Thursday, December 30, 2021

What Gift Did You Get?

"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV)

When I was a child, I remember that after Christmas every year, my friends and I would all ask each other, "What gift did you get?" because we all wanted to hear what each of us had received.  We would all talk about our gifts, and often we would go to each other's homes to look at the gifts that each one of us had received.  While not all of us received the same gift, and some gifts were more outstanding than others, we all had gifts and we all wanted our friends to see the gifts we had.

One thing that some Christians do not understand is that each of us has a gift from God.  Most Christians know that God has given people like pastors and evangelists gifts to serve Him and to help others.  But, as 1 Peter 4:10 tells us, and as we see throughout the Bible, all of us have a gift and we have been created by God to do something special.  While it is true that some people have a gift from God that seems more amazing than the gifts other people have, the fact remains that each of us has a gift from God. 

First, we need to recognize that God has given each of us a gift.  Secondly, we need to discover that gift and learn how God wants us to use it; in 1 Peter 4, and in Romans 12, various gifts are listed, and this is a good place to start.  God has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to help us discover our gift, and also to help us learn how to make the best use of that gift.  We each need to make sure that we recognize that God has given us a gift, that God wants to help us use and develop our gift, and that God can use the gift He has given us to help others. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Sharp Or Dull?

"If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but with wisdom brings success."
Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NKJV)

If you have ever tried to cut something with a dull knife or scissors, you know that it can be hard to do, and even frustrating.  The same thing applies to cutting down a tree with an ax or a chainsaw.  If the tool you are using to cut something with is dull, you may be able to cut what you need to, but it will not be an easy process.  The best thing to do is to make sure the tool being used is sharp and ready for use, if not, then the tool needs to be sharpened to be effective.

Things can become dull through simple everyday use, and this is why things need to be sharpened on a regular basis.  It is not a bad thing if a tool becomes dull, but it is foolish not to then sharpen that tool so that it can produce the desired results.  As Christians, it is easy to become "dull" spiritually, just through living our life every day and doing things that need to be done.  Sometimes Christians become spiritually dull without realizing it and it then seems that living the Christian life and serving God becomes very difficult. 

If we really want to be the kind of people that God can use in His Kingdom the way He wants to, we have to be sure that we are having a regular time of reading and studying the Bible, as well as a regular time of praying and talking to God.  Doing this will help us to be sharp spiritually and ready for whatever God asks us to do, and we will also be ready for any challenges we face in life.  Don't be a dull believer, keep yourself sharp through reading the Word, spending time with God in prayer, and putting the Word into practice.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Adding Strength

"And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches."
Acts 15:41 (NKJV)

If you have ever done any kind of exercise or physical training, you know that it is something that takes place over a longer period of time and not just on one day.  If you are doing a certain exercise, you don't just do it once and see instant results, you keep on doing the exercise to develop the muscles and gain strength.  If you are interested in becoming a better swimmer, for example, you don't just spend one day in the pool, you repeatedly train and develop the technique and muscles that are necessary to be a better swimmer.

In the Book of Acts, we read about the Apostle Paul and how he traveled, teaching, preaching, and starting churches.  And in his traveling, we can see that Paul went to some places more than once.  In Acts 14:22, 15:41, and 18:23, what Paul did is described as "strengthening" the churches and disciples.  Different translations may use different words in these verses for the word "strengthening", but the meaning of the word being "to strengthen more" or "to render more firm" is there in every case. 

The principle we see from what Paul did is something that can help us today, personally and when dealing with other people; we can further develop and strengthen ourselves and others on a continual basis.  We all need a regular time of reading and studying the Bible, time in prayer, and spending time with other like-minded believers.  As we continue to do these things, we will develop and add strength to ourselves, and we will be a greater asset to God and to our local church.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Everyday Life, Or A Special Event?

