Desire the Best Gift

1 Corinthians 12:29-31, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?  But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”

We are all talented in different ways.  On a football team, not everyone could be the quarterback because then there would be no one to block for them.  No wide receivers, no one to catch the ball.  No running backs, no one to run the ball.  Every position is important as this is a team sport.  In the church, this is a team as well.  All part of God’s team and we should all desire the best gift.

Are all apostles?  No, of course not.  Not everyone is meant to a messenger of the gospel.  For some this is not their skill set.  Not their gift.  Are all prophets?  No.  Not all can prophesy or receives what will happen from God.  Some will for sure, but not all.  Definitely not all are teachers, workers of miracles, healers, speakers of tongues, or interpreters.  There is one thing that is for sure.  Everyone is something.  They may be one of these or have multiple of these.  They may have none of these and have something else they are gifted at.

Whatever we are good at, we need to desire the best gifts.  What is the best gift?  That will depend on the person.  If you are good at helping others learn, you could be an excellent teacher.  If you love to travel, you could be an apostle that takes the Word to many other places.  Healings from those that are more medically inclined.  Tongues for those that are given it.  The gift that you have is from God and it is whatever God wants you to have.

God wants to show us an excellent way to use our gifts.  If you are not the best public speaker, God could still use you for it.  In the end, it is about God and what He wants so He will give the words to say and the courage to say them.  We should never tell God what we can do.  God already knows what we can and cannot do.  He makes a way for us to accomplish His will every day.  We need to desire the best gift and God will take that gift and magnify it.  God will take the little that we can do and multiply it.  We need to be pliable so that God can mold us into what He wants.  We are His and we should use our gifts always.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the gifts that You give.  You know us and You know what we need.  Even if You give us something that we do not know, You are there for us.  You help us and do not leave us.  We are capable of so much when you are in it.  You take our talents and gifts and work them to Your honor and glory.  It is not about us; it is all about You.  Your kingdom above all others.  You above all others.  You are God.  You are the giver of gifts.   Help us use these gifts for You.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

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Craftiness of the Wise

1 Corinthians 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”

As children, it is fun to attempt projects.  It is fun to use glue, cut paper, and draw characters.  Coloring, even as an adult, can be relaxing and fun.  If someone is good at making things with paper, glue and crayons, they are thought to be “crafty.”  Crafty people truly have a mind for what they do.  This is the craftiness of the wise.

The wisdom of the world.  There is so much intelligence in this world.  People are able to invent things every day.  Computers that are smaller and smaller.  Artificial technology that is smarter and smarter.  Gadgets that do more and work faster, making life easier.  Even with all of this intelligence, it is still lacking.  It is still not enough.  The wisdom of the world is a mere fraction of what it needs to be to keep up with the creator of the world.

Foolishness with God.  All our wisdom is foolishness to God.  God, who knows everything from the beginning of time to the end of time, is far superior in intelligence to us.  Think about that for a moment.  As God was created the first man and woman, He knew about us and what we would be like, what we would be named, and how we would act.  He knew how many hairs on our body, the color of our eyes and the sound our voices would make.  He knows all this because He is God.  He is God and we are not.  He is all-knowing for a reason.

God catches the wise in their own craftiness.  We cannot get away with anything with God.  God knows what we are doing before we do it.  He knows our entire lives.  We cannot surprise Him.  We cannot shock Him.  We cannot do anything that He has not already seen.  Our greatest plans and most deceitful lies are known to God.  We cannot trick God and really, why would we want to?  What is to gain from trying to trick God?

