Monday, July 3, 2017

Divinely Planted
Have you ever given much thought as to why you are where you are in life right now? If you had a choice, would you be somewhere else? Would you be doing something completely different? If so, would that change truly complete your purpose in life?

So many people wish there lives away by wanting to be somewhere else or to be someone else. Is this you? We have seen others in our lifetimes do the same and many of them ended up in a worse state. There is such a thing as being in the right place at the right time, especially if God is in the picture. Divine intervention has had its place in creation from the very beginning. If you are a Christian, God has you where you are for a reason. When He is ready to make a move for you, it will come. There is no reason for any of us to rush His timing.

        When we take a look at biblical history, we find that God placed certain people in certain places to fulfill His divine plan for mankind. Any alterations could cause major outcomes for future events. “Back to the Future” was a three part production that had people moving forward and backwards in time. Depending on how they altered history had an outcome on events and lives. There is a new tv series called “Timeless.” At least six people are jumping forwards and backwards in time and truly upsetting the outcome of events. Some of their decisions have caused people to have never been born and for others, death before their time. In both instances the future was changed and not always for the better.

      God has chosen us to be us to be right where we are at this exact moment for a specific reason. For most of us we just haven’t figured it out yet because we are wanting to jump. Solomon made it very clear in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes that everything has its season. A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted. That includes all of us. It is very hard to work on someone else’s time table, but we have done it most of our lives by working for an employer. We can’t make our own hours and expect to keep our jobs, therefore we shouldn’t think that we can do our own thing when it comes to God and then enter into the heavenly kingdom. Doing our own thing will get us fired from our secular jobs and it will most assuredly keep us out of heaven.

     Remember the parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3-9)? Have you ever wondered why the seed that was planted in you caused you to stay faithful to the church? It is because of God’s divine planting. He saw you as fertile soil that could make a difference in His creation. The question is, have you been living up to His expectations? Your seed could have easily landed by the wayside and been devoured by birds or on the rocky soil where there was little soil and you would have been scorched by the sun or in the thorn bushes where you would have been choked to death, but it didn’t. Since your seed fell on good soil, you are expected to yield some fruit. How much fruit have you brought forth since your plantation – 30, 60, 100 fold? Just remember, God does not make mistakes! He does not make us to anything! If we want to be pleasing in His sight as He is pleasing in our sight, then we need to be busy in the vineyard planting.

Conduct Ready
Is your conduct in check? This is possibly one of the most important questions to ask ourselves on a daily basis, especially if we are trying our best to imitate Christ. Others are checking us out, so why not check on our own selves as well! Our conduct is nothing more than our behavior. How is your behavior these days?

Paul wrote to young Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:15 and said this, but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.” The purpose for Paul writing this epistle was that men might know how to live in the church. Christians must learn to live with each other in order to live in the church. The church family of God. God is the Father. Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ. Love of God can only exist where brotherly love exists. Paul taught Christians how they are to live in the church of the living God. How are YOU doing so far?

James, the half brother to Jesus, had this to say about our conduct. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good works in meekness of wisdom. The wise and understanding person lives a good life with meekness of wisdom. Meekness means gentleness, humility, courtesy and consideration toward others. Meekness is the opposite of a rough, egotistic, unyielding attitude. A lack of meekness indicates a lack of wisdom. The Bible teacher must live what he teaches! How is YOUR check on meekness of wisdom in YOUR life today?

Peter reminds us in 1 Pet. 1:17, that God the Father is no respecter of persons and will judge according to each man's work. How will God judge you and your works? Will He be pleasantly pleased or unpleasantly disappointed? The rest of this first mentions your sojourning in fear. This means having the proper respect for God or reverence for Him as we are only here for a very short time.

