THE EMOTION CALLED JEALOUSY

 

All of us have faced some form of jealousy, either by being a recipient or an initiator.  If we have entertained jealousy, we rationalize it as only a fleeting thought that has no notable affect on us.  If we express jealousy, it is justified as a momentary lapse of judgment.   The problem is our conscience betrays our simplifying of the issue.  We can try to fool ourselves into believing our feelings are just a childish reaction, but our conscience overrules that notion and reveals a more deep seated problem.  The word Jealousy is sometimes used interchangeably with the word Envy. Jealousy can contain both a positive and negative connotation.  Simply put Jealousy is to emulate or covet earnestly what another displays. We don’t like to admit it, but there is a tendency in all of us to compare ourself with another, and this is bound to generate a stop gap in our spiritual lives.  Whenever we see someone exemplifying success beyond our achievements, there is an emotional reaction to nullify their works by centering on any of their possible negative areas.  Instead of being motivated to improve on the neglected areas in our lives, we attempt to expose the shortcomings in the “overachievers.”

We see in so many Believers a guilt complex that is used to lash out on others.  We all know the importance of staying focused.  We know the importance of studying the Bible.  We know the importance of spending premium time in prayer.  We know the importance of sharing the Truth, YET there are times we neglect to follow through with the intents of our heart.  When we witness the spiritual growth in others, it is sometime like a thorn in our side, for their progress is like a mirror that reflects our true condition.  We don’t like to be compared with anybody, but God has “ways and means” to get our attention. The positive purpose of jealousy is to bring us to the point of desiring to be all that God wants us to be.  When we see a brother or sister living a triumphant life, there should be a desire in us to emulate their spiritual walk.  It should cause us to regroup and rearrange our priorities so we, too, can experience the benefits of Kingdom living.  When we see someone walking in victory, we should be drawn to the same objective.  One of the reasons the Gentiles were adopted into God’s family was to entice the Jews to jealousy. (Romans 11:11)  By seeing what they were missing, they might rethink their theological beliefs.

Whatever God intends for good, Satan will try to use it for his good.  Jealousy can be used as a positive or a negative. How it is implemented depends on our spiritual status; if we are lacking in our spiritual growth, Satan will use it as a tool of division.  If we are practicing our faith, God will use it as a tool of spiritual development. Believers are not all on the same road, but I pray we all have the same destination. God loves us and will use whatever means we can understand to keep us focused.

When we see other Believers sold out for the Lord, we should all have a desire to pick up our pace as we pursue the Kingdom.  When we see others growing by leaps and bounds, it should rekindle our fire.  Positive jealousy brings a renewed strength to our lives.  Negative jealousy saps our strength.  Instead of finding fault in others, we need to examine ourselves.  When we neglect our own spiritual life, we will be susceptible to negative jealousy which looks for the speck in another’s eye, while rationalizing the beam in our own eye.

Are people drawing us to positive jealousy, where we desire to be better Christians?  Or are we envious of other Believers to the degree that we hope they will fail, which then will minimize our own failures?

 

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

 

If we were to take money out of the equation, how different would the Church be?  If pastoral services were rendered as a volunteer status, would there be empty pulpits?  If those producing Christian literature were asked to distribute their products free of charge, would anything be offered?  If Christian artists were asked to share their talents for gratis, would there be any concerts or recordings?  The marketing of Christianity has become big business.  Not only has the monetary pyramid become a symbol of contemporary Christianity, but it has involved a base of Believers who covet financial benefits as evidence of their active faith style.

Let’s look at it another way.  The undershepherd (Pastor) stresses financial giving to the local assembly, which is done by tithes, offerings, and gifts.  Out of the plate comes the paying of financial obligations, such as the Pastor’s financial package, building maintenance, and obligatory aid to supervisory leadership of the denominational church.  There is also the continuing fulfilling of pledges to organizations or individuals (Missionaries) who are reaching out to those the local church cannot reach.  If there is not a weekly deficit, there is the building program or upgrading of the cosmetic condition of the local church.

