Friday, October 1, 2010

Who's the Boss?

Read Ephesians 6: 1-9

Verses 1-3 echo in the ears of children the world over. Parents have them committed to memory, ready to recite at a moments notice when their young ones need reminding. Yet the truth remains. We do need reminding, and often. It would also do the parents well to remember the other side of this coin.

Ephesians 6: 4

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

God designed the family according to His purpose. Children are called to honor and obey their parents. Parents are to love and nurture their children. They are to grow up with the same loving care and instruction that Christ gives the church. A child should know that in obeying their parents, they will be following rules set for their benefit and protection.

At first glance, Verses 5 – 9 seem a little out of date and easy to skip over. This is far from the truth. It is all in the wording. Take into account the time in which it was written. Men and women labored at their own household or estate. If they worked elsewhere it was as a servant or slave. The modern equivalent would be the employee / employer relationship. Read it now in this perspective.

Ephesians 6: 5-8

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

We are called to make every aspect of our lives a testimony to Christ. God places us in people’s lives. He puts us in situations that allow us to shine His light before those who are in need of it. It will not always be easy, but this is God’s will.

Ephesians 6: 9

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.

How many of us have had to deal with an impossible boss or supervisor? We know that we are called to be submissive, and do what is required of us, even in these situations. Those of us who find ourselves on the other side would do well to keep this in mind. God has made us the stewards of much. When we are called to lead, it is for the good of others, not just ourselves. In what way are we extending the love of the Lord to those who work for us? Are we being the type of masters that our own expects of us?

1 Corinthians 10: 31

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God

We would do well to remember this. We are all God’s children. We are all His servants. No matter our place in the between, these things do not change. We are the citizens of heaven and should be conducting ourselves as such.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A better Harvest

Read 2Corinthians 9: 6-15

This is a prosperity message if I have ever heard one. Paul is urging the people of the church to give and reminding them of God’s promise. It is very easy to think of this message in terms of money. After all, that is what most often comes to mind when we think of giving and generosity. It certainly plays a role in the description of riches and abundance.

2 Corinthians 9: 10-11

Now he who supplies the seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

We read this and get excited. Who doesn’t like the prospect of having more? We live in a society that thrives on it. The truth is that God wants us to live abundantly. He wants us to have more. This, however, doesn’t mean millions of dollars for everyone. For some, it will be exactly that. There will always be those called to support the church financially. Bills must be paid, and the tools for outreach require funding. We are called to support our pastors financially as they support us spiritually. This however, isn’t the path for all.

2 Corinthians 9: 7

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We all have a calling. We all have something that we know should be given to the Lord. We know what we should give. It has already been decided in our hearts. What remains is to be faithful in this very thing.
Some are called to sing, make a joyful noise. When those with this calling are obedient to the Lord, their talent is multiplied. God makes them rich in talent, that they may share it with others to the glory of His kingdom.
Another may find that he is gifted with the pen, and can write words to reach and inspire others. Through this, the gospel can be shared with those who would otherwise not hear it. Words can uplift those who are not within range to hear.
Still, another may be gifted to paint, to build, to organize resources. There are many callings, many gifts. Every one of these can be utilized to spread the gospel, to reach out and uplift our fellow man. These gifts are meant to further the kingdom. We are called to use them for His glory. We are often called in areas where we feel weak, or without resources. Remember, that He who supplies the seed will increase your store if you trust in Him.
We give our praises to God and so will those who are blessed by our gifts. More are drawn in to the kingdom. The kingdom of God only gets richer as it grows. There is the prosperity my friends. We grow richer as the children of God, the heirs of the kingdom. We grow richer in the gifts that we share. We become better equipped to serve the Lord and to serve one another.

2 Corinthians 9: 12-15

The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

Read this again. God has promised us so much more than we could attain on our own. He will multiply the measure of talent and treasure that we share. Our seed will lead to an increase in the harvest. He has promised us His grace. We will also have the prayers of those who are touched by our obedience, by the example that God has called us to live. Prayer is powerful. It is what defines us. The Old Testament tells us over and over again that God’s people were known by their prayer. That we are called to do works that inspire prayer is an amazing thing. There is nothing more powerful.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Read 2 Corinthians 5: 1–10

We live in a society where nothing is good enough. We seek satisfaction at every turn. We push at work for the next pay bracket, hoping that satisfaction will come with a bigger income. There will be more money. Then, maybe, we can get the right clothes and the right house. Then we will be satisfied. The day comes. We move forward with excitement and are happy at first. It is a change. It is exciting. Then comes the disappointment. The new home isn’t what we were hoping for. Someone spills juice or soda on that brand new sweater and it is ruined. Even worse, we look next door only to find that we are behind again. There is something newer and better out there that we do not yet have. Surely, fulfillment will come with that. Surely, once we are set in the new standard, we will be secure.