The wise think that they can outsmart God, but only end up looking foolish.  There will come a time when all of us die.  We will die and go to Heaven and stand in front of God.  We will have to explain our actions to the Creator.  Do we want to have lived a life for Him in His wisdom or approach Him, only having used our own wisdom?  I know that for me, my wisdom is nowhere near God’s.  I am overjoyed that God is in control.  I am not wise and that is fine.  God is wise and He gives me the knowledge that I need when I need it.  I do not have to be anything other than what I am.  I am a follower of God, and not myself.  I cannot boast.  I am not crafty.  I am not wise.  I am simply a humble servant of the Most High God.  Will you join me in doing the same?  Humble yourself before the God of all.  He is Lord of lords and King of kings.  He is our Father and He is all we need.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You are all we need.  We do not have to be wise on our own.  We do not have to do anything to gain our salvation and in fact, we can’t gain it on our own.  It is a gift.  A gift that is freely given.  We bow down to You and give You all the praise, all the honor and all the glory that is due to You.  We humbly ask that You provide for us all that we need as only You know what we truly need.  You are full of wisdom and we are not.  We are weak and that is fine.  You are more than strong enough for all of us.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Sheep, Wolves, Serpents and Doves

Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

As Jesus was preparing His twelve disciples, He was getting them ready.  Ready for a world that would not be so welcoming.  Ready for a world that would be very cruel at times.  This is not much different from the world we live in today.  The world is not very welcoming to Christian behavior.  Some is, but much is not.  There are sheep, wolves, serpents and doves.

Jesus sent His disciples out as sheep.  Sheep are a notoriously susceptible to attack.  They are primarily defenseless against predators.  Sheep can try to run, but they are not fast.  They do not have claws.  They do not have poisonous skin.  They need protection at all times.  This is what Jesus was referring to.  He sent them out but He would still be with them in Spirit.  He would be there to protect them, but there would be times when there would be no protection.  This is when the disciples (or us) need to be able to weather the attacks that come.

In the midst of wolves.  There are “wolves” everywhere.  They can be at work, they can be in your, and they can even be in church.  The “wolves” are those people who try to attack your personal faith in God.  They try to tear you down.  They try to discourage you from following God and doing what is right.  They pick and they tear and they try to destroy.  They will be successful if you let them.  We have a defense against the wolves.  Our defense is the Word of God.  See, the Word of God is alive.  It came in the form of flesh, in the form of Jesus.  Jesus is there to refute anything our enemies try to do to us.  We call on Him and He is there.  He is there and the enemy has to depart.

This ties into the next part about being wise as serpents.  See, the serpent is cunning and crafty.  It is patient and waits to attack.  It plans out its moves well in advance.  It is prepared to do what it must to get its intended target.  That is how we have to be against the enemy.  We need to be wise to the devil’s ways.  He will try to deceive and cheat and lie and steal.  We need to put him in his place with the name of Jesus because there is power in the name and blood of Jesus.  We need to be prepared by knowing the Bible so that we can be able to stand up to those that try to bring us down.

In that, we need to be harmless as doves.  We need to be strong like the serpent, but there are times when we are called to be like doves.  Doves are a gentle creature that are not ferocious, particularly wise, cunning, or crafty.  They go about and eat seeds.  Most of the time, someone can walk right up on them and they will only fly away if they feel threatened.  We need to be like this.  We need to be approachable for others.  We need to not be threatening to others so that they will come to us to see what is special about us.  This is when we can share God with them and how they can have what we have.

There are sheep and wolves.  Good serpents and bad serpents.  There are also doves.  This world is filled with all kinds of people.  We need to be deliberate in our actions so that we can show who we are.  We need to be sheep of God, not wolves of the world.  Smart like the serpent and harmless like the dove.  This shows the love of God and how we have been changed.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for being our protector.  Thank You for showing how much You care about us.  We are so weak and defenseless when it comes to temptation and other sins.  You come along side and help us out if we call on Your name.  We love You and need You, Father.  You are our God and we are Your people.  Your sheep and You are our Shepherd.  Now and forevermore.

In your name we pray,

Amen

How Are You Grounded?

Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

In living things, the first years (or months or days) are the formative moments.  These are the times when lessons are learned, parts are grown and behaviors are established.  For example, dogs need to be trained as puppies so that they learn where they are allowed to go potty, what they are allowed to do, and how they are to act.  If untrained, it is harder to train them later in life.  It matters how they are established or grounded.  How are you grounded?

