Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Holidays?

"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)

During this time of the year, around Christmas and the New Year, you will often hear people wish one another "Happy Holidays!"  The idea is that this should be a time of happiness and celebration, especially with family and friends.  Some people also travel somewhere to enjoy themselves and find time to relax.  But for others the holiday season is actually a time of sadness and depression because they are not able to be with family and friends, or they are unhappy because none of the hopes and dreams they had for the holiday season came to pass.

It is certainly good to be able to spend some time with family and friends as well as to get away from the usual routine.  The only problem is that no matter who you are with or where you go, the one constant is you!  Visiting with some people or doing something that will bring us some joy and satisfaction is nice, but no other person and no thing can really make us happy and satisfy us.  Too often people have been disappointed during a special time like Christmas because they are expecting someone to do something for them or for something to happen outside of themselves to make them happy.

If we look for some thing, some person, or some situation to bring us joy and happiness it will at best be short lived.  Christmas, a New Year with all of its hopes and dreams, or any other holiday or special time of year will never be as nice as it could be if we ourselves are not in the right frame of mind and living the right kind of life.  We need to put into practice the advice given to us by the writer of Hebrews, we need to have a life of contentment focusing on the fact that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us and that no matter where we go He will be there to help us and to take care of us.  Doing this will help us, and everyone around us, to have a satisfying life and a really happy holiday season.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Committed To The Course That God Has Given

"And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Acts 20:22-24 (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul is a great example for us.  Paul was someone who persecuted the church before he became a person who built up the church.   Once Paul became a Christian he found God's plan for his life and he pursued it; Paul did not let anything stop him from doing what God wanted him to do.  Paul is not unique; God has a plan and a purpose for everyone's life.  Like Paul, we all need to be committed to doing God's will no matter what challenges we face.  Paul said he knew that difficulties were going to come to him but he was committed to fulfilling God's plan for his life. 

The biggest factor in determining whether or not we will fulfill the will of God for our life is with us. Just like Paul, we will all face challenges in life.  Following God's plan might not always be the easiest choice for us but it is always the best choice.  If we are committed to doing the will of God then nothing can stop us.  The devil will try many different ways to hinder us and get us off course.  If we get distracted or we stop and give up then we are defeated.  If we are determined to do the will of God no matter what then we will win!

God will speak to us through His Word and by the Holy Spirit to give us the direction we need for every area of our life.  Once we have the direction from God it is then up to us to follow through.  We can read in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 about all of the problems that Paul faced but he did not quit; Paul made the decision that he would follow God's plan no matter what.  What about us?  Do we know God's plan for our life?  Are we committed to fulfilling that plan no matter what?  We need to be like Paul and be committed to finishing the course that God has given to us.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pull Out The Weeds Before Planting The Flowers

"Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant."
Jeremiah 1:9, 10 (NKJV)

One of the greatest challenges we will ever face is with our thoughts.  Many people have wrong thoughts and wrong beliefs based on those thoughts that are causing them to be ineffective in what they do.  For example, you may think that you are not able to succeed in life or you may think you are not the kind of person who can do anything great for God.  Thinking like this leads to wrong decisions and wrong actions, which will hold you back and hinder you from doing what you need to do.  To change our life we must change our thinking.

God told Jeremiah that He had put His Words in his mouth, this is a good thing for us as well; we need to say what God has said in His Word.  Next God told Jeremiah to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build, and plant.  Notice that God talked twice as much about getting rid of some things as He did about adding some things.  Sometimes we have to remove the wrong thoughts before we can build and plant the right thoughts.  It would be like pulling all the weeds out of your garden before planting the flowers.  To make room for one you have to get rid of the other.

What we think is based on the information we have received, the question is if the information is actually good.  Our beliefs, actions, and the words we speak are based on the things we think about.  If we find ourselves having the wrong kinds of thoughts then we need to remove those thoughts and replace them with thoughts that we find in the Bible.  We have the choice as to what we will think about, it is up to us.  We need to choose to think about the right kinds of things and weed out the wrong kinds of things; this will help us to live the kind of life that God wants us to live.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Walking In Love - Being Moved With Compassion

"But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Matthew 9:36-38 (NKJV)

Jesus is our example in every area of life.  It is good that we have a record of the life of Jesus and the things that He did so we can learn about how He lived and follow His example.  We can know what worked in the life of Jesus and in turn what will work for us.  Wherever Jesus went it seemed that people followed Him.  People came to hear Jesus teach, to get healed, and sometimes people probably just came to see Jesus because they were curious.  What is interesting for us to see is how Jesus acted with these people and how He reacted to them.

In Matthew 9 we see Jesus teaching, preaching, and healing.  After this Jesus saw a multitude of people around Him, there were a lot of people and Jesus noticed that these people needed some help.  How did Jesus react to this multitude and their situation?  Jesus did not just feel sorry for the people because they had problems, He looked for a way to meet the need.  Jesus had a reaction of compassion; He told His disciples that more workers were needed to help these people and to pray for more laborers.  How would we have reacted to this and how do we react to people and their needs today?

Jesus did not say, Oh I wish these people would leave me alone. I've been busy with all my work and now there's this whole crowd that needs help!  No, Jesus reacted with love and compassion realizing the need and seeking a way to meet the need.  We can have a similar reaction because we have God's love in us (Romans 5:5), we can be moved with compassion just like Jesus was.  Jesus did not just focus on what He wanted and what was best for Him, we too need to look past our own needs to the needs of others.  Start looking past the crowd and the problems and start looking at people with compassion and see how you can help to meet their need.  We have the love of God in us, we just need to let it motivate us to help others.