Friday, September 25, 2009

What If......

Do you struggle with making decisions? I don't mean regarding what to have for dinner or which color to paint the bathroom, but decisions that impact your life and the lives of others?

Sometimes we feel that we're between a rock and a hard place in our lives to the point that we just freeze, and don't do anything. Of course, indecision is, in fact, a decision of sorts, too.

But, I think that usually, when we get paralyzed by the "what ifs", we fail to see the opportunity to walk by faith that the L-rd is presenting to us.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. had a saying years ago: "Do Right! Though the stars fall, do right!"

Let's consider some "what ifs" that have gone before us.

What if Esther had not approached the King? She could have analyzed her situation for three days:

"If I go to the King uninvited, he could choose to behead me. If I tell the King that I'm a Jew and my people are to be destroyed because of Haman, he could decide that I am to be killed along with my people. If I misspeak, Haman could outsmart anything I do, and all will be lost anyway."

And on and on, she could have rationalized herself out of doing the right thing, which was to pray, trust the L-rd, and make her stand.

But because Esther didn't get bogged down in the "what ifs", she walked by faith, and was obedient to the L-rd, no matter how daunting the task and situation she faced. Because she was faithful to do the right thing, she saved her people from annihilation! Because of Esther, there are now many Sephardic Jews back in their homeland!

How about Abraham. Suppose he reasoned like this:

"Oh, I just don't know about heading out of here into the unknown! What if I get lost? What if I lead all my family into a situation that turns into a disaster and we can't get back home? What if my wife's family gets really upset with me? If this turns out wrong, they'll never let me forget it! What if I lose everything?"

Because Abraham didn't get bogged down in the "what ifs", G-d promised him a son and an uncountable number of descendants! If Abraham hadn't simply obeyed without doubting, he and his family would have been robbed of immeasurable blessings, and he would not have been "the Friend of G-d".

What if Nathan had said, "Oh---I can't tell the King that he sinned! What if he gets so angry with me that he has me killed for treason?" But because Nathan did what was right, G-d was able to restore David, a man after G-d's own heart!

You see......when we get bogged down by the "what ifs", we not only affect our own selves, but the lives of our family, and others in subsequent generations! We are so short-sighted sometimes, that all we see is the situation at hand and the obstacles inherent in it, but we fail to see the victory the L-rd will give us and the blessings that follow for us and our loved ones if we will just do right and obey by faith.

Does that mean that everything goes smoothly; that no one gets upset with our decisions or that relationships won't be affected? No. Sometimes there is a cost to following the L-rd. But it is minimal compared to the rewards; and much less than the cost of disobedience and a lack of faith.

What if? What if not?!

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to G-d must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Monday, September 21, 2009

How Do You Measure Up?

Paul loved Timothy as a son, and devoted two whole epistles to encouraging and exhorting Timothy in his ministry. One verse really stands out, and it's probably one you know very well: I Timothy 4:12 where Paul instructs Timothy to be an example of the believer in the following ways---in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Quite a list, huh? It follows that if Timothy was to be an example to other believers in these regards, the purpose of his example was that the believers should follow him, emulating his example, right?

How we behave and treat one another is very important to the L-rd; He would not have had Paul include this list in his letter to Timothy if it were not essential. In fact, throughout the New Testament, we are admonished regarding our behavior to one another as believers.

We live in an age where selfishness reigns. Society does that which is right in their own eyes, and we Christians are prone to "catch" that virus. Sometimes we just need to take stock and ask the L-rd to show us if we've caught that old "selfish" bug. Instead of
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." as Phil. 2:4 tells us, we get so introverted and focused on our own plans and lives.....forgetting others and how we affect them.

As believers and members one of another---in the body of Christ---what we do or don't do does indeed, affect others in the body. If the hand or the foot isn't functioning as it should, it hinders and cripples the body. The L-rd does hold us accountable for how we function within the body of Christ as a whole, and within our local church body; how we behave towards one another as believers will be judged. Do we do our part to encourage, admonish, pray for, sacrifice, give, and love one another, or do we expect others to carry that load, and then blame others for why we aren't fulfilled as a member of the body?

Here are some's a good checklist for us to examine ourselves:

Romans 15:14, 30
I Corinthians 1:10; 11:33; 15:58
II Corinthians 13:11
Galatians 6:1
Ephesians 4:32
I Thessalonians 4:1; 5:12, 14, 25
II Thessalonians 1:3; 3:1, 6, 13
I Timothy 5:1-3
Hebrews 13:22
James 1:2, 16, 19
James 2:1; 3:1, 10
James 5:7, 9, 10
I Peter 1:22; 3:8
I John 3:14, 16

Here is what our Saviour said in Mark 12:30, 31:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

Wow---did you get that?! "There is none other commandment greater than these."

Pretty profound, huh?

What a difference we'd make if we really did what these verses say!