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!