Thursday, October 21, 2021

Worth Remembering

"For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.
Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,"
2 Peter 1:12-13 (NKJV)

There are some things that are worth remembering because they are vitally important for us, or because they are special to us in some way.  Other things are not worth remembering because they are unnecessary or unimportant.  It is worth remembering the PIN for our bank card, because without it we cannot access our finances.  It is worth remembering birthdays and anniversaries because they are dates of importance and significance to our family and friends.

In his second letter, Peter said he wanted to always remind the people of what was important.  Some people think that if you have heard something once, it is enough.  Peter understood that there are some things that are necessary for us to be reminded of, no matter how many times we have heard those things.  Peter acknowledged that what he was writing about was something that the people were already established in, but he said that as long as he was able, he was going to stir them up by reminding them of the things that were significant.

Peter understood the importance of repeating the truth again and again.  If something is true, and especially if it is something necessary for our life, then we need to keep on hearing that truth.  And, no matter how many times we have heard the truth of God's Word, there is always more depth to it than what we currently understand, there is always more to learn.  Keep hearing the truth and remind yourself of what God's Word has to say, because no matter how many times you have heard it, God's Word is worth remembering.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Open The Book

"Your words were found, and I ate them, and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts."
Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

What if you needed some tool for your work or home and you did not know where to find it?  What if someone then told you where to find the tool and the address of the store it was sold in?  Then imagine you go to the store, but you never go inside, even though the store is open.  You might think the store looks nice, and even talk to other people about how much you need the tool, but if you never go inside the store to actually buy the tool, you will never have the thing that you need.

We live in such a wonderful time, with God's Word being so easily available to us.  Personally, I have numerous Bibles, in different translations, I have a Bible program in my computer, and I have Bible apps in my phone.  But, while all these things are wonderful, I still have to open the Bible itself, or the Bible program or app, to actually see what is inside of the Bible and to learn the things I need to live the kind of life that will please God, and that will help me fulfill God's will for my life. 

Over the years, as I have been teaching in Bible schools and churches in Europe and the USA, time and time again I meet believers who do not even know basic Bible truths.  Christians often do not really know what God did for them through Jesus, who they are in Christ, and they do not understand how to do what God wants them to do, and all the while they have a book that shows them these things.  We need to open the book, the Bible, spend time reading and studying it, and then apply it to our life, and it all starts with opening the book.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Can You See That?

"For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins."
2 Peter 1:22-23 (NKJV)

One time, as I was driving through a part of the United States, I saw a sign that indicated I could turn off of the main road to go to an area where there was a "scenic overlook".  So, I did stop, but it was very hard to get a good view of the "scenic overlook" because some trees were blocking the view.  After I moved around a bit, I was able to see the sight, but at first my view was obstructed, and until I avoided the trees that blocked my view, I was unable to really see the intended sight.

The Bible tells us about many things that God has done for us through Jesus, and how we can live the life that God has planned for us.  In 2 Peter 1, Peter gives us a list of things we need in our life: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  Peter wrote that with these things we will never be unfruitful, and he also says that if we lack these things, we are short-sighted, even to the point of blindness, spiritually speaking.

Sometimes people have let things get into their life, and the view, the understanding, they should have of spiritual things has been obstructed.  Things like bitterness, focusing on past sin and mistakes, unforgiveness, and even wrong doctrine can cause us to miss seeing the truth that God's Word shows us.  We all need to make sure that we have an unobstructed view of the truth so that we can clearly see what God has done for us through Jesus, who we are in Christ, and how to do what God has called us to do.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Unnecessary Information

"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)

Today it is easier than ever before to see what is being reported in the news, to see what people are doing, and to communicate with others.  In one way this is good, but in another way, it is not so good.  We have so much information available and being presented to us now, about so many things, that it can be overwhelming.  The problem we have is not finding a way to be informed about different things, but it is sorting through all of the information we have available to us.

Today, we are very blessed to have God's Word available to us in more ways than ever before.  As Christians, the Bible needs to be our main source of information, but this does not mean we should ignore or refuse any other kind of information.  While there is a lot of information presented to us that is unnecessary information, we do not want to be completely ignorant of what is happening in the world around us, but we do need to determine what is good or bad.

There is some necessary information that we need to know, it is the information that God gives us in His Word to help us run the race He has called us to run.  We need to put aside all of the information and things that are not really necessary for us to do what God has called us to do, and we need to focus on Jesus and the necessary information we have in God's Word.  By ignoring the unnecessary information and focusing on what is truly necessary, we can do everything that God is calling us to do.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Keep Looking Forward

"Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you."
Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.
Do not turn to the right hand or the left; remove your foot from evil."
Proverbs 4:25-27 (NKJV)

One thing that I remember from the running sports I was involved in during High School is how the coaches would tell us again and again to keep looking forward and not to turn our heads as we ran.  The reason is that if you turn your head to the side, or you look behind you as you run, that this will slow you down, and you might even trip over something.  I remember once when someone was running a race, and as they turned their head for some reason, another person passed them and finished ahead of them.

