Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Real Story Of Christmas

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Christmas is a wonderful time of year.  There are many things that make Christmas special, like spending time with family and friends, people giving to one another and showing love, and of course the celebration of Jesus birth.  All of these things are great and worth focusing on.  But it would be nice if people spent more time with family and friends during the whole year.  It would also be nice if people were more loving and giving during the whole year.  And it would be wonderful if people recognized all year long, and not just in December, that Jesus came to the earth to save mankind.

People tend to go to one of two extremes about Christmas.  Some people see it as just a gift giving holiday while others tend to over spiritualize everything about Christmas.  This second group of people will not have a Christmas tree; they dislike anything that is secular and in their eyes takes away from the emphasis being on Jesus.  But is it possible to find a balance between all of the things the world focuses on and the spiritual truth we find in Christmas?  I believe we can enjoy the celebration time with family and friends, and the giving and outpouring of love while still keeping our focus on Jesus. 

The real story of Christmas is that while Jesus came to us as a baby He was and is the Son of God.  All year long it is good to remember that Jesus was more than a baby born in a manger; Jesus is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.  Whatever we need, all year long, Jesus made it available for us!  The real story of Christmas is more than just a story about a baby born sometime in history; the real story of Christmas is that it is a never ending story, a story of good news for all people all year long.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Who Do You Promote?

"Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."
Proverbs 27:2 (NKJV)

Some people are very impressed with themselves, you can tell that by the way they talk.  It seems like some people are they own best publicists and they are intent on making a great name for themselves.  But if we are the only one singing our praises, so to speak, then maybe that is a song we should consider not singing.  While we do not seek praise from other people or live by the things other people say about us, we should leave compliments about ourselves to others.  With the things we say and how we act, do we promote ourselves and our agenda or are we promoting others?

It is easy for us to talk about how wonderful we are as a spouse, a friend, or an employer or employee but the question is how others see us.  In this type of situation, what we say about ourselves is not really as important as what others say about us.  If we really are so wonderful then that is something we should be hearing from others and not from ourselves.  Instead of spending time trying to promote and build up ourselves we should be promoting and building up others for the good things that they are doing. 

It is easy to fall into pride and get puffed up with our accomplishments, if we do that then we are focusing too much on ourselves.  We need to be the kind of people who are ready to cheer on, encourage, and promote those around us for what they do.  Certainly no one is perfect and we are all growing and developing but if we are quick to promote and praise others, like our spouse, our children, our friends, our coworkers, our boss, and our pastor, then we will be doing things the right way because we will be promoting and helping others instead of ourselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What Reward Are You Looking For?

"By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward."
Hebrews 11:24-26 (NKJV)

Everyone knows that while both gold and silver are valuable, gold is more valuable than silver.  Economy class, business class, and first class seats may all be available on an airplane, but given the choice people would fly in first class instead of either economy or business class.  These are some natural examples of things we deal with in life; there are some things that are good but there are other things that are even better.  Sometimes we have to let go of one thing to be able to get another, sometimes we have to leave the good behind to have the best.

Hebrews 11 tells us that Moses rejected the treasures of Egypt but looked to the reward, which seems like a contradiction.  The treasures of Egypt were a reward but it was not the only kind of reward that was available.  Moses perused one reward while forsaking another.  Moses could have taken the treasures of Egypt and avoided some suffering, but Moses understood that there was a greater reward available to him.  We too have choices about what we will pursue.  What kind of reward are we looking for?  The best things to have may not always be the easiest things to get.

There are times when we will face choices about what we pursue and often the choice comes down to a quicker but not so valuable reward as opposed to a better reward that we will not receive as soon.  This could be compared to someone putting aside immediate gratification to reach a long term goal.  There are some things that may look like a treasure to us, and it may even be a good thing, but is it the best thing?  Is what we are pursuing a truly godly goal that will bring us a true reward?  Keep God's plans and purposes for your life in first place and even if like Moses you leave behind some "treasure" you can be sure you will still reap real rewards, now and in eternity.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What Should You Say?

"Then they said to Him, "Who are You?" And Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true, and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him."
John 8:25, 26 (NKJV)

Every day we face situations that are less than perfect.  From the everyday circumstances of life to things happening in our family, with our friends, or something we have to deal with on our job it seems that there is always something going on.  What we say in these situations is vitally important.  What we say will help us succeed in life or bring us down to defeat.  We could think of it this way, in every situation we find ourselves in we have a choice about what to say; there are some things we might like to say but there are some things we should say, things we really need to say.

In John 8 we read about the Pharisees asking Jesus to explain to them who He was.  The response that Jesus gives is a great example for us.  Jesus tells the Pharisees two different things.  First, Jesus says that He is exactly who He has always said He was.  Jesus was continually speaking about His identity in relationship to God.  Second, Jesus told the Pharisees that there were many things He had to say but what He would say were the things He heard from God.  In other words, Jesus said He only spoke what God directed Him to speak.

When we find ourselves in a difficult situation the words we have been speaking about ourselves all along will help us or harm us.   When we find ourselves in a difficult situation we need to listen to the direction God will give us by the Holy Spirit and say the things that God guides us to say.  We may be reminded about a verse from the Bible, God may give us a question we can ask to clarify things, or we might have some direction from the Holy Spirit about how to speak positive words into a potentially negative situation.  No matter what you may be dealing with, don't just say anything that comes to mind, say the words that God directs you to say and allow Him to help you win every time!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Enter In With Thanksgiving

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him and bless His name."
Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

There are many different methods that can used to access various places.  Some places require you to buy a ticket before you enter.  Some places require you to show a certain form of identification before you can enter.  Some places require you to enter an access code on a security panel before you can get in.  Some places require a special key to enter in.  While there may be different methods that are used to enter a place, the point is that something is necessary before one can enter and the same thing is true with the things of God.

We have access to God today through the blood of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:13, 18), this is the basis for our relationship with God.  But what about our every day fellowship with God and walking in the blessings of God, is there something we can do to make sure we have clear access to all that God has provided for us through Jesus?  By looking at what Psalm 100:4 tells us I believe we have an answer: thanksgiving gives us access.  Being thankful and praising God for who He is and what He has done will keep doors of opportunity and blessing open in our life.

When we are thankful we are focused on the right things.  If we consider all of the good things that God has done for us and how much God loves us it is easy to be thankful and also easy for us to walk by faith.  If we think about what we may not have or what might not be exactly right in our life it means we are more focused on natural things and it is easy to complain and harder to live a life of faith.  By maintaining a lifestyle of thanksgiving we keep ourselves in the place where God can work in our life; let's all make it our goal to be thankful and enter into God's best.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Firm Foundation To Stand On

"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong."
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NKJV)

Standing is a fairly simple thing for most people to do.  Unless a person has some medical condition that prevents them from doing so, people learn to stand at a very early age.  But, it is not just standing up on your feet that matters it is also what you are standing on.  If you are standing on a flat, stable surface then standing is easy.  However, if you are on a boat that is being tossed around by waves, or if you are trying to take a stand on some ice or an unstable surface then the simple act of standing becomes a challenge.

The Bible says several things about standing.  We are told we stand by grace (Romans 5:2), we stand against the enemy (Ephesians 6:11), and that we stand by faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).  But the question is, just exactly how do we do this?  If we are to stand by faith in the grace of God against our enemy then we need to be sure that what we are standing on is stable and secure.  Our position of standing is only as good as what we are standing on.  A firm foundation to stand on is built on the Word of God through what we hear and by the words we speak.

