Thursday, December 1, 2022

It's Not So Strange After All

"Beloved, do not think it is strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."
1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)

Have you ever watched a show on television or seen something in a movie and thought, "Wow, what a great life that person has"?  There may have been something about that person or their life that you really liked and wished you could be like that.  The problem is that television shows and movies are not reality!  In the real world, things are not always so storybook perfect.  Life can be difficult at times, and what we see portrayed on television and in movies is not always a true depiction of life.

When Peter wrote his first letter, there was a lot of persecution going on and Christians were even being killed for their beliefs.  Peter wrote to encourage those believers and reminded them that what was happening was not some strange thing, but trials are something that everyone will face in life.  While we may not be threatened by someone who wants to kill us for our beliefs, because we are living in this world we will face challenges, and as Christians, our enemy, the devil will do everything he can to stir up problems in our life.

Some Christians seem to think that you can get to a point in your spiritual development where you never have any problems and everything will always go smoothly.  Unfortunately, that is not reality.  The good news is that God gives us a way to successfully deal with the problems we face  So when trouble comes, and it will come, don't just talk about the problems, be ready to stand in faith on God's Word, saying what God's Word says about your situation.  Trouble and trials will come, but with God on our side we can always be victorious!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A Pattern To Follow

"Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 1:13 (NKJV)

Several years ago, I worked in a factory where a lot of things were made out of metal.  There were various stages of production where different pieces were made and then assembled to make the final product.  We had several patterns of the different things that were being made, and these patterns were used to show someone how to correctly do the work that had to be done.  Without an accurate pattern, things could be done all kinds of ways, with some of those ways being the wrong way.

In the letters that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, it is interesting to see how Paul encouraged them to do and say things in the same way that he had.  Paul said he gave them a pattern to follow with the words he used, the things he said.  The word "pattern" here, can mean an outline, an example, or a pattern.  Paul gave Timothy and Titus a pattern to follow with what he said.  Paul gave them an example, that they could follow, so they would know how to say the right kind of things.

In Titus 2:1, Paul wrote about saying things that promote sound doctrine, good teaching.  In Titus 2:8, Paul said we should have the kind of speech that cannot be condemned, saying things that others could not find fault with.  Ephesians 4:29 says that we should not use any corrupt (rotten, corrupt, or poor quality) speech.  We may not be an apostle like Paul, but we can help others by giving them a good pattern to follow.  Our words can, and should be, a good example for others to follow.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Right Approach, May Not Be The Direct Approach

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

When traveling by airplane, how you land at an airport is determined by several things, including the way the wind is blowing, which actually helps the plane to slow down and land.  An airplane may even travel past the airport it will land at, and then turn around to land into the wind.  If you were a passenger in an airplane, and the plane you were flying on past the airport you were to land at, you might think something was wrong, but the plane is just taking the best route to successfully arrive at its destination.

God knows what is going on in our life right now, what has happened in the past, and what direction we need to go in the futureIn Psalm 32:8, God said that He would teach us the way we should go and that He would guide usGod has an overall plan for our life, and God will guide us and help us in our everyday life as well.  One thing that I have learned is that sometimes we don't seem to take a direct route in the will of God, but the way we go seems a bit different than what we might have expected.

God may direct us in a way that seems strange to us, but that direction really is the right way in the plan that God has for us.  Sometimes God will direct us to do something, or get involved in a certain thing, because He knows how that experience will help us in the future.  We first of all need to realize that God can and will guide us in life, and we then need to learn to follow His direction, even when it seems to us that the way we take is not the best way to reach our destination.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

A Positive, Purifying Expectation

"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
1 John 3:2-3 (NKJV)

What if you knew that someone famous, some kind of celebrity, or someone well-known was going to come to your home, what would you do?  Most people would make sure that everything in their home was cleaned, straightened up, and that nothing was out of place.  The fact that someone special was coming to see you would most likely cause you to change what you were doing, and alter any other plans you may have already had, so that you would be ready for that special day.

While there are disagreements among Christians as to when and how Jesus will return to the earth, one thing that is certain is that Jesus will come again.  But even if some Christian was to go as far as saying that they did not think Jesus would ever return, no one lives forever and one day we will all meet Jesus.  Knowing this should make a difference in our life.  If we really have an expectation that we will meet Jesus one day, it will have an impact in our life and influence the way we live.

John said that if we have a "hope", an expectation, that one day we will see Jesus, that this expectation would help to purify us.  In the same way that someone expecting a visit from another person would be influenced by that expected visit, our expecting to see Jesus one day should make a difference in our lives.  Knowing that one day we will meet Jesus should cause us to focus on what is really important in our life concerning doing God's will, and eliminate things in our life that might hinder us from serving God.  If we knew that we would meet Jesus tomorrow, how would we be living our life today?

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Help Along The Way

"Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,
who have borne witness of your love before the church.  If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well,

because they went forth for His name's sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles.
"
3 John 1:5-7 (NKJV)

When traveling through an airport, you can find all kinds of places to buy things that you might need when you travel.  You could find something that you had forgotten to pack, or something that would be helpful for you on your trip.  It seems that in airports today, you can find almost anything you might need to help you on your journey.  All of these places can help you with what you might need along the way, even though none of these places are your actual destination.

There are many ways we can serve God, and one way is by helping others in the things that God has called them to do. In 3 John, the Apostle John wrote to believers about how good it is for believers to help others along the way as they are serving God.  God has a plan and purpose for each and every person, and while we can't fulfill the will of God for someone else, we can do things that will help those other people move forward on their journey as they fulfill the will of God in their lives.

We may not be a pastor, but there are things we can do to help our pastor.  We may not be a missionary, but there are things we can do to help those serving in other nations.  There are many things we may not be specifically called to do ourselves, but there are ways to help others, by praying for them, finding some way to assist them in what they are doing, and even just with some encouraging words.  We all need to do what we can to find ways to help others along the way as they serve God.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Avoiding Problems

"Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,
saying, "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives."

Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.
"
Acts 27:9-11 (NKJV)

No intelligent person would go into a situation that they knew would be harmful to them.  No one would intentionally do something that they knew would result in something bad happening to them.  For example, nobody would purposely invest in something where they would lose all of their money, eat something that would make them sick, or touch something that is so hot it would burn them.  If it was possible, we would all avoid anything that we knew ahead of time would be dangerous or harmful to us, or to someone else we cared about.

