Thursday, May 30, 2024

What Do You Pay Attention To?

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,"
1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV)

If you were with a group of people, visiting a historic site or some other attraction, you might talk about what you were looking at, and that could be different things for different people.  For example, if you were at the Rhine River, some people might talk about the river itself, while others talked about a castle or some other building on the river.  If you were at a zoo, different people would likely talk about different animals.  In each case, the river, the buildings, and the animals were all always there, but some people choose to focus on them, and some do not.

What we pay attention to does not just exist when we pay attention to it, but until we pay attention to it, it is not relevant to us.  Paul told Timothy to pay attention to some things, but to not pay attention to others.  There are many good and bad things around us, but we choose what to focus on.  In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter said that just like there were false prophets among God's people in the past, there will be false teachers among God's people today.  The wrong kind of teaching is out there, but we do not have to pay attention to it.  

In 1 Timothy 4:1, we are told that in the latter times, some will depart from the faith.  Why would people do this?  We are told that this will happen because people paid attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.  These seducing spirits and false doctrines were always there, the problem was that people paid attention to them instead of paying attention to God's Word.  People get deceived and in trouble because they focus on and pay attention to the wrong things.  What we pay attention to is important in so many ways; we need to pay attention to God's Word.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Well, That Works For Me

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV)

If something works well for us, does it also work well for other people?  If we are benefited by something, are other people benefited by it as well?  While we do need to pay attention to what is necessary for our own lives, also paying attention to what is helpful for others is definitely a good thingSo many people live self-centered lives, and what they do is mainly in relation to their own well-being and how things work for them.  While this is a natural human tendency, and people generally tend to be selfish, this is not a good way to live.

Paul wrote to the Philippians to be like-minded, to not give in to selfish ambition, to esteem others better than themselves, and to look out for the interests of others.  This kind of thinking goes against the way of the world, where most people seem to only be interested in what works for them in their life.  The point is not just that we need to be nice and considerate to other people, but there is a spiritual principle here.  What may work well for us, and what we might understand, may not work well or be understandable for others.

As Paul told the Philippians, we need to pay attention to the interests of others and what works well for them.  When we look at Jesus, and the life He lived, we never see a time where Jesus insisted on His own way or what He wanted.  Jesus was not focused on His own interests and what might work well for Him or benefit Him, but Jesus looked for what was best for others.  Jesus looked for ways to help people, to teach people what He knew, and to help people understand spiritual truths that He understood.  This is what Jesus did, and it is something we should do too.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Dietary Restrictions?

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
I fed you with milk and not solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NKJV)

If you are selecting a meal for an airplane flight, ordering some food in a restaurant, or if you are planning a meal for other people, the issue of dietary restrictions may come up.  Some people have allergies to certain things, so there are some foods that they should not eat.  But this is not the same as someone who just refuses to eat something, or they have a dislike for something.  Sometimes what someone eats, or will not eat, is not a matter of a dietary restriction, but it is simply a personal preference, and there is a big difference.

When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he said that he could not feed them (teach them) some things, because they were so carnal.  But it is good to see how in this situation Paul still continued to feed the believers the "milk of the Word", which is what they were able to receive.  It was not that Paul was unwilling to teach some things to the believers in Corinth, but there were some things Paul was not able to teach them, because they were not ready to receive it.

God has given us His Word to help us grow spiritually, to see who we are in Christ, and learn what belongs to us because of Jesus.  We do not want to be like the people in Corinth who were too carnal to receive some of the teaching that Paul had, but we want to continually develop spiritually and feed on all of God's Word.  We do not need any spiritual dietary restrictions with God's Word, there is no part of it that should be avoided, because God's Word is good for us and we should willingly receive all of it.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Walking In Love - Fulfilling Requirements

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."
Romans 13:8 (NKJV)

To fulfill, in the sense of a contract or obligation, means to meet all of the necessary requirements.  If you signed a contract to rent an apartment for a year, to fulfill that contract you would then need to rent the apartment for a year.  If you were obligated in that rental contract to pay the rent by the first day of each month, then doing that is what would be necessary in order to fulfill that obligation.  If you did not meet the requirements, or did not do what was necessary, you would not have fulfilled the contract or obligation.

In what we call the Old Testament, God gave the Law to Israel to show them what He required from them as His people, to live the life that they should live.  No person was able to fulfill the Law, until Jesus came and fulfilled it for us.  Today, as New Testament believers, we are not under the Law or the requirements of the Law.  But, the principles of what is found in the Law are still valid for us today.  The New Testament says that if we are led by the Holy Spirit we are not under the Law and that by walking in love we fulfill the Law.

While we no longer live under the Law, we still want to do what is right and not violate any of God's Commandments that were given to show us the right way to live, and we can do this by walking in love.  If we live a life demonstrating the love of God, if we are walking in love towards others, and we always respond with the love of God, we will never violate any of God's commandments.  Love never fails, and living a life of walking in the love of God not only fulfills the requirements of the Law, but it is the best way to live.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Is That Your Fault?

"Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God.
And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart.  So he prospered.

After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah, he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself.
2 Chronicles 31:20 - 32:1 (NKJV)

Newtons' third law of motion says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  This is the same as the idea of cause and effect, saying that something happened because something else prompted that thing to happen.  While this is true, there still has to be some first action to cause a reaction or effect.  Someone or something has to first do something to cause the reaction or effect.  Just because something happens does not always mean something else happened first.

In the Old Testament, we can read about King Hezekiah, and how he was a good king who served God.  But, as we see in 2 Chronicles, King Hezekiah did everything correctly and was still attacked by an enemy.  We can see stories of different kings and people in the Bible who made a mistake or disobeyed God, and they had a problem.  But we can also see examples in the Bible, like the story of King Hezekiah, where people did everything right, and they still had problems.

When something bad happens, is it always our fault?  We need to realize that problems will always happen in this world, even if we do everything right.  King Hezekiah was faithful to God and he was still attacked.  Paul preached the Gospel and people tried to kill him.  Jesus did the will of God and was still persecutedWhen we have a problem, we should not just try to blame ourselves, or even other people.  Instead, we need to look into God's Word and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit to see how to successfully deal with the problem.