Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Last Word

"And the devil said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."
But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.'"
Luke 4:3-4 (NKJV) 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where it seemed that they were determined to have the last word?  You may have even done this yourself and been that person who always had something that they wanted to say after the other person was done speaking.  Usually this is a negative thing, and just trying to be the person who has the final word for the sake of having the last word is not good, but it could very well be that it was necessary for you or the other person to have that last word to finish the conversation in the right way.

In Luke 4:1-13 we see Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the devil.  The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in the same ways that we are tempted and Jesus did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).  Jesus successfully dealt with the devil and temptation, so if we want to overcome when we are tempted and face difficult situations, what Jesus did should be the pattern that we follow.  Why was Jesus successful in dealing with the devil?  Jesus was successful because He spoke God’s Word and made sure that it was the last word in the situation.

When we see the devil coming to Jesus with a temptation, like in Luke 4:4, it says “Jesus answered him”.  Every time the devil came against Him with something, Jesus always had an answer, Jesus always had the last word, and Jesus always spoke God’s Word.  Obviously, Jesus knew the Scriptures, and He must have known them quite well, or else Jesus would not have had an answer for what the devil said.  We too need to be sure we know the Word of God so that no matter what temptation or situation comes our way we know what the last word from God’s Word needs to be.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Singing The Same Song?

"Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, "Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king.  Therefore please let your words be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement."
And Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak."
2 Chronicles 18:12-13 (NKJV) 

If there is a group of some people singing, the most basic requirement is that they all sing the same song.  If they were all singing different songs, the result would be musical chaos.  But what if there was a group of fifty people with forty-nine of them singing the same song, but it was the wrong song?   What if there was only one person who was actually singing the song that was supposed to be sung?  Should the one person change their song?  No, the person singing the right song should continue singing that song and do what they can to help get the other singers to sing that correct song.

In the Old Testament there is a story about the King of Israel and the King of Judah planning to go into battle together.  There were many so called prophets who “prophesied” exactly what the King of Israel wanted to hear.  This group of four hundred prophets all “sang the same song”, so to speak.  But, the King of Judah asked for a prophet of God to come.  As this prophet of God, Micaiah, came to the two kings, he was urged say what everyone else was saying.  Micaiah’s reply was that he would only say what God wanted him to say.

There are many people who believe that if a lot people say the same thing it must be the right thing.  This happens inside and outside of the Church.  It is nice when everyone agrees on the same thing, but if that thing is wrong, and contrary to what God has said in His Word, then we should not be saying it.  People will sometimes do their best to try and fit in, but this is not always the best thing to do.  While we want to do what we can to live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18), there are times we will need to take a stand and say what God says, no matter what others may say or do.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Missing Parts

"For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God,
night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?"
1 Thessalonians 3:9-10 (NKJV) 

One of the first jobs I had was working in a store that sold auto parts.  Our store would be contacted by someone who was repairing a car, because they were missing something that was needed to complete their work.  These people that needed the parts were usually auto mechanics, and they called us to bring the necessary parts to them.  My job was to then deliver those parts to the mechanics so they would be able to do their job and finish their work.

In 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10, Paul said the Thessalonians needed something to “perfect”, or “complete thoroughly”, their faith, and Paul said he would bring what they lacked.  This is similar to what he said in Romans 1:11, where Paul said he wanted to impart to the people in Rome a spiritual gift so they would be established.  This shows us that there can be areas in our life and relationship with God where we can be missing some things.  This also shows us that God can use someone to bring to others what they may be missing in their faith.

If something is complete it is not missing anything, but if something necessary is missing, then that part needs to be found and put into its proper place.  God wants mature believers who are not lacking the things that they need to do the work He has planned for them to do.  We should all look for opportunities to take the abilities, knowledge, and wisdom that we have from God and bring that to others to help provide them with whatever they may be lacking in their faith.  Whatever it is that God has given us can be used to help others.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Keep On Sowing, Keep On Going

"There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham.  And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.
Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you.
Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father."

"Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him."
Genesis 26:1-3, 12 (NKJV) 

If you have ever been on a farm, or even planted a garden, you know that to reap a crop you first have to sow some seed.  But, when you sow seed in a field or plant something in a garden, you can’t just do that anywhere or any way you want.  There are certain places where things need to be planted and where seed should be sown.  Then, once you plant something in the right place, you have to take care of what was planted so it will grow.  You won’t reap a harvest overnight, but if you plant correctly you will reap a crop.

The story about Isaac in the time of famine as seen in Genesis 26 is sometimes used by people to talk about giving money and having a “hundredfold” return on that financial giving.  In my view, that is missing the point of what God talked to Isaac about.  In Genesis 26:1-3, we not only see that there was a famine in the land, but we also see that God told Isaac what to do and where to live.  During this famine, Egypt may have looked like a good place to go, but God told Isaac not to go to Egypt.

What I see as the most important lesson from the story about Isaac is that as Isaac was careful to follow God's direction and do what God told him to do, Isaac prospered.  In our own life, it may look like there are some good alternatives to what we are supposed to do, or it may look like things are not working the way that we think that they should, but we need to trust God.  If we are faithful to follow God's direction and do what He tells us to do, in His Word and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will reap a harvest of success in doing the will of God in our life.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Walking in Love - Is Louder Better?

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal."
1 Corinthians 13:1 (NKJV) 

Have you ever been in a place where someone had the idea that louder is better?  It might be that someone thought that by talking louder the other person would hear them better.  Or it could be that someone thought that by turning up the volume of the music, that somehow this would make the music better.  The quality of speech, music, or anything else does not improve just because it gets louder, or even if there is more and more of it.  If something is good, it can be quiet and still be good, because the quality of the thing itself is what matters.

People call 1 Corinthians 13 the “love chapter” because love, the God kind of love, is described there.  Usually, people will focus on verses four through eight, but the entire chapter is talking about love.  The first verse of this chapter gives us a very important fact about love; if what we say is not said in love then we are just making a lot of noise and wasting our time.  Sometimes people think that if they just have more emotion or volume with what they say, or if they say something more and more, that somehow this makes what they say relevant, important, or valuable.

The words we use are important, but if we are saying something with the wrong motive, or just to prove we are right, then it does not matter how loud or lengthy it is, it is not worth listening to.  If we wrap our words in love, if we make it our aim to use our words to help and comfort others, we don’t have to be loud or even use a lot of words, the meaning will come through “loud” and clear.  Make sure that what you say is said with the right motivation and in love, and you will have a sweet sound to your words.