Thursday, December 31, 2015

Brighter And Brighter

"But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day."
Proverbs 4:18 (NKJV)

Have you ever bought a product that claimed to be better than before but you found out that it actually wasn't any different?  Have you ever updated an app only to find out that the supposedly improved version of the app was really the same as what you had before, or maybe even worse?  Sometimes with what we buy, the things we use, and even in our life it seems like we get stuck or hit a high point and go down after that; it seems that things do not get better and better but they either stay the same or they get worse.  Sometimes that's how things are, but is that the way they should be?

Some Christians seem to view their relationship with God like being on a treadmill.  Something is happening, there is some activity going on, sometimes things move faster or slower, but it is all pretty much the same year after year.  Even though there may be highs and lows, things are not too much different today for some believers in their walk with God than they were last year, or maybe things even seem worse.  But we can, and should, have a better relationship with God and a better Christian life today and in the next year than we ever did in the past; that is how God wants us to live.

Proverbs 4 talks about the path of the just, their course in life, getting brighter and brighter.  As Christians, those who are justified and made right with God through the blood of Jesus, our life should improve each year and never stagnate, and definitely not get worse.  Our relationship with God can have a greater depth this year than last year, we can learn more, give more, and do more than ever before because God's plan for us is to improve and develop year after year.  Expect your life to be brighter this year than ever before as you continue to develop in your walk with God and His plan for your life.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shining Star

"When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy."
Matthew 2:9, 10 (NKJV)

Matthew 2:1-10 gives us a familiar Christmas story about how wise men came from the east to see Jesus.  It is very likely that this was actually a large group of men who made the long journey and it is also quite possible that these wise men were of some high rank since they had access to King Herod to ask about the star.  Why did these men come to Jerusalem?  No doubt they were familiar with the scriptures concerning the Messiah and with Numbers 24:17 that refers to the Messiah as a Star rising out of Israel; but it was the star in the sky that actually led them to Jesus.

People are searching for truth today and they are looking for answers.  Problems come to everyone sooner or later and if people are not facing difficulties from external problems they are dealing with questions, despair, loneliness, depression, and other issues.  The thing these people need is someone to guide them to the source of the answers to their problems, which is Jesus.  The wise men were looking for Jesus, they just needed direction and that came from the star they followed.  Today people need someone to be the guide that helps to bring them to Jesus, that someone is you and me!

Matthew 5:14-16 says that we are the light of the world; we use a light to see and help us find our way, we are the light shining in the world today to show people the way to Jesus.  Putting a light into a dark room enables you to see where you are going, it guides you.  We need to be a guide to lead people to Jesus just like the star led the wise men.  Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, but in the midst of our celebration let's not forget that we need to be an example to the world to show them the true source of joy, Jesus!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Desire The Word

"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,
as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,"
1 Peter 2:1, 2 (NKJV)

There is one fact that everyone who has a baby, or anyone who has seen a baby knows, babies get hungry, often.  Once a baby is born they don't do too much other than eat.  If a baby does not get their food when they want it, then they will cry and let you know, there is no mystery about it.  When it is hungry, a baby wants to eat; babies will even wake up in the middle of the night and want to eat.  It can be a sunny day, rainy day, hot, or cold but it does not matter because that baby still wants to eat.  It seems that just about all the baby ever wants to do is to eat.

Peter makes an interesting comparison between our desiring the Word of God and a baby desiring milk.  Peter talks about our putting aside some negative, ungodly things and instead choosing the Word in the same way that a baby chooses milk over everything else.  Just like a newborn baby wants to eat and will not be satisfied until they do eat we need to have a desire, a craving, for the Word.  God's Word will help us to grow, but if we neglect the Word we will hinder our spiritual development.  Still, for some Christians having a strong desire for the Word is something foreign to them.

Some believers have filled themselves with other things that have spoiled their hunger, so to speak, for God's Word.  Many people have neglected the Word for so long or have heard it mixed with non-biblical teachings to the point that God's Word is an afterthought to them.  But if we spend time reading the Word and getting to know God through it our perspective would change.  By spending time with the Word we will find ourselves being drawn more and more to it, just as a baby desires milk we too will desire the Word.  What are you craving today, is it God's Word or something else?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let's Remember

"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you; that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NKJV)

If you have ever taken a trip to popular tourist destination you have probably seen souvenir stands selling all kinds of things that are associated with that place or some famous landmark there.  When people buy these souvenirs it is normally not because the souvenir is so valuable or that it even meets a need in their life.  People buy souvenirs to remember their trip and to remind themselves about all of the wonderful things that happened during that time, it is all about remembering.

For many Christians, Communion (or as some call it, the Lord's Supper) is nothing more than a ritual with no real significance to it.  Others have ideas, some of them not even biblical, about the meaning behind Communion.  Still other believers argue about how often someone should have Communion or exactly what someone should eat or drink during this time.  The problem with all of that is that the true meaning behind Communion and what it should mean for us today is lost.

Paul said that as often as we take Communion we are proclaiming the Lord's death; it is a time to remember what Jesus did for us.  It is not a time for us to think about our past mistakes and failures but to remember that through the blood of Jesus we have been forgiven.  Communion is about remembering that God loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for us.  The next time you receive Communion make it a time of remembering all of the wonderful things that Jesus has done.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Teach Your Mouth What To Say

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

If you were interested in getting physically fit you might hire a personal trainer to design a set of exercises to help you reach your goal.  That person could also monitor your progress and help you make any necessary corrections.  If you needed to learn how to drive you would find a qualified driving instructor to give you lessons on how to drive a car and they could ride along with you during the learning process to help you.  If you wanted to learn another language you could go to a school or even hire a private teacher to help you with the language and give you advice on how to speak the language.

One area that everyone can use help with is with the words we speak.  Our words are very important, which is why we see over and over again in the Bible an emphasis on being sure we speak the right words.  How do we know the right words to speak?  The first way is by seeing what God Himself has said about us and our life in His Word, the Bible.  Secondly, the Holy Spirit will help to guide us into speaking the right words.  However, even though the Bible shows us what to say and the Holy Spirit will direct us about what to say it is still up to us to say the right thing, we must choose the right words.

Proverbs 16:23 gives us the answer to how this will work in our life.  From our heart, our inner man, our spirit, we must teach and train our mouth about the right things to say.  We should never allow our mouth to just express whatever might come to our mind or repeat anything we hear.  We must keep a constant vigil over our words to be sure that what we speak is in line with God's Word.  We must fill ourselves with God's Words and choose the right words to speak in every situation; God will help us, but from our heart we must direct our mouth about what to say.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

An Attitude Of Gratitude

"And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."
Acts 5:40-42 (NKJV)

The perspective you view things with is very important.  It has been said that people view a glass of water as either being half full or half empty.  The contents of the glass are exactly the same for both people but the perspective the glass is seen with is different.  Our attitude is based on our perspective and people with a positive perspective will have an overall better attitude than people with a negative perspective.  If we look for the positive aspects of things rather than the negative it will help us to be thankful and have an attitude of gratitude.

In Acts 5 we see that the disciples were put into prison by some religious leaders but God miraculously delivered the disciples.  Then God told the disciples to go to the temple and teach the people, so they did, and then the disciples were arrested again!  This time the religious leaders were so upset that they wanted to kill the disciples, but instead they just beat them and told the disciples not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore.  When the disciples were set free they went away rejoicing!  The disciples saw a positive aspect in their situation and rejoiced and gave thanks to God.

