Thursday, January 26, 2017

Channel Surfing

"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14 (NKJV)

Years ago there were not so many channels to choose from, but today with satellite, cable, and even the Internet, there are many, many channels to choose from when you want to watch something on television.  There have been times that I knew that some movie or sporting event was going to be on television, but I did not know or remember what channel it would be on.  So, what I had to do was some "channel surfing".  I would look through all of the available channels to find what I wanted to watch.  If I did not find what I was looking for on one channel I did not stop, I just keep looking through the channels until I found what I was looking for.

Everything in the Christian life operates by faith.  Starting with salvation, we receive all of the things that God has provided by faith in God and His Word.  But, what happens when we take a stand in faith about something and we don't see the results when we want or the way we want?  What often happens is that we give up and "unhook" from our faith.  But, instead of giving up we should keep on expecting the answer to come, even though we did not find what we were looking for where and how we thought we would find it.  Just because we did not get an answer when or how we thought we would does not mean that the answer is not on the way.

While there are some specific answers to prayer that we need, there are times that we miss our answer and the help we seek because we are looking for the wrong thing or we are looking in the wrong place.  Instead of just looking at one "channel" for our answer to come through we need to keep ourselves open to whatever source God may choose to use.  Like Mordecai told Esther, deliverance will come, the answer will come, and if it does not come one way then we can be sure that God will bring it some other way.  God will work to help us, but we may need to look beyond our regular channel to find the answer we are looking for. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Do You Really Look Like?

"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 doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of a man he was.
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."
James 1:21-25 (NKJV)

Just about everyone has a mirror in their home and many people even carry a mirror with them.  Although some people can get carried away with looking in mirrors because they are so self-absorbed, everyone needs to use a mirror sometimes.  Mirrors can help us to see if we need to comb or fix our hair, to see if our clothes are in order, and mirrors can even help us to see if we have something caught in our teeth.  Without a mirror there are times you may need to make an adjustment with your appearance and not realize it, and that could lead to other problems.

In James 1, God's Word is compared to a mirror.  We are told that there are some things we need to lay aside and something we must receive, which is the truth of God's Word.  Then, when we have received this truth, we need to put it into practice.  James 1 tells us that if someone hears the Word and does not do it then it is the same as someone who looks into a mirror and forgets what they look like.  The only way to make sure everything looks right naturally is to look into a mirror.  The only way to make sure that things "look right" spiritually is to look into God's Word.

As we look into the Bible we will see who we really are now and what we should look like.  We all want to do the right things in our relationship with God and follow God's plan for our life, but if we do not have an accurate picture of ourselves and what we should be we will fall short.  We can all have opinions about what looks right but we need to have an objective standard to go by.  We need to continually look into the mirror of God's Word to see a true image of what we look like, and how we ought to look, to become the person God wants us to be and to do what He wants us to do.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Is What You Want What You Really Need?

"But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.  
And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  
But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:40-42 (NKJV)

If you ask people what they need you will get many different answers.  If someone is dealing with a financial issue they will usually say they need more money, if people are very busy they will say that they need more time, and if people are feeling alone they will say that they need a friend.  But, is what we say we need really just what we want?   Instead of more money maybe we really need some financial restraint, instead of more time maybe we need to set the right priorities, and instead of finding new friends maybe we need to take a look at the people that are already around us to find the companionship we long for.

Too many times we mistakenly think that what we want is what we need and this causes problems.  In the story about Mary and Martha, Martha was so distracted by what she was doing that she thought that the help she wanted from her sister was what she needed.  However, when Martha tried to have Jesus tell Mary to help with the serving, Jesus said that Mary had chosen what was really necessary, what was really needed.  What Martha was doing was not wrong, and no doubt she had good intentions in wanting to do a good job with her serving, but what she wanted from her sister was not really what she needed.

Just like Martha, the things we are involved in can cause us to think that what we want is what we need.  For Martha, what she wanted was help from her sister but what she really needed was to be less focused on her serving and more focused on Jesus.  If we only consider ourselves and the things we are immediately dealing with we can lose sight of what is really necessary and what we really need.  First and foremost in life we need to develop in our relationship with God and allow things to develop from there to be able to correctly discern what is really needed and not just look at what we want.  God will meet our needs but He will not always give us all of the things that we want.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Whose Prayers Are The Most Effective?

"Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
James 5:16 (NKJV)

There are some people who are very skilled at what they do, often these people are professionals in their areas of expertise and they make their living from doing what they are highly specialized in.  For example, everyone can count to 10, but some people are specially trained in the areas of finances and accounting.  But, while some people are experts in these areas and some are not, you don't have to go to a professional to be able to use a calculator.  There are some things that may seem complicated and difficult, but with the right training those things can be done by anyone.

Some Christians seem to have the idea that prayer is a mysterious process that does not work the same for everyone, and someone like a pastor can get prayers answered that others cannot; these people believe that prayer is something only certain Christians can do because they are experts at it.  Some people have even told me that they have a special ministry of prayer that others do not have, but there is no ministry of prayer listed in the Bible.  Prayer is really just communicating with God, and while some people have developed in the area of prayer more than others, we don't need to be a prayer expert to be effective with our prayers.

James 5 tells us that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  Every righteous person can pray as effectively as any other righteous person, and as Christians we are righteous in Christ.  The words "effective" and "fervent" here talking about prayer mean active and efficient.  When we pray according to the Word of God we are praying effectively and our prayers are actively working in the areas we pray about.  We don't need to look for a prayer expert, God will hear and answer our prayers as quickly as He would anyone else who prays according to His Word.  We can all go to God in prayer and be confident that our prayers will work!