People put themselves through all sorts of torment to achieve the perfect body, the perfect look. There are books and magazines showing us how we should look. If we can only make the sacrifice to match the image on that cover, then we will be happy. Then we will have confidence. We won’t be so insecure.

We, as a culture, certainly have it wrong. That yearning inside us all is very real. Every single living person knows deep in their core that they were meant for something more. Every person, day in and day out, deals with the insecurity that comes with having to do without. We feel naked, and unsheltered. We are exposed to the world and all of its harm because nothing we can produce, nothing we can buy, will really protect us. Nothing of this world can cover us like the Lord.

God gave us these bodies. They are our earthly tents. We do well to take care of them. Our bodies are indeed temples to the Lord. We are to take care of them. We are to keep ourselves healthy and in good shape, not to impress our peers, but to enable us to do the Lord’s work in this world. God also has another body that awaits each and every one of us. The day will come when we are clothed in our heavenly bodies. We will be covered by His heavenly house. There will be no need for the worries of this world.

Now think on this. We are born, knowing that there is something better. We are born, knowing that nothing in this world will satisfy. Where along the way do we become disillusioned and begin searching for fulfillment in earthly things?

2 Corinthians 5: 1

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

2 Corinthians 5: 2-3

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

2 Corinthians 5: 5

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Remember that. We have this yearning for a reason. God wants us to strive for something better. We are to prepare ourselves, and this world for His kingdom. We have been given the Spirit as a guide, as our deposit. Our place is guaranteed. There is no question, or fear of failure. We have His promise.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block

Read 1 Corinthians 8

Our faith in Christ has opened the door for His grace to wash us clean. He has made us strong. Through Christ, we can withstand any test. No obstacle is impassable nor any challenge too great. Nothing of this world can touch us. We who are one in Christ are free to walk in faith with no fear of this world or its trappings.
This does not mean that we can live without consideration for those around us. It is our calling as the body of Christ to lift up those who are our brothers and sisters. It is our desire that all would live in the light of Christ.
Not everyone has the same strength. All men do not share the same weakness. Not all men exercise the same faith. Our faith lets us tread through enemy territory without fear of capture. We must remember to always walk in the Spirit, lest we become the stone that causes another to stumble. We must remember the weakness in our brothers and sisters, as we would expect them to do for us. We would never willing lead a friend to a deadly fall. We pray the Lord’s Prayer. Remember what we ask.

Luke 11:4

“… And lead us not into temptation”

We must be careful as brothers and sisters to not lead one another into the very temptation that we pray God keeps from us. He has granted us many freedoms. We must use them to further His kingdom and not to spread doubt and confusion.
In 1 Corinthians 10:23–33 Paul further explains the responsibility that comes with our freedom. Our faith keeps us safe in situations where one who is new in Christ might falter. One who does not know Christ at all might see the example we set and without understanding, be led further astray. What image do we portray for Christ’s church?

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but seek the good of others.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So whether you eat or drink or whatever else you do, do it all for the honor and glory of God.

It is simple when you think about it. We are ambassadors of Christ, and must conduct ourselves as such at all times. We are His body. When people look at us, do they see Him?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stoned for Christ

Read Acts 6-7

Stephen was a man filled with the Holy Spirit. That is pretty much all that is said about his qualifications. The apostles chose him as one of the seven lay leaders for this reason alone. He wasn’t an honor grad from some bible college and had not spent a single day in seminary. Stephen was a spirit filled man who loved God with his whole heart.
God isn’t impressed with our earthly accomplishments. We don’t earn extra points for an expensive education or extensive financial backing. God wants our hearts. He demands that we seek after him. This is a requirement that Stephen had in spades.
Acts 6:8 tells us that Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. Many miracles and wondrous signs were performed through him. Elders in the church of the day grew jealous and tried to accuse Stephen of heresy, but no one could match the wisdom that God had given him. Stephen could not be out witted.
In the end, the only thing the enemy could use against him, were blatant lies. Even these he defeated easily with God given wisdom. This only angered his enemies more. They were filled with so much jealousy and raged that they decided to kill him anyway. The masses were ready to stone him to death.

Acts 7:54 – 60

When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

Stephen did not try to run. He did not try to fight, or make excuses for his faith. Stephen was filled with the peace that only Christ can give. He simply told the truth. He shared the message of Christ and prayed for those who were lost. He followed the example set by Christ, even to his own death. If only we all shared his faith and commitment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When life is the pits...