Many people focus on their problems rather than on the good things in their lives.  This is seen in their unthankful, ungrateful attitude.  God wants us to have an attitude of gratitude and to be thankful in every situation and circumstance of life. No matter how bad things might appear to be, or how bad things really are, if we look a little bit we can find something to be thankful for, just like the disciples did.  We all need to guard ourselves from the ungrateful, unthankful attitude that is so prevalent today.  By being thankful for the things we do have we can keep an attitude of gratitude.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What Would Jesus Do?

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me." 
John 6:38 (NKJV)

Several years ago there was a popular wrist band that had the question, "What Would Jesus Do?" on it.  Most of the time the wrist band simply read, "WWJD" and people understood the reference.  The idea behind this wrist band was that if we want to know the right way to live we can look at how Jesus lived and do that same thing.  Although it is nice to think that we can always know what to do by just simply reading about the life of Jesus and imitating what He did, that is not exactly how our life should function.

While Jesus is our example for how to live a life pleasing to God we cannot just imitate everything He did in every situation.  For example, we read about Jesus going to a wedding where He turned water into wine.  It is doubtful that this is the will of God for us the next time we go to a wedding but it is the only example we have of Jesus attending a wedding.  Another instance would be with the people that Jesus raised from the dead.  The next time we go to a funeral are we supposed to raise someone from the dead?  That is most likely not the case.

Jesus came to do the will of God, not to do His own will or just copy someone else.  God had a plan for what Jesus was to accomplish while He was on the earth and the same thing is true for us.  While there certainly are many principles we can take from the life of Jesus and use examples from how He did things to be successful and pleasing to God we must realize that we are individuals that God also has a plan for.  God has given us His Word and placed the Holy Spirit inside of us to help direct us in every area of our lives.  Jesus purpose in life was to do the will of God, let's have the same goal!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


"Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.
Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them."  
2 Chronicles 24:2, 17 (NKJV)

We have all seen examples of how one thing influences another; like how the moon affects the ocean's tides.  Another example would be how the shining of the sun influences the temperature.  But what if somehow the moon no longer had an effect on the ocean or the sun did not shine?  The results would not be good.  God created things to be interconnected with some things having an effect on other things.  Our world is an amazing place when we understand how so many things have an influence on other things and if that influence would be removed negative consequences would follow.

King Joash reigned over Judah for forty years.  For a time he did well and followed God, but that only lasted as long as Jehoiada who was the priest at the time was alive.  The influence of Jehoiada was seen in how Joash lived and reigned and how that once Jehoiada the priest was gone things changed.  Joash went from being a good king to a bad king largely due to the people who influenced him.  He did what was good when he had the influence of Jehoiada the priest, but Joash became a bad king once Jehoiada died and Joash even ended up killing the next priest, who was Jehoiada's son!

God created us as individuals and while it is important for us to grow and mature spiritually so that we can stand on our own, we were never meant to live life alone.  Even people who are not believers in Jesus are aware that anyone who has no relationships, or only has bad relationships, will not do well.  We are all influenced by the people around us and we need to be sure the people we allow into our lives are good, godly people.  Christians are a part of the Body of Christ and we should be a positive influence by helping and encouraging one another; we all need to be a good influence on others.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Smoothing Out The Rough Spots

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16, 17 (NKJV)

Recently I was at the dentist having a cavity filled.  Dental work is not something that people necessarily look forward to but when something needs to be done just putting dental work off is not a good idea.  My dentist does a great job and I am always satisfied with the work that has been done.  But after this recent visit I noticed that something was not quite right.  The tooth that I had the work done on had a rough spot on it, a bump that needed to be smoothed down.  While I might have been able to just ignore the bump it was better to have it taken care of so there were no further problems.

One aspect of the Christian life that people do not necessarily look forward to or get excited about is in the area of spiritual growth.  Once we become a Christian and make the step to follow Jesus by receiving Him into our heart and life we start the process of spiritual growth.  As we walk with God there may be some rough spots in our life, some bumps along the way that need to be dealt with so there are no further problems in the future.  The way we take care of the bumps and smooth out the rough spots in our life is through the Word of God; God's Word is given to us to help us grow and develop spiritually.

Paul told Timothy that God's Word is profitable for our doctrine, for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; it is what we need to show us the right things to believe, to help us avoid error, to correct us, and to guide us in our life.  The Word of God is necessary for us to live a successful Christian life because it will help us to grow and develop spiritual showing us the right and wrong in every aspect of our life.  God's Word was given to us so we would be complete (mature) and equipped for all that God has called us to do; we need to let God's Word help us smooth out the rough spots in our life.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bible Buffet

"Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."
John 6:60, 66 (NKJV)

There are many different types of restaurants.  Some specialize in a certain type of food, some are only for people who want to come in and sit down to eat, and some restaurants are manly for customers who want to order food and take it with them.  Some restaurants have complete meals that you can order while others offer a buffet where you can choose different foods to eat and take what you like and leave what you don't want.  Unfortunately some Christians also have this kind of view of the Bible and the truth they like to listen to; however, there is no such thing as a Bible buffet.

One day while Jesus was teaching in the city of Capernaum He said some things that seemed to offend some people.  They said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it" or in other words, this is something that is hard to hear, who can listen to teaching like this?  What Jesus said was not well received and the result was that many of His disciples, the people who had been following Him and listening to Him, would no longer follow Him.  These people were guilty of the Bible buffet mentality.  There were some things they liked to hear and when they heard something they did not like they turned away.

God has given us His Word as a guideline for our lives.  But, we cannot just pick and choose the things in the Bible that we want to focus on and hear about while neglecting other parts.  We like to hear about benefits and blessings but not so much about how we need to walk in love, to serve others, to give, or to grow up spiritually, just to name a few things.  Sometimes we can be just like these disciples in John 6 and turn away from the things we don't want to hear.  We all need to be the type of Christians who know the whole Word of God and not just try to live on a Bible buffet.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our Part And God's Part

"Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem.  And the power of the Lord was present to heal them."
Luke 5:17 (NKJV)

What would you do if you walked into a room that was dark but you did not turn on the light?  Would you say that there was something wrong with the light bulb or that maybe the electric company was not doing its job?  Or would you realize that you needed to do something to take advantage of what was already provided through the electric company and the light bulb and so you needed to turn on the light?  This example almost sounds ridiculous but it is the same thing that is happening with many people, including Christians, all over the world today.

In Luke 5 we see Jesus teaching a group of people and we are told that the power of the Lord was present.  But the only person in the story who benefited from the power of God was the man who was let down through the roof by his friends, this man was healed.  Just coming into contact with God will not necessarily change things; we have a part to play in it.  Some people have said that the Pharisees and other teachers were religious hypocrites and that is why they did not receive anything, but there is another similar story like this about Israel, God's people, in the Old Testament.

In 1 Samuel 4 we see Israel preparing for battle and the priests bring the Ark of the Covenant, which was symbolic of the presence of God.  The people shouted because God was with them, but they were still defeated!  Why was it that although God was there in both situations almost no one benefited?  The problem was not that God needed to do something, but God needed someone else to do something.  In every situation we need to see what God is directing us to do and not just wait for Him to do something.  God has done His part to provide for us by sending Jesus, have we done our part?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let Peace Rule

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful."
Colossians 3:15 (NKJV)

Most people do not like excessive rules but most people do like some type of rules or guidelines.  If there were no rules or guidelines then the result would be chaos.  But the question is, what are the rules or guidelines in any situation?  In sports there are referees who help to guide and direct the players to follow the rules.  If one of the players does something that goes against the rules the referee will do something to let that player know that there is a problem and what is being done must stop.  A referee is placed in a contest to help direct the players to stay within the guidelines of the sport.