There are a lot of things today that can distract us and cause us to lose our focus and look to the side or behind us, so to speak, and cause us to slow down or even get off of the course we are supposed to be on.  Hebrews 12:1 compares the Christian life to a race, and in 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul talked about having finished his race.  We will not run our race for God the way we should if we do not keep looking forward and we allow ourselves to be distracted from doing what God wants us to do.

It seems that anytime some crisis happens in the world, or even when things don't go the way that we planned, that we start looking away from God's Word and the direction that the Holy Spirit is leading us.  If we stop paying attention to what God has said, if we are not focused on the path He has laid out for us, and if we start looking to our right and left in life, it will be hard for us to complete the race God has given to us.  Keep looking forward, no matter what is happening around you, and keep doing the will of God.  That is how we need to run our race for God.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ice Cream For Every Meal?

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

If you asked a child what they wanted to eat, they might say that they want something like ice cream.  In fact, some children would have ice cream for every meal of the day, if they were allowed to have it, and some adults would too.  But most people know that you can't just eat ice cream for every meal, you have to have a proper, balanced diet that includes a variety of things.  If you only ate ice cream, but no vegetables or fruits, it would not be long before you became weak and sick because of your unhealthy diet.

If you asked Christians what they want to hear about in a church service, they might give you some answers based on what sounds interesting or exciting to them.  But while those topics may be popular, they may not be very beneficial to someone living a godly life.  This is like the child with the ice cream, we sometimes naturally and spiritually want things that seem more enjoyable to us, instead of the things that are needed.  Just like we need to eat our vegetables naturally, we need to have a good spiritual diet of the whole Word of God that will help us grow and develop spiritually

In Acts 20, Paul talked about how he taught "the whole counsel of God"; Paul was careful to be sure that his teaching covered all of the Gospel and not just the parts that people considered to be exciting.  Too often teaching and preaching is about things people want to hear that seem to excite them, but those things don't necessarily help people to grow and develop spiritually.  We need to be sure that we are feeding ourselves with the whole counsel of God and not just with spiritual ice cream.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Where Are You, Now?

"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,"
Colossians 1:13 (NKJV)

"No matter where you go, there you are", is a sort of funny way to explain where you are located, but there is some truth in the statement.  When you go somewhere, you are then in that place and not where you were before.  If you were in one place, but all you talked about was the last place you were at, it would be a bit strange and, in some cases, rude.  No one is really happy with someone who moved to their present location who is always talking about where they used to be and what that place was like.

Before we were born again, we were living in spiritual darkness and we were spiritually separated from God.  Once we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we were transferred into the Kingdom of God, we are now a part of the Body of Christ.  But, if you listen to a lot of Christians talk, you would think those people are still living in the devil's kingdom and not in God's Kingdom.  They seem to identify more with where they used to be than where they are now

Many believers do not really know who they are in Christ, so they are always talking about where they used to live, spiritually.  Where we are, now, spiritually, is what we need to talk about.  It is a bit strange, and a bit rude to God and all that He has done for us, to keep saying all kinds of things that are more connected to where we were in the past than where we are now.  Find out who you are in Christ, what God has done for you in Christ, and all that God wants to do in and through you and talk about that, that is where you are, right now! 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Real Battle

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

History has always been my favorite subject, and I recently read a couple of books about the American Civil War. In every war, and in every battle, tactics and strategy are important, as is understanding the objectives necessary to win.  But what if some military commander went to fight a battle in one place, but the actual fighting was in a completely different place?   That commander would end up taking his troops and equipment to fight a battle that really did not matter, while the actual objective was neglected.

As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, we do have an enemy and there is a battle to fight.  Paul also talked about fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).  Both of these verses show us that while we do have a fight today, our fight is a faith fight and not a natural fight against physical enemies.  Today many people are getting themselves caught up in so many issues and natural things that, while they need our attention to a degree, are not where our real battle lies

Our battle is not with people or issues in society, our battle is with the devil and his forces that are working to create these problems through people who are in spiritual darkness and who do not know the truth.  We need to be careful that we do not see other people as our enemies, but realize who our real enemy is.  Our goal should be to do what we can to be a godly influence in the things that are happening in the world around us, pray for our leaders, and preach the Gospel to get people out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light.  That is the real battle.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

No Strings Attached

"Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves."
Acts 20:30 (NKJV)

An exchange of one thing for another where you gain something, like when you purchase a product, is quite normal; you do this with the belief that you have gained something in the exchange.  But what if you found out that what you thought was an exchange, or even something that seemed solely for your benefit, was just done for the gain of someone else?  That would not be good because what was offered to you was done so with an ulterior motive, there were unseen strings attached.

