Thursday, March 30, 2017

Living In A New Location

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

There have been several times in my life that I have moved from one place to another.  Overall, I have lived in many different places, in different states, and in different countries.  Moving from one place to another was not just a simple process that ended when I began living in my new home.  Once I had found a place and moved into it I then had to go through the process of learning to live in my new location.  Moving into a new home may also mean that we have to leave some things behind, change some things, or begin some new routines because of the new location.

When we are born again, it is like moving into a new home; we have gone from one spiritual location to another.  There are some things from the past that we will have to leave behind, we will have to change some things, and we will have to begin some new routines as we learn to live in our new spiritual location.  If we try to live the same way in our new natural location like we did in our former home, it could, and probably would, create some problems.  If we try to live as a Christian the same way that we did before we were Christians we will definitely have some problems.

Paul writes that the way he lived his new life in Christ was to live by faith in Jesus, the Son of God.  As believers, we must learn to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), we need to access the grace of God by faith (Romans 5:2), we use our faith to overcome the world (1 John 5:4), and we now fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).  What does all that mean?  It means that because of our spiritual relocation that we can't focus on natural things anymore and we can't just follow our old ways of talking, thinking, and living as we did before.  Our new life in Christ is lived by faith in all that Jesus did for us.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Living Stones

"Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 2:4-5 (NKJV)

Recently I was watching some workmen build a wall that was made up of individual stones rather than bricks.  The reason I noticed how this wall was being put together was that one of the workmen was looking at each individual rock and examining its size and shape to see where it would fit into the wall.  No stone was being rejected, but each had a place somewhere in the wall.  Although some stones were placed in the wall sooner than others, and some rocks had a more prominent place in the wall than others, the wall became bigger and bigger and today those stones make up a large wall.

When someone becomes a Christian, the Bible calls them a new creation, a child of God, and even His (God's) workmanship.  In 1 Peter 2, believers are also referred to as living stones.  God is the Master builder who knows all about us and knows where we fit best into His Kingdom and His plan.  It may look to others, and maybe even to ourselves, that we don't necessarily fit in, but God has a place for each one of us and together we are being built up into a spiritual building that God will use.  Just like the workman took each smaller stone and used it to build a larger wall, God is using us to build something bigger than ourselves.

Where do we fit into God's plan?  One thing is certain, God knows this better than we do, so we cannot try to figure out for ourselves how God will use us and we can't just try to make a place for ourselves.  We all have a place in God's master plan and He puts us where we belong.  He knows our talents and abilities and where they can best be used.  It is interesting to note how just a few verses earlier it talks about how we need the Word to grow.  The Word helps us to grow and it helps us get to know who we really are and to see how God can use us.  We are God's living stones that He is preparing for a place in His plan.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Any Acceptable Substitutes?

"And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
Mark 7:7 (NKJV)

A substitute is something that is used in the place of another thing, something that is in some way equal to or the equivalent of something else.  For example, if you are baking something you will need certain ingredients.  But, it could be that you realize you are missing something you need.  It may be that you have to have butter, or eggs, or something else that at the moment is not available.  In this situation, you can often find an acceptable substitute to use in place of what you were supposed to have, and this substitute will work just as well as what you were originally going to use.

While there may be some acceptable substitutes for some baking ingredients, some things have no substitute; God's Word has no substitute, it has no equal.  In Mark 7, Jesus pointed out a problem that the Pharisees had that many people still have today.  Jesus told the Pharisees that what they were doing was in vain because they had created doctrines out of the commandments of men.  The Pharisees had tried to substitute something else for the Word of God.  Most Christians know about the Pharisees and the problems that they had, but they do not realize that they are often guilty of doing the same thing that the Pharisees did.

No matter what idea someone comes up with, no matter how good something may sound, or who does or does not do something, we can never substitute man's ideas for God's Word.  We may not directly contradict what we find in the Bible with some man-made idea, but do we put more emphasis on our feelings, past experiences, something our favorite preacher said, or even a song than we do on God's Word?  If we want success in life and to be able to take advantage of all of the blessings that God provided for us through Jesus, then the only way to do that is by knowing and applying the Word of God in our life, there is no acceptable substitute for God's Word!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fill It Up!

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)

Different types of cars use different types of gasoline and some vehicles use diesel fuel.  When you want to put something in your car to make it run, and run properly, you need to have the right kind of fuel.  The biggest difference in fuel is between gasoline and diesel, but there are also different octane ratings for gasoline.  Some cars run better on one type of fuel than they do another, and for some cars there are recommended octane ratings that the gasoline used needs to have.  If you put the wrong type of fuel in your car it can cause some problems, but if you get the right fuel you can fill up your tank and drive for a long distance.

If you just drive your vehicle without refueling eventually you will run out of gas and come to a stop.  In a similar way, if we try to live our lives without keeping ourselves full of God's Word then we will eventually come to a place where we can no longer function the way that we should.  Or, if you fill your vehicle with the wrong type of fuel, you may move forward but the vehicle will not operate as efficiently as it should.  The same is true spiritually, if we fill ourselves with things that are contrary to God's Word we can still go on living our lives, but we will do it less effectively than we should.

Just like we can take our vehicle to a place to get the necessary fuel for it, we go to the Bible to fill ourselves up spiritually.  God's Word gives us what we need to live our life and keep on going.  Some people say that prayer is the necessary fuel for the Christian life or that singing, praise, and worship are the key.  But, while all of those things are great, if they are not based on the Bible they will not do anyone any good.  As Colossians 3:16 tells us, we need to let the Word dwell in us richly, we need to fill up on God's Word.  God's Word is the fuel we need for our spiritual life and we need to fill ourselves with it.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

We Are Ambassadors

"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore your on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God."
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV)

Every country that wants to have official representation in another country sends an ambassador to that other nation.  Ambassadors are sent by their home nation to promote that country and the interests of that place and that government, not to go and promote themselves or their own interests.  No good ambassador would work against their home nation or do things that would be a bad representation of where they come from.  Good ambassadors maintain good contact with their home country, and they only say and do the things given to them by the leaders of their home nation

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul talked about being an ambassador for Christ.  He said that as he did his work, it was as though God was pleading through him that people would be reconciled to God.  Paul was not just doing or saying something that was his own idea or even necessarily his own desire.  Paul understood that he was an ambassador, representing God to the people he came into contact with.  But, being an ambassador for Christ is not just something that was limited to the Apostle Paul.  We may not be an apostle like he was, but we can still share the Gospel message with the people we meet.

Earlier in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul talked about having the ministry of reconciliation, telling people the good news that, because of Jesus, God is not holding their sin against them.  This is what it means to be an ambassador for Christ.  Some people may be called to different types of work in the Body of Christ, but we are all ambassadors for Christ.  As ambassadors for Christ we must represent Him and His message, not ourselves or our interests.  We need to live our lives with the understanding that we are an ambassador for Christ, we go where He leads us and do and say what He wants; this is something that every believer can and should do