Monthly Archives: November 2016

November 30 – Not My Problem

1 Corinthians 5-8

In our society we are told that each of us should take care of ourselves above all others. That our happiness needs to come first before we can make anyone else happy. That our rights trump the rights of anyone else.

What does the Bible say about that? Paul, in chapter 8, gives us an example. He says we know that idols are pretend gods, so food offered to idols isn’t unclean. There is nothing wrong with eating it.

However, if our eating that food causes anyone to stumble in their faith, Paul advises us to not eat it.

“But,” you might say, “I like what they’re serving.” Paul says, “I know. Don’t eat it.”

You might say, “I need to eat it so I can be a better mom.” Paul says, “Find something else to eat.”

You might say, “I have a right to eat it.” Paul says, “Get over yourself. We’re talking about someone’s eternal soul.”

And you might even say, “If they don’t like me eating that food, it’s not my problem.” Paul assures us it is:

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

This example might translate into drinking alcohol, going to certain movies, attending a ballgame instead of going to church. I don’t know what God is speaking to you about, but I think He’s telling us that just because we “can” do something, it doesn’t mean we “should.”

I firmly believe if we live our lives considering the eternal lives of people around us, and are less focused on ourselves, we’d be truly happier, and they would see Jesus.

What we do and how we represent the Lord is very much our problem.

 

 

November 29 – What Matters Is Jesus

I Corinthians 1-4

The Corinthian church had hit a rough  patch. In fact, it sounds like they were on the verge of a split. So Paul wrote a letter that gets to the heart of the matter. Jealousy. Pride.

“Stop it,” he told them. “Who cares who dunked you in the water? It doesn’t matter. What matters is Jesus.

“Who cares who is seeing people come to Christ first? It doesn’t matter. Some people plant seed, others reap. What matters is Jesus.

“Who cares who is honored, or has the best pew in church? It doesn’t matter. We are all servants of God. No one brings anything to the table they have achieved on their own.”

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (4:7)

What matters is Jesus. Paul seems to be telling us to get over ourselves. Keep you eyes on Jesus. YOU be obedient.  YOU be wise with the wisdom God gives. YOU be foolish in the eyes of the world.

Who cares what people think? What matters is Jesus.

 

November 28 – A Private Conversation

Acts 18:19-19-41

I like Priscilla and Aquila. They were good friends of Paul’s, and had put their faith in Jesus. I’m sure that, after hanging out with Paul for very long, they were pretty grounded.

So when they heard Apollos preaching a partial truth, they were able to recognize his error. They knew Apollos as a man instructed in the way of the Lord, fervent, and speaking accurately concerning Jesus as taught by John the Baptist. But Priscilla and Aquila also knew there was more to the story than what Apollos was preaching.

Now here’s what spoke to me today. The couple went privately to Apollos and had a conversation. I don’t see that they went to their neighbors first to complain about the preacher. They didn’t make a scene by stomping out of the church service. And they didn’t post their frustration on FaceBook.

“… they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” (18:26)

The result was exciting. Apollos became a missionary who spoke powerfully, “…demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”

Our pastors are human. And Satan would like nothing more than to introduce a little apostasy into their messages on Sunday mornings. Would you recognize it if you heard it? What would you do if your pastor said things that weren’t exactly consistent with Scripture?

Churches have split over situations like this. And Satan wins. If your first action is to complain to the Sunday School class, or call another member on the phone to point out the preacher’s error… you are wrong. We need to learn from Priscilla and Aquila and have that private conversation with our pastors first. We need to hold them accountable. And I believe, if your pastor is sincerely interested in speaking the Truth, he will listen like Apollos listened.

I encouraged you to pray for your pastor yesterday as you went to Sunday worship. Let me encourage you to pray for him on Monday, too. And Tuesday. Pray that God will keep him grounded in the Scripture, that he will be open to the Spirit’s leading, and that God will be proclaimed in Spirit and Truth every time he stands in front of the congregation.

I don’t know your pastor. But I know he covets your prayers.

November 27 – Pastors And Prayer

1&2 Thessalonians

Today is Sunday, and I’m getting ready to worship with a very special group of people. It’s a tiny church where about 20 of us will gather. And God will be there.

The pastor is a busy man of God. He not only spends many hours each week shepherding this precious flock, but he also works another job to support himself and his dear wife. I don’t get to worship with them very often any more, but I’m always blessed and challenged when I do.

