Friday, July 26, 2013

Knowledge AND Understanding

"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,"
Ephesians 1:16, 17 (NKJV)

Ephesians 1 shows us a prayer that Paul prayed for the people in the church at Ephesus.  Ephesus was a city that Paul had been to on several occasions and Paul had even taught in a school there for two years.  Still, Paul was praying for the believers there to get something.  These people already had some knowledge about the things of God, so Paul was not just praying that these Christians would gain more knowledge, Paul was praying that they would gain an understanding of what they had already learned.  It is one thing to know something but it is something else to understand it.

I may know about electricity and how to turn on a light but that does not mean I understand electricity and I am qualified to be an electrician.  We may have knowledge of some facts but what do those facts mean?  Many people know facts about God and the Bible but they do not have any understanding.  I have had several conversations with people who clearly knew something about the Bible but they did not really understand it.  If we only know facts without having any understanding we can easily be led astray by wrong teaching and have trouble living the kind of life God has planned for us.

How do we get an understanding about what the Bible says and go beyond just the facts to get the meaning of those facts and then put them into practice in our life?  We first need to read and study the Bible for ourselves; to have a greater understanding of the Bible we need to take time to learn what it says.  But, the biggest key to getting an understanding of the Bible is to look to the Holy Spirit for help.  Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is our Helper who would teach us all things (John 14:26) and that He will guide us into the truth (John 16:13).  We all need to spend time reading and studying the Bible and then trust the Holy Spirit to help us gain a greater understanding of God's Word so that we can take advantage of it and put it into use in our life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jesus Sets You Free

"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
John 8:31, 32, 36 (NKJV)
People have a natural desire to be free, no one what to be in slavery or bondage to anyone or anything.  The life of a slave is dominated by their master; the slave is completely controlled by someone other than themselves.  Mankind was bound by sin because of the disobedience of Adam, but mankind has been delivered from the bondage of sin through Jesus Christ.  Now, just like a slave who has been legally set free only has to leave his former master to live a new life, mankind must receive Jesus Christ to walk in the freedom and liberty that He provides.
The desire people have to be free from wrong habits, wrong thoughts, and wrong desires has driven them to many things.  But, the only true liberty and freedom that can be found comes through Jesus!  In John 8, Jesus made statements about people being His disciples, staying with His Word, knowing the truth, and being free.  These are not separate thoughts but they fit together.  To be a follower of Jesus, to be a disciple of Jesus, to be a Christian, means to know and stay with the Word of God.  John 1:1, 14 tells us that Jesus is the Word.  To be free means to know Jesus and to know Jesus means to know the Word.

Jesus came to set us free, and to keep us free.  Once we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are like the slave who has been legally set free, we can now leave our former master and live a new life.  Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1 that we need to stand firm in the liberty we have in Christ and not go back to living under the Law.  In Romans 6 Paul talks about how we have been set free from being slaves to sin so that we can now become dedicated to righteousness.  God wants us to live a life of freedom but it can only happen through Jesus and staying with the Word of God.  What is trying to put you into bondage today?  Stand firm in the liberty you have in Christ and don't let anything put you into bondage.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Give Yourself To God First

"And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God."
2 Corinthians 8:5 (NKJV)

This is a good pattern for Christians to follow, first give yourself to God and follow Him.  After we have given ourselves to God then we give ourselves to others.  Our relationship with God comes first, then our relationship with people and other ministers follow.  If we keep our priorities right, with our relationship with God always coming first, then our relationships with others will function the way that they should.  If we put other relationships first and our relationship with God second we will have problems in relationships because we will look for something from people that only God can supply.

Many Christians have gotten this pattern backwards and they first give themselves to people, especially their favorite minister, and then they follow God.  We first of all follow God and not just some minister or teaching.  We certainly should be committed to our pastor, and any other minister we may have a relationship with; but again, the first place our commitment goes is to God.  Our commitment to God and our relationship with Him will be reflected in our relationship with others and help us to serve others more effectively.

God has given us some wonderful men and women who are gifted to teach and preach the Word of God, but they are still not God.  Our main source of revelation and inspiration should be from God through His Word by the Holy Spirit.  If we first give ourselves to God and allow Him to lead us and teach us then what we get through others will confirm and add to what God has already shown us.  We need to keep our priorities in relationships right and first of all give ourselves to God and then let Him show us the other people and ministers we should be connected with.  This is the correct pattern and doing this will help us to have the right relationship with God and with others.

Friday, July 5, 2013

I Can Do _____ Through Christ

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

"I have strength for anything through Him who gives me power."
Philippians 4:13 (Weymouth)

There are times when we read the Bible that we interpret it based on our own life and experiences.  For example, when some people read Philippians 4:13 they think it is some figurative statement or that there are certain limitations to what it means, but this verse means exactly what it says.  God has told us that we can do anything He leads us to do because of the ability that He gives us in Christ.  What does that mean?  It means that God is our source and our Helper and He will empower us to do whatever we need to do.

When we see something in the Bible that we know we need to do, or if God directs us by the Holy Spirit to do something, it may seem as though we can't do it.  We need to get it settled within ourselves that if God is leading us then God knows exactly what it will take for us to do that thing and He will help us and equip us to do it!  We need to understand that God is not expecting us to do it all on our own.  Whether it is direction to know what to do, wisdom to do something the right way, or the strength and ability to do something, God will give it to us.

What things do you need to do in your life, where do you need to make a change?  Is God talking to you about getting involved somewhere in your church and you are not sure if you can do it?  Maybe you want to be a better parent, or a better spouse, or just a better Christian who is more effective for God.  What is it that you have seen in the Bible that has stirred you or challenged you?  Whatever it is, you can be sure that God will always give you the wisdom, direction, strength, and ability to do it.  Our bold confession should be exactly what Philippians 4:19 says, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!