By hearing God's Word we build our faith to stand and we strengthen our foundation by a continual process of speaking God's Word.  Then when we face the enemy, when we deal with difficult situations, when we need to appropriate the blessings of God in our life we have a firm foundation to stand on in faith.  Many believers struggle because their foundation is not entirely built from God's Word and when they need to stand strong their foundation is not secure.  Build a firm foundation in your life by filling yourself with the Word of God and speaking His Word every day, in every situation of life.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One Step Leads To Another

"And He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.  So they said to Him, Where do You want us to prepare?  And He said to them, Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters.  Then you will say to the master of the house, "The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"  Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready."
Luke 22:8-12 (NKJV)

When you are traveling somewhere or you have a goal to reach the main thing is to get to the destination and reach that goal.  All of the steps between where you start and where you end are not as important as the final objective, but those steps are still important.  Without taking the necessary steps to move forward you would never get to where you need to go.  This is a problem area for some people in following God's direction, they want the end result without having to take the steps in between the start and the finish.

In Luke 22 we see Jesus sending Peter and John to a city to find the place to prepare the Passover.  The goal was the place where they could meet, going to the city was a step in the right direction but it was not the only step.  Jesus told them to locate a certain man, but that was not the final step.  The man with the pitcher was only leading Peter and John to the place where they would meet another man who would then take them to their final goal.  But what if Peter and John had skipped a step or two, would they still have gotten the same result?

We will often find that God directs us into one thing that brings us into something else; God gives us one step that leads to another.  This is not to say that we view the things we do or the people we meet as just stepping stones we use to achieve a goal, that is not right at all.  But as God brings us opportunities to take steps in our walk with Him we must realize that God has a plan and He is working to develop us, prepare us, and to direct us into what we need to do and where we need to go.  Follow the steps God gives you, take advantage of the opportunities He brings you to do things, and build relationships with other believers.  Doing these things will benefit us today and help us reach our future goals.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Just Read It

"Your words were found, and I ate them, and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts."
Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

The Bible is an awesome, wonderful book.  Knowing and practicing the truth found in the Bible can change your life!  But, some people see the Bible as a book of secrets and there is one certain key that unlocks the mysteries so they spend time searching for that one key.  Other people find something specific in the Bible that fascinates them and they spend a lot of time just focusing on that one thing.  But, if we really want to have a complete understand of the Bible we need to just read it and get to know all of it.

There are 66 "books" within this one great book of the Bible and these 66 books are divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament.  While the Old Testament is important, today we live in the New Testament and that is the part of the Bible we should focus on the most. You can get a Bible in print or electronic form, you can read the Bible yourself or have an audio version of the Bible that you can listen to.  Multiple translations of the Bible can be found on the Internet and you can even have the Bible on your smart phone. But having a Bible is one thing and getting the Bible into you is another.

What some people fail to understand is just how simple the Bible really is.  Certainly there are some things in the Bible that are easier to understand than others but if we make it our goal to read and know the whole Bible we will find that the individual parts of the Bible become easier to understand.   When we spend time with the Bible we are really spending time with God because He is the true Author of the Bible and by the Holy Spirit God guided men to write the words we find in the Bible.  We should be like Jeremiah and make God's Word the joy and rejoicing of our heart; we do this as we read it, and read it, and read it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Small Beginnings Lead To Big Things

"Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly."
Job 8:7 (NKJV)

It was several years ago, but I remember it like it just happened yesterday.  It was Friday October 30, 1998 and I had just arrived at the Frankfurt Germany airport.  This was the start of my ministry work in Germany and Europe.  My arrival that day was just the first step in a much longer journey.  Looking back now I really had no idea about all of the wonderful things that God was going to have me involved in.  It is nice to look back on how things started and to see how they have developed.  But, to be able to look back we first have to start somewhere, even a long journey starts with one step.

To have grand finale you first have to begin something, to accomplish great things you will have to start by doing the little things.  Doing those little things leads you to bigger and better things.  We all like the part of seeing the big development and the work that is accomplished over time but those big things always start small.  It is a rare thing to be what is called an overnight success and in most cases that is really not even true.  What often appears to be an overnight, or instant, success is most of the time the result of a lot of long hours of hard work that most people don't even see.

It is good to dream big dreams for God, but then we have to put our dreams into action.  We need to first of all know that what we are doing is what we should be doing and we need to have the mentality that what we start is only the beginning; no matter how small something may look at the start it is only the beginning.  Too often people just want to jump into something big not realizing that every great thing starts somewhere and often that start is a small one.  We may not see the end result after a few steps in our journey or even after a few years but we need to keep on going.  No matter where you are in life or what you are doing remember that with God our small beginning can become something big!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Say What You Mean And Mean What You Say

"The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips."
Proverbs 16:23 (NKJV)

It has been said that talk is cheap.  People use this expression because it is very easy to just say something.  But, while it is easy to just speak it can be more difficult and it is more important to have something to say that is worth saying.  Jesus set the standard for us and if we look at His life we don't see Him just carelessly throwing words around or continually having to apologize for saying the wrong thing.  Jesus chose His words wisely and we should do the same.  Jesus said that He only spoke words that His Father taught Him (John 8:28); that is something that would be good for us to imitate.

Sometimes people say things that are not very kind and not very good.  These same people might try to justify what they have said by making the comment, "Well, I didn't really mean that" or "OK, I know what I said was not really right but you know what I mean".  Saying things that can hurt or cause a problem for other people is never a good thing.  We need to say what we mean and mean what we say.  We should have a good basis for what we say; we cannot allow ourselves to just say anything at anytime.  The Bible should always be our standard for how to live our life and for the words we speak.

We need to be wise with our words and choose our words carefully.  This is something that all of us can work on for as long as we live.  But it is not an impossible task and Proverbs 16 gives us a key about how we can say the right words, we teach / train our mouths what to say by what we have in our heart.  If we fill ourselves with God's Word then it is easier to be able to find the right words to speak.  Jesus said that it was out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).  Fill yourself with the Word of God and don't just say anything that comes to mind, teach your mouth what to say about yourself, others, and your life.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do Good Works Always Equal Good Fruit?

"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Colossians 1:9, 10 (NKJV)

Everyone likes to get maximum results; everyone likes to see that what they do is successful and accomplishes something.  No one wants to spend time doing something that is nothing but a waste of time and energy.  Wouldn't it be sad to spend hours and hours working on some project that you later find out to be unimportant and not even necessary?  We all want to be sure that the things we are doing really matter.  How can we be certain that we are making the best use of our time and not just wasting time?  The answer is in knowing the plan and purpose God has for our life.

God has a plan for everyone, not just for pastors, missionaries, or other ministers.  We must know and understand God's plan for our life or we will spend our time doing things that we were never meant to do.  There are many, many good things we can find to do in life but just because something is good to do does not mean we should automatically do it or that it is the right thing to do.  This is what I believe Colossians 1:9, 10 is talking about.  We want to be fruitful in every good work but to do so we need to be doing the right good works.

God has called us to do good works, this is something we see throughout the New Testament.  But, God has a specific plan for each person's life and while there are some general good works that everyone can do, like walking in love, there are some specific things that God has planned for us to do.  The key is being filled with the knowledge of God's will and having the wisdom and understanding necessary to fulfill that will.  We find God's will in God's Word, the Bible.  Start by doing the things you know are good to do and allow God to move you on from there to the specific plan He has for your life.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Working With God Or Working For God?

"We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain."
2 Corinthians 6:1 (NKJV)

There is a big difference between working with someone and working for someone.  Working with someone implies shared effort and responsibility, what is being done is a collaboration of abilities and resources.  Working with someone means that a person is not alone and has someone else helping them get things done.  When you are working for someone that carries with it the thought of one person giving direction and another person carrying out the plan that was given to them.  Usually when you work for someone the main effort comes from one person and responsibility is given from one person to another.

