Encouragement

Satisfaction

March 28, 2014 – Satisfaction

Satisfaction is related to the quality of life. Satisfaction comes from living righteously and seeking to raise the level of quality in relationships, service, and product. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled [satisfied]” (Matthew 5:6). Do you believe that? If you do believe what Jesus said, what would you be doing? If you aren’t hungering and thirsting after righteousness, then you really don’t believe it satisfies. What Jesus said is true of course, because nothing else really satisfies. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless” (Eccl. 5:10). You may be satisfied with a new car for a period of time, but you will become dissatisfied when the quality of the car deteriorates and the performance of new cars exceeds yours.

What causes a person to be dissatisfied is seldom related to what enables them to be satisfied. When people complain about the holes in the roads, the hard chairs at church, or the temperature of the auditorium, are they satisfied when their complaints are heard and the problems fixed? That is why it is so unproductive for church leaders to run around putting out fires. As soon as one is out, another one will start. They are investing their time in that which causes dissatisfactions and not on what causes people to be satisfied. What satisfies people is meaningful ministries that bear fruit and quality relationships with God and others. Seldom will you see a Christian bearing fruit who isn’t satisfied.

Satisfaction is related to quality not quantity. To raise the level of satisfaction, one has to focus on raising the quality. You will be a lot more satisfied if you do a few things well rather than a lot of things in a mediocre way. The same holds true for relationships. You don’t need a lot of superficial friends. “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). We all need a few close friends who value a quality relationship. If you are not satisfied in your marriage, you will not solve it with gifts or promises. You will only solve it by being reconciled to God and each other in a quality way.

Quality not quantity is what Jesus modeled for us. He invested most of his time with the twelve disciples. Out of those twelve, he selected only three to be with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration and the Garden of Gethsemane. Finally there was only one who stayed with Jesus at the foot of the cross whom Jesus entrusted to care for His mother.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Fulfillment

March 27, 2014 – Fulfillment

Fulfillment is discovering our own uniqueness in Christ and using our gifts and talents to edify others and glorify the Lord. Fulfillment is related to our calling and the roles we play in life. God has a unique place of ministry for each of us. It is important to your sense of fulfillment that you realize your calling in life. The key is to discover the roles you occupy in which you cannot be replaced, and then decide to be what God created you to be. For example, there are over six billion people in this world, but you are the only one who can be someone’s sister, brother, father, mother, co-worker, neighbor or special friend.

A mother was puzzled by young ladies who entered the marketplace to find their fulfillment in the world. She correctly thought, “What could be more fulfilling, or challenging and rewarding, than to raise godly children in this world?” A businessman wondered about his co-workers who stepped on each other’s backs and neglected their families in order to get ahead so they could be “fulfilled” in their work. He thought, “What can be more fulfilling than to be a good witness at work where I serve the Lord and make provision for my family?”

We all occupy a unique role as ambassadors for Christ where we live, work, and play. These are our mission fields and we are the workers that God appointed for the harvest. Our greatest fulfillment comes from accepting and occupying God’s unique place for us to the best of our ability. We can always pray for those around us and look for opportunities to share the love of Christ. We may be their only link to the church and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We will never be fulfilled trying to become somebody we aren’t. The only way to be fulfilled in life is to discover our own potential and uniqueness in Christ and become that to the glory of God. Jesus fulfilled His calling even though there was so much more others wanted Him to do. In His last breath, He was able to say, “It is finished” (John 19:30) Paul also fulfilled his calling. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul said to Timothy, “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5 NASB).

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Significance

March 26, 2014 – Significance

Significance is related to time and eternity. What is forgotten in time is of little significance. What is remembered for eternity is of great significance. According to Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, God has set eternity in our hearts and appointed a time for everything. If we want to increase our significance, then we should focus our energies on those activities that remain forever. Paul wrote, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promises for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

There are two tragedies concerning the concept of significance. The first tragedy is the significance the world attaches to things that are irrelevant in eternity, such as the World Series of baseball, and moon shots. They certainly impact our present world at the time, but what countries participated in the World Cup 15 years ago and who won the World Series 20 years ago? Who was the most valuable player? Who cares? The world tries to maintain the significance of athletic events by keeping records for years, but the general population soon forgets. It was a significant achievement for mankind when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, but now flights into space barely make the headlines and many young people don’t know who Neil Armstrong is. Few adults know who his traveling companions were.

The second tragedy is the sense of insignificance that Christians feel concerning their service for God. The world makes such a big deal about “significant” events that quickly fade from our memories and the daily events of one Christian or local church go relatively unnoticed. But what happens in heaven when one sinner repents? All the angels in heaven rejoice. That person’s name is now written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and he or she will live in the presence of God forever. Someone teaching a group of little children in church may feel insignificant compared to the stars of Hollywood, or the celebrities in music and sports. But what could be more significant than to teach a young child the truth. What they choose to believe will affect them for all eternity.

There is no need to search for significance, because there are no insignificant children of God. There are no insignificant Christian ministries that are doing God’s will no matter how obscure. We are in the significant business of laying up treasures in Heaven. We will live a very significant life if we build upon the foundation that Christ has laid, but everything we build for ourselves in our own strength will be torn down. Someone once said, “There is only one life; it will soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last.”

