Thursday, December 28, 2023

Growing Today For A Better Tomorrow

"that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ -
Ephesians 4:14-15 (NKJV)

Sometimes when there is road construction, or maybe a building is being remodeled, there will be a sign posted somewhere that says that what is being done will make things better.  There might be a sign that has a slogan like, "building today for a better tomorrow", or "we are building to make things better for you".  Building or changing things in the present to make things better in the future is good.  If something is only beneficial now, and it will not be helpful in the future, that thing is not such a good thing.

In Ephesians 4, Paul said that believers need to stop being children who are just tossed around with every wind of doctrine.  This means that we should not just follow every teaching that comes along or is popular in the Church world, no matter who says it.  But instead, Christians need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), be mature in understanding (1 Corinthians 14:20), and desire the Word of God that will cause us to grow (1 Peter 2:2).  We need to grow up spiritually today so that we can be stronger, more mature believers tomorrow.

Spiritual growth is important, it is necessary, and it is something that should be happening on a continual basis in the life of a Christian.  We should be growing and improving, rather than just being the same person and same type of Christian in five years that we are right now.  By spending time in God's Word and following the direction of the Holy Spirit, we can grow and develop spiritually.  We need to develop spiritually every day, so that we are more effective members of the Body of Christ, and a better witness to the unsaved world, today and tomorrow. 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Don't Miss The Point

"Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
Luke 2:10-12 (NKJV)

One thing I have noticed in talking to people is that someone will miss the point about something, by getting sidetracked by something else.  Sometimes people get so caught up in insignificant facts and information that they miss the main point.  For example, in various sports there are so many statistics and so much information you can learn about that you almost forget the basic elements of the sport itself.  Whether it is sports, or anything else, we have to be careful that we do not get so caught up in some details that we miss the overall point.

Christmas is when believers celebrate the birth of Jesus, but some people miss that point.  For some people, Christmas is just about presents and time with family, which is good, but those things are not why we should celebrate Christmas.  Some Christians are bothered because others do not recognize Christmas for what it really is, or because Christmas is so secularized.  But in spite of that, we should not miss the real point to the story of Christmas.  We need to keep our focus on Jesus coming to the earth to save us from our sin, that is the real point to Christmas.

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year in many ways.  The main reason that Christmas is so wonderful is that it is when Christians celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Many people and churches will go over the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke 2, which is such a great story about how Jesus came to the earth as a baby.  Then, Jesus went on to live a god-pleasing life and die on the cross for our sin.  That is the main point of Christmas, and that is why we should celebrate Christmas, even though many people miss the point.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Exercise Your Mind

"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 want to develop your muscles, you need to exercise.  But, to properly exercise your muscles, you need to do the right kinds of exercise.  For example, if you wanted to strengthen your legs, you would not do pushups.  If you needed to develop your cardiovascular system, you would not do exercises that are just for your arms.  By doing the right exercises you can develop and strengthen your body.  If you do not do any exercise, you are actually still making an impact on your body, it is just that the impact will be a negative one.

The Bible says a lot about the mind and our thinking.  The Bible talks about renewing the mind (Romans 12:2) and the right kinds of things to think about (Philippians 4:8).  Unfortunately, this is an area that many Christians have not paid the proper amount of attention to.  If we do not renew our mind and think about the right things, this can lead to other problems, because our thinking and believing are connected.  You cannot believe something you have not thought about, and you will think about the things that you believe. 

Colossians 3:2 tells us to "set our minds on things above", which is talking about what we think.  To "set your mind" can be defined as, "to exercise the mind".  If we think about spiritual truth, we will exercise and develop our mind, just like by doing certain exercises we would develop our body.  Rather than just struggling with wrong thoughts, depression, and stress, we can have a stronger mind through continually thinking about godly things rather than earthly things.  Start exercising your mind today by thinking about God's Word, and you can develop a strong thought life.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

A Good Word

"Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad."
Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV)

If you want to start a fire, you need the necessary elements, fuel, and oxygen; with these things, you can easily start a fire.  But, if you start a fire and add water, the fire will go out.  If you take away either fuel, or oxygen, you will also be without a fire.  This same thing is true in many other situations.  To have a certain thing, you need to have the elements necessary to properly create that thing, but even if you have the right elements, and you add something else, you will change what you had at first.

One thing that some people struggle with more than others is anxiety, which can lead to depression.  The dictionary says that anxiety deals with a concern about some trouble, some problem that may come at some time.  Everyone can have a feeling of anxiety when they hear some negative news, but it is what we do with that feeling that matters.  When someone is dealing with anxiety, or depression, that is a problem, but the Bible tells us that a good word can make the heart of someone with depression glad. 

If someone is dealing with anxiety and stress in their heart, in their life, Proverbs 12:25 says that a good word will make them glad, and a good word would certainly include God's Word.  On the other hand, if someone is hearing a "bad word", that can lead to anxiety and depression.  If we focus on and talk about the negative side of life, it will bring anxiety, stress, and depression.  But by focusing on and saying the right things, by saying what God says in His Word, we can successfully deal with anxiety, stress, and depression in our own life and in someone else's life.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

A Biblical Accent?

"The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips."
Proverbs 16:23 (NKJV)

Over the years, I have met people from many different nations who do not have English as their mother tongue, but who do speak English as a second language.  Many of these people have an accent when they speak English, which is understandable, and some people have a more noticeable accent than others.  Sometimes the accent a person has helps you identify where they are from and what their first language is, but that is not always the case.

When someone speaks a language and they have an accent, it shows you that the language they are speaking is not their native language, but their native language and how they speak it influences how they speak their second language.  In the same way, we can have a biblical accent, so to speak, because we have God's Word in our heart and that is shown with what we say.  The best thing is if our speech is accented with biblical truth and it is apparent to other people that we spend time in God's Word. 

Just like someone who speaks English or another language as their second language can have an accent, because they are used to saying things a certain way, Christians should have a biblical accent that shows that we are used to saying things from a biblical perspective.  We do not have to walk around quoting Bible verses, but it is better if what we say is influenced by what we know from the Bible and our relationship with God.  A biblical accent is something that we should not want to lose, but something we should all develop.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Pointless Projects?

"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NKJV)

What if you had a great idea, maybe about some project, or some aspect of self-improvement, but to accomplish this goal you had to have some tools for the project, or you needed some equipment or something else for the self-improvement idea?  If you needed something to help you successfully complete what you are planning on doing, you would need to have that necessary thing before you start.  If you try to do something without having what is necessary, you will not succeed.

