Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sensitivity Training

"For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil."
Romans 16:19 (NKJV)

Sensitivity can be a very subjective thing.  Some people are more sensitive to light than others while some people are more sensitive to certain smells.  In both cases, the person with the heightened sensitivity is more aware of, and more influenced by, the things they are sensitive to than other people are to those same things.  Some sensitivities can be developed, like sensitivity to certain sounds or tastes, because of someone's repeated exposure to and experience with these things.  While many types of sensitivity seem to occur naturally in a person, some sensitivities can be developed.

The things we spend our time with will develop a sensitivity, an awareness, within us.  If, for example, someone was to listen to classical music all day long it would become easier and easier for them to recognize certain selections of music and their composers.  This same kind of thing can, and should, happen with Christians.  As we spend more time in God's Word, talking to God in prayer, and being with other like-minded believers our sensitivity to the things of God can increase.  Spending less time with these things would make us less sensitive to godly things.

As with most things, we can develop in our sensitivity to what is good and God honoring. We can develop an understanding of how God sees things and what He considers to be right and wrong, rather than having our concepts of these things being influenced by society and other people.  By our continuing to spend time in God's Word and in prayer we can develop a sensitivity and awareness to be wise towards what is good, as Romans 16:19 says.  This helps us to follow God and live a life that is not only satisfying, but one that is pleasing to Him as well.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Delays Do Not Determine Destiny

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Having a flight, train travel, or a trip delayed is not much fun.  But, as long as the flight will still leave the airport, the train will reach its destination, and the trip will still take place then the delay is not a serious problem.  If our travel plans are delayed, but not cancelled, we may be inconvenienced or even be a little late for something, but we will still reach our destination.  In the overall scope of things, a simple delay is not the end of the trip we are taking and not the final outcome of the plans we have.  A travel delay does not determine whether or not we will reach our destination.

Most of the time, things do not happen as quickly as we would like them to.  It can be that we are expecting something to happen in our life and in our walk with God and that thing does not develop as soon as we expected it to, and we can become frustrated.  But, just because something does not happen in the time frame that we expected does not mean that the thing we desired is wrong or that it is not actually coming to pass in our life.  Just because something is delayed does not mean that it is not on the way, that thing could in fact be just around the corner, so to speak.

God has a great future planned for us; God does not make bad or negative plans.  But, that does not mean that our destiny will show up overnight.  The Bible is full of examples of people who were promised something or had great plans and those things did not come to pass as soon as those people had hoped.  But, a delay in a plan coming to pass is no determination of destiny.  We must discover God's plan and purpose for our life and then continue on in our relationship with God knowing that He will help to lead us into His will.  We cannot get caught up in the timing of God's destiny for our life, but we can be sure that as we follow Him that His plans will come to pass.  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Relationship, Not Rituals

"Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
John 14:23 (NKJV)

If you look in a dictionary, you can find several definitions for the word "ritual".  One of those definitions is that a ritual is something that is done in a certain way and repeated, something done in a predetermined method.  Rituals are not necessarily a bad thing and some rituals are helpful.  For example, we can have a certain way that we do some things at home, or at our place of work, where the routine of a ritual helps us to remember what it is we need to do and how we need to do it.  But something could also become such a ritual to us that we lose the real meaning and purpose behind what we do.

When Jesus walked on the earth He talked about His heavenly Father in a way that was different than many of the religious leaders of the day, it was more personal than what most people were used to at that time.  In the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we can often see Jesus confronting the religious leaders about how they had turned what was supposed to be a relationship into nothing more than a ritual. The sad thing is that today many believers are falling into the same problem, they have a set of rituals and a routine that they follow without the corresponding relationship to God.

While the Old Testament did prescribe rules for how many things needed to be done to please God, the religious leaders had completely lost touch with the God that the Old Testament pointed to and the Redeemer who was to come, which was Jesus.  It is true that there is a right way and a wrong way to live, but if we only focus on those guidelines and rules we will fall into rituals that will hurt the real relationship we should have with God.  We build our relationship with God through His Word and by spending time with Him in prayer, it is not just a ritual that we follow, it is a way for us to maintain a close relationship with God.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Holy Spirit, Our Helper

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you."
John 16:7 (NKJV)

Years ago, I worked at a company that produced wood paneling.  Logs were cut down into pieces that would then be manufactured into paneling.  For a while I was involved working in this process as the logs were being cut.  My job was to take the log that had been cut and put it on the conveyor that took it back to the operator to cut another piece.  This job was too much for one person, so a helper was always needed.  With someone helping me I was able to do the job that I could not do alone.  To be most effective, my helper and I had to work together, we had to cooperate.

When Jesus operated in His earthly ministry He led His disciples, taught them, and helped them do what was necessary.  The time came when Jesus was about to leave the earth and Jesus said that it was better for Him to leave.  This must have been a shock to the disciples, how could it be better if Jesus left them?  The answer was that after Jesus left the disciples He sent the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to them.  When Jesus was on the earth He could only be in one place at one time with the disciples.  The Holy Spirit is not limited to one place and He is not only with us, today the Holy Spirit lives in believers!

The Holy Spirit was sent to be our Helper.  The Holy Spirit is not called the Doer because He does not do everything for us and then we just sit back and watch things happen.  The Holy Spirit is not called the Watcher because He does not just stand by and watch all the things happening in our life without offering us assistance.  The Holy Spirit is our Helper and whatever it is we need to do, He will help us to do it.  No matter how big the task, no matter what God is leading us to do, no matter how it may look to us, we can trust the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to work with us and help us get the job done!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Not Me

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

There is a comic strip that started several years ago and still exists today that focused on a family with several young children.  In one installment something had happened and the parents questioned the children as to who had caused the problem.  The response from the children inspired a reoccurring joke in the comic of a character they called "Not Me" because this was supposedly the person who was behind the problems.  All of the children insisted that they were guilt free and the culprit was "Not Me", which of course was not true.

One reason this joke in the comic had such a long-lasting impact was because this idea is something familiar to many people, when something happens it was "Not Me" who caused the problem. We tend to not want to take responsibility for things and we will often first look for someone or something else to blame as the source of our problems.  It is much easier to believe that someone else is at fault for our troubles than it is to look at ourselves to see what we could change to resolve our problems, but the Bible is very clear that we are responsible for our own lives.

Throughout the New Testament we are taught that we must control our bodies and renew our minds.  If we do not present our body to God as a living sacrifice and we let our natural desires run wild it will cause nothing but trouble.  If we fail to change our thinking to line up with what we see in the Bible and we do not control our emotions the results will not be good.  We cannot just blame other people, our circumstances, or even the devil for all our problems.  We need to fill ourselves with God's Word, be a doer of the Word, follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, and allow God to work in us and help us live the life He has prepared for us.