One of the comedic tragedies of the contemporary church is how much we desire to be like the New Testament Church.  The problem is we want to pick and choose only the areas that would fit into our comfort zones.  The Biblical Church was concerned with promoting the Gospel through their lives.  They did not try and copy the Jewish custom of building synagogues for the assembly of believers to hear the Pentateuch.  They met in homes to pray and discuss the letters of Paul and Peter and to hear what others experienced in their walk with Jesus.  Volunteerism was the pinnacle of service.  If someone had a financial need, they would dig into their robes and share whatever was necessary.  When they left their meetings, they exhibited what they were taught.  In Paul’s journeys, some of the churches he founded would send financial relief whenever the need would arise.  Paul was not always comfortable with these gestures and stated in I Corinthians 9:18 that when he preached the Gospel, he did it “…without charge, that I abuse not my power in the Gospel.”  One is hard pressed to find any inference where those involved in ministry were on the payroll of any church.  That is not to say that supporting those in ministry is forbidden in Scripture, rather, it is encouraged, but only as the need arises.  What concerns me is the abuse of financial receptivity.   Every Pastor needs to ask himself, “Am I truly doing what I am being paid to do?”  “Are my days filled with study and prayer?”  “Am I representing God, or promoting my own agenda?”  “Do my spiritual interests outweigh my daily carnal interests?”  Some Pastors hold the Bible in one hand and extend the other hand to receive “honorariums” for Baptizing, Marrying, and Burying.  Preaching series are usually from messages already presented by others.  Much of preaching today is keyed to catering to the wants of people, thus guaranteeing the financial sovereignty of the local body.

Maybe one of the reasons the Church is failing to exhibit the Kingdom of God is we are exhibiting a different kingdom.  If we would remove money from our “interests” list and begin to center on God’s Grace, we would experience the true riches of God’s Kingdom.  I know there are many faithful pastors that have recognized the hazards of striving for financial success, and as a result, have chosen to believe that God, and not money, will lead to a successful church.  They live as examples of the Scripture they preach.  I have lived at both ends of the spectrum, from living on little or nothing, to having a large financial package.  Many of my greatest blessings started when I refused or returned financial incentives.  Great (not necessarily large) churches are not built by money, but by humble servants who understand their reward is from above and not from what goes into their pockets.  Let us render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s! (Matt.22:21)

RELIGION IS ACTION!

 

Defining Biblical words with secular definitions is to humanize God’s Word as just another form of literature.  To use Webster’s dictionary, or any other explanatory publication, to address the meaning of a Scriptural word is to open the door to misinterpretation.  There are many Hebrew and Greek words that have little or no English equivalent.  Yet, we strive to produce an almost endless array of translations that attempt to transpose the Bible into a modern language that is easy to understand.  I have no problem with attempting to make the Bible a more user friendly book, but not at the expense of redefining its intended meaning.  The farther we travel from the original era of Biblical publications, the more we seem to have distanced ourselves from the intended purpose of God’s Word.  Recently, I wrote about “generation hopping,” which is taking Scripture intended for a specific time and purpose and reading it as if it were written for our generation.  It can be applied to us, but only through the Holy Spirit’s direction and leading.  Too many Christians are using the Bible as a self promoting book to cater to their every whim.  Well meaning Believers can find Scriptural support for both sides of an issue.  The use of the Bible to proclaim interpretive truth has caused many to mock the Holy Book.  The Bible has become a book that sits in the majority of American homes, but is read less than the daily newspaper.  So many translations conflict with each other, and as a result, more and more confused Christians don’t know what to believe.

We have all heard the phrases, “I am tired of religion,”  “I am not a religious person,” or “I desire a relationship, not a religion.”  To so many, religion has become a set of rules and regulations.  If that is what religion is all about, I would probably be leading the chants.  Instead of adopting a secular definition of religion, what does the Bible say religion is?  The words religion or religious are used only seven times in Scripture (King James Version), and only in the New Testament.  Basically, RELIGION IS AN OUTWARD IDENTIFICATION OF WHAT ONE BELIEVES.  It is the exhibiting for all to see what has transpired as a result of accepting God’s invitation to be part of His life.  As water baptism displays the inner grace that one experiences in the new birth, so religion exhibits the same evidence.  Religion is walking the talk.  James states that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the World.” (James 1:27)  Religion is not a liturgy and ritualistic performance, but an outward action for others to see.  It is the exclamation point of what you believe.  If there is no action, one’s religion is non-existent.  The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that in the Jewish religion he had persecuted the church and tried to wipe it out. (Galatians 1:13)  What we see is Paul demonstrating what he believed at that time to be Truth.  Later, Paul took it upon himself to demonstrate his new life in Jesus.  Religion was an action that evidenced what he believed.  Paul’s life was a journey of revelation, from persecuting Believers to developing Believers.  To see his growth and action is to see his religion displayed.