While most things in the world operate on the exchange principle of giving one thing to receive another, in God's Kingdom it should be normal for us to do something that is a gain for someone else and we receive little, if any, personal benefit for ourselves.  But, as I am sure you know, there are many people who are doing things for the benefit of no one but themselves.  This is similar to what Paul told the leaders from the church in Ephesus when Paul said that people would say things just to gain disciples for themselves. 

As Christians, and especially as ministers of the Gospel, our goal should be to teach and train others, even if that means we receive little or no direct benefit from those people for ourselves; we have to remember that God is our source.  There should never be a situation where our goal in our preaching and working with others is just to build ourselves up, or to gain something from other people. We should follow the example of Jesus and do what we can to freely give the truth of God's Word to others, for the benefit of others, with no strings attached.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Walking In Love - Looking Out For Number Two

"does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;"
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV)

While I do not know for certain if people still say this or not, there used to be an expression where people would say something like, "I'm looking out for number one".  The basic idea was that you had to pay attention to what was important to you, because no one else will.  Although there is some truth in that statement, and we do need to pay attention to what is going on in our own life, we don't want to be so self-centered that all we do is pay attention to what we need and ignore everyone else.

It is natural for us to be more interested in what is important to us than what is important to someone else, but is that always the way it should be?  We can be so concerned about what we want that we never notice the needs of other people or the things they are dealing with.  The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:5, that love "... does not seek its own ..."  Well, if love is not seeking something for itself, what is love looking for?  The answer is that love looks to meet the needs of others. 

The question is, will we be like Jesus and be moved with compassion to help those around us and do what we can to meet their needs, or will we be self-centered and selfish people who believe that our main focus in life should be on ourselves and what we want?  Love does not seek its own, but love seeks to meet the needs of others, and that is a goal for all of us.  If we are going to walk in love, we need to stop being overly focused on looking out for number one, and start looking out for number two, for other people.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Imitators

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children."
Ephesians 5:1 (NKJV)

Sometimes a person might imitate a celebrity or politician by acting and talking like that celebrity or politician, and some people are very good at doing that.  Once, I saw a comedian doing a very funny variation of this.  The comedian announced that he would imitate a certain person, but then the comedian just talked and acted like he always did.  The comedian did this a couple of times to get the joke across that he could not do imitations, because what he did and said was nothing like the other people he was supposed to be imitating.

Once a person becomes born again, they are a child of God.  Ephesians 5:1 says that as the children of God, we should imitate God, we should act like God.  Now, of course, I am not saying that a Christian is God or is a perfect person, but if we are God's children, shouldn't we act like Him?  Ephesians 5:2 goes on to tell us that we should walk in love, and we know God is love (1 John 4:8), so this is definitely one of the ways that we should imitate God.  Imitating God in this one area would be a great start for all of us. 

How else should we be like God and imitate Him.  Well, how would God act or what would He say in a situation? So, how can we be good imitators of God and not just act and talk like we always act and talk?  Those are answers we find as we read and study the Bible.  The more we fill ourselves with, and act on, God's Word, the more we respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the more we grow and develop spiritually, the more we will be imitators of God.  Every child of God should be an imitator of God.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

When Jesus Was Offended

"Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you!"
But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me Satan!  You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."
Matthew 16:22-23 (NKJV)

In the world today, it seems that almost anything a person does or says will offend someone, somehow.  While it is certainly not good to do or say things that are offensive to other people, sometimes it seems that people are expecting to be offended.  But an actual offense is one thing and an imagined offense is another.  If there is an offense, it would have to be that something was said or done that crossed the line from acceptable to unacceptable, which would also mean that there has to be a standard for what is, or is not, acceptable.

For some people, being offended is an easy thing, but what about Jesus?  We know that God is love (1 John 4:7), and Jesus came to do the will of God (John 6:38), so did Jesus ever let anything offend Him?  While it may be a surprise to some, the answer is yes, Jesus did talk about something that was an offense to Him.  In Matthew 16:23, Jesus talked about how placing an emphasis on the things of men and not on the things of God was an offense to Him.  Can you imagine that, offending Jesus?

It would be nice to think that God and Jesus are always pleased with everything we do.  But the Bible talks about living a life that is fully pleasing to God (Colossians 1:10) and Paul said that our goal should be to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9).  This tells us that it is possible to not please God, and as we saw with Jesus, to even offend Him.  We need to keep our focus and attention on spiritual things and not get so caught up in the natural side of life.  This is how we will be able to do what God has called us to do and be sure that we are well pleasing to God.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Listening, Watching, Waiting

"Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors."
Proverbs 8:33-34 (NKJV)

For most of us, when we were children and December started, we could hardly wait for Christmas.  We awaited the day that we anticipated receiving our presents.  As adults, when you are waiting for someone you needed to see, you do everything you can to watch for them while you are waiting.  You certainly would not leave the place you were planning to meet them until they arrived, and you would put away every distraction to be sure you heard anything that signaled their arrival.

