Thursday, September 17, 2015

Teachable Spirit

Pastor George O. Wood, who is the General Superintendent of Assemblies of God shared an incident in one of the book written by him. In the book titled "Living in the Spirit", an incident is mentioned about a lady who used to make loud noise during the church service which was creating disturbance for everyone. She was doing it as if it was done for the God's glory and in her view was a spiritual manifestation. Finally Pastor George called her and her husband to his office and told her to stop it as it was becoming difficult for others and also he did not think that she was doing it in the right spirit. The end of the story is that she left the church in few weeks. An important lesson he shared was that the sign of maturity in a person is how much they are willing to submit to be taught or for correction. In other words do they have a teachable spirit?  

We see lot of people who claim that they are spiritually mature but don't have any inclination or willingness to submit to instruction from others. They have a "greater than thou" attitude and look down on others. Sometimes such people may be gifted in some area and their focus is only on that. They think they have figured out everything in life and nothing is left to learn. They are rebellious to authority placed by God and will normally not submit to any form of authority,  They will claim to be under God's authority and will not associate with people.

We read about a person in the book of Acts, chapter 18. His name is Apollos.

Acts 18:24-28
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, born in Alexandria, who was an eloquent man and powerful in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John, but being fervent in spirit, he accurately spoke and taught the things concerning the Lord. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him and explained the way of God more accurately. When Apollos intended to pass into Achaia, the brothers wrote to encourage the disciples to welcome him. On arriving, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace. For he vehemently refuted the Jews publicly, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (MEV)

Apollos was an eloquent man and he knew the Scriptures very well. He was preaching accurately and taught about Lord Jesus Christ. He was bold when he spoke in synagogue. All of these things easily qualifies him to be invited for the next special meeting as our guest speaker. If it was today then he will be a very busy man flying from one city to another preaching.

He had one problem that he only knew about the baptism of John. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God more accurately. I praise God that Aquila and Priscilla had that attitude to correct an upcoming eloquent preacher. That's a great thing and we will focus on it some other day. Let's focus on Apollos and what did he do? It says that later also he was used by God and he refuted Jews publicly proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Apollos changed his message based on what he learned. He was teachable.

If Apollos did not have a teachable spirit then I am not sure what would have happened but the Bible tells that he became a very effective preacher who was speaking truth.

The question is are we teachable by God and man? In Psalms 25:4, David  prayed like this:
Make me to know Your ways, O Lord;  teach me Your paths. (MEV)

We see lot of people who are not willing to learn from others thinking they will only learn from God directly. I am happy about such people. Then I see something else in the Bible. The Bible talks about God selecting and anointing people to teach us the word. You will see that God gave teachers also to the Church to equip saints (Ephesians 4:11-12). We need a teachable spirit if we have to grow in Christ and reach maturity in faith.

Psalms 141:5
"Let the righteous man strike me; it shall be a kindness.
Let him rebuke me; it shall be oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it. For my prayer is continually against their evil deeds." (MEV)

Do you have a teachable spirit?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Construction Work Ahead

Summer is a good time for travel, especially in places where there will be lot of snow during winters. When spring season starts, it always a joy to see greenery everywhere again. When Fall season starts, it's beautiful to see all colors of leaves but there is a feeling that summer is over and it's time to get ready for winter.

One thing we often see during summer time is road work or construction. Sometimes you see miles of road blocked on a highway because of construction. Lot of times construction forces you to take detour. We normally don't like detours because it longer than the normal way. Construction most of the time slows us down. We get frustrated and angry at times seeing the traffic jam. One day I was thinking how if there was no construction done on the roads. We will end up having really bad roads which ultimately will make our commute worse. Few days or weeks of construction makes it usable again with greater comfort. It always feel good when you are driving or use a road which was repaired or some work was done on it. We all don't like construction or traffic jams which result from it but we all enjoy the outcome.

There is a portion in the Bible which talks about work being done.

Jeremiah 18:1-4
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying:  “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was making something on the wheel.  Yet the vessel that he made of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (MEV)

Here the potter was making a vessel but it was spoiled. He did not throw it away but made it again into another vessel as seemed good to the potter to make it.  It's so comforting to know that our God is working on us. There are seasons of construction in everyone's life. At that time it will not be easy and we will feel frustrated and painful. He will have lot of questions on our mind.

I want to encourage you by saying you that repair work and construction is not going to end in a bad end result. It will always end up being a blessing for others. During seasons when God is working on you, let Him work. Trust Him to do it the best way. He will make you in to the shape that seems good to Him.

A real Christian is the one who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip. -Billy Graham

A real Christian is one who does not just act a certain way in front of some people, and another way in front of others. There are many so called Christians who only act in a Godly way so that others can see them but at home they lead a life of sin. A true Christian is one that acts the same around everyone and always endeavors to live a life that if filled with compassion and loved. So do not worry.