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Success

March 25, 2014 – Success

Success is related to goals, but how are you setting realistic and godly personal goals for your life? What may be a realistic goal for one person could be impossible for another. God has not given each person the same endowment of gifts, talents, and intelligence. Your identity and sense of worth are not determined by those qualities. Your sense of worth is based on your identity in Christ and your growth in character, both of which are equally accessible to every child of God. Success is accepting God’s goal for our lives and by His grace becoming what He created us to be.

We can also be successful in the eyes of the world and a complete failure in the eyes of God. Many a person has climbed the ladder of “success” only to realize that it was leaning against the wrong wall. Joshua 1:7-9 gives us the key to being successful in the eyes of God. God promised them prosperity and success on only one condition, and it had nothing to do with the cooperation of the Philistines or favorable circumstances. They would be successful if they lived according to His ways.

They were successful in crossing the Jordan by faith (Joshua 3) and they were successful in defeating Jericho by faith (Joshua 6). But they were defeated at Ai, because Achan took something under the ban (Joshua 7). This simple principle of success stretches our faith. Do you believe that you could run for public office and win by staying true to His word? Do you believe that you could be a successful business person and never violate the word of God? Success may mean that you drive an inexpensive car and live in a modest home as an honest person.

Second, to be successful, we have to become the people God created us to be. We may not have enough time to accomplish what we want, but we have enough time to do God’s will. We may not be able to reach the position we hoped for, but what position is higher than being seated with Christ in the heavenlies? We can try to make a name for ourselves in the world, but what name could we make for ourselves that is better than being called children of God. Scripture provides no instruction for determining a career, but it gives a lot of instruction concerning what kind of career person we should be.

Third, to be successful, we must be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Our time, talent, and treasure belong to Him and they must be used to the glory of God. The Lord wants us to prosper, but what is our definition of prosperity? God’s definition begins with the prosperity of our souls. What material possession or social status would you exchange for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? No earthly possession or position can give us what we all desire and what is available to all of us if we would just abide in Christ.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Dr. Neil Anderson’s Blog – March 2014

3/3/14 – Spiritual Gifts
3/4/14 – Motivational Gifts
3/5/14 – Public Use of Gifts
3/6/14 – Life Endowments
3/7/14 – Stewardship
3/10/14 – Prayer and Praise
3/11/14 – Levels of Prayer
3/12/14 – Praying By The Spirit
3/13/14 – Effective Prayer
3/14/14 – Praying For The Lost
3/17/14 – Knowing God’s Will
3/18/14 – Do All To the Glory of God
3/19/14 – Divine Guidance
3/20/14 – Making Wise Decisions
3/21/14 – God Guides A Moving Ship
3/24/14 – Faith Appraisal
3/25/14 – Success
3/26/14 – Significance
3/27/14 – Fulfillment
3/28/14 – Satisfaction
3/31/14 – Encouragement

Faith Appraisal

March 24, 2014 – Faith Appraisal

A plumb line is a weight that hangs on the end of a line that carpenters use to ensure that the walls of a building are built straight. The Lord showed Amos (7:7-8) that the nation of Israel was no longer true to His plumb line. God’s people were supposed to be built by His standards, but when tested they were completely out of plumb. God is testing us also to see if our walk of faith is true to His word. The next nine studies will help you determine how true your plumb line is. Start by assessing your own walk of faith and complete the statements:

1.      How successful am I? I would be more successful if . . .

2.      How significant am I? I would be more significant if . . .

3.      How fulfilled am I? I would be more fulfilled if . . .

4.      How satisfied am I? I would be more satisfied if . . .

5.      How encouraged am I? I would be more encouraged if . . .

6.      How happy am I? I would be more happy if . . .

7.      How much fun am I having? I would be having more fun if . . .

8.      How secure am I? I would be more secure if . . .

9.      How peaceful am I? I would be more peaceful if . . .

However you completed those above sentences reflects what you presently believe, and at this present time you are living according to what you have chosen to believe. Does your belief about these issues line up with Scripture? Maybe a more basic question needs to be asked. Does God want us to live a successful, significant, fulfilled, and satisfied life? It is hard to image that a loving Heavenly Father has called us to be failing, insignificant, unfulfilled, and dissatisfied children of God. As we shall see, a positive mark on all nine issues above has only to do with your relationship with God and your walk by faith. We can all become the people God has created us to be regardless of the circumstances of life.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

God Guides A Moving Ship

March 21, 2014 – God Guides A Moving Ship

In Acts 15:36, Paul decided to revisit the churches he helped establish on his first missionary trip. The churches were being strengthened and increasing in numbers (Acts 16:5). Suddenly the Holy Spirit kept them from preaching in Asia (vs. 6), and the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to keep going the same direction (vs.7). Then Paul received a vision to go to Macedonia (vs. 9). If God wanted Paul to go to Macedonia in the first place, why didn’t He guide Paul on a more direct path to Macedonia? Because God wanted Paul to start his second missionary trip by strengthening the Churches in Asia.