The Encarta College Dictionary defines religion as, “People’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature and worship of a deity.”  If we are to base our lives on this definition, we could easily say that the United States is a religious country.  But if we are to use the Biblical understanding, then our supposedly Christian nation is not very religious.  Just as faith without works is dead, religion without action is not religion at all.

 

 

BEYOND THE ROPES

 

Years ago, we used to vacation along the New Jersey shore.  The thing we looked forward to most was body surfacing and fighting the relentless pounding of the waves.  We would dive under the big ones, and come up just in time to get our lungs full of air before the next big wave would be upon us.  Sometimes we would go beyond the ropes that were framing the swimming area.  Inevitably, the life guard’s whistle would blow, and he would signal that we were out too far.  We hated to turn back, but it was for our own safety.

I have watched the Church enjoy the excitement of Biblical obedience.  I have seen it riding the swells of revealed truth.  I have seen it explore the depths of reality.  I have seen it breathe in the Heavenly air.  I have even seen it experience the crashing reality of powers that tend to take its breath away.  I have seen it rise above the raging challenges to an atmosphere of security.  I have also watched the Church venture beyond its safety zones into areas that are filled with undertows and rip tides.  What concerns me so much is that the “lifeguards” (Pastors, Teachers, Evangelist) are not blowing their whistles.

In the last few years, there has been a resurgence of “end time” teaching.  More and more Believers are being caught up with discovering the signs for the return of the Lord.  Speculation has dwarfed Truth.  Emotions have ignited theories.  The Bible has been misused to support human conjectures.  To take Scripture out of context is as dangerous as denying the inerrancy of the Word.  The interest in future events has been at the expense of learning how to live in the here and now.

In studying Scripture, we must learn to read it as it was intended to be read by those in the first century.  Today, we read it as if it was meant for us as the primary reader.  It is for us today, but its initial intent was to men like Theophilus (Luke 1:3, Acts 1:1) and to the early church scattered throughout Asia Minor.  When Jesus warned the crowds of the destruction of Jerusalem and its surrounding geography, all seemed to point to the fall of Jerusalem and dispensational Judaism in AD 70.  The Jews had revolted against Rome beginning in AD 66, mainly because of the desecration of the Temple by the Romans.  During the Jewish uprising, many Roman soldiers were killed.  In AD 70, Titus and the Roman army besieged Jerusalem, cutting off their food and water.  Many died of starvation and disease.  Finally, a full out attack was waged and Jerusalem fell.  The Temple was destroyed.  Josephus, a contemporary of those times, recorded in gruesome terms what transpired.  Over one million people died, of which the majority were Jews.  97,000 Jews were captured and sold into slavery.  (THE JEWISH WARS by Flavius Josephus)  Many Christians had scattered well before the destruction of Jerusalem.  They had spread out into Asia Minor and other parts of the Mediterranean area.

Jesus’ primary ministry was to the Jews.  It is only after they rejected Him that the Gentiles were offered God’s salvation plan.  Much of Jesus’ teaching was to those Jews who would come to believe in Him.  We must understand this or we will continue to promote an unintended purpose of the Word.  Paul’s Epistles were written to the Gentiles (non-Jews).  Peter’s letters were written to the converted Jews.  Paul presents the Gospel teachings in a manner that those who read them will gain a greater understanding of what Jesus taught and how it would apply to the non-Jews.  Let us not jump generations by updating Scripture to fulfill our agendas.  Do not misunderstand what I am saying.  The Word is for today, but we must understand the original intent and purpose of the Scripture, and then let the Holy Spirit lead us in understanding our generational application.

Let us stop swimming beyond the ropes and listen to the whistle of warning, and come back to the safety of God’s intended Word!

