Thursday, November 14, 2019

That Works For Me

"So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!"  For he said, "Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?"
2 Kings 20:19 (NKJV)

One bad habit that pretty much the entire human race shares is being selfish; fortunately, we don't have to live that way, but it is often how we act.  Most of the time we think more about how things will impact our lives and what interests us than we do about how other people will be affected by what might happen.  This kind of selfish thinking is not only wrong, but it can be very harmful.  If we only live our life based on what is best for us, we will tend to make short-sighted decisions that can cause problems for others.

In 2 Kings there is the story of King Hezekiah; he was sick and God healed him.  But King Hezekiah had a problem with pride, as we see recorded in 2 Chronicles 32.  When ambassadors from Babylon came to see him, King Hezekiah wanted to show off what he had.  Afterwards, the prophet Isaiah came to the king to ask about what had happened and after learning that King Hezekiah had shown the ambassadors everything he possessed, Isaiah foretold the destruction that would eventually come to Israel from Babylon.

King Hezekiah's response to what God said through Isaiah was a selfish one, Hezekiah was only concerned about what would happen to him and not about how others would be affected by what would happen.  We have to make decisions not just based on what is best for us in the short or even long term, we must make decisions based on what is best overall, even if it means we might suffer a little because of it.  Don't just have the "that works for me" attitude, live a godly life that paves the way for others and does not leave hurt people in its wake.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Our Efforts Or God's Grace?

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV)

Have you ever tried to do something where after a lot of time and effort you end up with either poor results or no success at all?  Then someone tells you how to do that same thing in a different or better way that helps you accomplish your task and you wish you would have known the right way to do it to start with.  There were a couple of times I had this happen where I tried to do something myself and failed until someone helped me out.  What I tried to do through my own efforts did not work, but with the help of someone else I was successful.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul said what he did was by the grace of God and how the grace of God towards him was not in vain.  Paul was saying that God had given him an ability, the grace, to do what he was doing.  Paul was someone who was highly educated, but he did not rely on his education.  Paul was also a tentmaker, but Paul did not rely on his occupation or his own efforts.  Paul knew how to follow God's direction in what he did and to rely on the grace of God in his life to do it.

We can use our own efforts, ideas, time, and resources to try and figure things out and accomplish what we need to do, or we can trust God to give us the wisdom and grace to do what needs to be done.  If we are only doing things through our own efforts our success will be limited at best.  But if we look to our heavenly Father to find not only His direction and wisdom but we also tap into the grace that God has for us to live our life we will have much greater success than we could have otherwise.  Don't set aside the grace of God, allow God to guide and empower you to do what needs to be done. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

What Kind Of People?

"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?"
2 Peter 3:11-12 (NKJV)

If you rented a car, would you take it somewhere to get an oil change and a tune up or have it painted a different color as soon as you picked the car up?  If you booked a room in a hotel or some other place to stay, would you immediately go to a store to buy new furniture for it or maybe check into changing the pictures in the room?  The answer would of course be no.  You would not invest the time, effort, and money into something that you only have a temporary involvement with.

People have many different ideas about what is called the end times or last days and there are four main viewpoints about it.  But one thing that everyone can agree on is that no one lives forever, at least on earth.  No matter what you believe about when or if Jesus will return, your days on earth are limited, our time on earth will not last forever.  Although everyone will live eternally, no one will to live to celebrate their 200th birthday.  Our lives on this earth, and the earth itself are only temporary.

The Bible tells us that one day all of the things on the earth will be burned up, they will be gone.  Knowing that, what kind of people should we be?  We need to be the kind of people that don't just focus on earthly needs and desires, but we need to be the kind of people who invest their time, effort, and money into things of spiritual, eternal significance.  It is certainly alright to have nice things in life, but all those things will be gone one day.  We need to have a focus on eternity and not just this world, that will help us have the right perspective in life and be the right kind of people.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Knowing Beyond Knowledge

"that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -
to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

Having general knowledge about something is one thing, but it is different to have a full understanding of that same thing.  For example, you could meet someone who knows the English language and speaks English, but it is different when you meet someone who not only knows English but they thoroughly understand how the language works and the rules governing English language and grammar.  One person knows the language, but the other has a greater understanding of it.

In his prayer for the church of Ephesus in Ephesians 3, Paul prayed that the people would know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.  How can you know beyond knowledge, what was Paul saying?  Paul was talking about a kind of knowledge that goes beyond our regular mental, intellectual knowing of something.  Some people say it this way, that there are two kinds of knowledge; there is sense knowledge and there is revelation knowledge.  Paul was talking about having revelation knowledge of Christ's love.

It is one thing to know God's love as a fact, but it is completely different when that basic fact goes beyond our head knowledge and we have a spiritual understanding and revelation about the love of God.  If we go beyond our regular mentally filtered knowledge to an in depth understanding of God's love, we will have a revelation knowledge of the love of God that will change our lives and help us change the lives of others.  Don't just settle for a basic knowledge of God and His love, go beyond just knowing to spiritual, revelation knowledge.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Checking Your Work

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)

Most people are employed somewhere that expects them to actually work.  It would be strange to have a job where nothing was expected of you and no one ever paid attention to what you did or reviewed your work.  You may be required to write some type of report, you may have someone working with you who reviews what you do, you may have some quota to fill, but one way or another nearly everyone will have their work checked to see if what was required and expected was actually done.

One thing that is clear from Scripture is that God has a plan and calling for each and every person.  While we know that we are not saved by our works, we are saved in order to do the good works God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).  God gives us all some ability that can be used to help others and bring Him glory.  This is all good to know, but it is also important to know that one day God will be reviewing our work.  The Bible talks about the Judgment Seat of Christ where every believer will appear to give account of their work.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not where the decision is made as to if we are going to heaven or not, it is simply a place where our work is checked and we are rewarded based on what we have done.  The time will come when God will want to check what we have been doing with the things that He gave to us and He is expecting us to have a productive life in His Kingdom.  Be sure you are paying attention to your work, realizing that one day God will inspect it.  This is not to bring fear to us, but it should motivate us to do all we can for God with what He has given us.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

God Conscious Or Unconscious

"The she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head.  Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.
And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!"  So he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!"  But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him."
Judges 16:19-20 (NKJV)

People who are unconscious do not realize that they are unconscious.  That may sound humorous, but it is just a fact.  To be conscious means to be aware of something, you are aware of what is going on around you.  If you are unconscious you are unaware of things and you do not know what is going on.  You can make yourself more or less aware, or conscious, of something by how much you pay attention to it.  The things you focus on are what you are most conscious and aware of.

In the book of Judges, we find the story of Samson, he was used by God to defeat the enemies of Israel.  In Judges 16 we see the downfall of Samson.  Samson was once very connected to and conscious of God.  But the point came, as we see in Judges 16:20, that Samson was no longer connected to God, but Samson did not even realize it.  It is interesting to see how in verse 19 that Samson was "lulled to sleep" right before it talks about him not realizing he had lost his connection to God. 

