Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Maturity in the Faith Part 2

     Last Friday I talked about maturity in the faith, and how we need to remember that maturity isn't about age, but about how much we know, but today I am going to talk about humbling yourself. Now, I know I said I would have posted it on Monday and it's currently Tuesday, but I couldn't really write yesterday.

     In my previous article, I started out by talking about society, and what society views maturity as. Well, today I will also be talking about that. See, the world seems to think that the smarter you are, and how much you opinionate yourself and raise yourself up, the better and more mature a person you are. Let's see what the Bible has to say about that. The Bible says, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." in Matthew 23:12 The verse is very self-explanatory. If we are always trying to be better than everyone else, then basically we are being incredibly childish. Now, there's nothing wrong with always trying to improve. In 1 Corinthians 9 it talks about how we should live our lives as if only one person could go to heaven. We need to always strive to be better people, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about raising ourselves above others.

     Luke 18:20-24 talks about the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, and how they both prayed to God. The Bible says, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11)The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' (13) But the tax collector, standing a far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' (14) I told you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

     It doesn't matter who you are, or what you do, if you are humble, then you will be exalted in God's eyes. Maybe not man's, but that whose opinion would you favor, the Creator, or the created? Now, we don't necessarily have to have bad self estime, but humble ourselves. We need to make sure that we are not only mature in the faith, but are mature with our faith, and not think highly of ourselves just because we're Christians.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Maturity in the Faith Part 1

     The society we live in today wants us to be more mature. Of course, by mature I mean mature in the world's eyes. According to the world, maturity is learning to accept everything around you, and to learn how to not offend others. Maturity to the world is learning how to get your way and speak your mind in a way that lead others to believe that you're right, and to set you above them. To the world, maturity is about raising yourself above others. The more mature you are, the better you an do this. However, this is not maturity as God sees it.

     Hebrews 5:13-14 says, "for everyone who lives on milk in unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." See, the thing about maturity is that it isn't about how you feel, but how you act. I mean, have you ever noticed that the Bible has morals that even people who don't believe in God follow? That is because with studying and following the Bible comes understanding. The more we study the Bible, and the more we practice it, the more we understand others, and the things going on in the world right now, and the things that happened in the past. Maturity isn't in what we think of ourselves, or how much money we make, or even how much knowledge we have. See, that's the thing about knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is having the information while wisdom is knowing how to use it. We can study the Bible all we want but that won't get us anywhere if we don't apply it to our lives.

     Today I want to encourage you to not only read your Bible, but to study it and to live it in your daily life. I want to encourage you to mature in the faith, because your physical age has nothing to do with your spiritual maturity. You can be 10 years old and more spiritually mature in your spirituality than a 90-year-old. So today, I'd like to encourage you all to keep growing, and studying, and praying, so that you can grow in the faith daily.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dressing for Different Times

     Bikinis! You're probably tired of hearing about them. Believe me, I am too. It's an important subject though, and we need to be aware of it. Have you ever asked someone who was okay with bikinis, “Why can you wear bikinis to the beach but not anywhere else? Well, I did this once, a long time ago, and the answer I got was, “Well, if you're at the church building wearing a bikini, you'd draw a LOT of attention to yourself, whereas at the beach, you wouldn't because everyone is wearing one.” Well, in theory with no deeper thinking involved, this sounds like an acceptable answer. Well, I thought about it, and I realized something. Okay, modesty aside, the reason you couldn't wear a bikini to a worship service is because it's not appropriate. Also, dressing modestly and dressing appropriately are two completely different things. That is what I will be talking about in this article.

     Another thing about dressing appropriately is that it's a form of modesty. Wait, didn't I just say that dressing appropriately and dressing modestly are two different things? Yes, but dressing appropriately is a kind of modesty. In 1 Timothy 2:9 at the end of the verse it talks about not braiding your hair, or wearing gold or pearls or costly garments. This is not talking about not dressing up nicely. This is talking about not over dressing, or dressing to attract attention to yourself. Not showing off how much money you have in your dress, basically. Like, you wouldn't go to a football game in a ball gown, would you? Probably not. Why? It's not appropriate, and it will attract a lot of attention. Dressing modestly isn't just about not drawing attention to certain parts of the body, it's about not drawing attention to yourself, either. We are to give glory to God in everything we do, and it's kind of difficult to do that when we're always giving glory to ourselves. 1 Timothy 2:10 talks about how we need to dress appropriate for women who profess godliness. This is exactly what I have been talking about. How can we claim to be Christians, if we don't even dress like we are? It's very important to remember this.

