Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dream Big Dreams For God

"Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:... And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind."
Genesis 37:5, 6, 11 (NKJV)

According to the dictionary, a dream can be something that happens when you sleep, an imaginary thought that has no basis in reality, or something a person has wanted to do or be for a long time.  All of these things can be called dreams, but we can't build our life on a dream we had while we were sleeping or on fantasies that will never come true.  But people do have good dreams of a better future and of being someone better than who they are right now.  If someone has no dreams or hope for a brighter future, no desire to do something meaningful with their life, then that person is in a sad condition.

There are dreams that we all can and should have. As Christians we should be inspired through the Word of God and by the Holy Spirit to dream big dreams and achieve great things for God.  We can learn something from Joseph and the dreams he had; when he shared his dream not everyone was happy.  It is interesting to notice in the story of Joseph that his brothers hated him for his dream but once he explained his dream they actually envied him!  It is also interesting to see that while at first his father was upset with the dream, Joseph's father kept the matter in mind; he did not just discount the dream.

When we have dreams that are in line with the Word of God some people will be unhappy and even envious, and some will take notice.  We need to be careful who we tell our dreams to and if people don't accept our dream and react negatively we should not allow that to influence us.  We need to be sure our dream is really a godly dream and keep our dream alive by not letting anything push us away from that dream and trusting God to bring it to pass.  The end result of Joseph's dream was that God fulfilled it; God used Joseph to deliver his whole family.  What dreams are you dreaming for God today?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Build On The Rock, Or Face The Consequences

"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

My grandparents lived out in the country by a bay.  The road from my grandparent's home to the town ran along that same bay.  One thing I remember is seeing the foundation of a building that someone made too close to the water.  You could see the concrete blocks, but they were almost completely covered by sand and sometimes even by the water.  At some point the water was not so high and it seemed to someone that this was a good place to build.  Eventually the mistake of choosing this location became obvious and the building was abandoned, it was ruined before it was even finished.

Jesus told a story in Matthew 7 about two men who built houses and faced storms.  One man was wise and did what Jesus said, like a man building a house on a rock, his house withstood the storm.  The other man was foolish and did not do what Jesus said, like a man building a house on sand, this man's house was ruined.  Both men heard what Jesus said but the men responded differently to the words of Jesus, that was the only difference between them.  In the same way that these two men built houses we are building our life.  And just like the two men in the story we too will face storms.

How well we stand in the storms of life depends on the foundation we have built on.  To have a stable and successful building you have to build on the right thing, to have a stable and successful life we must hear and do the right things.  We need to hear the words of Jesus, and the entire Word of God, and we need to do what we have heard.  We need to put into practice in our lives everything we see in God's Word, this is like building a house on a rock.  When we are hearing the Word of God and living a life based on it we will have success and no matter what storm comes we will endure.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

God's Word: Not To Be Mixed With Traditions

"For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death. But you say, If a man says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban - (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."
Mark 7:10-13 (NKJV)

There are some things that don't work well together.  For example, some medicines need to be taken with meals and some before eating.  Some chemicals should not be mixed with other chemicals, unless you want to have a dangerous and explosive reaction.  Some plants will only grow and thrive in certain environments and not in others.  The same is true with the Bible, we need to make sure that we take the Bible as our standard of truth and not mix any of our own ideas with the Word of God.  What God has said in His Word will have the greatest effect in our life when we don't mix it with other things.

In Mark 7 Jesus was responding to the Pharisees' criticism about the disciples eating without first ceremonially washing their hands.  Jesus then made the statement about people not helping their parents because of some tradition.  The Pharisees were more concerned about following man-made rules than they were about what was actually right or wrong.  They had put their rules and traditions on the same, or even a higher level, than God's Word and this mixture made God's Word ineffective in their lives.  Jesus did not mix God's Word with man-made traditions and He was successful in helping others.

What we think, do, and say should be based solely on the Word of God.  How do we make sure we do not mix man-made rules and traditions with God's Word?  The solution is simple, spend time reading and studying God's Word to be sure we know what is in it.  If we find that things in our thinking, actions, and speaking do not line up with the Word of God we need to make changes in our life and not try to make an addition to the Bible to help justify why we did not receive the results that the Bible promises.  When we live our life by God's Word, without mixing in anything else, will have success.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Going Too Fast For Conditions

"I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land."
Exodus 23:29, 30 (NKJV)

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and Wisconsin gets a lot of snow in the wintertime. When it snows you have to change how you drive, the roads become slippery and caution is necessary. But sometimes people do not pay attention to the road conditions; they drive too fast and have problems.  This is what is called driving too fast for conditions, someone was going too fast for the conditions they were driving in and that is why they had a problem.  What is true naturally is also true spiritually; natural and spiritual development take time, getting in a hurry can lead to problems.

If we are going too fast, naturally or spiritually, we may miss some things along the way because we pass by them too quickly.  Going too fast could mean that we find ourselves in a situation that we are not ready for or we might not take the time necessary to do something the way it really should be done.  This is the same thing God was talking about in Exodus 23, there is only so much we can handle at a time and if we get going too fast we can end up with problems.  God has a plan and purpose for our life but everything won't come to pass tomorrow.

Some people get in a rush in their relationship with God thinking that they start their life with God one day and become a spiritual giant the next day.  Sometimes we try to move forward too fast and we do not take advantage of everything we are involved in at the moment and we miss an opportunity now we won't have later or we run into problems trying to deal with things we really aren't ready for.  We need to realize that God knows what is best for us and allow Him to work with us and develop us at His pace, that way we will do everything the right way at the right time going exactly the right speed for the condition we are in.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Start In A New Year

"Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them."
Isaiah 42:9 (NKJV)

People like things that are new.  When someone buys a car they talk about the "new car smell" that their vehicle has.  Even if someone has just bought a car that is not actually new, if it is new to them that new car can bring a sense of excitement that comes with something new, it gives a sense of a new beginning, a fresh start.  The same thing is true when someone moves into a new house or apartment and even when a new phone, computer, or some other electronic device is purchased.  There is something special that people generally feel when a new thing comes into their life.

Today is January 1 and it is a day that brings a sense of hope for a fresh start to people.  Even though today is just another day on the calendar and it is really no different than February 1 or March 1, January 1 can still have a different feel to it for many people.  Some people look back at the previous year with some regrets about things they did not do or things that they may have done and wished that they hadn't.  The idea that we can have a new start or even a second chance for something is what often motivates people when a new year begins. 

In Isaiah 42:9 it talks about things that have come to pass and a new thing being declared.  Everything that happened last year is in the past and we can't change that.  But, we can leave our past behind and God can give us a new start this year.  We all have goals and dreams and no matter which of them did or did not come to pass last year we can have an expectation for a new and better year ahead.  Begin this year with anticipation for a new start in a new year.  Expect that this year will be your best year ever and that God will help you to declare a new beginning!