As Christians we need to be God conscious, we need to have an awareness of God in our life.  By spending time reading and studying the Bible, spending time with God in prayer, and fellowshipping with other believers we can be more conscious of God.  But today, too many Christians are being lulled to sleep because they are paying more attention to everything in life except God and they have become to some extent separated from God, and they don't even realize it.  We need to be more conscious of God than anything else.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Be As Wise As The Locust

"There are four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise:

The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks;"
Proverbs 30:24, 27 (NKJV)

Having a good leader is a wonderful thing.  But there is a difference between a leader and a lion tamer.  Have you ever been to a circus or seen one on TV or in a movie where they showed a lion tamer?  In one way, the lion tamer is a leader because they direct their animals in what to do, but if you did not have a lion tamer then it is very likely that the lions would not do what they are supposed to do.  Having a leader is good, but if we need a lion tamer in our life, that is bad.

Most people would not immediately think of locusts as being a source of wisdom, but Proverbs 30 tells us that the locusts are exceedingly wise.  But why would the locusts be considered wise?  We are told that the locusts do not have a king, but they still all advance in ranks.  Locusts move forward with one common goal and that is how they can be considered wise.  Just like the locusts, Christians should be able to move forward together with the common goal of doing the will of God.

Christians definitely need leaders, but we should not need a lion tamer or a king.  Unfortunately, too many believers lack focus and motivation and they constantly need someone to point them in the right direction and keep them from falling behind or getting in the way of others.  Through being spiritually mature and being led by the Holy Spirit we can move forward together in the will of God for ourselves and for the overall Body of Christ.  We all need to be as wise as the locust.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

All Inclusive

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, though the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
2 Peter 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Of all the times that I have flown, I have only sat in the first-class section once; I was upgraded by the airline and enjoyed my flight in more comfort than I would have otherwise.  Being in first class was different, not only because I had never sat there before, but because of all the benefits I received.  Normally I fly in economy class and what you receive on the flight is minimal.  But when you fly in first class it seems like everything you might need on an airplane is included; first class is all inclusive while economy class is not.

People have different ideas about what it means to be a Christian.  Some people think that being a believer in Jesus is basically just a way to ensure that you will go to heaven when you die.  Some people think that becoming a Christian means you go to heaven and have a few nice things now, but there are still have a lot of things you will not have until you get to heaven.  But, the great thing about salvation is that it is all inclusive!  Salvation is wonderful, but there is also much more.

Being a Christian does not mean that you barely get by in life and go to heaven one day.  As Peter points out in his second letter, God has given us all things for life and godliness.  People will usually ask that if it really does mean all, then things should be different in their life.  But, notice that it talks about these things coming to us through the knowledge of Him and that we must partake.  God has sent Jesus, now it is up to us to find out what belongs to us and partake of it.  Don't be an economy class Christian, live in the all inclusive salvation that God provided for us through Jesus.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Lighten The Load

"And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.
On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands.

So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and threw the wheat into the sea."
Acts 27:18-19, 38 (NKJV)

There are some things that I always take with me on trips, like my computer and tablet, both of them are very important for what I do.  But there are some things I would not take on a trip because I do not need them.  I have a lot of good books, but I don't bring them all with me on the trips I take.  If I took a lot of unnecessary things with me on a trip, I would overload myself with things that would actually make my trip harder.  Sometimes a decision has to be made about what I need to take along and what I need to leave behind.

In Acts 27, the Apostle Paul is being taken to Rome as a prisoner and the ship he is on encounters a storm.  The storm was so bad that the people on the ship knew that they had to get rid of all of the unnecessary things or they would crash.  At one point they threw some of the ship's equipment overboard and later they even threw the food overboard!  This was not because the ship's equipment and food were not good, but at that point in their journey those things were unnecessary.

As we travel though life, there will be times that we face challenges and difficulties and we need to make a decision about what to keep and what to let go of.  Sometimes we will not go as far as we should in our relationship with God, and in some areas of life, if we are not willing to lighten our load and throw some things overboard, so to speak.  By following the guidelines we have in God's Word and listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit we will know what is really necessary in the different situations we face in life and what will only weigh us down and hinder us from doing what we need to do.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

What's My Motivation?

"For in fact the body is not one member but many."
1 Corinthians 12:14 (NKJV)

Sometimes during the filming of a movie or TV show, an actor may ask the director, "What's my motivation for this scene?".  What the actor wants to know is, why is the character they are playing doing what they are doing?  The actor is trying to understand the motivation behind the character's actions, why they are acting the way that they are.  We might even ask ourselves the question, "What gets me out of bed in the morning?" or something like that.  This kind of question again goes to motivation, why do we do what are doing?

Many people do not have much motivation in their life because they see no real purpose for their life.  People sometimes get involved in some cause because they are looking for something bigger than themselves to be connected to in order to bring a sense of purpose to their life.  For Christians, our motivation should be easy; we are a part of the Body of Christ and God has a plan for our lives.  Just like our natural body was designed with every part having a specific and important function, the same is true with the Body of Christ. 

Some Christians wander aimlessly through life because they do not understand that God has a plan for them, they are important to God, and they are a valuable part of His Body.  There are no extra, unnecessary parts to our natural body and the same is true with the Body of Christ.  We need to get into God's Word to find our place in the Body of Christ and allow that to motivate us and let that be the reason for why we do the things that we do.  When we have an understanding of who we are in Christ and that God has a plan for us in His Body, we won't have to look somewhere else for our motivation in life. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Focus On The Truth

"Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness."
2 Timothy 2:14-16 (NKJV)

What if you were interested in learning about the history of England, but you only read books about the history of Norway?  The obvious answer is that you would not learn much, if anything, about the history of England.  And what if you wanted to learn how to be a good cook, but the only thing you searched for on the Internet was stories about people who climbed mountains?  Again, you would not learn anything about the desired subject.  To learn about a certain subject, you have to focus on that subject.

There are three letters in the New Testament that were written to ministers:1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.  When I read these letters, it always stands out to me how often Paul talked about avoiding the wrong kind of teaching, and arguments about things that do not really matter.  To be successful in ministry, and to be a mature believer, we need to feed ourselves on God's Word and avoid things contrary to the Word.  While I realize that this sounds extreme to some people, it is still the truth. 

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul talks about being diligent to correctly interpret the Word of God.  If we spend more of our time focusing on things that are not Bible based than we do with Bible truth, we are going to have problems.  Paul says how the wrong kinds of things will "ruin the hearers" and "increase to more ungodliness", which is obviously bad.  Focusing on the truth and avoiding the wrong kind of teaching is very important; the things we spend our time with will do something for us, either positively or negatively.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

What Time Is On Time?

"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do?  Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?"
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)

What time is on time and when is something late? People have different ideas about this.  For some people, if something is going to start at 10:00, then they will be there by at least 10:00 and maybe a few minutes earlier.  For others, they believe it is fine if they are there close to 10:00, but they don't necessarily need to be there before that.  And for some, no matter when you tell them something is going to start, they will usually arrive after that time.  But what time is on time?

Is God on time all the time, or is God sometimes behind schedule?  Some people believe that God will do what He has said, but they are not sure when God will do it.  Our problem is that sometimes God does not fit into our time schedule and He does not do things as soon as we would like Him to.  But we can trust that God will do everything He has said in His Word He would do and we should not spend our time wondering when or how something will happen.  Even though it seems that God is often not early, God is never late.