He's still working on me is a song by Joel Hemphill and I want to share the lyrics here

He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don't judge him yet, there's an unfinished part
But I'll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands

He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

In the mirror of His word
Reflections that I see
Makes me wonder why He never gave up on me
But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the potter, I'm the clay

He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

God Bless You!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Do Not Neglect Important Things

Your greatest contribution to God’s Kingdom work—and to defeating the Enemy’s efforts against this Kingdom— is to keep up your daily devotions; live a clean, honest, humble, Spirit-filled life; trust God to guard and protect you morally, physically, and spiritually.

Look at this life lesson and ask yourself what elements you need to work on in your own life. Is there anything you can be doing more of or perhaps less of to make you a more fulfilled and happy person in the eyes of God? Take stock of your life as often as you can and work on the areas that need improvement. - Billy Graham

We all get slipped in to busy lifestyles. Today's culture teaches us that being busy is smart. Everyone is busy all the time. One thing which can happen when we get busy is that we may start neglecting important spiritual disciplines in our life. Initially it may not look like a serious matter. Very soon neglecting or not finding time for important things will become a habit in our life. 

We should make sure we are not ignoring important things and spending time on things which will give us pleasure now but will eventually destroy us. In the above quote, it talks about greatest contribution and how to defeat enemy's effort against God's Kingdom. We think it's preaching, telling others, attending all meetings in church etc. Those are good and needed but some important things which will strengthen our relationship with God should not be ignored. If we ignore then we will end up in a dangerous zone.

So what are those things? They are:-
  • keep up your daily devotions; 
  • live a clean, honest, humble, Spirit-filled life; 
  • trust God to guard and protect you morally, physically, and spiritually
God Bless you!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Real Discipline

Discipline is an important subject which is misunderstood many times. We see people take different extreme positions when it come to this subject. Some people just don’t like it since they think that discipline and love of God are incompatible. Look at what the Bible says about this matter.

“For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." (Heb. 12:6, NLT) 

So one thing is sure that love of God and discipline are not two opposite ideas. When it comes to dealing with our children and discipline, the Bible says that, “If you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24). Regarding discipline we have to make sure that we understand why we need to discipline someone. It is not what we do to the person but we do it for the person  and for their own good.  

“The parent must convince himself that discipline is not something he does to the child; it is something he does for the child.”— James C. Dobson

What is Discipline? Good discipline should include these three aspects.
  • Instruction– We have to teach the child or other person the right way to go. Without teaching the right way we should not hold someone accountable for right action or behavior. We should make sure that we give time for providing instruction.  
  • Training– We also need to spend enough time working with the child or other person, help him or her to learn. Many times repeated training is required to make someone familiar with the correct way to do something.   
  • Correction–Finally we should not ignore the correction part. Correction is done to change the behavior or response if it does not match with the instruction and training which was given.
Many times people only focus on correction and ignore instruction and training. Make sure we are careful about how we administer discipline. Punishment and other methods may come in the middle but fundamentally we should be aware that giving instruction, providing training and doing correction are equally important. When God discipline us, then also it may involve these things.

May God help us to have the correct perspective about discipline. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

When Lord Stirs people

There is a particular incident mentioned in the book of Haggai when God stirred up the spirit of people to come and work on a task.

Haggai 1:13-15

“Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord.  So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.” (NIV)

Other translation says that the Lord “sparked the enthusiasm” (NLT). This stirring started after God rebuked the people for their slackness and then people decided to obey the word of God which came to them. It also says that they feared the Lord.  It was followed by another message from God – “I am with you”.

I am with you” is really comforting when it comes from the creator God who holds everything in his hands. What else do we need if we get that assurance? It resulted in people getting stirred in their spirit to go ahead and start the work they were supposed to do. Let me list the sequence of events again here.

1.       God rebukes people
2.       People obeyed
3.       They feared the Lord
4.       Promise comes from God – “I am with you”
5.       People are sparked to enthusiasm or stirred up the spirit
6.       They go ahead and do the work

Many times we lose heart and get discouraged. We are not sure what to do next. May be backsliding has hit us badly. How we react to the voice of God matters a lot. If we obey and believe what He says, then we can move ahead. So times we lose heart because we don’t remind ourselves about the promises which God has made in our lives. Jesus also said to His disciples that they will not be left as orphans but He will be with them.

Paul said something in 2 Cor. 9:2

For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.   (NIV)

Knowing about the service done by Corinthian church stirred the enthusiasm of many to action. Are we in need of a stirring today? Are we slack regarding certain things we should do? Do we need an encouragement?

When we get self-focused and tend to look too much towards ourselves, we begin to lose enthusiasm.  Some time we need a stirring from the Lord. For that we need to obey. Other times we need to look around. Finally we need to believe the word of God.

God says “I am with you”. You may think it’s impossible but God is with you.

May the Lord stir your spirits to do things which are in His mind. May your enthusiasm be sparked.