This is one of the parables that Jesus taught.  Whether the people in this story were real or not is not the point.  The point is to learn from each person.  Jesus starts out by challenging the people to hear what He was saying.  It was not enough to listen to His words; they needed to actively hear Him.  There is a warning for those that choose not to hear Him.

Two men built houses.  One man built his house upon a rock.  The other man built his house upon the sand.  They were built in the same area and a great storm came.  There was rain, there were floods from the rain, and there was wind.  This could very well be equated to a hurricane level storm.  One house stay upright and the other fell.

The foundation made all the difference in this scenario.  The rock was the appropriate answer.  The sand was loose and made for a poor foundation.  It gave way and the house fell flat.  The storm hit each house the same but the foundation save one and not the other.

In life, we need to be grounded in God and the Bible.  When we try to go at life on our own, we are like the man who built on the sand.  We may be good for a while, but when the storms of life come, we will fall flat on our faces.  We will cry out, hoping to be heard.  We will reach rock bottom.  When we have God, the storms can come but God is there to keep us up.  He protects us.  The storms will still come and they may be rough, but God will never let us fall completely flat.

The foundation is the key.  What we are grounded in makes all the difference.  Are we grounded in the world that is foretold to go away or are we ground in God who has been around since the beginning of time?  The God of Heaven or the world and its brokenness?  We need to be careful what we are grounded in.  We also need to help others be grounded in God.  If you know someone who is grounded in the world, they need a new foundation.  God can be their foundation, too.  He is waiting for all those that choose to believe.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You keep us grounded.  When problems come, You are there.  We can trust in You because You will never let us down.  You never break Your promises.  You are unchanging.  We start out on the wrong path and building in the wrong area but when we bring You into our lives, we can “jack up our old house” and “receive a new foundation.”  Plus, You give us a “new house.”  You change us when we accept You as Lord and Savior.  We love You and need You.  Thank You for Your unfailing love.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Christ’s Fulfillment

Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

In Old Testament times, there was something that was done once a year for all the people of Israel.  They would perform a sin offering, in which the sins of all the people would be “put” on a lamb and that lamb was sent away to show that sins were sent away.  All that went away with Jesus.  All that stopped through Christ’s fulfillment.

Do not think.  This can be a problem for some.  Not that thinking is necessarily a bad thing, but it can be dangerous.  Dangerous when our thoughts do not line up with God’s (and that happens a lot).  Jesus did not want anyone to think of something that was not His at this point.  No coming up with other conclusions.  Not adding to or taking away.  Just listen to the word of Jesus.

(Not) I (Jesus) came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  Jesus came for a specific purpose.  He came, ultimately, to die for the sins of all.  Did He do it willingly?  Yes and no.  While He knew He had to die, He still asked God the Father if He could be spared.  He knew the answer and thus, He died.  He did not stay dead.  He came back, conquering Hell, sin and the grave.  All of this He did, not to destroy the Old Testament rules completely, nor to negate what was said by the Prophets.  In fact, many of the prophets prepared people for the coming of Jesus.  Jesus is the solution to the old law.  He is the perfect sacrifice.

He came to fulfill.  His death changed the world forever.  Since the time of Adam to the death and resurrection of Jesus, the world was in sin.  People were dying and had no solution to the sin in their lives.  With Jesus, there is fulfillment.  The hole that sin created was filled.  Filled with the love of Jesus.  He did what no one else could do.  He accomplished everything He set out to do.  His ministry was perfect.  His life was perfect.  Even in death, He was perfect.  The spotless Lamb that ended the power of sin.  The fulfillment of Christ is what we need, what we should seek, and what all strive for.