In Phil. 4:9, Paul exhorts us to follow his example by becoming doers of the Word. He shows us that Christian conduct is built on biblical content and is vital because it results in the very presence of the God of peace. Verse 9 must not be separated from verse 8. Our thought life forms the basis for our behavior. If our conduct is simply outward conformity to the expectations of the Christian crowd, it is not genuine and will not stand up under pressure or temptation. Christian conduct must flow out of a Christian thought life. A Christian thought life is the result of genuine conversion, where God imparts to us a new nature that is able to please Him.

The Christian life, therefore, is not merely a modification of the natural life, it is a new life and Christians do not merely add something to their lives, they are people who have been changed at the center, they are entirely different from the world.

Have you noticed a critical change in your life since surrendering to Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have others been able to notice this change as well? Pray to God that you will always be pleasing to Him day in and day out. In the end, this is what truly matters and determines where YOU will spend eternity. Consider your ways!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Church Idleness
Do you ever feel sluggish, run down? Most people do and this is normal, but it not healthy if it happens in the church body. Like physical ailments, disorder in the church, if left unattended, will only increase causing greater and greater sickness and pain within the membership.

It is evident that the church in Thessalonica had an idleness problem. Because of their wrong response to the imminent return of the Lord, the problem of idleness touched on briefly in 1 Thessalonians, seems to have grown worse. There were those in the church who had evidently stopped working and were running about in excited idleness from house to house in anticipation of the Lord's return at any moment. This wrong response to prophetic truth not only led to idleness and the lack of ability to support oneself and family, but it had resulted in some becoming busybodies. It appears they also expected the church to support them. It is entirely possible that it was this group that had been spreading some or perhaps all of the false teaching discussed in chapter 2 of this epistle. Further, they were probably guilty of spreading rumors or gossip about others in the church and using as their defense, the Lord's soon return. Do you or have you known of those in the church today who are like this? They might be few, but they are among us.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Paul had warned these busybodies to stop such idleness and get back to quietly working with their own hands. He later urged the believers there to admonish the unruly or undisciplined. In view of this chapter, it is clear that either they had not heeded Paul's admonishment or they had not listened to the admonishments from the church body. We must be aware that admonishment is necessary in the Lord's church today if we are going to keep harmony and oneness among the faithful.

What happened within the church at Thessalonica is a sad illustration of either wrong interpretation or wrong application of biblical truth. The New Testament does teach the imminent, any-moment possibility of the return of the Savior for His church; it is imminent, but no one knows when He will return. It could be today, but it might not be, as has been the case for hundreds of years. The principle is that we are to live as though it will be today while working and continuing on in life as though it won’t be for years to come. We must hold both truths in proper balance. As seen previously, the coming of the Lord, with all that it means to believers, is to be a strong motivation to godliness and obedience to the directives of God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. Misinterpretations and misapplications of the truths of God's Word can cause endless trouble. Any teaching that encourages us to disobey another divine teaching is not Bible teaching.

So, what does the Bible teach about manual (mental) labor? For one thing, labor was a part of man's life before sin entered the scene. God gave Adam the job of dressing and guarding the Garden (Gen. 2:15). Although sin turned labor into almost hopeless toil (Gen. 3:17-19), it must never be thought that the necessity for work is a result of sin. Man needs work for the fulfillment of his own person. God created him to work. Have you noticed that God called people who were busy at work? Moses was caring for sheep (Ex. 3). Joshus was Moses' servant before he became Moses' successor (Ex. 33:11). Gideon was threshing wheat when God called him (Jud. 6:11ff), and David was caring for his father's sheep (1 Sam. 16:11ff). Our Lord called four fishermen to serve as His disciples and He Himself had worked as a carpenter. Paul was a tent maker (Acts 18:1-3) and used his trade to support his own ministry.