In both letters to the Corinthians Paul talked about being a worker together with God.  Paul realized that what he was doing was in partnership with God.  Paul was not trying to figure out everything on his own and just relying on his own ability.  Paul knew that it was God that had called him and it was God that would help him.  Paul understood, just as we should, that the only way to really fulfill God's plan is with God's help.  Yes, Paul did talk about being a bondservant of God in many of his letters but Paul also knew that whatever He did for God he was doing with God.

We can be sure that no matter what God might call us to do He will be there to help us. We never want to fall into the trap of thinking that what we do depends solely on our ability and our coming up with the best plan on our own; we need to develop a trust and reliance on God.  This is the difference in Christianity, we do serve our God but He works with us as well. Other religions focus on man working for and serving some god but there is no cooperation with a distant and often harsh deity.  But we are children of God who can always rely on our heavenly Father to be there and work with us in anything and everything that needs to be done.  We are workers together with God!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

People Must Be Stirred And Willing

"Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord's offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments."
Exodus 35:21 (NKJV)

In the Old Testament we read about Israel traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land.  As Israel traveled through the wilderness God spoke to Moses about building the tabernacle.  We can read many details about how the tabernacle was built, but to build it some materials were necessary.  God told Moses to receive an offering from the people to get the things that they needed for the tabernacle and the clothing that the priests would wear, this is what we see in Exodus 35.  What happened when the people brought the offering is a very interesting part of the story.

Once Moses told the people what was needed, all of the people who were stirred and willing came and brought an offering.  In the next chapter (Exodus 36:7) we read that they finally had to stop the people from giving because there was too much!  That is obviously not a normal type of offering.  A key point is that people were stirred to do something and they were also willing, so they actually did something.  Often when people hear about a need it stirs them up and makes them want to get involved.  But unless those people are willing and then do something not much is really going to happen.

What is needed in any project is people who are not only stirred up but people who are willing to do what it takes to get things done.  We see from the story in Exodus that when the stirred and willing people did something it more than met the need.  Often needs go unmet and work goes undone because people may be stirred but they are not willing to do what is necessary.  People may be stirred about something, they may even believe that doing something is good, but unless people willingly get involved not much will happen.  Are you simply stirred or are you also willing to get involved?  People who possess both of these traits are necessary to do what needs to be done.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Lifestyle Of Being Led By The Spirit

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,"
Romans 8:14 (NKJV)

What is the difference between breathing in air and flying through the air in an airplane?  One is something you do continuously from the moment you are born and the other is something that is not done all day, every day, by anyone.  Breathing in air is something that everyone can do because of the lungs we were born with; flying an airplane is something that only specially trained people can do.  Many Christians view being led by the Holy Spirit in a similar way; some see it as something natural that every believer can do, but some think that it is something that is only possible for a select few.

When someone accepts the salvation that Jesus provides they are born again and they receive the Holy Spirit.  As Christians we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).  The question is, what is the Holy Spirit doing in us?  We know from John 14:26 that He is our Helper and one way He helps us is to lead us and guide as it mentions in Romans 8:14.  The good news is that we can be led by the Holy Spirit every day; in fact we should have a lifestyle of being led by the Spirit of God.

So many Christians struggle in life and make wrong choices because they are not being led by the Holy Spirit.  One big reason many people do not have a lifestyle of being led is because they have not taken the time to develop their relationship with God through reading His Word and spending time in prayer.  If we want God to lead us then we need to get better acquainted with Him.  God wants to lead us and guide us in life, not just once and a while but every day.  We all need to make being led by the Holy Spirit a way of life and not just a rare event.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Qualified For Blessings

"Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
Colossians 1:12 (NKJV)

Did you know that not just anyone with athletic ability can compete in the Olympics?  There are athletes who train for years trying to earn a spot on a team or in a certain event to compete in the Olympics.  But to compete at that level you first have to qualify for a position.  The same is true in other sports where people must first compete to qualify before they can actually participate in the sporting event.  We can see the same thing in other areas of life like in qualifying for a home loan or in being eligible to go to a certain school by having the necessary grades.

There are a lot of Christians who think they still have to earn the blessings God provided through Jesus; they are still trying to qualify themselves for something that already belongs to them!  Through Jesus we have already been qualified to receive all of the blessings of God.  Too many people focus more on the work they do than on the work that Jesus did.  The truth is that none of us could ever be good enough or work hard enough to qualify ourselves for anything that God has.  That's why it is good to know that through Jesus we are already qualified for blessings.

We need to know who we are in Christ and what belongs to us.  If you don't know what Jesus provided for you then you can't take advantage of it.  The Bible tells us that God will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19), that God will guide us and direct us (Psalm 32:8), that God will give life and strength to our body by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11), and that through Jesus God gives us a peace that passes all understanding (John 14:27; Philippians 4:7).  Whatever you need, find out what God said about it in His Word and know that because of Jesus you are already qualified for the blessings!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Receive The Word And Do The Word

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving yourselves."
James 1:21, 22 (NKJV)

What would happen if you needed to wash some clothes and you put the clothing into the washing machine but did not use any laundry detergent?  The results would not be what you intended because you wanted clean clothes not just wet clothes.  What if you instead put the detergent into the machine and even turned the machine on but never put in your dirty clothes?  Again, you would have a problem.  Many times we have failed to succeed in something because while we may have taken one step or done one thing we have neglected something else.

In James we see two things, we must receive the Word and we must put it into practice; first you take in God's Word and then you do something with it.  That is simple enough, but there are also two potential problem areas.  The first is if we don't know what the Bible says and the second is if we don't act on what we know.  You can't use what you don't have and you can't do something that you don't know about.  James talks about receiving the Word of God but he first mentions laying aside something else.  To receive the Word we often also have to reject things that are not in line with God's Word.

We must receive the Word and do the Word; we need to learn more about Who God is and who we are in Christ.  We need to find out what belongs to us in Christ and what God's plan is for our life.  When we learn these things and then put that knowledge and understanding into action it will change our life!  This is how we can make an impact for God in the world and help people around us.  Wherever we are in our walk with God we need to do what we know to do and continue to grow in our relationship with God and our knowledge of His Word.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Things First

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

As far as I know most people put their socks on first and then they put on their shoes, that is pretty normal.  But what if you reversed the order, what if you put your shoes on first and then tried to put your socks on?  The result would be a mess, which is why people put on their socks before their shoes.  This is just a simple example of something we see all around us in our natural life and it is also something that applies to our spiritual life.  There are some things that need to be put before some other things or there will be problems.  An easy way to understand this is with what we call priorities.

Everyone has priorities, choices about some things they do first before they do other things.  Sometimes our priorities are dictated by natural circumstances, like the shoes and socks, and sometimes our priorities are just our choice.  We all make decisions about what things are important to us and we make those things priorities.  But if we put the wrong things first, negative consequences can result.  For Christians we must keep our relationship with God, His plan for our life, and spending time with Him through His Word and prayer a priority.