In the Bible, there are several places it encourages people who have ears to "let them hear".  This may seem strange since normally people have ears.  But that is similar to what we see in Proverbs 8 about wisdom, and how we need to listen, watch, and wait for wisdom.  Everyone needs wisdom and there are times we need more wisdom than at other times.  The question is, are we actively listening, watching, and waiting for wisdom?  Are we listening, watching, and waiting for wisdom as much as we do for other things?

God's wisdom is available to us in His Word and through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  But are we actively searching God's Word on a regular basis listening, watching, and waiting to receive the wisdom that God has for us, or do we just look for help in an emergency situation?   Are our prayers simply a monologue with God, or is it a time of our talking to Him as well as listening, watching, and waiting for what God has to say to us?  We all need to listen, watch, and wait for godly wisdom on a daily basis.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

After The Fireworks

"Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord."  And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rock in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice."
1 Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV)

Every year on the Fourth of July in the USA there are fireworks.  In Germany, people shoot off fireworks at midnight on New Year's Eve, and I am sure that other countries have similar celebrations.  But no matter what nation you might be in, or what event is being celebrated, there is one thing that is certain, the fireworks will eventually end and everyone will go home.  Everyone likes the fireworks, but in your normal, everyday life, you don't have fireworks going off all of the time.

Some people would like to have a spectacular event happen every day, but that is not how we live our life.  For Christians, seminars and special services are good, and sometimes we might even say spectacular.  But no matter how amazing the seminar or service was, everyone eventually has to go home.  This is like the fireworks; you don't have fireworks happen every day of your life and you don't have something spectacular happen every day in your life as a believer either.

The Bible is filled with examples of miraculous things that happened in the lives of God's people, but those things did not happen on a daily basis.  Walking in love, spiritual growth, serving God, and living a good and holy life may not be as amazing as the parting of the Red Sea, Lazarus being raised from the dead, or Jesus calming a storm; but they are all things that need to be a part of our walk with God.  Don't make the mistake of being focused on, or seeking, the spectacular and missing out on the things that make up a satisfying and successful Christian life.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

What's Inside The Package?

"Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.
So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them."
Joshua 9:14-15 (NKJV)

In my family, sometimes when giving Christmas gifts, someone buys a gift, but rather than leave the gift in the box that it came in, the person puts the gift into another box.  So, when the person receiving the gift takes off the wrapping paper, they see the outside of a box that may not actually represent what is inside.  Everyone in my family knows that they have to open the box to see what is really inside of it.  No matter what the package looks like on the outside, it does not tell you what is really on the inside.

Before Israel entered the Promised Land, God cautioned them about the people who were living there, because those people worshiped false gods, and even sacrificed their children to their false gods.  But there was one group of people that fooled the leaders of Israel.  The people of Gibeon came pretending to be from a distant land.  Rather than finding out what God had to say about those people, Israel looked at what the people had and made a covenant with them; this was a mistake that caused Israel problems.

Too many people today look at the outside of something, the packaging, or the style of a thing and accept it on that basis, rather than checking into it and finding out what is really inside and, more importantly, seeing what God has to say about it.  We should never value the style or look of something over the actual content or quality of the thing.  We need to listen to God's direction and use the godly principles we find in God's Word to determine if something is really acceptable or not, instead of just accepting something at face value. 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

An Important, Unimportant Thing

"But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.
And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
1 Corinthians 12:20-22 (NKJV)

If you looked at a sports or business team, you might rank who is the most important person on that team.  Or if you asked people what is the most important part on a car, you would probably have a few different answers based on what people think is necessary to make a car function.  While in a sense there may be a more important person or a more important part on a car, without the other people on the team, or the other parts in the car, nothing is going to work right.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul makes a comparison between the Body of Christ and the human body.  In the human body, everyone would agree that the heart is extremely important, but without the lungs the heart would not matter.  No rational person would say that there are unimportant parts of their body and, in the same way, no discerning believer would say that there are unimportant parts in the Body of Christ.  Every part of the human body is necessary and every part of the Body of Christ is also necessary.

Everyone knows that a pastor is important to a local church, but the person who cleans the church, works in the children's ministry, or serves as an usher is just as important and called by God as the pastor.  No matter how unimportant what you are doing may seem to be, it really is important to God and to the Body of Christ.  We all need to do our part and take our place in God's Family.  No matter who you are, and how unimportant what you do seems to be, you have an important part to play in the Body of Christ!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

As Advertised

"For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)

One of the worst things that a person or a company can do is to advertise or promise more than they can actually deliver.  If someone told you that they could help repair your computer, but then did not even know the basics of how a computer operates, it would be bad.  If a company advertised that a product could do a certain thing, but the product could not do half of what they said, they had then over-promised something.  In either case, the person or the company were shown to be untrustworthy.