RESUMING THE RACE

 

What a joy it is to see new Believers get excited about their life in Christ.  There is an exuberance of emotions that dwarfs anything they had previously experienced.  They have a desire to pursue anything that will assist them in their spiritual journey.  They can’t get enough of the Word.  Their prayer life is an on going conversation with God.  They see things in a whole new perspective.  Every time the doors of their worship centers are opened, they are there.  Filled to overflowing, they then look for opportunities to share their faith.  They search for those who resemble their “old creature” and offer them a life line that will lift them from the miry clay onto a rock of unfaltering Truth.  They experience a lifestyle that is based upon a relationship instead of a religion.  Everyday is an opportunity to climb to new heights.  They don’t know how to “play” church for they realize they are the Church.  Their words are the language of the Kingdom, not the world.  They don’t blend in; they stand out. Their countenance radiates their new life in Christ.  They are so contagious that they affect all those with whom they come into contact.  These followers of Jesus are not finger pointers but hand raisers.  They do not judge others; rather, they witness about the love of God.

What I do not understand is how we start off sprinting for the Kingdom, but quickly revert to jogging.  Before we realize it, we are just walking, and then we simply stop exerting spiritual energy and stand still.  Finally, we just sit on our faith and become a spectator.  Where has our zeal gone?  Why is it so easy to lose our excitement for the faith?  God has not limited our “showers” of blessings, but we have put up our umbrellas of indifference.  WHY?

Much of the responsibility for our faded zeal is directly related to our lack of interest in one another.  The Bible commands us to seek after those things “where-with one may edify another.”  (Romans 14:19)  We are called upon to help people grow in the faith. (Romans 15:2)  We are called to love each other, which is an ingredient to building up one in the faith. (I Corinthians 8:1)  Sharing the Word with one another is a form of edification. (II Corinthians 10:8)  Our whole objective in life should be to help the unbeliever experience Jesus Christ and to assist Believers in their spiritual walk. The goal of the Ministry Gifts is to edify the Believer. (Ephesians 4:12)  The Bible is full of examples where the Believer is called upon to prefer one another before himself.  Instead of self serving, let us be a waiter and serve one another.  Let us see the opportunity to help each other as an evidence of the reality of our faith.  Instead of continually asking God to bless us, let us learn to be a blessing to others, and then we will experience the blessings of the Kingdom.

When we lose the vision of reaching out to others, it won’t be long before we will become spectators instead of participants in the race of life.  Remember when you responded to God’s invitation through someone else’s prompting?  Remember when you were losing your spiritual stamina and someone was there to encourage you?  Remember when you felt discouraged and someone cared enough to bring you a dose of encouragement?  How about that time you felt no one cared about you, and just when you were ready to throw in the towel a “care package” arrived in the in the form of a concerned friend?  Maybe its time we became a Life Guard to struggling Believers.  Let us get spiritually excited once again by reaching out to others!

 

 

HOW DID YOU GET THERE?

 

Have you ever wondered how you got where you are spiritually?  How did Truth find its way into your life?  Did your journey begin at adolescence?  What role did your parents play in your “religious” training?  Maybe you were a late spiritual bloomer.  Were you influenced in your decision making by friends?  What about those in a position of authority such as a pastor, teacher, or evangelist?  Maybe bible school or correspondence classes helped promote your spiritual growth.  I thank God for all those who played a role in my Christian walk, but at the same time, many of the things that I was taught did not fully line up with Scripture.  Much of the trouble within the Christian movement today is based on human tweaking of the Word of God.  The theological term for this is EISEGESIS which is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own presuppositions, agenda, and biases into the text.  So many Christians today are walking illustrations of human interpretation of Divine Truth.  If we look objectively at the Church, we see a fragmentized and scattered body of Believers who are so steeped in the use of eisegesis that real Truth is hard to find.  So many Christians are malnourished due to receiving Biblical food that contains so many human ingredients.  Is it any wonder a growing number of Believers are leaving the Church in search of the “promised land”?  A place where giant clusters of grapes await their hungry spirits?