The circumstances of life (sickness, loss of a job, economic conditions) sometimes keep people from working, so the question was not one of inability, but unwillingness. (See 2 Thes. 3:10) What is your condition today? Are you willing or unwilling to labor for the Master? What if someone was writing an epistle about the your church family. What would they say about your work ethics for the cause of Christ? Something to think about!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Choosing What's Right
God told the children of Israel, “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you...” (Deut. 6:18a) Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts (Prov. 21:2). By making the right choices we too we will be pleasing to God and will be able to live with our decision making.
One of the toughest things we will do in life is trying to make right decisions. Is this always accomplished? NO! With wrong decisions comes regrets and no one likes to be regretful. So how do we remedy making wrong choices? The only way would be to include God in ALL your decision making. In doing so, you would know that whatever transpired was God's will. The next thing that would have to happen is that you would have to be content with the outcome.
For most people it is very hard to turn control over to another entity. We usually struggle with this because we like thinking we are in control, even when we truly know that we are not. We have a way of disappointing ourselves, whereas God NEVER disappoints. If this is true, then it makes sense that we would want God to be a part of everything we decide to do. This includes what we should eat, what we should wear, what we should watch, where we should go and what we should listen to. All this would sound pretty trivial to most folks, but shouldn't be trivial at all to those who are striving to be the best Christian they can be for Jesus.

There are going to be times when you just don't know what to do. This is when we must be in much prayer, seeking God's will. Jesus said, “seek and you will find...he who seeks finds” (Matt. 7:7b, 8a). The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16b). Sometimes what we think to be right, can be very wrong. So much so, that we can be sincerely wrong! Once we do realize our mistake, we should want to correct it immediately. Owning up to wrong choices will bring honor to God and respect with our fellow man. Nothing wrong with admitting a wrong!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Anger Management
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Eph. 4:26-27) All of us know that this is much easier said than done. When it comes to anger management, we are all works in progress. It is very hard to be angry and not sin, but if God's word tells us to do it, then it must be possible. On the other hand, if we are not working at correcting our anger problems, then we are definitely giving the devil opportunities in our lives that he does not need. He will be the one to see that we do not say the much needed words “I'm sorry” before the sun goes down, which carries over to the next morning and ruins a brand new day the Lord has blessed us with. Anger then leads to a pride problem that will need to be managed as well.

Do you desire to live a righteous life? If so, then you need to heed the words of James, Therefore my beloved brethren, let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath (anger); for the wrath (anger) of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20) Most of us do the opposite. We are swift to speak and to become angry, but very slow to listen and hear. The writer of Proverbs 19:11 has the solution to our anger issues. He says, A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression. Of course we know that discretion is the freedom to decide what should or should not be done in a particular situation. If we make the right choice, then we do not have to be concerned about our anger, but if we make the wrong choice, then......

There are some people who thrive on anger. God's word has this to say about that. Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools. (Eccl. 7:9) There are numerous fools in the world, but YOU DO NOT want to be among their number. We all do foolish things every now and again, but that does not automatically make us fools. Amen? A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. (Proverbs 15:18) A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) Paul, writing to the Colossians, said we are to put away anger (Col. 3:8). He also proclaimed the Ephesians, Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Eph. 4:31)

Anger is a destroyer of relationships. Jonah had this problem because of what God told him to do in the city of Nineveh. After seeing the city of Nineveh repent, Jonah becomes furious. He was angry that the Lord would show compassion to this city. You see, Jonah knows that God is a merciful and compassionate God. He gives second chances. He spares us His wrath. Although Jonah loves this about God when God’s compassion is shown to him (Chapter 2), but is angry towards God when it is shown to Nineveh (Chapter 3). You see Jonah wants to receive mercy from the Lord, but he doesn’t want God to show His mercy to others, especially the Ninevites. God responds with just a simple question, “Do you do well to be angry?” I like the NLT of this verse, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” In other words, God is questioning Jonah’s angry. Jonah why are you getting so upset about this? Why is this bothering you so badly? Throughout this whole book Jonah has been nothing but a spoiled brat. He wants to receive the mercy of God for himself, but he doesn’t want God to show it to others. (Jonah 4)

Now what does this mean for you and me? First, God has compassion on all people, not just us. Second, we must repent of our self-centered hypocrisy and anger. Third, remember that God gives mercy to those who repent. Yes, we all have anger issues, but if we truly want to please God, then we need to earnestly work on getting rid of our anger. Are you working at being more like Christ or are you satisfied with the way you are now? Remember, we have the ability to choose!