It is a sad but true fact that sometimes people and companies promise things that they cannot deliver, but it is a wonderful and true fact that this is not the case with God!  What God has said and promised to us in His Word is something we can count on.  If there is something God has shown us in His Word, we can be assured that it is a statement of truth and we can act in confidence on what God has said.  The question is not if God will be true to His Word, the question is if we really believe it.

Too often people and companies over-promise on something, and we sometimes attribute these same qualities in people and companies to God.  We can easily become conditioned to think that there are no guaranties, and things are never quite what they are advertised as being.  But God's Word is not "Yes, no, or maybe", God's promises are Yes and Amen in Jesus!  God's promises are as advertised, everything God has promised in His Word is something He will do!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Wisdom For The Future

"Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days."
Proverbs 19:20 (NKJV)

When I was younger, I liked to read science fiction novels.  It fascinated me to read stories about how someone might go into the future to learn what was going on in the years ahead.  Sometimes in these stories, someone would try to find information from the future about something and then go back to the present day to try to alter the future.  Many times, because of some unforeseen situation, the people who tried to change the future would just create some other problems.

Most people would like to look into the future to have an idea what they could do now to be ready for the things that are yet to come.  As Christians, we don't need to go to some person to find out about the future, we can go to our loving Heavenly Father, He will give us wisdom for the future.  Jesus told us that God would send the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit would show us things to come (John 14:26; 16:13).  And, we have the wisdom of God's Word to be able to look into.

Being ready for the future is not about struggling to figure out what is coming, it is about paying attention to what God is telling us in His Word and following the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Too often we filter what God is showing us by what we know now, rather than realizing that God is giving us council and instruction today that will give us wisdom for our future.  We need to spend time with God in His Word and prayer, and learn to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, to recognize what God is saying to us today and to be ready for what comes in our future.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Finding The Way

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

Recently I took a trip, and I knew the way to go, but I was delayed because a car had broken down in the road.  A few hours later, I almost got lost because a road was closed, and no alternative route was given.  You might be thinking, "Well, why didn't you just use a map or an app to give you directions?", and that is a good question, but I had already done that.  The problem was that the broken-down car and the construction were not yet in the map system that I was using, so it could not help me find my way.

Very often, when people think about God giving them direction and guidance, they think of big things like finding the right job, knowing who they should marry, or becoming a pastor or a missionary, and these are all areas where we definitely want to have God's guidance.  However, as we are living our life, we don't want to just check in with God and get His direction when there is some big question, God wants to guide us in every area of our life.  And God wants to help us as we go and guide us all along the way.

God will give us direction through His Word and by the Holy Spirit, and as we move forward, doing what we know to do, God will guide us along the way.  We need to continually be listening to God because He not only knows the big steps we need to take, but every little step as well.  There are things along our way in life that we don't see ahead of time and we are not aware of that God will help us deal with.  As we live our life, we need to trust God to guide us, in every area and with all the details necessary to find our way.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

But They Said ...

"Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias."  And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.
And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."
Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem."
Acts 9:10-13 (NKJV)

Have you ever had a disagreement with someone about what to do?  Sometimes when you talk to a person about what needs to be done, they reply, "But they said ...", referring to what someone else who has a different idea or opinion about the thing has said.  In this kind of a situation, nothing is going to get done until what you said is acted on by the other person, instead of them just listening to what "they" said about it.

When Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, met Jesus on the road to Damascus, it brought a dramatic change in Paul's life.  Paul was instructed to go into Damascus and that then he would be told what to do.  Meanwhile, in Damascus, God spoke in a vision to a disciple named Ananias to go and pray for Paul.  What is fascinating to me is that even though Ananias was hearing from God, Ananias first response to God was about what other people had said about Paul.

Have you ever seen something in God's Word, or the Holy Spirit led you to do something, but rather than just obey, you did what Ananias did and you first think and talk to God about something that someone else has said about it?  Like Ananias, we may hesitate in following God's direction for some reason, but we need to keep God's Word as a higher authority than what anyone else has said.  God's Word and the Holy Spirit give us the direction we need in life and we need to follow that, no matter what anyone else might say.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

What Will You Write?

"My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer."
Psalm 45:1 (NKJV)

Today we do most things electronically, but in the past, most things were written out with pen and paper.  If you did sit down to write something, would it be normal to expect the pen to start writing on its own?  Would you stare at your pen and tell it to get busy writing, or would you start doing the writing yourself, using the pen?  You are of course doing the writing, the pen is just the instrument, the method, that you are using to write with; the pen itself is not doing anything, you are doing the writing.

David wrote many of the Psalms and it is easy to see that he was simply expressing what he had in his heart.  What David wrote was something that David was thinking about, experiencing, or feeling; David was writing from what was in his heart and mind, not what was in someone else's heart or mind.  David could not write about things he did not know, just like a pen cannot write things on its own; David's words came from David, just as our words are coming from us and not someone else.