The Apostle Paul stated he was not taught the Truth by any man, but received his teaching “…by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12)  I realize the importance of ministerial gifts, but what it comes down to is verifying the Truth through one’s own spirit.  Through the years, I have met many people that are so steeped in interpretive theology that they parrot any teaching they have received as infallible.  Some time ago, I met an individual who was eager to share his Scriptural understanding.  When I asked him how he came up with his interpretation, he said it was what his church believed.  He was passing on what had been drummed into his mind as truth.  This individual accepted what was being taught without any verification by the Holy Spirit.  People will defend denominational interpretations to the point of judging others who do not agree with their “church’s dogma.”  Is it any wonder the Body of Christ is so divided?

We must stop defending “adoptive” theology and seek the Truth through the Holy Spirit.  Pray for your pastor/teacher that he may hear, and then share, the revealed Word of God with his flock.  When revealed Truth is presented, we will see a harvest of spiritual fruit that will fill not only hungry Believers, but will also draw people to the Faith.

Let us learn to study the Word EXEGETICALLY, which is the process of drawing out the meaning from a Scripture in accordance with its context and intended meaning.  Our tutor through this experience is the Holy Spirit.

Not too far from Thessalonica in Macedonia, there was a group of Believers in the city of Berea that loved to hear the Word of God.  The only difference with this group was that any preaching/teaching they received had to be verified by their own searching of Scriptures. (Acts 17: 11)  Let us not be quick to adopt whatever teaching comes out of the mouths of spiritual leaders.  Let the Holy Spirit confirm its validity through our opening of the Word.  Accept the Truth, through verification by the Word!  I have always taught that people need to hear the Word and then go home and check it out themselves.  Too many hear, read, and see the presented word without any thought of whether it is man initiated or God directed.  How did you get where you are spiritually?  The validity of your statement will be the evidence you display.

 

ARE WE FUELING THE FIRE?

 

What has happened to the Body of Christ?  The Church was once the most respected organization in our Country.  Its people were from every walk of life: from the factory worker to the politician, from the unemployed to the employed, from the poor to the rich, from sport personalities to leaders in the entertainment industry, from the uneducated to the highly educated; they were all a part of the Body of Christ.  There was no embarrassment to being an active member of the Church.  No one was ashamed to share their inner joy with a “whosoever.” The Gospel was shared from schools to places of employment, from playgrounds to political edifices.  The message from the Christian was that there was a new and living way to experience life.  Christians shared their faith with a gentleness and excitement that would not offend their hearers.  They became a living example of what an abundant life was all about.  The Bible was the life manual that contained the answers to the challenges that life might throw their way.

Today, so many Believers have become militant and offensive.  Instead of presenting love to the spiritually challenged and ignorant, there is a resolve to attack “the enemies” misguided ways.  Instead of reaching out with an olive branch from Gethsemane, we have displayed a two-edged tongue that gives two different messages.  Instead of sharing the Truth with Grace, we judge others with the Law and intolerance.  One of the reasons I am not a fan of the social media is because many Christians are using that as a tool of division.  As the media has become the avenue of promoting the ISIS news, the Lord’s army is using the social media to promote what Satan’s army is doing!  When the Christians revert to counterattacks, we have lost our true perspective.

The question the Church needs to ask itself is what is our objective in countering the challenges against the Body of Christ?  Is it to lead people to the answer, or is it to destroy the enemy?  Is it to challenge their negative statements and actions, or is it to neutralize their attacks with positive examples of the love of God?  Is it to defend the Faith, or expand the Faith?  So many Christians gather incorrect facts from the internet and pass it on as truth.  If they have read it or heard it from the print or airwaves, it must be right!  To me, the greatest damage to the Kingdom of God has been from within the Church.  When Christians stop judging and condemning and start loving and commending, we will once again become the people God has called us to be!

The Church is not called to punish the non-believers, but to love and forgive them.  Much of what we see happening in America is a result of factual ignorance.  Satan has blinded the eyes of so many to the Truth that all they see are things through their senses.  Instead of picketing for the Kingdom of God, let us display the Kingdom that is within us.  Instead of promoting what is wrong with America, let us share what is right with America!  Instead of berating those who oppose our beliefs, let us demonstrate to them what a true Believer is like!  The more we exhibit a Christ like behavior, the greater the opportunity to reach those of the world.