We might have good ideas about something we want to do, especially as believers, and we may even have some good plans about how to bring those ideas to pass.  But the thing that is most necessary for us to successfully do what we are doing is to be sure that what we are doing is in line with God's plans and purposes.  We may have great ideas, but are they only our ideas, or is it also a "God idea?".  We can have great ideas and great plans, but if they are not in line with God's plans we will fail.

The Bible says that God is our Helper (Hebrews 13:6), but that does not automatically mean that anything and everything we do agrees with His will for our life.  Whatever idea we have, whatever opportunity comes to us, whatever direction we believe we have from God, must be checked with God's Word, His plan for our life, and the direction of the Holy Spirit.  If what we do is not in line with God's plans, then what we do will fail, and it is just a pointless project.  If God is with us in what we do, then we will be successful.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Faith Pleases God

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

There are some things that people have said were impossible, but those things were only something someone had not yet done.  People said it was impossible for man to fly, to send a man to the moon, or to run a mile in under four minutes.  But there are some things that really are impossible.  For example, you cannot go swimming unless you are in some water, and it is impossible to flap your arms like a bird and fly into the air. Knowing what is possible and what is impossible is helpful to be able to see what can and cannot be done.

The Bible talks about how our goal should be to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9), and most Christians would say that they do want to please God.  But the question then is, how do we please God?  Is there something we can do that will please God, or is it just that we do are best in life and hope that this somehow pleases God?  Thankfully the Bible gives us the answer, it takes faith to please God. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith. 

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith, so then faith must be very important.  In Ephesians 2:8 it says we are saved by grace, through faith.  In 2 Corinthians 5:7 it says that we walk by faith and not by sight.  These verses show us the importance of faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God, so how do we get this faith that is so important?  The Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God.  It is by our faith in God's Word that we please God and live the life He has planned for us.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Drifting Away From The Truth

"Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away."
Hebrews 2:1 (NKJV)

If you have a boat, there are things you need to do to take care of it.  One thing that is necessary with a boat, when it is in the water, is to have it anchored or tied to a dock, or something else.  If you do not use an anchor or tie up the boat, it will eventually just drift away.  No one would intentionally let their boat get away from them, but unless the boat is secured in some way, sooner or later that boat will be gone.  How far away the boat drifts depends on several factors, but without something to keep it in place, the boat will drift away.

It is good to hear God's Word and learn about who God is, what Jesus has done for us, who we are in Christ, and what God has planned and provided for us.  But it is not enough just to hear about this one time, this is something we need to hear about, read about, think about, and talk about again and again.  Making what we hear a part of our life is an important way to make sure that what we know and understand is more than just something nice that we have heard. 

As Hebrews 2:1 tells us, we need to pay attention to what we have heard, so that those things do not slip away from us.  If we hear the truth, but do not do anything with the truth that we hear, that truth can slip away from us.  The problem for many Christians is not that they have not heard and do not know the truth, but the trouble is that the truth they have heard has slipped away from them.  We need to not only learn God's Word, but we need to make it a part of our life so that it does not slip away from us.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Night Vision / Bible Vision

"while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NKJV)

If you have ever been outside in the dark, where there was not much light, you know that it can be difficult to see things.  Eventually, your eyes will adjust to the reduced amount of light and then you can see things better.  This does not happen instantaneously, but it is amazing how much we can see in the dark once our vision is adjusted.  There are also different devices available that can help us see in the dark, but just with our eyes adjusting to the lower light level, we can have a better view of things in the dark than we did at first.

Normally, and especially before we are Christians, we view things from a natural perspective, but as Christians, we need to have our "eyesight" adjusted to see things from a spiritual perspective.  If we do not get our "eyesight" and perspective adjusted to seeing things from the spiritual, and not the natural perspective, we will not only miss out on things that God is trying to reveal to us in His Word by the Holy Spirit, but we will live a life based on natural facts and not spiritual truth, and we will live below the standard that God has for us. 

The Bible says we live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) and that we do not look at, we do not focus on what is seen, natural circumstances, but what is unseen, spiritual truth (2 Corinthians 4:18).  When we look at things from a biblical perspective, at first it might be hard to do, but eventually it becomes easier for us as we adjust to seeing things based on biblical truth.  Just like having our eyesight adjust to different light levels, we need to adjust our perspective on how we view things, to go more from the natural to the spiritual.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Open Book Test

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

When I was in school, we took tests for the different classes that we had.  Sometimes, we had what they called an open book test.  This was a test that was different from the usual tests, because we were allowed to use our textbooks to look for the answers to the questions.  This was a much easier test, unless you did not know what was in the textbook.  If you had read the textbook for the class, and you knew what was taught about the subject at hand, the open book test was easy to successfully complete.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul wrote to Timothy about four different things that God's Word is profitable for: doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.  These four things fit into two different categories: beliefs, and actions.  Doctrine and correction here are talking about having right and wrong beliefs, and instruction in righteousness and reproof are talking about right and wrong behavior.  God's Word shows us the right things to believe and do, as well as showing us the wrong kinds of beliefs and actions to avoid. 

God's Word shows us right and wrong beliefs, and actions, so it really is simple for us to understand what we should and should not do, as well as seeing what is right to believe and what is not.  The Christian life is like an open book test, where we go through life and whatever challenge we face we can go to God's Word to see what we need to do.  Life can be challenging and testing at times, but we have an open book, the Bible, that helps to show us the answers we need to the questions we face in life.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant."
1 Corinthians 12:1 (NKJV)

The phrase "ignorance is bliss" is said to refer to someone who is not aware of a problem, and because they are not aware of it, they do not worry about it.  While that may be true, ignorance is not really a good thing.  Ignorance is defined as a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.  While not knowing something may make it easy not to worry about it, ignorance does not make the problem go away, or solve the problem.  Knowledge is better than ignorance, and by having knowledge and understanding about something we are better off.

There are several times in the New Testament where we are told that we should not be ignorant.  In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul told the Corinthians that they should not be ignorant of spiritual gifts, in 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul talked about not being ignorant of the schemes of Satan, and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul told the Thessalonians that he did not want them to be ignorant of the fate of believers who had died.  All of these verses show us that God does not want us to be ignorant of biblical things. 