We are all busy and have a lot to do; this makes priorities vital for our success.  We might feel pressured from things we need to do and allow that to create a priority in our life.  People can make demands on us and we might allow that to create a priority for us.  But if we don't keep first things first, if we don't keep God's plan and our relationship with Him first, then it will show up in the rest of our life.  Personally I have found over and over again that if I put God first, then everything else works out well.  Let's all make the decision to keep first things first and keep our relationship with God, His plan for our life, and spending time with Him through His Word and prayer our top priority.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Light For Your Path

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

When things are dark you need some light. Have you ever been out walking in a field or in the forest when it got dark?  I have had that experience and there comes a point where you can't see where you are going unless you have something to light the path you are on.  You could just keep going forward the way you think you should go and hope for the best, but that is not a very wise thing to do.  Many people have gotten lost in places like a forest because they traveled in a direction that they thought was right only to realize later that they had made the wrong decision.

Some things are good for giving light and some are not.  Things like a flashlight or a candle will give you light while a chair or a pillow will not.  Having a chair or a pillow would help to make you more comfortable in the place where you are, but they will not help you get to where you need to go. Some people don't really have any light or direction for their life but they do have some things that make them feel comfortable and even secure where they are now.  But without having any actual light you may be comfortable somewhere but still in the wrong place.

God's Word will give us light and direction for our lives.  There is so much wisdom we can get from the Bible in places like Proverbs, in reading stories about men and women of God, and by looking at the life of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will speak to us through God's Word to show us what to do and the Holy Spirit will remind us about what the Bible says to help guide us in life.  If you need wisdom and direction in your life, in any area, I would encourage you to spend time reading and studying God's Word.  God's Word will give us light for our path and direction for our life.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Full Understanding Of God's Will Is Needed

"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"
Colossians 1:9 (NKJV)

It is one thing to know what to do and another thing to know how to do it.  For example, you might buy something at a store that requires you to put it together once you take it home.  You have seen the item in the store so you have an idea what it is supposed to look like.  You take your purchase home and open the box only to discover that there are no instructions for putting your item together.  You know exactly what you need to do, put your purchase together, but you don't really know for sure how to do it, there are no instructions.  This would certainly be a problem.

One thing that people ask me over and over is about how to find the will of God for their lives.  This is a good thing to want to know because as children of God we should want to please God and do His will.  But, knowing what God wants you to do is just the first step.  Once you know what to do you then also need to know how to do it and even when to do it; you need the wisdom and spiritual understanding that is referred to in Colossians 1:9.  The good news is that God not only wants us to know His will but He also wants to help us see how to do what He asks and also the best way to do it.

We may know what to do but we also need to have the full understanding of God's will to know how and when to best do it.  We have the written Word of God, the Bible, and as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living in us.  Sometimes the way we know how to do what God wants us to do and the way He wants us to do it is simply through seeing what the Bible says and sometimes it comes to us through the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Ask God to reveal His will to you through His Word and by the Holy Spirit and trust God for the wisdom and spiritual understanding about how to carry out His will.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Lord Of The Work Or The Work Of The Lord?

"But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.  And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:40-42 (NKJV)

In Luke 10 we read about Jesus being invited into Martha's home.  Martha had a sister named Mary who was also there with Jesus, but these two sisters acted differently towards Jesus.  Martha was busy with serving while Mary was sitting at Jesus feet listening to what He said.  Martha became more focused on the serving than on Who she was serving.  In fact, verse 40 says that Martha was "distracted with much serving".  Martha then complained to Jesus trying to get Him to make Mary help her with the serving but Jesus said Mary had chosen something good, hearing the words of Jesus.

In the past I read this story and thought that Jesus was not being fair, Martha was doing all the work and Mary was just sitting there.  But, I failed to pay attention to the part about Martha being distracted with her serving and Mary listening to Jesus.  When I finally considered that I understood the point to the story.  It was not about one person being forced to do all the work while the other person did nothing.  The story is about one person who was more focused on listening to Jesus and another person who was more focused on serving Jesus.  Sadly the same thing happens to many Christians today.

It is easy to get so busy serving God that we forget about just sitting and listening to Him.  If we get more focused on the work of the Lord than we do on the Lord we are working for we have a problem.  While we are called to serve God and do good works that service and those good works have their roots in our relationship with God.  To be successful in our life and what we do for God it all starts out with our spending time with Him and then serving Him.  Don't get so busy serving God that you lose focus on your relationship with God; the Lord we serve is more important than the work we do for Him.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Highest Standard

"The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever."
Psalm 119:160 (NKJV)

In the United States there are many kinds of courts and there is a court called the Supreme Court, which is the highest ranking court in the land.  The job of the courts is to interpret the laws that have been made and if someone does not agree with a decision a court has made they can appeal that ruling to a higher court and if necessary go all the way to the highest court, the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has the ability to overrule all lower court decisions.  Once the Supreme Court makes a decision it is final because it is the highest ranking court.

This same principle is seen with God's Word, it is our highest authority.  God's Word is the highest standard we can and should live by.  The truth we find in God's Word outranks and overrules everything else.  No matter what we see or hear in life God's Word has the highest rank.  As Christians, as believers in Jesus Christ, we must make God's Word our highest standard.  No matter what others say, no matter what others do, no matter what experiences we have had, we must always go back to find out what God's Word has to say.

To know what God says we have to know His Word, the Bible.  In Psalm 119:160 it tells us that God's Word is truth, God's Word is the highest truth.  We may face problems and difficulties in life but we can overrule the truth of these situations with the higher truth of God's Word.  If we apply the time tested principles we find in the Bible our lives will benefit from it.  If we take what God has said in His Word and we live by that then we will live a life that is superior to anything else.  Read and study the Bible for yourself and no matter what comes in life allow God's Word to be your highest standard.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rooted And Built Up In Him

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."
Colossians 2:6, 7 (NKJV)

The most important part of any plant is the root, without a good root system a plant will die.  You can pull the leaves off of a plant but if the root is strong the plant will still survive.  Roots absorb water and minerals from the soil to help the plant grow, roots give plants stability, and roots even store extra nutrients for future use by the plant.  Most of the time you don't see the roots of a plant but if the root is not healthy that will eventually be seen on the visible part of the plant.  A plant will not live very long if it is separated from its roots, everything a plant does is connected to its roots.

In Colossians 2 Paul talks about being rooted and built up in Jesus.  We have already received Jesus and now our walk, our life in Him, is connected to our roots in Him.  We know that our life is hidden in Christ and that He is our life (Colossians 3:3, 4) and that the life we now live we live by faith in Him (Galatians 2:20).  A strong, successful Christian life is one that has a strong connection to its roots.  Our life will never develop and grow the way it should if we do not take advantage of the life that comes from our roots in God.  Everything we do depends on our being rooted in God through Jesus Christ.

How do we develop a strong spiritual root system?  It all starts with maintaining our connection to God in a daily, living relationship with Him.  We need to focus on drawing our life, strength, and stability from God though His Word and through spending time with Him in prayer; there is no substitute for this.  We can be busy for God, we can do all the right things, we can say all the right words, but if our relationship with God is not strong it will show up in our life.  First of all, no matter what is happening in life, maintain a strong root system in God and then you can do great things for God.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Location Of Your Treasure Shows The Location Of Your Heart

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)

Everyone has a treasure of some kind.  While they probably do not have an actual treasure chest or a locked box with money, jewels, or some other valuable thing inside there is something that they treasure.  The first and most obvious treasure someone could have would be money, jewels, or something else of significant financial worth.  There are many things that people value and treasure, many different things that people put their time and effort into because they consider those things to have great value.  The question is if what we value really is valuable.

Jesus said in Matthew 6 that our heart will be in the place where our treasure is.  You could turn this around to say it another way, you will value and invest in what your heart is connected to.  What we put our time, effort, and financial resources into shows what we believe in and care about, it shows where our heart is.  If we really believe in something we will commit to it.  Jesus recommended that we make eternal investments, that we put our time, effort, and financial resources into things that have eternal value.