The Bible tells us that we are to be an example to the world by “…word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (I Timothy 4:12)  We are called to show others our lives with “meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13)  The Bible says as we show our good works, the world will see and will be drawn to God. (I Peter 2:12)   Are we building the Kingdom of God or fueling the fire of adversity?  Are we a part of the answer or are we magnifying the problem?

 

 

NEGLECTED TREASURES

 

One of my favorite Hymns is “Leave It There” by Charles Tindley.  I guess I should clarify what a Hymn is, for it has become an antique in so many churches.  In many assemblies the hymnals have disappeared into storage or packed into time capsules to be opened sometime in our great-great-grandchildren’s future.  Some churches have decided to send their hymnals to those who live in less fortunate countries.  What is a Hymn?  Simply defined it is a religious ode (poem) that is characterized by lofty feelings and expressions.  It is to celebrate God in song.  (Definition by Thayer)  At the Last Supper, Jesus led His disciples in a hymn to celebrate the majesty of God.  Just think of it, about to go into the Battle of Gethsemane and a sleepless night leading to the awaiting cross, Jesus, along with His friends, sings about God!  (Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26)  Throughout the ages, men and women have been moved by the Holy Spirit to write expressions of awe and celebration to the One who makes life worth living.  The anointed composers put into words their life changing experiences with their Lord and Savior.  What testimonies!  It is a shame we have buried these anointed songs.  Maybe we have become the less fortunate.

We have all experienced burdens in our life, but how we deal with those burdens is where differences arise.  Some try to carry their burdens to the point of either experiencing the victory or crashing and burning.  Being humans, we have a tendency to use our senses as a gauge for judging our performances.  The more our carnal senses are in play, the greater the opportunity for burdens to weigh us down.  The antidote for burdens is faith.

Charles Tindley understood the principle of taking burdens to the Lord and leaving them there.  He wrote the Hymn “Leave It There” in 1916.  The chorus puts it in perspective:

“Leave it there, leave it there,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out;

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”

There are times that we take our burden and give it to the Lord, but when God doesn’t work in our time frame, we become impatient and take it back.  When we doubt, we are saying to God that we don’t think He can bring us “out.”  How many sleepless or restless nights have we spent worrying about how something will turn out?  How much of our day is spent thinking and rethinking about a problem that is facing us?  Let us stop this needless suffering and give our burden back to the Lord.  Listen to Tindley as he writes one of the verses:

“If your body suffers pain and your health you can’t regain,

And your soul is almost sinking in despair,

Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal;

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”

God knows all about our physical challenges, He is there to help us through.  We are all going to die and getting old is sometimes a difficult road.  Charles Tindley pens the truth with these words:

“When your youthful days are gone and old age is stealing on,

And your body bends beneath the weight of care;

He will never leave you then, He’ll go with you to the end;

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”

We need not fear the transition, for God will be there with us!  What a great injustice we experience when we fail to keep alive the anointed hymns of the past.

Let us stop carrying the burdens and start experiencing the peace that is ours by taking our burdens to the Lord, and leaving them there!

Note: “Leave It There” used by eminent domain.

BODY OVER SPIRIT?

 

We hear so much about how the United States is facing a gluttony crisis.  There are more overweight people per capita in our country than any other country in the world.  To counter food addiction, every imaginable diet or health program is presented with the hope that it will help stem the upward tide of obesity.  Christians scurry about with programs and “Biblical fads” that will guarantee weight loss.  The Daniel Fast is presented as a cure for food addiction. Biblical oils not only help with melting away fat, but also serve as a medicinal treatment for whatever ails you.  Tax exempt organizations are formed to help individuals adjust their taste buds.  Support groups occupy spare rooms in the churches. “Buddy systems” are set up for those who are embarrassed to flout their physical characteristics before conclaves of other overweight individuals.  SURPRISE!  This article is not about weight reduction!  There are many publications and programs that are addressing these issues and it is easy to hook up with their qualifying claims and guarantees.