This mid-course correction underscores an important concept of divine guidance. God can only guide a moving ship. A rudder doesn’t work if the ship isn’t moving. Guidance comes when you are actively doing God’s will. We are not empowered to do our will. A ship without power is helpless at sea. The helmsman can’t do anything because the rudder only works if the ship is under way. Life is a journey that takes us through many bends in a river. Like a good river pilot, God guides us around obstacles and away from troubled waters. If we are actively serving God, there will be many mid-course corrections. We may not know in advance where God is leading us, but we will never get there if we are not actively underway.

We also need to bloom where we are planted. Rattling doors to find an open one is not God’s way. We ought to be content where we are and prove ourselves faithful in what God has already assigned us to do. He will open the doors of opportunity at the right time. If we aren’t bearing fruit now, it is unlikely that we will be fruitful in another time and place.

Isaiah wrote, “The Lord will guide you always” (58:11). In the context prior to that verse, the Israelites were seeking God’s leading by fasting (vs. 2). But God revealed that their fasting was a farce that ended in strife (vs. 4). Then he shares what a real spiritual fast should be, if you are intent on discerning God’s will. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the captive free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn” (vss. 6-8). In other words, Why are you fasting to know my ways when you have clearly not been faithful to do what I have already commanded you to do? If you will minister to your people the way I have instructed, then your next step will be clear.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Making Wise Decisions

March 20, 2014 – Making Wise Decisions

The wise person knows the will of God; the successful person lives it. If you are trying to discern God’s will and make wise decisions, consider the following questions:

1.      Have I prayed about it? The first thing a Christian does about anything is pray and seek His Kingdom. Recall that the Lord’s Prayer begins with a petition to establish His kingdom and do His will.

2.      Is it consistent with the word of God? The majority of God’s will for our lives has already been revealed in His Word. According to the courts of our land, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Make it your habit to consult the Bible when making decisions.

3.      Does this decision or choice compromise my Christian witness? If the choice you are considering requires you to compromise your witness or integrity, then the answer is no. The end does not justify the means.

4.      Will the Lord be glorified? Are you seeking the glory of man or the glory of God? Can you do it and glorify God in your body? Are you concerned about God’s reputation or yours? Will this build His kingdom or yours?

5.      Am I choosing and acting responsibly? What are my responsibilities and what would be the most responsible course of action to take? You cannot be in God’s will and shirk your responsibility.

6.      Is it reasonable? God expects us to think. His guidance may transcend human reasoning, but it never excludes it. God doesn’t bypass our minds. He operates through them. Our Lord is a rational God and His ways are reasonable.

7.      Does a realistic opportunity exist? Closed doors are not meant to be broken down. If you have a hopeless scheme, let it go. If a realistic opportunity exists, and all the other factors are in agreement, then step out in faith. God opens windows of opportunity, but they may close if not taken advantage of.

8.      Are unbiased, spiritually sensitive associates in agreement? Be careful not to consult only with those who are inclined to agree with you, or those who are afraid to be honest with you. Give them permission to ask hard questions and the right to disagree without recrimination.

9.      Do I have a sanctified desire to do it? The greatest joy in life is to serve God and be in His will. You should feel good about doing God’s will and want nothing less. If you delight yourself in the Lord, His desires will be your desires.

10.      Do I have a peace about it? You should sense an inner confirmation if you are in God’s will and a troubled spirit if you aren’t.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog

Divine Guidance

March 19, 2014 – Divine Guidance

The following seven issues are commonly, but not necessarily correctly, considered for discerning God’s will:

1.     Conscience: Should we let our consciences be our guide? Our conscience is a function of our mind and it can be defiled (Titus 1:15). The Holy Spirit is our guide. False guilt can produce a guilty conscience and a poorly developed conscience would sense no guilt. Salvation and growth in Christ cleanses our consciences. Paul says, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts
24:16).

2.     Fleeces. The idea of a fleece comes from the story of Gideon in Judges 6. Gideon was asking God for a sign to confirm what God had already revealed. Gideon wasn’t demonstrating faith in God. How many times does God need to say something before we are sure He means it? How much confirmation do we need to do what is right?

3.     Circumstances: Some people are guided by the circumstances of life. If the circumstances are unfavorable, they conclude it isn’t God’s will, and if the circumstances are favorable they assume they are on the right path. Circumstances are not reliable guides. We need greater resolve to stay faithful when difficulties arise. Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance” (Philippians 4:11).

4.     The counsel of others: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). It is always wise to seek godly counsel and gain the perspective of others. However, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1).

5.     Gifts and abilities: God will always lead us in a way that is consistent with how He has equipped us. God will never ask us to be someone we aren’t, nor will He ask us to do something we aren’t qualified to do. Unfortunately, many never realize their potential by stepping out in faith, nor take the risks that faith requires.

6.     Duty: Our calling is not to see what lies dimly ahead, but to do what clearly lies at hand. You don’t need any special leading to do your Christian duty, nor a subjective confirmation for doing what is clearly taught in Scripture.

7.     Desires: Follow your natural desires and you will be led astray. However, “Delight yourselves in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), but you delight yourself in the Lord first, and then your desires will change.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog