Sunday, November 24, 2019

Hiding Words

Hiding Words
November 25, 2019
Deuteronomy 12:28  "Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God."

The Bible is the instruction manual for life, full of choice words, wisdom for every situation. The Word of the Lord is akin to a medicine that works across multiple ailments. The instructions contained in the Bible are akin to the answer sheets for a test. The directives in the Word are there to protect, keep us safe from evil as well as ourselves.  Most Christians accept that the Bible is the Word of God, the Standard, but few understand the value of it. Maybe you understand the value of it, but is it the first place you go when you need advice?

There are many places to go when we need advice.  Most people try to figure things out first, on their own, then consult a trusted friend or family member to bounce off ideas. People often go with the advice that makes sense to them, but the Bible is more than that. Unfortunately, many do not understand the value of the Scriptures, how much it can help with figuring out life. Sometimes the Words contained in Scripture are not always what makes sense, either, going against the grain of earthly wisdom. The Bible, however, has never led anyone astray. There is nothing in the Bible that has been tested and found to be false or wrong or errant or faulty. The Bible should be the first place we turn when we need to figure something out. Some Christians tend to skip the Bible and just go straight to the Lord in prayer. While this is, and can be, a good thing, it can be a risky endeavor. It is not risky because the Lord would give differing advice than Scripture, but it is risky in that we often hear a voice of reason other than the Lord's. It is easier to mistake a fresh Word from the Lord than it is to mistake what is written down in the Scriptures.

The Lord says we should hide His Word in our hearts. Those Words are the spoken Words of Jesus, as well as all the instructions given out by the Lord. The Bible is the easiest and most clear way to handle the Christian life and yet we often do not use it to the fullest. The Words in the Bible are not hidden from us, but are meant to be hidden inside of us, like a pearl protected from loss. But when was the last time you made any effort to memorize Scripture? As a Christian, there should be at least 20 passages you could recite from memory. What passages do you have memorized? In the Old Testament the Lord said we should write His words on our door posts, on our walls, on our clothing, even on our foreheads if we are prone to forget them. How many door frames in your home are full of the written Scriptures? How about on the dashboard of your car or the screensaver on your phone?

Chances are good you can remember the words to songs from two decades ago but cannot recite 10 passages from memory at this instant. What is hidden inside your heart? Where are the Lord's instructions written should you need to refer to the manual? How many words are hidden in your heart? Christians fill their hearts with so many things: anger, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, and pride. How about hiding the Lord's Words in there?
Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ex 19:7, Deut 6:8-9, Deut 9:10, Ps 199:11, Pr 6:21, John 6:68, 1 Tim 6:3-4, 2 Pet 3:2

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Revealed Identity

Revealed Identity
November 11, 2019
Luke 24:31  "Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. . . ."

After Jesus was crucified and out of the tomb, the Bible does not disclose where he went when He left the tomb. But He went somewhere, by Himself on the very day of His resurrection. Not wanting to stay hidden, Jesus decided to appear back on the earth that very same day. The Bible says that some of His disciples were walking along the road and discussing the deep tragedy of all that just transpired, not realizing Jesus was already walking among them. These disciples were talking about the events that unfolded, about Jesus the Messiah, and about His death. Suddenly, along the road Jesus appeared to them but they did not recognize Jesus. Jesus walked along side of them and joined in the discussion. It was a long walk, a decent journey that encompassed a long theological debate between Jesus and the disciples. The disciples decided to invite this man, Jesus, into their home to have a meal with them and possibly stay with them. The disciples were unaware that it was Jesus. The Bible says that suddenly their eyes were opened and they realized it was Jesus. Then Jesus disappeared. Their minds were blown wide open realizing their hearts were burning within them the entire walk.

They were walking with Jesus, even discussing Jesus, yet did not realize at the time He was among them. This is a huge parallel to our own Christian walk. The first and foremost thing to realize is that Jesus is present during your Christian walk, even before you start walking with Him. Jesus was walking alongside of you, before you came to the knowledge of Him. When someone discussed with you the person of Jesus for the first time, Jesus was there; you came to understand the concept of who Jesus was before you met Him personally. The disciple's hearts were burning within them the whole time they were walking with Him, yet did not realize it was Him. This is the same in your own life, too, that brought you to fully realize His presence. And then suddenly your eyes were open to Him,  you came to truly realize all of Him. In hindsight you can see it now, not realizing it at the time, though, all the times He walked with you.

