Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lessons Learned From The Ducks

This past week my family and I went camping. We had a great time swimming in the pool, going down the water slide, playing mini-golf and other games, cooking smores, and just enjoying the outdoors. We played from sun-up to sun-down and then some.

With all the activities going on, the thing that fascinated my girls was watching the ducks.

You see, our tent site was right next to a small lake and in this lake was a mother duck with her 14 ducklings. We watched them swim all over that little lake and a few times they even found their way up by are tent. I have to admit, it was fun to watch as they would go from place to place looking for something to eat. Some of the little ducks even dove down under the water to eat.

One thing that stood out  about those little ducks was how they followed their mother everywhere. My middle daughter even commented how when the ducklings were starting to wander the mother would "quack" and the ducklings would come immediately.

You see that mother duck new that the safest place for the ducklings to be was by her side, and if they would follow her she would teach them all they would need to know as they grew.

As I sit here and think about that, the obvious thing that comes to mind is "O, how I wish my children would do that when I called for them or gave them instructions."

Ephesians 6:1 says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

But then I am reminded how I am a child of God and how I need to learn to be more like those ducklings and respond immediately to God's instructions.

John 10:27 says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me"

Luke 11:28 says, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

John 14:15 says, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments"

Let's all learn the lesson from the ducks and respond to the Lord and His instructions for us. The safest place to be is in the presence of God. He will teach us all we need to know to live a godly life.

Psalms 32:8 says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tests: What are they good for?

It doesn't take long to realize that the really important tests in life come long after school is out. And sometimes they take us by surprise! 

1 Peter 1:6-7 says- In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Over the past several weeks I have been preaching about Daniel's life. If your grew up going to Sunday School I'm sure you have heard the story of Daniel and the Lions' Den.

Daniel continued to pray to God even though the law said you could only pray to the king. As a result Daniel is thrown into the lions' den.

What were the limitations that made this seem so hopeless for Daniel?

* The Law of the day stated that a king's decree could never be revoked, not even by the king.

* There was a stone rolled over the entrance of the lions' den. And the king's seal place on that stone. This meant that if anyone tried to move the stone to free Daniel, they would be defying the king and their actions would be punishable by death.

Whatever lions’ den you may find yourself in, now or in the future, sooner or later you must come face to face with your human limitations.

You can read about this in Daniel 6.

Here we learn two very important truths that are meant by God to help you through the tests that you will inevitably face in life.

1. God’s Tests Are Often Designed to Confront You with the Reality of Your Own Human Limitations
Humanly speaking, Daniel’s situation was without hope. 

Now you don’t have to be in a literal lions’ den to be confronted with the reality of your own limitations apart from God’s help.
Maybe you feel like you are facing some personal impossibilities. Maybe you are on the verge of giving up. No matter what you do, there just seems to be no way out. No hope for change.

The truth is that it is the most spiritually productive place you could ever be! You see, God brings you into the lions’ den because He loves you. He does so because he knows that it is only when you come to the end of yourself that you will ever be able to taste the joys of truly knowing His presence and power in your life. It is only in dying to yourself that you can come alive to God.

2. God’s Tests Are Often Designed to Lead You into Deeper Levels of Dependence on Him.

Throughout the Scriptures we learn that temptations and trials of life are to be responded to, not by running from them, or trying to avoid them, or trying to meet them in the power of our own abilities, but by drawing near to God in faith.

1 John 5:4 says, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.

So how then do we have Daniel’s faith? How do we face our lions and still trust in God?

Know God better and you will trust Him more.

Having great faith is not some mystical, magical thing. It comes by simply cultivating a vital, authentic relationship with Jesus in your daily Christian life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Salt and Light

A Peanuts cartoon showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown in which she said, “Guess what, Chuck? The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck.” Charlie Brown responds, “My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?” To which Peppermint Patty says, “You’re my friend, aren't you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me.”

While Peppermint Patty was trying to pass the buck, she was also speaking some truth.
We should be a good influence on those around us. 

I've been reading in Matthew lately and in chapters 5-7 we read what is commonly referred to as "The Sermon on the Mount". 

The first 12 verses of Matthew 5 are known as the Beatitudes and have to do with our Attitude toward sin, ourselves, God, others, and the World. 

If the Beatitudes describe the essential character of the Christ follower, then the metaphors of salt and light indicate our outward influence. Jesus links our inner attitude with outward action.

Matthew 5:13-16 says, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

I want you to notice that Jesus doesn't say that you are like salt, or even that you will be light some time in the future. He says, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.” 

So let's look at some interesting things about Salt and Light.

1. Salt gives taste

Salt by itself doesn’t taste very good but when it’s applied to food it unleashes the flavor. As Christians we are God’s seasoning in the world. Just as salt adds zest and fires up the taste buds, so too we should be making life more “tasty” for others. Christians should be adding spice to a spiritually bland world. 

2. Salt is a preservative

Salt is a preservative that holds back decay. Friends, we are a preservative in our culture. That’s why we must live counter-cultural lives that are distinctively Christian. Christ-followers are to be a preserving influence.

3. Salt creates thirst

When we’re interacting with those who don’t know Christ, God uses us to make people thirsty for Jesus. That’s what’s behind Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Salt is a seasoning, it’s a preservative, and it makes people thirsty. In all three cases, salt must be brought into contact with its object in order for its power to be released. Salt that just sits in the shaker does no good for anyone. 

4. Light dispels darkness

When you walk into a dark room and turn on the light, what happens? The darkness disappears. We are to be light in a dark world.

5. Light gives guidance

Jesus said in John 8:12 - "...I am the Light of the world..."

Jesus has passed the torch to his children. Just as His manner of life and speech lighted the way out of darkness into a relationship with the Father, so we, by the way we live and the things we say, are to guide people to the light of the world.

Is the light of Christ shining through you? Are you allowing His light to be made visible in your life? Don’t hide the light under a basket. Take it out and hold it high.