Thursday, December 31, 2020

Anticipation Or Trepidation?

"For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Psalm 107:9 (NKJV)

Have you ever had to go someplace that you didn't really want to go?  Maybe it was a visit to the dentist, or going somewhere that involved seeing someone you did not want to see.  But, on the other hand, have you ever had someplace to go that you could hardly wait until you got there?  Maybe you had been planning a great vacation and you were excited about the trip long before you took it and you were filled with anticipation, rather than anxiety and trepidation as in the first situation.

Every year as we go from December to January and another calendar year approaches, some people eagerly look forward to a "New Year" with anticipation while others have a sense of dread and only feel trepidation.  Some people view the future through the experiences of the past and they are not looking forward to what may come next.  But no matter what the past has been like, we need to remember that God is on our side, His Word is true, Jesus is still our Lord and Savior, and with God our future is always bright!

While there are problems and challenges in life, none of that changes God and His Word!  We need to anticipate that good things will come to us this next year.  God is ready and willing to satisfy the longing in our soul of better days ahead and good things coming to us.  No matter what we have had in the past and what has happened this last year, we can still expect the best with God in the next year!  It is up to us how we face the future, and I choose to have an expectation that God is good and the best is yet to come!  How about you?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Simple Math

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 
But be ye doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving yourselves."
James 1:21-22 (NKJV)

Of all the subjects I had in school, my favorite was history and math was my least favorite subject.  But even though I did not do as well in math as I did in history, I still know some simple, basic principles of math.  Two plus two equals four, and four is a greater amount than two.  Those are some very simple mathematical concepts.  No one could just say that in their opinion, sometimes two plus two is two, or that two is greater than four, those statements are simply wrong.

James 1 talks about saving the soul through receiving God's Word.  James wrote his letter to believers, not trying to get them born again, but to help them understand that God's Word would make a difference in their mind and in their life.  While it is really not possible to spend a greater amount of time each day in God's Word than we do with everything else, we do need to have a regular time of reading and studying the Bible to add God's Word to our life, so that our thoughts and ideas are in line with God's.

There are a lot of thoughts that may go through our mind, so we need to be sure that we are filling our mind with God's thoughts from His Word.  If someone reads the Bible for five minutes a day, but spends an hour on social media or watching television, are they renewing their mind and saving their soul?  Spending more time with things that are contrary to God's Word than we do with God's Word will not help us renew our mind, that just does not add up right, it's just simple math.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Part Of The Process

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (NKJV)

Over a period of several months in Germany, I watched the process of a building being built.  First, workers came to clear the ground and to prepare for the foundation.  Then, workers arrived to set the foundation for the building, and other workers came to build the walls, the roof, and so on.  The question is, who built that building?  The answer is that every worker who was a part of the process built it.  It was not something that just one person did, there were many people involved in the process. 

The church in Corinth had a problem where some people were focused on their favorite minister, like Paul and Apollos.  Paul wrote to them about how doing this was wrong, because while he had one part to play and Apollos had another, God giving the increase was the most important thing.  Without someone planting, there is no watering, and if someone planted but no one watered, the planting would be useless.  But, without God being involved, none of it would matter; each person has a part in God's process of building the Church.

Today, we all have some people that we identify with and receive from more than others, but each one is just a part of the building process.  The same is true with every believer in the Body of Christ.  Each member of the Body is important and has a part to play in the process of building the Church.  We all need to recognize our part of the process and get involved, and we also need to remember that the most important thing is that we are a part of God's building process, not our own, and God causes it to grow and increase, not us.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Dead Or Alive?

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) 

There are two basic conditions a person could be in, dead or alive.  That may sound strange, but it is a fact that a person is either dead or alive, you cannot be both at the same time.  Someone may be in a coma or a serious physical condition because of a medical issue, but that person is still alive.  Someone is considered dead who has stopped breathing, their heart has stopped beating, and there is no more brain function.  No one could be seen as being both alive and dead, it is one or the other.

One advantage that Christians have over other religious beliefs is that we have the Word of God available to us.  Some religions follow the teachings of some great leader, and some groups have things that they say come from their god, but it is different for those who believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ, or at least it should be.  Christians talk about the Bible as having come from God, but unfortunately the Bible is not the final authority for many and it is not a living reality in their lives.

