Thursday, December 29, 2016

Well, What Did You Expect?

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."
Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV)

Have you ever had something happen that was not exactly what you had hoped for, or even what you might have expected?  For example, maybe you asked someone to do something for you and it did not work out or you tried to do something that in the end did not succeed.  Someone might say, "Well, what did you expect?  That is how things always work out".  Sometimes things happen in a way that, if we were honest, it is about what we thought would happen and we did not really expect anything different.  We start with some hope and an expectation, but we honestly don't expect too much to happen.

Every December, before the next year begins, people start to have some expectations about the coming year.  It is a strange thing that sometimes people's hopes and expectations are based solely on the changing of the calendar year, as though this is the only time that things can change.  But, people have some hope that things can be better next year than they were this last year.  The problem is that if people were honest, they are really only hoping and there is no actual, positive, biblical expectation of things improving.  The good news is that with God things can always improve and we always have a reason to have hope and a positive expectation.

In Hebrews 10:23 it talks about holding on to our confession of hope; the Greek word that is used here means an expectation.  No matter where we are now, where we have been, or what happened in this last year, we can have a positive expectation that with God's help things will be better next year.  As we move into the New Year we should all place a positive expectation on the future.  Find out what the Bible has to say about you and your life and then make that your confession for the next year.  No matter how things look, we have a faithful God who is interested and willing to work in our lives.  Expect things to be better next year and believe for the best in life!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Good Things Come In Small Packages

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Christmas is one of the main times of the year that people receive presents, the other occasion being a birthday.  I remember when I was a child that my first response about the presents I would receive was based on the size of the present.  When it was my birthday or Christmas, and presents were coming my way, I would look to see how big the package was.  If the package was big I expected a big gift, and if the package was small I would almost get disappointed.  But, I learned over the years that a present does not have to be big to be good, good things come in small packages too.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, this was God's greatest gift to the world.  But, when Jesus arrived on the earth it was not with a lot of fanfare or some big elaborate display of majesty.  When Jesus came to the earth He came as a baby, not as the conquering king that most of the Jews were looking for.  The birth of Jesus was not what many people expected for the arrival of the Heavenly King.  People knew about Isaiah 9:6, but they mainly focused on the second part of the verse that talks about Jesus ruling and reigning and not the part about the Child being born; but good things do come in small packages. 

Jesus' humble birth and beginnings on the earth were no reflection of His true identity or destiny.  Just like many people only expect big things from big packages, many people miss the real significance of Christmas because they focus on the baby born in the manger.  We talk about angels. wise men, and a baby and sometimes miss the real importance of Christmas.  This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus let's make sure we don't forget that Christmas not only marks the arrival of Jesus in a small package but it also signifies the arrival of our Savior; He is Wonderful, Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Activating What You Need

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress: My God, in Him I will trust."
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil shall befall, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways."
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-11 (NKJV)

Over the years I have done a fair amount of traveling and often I travel by airplane, which of course means going through an airport.  Most airports and their bathrooms are modernized and many things are motion activated, like doors, escalators, sinks, and hand dryers.  But, while these things will operate automatically there is still something that is required to activate the "automatic" function.  A door will not open unless you walk towards it, the escalator will not move until you step on to it, and the water in the sink and the hand dryer will not work until you put your hands in the proper place.

We can read in the Bible about how good God is and how God provided so many things for us through Jesus.  But, why is it that we don't always see these things in our everyday life?  The reason is that while God has indeed provided many wonderful things for us, these things require us to do something to activate what it is that we need.  Psalm 91 gives us a good example of this and shows us that by doing and saying something God is able to do what He wants to do.  It does not say that just because God is so wonderful that these things happen, but they happen because of something we have done in response to what God has provided.

In Psalm 91 it talks about dwelling in the secret place of the Most High and saying that God is our refuge and fortress.  Later in this same Psalm it says that because we have made Him our dwelling place and because we have made Him our refuge all these blessings of protection become ours.  This is why it is so important to learn about what belongs to us as Christians and then to do our part to activate the blessings of God.  For salvation, healing, protection, and provision we need to do our part to activate the blessings that God has already provided for us through Jesus, it won't just happen automatically, we have a part to play.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Be Careful How You Hear

Therefore take heed how you hear.  For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him. 
Luke 8:18 (NKJV)

Our sense of hearing is very important to us.  But, if you want to stop hearing certain things you can use earplugs or maybe some headphones to cancel out the noises around you, or to listen to something else.  This could be a problem, however, if you are hearing one thing when you should be listening to another thing, or if you have blocked out all the sounds around you.  One simple example of this is if you are being given instructions on how to do something, but you don't get the necessary information because you either did not hear what was said or you were listening to something else.

In Luke 8 Jesus talked about the importance of what we hear and He also emphasized the importance of how we hear it.  Jesus had just told the parable of the sower and how the same seed had different results, based on the soil where the seed was sown.  Jesus explained that in this parable the seed represented the Word of God and the soil is talking about the people who heard the Word.  The Word of God, the seed, is always good but depending on the person, the soil, there will be different results.  We need to hear the Word of God on a regular basis and be careful how we hear it.

Some people hear the Word, but because they are listening to something else that they allow to be louder in their life than God's Word, the truth of the Bible does not make the impact that is should in their life.  Some people listen to what God is saying with the wrong kind of attitude and because of who is speaking or because of what they already believe they do not accept the Word and there are no results.  We must be ready and willing to receive the Word, no matter how it comes to us or who speaks it, and then apply it to our lives.  This is how we grow, produce fruit in our lives, and do great things for God.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

You Are Here

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,"
Ephesians 2:4-6 (NKJV)

Have you ever been at a shopping mall or in an airport where you were trying to locate a certain place?  Whenever I have had this experience I looked for one of those location charts that are posted in places like malls and airports.  Once I found the location chart, I first found the marker that showed where I was, the "You Are Here" spot, and I then looked for the place where I wanted to go. It might be that I had already found the location of where I wanted to go, but I could still have a problem getting to my desired destination if I didn't know where I was currently located.

Our spiritual location is far more important than our geographic location.  One of the most important things Christians can learn about is their location, their spiritual position, with God.  Some people put an emphasis on their natural location and might even believe that they live in the best part of town.  Some people base their identity on their past and what they have experienced in life.  Others view themselves through their education, natural background, or even the church they attend.  But none of these things matter if we are in the wrong spiritual location.  The Bible is the place we need to look to find out about our true spiritual location and identity.

No matter who we are, where we come from, or where we are located geographically, our position with God is the most important thing of all.  When we are born again we are placed into the body of Christ.  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:6 that spiritually we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  Just like a location chart in a mall or an airport, the Bible shows us in places like Ephesians 2:6 the "You Are Here" spot we need to find.  Once we know our spiritual location we can move towards where we need to go in life and what we need to do.  We must base our identity on our spiritual location to be able to live the life God has planned for us.