You may have never led someone to the Lord, but it is not actually your job to reveal Him to everyone you meet. Your only opportunity lies in discussing Him, talking about who He is and what He represents. It is actually up to Jesus to reveal Himself to everyone on a personal level. He will, though maybe not physically. If you are frustrated that someone has not come to the knowledge of the Lord, then make sure you simply keep talking about Him. Rest assured that person's heart is burning within them; Jesus desires to reveal His identity to everyone.  If someone has not yet decided to acknowledge Jesus in their own life, then pray they would not stifle the burning in their hearts. Pray that Jesus would be revealed to them. No one has ever come to accept Jesus as their Savior if He remains hidden from them. His desire is not to remain hidden, but wishes to reveal His identity. Pray that nothing would quench the burning in their hearts, that they would respond to Him when He reveals His identity to them. Your job, your only job, is to keep talking about Him, to keep revisiting who He is and was and what He did on the cross.
Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Luke 24

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Not Convinced

Not Convinced
November 4, 2019
Revelation 22:12  "'Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.'"

People are convinced that spending their time and money on things on this earth are somehow worth it. Maybe you need a car, but decide to spend the extra money on a car that is nicer than you need.  Maybe you think the nicer car will elevate your social standing or that somehow it will change how people judge you.  It is constantly impressive how people work hard to drive their nicest car to church even, keeping it washed and in pristine condition, as if somehow arriving to church in the nicest car you can attain will impress your Christianity in the minds of others. Laugh at the concept, but there are plenty of luxury cars in church parking lots all around the US on any given Sunday. Maybe you don't own a luxury car but does your car have leather seats? There is nothing wrong with leather seats, but paying for those leather seats contracts from the good you could do for the kingdom of heaven if you spent your money differently. At what point is enough enough?

People are convinced that saving money in the bank is a good thing, that investing in a retirement account is a good thing. They are certainly wise choices but are they good? The Bible suggests anything that is good means it relates to a Heavenly cause or purpose. Is the money set aside for use in the kingdom? Do you use your nice car to bring shut-ins or (gasp) the homeless to church?  Have a nice house, great, do you host a small group in your home or provide a temporary room in your home for someone who is going through a difficult time?  When was the last time you cooked and made extra to take to a shut-in? These are not intended to be offensive questions but simply to challenge everyone on how they use their resources for the Lord. We are all convinced that whatever we spend our time and money on to benefit ourselves will be worth it, that it will improve our lives on this earth somehow. But that is usually birthed out of selfish desires.  The Lord cares nothing for how comfortable your life is here on earth.

It is interesting the work for the kingdom that people do not do, as if somehow they aren't convinced it will be worth it. People seldom  do anything unless they receive a physical or emotional reward or benefit.  This is true for Christians and non-Christians alike. The Lord says, as a Christian, if you do it for the Lord then there will be a reward in Heaven. Why are Christians not convinced the reward in Heaven will be worth the effort on earth? You can see the efforts people go to in decorating their home or the upkeep on their hair, so they are used to putting in effort. Why do Christians not put in the same effort for the Lord? Christian organizations work hard to stay non-profit and need a good deal of fundraising. Christians are more likely to give if their giving makes them eligible for a raffled prize at the end. Why do Christians not give to the Lord, of their time or money or efforts? Maybe some give but why do the majority give so little towards the kingdom? The simple reason is they are not convinced it will be worth it. People will go to great lengths of effort if they believe it will be worth that effort. Are you convinced sacrificing on this earth will be worth the effort someday, as revealed in Heaven? Take a quick look at your life and you will easily see where you are spending a significant amount of effort, or time and money. Are you spending that same amount of effort for the Lord?

Are you convinced the rewards in Heaven are real? Are you convinced the rewards in Heaven will be worth it? Your lifestyle speaks to where you are attempting to reap your rewards and everyone can see it. It is no secret, the whole world is watching and they see where your heart is. If the world can see, then how can you hide your selfishness from the Lord.
Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 5:11-12, Matt 6:1-24, 2 Cor 9:6, Phil 3:14