A blog about everything about teaching the Bible. "And still I will show you a more excellent way..." (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Expectations


What you expect of a relationship sets the stage for success or failure. If you expect too little, you may not value the relationship appropriately. If you expect too much, you’ll find yourself dissatisfied. In either case, you may find your loyalty to the relationship put to the test. Depending on the type of relationship, disloyalty can lead to disaster.

This principle is true for all relationships. It’s true of marriages and friendships. It’s also true of the relationship of citizen to government, employee to employer, and church member to church. For example, when someone is baptized into Christ, the leaders of the congregation ought to spend time discussing expectations with the new believer. He or she needs to understand the Lord’s expectations of a faithful life, and church leaders need to know what their new brother or sister in Christ expects of them. Any misunderstandings can thus be cleared up and they will lay a foundation for a happy relationship. The same is true when a Christian moves from one congregation to another. Starting a relationship understanding what the other party expects can make all the difference in the world!

One of the important purposes of premarital counseling is to give the future husband and wife a chance to discover in advance what each other expects out of the relationship. The job-interview process is supposed to accomplish the same purpose. An interview between leaders and the potential new member ought to be the central feature of the vital process of identifying with a local church. In every case, careful, honest communication is essential, and if both parties are reasonable, a healthy relationship built upon proper expectations will result. The principle is also true for established relationships. When parties already involved in a relationship take time to discuss their expectations, they often discover misunderstandings and can fix problems that may have been there for a long time. I pray you’ll take these things to heart, and remember what God said through the prophet Amos, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (3:3 KJV). 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

But, What if it Doesn’t Make Sense?


One of the elements of saving faith is trust. Without a rich dose of it you’ll never be able to walk with the Lord. How much do you trust God? Do you trust as much as Abraham did when he raised the knife above Isaac his son? Do you trust as much as David did when he stood alone facing Goliath with nothing but a sling? Would you have trusted as much as the Lord Jesus did when he wept praying in the garden of betrayal?

Perhaps the greatest challenge of faith is putting to death one’s own will (Galatians 2:20). Jesus plainly said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 ESV). Faith requires trusting God even when things don’t make sense. If we only trust God when it’s what we would naturally have done anyway, what value is there to our faith? Is God truly God or do we want to be our own gods and goddesses? That was the issue at the heart of Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:1ff) and has been a vital struggle for all of us ever since.

Naaman is a great example (2Kings 5). He was a leper. He’d been told God would heal him through Elisha the prophet. He had the faith to seek out Elisha, but when Elisha told him to dip seven times in the Jordan he reacted with defiance: “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the LORD his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus… better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” (vv.11-12 NLT).

Well, why not? The prophet hadn’t done what Naaman thought he should do. How can I trust God if he doesn’t do what I think he should? Wrestle with that question, but consider the outcome of Naaman’s trust dilemma. His companions reasoned, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” (v.13). That was good common sense. He did it and was cured. So when God commands baptism (1Peter 3:21), what will you do? When God commands us not to quit attending church (Hebrews 10:24-25), what will you do? What if he tells you to renounce everything and follow him? Would that make sense? Do you trust him?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Work Hard


Solomon wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10a ESV). The NLT says, “Whatever you do, do well.” I like that. The New Testament affirms the principle with passages like Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (ESV). So, one of the characteristics of God’s people is a robust work ethic.

We ought to pour our whole spirits into whatever work we’re employed to do. This certainly applies to the good works we do for the Lord, but it also applies to our jobs, maintaining our homes and possessions as good stewards of God’s blessings, and to our relationships. In everything we’re called to work hard. Paul even said it plainly, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 ESV). Work ethic can only come from one’s willingness to give of himself.

Against the grain of spoiled, self-indulgent laziness live numbers of good Christians of all ages who give of themselves (i.e. work hard) at whatever they do. They represent wisdom among us. We all ought to imitate them. I’m not happy about a lot of the politics prevailing in our day, but communities devoted to hard work can prosper in spite of politics. Such communities are made up of individuals, and one hard-working man or woman (or child) can influence many. 

Remember the words of Holy Scripture. Solomon said, “Whatever you do." That means any and everything. Paul wrote, "In all things.” All means all. This life is for work. This life’s rest is to make us ready to return to work. The next life is for rest from work (Revelation 14:13). When you’re struggling to pour yourself into your work, spiritual and secular, “remember the words of the Lord Jesus,” say a prayer, dig deep, and give of yourself, remembering Jesus really is your only true boss.