The Secret to Contentment

Paul shares with us the secret to contentment in Philippians 4:11-13. Paul said that whatever his circumstances he had learned to be content. How did he do this? Was he not paying attention? Was he in self-denial? What was his secret? I believe that Paul saw more than just the outward circumstances. I think he saw through the circumstances. Paul knew that God was sovereign, that He was in control. He knew that he could trust Him. He knew that God was at work in the midst of even the most trying circumstances to perfect His purposes in his life. When we look at the circumstances of our lives, what do we see? Some circumstances are good. Some are bad. I'm not implying that everything that happens to you is good. The Scriptures nowhere teach that. But they do teach that God is at work in every situation, good and bad, for our benefit. In other words, He can take even a bad situation and build some good thing into our lives. So, before you label something good or [Read more...]

Misunderstood by the World but Loved by God

We are all subject to being misunderstood by others from time to time. We are all unique individuals and people often do not know what is going on inside our heads and hearts. Sometimes they misunderstand us because they do not know us. Other times they misunderstand us because their own perspective on things is so unlike ours. But no one group is more misunderstood than Christians. Just turn on the television and tune in to any talk show. What you will hear is there is generally a mischaracterization of Christians and Christianity. Christians are portrayed as narrow-minded and unloving. Christianity is trivialized and marginalized. But this really should not surprise us. We should not expect people who do not know God to understand people who do. The Bible tells us that "the world knows us not, because it knew Him not" (I John 3:1). Being a child of God means that we are misunderstood by others. The world simply does not and cannot understand people who have a [Read more...]

Choosing our Master: Sin or Christ

Today, many Christians who inhabit the pews of our churches are discouraged, defeated, depressed and frustrated. They are limited, and they know it, in the things God can do through them, and sometimes they do not even know why. The reason is most likely due to the fact that we are not surrendering ourselves to Jesus Christ. We are harboring sin in our lives. It may be a seemingly small, insignificant sin. We may not be harboring some of the more serous sins, but we are harboring sin none-the-less. It may be the sin of choosing our own way instead of choosing God's way. Or it may be we are not surrendering some area of our lives because it is precious to us. No one wants to be limited when it comes to being used of God. Remember, it is not so much your ability, your gifts or your talents that matter. God has plenty of those to give freely. It is your availability to be used of God in His service that makes the difference. Do not sit there and say, "Well I just don't have [Read more...]

Taking God’s Perspective on Life

How do you view life? What is your worldview? A worldview is a lens through which life is viewed. It is your understanding of how life works and why it works that way. This is your worldview. This is your perspective. Our worldview is really a life-view. And this life-view makes a huge difference in how we react emotionally to the situations we encounter and how we behave practically. This explains why so many people react differently to the very same circumstances and problems. Life is both similar and different for everybody. It is similar in that all kinds of stuff happens to everybody. Good stuff happens and bad stuff happens. All of us can testify that we, as humans share a commonality of life experiences. Life is different however, in that the stuff that happens to you is unique to your situation. It is unique to your history and personality. But, the real question is not whether stuff will happen to you, but how you will respond to the stuff that does [Read more...]

Resurrection Life

Is there life after death? That has been a burning question that's been asked as long as mankind has been on this planet. Job put it this way: "If a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14). The thought that these few short years on earth is all we have is terribly frightening. There is something within the soul of all of us that makes us yearn for something more. The truth of the power of Christ's resurrection is that believers will rise again. Jesus answers Job's question in His words to Martha. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:25,26). Jesus said that even if we die, we will live. In other words, just as He came forth from that grave, so also will we come forth from our graves in that great resurrection morning. It is the destiny of all of God's children to come forth from death to new life in His eternal kingdom. [Read more...]

Heavenly-minded Christians

Perhaps you have heard some Christians described as being "so heavenly-minded, they're of no earthly good." To be honest, I don't know many Christians that fit that description. In fact, usually the opposite is true. Many Christians are so preoccupied with the things of this world that they hardly give heaven a passing thought. They have everything they want right here. The health, wealth and prosperity doctrine has convinced them that Christian's can have it all, so they pursue "the good life" with a vengeance. But Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:30: "Our citizenship is in heaven; from which we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." That's why we are exhorted to set our minds on heavenly, not on earthly things (Col. 3:1-2). Our deepest affections and highest aspirations should center there. Our actions and decisions should reflect heavenly priorities, not earthly indulgences. Seek to live your life with a greater awareness of the fleeting value of this [Read more...]

The True Meaning of Christmas

If we were to sum up the true meaning of Christmas in one word, I think the word "Emmanuel" would be a strong candidate. Christmas is all about "God with us." In the word Emmanuel, we discover the incredible love and sacrifice displayed by Christ in His incarnation. According to what the Bible says in Philippians 2:5-8, before Jesus came to this earth He was in very nature God and lived in equality with God. There was no higher position in the universe. Yet consider what He did. The Bible says that He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing (Phil. 2:6). This could literally be translated that He "laid aside His privileges." Christ surrendered His position in glory. He gave up His position in heaven with God for our sake. He emptied Himself and made Himself nothing - all for us. He took upon Him the very nature of a servant so that He could meet our need. This attitude is counter-cultural. We live in a society filled [Read more...]

An Infallible Source of Guidance

How do you determine what to believe and think?  How do you determine what is the right choice to make or the right course of action to pursue?  Guidance is a fundamental issue for every Christian.  We must all make decisions.  How can we know we are making the right one? Many non-Christians resort to a variety of methods to make "right" decisions.  Some people just do what they want to do.  Others consult horoscopes, palm-readers, astrologers, spiritists, and mediums.  Little do they know the danger in such pursuits.  James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits."  On the other hand, describing the opposite kind of wisdom, James 3:15 reads, "This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish."  One wisdom is heavenly, the other is earthly.  One wisdom is from God, the other is demonic.  Many people are putting themselves in danger of receiving demonic direction when [Read more...]