The Bible says that believers are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14), that the Holy Spirit will tell us about things to come (John 16:13), and that God will teach us the way to go and guide us (Psalm 32:8).  We see a good example of this in Acts 27:9-11 where Paul said that he knew that the trip they planned to take was a bad idea.  Paul knew this because he was listening to the direction that God was giving him.  We might think that this is a great story about the Apostle Paul, but God can work the same way in our lives too.

Proverbs 22:3 says, "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished."  We want to avoid being the simple, foolish person who just keeps moving forward without any wisdom and ends up having problems.  God always knows the best way to go and to do things, and because He loves us, He will help us to avoid problems and difficultiesWe need to be people who follow the wisdom of God's Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit to live a life free of unnecessary difficulties.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Uncovering Our True Identity

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
"
Colossians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

If you left something on a beach, it could eventually be covered by sand.  If you left something out in a field or lying in a forest, eventually it could be covered by dirt, leaves, or even branches.  Sometimes, to see something we first have to uncover it by removing the things that have accumulated over it and that have covered it up.  There may be something valuable lying on the ground, but if it is covered by something else, we will have to uncover that thing before we can see what it really is.

In the book of Colossians, Christians are encouraged to seek things above; we are told to set our minds on heavenly things and not on earthly things.  The reason for this is because we have been raised with Christ and our life is hidden with Christ in God.  Our true identity, who we were really created to be, is found in Christ, and we have to discover that identity.  The problem is that sometimes our true identity in Christ can be hard for us to see, because so many other things have covered up who we really are. 

Sometimes, because of past experiences, wrong teaching, or even because of how we were raised, our true identity and who God has created us to be is covered up and hidden.  We need to have a regular time of reading and studying God's Word, and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to show us who we really are and help us uncover our true identity and purpose in Christ.  By discovering who we really are in Christ, and living in our true identity, we can fulfill the will of God and live the life that God has planned for us. 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

The King Of The Hill?

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)

When I was a child, there was a game we played, especially in the Winter, called, "The King of the Hill".  We made as big of a pile of snow as we could, and then one person would get on top of the snow pile to be the king of the hill.  After that, the rest of us would do everything we could to get up the hill and knock that person off the top, so that we could be the king of the hill.  Fortunately, because the snow was usually fairly soft, no one got hurt and we all had a lot of fun playing this game.

The Bible contains the information we need to learn the truth about who we are in Christ, and how that because of what Jesus did for us, we have right standing with God and we are His children.  But there are a lot of Christians who are trying to play a spiritual game of king of the hill, thinking that believers have to do everything they can to get up to the top of the spiritual hill, so to speak, and conquer the devil and life's problems.  The only thing is that, because of Jesus, we are already on the top of the spiritual hill! 

As Paul wrote to the Colossians, we need to be careful not to let anyone "cheat" us, or literally "to carry us off as a slave".  The Bible shows us what our true spiritual position in Christ is, while the wrong kind of teaching can move us away from that truth.  The life of a Christian is not trying to fight our way into some spiritual position, but we need to take a stand in Christ concerning what belongs to us, and not let anything move us away from that position.  We need to know who we are in Christ, what belongs to us through Jesus, and take our stand there so that nothing moves us away.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Look What's Inside

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

When shopping for a computer, tablet, or phone, one thing that you will notice is that the device is not just sitting in a display with a price on it and nothing else.  Normally there are some details given about what is inside of the device, as far as things like the storage space and the type of camera.  The majority of people who are interested in buying one of these devices never buy it just based on how the product looks, they would want to know what is on the inside, because that is what really matters.

When someone becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes to live within them, they become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).  Whether someone feels like it or not, the Holy Spirit is there.  In 1 John 4:4, the Apostle John referred to the Holy Spirit as the "greater" One.  But, are we always aware of that?  Do we realize what is inside of us as a follower of Jesus?  Do we realize that the One in us is greater that he who is in the world, referring to the devil?  Too often the answer is no, we are not aware of that fact

Because we live in this natural world, we can become more aware of physical realities than we are of spiritual realities.  We need to look inside and realize that God has given us a Helper who will teach us (John 14:26), One who will lead us into the truth (John 16:13), and the One who will lead us in life (Romans 8:14).  We need to turn our focus from the external to the internal and recognize that the Greater One does indeed live in us, and He will help us, teach us, guide us into the truth, and lead us in life.  We need to look inside and see what God has given us!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

New And Improved, But Better?

"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, in as much as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises."
Hebrews 8:6 (NKJV)

One thing that I really do not like is when some product claims to be new and improved, but it is really only slightly changed.  It may be that the outside of the package, the logo, or some color scheme is different, but nothing of substance or value is better than it was before.  Sometimes I have seen things that say that they were updated, in my phone, tablet, or computer, but nothing is really new, improved, or better in any way.  To really be new and improved, something would also need to be better.

The Bible contains the Old and the New Testaments.  Another word for testament is covenant, or even contract.  Today, we have a new testament, a new contract with God that is better than the old.  What is better about this new covenant with God?  Because of our new, improved, and better covenant, we can have a personal relationship with God; He is our Father and we are His children, our sins are not just covered, they are washed away, and we have the Greater One, the Holy Spirit, who is our Helper, living in us. 

So many Christians live a life far below what God intends them to have, because they do not understand their position with God as a part of the new and better covenant that came through Jesus Christ.  God's Word tells us about this new, improved, and better covenant with God, so we need to go to the Bible to learn what belongs to us, and allow the Holy Spirit to help us see how to live as a new covenant Christian.  We need to know about, and live in the reality of our new, improved, and better, covenant with God.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Pay Attention!

"My son, give attention to my words, incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart;.

For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.
"
Proverbs 4:20-22 (NKJV)

There are many things we need to pay attention to in life.  If you are driving your car, you need to pay attention to speed limit signs and traffic directions.  In a school setting, you have to pay attention to the teacher and what you are learning, so you pass the tests and actually learn the material.  On your job, there may be things your boss or a co-worker tells you that you need to keep your focus on and pay attention to, to do your job correctly.  If you do not pay attention, the results are usually less than success.