My home church’s pastor is also a godly man who serves God and our congregation with passion and love. His enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel is contagious. And I know God will be pleased to be present in their service today, too.

Paul reminds us in I Thessalonians 5:12-13 to:

appreciate those who diligently labor among (us) and have charge over (us) in the Lord and give (us) instruction, and that (we) esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

I hope you are as blessed as I with a pastor who loves God and is true to His Word. I hope you are praying for, and support him (or her) in his ministry. I hope you are praying for his family, for the people he comes in contact with every day, for the hours he spends preparing to share Jesus from the pulpit each week. Our pastors have an enormous responsibility.

So Pastor Bill and Pastor Whit, I appreciate you both. Your love for us who worship with you, your availability to us, your hours of preparation, and your faithfulness to God’s Word do not go unnoticed. I am blessed every time you share God’s Word. May God continue to bless your ministries and your families… and you. I prayed for you both today.

November 26 – Say It Anyway

Acts 17-18:18

Religion is a hot topic. People are generally passionate about what they believe. Their beliefs defend their behavior. And their beliefs are often considered personal.

The people of Thessalonica are some of many examples in the Bible of what happens when talk about religion steps on toes. They listened to Paul for several weeks, and some believed in Jesus as a result. But, as often happens, other Jews got mad. It was ok for Paul to talk about Jesus, as long as they didn’t have to admit what they had believed was not true.

So, the Thessalonians decided to form a mob, and attack Paul. When they couldn’t find Paul, they beat up Jason instead. That’s what  mobs do. And this mob fueled by jealousy wanted to hurt someone.

Then, when the Thessalonian Jews heard Paul was preaching in Berea, they followed him there to cause trouble. This was not a mob easily distracted.

Do you ever feel like people are out to get you because of your faith in Jesus? Someone seems always belittling you, or talking against you behind your back, or making fun of you in front of your peers, because “you think you’re better than everyone else”?  Take heart. You are not alone. It’s been that way for thousands of years.

We can learn from Paul who, although he left Thessalonica, he didn’t stop talking about Jesus. He went through some tough situations, but he kept sharing Christ.

Here is the thing. If you know Jesus, you know the Truth. And there is only one Truth. If you know what Jesus has said, you know all religions can’t be true. There is One way, truth, and life, and no one goes to the Father except through His Son Jesus.

If you are tempted to keep your mouth shut because of the backlash of sharing Christ, don’t do it. Keep talking. It’s eternally important that people accept Jesus. They may be passionate about their beliefs, but unless they believe that Jesus is the Messiah who died to pay for their sins, they are lost. That’s not an opinion. It’s the Truth.

Let’s not be bullied into silence. It’s not enough to know the Truth. We’ve got to be taking about it, sharing it, leading others to their Savior. When people tell us to tolerate other religions, to accept other beliefs, don’t do it. When we are told to stop saying Jesus is the only way, say it anyway.

 

 

November 25 – Walk In The Spirit

Galatians 4-6

If we walk by the Spirit, it has to be evident. The Holy Spirit living in me just can’t look like everyone else. He is God, after all.

When we put our faith in Jesus, God sends His Spirit to take up residence. The evidence of that will translate into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Paul tells us we are free from the chains of sin and free to live godly lives. But he also warns not to let our freedom in Christ turn into an opportunity for the flesh.

“…walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

This tells me temptations will continue to come, even after I’ve given my heart to the Lord. But through the Holy Spirit in me, I have the power to resist.

I want the Holy Spirit living in me to be evident to everyone I come in contact with. Not because I want them to think what a nice person I am. But because I want them to recognize the amazing God living in me, and want Him in their lives, too.

November 24 – Not Good Enough

Galatians 1-3

Paul tells us God gave us the Law because people chose disobedience over obedience, and God wanted to be very clear what that looked like. The Law was not given as a means of salvation. It was never intended to be a list of rules to follow in order to earn God’s acceptance.

Paul says the Law is our tutor, teaching us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. All of us are sinners in need of a Savior. We are saved by faith in Jesus. Period.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law…” (3:13)

“… for if by righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly…” (3:21)

Friend, you will never be good enough to save yourself from hell. You’ll never be sincere enough to pay the price for your sins. You’ll never be kind enough, generous enough, thoughtful enough to erase even one of your sins.

Only Jesus can forgive your sins through His own precious blood. I pray that you have put your faith in the Savior. He’s more than good enough!