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?