Heavenly Father,

We humbly come to You, knowing that we are all sinful.  We all fall short of the standard that You laid out.  We cannot save ourselves and You know this.  You know this and You made a way for us.  The Way.  Jesus, Your Son.  Your only Son.  We thank You for His sacrifice of dying on the cross.  We humbly bow down to You and accept this gift of grace and live to serve You.  I pray that many come to know You through these words.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Use Your Gifts

1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Every person on the face of the Earth has a gift.  There are many gifts and the gift that one person has very well could be different from another’s.  God made us a certain way and you need to discover and use your gifts.

We each received a gift when we born.  Sometimes it is obvious.  Sometimes it is not.  So how does one discover their gifts?  You can look on web sites that give a series of questions to figure it out.  You can pray and ask God to reveal it.  You can even ask others to see what you cannot see.  Ultimately, it is discovered and revealed in God’s timing.

We are to minister to others.  Whether ministering is your level of expertise or not, we are to do it.  Ministering can come in many forms.  Ministering can be as simple as witnessing to them.  It can come in the form of being there for someone.  It can be leading someone through the plan of salvation.  Whatever it is, we are to do it.  Everything we do should be for the furthering of the kingdom of God.

Good stewards of the grace of God.  We have a gift but we also received another gift.  We have received the grace of God.  What is the grace of God?  It is a gift we do not deserve.  See, we all sin.  We all deserve judgment.  Yet, we serve a God that takes all that we did wrong and places it on His Son, who did no wrong.  Our life is wiped clean.  We are as if we never sinned.  We are free.  But our freedom isn’t free.  It required one sacrifice for all.  It is nothing that anyone can do on their own.  Only by the shed blood of Jesus are we saved.  That is grace.  That is the most beautiful gift we can receive.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for all the gifts that You bless us with.  You truly are a gracious and loving God.  We can never repay You for the gift of salvation.  Let us live for You and in living for You, minister to others.  We need to listen to You and obey.  Help us to obey You more.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

 

This Fleeting Life

Psalms 144:4, “Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow.”

Life goes quickly.  Some days it feels like there are less hours in a day than others.  Some days it seems like life is plodding along.  In the perspective of time, a person’s life is a mere drop in the bucket.  In the perspective of God, a person’s life is an even smaller drop in an even bigger bucket.  It all boils down to this fleeting life.

Man is like a breath.  When one thinks about a breath, how long does one take to breathe in and breathe out?  There can be quick breaths in and out.  There can be times of breathing in and holding until one feels like they will explode and letting the air out.  There can be anything in the middle of that, too.  Our lives are like that.  They can be quick, like when a child dies.  They can be long, like when someone lives well into their 90’s or even 100’s.  They can be in the middle, too, like 40’s or 50’s.  No matter what, people never feel like they have enough time in life.

Whatever time we get in life, we need to use it properly.  We should never waste life.  Life is precious and should be held on to softly.  We never know when it could end.  As quickly as a breath ends, a life can end, too.

His days are like a passing shadow.  Just a breath, a shadow can pass quickly or slowly.  Either way, it is not a long time for it to pass.  Shadows are also susceptible to sunshine.  Without the sun, a shadow does not exist.  Without the Son, we will cease to exist, too.

We need to not be depressed by this news.  There is hope.  That hope comes in the form of eternal life.  Our life on this Earth is short but we can live forever with God in Heaven.  We can be with God and live as God lives.  We should want that.  We should need that.  Sadly, many choose to live this life and be done.  Let us boldly live for God, accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and live with God in Heaven forever.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the life that we are given.  Help us to live for You.  You are the only one that can give us eternal life.  We should not waste our time that we have.  We love You and need You.  You are our Father and You care about us deeply

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Confidence in God

Psalms 118:8, “It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man.”

Trust is defined in dictionary as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”  Man is anything but reliable, truthful, able, or strong.  In fact, man is actually “un-trust.”  Man will let down everything.  It is not man’s fault; he is not perfect.  Only God is perfect, only God is trustworthy, only have confidence in God.