  Today, I would like to encourage all of you to not fall under pier pressure, and to remain whole and pure in everything you do, because it is very important. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Confidence in God

      "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." -Philippians 4:13

     As I have talked about in a previous article (which you can Click Here to view) God always keeps His promises. They may take some time, but He always keeps His promises. Well, in Numbers 13, God had sent a spy from each of the tribes of Israel to spy on this new land for forty days, and ten came back with a bad report, and two came back telling them that the land was good. I'm sure most of you have heard the story. In my experience, this is usually told to teach about optimism, which is good but today I am going to talk about the faith aspect of it.

     In Numbers 14:4, the Israelites actually want to go back to Egypt, because they feel like God has set them all up to die as we see in verse 3. The problem with the Israelites here is that they had no faith that God would keep His promises, even though He had every time before. I mean, it's not like they didn't have evidence that God would help them, as they had already witnessed several time that God had helped them, but they did not want to believe. In Numbers 14:11 it says, "And the Lord said to Moses, 'How long will these people despise me? And how long will they not believe me in spite of all the sighs that I have done among them?" In fact, the Israelites flat out said in chapter 13 verse 31 that they cannot do it. Don't you think that if God showed them a land, and told them to conquer it then they could conquer it then that's exactly what would happen? God knows better than people.

     What about us? How can we apply this to our every day lives? I mean, it's not like we're all going to be going to war to conquer land or anything. However, this does remind me of Philippians 4:13 which I'm sure you all have heard, which says, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Every day, it is our job to make sure we follow God's commandments. We are told to teach others God's word(Matthew 28:19), and as long as you are around others, then this is possible. We also need to make sure and study daily (Joshua 1:8), and pray without ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to love one another even if it's difficult (1 John 4:7) and to put God first in everything we do (Matthew 6:24). If God has commanded us to do these things, then it is possible, and it's our responsibility to do these things.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Living the Life of an Example

     "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." -Matthew 5:14

     Whether you like it or not, you are an example. People are always watching you, and it is your responsibility that you lead the life of a good example. As Christians, it is important that we show people who we serve on a daily basis, and it doesn't matter who you're around. Not only is it important for us to follow God's commandments, but to help make sure that others do as well, and how can we do that if we're not even following what we teach? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." We  need to remember that we aren't perfect, but we need to make sure that we're not going against not only God's teachings, but our teachings as well, which should be the same.

     As Christians, we not only need to be good in public, but in private as well. I mean, how can we teach others to do God's will, if we don't even do it unless people are watching us? If we are going to be good examples, then we have to be good examples when we're in public, as well as when we're alone, because it will show how you are in private when you're out in public. You may not realize it, but it's true. 

     Today I would like to encourage you to always remember who is watching, and use that as motivation to follow God's will more, and become a more faithful Christian every day.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Material Things

    "Look at the birds in the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" -Matthew 6:26

     First, I will be looking at what the world thinks we need. See, the thing about necessity is that God and the world have two very different views on necessity. The world thinks that the only necessities are food, water, shelter, clothing, and then once you have those things you'd have to worry about getting a job, and having money, etc. Now, these things aren't bad. In fact, we are told to work. Proverbs 6:6- says, "Go to the ant oh sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. (7) Without having a chief, officer, or ruler, (8) she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in the harvest." Matthew 6:26 isn't talking about how we shouldn't work, but about how we shouldn't worry about what's going to happen to us. Yes, God will help take care of us, but, let's say God gives you an opportunity for a great job. God helped provide you with that job, but it's your job to take it and work hard. Now, does this mean that God is going to provide everyone with a job? No. That is the difference between what the world thinks we need and what God knows we need.

    Paul, who was once an enemy of God, turned out to be one of the most faithful Christians who ever lived. Now, I am sure you have all heard 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, and Philippians 4:11, who were both written by Paul, but I am going to put them together, so that you can understand exactly what Paul had gone through when he wrote Philippians 4:11. "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; (26) on frequent journies, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from gentiles, danger in the cities, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; (27) in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." "Not that I am speaking in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."