In the Book of Proverbs, it refers several times to the need to pay attention to something in order to learn, gain wisdom and understanding, and avoid problems.  The results of not paying attention are never seen as a good thing, but it is important to notice that while the need to pay attention is stressed, there is nothing indicating that someone is going to be forced to pay attention.  Paying attention is something we have to make a choice to do, and it is not something that is automatic.

So many times, people do not pay attention to and keep their focus on the right thing, because they are distracted by something else.  By paying attention to the wrong thing, and not keeping our focus on the right thing, it is easy to make mistakes and do things that we should not be doing.  We must pay attention to and focus on God's Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and learn to filter out other things.  This is the only way we can successfully navigate our way through life and fulfill the will of God.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Fruitful Works, Or Just A Lot Of Works?

"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)

Quality and quantity are not the same thing.  For example, you could have one diamond, and it would be more valuable than a pile of ordinary rocks.  The quality of the diamond is greater that than of the rocks, even though the quantity of the rocks would be greater than the one diamond.  But, if you did not understand this concept, you might just think that by having a mountain of ordinary rocks, that meant you were some wealthy individual, but that quantity of rocks does not surpass the quality of the diamond.

Quality and quantity are also something that can relate to what we do as we serve God.  The Bible says that we were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10), that God is looking for people who are eager to do good works (Titus 2:14), and that we should be ready to do good works (Titus 3:1).  But this does not just refer to a lot of activity, because as Colossians 1:10 tells us, God wants us to be fruitful in our good works.  This is talking about quality over quantity.

We may be doing a lot of good things, but are they the things God is directing us to do?   This is a big factor in the quality of what we do compared to the quantity.  We can do a lot of things, but if God is not leading us to do those things, we may not have much real fruit as a result.  We need to be sure that we are faithful to do what God tells us to do, through His Word and by the Holy Spirit, so that we can have a high quality of fruitful good works and not just a quantity of works.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

What Will You Look Back At?

"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
"
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NKJV)

Planning ahead and setting goals for the future is a good thing to do.  When planning for the future, it can be helpful to look back at the things that were done in the past.  If we are building a business, trying to live a healthier lifestyle, or working on managing our money better, by looking back at what we did before, it can help us move forward into the future.  No one wants to look back and regret that they did not make any necessary changes when they had the chance to do so.

One day, Christians will leave this world to go to be with Jesus.  This is a basic Christian belief, and the Bible also shows us, in places like 2 Corinthians 5, that Christians will go to what is called the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Many people have a misunderstanding about what this will be.  At the Judgment Seat of Christ we will not be punished there for our sins or judged to see if we can get into Heaven, because Jesus took sin on Himself and He made the way for us to get into Heaven.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is where we will be rewarded for what we did in this world.  Did we live a life that was pleasing to God, was that our life's goal, or did we live our lives for ourselves?  One thing no Christian would want is to meet Jesus and then look back in regret at their life and wish they had done more to follow God's plan; no one is going to look back and wish they had done less for God.  We all need to have serving and pleasing God as our highest priority in life.  That way we will have a bright future and we can look back at a life well lived.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Overcoming, By Faith

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith."
1 John 5:4 (NKJV)

If you asked people for their opinion about the best way to run or jog, you could have as many answers as you do people.  People might talk about the clothes you should wear, the best brand of shoes, or even where the best place to run or jog would be.  Sometimes people have all kinds of ideas what is necessary for someone who wants to run or jog on a regular basis, but most of the things people would mention are more in the area of style than substance.  No matter what other things you might do, to be a successful runner, you have to run or jog.

If you asked Christians about how to live a victorious life, you might get a lot of different ideas.  Some would tell you to pray many hours a day, others would tell you that reading and studying multiple chapters of the Bible on a daily basis would be the key, and others would talk about how someone needed to go to a special meeting or have some man or woman of God pray for you.  But, in 1 John 5:4 we have the answer to living a victorious Christian life, we overcome by faith. 

The Christian life is a faith life.  We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), we are justified by faith (Romans 3:28), we live by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), and we overcome by faith (1 John 5:4).  Everything we do must be done by faith in God and His Word.  We don't overcome in life because of anything in ourselves, but because of Jesus.  There are many ideas about what it takes to live an overcoming Christian life, but the only way to overcome is by faith, based on what Jesus did for us as revealed to us in God's Word. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Talk Is Cheap

"Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works."  Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
"
James 2:17-18 (NKJV)

The old saying that "Talk is cheap" comes from the idea that it is easy enough to talk about something, but actually doing that same thing is entirely different.  For example, people can talk about making a change in their lifestyle, like people do with New Year's resolutions, and that is easy to talk about.  But it is something completely different for that same person to start an exercise routine, start eating better, or break a bad habit.  The best thing is when what we say and what we do are the same thing.

Faith is an important subject in the Bible, that is clear.  There are many people who are good "faith talkers" but many of these people are just talking about faith with nothing to show for it.  Christians will sometimes talk about biblical concepts like walking in love, being generous with their talents or finances, being faithful to church, and following God's plan for their life.  But, if you look at what these same people actually do, their works are showing what they really believe, their actions are the display of where their "faith" really is.

So often the problem is that people understand the concept of what they should be doing in their life and relationship with God, but they have not developed in their faith and trust in God and His Word, to the point where their actions correspond with those beliefs.  As James said, you can see what people really believe by watching the things that they do.  We are not supposed to live a life based solely on good works, but our "good works", as a demonstration of what we actually believe, are something that should be seen in the life of every Christian.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Flanking Maneuver

"lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11 (NKJV)

It has been said that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and that is true.  But it is also true that going somewhere in a straight line is not always the best thing to do.  In many sports, going directly against your opponent is usually not the best way to attack and win, and the same is true in military and other situations.  One of the best things that can be done is to go to the side, to flank your opponent, and look for a weaker area to attack rather than go against them head on.

The Bible shows us that we have an enemy, the devil.  Here in 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul talks about how we are not ignorant of Satan's "devices".  The Greek word translated as devices here means purposes or even plans.  Paul talks about our not being ignorant of the purposes and plans of Satan, the devil, but I actually think that many times Christians are ignorant and unaware of what the devil is trying to do, because people are expecting a frontal attack when the devil is trying to flank them. 