If we are ignorant of what God has said about something, then we cannot effectively operate in it.  If someone is ignorant of the fact that God's love is in them (Romans 5:5), they may live their life believing they have no control over their emotions and attitudes.  If someone is ignorant about what it means to be a new creation and the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21), they may live a life below the standard that God has provided for them.  Ignorance of God's Word is not bliss, it is dangerous and it can hinder us from living the life God has planned for us to live.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

No Changes, No Adjustments

"Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:89 (NKJV)

If you have ever signed a contract, booked a room at a hotel, or made some other kind of legal agreement, you have the terms of what you are involved in written down in a contract.  Your responsibilities are outlined, and the conditions of what you are doing are described so that there is no question about what you have, what is expected from you, and what you can and cannot do.  Once the contract is settled, there are no changes or adjustments that can be made to the contract.

The Bible shows us Who God is, God's plan for mankind, what Jesus did for us, and everything that has been provided for us because of Jesus.  What we call the Old and New Testaments are really a legally binding contract that God has set in place with mankind.  This contract, or we could use the word covenant, is settled and there are no changes or adjustments that will be made, or need to be made to it.  What God has said in His Word is unchanging, and we can be certain of its validity. 

Unlike the word of man, God's Word is forever settled, it is unchanging, it is reliable, it has no expiration date, and it is still as true and as powerful today as it ever was.  While we may think that somehow what we see in God's Word does not apply to us, that God's Word may not fit our situation, or that somehow we are an exception to what God has said, the Word of God has never changed and it does not need to be adjusted to fit us, it already applies to us and it will always work for us.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

A Personal Experience, Or Just A Nice View?

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

Recently I was at a restaurant that had a display case showing all the different types of cake that someone could have for their dessert.  As I entered the restaurant with my friends, we stopped to look at the selection of cakes, and we were already making our decision about which ones we were going to choose.  That was nice, but what if all we did was look at the cakes in the display and we never ate any cake?  It was not enough to just look at the cake that was available, we had to place our order and eat the cake to get the full experience.

For many people, Christianity is just a religion, or a theory about a good way to live.  For some people, Jesus was just a nice teacher who said some interesting things, and the Bible is just a good book with many fine things to say.  For anyone who falls into any of these categories, Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible are something that they have looked at, but things that they have never personally experienced.  We need to do more than just think nice thoughts about God, Jesus, and the Bible. 

The Bible tells us in Psalm 34:8 to taste and see that the Lord is good; we are told that we need to have a personal experience with God, Jesus, and God's Word.  If we only do some 'window shopping' with what we see in the Bible, and we never take hold of those things for ourselves, then we are missing out on what God provided for us through Jesus.  We should all do more than just look at what God has given us; we need to make it a part of our life and live the blessed life that God has planned for us, and be a blessing to others.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Rest Or Stressed?

"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His."
Hebrews 4:9-10 (NKJV)

Getting enough rest is important in order to live a healthy life.  However, getting enough rest is more than just getting enough sleep at night.  Many people today are not at rest, they are not at peace, because of the things they deal with in their own life and what they see happening in the world.  If, for example, we are not sure about being successful, if we are concerned that we will not be able to meet our needs, and we are anxious about the future, then we are more stressed than at rest.

In Hebrews 4, it talks about a rest for the people of God, and that we can enter into His rest.  When we are trusting God to help us in every area of our life, then we are at rest.  If we fully put our faith and confidence in God, and not in ourselves, then we are at rest.  If we are relying on God to guide us in the way we need to go and that He will give us direction about how to live our life, then we are at rest.  If we are not trusting God for these things and we are working to accomplish these things for ourselves, then we are in a place of stress rather than rest. 

Christians talk about trusting God, but often they are full of anxiety and they are stressed.  These people spend their time trying to figure out what to do, and they put all their energy and effort into making their own way in life without trusting God to help them.  There is a place of rest for God's people, and that place of rest comes by putting our faith in God and trusting Him.  If we are living a life of faith and trusting God in every area of our life, then we are at rest and peace, because we are confident in His provision.  Don't be stressed, but get into rest by fully trusting God in every area of life.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Travel Light

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

When you take a trip somewhere, it is necessary to pack a bag with what you will need for your trip.  What you pack, and how much you pack, will depend on where you are going and how long you will be there.  People normally take these things into consideration when they are packing, because it would be foolish for someone to just grab some random things and put them into a suitcase without stopping to think about if what they are packing is really necessary for their trip.

Hebrews 12 talks about a race that is set before us, which is referring to the life that God has called us to live.  The Bible talks about how we should live a life that fully pleases God (Colossians 1:10), and we see how Paul said that what really matters is finishing the race that God has called us to run (Acts 20:24).  But we must consider not only how we are running, but what do we have with us as we run our race?  Are there things we are taking along with us on our race that we really do not need? 

In the same way that no one would pack something that is unnecessary for a trip they are taking, we do not want to have things in our life that are unnecessary and that could weigh us down as we run our race for God and do His will.  We need to be sure that we only add things to our life that are really necessary to run the race God has called us to run. If our life is filled with things that we do not really need to fulfill the will of God, then we are just adding unnecessary weights to our life that will slow us down and hinder us from doing the will of God.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Historically Accurate?

"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Colossians 2:13-15 (NKJV)

When a movie is made about some actual event that took place, or if a book or article is written about the event, it is a good thing if the movie or book is historically accurate.  If the topic is some person, some battle, or some other event, the movie or whatever is written should check into all of the relevant facts about that person or event to be sure that what is portrayed is correct.  If someone was to make a movie, or write something that is not historically accurate, it could result in people having a misunderstanding of the real event and what actually happened.

Jesus was crucified almost two thousand years ago.  But even though this is a fact that has been historically recorded, some people doubt the authenticity of that event, while others talk, teach, and write about it in a way that is not biblically or historically accurate.  Completely doubting or saying the crucifixion did not take place is one thing, but for someone to misrepresent what really happened is something else.  Too often people have said, taught, and written things about what Jesus did that are not biblically or historically accurate. 

The Bible tells us about what Jesus purchased for us on the cross, and tells us about everything that belongs to us now.  Because of what Jesus did: we have been given a new spiritual life, our sins are forgiven, we have been set free from the Law, and the enemy has been defeated. If those biblical facts are not presented correctly, then we have not been given a biblically and historically accurate account of what Jesus did for us.  Check the Bible facts for yourself to learn what Jesus did for you, and don't accept any biblically or historically inaccurate facts about it.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Who Put You There?

"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,
although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
1 Timothy 1:12-13 (NKJV)

Over the years, I have had several different jobs in various capacities.  In some jobs, I was promoted to an oversight and leadership position.  Sometimes, when I was first put into the position, people might ask me who put me into that leadership position and who gave me the authority to do what I was doing.  Once I explained to people who it was that gave me the position I was in, things worked well.  However, I was not able to just put myself into that position, someone else had to designate me as the person who would have that job with that company.

