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.