We either take the Bible as the living Word of God or not, the Bible either came from the Creator of the universe or it did not.  If the Bible is not alive to us, if we do not acknowledge the Bible as God's Word, then what is it and why pay attention to it?  As Hebrews 4:12 tells us, God's Word is alive!  The Bible is God's Word, not some dead book of historical facts and stories that are nice to hear.  We need to take God's Word for what it is, realize it has extreme importance for our lives today, and do all we can to learn and understand it

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Information, Misinformation, Disinformation

"Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.  For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus said to him, "It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
Matthew 4:5-7 (NKJV)

There are many ways that people get information and find out about what is happening in the world.  However, not all of the information we receive today is accurate and factual.  Some of what is presented as information (facts, knowledge, and data), is really misinformation (incorrect or misleading information), and even disinformation (false information deliberately spread to conceal the truth).  The question then is, how can we tell what is accurate information and what is not? 

The answer to what is information, misinformation, or disinformation depends on the topic.  For example, if I want to have accurate information about my computer, I should go back to the owner's manual from the computer company and not just ask the first person I see on the street.  For Christians, we have to go back to our best source of information, the Bible, to see what is true and accurate for us; this of course means we need to spend time in God's Word to know what it says.

When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the devil presented Jesus with misinformation.  The devil quoted most of Psalm 91:11-12, but the devil presented what was said in a misleading way.  Jesus was very familiar with God's Word and His response was to bring accurate information from Deuteronomy 6:16 to refute what the devil had said.  This is the way we must also respond, with God's Word.  We need to know the facts of God's Word for ourselves to avoid and recognize whatever misinformation or disinformation the devil and the world present to us.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Thankful Choice

"And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"
Gideon said to Him, " O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?  And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?'  But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."
Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.  Have I not sent you?"
Judges 6:12-14 (NKJV)

What if someone presented you with a stone and told you that you could keep the stone or you could have a piece of chocolate instead?  Unless you did not like chocolate, you would probably get rid of the stone and take the chocolate.  Would it be logical to just feel bad and complain about having a stone when you could have the chocolate?  Maybe you would rather have something else instead of the chocolate, but wouldn't it be better to focus on what you do have than what you don't? 

In Judges 6 we read about Gideon.  Gideon was an Israelite who lived during a time when Israel was being dominated by their enemies.  The good thing was that God wanted to use Gideon to defeat Israel's enemies.  But, when the Angel of the Lord came to tell Gideon the good news, all Gideon could do was focus on his problems and questions about why things were not better than they were.  As Gideon was being presented with the answer to his problems, all Gideon could do at first was to complain about the situation.

So often we are like Gideon, we spend time looking at the negative aspects of the situation we are in, rather than consider the positive things.  Gideon could have made the choice to be thankful that God was ready to deliver Israel, or that God was going to use him, rather than wonder why he did not see some things the way he thought he should.  What about us, are we going to be thankful about the positive things that are going on, or will we complain about the negative things?  We need to make the thankful choice and give thanks for the things we can, and not just complain about the bad things in life.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Our Defense

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence."
He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler."
Psalm 91:1-4 (NKJV)

One thing that has always been important for soldiers is protection and defense.  In ancient times, one of the best defenses and protections a soldier could have was a shield.  There were different types of shields, some were large and some were small.  Small shields were called a buckler, and they were used for close-quarters combat.  But, no matter what the size, soldiers wanted to have a shield; without a shield a soldier was defenseless and an easy target for the enemy. 

The Bible tells us that we have an enemy, the devil.  We need to be sure we are taking advantage of the spiritual armor that God has provided for us, as Paul talked about in Ephesians 6:11-18, to be able to defend ourselves against any attack from the devil.  One part of our spiritual armor that is very important is the shield of faith.  But what is the shield of faith all about?  Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, so the shield of faith has to do with God's Word.