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

There are some things all of us do, or should do, every day of our lives.  For example, we should brush our teeth every day, that is not something that should only be done once a week, or even less.  On the other hand, there are some things that we do not do every day, but they might only happen once and a while.  Things like a vacation, attending a birthday party, or eating at a favorite restaurant are not something you would do every day, they are more of a special event.

We all tend to like the special events, and sometimes things like going on a vacation are things that we wish we could do more often than the things we do in our everyday life, like brushing our teeth.  As Christians, it is also easy to develop a "special event" mentality and think that being a Christian is all about Sunday or some special event or seminar.  But Christianity is built on a relationship with God, which should be a part of our everyday life. 

Christianity is not just something that happens on a Sunday or during some special event.  But if we are not careful, we can get caught up in the experience of the special event and neglect the everyday things, like reading our Bible and talking to God in prayer, that make up the basics of a Christian life.  As God told Joshua, the Word of God should be a part of our life, day and night, every day.  Don't allow yourself to get into the special event mentality and neglect the everyday life of being a believer.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Alternate Reality

"They are of the world.  Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
We are of God.  He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us.  By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."
1 John 4:5-6 (NKJV)

Have you ever met someone who seemed disconnected from the world around them?  Maybe the other person was talking on the phone, or texting someone, or listening to some music and they don't even seem to notice that you are there.  You could say that because this other person is so caught up in something else that they are in an alternate reality and they are not really aware of the world around them.  This person is more connected to their alternate reality than the world that they live in.

Jesus told the Pharisees in John 8:23 that He was "not of this world" and in John 18:36 that His "Kingdom is not of this world".  While Jesus was living in this world, He did not identify Himself with what was happening in the world around Him, but instead Jesus was focused on His Heavenly identity.  This does not mean that Jesus was totally unaware of what was going on in the world around Him, but Jesus had more of an eternal perspective than a natural one.

Just like Jesus, we need to live in the "alternate reality" that we are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20) and that our true identity is in Christ (Colossians 3:1-3).  Of course, we should not totally detach ourselves from this world and ignore reality so that we are not aware of what is happening around us, but we need to keep our focus on spiritual things and not earthly things.  It is easy to get caught up in all the things that are happening in this world, but our real life is in Christ and that is the "alternate reality" that we need to live in.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Proper Navigation

"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Colossians 1:9-10 (NKJV)

In the past, explorers traveled by ship to distant destinations for trade, exploration, and even to bring the Gospel to others.  When traveling by ship, one thing that was always important was proper navigation.  If the captain and the other sailors on the ship did not know how to correctly navigate their way through what were sometimes dangerous waters, they would not only never reach their destination to do what they needed to do, but they could suffer shipwreck along the way.

What is true about finding the way to go naturally is also true spiritually.  We need to know how to properly navigate our way through life to find the right way to go and to avoid unnecessary problems, and God has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to help guide us.  If we do not understand how to properly chart our course in life, we may suffer shipwreck along the way and never reach our destination of doing what God has called us to do, and having the things God has provided for us through Jesus.

As Paul prayed in Colossians 1, we need to not only be filled with the knowledge of God's will, but we need wisdom and spiritual understanding as well.  God will fill us with the knowledge of His will, and give us the wisdom and spiritual understanding we need, through His Word and by the Holy Spirit, so that we can properly navigate through life.  It is vitally important for us to understand proper spiritual navigation, and to learn to follow the Word and Spirit to properly chart our course in life.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Past Tense, Present Tense, Future Tense

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Understanding grammar is important, especially when learning a language, and one of the things you learn about in grammar is the various tenses of past, present, and future.  Past tense is of course something that already happened, present tense is what is happening now, and future tense deals with what will happen sometime later.  How these things are expressed in each language can vary, but to be able to communicate correctly you have to understand the proper use of tenses.

