Thursday, November 30, 2017

Unity - A Key For Success

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV)

In every situation there are some things that are necessary for success.  There can be different things that are necessary in some areas that are not so necessary in others, but one thing that is very often a key to success is some type of unity.  If you have anything with more than one element involved in it then there needs to be a unity of operation, a harmony of function.  If you have a group of people, like a sports team, or some machinery, like a car, everyone and everything has to work together for the whole to succeed.  If one individual or part is out of unity with the rest then there will be problems.

In the New Testament, there is only one book that actually records the history of the Church, that is the Book of Acts.  One thing we see repeated again and again, in fact, it is listed six times, is how the early believers were "in one accord".  This means that they had the same focus, the same goals, and this is talking about unity.  The Early Church had a great deal of success, and one of the key factors was unity.  The one thing that is important for unity is that there is a common element that the focus and goals are centered around.  The thing the Early Church was focused on, after Jesus, of course, was the Word of God.

The only way for Christians to truly have unity is that there has to be an agreement that God's Word is our basis for what we believe.  If we leave what we believe as Christians open to any other factor outside of the Bible, which is where we actually learn about Jesus and what He did for us, there will not be harmony in the Body of Christ.  To have unity we must keep our focus on the Word and we must walk in love with others in areas of minor issues of style and personal preference that are not clearly addressed by God's Word.  God's Word needs to be our standard for what we believe and it is the only focal point that will bring and maintain unity in the Body of Christ.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt

"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

When I was a child, I used to read stories about pirates.  I was fascinated by the stories of these men who sailed the seas and captured ships and their cargoes.  But, what really caught my attention was stories of pirates' buried treasure.  Even though I grew up in the mid-western United States, as a young child I somehow thought that there might be pirate treasure somewhere near my home.  My goal was to find some of this treasure, and no matter how ridiculous the idea really was, I was continually looking for signs of lost treasure.  As you may have guessed I never found any treasure, but it was not because I didn't look for it.

We tend to find what we are looking for and see what we want to see.  The weather report may say that it is partly cloudy, but doesn't that also mean it is partly sunny?  You could be driving a long distance and think of how many miles you still have to travel, or you can look back at how far you have already come.  Rather than just looking at the negative side of things we can look for something good, something to be thankful for, in every situation.  For example, if we are stuck in traffic we can at least be thankful we have a car, or if there is a long line at the grocery store we can at least be thankful there is a good place where we can buy food.

If we were seeking a treasure we knew was buried somewhere, or if there was something of value that we had lost, we would look and look until we found it.  In the same way, if we will look for something to be thankful for in every situation, it is likely that we can find something.  If we will make it a habit to hunt for something to be thankful about, like we would hunt for lost valuables, it will help us and our attitude as well as in our interaction with other people.  There are many things that we experience in life that are not so good, but no matter what the situation, we can always look for something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Help Wanted

"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)

When a business needs to have more people working for them they will do something to try and find new employees.  In the past, companies would put ads in newspapers and sometimes place a "Help Wanted" sign in the window of their business.  Today, companies list employment opportunities online, some hire other companies to help them find employees, and there are also job placement services that can help to fill employment needs.  But, no matter how it happens, a company needs to find people to work for it to be able to do what they are doing.  If a business had no employees it would accomplish nothing.

In Isaiah we see that God was looking for someone to go for Him and speak to the people; you could say this was God putting out a "Help Wanted" sign.  This is the same thing that God is doing today because God is still looking for people who will help Him to do His will.  The Bible tells us that as born again believers we are the Body of Christ, and there is no such thing as unemployment in the Body of Christ; God is looking for people to help Him carry out His will on the earth.  There are things that God wants to do today that are not being done because no one has responded to Him.

God has given each of us a gift to use to serve Him and one another (1 Peter 4:10), all Christians have a supply to give to the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:16), and God has a place for us, where He has set us, in the Body (1 Corinthians 12:18).  All of us are important in the plan that God has today and we all need to see where we can help and do the will of God.  Every believer needs to be ready to answer the call that God is giving to do His work.  If each member of the Body of Christ would fill their position and give their supply tremendous things would be done today.  God still has His "Help Wanted" sign out, how will we respond?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

That Stuff Won't Fit In There

"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
Deuteronomy 4:2 (NKJV)

Today most airlines have some fees for any bags you may want to check.  This has led to some people trying to carry all of their luggage on to the airplane.  In recent years, it has been almost comical as I have seen some people try to bring large bags and other things on to the airplane and then have those people try to fit those things into the overhead storage areas.  It makes me think that some people have no comprehension of size and space or of the laws of physics, because there is no way that the stuff they have is going to fit, so the people end up having to check the bag or item anyway.

God has given us His Word to show us who He is, to tell us what Jesus did for us, and to help us in our life.  One thing that we see repeated in the Bible is how we should not add to, or take away from, anything that God has said to us.  However, some people still try to claim the Bible says things that it never says.  People have told me several things that, "the Bible says", that are not really in the Bible.  This leads to problems and confusion on the part of the people who have the wrong ideas about what the Bible says, as well as those people who hear them.

Some people try to take their personal beliefs, cultural background, traditions, and other things and add them to the Bible, but we can't fit those things into the Bible.  God and His Word do not change and what we believe must always agree with what God has said.  If we are just trying to find a way to fit our own ideas into God's Word we are only hurting ourselves and the people around us.  We need to know what the Bible says so we can be sure that what we believe about God, who we are in Christ, and how we should live our life are all correct so that we can do what God has said and live the life He has planned for us.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Keep On Hammering

"Is not My word like a fire?" says the Lord, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?"
Jeremiah 23:29 (NKJV)

When people build roads they often have to remove or break up rocks that are in the way of the road that is being built.  In the past, there would often be crews of men using sledgehammers to break up the rocks, but today there are machines that can do the work that in the past was done through manual labor.  For some jobs, sledgehammers or hydraulic jackhammers are used to break up the rocks.  But, whether it is modern machinery or just a simple hammer, one thing that has always been true is that it can take a while to break up the rocks that need to be removed.

In Jeremiah 23, God's Word is compared to a fire and a hammer.  The truth of the Word will help to burn up the things in our life that are wrong by showing us those things and giving us guidelines as to what we should do.  God's Word is like a hammer in that through continual use of it in our life it will help us break down areas that may have been hard to deal with.  Through God's Word, the Holy Spirit will give us direction and wisdom on how to apply the Word to our life to burn up and break down things that need to be removed.  Jesus said that we would know the truth and the truth would make us free (John 8:32), but this may not happen immediately or overnight.

Another way that God's Word is like a fire or a hammer is when we take a stand in faith on God's Word.  Just like it may take a fire some time to burn up some things and it make take a longer period of time for a hammer to break up a rock, depending on its size, God's Word will work in our life to burn up and break down the problems we face and help us remove the things that would hinder us from doing God's will.  We need to keep the fire of the Word burning and keep hammering the situations in our life with God's Word.  As we keep standing on the Word and speaking the Word it will make a difference in us and in our life.