Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hot Outside, Cool Inside

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;"
Romans 12:10-11 (NKJV)

Temperatures in the Summertime can get very high, more so in some places than in others.  Some places I have been, like Oklahoma and Texas, can have some very hot temperatures during the Summer months, this is why air conditioning is so nice.  The temperature can be extremely hot outside, but with air conditioning things can be very cool inside.  You could pass by a house or some building during the hot weather and although it does not look so from the outside, where it is hot, it is very cool inside the building.

In the same way, Christians can look one way on the outside but have something different going in inside of them.  Some believers may jump, shout, and do a lot of great things in church, but that is not who they really are.  Too many Christians are "hot" when it comes to an exciting service or a special meeting, but unless something outside of them "heats them up" they are cool and lack any zeal to do anything God might be calling them too.  They may be hot on the outside but they are cool on the inside.

Romans 12:11 says to be "fervent" in spirit; this word literally means to be hot.   We need to have a fervent, "hot", desire within us to spend time with God and His Word more than just when a special meeting takes place.  We should have a zeal to reach the lost and take the Gospel around the world more than just when we hear a touching story from a missionary.  We should have an interest in helping others more than just when it directly benefits us.  By staying full of God's Word and following the direction of the Holy Spirit we can be fervent, hot, inside and outside spiritually all year long.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lessons From The Lazy Man

"I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:"
Proverbs 24:30-32 (NKJV)

When we think about learning something, we often think of going to a school of some kind, that is a very common place for learning.  If we wanted to learn a certain kind of skill, we could contact someone to teach us the things we needed to develop that skill.  But there are some places we may not associate with learning that we can still learn from.  In fact, if we are open to the idea of learning through a variety of methods, we can find that we will learn some lessons in unexpected places and in unusual circumstances.

Learning is a life-long process; we should continue to learn so that we will grow and develop to be more useful and effective in our lives and in the things that God calls us to do.  It will help us to have the mentality that we can always learn new things.  Some people seem to have the idea that there is only so much learning anyone can do and then that is the end.  If this was the case then it would be a sad way to live.  But, as Christians, with the Holy Spirit living in us and helping us, we can have a life-long learning process.

In Proverbs 24 there is a story about someone passing by the field of the lazy man and the vineyard of a man with no understanding.  This is certainly not meant to condone these people, but the idea here is that by just observing the world around them a person can learn in every situation.  God has great plans and purposes for us, and part of how we will do what God has called us to do is by always learning and growing.  If we keep ourselves open to learning, and pay attention to our real teacher, the Holy Spirit, we can learn new things and develop all the time.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Walk The Talk

"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,"
2 Timothy 3:10 (NKJV)

In our world today, it is easy for people to say pretty much whatever they want.  While there are various laws that limit some of the things people can say, what I am referring to is how people tend to build themselves up beyond who they really are.  People can say that they are this, that, or the other thing, but in reality they are none of those things.  The sad part is when you might happen to actually meet that person and then you find out that who they claimed to be had nothing to do with who they really are.

Jesus had some very strong things to say to the religious leaders of His day, Jesus called them hypocrites.  What did Jesus mean by that?  Jesus was saying that these religious leaders talked the talk, but they did not walk the talk.  In other words, what they said and did were not the same thing, and that is not good.  In Matthew 23 Jesus even mentioned how some of what they said was fine, it was just that they did not do what they told others to do.  While the Pharisees were a bad example for others, Jesus and also Paul were good examples.

The Apostle Paul was a good leader and Christian because he walked the talk.  Paul even mentioned to Timothy how that Timothy knew what Paul taught and Timothy saw how Paul lived, there was no gap between the two. In James it talks about being a doer of the Word and this is really the same thing.  Many people can talk about what God's Word says, but do their lives show what they believe?  It is easy to talk about something, but it is quite different to do something about it.  How about us?  Do we live what we believe and walk the talk?  If not, we should.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Content In Every Condition

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:"
Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a chameleon changing colors?  This is something a chameleon might do to for several reasons.  Sometimes a chameleon will change color to blend into their environment as a means of camouflage, sometimes the color change is due to a change in temperature, and sometimes they change color as a way to signal their intentions to other chameleons.  They can turn a brighter color to show aggression or a darker color to show submission.  These color changes help the chameleon fit into their environment.

When we look at the life of the Apostle Paul, we can see that he had the ability to adapt to his environment.  Paul was certainly not one to compromise, which we can see in the story where he confronted Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) or when he refused to take Mark with him on a second trip after Mark had quit during the first trip (Acts 15:36-40).  Paul knew when to stand his ground for what he believed, but he also knew how to fit in and be content in whatever situation he found himself in.

