Thursday, July 27, 2017

Here I Am ...

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me.""
Isaiah 6:8 (NKJV)

Have you ever had the experience of going to a store to buy something and then finding out that the thing you wanted was not there?  I have had this experience more than once.  There were times I had planned to get something, and I had even done some research about the thing I wanted to buy, only to then find out that the item was not in the store.  What I wanted was somewhere, but it was not where I needed it to be for me to actually buy it.  I have even had a store employee tell me that the thing I wanted was available, but it was not where I was, so even though it existed somewhere else it was not available for me.

In both Isaiah 6 and Acts 9 we have stories about people who heard the voice of God.  In both cases God was looking for someone to do something.  In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah heard God speaking and asking who would go and then speak to the people.  Isaiah replied that he was available and that God could send him.  In Acts 9 God spoke to a disciple named Ananias to go and pray for Saul of Tarsus, who had just met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  The first response from Ananias was to try and explain to God how this Saul was a bad person and dangerous.  The good news is that after his initial hesitation Ananias did finally agree to go and pray for Saul.

Being available means more than just existing somewhere, it means being ready for use.  God spoke to both Isaiah and Ananias, but at first Ananias was not really willing and available to do what God had said.  We sometimes have the same problem in that God will speak to us about something and we think we have to explain the situation to Him, as if He does not already know about it.  But, if God asks us to do something we can be sure He will help us to do it.  We need to be available, ready, and willing to do whatever it is God asks us to do.  Today God is still asking people to go and do different things in different places; are we ready to say "Here I am, send me"?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Keeping The Peace

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 (NKJV)

There are many different countries in the world and many different kinds of people.  Within many countries today you can even find a variety of people and cultures represented where there are some obvious differences and other things that are not so obvious.  But, no matter where you go or who you meet, there is one thing that everyone in the world has in common, we all face difficulties in life.  Whether it is something big or small, challenges come to one and all.  It is an inescapable fact of life that we all have to deal with problems, the difference is in how we deal with them.  

No one can control everything that happens in their life.  But, God does not want us to live a life where we are overrun by our problems, God wants us to live in peace and walk in victory.  Some Christians who learn about the authority we have in Christ have the mistaken idea that if we just know how to use our authority and take a stand in faith on God's Word that we can live a life without problems.  But, when we look at Paul, who wrote more about our authority in Christ than any other biblical writer, and even Jesus, we see that they often faced difficult situations.  What we should notice is how they dealt with those things. 

Jesus said that He had spoken some things to the disciples so that they could have peace, even though they would have problems.  Philippians 4:7 says that the peace of God surpasses all understanding, so we know God's peace is not a mental thing; as Jesus said, our peace is based in God's Word.  If we face problems without a foundation of the peace of God we can make bad decisions and allow ourselves to be overcome by emotions and negative thoughts.  We need to always focus on what God's Word says so that we stay in peace and find the path to victory that God has for us.  The peace of God is something we can and should experience at all times, no matter what we are facing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Finish Your Course

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Acts 20:24 (NKJV)

When I was in high school I was involved in the sport of cross country.  This is a race of three miles that was usually run over a course through fields and forests and not on a track, where running events are most often held.  Running a three-mile race and the training required for it can be challenging and not everyone who starts the sport continues with it.  I remember times where I wanted to quit, especially when the weather or other conditions made the running more difficult.   But, like all the other runners, I knew that if I quit I would not finish the race and the whole point was to finish, and to finish well.  

In the Book of Acts, Paul compared his work for God to a race.  In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul told Timothy that he had finished his race, Paul had successfully fulfilled the will of God for his life.  This is the goal that all of us should have as well.  We don't want to just start our race for God or only run a part of it.  Our goal should be like Paul that one day we too can say that we have finished our race.  Paul also knew that the race he ran would be difficult, and we must also realize that just because we are a child of God it does not mean that every part of our race for God will go smoothly, but we keep going anyway.

Some people think that because Paul was an apostle that it is only he and other spiritual leaders, like pastors, who have a race to run for God.  That is one of the reasons so many do not finish their race, they don't even know that they are in one!   No matter who we are, we have a race to run.  We must recognize that serving God and doing His will is how we run our race.  We can find the guidelines for our course in God's Word, and the Holy Spirit has been given to us to help us successfully run our race.  We need to be like Paul and be determined to finish our course and fulfill the will of God for our life.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Are You There?

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)

Have you ever had the situation where you were at a certain place or event, but you were not really "there".  You can be somewhere physically but not really be there by not being connected to what is happening.  You can smile, act like you are paying attention, and go through the motions of participating, and still not really be involved in what is going on.  This can also happen with our job, we may not want to be there but we do what we have to do, maybe half-heatedly, and put our time in.  While all this can and does happen, it is not the best way to do things.

If we consider something to be valuable it will make a difference in how we treat it, which will make a difference for us and also have an influence on others.  It is important for us to be connected to and actually involved in what we are doing where we are, and this is especially true when we talk about what we do for God.  It can be easy to just go through the motions of going to church, and even being involved working in the church, without really being there and connecting with what is happening.  We need to invest ourselves into whatever we are doing as believers because what we do should all be done for God. 

We can be somewhere physically and not be connected to what is happening by not putting our best into whatever it is we are doing.  We can be involved in something and not really be there because we are distracted by something else.  We need to keep our focus on God and His overall plan and not just on ourselves and what we think is important.  We have to realize that what we do for God matters for eternity and even if it is not something that seems important to us it is something that can help other people.  Are we really involved in what we are doing, are we really there, or do we need to recommit ourselves to giving our best in all that we do?