Thursday, April 25, 2024

What Are You Called?

"Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
For with God nothing will be impossible
Luke 1:36-37 (NKJV)

A call sign is a name that is given to someone to uniquely identify them, but it is not someone's actual name.  Call signs are said to have originated around the time of WW II, and while they are most often used in the military, people outside the military use nicknames in a similar way.  Usually a call sign, a nickname, what someone is called, is based on something that the person did, some physical characteristic, where they are from, or something else unique to that person that is used to identify them.

In Luke 1, we read about Zacharias, who was a priest, married to a woman named Elizabeth, and they had no children.  One day, an angel appeared to Zacharias and told him that his prayers had been heard and that Elisabeth would have a baby.  This was quite a surprise to Zacharias, as the Bible describes him and Elisabeth as "well advanced in years", but God said they would have a baby.  Up to this time, Elisabeth had been called "barren" because she had no children, but God changed her situation, and what she would be called.

After the angel told Mary that she would have a baby, Jesus, the angel said that Mary's cousin Elisabeth was also going to have a baby.  Elisabeth was called "barren", because she had no children.  But with God all things are possible, and Elisabeth would no longer be called barren, but mother.  No matter what we have been called in the past, with God our name can change.  We can go from being called failure to success, from weak to strong, and from depressed to joyful.  We need to look into God's Word and see what God calls us, and be sure that is what we call ourselves.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Pleasant Words, Or Poison Words?

"Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.
Acts 14:1-2 (NKJV)

What we do can cause a reaction, either positive or negative.  For example, if you went outside without an umbrella when it is raining, you would get wet.  If you went outside without a jacket in the wintertime, you would be cold.  In the same way, if you had an umbrella with you in the rain you would not get wet, and if you wore a jacket in the wintertime you would not be cold.  The point is that what happens in different situations depends on what we do, or do not do; our actions can help to create the results.

Words are powerful.  Words are containers that carry our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs to others.  The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about our words, and we find this idea of the value of our words throughout the Bible.  The words we say can have a positive influence on people, or they can have a negative influence on them.  In James 3, it compares our tongue to the rudder on a ship that sets the course for where that ship is going to go.  Our tongue, our words, can do the same thing, for ourselves and others.

In Acts 14, Paul and his group were preaching the Gospel.  What they said influenced a great multitude of people to believe the Gospel message.  But there were some unbelieving Jews who stirred up the people and "poisoned their minds against the brethren".  Before long, Paul and his group had to leave the city because of the opposition.  Our words can help people believe the truth, or our words can cause people to be poisoned towards something.  The words we say can have a positive influence on people, or they can have a negative influence on them.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Oops, I Accidentally Succeeded!

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

Have you ever started to do something that you were not very confident about, but then you ended up doing it right?  While that can happen, most of the time when we get something right and succeed it is because what we did was intentional.  If we want to do something right, we usually need to have some idea about what should be done, and a plan about how to do it.  People who are successful are not aimlessly going about their business, but they are diligently working with a purpose and doing the things that will bring them success.

When Joshua became the leader of Israel, it was a big thing.  Not only was Joshua taking over for Moses, who had successfully led the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and to the Promised Land, but now Joshua was in charge of a nation of people, with the responsibility of leading those people into the fulfillment of God's plan for them, that was a huge responsibility!  But God was not just sending Joshua out on his own, God gave Joshua a plan on how to succeed in what he needed to do.

In Joshua 1:8, God gave Joshua a plan for success: speak the Word, meditate in the Word, and do the Word.  This is the plan that worked for Joshua, and it will work for us too.  It was not a matter of Joshua trying something, hoping it would succeed, and if it worked that would be great, God told Joshua exactly what to do.  God is giving us the same plan today, so we do not have to just hope for success, and be surprised when it happens.  Our success with God can, and should be, intentional, not accidental.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Value Of Good Relationships

"And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.  And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.
Acts 9:26-28 (NKJV)

Relationships are valuable, and with the right relationships we can accomplish great things.  We all have some relationships: relationships with people we work with, relationships with people in our church, relationships with people where we live, and relationships with people in our family.  Good relationships help us grow and develop, and we can even learn things from negative relationships that we have had, although we need to cultivate the good relationships and avoid the bad ones.

Relationships are important, because they are ways for us to connect with others who we can help, and who can also help us.  Relationships are a key in our life, because relationships can benefit us in the areas of growing and developing in our personal and spiritual lives.  Relationships are important for several reasons, and we see the value of relationships in many places in the Bible.  A great example of the benefits of good relationships is seen in the life of the Apostle Paul in Acts 9.

In Acts 9, Saul, who later became known as the Apostle Paul, wanted to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him and did not trust him.  Paul was not able to make the connection himself, but then another disciple, Barnabas, helped connect Paul with the disciples.  Paul had the right intentions, but was unsuccessful in what he tried to do, until someone else helped him bridge the gap.  We need to develop the relationships we have and be open to new relationships, because sometimes a relationship will help us connect to someone, or something else, that is vital to God's plan in our life.