Often people think the devil will attack them in some obvious way to cause problems in their life, and this does happen.  But what will happen more often is that the devil will come with some small deception or some little distraction that will lead to a bigger problem.  We need to be on guard against any attack of any kind, large or small, that may try to lead us away from God and His Word.  We don't want to be unaware of how the devil will try to use little, sometimes not so obvious, things to bring trouble into our life.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Why Did You Do That?

"And Samuel said, "What have you done?"  Saul said, "When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash,
then I said, 'The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord'  Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.
"
1 Samuel 13:11-12 (NKJV)

There are many reasons that people do things, and sometimes people do things for the right reasons, and sometimes for the wrong reasons.  Doing something for the right reason in the right way will usually bring good results, and doing things for the wrong reason usually brings bad results.  But it is possible that someone could do the right thing, but for the wrong reason, and that can lead to problems.  Whatever we do must be something that is done for the right reason and in the right way.

In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul wrote that we must walk, live, by faith not by sight.  Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  Christians are called to live a life of acting on God's Word and not on other things.  In the Old Testament, we see King Saul doing something based on his own ideas, and not following God given directions.  Saul went to battle and he was supposed to wait for Samuel to come and do the sacrifice, but Saul did it himself because of what he saw happening and what he thought might happen.

King Saul had the same problem many people have today, rather that follow God given instructions, Saul acted on his own ideas and he got into trouble.  King Saul's excuse was that he saw people leaving him and he thought that the Philistines might attack.  We can't do things based on how other people act or on what we think might happen.  We need to always go to God's Word to see what it tells us about how we should live our life, and not be moved by other things outside of the Word of God.  

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Most Liked And Most Used?

"The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple."
Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)

People on social media like and follow things that interest them and that they approve of.  It is the same way with different products, no one uses a product that they do not like or that has not given them some benefit.  It would be strange for someone to like or follow someone that they did not agree with, or pay attention to something that they were not in favor of.  The goal of social media companies is to show people more of the things they like, to keep those people engaged with their platform.

Of all the books that have ever been published, the Bible is easily the best-selling book of all time.  Millions of people own at least one Bible, or a portion of the Bible (the Old or New Testament, for example), and many people own multiple Bibles.  Using social media type guidelines, it could be said that the Bible is the most liked book of all time.  But, while this is true, it is also true that many people do not have a regular time of reading the Bible, and many people have never read the entire Bible

As Psalm 119:130 tells us, God's Word gives us light, it gives us understanding.  What we learn in God's Word will show us our true identity in Christ, and how to live a life that is not only pleasing to God, but one that is also truly fulfilling.  However, if we only like the Bible, if the Bible is only something we look at when we go to church, then we are not really making our most liked book our most used book.  By reading and studying the Bible, we can get the light, understanding, and direction we need for our life, and know how to do what God has called us to do.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

First Response

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

Police, firefighters, and emergency medical people are often called first responders because they are usually the first people that are called when there is a problem.  If there had been a crime committed, or a crime was actually taking place, the police would be called and not a car mechanic.  If there was a fire, people would naturally call the fire department and not their hair stylist.  In any situation, the first person you contact is someone that you trust to help you deal with that situation.

Many Christians know, and can even quote, Philippians 4:19 about how God will supply all of our needs.  Very often this verse is used in the context of financial or material needs, but we can see in God's Word that He wants to help us and meet all of our needs.  So, then it would only be logical that when we have a problem that we go to God first for the answer to the problem.  But, while most Christians would say that is what they do, in reality it is not what usually happens. 

When people, even Christians, get into a difficult situation, their first response is often to talk to their friends, ask someone they know for help, or they might even go on the Internet to search for an answer to their problem.  Too often people will go to other sources for their help first before they go to God.  So much of the time, people rely on, and even expect, someone else to help them rather than focusing on God and His Word to get their answer.  The next time you face a challenging situation, go to God first for His guidance and be sure He is your first response.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Self-Destructing?

"A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul."
Proverbs 18:7 (NKJV)

According to the dictionary, the word "self-destruct" started being used in the late 1960s as a part of a television show where a secret agent would receive his assignment, and then the device that carried the message would "self-destruct".  The device would destroy itself and then no one other than the specified secret agent would know what was said.  No one had to do anything to stop the device from working, because the device had destroyed itself.

The Bible has a lot to say about our words.  Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tonguePaul said in 2 Timothy 2:16-18 that the teaching of some was like cancer, and what was said overthrew some people's faith.  James 3:4 compares our tongue, our words, to the rudder that guides a ship.  Proverbs 18:7 says that a fool's mouth is his destruction, his lips are the snare of his soul.  Words are much more important than we may have thought they were. 

Some people, including Christians, would like to blame someone else for their problems, but the truth is that many people are simply self-destructing their own lives through their words.  We need to learn what the Bible says about our life and say those things, and avoid saying things that are contrary to the Bible.  We do not have to walk around quoting Bible verses, but we simply need to say the things about ourselves that we find in the Bible.  By doing this, we will be setting our life on the right course and we can be sure that we will not self-destruct.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

What Do You Want To Do?

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."
John 6:38 (NKJV)

When I was a child, sometimes I was asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?".  When I was in high school, I remember people talking about what they wanted to do after high school, what they wanted to study in college, or what kind of job they wanted.  When I was in Bible school, people would sometimes ask each other, "Where do you want to go after school?".  The one thing that all of these ideas have in common is the idea of, "what do you want to do?".

People sometimes ask me if I want to live in some place or if I want to do this thing or that thing.  When I tell them that what I want to do does not matter, but what matters is what God wants me to do, these people sometimes look at me strangely.  It is very normal for people to think and talk about what they like and want to do or where they want to go.  But, for Christians, the question should not be about what we want to do, but we need to find out what God wants us to do

Jesus made it very clear that His focus was on doing the will of God, not His own will.  Jesus followed the plan and purpose of God for His life, and that is the example that we need to follow.  If we are only following our own interests and doing the things we want to do, how are we truly serving and following God's plan for our life?  Following God's plan is the best way to find true happiness, fulfillment, and success.  The will of God, what God wants us to do, is not just some part of our life, it is our life!