Most Christians do not like excessive rules but most Christians do agree that there has to be some way for a believer to have safe guidance in life and a way to do the things that please God.  While we do not have any official Christian referees within churches we do have the Holy Spirit living in us to help us.  The Bible says in Romans 8:16 that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.  That simply means that there is agreement, or peace, between the Holy Spirit and our spirit.  We need to have this peace as the rule that guides our life.

Christians can get into trouble by not allowing the peace of God to rule in their life; they do something but do not have a sense of peace in their heart, so is not something that the Holy Spirit is directing them to do.  We must always walk in the peace of God by following the direction of the Holy Spirit and the steps He guides us to take in life.  These steps can be things He speaks to our hearts, something He shows us in the Word of God, or just the sense of peace within us knowing that a certain thing is the right thing to do.  We must allow the peace of God to rule in our heart and in our life.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Patience And Comfort From The Word

"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
Romans 15:4 (NKJV)

Everyone has different tastes, things they like and don't like.  Personally I like to ride on roller coasters.  For me, going through the ups and downs as well as the curves on these amusement park rides are great!  But, while I really do like to ride on roller coasters I do not want to spend my entire life on one.  A roller coaster is fun for a while and even though I enjoy them it is not where I want to be all day, every day.  There are things like this that can be fun for a while but before long they lose their appeal, we all like things to be a little more settled than what we would experience on a roller coaster.

Romans 15:4 points out some very important truths for us as believers.  First it tells us that the things that were written before, in God's Word, were written for our learning.  God cares about us so much that He had some things written that can help us in our life.  Second we see that the Scriptures, God's Word, give us patience and comfort so that we can have hope.  This is another great thing to know; God's Word brings comfort to us and helps us to be patient.  The word patient here means to have cheerful or hopeful endurance, or we could say that it is talking about staying the same all the time.

God gave us His Word for a reason and His Word will do something in us.  God does not want us to have a roller coaster life where we are up and down all the time, living life based on our circumstances or feelings.  There is another good point here too, what we hear from God and His Word will bring us stability and comfort.  God wants to help us not hurt us, even if we have made a mistake.  If we hear something that brings fear, confusion, or doubt then it is not coming from God and His Word.  God wants us to life a life of stability and peace so we can do His will and help others to do the same.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Sure Thing

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
2 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV)

We all like a sure thing, something that there is no question about and where there is no possibility of a mistake.  This is a nice thought, but in our everyday life it is not entirely realistic.  People like to say that the only things in life that are a sure thing are death and taxes, but there are some other things as well.  For example, we can be sure that we will see the sun rise in the morning and set in the evening.  We can be sure that dogs will bark, birds will sing, and fish will swim.  We do not have to just wish that these things were true, we have all seen and experienced them for ourselves.

One thing that is unique to Christianity, especially when compared to other religious beliefs, is confidence; confidence in our salvation and in everything God has said to us in His Word.  We are certain that because we have placed our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that we have an eternal home in heaven for all of eternity.  We can be confident that God is who He says He is and that His Word is true.  We can see God through the things He created in this world and we can take advantage of everything He has said in His Word by simply believing it is true and acting on what He has said.

Not being sure about something is a bad place to be.  But millions of people today do not live a life of security with a certainty about what will happen when they die or if what they believe will really work in their life.  So many people are really just blindly hoping something good will happen for them without any real guarantee of success.  Like Paul, Christians can boldly declare that because we know the God we believe in is real and His Word is true we can be sure that He will do what He has said.  When you put your trust and confidence in God and His Word you then have a sure thing!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Do The Word That You Have Heard

"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 it be like if you just got more and more of something but never used it?  What if you owned one hundred pairs of shoes and then just kept buying more and more shoes, could you ever really use all of those shoes?  What if you had one hundred pairs of pants and then bought one hundred more pairs of pants, would that even make sense?  While it is not wrong to have a lot of something there does come a point where if we are not making good use of what we have then there is no real reason to have it.  What we have is only good if we can use it and get some benefit from it.

James 1:21, 22 tells us that we need to receive the Word; but if we are not doers of the Word we receive then we deceive ourselves.  We can deceive ourselves by not doing the Word and then not having the abundant life God wants us to have so we start to believe that the God kind of life is not for us.  We can deceive ourselves by not doing the Word and thinking that what we need is more of something else when we already have the Word from God we need and we are just not putting that Word to use.  If we only hear the Word but do not practice the Word we will not have God's best in our life.

Some people just get more and more of God's Word without putting the Word into practice in their lives.  When we hear the Word we need to do something with it.  If we are just accumulating more and more knowledge without any practical application that is not so good, knowledge is only valuable when it can be used.  We need to take the Word of God that we receive in our life and make it a part of our life and use God's Word to help other people.  God gives us His Word for a reason and it is when we put it into practice and use it in our life that we receive God's best!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Faith Comes By Hearing

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

Have you ever wondered why some people do the things they do?  It can be very interesting to be in places like an airport where you can see a wide variety of people with a wide variety of ways of doing things.  But just looking at people and how they act will never fully reveal the motivation behind their actions and lifestyle.  To really know why people do things the way they do you would have to find out more about those people and their background; what is it that has shaped the life of someone to cause them to be who they are?  The answer is that people are shaped by the things they hear.

What we have heard, whether good or bad has had an influence on us and helped to shape us into the kind of people that we are today.  In Romans 10:17 it tells us that faith comes by hearing, what we hear will do something in us.  The things we hear have an impact on us, for good or bad, and will eventually dominate our lives.  Some people would disagree but can you find a successful person who always talks about and listens to words of defeat and discouragement?  Can you find a person who has a terrible life who is always talking about and hearing good, positive things?

God has given us His Word to build good things into us; faith, wisdom, and strength will all come through hearing God's Word but doubt, depression, and confusion will come through hearing something else.  We should not just listen to everything and anything that is available to hear, and we certainly do not need to read everything that someone might write in a book or put somewhere on the Internet.  What we hear will build something into us.  There are many things we can hear but we need to put God's Word in first place above everything else that we might listen to, read, or say.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Are You Zealous For?

"For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.  And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers."
Galatians 1:13, 14 (NKJV)

Have you ever watched a sporting event on television and seen some of the people in the stands who are there to watch their favorite team?  Some people are very committed to their sports teams and show this by how they act, what they say, and even how they dress.  Some people don't care for sports but they do follow some music group, singer, or entertainer. This type of person who closely follows and identifies with some sports team, musician, or someone else is referred to as a fan.  It is interesting to note that, according to the dictionary, the word fan is most likely derived from the word fanatic.

In Galatians Paul talked about how he was zealous for the traditions of his fathers.  This word "zealous" means, to burn with zeal, to be eagerly desirous of something, or to vehemently content for something.  This is not just a passive or mild desire or thought about something, it is an all consuming passion.  In fact, this word Paul used can be traced back to a word that means to boil with heat, like boiling water.  Paul was zealous for Jewish tradition, you could even say he was a fan of it.  Paul was very committed to what he believed, but what he believed was not right.

