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.