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Communication Failure

"that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
"
1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (NKJV)

Having your luggage lost when you travel is something you never want to have happen.  One time, when I arrived at my destination, my bag was not there.  When I talked to the people from the airline about this, they said it would not be easy to locate my bag, because the baggage system and the reservation system did not "talk to each other", there was a communication failure.  That was a bit of a surprise to me, since the systems were a part of the same airline, but fortunately, my bag did arrive a few hours later.

After my experience with the lost bag, I was thinking about what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12.  Paul compared the body of Christ to our natural body.  There should not be divisions in the body, and if one part of the body suffers or rejoices, the whole body either suffers or rejoices.  This is talking about unity within the body of Christ, and just like our natural body, if some parts are not working together, if there is a communication failure, there will be problems.

Unfortunately, there are times when Christians have trouble working with one another.  No matter what group a believer may be a part of, we are all a part of the body of Christ.  We must work together to reach the lost and preach the Gospel around the world.  Instead of working to build our own kingdom, we need to work together to build God's Kingdom and do His will.  It should never be that various Christian groups and believers don't get along or work with one another.  That kind of communication failure is unacceptable.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Fighting In Faith

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

To be successful in doing something, you have to do it the right way.  If someone wants to play basketball, he can't play by the rules of football and succeed.  In fact, that person would have all kinds of problems trying to play one sport by the rules of another.  If someone wants to be a better swimmer, but they spend all their time learning about racing cars, and they never get into the pool, that person will never succeed in swimming.  To succeed, to win, the right methods are necessary in whatever we do.

Whether they know it or not, Christians are called to fight.  But what and how do we fight?  The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-9 that we have an enemy, the devil, who walks around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Peter says that we must resist the devil, which literally means "to stand against", or "to oppose".  We have an enemy, so what do we do?  Peter gives us the same answer that Paul gave; we resist, we stand against the devil, in faith, this is the fight of faith. 

But, how do we resist the devil and fight in faith?  We fight the faith fight by taking a stand on God's Word.  We hold on to the truths about what God has done for us through Jesus, and when the devil comes against us, we speak, and act on, God's Word; that is how we exercise our faith and fight the faith fight.  Jesus has already defeated the devil, but we must resist the attacks the devil makes against us, through faith in God and His Word, this is the fight of faith.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Successful Direction

"Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
A
nd there was great joy in that city.
Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."  This is desert
."
Acts 8:5, 8, 26 (NKJV)

Usually when we are traveling to some place, we look for the fastest route, which is usually the shortest route.  But often there are other routes that can be taken to get to the same destination. However, sometimes you may not want to take the more direct route, because you want, or need, to see or do something along the way to your destination.  The shortest route may not always be the best route to get you to the place you are going to.

Philip went to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to the people there; his time in Samaria was successful, and there was great joy in the city.  But the next thing we see is that Philip is instructed to take the road the goes from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is a desert area.  If we would look at this like many people do, we might think that Philip was doing something wrong, because he goes from a meeting that touched an entire city into the desert where he meets just one man.

But, while the route that Philip took may seem strange to us, we can't look at this, or any direction we or others have from God, based on what we see and what we know.  There are times that God will lead us in a direction that does not seem to make sense to us, but we must trust God and His leading, because He will always lead us in the best way to go.  To have successful direction, we must follow God's plan to go where He leads us, no matter how it may look to ourselves or to others.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Finding, Or Having, The Answer

"And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him.
Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"'.

Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared, there make ready for us
."
Mark 14:13-15 (NKJV)

When there is a problem, or you have a question, you need an answer.  Knowing where to get the answer is always helpful, but what if your problem is concerning something you know about, and you already have the answer?  For example, if I have a problem or question about a car, I will ask one of my brothers who know a lot about cars.  I go to them with my problem or questions, but they don't ask me about car problems, because they usually already have those answers.

In Mark 14, we see Jesus sending two of His disciples to a city, and Jesus told them that they would meet a man with a pitcher of water who would take them to the place where they could prepare for the Passover.  The place already existed, they just had to find that place, it was the answer that they needed.  We know about Jesus and His disciples, but there are other people in the story: the man with the pitcher and the man in the house.  They already knew about the house, they already had that answer.

So often in our lives, we only focus on finding answers rather than doing what is necessary so that we are the person who has the answer.  We need to learn about everything that God has provided for us through Jesus, so that we will have answers for ourselves and answers to give to others.  Rather than always just looking to find the answer we need, we can have the answer that someone needs.  God can, and will, use us to help others, but first we have to have answers to give to them.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

You Can't Figure It Out

"So it was, when the cloud remained only from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud was taken up, they would journey.
Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey.
"
Numbers 9:21-22 (NKJV)

There are some businesses and government organizations that function as think tanks.  A think tank is defined as a group of people who come together to study a particular thing to provide information, ideas, and advice to others about that topic.  Something similar to this is what people call brain storming, where people discuss something to come up with ideas and solutions concerning that thing.  Think tanks and brainstorming can be very helpful in some, but not all, situations.

The Old Testament gives us examples of how God led His people.  These examples can help us understand how God leads us today by the Holy Spirit.  When Israel traveled to the Promised Land, they had the pillar of cloud in the daytime and the pillar of fire at night.  When the pillar moved, it showed Israel that it was time for them to move, and when the pillar stayed in one place, the people did not move.  No matter when the pillar of cloud moved, Israel had to follow it to be sure they were following God's direction.

Only God knew when the pillar would move.  Israel could have formed a think tank or done some brainstorming to try and figure out why the pillar of cloud moved the way it did, but that would not have worked.  Today, believers sometimes try to figure out what God wants them to do based on their circumstances, by positive and negative aspects of things, or by getting other people's opinions.  We need to allow God to lead and direct us by the Holy Spirit, without trying to reason it out.  We may not always completely understand God's plan, but we certainly won't be able to just figure it out in our mind either.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Do The Pieces Fit?

"The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endure forever."
Psalm 119:160 (NKJV)

If you are putting a puzzle together, you will need all of the pieces to complete the puzzle and see the result of the complete picture.  But what if you were missing a piece, or you used a piece from another puzzle, would you be able to complete the correct picture?  You need all of the puzzle pieces from the puzzle you are working on to complete that picture.  You may have a piece from another puzzle that you like, but it does not belong and it may not fit with the puzzle you are working on.