God's Word is what is used as our defense against any and every attack of the enemy.  As we look at what Psalm 91 shows us about God's protection, we see in verse four that "His truth will be your shield and buckler".  If God's Word is our shield and buckler, then without God's Word we are defenseless.  We need to fill ourselves with the Word of God to have a shield that is strong enough to withstand any attack that the enemy brings.  Build up your defense today through God's Word, don't let yourself be defenseless.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Airplane Windows

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)

One thing that has always puzzled me is how often people open the shades to look out the airplane windows on international flights.  On international flights I have taken, from the USA to Europe or from Europe to the USA, most of the flying time the aircraft is over the ocean, as well as up in the clouds, so there is really nothing to see.  Still, people will repeatedly open the window to look outside, and pretty much all they ever see is clouds.  It would be better to just sit back and do your best to enjoy the flight.

Faith is a key element in the Christian life.  We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6), the just shall live by faith (Galatians 3:11), and we walk by faith not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  All of this talks about faith, which comes from God's Word (Romans 10:17) and is not based on what we see (Hebrews 11:1).  From this we learn that we are saved, we please God, and we live by God's Word and not by what we see.

Too often, instead of taking a stand in faith on what God has said in His Word, we are looking around for some natural evidence that will help us locate ourselves in what we dealing with.  But, with anything we are facing in life, from the point of our salvation onward, we need to put our confidence and trust in God and relax in our faith knowing that God's Word is true and He is faithful to do what He has said He will do.  Take your stand in faith on God's Word and don't bother "looking out the windows", there is nothing we need to see out there.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

How Do You Take It?

"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)

Many people like coffee and there are a variety of ways that people take their coffee.  When I am on an airplane, for example, and I ask for coffee, they always ask if I take it with cream and sugar.  How I take my coffee will make a difference in how it will taste to me.  If I add a lot of cream or a lot of sugar to the coffee, it will have a big impact on the taste of the coffee.  But one thing is for sure, you have to start with coffee because that is the basic ingredient of the drink.

The people in the city of Berea were people who "received the Word with all readiness of mind".  The Bereans were people who had the right attitude about God's Word and they received the Word, they took the Word, in the right way; they were eager to hear and receive the Word.  Just like you could add a lot of cream or sugar to your coffee to make it so that the taste of the coffee is dramatically altered, you can take God's Word in a way that will dramatically alter the "taste" you have of the Word of God.

If we read and study God's Word with the wrong attitude, we are taking it the wrong way and we will miss the benefits of it.  As James 1:21 tells us, we need to receive the Word with meekness, which is talking about humility and a mild attitude rather than a combative and resisting attitude.  How we take God's Word will have a major impact on our spiritual growth and development, as well as our ability to work with and help other people.  We all need to have the right attitude about receiving God's Word.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Well Done, Or Just Done

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Acts 20:24 (NKJV)

In a school, you will take classes about different subjects and for each class you will receive a grade when that class is done.  Sometimes a person does an excellent job with the subject they are learning about in class and they receive a very good grade, and sometimes people do not do so well and they receive a poor grade.  The main goal is to pass the class, and while everyone wants a good grade, some people are just happy to finish the class and pass.

In Acts 20:24, Paul talked about finishing his course, with joy.  In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul said he had fought the good fight, finished his race, and kept the faith.  Paul did not just say that he finished the course, but he finished with joy!  Paul did not say he just fought and had faith, but he said he fought the good fight and that he had kept the faith.  Paul's goal was not just to finish and be done with what God called him to do, Paul's goal was to finish in the best way that he could!

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the faithful servants were commended for doing a good job with the words of "Well done" and not just, "Well, at least you are done".  In the same way, Paul did not want to just barely cross the finish line of the race that God gave him to run, Paul wanted to fulfill the will of God as best he could. Paul did not want to just pass the class and make it through, Paul wanted to get the best "grade" he could for doing the will of God.  We need to have the same attitude that Paul did and strive to do the best we can in the will of God.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

All The Weights

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) 

For most of my adult life, I have run for exercise and even for fun.  When running, you want to be sure you dress correctly and wear clothing that is designed for running.  With the shoes and clothes you wear, weight is always a consideration.  You never want to carry more weight than you need to, because the more weight you have the harder it is to run and the sooner you are tired out.  With less weight, you can run faster and longer than you would when you carry more weight. 

Hebrews 12 talks about us running our race, which is talking about living our life, doing the will of God.  Hebrews 12 tells us to lay aside all the weight and sin that would hinder us from running our race for God.  Most people will acknowledge that sin is bad and we need to eliminate sin from our life.  But what many people don't realize is that while sin is bad and will hinder us from fulfilling the will of God, the weights we carry in our life can hinder us just as much as sin can. 