A Hope That Sustains Us

We live in an age where hopelessness is on the increase.  People have bought into the lie of Satan that we are hopeless creatures in the hands of fate and unable to do anything about it.  Hopelessness is a strategy of Satan to keep us down.  He wants us to live in defeat, discouragement, and despair.  If he can fill us with hopelessness, he has won a great victory in our lives. Hope is really a matter of perspective.  What is our perspective in life?  Paul refers to those whose perspective is on earthly things in Philippians 3:19.  This would encompass the vast majority of people today.  Most people are focused on earthly things rather than eternal things.  Even in the church many people fail to have an eternal perspective.  They see life as here and now.  While they may believe that they will go to heaven when they die, their view of life is almost indistinguishable from non-Christians. But what happens when Christians adopt that perspective on life?  If we adopt a perspective [Read more...]

God Helps Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

Christianity is not a religion.  Christianity is a relationship.  There are many religions throughout the world.  But most religions have something in common and that is they are based on works.  They seek to please God by some form of self-effort. Sadly some view Christianity in much the same way.  They are convinced that in order to please God they must live according to certain rules and regulations.  Their creed might be summed up in the saying, "God helps those who help themselves."  I am convinced that a majority of the people in churches believe that this is a verse of Scripture.  But the Bible never says God helps those who help themselves.  It's a uniquely American idea, but not a biblical idea.  God helps everybody and especially those who can't help themselves.  The idea that God only helps the hard working is a concept based on the idea of keeping the Law.  It is Old Covenant. And here's the problem  We've developed in many churches a Christianized version of the [Read more...]

The Certainty of Eternal Life

Most of us know that we are alive.  Although there may be some exceptions, generally it is pretty obvious that a person is living.  Even if they are sleeping soundly, you can generally tell that they are breathing.  From a distance they may not appear to be breathing, although for some of us, you can definitely hear us breathing when we are asleep.  We breathe loudly.  We call that snoring, and snoring is an indication of life.  So that is a good sign! But spiritual life is not as easily discernible as physical life.  There are some people who do not know whether they are spiritually alive or not.  Some hope they are, but really can't say for sure.  Others do not believe that anyone can really know for sure. Is it possible to know you are spiritually alive?  Let's allow the apostle John to answer this question.  "He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.  These things have I written  unto you...that you may know that you have eternal life..." [Read more...]

The Source of Peace

We are given a wonderful promise in Isaiah 26:3,4: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." Perfect peace.  Even in the midst of chaos and turmoil, this promise holds true.  The reason is the source of this perfect peace.  It comes to us from the One who is declared to be the "everlasting strength" or literally the "rock of ages."  How comforting to know that in a world where everything seems to be shaking and shifting, the Christian can stay his mind upon the Rock of Ages.  He is the changeless and eternal One.  Within the cleft of that Rock is perfect peace. There is one requirement, however, for our receiving this peace.  Our minds must be stayed on Him.  It is within the area of our thoughts and imaginations that unrest, turmoil, and fear begin, but to stay our minds upon Jehovah is to know perfect peace and rest. Satan knows that a victorious [Read more...]

Abiding in the Word

"Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning.  If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in  you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father"  I John 2:24 Far too many of us in the Western church have thought that if we only understand the truth, that is enough.  After all, doesn't the Bible say that we would know the truth and that knowing the truth would set us free?  Yes, that is indeed what the Bible says.  But when the Bible speaks of knowing the truth, it means far more by the word know than most people understand.  What is in view is not a casual knowledge of the truth, but an intimate, life-changing commitment to obey the truth.  This is a deep, personal knowledge which impacts every area of our life.  Unless we know the truth in this way, we will never experience the life-changing power of the truth. In the above verse, John sets forth the key to everything for the Christian, and it begins with the Word abiding in [Read more...]

How to Know that we Know God

We live in the information age.  Never before in history has the increase of knowledge been so rapid.  For thousands of years of human history we only added to our knowledge.  Today, knowledge multiplies.  We used to measure the doubling of knowledge in centuries.  Now we measure it in months.  We are all traveling on the information highway and at breakneck speed. Having so much knowledge available to us is a wonderful thing.  But there is an area of knowledge that is much more wonderful and far more important than anything else we might seek to know.  And that is how do you know that you know God.  The truth of the Scripture is that we can know! John tells us "we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands."  The real litmus test is that we obey Him.  Obedience is essential for the Christian life.  By obedience we can know for sure that we know Him. Many people evaluate their Christian life based on their experiences they have with God.  But experiences are [Read more...]

Christ: The Source of True Joy

"And these things write we unto you, that  your joy may be full"  (I John 1:4).  According to the Declaration of Independence all men are endowed with the unalienable right to pursue happiness.  The problem however, with pursuing happiness is that you have to catch it.  And this proves easier said than done. There is a good reason why people have trouble discovering true and lasting happiness.  Happiness depends on what happens.  Happiness is linked to our circumstances.  When things are going great, then I am happy.  When things take a turn for the worst, then my happiness evaporates.  What people really want is a happiness that lasts.  People desire a happiness that doesn't depend on happenstance.  But, does such a thing exist? Such a thing does exist.  But it is not called happiness.  In fact, we find this thing on the pages of the Bible.  There we see a better alternative to happiness in what the Bible calls joy.  Joy, unlike happiness, does not depend upon my situation in [Read more...]