In 1 Timothy 1:12, Paul explained how God put him into the ministry, because God saw that he was faithful.  God placed Paul into the spiritual leadership position that he held, even though, as Paul explained, he did not have a wonderful past.  God put Paul into the ministry as He saw best, Paul did not place himself there, and Paul really could not have done that.  Paul could have taken some ministry position or office, but without God actually placing Paul into the ministry, what Paul was doing would not have succeeded.

God has a plan and purpose for every person, and just like He did with Paul, God still places people into the ministry today.  Paul's former life as a Pharisee, and the mistakes that Paul made, did not qualify, or disqualify Paul from what God had called him to do.  Yes, Paul needed to be faithful in following God's plan for his life, but it was God who put Paul into the ministry.  We need to discover the plan that God has for our life, and be faithful in it, allowing God to be the One who places us into whatever aspect of ministry He chooses to put us into, we cannot do that for ourselves.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Starting And Finishing Well

"You ran well.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth?"
Galatians 5:7 (NKJV)

Getting a good start to your day, a trip, or a project is wonderful.  But getting a good start is only the beginning, because to be successful we have to continue and finish the day, trip, or project the right way.  We may have good plans for our day, a trip, or some project that we need to do, but if we do not follow through with our plans and we somehow get off track, the day, trip, and project may not actually go the way that it should.  Starting and finishing are both important parts of being successful.

Paul wrote to the churches in the region of Galatia about our position in Christ coming through faith, and we are not a part of God's family because of our good works.  But there was a problem with the Christians in Galatia, because although they started off fine in their relationship with God, somehow along the way they were getting off course.  Although those Christians had done well to receive the Gospel message by faith, they later seemed to go back to try and follow the Law.  They started well but had gotten off course.

Being born again and becoming a new creation in Christ is the best thing anyone can do, but that is just the start.  We need to stay on course, not allowing anything to get us away from the truth of God's Word.  As Paul said to the Galatians, "You ran well.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth?", we too need to be careful that in our relationship with God we do not get off course with the cares of life, wrong teaching, or challenges that we face becoming a distraction to us. We should not let anything hinder us from fully following God and the plan He has for our life.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Exclusive Or Inclusive?

"Now John answered Him saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us."
But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.

for he who is not against us is on our side.
Mark 9:38-40 (NKJV)

To be exclusive means to limit or control something so that it is not easily accessible.  For something to be inclusive, it would mean that the thing, some group for example, would include a larger number of people than a group that is exclusive.  An exclusive group is not open or available to a large number of people, while an inclusive group is generally something that many people can be a part of.  How exclusive or inclusive something is will usually be determined by the people who are already within that group or a part of that thing.

In Mark 9, two of Jesus' disciples found someone casting out demons in the Name of Jesus, and those disciples stopped him, because that person was not part of their group that followed Jesus.  Those disciples were being exclusive and they believed that if someone was not following Jesus in the way that they were, then that person should be stopped.  Did Jesus commend those disciples?  No, Jesus told them to allow that person to continue with the good work they were doing, even if they were not in the same group with Jesus and His disciples. 

There are many different church groups that have the core beliefs that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior, and that the Bible is the Word of God.  But there are other less relevant beliefs that these groups have, and this often leads to people becoming exclusive rather than inclusive, and doing things based on some church doctrine and not God's Word.  While we should certainly not compromise our basic Bible beliefs, we should not be so exclusive and argue about minor points, but we should be as inclusive as possible and work with others to help people and preach the Gospel.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Open To Improvement?

"Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid."
Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV)

One thing that is clear, and often very obvious, is that no one knows everything.  While some people do have a lot of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in general, and even in some specific areas, no person has all knowledge, wisdom, or understanding about everything.  But, if all the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of several people would be combined, then there is a greater amount of all of those things.  This is why it is important for us to be willing to listen to other people, and to be open to correction.

While it is true of knowledge in general, it is also true that no one knows everything about the Bible and the things of God.  We may have learned a great deal about God and some things in the Bible, but there is still so much that all of us do not know, and this is why we always need to remain teachable and open to others giving us instruction, advice, and correction.  If we are not willing to listen to others, then we will never really learn, and we may continue to do or believe things that are wrong.

It is better for someone to tell us what is true than for us to continue doing something wrong or believing the wrong things.  If we are not open to correction, if we somehow think we know everything and no one can correct us, then we are in a sad condition and we are deceived.  We need to be open to advice and correction, about how we do things and especially about what we believe the Bible teaches, to be sure we continue moving forward in the things of God, rather than persist in doing things our way and continuing to believe what we believe, and end up having problems.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Have You Looked In The Mirror?

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;

for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does
James 1:22-25 (NKJV)

Sometimes when I travel, and even when I am just living my life, I see people who look like they have not seen themselves in a mirror lately, and people who do things without realizing how what they are doing looks.  Mirrors are not hard to find, and by looking in a mirror and observing ourselves we can be sure that everything about how we look and act is not completely out of the ordinary, it is not something that might look ridiculous, or something that is out of place or offensive to others.

In his letter, James compared God's Word to a mirror, and James went on to say how some people look in a natural mirror, but then go away and forget what kind of person they are.  In the same way, some Christians look in the Word of God, but then forget who they are spiritually.  God's Word shows us who we really are, what Jesus did for us, and what God wants us to do in life.  But if we never look in the mirror of God's Word, how do we know if the way we live our life is really the way that God intended us to live? 

The Bible has been given to us to help us, and we all need help in various areas of our life from time to time.  We need to live a life based on what God's Word shows us, and not be someone who just looks briefly at what the Bible teaches, and then goes away without making any adjustments.  The only way to really know what is good and right is to check what the Word of God says about something.  We need to look into the mirror of God's Word to see who we really are, what God has planned for us to do, and then act on that.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Right Where You Are

"Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
"Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan
And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there
1 Kings 17:2-4 (NKJV)

There are many ways to locate and contact people, but without any contact information, it is difficult to know where someone is.  If you can locate and contact someone, you can talk with them, give them any necessary information, or give them anything that they might need.  If you do not know where someone is or how to contact them, then of course you would not be able to tell them anything, or give them anything.  Being able to locate and contact someone is the first step to doing anything with them, or for them.