Paul said that he had learned to be content in every state, in every condition.  While Paul did not change his outer color to adapt, like a chameleon would, Paul was able to maintain an inner stability through Christ to be able to do what needed to be done in every situation.  Paul's satisfaction was not based on outward conditions but on an inward connection to God.  It is what the chameleon has on the inside, because of its nature, that it can change color.  It is because of what we have on the inside, our new nature in Christ, that we can, like Paul, be content in every condition.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Continual Cleaning

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

Have you ever noticed that nothing really stays clean for very long?  Where we live, the clothes we wear, our car, and even things like our teeth need continual cleaning.  Most people are not too excited about the cleaning process, but most people like to have things clean.  Even though cleaning something can take some time and effort, the results are worth it.  If we don't clean things on a regular basis, and pay attention to what we have, then all kinds of dirt and other bad things will accumulate.

In our world today, we are bombarded with all kinds of information, images, sounds, and ideas that can fill up and clutter our mind.  If we are not careful, we can easily have so much stuff in our mind that how we think and what we think about become a mess.  This is why we need a continual cleaning of our thinking and of all the things that try to make their way into our thought life.  We need a daily, continual process of cleaning up our mind by renewing our mind with the Word of God.

We need to guard our thoughts to make sure that what we allow ourselves to think about is in line with God's Word.  We also need to make sure we have a continual process of cleaning the thoughts and ideas we have by filling our mind with the Word of God and replacing any wrong thoughts with right and godly thoughts.  This continual cleaning process with God's Word will not only improve our life and make us more effective in God's plan for our life, but it will help us be a greater blessing to those around us.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Reliable Source

"And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
Luke 24:27 (NKJV)

Usually when there is some story on the news, or something being written about, whoever is reporting the story will cite the source or sources that they received their information from.  Sometimes someone will say they have an unnamed source or they do not want to say who gave them the information, but for something to be accurate there has to be a reliable source for what is being reported.   Without a trustworthy, credible source for what is being said, the story itself is questionable.

After His resurrection, Jesus met two disciples on the road that leads to Emmaus.  At first, these disciples did not recognize Jesus.  When Jesus met them, the disciples seemed to be sad and Jesus asked why this was.  The disciples were surprised by His response because while some other disciples said they had seen a resurrected Jesus, these two were not sure what was going on with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  To help them, and to clarify what was going on, Jesus used the Scriptures to explain what had happened and why it happened.

Jesus gave us a good example and a pattern to follow, when we have questions or we face a difficult situation we always need to go back to the Scriptures.  Jesus did not tell the disciples about His personal experience with the resurrection or how He felt after being raised from the dead, Jesus went back to God's Word because it a reliable source, it is the only thing we can absolutely trust as our source of information.  Just like Jesus used the Word to help the disciples, we need to use the Scriptures for ourselves and when we work with others; God's Word is our reliable source.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Head Or Heart?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

What would happen if you were taking a trip somewhere and you used directions that led you to some other place?  Obviously, this would be a problem.  If you wanted to travel by car to a certain place, but you only had a list of the flights leaving from the airport, you would not only never reach your destination but you would be following the wrong information.  Or if you wanted to travel to someplace within a city, but you only had a map of the Interstate Highway System you would not really have what you need to get to where you want to go.

In our life we have a choice about what we will follow, our head or our heart.  By our heart I don't just mean some emotion or a feeling, but I am talking about what Peter referred to as the "hidden person of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4), our spirit. As it tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6, we must trust in the Lord and the direction He will give to us through our spirit, our heart, and we cannot rely on, or trust in, our feelings or the thoughts we have in our heads.  In fact, our feelings and our thoughts can at times be completely wrong and lead us in the wrong direction.

Romans 8:14 says that we are to be led by the Spirit of God, we are not led by our feelings and we are not led by our figuring things out in our minds.  To properly follow the guidance that God will give to us, we must trust in and lean on the things God will speak to our heart by the Holy Spirit and not what we have in our head.  If we make the right choice to listen to God's direction, no matter how we feel or what we think, we will always choose and stay on the right path.  Learn to listen to the direction that God gives in your heart and don't just rely on what you have in your head. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Equal Value

"And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues."
1 Corinthians 12:28 (NKJV)

Many countries in Europe use the Euro as their currency.  One interesting thing about the Euro currency is that the bills are different sizes and colors.  The larger the denomination, the larger the bill.  For example, the 5 Euro bill is smaller than the 10 Euro bill, which is smaller than the 20 Euro bill, and so on.  But if you had two 5 Euro bills and someone else had one 10 Euro bill these would be of an equal value.  The person with the 10 Euro bill has one bill that is larger and a different color than the person who has the two 5 Euro bills, but they still have an equal value.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the Body of Christ, the Church.  Paul explains how God has set different members, different parts into the Church.  In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul gives a list of different parts of the church.  This list is not necessarily completely inclusive because in places like Ephesians 4 we see other parts of the Church listed, evangelists for example.  The thing that is really amazing is that it talks about all of these parts of the Church in the same context, showing that these things are of equal value.

