Sometimes we get sidetracked, frustrated, and weary by what evil deeds, actions, and teachings are being sown around us. Be it political, moral, social or physical these deeds can cause us to lose our own momentum in being sowers of that which is good. We skip a beat worrying about the bad and then failing to also sow the good. Remember the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-30.
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather themup? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
Good deeds and evil deeds are sown by good and evil people. They both exist in this world though being completely opposite. We are the wheat as Christians! Keep sowing good works no matter the bad we see so clearly in this world. And trust in the power of God in good works. Don't loose sight of the fact that good wins out in the end. And good works are born the day we do them and will have an impact far greater than the evil deeds sown against them. May we keep our faith in that! BB
Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker: "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!" It is easier to smile at that statement than to practice it, but the basic philosophy is true. As a matter of fact, it is biblical! Throughout the bible, there are people who turned defeat into victory and trials into triumph instead of being victims, they became victors. The epistle of James tells us that we can have this same experience today! “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Whether we are dealing with trials on the outside or temptations on the inside, through faith in God and Jesus Christ we can experience victory!
The key to turning trials into triumph is to obey three imperatives:
1. Count - 1:2. Notice that james assumes that we will experience trials. He doesn't say "if" but rather "when." This is because Christians must expect trials. They will happen in the lives of Christ’s disciples. So, what is to be the Christian's response? "Count it all joy!" Be happy that something good can come out of a difficult situation. Which leads to knowing…
2. Know - 1:3. James says that “knowing that the trying of your faith produces patience" Specifically, faith tested produces patience. There are great outcomes that are possible as a response to the present dilemmas. The right knowledge concerning the value of trials makes it possible to have a joyful attitude. Which leads to letting…
3. Let - 1:4. We must let the process play out. As James says, "let patience have its perfect work." To truly turn trials into triumph, we must let "patience" do its work. Too often, we want to get our trials or difficulties over with quickly. But there are times when the best course is to bear up under the trial patiently and instead of grumbling and complaining, patiently endure the trial. For when patience has had an opportunity to work, it produces MATURITY!
Throughout the bible, we see those people who turned defeat into victory and trials into triumph. Rather than being victims, they became victors. We can have this same experience today if we will only be patient! BB
The lyrics to my favorite Jamaican worship song are as follows: “You better get right with God, come and do it now. Under the cross of Jesus I lay my burden down. There are two roads before you; pick your choice!” Just like this song emphasizes we must pick our choice! Which way seems right to you? God’s way or man’s way? Jesus came to this world and there were many people living by their own standards. The Pharisees were angry with Jesus for being different. Notice with me in Mark 7:1-9, “Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
People today look at the practices and morality of Christians and wonder why we are so different. They ask us why do we choose not to do immoral things like lie, curse, cheat, swear and fornicate? The bottom line is we choose heaven over hell when we choose to follow Jesus. This is why we do not drink, swear, use tobacco or lust after the magazines. The devil has made his own traditions that are earthly and wicked. Jesus has made his way of righteousness and truth. Which way will you go? Pick your choice! BB
During the middle of winter, with its short days and overcast skies it may seem that spring will never come. But just the other day I saw a sign at a local nursery that said it is time to plant your onions and potatoes. Plant something in the middle of winter? Really? Why would anyone take their potatoes and onions and put them in the ground now? It seems like that is just throwing away good potatoes and onions. But mankind has learned that the seasons are a blessing to us and even though it seems unlikely God will allow those plants to spring forth and grow. This is the lesson in Mark 4:26-29, “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”
The Bible gives us the knowledge that the process of growing is beyond our effort as God does give the increase. There may be times we feel down or hopeless about our own growth whither personal or as a congregation. We find everything futile and our attitude is negative because nothing has worked. Yet we must be willing to pray and continue in our efforts knowing full well that GOD WILL GIVE THE INCREASE. Though the skies seem drear and days seem short if we faithfully plant and water God will bring spiritual fruit into our lives. So don’t give up and know that every effort you make has a value and reason. Spring will come and with it a great harvest! BB
Have you noticed yet? Something happened. Something changed. For most people, January is the time that we relearn how to write down the date. No more 14’s scribbled down at the end of the date. Nope. Now it is 2015 and so the new year must be recorded whither we like it or not. This is just another change in the road of life. And changes like this can be scary. Yet one this is for certain; everything changes!
Can you imagine what that must have been like for Abram? Remember what the Lord told him to do? “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3)
Abram had options just like we do. There was going to be a benefit for him if he obeyed. Yet, there must have been a part of him that wanted to stay in the country he had always known. He must have been comfortable where he was. Why, do you remember that Abram was already 75 years old? He must have had some deep roots! Sometimes we too are tempted to get comfortable and get stuck in what we have always known and liked. But the changes God asks of us serve as an opportunity to obey Him and be rewarded. And that is the key to all of this: Abram obeyed God! “So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” (Gen. 12:4) Despite how hard this change must have been, Abram obeyed God and got closer to him! You see, this is the key. When we have an opportunity to better ourselves spiritually we need to take it! We must get closer to God and if we obey Him even though things are different we will have the constant comfort of our deep relationship with God. Don’t get stuck in your same spiritual level and routine just because you are used to it! Challenge yourself in this New Year to make those changes God is asking of you and grow because you had the courage to obey Him. It worked for Abram and it WILL work for You! Maybe a new beginning is just what you need. BB
During the time of Christ Jesus came across those who couldn’t see their own ways and behaviors but were very quick to judge others and find their faults. In 2000 years since, mankind has not been able to overcome these behaviors and shed off this negative feature of humanity. This is exactly why Jesus teaches as he does in the Sermon on the Mount in Matt. 7:1-5, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”
We have trouble seeing ourselves! This is why James reminds us to “look into the perfect law of liberty and be a doer of it! (James 1:23-25)
This is why we have to do what the kids say these days: “CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF!” Make sure you are doing what is right!