While most, if not all, Christians understand the concepts of God being present everywhere and God knowing all things, they do not always act that way.  Sometimes, especially when there are challenges in life, believers feel as though they are alone and without the help they need to overcome whatever situation they may be facing.  But the wonderful truth is that God knows where we are and how to get us what we need in our life.  We sometimes think that it is all up to us to go someplace or do something to get what we need from God, but God can help us right where we are.

As James 5:17 tells us, although Elijah was a prophet, he was just as human as any of us and he too had things that he needed.   God knew where Elijah was when He told Elijah to go to the Brook Cherith, where God would provide for Elijah.  God knew where Elijah was, God knew how to get Elijah to where he needed to be, and God was able to provide what Elijah needed right where he was.  The next time you face a challenge, remember that God knows where you are now, and He can help you right where you are, with whatever you may need.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Knowing Who You Are, And Are Not

"Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."

And they asked him, "What then?  Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not."  "Are you Elijah?"  "Are you the Prophet?"  And he answered, "No."

Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us?  What do you say about yourself?"

He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord," as the prophet Isaiah said
John 1:19-23 (NKJV)

To understand something, it is necessary to know what it is, and it can be helpful to also know what it is not.  Understanding that water is something you drink and gasoline is something you put in your vehicle is necessary.  Understanding that a mountain lion and a cat are different, is important to know when you are considering getting a pet.  And understanding that someone who plays professional basketball is not going to do well trying to be a jockey riding race horses, helps someone know what work that person is better suited for.

When John the Baptist was questioned by the Jewish religious leaders about who he was, John told them who he was, but John also told them who he was not.  John had an understanding about who he was, and what God had called him to do, and John also knew who he was not.  By understanding both who he was and who he was not, John was able to do what God had called him to do.  If John had not understood not only who he was, but who he was not, John may have had problems fulfilling God's plan for his life. 

There are many Christians who struggle in life because they do not recognize and understand who they are in Christ, and they fail to understand what God has called them to do, and they do not know what He has not called them to do.  As we develop and grow in our relationship with God, we can learn who we are, and we can also see who we are not.  Knowing what God has called us to do, and also understanding what God has not called us to do, will help us be effective members of the Body of Christ, and fulfill God's will for our life.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

How Do You Know For Sure?

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

There are many sources that people get information from.  In the past, people relied on newspapers, magazines, and radio or TV broadcasts to give them news and other information that was necessary.  Today, people still use these methods from the past, and a vast number of modern methods that come to us through the Internet, to share news and information.  But to be sure the things we hear are correct, we need a source to check what we hear, to know for sure if things we hear are right or wrong.

For Christians, and all the things we hear, how do we know for sure whether or not what we hear is true and accurate?  Is it enough for us to rely on the person who is telling us something because they have some title or degree?  Can we trust the accuracy of someone who seems to speak with authority and has many years of experience in Christian service?  The answer of course is no, because if we want to know for sure what is correct, we must go back to the source of truth for us, the Bible.

God's Word is the truth and it is the reliable source for Christians in our life and service to God.  No matter who tells us something, no matter how exciting it sounds, how we feel about something, or what our past experiences may be like, the only way to know for sure what is true is to consult the Bible and see what God has to say about it.  It is wonderful that we have so many methods available to us today to bring us good teaching and preaching, but we must always be sure to check what we hear with God's Word to know for sure what is right or wrong. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Better For Who?

"For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Philippians 1:23-24 (NKJV)

Normally when we do something, we are doing something that we like, that in some way will benefit us.  Most people would not do something that they do not like to do, or get no benefit from, unless they were doing something that had the specific goal of benefiting someone else.  We can do things that are strictly for our benefit, or we can do something that will bring a benefit to someone else, which may somehow also benefit us, but what we do will often be better for one person than it is for another.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was in prison, and Paul talked about how he desired to leave this world to go and be with Jesus, which, as he said, would be far better.  But Paul said that while he wanted to leave here, which would be better for him, Paul understood that it would be better for the people in the church in Philippi if he stayed.  If Paul left this world to be with Jesus, that would be great for Paul, but he would no longer be in a position to help the Philippians. 

Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21 that to live is Christ, but to die is gain, but Paul also said it was better for the people at Philippi if he stayed with them and did not leave this world.  Paul based his decision about what to do on what was better for those people and not what was better for himself.  Rather than just focusing on doing what we want that is just for our benefit, we should be the kind of people who prefer others before ourselves and do what is better for them.  This is the attitude that Paul had, that we see in the life of Jesus, and it is the way we need to live too.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Start Where You Are, And Do What You Can

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Deuteronomy 29:29 (NKJV)

If you were going to take a trip somewhere, you would obviously start the trip from where you are at the beginning of the trip.  If you were building a house, you would have to lay the foundation first before you can put on the roof.  If you were going to buy something, you would first have to go to the store to be able to purchase what you wanted.  With all of these things, you have to start where you are, doing what it is you can and know to do first, before you do anything else.

Sometimes people have dreams, and even dreams that God has given them, or they desire to do something that they see in the Word of God, but they do not know how to go from where they are to where they want to be.  Deuteronomy 29:29 gives us help with this, as we are told that the secret things belong to God, but what has been revealed to us is what we need to do.  The things we know are the things we need to focus on, and that is what we need to start doing right now.  We always have to start with where we are, doing what we can do right now, to get to where we want to be.

It is very easy to get focused on long-term goals and what we would like to do in the future while never actually doing what we can right now.  To achieve our long-term goals and get to our bright future with God, we need to do what we can do now.  Sometimes people get so focused on what they want to do someday that they do not do what they can do today.  The question is not so much what we want to do, but what is it that we know that we can do right now.  This is how we can get to the bright future that God has for us.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Who Opened The Door?

"Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord,"
2 Corinthians 2:12 (NKJV)

Doors can be found in many different places, there are many different types of doors, and, usually, all doors can be opened and closed.  If a door is closed, and someone wants to go through the door, then someone has to open the door.  In some places, certain people are given the job of opening a door, and there are some doors that only certain people have access to.  Doors lead to rooms, hallways, and other areas, but if a door is not open, no one is able to go through it to what is beyond the door.

In 2 Corinthians 2:12, Paul talked about going to the city of Troas to preach the Gospel, and how God had opened a door for him, God opened up an opportunity for Paul, which most likely had to do with Paul preaching the Gospel.  Paul could have said that he opened the door himself or that someone else opened a door for him, but Paul said it was God that opened the door.  Paul went to Troas with the goal of preaching the Gospel, but the opportunity Paul had there in Troas was given to him by God.