Are the things we use our time for, put our effort into, and spend our money on things that are of eternal value or just a source of temporary pleasure?  Of course God wants us to enjoy our life, to have our financial needs met, and to be able to have leisure time to spend with family and friends.  But will what we do today mean anything in the perspective of eternity?  Are we investing our time, energy, and financial resources in promoting God's Kingdom and helping others?  The answer to that shows where our treasure is and that reveals where our heart is as well.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are You Living Like A Mere Man?

"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 3:2, 3 (NKJV)

The church in Corinth had some real problems.  In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he addressed several issues that the people in Corinth were dealing with.  This is a good letter for us to read because some of the problems they had are the same problems that we have today.  What is interesting to take note of is what Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 3 as being their main problem.  This was really the root of all of the things they were dealing with; the Corinthians were carnal, they were ruled by natural things and not spiritual things.  Paul said that the people in Corinth were behaving like mere men.

When Paul told the people at Corinth that they were carnal people he meant that they were more focused on natural things than they were on spiritual things.  Jesus said in John 17:14 that He and His disciples were not of this world and in John 18:36 that His Kingdom was not of this world.  This same thing is true for us today as Christians, we may live in this world but we are really connected to a heavenly kingdom and this is why we cannot allow ourselves to be dominated by natural desires and this world system that we live in.  As born again new creations in Christ we are to live by a different standard.

If we allow ourselves to be ruled by the culture and things of this world then we will live like ordinary, unchanged people.  Too many believers never grow and develop spiritually and then they make excuses for their actions by saying things like "Well, I'm only human" or "This is just the kind of person that I am".  But we are more than just a natural human being, we are a new creation in Christ and that is how we must live.   Find out who you really are from God's Word and don't just allow natural influences to keep you living like a mere human.  Step into the reality of who you are in Christ and live like the spiritual person God intended you to be!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fresh, Daily Manna Is The Best

"Then the Lord said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not."
Exodus 16:4 (NKJV)

When Israel traveled through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land God supernaturally provided daily food for them that they called manna.  God gave instructions that the people should go out every day to gather some manna.  God also told them to gather twice as much on the sixth day so that they could rest on the Sabbath, that was the one special exception.  This was one way that God tested Israel to see if they would obey Him and do His Word.  Unfortunately the gathering of manna was one of the areas where Israel did not follow God's commands and they had problems because of it.

Again and again in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land God took care of Israel.  God was there to give them what they needed when they needed it and the daily manna was a good illustration of this.  It says in Exodus 16:16-18 that each one gathered according to their need and while some gathered more than others each person had what they needed with no lack.  Some people disobeyed and tried to keep some of their manna for the next day.  But the manna they kept from one day to the next ended up stinking and was full of worms; they needed fresh manna every day.

There is a great lesson we can learn from this; just like Israel had to go every day to get the manna to meet their needs we must to go to God every day to get what we need.  If we don't go to God daily then we will lack the daily provision that God wants to give us.  Too many Christians do not have a regular time with God through reading His Word and in prayer and their life reflects this.  We all face challenges each day and God is ready to help us and give us the strength, encouragement, wisdom, and guidance that we need.  To be truly successful in life we need fresh, daily manna from God. Go to God today to get what you need!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whose Business Are You Busy With?

"For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies."
2 Thessalonians 3:11 (NKJV)

People's lives today are very busy.  It seems that there is more going on in people's lives today than ever before, and often what keeps us busy is being connected with other people.  Whether it is texting, talking, or using social media it seems that most people want to be connected to someone else as much as possible to see what is happening with everyone else.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but how much do we really need to know about someone else compared to just being busy with what we need to do in our own life and with the responsibilities that we have?

Relationships are an important part of life but like anything else we can go overboard with them.  We need to be connected with good people who will help us do the things we need to do but we first of all need to take care of our own life and the things God has for us to do.  Some people are so focused on what others are doing that they really don't pay enough attention to the things they need to do in their own life.  Or, they are so caught up in seeing things happening in other people's lives that they become envious or maybe even critical about what the other person is doing.

This is the kind of thing that Paul was talking about in 2 Thessalonians 3, people who were so consumed with what others were doing that they were not working themselves; Paul said these people were "busybodies" living in "a disorderly manner".  In other words, these people were busy but not with what they needed to be busy with.  If we become preoccupied with all the actives that are taking place in the lives of others we can lose the focus that we should have on God's will for our own life.  We should maintain the right kind of relationships but keep our attention on what God wants us to do in our own life and on His plan for us.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Is Faith?

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

Faith is an important part of the Christian life.  We are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), we live by faith (Galatians 3:11), and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  From these verses we can see that faith is important, but what is faith and how does it work?  If we are saved through it, we live by it, and faith pleases God then we need to know what faith is and how to use our faith.  Faith is just taking what the Bible says, accepting it, and acting like it is true; we act and speak about a situation based on what the Bible says about it, that is faith.

Faith means that we put our trust, focus, and confidence in what God has said in His Word.  We don't trust in our own abilities, we don't focus on our circumstances, and we don't put our confidence in natural things.  When we are in faith about something we will be at peace and rest in our hearts even if we still have questions in our head.  We can put our trust and confidence in what God has said in His Word while still not completely knowing or understanding exactly how God will do what He said He would do, that is faith. 

When we are in faith about something we are really just saying that we know God will help us with what it is that we need and everything is not just left up to us.  God may give us an idea about something we can do in the situation but that does not mean we are trying to do it on our own, our focus is on what God has said not on what we can do.  Faith is not based on our actions but our actions must be in agreement with what the Bible says.  Faith is not a mystery, faith is believing what God says and then acting on that and saying that, that is faith.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Simple, But Easy?

"But He said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."
Luke 18:27 (NKJV)

Most of us don't like it when things get complicated and difficult; usually the simpler things are the better.  But, just because something is simple does not mean it is easy.  For example, it is simple to say that we will start eating right and exercising, that is what many people decide at the start of a New Year.  However, most people who make that decision don't follow through with it.  Saying something and wanting to do it is simple, but it's not so easy to actually do it.  It is also simple to say that we should just do what God tells us to do, but is that always the easiest thing?

The Bible tells us we need to be a doer of the Word, a very simple statement that is not so easy to do.  How about walking in love?  It is simple to say that we need to do this but it is not so easy to do when you deal with people who are not always so kind and loving towards you.  This is not to say we should be discouraged and throw up our hands saying that there is no way to please God and to do what He says.  On the contrary, God tells us things that are simple and, although they may not always be easy, they are possible to do and He will help us to do them. 

Most people are only looking for what is easy but that is not always the best choice.  Sometimes the thing that seems the hardest to do is the best and leads us to better things.  So what can we do with things that are simple but not always so easy?  First of all, we need to have the attitude that no matter how difficult something seems to be we can do it.  God will help us do what we need to do.  Secondly, we need to remember that doing the right things in life is not always easy, but it is always best.  God is a big God who will help us do everything His Word tells us to do and everything He leads us to do.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Real Power Of Your Confession

"Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?"
Lamentations 3:37 (NKJV)

Our words are very important; what we say about ourselves and our life will have an impact on us.  This principle is something that we see in the Bible but the truth of this principle has been misunderstood and neglected by many people.  Often even when something is true but it is used in the wrong way people have a negative attitude towards that thing.  Our words, our confession, is one of these things.  While it is true that our words are important and our confession will have an impact on our life, many people struggle with this because they fail to understand the underlying principle of confession.