The Bible is God's Word, and God gave us His Word to help us.  God did not give us bullet points or a top ten list of important things, He gave us the entire Bible containing what we refer to as sixty-six books.  These writings tell us things we need to know, and give us some great examples of how we can apply Bible truth in our life.  But if we only use our ten favorite verses, or even our ten favorite books of the Bible, are we sure we have the whole truth of God's Word on any given subject?

While we cannot build any doctrine or belief on one verse of Scripture, we also cannot ignore one verse of Scripture, it all must fit together.  Often, I have heard people share something that they believe, but while they may even use Bible verses to prove their point, I find that they are ignoring other verses.  We need a view of Scripture based on the entire Word of God, or it is like we are missing pieces in a puzzle.  We need all of Scripture to have a correct view of every Bible topic.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Just Looking For The Benefits?

"Jesus answered them and said, Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
John 6:26-27 (NKJV)

At almost any place you work, you will receive some benefits.  Once you are hired at a place, they will usually tell you your responsibilities and the benefits you will have because you work there.  This is good, and there should be some benefit received when you work somewhere.  But what if someone only wanted to work at a place to get the benefits and they had no interest in the work?  What often happens is that this type of attitude in a person has a negative impact on their work.

When Jesus was physically present on the earth, there were people who were drawn to Him because of His teaching, the healings that took place, and the miracles that He did, and many people came to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah.  But there were others who rejected Jesus, and some who seemed to be following Jesus just for the benefits, as we see in John 6.  Those people wanted to be around Jesus, not because of Who He was, but because of what they gained from Him.

Today, there are many people who follow Jesus, and are committed to serving Him and doing His will; but there are some people who see Jesus as more of a lifestyle coach, or even like a sort of Santa Claus who is only there to give them good things.  Jesus can help us have an abundant life (John 10:10), and good gifts do come from God (James 1:17), but these are the benefits that come from following Jesus and they are not the things that we pursue.  We have to be careful that we don't just focus on the benefits and get sidetracked from our commitment to following and serving Him.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Love It Or Hate It?

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
Luke 14:26 (NKJV)

Sometimes people say they hate a certain food, but that is really not the correct use of the word hate, and someone who says this simply means that they dislike, or would not eat, a certain thing.  The word hate means "extreme dislike or disgust, intense hostility and aversion".  To really hate something, it means you are completely against it, but it also often means that you are in favor of something else.  Most people who hate one thing would say they love something else that may be an opposite to the thing they say they hate.

In Luke 14:26, Jesus said that if people were going to follow Him and be His disciple, that they would have to "hate" their family and even their own life.  The word translated as "hate" in Luke 14:26 in the New King James Version means "to detest", with the implication of hatred.  When Jesus said a person should "hate" their family, and even their own life, was Jesus really saying that we had to have extreme disgust and even hostility towards our family and ourselves in order to follow Him?  That is hardly the case.

Jesus was not saying that His disciples had to be people who could not get along with, and who had to sever all ties to, their family and detest their own life to serve Him.  But what Jesus does expect is that we put Him and His will before our family, and even our own lives!  The contrast between how we value the will of God and following Jesus and the value we place on family, and even our own life, has to be as stark as the difference between love and hate.  If we love our own life more than we love Jesus, there is a problem.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Agreement And Action

"So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.
Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them."
Ezekiel 33:31-32 (NKJV)

When you agree with someone about something, that means that there is harmony between you and the other person about that thing; when you take action, you are doing something.  There can, and often is, action when there is agreement, but that is not always true.  Someone can agree that having a healthy lifestyle is a good thing and never eat right or exercise.  It is best when there is action involved with an agreement, otherwise the agreement may only be a theoretical opinion.

God spoke through Ezekiel to the people of Israel.  The people listened to Ezekiel, but they did not do the things that God was saying to them through Ezekiel.  God said that the situation was like people who listen to a song, and they hear the nice words, but that is the end of it.  In James 1:22, it says we need to be a doer of the Word and not just someone who hears the Word.  That was the problem with the people who listened to Ezekiel, they heard what he said, and even seemed to agree with it, but they did not act on it.

Today, there are many people who are hearing God's Word, and they may agree with it, but they are not doing the things that God's Word says.  The result is that people are not living the kind of life that God is calling them to, they are not doing the things God asks them to do, and they are not taking advantage of everything God did for us through Jesus.  We need to be people who hear God's Word, put ourselves in agreement with it, and then we put action to what we have heard.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Addition Or Subtraction?

"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established -
that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
"
Romans 1:11-12 (NKJV)

Two of the most basic things involved in mathematics are addition and subtraction.  Although they are both part of mathematics, addition and subtraction are opposites.  Addition involves increasing the amount of something, while subtraction decreases the amount.  Addition means that something is being added to what is already there, and subtraction is what is being done when something is taken away.

One thing that can be clearly seen in the life of Paul is that when he went somewhere he added something to the people he met with.  In Romans 1:11-12, Paul talked about his desire to see the believers in Rome, so that he could give them "some spiritual gift" to help establish them.  Paul went on to say that he and the Christians in Rome could be encouraged together by their mutual faith.  Paul was saying that his being with the believers in Rome would add something to them, and they would also be able to add something to Paul.

Paul was not someone who took anything away from what others had, he added something; Paul encouraged believers and imparted something to them.  In the same way, we can see that Jesus was someone who always positively added to a situation and the lives of others and that He never did things to harm others.  Jesus and Paul give us good examples of how we can add something to others and the situations we encounter, rather than being people who take away from and hinder others.  Are we people who add something to, or take away, from others?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Alignment

"So he said to them, "I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.".
Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "Why have you done this?"  For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them
."
Jonah 1:9-10 (NKJV)

One meaning of the word hypocrite is, "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings", someone who says one thing, but does another.  The things we say should not be totally different from what we do, there should be an alignment of our words and actions.  For example, if we just talk about doing something, or we say we are committed to or believe in something, but our actions are different than what we say, there is a problem.

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there.  But, instead of doing what God said, Jonah disobeyed and sailed away in the opposite direction.  Then, when a storm arose, Jonah told the men on the ship how he had disobeyed what God told him to do, but Jonah also said he was someone who "feared God".  On the one hand, Jonah talked about serving God, and on the other hand, Jonah would not do what God told him to do, Jonah's words and actions were not aligned.