Christians are sometimes like Paul where they have a goal in mind, but they need an opportunity, they need a door to open for them.  Too often, people try to create a door, or open a door themselves, and they do not have the success that they want or should have.  The best thing is that we know what we should do, and we are prepared to do it, but we allow God to open the door of opportunity we need, to do what we plan to do.  We need to trust God, not only to follow His direction in our life, but to allow Him to open the door we need, to be able to do what He has directed us to do.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

That Is True, But ...

"And they reported to him and said, we came to the land where you sent us, and indeed it is flowing with milk and honey; and this is its fruit.
But the people that live in the land are fierce, and the cities are walled up, very great.  And also we have seen the children of Anak there.
Numbers 13:27-28 (NKJV)

Things that are true are just that, true.  Two plus two equals four, even though whatever you are counting may be different than what someone else is counting.  Adding two of one thing to two more of that thing is always four.  It would be foolish to spend time debating if two plus two of one thing is the same as two plus two of something else, and then acting as though the sum of two plus two is not always four.  We just need to take the truth we know and make use of it in our life.

In the Old Testament, God led Israel to the Promised Land.  God told His people about all of the great things that would be there in the land for them, and He said that He would be with them and help them.  But, when the people who were sent to look over the land came back with their report, they did not just agree with God that this was their promised land, they talked about the natural challenges and really disagreed with God saying they could not take the land.  Those people basically said that what God said was true, but it would not work for them. 

God never said our life would be easy, or even fair, but God has told us in His Word that He is with us, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, God will supply everything we need, and that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us.  Our attitude should never be that, "Yes what God said is true, but ...".  Instead of focusing on the challenges and problems in life, we need to keep our focus on God's Word and make sure that it is our standard of truth, realizing that no matter what may happen in life, God and His Word will never fail us!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

What Are The User Reviews?

"Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."
Proverbs 27:2 (NKJV)

When you go somewhere to buy something, you expect the salesperson to be positive about what they are selling you.  No matter what the product might be, the people working for the company will tell you how great the thing that they are selling is, and why you should buy it.  But the real question is, what kind of reviews has that product and that company received from people who have bought that product and have used it?  It is always good to check the user reviews about something, and not just listen to what the people with the product have to say.

As Proverbs 27:2 tells us, it is not right for us to just praise ourselves and talk about how wonderful we are, that gets into pride.  We may really be wonderful people, but it is not so wonderful if we are the only one who is always talking about how great we are.  The real question is, what do others say about us?  What kind of "user reviews" are we getting from other people?  We may talk about how great we are, but if everyone else who knows us has nothing positive to say, then we have a problem.

It is interesting to see how often character and reputation are talked about in the Bible.  Acts 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 7, 10 all talk about looking for people with good reputations to fill places of service and leadership.  Someone may tell you about their talent and what they have done, but, what kind of "user reviews" have they received?  While we should not do things to just try and get other people to praise us, or live our life for the approval of others, what others say about us shows what kind of reputation we have, which impacts our influence on, and ability to help, others.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Not Too High, And Not Too Low

"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."
Romans 12:3 (NKJV)

Keeping things in their proper setting is important.  There is a normal reading for things like a person's temperature, and a proper setting for how hot or cold some foods should be kept.  If your temperature got too high, or too low, it would be an indication of a problem.  If some foods are kept at the wrong temperature, they could spoil.  But the first thing that is necessary, is to know the proper reading for your temperature and the proper temperature for keeping food.  This same principle applies in other areas of life too.

In Romans 12, Paul wrote that it is important for a person to not think more highly of themselves than they ought to think, which means that there is a proper way to think about ourselves which would not be too high, or too low.  Thinking wrongly about ourselves is a bad thing to do, and can have negative consequences.  We need a proper view of who we are in Christ, as well as seeing other people the way that God sees them, and have the right perspective on everything.

As Paul points out in Romans 12, we should not think too highly of ourselves.  And it is also true that we need to be sure we do not think too little, or too low, about ourselves.  The only way to do this is by learning what God's standards are for ourselves, others, and everything in life.  By knowing what God thinks about things, we can see how we should think.  We do not want to think wrongly about anything, including ourselves, and we need a proper, biblical view to have the right view and not think too highly, or too lowly, about ourselves.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Something For Everyone

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Some stores specialize in certain things, while other stores offer a larger variety of items.  For example, you can go to a bookstore to buy books, a shoe store to buy shoes, or a pet store to buy a pet, or what you need to take care of a pet.  But you would not go to a bookstore if you were looking for shoes or a pet.  But there are some stores, which in the past were called variety stores, that offer many different things, and practically everyone can find something that they need in this type of a store.

There are many misunderstandings that people have about God and the Bible.  One big misunderstanding that people have is about how God deals with people and what the Bible is all about.  There are people, including Christians, who believe that there are different classifications of Christians and that the Bible is mainly directed towards a certain group of people that God sees as a higher, or different, class of Christian.  This is completely wrong, because every believer is a part of the Body of Christ and the Bible was written for all of us. 

Many people think that the Bible is mainly for some type of super spiritual people, like pastors, missionaries, or Bible teachers.  People often fail to understand that the Bible has something for everyone.  As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, all Scripture is given by God, and it is given to equip the people of God for every good work.  God has given us His Word so that we can be prepared to do everything that we need to do in every area of our life. God's Word has something for everyone, and God's Word will equip us to do what God has planned for us to do.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Submit And Resist

"Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (NKJV)

Submit and resist are two words that mean different things, and those words could be said to be the opposite of each other.  One meaning of the word submit is "to yield to".  The word resist is the opposite of submit and it means "to oppose something or someone".  If you submit to something, it often means you are resisting or opposing someone or something else.  No one can submit to and resist the same thing at the same time; you are either submitting to something or you are resisting it.

In James 4:7 we are told to submit to God and resist the devil.  The word submit here means "to subordinate, to obey", and the word resist in James 4:7 in the Greek means "to stand against".  James tells us that we must obey God and stand against, oppose, the devil.  How do we submit to God?  We do what God says, we follow His plans and His direction in our life.  We are also told to resist the devil.  How do we resist the devil?  By opposing what he says and by not following his direction or plans.