Just because something has not happened as soon as we wanted it to does not mean that it will not happen or that God has somehow forgotten us.  As we take a stand in faith on God's Word, we can be confident that what God has said He will do.  We need to learn to walk by faith in His Word and continually trust in Him to meet the need, give us the answer, and show us the way to go.  Whatever the situation and no matter the need, God is faithful, He is always on time, and He will always to do what He has said He would do.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Choice Is Yours

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."
Romans 6:12-13 (NKJV)

A choice is something that is made based on one or more options that are available.  For a choice to be a choice, there has to be more than one variable involved.  For example, you might have the option of choosing to eat a pizza or spaghetti.  But a choice is not a choice if there is only one thing available.  If you wanted to buy shoes and there was only one style and one color available, then there is really no choice involved, you have to take what is there, whether you like it or not. 

Some people think that they really do not have a choice in some things.  They believe that everything is up to God and even their own personality and actions are more in God's control than their own.  But, the choice of what we will do, say, and how we will act has been given to us.  What we choose to yield to and follow will either allow God to work through us or allow sin to reign over us.  By choosing to allow God to work through us, we will benefit our own life and the lives of those around us.

Romans 6:12-13 tells us that we have a choice as to whether we will yield to and follow the desires of our natural, fleshly nature or choose to yield to and follow what God's Word shows us is possible for us because of Jesus.  We do not have to live a shallow, sin filled life of problems because we always simply yield to our carnal desires, God has provided something better for us.  Each of us can choose to live a life above the natural tendencies we have and live a life that pleases God; the choice is ours; the choice is yours. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Alternate Routes

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye."
Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

When you are planning to go somewhere, you start with a destination and then figure out how to get there.  When you plan your route, there are several options you could choose.  You may have an option of how you want to travel, whether in a car, by airplane, or even with a train or other public transportation.  You also need to decide if you want to go directly to your destination or if there is something along the way you need to, or want to, do or see, there are many alternate routes you could take.

As Christians, there is a destination we all should have, to find and fulfill the will of God.  Spending eternity with Jesus in heaven is not our main goal in life; it is certainly something to look forward to, but God has a plan for us while we are here on the earth.  In doing the will of God, there are different routes available to us and we want to be sure to take the right one and not some alternate route that does not help us.  The good thing is that we don't have to try and figure out the entire route for ourselves, God said that He would guide us.

Psalm 32 talks about God instructing and teaching us in the way we should go.  God has given us His Word that we can read and study to get God's general direction and the Holy Spirit will direct us.  If it was up to us, we might take a route based on some things we want to do, but that alternate route may actually take us off the path that God has for us.  We need to leave the route planning in our life to God so that we don't find ourselves on some alternate route.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Regular Checkups

"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)

We need to have checkups for things like our cars and our teeth.  By having regular checkups, we can be sure that everything is working the way it is supposed to.  It can be easy to let things go with our car or our teeth and not think about them until there is a problem, then we really think about them and dread the expensive consequences we may face.  A regular schedule of maintenance and checkups for our car and regular dental care and checkups for our teeth can help prevent major problems in the future.

In Colossians 3 it says that if we are believers in Jesus, we need to have our focus on heavenly things; we should not have our focus on things in this world.  We need to use the standard of God's Word to see if we are in tune with God's plan or if we need some adjustments in our life.  If we use the standard of the world to try and live our life we will be out of tune with God and His plan.  We all need to be sure we are having regular maintenance and checkups through the truth we find in God's Word.

To know who we really are, we have to find out about our true identity, our life that is hidden in Christ.  God has given us His Word to see who we really are and how we can live the life He has called us to.  This of course means that we need to have a regular time of reading and studying God's Word to be sure we are in line with God's plan and purpose for our life.  Reading and studying God's Word is a checkup for us, it helps us to see who we really are and what we should be doing.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Telling Stories

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

In the past couple of decades, social media has become more and more poplar.  People can share pictures, comments, and even videos about themselves and what they are doing.  People telling their stories and sharing about their life experiences through videos is a current trend that seems to be increasingly popular.  Some people like to do short videos or an update on a daily basis, while others do it weekly or sporadically.  But whatever the method may be, many people around the world are telling their stories.

When I see people sharing things and telling their stories on social media, I sometimes wonder about the significance of what is being shared.  As Christians, we have to be careful that we are not so caught up in our own story that we miss out on the fact that God has a plan for our life and a story He wants us to follow.  Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God's workmanship, we are His creation, and God created us to walk in and carry out some good works that He has pre-planned for us.

Are we following God's plan and His story for our life or following our own plan and living out our own story for our life?  To really live a happy, satisfying life we have to follow God's plan and get involved in His story for our life.  The great thing is that God's story for our life is a good one with a happy ending.  Our own story may not always be so great, but God's story is.  Instead of only thinking about what we want to do and what we have done, we need to think about what God wants us to do, what is His story for our lives?  That is the story we need to live out and tell to others.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Do What I Want

"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask."
And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory."

But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you ask.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
Mark 10:35-38 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen someone, most likely a child, asking for and insisting on having something?  If they are denied having the object of their desire, they can become very unhappy and even unruly.  The child may have no idea what the item costs or if it is a good thing for them to have, but they know they want it and they are convinced they should have it.  The child's desire has blinded them to anything other than that they want this thing.

It is not really surprising that we all tend to be like the child, we want something and all we can think about is having that thing without realizing what it really means to have it.  This is the situation Jesus faced with His disciples.  They wanted to be with Jesus and to have a high position with Him.  Without any real understanding of what they were asking for, like children, they said to Jesus, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask".

We often have the same problem that James and John had; we really do not even know if what we are asking for is right or not, we just want God to do what we want.  When we talk to God, we should not just focus on what do I want, but what does God want?  Prayer is not a magic wand that brings us what we want just because we want it; we must first know if what we are asking for is really God's will.  God loves us, and wants us to have good things, but we must know if what we ask for is in the will of God, in His Word. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hot Outside, Cool Inside

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;"
Romans 12:10-11 (NKJV)

Temperatures in the Summertime can get very high, more so in some places than in others.  Some places I have been, like Oklahoma and Texas, can have some very hot temperatures during the Summer months, this is why air conditioning is so nice.  The temperature can be extremely hot outside, but with air conditioning things can be very cool inside.  You could pass by a house or some building during the hot weather and although it does not look so from the outside, where it is hot, it is very cool inside the building.

In the same way, Christians can look one way on the outside but have something different going in inside of them.  Some believers may jump, shout, and do a lot of great things in church, but that is not who they really are.  Too many Christians are "hot" when it comes to an exciting service or a special meeting, but unless something outside of them "heats them up" they are cool and lack any zeal to do anything God might be calling them too.  They may be hot on the outside but they are cool on the inside.

Romans 12:11 says to be "fervent" in spirit; this word literally means to be hot.   We need to have a fervent, "hot", desire within us to spend time with God and His Word more than just when a special meeting takes place.  We should have a zeal to reach the lost and take the Gospel around the world more than just when we hear a touching story from a missionary.  We should have an interest in helping others more than just when it directly benefits us.  By staying full of God's Word and following the direction of the Holy Spirit we can be fervent, hot, inside and outside spiritually all year long.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lessons From The Lazy Man

"I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:"
Proverbs 24:30-32 (NKJV)

When we think about learning something, we often think of going to a school of some kind, that is a very common place for learning.  If we wanted to learn a certain kind of skill, we could contact someone to teach us the things we needed to develop that skill.  But there are some places we may not associate with learning that we can still learn from.  In fact, if we are open to the idea of learning through a variety of methods, we can find that we will learn some lessons in unexpected places and in unusual circumstances.