There are many things that people are zealous about.  But like Paul, people can be very committed to and passionate about something and still be wrong, even with religious things.  As Christians we identify with Jesus and should be zealous about following Him and doing His will; we can find God's will in His Word, the Bible.  How we live, what we say, our goals and dreams should all fall in line with God and His Word.  It is good to be zealous but we need to be zealous for the right things.  Because Jesus is our Lord and Savior His will and way need to be what we are most passionate about.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Walking In Love - Believing The Best About Others

"Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]."
1 Corinthians 13:7 (Amplified Bible)

Has someone ever cut you off while you were driving and your first thought is that they have no idea how to drive?  Have you ever been in a restaurant and the server was not as sharp as they ought to be and you think they are the worst service person ever?  Have you ever been boarding a plane, train, or bus and someone got in front of you and you suspected they had no manners and were probably the rudest person alive?  It is likely that all of us have had these experiences and thoughts at one time or another.

But is it possible that we misunderstood what happened and were too quick to believe the worst about someone?  What if the driver was a bit lost and did not realize they cut you off?  What if the server in the restaurant was filling in for someone else who was not there and had to do the work of two people?  What if the person who got in line ahead of you legitimately did not see you and what they did was an honest mistake?  Our thoughts and reactions to how others treat us and how they act around us is an indication of how much we are walking in the love of God.

God's love bears up under anything and everything and believes the best of every person and that love is in us as Christians (Romans 5:5).  Are we quick to believe the best or worst about others?  Do we look for the best and expect the best of others or are we ready to find fault and see mistakes?  How does God see us when we make mistakes or do wrong?  Is He expecting the worst things from us or is He gracious and quick to overlook the mistake and continue to love us and do what He can to help us?  We all need to walk in the love of God where we expect and believe the best about others.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Watch Out For The Little Foxes

"Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes."
Song Of Solomon 2:15 (NKJV)

There is a saying that has been around for a long time, "Don't sweat the small stuff", which is meant to convey the idea that we should not let little things bother us.  Generally speaking this is true, but not always; some small things can create very big problems.  For example, termites in your home, driving over a nail that gets stuck in your tire, or a sliver in your finger are all small things that can lead to some big problems.  It is not the size of the thing that makes something a problem; it is what the thing can do that matters.

Song Of Solomon 2:15 contains an unusual phrase that has an important point, it talks about little foxes that spoil, or ruin, the vines.  This is similar to how the devil will work in our lives and try to ruin our relationship with Jesus.  The devil will not necessarily do something big against us, but he will work in small ways.  He will try to fill our mind with the wrong kind of thoughts, try to get us to focus more on our circumstances than on God, or try to make us think what we are doing for God is a waste of time.  If we let those little thoughts get into our thinking then we will be in trouble.

Another thing the devil likes to do is to fill up our time with a lot of little things that keep us so busy that we do not have time to do the things we really need to do.  Or the devil will try to convince us that we are too tired to go to church or that being involved in some area at the church just does not fit into our schedule.  We need to be on guard at all times against these attacks of the enemy.  We need to watch out for the little things that will try to ruin our relationship with God through either wrong thoughts or by distracting us through being too busy.  Don't let the little foxes ruin your vine.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Let Your Light Shine

"You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)

When you enter a dark room you naturally turn on the light to see where you are going.  Normally rooms have a lighting system with light bulbs in some fixtures that were designed to help people find their way around the room.  That lighting system was not put there just for decoration; it is there for a reason.  The light bulb that lights up the room is not the electric company itself but the bulb is displaying a light that is created by the power that is coming from the electric company.  In a similar way we need to be a kind of "Christian light bulb" in a world that is in darkness without Jesus.

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus told His disciples that they were the light of the world.  The Bible also tells us in 1 John 1:5 that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all".  From these two scriptures we can see that God is light and we are His lights in the world.  We need to shine our light and do what we can to help direct people to Jesus and to display godly characteristics that are a reflection of our heavenly Father. We need to show people how through a relationship with Jesus Christ we can live successfully in this world and overcome the difficulties that come our way in life.

Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago.  He is now in heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father.  That is His place to be, our place is here on the earth, in this world, being representatives of Jesus.  The point is that if Jesus is going to do anything or help anyone on the earth today in any way it is going to be through us, we are here to do His work and to shine as a light for Him.  As followers of Jesus Christ we are representatives of God, our life should reflect His light.  Once we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior we become that light of the world, let's shine bright for Jesus!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Our Work For God Is Not In Vain

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)

The length of time something takes to grow is different depending on what you plant, the conditions you are growing something in, and how well you take care of what is planted.  Some plants take weeks to grow while others take months before they are ready for harvest.  It is not reasonable to expect every type of plant to grow at the same rate.  If we understand this principle then we are able to be patient during the growth of a plant; if we don't understand it we can become impatient and give up on something that is growing and developing because we don't see the growth happening.

God has a plan for our lives and there are things He wants all of us to do, God expects us to do things that will help to build His Kingdom.  But, those things we do often do not produce instant results.  If we understand that in advance it makes what we do easier; we must be consistent in our work for God regardless of what results we do or do not see.  We have to realize that we are dealing with eternal things and we may not see some results as fast as we like.  If we are sowing the incorruptible seed of God's Word into the life of another person we can expect results.

We may work in the children's ministry at our church, or with the youth, or adults, and not see the fruit of our labors for many years.  We might have the opportunity to speak to a neighbor or coworker about Jesus but that person does not receive Jesus right away.  We can make investments into the lives of someone or our church today that will only bear fruit years later.  But to keep on doing this we must be unmovable in our work for God.  Knowing that what we do for God is never in vain helps us to do God's will regardless of any immediate results or the lack thereof.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Is It Worth To You?

"I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure."
Psalm 119:162 (NKJV)

The value of something can be determined by what someone is willing to pay for it or what that thing means to a person, what it is worth to them.  There are some things that people have paid millions of dollars for, such as art work or other collectables, that have no real function in life but to those people they have value.  There are other things, like a family heirloom, or a personal memento of some kind that have value to the people who own them.  Even something simple like water can be valuable depending on the situation; value depends on how significant someone sees something as being.

In Psalms 119 David said he rejoiced at God's Word the way someone would if they had found a great treasure.  It is interesting to notice that of all the Psalms that David wrote, the Psalm he wrote about God's Word, Psalm 119, is the longest.  David understood the value of God's Word and because of that he rejoiced about it.  But this is certainly not the attitude of many people, including Christians, today.  Most people do not really see the Bible as valuable as a great treasure but that is what it was for David because David was a man who knew the Word and what the Word could do.

In Psalm 119 David talked about the Word being his counselor (v. 24), he was comforted by remembering the Word (v. 52), his hope was in the Word (v. 81), he did not perish in his affliction because the Word had been his delight (v. 92), the Word was a lamp for his feet and a light to his path (v. 105), those who love the Word have great peace and nothing makes them stumble (v. 165), and there are many other things he said besides these.  What value do we place on God's Word, do we realize what God's Word can do for us?  David rejoiced about the Word like it was a great treasure, do we?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

God's Blueprint For Life

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16, 17 (NKJV)

Years ago I worked at a company that built wooden beams and arches that were used in the construction of different kinds of buildings.  We made beams and arches of various sizes but every project started the same, we had to look at the blueprint.  Our foreman received the blueprint from the company office that listed the specific details for that beam or arch.  To correctly complete the job we had to pay attention to the blueprint and build that beam or arch accordingly.  We could not just decide among ourselves what we wanted it to look like; we had to follow the blueprint to be successful.

