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.