It is easy to realize that robbery and murder are bad, but what about bitterness and lying?  Bitterness and lying can be weights in our life.  We could also spend an excessive amount of time on social media, watching movies, television, or sports and that can be a weight in our life.  These types of things are not really bad in themselves, but too much of them can become a problem.  We all need to examine our lives, and allow God to show us if we have any extra weights in our life that we need to get rid of, so that we can run the race that God has called us to.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Pufferfish

"Now concerning things offered to idols: we know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know." 
1 Corinthians 8:1-2 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a Pufferfish?  This is a type of fish that can inflate itself to look larger than it actually is.  Normally a Pufferfish will just swim around and act like any other fish, until it feels that it is threatened, and then it will inflate itself.  The Pufferfish will do this by filling its stomach with water, or even air, to increase its size.  After the Pufferfish is inflated, it will swim around in this condition until it eventually expels the water or air and it then goes back to its normal size.

Sometimes people, including Christians, can be like the Pufferfish.  This kind of a person will try to inflate themselves to appear to be something they are not.  They may feel that for some reason they need to exaggerate something about themselves, or something that they have done, in an attempt to seem bigger than they really are to other people.  The reason that people do this is that they may feel threatened by someone else or by another person's experience. 

In 1 Corinthians 8:1-2, Paul points out that knowledge puffs up but that love edifies.  At times, we may feel pressured to try to put our knowledge or experience on display to try and "puff ourselves up" in the eyes of others.  We may feel intimidated by someone else and think that the solution is to show off something in our own life.  The truth is, that by doing this, we are only displaying our spiritual immaturity.  Rather than feel concerned about how we appear to others with our knowledge and experiences, we need to focus on doing what we can to build others up in love.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

A Testimonial

 "And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him.

However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you."

And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled."

Matthew 5:18-20 (NKJV)

Very often when something is being sold, the company selling the product will have someone give a testimonial.  Some person who has bought the product will tell what a great thing the product is, or how the thing was helpful for them.  People who work in sales realize that they can talk about their own product and have limited results, but if they have someone else give a testimonial about that product, other people are more likely to buy it.  A testimonial can be very persuasive.

In Matthew 5 we can read the story about how Jesus delivered the man who was possessed with demons.  This man who had been tormented by these demons was so happy to be set free and he wanted to just go with Jesus.  But Jesus told this man that he should go home to tell his friends about what had happened.  The results were that people were amazed at his story.  All those people knew that this man was possessed and now he was free; this was a great testimonial to Jesus and the power of God.

Everyone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior can share their own personal story with others as a testimonial to how good God is.  Everyone has a story, and while some may be more dramatic than others, everyone has something from their own experience with God that they can share to help others get closer to God.  Although not every Christian is called to teach and preach, each and every believer can share their own story of how Jesus set them free. What testimonial do you have to share about what God has done for you?

Friday, October 2, 2020

A Beacon Of Light

"You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 

Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)

Lighthouses were used more in the past that they are today, but lighthouses can still be found in some places.  Originally, lighthouses were used to help guide ships, and today much of that same guidance comes through technology.  A lighthouse had a light that would shine so that sailors could see the way that they needed to go.  Without this beacon of light from the lighthouse to help people navigate their ships, it would have been harder for the sailors to know which way to go to safely reach their destination.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world, we are a beacon of light for others.  Based on what Jesus said in Matthew 5, we are those who must provide the light that the world needs.  In the same way that ships would not have a light to guide them if the lighthouse was taken away, the world will not have the light it needs if we do not shine our light.  So many people in the world are floating aimlessly through life with no real direction.  They need the light we can, and should, bring to help them to see where to go.

In John 9:5, Jesus said He was the light of the world, and we need to reflect the light of Jesus to others.  In Psalm 119:130 it tells us that the entrance of God's Word brings light, and we need to bring the light of the Word to the world.  If we as believers do not shine our light, then there will not be any light for the world.  One of our great responsibilities in life as Christians is to bring the light of Jesus the Savior to the world and the light of God's Word to the world, it is up to us to be a beacon of light.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

No Surprise Party

"Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,"
Isaiah 46:9-10 (NKJV)

Have you ever been a part of a surprise party?  The idea is that you want to celebrate a birthday or some other special event, but you do not want the main person involved to know about the party.  While you don't want to lie to the person about what is going on, you don't want to tell them everything or it will ruin the surprise, you want that person not to know what is happening.  If the person finds out that the party will take place, then the goal of surprising the person is lost.