Learning is a life-long process; we should continue to learn so that we will grow and develop to be more useful and effective in our lives and in the things that God calls us to do.  It will help us to have the mentality that we can always learn new things.  Some people seem to have the idea that there is only so much learning anyone can do and then that is the end.  If this was the case then it would be a sad way to live.  But, as Christians, with the Holy Spirit living in us and helping us, we can have a life-long learning process.

In Proverbs 24 there is a story about someone passing by the field of the lazy man and the vineyard of a man with no understanding.  This is certainly not meant to condone these people, but the idea here is that by just observing the world around them a person can learn in every situation.  God has great plans and purposes for us, and part of how we will do what God has called us to do is by always learning and growing.  If we keep ourselves open to learning, and pay attention to our real teacher, the Holy Spirit, we can learn new things and develop all the time.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Walk The Talk

"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,"
2 Timothy 3:10 (NKJV)

In our world today, it is easy for people to say pretty much whatever they want.  While there are various laws that limit some of the things people can say, what I am referring to is how people tend to build themselves up beyond who they really are.  People can say that they are this, that, or the other thing, but in reality they are none of those things.  The sad part is when you might happen to actually meet that person and then you find out that who they claimed to be had nothing to do with who they really are.

Jesus had some very strong things to say to the religious leaders of His day, Jesus called them hypocrites.  What did Jesus mean by that?  Jesus was saying that these religious leaders talked the talk, but they did not walk the talk.  In other words, what they said and did were not the same thing, and that is not good.  In Matthew 23 Jesus even mentioned how some of what they said was fine, it was just that they did not do what they told others to do.  While the Pharisees were a bad example for others, Jesus and also Paul were good examples.

The Apostle Paul was a good leader and Christian because he walked the talk.  Paul even mentioned to Timothy how that Timothy knew what Paul taught and Timothy saw how Paul lived, there was no gap between the two. In James it talks about being a doer of the Word and this is really the same thing.  Many people can talk about what God's Word says, but do their lives show what they believe?  It is easy to talk about something, but it is quite different to do something about it.  How about us?  Do we live what we believe and walk the talk?  If not, we should.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Content In Every Condition

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:"
Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a chameleon changing colors?  This is something a chameleon might do to for several reasons.  Sometimes a chameleon will change color to blend into their environment as a means of camouflage, sometimes the color change is due to a change in temperature, and sometimes they change color as a way to signal their intentions to other chameleons.  They can turn a brighter color to show aggression or a darker color to show submission.  These color changes help the chameleon fit into their environment.

When we look at the life of the Apostle Paul, we can see that he had the ability to adapt to his environment.  Paul was certainly not one to compromise, which we can see in the story where he confronted Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) or when he refused to take Mark with him on a second trip after Mark had quit during the first trip (Acts 15:36-40).  Paul knew when to stand his ground for what he believed, but he also knew how to fit in and be content in whatever situation he found himself in.

Paul said that he had learned to be content in every state, in every condition.  While Paul did not change his outer color to adapt, like a chameleon would, Paul was able to maintain an inner stability through Christ to be able to do what needed to be done in every situation.  Paul's satisfaction was not based on outward conditions but on an inward connection to God.  It is what the chameleon has on the inside, because of its nature, that it can change color.  It is because of what we have on the inside, our new nature in Christ, that we can, like Paul, be content in every condition.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Continual Cleaning

"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 12:2 (NKJV)

Have you ever noticed that nothing really stays clean for very long?  Where we live, the clothes we wear, our car, and even things like our teeth need continual cleaning.  Most people are not too excited about the cleaning process, but most people like to have things clean.  Even though cleaning something can take some time and effort, the results are worth it.  If we don't clean things on a regular basis, and pay attention to what we have, then all kinds of dirt and other bad things will accumulate.

In our world today, we are bombarded with all kinds of information, images, sounds, and ideas that can fill up and clutter our mind.  If we are not careful, we can easily have so much stuff in our mind that how we think and what we think about become a mess.  This is why we need a continual cleaning of our thinking and of all the things that try to make their way into our thought life.  We need a daily, continual process of cleaning up our mind by renewing our mind with the Word of God.

We need to guard our thoughts to make sure that what we allow ourselves to think about is in line with God's Word.  We also need to make sure we have a continual process of cleaning the thoughts and ideas we have by filling our mind with the Word of God and replacing any wrong thoughts with right and godly thoughts.  This continual cleaning process with God's Word will not only improve our life and make us more effective in God's plan for our life, but it will help us be a greater blessing to those around us.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Reliable Source

"And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
Luke 24:27 (NKJV)

Usually when there is some story on the news, or something being written about, whoever is reporting the story will cite the source or sources that they received their information from.  Sometimes someone will say they have an unnamed source or they do not want to say who gave them the information, but for something to be accurate there has to be a reliable source for what is being reported.   Without a trustworthy, credible source for what is being said, the story itself is questionable.

After His resurrection, Jesus met two disciples on the road that leads to Emmaus.  At first, these disciples did not recognize Jesus.  When Jesus met them, the disciples seemed to be sad and Jesus asked why this was.  The disciples were surprised by His response because while some other disciples said they had seen a resurrected Jesus, these two were not sure what was going on with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  To help them, and to clarify what was going on, Jesus used the Scriptures to explain what had happened and why it happened.

Jesus gave us a good example and a pattern to follow, when we have questions or we face a difficult situation we always need to go back to the Scriptures.  Jesus did not tell the disciples about His personal experience with the resurrection or how He felt after being raised from the dead, Jesus went back to God's Word because it a reliable source, it is the only thing we can absolutely trust as our source of information.  Just like Jesus used the Word to help the disciples, we need to use the Scriptures for ourselves and when we work with others; God's Word is our reliable source.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Head Or Heart?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

What would happen if you were taking a trip somewhere and you used directions that led you to some other place?  Obviously, this would be a problem.  If you wanted to travel by car to a certain place, but you only had a list of the flights leaving from the airport, you would not only never reach your destination but you would be following the wrong information.  Or if you wanted to travel to someplace within a city, but you only had a map of the Interstate Highway System you would not really have what you need to get to where you want to go.

In our life we have a choice about what we will follow, our head or our heart.  By our heart I don't just mean some emotion or a feeling, but I am talking about what Peter referred to as the "hidden person of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4), our spirit. As it tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6, we must trust in the Lord and the direction He will give to us through our spirit, our heart, and we cannot rely on, or trust in, our feelings or the thoughts we have in our heads.  In fact, our feelings and our thoughts can at times be completely wrong and lead us in the wrong direction.

