Did God Say So?

 Adults can learn a lot from chilMother talking to her childrendren.  Just watch young siblings interact sometime.  One will start to do something and the other will say, “Mommy said not to do that!”  Or there will be a disagreement and one will go to a parent and come back pronouncing the solution to the disagreement with a sentence beginning with “Daddy said…”

  Children usually understand that they ought to do what their parents say to do, and that they should not do what their parents say not to do.  Children also understand that they do not have the right to give one another permission to do things.  Admittedly, children don’t always bother to get permission from parents, but they usually know that they should.

  Children are humble enough to know that they are permitted to do something only if Mommy or Daddy “say so.” They KNOW that they are not in charge. This attribute of children is part of what Jesus was wanting from all of us when he said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).

  Children of God need desperately to realize that we are only permitted to do something if our heavenly Father says so.

  Many passages of scripture teach the need for children of God to rely upon His “say so”. Balaam recognized this need in Numbers 22:18 when he told the messengers from Balak that “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.”  Colossians 3:17 requires that  “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In Proverbs 30:6 the wise man said,  “Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” Yet, despite these scriptures and others which could be cited, we continue to hear those who are supposed to be God’s children claim that “we do (or can do) many things for which we have no authority.”  This is tantamount to saying, “God did not say so, but we are going to do it anyway!”

  This attitude explains a lot that’s going on among churches and in the lives of Christians today, doesn’t it?

  May God help us to develop a true child-like humility.  Before we give ourselves permission to follow our own desires, let us all stop and ask, “Did God say so?”

— Steve Klein

Are You Doing What You Can?

   According to an old Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schulz, “Life is like a ten speed bicycle; most of us have gears we never use.”  Life really IS like that!  We have talents and capabilities that we do not use.  We may not even realize we possess them simply because we have never even tried to put them to use.

  In Mark 14:3-9, the story is told of a woman who anointed Jesus with some very expensive oil.  In fact, the oil was worth the equivalent of one year’s wages (300 denarii). Some complained that the oil should have been sold and the money given to the poor, rather than being lavished upon the Lord.  But Jesus, aware of His impending death, appreciated the fact that the woman had “come beforehand to anoint” His “body for burial.”  He said, “She has done a good work for me” and “She has done what she could.” (Mark 14:7, 8).

  When we meet the Lord on the Judgment Day, wouldn’t we all like to hear Him say something like that about us?  But I wonder though how many of us will truly have done what we could have done?  Will we have used our abilities and taken advantage of our opportunities to serve Him?

  The Lord never asks us to do more than we are capable of doing.  The Parable of the Talents illustrates that we are only expected to do what we can do. Each servant in the parable was given responsibility “according to his own ability”(Matthew 25:15), and each servant was held accountable for doing only what he was capable of doing.  The man who was given the one talent was condemned, not because he was a man of little ability, but because he refused to use the little ability that he had. 

  In 1 Peter 4:11, we are told that our service to God should be accomplished “as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.”   Note three things here. 

(1) God is the giver of abilities.  It was He who made the tongue of Moses, and Moses was out of line when he tried to excuse himself from serving the Lord because he was “slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10).  He has given us our abilities as well.  And even though He may have given others more or better talents, no one is excused from using the abilities they have.  “Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”(Henry Van Dyke).

(2) We are to use our God-given ability to serve Him.  Our abilities may not be as good as those that He has given to others, but if they enable us to do the work God wants done, we’d better do it!

(3) God is glorified when we do what we can do for Him.  Let us be “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:11). 

Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.  (Mary Maxwell)

–Steve Klein

“If We Say That We Have No Sin…”

    As a youngster, I remember wondering what it would be like to be blind.  When I thought no one was looking, I would close my eyes and try to walk from place to place in the house.  If anyone ever saw me, I’m sure they would have thought that I had a serious problem!  My self-imposed “blindness” caused me to bump into furniture, stub my toes, and walk into walls. My walking improved instantly when I opened my eyes.  I found that being able to see the things that are causing you to stumble makes all the difference.

  Christians sometimes have a problem walking in the light because of self-imposed blindness.  They close their eyes to their sins.  Sin is a problem for all of us, but it must remain an unresolved problem only if we close our eyes to it.  Jesus told the Pharisees “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41).  The person who does not recognize his own problem with sin is spiritually blind.  He will not avoid the sin, correct the sin or seek forgiveness for the sin because he has chosen not to see the sin.

  Is sin presently a problem in your life?  Do you struggle to overcome temptation?  Do you occasionally find yourself remorsefully confessing your sins to God or fellow Christians?  Anyone who cannot answer “YES” to these questions, needs to open their eyes and take a good hard look at themselves in light of what the apostle John has to say in 1 John 1:8-9: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

  The child of God who has access to the blood of Jesus has a means of resolving the problem of sin.  Once he opens his eyes and sees the problem, he can get cleansing and forgiveness from God by confessing his sins (1 John 1:9).  Continual confession is necessary for continual cleansing of the continual problem of sin.  We are not to confess merely that we “have sin,” but we are to “confess our sins.”   If we say that we that we don’t  have an issue with sin, we are willfully blind and self deceived.

 — Steve Klein