You may be able to surprise some people with a party or something else they were not expecting, but you can never surprise God.  No matter what might happen that is a surprise to us, it is no surprise to God.  Sometimes when something negative happens, we are surprised, we get concerned and we wonder what to do.  But the good thing is that while we may have been surprised, God was not.  God knows what is going to happen before it does and He has the solution before we even know about the problem!

It is natural to feel surprise or even shock when something bad happens.  But we have to be sure that we remember that God is never unaware of what is going on and He already has the answer to our question about what to do next.  As Isaiah 46:10 tells us, God declares the end from the beginning and His counsel, His Word will stand strong.  God knows what we need to do, how we need to do it, and exactly when we need to do it.  The next time you feel surprised, remember that God is never surprised and He is ready and able to help!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Spending Time With It

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life."
1 John 1:1 (NKJV)

Several years ago, there was a commercial about the upcoming World Cup.  People were seen using a soccer ball and then passing it to other people.  These people kicked the ball with their feet, they bounced it off of their knees and their head, and sometimes did little tricks with the ball, it was amazing to watch.  If you saw that ad you may have been like me and wondered how those people could use the ball so well.  The answer is that they could do those things because they had spent so much time with it. 

In 1 John 1:1, John wrote about "the Word of life".  Most people agree that John is referring to Jesus, the living Word of God, and this could also apply to the message of the Word of life, the Gospel.  John did not just state a fact about something that has been around since the beginning, or even that he had just heard about it.  John says that he saw it, and looked upon it, and handled it.  Not only did he hear about it, but he did something with it.  Not only did John see it, but he spent time looking at it. 

John is telling us about something that he had a personal experience with.  Too often people have a merely casual relationship to God and His Word, but we need to be like John and have a deep relationship.  This takes time to develop, and we can only develop in it by spending time with the living and written Word of God.  John had an intimate, personal experience with Jesus the living Word as well as with God's written Word, and that is what we should have too.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Follow Through

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 
But be ye doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving yourselves."
James 1:21-22 (NKJV)

There are several sports that use a ball, such as tennis and golf.  One thing that these sports have in common is that there needs to be a follow through of the swing made to hit the ball.  If you would only hit the ball and then somehow stop your swing, then you are not hitting the ball correctly and you will not have the best and maximum result from what you are doing.  Having a proper follow through is necessary to correctly hitting the ball the way that you need to.

In the same way that there needs to be a follow through when hitting a ball, as Christians, there needs to be a "follow through" of what we learn from God's Word, the Bible.  In James 1:21, we see how we need to receive God's Word, and James 1:22 shows us the "follow through" of then doing what we learn from the Word.  We need to receive God's Word, which then of course means we need to spend time with God's Word, in order to then become a doer of the Word.

If we are only hearing the Word and not doing the Word, we are deceiving ourselves and denying ourselves the positive benefits that come through the obedience of putting God's Word into practice in our life.  It is one thing to hear God's Word, to memorize what we have heard, tell others about what we have heard, and even get excited about it; but that does not mean we are actually putting the Word into practice in our life.  We need to hear God's Word, receive the Word, and do what the Word says.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Getting Into The Ministry

"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, let us prophecy in proportion to our faith;
or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."
Romans 12:6-8 

When I first moved to Germany, I remember thinking how the driving methods there were so different than in the USA. While the basics of driving are the same in both nations, there were some things that seemed confusing to me, and because of that I was not too eager to drive.  But, when I started to actually do some driving, I realized that it was not really so hard to do, once I started to do it. Some of the original ideas I had were proven wrong, once I understood things and started to take some action.

When people think about “ministry”, they often have ideas about what ministry is that are not based on what the Bible actually teaches.  When we see the word “ministry” in the Bible, it is basically just talking about serving.  Every believer has been called to serve, to minister, but people don’t always understand that.  In Romans 12, it talks about different gifts, different graces that people may have.  What people often focus on with ministry and serving is the part about teaching and leading.  But there are more things listed in Romans 12 than just those two things.