Psalm 139:23 is asking for just that, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:” And Psalm 119:59 shows the difference when we make the changes we need to, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.”
Ultimately the key to stop being so judgmental and hypocritical is to first look at ourselves and be humbled and only then, with love, help others who need to change too. For isn’t that the point? Not to judge harshly but rather to judge for love’s sake. To help someone who needs it as much as we have needed it. If we become too blind and proud about ourselves then we sin and become hypocrites. If we forget that we need God too then we are in trouble! Isaiah penned God’s message in the long ago, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Make sure YOUR ways and thoughts are taking the high road and helping rather than hurting. BB
You have probably seen the man who is stuck in a sandwich board that reads, “BEWARE, THE END IS NEAR”. No doubt there are some crazy people out there who prescribe to many different doctrines of life. But this man may not be as crazy as you think.
We often live as if this world will never come to an end. We fail to number our days as we should (Ps. 90:12) and to redeem the time wisely. (Eph. 5:16) There can be no doubt that we will not be here forever. And we need to appreciate every moment we have to serve God and give Him glory. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecc. 12:13-14).
And this is the issue: mankind lives as if each and everyday will continue to come and therefore takes each and everyday for granted. In 2 Peter we are made aware of this attitude, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” They see that everyday is the same and then conclude that there is no God. This attitude and mindset is prevalent in our society today.
But when this “merry-go-round” ends; what then? Will people be ready for the end of this life. Hence the “crazy” man on the corner stands to warn us that the end is near. Well, is it? At the close of this year and the new year pending to come our way, ask yourself, “Am I ready for the end of my life? Am I ready for the judgment of my soul and am I right with God?” You know what, it might not be such a crazy statement after all. Behold the end may be near! BB
The Bible is absolute TRUTH. The definition of absolute is: complete and total, not limited in any way, or having unlimited power. Though many would argue and say that there is no absolute truth, God’s Word is definite in its legitimacy as never being wrong. And this is the very thing that man needs most. We need to be told what God knows to be right and wrong. “LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah goes on to say, “LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.” (Jeremiah 10:23-24) Jeremiah wanted correction and judgment from the Lord because he knew that God knew best. Oh that we would have that same mindset to ask God to correct us when we are wrong. In Mark 3 Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees about his actions. They were trying to bind on him the doctrines of man and not the Truth of God. “And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.” (Mark 3:1-6). Notice that after Jesus shows them his power to heal and do miracles they disregard Jesus’ power and teaching and instead seek to destroy him. They won’t receive the correction and teaching of Jesus. Could this be said of us? “I know God’s Word says this BUT…” Are we willing to respect the judgment of God and His Truth? May we have the mindset of Jeremiah rather than the mindset of the Pharisees who think they already know it all. Let us be humbled by the Absolute Truth of God each and everyday. And let us judgement be our own that we may know how to live. BB
They say trouble comes in threes. Some would say trouble just keeps coming without rest. Like the waves upon the shore so difficulties come in life without fail. Do you ever feel pounded, pounded, and pounded again? Yet no matter what may come “we have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll.” Paul says in II Corinthians 4: 8-10, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” Think about how much strength our God brings to our lives that no matter what trouble may come we are not consumed by them. The psalmist says in Psalm 93:4, “The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” And in Psalm 107:29, “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” We must always know that God will get us through the trials and constant waves of this life.
“Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?” Keep this in mind next time you are pounded by the waves of this life. May we never forget who our God is and how he keeps us from being washed away! God will always be victorious and with Him we will be too! The waves may come but we are stronger in our faith in God for it. And that attitude keeps our soul steadfast and sure though the billows roll. BB
Our loving God has always known that mankind filled with sin has needed a savior who could live a perfect life and redeem God’s creation unto Himself for all eternity. Thus enters Jesus as the full and Holy Propitiation of our sins. Therefore Jesus was willing to be put to death that we might have salvation from our sins. However important the death of Jesus is to Christianity is, we know that ultimately the resurrection of Christ is that much more essential. This is why he also points out that he will resurrect. This rising again is critical to our faith; otherwise Paul says we are of all men most miserable. (I Cor. 15:17) Our faith in Christ would amount to all the other vain faiths many have in Buddha, Hindi, or Mohammad in that their leaders are all dead and buried. But Jesus is alive! In Matt. 16:21 Jesus speaks about his own death, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” But how could one rise again? Jesus says in Rev. 1:17b-18, “And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
He has always been and always will be and despite his death on the cross, our God has raised him from the dead with both glory and honor. Peter points this out to those gathered on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:29)
Therefore because of that resurrection of Jesus we also have been given an opportunity to be in his resurrection and rise to walk in newness of life and ultimately rise to be with God eternally. Peter puts it this way, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:3-4) We must live our lives a new so that we might live our lives eternally with God in Heaven someday. But none of this would be possible without the resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord. BB