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.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Do It Yourself

"Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters.  But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God."
1 Samuel 30:6 (NKJV)

Some people know about things like cars, lawn care, and home repairs, to the extent that they are skilled in those various areas, and they can do many things for themselves with those different things.  But then there are other people who are not very skilled in some of these things, and those people need to call someone else to do their work for them.  It is wonderful to know someone else who can do something for you, but it is even better if you can do it yourself.

In 1 Samuel 30, David was in a difficult situation.  While David and his men were away, an enemy attacked the city where David and his follower's families lived, burned the city, and carried away the women and children.  In this terrible situation it says that everyone was grieved, and the people even talked about killing David.  David could have given in to the feelings of distress that everyone else felt, but that would not have helped.  No, when things looked bad, David strengthened himself, he encouraged himself, in the Lord.

David could have waited until someone else did something to change the mood of the group, but that may have been too late.  Instead, David took the initiative and strengthened himself in the Lord.  David put himself in the position to hear from God, and God gave David direction about what to do.  The next time you have a problem, don't just passively wait for someone else to do something or just hope things will change, get your focus on God, strengthen yourself in the Lord, and take the steps that God will give you to bring you the victory you need!