, and lead us step by step into His wonderful plan for our life!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Anticipation Or Trepidation?

"For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Psalm 107:9 (NKJV)

Have you ever had to go someplace that you didn't really want to go?  Maybe it was a visit to the dentist, or going somewhere that involved seeing someone you did not want to see.  But, on the other hand, have you ever had someplace to go that you could hardly wait until you got there?  Maybe you had been planning a great vacation and you were excited about the trip long before you took it and you were filled with anticipation, rather than anxiety and trepidation as in the first situation.

Every year as we go from December to January and another calendar year approaches, some people eagerly look forward to a "New Year" with anticipation while others have a sense of dread and only feel trepidation.  Some people view the future through the experiences of the past and they are not looking forward to what may come next.  But no matter what the past has been like, we need to remember that God is on our side, His Word is true, Jesus is still our Lord and Savior, and with God our future is always bright!

While there are problems and challenges in life, none of that changes God and His Word!  We need to anticipate that good things will come to us this next year.  God is ready and willing to satisfy the longing in our soul of better days ahead and good things coming to us.  No matter what we have had in the past and what has happened this last year, we can still expect the best with God in the next year!  It is up to us how we face the future, and I choose to have an expectation that God is good and the best is yet to come!  How about you?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Simple Math

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 
But be ye doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving yourselves."
James 1:21-22 (NKJV)

Of all the subjects I had in school, my favorite was history and math was my least favorite subject.  But even though I did not do as well in math as I did in history, I still know some simple, basic principles of math.  Two plus two equals four, and four is a greater amount than two.  Those are some very simple mathematical concepts.  No one could just say that in their opinion, sometimes two plus two is two, or that two is greater than four, those statements are simply wrong.

James 1 talks about saving the soul through receiving God's Word.  James wrote his letter to believers, not trying to get them born again, but to help them understand that God's Word would make a difference in their mind and in their life.  While it is really not possible to spend a greater amount of time each day in God's Word than we do with everything else, we do need to have a regular time of reading and studying the Bible to add God's Word to our life, so that our thoughts and ideas are in line with God's.

There are a lot of thoughts that may go through our mind, so we need to be sure that we are filling our mind with God's thoughts from His Word.  If someone reads the Bible for five minutes a day, but spends an hour on social media or watching television, are they renewing their mind and saving their soul?  Spending more time with things that are contrary to God's Word than we do with God's Word will not help us renew our mind, that just does not add up right, it's just simple math.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Part Of The Process

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (NKJV)

Over a period of several months in Germany, I watched the process of a building being built.  First, workers came to clear the ground and to prepare for the foundation.  Then, workers arrived to set the foundation for the building, and other workers came to build the walls, the roof, and so on.  The question is, who built that building?  The answer is that every worker who was a part of the process built it.  It was not something that just one person did, there were many people involved in the process. 

The church in Corinth had a problem where some people were focused on their favorite minister, like Paul and Apollos.  Paul wrote to them about how doing this was wrong, because while he had one part to play and Apollos had another, God giving the increase was the most important thing.  Without someone planting, there is no watering, and if someone planted but no one watered, the planting would be useless.  But, without God being involved, none of it would matter; each person has a part in God's process of building the Church.

Today, we all have some people that we identify with and receive from more than others, but each one is just a part of the building process.  The same is true with every believer in the Body of Christ.  Each member of the Body is important and has a part to play in the process of building the Church.  We all need to recognize our part of the process and get involved, and we also need to remember that the most important thing is that we are a part of God's building process, not our own, and God causes it to grow and increase, not us.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Dead Or Alive?

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) 

There are two basic conditions a person could be in, dead or alive.  That may sound strange, but it is a fact that a person is either dead or alive, you cannot be both at the same time.  Someone may be in a coma or a serious physical condition because of a medical issue, but that person is still alive.  Someone is considered dead who has stopped breathing, their heart has stopped beating, and there is no more brain function.  No one could be seen as being both alive and dead, it is one or the other.

One advantage that Christians have over other religious beliefs is that we have the Word of God available to us.  Some religions follow the teachings of some great leader, and some groups have things that they say come from their god, but it is different for those who believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ, or at least it should be.  Christians talk about the Bible as having come from God, but unfortunately the Bible is not the final authority for many and it is not a living reality in their lives.

We either take the Bible as the living Word of God or not, the Bible either came from the Creator of the universe or it did not.  If the Bible is not alive to us, if we do not acknowledge the Bible as God's Word, then what is it and why pay attention to it?  As Hebrews 4:12 tells us, God's Word is alive!  The Bible is God's Word, not some dead book of historical facts and stories that are nice to hear.  We need to take God's Word for what it is, realize it has extreme importance for our lives today, and do all we can to learn and understand it

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Information, Misinformation, Disinformation

"Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.  For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus said to him, "It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
Matthew 4:5-7 (NKJV)

There are many ways that people get information and find out about what is happening in the world.  However, not all of the information we receive today is accurate and factual.  Some of what is presented as information (facts, knowledge, and data), is really misinformation (incorrect or misleading information), and even disinformation (false information deliberately spread to conceal the truth).  The question then is, how can we tell what is accurate information and what is not? 

The answer to what is information, misinformation, or disinformation depends on the topic.  For example, if I want to have accurate information about my computer, I should go back to the owner's manual from the computer company and not just ask the first person I see on the street.  For Christians, we have to go back to our best source of information, the Bible, to see what is true and accurate for us; this of course means we need to spend time in God's Word to know what it says.

When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the devil presented Jesus with misinformation.  The devil quoted most of Psalm 91:11-12, but the devil presented what was said in a misleading way.  Jesus was very familiar with God's Word and His response was to bring accurate information from Deuteronomy 6:16 to refute what the devil had said.  This is the way we must also respond, with God's Word.  We need to know the facts of God's Word for ourselves to avoid and recognize whatever misinformation or disinformation the devil and the world present to us.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Thankful Choice

"And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"
Gideon said to Him, " O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?  And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?'  But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."
Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.  Have I not sent you?"
Judges 6:12-14 (NKJV)

What if someone presented you with a stone and told you that you could keep the stone or you could have a piece of chocolate instead?  Unless you did not like chocolate, you would probably get rid of the stone and take the chocolate.  Would it be logical to just feel bad and complain about having a stone when you could have the chocolate?  Maybe you would rather have something else instead of the chocolate, but wouldn't it be better to focus on what you do have than what you don't? 

In Judges 6 we read about Gideon.  Gideon was an Israelite who lived during a time when Israel was being dominated by their enemies.  The good thing was that God wanted to use Gideon to defeat Israel's enemies.  But, when the Angel of the Lord came to tell Gideon the good news, all Gideon could do was focus on his problems and questions about why things were not better than they were.  As Gideon was being presented with the answer to his problems, all Gideon could do at first was to complain about the situation.

So often we are like Gideon, we spend time looking at the negative aspects of the situation we are in, rather than consider the positive things.  Gideon could have made the choice to be thankful that God was ready to deliver Israel, or that God was going to use him, rather than wonder why he did not see some things the way he thought he should.  What about us, are we going to be thankful about the positive things that are going on, or will we complain about the negative things?  We need to make the thankful choice and give thanks for the things we can, and not just complain about the bad things in life.