Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Competing with the World

Competing with the World

Whether we realize it or not, we are in a competition.  We are in competition with the world.  The world wants our time, our devotion, our money, our talents, our children, our marriages, and our families.  The world wants it all.  Sadly, most many of us choose the world over God, our faith, our church, our marriage, children, and family.    We may not think we do, but sometimes the world can be subtle and deceiving. 

Whatever we put in front of God is an idol.  Whether that is our job, our hobbies, our kids sports, our bank account, our relationships, etc...anything can become an idol when it is more important than God.  We have so many things competing for our time, our money, our attention, and our lives we have to realize we are in a competition and compete for our very souls and the souls of our spouse and children.

It doesn't take rocket science, an engineering degree, or the skills of a brain surgeon to see that in many places the world is winning.  People are more committed to their jobs than they are their personal relationship with God.  Many people are more devoted to their social lives than they are their part in the body of Christ(the church) and many folks are more interested in their children's sports teams than they are their children growing up to know and love the Lord first.  While some of you will be quick to get defensive and make excuses the proof is in the pudding.  All we have to do is check our schedule, our monthly calendar,  and our checkbooks and see where our treasure and devotion is.

We spend a lot more time, energy, and money on our hobbies, our worldly possessions, our kids athletic quests, or our toys than we do on or with the Lord and His Church.   The sad truth is none of these things are necessarily wrong or sinful, but when they take the place of God and His Church they become sin because they separate us from God and they become wrong because they get more attention than God.  God doesn't call us to be monks and deny ourselves things in the world, but He does tell us to "deny ourselves daily, and pick up our cross and follow Him"(Luke 9:23),  He does tell us to "have no other God before me" (Exodus 20:3) and to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness." (Matt. 6:33)

So, if you can have relationships, careers, jobs, hobbies, activities, and material things that aren't selfish and aren't ahead God or become Lord of you life, then I think those things can be good, enjoyable and healthy. However, we must all always make an effort to keep God first, priority, and work on our relationship with Him for ourselves, our marriages, and our families.  If we don't, then all of them will suffer.   We must began to look at things in temporary (the world) and eternal (heaven) perspectives. 

Scripture tells us this world isn't our home and this world isn't what should guide us
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)  I think that is great advice for us, but more than advice, I think it's a command.  No matter what we do, where we go, how we do it, we need to put God first in this world and realize the world is in competition for our souls, but the world has nothing to offer beyond this life.  God offers both life in this world and for all eternity with Him.  We need to choose wisely, remain faithful, always put God first, and prepare for eternity. In order to win the prize. "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)

Friday, May 08, 2015

Building up

Building UP
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Does the things you say and do build up others or tear them down? Better yet, if you're a member of a Church are you representing Jesus and His Church body well by letting the things you say and do build up others or is it tearing them down and in the process tearing down the Church and the God's work?
We live in a world where people have lots of things to say, lots of opinions on what they think others should  and shouldn't be doing, yet while they are negatively criticizing others they are doing little positive to help others or the church.  I've found most of the time when people are grumbling, complaining, or criticizing they are the ones who have the issue not others and even more important  is instead of grumbling, complaining, and criticizing they need to  look in the mirror and ask  what are they doing to help or serve or make things better? Why isn't your job too? How can you do your part?
We have lots of supervisors and bosses, but very few workers in the harvest.  People love to tell you what the church leaders should be doing, the preacher should be doing, the sunday school teachers should be doing, the youth minister should be doing, the worship team should be doing, while they are not doing anything constructive or positive themselves.  It happens in churches and really any organization or work place, but the problem is these negative people are tearing down the morale, influence, and health of that organization and when it comes to it happening in the church body, it's more costly and dangerous.
That is why I want to encourage you today to be a positive and productive part of your church, team, workplace, or organization.  Don't spend your time focusing on what you think others should or shouldn't be doing, but focus on what you can do and should be doing or not doing. If you are busy working, serving, or giving you're not going to have time to have your nose where it doesn't belong or even complain about things, and most of the times we complain about things we don't even know or understand or have all the facts anyway and that's not fair or right or  most of all Christ-like. 
I also want to encourage you to be reminded God is in control, not you and not everything is going to be to your liking, the way you'd do it, and truth is not everything is the way it may appear or seem to you.  So  as the old country song goes, "mind your own business, and your won't be minding mine".  But, more importantly use your time and energy focusing on what you can do to help, encourage, or build up others, and help your church, business, school, or team.  If we had more people doing good and less people flapping their jaws the world would be a better place and so would the church.
I also want to encourage you to keep quiet.  You know the old saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  Whether you realize it or not your words and comments may hurt others, cause dissension, trouble, discouragement, drama, or stir up things that don't need stirred. If you have legitimate concerns take them to the right folks, but don't spread gossip, slander, untruths, and problems in your organization just because you're miserable or unhappy or don't get your way.  When it comes to the church the ramifications are a lot more serious because we are talking about the body of Christ and if we hurt the church or the name of God, we will answer to Him not some earthly person.
So be an encouragement wherever you go, serve, volunteer, worship, or work.  Encourage others and build others up. Use you time and energy positively and wisely and focus on what you can do to do better and be better and help others be better. As a church member build up your other church members and make your church a better place by being a positive member and avoid being negative or hurtful to the church of others.
May we all strive to represent God well and His Church well both in the church and outside in the world.  God needs people who BUILD UP and not tear down.