Friday, December 20, 2013

We Are To Be Faithful

Luke 16:10-12
We Are To Be Faithful

     “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

     Jesus tells us that the whole world belongs to Him, and that we are to be faithful stewards of what He has given us to work with until the day of His return. I would like to take a few moments and ask us to think about some questions.

          1. Some examples of being faithful with money.
          2. Some examples of being faithful with our property.
          3. Some examples of being faithful in our friendships.
          4. Some examples of being faithful with our talents which bring people to Jesus.
          5. Some examples of being faithful with our time.

     Take a few moments to think about how each of these things can best be used in the service of Jesus. I find that the parable of the prodigal son in chapter 15 of Luke gives us a good illustration of how we are to view our lives as Christians. Just imagine that after the father has shown so much love and grace towards his unfaithful son, that the son starts to take his fathers love for granted and starts to steal from his father again or to try and make a profit for himself off of his father’s goods so that he can pursue the things that got him into trouble in the first place. It would be a great crime against the love his father had shown him. We also must not misuse the grace that our Heavenly Father has had towards us and use His blessings for things that got us into trouble before as well.
     Now that we have looked a little into being faithful let us look at the warning Jesus gives us. He says that if we are unfaithful in a very little thing that we will also be unfaithful in much. How many times in a day do we let ourselves get away with little things? It turns out that much of our character is developed by the little things we do or do not do. Let’s just say that a Mom asks her son to take out the trash, the son says yes and then puts it off for a later time and then completely forgets to ever take it out. Jesus says that how we deal with such a small thing is how we will deal with big things. I’ve been the son who has put it off before and I’m sure many of you have been the mother who has asked. Our integrity is built by such small stepping stones and they really matter as we grow up. I know that we all hope for the best as our kids grow up and that someday they will become “responsible”, but how they live now will not be easy for them to overcome when they are older, the same as a tree that is growing crooked and at a young age can be straightened with guide wires. However, when it is fully grown it will be impossible to straighten if it has been left to itself with no guide wires.
     These are all good things to ponder. We must consider all things to belong to God and that when He comes He will give us what will be ours if we have been faithful with what is His.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10
The Lost Coin

     “What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

     Are you earnestly looking for the lost coin? Jesus defines the coin as a sinner and that finding that lost coin is to see a sinner turn to repentance. Heaven puts great value on that coin saying that the angels rejoice over each one that is found. This is a convicting word for us as Christians. If all of heaven has put such a great value on that lost coin should we not be in complete unity with this desire. Should we not be pursuing the lost with the great desire to rejoice with all of heaven’s hosts over each one? Our hearts should be burning within us to be searching for them and yet we have to ask ourselves if we have even noticed that we were missing a coin. All of heaven is watching for that one sinner who turns to repentance, should we be doing less? To any Christian these should be stirring words that cause us to look into the practical application of doing this.
     The woman began by lighting a lamp and then swept the house carefully until she found it. How do we apply this? First let me say that if she was not focused on finding the coin she may never have found it, for if she was daydreaming or wishing she was somewhere else or to preoccupied with other chores, that coin would have either taken forever to find or perhaps never been found. But that coin meant the world to her and she searched earnestly until it was found. So also with us, if we do not pursue that coin with our whole heart and just casually search the floor without really paying close attention we will also not find it. We cannot pursue the coin casually just hoping to possibly come across it while we do other things. Jesus’ example of being a fisher of men is a good description. A fisherman would not go out fishing and hope his net might fall overboard and possibly while it was down there, catch some fish. It takes a determination and physical labor to cast those nets and bring them in otherwise you will catch nothing.
     Let us look at the other point which is that she first lit her lamp before searching. These are not ordinary coins but sinners in need of repentance that they might turn their hearts back to God. The light is Jesus, and His words expose our sinfulness and bring us to repentance. Many times in the Old Testament a priest finds the laws of God that have been left neglected and buried for many years and brings them out and reads them to the people and exposes how far from God that they have strayed; whereupon there is much heart distress over what they have done and they make a recommitment to obedience to God. God’s light is powerful and always brings conviction of sin. It is only under His light that the lost coin will be found.
     So I just want to leave us with these convicting words. What is the net that you personally are casting, and where are you casting it? Each of us needs to ask ourselves these questions every morning so that when Jesus returns He will have found us faithful stewards of His talents. God bless each of you today and May He bless each of us with much fruit for our labors.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