Some people have had the idea that if they just repeat something for a long enough period of time that it will produce results.  But it is not the amount of times or the length of time we say something that really matters.  That would be like what Jesus said about how the Pharisees thought that their prayers would be heard because they used "many words" (Matthew 6:7).  Just saying something we want to have happen one thousand times is not the most important thing, the most important thing is if what we say is in agreement with what God has already said.

We need to be sure that the things we say about every area of our life is what God has said in His Word about every area of our life; God will always stand behind His Word.  God's Word will not return void but it will accomplish what it was sent to do (Isaiah 55:11) and God will watch over His Word to bring it to pass (Jeremiah 1:12).  There is power in the words we speak when we speak God's Word.  When our words are in agreement with God's Word that is when we will see the greatest results in our life.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Maintaining Good Works

"This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.  These things are good and profitable to men."
Titus 3:8 (NKJV)

The New Testament has a lot to say about good works.  Good works are not things you do to earn salvation and guarantee yourself a place in heaven; good works are what you do as a Christian because of who you are in Christ and what God has done for you.  Paul told Titus that Titus should "affirm constantly" the fact that believers should maintain good works.  That is really interesting.  It was not enough just to talk about doing good works once and a while, but Paul said it was something that should be done constantly.  Christians need to be encouraged to do good works, always.

The Bible says that we should be zealous, eager, for good works (Titus 2:14); we should have a pattern, be an example of, good works (Titus 2:7); we should stir up and encourage one another to do good works (Hebrews 10:24); people should be able to see our good works (Matthew 5:16); we should be rich in good works (1 Timothy 6:18); we were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10); and we should maintain, take the lead in, good works (Titus 3:8, 14).  What is all of this saying?  That our life needs to be filled with good works that glorify God.

So if we need to have a life of good works how do we do that?  It all starts with our relationship with God and moves out from there.  As we spend time with God through His Word and in prayer He will give us direction and bring us opportunities to do good works.  We can find good works to do in our church, in our community, and with friends and family.  The main thing is that we are always ready to take advantage of opportunities that come our way to demonstrate the life of God and the love of God that is in us, that is how we maintain good works.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Not By Might Or Power, But By The Spirit Of God

"So he answered and said to me: This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit Says the Lord of hosts."
Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV)

Have you ever faced a situation that seemed too hard to handle, a problem that seemed to be unsolvable, or a task that seemed too difficult to do?  At one time or another all of us have faced things like this.  Zerubbabel was in one of those kinds of places.  He had led a group of Jews back from Babylon to Jerusalem and he was faced with some big challenges as he and others worked to rebuild the temple.  This was a huge job and I am sure he felt a bit overwhelmed.  What God told Zerubbabel is something that we can all benefit from today.

In Zechariah 4 God tells Zerubbabel that what needs to be done will not be accomplished by might or power.  Things were not going to be done by any ability, strength, or power that some person could naturally supply; the work was going to be done by the help of the Holy Spirit.  In our lives today, we may be called by God to do something that seems impossible or we may face problems where we don't know what to do.  This is where we need to turn to God and let Him help us.  By His Spirit, God will give us direction, ability, knowledge, and wisdom to do what needs to be done.

The fact is that everyone will come to a point in life that they will deal with something that is beyond their own resources to take care of.  By His Spirit, God can give us the energy and ability we need, God can show us what to do, God can give us wisdom, and He can direct us about exactly how to be most effective in what we do.  We need to stop trying to do everything on our own and realize that God is ready and willing to help us in every situation.  It is not just by our might or our power that we will be victorious in life and do what God calls us to do, it is by His Spirit!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Be Aware Of The Enemy's Tactics

"Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:10, 11 (NKJV)

It has been said that knowledge is power.  This saying originally comes from the English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon and it has been used by many people since then.  What we know and understand is the basis for what we do.  A person cannot act on what they do not know and often a lack of knowledge is what defeats people.  The more we know and understand about spiritual things the more effective we will be as Christians and the more we will be able to do for God.  It is good to know what we should do but it is also good to know what we should not do.

In 2 Corinthians 2 Paul talks about forgiving someone and in the next verse he mentions not being ignorant of Satan's devices, literally Satan's plans or purposes.  Paul is showing us the importance of forgiving others and how by not forgiving someone Satan could take advantage of us.  Paul also tells us that our enemy has a plan and a purpose.  Many people get into trouble because they do not understand this. The devil is constantly trying to cause problems in our life and hinder us from doing what God wants us to do.  We need to be aware of this and on guard because of it.

The devil will try to use things against us like unforgiveness, bitterness, disappointment, discouragement, and similar things. If we realize that these things can be opportunities for the devil to attack us we will be on guard against them.  If we are unaware and even ignorant of that then the devil will try to use situations and circumstances against us and we may fall prey to some scheme of the enemy; we need to be on guard against the plans and purposes of the devil.  We have God's Word and the Holy Spirit to help us with this.  No matter what the devil may try to do we can always triumph in Christ!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Kind Of Report Do You Give?

"The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy."
Proverbs 15:30 (NKJV)

All around the world you can find reporters from different organizations who are reporting the news, or at least what they understand about it.  These men and women find information about various things that are happening to report in news stories.  In the English language a report is defined as "a written or spoken description of a situation or event" and so a reporter is someone who relays this information to others.  All of us have the opportunity to be "a reporter" in our own lives as we give information and "report" about the events and situations we deal with in life.

The Bible talks about a true report, a good report, a bad report, and an evil report.  Something may be a true report but is that a good report?  In the Bible a good report is saying what God says and a bad or evil report is when someone disagrees with what God has said.  How can we be sure what we say will be a good report and not a bad report?  The answer is whether or not what we say is in agreement with God's Word.  We have the choice about what to report and we need to say what God says about everything in our life.  Proverbs 15:30 shows us that the right report can even affect our health!

It is interesting to see how different reporters highlight certain aspects of a story and sometimes fail to mention some other facts that are an actual part of the story.  We can do the same thing, we can choose what aspects of our life we emphasize and talk about.  In every situation we can choose to talk about what God says in His Word instead of just talking about the bad things we could report.  So, what do we report about our lives and the situations we go through?  Instead of just talking negative and saying things that do us no good and really only serve to wear us down, let's talk about what the Bible says and always give a good report.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Instant Christian

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching."
2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV)

Some people can be very picky.  They like things done in a certain way and if it is not what they like, the way they like, they don't want anything to do with it.  Sometimes we see this with children who only want to eat certain kinds of foods and they refuse to eat others.  There are some people that are looking for the perfect moment to do something and then when they think that they have that moment it often does not work out the way they dreamed it would.  While we may not think of ourselves as that kind of person normally, we may sometimes act like that with spiritual things.

There are Christians who think that they should be able to do what they want, when they want, the way that they want.  They think that what they do for God in their life should somehow be the ideal thing that they would like to do in a pristine setting; but this is not reality.  If we expect to only serve God when everything is perfect and at just the right time we are going to be sadly disappointed.  It seems that just when we get settled something will come along that knocks us right out of our comfort zone and requires us to do more than we wanted to do when we didn't want to do it.

Paul encouraged Timothy to be ready to do the things that needed to be done in season and out of season.  The King James Translation says, "be instant in season, out of season".  That is a good picture; we need to be ready to go in an instant.  The devil will never attack us at a convenient time, people will never have a crisis when we are necessarily ready to deal with it, and the work God calls us to do will probably not be with the exact conditions we would dream of.  But, we can know that no matter what happens, when it happens, and how it happens God is there to help us.  By filling ourselves with God's Word and trusting the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us we can be the kind of Christian who is ready anytime, anywhere to do anything that needs to be done!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Shouting On Monday

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."
James 5:13, 14 (NKJV)

It's great to be in a church service or at a special meeting with a group of believers.  It can be very inspiring to hear a message that encourages us and motivates us to do more for God.  It seems as though when we are in these kinds of situations we are confident that God can do anything and that no matter what we might face we will overcome.  The problem is that we don't live at church and we don't have special meetings every day.  We may not have a problem getting excited and shouting on Sunday, but what about the rest of the week?  Can we shout on Monday just like on Sunday?