Romans 8:14 says that we are to be led by the Spirit of God, we are not led by our feelings and we are not led by our figuring things out in our minds.  To properly follow the guidance that God will give to us, we must trust in and lean on the things God will speak to our heart by the Holy Spirit and not what we have in our head.  If we make the right choice to listen to God's direction, no matter how we feel or what we think, we will always choose and stay on the right path.  Learn to listen to the direction that God gives in your heart and don't just rely on what you have in your head. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Equal Value

"And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues."
1 Corinthians 12:28 (NKJV)

Many countries in Europe use the Euro as their currency.  One interesting thing about the Euro currency is that the bills are different sizes and colors.  The larger the denomination, the larger the bill.  For example, the 5 Euro bill is smaller than the 10 Euro bill, which is smaller than the 20 Euro bill, and so on.  But if you had two 5 Euro bills and someone else had one 10 Euro bill these would be of an equal value.  The person with the 10 Euro bill has one bill that is larger and a different color than the person who has the two 5 Euro bills, but they still have an equal value.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the Body of Christ, the Church.  Paul explains how God has set different members, different parts into the Church.  In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul gives a list of different parts of the church.  This list is not necessarily completely inclusive because in places like Ephesians 4 we see other parts of the Church listed, evangelists for example.  The thing that is really amazing is that it talks about all of these parts of the Church in the same context, showing that these things are of equal value.

Many Christians think that apostles and prophets are more spiritual or necessary to the Church than someone helping in the church or working in administration.  Most people would not think that an usher, or the church secretary are as spiritual or necessary as a prophet, but God does!  God has placed each believer in the Body of Christ to do a specific thing and each part is as valuable as any other, there are simply different functions.  We all need to have the proper view of our value to God and understand that whatever God calls us to do is spiritual and necessary, no matter what others might think.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Walking in Love - Adult Language

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
1 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)

Almost every movie or show on television has some kind of a rating that tells you who the suggested viewing audience is.  One of the things that is considered in this rating is the type of language that is used, which usually refers to profanity.  There have been times that I saw a rating for some movie or show that cautioned people because "Adult Language" was involved.  What they meant is that there was some profanity used and this movie or television show was not appropriate for children, hence the term "Adult Language".

While being a Christian is not based on following a set of rules, there are some things that are appropriate for us to say and do and some things that we should not say or do.  One thing that is always right is walking in love.  If we allow the love of God to help guide us in our life, we will have a much better life and we will be a greater help and blessing to others as well.  1 Corinthians 13 talks about the love of God, and Paul helps us to see that speaking in love is the kind of "adult language" that Christians should be using.

Paul said that when he was a child that he spoke, understood, and thought as a child.  Children tend to be self-centered; everything revolves around what they want and what makes them happy.  This is true of natural and spiritual children.  Paul goes on to say that when he became an adult that he put away the childish things.  For Christians, we need to grow and develop to spiritual adulthood and act and speak accordingly, in love.  As a part of our walking in love with others, we need to be sure that the words we use are motivated by the love of God and not our own personal interests.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Untapped Resources

"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I will do for them, and not forsake them."
Isaiah 42:16 (NKJV)

When I first moved to the area of Bonn, Germany, I wanted to see the Rhine River.  I had seen the river before I moved, but I wanted to get right down to the river itself.  My only problem was that I did not know exactly how to get there.  While I had seen maps that showed streets leading from the city center to the river, I did not know which street was which, or what the best method was for me to get there.  The good news is that I found the route to the river and since then I have had many wonderful visits to the Rhine River.

As we move forward in our relationship with God, there will be times that we need to find the right way to go, as well as the wisdom and resources to accomplish the goals that God gives us.  However, very often what we need already exists, we just need to find it and make use of it.  This is similar to when someone wants to drill a well for water, oil, or something else.  They know that what they are looking for is there, it is just a question of finding it and making use of those untapped resources that are already available.

In Isaiah, God said He would bring people by a way they did not know, a path they were not familiar with.  The fact was that the path, the way to go, was actually already there, they just did not know about it yet, it was not a path they had taken before.  God has said that He would guide us and provide whatever we needed to follow His plan for our life.  As we spend time with God through His Word and in prayer, He will guide us to what we need and show us the best way to use those resources to fulfill His will.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Why Walk When You Can Fly?

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 
for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

A while ago, when I was in the USA, I was out for a walk with my mom.  As we walked, we saw a small bird nearby that was hoping around from place to place.  My mom made the comment, "Why hop when you can fly?".  While the bird had the ability to fly it was not doing so; it may have been injured, although it did not seem to be, or there may have been some other reason.  But whatever the reason was, the bird was just hopping and not flying, it was not doing something it should have been able to do.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said that they were carnal people and not spiritual.  They were born again, believers in Jesus, but their lives were dominated by natural things and not spiritual things.  Paul said that he could not speak to them the way he wanted to because they were so focused on the natural side of life and not spiritual truth.  Just like us, the Corinthians needed to live a life focused on everything that God has provided through Jesus and not natural circumstances.

Paul said that the Christians in Corinth were acting like "mere men"; they were acting like ordinary people and not like spiritual people. In other words, they were walking when they should have been flying.  Just like the bird that had the capability to fly but was just hopping around, Christians, because of Jesus, have the possibility to live a life above the things in the world.  If we try to live the life God has called us to while focusing on natural truth and not spiritual truth, we will never achieve what God has planned.  Why be carnal when you can be spiritual, why walk when you can fly?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Are You Ready To Run?

"If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?  And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?"
Jeremiah 12:5 (NKJV)

Years ago, when I first started doing running sports in high school, I remember that for the first couple of days I was so tired out and my legs ached.  But as I spent more and more time running it got easier and easier and I was not worn out as much.  As I continued to train and do more running I got to the point where I was running races of 3 miles (5.1 kilometers).  To just run that distance at first was difficult, but through practice I was eventually running races at that distance as well as running longer and longer distances.

Being a Christian, being a follower of Jesus, is a lifelong relationship, and in this relationship we should be growing and developing.  The Apostle Paul wrote about the need for spiritual growth in places like Ephesians 4:14-15.  In the same way that it would be bad for someone to remain a baby naturally, it would be bad for someone to remain a baby spiritually.  Just like I had to train to run further distances and babies need to grow up naturally, we need to grow and develop spiritually so we can run the race that God has called us to (Hebrews 12:1).

Wherever we are now spiritually, we need to grow to do more in the future; we cannot stay at the level we are at now and expect to do more for God.  If we find ourselves in a struggle just to live at the spiritual level we are at now, how will we ever do more in the future?  If we are not growing spiritually and we are not developing in our faith, the time will come when God will ask us to do something and we will not be ready to do it.  We need growth and development as believers so that we are equipped to do the things that God has called us to do.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Giving To Give Or To Get?

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

Have you ever thought about why you do what you do?  Are you acting on a principle and doing something because it is good and right to do, or are you just following a practice and doing something as a ritual or because you think you are supposed to do it?  One person focuses on the outcome of what they are doing while the other is doing something because what they are doing is the right thing to do.  It is always good to do the right thing, but if you understand why you are doing it then it is even better.

The Bible talks about giving and receiving, sowing and reaping, seed-time and harvest.  It is true, as Luke 6:38 and other verses tell us, that if we give we will receive.  No farmer would go out to sow seed and never expect a harvest.  But if the harvest is the only thing in mind when seeds are being planted problems can occur.  Without the proper focus during the planting the harvest can be much less than it should be.  Is the seed being planted and cared for properly?  What type of ground is the seed being planted in and is it the right time to plant?