God’s Blessings Come With Giants

God’s Blessings
Come With Giants

     Here is a very interesting thing that God has been opening up to my understanding over the past week. Question, Why is it that so often when we go to God with a prayer request that is very important to us, we seem to get the opposite thing we have asked for? Maybe we are praying for the salvation of a loved one and we go to God with His promises about answering good requests like this, and instead of seeing some good sign of change in their life, they suddenly hate us, or ignore us, or never have time for us anymore. Or perhaps God seems to have promised us some good thing and instead of seeing an answer we come against a wall of impossibility or great discouragement. We all have many things we are seeking God for and we give Him His promises that He doesn’t give a stone instead of bread or a snake instead of a fish (Matt. 7:9-10) and yet, very often, it feels like we get the stone instead. So we grumble at God and get mad at Him and use these unanswered things as an excuse to go back to the world and our old lives because God hasn’t fulfilled all He said He would. We get mad at God, is all it really comes down to.
     Why is this? Why do these things cause us to turn back from serving the Lord with our whole heart and allow selfishness and rebellion to grow in our hearts against Him?

               A Gift

     When we think of a gift (Which is what God’s answers to prayer really are) we think of someone wrapping a present and giving it to us and the only part we have to do is to open and enjoy it. This is our concept of a gift. Well, God’s gifts seem to be more like if we picked out a really wonderful Bible for a child and then told him that he had to buy it himself but that we would give him a job so he could earn the money for it. It’s a gift picked out by us and made possible to earn for by us, but requires effort on the part of the child in order to receive the gift. God’s gifts are real but they require work from us. The work part, however, is not normally in our concept of what a gift is. But the gift is not less valuable because we have to work for it. God still chose it for us but He will not raise spoiled children. He wants appreciative children who will understand the value of the gift. How many times do we hear about someone who won the lottery or inherited a large fortune and they either die of a drug overdose or wish they had never won because of the devastation it brought to their family and also how quickly they became broke again? This is not how God would have us to turn out.
     The children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and the desert and when they got to God’s blessing for them they found giants and enemies and tall fortresses! God! This is not the gift You promised! Our children will be slaughtered! Better to have died in Egypt then die here instead! If this is Your blessing we wish we had never followed You! They went back into the wilderness and died. God then raised up their children to enter the land instead.
     So we see, God’s blessing came with giants. God’s blessing came with work. Work that God promised He would make them victorious in and they would indeed posses their own land flowing with milk and honey that would belong to them forever. However, they had to fight for every inch of ground. Sometimes battling in the mountains, sometimes battles on the plains. Sometimes battles with huge walls, sometimes battles with enemies to numerous to count. Each one a promised victory, but different from the last battle and requiring new faith in order to overcome the fear of the enemy. Here is the scary part. Any city they did not go up against, God left in their midst. He did not defeat them if they did not go up so these parts of their blessing were lost. They had God’s promise of victory if they had had courage but if they didn’t go they didn’t receive it.
     God’s blessing was no less a blessing because His people had to work for it. This lesson gives us a new courage and expectancy that the giants and sudden discouragements are not a sign of God’s failure to answer our prayers, but rather, that His gifts are also a job and will end in the fulfillment of all that He has promised us. This renews our courage so that when we set off with God’s promises in our hand for any area of our life and we immediately meet with things that are so discouraging that we might say in our heart, God has let me down, God has not answered me, God misled me, we can say, “God’s blessings come with giants.” God is accomplishing at least two things in this way. 1. He is training His children to be bold and courageous, like Himself, and 2. He is ridding the land of actual enemies who have been oppressing people for many years. If you have been praying for the salvation of someone, that person is in complete bondage to the devil and when you set them free by not giving up in prayer, you don’t know how many others you are setting free at the same time. Jesus says that we will bear 30, 60, and 100 fold when we start to serve Him. Everyone you set free sets others free!
     Arming ourselves with this understanding will help us to be courageous instead of discouraged and grumbling against God. So many times when we set out to pray and be a soldier for Christ, the devil just whispers something in our ear about something God hasn’t done for us and so instead of our prayer time being a time of victory over the devil we immediately turn on God and fight Him instead over all that He has failed to do in our lives! We are constantly turning on our own commander instead of fighting for Him! That is a very real truth and one of the reasons the body of Christ is so ineffective against our enemy! Working for the gift God gives does not lessen or devalue the gift. So be courageous and full of joy as you seek the Lord in prayer. The giants will be part of the promised victory and others will benefit by every answer to prayer you receive!         God bless!