It's easy for us to get excited in a crowd or to rely on others to keep us motivated and help us in difficult times.  But, we will all come to a point where we have to stand on our own.  In James 5 it says that if someone is suffering they need to pray; it does not say that we just automatically call someone else for help or run to a seminar.  James also says if someone is cheerful they should sing, that part is easy.  Singing and even praying are easy on Sunday but can we pray and sing just as easily on our own on Monday as we can with the help and encouragement of others on Sunday?

This shows us the need for spiritual growth and an understanding of who we are in Christ, and this points us back to God's Word.  While we may not have a meeting to go to and we may not have our pastor or other Christian friends around on Monday we still have the Bible.  Yes there will be times when we face a situation that we must call for help, as James 5:14 says.  But, if everyone is just in the position that they always need to call someone else for help who would we all turn to?  We all need one another, as well as spiritual growth and development in our life and a solid foundation in God's Word.  If we have these things then no matter what we face we will always come through triumphantly, every day of the week!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Speaking The End At The Beginning

"Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,"
Isaiah 46:9, 10 (NKJV)

God is a faith God, He is not a God who is focused on what can be seen but He looks to what is not yet seen.  Isaiah 46 tells us that God declares the end from the beginning.  This is similar to what we see in Romans 4:17 where it tells us that God calls the things that are not as though they were.  God does not just talk about how things look and the way things are now, from the beginning God talks about how things should look and how things will be in the end.  This is a principle we see all throughout the Bible.

In the Garden of Eden after man had sinned God promised that there would be a Redeemer.  We see this principle in the prophecies of the Old Testament proclaiming the coming Savior, Jesus.  We can see God talk like this to people too.  In Judges 6 an angel appeared to Gideon who was hiding from the enemy and the angel from God declared that this was a might man of valor.  In Genesis 17:5 God renamed Abram to Abraham, which means the father of a multitude, saying "I have made you a father of many nations".  It hadn't happened yet but God talked as if it had.

Some people would look at all of this and say that it is fine for God to do this, He is God.  But, the Bible tells us that we need to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1), and that we need to have the God kind of faith (Mark 11:22).  We need to imitate God and use our words the same way that He does.  From the first moment we find ourselves in the middle of a difficulty or a problem we should begin to say what the Bible says about the situation.  Don't just talk about how things look, how you feel, or what past experience you have had, from the beginning make a declaration based on God's Word of what the outcome will be!  That is how God talks and that is how we should talk.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Who Do You Listen To?

"Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the opening of the gates in the city She speaks her words:"
Proverbs 1:20, 21 (NKJV)

In the Book of Proverbs we see several references to wisdom calling out to people.  There are some valuable things we can learn from these examples.  One thing we can see is that wisdom is available, if we listen for it.  We can also see that wisdom is something that will benefit us and help us to lead the right kind of life.  And we can see that wisdom is not the only thing that is calling for our attention; there are many things and many opinions that we can hear.  Our success or failure in life will depend a lot on what it is we pay attention to.

We hear things from other people, we can see and hear the news and the latest events going on around us, and we can of course listen to God through His Word and the direction He gives by the Holy Spirit. There are many things calling for our attention and it is impossible to avoid hearing some things that are not good or profitable.  But, what do we choose to focus on and follow, what do we pay attention to?  Wisdom is calling to us every day through God's Word, but are we listening to that wisdom or are we listening to the wisdom and information from the world?

Proverbs 9 shows an interesting example of this.  In the first part of Proverbs 9 it talks about wisdom calling out to people and then later in Proverbs 9 it talks about a foolish woman who is also calling out to people.  Both wisdom and the foolish woman are calling out to people but what they offer is not the same.  Wisdom leads to life and understanding while the foolish woman, personifying things that are contrary to godly wisdom, leads to the depths of hell.  We all have the choice about who and what we are going to listen to in life and we need to be sure that what we hear is wisdom based on the Word of God; that will lead us to success.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

There Is Always Room To Grow

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul did many great things for God.  Paul traveled to many different places to preach the Gospel and to start churches.  Paul was someone who was very well educated and had a great revelation from God concerning who we are in Christ.  But, even with all of his education and understanding of God, Paul still realized that he did not know everything and there was room for growth and development in his life.  This is also true in our lives, no matter where we are naturally and spiritually there is always room to grow.

Any honest Christian knows that there is always room for more spiritual development.  The Bible talks about spiritual growth and there are several things we can do to grow up spiritually.  We need a continual diet of God's Word, we need to spend time talking to God in prayer on a regular basis, and we need to be involved in what God is doing in the world today.  We need to be an active member of our local church as well as being involved in what God is doing around the world.  Paul said that he was not "perfected" but he kept moving forward so that he could do the things that God had called him to do.

We need spiritual growth but we can use some natural training and development too; we can find ways to improve what we do in the natural side of life.  There are classes we can attend, there are books we can read, and we can ask God for wisdom and insight so that we can be better in whatever we do.  If we realize that we will always have room for growth and apply ourselves to learn and develop in every area of our life we will be more effective for God and more productive in everything that we do.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Great Commission, Or The Great Suggestion?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age, Amen."
Matthew 28:19, 20 (NKJV)

In Matthew 28 we read about what is called "The Great Commission".  When Jesus returned to heaven He left the work that He started to His followers.  Jesus told His disciples that their job was to go to all the nations, make disciples, and teach.  In Mark 16 it simply says to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, this is what the Great Commission is all about.  However, if you look at what a lot of Christians are doing today it seems like they did not understand what Jesus was talking about.  Most people who say they follow Jesus are not really doing what He asked them to do.

Jesus told His followers to go into the whole world, not "Stay where you are, focus on yourself, and do what you want to do".  Many people would be happy if Jesus had said that, but it is not what He said.  In Acts 1 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would empower the disciples, and us, to be witnesses for Him, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  Again, Jesus is saying the same thing, go into the whole world.  Yes, you can start with where you are but the Gospel message has to go out into the whole earth.  This is what Jesus commanded and this is what we need to do.

Jesus did not give us "The Great Suggestion" and say if we can find the time it would be nice to do it.  No, Jesus told us to go into every nation.  Of course not everyone will relocate to another country, but we still need to do what we can to help fulfill the words of Jesus.   Oswald J. Smith, who was a pastor and a missions advocate, once said, "You must go or send a substitute".  All of us are called to reach the world but not all of us will personally go to the whole world.  But, we can pray, we can give financially, and we can support those who do go.  Individually we cannot fulfill this, but together, with each one doing their part we can fulfill The Great Commission!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Do You Live For?

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."
2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 (NKJV)

Some people say that they live for their children, their husband, or their wife.  Others say that they live for the weekend when they have more free time, or that they live for some other activity or event.  When people say things like this they are making the statement that their life is focused on their children, husband, wife, or whatever; this person or thing gives their life meaning and purpose, it is what motivates them.  Having good family relationships, free time, and recreation are all good, but is that what our life should revolve around, is that really what we should be living our life for?