In the Old Testament Israel built the Tabernacle in the wilderness and later a Temple.  In each situation God gave them a specific pattern to follow.  The people involved could not just decide how they wanted these things to look.  God gave them each building's dimensions and told them what materials to use.  If Israel had deviated from the plans that God gave them they would have built something but it would not have been what God wanted them to build.  The same thing is true today, God has a blueprint for us to use for our life, His Word, and to build a successful life we have to follow God's plan.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 we see that God's Word is what we need to be complete and equipped for every good work.  The Bible shows us how to build correct doctrine, how to live a righteous life, and it gives us guidelines to correct us and keep us on the right course.  God is a lot smarter than we are and He knows best how we should build our life.  Too many times people have gone through life and built something, but it was not what God wanted.  It is not up to us to decide how we will build our life, we need to go to God's Word for our own blueprint; to be successful we must follow God's plan.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Do As You Wish?

"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts."
Proverbs 21:2 (NKJV)

Recently I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Do as you wish".  My initial reaction was that this is a poor standard to live life by and it reminded me of a saying that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s where people proclaimed, "If it feels good, do it".  While these two statements are very similar neither of them can be found in the Bible, at least in a good sense.  However, these two statements represent the way that many people believe they should be able to live.  Many people have the idea that true freedom and liberty is found in being able to do what you want to do and in expressing yourself.

There are several Bible verses that deal with this idea of a person doing whatever they believe is right.  Proverbs 21:2 and Proverbs 16:2 both talk about a person considering what they do to be right but God weighs, or measures, the heart, the spirit.  Our outward actions may please us and make us feel good but no matter what a person does on the outside God knows what is happening on the inside.  What are our motives for doing what we do?  Are we simply being selfish and looking for personal satisfaction or do we consider others and even God with how we live our life?

Some people, including Christians, think the main goal in life is to be happy and that this is achieved through self-expression and personal fulfillment.  The problem with that is that it is all about our feelings and desires without any consideration necessarily being given to what God want us to do and how our actions impact others.  What we do may make us happy but does it make God happy?  Is what we are doing right in our own eyes but offensive to others?  Does our lifestyle agree with what the Bible teaches or only with current trends in society?  To live a truly successful life that pleases God we cannot just do what we please but our goal must be to please God and live a life that reflects Him and His Word to others.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Do You Need A Nose Job?

"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer."
2 Corinthians 5:16 (NKJV)

A while ago I saw a story about a girl who four years earlier, when she was fourteen, had some cosmetic surgery done, something that is commonly referred to as a "nose job".  Why did she do that?  Was it because someone paid her a lot of money to do it or that she had so much free time she thought she would have some surgery done?  The reason was because she believed the procedure would improve her appearance.  While I am all in favor of people doing things to improve themselves there is a limit and trying to surgically alter your appearance at fourteen is usually not a good idea.

It is very likely that this girl had the same problem that many others do, a poor self-image.  Why do people have this problem?  The reason is that they are more focused on their outward appearance than they should be.  If most people were honest about it they would tell you that they have some physical characteristic about themselves that they do not like: their nose is too big, their ears are too small, their hair is too curly or too straight, they are too skinny or too fat, etc., etc.  Many people are more focused on their outward appearance than they are on their inner, spiritual condition.

In 2 Corinthians 5:16 Paul said he was committed to not regarding anyone according to the flesh, in other words Paul was saying he was more focused on what was inside a person than what was on the outside.  This is the way we need to think too; as the old saying goes, "Beauty is only skin deep".  Our value is not based on how we look; there is more to a person than just what is seen on the outside.  We need to see ourselves from the inside out and focus less on the "outer man" and be more concerned about the spiritual condition of our "inner man" and our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Know Your Place And Stay In Your Place

"Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place."
Proverbs 27:8 (NKJV)

There is a saying "A place for everything and everything in its place" that carries the idea of the best way to keep things in order is to keep them where they belong.  There are certain places where things should be and it is important to know where that place is.  For example the refrigerator is in the kitchen, the bed is in the bedroom, and the shower is in the bathroom.  There would be some problems if the bed was in the bathroom, the refrigerator was in the bedroom, and the shower was in the kitchen, none of that would work well.

Proverbs 27:8 compares a bird that wanders from its nest to a man who wanders from his place.  Birds build nests as a place of safety for themselves and their young, the further a bird goes from its nest the more potential there is for that bird to have trouble and to be in danger.  We all have a place in life where we belong, naturally and spiritually, and if we go away from that place we can get into trouble.  If we have responsibilities with our family, at our church, or on our job then that is our place.  If we get away from our place by not fulfilling our responsibilities then we can find ourselves in trouble.

One of the best things we can do is to find our place in God's plan.  God helps us with this by giving us direction through His Word and by the Holy Spirit.  Once we are in our place we need to stay there, we do that by being faithful in what we do and by doing whatever we do for God with excellence.  We may look at others and think that they are great and that we want to do what they are doing; but that is their place and not our place, we need to stay where we are and do what we know is right to do.  To be successful we need to know our place, naturally and spiritually, and stay in our place.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Declaring Your Independence

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)

July 4 in the USA is a National Holiday commonly known as Independence Day.  This is the day that commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence and when the Thirteen Colonies that would become the United States declared their independence from England.  This was not when the War of Independence ended (that was in 1783) or even the actual day that the Declaration of Independence was signed (that was on August 2, 1776).  But, July 4 is the day that we remember and celebrate those things that happened and what they mean for us.

None of us who believe that Jesus is the Son of God were there when He walked the earth and no Christian today was alive to witness the crucifixion of Jesus or when He was raised from the dead.  But we can still remember and celebrate what Jesus has done and all that it means to us.  We can declare our independence from the devil and sin even though we live in a world that is still influenced by the devil and sin.  Being a Christian does not mean that we will never face another problem in life but we can live in the liberty the Jesus purchased for us through His blood.

The Thirteen Colonies declared themselves to be independent and free before they saw the actual results of their declaration.  In the same way, no matter what is happening in our life or what we may be dealing with, we must find out what the Bible has to say and then boldly make that our declaration.  What we need to do today is to declare our independence from any and everything that would try to harm or hinder us and to take a stand in faith about who we are in Christ; we must declare the truth of God's Word and walk in the liberty that has Jesus provided!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Words Without Wisdom

"Job speaks without knowledge, His words are without wisdom."
Job 34:35 (NKJV)

Have you ever met someone who likes to talk a lot?  Maybe you are or have been that kind of person.  At times most of us have been guilty of thinking that if we use enough words somehow that makes us either look smart or it helps us make a point and state our case.  The truth is that quantity does not always equal quality, this is true with words as well as with many other things.  For example, if you have 100 gold bars that would be great but if you had 100 rocks it would not mean much.  Or you could have just one bar of gold and it would still be more valuable than 100 rocks.

If you read the book of Job you will see that there was a lot of talking going on.  In the first two chapters of Job we see Job's problems and then his friends show up.  Then, from Job chapter 3 all the way through Job chapter 31, Job and his three friends talk, and talk, and talk.  But, they don't come up with any answers or solve any problems, they just talk, and talk, and talk!  There are a lot of different ideas that people have about Job and what happened to him and my goal is not to give any explanation about the book of Job but rather to point out that all of the talking they did produced nothing.

Many people talk a lot but they still don't really have anything to say, this was the case of Job and his friends as well as many people today.  It is nice to have something to say but is that something we say worth anything?  Is what we say helpful, constructive, and encouraging or are we like the situation we see in Job where there were a lot of words but no wisdom.  It is easy to find people who talk a lot but it is not so easy to find someone who really has something to say.  We need to speak the truth of God's Word to ourselves and others to be sure that we have something valuable to say.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What Is God Like?