     The things that God says and the things that the world says we need are much different. The only thing that matters is whether or not we follow God's Word. The thing is, is that no matter how much food we have now, no matter how much clothing we have, no matter where we live, we're going to die some day anyway, so the only thing that mattes is whether or not we follow God's commandments, because the results of doing so are eternal, while the things that we have on earth will only last a few years. So next time you look at something that you don't have, remember first of all what you will have, and then look at what you do have. You have a Father in heaven who will give you whatever you need to get to heaven. That is something that everyone has.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Morals and How the World Sees Them

  "For He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not receive Him." John 1:10
Evolution is the belief that at one point, there was nothing, and then things changed enough to make life, and that evolved into more life and that evolved into more life and now we have millions and billions of different animals, plants, and trees that all came from nothing. Now, how we can get life from nothing, still baffles me, because I can sorta see how you can get different gasses combining and aging and making other different gasses, but life isn't something you can make. Life isn't something you can just make. You can't make something that has no substance. But that's not what I'll be talking about today. I will be talking about something that has puzzled me for quite some time: If we are just atoms bouncing off of each other randomly then where do we get morals? From the world's point of view, everything has to be proved by science (because emotions have to be genetic traits that were passed on from our ancestors as survival methods, obviously) so things like morals have to have some sort of scientific significance. Like, we give because apparently we want to keep the population up because our whole existence is just to make more existence, and we want to make sure that others are healthy and well off so that the population can continue to grow. Makes sense, right? Well, I just made that up. The thing is, is that things like emotion, and choice, and morals, they were given to us for a reason. They're not just random molecules that happen to decide to do things somehow. God has a purpose, and we have these rules for a reason. I have said this many times, and I will say it again, we have the rules we do for a reason. Now, each law has its own reason, but there are reasons for them. We should always love because then we wouldn't steal or murder, and because if everyone loved everyone else, then we would probably be more inclined to teach them the gospel! But I mean, think about it, everyone has a moral code. Whether they realize it or not, everyone follows some sort of morals. We have that in us because God put it there, so we would have a willingness to follow His rules, nor man's morals. The reason we have these laws that He has given us is not because it's "scientifically proven that this is purely our animal instinct to......." The world wants us to believe that there is no God, because the world doesn't want to believe in God. The world wants to do whatever the world wants to do, and that means that there cannot be a God because they don't want to be accountable for their actions. The truth is, however, that God is real, and He is watching over us, and it is our job, our duty to make sure and tell everyone we can and lead them to God.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Using our Talents for God

     Living in a city, I see a lot of billboards, and if you have seen these, then you will know what I'm talking about when I say that I am tired of seeing "Acting and modeling for Jesus!" I mean, what good is it going to do to add to God's kingdom if we're modeling our own bodies? Anyway, there is, however, a way that we can use our talents in a way that will truly help further God's kingdom. Let me show you what I mean.

     Everyone has a talent. Maybe you can bake, or sew, or write, or are good with kids, etc. We can use these talents to help others! Maybe you can't use them as evangelism methods, but the souls that have already been won over are souls too. Maybe there's a new mother in your congregation, and you can sew her a baby blanket, or there's a shut-in and you can bake and bring them meals, or teach one of the younger Bible classes in your congregation, or write articles about God's word. I know of several websites that allow you to submit articles and they feature them, or start your own website or blog! There are always new things that need to be done, and it's important that we use our talents to help people with those needs.

    Now, I'm not saying that everyone has to get up and start baking. Maybe baking isn't your thing. Maybe you're a people person and there's someone you know who's been having a hard time and you can help them through it. I know a lovely young lady who is an amazing, natural leader, but because she can't exactly preach, she does  other things like host Bible studies and game nights at her home sometimes during the summer for some of the other young ladies in the area. Or, if you're more of a follower than a leader, then you can always help some of those leaders out with getting everything done. Of course, these are only a few things we can use our talents, but it's always to realize our talents that were given to us, and to use them the best way we can.

Monday, April 7, 2014

We Have an Anchor Part 5: Who is Your Anchor?