The things we say are the things we have in our own heart and mind; our tongue is just the instrument we use to express those things.  You would not say something and then get upset with your tongue for saying it, you said it based on what you were thinking about, experiencing, or feeling.  A pen will not write things on its own, and our tongue is not just going to say things we don't allow it to say.  We all need to be determined that we will use our tongue and our words to "write" good and godly things for ourselves and others.  What will you write with your tongue today?  It is up to you.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Start Is Just The Beginning

"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,"
Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

When I was in High School, I was involved in various running sports and we would compete against other schools.  Sometimes we would have to travel to another school for the competition; sometimes the trip was short, and sometimes the trip was long and took more time.  Then, after we arrived, we got ourselves ready for the race, but we still had to run the race, which had not yet even started.  The traveling and the preparations we did were just the beginning and the race still had to be run.

In the Bible, the Christian life is compared to several things, including a race, as we see in Hebrews 12.  The point is to run our race, which is to fulfill God's plan for our life.  But there are a lot of people who come to know Jesus and then somehow think that is the end.  Salvation and being born again is not the goal, it is just the beginning, it is just the start of the race that God has called us to run.  Our race has only begun and there is so much more that God wants us to do.

There are some things we have done to get to the point we are at now, but that does not mean we now just sit on the sidelines as though the race is over.  We should never get to the place of spiritual contentment, thinking we have arrived and now we are just living our life waiting to go to heaven.  We need to keep on running our race, laying aside anything that would hinder us, doing what God has instructed us to do in His Word and by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Going Through The Wilderness

"Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
being tempted for forty days by the devil.  And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region."
Luke 4:1-2, 13-14 (NKJV)

Over the years, I have driven through a lot of places.  There were times I traveled through some very nice places with some great scenery.  Other times, I went through places I would have avoided altogether if it was possible to do so.  But, since I did not build the roads or create the routes themselves, all I could do was go from one place to another, no matter what things looked like.  And besides, the views I had were not as important as getting to where I needed to go was.

Luke 4 shows us the story of Jesus going through the wilderness and His being tempted by the devil.  When Jesus started His journey into and through the wilderness, He was led by the Spirit as to where He went, He spoke God's Word to the devil in every temptation, and Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.  Jesus successfully went through the wilderness.  It even says that Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit, not that His life was ruined or He needed therapy after what He went through.

Everyone likes great experiences with God, but there are times we will go through a wilderness type situation as we move forward in God's plan for our life.  We need to learn from Jesus and have the same kind of wilderness experience that He had, a successful one.  No matter what is going on in your life today, be determined to continue following the leading of the Holy Spirit and continue to focus on and speak God's Word.  That is how we successfully go through the wilderness and come out even stronger on the other side of the journey.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Second Hand Information?

"And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did."
So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.
And many more believed because of His own word.
Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."
John 4:39-42 (NKJV)

There are many people who simply believe what others tell them.  This is not information that a person received directly; it could be called second hand information.  This can be good, or bad, depending on who is sharing the information, but it is always better if we can have a direct source for what we learn, and not just base what we know on what we heard from someone else, relying on the things they say.  We need to go from second hand information to personal information.

In John 4, there is the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well.  The woman comes to see that Jesus is the Messiah and she goes to tell others, who then believe her testimony.  But what happens next is something that we all need to take note of.  The people who believed the testimony of the woman then came to Jesus for themselves.  And, because of what they heard for themselves, they came to a personal belief that Jesus is the Messiah.  Not just because of what the woman said, but because of what they had learned for themselves.

There are many people who base what they believe about God and His Word, and many other things, just on what they know from other people.  It is not enough for us to believe something and accept it as truth because we heard it from someone else, even if that person could be considered a reliable source.  We need to go from second hand information to personal knowledge and understanding of God, our relationship with Jesus, and all that God's Word tells us.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Family Tree

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name:"
John 1:12 (NKJV)

Some people like to study their genealogy, their family tree.  There are many resources available today that can help people trace their family background.  Some people do not have much interest in tracing their family history and finding out who is in their family tree, because their family was not so good.  Other people are very proud to talk about their family history and who they are related to.  But in either case, you don't pick your family, you are simply born into it.

Even in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, you can see how people's family background and history was recorded and how it played an important part in what those people were sometimes able to do.  When the people of Israel returned from captivity, those who could not show their family history had some difficulties, because who you were related to was so important, and we even see this in Matthew and Luke where some of the family history of Jesus is listed.

