Archive for November, 2016
“For who has despised the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10).
It’s the little things we do today that fulfill the hopes of tomorrow. The annals of God’s people are filled with the biographies of those who acted faithfully in the littlest of things and came to be counted as the greatest of saints. God’s kingdom work is not done by those who prayerfully daydream of some great task that awaits them on the horizon, but rather, it is those who are awakened to the opportunities before them and act obediently.
“Then the people rejoiced because they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly” (1 Chronicles 29:9).
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now, Giving Tuesday. Just as I would offer a warning against the appeals of consumer spending, my counsel is no less cautionary when it comes to philanthropic pursuits. As the body of Christ, we are called to be intentional in the total stewardship of our lives; our contributions not withstanding. Thus, while many good causes abound, we recognize that the work of greatest benefit to this world is being accomplished by Christ and his church. Unlike secular charities, the church does not have multiple revenue streams to whom she can appeal for program support; she has only the people of God…you, and me. Our giving isn’t a “Tuesday thing”. It’s an everyday thing. It’s the life we live, and the life we give, resulting from a transformed heart.
First Lubbock Giving – http://www.firstlubbock.org/give.html
“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
The ability to remember is a powerful emotion and helpful resource when utilized not for the purpose of recovering the past, but rather, as a motivation for pressing forward into a future God is preparing. Did not an entire generation of forgetful, complaining, lamenting, disobedient Hebrews die in the wilderness before the next generation could experience the future God had in store for his people in the land of promise? It is the diligent recall of God’s faithful provision in days past that prepares us to fearlessly face the days ahead. This is the heritage we are to pass on to the generations following.
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
As a people longing for a faith that defines our lives, each day, event, encounter, conversation, and circumstance brings us to a point of decision. Presented with various courses of action, attitudes to be held, and words to be spoken, we are deciding what best represents our devotion to Christ and the desire to care more, give more, and love more. Once decided, it is in that moment we make a definitive statement about the work of Christ in us and the quality of our faith to mold and shape our lives. None of the day’s decisions are insignificant. Choose well.
“Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’” (John 19:30).
While the words carried a tone of finality for those who heard them, Jesus’ declaration expresses far greater implications and possibilities. What’s finished is the power of sin to bury us under guilt and the power of death to terrify us. Jesus finished, fulfilled, and completed God’s redemptive plan on the cross. Even so, unless we daily crucify ourselves, the work of the Father, and what he is seeking to accomplish in our lives, remains unfinished.
“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41).
It was an unfair, abusive, and racially discriminatory law; requiring any non-Roman to carry the armor of a Roman soldier for one mile if compelled to do so. Refusal meant certain death. Jesus’ answer to this injustice was to shoulder the load an extra mile. It’s the difference between seeing oneself as a victim or a victor. While we have little control over our circumstances, we have full command over our responses. Going the extra mile will turn the table on most any situation.
“For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
Take pause today and consider the bounty of God’s grace. Let it run through every facet of your life. From the apostle’s vantage point, he could not have even imagined a spreading of the gospel into the uttermost parts of the world that had not even yet been discovered. Because we are the beneficiaries of this grace, we must be all the more diligent to offer abounding thanks in all circumstances. By so doing, God is glorified, and his grace is spread.
“And He said to him, ‘Stand up and go; you faith has make you well’” (Luke 17:19).
Interesting isn’t it, how often the behavioral sciences eventually catch-up to what scripture has long stated? Research has revealed that being thankful contributes to overall wellness — strengthening physical health, social relationships, positive mental states, and seeing value in others. What began as an expression of worshipful thanks by the Samaritan concluded with an affirmation of his faith. Might our faith be as virtuous. It’s a reminder that true thanksgiving is never a matter of what goes on the table, but rather, what dwells in the heart.
“and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:16).
The true spirit of thanksgiving postures itself in humility. Such humility lives with an awareness of the world around us — the immense pain, the profound brokenness, the crippling addictions, the prevailing social injustices — conditions in which any one of us could find ourselves. Out of this our thankful expressions become an acknowledgement of the dignity, equality, and necessity of others. Our blessings are never merited. Thus, the only appropriate response is one of thankful humility.
“Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice” (Luke 17:15).
This is about being the kind of person we want to be; that we are supposed to be. To give thanks like the Samaritan in this story, who turned back only for this reason, requires deliberate intentionality. Instead of the secular preoccupation of finding oneself, it is a mental focus determined to create oneself into the image of the very One who dwells within us; that his Spirit of thanksgiving might be the reality of our daily lives.