Thursday, August 31, 2017

What Price Would You Pay?

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
Matthew 13:44 (NKJV)

Auctions are interesting events. I have been to several different kinds of auctions and they are all fairly similar in that there are things to buy and people who are considering buying those things.  But, what can be very interesting about auctions is what people are willing to pay for different items.  What may have no real value to one person can be exactly what another person is looking for.  Some things will have many people bidding on them, and the price can go higher and higher, depending on how much those people want that thing and how much they are willing to pay for it.

Abraham is one of the central figures of the Bible.  One thing that stands out about Abraham is that he was willing to do what God said and pay whatever price God asked.  When God asked Abraham to sacrifice His son, Abraham was willing to give up his most precious possession because God asked him to.  God never really intended for Abraham to kill his son, God was testing Abraham to see if Abraham was really willing to pay the price to do what God had said (Genesis 22:1, 12; Hebrews 11:17).  Abraham was like the man in the parable Jesus told in Matthew 13 who sold everything he had to buy the field that had the treasure in it. 

There may be times in our life, just like with Abraham, where God asks us to give up something and He is checking to see if we are willing to pay the necessary price to follow Him.  God is looking for people who are committed and willing to do whatever it takes, who will pay the price to do His will.  Everything will cost us something, whether it is our time, our efforts, or some financial or material thing. Some people would pay the price to serve God if the price was not too high.  The question is, what price are we willing to pay?  No matter what price we may pay to follow God and do His will, we will never give or pay more than God will give us in return. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Laborers Or Warm Bodies?

"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)

In my life I have had many different jobs, doing a wide variety of things.  I have done some very simple things, like working in a store taking payments from customers and I have had some jobs that were more labor intensive.  I have also had some jobs where I was in a position to oversee others and manage the business, file reports, and deal with customers and their complaints.  One thing all of my jobs have had in common was that before I started the work I had to go through a process of training to be ready to do the work, even if I had done something similar in the past.

No matter what type of work you do you will need some training and you will probably also have to undergo some continued education.  This is something that is understood in the business world and no one would raise a question about it.  But, when it comes to the things of God, serving in our church, and doing our part in God's Kingdom, we sometimes think that if we just love Jesus we can start doing whatever we want and somehow it will all work out.  Some Christians think that somehow, by the power of the Holy Spirit, everything will happen the way that it should no matter what we do.

When Jesus saw the multitudes He said that the harvest was great but the laborers were few.  Jesus told His disciples to pray for more laborers to be sent out into the harvest.  Jesus did not really say that just more people were needed, He said more laborers were needed.  God is looking for Christians who have grown up spiritually and developed the necessary skills to do the required work in the harvest field.  There is a place for every Christian in the harvest today, but we need to be trained laborers and not just warm bodies; the more development and training we have, through the Word and by the Holy Spirit, the more effective we will be.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Receive Or Resist

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:11 (NKJV)

If someone offers you something there are two basic reactions you can have, you can receive what they offer, or you can reject it.  If someone tried to give you something that was not very good it would be natural to resist accepting it.  But, it would be strange for anyone to be offered something good and beneficial without that thing being received.  Normally, we like to receive good things, but if someone tries to give us something and we don't understand the true value of that thing, we might not be so excited about it.  This could result in our resisting something instead of receiving it as we should.

The Bible is filled with good things that we need to know, but we still need to receive those things.  In the Book of Acts, we learn about the people of Berea who, we are told, "received the word with all readiness of mind".  Not only did they receive the Word, but it tells us about their attitude towards the Word of God, they received it with "readiness of mind".  In other words, they were eager to receive the Word rather than having a questioning attitude about it and not being sure if they really wanted what was being offered to them.  They did not resist the Word but they were ready to receive it.

There are times when we might hear the truth of God's Word, but we are not too excited about what it tells us.  There are times we will see things in the Bible that show us where we need to make changes in our life, to either stop doing something that is out of line with the Word or to begin doing something we have failed to do in the past.  James 1 talks about receiving the Word and then doing the Word; if we resist what God has said and we don't receive the Word then we certainly can't do it.   We all need to be like the Bereans and be ready and eager to receive the Word and to do the Word.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Holy Spirit Notifications

"Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn"
So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am.""
Exodus 3:3-4 (NKJV)

Today nearly everyone has a cell phone.  Cell phones, which are also called smart phones, are very useful because of the different things they can do.  While cell phones can obviously be used for calling other people, you can also do things on social media through a cell phone and get news updates.  For many of the different things that are available to you through your phone, there are often notifications that apps will use to let you know that something has happened.  Whatever it is, maybe something on social media or a news or weather alert, the notification lets you know there is something for you to see.

God wants us to know His will, but He will never force us to do His will, He will work to direct us into His plan.  There will be times in our walk with God that we have a similar experience to what Moses had with the burning bush.  In this story, we sometimes just notice that God spoke to Moses and miss the fact that it was not until Moses turned aside to see what was happening that God actually started to speak to him.  This is similar to notifications we get on our phone, the notification itself is not the main thing, the notification is letting us know that something is going on that we should be aware of. 

God has given us the Holy Spirit, who lives in us to help us and guide us, and we will receive Holy Spirit notifications to make us aware of something that we need to know about.  God will get our attention through something in the Word or some "idea".  Then we need to pay attention to those things and, like Moses did, turn aside from whatever it is we are doing to put our focus on God to allow Him to speak to us.  Remember, God did not speak to Moses until Moses turned to give his attention to the burning bush.  God wants us to know His will and as we pay attention to the Holy Spirit notifications He gives us we can walk in His will and carry out His plan for our lives.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Danger, Stay Away!

"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,
having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV)

Things and places that are dangerous often have warning signs designed to let you know about the possible danger.  For example, there may be a warning sign informing you of the danger of high voltage electricity.  Some places have fences or other barriers to keep people from getting too close to something that could be a possible danger to them.  On some hiking trails and in mountains there are fences to keep people from getting too close to the edge of the path or the mountain.  While there may be many different types of signs or fences designed to keep people away from danger, if someone does not pay attention to them there can be problems.

In 2 Timothy 3 we have a list of things that we are told will be prevalent among people in the last days and we are told that these are the kind of people we need to stay away from.  We have a specific list of things, and that is helpful, but if we do not stay away from people who exhibit these characteristics we can have problems.  While it is true that we need to do all we can to help people with problems, we also need to be wise and led by the Spirit in all that we do and we need to make connections with people for the right reasons, because who we spend our time with is important.  Ministering to and helping other people is one thing, becoming close friends with them is another.

It is impossible to live a life of isolation where you never interact with people who have problems or act wrongly.  But, we do not have to intentionally spend our time with these kinds of people.  Yes, we may have family members or coworkers who act in a wrong way and we need to pray for them, but we must heed the warning that the Bible gives us about staying away from the wrong kinds of people, as much as we are able, because people with wrong attitudes and habits can have a negative influence on us.  We need to be wise and choose the right kind of companions and make sure we stay away from the wrong kind.