Read Daniel 6

Daniel’s career was on the rise. He was one of only three administrators who managed one hundred and twenty satraps. There was only one position higher in Babylonian government and Daniel was slated for this as well. He would be second only to the king. People grew jealous and things went downhill from there.
We often find ourselves facing this same lot in life. Character bashing isn’t only for politicians. The enemy is eager to use those around us to drag down a believer. It is as simple as this. People will test you. Sometimes it is a temptation. Other times it is a requirement imposed for the sole purpose of causing you grief. The person doing it knows very well that what has been demanded is contrary to your beliefs or even out right impossible to deliver.
When these things happen, we should follow Daniel’s example. He prayed. It was the very thing that he had been told not to do. God always comes first and Daniel knew this. He also knew that God is in control of all things and can turn anything to good if we let him.
Look at things from this perspective. The other satraps and administrators were testing Daniel, but they weren’t the only ones watching. The king realized that he had been tricked and was powerless to stop events from unfolding. Read what he said to Daniel.

Daniel 6:16
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lion‘s den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

King Darius did not know God. He had no relationship with the Lord. He knew Daniel. He knew the things that God had done for Daniel in the past. He also knew that Daniel had faith in God that he was willing to die for. This meant that Daniel’s actions during this time were crucial to his testimony to the power and faithfulness of the Lord. The opportunity was not wasted. The king saw the power of faith first hand. He saw what was possible when serving the one true and living God.

Daniel 6:26-27

“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is a living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed and his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Just as Daniel’s enemies tried to trip him up, our enemy attacks us daily. Some attacks are more obvious than others. Sometimes he fails so miserably that we don’t even notice. Other times we fall victim and find ourselves on the brink of despair. We find ourselves thrown to the lions. In these times we need to lean on our faith. We need to take hold of it and trust God. He can use anything for good. It worked out pretty well for Daniel.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where is you linen belt?

Read Jeremiah 13: 1-11

It is a powerful illustration that God gives to Jeremiah. How many of us take a look back and realize that we have left our linen belt to the elements? Will we continue on as we have and let it fall to ruin? God has made a covenant with all of us. That covenant was signed and sealed by Jesus Christ. He has purchased our freedom with His blood. The father is our provider. His son Jesus is our advocate, our savior. We have been given many gifts, and the Holy Spirit has come to us as the foreman to ensure that we know how to use them and use them well. He is there to ensure that we finish strong. He guides us, instructs us, and is our comforter when the task seems to be too much.
We have all heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it.” Trainers like to use that phrase. Unused muscles fall to atrophy. Unused talents lose there edge without practice. Are our spiritual gifts any different? We have been given everything by God. Nothing can happen unless He allows it.
God gave everything to the people of Israel. They lived in a blessed land, rich in every form of wealth. On the thrown, was a line of kings promised by God to continue for all eternity. They could not fail. He would not let them. Nobody had it better than the people of Israel. If someone gave you all of the riches you desired, would you be grateful? What if you were given the promise that your continued faithfulness would be rewarded in this way for all eternity? The people of Israel had exactly that, and yet the faltered. They fell away. They squandered their wealth and ignored the gift of God’s promise.
That promise became useless to them. God did not remove His blessing or His promise. At the same time, the people of Israel had lost faith and wasted their gifts. God did not take them away. He made them useless to those who would not use them. They were ruined, like the linen belt left to the elements for many days.
In Christ, God’s promise to Israel is fulfilled. David’s line will reign forever. Christ, the King of Kings’ reign will never end. He is the redeemer and he has made a new covenant with us.

Matthew 26:27-28

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Christ has made with us a new covenant. We have His promise. We have also been given new gifts. We have been promised all the riches of the kingdom of heaven. We are to be it’s citizens. We have been given the gifts we need to further that kingdom now. They are the gifts that we need to make it grow. They are the gifts we need to glorify God and to spread his message to our fellow man, lifting up one another in love and kindness.
In 1 Corinthians 12 we read about the many spiritual gifts given to us, the people who make up the body of Christ. Every part has it’s purpose and all are needed to function as we should. What is your gift? Do you know? You have one. Every one of us does. Get into the scriptures. Pray to the Lord. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you. He is there, waiting. We are His. Our father and provider wants to see us succeed. Our advocate is ready, at the banquet, to stand beside us before the father and call us friend. He has already paid the price of our admittance. The Holy Spirit is there for us. Our foreman is working to ensure that we get the job done between now and the day of the feast.
We have been given the tools to succeed. These gifts have been given to us by God. Will we use them to the fullest or will our linen belts fall to ruin?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Standing Opposed

