Saturday, October 27, 2012

Major Doctrine Or Major Distraction?

"till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,"
Ephesians 4:13, 14 (NKJV)

God wants all of His children to grow up spiritually, Ephesians 4:13 talks about becoming a "perfect" man.  That term can be a little misleading because the word "perfect" here does not mean "flawless" but it actually means "complete".  What this is telling us is that God wants us to grow up and develop spiritually and to be a complete person, ready and equipped to do the will of God.  The problem is that many Christians are not complete and ready to do God's will but they are undeveloped and lacking the things that God wants them to have.  The reason for this is that many Christians do not focus on the major doctrines of the Bible and they end up with major distractions.

The majority of Christians are very sincere people who love God and want to do the right thing; the problem is caused by what they feed on spiritually.  While the Bible does have some major and important doctrines, like salvation, faith, prayer, walking in love and so on, most Christians get focused on doctrines that are not so important and this hinders their spiritual development.  Too many Christians are like what it says in Ephesians 4:14, they are unstable, tossed around, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.  Whatever the most popular doctrine of the moment is they follow it and this causes problems for them.

If Christians do not focus on the major doctrines of the Bible they will end up being distracted by minor issues.  Many times I have had discussions with Christians about different things and I have thought to myself, does this really matter?  How is this topic relevant to a person's daily walk with God?  So often we get sidetracked by something that we find to be interesting but it is not really something that will help to build us up spiritually.  Keep your attention on the Bible doctrines that are really important and you will see continued spiritual growth and development in your life which will help you to fulfill God's plan for your life.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Most Important Ministry

"As each one has received a gift, minister to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV)

If you did a survey of Christians and asked them, what is the most important ministry, I am sure you would get a lot of different responses because people have so many misconceptions about what ministry really is.  When you look at how the Bible defines ministry, the term ministry is really referring to serving.  If we understand this it can change not only how we define what ministry actually is but also how we view "ministry".  When we "minister" to someone in some way we serve them and in the context of Christianity and the Bible this service is really something we do for God to help someone else.

One thing that Christians must understand is that anything we do for God is important and vital.  From God's perspective, whatever He directs someone to do is significant, no matter how people may view that thing.  Too often we tend to glamorize some elements of ministry, like teaching and preaching and downplay some elements of ministry like the ministry of helps or children's ministry.  But the thing is, if there is not a harmony of the different aspects of ministry then even the ministry of teaching and preaching God's Word will not be as effective as it should be.

In 1 Peter 4:10 we see that each one has received a gift from God, so each one has to make use of that gift.  If we do not make use of the gift that God has given us, if each one of us does not do what God is leading us to do, then God's plans will never come to pass the way He intended.  If you are someone who is not really sure what gift God has given you then I encourage you to continue to grow and develop as a Christian through regular time with God by reading the Bible and talking to God in prayer.  It also helps to get involved somewhere in your local church to make use of the gift you have.  Being involved in your church can even help you discover what gift you have if you don't know what that is yet, as you get involved God will direct you.  So what is the answer to the question of what is the most important ministry?  The real answer is that whatever God leads you to do is the most important ministry.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Walking In The Light, Or Just A Reflection?

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

As a Christian I have been blessed by the teaching and preaching of many wonderful men and women of God.  But, while I am very thankful for all these people and their ministries I am even more thankful for the Bible and the Holy Spirit, this is where I get most of my spiritual development.  Psalm 119:130 tells us that the entrance of God's Word brings us light; we need to walk in the light of God's Word.  What I have found is that a lot of Christians are not walking in the light of God's Word but rather in a reflection of light from God's Word that has come to them through some other man or woman of God.

Often when I am talking to Christians they will share what their favorite minister has said or something they learned through this one or that one.  Some people quote a man or woman of God as though that person is the source of truth.  While we can see that God has placed spiritual leaders in the Church to teach and equip Christians (Ephesians 4:11, 12) our focus should not be on any man or woman above God and His Word.  Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would teach us (John 14:26), that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth (John 16:13) and 1 John 2:27 tells us that we do not need to rely on any person to teach us because the anointing, the work of the Holy Spirit, is what teaches us.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that it is wrong to be taught by people that God Himself has gifted and graced, but we need to know God's Word for ourselves.  What I see in God's Word and learn for myself is more important than what anyone else sees in God's Word.  I can't just live my life trying to walk in the light of God's Word that others have given to me because that is really like walking in a reflection of the actual light.  If we want to have true spiritual success we have to walk in the light of God's Word that we see for ourselves and not just rely on a reflection we receive through someone else.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Thought Filter

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things ."
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Many people struggle with depression, lack of self-esteem, and a negative outlook on life.  Over the years as I have talked with people like this I have found that the root of their problems can often be traced back to what they are thinking about.  In Isaiah 26:3 we are told that God will keep us in perfect peace if our mind is focused on Him.  The things we spend our time thinking about will shape our life and help us to live in peace or cause us to live in turmoil.

The Bible has a lot to say about our thoughts and in Philippians 4:8 we have a good guideline for how to filter the thoughts that come to us.  There are things we could think about that are true, but is that same thought pure and lovely?  While it may be true that some people died in some terrible accident that does not mean we should spend all day thinking about it.  Something may sound very noble, but is it true?  Don't spend time thinking about things that you don't even know to be true.  Just because someone tweeted something or posted something on Facebook does not mean it is true and that you need to think about it!

Philippians 4:8 says that we should think about things that are of "good report".  What is a good report?  In the book of Numbers we see that the ten spies who went to the Promised Land and said that Israel could not conquer the land that God had promised to them gave an "evil report".  So an evil report is something that is contrary to what God has said and a good report is something that agrees with what God has said.  This gives us an easy way to filter our thoughts, is the thing we are thinking about in agreement with what God has said in His Word or not?  If we will use the thought filter we find in Philippians 4:8 we will be able to quickly recognize the wrong kind of thoughts and it will help us to focus on the right things and live a life of peace.