Friday, May 31, 2013

How Do You React To The Truth?

"Now when they heard this, there were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"."
"When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;"
Acts 2:37; 7:54, 57 (NKJV)

The Book of Acts shows us two incidents where people heard the truth and then reacted to it.  The first story is from Acts 2 and it took place on the Day of Pentecost when Peter spoke to the multitude.  As Peter preached a message to the people it tells us that those people were "cut to the heart" by what they heard.  The multitude reacted by asking what they should do; they heard the truth and they willingly received it.  There is another story similar to this in Acts 7 where there was a much different reaction to the truth.

In Acts 7 Stephen is speaking to a group of people, these people also had a reaction when they too were "cut to the heart" by what they heard.  The thing is that this group of people in Acts 7 didn't ask about what they needed to do to change, they got mad about the truth they heard and they attacked and killed Stephen!   The group of people in Acts 7 who heard the truth rejected it and were upset with the messenger.  In both cases people heard the truth from God's Word and they had a reaction; there is something we can learn from these stories.

How do we react when we hear the truth from God's Word, how do we respond when we hear a message that "cuts us to the heart"?  Are we willing to humble ourselves, receive the truth, and make an adjustment or do we get upset with the person we heard the truth from or make some excuse why the truth we have learned somehow does not apply to us?  When we hear the truth we need to accept it and then act on it.  If we do this we will develop and grow up spiritually, if we don't do this we will stay in a state of spiritually immaturity.  My choice is to be a doer of the truth that I learn and not just a hearer, how about you?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Faith And Patience Get The Promise

"And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Hebrews 6:11, 12 (NKJV)

The Bible is filled with stories about people.  Some Bible stories are very uplifting and inspiring while others are given to us as warnings to help us avoid doing things the way other people did them and getting ourselves into trouble.  Romans 15:4 tells us that the things that were written before, in the Old Testament, were written for our learning.  In Hebrews 6 we get some specific instruction about the kind of people we need to pay attention to and imitate, the people who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

In our world today so much takes place very quickly, this is nice but it can be a problem when this expectation is placed on spiritual things.  We can get into trouble if we expect God to do something instantly every time, all the time.  In Hebrews 6 we are told that both faith and patience are involved in receiving from God.  In Hebrews 10:36 we are told that we need patience so that after we have done the will of God we can receive the promise.  Too many Christians expect instant results when they exercise their faith and then when something does not happen immediately they get discouraged and they usually give up.

Two of the greatest enemies Christians have to their faith are the clock and the calendar.  Our problem comes when we expect results in a specific period of time.  While God can do things instantaneously some things will take time; a good example of this is if we are exercising our faith for financial provision.  God is not going to drop a bag of money out of the sky to meet our needs, we will have to exercise faith and patience so that after we have done our part in the will of God we will obtain the promise.  Whatever it is you need from God, find Bible verses that deal with that situation, take a stand in faith and exercise patience; when you do this you will receive the promise!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Confidence And Success In Prayer

"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that is we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
1 John 5:14, 15 (NKJV)

If you asked Christians what prayer is and how to be successful in prayer you would probably get a lot of different answers.  Some people think success in prayer is based on the amount of people that pray about a certain thing.  Other people think that the length of time that you pray is vital while others would even say that the volume that you pray at is important.  For some people prayer is nothing more than a wish or a hope that whatever it is they are praying about will work the way they want it to.  But prayer is simply us talking to God and not some spiritual form of begging or a necessary ritual we have to perform to satisfy some religious requirement.

If we really want to know how to pray and what God says about prayer we need to look into God's Word, the Bible.  1 John 5:14, 15 are key verses for prayer that help us to understand that we can have confidence and success in prayer.  For us to have successful prayers, our prayers have to be based on God's will, which we find in God's Word. If our prayers are based on God's Word then we can be confident that God not only hears us but that we are going to receive the things that we have asked God for; when we pray we must base our prayer on what God has already said in His Word.

Over the years that I have been involved in ministry and working with people I have found that prayer is an area of a lot of confusion. Many Christians seem to have no confidence in their own prayers and they think if they get some minister to pray for them they will have more success than if they pray for themselves.  Prayer is not something that we should dread due to uncertainty in the outcome but prayer is a wonderful opportunity for us to talk with our Heavenly Father.  By using God's Word as our foundation for our prayers we can be confident and have success in our prayer life, that is how God wants it to be!

Friday, May 10, 2013

What Are Your Words Doing?

"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)

Over and over again in the Bible we see the importance of our words.  For example, if you read through the book of Proverbs you will see many verses that talk about the value of the right kinds of words and what our words can do for us and for others. In Ephesians 4 it tells us that we should not let any corrupt, literally "rotten", words come out of our mouth.  We are also told that we need to speak words that will edify and impart grace to those who hear us.  This is more than just a nice thought, it is a key to our success in life.

What do our words do for other people?  Are we speaking the kinds of words that build people up and encourage them or are we speaking rotten, corrupt words that only tear people down?  When people come to us with a problem, a question, or they are just spending time with us at work or as a friend, do our words inspire them on to victory and success or do our words wear those people down and discourage them?  Christians should be the kind of people who always have something uplifting to say, Christians should not be the kind of people who find ways to criticize others or say things that are hurtful.

What do our words do for us?  There will be times when we have to go it alone without much if any support from others and we need to know how to speak edifying words to ourselves, sometimes we have to be our own best cheerleader.  It is so important for our own life and the lives of those around us to be the kind of people who can always bring a timely word of encouragement.  Find out what the Bible says so that no matter what situation arises you will always have something good to say.  Let's all make the decision that we will be encouraging, uplifting people that say the right things at the right time to build up ourselves and others.

Friday, May 3, 2013

How Much Of Something Bad Is Too Much?

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some."
2 Timothy 2:15-18 (NKJV)

If you were cooking some food, how much poison would you add to the ingredients?  The obvious answer is none, it is a foolish question.  How about sickness, would it be OK to have a little bit of cancer or some other terminal disease?  What about poverty?  Is it a good idea to not be able to pay your bills and have some poverty?  Again, the answer is that no one would want even a little of these bad things.  But when it comes to spiritual things, the teaching we listen to, and the people we allow to influence us, do we sometimes allow just a little bit of wrong teaching because it is a well known speaker or it is a popular doctrine?

Paul told Timothy to be diligent and know how to correctly interpret God's Word.  Paul also told Timothy to "shun" the wrong kind of teaching because it will lead to more ungodliness and spread like cancer.  Many people are stricter about their natural diet than their spiritual diet and then they wonder why their faith is weak, they don't know what to do, and their life is generally in a mess.  If we want to be strong stable Christians we need to be as diligent about our spiritual food as we are about the other important areas of our life.

In our information age with multiple channels on television, the Internet and an abundance of books, CDs, and DVDs it is easy to get access to people teaching something about the Bible.  But we have to be careful to see if what we hear is really in agreement with what the Bible actually says or we could end up having our faith in God overthrown as Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 2:18.  Be sure that what you are hearing is really based on God's Word so that you will not only be approved by God for yourself but you will also be a light to those around you.