If you'll remember, last Monday I wrapped up my series on God, our anchor. Well, yesterday I was sitting down, and I realized that this series should have had five parts. Not four. See, I talked about how God is perfect, and how He can't lie, and He always keeps His promises, and I talked about how here is no one higher than Him, but I failed to ask something: Who/what is your anchor? What is it that you put your faith in? There are many things that we can put our faith in. You can put your faith in knowledge, in strength, in power, in money, in people, or just stuff in general. The point is that no matter what you put your faith in, you will always want more of it. If you put your faith in money, you're going to want more of whatever you have. If you put your faith in knowledge, aren't you going to keep searching for it for as long as you can? Now, there's a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is having the information, while wisdom is knowing how to use it. I'm not saying that we don't need to always learn, but we need to learn about the important things in life most. What I'm trying to say though, is that we are designed to always want more of something. What we put our faith in should be what we are always wanting more of. If our faith is in money, or possessions, or knowledge, or strength, or power, or whatever, it will all go away when we die. However, if we put our faith in God, and you always want to know more about Him, and teach His word, then that will last for eternity. This reminds me of that song, "We Have an Anchor", which at one point says, "Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife? Will the strong tides lift and the cables strain? Will your anchor drift or firm remain?" We need to make sure that we are putting our faith in God, and not in things on this earth. We need to not believe the lie that money, or power, or knowledge will make us happier. God, as we have learned, cannot lie, which means that we can be sure He will keep His promises, and that we can have eternal happiness.

Friday, April 4, 2014

"Lord, Send Me"

     Over and over, I'm sure you have all heard Matthew 28:19. We have all heard that it is our duty to spread the word, but who do we actually teach? We are always asking God to send us to places where we could teach others, but how do we know if we're already there or not? How do we know if the Lord has already sent us?

    No matter where you are in the world, unless you have chosen to live deep in a forrest alone, you are probably going to be around people. Chances are, not all of those people are going to be Christians. Start with them. Get to know people, make friends, how are we supposed to have a spiritual relationship with someone if we are perfect strangers to them? I mean, would you really take advice from someone you didn't know at all? I'd be a little skeptical. Now, if I knew someone well, and I saw that they seemed to have their thoughts and beliefs in order, and were generally happy no matter what happened to them, I'd probably listen to them, wouldn't you? We need to be outgoing and teach others to the best of our abilities. Now, to some people this may be quite difficult if you're not as outgoing. I'm not saying that you have to go up to random people on the street and say, "Hi! Would you like to be my friend?" That's a little bit creepy. We all have friends. Or at least, we should. If not, then that means that it's time to get out there and make some. After all, how can we effect people if we're never around them?

    It's very important for us to, no matter what our tactic, no matter how we make friends, we need to spread the word of God as much as we can. This is why it's very important to study, so that we can more easily evangelize. I mean, we can't teach what we don't know. So, instead of asking "Lord, send me." ask yourself first if He already has. If He has, then that means you should get to work. If not, then start looking, and keep praying! We want to make sure as many people get into heaven as possible. The number may be few, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try teaching as many people as we can.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Social Media and the Good That Can Come From It

All the time I go to lectureships, and I read articles on how we spend too much time on the internet, and how bad it is to stare at a screen all day, and that you can't sustain a good relationship based purely on talking through social media. In fact, I have even heard several times that social media is harming our relationships with others. Now, this can all be true in certain situations, but a lot of it isn't true at all. A lot of good can come from social media.

     Yes, it can be easy to spend too much time on Facebook, or Pinterest, or Twitter, or Tumblr, etc. It's even easier to do this if you have a smart phone and can access the internet pretty much anywhere at any time, but it's not all bad. Social media was created to help others connect and communicate with each other. Being homeschooled and having moved a lot, I have a lot of long distance friends. By that I mean all of my friends live out of town, at least an hour away. All of them. Social media has given me the opportunity to keep those relationships strong. Yes, it is easier to be more critical when you're hiding behind a screen, but honestly, not everyone is like that. Social media can help us build up on and create strong relationships with others. So, what do we do with those relationships?

     Not only does social media help us connect with others, but it also helps us teach others the gospel. All the time I see people posting articles, and Bible verses, and sharing sermons that were recorded, etc. It is so easy to message someone on Facebook and say, "Hey, you should read this article! It may help you with what you're going through." and then that person takes five minutes and reads it, and they learn something, and the person who sent it just helped share the gospel. Those relationships that we have and can keep through social media can be used for teaching, for helping, and for encouraging. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is breathed by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righousness." God never said how we should share His Word, but that we should, and how can we connect with people on a spiritual level if we can't connect with them on a physical level?

    Today I would like to encourage all of you to use social media as a tool to use to help spread God's word. No, that doesn't have to be the only thing you use it for, but it should be a priority, as in everything else. :)