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow of turning."
James 1:17 (NKJV)

There are several ways that you can get to know someone.  One way is to spend time with them and see how they act.  You can get to know a person by talking to them and hearing them tell you what they think about different things.  You can also learn what someone is like by reading things they have written; what a person says on social media, if they have a blog, or if they have written books, anything someone writes will tell you about them and what they are like.  The key is to find out what the person is really like and not just what others might say about them.

Many people are not sure what God is really like.  Some people base their understanding of God on past experience, by watching the lives of Christians, and even by church teaching and tradition.  But those things are not necessarily the best methods of getting to know God; our past experiences may not be biblical, the lives of others may not accurately reflect who God is, and what a church teaches may just be man's ideas or traditions.  To really know and understand God we need to take a look at what the Bible says about who God is, what He is like, and what He does.

God has revealed Himself to us through His Word.  James 1:17 says that God gives good and perfect gifts, that shows us that if something bad comes into our life then we can be sure that God did not send it.  In Psalm 35:27 it tells us that God takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant, so we know that God wants us to prosper and succeed in life.  1 Peter 3:12 says that God's eyes are on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayers, which shows us that God is watching over us and He is ready to hear and answer when we pray.  Don't take someone's word for what God is like, get to know God through His Word.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Prayer Projects

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;"
Colossians 4:2 (NKJV)

Whether it was on the job or at home, at one time or another pretty much everyone has had some type of project to do.  Depending on the work that needed to be done the project may have only taken a little bit of time or it may have lasted for quite a while.  We might start a project thinking it will take us a certain amount of time but once we begin the project we find that what is required to finish the work is more than we had planned on so the time we spend on that project is longer than originally anticipated.  But no matter what, for a project to be done right we have to stay with it until it is finished.

In Ephesians 6:18 Paul talks about praying with all kinds of prayer.  We always use the Word of God as our foundation for prayer, no matter what we are praying about we first find out what the Bible says and then we pray.  Many people are familiar with the prayer of faith where we ask God for something He promised in His Word; we pray and believe and that is the end of the prayer, once you have asked in faith you don't keep asking again and again, otherwise you did not ask in faith.  But there are some things that we pray about that become prayer projects and then we pray in a different way.

Paul said he prayed for people repeatedly (Ephesians 1:15, 16; Colossians 1:9) and Paul asked that people pray that he would have opportunities to speak and the right words to say (Colossians 4:3; Ephesians 6:19), these things could be called prayer projects, things that can be prayed about often.  Some prayer projects like these are the kind that we just keep on praying about repeatedly and some prayer projects are the kind that we pray about several times and then see the result, which brings that prayer project to an end.  There are many different prayer projects we could have but no matter what, once we have that project in prayer we continue with it and expect to see results.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Are We There Yet?

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

When I was a child our family took different trips to visit relatives or to go on vacation.  Some trips were longer than others but one thing that happened on just about every trip was that I or one of my three brothers would ask our parents the question that every child asks, "Are we there yet?"  The problem was that we wanted to reach our destination sooner than we would and in our view the trip took too much time.  But as long as we were taking the right course we would get to where we needed to go, maybe just not as fast as my brothers or I had hoped.

God has a path and a plan for each of us and our goal in life should be to do the will of God and to follow His plan.  But, while there is a plan for our life there is no set time for that plan to come to pass and each person's plan is different.  We may be in the perfect plan and will of God and still think that it is taking too long to achieve all of the goals that God has given us.  Just like children who are impatient with the amount of time it takes to reach a destination, we too can lose our focus on what is really important if we get caught up in the wrong things.

Our part in the plan and will of God for our life is to recognize that plan and to then follow God's direction.  It is not up to us to decide what that plan should be or if it is working to our satisfaction, God's plan is not subject to our approval as to whether it is happening as fast as we think it should or in the way we think it should, this is often where we have problems.  Find the plan and will of God for your life through the Word of God and by listening to the Holy Spirit, then when you are on that path keep on going, knowing that God will help you reach your destination.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Future Investments Are You Making?

"Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"  So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'do not murder,' 'do not steal,' 'do not bear false witness,' 'honor your father and your mother.'"  And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth."  So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, "You still lack one thing.  Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."  But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich."
Luke 18:18-23 (NKJV)

There are many things that you can invest in.  You can invest your money in stocks, bonds, and precious metals.  You can invest your time in your work, hobbies, family, and friends.  You can invest your efforts and energy into sports, being productive on your job, and self-improvement.  Whatever you invest into will give you some return.  While all of these things we can invest in are good things not all of them will produce the same return, not all are equally profitable.

Some people think the story in Luke 18 shows that God wants everyone to be poor.  But the issue was not finances or possessions, the real point of the story is investment; Jesus wanted the young man to make the right kind of investments with his life and resources.  This young man had done some good things, he had made some good natural investments, but there were other things he needed to do, there were other eternal, spiritual investments that he needed to make.

Where do we invest our money, our time, our efforts and our energy?  All of the things we do will bring a return of some kind but not all of the things we do will make the right kind of future, eternal investments.  There are natural things that are good for us to invest in but we must make God's Kingdom, His Church, our priority for our investments.  By putting our money, time, efforts, and energy into godly things we are making good, future, eternal investments.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I've Heard That Before

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

Have you ever been describing something to someone and part way through your description or explanation they stop you and say, "I already know that" or "I've heard that before", letting you know that they are not interested in hearing the rest of what you were going to tell them.  You might try to continue and share your information thinking that they don't really know what you are trying to say or you may even realize that they are misunderstanding what you are trying to explain to them.  But the other person remains convinced that they really don't need to listen to what you are saying.

Over the years that I have been a Christian, and especially during the years I have been in the ministry, I have had the experience of talking to someone and sharing with them a Bible verse or two that I believe can help them.  There have been several times when I have done this that people have responded with, "Yes, I already know that, I've heard that before".  But the truth is, if they really knew it or had heard it before and it was something that was a part of their life then their life would be different and I would not be talking to them about it.

No one has heard the truth from God's Word too many times or knows it so well that they don't need to be reminded of it.  We must be careful not to develop the "I know that, I've heard that before" attitude.  We need to hear the truth from God's Word over and over again, that is how we build our faith and stay strong in our faith.  Hearing and hearing the Word of God will help us to stay sharp spiritually and continue moving forward in God's plan for our life.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

God Wants You!

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."
2 Chronicles 16:9a (NKJV)

Years ago there was a recruiting poster for the military that had the slogan "I Want You For The US Army".  The poster was used to recruit men to join the Army in 1917 and 1918 because the United States had entered World War I.  Today all of the branches of the military are volunteer so we don't see recruiting done in the same was as it was back then.  But whether it was done through the method of recruitment or just through people volunteering the situation was the same, there was a need that had to be filled.  Without people joining the military the military would not be able to do anything.

God does not use recruiting posters but He is looking for people to do the work He wants done in the earth today  The Bible tells us that as Christians we are the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and Jesus is the Head (Ephesians 1:22, 23).  Naturally speaking, if we want to get anything done it will have to be done through our body.  We may have great plans and ideas in our head but if our body does not do anything then our plans and ideas will not be carried out.  The same thing is true spiritually; God's plans are carried out through His Body, the Church, that means God wants us to do His will.