What I am doing is rhetorically wondering why Believers are not as concerned with their spiritual condition as they are with their physical conditioning.  When people start their “fad” programs for weight reduction, it is usually an all out effort to achieve success.  What about having the same zeal to lose the carnal desires that plague our spiritual walk?  It seems that we are more concerned with our physical presentation than with our spiritual promotion.  The Bible says that physical exercise has some value, but it does not compare with the benefits of spiritual training. (I Timothy 4:8)  Some people are ashamed of their physical form and, as a result, “over cover” to hid their undisciplined life.  When are we “food challenged” Christians going to have the same embarrassment when it comes to our undisciplined spiritual life?  Many of us eat three squares (rectangles) a day with mini meals stuffed in between.  How many times a day do we open our Bibles and feast at His table?  How about snacking on the Word between the main readings?

The success of any diet is consistency and dedication.  If a person wants to lose weight he must have the desire and determination.  Should not the “weighty” Believer have the same characteristics?  How ironic that Christian dieters are showing what it takes to achieve physical discipline, while at the same time failing to exhibit spiritual discipline?  The Bible commands us to study the Word as a witness to God. (II Timothy 2:15)  How often do we open the Living Word seeking to understand what God is asking of us?  Many dieters are cranking up their programs to be ready for the summer months.  Should not all Believers be preparing for difficult days ahead?  We must all have goals, from spiritual exercise to food restraint.

I am not minimizing the seriousness of being concerned about one’s weight.  The Bible says we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19)  Therefore, we have a responsibility to present ourselves acceptable before God.  Believers are to be a living example of the Kingdom of God.  People will see us before they hear us.  By not taking care of our “temples,” it may make it hard for truth seekers to take us seriously.

One day at a place called Jacob’s Well, Jesus ministered to a Samaritan women while His disciples went into the city of Sychar to get lunch.  When they returned with the food and offered some to Jesus, He refused to eat and told them He had meat to eat that they didn’t know about.  He then elaborated by saying, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)  What is our main priority?  Let our efforts display our answer!

SEND OUT THE S.O.S.

 

What is our responsibility as Believers to each other?  How involved should we be in people’s lives?  Let us reverse these questions and ask ourselves how willing are we to open our lives to others?  How much of our life are we willing to share?  What about confessing our faults to each other?  What about sharing our hurts and disappointments?  What about asking for help?  I know we all have a tendency to wear different masks when it comes to interacting with others.  Some of us masquerade as spiritually mature individuals that have everything under control, when, in reality, we are anything but.  The Laodiceans claimed they had it all together, when, in reality, they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)  If God knows the truth about us, why keep up the charade?  We may think we are fooling others, when, in reality, they see right through us; so why keep up the charade?  We even have a hard time fooling ourselves, for the Holy Spirit within us has already revealed who we are; so why keep up the charade?  When we try to hide our true condition we have fooled no one, so instead of walking wounded, let us face up to our true condition and seek the help of our Lord and His servants.

One of the hardest things for some Christians to do is ask for help.  When are we going to understand that if playing the role of the”lone ranger” is not working, we need to try something else!  Someone said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  When are we going to understand that we have been placed in the Body of Christ to compliment each other?  When we only function as a part of a whole, we need to learn to open ourselves to others.  I am not talking about complete transparency, for there are areas of our lives that should be only between ourselves and God.  But when it comes to achieving what God has for us, we must we willing to ask for help when the need arises.  We may be willing to assist others, but we also need to be willing to accept help.

How many of us have felt disappointment and discouragement in our Christian walk? How many of us have given ourselves a self pity party where “me, myself and I” dwell on the negatives in life?  How many of us wonder why nobody has called us during our times of crisis?  How many of us have been tempted to curtail our Bible reading or prayer time because God doesn’t seem to be interested in us?  Maybe the answer to so many of these questions is that we have not told anybody what we are going through.  Maybe God is waiting for us to implement our “escape clause” or “get out of jail” card.  God has made provisions for us to rise above our problems; all we have to do is open the Word and follow the directions.

Let us remember that our negative situations in life are not unique.  There are others that have gone through the same trials we are experiencing.  If we find ourselves in a self imposed exile, let us hoist our distress flag so others will see our need and rush to help.  Don’t be afraid to send out the SOS, for there is an army of Kingdom people that are willing to help!!

One more thing: the Bible teaches us that as we are comforted in our times of trouble, we are then to look for those who are going through similar problems and comfort them!! (II Corinthians 1:4)