If we only give with the benefit in mind, we are not really giving in faith expecting God to bless us, we are just giving to get and expecting that our own works will reward us.  Why and how we give is just as important as the giving itself is.  We give to our church, other people, ministries, and missionaries because it is the right thing to do, and because God has directed us to give in His Word and by the Spirit, not just because of some benefit we may receive.  Give with the right motives, expecting God to take care of you, and you will reap a harvest.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What Is That Worth?

"knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen anything of great value, maybe in a museum or somewhere as a part of a collection?  There are several museums and places I have been to that contain some very valuable things, like different works of art and sculptures.  In some of these places you are not allowed to get too close to these things and they are worth so much that they are kept in separate cases or behind glass to protect them. One reason they are so valuable is because they are either irreplaceable or the cost to replace them is so high.

Things are valued by what someone is willing to pay for them.  No one would pay a million dollars for an old shoe, but someone might pay millions of dollars for a painting by Rembrandt.  What are we worth, what value do we have?  In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it tells us that we were redeemed, ransomed by God, paid for by Him with something much more valuable than silver and gold, the precious blood of Jesus.  Do we realize that God was willing to give the most valuable and precious thing, the blood of His Son, for us? 

Do we see ourselves as valuable and worth something or do we see ourselves as nothing special?  We need to realize that God places a high value on us.  The Bible tells us that we were redeemed, purchased with the blood of Jesus, and there is nothing more valuable than that!  If we do not see ourselves as valuable to God that will impact how we treat ourselves, which in turn impacts how we treat others.  See yourself and others as valuable to God, realize that He paid the highest price possible to make you a part of His family.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Trying To Live In Two Places

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV)

What if you moved into a new house or apartment, and even shipped all of your belongings to your new place, but you continued to try and live in your old house or apartment?  It could be that your new home was not too far from the old one so you could go back and forth trying to live in two places, but that would not make any sense.  With all of the things you need to live your life located in your new home it would be foolish to try and keep living in your old place, but you could actually still try to do it.

In that same way that you cannot really live in two places at once physically, the same thing is true spiritually.  We have a choice as to what we identify as our home, naturally and spiritually.  Spiritually speaking, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).  If we focus and base our life on natural things it will keep us living the same way we always did.  As we focus and base our life on spiritual things this helps us to live the way that God has designed for us to live. 

Spiritually or naturally, you choose what to focus and base your life on, but you cannot live in two places, your head and your heart, at the same time.  This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 8.  It is our choice as to where and how we will live, in the natural or the spiritual.  What we focus our life on will determine whether we partake of the spiritual blessings that belong to us, or if we will continue to live as the same type of person we were before we became born again.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

You've Got That Backwards

"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."
James 1:19-20 (NKJV)

Have you ever made the mistake of putting your shoes or boots on the wrong feet?  There were a couple of times in the past that I did that because I was not really paying attention to what I was doing.  But before long I noticed that things just did not seem right.  A quick examination of the situation showed me the obvious problem, I had gotten things backwards, my boots were on the wrong feet!  While I did have something on my feet, things were not going to work very well for me until I made a change and got things straightened out.

Getting things backwards or in the wrong order can be a simple mistake, but if it is not corrected it can create major problems.  James 1:19 talks about the correct way to do things, being swift to hear and slow to speak.  The problem is that too many people, including Christians, have gotten that backwards.  So many people are quick to speak and slow to listen to others and really hear what is going on.  While people are doing the right things of speaking and hearing, they have gotten things backwards and that is not good. 

Often, we are so busy saying what we want to say that no one else can even get a word in.  Many times, we are just ready to say what we want to say and we are not really listening to other people.  But if we don't listen to other people, we are not going to be able to help them, and we give the impression that we are more interested in what we have to say than we are in the other person and what they think or have to say.  We all need to get things in the right order and be swift to hear and slow to speak, that is the biblical pattern and a way to walk in love with and help other people.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Magic Pill

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

What would it be like if you had to go to the doctor and they told you that you had a medical problem, but there was a pill you could take for that problem and you only had to take the pill once?  If that was the case you would probably be very happy, but unfortunately there is no magic pill that you can take one time for anything.  Normally, you have to take a pill or some kind of medicine repeatedly to get the desired results.  The same is true with most things, just taking something once or doing something once will not get the same results as doing it repeatedly will.

The thing that is true in the natural world is also true in the spiritual world, frequent repetition is important.  While you can do something over and over again just as a ritual, there is a spiritual truth behind the concept of doing something on a regular, repeated basis.  For example, Romans 10:17 does not say that faith comes by having heard, it says faith come by hearing, and hearing.  Romans 12:2 talks about our being transformed by the renewing of our mind, which indicates a continual process.  Building faith and renewing our mind is something that is not just done at one time. 

Sadly, many Christians don't spend the necessary amount of time learning, meditating on, and practicing God's Word to get the desired results.  Too many Christians are looking for some magic spiritual pill, so to speak, that will solve all of their spiritual issues.  Some believers go from meeting to meeting looking for someone to pray for them or give them a "special word" from God to do what will only come through repeatedly reading, studying, hearing, and practicing the Word.  Don't be a "magic pill" Christian, make it a regular habit to spend time in God's Word building your faith, renewing your mind, and developing spiritually.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Gerbil Wheel Christians

"Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!
You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!"
Haggai 1:5-7 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a pet gerbil and the little wheel that people have for the gerbil to run on?  The wheel is there for the gerbil to use and supposedly get some exercise.  The gerbil can get on that wheel whenever they like and run, and run, and run.  The only thing is, even though the gerbil is doing a lot of running, they are not going anywhere.  There is action taking place, the gerbil is moving their legs, and energy is being used, but nothing is really happening.  And even though this could happen day, after day, after day, the gerbil will still get on the wheel and run some more.

Even though no one really has a giant human wheel that they run on like the gerbil wheel, there are a lot of people, including Christians, who are doing the same thing as the gerbil.  These people have a lot of activity going on, they are busy, and they are using a lot of energy but they are going nowhere in their life.  In the case of a Christian, they go to church, they even read their Bible and pray, but their spiritual life is stagnant.  One reason for this is the same thing that God spoke to Israel through Haggai about, that Israel had been spending time building things in their own life without building what God desired. 

Haggai compared the lives of these people of Israel to a person who did a lot of things that brought no real results, all because their priorities were out of order.  In the same way today, some believers have seemingly been doing all the right things but seeing no real results because their first priority is always what they want and not what God wants.  We can have all the right activity, but will not get the right results if we have the wrong priorities.  To really move forward in life, we not only have to do the right things but we must be sure that what we are doing is a part of God's plan for our life and not just our own goals and desires.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

It's Just A Book

"Sanctify then by Your truth: Your word is truth."
John 17:17 (NKJV)

Over the years I have had many people talk to me about some book they read or heard about, some movie that is being released, or some current thing going on in society that is ungodly, unbiblical, or that mocks God and His Word.  Often these people are upset and they first ask me if I have heard about this thing and then they want to know what I think about it and what should be done.  Usually I don't pay much attention to these kinds of things so I don't always know what the people are referring to.  But once I do know what they are talking about I usually give them the same answer: "It is just a book", or movie, or whatever.

