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!