But no matter who we have in our natural family background, or how many good or bad people might be a part of our family tree, as Christians we are children of God.  Naturally, you may come from a good or a bad family, but the best family to be a part of is God's Family!  Thank God for good families, but today it is easy for us to trace our family history, God is our Father and we are His children.  We did not do anything to earn it, but because of Jesus, we have been born again into the best of all families!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

How To Succeed

"Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."
John 5:19 (NKJV)

Have you ever made a mistake and done something wrong?  You might say that is a foolish question, because everyone makes mistakes and does things wrong.   It is just a fact of life, no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, and no one has 100% success.  Success is something we all want, but 100% success is not really attainable and not something that will be achieved in any long-term way.  But no one wants to fail; everyone wants to succeed and to know how to succeed.

The Bible gives us many great examples with the lives of the people we see in the Bible.  Sometimes we see positive examples and sometimes it is a negative example, but we can learn why some people succeeded and some did not.  The best example in the Bible of how to succeed comes to us from Jesus: He was successful in His life and ministry.  The reason Jesus did so well is because He only did what His Father directed Him to do.  Jesus was successful because He followed God's plan.

Too often, the reason we do not succeed is because we are not fully following God's plan but we are following our own plans and ideas.  The key to success in the life of Jesus was His obedience to doing the Father's will and not His own.  Jesus knew the Scriptures and He spent time with God in prayer, which is how He learned the Father's will.  How can we have a successful life and ministry today?  We need to follow the example of Jesus and learn from our Heavenly Father what His will is and then do it; that is how we succeed.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Choosing Sides

"Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?".
When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?"
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.
"

John 6:60-61, 66-68 (NKJV)

Whether it be a political issue, views on how to live a healthy lifestyle, what is the best type of music, or biblical issues, people are always choosing sides.  What usually happen is that people have some ideas of their own, and then they hear someone else express similar views.  The first person then identifies with the second person who has the same view. The first person has chosen to be on the side of the second person because they have similar views on things.

In John 6, we see some people who chose to stop following Jesus because they did not like what He said.  We see others, including Peter, who chose to stay with Jesus because they recognized that Jesus had the words of eternal life.  Both groups chose a side based on what Jesus said.  The real problem was that some were choosing sides based on whether or not they liked what Jesus had said, while people like Peter made a wise decision based on what was right and true.

Unfortunately, some people choose sides for or against Jesus because they like or dislike something.  Some people follow God because they see benefits in their own life, but when a problem comes, they struggle in their relationship with God, because so much of their choice was based on positive things in their life and not a foundation of truth.  We need to be like Peter and choose to follow Jesus because it is the right thing to do and Jesus does have the words of life.  We have a decision of whose side we will choose, choosing to be on God's side is always the right choice.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Leading To Edification

"We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification."
Romans 15:1-2 (NKJV)

Truth is absolute, but people's perception of the truth is not.  It is true that if you add two of one thing to two more of those things you will have a total of four, that is the truth.  But what if someone was very bad at math and they thought that two plus two is three, or five?  That person may be convinced that two plus two is three or five, even though that is not accurate or true.  The solution in this situation is not to start an argument or debate, but to find a way to show the person that the correct answer really is four.

Christians, and people in general, can have different ideas and perceptions of what is true and false. Unfortunately, what often happens is that people will argue about something, trying to prove that what they are saying is true.  Very often the issue is not resolved and people only end up offended and upset, which is not the same as helping people and leading them to edificationHumility and kindness can go a long way in helping people see and understand the truth, without creating a problem in the process.

Some people believe that the main point is to show people what is right and wrong, and if they don't like it, then that is the other person's problem.  But in Romans 15, Paul said that the "strong" people should not just try to please themselves, but work towards pleasing others and edifying them.  There may come a point where we need to take a very strong stand for the truth, but that is not the first step in dealing with other people.  We need to bring the truth to people in a way that will help them clearly see right and wrong, and that will lead them to being edified by knowing the truth.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Our Refuge

"I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
Psalm 91:2 (NKJV)

When you fly on an airplane, they show you where the exits are located.  In buildings, you can find the emergency exits, which are not the normal way to leave the building, but they are the exits you will have to use in an emergency situation.  Some buildings are listed as being shelters in a storm, or as the place to go if there is a tornado.  All of these things are good and beneficial, but if you don't know where the exits and shelters are located, and how to get there, you can have a problem.

In Psalm 91 it talks about God's protection.  God is talked about as our refuge and our fortress.  A refuge is good, and a fortress is good, but if you don't know they exist, or how to get to the place of refuge, or the fortress, then you can have a problem.  In Hosea 4:6, God said that "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge".  Some Christians do not even know about Psalm 91 and what God has said, and some believers think that it is up to God to protect us, if He wants to, otherwise we just suffer with our problems.

