Thursday, March 31, 2016

Jump Right In

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

At one time or another most people have gone swimming.  The whole point of swimming is self-explanatory: to swim.  You don't go swimming to look at the water or have someone else tell you about their experience, you go swimming to swim for yourself, or else you are not swimming!  How people go about swimming is another matter.  Some people jump right in while others slowly wade into the water.  Some people just get into the water a little and decide that swimming is not right for them.  Others never get into the water and the only thing they know about swimming is what they see or hear from someone else.

In some ways being a Christian can be compared to swimming; to really find out how great the Christian life is you just have to jump right in.  Some people find out about how Jesus died for their sin and took their place on the cross so they jump right in.  Then, as the live their life for God they follow His plan and do what He says.  But, there are other people who hear the truth about God without ever acting on it.  These people might wade into things a little bit to get a feel for what church is like or they might watch how others live and think that there being a Christian is not right for them.  Sadly, these people do not know what they are missing.

There are people who take a stand on what the Bible says and live a life based on what they see in it.  These are the people who are walking by faith and not by sight and they experience the best that God has to offer.  Other people think that following God and living a godly lifestyle is not realistic or much fun, but they have never even had the experience for themselves! Too many people have missed out on the best things in life because they are holding back and not really getting into the things of God for themselves.  Christianity is not a spectator sport; we need to jump right in!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Example To Follow

"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen someone do an imitation of another person?  Maybe they did their impersonation of some celebrity from a television show or a movie, it might even have been a politician, an athlete, or just some local person that everyone knows.  When that person did their imitation, the way you recognized who they were imitating was in the way they talked, what they said, and how they behaved.  If the person doing the imitation did not sound like the person or act like the person that they were imitating, then it was not really an imitation at all.

The Bible talks about Christians imitating God like a child would imitate their parent (Ephesians 5:1).  Paul told people to imitate him just like he imitated Christ.  The word "imitate" that Paul used is the Greek word for "follow".  In 2 Timothy 3:10 Paul mentioned to Timothy that Timothy knew Paul's teaching and way of life.  Once again Paul is showing that he was an example that others could follow.  Paul was a spiritual leader who understood that other people need examples to follow, people need to be able to see someone who is a pattern of how to live a godly life.

Christians would agree that Jesus and even Paul are great examples for us, but neither Jesus or Paul are with us on the earth today.  So while we can read about them and learn from them in that way we don't have their example for us to see and learn from and we can't ask them questions.  All of us need some good examples of what it means to live the Christians life, how we should talk and how we should live.  Each of us should also be a good example that others can follow.  If we said what Paul did, imitate me as I imitate Christ, would we be a good pattern for others to follow?  If not, what changes do we need to make to become that example that others can follow? 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Doing Some Good Things

"how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him"
Acts 10:38 (NKJV)

It may seem strange, but some people do not do what they could do because they set a standard that is too high.  This can be true in many different areas.  For example, some people think that to succeed in school they have to get the best grades and when they get less than the best they become discouraged and even quit.  Some people think that learning a new skill means that they have to be an expert at it within a short period of time, when this does not happen they give up.  The same is true with saving money, people think of saving some huge amount when really just starting by saving a small amount is a good start.

Often when people think of Jesus they remember of course that He was raised from the dead, He healed lepers, and He performed miracles.  While these are all things that Jesus did that was not all that He did, Jesus did not do miracles twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  We often just think about the amazing and miraculous things that Jesus did but Acts 10:38 says that besides healing the sick that Jesus went around doing good.  Jesus was anointed and empowered by God to do miracles but God also helped Jesus do good things for others; this is an example that all of us can follow.

God wants us to do great things but He also wants to help us in every area of our life.  Instead of thinking about doing some miracles, how would it be if we would ask God to help us be a better employee or employer, a better parent, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, or sister?  What if we would expect God to help us improve in walking in love and treating others with the respect and honor they deserve?  Maybe we don't know any lepers but do we know anyone who could use our help in some way, could God empower us to be helpful to a friend or neighbor?  What good thing can God help you to do in your life or the lives of others?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Did You Hear That?

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
John 10:27 (NKJV)

Have you ever been in a crowded room or an airport where a lot of people were talking?  There can be so much noise that it is hard to hear anything clearly.  There have been times when I was in a crowded part of an airport that I received a phone call or had to make a call.  To be sure that I heard the phone conversation clearly I had to stop whatever else I was doing, get away from the crowd of people, and focus on what was being said; I had to do something to be sure I could clearly hear what the other person was saying.

The majority of Christians want to do what God wants them to do, but they are not always sure what that is.  When people ask me about how to hear from God I always explain that we can hear God talk to us through His Word, the Bible.  People often reply that they need more specifics from God about things pertaining to their life, their work, their family, and so on.  It seems that they are lacking direction from God and they need to hear from Him.  But the issue is not really whether God is speaking to us or not, it is more that we are not clearly hearing what He is saying.

God communicates with us through His Word and by the Holy Spirit.  The reason that what God is saying is sometimes not clear to us is because there are other things around us that drown out what God is trying to tell us.  We have distractions from the world, people's opinions, our own feelings and thoughts, and many other things that make it hard for us to really hear what God is saying.  Make it a point to take the time to get into God's Word and listen to what He has to say, expect God to help you to see what to do in your life.  The key is to get to where you can clearly hear what He is saying. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Working In Your Field

"Then He said to His disciples, The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 
Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Matthew 9:37-38 (NKJV)

Farms that grow crops like corn, wheat, or barley can have a lot of different fields.  Some fields on a farm can have different types of crops and often the fields are different sizes.  When it is harvest time the people who work on that farm have to go out into the fields and bring in the harvest.  Who works in each field and how that work is done may be different, depending on the field and type of crop.  On some smaller farms some of the same people work in many different fields but on larger farms many people are needed to go into the fields and do the work.

In Matthew 9 Jesus talked about the harvest and the need for workers in the harvest.  If the harvest was plentiful and abundant with a lot of work to do when Jesus was on the earth, then how much greater must the harvest be today?  There is still a great work to do in God's harvest and plenty of work for all of us.  Jesus said we need to pray that there would be more laborers going out into the harvest.  But we need more than just a lot of people out wandering around in the harvest fields, we need people in the right field, skillfully doing the right kind of work.

While there are no lack of jobs in God's harvest there is a lack of people who are properly trained for the work and there is a problem with people not knowing what field they belong in.  It is important for every believer to grow and develop spiritually so that they are equipped to do what God has called them to do, and it is equally as important for each Christian to be in the right place and work in the right field.  What field and work has God called you to?  If you don't know then it is time to get with God and find out, the harvest fields are ready and waiting!