Paul wrote to Titus about the same problem that Jonah had, how some people profess to know God, but what they do does not agree with what they say.  If we really believe something, and for Christians this would be believing in God and His Word, it should have an impact on how we live and what we do.  We need to be sure that what we say and do is in alignment with what we believe.  This is beneficial for us, and for the people around us who hear what we say and see how we live.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

You Were Chosen

"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,"
Ephesians 1:4 (NKJV)

When I was growing up, the kids in my neighborhood and school played games.  Usually, to get things started, we chose teams.  Most of the time there were two people who were the captains of the teams, and then, from all the kids who wanted to play the game, they would pick them one by one to be on a team.  It was always great if you were picked first, and one thing no one wanted was to be the last child chosen, because that meant no one wanted you on their team.

As believers, God has chosen each of us, and He has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.  God chose us all, He picked us to work with Him, and no one is left off of His team and out of His plan.  The first step in following God's plan is coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ; then, it is up to us to find out what God has chosen us to do.  There is something God has called each of us and equipped us to do, to serve Him and function as a part of the Body of Christ.

We need to realize that God has already chosen us and it is not a matter of whether or not we will ever be good enough for God to use us to do something important for Him.  The fact is, no one can ever earn their place in the Body of Christ and no one in themselves is good enough for God to use them.  Yet, in spite of this, God has chosen us to be with Him in His Family and to have a significant part in His plan.  We did not earn it or deserve it, but God chose us to be with Him and to be a part of His plan!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Winning Strategy

"You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once.  This you shall do six days.
And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark.  But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.

It shall come to pass, when
they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat.  And the people shall go up every man straight before him."
Joshua 6:3-5 (NKJV)

Having a good plan is necessary for being successful in things like a business, a military operation, or a personal goal.  But having a good plan is only a part of what is needed.  Along with the right plan, having a good strategy, and then executing the plan according to that strategy is also necessary.  A good plan alone is not enough, because with the wrong strategy a plan may not succeed.  And if no one implements the plan according to the strategy, success is not guaranteed.

When Israel went into the Promised Land, they faced challenges from their enemies.  And in every situation, in every battle, God gave Israel the winning strategy.  What is really interesting to see, is how the strategy that God gave Israel did not always make a lot of sense naturally, like when Israel came to the city of Jericho.  God told Israel to march around the city and blow trumpets, which sounds foolish if you are trying to conquer a city.  But, as Israel followed God's strategy, Jericho was conquered.

In life, we will all deal with challenges.  As Christians, we have a great advantage, because we have the Holy Spirit as our Helper.  The Holy Spirit will guide us and direct us in life, in the big and small decisions we need to make, and He will give us the winning strategy in every situation.  Sometimes the winning strategy may not look reasonable to us, but if we learn to listen to and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, we will be victorious in every situation.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Where Are You Going?

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)

Over the years, I have done a lot of traveling. And every trip I have taken has had one thing in common, there was always a destination and goal for my trip.  Wouldn't it be strange to get into a car, an airplane, or a train with no idea of where you were going?  What if you showed up at the airport or train station and did not know which plane or train to take because you had no clue as to where you should go.  That would be crazy, no one would do such a foolish thing.

In our life, there are large and small goals that we will, and should have, and all of those things should be in connection with God's plan and will for our life.  By this I don't mean that every little detail of our life has to be guided by some direct word from God.  But, everything in our life, the direction we are going, the goals we are pursuing, and the things we are trying to do should be a result of some direction from God.  This can be direction from God through His Word or a leading of the Holy Spirit.

If we don't have any direction from God, through His Word, by the Holy Spirit, or in knowing that what we are doing is a part of the purpose God has for our life, then why are we doing what we are doing, and how do we know that we are even doing the right thing?  If we don't know where we are going, we may be involved in a lot of activity that produces nothing of eternal value in our life.  We all need to find God's plan, in His Word, by the Holy Spirit, or as a part of His purpose for our life, so that we will know where to go, how to get there, and when we have reached the goal.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Avoiding Barriers

"A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle."
Proverbs 18:19 (NKJV)

If you are selling a product, promoting some thing or some cause, you naturally want to do whatever you can to get people to buy what you are selling, or join with you in your cause or with what you are trying to promote.  If you were selling your product, or you talked to someone about your cause, you would not insult your potential customers or supporters, you would do everything you could to persuade them to like your product or your cause; anything else would be foolish.

As Christians, our standard is the Bible, and the Bible should guide what we do and say.  But, it is very obvious that many people today do not accept what the Bible teaches as the truth.  So, what should our approach be to those people who do not believe in God and the Bible?  Do we want to do things that would easily offend and insult them?  Of course not, we want to do everything we can to help them to see the truth that Jesus is The Way, and what the Bible teaches us is the best way to live life.

As it says in Proverbs 18:19, someone offended is hard to reach.  While we should never compromise on biblical truth or godly values, is it wise to argue with people about political viewpoints, social issues, or other things that can turn into something offensive and not help to "win people to our side"?  We don't want to do things that put up barriers between us and others, because then we will not be able to help those people.  Don't let a strong opinion about something that is not of eternal importance ruin your ability to impact someone's life for eternity.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

No Comparison

"How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies?  Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart,
who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.

The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.  What is the chaff to the wheat? says the Lord.

Is not My word like a fire?  says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?"
Jeremiah 23:26-29 (NKJV)

There are many ways we can compare things, and sometimes by comparison we can see how things are similar, or how they are not similar.  For example, you may compare the color of blue you see in the sky to the color of blue you see in the ocean, they are similar.  On the other hand, you may have a diamond, and when you compare it to an ordinary rock, there is a vast difference between those two things, and you could even say there is no real comparison of the one to the other.

In Jeremiah 23, it talks about false prophets having dreams and lying to people.  What is interesting is how God says that if some "prophet" has a dream, he should just go ahead and tell his dream, and those who have God's Word should faithfully speak God's Word.  God goes on to say that comparing a false prophet's dream to His Word is like comparing the chaff to the wheat.  Just as the actual wheat is far better than the chaff, God's Word is far better than anything anyone else can come up with.