The Bible shows us that we must submit ourselves, and every area of our lives, to God, and we must resist the devil and his influence in every area of our lives.  Jesus gives us a great example of this from when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  When the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus replied with the Word of God.  Jesus submitted to God by focusing on Scripture and Jesus resisted the devil by opposing what the devil said that would have taken Him away from what God had said.  We need to follow the example of Jesus as we submit to God and resist the devil.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Designed For A Purpose

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

Every product you can buy was designed for a certain purpose.  But if the product is not used for that intended purpose, then that thing will not be as effective as it could be if it was in fact used for the purpose it was designed for.  For example, if you took a nice pen, and put toothpaste on it and tried to brush your teeth with it, you would obviously have less than good results, because a pen was not designed for you to brush your teeth with.  To get the best use out of something, we have to use it for what it was designed for.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God's workmanship, God is the One who created us, and He designed us for a purpose.  One of the highest goals any Christian can have is to discover and fulfill the purpose and plan that God has for their life, what He designed them to do.  Once we are saved, we are then supposed to do the good works that God designed us to do.  Our good works do not save us or earn us some position with God, but once we are a part of God's family, we are then supposed to do the good works that God designed us to do.

In 1 Peter 4:10, it tells us that each of us has received a gift that we can use to serve one another.  But, if we do not understand what we were designed to do, we may try to do something God never intended for us to do.  By spending time with God in His Word and prayer, by taking advantage of the opportunities we have to serve others, inside and outside of the church, we can all learn what purpose God designed us for and then be faithful in that.  True fulfillment in life is found when we recognize God's plan and purpose and then fulfill it.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Rooted And Built Up, Or Uprooted?

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving
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 2:6-8 (NKJV)

Trees need to have good roots to grow and develop; a tree without a developed root system could easily be uprooted.  A tree that is deeply rooted has more stability than a tree without a good root system.  If some storm would come, or something would run into the tree with enough force, the tree without the deep roots could be easily uprooted.  No tree could survive if it was planted in one place for a short time and then uprooted and put into a different place again and again.  Trees need strong, developed root systems to grow.

In Colossians 2, Paul talks about how those who have received Christ need to walk (to live) in Him, and be rooted and built up in Christ, established in the faith.  We are planted and rooted in Christ at salvation, but there are things that could uproot us and lead us away from where we are supposed to be, which is what Paul was talking about.  Once we are planted in Christ, we then have to grow and develop in our knowledge of God and His Word to develop deep roots in Christ and be built up and established. 

Paul warned us to be on guard so that no one would "cheat" us, which means to be carried away, through wrong doctrine.  Paul is saying that through wrong teaching we could be taken away from where we should be, we could be uprooted, instead of being deeply rooted in Christ.  By spending time with God in His Word and prayer, and spending time with other Christians, we can develop deep roots in God and our life in Christ.  We need to be rooted and built up in Christ and not let ourselves be uprooted and led astray by anything or anyone.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Who Are You Following?

"Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."
Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"

1 Corinthians 1:12-13 (NKJV)

On various social media platforms, you can like or follow someone or some group.  Obviously, the people or group you follow would be those you support and are interested in, otherwise you would not follow them.  You show what you think about someone or something by how closely you follow them, and if you like what they are doing.  If you really like someone or something, you would want to be closely connected to them, and you would not want anyone or anything to get in the way of your connection to that person or group.

There are many pastors, teachers, preachers, and groups in the world who are proclaiming the Gospel message.  Through social media, and other methods, we are able to connect with and follow these people and groups, which is a great way to continue to learn and grow in our knowledge of God, His Word, and the work that Jesus did for us.  But we all realize, or should realize, that we have to be sure that we follow God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God first and everyone and everything else second.

Most people would not say that they follow some person more than they do Jesus, but do we focus more on some person and their teaching than God's Word and what it tells us?  Are we more in tune to the direction that we receive from some teacher than we are from the Holy Spirit?  While it is good to follow people who are telling us about what Jesus has done for us, we must be sure that we don't get so caught up following them that we lose our focus on following Jesus first and foremost.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

All Shook Up?

"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (NKJV)

While there are some things that need to be shaken to be effective, most things and people do not do well if they are shaken up.  Shaking someone, as in an earthquake, rocking them back and forth in a violent manner, or forcing them up and down repeatedly, will have a negative effect on them.  If something or someone has been shaken too much, then something needs to be done to stabilize that thing or person.  We all need physical stability and security, without that, there can be a multitude of problems.

When he wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul let them know that he did not want those people to be shaken or troubled in any way.  It seems that somehow some wrong teaching had come to the Thessalonian believers, and the results were not good.  When there is wrong teaching, there will be instability, and people can become shaken and troubled.  Paul did not want them to remain in this position but to be stable, and he wanted to stop the shaking, so to speak, by giving them some right teaching.

Although Paul was specifically writing to the Thessalonians and encouraging them to not be shaken or troubled concerning the return of Jesus, this same thing happens in other areas too.  When Christians are not sure what is right and wrong, they can be shaken, and they are then not doing the things that they should be doing.  The solution is to give people correct teaching of Bible truths to counter the wrong teaching that has caused the shaking and the trouble.  We should not be shaken, but we need to be stable, solid Christians who do God's will.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Well Pleasing In His Sight?

"make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)

Were you ever with a group of people who were trying to decide on something, and there did not seem to be any agreement about that thing?  Often in these situations there are differences of opinion, because each person has their own ideas and their own desires about what they want to do.  The only way anything gets accomplished is if some people yield to the desires of someone else rather than insisting on doing what pleases them; they do what someone else wants instead of what they might want.

In Hebrews 13, there is what might be called a prayer, or a benediction, where it talks about God making someone complete (meaning equipped) in every good work to do God's will, and working in them what is well pleasing in His sight.  This is something that every Christian should want to do, to live a life that pleases God and fulfills His will.  Other places in the New Testament talk about living a life that fully pleases God (Colossians 1:10) and that our goal should be to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Our goal as Christians should be to live a life that is well pleasing to God, but it is easy to see that some believers have a greater interest in living a life that is well pleasing to themselves.  While God does not want us to be unhappy and live like we are His slaves, with no will or desires of our own, living a life that is well pleasing to God means that we must make His will our will, no matter what that means for our plans and desires.  If our goal is to please God, it can mean that there will be times we must yield to His will instead of ours.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Not Just A Part, But All Of It

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood
Acts 20:26-28 (NKJV)

If you bought a car, would you be satisfied if the car dealer only gave you the vehicle body without the engine or tires?  Or if you were ordering food in a restaurant, would you be happy if they only brought you a part of the order?  The obvious answer to both of these questions is no.  It would be foolish for someone to say that they only wanted to have a part of a good thing and not all of it.  We don't just want a part of something, we want to have all of it, because if we don't get all of it, we are missing something.

