Jesus taught the crowds that clamored around Him with parables…but when He was alone with His disciples, He would explain the meaning behind them. It tells us in Mark 4:10 that, “When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables.” Reading about God from some author isn’t the same as being alone with God yourself. Solitary time with God and His Word enables you to ask those tough questions you’re confused about. And as you probe deeper into His Word, that alone time with God becomes even more important…for it’s then that He can teach, edify, and exhort you.
When your motive of ministry to others is true…it is not only empowered by the Holy Spirit, but it’s powerful… impacting the total person. Your ministry doesn’t just tickle them with feel good, wishy-washy platitudes…it challenges them to a higher calling. The Christian journey should be an ever upwards climb filled with trials and tests that make us better…not a passive, apathetic walk where we are left weak and ineffective for the Lord.
I urge you to read this Psalm sometime today…for within the 43 verses, you’ll see yourself portrayed somewhere. For this passage tells of those who wander and are lost. It tells of being in desperate situations…places that invoke feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. There are the lost – those who are wandering alone in the wilderness. There are the guilty – those who are slaves to sin and full of shame and self-loathing. There are the fools – godless ones being deceived by the world. Finally, there are the tossed – those who have been battered by life’s storms. But in all these situations, when they cried out to God for help, He answered. So despite what you’re going through today… God is there, ready and willing to help you.
Anytime sacrificial giving is mentioned, people get real antsy. It’s not that we don’t want to give to Kingdom work…it’s just that we’re selfish. Now you’re probably thinking I’m talking about money…No, I’m not! I’m talking about something far more valuable to you than money…it’s your time. We’ll happily give to charitable organizations, relief funds, and soup kitchens…but ask us to volunteer our time and that’s a different story. It says in II Corinthians 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” God wants you, not your money…He wants you to volunteer rather than just donate to the cause…He wants you to give sacrificially of your most valuable resource…yourself.
God had instructed Gideon to tear down his father’s false idols…and Gideon had obeyed, in a fashion. Instead of doing it in broad daylight though, he did it under cover of darkness, …all because of fear. He was afraid of what others would think. Fearful of retaliation, Gideon wanted to obey God, but also wanted to please people. It’s impossible to be a people pleaser and obey God at the same time…for you end up compromising yourself and your integrity.
Here Paul was warning about idolatry and falling into temptation. Probably the most conceited thought a Christian can have is, “That couldn’t ever happen to me!” It’s when you think your “beyond” being tempted…that it’ll sneak up behind and bite you. I’m sorry, but no one is immune to temptation and smugly thinking you are above it is only setting yourself up to fail. We all need to be on guard and wary…for our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
Ephesians 4:22 tells us to put off our old selves…or rid ourselves of our old ways. But it’s almost impossible to do if you’re still hanging out with the same wrong friends… at places that got you in trouble before. Putting aside our old ways means we have to disarm our sins…exposing them to God’s truth and confessing them, but then ridding ourselves of whatever necessary to make a clean break from the past.