Many people don't know the power and potential of God's Word.  God's Word is like a hammer and a fire, and there is no comparison between what God says and what people dream up.  Unfortunately, some Christians are not very spiritually discerning and they will often listen to anyone who comes along with a dream or something spectacular, even if that thing is not true.  Don't be misled by what something may sound or look like. Stay with God's Word; put it into practice in your life and see that there is nothing else like it, there is no comparison to God's Word!

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Love It, Or Leave It?

"And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with their father, mending their nets.  He called them,

and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him."
Matthew 4:18-22 (NKJV)

Everyone has a favorite thing or activity of some kind, which is fine, but it is not good if our favorite thing becomes too important to us.  For example, maybe someone likes a certain video game.  Video games are fine, but if you quit your job, or neglect some other important obligation to play your game, then it is not a good thing.  We cannot "love" our favorite thing so much that we can't leave it alone when necessary.  We have to keep a proper perspective and not let our favorite thing become a problem.

In Matthew 4, we see Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him.  It is interesting to note that Jesus called them to follow Him while they were in the middle of doing something else.  But it is also interesting to note that all four of them "immediately" left everything and followed Jesus when He called them.  While it is clear that these four men all were doing something else when Jesus called them, they were willing to let those things go to follow Jesus.

Sometimes, Christians have a problem doing what God wants them to do, because some favorite thing in their life has become too important to them.  We should love God and His will more than anything else that we might need to leave behind to do what God has called us to do.  We need to be careful that we do not "love" something so much that we are not willing to leave that thing behind to go the direction that God is leading us.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Qualified To Pray

"Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain on the land for three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit."
James 5:16-18 (NKJV)

There are certain jobs that only a few people are qualified for and able to do, for various reasons.  For example, some people have gone through a certain type of training that has qualified and prepared them to do their job.  It is not that the job itself is impossible for anyone else to do, it is just that some people were specifically trained for a specific job.  But there are some jobs where the qualifications are not the same, and really anyone who is willing to work is qualified and can do that job.

Some Christians have the idea that only a few people can really pray and talk to God in a way that will get results.  Sometimes people think that a pastor or someone else has been qualified to pray in a way that others are not.  This is completely wrong.  Even though some people may have learned how to pray according to biblical principles, and therefore they have more success with their prayers than others, each and every Christian is already qualified to pray.

In James, we are told that Elijah, the prophet who worked miracles, was a man just like us.  Elijah was not some spiritual superman who was more qualified to pray than anyone else, Elijah got results in prayer because of Who he was praying to, not because he was some super saint.  Through the new birth, because of the blood of Jesus, each and every Christian is in a relationship with God and is qualified to talk to God about whatever they need to and to have positive results.  Who is qualified to pray effective prayers?  Each and every Christian. 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Nice Gloves, Really?

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -
rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV)

Recently, as I was getting ready to go somewhere, I put on some gloves, because it was cold outside.  The pair of gloves I put on are very nice, and even though they are old, the gloves still look good.  So, with my choice of gloves, I went outside, and then I remembered why I don't use those nice, old gloves any more.  The lining of the gloves is worn out, and while the gloves may look nice, they don't have any lining inside and so they are not very useful in cold weather.

Most people want to look good, and that is fine, but if we only spend time making sure we "look good" on the outside, we are missing the most important thing; the way things are like on the inside.  In the same way that Peter wrote to wives, telling them not to be overly focused on dressing up on the outside, but rather focus on building themselves up on the inside, we too need to be sure we are developing the "hidden person of the heart", which is referring to the human spirit.

Some people think that Peter was against jewelry, or women wearing makeup and putting on expensive clothes, but that was not the point.  If all we have is a nice outer appearance, but inwardly we have bad attitudes, or we are spiritually and emotionally immature, then all of the work we have done on the outside really does not matter.  Yes, we certainly should look presentable, but we shouldn't neglect working on being the right person on the inside, because that is what really matters.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

How Hard Is It To Get What I Need?

"But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into Heaven?" (that is to bring Christ down from above)
or, " 'Who will descend into the Abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:6-9 (NKJV)

If you need to find something, you have to look for it, but where would you look?  What if someone told you that you had to climb a mountain to get what you needed, but they were not telling you the truth, and maybe you actually already had what you needed?  What if someone knew about what you needed and they had already brought you that thing and placed it in your home?  Then how hard would it be for you to get that thing?  It would not be hard at all, of course, because that thing you need is right there with you.

It is unfortunate that many believers today have the mistaken idea that taking advantage of everything that God has done for them in Christ is extremely difficult.  If you listen to some Christians, it is almost like God is trying to make it hard to take hold of what has been made available to us because of JesusBut God is not trying to make things difficult for His children; everything that He has provided for us through Jesus is something He wants us to have and take advantage of.

What we need is not up in heaven, under the earth somewhere, or in some distant land that is impossible to get to.  Salvation, for example, is not based on our performing some difficult task; we believe in what Jesus did, we confess that with our mouth, and we are saved.  This is the same way we take advantage of everything that God has provided for us through Jesus.  Don't make things harder than they have to be.  Learn what belongs to you in Christ, lay hold of it by faith, and live in that reality.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Asking Without Receiving?

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8 (NKJV)

My first experience with touchless faucets was frustrating.  I went to a sink that had no handle for the water, and when I finally realized it was a touchless faucet, I waved my hand around, but didn't get any water.  However, once I put my hand in the right place, everything was fine.  There was nothing wrong with the sink, even though at first I thought that there was.  The problem was that while I had the right idea, the way I was doing things was wrong.  Once I used the right method, everything was fine.

Prayer is a wonderful opportunity for us to fellowship with God and talk to Him about things that are important to us.  We may see verses like Matthew 7:7-8, and then we pray, but we don't see the desired result.  Sometimes the reason for this is because we have not taken the entire context of God's Word into account.  First of all, we need to come to God with His Word as our foundation, this assures us that we are asking according to His will, and we can be sure He will hear, and answer, our prayers (1 John 5:14-15).

Also, there are things that can hinder our prayers.  James tells us that we must ask in faith (James 1:6) and if we ask with the wrong motive we will not receive (James 4:3).  Peter warned husbands that if they did not treat their wives in the right way, that those husband's prayers would be hindered (1 Peter 3:7), and this is not something that would just be limited to husbands and wives either.  For successful prayer, to always be sure that when we ask, we receive, we need to follow the guidelines for prayer that we have in God's Word.