Paul made an interesting and enlightening comment in Acts 20:27, where Paul talked about how he had declared the whole counsel of God; he had not withheld telling the people anything.  Paul did not say he just gave people Gospel highlights or he focused on his favorite topic or two, but Paul was diligent to teach people all of what God's Word has to say, and not just a part of it.  It can be easy to focus on one or two things that we like, but we need the whole counsel of God, we need everything God's Word has to say.

Often people will focus on their favorite Bible topics and stay with that.  Pastors, teachers, and others who share God's Word can be guilty of this in their teaching and preaching, and individual believers can have problems because they become focused on what they consider to be the most important thing in their life at the moment, and neglect other important Bible topics.  God has given us so much in His Word and it is our responsibility to learn, teach, and live the whole counsel of God.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Warning Signs

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.

Proverbs 4:23-24 (NKJV)

Have you ever seen a sign that warned you about a possibly dangerous situation?  Maybe it was just a sign in a store warning you that the floor was wet, or maybe it was a traffic sign telling you about a lane closure ahead, or some construction that was taking place.  In each situation, you needed to be aware of what was going on and be sure to avoid anything that might be potentially dangerous.  It is good to have a warning sign if there is a possibility of something being a problem so that more caution can be taken and the problem can be avoided.

In Proverbs 4, we are told to "keep our heart with all diligence", or in other words, we need to be sure to guard our heart.  It is interesting to see that the first thing that is mentioned in guarding our hearts, the first warning sign is to avoid the wrong kind of talk, wrong words.  While it is not possible to avoid every wrong word that might be said, because we live in a world filled with the wrong kinds of words, as much as we are able, we need to be sure that we avoid the wrong kinds of words that will hinder us spiritually and set us on the wrong course in life.

Proverbs 4:24 tells us to get away from a deceitful mouth and perverse lips.  In 2 Timothy 2:16, Paul wrote to Timothy to "shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness", and in Titus 3:9 Paul told Titus to "avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless".  These are all warning signs that show us the importance of the words we hear and the danger of listening to the wrong things. Right words are a blessing that will build us up, while wrong words will have a negative impact on our life.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Who Gets The Benefit?

"Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
Indeed I have all and abound.  I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

Philippians 4:17-18 (NKJV)

When I was a child, like most children, I did not always want to brush my teeth or go to bed when I was supposed to.  To me, it seemed terrible that my parents would ask me to do such things.  But, was it really the case that my parents were horrible people who were only asking me to do these things for their benefit, or were they asking me to do things that would be for my benefit?  The obvious answer was that the things they were asking me to do were things that would be a benefit to me.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul thanked them for their support of the work he was doing.  Paul shared that he was not simply trying to get something from them, but he was interested in the fruit they would have to their account because they helped him with the ministry he had.  Because the Philippians had supported Paul, they were also going to reap the spiritual fruit of the work that Paul did.  What we do ourselves in serving God, and what we do to help others serve God, will produce fruit and be a benefit to us.

When we hear of a need somewhere or an opportunity to be involved in our church, we sometimes look at it as though we are being inconvenienced or only being asked to do something that will help someone else.  But being involved in our church, helping others, financially supporting our church, and even missionaries, is really as much for our benefit as it is for those we help. When we use our time, abilities, or finances to help others, it not only does them good, but just like Paul explained to the Philippians, it is for our benefit as well.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Working On It

"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
Colossians 1:28-29 (NKJV)

Have you ever had a project that you were working on that you could not complete in just a day?  Maybe you were learning a new language, or it might be that you were doing some long-term home remodeling, or maybe you were in a physical fitness routine with the goal of losing weight or just being in a better physical condition.  Whatever your long-term project was, you would need to keep working on it on a regular basis and you would need to make it a priority, so that you did not lose sight of the project and fail to complete it.

In Colossians 1, Paul talked about his working to present everyone perfect in Christ Jesus, meaning he was helping people become mature believers in Christ.  We can see here, and with other things that Paul wrote about spiritual development, that this was a main objective that Paul had.  Helping people become mature believers was a goal that Paul had, it was something he was always working on.  Paul knew this was something that was not done in one day, and we can see from his life and writings that this was a priority in his life.

The Apostle Paul did many things, but he was always working on developing spiritually mature believers.  Paul traveled a lot, and he was also a tent maker, but his main goal was to help people understand their relationship with God through Jesus and to help people develop into mature believers.  Paul knew that unless someone grows up spiritually that they will not be in the position to do everything that God has called them to do.  Developing spiritually mature believers is something that Paul was always working on, and we should too, for ourselves and for others.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

A Ripple Effect

"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine.  Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
1 Timothy 4:16 (NKJV)

The term "ripple effect" is used to describe how one thing can have an influence on several other things.  For example, when you buy something in a store, you can then use what you bought.  Once you have made your purchase, the store needs to order something to replace what was sold, the company that made the product now needs to make a replacement for the item that you bought, and so on.  We do not always realize it, but one thing we do can have an effect on many other things.

Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16 that Timothy should pay attention to himself and his doctrine (teaching).  The reason Paul gave for this was that if Timothy would be sure to take care of himself, and if he would be sure to have correct doctrine, Timothy would save both himself and those who heard him.  The things Timothy did would affect his own life and the lives of those around him.  This same thing is true for all of us, what we do can make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others.

Most of the time, we think about our lives and what God is directing us to do in relation to how these things will affect us.  As Paul told Timothy, what we do for ourselves and the things we teach, the things we believe, will have an impact on others.  We think about the plan and purpose God has for our lives and how it will effect us, but God sees the ripple effect of how our obedience to His plan and purpose will benefit others.  We all need to realize that what we do, and what we believe, can be a major influence for good in the lives of others.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Who You Are And What You Do

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

When you meet someone for the first time, you usually want to know who they are.  Some people will tell you about themselves and where they come from, while other people will talk about their job and the work that they do.  Both responses are good and will help you get to know someone, but there can be a problem if someone is so wrapped up in the work that they do that it is the primary way that they identify themselves.  Who you are is just as significant as what you do.

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when we are born again, we become a new creation in Christ.  The Bible also tells us that we are a part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and that we are children of God (1 John 3:1-2).  As a new creation in Christ, because we are a part of the Body of Christ, and as the children of God, there are things we will do for, and with God, but the most important part of our life is our relationship with God, not the things that we do for God.

There are many Christians who base their identity on what they do for God, rather than on their relationship with God as a member of His family.  While we are God's workmanship and we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), the fact of being the workmanship of God itself is more important for us than the work we are called to do is.  It is not what we do for God that identifies us or gives us value, it is who we are in our relationship with God that matters.  We all need to realize that who we are in Christ is more important that what we do for God.