The Bible tells us that all Christians are a part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).  The Bible also tells us that each part of the body of Christ has something it needs to supply for the rest of the body (Ephesians 4:16) and that each one of us have received a gift from God that we need to be a good steward of (1 Peter 4:10).  We need to know who we are in Christ and we need to understand that we are a part of God's plan for the world today.  While we do need to take care of things in our natural life, like our family, our focus and what our life revolves around needs to be our purpose in Christ.

Jesus gave His life for us and now we are required to live our life for Him, this is what 2 Corinthians 5 is telling us.  However, this does not mean that we have to sell all of our possessions, forsake our family and friends, and go live an isolated life on a mountain somewhere. What it does mean is that because God created us for good works (Ephesians 2:10) and He has a plan for our life that we need to focus on that and make it what we live for.  God certainly wants us to have a blessed, happy, and successful life but it all starts with finding and fulfilling our God given purpose; that is what we should live for!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Responding Or Reasoning

So he, trembling and astonished, said "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
Acts 9:6 (NKJV)

When Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus it was an experience that changed Paul's life.  Paul became a Christian and served God for the rest of his life and accomplished great things for God.  Paul asked Jesus the question that we all need to ask, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"  Jesus simply told Paul to get up and go into Damascus and he would be told what to do.  Paul responded by going into the city.  Jesus did not give Paul any real details, Paul had to completely trust Jesus without really knowing what he would find in the city or what was coming next.

There is a lot we can learn from this story.  One thing is that this is a good example about obedience and following God's plan for our life.  Once Jesus spoke to Paul and told him what to do Paul had a decision to make, was he going to respond to what Jesus told him or was he going to think about it for a while and try to figure out what was going on?  This is where many people make a mistake, instead of just responding to what God says they try reasoning it out and often they miss what God is trying to do.  

One thing we all need to settle in our minds is that God knows what we need to do far, far better than we do.  God sees ahead and knows where our next steps will take us.  When we hear from God, through His Word or by the Holy Spirit, we should respond to His direction without trying to figure it all out to see if we understand it, like it, or agree with it.  When God speaks to our heart we should not check in our head, we need to simply respond to His direction.  Once we take the step God gives to us He will give us another step and then another to lead us to our ultimate desired destination.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good-Bye Or Good Riddance?

"He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one's sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings."
2 Chronicles 21:20 (NKJV)

2 Chronicles 21 tells about the death of King Jehoram of Judah.  He only reigned for eight years and he was a bad king who did not follow God.  The Bible tells us that when King Jehoram died no one expressed any sorrow at his passing, the people were happy to see him go and to get rid of him.  But, there are other kings we can read about who when they died the people mourned over them, they were good kings that the people were sad to see go.  It was not the position that these men held that they were honored for, it was who they were and the influence they had on the people they ruled.

We all have relationships with people in our family, at our place of work, people we socialize with, and other types of relationships.  The type of relationship we have with these people may be different, but the one thing that is the same is that we have an influence on these people.  Positive or negative we are influencing the people around us.  But, are we the kind of people who are helping and encouraging to those around us or are we a negative influence?  If our relationship with these people ended today, for whatever reason, would they say a sad good-bye or would they just say good riddance? 

We don't always realize what an impact we make on other people, good or bad.  Think about Jesus and how He lived; I am sure that He was a positive influence on those around Him.  David is another example.  He had people around him who were in distress, in debt, and who were discontented.  David became their captain and chose to be a positive influence on these people.  We all know people like this that we are happy to see arrive and sad to see leave.  But on the other hand, there are some people that we are sad to see arrive and happy when they leave.  The question for us is which type of person we will be?  Our relationships with others are important and an opportunity for us to make a positive difference in people's lives.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Staying On Course Through God's Word

"Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89 (NKJV)

People are looking for something to focus on and follow in life.  But there are so many things in life that you can't always rely on because of the amount of change involved.  For example, I used to listen to cassette tapes, I used to own a pet rock, and I used to wear bell bottom jeans.  At one time all of these things were very popular but they are rare if found at all today.  With all of the things that change in life it is good to know that God's Word does not change and God's Word is always something we can focus on and follow with success.

Many people have problems because what they are using as a foundation for their life is not stable and secure, like God's Word.  People try to do something to fit in only to find that as soon as they think they fit in the style has changed.  Others try to stay current with the latest popular culture or trend in the world and then they find out something "new" has come along and now they are out of it again.  If we try to base our life on all of the things in the world that are subject to change we will certainly live a frustrating life. 

God's Word is settled, forever.  There are no new updates for God's Word, it has not changed or been revised and it never will be.  God's Word is always relevant and useful for our daily lives.  God's Word is the only stable thing that we can base the course of our life on.  True success and happiness in life is only going to come by knowing, understanding, and following God's Word.  If it seems like your life has just been a series of ups and downs then get off of the roller coaster of passing fads and get connected with the Word of God, that is the only way to truly stay on the right course in life.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Walking In Love - By Faith

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love."
Galatians 5:6 (NKJV)

Everyone knows someone who is not so loveable.  Whether it is a family member, a coworker, a neighbor, or even someone in our church, we have all met people who have been difficult to get along with.  Sometimes we even go so far as to find a way, if possible, to avoid that person rather than deal with them.  While this type of person can be a challenge for us, we need to realize that no matter what other people do and how they act we don't have to let their bad attitude or actions dominate our life.  No matter how the other person acts we can still walk in love and treat them right and do good to them.

Galatians 5:6 gives us a key that can help us, faith works through love and love can work through faith.  God's love is already in us (Romans 5:5) so we don't need to get more love, we just need to use what we have.  One problem is that we are often looking at our feelings and having a hard time dealing with them.  We need to move past our feelings and act on the love of God that is in us, by faith.  We may never be able to do anything to change how the other person acts but we can act the right way and treat them the way we would if we really did have the feelings of love for them. 

The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8 that God demonstrated His love for us in sending Jesus to die for us when we were sinners and we did not deserve His love.  This is an example for us to follow.  God acted the right way towards us and showed us love even when we did not deserve it or respond properly and this is what we need to do.  Others may not respond the right way but when we walk in love it opens the door for God to work in the situation and it will help us with the unpleasant feelings we have towards the other person.  If we release the love of God that we have in us towards other people, no matter how they act, we are walking in love and walking with God.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Crossing To The Other Side

"Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, Let us cross over to the other side of the lake. And they launched out."
Luke 8:22 (NKJV)

Luke 8 records the story of Jesus and His disciples crossing a lake in a boat, which was a fairly normal means of travel for them.  Today we don't travel with boats as much as we use cars, airplanes, and even trains to get where we are going.  We don't plan to live in the car, airplane, or train, they are just methods that we use to go from one place to another.  I have traveled by car, airplane, and train to various places and while not every one of those experiences has been the most wonderful and exciting time of my life I did reach my destination.

In the story from Luke 8 we see that as Jesus and the disciples were in the boat crossing the lake a storm came up.  The storm caused some concern for the disciples but Jesus helped them get to the other side, which was the whole reason for the trip in the first place.  What if the disciples had known for certain that the storm was coming and had said they did not want to travel in the boat?  They may have reached their destination by foot but it would have taken them much longer to walk around the lake than to travel over it by boat.

Just like disciples we will all go through some situations and experiences that are not so pleasant.  But, if we remember that Jesus is with us and that He will help us we can keep the right perspective.  The disciples began to panic in their situation because they started looking at the circumstances and they forget where they were going.  We need to trust God and stay with His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit to get where we need to go.  If we just panic and get scared at the first sign of trouble and then quit we may never reach our destination.  No matter where we are in life we need to realize that God is on our side and He will help us to safely and successfully reach the destination of where we need to be in life.