Some people think that it is just pastors and other spiritual leaders that God uses to do His will.  But we are all a part of the Body of Christ and we all have something we need to do; God has given each of us a gift to use for His glory (1 Peter 4:10), so every part of the Body of Christ is necessary.  We need to be involved in what God is doing through our local church and we need to reach out to those around us who do not know Jesus as their Savior.  Today God is looking throughout the world for opportunities to show Himself through His people; God wants you to do His will.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Are You Easily Shaken?

"If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small."
Proverbs 24:10 (NKJV)

Earthquakes are normally measured by what is known as the Richter scale, which ranges from 1 to 10 depending on the severity of the earthquake.  An earthquake that is a 1 on the Richter scale is not even noticeable but an earthquake that is a 4 on the Richter scale is very noticeable and an earthquake stronger than this starts to cause damage to buildings.  Some buildings are specifically designed to withstand most earthquakes while some poorly built structures being to fall apart at a much lower level.  How well something has been built determines if it will stand when the shaking starts.

How do we deal with difficult situations and the problems that we face?  How do we react to news that we did not expect to hear or did not want to hear?  When there is a problem or we unexpectedly get some negative news do we just fall apart or do we stand strong?  The answers to these questions tell us a lot about how easily we are shaken and how firm our foundation is.  As Proverbs 24:10 says "If you faint in the day of adversity your strength is small".  If we want to stand strong in the day of adversity then we need more strength and a solid foundation.

How easily are we shaken by the challenges we face in life, what is the first reaction we have?  Leviticus 26:36 says that the sound of a shaken leaf will make some people flee.  This is what life can be like for someone who does not know Jesus, the least little thing can shake them up.  As Christians we cannot let just anything that happens shake us and make us lose our hold on what God has said in His Word.  We have to develop an absolute trust in God and His ability to help us in every situation to be sure we stand strong and do not get shaken in difficult times.  We do this through a continual process of spiritual growth and development.  Then, when we face the day of adversity we stand strong and overcome every time!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth

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

When someone is called into court to be a witness in a legal case their testimony will begin with them being asked a question, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" and the witness presumably will answer yes. The witness is then asked to tell what they know about the case before the court.  The witness is not supposed to give opinions, tell what they heard someone else say, or make a guess about something.  The witness is supposed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the questions they are asked.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and it is all about God's Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we need to rightly divide the Word of truth and Ephesians 1:13 says that the Gospel is the Word of truth.  God's Word is the truth and it endures forever.  What we say is extremely important so when we talk about ourselves, our families, the situations we deal with in life, the challenges we face, our future, and anything else, we need to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about all of these things, we need to say what the Bible says.

Christians are new creations and the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21), able to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13), the Lord is the strength of our life (Psalm 27:1), and God will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).  We may read about this and it does not seem possible or we somehow feel unworthy of such a thing.  But no matter what others have said, what has happened in the past, what things look or feel like it is still true and we have to be sure we tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; we must say what the Bible says.  That is how we live a victorious Christian life.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blooming Where You Are Planted

"But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away."
Luke 8:13 (NKJV)

Recently I was out running and I saw something very strange.  The path I run on is close to the street and between the path and the street there are some places where shrubs have been planted.  The shrubs are not the nicest thing that could be planted in that space but for the location I suppose it is a good choice.  But, as I was running past one of these places where the shrubs are planted I saw a yellow tulip!  My first thought was that this was a nice change from the shrubs but then I thought about how this tulip is in the wrong place; this is not a place for tulips but for shrubs.

There is a saying that people use about blooming where you are planted.  This is a nice saying but it is not always completely true.  You may have a wonderful flower but if it is planted in the wrong place it will not bloom or even survive.  Palm trees are nice but you don't see many, if any of them, being planted in Germany.  Palm trees do well in a certain type of environment and not so well in others.  The same thing that is true with plants is true with people.  While I agree that in every situation and season of life we can grow, develop, and prosper it is important to be planted in the right place.

In the parable of the sower Jesus talked about the Word being sown as seed and how it produced results based on where it was planted and the conditions involved.  Some of the seed sown did not produce real, lasting results because the seed fell on rock and there was no possibility to take root there.  To really bloom where we are planted we must be sure we are planted in the right place.  If we plant our life into the wrong things we can hear the Word and hear the Word but we will not bloom like we should.  Be sure your life is planted in the Word of God and follow God's direction in life to be sure you are planted with the right people and situations as you should be, that is how you can bloom where you are planted.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Get The Truth And Hold On Tight!

"Test all things; hold fast what is good."
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV)

When you find something really good you want to make sure you hold on to it; you don't want to let it go or take the chance of losing it in some way.  When you have something good, something valuable, something that might be irreplaceable, you will do whatever you can to hold on to it and never let it go.  The first thing you need to do to have something valuable is to know if something really is worth keeping.  Once you know what that good thing is you have to locate it and then you must hold on to it and not let it go.

The Bible is very clear about the fact that we as Christians are not just supposed to accept anything and everything, especially in the area of our beliefs.  We have to check and recheck what God's Word has to say to know what is right, to be able to discern both good and bad doctrine.  Then once we know what the good things are we should hold on to them, this is what we see in 1 Thessalonians 5:21.  We find the truth and we keep our focus on it; but this is only possible when we actually know the truth.  If we don't know the truth then we are in danger of holding on to something that is false.

There are some things people believe to be true because some family member, close friend, or trusted leader told them that thing.  But, no matter what we have learned, every "fact" must be tested to see if it is true.  We look at the things we already believe, and the things we learn, and check them against God's Word.  Things that are in agreement with the established truth we see in the Bible we hold on to and things that are not biblical must be rejected.  The truth of God's Word is our basis for a successful life, that is why we must prove all things and hold on tightly to what is good.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Set Your Course And Don't Turn Back

"Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem."
Luke 9:51-53 (NKJV)

Whenever I am taking a trip somewhere I check the route and make a plan.  Sometimes I fly to a destination or I might take a train and other times I just drive to the place.  Before my trip begins I will set the course and make the necessary preparations for a successful trip.  But, no matter how good my planning and preparations are I often have issues on my trip where things are less than perfect.  Still, once I have set my course and made a plan to go somewhere I am going to get there no matter what.  Even if there are some difficulties along the way I will reach my destination, I will not turn back.

We are all on a journey in life and things will not always be easy.  No matter who you are or what you do you will face challenges that will tempt you to turn back from the course you are on.  If you ever want to amount to anything or do anything meaningful in life you will have to be determined to go forward no matter what.  When Jesus went to Jerusalem in Luke 9 He was determined to get there.  We can see that not everyone was happy with His decision but He went anyway.  In the same way we set our course in life and follow it until we reach the end, no matter what.

For Christians, God gives us a course in life and we keep going, we don't let anything stop us.  We must first have the correct course from God; that comes through His Word along with direction by the Holy Spirit.  We have to keep our sights set on the goal and not get swayed by any bumps along the way.  We never quit no matter what.  Take the time to get the right course from God and then be resolved to never go back from that path.  Once your course is set listen to any further direction God may give you along the way and be determined to go forward and not turn back.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Input And Output

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)

Generally speaking, you cannot have more going out of something than you have coming in.  This is true financially and it has been said that if your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.  This principle is true physically, if you expend more energy and effort in activities than you take in nourishment you will become weak.  Another example would be with a car, you can only drive your car as long as you have gasoline in the gas tank. This same principle is also true spiritually, if we are giving out more than we are taking in we will have trouble.

