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.