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.