Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shaping Our Lives

As we live each day we encounter various trials that we have to learn to deal with. As Christians, we understand that these trials will be before us and that they are a test for us individually, as we prove to ourselves and to God that we are able to overcome these trials and pressures of life. In James 1:2-4 it says "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.” It is interesting to note that James tells us to count it “all joy” when we encounter these various trials and tribulations in life. Why joy? Because when we understand that these trials are tests of life and we do overcome them, then we can be joyful that we did so, knowing that as a result, we can someday have an eternal home with our heavenly Father.

Our Christian Walk Is Not Easy
When we are striving to walk in the paths of righteousness, obeying God’s will and not man’s, then it is certain that we will suffer persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Do you feel that you are suffering some type of persecution as you live your daily Christian life? If so, then you must be doing what God expects of you as a Christian. It is not easy to tell someone that you are with not to use that kind of language around you. It is not easy to tell one of your friends that you cannot go to that movie because there is bad language, nudity, and other things portrayed therein that God would not approve of. When we take a stand for Jesus in ALL things that we do, then we WILL suffer some type of persecution in our life.

A beloved sister in Christ, Ellen Kyle, wrote a beautiful poem that goes along with this thought of shaping our lives. It is entitled “The Stone Cutter”.

I watched a stone cutter as he worked with great care,
He was cutting and shaping a stone so fair.
I looked but I couldn’t see where it would go,
Finally I stopped him and told him so.
He pointed to a spot on a building so high,
That it almost seemed to touch the sky.
With the blows and cuts to the stone so fair,
I’m shaping it down here so it fits up there.
As I stood there and thought about what he had said,
A truth in my life took shape in my head.
I started to tremble as tears filled my eyes,
For I was beginning to realize,
The trials in my life that have hurt me so bad,
The things that trouble me and make me feel sad,
Are the blows that a heart of stone must receive.
And it’s through these struggles that God shapes my will,
And if I only let him, my well of strength He’ll fill.
So I try now to remember when trials are everywhere,
God is shaping me down here so I’ll fit up there.
---Ellen Kyle

Allowing God To Shape Our Life
When we allow God to shape our lives then we can have joy knowing that when the end comes we will be able to “fit up there” with Him in heaven. Christians should be the happiest people on earth. Christians fully understand that those trials, tribulations, and persecutions will be there, and KNOW that if we will be patient and let God direct our steps (Jeremiah 10:23), then we will be rewarded for our steadfastness. Have you allowed God to shape your life? If not, won’t you now be determined to live for him each day, allowing God to shape your life into an individual that will not be afraid to deal with life’s trials so that in the end you will “fit up there” in heaven above!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Have you ever noticed how miserable some people are and wondered why they were that way? Sometimes it's caused by being long on memory and short on forgiveness. If a person remembers every unkind thing anybody has ever said or done to them, they'll be miserable. Forgiveness is one of the great spiritual medicines.

To harbor grudges, to cultivate malice toward others, or to refuse to forgive, will hurt us far more than the one our ill feelings are directed toward. Colossians 3:13 says, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Under the law of Moses, they were commanded, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:18).

We demonstrate love when we willingly and readily forgive. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."

Let us obey a very plain commandment and leave vengeance in the hands of God. Romans 12:19 says, "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." Thus, we need to give place to the wrath of God. He will punishing those who do evil, and we need to leave the matter in His hands.

To be true disciples of the Lord, we must forgive "from the heart." Jesus said, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (Matthew 18:35). 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Studying God's Word

When Paul traveled from Thessalonica to Berea and found some of the Bereans to be more noble-minded than many he had encountered in Thessalonica. In Acts 17:10-11, Luke says, "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men."

If the determining factor was our eagerness in receiving the word of God and daily searching of the Scriptures, would Luke think you or I to be fair-minded?

2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Hebrews 5:14 says, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." 1 Peter 2:2 says, "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby..." 2 Peter 3:18 says, "...But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Bible study is important and essential for those who wish to receive God's approval. It is through the revelation we call the Bible that we learn of Christ and how we can receive eternal life. Let us examine the Scriptures daily that we might grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Abounding in Everything

Many who say they are Christians seem to try to give what they believe to be the minimum service to God. They try to obtain "just enough knowledge," do "just enough teaching of others," have "just enough love," etc. to get by. This attitude is not taught nor approved in the New Testament.

The New Testament stresses and enjoins us doing the maximum, our sincere best. As Christians we're to be spiritually ambitious, and abounding in our service to God. The word abound means "to exist in abundance" or "to overflow." Paul exhorted the Corinthians, "But as you abound in everything; in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us; see that you abound in this grace also." (2 Corinthian 8:7). In Romans 15:13, Paul wrote, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

We should abound in love. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:9, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment..." By thus abounding in love, love will be the control and motivation of our lives.

We need to abound in knowledge. The Scriptures teach that we are to add knowledge, increase in knowledge, and grow in knowledge according to 2 Peter 1:5, Colossians 1:10, and 2 Peter 3:18. Without knowledge of God's word, we are blind and cannot see afar off, according to 2 Peter 1:5 and 9. Without knowledge of God, we are unable to walk pleasingly to Him according to Colossians 1:9-10. Without knowledge, we are unable to approve the things that are excellent according to Philippians 1:9-10. We're to strive to possess knowledge to the degree of it being in abundance and overflowing. 

Are you abounding in your service to the Lord, or are you trying to do the bear minimum?