Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Other Side Of The Gospel

"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
Philippians 1:27 (NKJV)

It has been said that if you climb a mountain from one side you have one view, but if you climb a mountain from the other side you will have a completely different view.  Also, two people can tell a story from two different perspectives and while they are talking about the same thing they might emphasize different aspects of that same story.  Someone who has only seen one side of a mountain or knows just one part of a story may say that they have the correct view.  But, neither side of the mountain or story is the right or wrong side necessarily, but to have a complete understanding of the mountain or story you usually need both sides. 

If you ask Christians what the Gospel is, many would talk about how Jesus came from heaven to take our place and die on the cross for our sin.  Some would say that the Gospel is good news and that through Christ we have been made right with God.  Others would talk about how Jesus came to give us an abundant life or about our future hope of being with God for eternity and not going to hell.  All of these things are true, but they mainly focus on one side of the story, the aspect of our benefits because of the Gospel.  The Gospel is indeed good news for man, but it is also much more.

We often look at the benefits we have received from God through Jesus, and there are benefits, but we fail to see the responsibilities we have also been given.  As Paul mentioned to the Philippians, we have a responsibility to live in a way that pleases God and promotes the Gospel.  We are not just told to go and live a happy life of our own making, we see that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives and we must focus on fulfilling that: being a good representative of Jesus Christ, walking in love, spreading the Gospel around the world, and living a life worthy of the One who saved us.  Get both sides of the Gospel and you will have a complete picture of what it means to be a Christian. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wasted Motion

"But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless."
Titus 3:9 (NKJV)

Over the years I have been a member of a few health clubs and I have also owned some exercise equipment.  One thing that I did before getting involved in a health club and using any exercise equipment was to familiarize myself with what exercises I could do and the proper way to do them.  But, I have noticed over the years that there are some people in health clubs, and who exercise on their own, who do not really know how to exercise correctly so that what they are doing is not helping them, in fact what they are doing is just wasted motion.  While they are doing something, what they are doing will have no real, lasting benefit. 

God gave us His Word to help us learn His will and to see how to live the kind of life that pleases Him.  God knows the challenges we face in life and His Word gives us the guidelines we need to know what to do in every situation.  The Holy Spirit will direct us as to how we can do the things we need to do and help us as we step out in faith to act on God's Word.  But, if we are putting our focus on and efforts into something that God has not said in His Word then we will not have the results in our life that God has promised and we are seeking.  If what we do is not based on the Bible it is just wasted motion.

The Apostle Paul talked about avoiding some things because they were unprofitable and useless.  Too often Christians are doing things that may seem nice and look good, but they bring no real benefits because these things are not based on the Bible.  People are sometimes taught to do certain things in a certain way as a method for success, but if these things are not in agreement with the Bible they are unprofitable and useless.  We need to get into God's Word to have a thorough understanding of it so that we are sure what we are doing is in line with the Word and not just wasted motion.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Greatest Validation

"For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV)

When we do something good, it is always nice if someone notices and says something positive about it, especially if the person who notices what we have done and compliments us is someone we look up to in some way.  While we normally do not do things just to earn someone's praise, we all would have to admit that we like to hear people say something positive about us and the things we do.  It is a natural thing to enjoy someone recognizing our efforts, but it can be a trap for us to pursue these types of complements as way to validate what we do and not just recognize the value of doing something simply because it is the right thing to do. 

When we have something to do, especially when it is something we are doing for God, we need to do that thing no matter who sees it or notices what we are doing.  If God is leading us to do something, if He has directed us through His Word or by the Holy Spirit to do something, then we need to do it no matter who recognizes us for our efforts; we will not always have praise and recognition from others for the things that we do when we follow God's plans.  If we look for someone to validate what we are doing before we are willing to do it, then we may never really fulfill God's plan in our life. 

Paul talked about people who wanted some kind of letters of commendation to show who he was and to validate what he was doing.  However, Paul realized that the greatest validation of his efforts was not going to come from men but from God.  In the same way that Paul understood that seeking the compliments and accolades of others was not a wise way to judge the value of what he did, we too must understand that God's plan and the gifts and abilities He has given us do not need to be validated by other people to be significant.  We all need to recognize the value of God's plan in our life, no matter who does or does not validate it for us.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Do You Know Your Name?

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."
1 John 3:1 (NKJV)

My last name, Rogahn, is of German origin.  But, no matter if I am in Germany, the USA, or in some other place, my name has been mispronounced and misspelled many, many times.  When I was younger and someone would incorrectly spell or pronounce my name I was quick to correct them.  The problem was that no matter how many people I would talk to about how to correctly spell or say my name the problem persisted.  Although people have had and continue to have a problem with my name it does not bother me because I know what my name is; it is not a problem for me because that does not change my identity. 

In the Bible we learn about our true identity in Christ and who God says we are.  1 John 3:1 is one example, where we see that God has called us His children.  Even if other people do not understand that or accept that, it does not change the truth about who we are.  Some people may try to explain why we cannot be who we say we are in Christ, why our past should disqualify us from being in God's family, or how we do not deserve a place in God's Kingdom, but that does not change what God has said about us.  The most important thing is that we know who we are and what God has called us.

God's Word is the place we need to look to find out how to correctly say who we are and what we are.  If God has called us His children, then we are His children.  If God has said we are a new creation in Christ and righteous in Christ then we are (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21).  If God has said that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:10), and blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) then that is exactly who and what we are.  Know who and what you are in Christ so that no matter what anyone else says about it you know for sure who you really are.