Thursday, October 26, 2017

Preparing The Way

"As it is written in the Prophets: "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare the way before you." 
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight."
Mark 1:2-3 (NKJV)

The dictionary defines the word "herald" as "a royal or official messenger; a person who precedes or comes before".  In medieval times heralds did everything from carrying and proclaiming messages to directing tournaments and announcing the participants for each joust.  What the herald did was necessary, but it was not something they did for their own direct benefit.  Heralds were people who helped to bring other people's messages and they helped others in tournaments.  The herald was vital in preparing things for other people, and without them some things would not have been ready as they should have been.

John the Baptist is a biblical example of someone who was a herald.  He did and said things that were necessary to help prepare people for the arrival and ministry of Jesus.  John told people that someone mightier than him was coming and John baptized people in water, but he spoke of how Jesus would come and baptize people with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-8).  John also knew that what he was doing was not for his own benefit and he was simply preparing the way of the Lord (Mark 1:2-3); John's message was all about helping to get people ready for the work that Jesus was coming to do.

Christians today are in a similar position to John the Baptist, we are all doing a work and speaking a message that is to help prepare the way of the Lord.  We can ask ourselves, what are we doing to help people be ready for the work that Jesus wants to do in their life?  What message are we sharing with others through our words and actions that help to prepare the way for what God wants to do in the earth today?  Every believer has a part in preparing the way of the Lord.  What we do is not something we do for our own benefit, but what we do is a necessary part of the work that God wants to do in the earth today.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Valid Form Of Identification

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

If you are flying to some international destination, and even for some domestic flights, you will need a passport.  You may have your driver's license with you, a credit card, or even your social security card, but without a valid passport in your possession you would have problems.  The reason is that if you are taking an international flight a passport is the only valid form of identification that is accepted.  A driver's license, a credit card, and a social security card are other ways you can identify yourself, but they are not a valid form of identification for international travel.

In Colossians 3, we are told that our life is hidden in Christ.  This means that for us to know who we really are, to know our true identity, we have to learn about who we are in Christ.  Just like you cannot make an international trip without a valid form of identification, a passport, we cannot make a successful journey through life without our valid form of spiritual identification, who we are in Christ.  If we try to live a life based on something other than our identity as a believer in Jesus we will not have the kind of life that we want and that God has planned for us.

There are many, many things that people use to identify themselves and that they base their life on.  But, unless these things relate to who we are in Christ they are not valid forms of identification.  This may mean that we have to stop using the way of identifying ourselves that we have in the past.  Just like some natural form of identification that has expired, the way we identified ourselves in the past, especially before we were Christians, our former natural means of identification is no longer valid.  As Christians our only valid form of identification is what we find in the Bible about who we are in Christ. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Importance Of Prayer

"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.  For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Therefore do not be like them.  For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."
Matthew 6:6-8 (NKJV)

Have you ever been in a situation where someone needed help, and you wanted to help, but the other person would not let you help them?  It could be that you are in a position to do what was needed, and you had even offered your help to them previously, but they did not accept the offer.  You may have the necessary expertise, ability, or resources to help the person, but for some reason, they refuse your assistance.  In this type of situation, the only thing to do is to let them struggle, because to force your help on them would be inappropriate.

Some people today have the same problem that people in the past had with prayer, they think prayer is some ritualistic exercise that when done long enough produces results.  Jesus said this is how the heathen pray, not how believers should pray.  Jesus talked about prayer as communication with our heavenly Father; prayer is not the act of trying to talk God into something but rather talking to God about something He has already said to us.  We don't need to beg God endlessly for what we have need of, but we do need to ask Him for those things.

God is not going to force us to take what we need, whether we want it or not.  God wants the best for us, but He has given us the ability to ask and the position to come to Him in prayer to receive what we need.  God knows what we need even before we ask for it, but we still have to ask.  God has shown us in His Word what is available to us because of our relationship with Him and because of Jesus, but if we never ask we will never receive.  What do you need God to do in your life today?  Go to Him in prayer and ask, He is ready and willing to give, if we just ask.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Preparation And Implementation

"Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
Luke 12:11-12 (NKJV)

There are two parts to a successful process.  Whether it is teaching or preaching, a sales presentation, carrying out a task, or doing some job, preparation is as important as implementation.  Before something is done there should be some preparation and then when the proper time comes you implement what you have been preparing for.  If you only have preparation without implementation you will never get anything done.  On the other hand, if you only have implementation without any preparation you will also have very limited, if any, success.  You cannot rely solely on preparation or implementation, you need to have both.

Colossians 3:16 says to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" and Ephesians 5:18 shows us that we need to "be filled with the Spirit".  We must all have a regular time of reading and studying the Bible as well as spending time with God in prayer and developing our relationship with our heavenly Father; all of these things could be considered preparation.  Once we are full of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit we are ready for any situation that may arise in our life.  We can then follow the direction of the Holy Spirit as to how we can best use what we have and what we know in those situations.

It would be impossible for anyone to be able to figure out ahead of time exactly what they will face and exactly how they need to deal with the circumstances that they find themselves in.  In Luke 12 when Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them what to say when they needed to say it, He was certainly not implying that we do not need to do anything ourselves other than wait for a prompting from the Holy Spirit in every situation.  We should be led by the Spirit as to what to do and say, but we also have a part to play in preparing ourselves to be ready to follow the Holy Spirit and speak the Word as He leads us.