Better to trust in the Lord.  God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  God does not change.  He is same God from the time of Adam and He will be the same God even after the last person ever dies.  He does not waver.  He does not shake.  He is solid.  This is how we can trust in God.  For those that think they cannot trust God, they are comparing God to man and that is a dangerous game to play.  God is not like man.  Man will break promises.  Man will lie and cheat and steal.  Man sins, where God is incapable of sin.  This is why we can have a firm belief in God.

So why do we have trouble believing in God?  It is because of us.  See, we compare God to our standards.  We feel like we have to put a personal part to God.  God is so much further beyond our thoughts and our standards.  God is the same; it is our beliefs that change.  For many that believe something one way, it take irrefutable proof to change them.  Since God cannot be seen, it is difficult for them to believe that He is real.  Even if some people could see Him, I fully believe they would still try to deny Him.

We live in a culture where it is hard to believe anything we see or hear.  We have been lied to so much in the news and in our culture, that when God comes in full truth, we believe it to be a lie.  We cannot believe that there is someone who does not have a personal agenda to lie, cheat, or steal.  Who is not corrupt.  Who is not misaligned.  God is truth.  His Word is truth.  God cannot lie.  God is not like the local news outlet.  He is all truth, all the time.

Confidence in man will always be misinformed.  Man is imperfect and in being imperfect, man will not always be reliable.  Man can have times of being reliable and can have someone be confident in them for a time.  Man will let someone down at sometime or another.  God, however, is always there.  He will never leave us.  He will never abandon us.  He is where we can store our confidence.  He is where we can place our trust.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that we can trust You in all things.  You are not like us and for that, we are glad.  Please forgive us for comparing You to what we are like.  You are so far above us and Your love and trust are immeasurable.  You are truth.  You are love.  Help us to have confidence and trust in You always.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

Sleeping in Harvest

Proverbs 10:5, “He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”

For the farmer, there are times that are busier than others.  At the beginning of the season, there is the planting.  Everything has to go into the ground in order to start the process of growing.  At the end of the season, there is the harvest.  This is the gathering of all the crops that were planted months before.  This is the time to step up; there cannot be sleeping in harvest.

Farming is a concept that can be applied to many schools of thought.  In grade school, for instance, there is a time to do all the homework.  This homework helps to make quizzes and tests easier.  This knowledge will make future classes easier.  Without the ground work laid, there is no chance for advanced learning and advancement.  At work, there needs to be work done at a lower level so that there can be advancement to management and eventually higher and higher in a company,  If there is no work done in the lower levels, there will be no advancement.

Wisdom is shown in doing what is told.  In farming, this is shown by following a pattern.  This pattern is accomplished by working the ground, planting seeds, caring for the seeds with water and fertilizer, weeding them, and then harvesting the crops.  This process then repeats itself.

In following God, there is a pattern as well.  Before we know God, we are in our sin.  We need to have our “ground” worked up.  Our “ground” is our soul, which needs to be broken and the sin taken away so that we may be ready for planting.  The planting phase is salvation.  This is the accepting of Jesus as Lord and Savior of the life and allowing Him to be planting in both heart and soul.  Next is the “watering and fertilizing.”  This is done by growing closer to God through prayer, worship, and reading the Bible.  God wants us to be in fellowship with Him so that we are listening to Him and less to the world.  Then there is “weeding.”  Sometimes, sin tries to creep in and choke out the relationship with God.  The weeding is needed to again be in right fellowship with God.

Lastly, there is the harvest.  When our time on Earth is done and we are ready to depart, Jesus will take us home.  He will take us to be in Heaven with God.  This harvest time is the bringing to a close the life lived for God.  This harvest is everything.

The problem comes when someone “sleeps through the harvest.”  They do not choose to harvest after planting or do not even plant at all.  They do not choose to water, weed or fertilize.  See, at any time in the process, there can be problems if care is not taken.  If the seed is never planted, there will be no harvest.  If the seed is not watered, it will die.  If it is not fertilized, it will not grow properly and will die.  If the weeds are not eliminated, they will choke out the seeds, causing death.  There is much care required to bring a seed from that seed to harvest time.

