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. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Be Careful How Fast You Walk

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

While I was out walking the other day, I saw a mother and her young child who were also out for a walk.  Right away, I noticed the speed they were walking.  It was easy to see that the mother's pace was set to what was appropriate for the child.  The mother was obviously an adult and the child was no more than four years old.  The mom could have certainly walked faster than she was walking, but that would have created a problem for her child, so she walked at the speed that was best for the child.

Every believer is at a different level of spiritual development.  There are some Christians who are more spiritually developed than others, and some believers who are not as spiritually mature and do not have the same depth of understanding and knowledge.  If a mature believer meets an immature believer, should the person who is more spiritually developed look down on the younger believer and treat them as less of a Christian?  The answer of course is no; the more mature Christian should do what they can to help the less mature believer.

Usually, we all want to move at our own pace, naturally and spiritually.  But, as Paul pointed out in Romans 15:1-2, those who are spiritually strong ought to do what they can to help the weak and not to just please themselves, but rather do what will benefit and build up others.  We need to look for, and be aware of, the opportunities we find to spiritually walk alongside of younger believers and do what we can to help them, not moving at our spiritual pace, but walking together with them at their pace.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Born Of God

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him."
1 John 5:1 (NKJV)

When I applied for my residence visa in Germany, I was asked where I was from, where I was born.  While it would have been accurate to say that I was born in a hospital, that was not really what they were asking about.  They wanted to know where I was born in the sense of where I came from, they wanted to know my place of origin.  If they had listened to me talk, or asked me a few questions, they might have guessed I was from the USA, but they wanted my own statement as to where I was from.

As Christians, it is important for us to understand that we are born of God, we are a new creation in Christ and a child of God; that is our place of origin, spiritually speaking.  Because we have been born again, we are a part of God's Family, the Church.  We are born of God, taken from spiritual death into spiritual life and all that we once were is gone!  We are not just people that God is tolerating, and He sometimes lets us sneak into His Kingdom to get a few benefits that we really don't deserve.

Some Christians do not have a complete understanding of what it means to be born of God, and they still live under a mentality that they are not worthy of all that God has done for them.  As a born again believer, we are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.  When the devil questions you in your relationship with God, telling you that you are an undeserving, second-rate follower of God, just remember who you really are in Christ, and boldly declare that you are born of God, qualified for everything that God has provided for you through Jesus!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Not So Shocking Results

"But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
And their message will spread like cancer, Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some."
2 Timothy 2:16-18 (NKJV)

If you wanted to have good, healthy teeth, but you never brushed your teeth, and ate a lot of snacks that were filled with sugar, should you be surprised when the dentist tells you that you have several cavities?  If you go outside without an umbrella while it is raining and you get wet, should you be shocked that this happened to you?  If you are, then you have not recognized that you have done something that led you to less than desirable results, and you need to make a change in what you are doing.

In the two letters that Paul wrote to Timothy, Paul talked about things that Timothy should and should not do.  Something that Paul mentions more than once is how the wrong kind of teaching and ideas need to be avoided, because of the negative results that these things can bring.  In 2 Timothy 2:16-18, Paul talks about the wrong kind of teaching and ideas as something that will increase ungodliness, overthrow people's faith, and Paul even compares this kind of thing to cancer!

That is very strong language and leaves no room for doubt about what happens when people spend their time listening to the wrong things.  Good, Bible based teaching will increase godliness, build people's faith, and rather than being harmful like cancer, right teaching builds us up and equips us to live the life that God has planned for us.  We need to be sure we are spending time in God's Word and hearing good teaching.  If we are not, we will have some not so shocking, negative results.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Observing The Speed Limit

"Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet."
Proverbs 19:2 (NKJV)

Most of the roads you can drive on will have some speed limit. The speed limit is usually determined by the type of road and where it is.  For example, if you are driving on a highway and you are out in the country somewhere, the speed limit there will be different than if you were driving on a city street.  It is important to know the speed limit for the road you are on, not just to avoid getting a speeding ticket, but because if you are driving too fast, there can be a greater possibility of having a problem.

Although there is really nothing like a posted speed limit in the Bible, we do have some wisdom and guidance from God's Word that should govern how we do things in our life.  Some people think that they just need to find out what God wants to do, and then they should just go "full speed ahead", no matter what.  While this may be the case in some instances, it is also wise to take the time to listen to how God will guide us to carry out His will, and to put into specific practice the general will of God that we find in the Bible.

If we have an idea, even from God's Word, and we don't follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in applying that to our lives, we can be in a hurry and do something we should not have done.  Even though God's will never changes, how it works in our life and how we apply godly principles can be different from one situation to another.  Don't get into a rush to do something just because it is a good thing to do, take the time to listen and be led by the Holy Spirit, and obey the "speed limit' that He gives you.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Checking For The Signal

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

Several years ago, I had a "Radio Controlled Clock". which kept accurate time, and even the temperature, because of a signal it received from a main location.  This clock did not keep these readings accurate on its own, but it was dependent upon a signal that it received; which meant that the clock needed to have a regular connection with that signal.  If that signal was disrupted somehow, then the readings of the time and temperature were no longer reliable, because the signal had been lost.

One thing we see in the life of Jesus is that He did not just do whatever He wanted to do.  We see how He would often pray before he acted.  A good example of that is in Luke 6:12-13, where Jesus spent the night in prayer, and the next morning He chose twelve of His disciples to be apostles.  What was Jesus doing?  Undoubtedly Jesus was talking to God about the upcoming decision He was going to make about those who would be closest to Him, those that He would spend time teaching and training.

In John 5:19, Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father do.  What was Jesus talking about?  This is the same thing that we see in Luke 6, Jesus was checking in with God and getting the signal, so to speak, to know what to do.  In our life and relationship with God, we need to check in with God on a regular basis in prayer, by reading and studying God's Word, and by following the direction of the Holy Spirit, so that we are "checking for the signal" from God to know what to do, where to do it, and when.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

That One Key Thing

"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge
to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Peter 1:5-8 (NKJV)

Have you ever heard something being advertised as the one thing that you need for this or that?  Often this is the kind of thing that is presented for those who want to succeed in business, financial things, or areas of self-help and improvement, and someone is offering to show them that one key thing that they need to do.  But the real truth is, the majority of the time there is not just one key thing, but many things that are necessary in achieving these goals and having success.

It is unfortunate, but this kind of mentality is sometimes seen in Christianity, where something is presented as "that one key thing" that is needed to make someone a super-spiritual Christian, or to give someone the breakthrough in their life, or the thing that is needed to move forward in the plan of God.  But, just like in the secular world, the majority of the time, what believers need is a combination of several things to help them be what they ought to be and to do what God wants them to do.

One thing you don't see presented in the Bible is that there is just one key thing that you need to be a spiritual success.  As it tells us in 2 Peter 1:5-8, there are many things that are necessary for believers, and there are things that we need to add to our faith in order to be fruitful.  Don't be misled by the idea that all you need is that one key thing in life.  Put God's Word into practice, follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, and you will find what it is that you need, to do what God has called you to do.