Hole Punching Darkness
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

Have you ever wondered why you are where you are right now? Could it be that God wants you to do some hole punching in the darkness of this world? Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:14-16

You might say, “I am the only Christian where I work and most of my co-workers make fun of me!” Apparently you have forgotten that the least amount of light drives away the greatest amount of darkness. Perhaps this is why God placed you in that particular work environment. He planted you there so you could be a witness against all the darkness.

Sure, each of us would love to work in an environment where all people love righteousness and everyone loves each other. We know that that work place is reserved only for heaven. Meanwhile, God wants you to be the kind of light that continues to punch holes in the darkness of sin sick hearts.

Just remember that this world has a sickness, a terminal condition that the people are medicating with drugs, sex, money, etc. The cure is Jesus who is the real joy and you are part of that joy when you bring light to that darkness. Keep your head high and look daily for that joy and never let anyone steal it from you.  For the Christian, punching holes in darkness should become a daily routine. Are you up for the challenge?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Life Without Me!

Have you ever given any thought as to how this world would be without you? Yes, that's a crazy thought and who would think such a thing, right? Maybe some self-righteous individual? Maybe someone who is very insecure? Maybe just a plain ole Joe or Jane! How different would the life you've built be if you had never existed?

We can start with your very beginning. You would never have brought a bundle of joy to your mom and dad or to the family as a whole. If you had siblings, then they wouldn't have had an older or younger sibling and in some cases a twin. Maybe they wouldn't have had anyone to push around, look up to or praise. What about the friends you've made since you've been alive? There might be some decisions you helped them with that changed them for the good. If you were a naughty child, then the influences you had on those friends would have been avoided. How about all the lives you touched through your generosity, kindness, compassion and thoughtfulness? Just think how void their lives would have been.

In the movie “It's a Wonderful Life” there is a movie line that brings significance to this article. Clarence says this to George: “Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives and when he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he? Whether we know it or not our lives impact many people around us. In fact the ripple effect of one person's life is impossible to measure. There is no way to fully know the effect your life has on this world.

Since you are here and you are effecting lives, just how are you doing that? Only you can answer that question unless those that are being effected are willing to step up and tell you themselves. We all hope and pray our effects are positive, encouraging, and uplifting. If this be the case, then we want them to be long lasting as well. If they are just the opposite of what was listed, then we hope and pray they are short lived.

Let's take a brief look at the lives of Peter and Paul for example. We know that it was Peter that identified Jesus as the Christ, God's Son. It was Peter that Jesus gave the keys of heaven (Matt. 16:16-19). Would we even know that Jesus was the Christ if Peter had not spoke up and said so? Possibly! Possibly not! Jesus also gave the Great Commission to all the disciples and to us, but it was Peter who led the rest of the apostles when that first great sermon was preached at Pentecost in A.D. 33 (Acts 2) as to how we are to be saved. It was Paul who also spoke and explained the gospel in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Surely we read of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the gospel accounts, but would we identify those events as being the gospel if it were not for Paul? We can see how significant their lives were and are to us today. We could list milestone after milestone about their lives and realize how void this world would be without either of them. They are not the only ones for sure!

We all know of individuals that have made major contributions to mankind and more personally to our own lives that could be mentioned and maybe even praised for their accomplishments. We know that Jesus did not look for praise from men but He deserves all the praise mankind can give because of what He did for all of us. This morning we are going to not only talk about how wonderful life is, but how less wonderful it would be if we never heard of the man called Jesus. Talk about a great void that would be felt since we know all that He has done and is still doing for His fellow man.