What is interesting about the list in Romans 12, is that there are things given there that almost anyone can do, right now.  You don’t have to have a special assignment from God to serve others, to encourage someone, to give, or to show mercy.  In fact, when people ask about getting into the ministry, I suggest that they start doing some of these things.  Anyone can serve, encourage, give, and show mercy.  Then, as we do some of these things, we may find that it really is something we are gifted, graced, to do.  We can all get into the ministry and serve right where we are today, it is not that hard, once we actually start doing it.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Walking in Love – All And Nothing

"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."
1 Corinthians 13:2 (NKJV) 

When I travel in Europe, one thing I pay attention to is the currency that I need to use.  This is not too difficult in Europe, because many nations there use the Euro as their currency.  But, in some countries, like Norway and Denmark, they do not accept the Euro.  There have been times that I was in one of those nations, and I have had some Euros in my possession, but I have not been able to use them.  No matter how many Euros I had, I was not able to purchase anything, so despite all the Euros that I had, it really amounted to nothing.

In writing about the love of God, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks about what love is and he also gives some examples about how valuable love is.  In 1 Corinthians 13:2, Paul says that someone could be able to prophesy, understand all mysteries, have all knowledge, and all the faith necessary to move a mountain, but without love it would be nothing!  Love is so valuable, and so important, that no matter how much you have of anything else, without love those things are worthless; all you would have amounts to nothing.

The really wonderful thing is that as Christians we do have the God kind of love in us (Romans 5:5), and so we should do all that we can to let God’s love work in us and through us.  No matter how much we have of anything else, without the love of God operating in our lives, it is all for nothing!  We all need to be sure that our emphasis is not on just knowing a lot or even having vast amounts of faith, but our focus is on developing in the love of God.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Do You See It?

"while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NKJV) 

There have been several times where I was with someone looking at a historic site or some natural wonder.  Sometimes, the other person would direct my attention to a specific thing in the direction we were looking and say, “Do you see it?” hoping that I too noticed the thing they were pointing out.  At first, I still did not really see the thing that they were trying to show me.  Then, once I did eventually see it, it was easy to see it, whereas before I could not seem to pick that thing out from the rest of the scenery.

In 2 Corinthians 4:18, Paul gives us an unusual statement, “we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen”.  That sounds strange, because how can you look at something you cannot see?  Paul is not talking about natural things here, Paul is referring to spiritual things, spiritual truth.  While it is true that there are natural things around us, we want to look past the natural to the spiritual. We don’t’ want to focus our attention on what we see in the natural world, we want to keep our attention on spiritual things.

Spiritual truth can change natural facts.  The natural fact may be that your body has a problem, the spiritual truth is that Jesus paid for our healing on the cross (Isaiah 53:5).  The natural fact may be that we have a financial challenge, but the spiritual truth is that God will supply whatever we need (Philippians 4:19).  The natural fact is that we may not know at the moment what we need to do, but God said He will give us wisdom when we need it (James 1:5).  Rather than just acknowledge the natural fact, we need to keep our focus on the spiritual truth; can you see it?

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Truth Here, There, And Everywhere

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

There are many different countries in the world, with many different people groups, and many different languages.  But, even with all of the differences, and all of the unique ways that people do things, there are some things that are the same everywhere.  Gravity still works everywhere, basic math works the same in every place, and every person on earth still needs to breathe air.  These things are true no matter where you might be; none of these things change from location to location, they are always true.

While there are many basic truths in the world, the most basic of all truth, and the most valid truth is what God has said.  The great thing about God’s Word is that it is just as true in one place as it is anywhere else.  God’s Word is not truer for one group of people than it is for another, the Bible is equally valid from country to country, and what God has said works the same for anyone who will put it into practice, because God’s Word is the truth!

There are many people today who echo the words of Pilate in John 18:38 when he asked, “What is truth?”; the answer is God’s Word.  People are looking for truth and not opinion today and we need to direct them to what God has said.  We all need to have the solid foundation of the Word of God in our life, because the truth of the Bible is what we need to base our life on.  God’s Word is the truth that we all need and that will always work; it is the truth, here, there, and everywhere.