As Christians, we need to know and understand that God loves us so much, that He sent Jesus to die in our place and pay the price for our sin, so that we could live in a relationship with God.  We need to know and understand all that God will do for us, and how He wants to help us in every situationGod has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to show us what to do, and how to do it, in the time of trouble, so that when we face adversity that God can guide us into a place of refuge and be our fortress to protect and deliver us from whatever may come.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Unpredictable

"Forever, O Lord, your Word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89 (NKJV)

Something that is unpredictable is something that unreliable, it is something you are uncertain of.  For example, the weather can be unpredictable and it can be hard to say with any accuracy what the weather will really be like a day or two from today.  If something is unpredictable, you cannot know exactly how it will act.  On the other hand, if something is predictable, such as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West, then it is something that is a certainty and can be depended upon.

We all want things that are important for us to be dependable and reliable, but if they are unpredictable, they can be a problem.  People themselves and what they do and say are often unpredictable.  But one thing is certain, God and His Word are predictable.  What God has said in His Word is something we can depend on and it is reliable.  We don't have to be concerned that what God said in His Word will change from year to year or work differently in our life today than it did before.

We can accurately predict that 1 John 5:14-15 will work today just as it always has and that by praying according to God's Word, He will hear us and answer our prayer.  We can predict and depend on the fact that those who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13) and that God is ready to perform His Word as He watches over it (Jeremiah 1:12).  There are many things we can say about God's Word, but it is not unpredictable; God will always do what He has said in His Word!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Keep On Going

"When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.  But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick."
Matthew 14:13-14 (NKJV)


Taking a trip somewhere can be fun, unless you run into a problem.  If you are traveling by car and you have a flat tire or some car problem, it has the potential to ruin your trip.  Normally, if you have a problem with your car, you just fix the problem and go on.  If you don't keep going, no matter what the problem is, then you will never reach your destination.  No matter how minor or severe the problem is, the best thing to do is to keep on going and do what you need to do to reach your destination.

In Matthew 14, we see Jesus going to be by Himself.  This happened right after John the Baptist, who was a relative of Jesus, was killed by Herod.  This was obviously a terrible thing and not something Jesus or any of His family would have been happy about.  But it is interesting to see how that after Jesus goes away to be by Himself, that a multitude of people came to Jesus and that Jesus had compassion on them and healed themEven though He had experienced a problem, Jesus kept on going and doing the will of God.

In spite of the difficult situation He was dealing with, Jesus kept on going and helped those who came to Him.  No doubt Jesus was saddened by what happened to John the Baptist, but Jesus knew what His mission in life was and He knew the best thing to do, no matter what happened, was to keep on going.  We all can experience difficulties, and even tragedy in our lives, but rather than stop and allow these things to hinder or define us, we need to keep on going in our walk with God and in the plan He has for our life.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Clean It Up

"How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to your Word."
Psalm 119:9 (NKJV)

When I was a child, I did not always keep my room as clean as I should have.  Although my parents told me to clean my room, that meant something different to me than it did to them.  Today, people have different ideas about what it means to keep things clean, what a standard for cleanliness is, and even what is right and wrong.  What might be right in the eyes of one person for how they live their life, may be seen as completely wrong by another person.

People's ideas about things can be completely different, unless they have a similar standard.  This is the real problem in a lot of areas today, people's standards vary and for most people there is no real objective standard.  This can create problems because with no objective standard, people can do things all kinds of different ways, and right and wrong can mean different things to different people.  However, for Christians, our standard is God's Word, the Bible.  It shows us right and wrong and what is true and false

There are people today who ask the same kind of question that David asked in Psalm 119, how can I clean up my way of life and do things right?  David realized that in order to live the right kind of life he had to live his life according to God's Word, that is the only real objective standard we can use.  If we don't have a standard for what is right or wrong; our life will end up in a mess.  Our standard for life has to be God's Word.  By putting God's Word in first place in our life we will know how to live the right way and how to have a blessed life.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

A Way In The Will Of God

"For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,
making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you."
Romans 1:9-10 (NKJV)


In the past, explorers would go out to find a way to get to a certain place.  People like Lewis and Clark had an idea of where they wanted to go, but they were not exactly sure how to get there.  These different explorers were determined to reach their goal, and while they may have had some general idea of how to get there, usually it was through a process of searching that they finally found the route they were looking for to get to where they wanted to go.

The Apostle Paul traveled to many different places and preached the Gospel to many different people.  Paul knew that it was God's will for him to preach the Gospel, that was God's general will for Paul and all of us as well.  Rome was one of the places that Paul wanted to go to, and he shared that desire when he wrote his letter to the people of Rome.  The phrase Paul used when he talked about this is very important, he wanted to "find a way in the will of God" to go to those people

Paul knew the general will of God, but Paul still needed to know how and when to do it.  This can happen for us too, how do we do what we know to do?  We need to find a way in the will of God.  First, we have to know God's will.  Then we can start to explore ways and methods of carrying out God's will by talking to God in prayer and considering the options we have in our life to do what we know we need to do.  As we take steps in the general will of God, we will find a way in the will of God to do what God has called us to do.