2 Timothy 2:14

Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee the desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servants must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Some instructions are harder to swallow than others. We are called to act in faith and love. We are to spread the word of God and pray for the coming of His kingdom. Sometimes we meet up with some fierce opposition. Often, people will not want to listen. Nothing has changed in this area since the days when Christ walked the earth. Other times the opposition may be more direct.
We may find ourselves ostracized from a group that would otherwise offer open arms. People with impressive credentials, or in powerful positions will stand in the way of our calling to spread the good news. Sometimes they will attempt to call you out, so to speak, and make you look the fool by contradicting you in public.
Do not let this draw you into the confrontation that the enemy desires. It won’t take long to lose your temper. At that point it all goes south. Words spoken in anger often discredit us even in tasks of the most mundane nature. How much more credibility will you lose when you are supposed to be representing the Kingdom of Heaven? We are ambassadors of the Lord and are expected to act accordingly. The word of God stands on it’s own. God is not in need of our attempts to justify His words. Christ is our advocate. It need not be the other way around.
We have to remind ourselves that those who seem to oppose us are not always the enemy himself, but his misguided tools. We are up against a far greater threat than that heckler in the crowd, or that public figure who has taken the opposition to a very personal level.

Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

There are spiritual forces that throw themselves at us daily. When they can’t touch us directly, they come at us through others. Yes, those people have allowed it to happen. Often, they have even invited those forces in and are working willingly along side them. This does not change one simple fact. They are lost.
God has directed us to pray for them too. Christ would not have healed the possessed if they, as individuals were truly the enemy. No, it is those doing the manipulating that we must come against in prayer. It is hard to resist fighting what you see in front of you. Everything inside you knows the truth and is ready to defend it to the very end. We want to win the day and further the kingdom against the enemy. Remember that God is far more equipped than we will ever be. We are to spread His gospel and to offer our prayers. Rebuke the spirit behind the sin and opposition. Pray for those who seem to cause the trouble. Remain steadfast and do not give in. We are to set the example and pray for those who resist and even move against us. Let God move in the situation and in the lives of those involved. Remember to do as God directs us and trust Him to do the rest. It is not our place to improvise on His instructions.

Ultimately, it is His will. It is His kingdom. It is His glory.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spiritual Debt: Are you free and clear?

Many have been heard in saying that they would go to church but it is just too much. They don’t really call themselves Christians because they don’t get into all that “stuff.” They just try to live a good life and do what is right. They figure that this should be enough and that God will cut them some slack. They don't see why they need to have Jesus in their lives. Statements like this grieve me to the core. There are some debts that will have to be paid.

Read Ezekiel 18.

God sends a clear message to Ezekiel. If a man turns from his sins and truly repents, then he will be forgiven. From that day forward he is to live the life of a righteous man. If he can do this, his previous sins will be forgotten and he will be judged based on his life beginning from that day. He also makes it clear that a righteous man who sins is in great peril. It is a sign that he has turned from the Lord and he will be judged as a wicked man. He will face the penalty for his sins. That penalty is death.
God has always offered his people the opportunity to turn from their wicked ways and repent. He does not desire to see us suffer in death. He is a God of second chances. The difference for us today is that we have Christ to be our advocate before the Father.
When we turn and repent, we are forgiven. That is a fact. It is also a fact that the standard does not change. God’s laws do not cease to exist. Before Christ, men would provide a sin offering. A burnt offering would be given up to the Lord to cover the sins that were confessed. Their past sins were forgiven, but every thought, word, and deed from that moment forward were still subject to His judgment. People would bring these sin offerings to the temple on a regular basis to purify themselves and have their sins forgiven. What would happen if they died in some way before making the next offering? None of us are truly righteous.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

This sacrifice is no longer required. God has not changed the standard. Not one letter of the law has been changed. What is the difference then? The difference is that Christ became that sacrifice for us. He that knew no sin, bore our sins to the cross. Christ Jesus paid our debt and is an eternal offering. His blood has covered all of our sins past, present, and future. That is the difference.
We are still called to repent. We are still called to turn from sinful ways and follow God’s decrees. What has changed is that we have it better than those who lived before Christ. We are covered in his blood. We, have also been left with the presence of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing that a believer, covered in His blood and filled with His spirit cannot accomplish.
Remember this amazing reality. The world is still filled with obstacles and temptations just waiting to trip you up and weigh you down, yet we have nothing to fear. Our debt has been paid. We are living free and clear. Christ, the redeemer has conquered death and saved the day. Did you hear that in your heart? Death has been conquered. It is destroyed. Those who have faith in Christ cannot be touched by it. True, our bodies will wither and die. What is awesome is knowing that our souls will live on forever in the presence of the Lord.

