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.