Thursday, December 27, 2018

That's Not The Gift I Wanted

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow of turning."
James 1:17 (NKJV)

Did you ever have the experience at Christmas or on your birthday where you were hoping to get some great gift, but you didn't?  Your hopes were high and you may have made plans about what to do with your amazing gift once you received it.  And then, when you opened your gifts, the thing you really wanted was not there.  All of your expectations came crashing down as the reality set in that you would not get the gift you really wanted.  You may have received something, but it was not what you were looking for.  This may have led to some disappointment, or even some negative feeling towards someone, but hopefully that did not last long.

The Bible tells us what God is like and what He does and does not do.  In James 1:17, we are told that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from God.  We are not told that some good and some bad things come from God or that some perfect and some imperfect gifts come from God.  People sometimes have the idea that we might get some good things from God and then we might get disappointed and receive something we did not need or want, which leads to some people having negative feelings towards God.  However, this is not how God operates and not what we see in the Bible.

In Matthew 7 Jesus said that if a son asked for bread, a good father would not give him a stone, and if the son asked for a fish, no good father would give him a snake instead.  God is better than any earthly father, and the Bible says God even knows what we need before we ask, but we still have to ask.  One reason we sometimes do not have what we want is because we don't ask, and sometimes things happen because we live in a fallen world that is corrupted by sin where the devil is working.  But God is a good God who wants us to have good things and He is not withholding what is good and giving us something bad instead.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gift Exchange

"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - 
that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith of both you and me."
Romans 1:11-12 (NKJV)

Most people like gifts, especially when they receive a gift.  But it is also nice when someone gives you a gift and you are able to give them a gift as well.  Sometimes around Christmas people have gift exchange parties where everyone gives a gift and receives a gift.  These types of parties can be a lot of fun because everyone there is involved in giving and receiving something.  No one person has all the gifts to give because everyone has something to contribute and everyone goes away happy that they were able to give and receive something.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Rome he had not been there yet .  Paul was planning to visit Rome at some time in the future and he said that he wanted to see the people there so that he could give them a spiritual gift.  But Paul also said that he believed that he and the Christians in Rome could be encouraged together through their mutual faith.  What was Paul saying?  Paul knew that the best situation was one in which everyone has something to contribute and everything is not just coming from one person, Paul knew that everyone has something to give.

One thing that is clearly taught in the New Testament is that each believer has received a gift from God (1 Peter 4:10) and each member of the Body of Christ has something to contribute (Ephesians 4:16).  Our situation as Christians is not that there are just a select few who have all the spiritual gifts, wisdom, and knowledge, but all of us have something to give.  Exactly how that happens can differ according to the situation, but it starts with people realizing that they have something to give.  When Christians come together there can and should be a mutual exchange where each person is able to give and receive something.  What gift do you have to give?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Maintaining Your Balance

"For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God."
Acts 20:27 (NKJV)

Whether it is because we have tripped over something and started to fall, inner ear problems, or some other cause, a loss of balance can be a serious problem.  Sometimes balance problems can be corrected and sometimes just being careful is a good way maintain proper balance.  It would be very foolish to have some kind of balance problem and just ignore it, even when it results in falling down and possibly getting hurt.  If there is a problem and there is a solution to the problem then the wise thing to do would be to solve the problem and avoid the negative results.

In the same way that there can be many reasons people might lose their balance physically, there are several reasons that people can lose their balances spiritually.  Some believers have problems because they only focus on one spiritual truth and they ignore others, this leads to their being out of balance spiritually.  Some Christians do not know some spiritual truths and because of their lack of knowledge they are out of balance spiritually.  If we are out of balance spiritually we are in danger of being taken advantage of in the areas where we are unlearned.

In Acts 20, Paul told the leaders from the church in Ephesus that he had not failed to teach them the whole counsel of God.  Paul knew that there were many spiritual truths that people needed to hear and he taught them all.  Paul may have emphasized one topic at one time more than another, but Paul knew people needed to hear many topics to have a well-balanced spiritual life.  If we are overemphasizing one spiritual truth at the expense of other truths, or lacking biblical knowledge in some areas, we can easily get out of balance spiritually.  We all need the whole counsel of God, the whole Word of God, to lead a balanced, mature Christian life. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sore Foot, Sore Body

"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."
1 Corinthians 12:26 (NKJV)

For most of my life I have been a runner.  Several years ago, I stubbed my little left toe pretty badly, it was painful and made me stop running for a while.  When my toe improved, I started running again.  As I ran, I noticed some pain in my toe, but I also noticed some pain in my left calf, my left knee, and in my left hip.  I thought this was very strange and had to slow down because of it.  Then I realized what was happening; my body was trying to compensate for my injured toe.  But, because of trying to compensate for one problem it was actually creating other problems.  The solution was that I had to just rest my toe until it healed so I could start running again.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the Body of Christ to the natural body.  Paul shows how the entire body needs to work together and that what affects one part of the body will have an impact on the rest of the body; this is true of our natural body and the Body of Christ.  In Ephesians 4:16, Paul talks about how every part of the Body of Christ has a supply that it should give to the Body.  The problem is that when one part of the Body of Christ is not functioning properly or is hurt, like my little toe was, then the whole Body will suffer because of it. 

Just like the physical body, the Body of Christ will try to compensate for the injured part, which is good and should happen.  We are interconnected as believers and need to support one another.  But, like with the physical body, if other parts of the Body of Christ are trying to compensate for another part then more problems can develop.  Every part of the Body of Christ, world-wide and locally, needs to be healthy and strong, doing its part in fulfilling the will of God.  Our goal as believers should be to find our place in the Body, stay connected to our local church and give our supply; that way the whole Body will be strong and do great things for God!