Many Christians think that apostles and prophets are more spiritual or necessary to the Church than someone helping in the church or working in administration.  Most people would not think that an usher, or the church secretary are as spiritual or necessary as a prophet, but God does!  God has placed each believer in the Body of Christ to do a specific thing and each part is as valuable as any other, there are simply different functions.  We all need to have the proper view of our value to God and understand that whatever God calls us to do is spiritual and necessary, no matter what others might think.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Walking in Love - Adult Language

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
1 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)

Almost every movie or show on television has some kind of a rating that tells you who the suggested viewing audience is.  One of the things that is considered in this rating is the type of language that is used, which usually refers to profanity.  There have been times that I saw a rating for some movie or show that cautioned people because "Adult Language" was involved.  What they meant is that there was some profanity used and this movie or television show was not appropriate for children, hence the term "Adult Language".

While being a Christian is not based on following a set of rules, there are some things that are appropriate for us to say and do and some things that we should not say or do.  One thing that is always right is walking in love.  If we allow the love of God to help guide us in our life, we will have a much better life and we will be a greater help and blessing to others as well.  1 Corinthians 13 talks about the love of God, and Paul helps us to see that speaking in love is the kind of "adult language" that Christians should be using.

Paul said that when he was a child that he spoke, understood, and thought as a child.  Children tend to be self-centered; everything revolves around what they want and what makes them happy.  This is true of natural and spiritual children.  Paul goes on to say that when he became an adult that he put away the childish things.  For Christians, we need to grow and develop to spiritual adulthood and act and speak accordingly, in love.  As a part of our walking in love with others, we need to be sure that the words we use are motivated by the love of God and not our own personal interests.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Untapped Resources

"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I will do for them, and not forsake them."
Isaiah 42:16 (NKJV)

When I first moved to the area of Bonn, Germany, I wanted to see the Rhine River.  I had seen the river before I moved, but I wanted to get right down to the river itself.  My only problem was that I did not know exactly how to get there.  While I had seen maps that showed streets leading from the city center to the river, I did not know which street was which, or what the best method was for me to get there.  The good news is that I found the route to the river and since then I have had many wonderful visits to the Rhine River.

As we move forward in our relationship with God, there will be times that we need to find the right way to go, as well as the wisdom and resources to accomplish the goals that God gives us.  However, very often what we need already exists, we just need to find it and make use of it.  This is similar to when someone wants to drill a well for water, oil, or something else.  They know that what they are looking for is there, it is just a question of finding it and making use of those untapped resources that are already available.

In Isaiah, God said He would bring people by a way they did not know, a path they were not familiar with.  The fact was that the path, the way to go, was actually already there, they just did not know about it yet, it was not a path they had taken before.  God has said that He would guide us and provide whatever we needed to follow His plan for our life.  As we spend time with God through His Word and in prayer, He will guide us to what we need and show us the best way to use those resources to fulfill His will.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Why Walk When You Can Fly?

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 
for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

A while ago, when I was in the USA, I was out for a walk with my mom.  As we walked, we saw a small bird nearby that was hoping around from place to place.  My mom made the comment, "Why hop when you can fly?".  While the bird had the ability to fly it was not doing so; it may have been injured, although it did not seem to be, or there may have been some other reason.  But whatever the reason was, the bird was just hopping and not flying, it was not doing something it should have been able to do.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said that they were carnal people and not spiritual.  They were born again, believers in Jesus, but their lives were dominated by natural things and not spiritual things.  Paul said that he could not speak to them the way he wanted to because they were so focused on the natural side of life and not spiritual truth.  Just like us, the Corinthians needed to live a life focused on everything that God has provided through Jesus and not natural circumstances.

Paul said that the Christians in Corinth were acting like "mere men"; they were acting like ordinary people and not like spiritual people. In other words, they were walking when they should have been flying.  Just like the bird that had the capability to fly but was just hopping around, Christians, because of Jesus, have the possibility to live a life above the things in the world.  If we try to live the life God has called us to while focusing on natural truth and not spiritual truth, we will never achieve what God has planned.  Why be carnal when you can be spiritual, why walk when you can fly?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Are You Ready To Run?

