Monday, July 22, 2013

Worthless Things

Psalm 119:37 (ESV) Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
We are so often distracted by stuff: stuff that is in no way important to our mission, stuff that is just contrary to peace and unity, and stuff that keeps us bound and discouraged. Have you ever noticed that some of the biggest dust-ups in our churches are over things that have nothing to do with anyone’s salvation?
The colors that people will wear for Choir Day or Church Anniversary, or which suits the usher board will wear on the 3rd Sunday are IRRELEVANT! Yes, we need order, but we don’t need to have meetings on top of meetings about subjects that have nothing to do with soul business. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get people to spend money, dress up and come to a church banquet, but almost impossible to get them to show up to a free Bible study?
We each need to pray as the psalmist did in our selected verse: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”  If every saved individual would intentionally focus on things eternal, we would have less religious stuff destroying our churches and relationships with other believers. There is life in the Word of God, so that’s where we should be focusing our attention.
If we spent half as much energy studying the Scriptures as we spent meeting about stuff, how many more souls would be added to the church?  It isn’t na├»ve to think the Word of God is enough to fill our churches. God’s Word can do far more with the heart than we can even fathom doing with our programs and services. The love that will be generated from the new life will spill out into the streets and compel men and women to come.

Monday, July 15, 2013

When the Place of Provision Changes

1 Kings 17:6-9 (NASB)  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.  Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

In verses 3-4 of this chapter, God had commanded Elijah to go to the brook Cherith and drink from it, and for the ravens to provide for him there. So, Elijah was where God had commanded him to be – for a season. As we see here in verses 6-9, the brook dried up, and God commanded Elijah to move on down the road.

God didn’t make a mistake by sending Elijah to Cherith. There was provision for him there, for a time. The brook dried up, and the place of provision changed (but not the Provider). What can we learn from Elijah’s dry brook experience? We need to follow the command of the Lord. God may have ravens and a brook to provide for you during the drought, but when the brook dries up, you need to be attentive to the voice of the Lord.

Just because God called you to a certain place in the past doesn’t mean He’s calling you to stay there now. We, as followers of the Most High, must know His voice. Sometimes He may create streams in the desert. Other times He may be telling you to get down the road to Zarephath, where a widow woman is waiting with provision from the Lord. Not only does she have provision for you, but you likewise will be a blessing to her house. Read the entire 17th chapter when you have a chance.

Know when God is calling you to another place of provision. Recognize when the brook has dried up. Elijah trusted God in both places, and God proved Himself in both places. Like Elijah, we need to be in the right place at the right time to receive from the Lord.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Open the Door

Revelation 3:20 (NASB)  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (emphasis added)
Notice that the Lord does not say that He will come in unless someone hears His voice and opens the door.  You can’t yell “Come In!” from across the room and expect Him to open the door and enter.  You can’t just invite Him in with words, but you have to let Him in with action.
Inviting Him in is saying all the right things at the right times in the right places.  Letting Him in is giving Him center stage in your life.  Inviting Him in is repeating a prayer in a sincere tone of voice.  Letting Him in is obeying all of His commands.  We spend a lot of time teaching people how to invite Christ into their hearts, which isn’t a bad thing, but we don’t spend enough time teaching them how to open the door.
The door to our heart only opens from the inside.  Jesus Christ will not force His way into your heart and onto its throne.  You have to open the door, and you have to give Him the place of honor therein.  The place of honor is sometimes occupied by career goals, love interests, dream homes and cars, or maybe even ourselves.  We have to throw everything else out of Christ’s seat so that He can dine with us.
He’s knocking, and He’s calling your name. Are you going to open the door and let Him in? Are you going to surrender your life to Him? 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Don't Let Religion Rob You

The more I fill my eyes, ears, mind and heart with the Word of God, the less tolerance I have for religion.  Religion tells us to follow specific traditions, patterns, and acceptable behaviors.  Christ tells us to follow HIM.  I propose that if we truly follow Jesus Christ (His life, His teachings, His commands), we will find that we are doing what we ought.
I encourage you to study the Scriptures for yourself; ask the Holy Spirit to open your understanding of what they mean and how to apply them to your life.  No one is perfect, and we all need assistance in rightly dividing the Word of Truth.  We need to stop relying on what religious leaders tell us God is requiring.  Micah 6:8 (NLT) tells us that God requires us to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.  In order to do that, we need to know what’s right, what mercy entails, and what walking with the Lord really means.  All those things can be found in His Word.
As long as man is flawed, religion will continue to get in the way of true worship.  It has been happening since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden; this is nothing new.  Religion crucified Jesus Christ.  Religion imprisoned and martyred the apostles.  Religion holds many church-goers in bondage today, with its rules, regulations, and expectations. 
Once you know the Truth, it will make you free.  You will be able to participate in church services, without feeling obligated to do so.  You will be able to give cheerfully, without being embarrassed into it or made to feel guilty.  You will know when to say ‘NO,’ because you recognize that Jesus Christ offers you abundant life, not a mundane existence tethered to routine activity.  You will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, continually replenished and bearing good fruit.  Don’t let religion rob you of the joy Christ offers you.