2 Timothy 1:10

but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

2 Corinthians 5:8

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Cover yourself in His blood. Live a life filled with the Holy Spirit. God does not delight in our death, but in our redemption. He wants to see us live and live abundantly for Him. Be encouraged. Stay the course. Keep the faith and you will not fail. Our heavenly home awaits.

That sounds like some “stuff” that everyone would want to get into.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How is your fruit?

Mark 11:12-14
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Mark 11:20-25
In the morning, as they went along, the saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea, ‘ and does not doubt it in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

In Matthew 7, Christ tells us that we can judge a tree by it’s fruit. He directs us that we can recognize those who are truly in Christ the same way. What kind of fruit are you bearing? Is it good fruit or bad fruit? Are you bearing any at all?
We are to walk in faith. We are to pray and believe. If we are truly walking in the light of the Lord it will show in our lives. People will know you by your fruit. The Lord does as well. He sees your actions and He sees your heart. There is no fooling the Lord. He knows when you are acting in faith and when you are going through the motions. We are called to have no doubt in our hearts, but to believe fully and we will be blessed. God loves His children and wants the best for them.
There is another piece to the puzzle. God calls for our obedience. Christ directs us to forgive others when we pray. How often are we wronged? It can be anything from someone cutting you off in traffic to outright hurt or theft. Our part is the same. We are called to forgive. Sometimes it is easier than others. Remember what Jesus tells us in the Lord’s prayer.

Matthew 6: 12 “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors”

Luke 11:4 “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

We are given direction, a promise, and a standard. God will hold us to the standard and He will keep his promise. We simply have to follow His directions, as difficult as that can sometimes be. It all comes back to faith. We, as Christians have to believe. We have to seek God with our whole hearts. Do not fret, for He is listening and He will respond.

Think on it and pray about it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Mustard Seed

In Matthew 17:14 - 20 we see the account of Jesus healing a demon possessed boy.

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but the could not heal him.”
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you. Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

How often have we read this and been encouraged? How often have we set out to act on this encouraging scripture and fallen flat on our faces? There is a difference between running out after a good pep talk and stepping out in faith. It is easy to get excited about an idea and run with it. It doesn’t take long for the energy gained from a pep talk to fizzle out. Acting on a feeling takes you just far enough to find yourself alone. The results are rarely what we expect them to be. We usually end up disappointed.
On the other hand, stepping out in faith yields unexpected results of a completely different nature. God has a tendency to go above and beyond for the faithful. Read in 1 Kings 18. Elijah challenges the priests of Baal to one of the greatest showdowns ever. One man stood at one alter and four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal at the other. The prophets of Baal set about their ritual with a zeal that must have been intimidating. They would cut themselves and cry out in great numbers. Elijah is not intimidated. He demands a harder challenge. His offering is doused in water, not once, but three times. He prays a simple prayer of offering, and God responds instantly. The entire offering is consumed in fire from heaven. The priests of Baal are left terrified.

Elijah definitely had the faith required. It is as simple as knowing that God is with you. It is also that hard. It is called faith for a reason. We are called to step out into an unbelieving world and face real situations with serious consequences. It isn’t a time to experiment. Read your bible. The word of God is the foundation for everything. Pray. Prayer is our daily interaction with the Lord. Make Him a real part of your life. How are you going to act on the words of someone you have never met? Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. You just have to take hold of it.
God is constantly providing us with opportunities to act in faith. He gives us those little nudges that make it clear that some things should not go unattended. Acting in faith does not get easier. It doesn’t diminish in how scary it can be. Acting in faith takes courage. Moses had a speech problem and God sent him to speak to Pharaoh , the greatest king in the land. Gideon was a weakling from the smallest clan, threshing wheat in a wine press in order to keep the Midianites from finding it. God sent that weakling to defeat great armies. These people were terrified of what they were called to do. At the same time, they knew that God was with them and that He would not allow them to fail.

Don’t run out looking for a fight. We don’t need to create our own battles. God has enough tasking for us already. He knows what you are capable of and what He is going to do. Stepping out in faith can be as simple as honoring that nudge from the Lord and speaking to the person next to you on the bus. It can mean praying with that coworker who seems to be having a rough time. A tongue tied teenager may find himself speaking to a crowd. It doesn’t get easier, but you will be encouraged by the results. Remember that it is God acting through you. We can do all things through Christ. We can do nothing unless the Father wills it.

Pray for God to move you and guide you. Pray that you remain steadfast and stay the course. Ask the Lord for the strength to persevere. Pray for God to use you and be ready to act upon His will.

I’m no expert, but it is something to ponder.