"If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?  And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?"
Jeremiah 12:5 (NKJV)

Years ago, when I first started doing running sports in high school, I remember that for the first couple of days I was so tired out and my legs ached.  But as I spent more and more time running it got easier and easier and I was not worn out as much.  As I continued to train and do more running I got to the point where I was running races of 3 miles (5.1 kilometers).  To just run that distance at first was difficult, but through practice I was eventually running races at that distance as well as running longer and longer distances.

Being a Christian, being a follower of Jesus, is a lifelong relationship, and in this relationship we should be growing and developing.  The Apostle Paul wrote about the need for spiritual growth in places like Ephesians 4:14-15.  In the same way that it would be bad for someone to remain a baby naturally, it would be bad for someone to remain a baby spiritually.  Just like I had to train to run further distances and babies need to grow up naturally, we need to grow and develop spiritually so we can run the race that God has called us to (Hebrews 12:1).

Wherever we are now spiritually, we need to grow to do more in the future; we cannot stay at the level we are at now and expect to do more for God.  If we find ourselves in a struggle just to live at the spiritual level we are at now, how will we ever do more in the future?  If we are not growing spiritually and we are not developing in our faith, the time will come when God will ask us to do something and we will not be ready to do it.  We need growth and development as believers so that we are equipped to do the things that God has called us to do.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Giving To Give Or To Get?

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

Have you ever thought about why you do what you do?  Are you acting on a principle and doing something because it is good and right to do, or are you just following a practice and doing something as a ritual or because you think you are supposed to do it?  One person focuses on the outcome of what they are doing while the other is doing something because what they are doing is the right thing to do.  It is always good to do the right thing, but if you understand why you are doing it then it is even better.

The Bible talks about giving and receiving, sowing and reaping, seed-time and harvest.  It is true, as Luke 6:38 and other verses tell us, that if we give we will receive.  No farmer would go out to sow seed and never expect a harvest.  But if the harvest is the only thing in mind when seeds are being planted problems can occur.  Without the proper focus during the planting the harvest can be much less than it should be.  Is the seed being planted and cared for properly?  What type of ground is the seed being planted in and is it the right time to plant?

If we only give with the benefit in mind, we are not really giving in faith expecting God to bless us, we are just giving to get and expecting that our own works will reward us.  Why and how we give is just as important as the giving itself is.  We give to our church, other people, ministries, and missionaries because it is the right thing to do, and because God has directed us to give in His Word and by the Spirit, not just because of some benefit we may receive.  Give with the right motives, expecting God to take care of you, and you will reap a harvest.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What Is That Worth?

"knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen anything of great value, maybe in a museum or somewhere as a part of a collection?  There are several museums and places I have been to that contain some very valuable things, like different works of art and sculptures.  In some of these places you are not allowed to get too close to these things and they are worth so much that they are kept in separate cases or behind glass to protect them. One reason they are so valuable is because they are either irreplaceable or the cost to replace them is so high.

Things are valued by what someone is willing to pay for them.  No one would pay a million dollars for an old shoe, but someone might pay millions of dollars for a painting by Rembrandt.  What are we worth, what value do we have?  In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it tells us that we were redeemed, ransomed by God, paid for by Him with something much more valuable than silver and gold, the precious blood of Jesus.  Do we realize that God was willing to give the most valuable and precious thing, the blood of His Son, for us? 

Do we see ourselves as valuable and worth something or do we see ourselves as nothing special?  We need to realize that God places a high value on us.  The Bible tells us that we were redeemed, purchased with the blood of Jesus, and there is nothing more valuable than that!  If we do not see ourselves as valuable to God that will impact how we treat ourselves, which in turn impacts how we treat others.  See yourself and others as valuable to God, realize that He paid the highest price possible to make you a part of His family.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Trying To Live In Two Places

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV)

What if you moved into a new house or apartment, and even shipped all of your belongings to your new place, but you continued to try and live in your old house or apartment?  It could be that your new home was not too far from the old one so you could go back and forth trying to live in two places, but that would not make any sense.  With all of the things you need to live your life located in your new home it would be foolish to try and keep living in your old place, but you could actually still try to do it.

In that same way that you cannot really live in two places at once physically, the same thing is true spiritually.  We have a choice as to what we identify as our home, naturally and spiritually.  Spiritually speaking, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).  If we focus and base our life on natural things it will keep us living the same way we always did.  As we focus and base our life on spiritual things this helps us to live the way that God has designed for us to live. 

Spiritually or naturally, you choose what to focus and base your life on, but you cannot live in two places, your head and your heart, at the same time.  This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 8.  It is our choice as to where and how we will live, in the natural or the spiritual.  What we focus our life on will determine whether we partake of the spiritual blessings that belong to us, or if we will continue to live as the same type of person we were before we became born again.