Past tense, present tense, and future tense are not only important in a language, but it is an important concept in Christianity as well.  If we do not have a proper understanding of what God has done for us through Jesus, which would be past tense, then we will not have a proper understanding of our present situation, and of what is coming in the future.  However, if you talk to some Christians, they put some things that are past or present tense into a future tense. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, it talks about someone who is in Christ, present tense, and that the old things have passed away and all things have become new.  We are now a new creation in Christ, this is not something that we are looking forward to in the future.  So often, Christians talk and act like all of the things provided in the past through Jesus are waiting for us some day in the future, but those things belong to us today!   We need to understand everything that God has done for us through Jesus and recognize who we are in Christ as a present tense reality.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Always Profitable

"For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."
1 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

When you grow up in Wisconsin, like I did, you have some clothes that you will only use in the Wintertime and some clothes you will only use in the Summertime.  For example, in January, a Winter coat is essential, but you don't need to wear it in August.  Or, if you have a pair of sandals, you could wear them in July, but you would not want to wear them in December.  So, there are some things that are only useful at some times, but something like shoes are useful items of clothing for every season.

Just like there are some types of clothing that are only beneficial at some times during the year, and some types of clothing that are useful year-round, there are things in life that are like that too.  As Paul pointed out in 1 Timothy 4:8, bodily exercise is good, but it is only useful in this life, while godliness is useful in this life and in the life to come.  There are a lot of things we can do in our life that have some benefit, but a life lived for God is something that has present and future benefits. 

The word godliness in 1 Timothy 4:8 means, piety, towards God, and reverence.  What this is telling us is that living a life that honors God, a life that puts godly character in first place, a life that is based on God's Word, is something valuable today and in the future.  While things like exercising our body are good and helpful, doing things that honor God and are based on His Word are even better!  By living a godly life today, we are putting ourselves in the place where God can work in our life, and we are laying a good foundation for the world to come.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Just Waiting?

"And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated.
He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword.  The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder."
2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NKJV)

There are a lot of people who, when they face a challenge, wait for someone else to do something or something to happen to make a change in that situation.  So many times, it seems that people wait for another person to take a stand, for their local church to do something, or even for the government to do something.  While all of those things could happen, what if we looked for what we could do about the situation rather than just waiting for something to happen?

David's Mighty Men in the Old Testament are amazing to read about.  The story of one of these men, Eleazar the son of Dodo, has always been one of my favorites.  When he was faced with the enemy, and others ran away, he attacked!  Instead of waiting to see what the Philistines would do, instead of waiting for someone else to do something, Eleazar attacked the enemy!  We can be the same way in the things we deal with in our life; we can wait to see what happens, or we can be proactive and do something.

When we know who we are in Christ and we understand our God given authority, we don't have to just wait for something to happen.  We need to look to God's Word and the direction of the Holy Spirit to see how we can pray, or take a stand in faith, or do something in some way with what is happening in our life. The next time you are faced with a challenge, don't run away, and don't just wait for something to happen, act on God's Word and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to make a difference.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Modern Day Moses

"So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle."
And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses,"
Exodus 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Sometimes we see someone who we believe has an unfair advantage over us, and we wish that we had what we see they have.  Sometimes, people do have something unique to them that we cannot have, but many other times, what someone else has is actually available to us, and it is just that we do not have that specific thing.  Very often, we can find a way to have those things the other person has, if we are willing to make the effort, and sometimes by making a change in our life.

Until Jesus came, no one could be born again and have a close, personal relationship with God.  Today everyone can have a relationship with God, and a better relationship than anyone in the Old Testament ever had.  In Exodus 12, we see how Moses had a special relationship with God.  Moses would go to meet with God, but all that the other people could do was just watch.  Today we are all a modern-day Moses, so to speak.  We can all talk to God whenever we want, and the Spirit of God even lives in us!

We don't have to wish we had a deep relationship with God like someone else has, because we do have that type of relationship with God, we may just need to develop it more than we have.  Today, we don't need to have someone go to God on our behalf or go to someone else to get what God wants us to have, we can go to our loving Heavenly Father ourselves, because of our relationship with Him through Jesus.  We have direct access to God, and even better than Moses had!

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


"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.