While I do realize that we need to take a stand for the truth of God's Word, and that there will always be some unbiblical things that come around, we can't allow ourselves to get so concerned about them; it is just a book, movie, or whatever and it does not change God's Word.  We need to know the truth of God's Word, live according to the truth, and be ready to share the truth with others.  But we must be careful that we are not dragged into debates and arguments about some false teaching.  When some wrong teaching or thing comes along remember that is it just a book, it is no comparison to the truth of God's Word.

When Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17, He did not pray that God would give them wisdom to root out all the false teaching and be able to debate well with others.  Jesus prayed that His followers would be sanctified, set apart to God, by the truth of God's Word.  It is the application of the truth of God's Word in our life that will build us up spiritually, give us the answers we need for ourselves and others, guide us in our life, and help us do whatever we need to do for God.  The most important thing we can do is to be firmly established in the truth and not allow ourselves to be swayed by the latest ungodly thing that comes around.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Glancing Or Searching?

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:11 (NKJV)

There are different ways you can look at something, you can take a long, hard look or you can just glance at something.  Recently I was in a museum where there was a lot of art work.  As I passed through the museum, I noticed a person who was sitting in front of a certain painting just looking at it.  While I had seen the painting and appreciated the work that the artist had done, this other person was taking a much longer and more in depth look at the same painting.  By doing so, this person was going to be able to notice more things than I had and have a better overall understanding of the painting than what I had.

There are different ways we can "look" at God's Word.  We can read and even study it to get a basic view of it.  By doing this we learn more about who God is, what He is like, and how He wants us to live.  But, as with the story of the people in Acts 17:11, we can also search through the Scriptures to get a thorough view and an even better understanding of what God has said to us.  Too many people take a more casual approach to the Bible and they do more glancing at it than searching through it.  But rather than just taking a glance at God's Word we need to spend the time searching through it.

In the same way that someone can take a few moments to get a general appreciation of a picture, we too can have a general view of God's Word as we take a little time to read over it occasionally.  But, in the same way that someone could take a longer time to view and study a picture, by having a more regular time to read and study the Bible in depth we will not only gain a greater knowledge and understanding of God and His Word but we will be better prepared for the things we deal with in our life.  We need to become skilled in searching God's Word and have a thorough comprehension of it. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Lack Of Knowledge

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ..."
Hosea 4:6 (NKJV)

Recently, I took a flight to an airport where I planned to take a bus to another city and then a train to my final destination.  I decided to buy a ticket from the machine and not wait in line to buy the ticket at the counter.  As I went through the process of buying my ticket, I pushed the button for the city I was traveling to.  But I was surprised a while later when my bus arrived in a different part of the town than where I had planned, so I had to take another bus to the train station.  Because I did not really know the bus routes my trip took an extra hour and cost me more money, all because of what I did not know.

God has given us a wonderful, supernatural book that we call the Bible.  The Bible is God's Word to us and it is filled with many, many things that we need to know about so that we can have a great relationship with God and know how to live a successful, fulfilling life following the plan that God has for us.  But, as wonderful and marvelous as all of this is, if we don't know what God's Word has to say, we are not only at a disadvantage but we can have some serious problems due to our lack of knowledge and understanding of what God has said.

Too often Christians have problems and it is not the devil that is hindering them, it is their lack of knowledge of God's Word.  Yes, there can be times that we are in a storm or trail while we are completely in the will of God, but this is not always the case.  Over, and over again, I have talked to people who were having problems and suffering in their life because they did not know what God had already said, so they were not acting on it in their life.  The solution to a lack of knowledge is a simple one, take time to read and study God's Word; that is the best way to be sure that we are not struggling simply because we do not know what the Bible says.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Seed Needs Water

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:6 (NKJV)

Most people have planted something at some time in their life.  One thing that everyone who has planted something knows is that the seed you planted needs to be watered.  Watering a seed is not a one-time thing, it is something that is done over a period of time.  You don't water the seed you planted just once, it is a continual process that can use a lot of water.  If you only plant a seed but you never water it, then the seed you have planted will never grow; without water the seed will die and your efforts will be wasted.  A seed that is planted needs water.

Paul preached the Gospel he had received by revelation from God (Galatians 1:11-12), of how we are saved by grace through faith and not through our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We need to learn about and fully understand these Bible truths, as well as many others, which is why we need to have things repeated and hear them again and again.  This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 3:6 when he said that he planted and Apollos watered.  Paul himself traveled to some of the same places more than once to further help the people he had already taught, he was watering the seeds he had sown. 

In 2 Peter 1:12, Peter said he was reminding the people about something, even though they were already established in that truth.  There was something that they already knew about, but Peter said it was important for him to remind them of it, Peter was watering the seed that had been planted.  Peter, just like Paul, knew that we all need a continual reminder, a continual process of hearing the truth, the watering of the Word of God, to grow and develop in our faith.  We need to see to it that we have a regular time of reading and studying God's Word to plant it in our heart and continually water it so that it grows and develops.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Wishing Well

"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
Matthew 21:22 (NKJV)

A "Wishing Well" is something that was probably seen more in the past than it is today.  A Wishing Well was some type of a well and the idea was if there was something you desired, some wish you had that you wanted to come true, you could go to the Wishing Well and toss in a coin while you made your wish.  Supposedly by doing this it became more likely that you would be able to have your wish fulfilled.  Most, if not all, people knew this was not a way to actually bring a wish into reality, but it was a nice way for people to dream and wish for something in their life.

For some Christians, prayer and faith are like the experience of a Wishing Well.  There is something they need or desire in their life and all they have is a wish that someday, somehow, that wish might come true.  Because some believers do not know what God has said in His Word, they have no basis for faith and they really do not believe that what they are asking for will actually come to pass.  It can be a very sad thing to see someone in their time of need only wishing for a solution to their problem and the answer that they need.  But this is not faith or how a Christian should behave.

We need to learn through the Word of God all about what Jesus did for us and what God has provided for us through Jesus and then put our trust and confidence, our faith, in that.  When we face a challenge in our life, when we have a need that must be met, when we have questions about what to do in our life, God has an answer and will help us as we ask in faith.  As we take a stand in faith on God's Word, we can know that we will have the answer that we need.  We can do more than just wish for our needs to be met, by faith we can believe and receive the things that we need.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

"X" Marks The Spot

"So they said to Him, Where do You want us to prepare?  
And He said to them, Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters.  
Then you will say to the master of the house, "The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"  
Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready."
Luke 22:9-12 (NKJV)

Did you ever see a movie where someone was looking for something of value using a "treasure map" of some kind?  Often the map had an "X" on it to mark the spot where the treasure was hidden.  But what also often happened was that the person had to follow a series of clues or directions that led them to the spot where the treasure was.  While the "X" may have marked the spot, its location was not always so obvious or easy to find for any casual observer.  The treasure could only to be revealed to the person who followed the directions to the right location.

The story in Luke 22 of where Jesus had the Passover meal is one that I find to be very interesting.  It starts with the disciples asking Jesus where they should prepare for the Passover.  Jesus did not just tell them to go to a certain address in a certain city; Jesus did not directly identify the place that they needed to go to, but He told them how to get there.  It would seem like Jesus should have just told them exactly where to go instead of running them around in circles.  But there are some valuable lessons we can learn here about how God will guide us.