There is great shame in living a life contrary to God.  God is real and wants a real relationship with us.  We have to choose to be planted in Him, watered by Him, fertilized by Him, weeded by Him and harvested by Him.  If we fail at any part in this, we will not be with Him.  We must be willing to do what it takes to serve God.  This does not mean that we will be perfect but we need to give our lives to Jesus and He will guide us to His Father, our Father.  We need salvation and our salvation will be brought about to a glorious harvest.  Let us not be caught sleeping when the harvest time comes.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You are there for us.  We cannot live for You on our own.  We live contrary to Your ways and can only be with You through the shed blood of Jesus.  Help us to live for You, giving You all the praise and honor and glory that is due to You.  You are perfect and we are not.  Our actions can only do so much but we need grace.  We need that gift that You give that we do not deserve but You give anyway.  We need You.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

 

Who is Like the Fool?

Proverbs 26:4, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.”

There is an expression that states that one may be “going down a rabbit hole.”  This originated in the 17th century but more commonly refers to a popular movie, Alice in Wonderland.  The rabbit hole involves going to a place that may not be one that can be returned from.  Rabbits are known for excellent digging, after all.  This is like a conversation with someone being foolish.  But who is like the fool?

Fool can also be known as someone who is a stupid fellow, a dullard, a simpleton, or an arrogant one.  This is someone who is a step behind the rest, not fast on the draw, and several other possibilities.  This is not someone that is to be answered.  See, the fool will try to start a discussion or argument.  It may start off well, but will soon take a turn for the worse.  Truth begins to be replaced with opinions.  There tends to be more “half-truths,” which are really just lies cloaked with a little truth.  An argument will someone who is foolish will never be fruitful.

Think about being a child on a playground.  The back and forth banter of a discussion with little to no actual knowledge of the topic.  This is how the fool operates.  He will speak without knowledge and try to pass his ignorance off as intelligence.  Discussion without structure or facts breaks down quickly into a “he said, she said.”

According to his folly shows that foolish people are full of folly.  Folly is also known as silliness.  When one is speaking or acting in a way that is outside the realm that one should be acting, that is thought to be silly.  Now there is a difference between being silly with children and being silly in a serious matter.  With God, there is no room for fools or foolish talk.  God wants us to walk in truth and the fool cannot do this.  They cannot stay true to truth all the time.  They simply do not have the wherewith-all to do this.

We are warned that hanging around fools is contagious.  We can become fools the more we hang around them.  This is sound advice because look at when one person gets a bad idea to say, steal a car.  Not everyone in the group may want to do it, but if one does, more often than not, everyone will join in.  This happens through pressure and this is how foolish acts happen.  These individuals are engaging in a crime that is extremely pointless and will only end in disaster.

In light of eternity, there are fools involved, too.  Fools are those people who turn their backs on God.  First, God created us.  We owe Him everything for doing this.  Second, He sent His Son to save us.  We sin and deserve death.  Jesus died instead so that we do not have to.  Third, God wants us to accept His Son and be with Him in Heaven.  See, the fool denies God.  Denies Jesus.  Denies the gift of grace given freely.  Only a fool would refuse a gift so precious as this.  There is no monetary cost to take it.  It is free.  It is only paid for by being willing to give us this life in place of another one in Heaven above.

Let us not be like the fool.  God does not want us to be foolish.  Let us be the intelligent creatures that God intended us to be and follow Him.  Let us boldly accept salvation and grace and approach God with a humble heart.  Let us be in Heaven with Him forever and ever.  This is not for the fool, but for those that earnestly seek God above.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that we never act like the fool.  There are times when we may say or do something that is foolish.  I pray that we see the error of our ways and seek to be forgiven for it.  We do not wish to stay in that state of mind.  We ask that You shine on us all the wisdom that You can.   Help us to come to You with all that we are.

In Your name we pray,

Amen