Colossians 3:16 tells us to let the Word dwell in us richly, but this requires action on our part, it is not something that happens automatically.  We first have to take in the Word of God so that it can dwell in us.  The second part of the verse shows the result of our having a rich supply of the Word of God in us, we can teach and encourage each other and we will sing with grace in our own heart.  If our supply of the Word is low it will have an effect on our ability to help others and maintaining a healthy spiritual level for ourselves.  Without a continual supply of God's Word we become weak spiritually.

Some people just think about how important it is for those who are teaching and encouraging others to have a supply of God's Word without realizing the problems each of us will have in our own spiritual life if we do not let the Word dwell in us richly.  Trying to live the life God intends for us to live day after day without continual input from God's Word will create a deficit due to more output than input.  We have to know the Word, speak the Word, meditate on the Word, and do the Word to keep ourselves spiritually fit and to help others.  We need to have an abundant supply of God's Word in us.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is That Really True?

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:11 (NKJV)

Whenever I see something on the Internet or hear something that someone claims to be true, and especially if it seems a bit odd, I always want to check its accuracy.  How can I know that this thing is really true?  I would rather do a thorough check on something than just to accept what someone claims to be factual.  In the past people could make outrageous claims or say things that were hard to prove as to whether they were true or false.  Today almost anything someone says can be researched through various websites and search engines to see how accurate those things really are.

Over the years I have heard many things that people claim to be in the Bible itself or Bible based that had no basis in the Bible at all.  No matter who it is that tells us about what the Bible has to say we need to check it for ourselves and not just blindly accept everything anyone says as actually being from the Bible.  This is what we see in Acts 17 where it talks about the people of Berea.  These people did not just accept whatever they heard, they searched the scriptures to see if it was so.  That is a great example for us to follow. 

Too many Christians do not know much about the Bible and what it actually says, that is very sad but it is also easy to fix.  Today Bibles are easily available and we can search the scriptures for ourselves as the Bereans did.  We don't have to just listen to other people to know what the Bible says.  We can read and study the Bible for ourselves and check to see if what we hear is really Bible based.  Doing this will enable us to have a solid foundation of the Word of God in our life and this will help us to live the victorious Christian life that God has planned for us.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How Much Can You Help?

"A man of great wrath shall suffer the penalty, for if you deliver him [from the consequences] he will [feel free to] cause you to do it again."
Proverbs 19:19 (Amplified)

No one likes to see other people suffer or go through problems in life; when we are around a person who has some type of difficulty we want to find a way to help.  A person would have to be cold and callous to not want to help someone who is in trouble.  But the question is not just if we can help someone when they have a problem.  The real issue is how much can we actually help someone and for how long.  We should do what we can to help other people but there will come a time when we cannot help someone any longer and that person needs to help themselves.

The Bible does tell us to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2) but it also shows us that we need to bear our own burden (Galatians 6:5).  In a normal situation where someone faces challenges in life that person has to come to the point where they have to deal with their problems on their own or they will never get anywhere in life.  This does not mean we do not care about people but are we really helping someone who has some problem if that same person will not do anything to help themselves?  Is it right to always come to someone's rescue and not expect them to do anything themselves? 

Certainly there are times when we can and should help other people but each person needs to learn how to apply biblical principles for themselves and to become someone who is able to help others and not just receive help.  We should be ready to lend a helping hand to those in need, to pray for others, and give a word of encouragement.  But our goal is not to build a dependency on ourselves but to help others learn to do these things for themselves.  It is good and right to help others but the time will come when they have to help themselves and that is the point we need to bring them to.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Walking In Love - Speaking The Best About Others

"He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends."
Proverbs 17:9 (NKJV)

We all face choices every day about different things: what we do, where we go, and what we say.  Some of the choices we make may not be entirely up to us because of obligations and commitments we have.  What we do depends on who we are, whether we are single or married, have children, and so on.  Where we go also depends somewhat on other factors, like what our occupation is, where we live, and things like this.  But one choice that all of us have, that is really just up to us, is the choice of what we will say about ourselves and others; no one chooses our words for us.

We should say the right things about ourselves, based on what the Bible says, but do we realize the importance of how we talk about others?  Do our words help or hurt?  Do we talk about other people the way we would like them to talk about us?  What do we do when we hear something negative about another person?  We have all heard bad things about others, whether it was something they had intentionally done wrong or just a mistake.  But should we repeat everything we hear?  Do we think about what the results will be if we repeat something bad that we have heard about someone else? 

We have a choice with what we hear, are we just going to repeat it to others and possibly create more problems or are we going to walk in love and watch our words?  This does not mean that we overlook problems or ignore something that is wrong, but it does mean that we don't have to repeat everything negative we hear or know about other people.  Our words can help keep people together or our words can separate even close friends and family members.  Walking in love means that we speak the best about others, even when we know something about them that is not so good.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

In Like A Lamb And Out Like A Lion

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
John 1:29 (NKJV)

"But one of the elders said to me, Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."
Revelation 5:5 (NKJV)

There is a saying that people have for the weather in the month of March that goes like this, "In like a lion and out like a lamb".  What people mean is that the weather in the beginning of March is usually worse than the weather at the end of the month.  This is because typically winter weather is still seen in the early part of the March while at the end of March the weather is milder and more like what is seen in the spring.  This difference in how the weather changes from the start to the end of March is seen in other things where the way something starts is different from how it finishes.

In John 1:29 John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  In 1 Peter 1:18, 19 it tells us that Jesus redeemed us by His blood.  In the Old Testament sin was only covered by the blood of the sacrificial lamb but through the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, our sins have been washed away!  However, what Jesus did for us did not end at the removing of our sins; Jesus overcame sin, sickness, depression, lack, and anything else that would hinder us from living the abundant life He came to provide for us (John 10:10).

Jesus paid the price for our sins as the Lamb of God and as the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, as He called in Revelation 5:5, He also gave us the ability to live a life free from the domination and oppression of the devil and sin.  Jesus is the victor over sin, is seated at the Father's right hand, and has all authority in heaven and on earth.  While Jesus did come into the world as a lamb, He finished His work and went out like a lion.  We need to read and study the Word of God to get a full understanding of everything Jesus did for us and then walk in the benefits He provided for us.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Some Things Are Worth Being Repeated

"For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,"
2 Peter 1:12, 13 (NKJV)

When I was young there were not many channels to choose from on television and there were a limited number of things you were able to watch, today there are many channels and many programming possibilities.  One thing that there is more of today than there was in the past is what are known as reruns.  Some show that had been previously aired was rerun, it was repeated at a later date.  For me there are some shows I could watch over and over while seeing others once is more than enough.  This same principle is true with the Bible, but only in the positive sense.

What Peter writes about in the first chapter of his second letter is very interesting.  Peter talked of reminding people about some things, even though Peter himself acknowledges that these same people knew and in fact were already established in this truth.  Despite the fact that they already knew something Peter recognized the importance of going over it more than one time.  Today it seems like some people think that if you just hear something one time it is more than enough, even if they are not really established in that truth or they don't completely understand the principle involved.

To be strong, stable, effective Christians we need to be thoroughly established in the truth we find in the Bible.  That means we need to hear the truth of God's Word more than once, even if we have heard it more than once before, even if we already know a lot about it.  If we keep the attitude that we have more to learn it will enable us to continue to learn more while on the other hand if we think we know it all we hinder our ability to learn.  We should all keep a teachable attitude towards the things of God and keep on hearing the truth, we need to hear it more often than we realize.