God knows exactly what we need, where it is, and what we need to do to have what belong to us because of Jesus.  So why doesn't He always just give us a straight path to what we need?   The answer is faith, we live a life of faith and if everything we needed was just laid out for us we would not be living a life of faith we would just live by our senses.  We need to develop in our relationship with God and learn to trust Him and follow His direction.  This will not only lead us to the answers we need today but it will also help us develop a greater trust in our heavenly Father to take bigger and bolder steps of faith in the future.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement."
John 7:24 (NKJV)

So many things in life are based on what we see, know, and understand by our physical senses.   But, if something is not perceived by our senses, does that make it any less real?  For example, you can't see a Wi-Fi signal even though your phone, tablet, and computer use it to access the Internet.  You can't feel the air, but you breathe air all day long.  You can't hear sunlight, but it brightens the daytime hours for us.  The thing is, if we base everything on what we see, know, and understand just from our physical sense there are many things we could misinterpret and miss out on.

The Bible has a great deal to say about faith and one of the main things is that faith and physical evidence are not the same thing.  Faith is not based on what we see, hear, feel, taste, touch, or smell.  But while we may not have any physical evidence of faith in operation it can still be working.  As Jesus said in John 7:24, we cannot make a judgement about something based only on appearance.  How something looks can actually be deceiving.  When we put our faith into action things are set into motion in the spiritual realm, but that does not always instantly appear in the natural realm.

If we only focus on what we know from the natural perspective we can draw back from our stand in faith and then fail to see the manifestation of what have been believing God for.  We need to see what God's Word says, believe it regardless of physical evidence, and keep on standing in faith.  Just because we don't see something happening does not mean that things are not happening.  When we take a stand on God's Word and believe what it says, no matter the physical evidence, or lack of it, we can be sure that God is at work, watching over His Word to see that it will come to pass. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Do You Have A Clear View?

"The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart."
Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)

Sometimes in the Winter you have to scrape ice or snow, or both, off of your car windows before you can start driving.  It could be that you are leaving for work in the morning and you are in a hurry so you just clean as much as you think is necessary before you start to drive.  But if you don't scrape off all of the ice or snow you can't really see clearly and you could have an accident.  You may think that just cleaning your windows a little bit is enough, but you are really just starting your journey without a clear view of everything you should see and that is never a good thing to do. 

Proverbs 20:27 tells us that our spirit, the inner man, is where God will give us light.  Our spirit is compared to a lamp and in Psalm 18:28 it says that God will light our lamp and enlighten our darkness.  This is showing us that God is not going to lead us with external or physical things but inwardly.  We may have an idea about a ministry or business we want to start or we have a sense in our heart about a change in our life or our geographic location.  But trouble can develop if we start moving forward with only the general idea about these things without having a complete understanding of how to accomplish them.

God wants us to know and understand His will, but there is also a way He wants us to carry it out and there is a right time to do it.  As Paul wrote in Colossians 1:9, we need to be filled with the knowledge of God's will along with having wisdom and spiritual understanding.  God will reveal His will to us through His Word and by the Holy Spirit so that we have knowledge of His plans and purposes for us.  This usually comes to us step by step and as we take the steps He gives us things will become clearer and clearer.  Make sure you get the whole plan from God to see things clearly to be able to successfully fulfill the will of God.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Value Of Being Together

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)

Growing up in Wisconsin, every year in the Fall different birds could be seen overhead migrating to some destination in the southern part of the USA.  There they would spend the cold Winter months before returning to Wisconsin or some other part of the northern USA.  One thing you can see with migration is that birds migrate in flocks and you usually don't see birds migrating on their own, they normally travel together.  There are several reasons for this, but it basically comes down to the fact that there is a value in being together that is not enjoyed being alone. 

People, even Christians, sometimes ask, "What is the point of going to church?  I can be a good Christian by myself at home".  Unfortunately, while this question deserves an answer, when someone asks it, they show that they don't understand the value of the local church.  There is a value in being together that we cannot enjoy if we are alone.  Our relationship with God is a personal thing, but we were not meant to live our life alone.  Believers make us the Body of Christ and every part of the Body of Christ is important and needs the rest of the Body to function properly.

Hebrews 10 talks about stirring up and encouraging one another, this is one reason it is important to meet together with other believers.  You can't encourage someone you never met and don't know.  You can't give something to someone you never meet or tell them something if you never see them. Through building relationships with other believers we put ourselves in position to be a help to them and them to be a help to us.  Going into a church building on a certain day of the week is not what makes you a Christian, but going to a church on a regular basis can greatly help you in your life as a Christian.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Precheck For Life

"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."
John 16:13 (NKJV)

Many airports in the United States use something called Precheck.  If you are given Precheck status when you are at the airport then you are able to go through a different security line than other people and the security check itself is different.  With Precheck you don't have to do the same type of security check as everyone else and the whole process is much simpler and easier.  Because someone did some work for you ahead of time, the trip was made smoother.  All you had to do was take advantage of what was done for you previously to enjoy the benefits.

There have been times when I thought how nice it would be to have Precheck in my everyday life.  Someone could check into my journey through life ahead of time, grant me special status, and then give me the information about how to go through everything simpler and easier than what might normally happen.  What I found out is that as a Christian the Holy Spirit lives in me and Jesus said the Holy Spirit would show me things to come.  The Holy Spirit knows what is coming into my life and He can help me be prepared for it so that I can have a sort of Precheck for life!

If we follow the direction God gives us in His Word and we learn to be led by the Holy Spirit then we can be ready before we face challenges or run into difficulties in our life.  Just like the Precheck program allows someone to go through a different line than other people and makes things easier, the Holy Spirit has "prechecked" things, so to speak, to be able to guide us in our life and prepare us for things ahead.  He will help us go through whatever we deal with in life in an easier way than if we tried to do things ourselves.  We don't have to go through life like the rest of the world; with the Holy Spirit helping to prepare us we can be ready for anything that comes!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Automatic Blessings?

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

There are many things that can be set up so that they take place automatically without anyone being involved.  For example, computer programs can be set up to run on a regular basis.  Things like backing up the files in a computer, running a scan for viruses or checking for updates can be done automatically.  Once something is set up to run automatically you usually don't give much thought to it.  But even though something is set up to run automatically it should still be checked on from time to time to be sure it is running correctly.  Failure to do this could lead to problems.

In the Old Testament, people were required to follow the Law and obey what God had said in order to be blessed.  Blessings came because of obedience and being cursed was the result of disobedience.  Jesus came to fulfill the Law and to bring grace and truth.  Because of Jesus, we are now blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.  What God did through the death and resurrection of Jesus qualifies us to have everything we need to live the life He has called us to live.  The problem comes when we just expect these blessings to automatically come to us without any involvement on our part.

As God told Joshua, there is something we must do to make our way prosperous and have good success.  In James 1 it tells us that it is the person who hears the Word and does what the Word says who is blessed.  We often make the mistake of thinking that all of the good things that God has for us will just come to us and be a part of our life automatically because of what Jesus did.  We place all of the responsibility on God and ignore our part of acting on what God has promised us.  We need to know what belongs to us and then act in faith on what God has told us belongs to us to have those things as a part of our life.