John 15:16 “You didn’t choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”

My question for you today is this – at the Church you attend regularly are you a consumer or a participant? You do rush in every Sunday and expect to be entertained and served, or do you actively share in the responsibilities? Jesus was very clear…as a Believer you are not only chosen and appointed but sent to serve others. This Christlike life & conduct is indicative of the fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galatians 5:22. We should then be abiding in Him and serving others in His Name all the while spreading the Good News of the Gospel…inside & outside the Church. As Believers we will always be recognized by our fruit and the effect of God in our lives…or as Colossians 1:10 urges us, ” We are to live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God…”

John 1:4 ” In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

Jesus was our Savior long before He became an example for us to follow. The word “was” in this verse literally means the endless life of fellowship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ , existed far before the beginning of time. We need to realize then that Jesus is not only salvation but the Gospel Message rolled up into One. But today in many Churches, Jesus has been relegated to merely a figurehead of religion…a good man and teacher who did kind deeds. But we only have to look at Jesus’ 6th “I AM” statement in John to see that He is infinitely more than just a good man & example to follow…”I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Jesus proclaims here that He is the only “road” by which anyone may approach God…that He is the embodiment of Truth Himself… that He is the consummate disclosure of who God is to man, and He is the glorious fulfillment of the Gospel Message of redemption.

I Samuel 15:10-11 ” Then the Word of the Lord came to Samuel: ‘I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.’ “

God’s instructions were clear…Go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everyone and everything that belongs to them. But Saul pridefully decided to disobey God’s words. When Samuel called him on it, Saul made the excuse that it was the soldiers, not him, who had spared the best of the sheep & cattle. Then trying to smooth things over, Saul said they had actually brought the livestock back in order to sacrifice them to the Lord. But Samuel saw through all of Saul’s flimsy excuses & total lack of personal responsibility…and offered up God’s judgment, “Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

Ecclesiastes 8:5 ” The wise heart will know the proper time…”

The biggest mistake we will make in life is thinking we have time…time to accept Jesus Christ into our life…time to tell an elderly relative how much we love them…time to seek help for an addiction. None of us know how much time we or other loved ones have left here on earth, so as Ephesians 5:16 says, we should make the best use of our time. And that takes a wise and discerning heart…always seeking the right time, while listening closely to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. For a wise heart is a perceptive heart that makes good use of the time set before it.

Revelation 3:15-16 ” I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of My mouth.”

Lukewarm water isn’t good for much. It’s neither refreshing like the icy water of a mountain stream, or medicinally healing like a hot springs. Our Christian walk is much the same. Romans 12:11 tells us that we should never be lacking in zeal, but keep our spiritual fervor in serving the Lord. There should be no hesitation or slothfulness in our laboring…it should be done with ardor, passion, enthusiasm, eagerness, and energy. For we’re not just serving others but God Himself. (Ephesians 6:7)

Colossians 2:6-7 ” So just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

The apostle Paul’s pastoral style was one in which the Christian life was built upon what was already known. Taking what “is” (the assurance of the Gospel Message & other established foundational truths in our life) and striving towards the faith building we now “ought” to be doing. Our Christian journey should be anything but stagnant…a one and done occasion where we accept Jesus and then coast to the finish line. In John 13:13 the disciples called Jesus both Teacher & Lord…and those Titles still apply today. We are to continually be instructed by the Word and prompted by the Holy Spirit…standing on the shoulders of all the saints that have come before us…with the cornerstone being Jesus as we grow in Him. (Ephesians 2:20-21 – Ephesians 3:17-19 – Colossians 1:9-10)

Psalm 69:30 ” I will praise God’s Name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.”

This Thanksgiving Day many will not feel very thankful. Life this past year has been hard & cruel for them with little to rejoice about. But if we look at this Psalm, it’s an emphatic declaration of thanks…an attitude of gratitude that enables us to look at what we have, instead of what we don’t. And when we genuinely rejoice in thanksgiving to God for what’s there, not what isn’t, it can take us from pain to praise…from anguish to appreciation…from distress to delight…and from misery to magnification of His holy Name.

II Corinthians 9:12 ” This service that you perform isn’t only supplying the needs of God’s people but also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

In this verse Paul is talking about giving generously to others, but not just physical needs. Sometimes it’s sitting down with someone and just listening. We may think our most useful asset is expounding on our Biblical wisdom or commandeering the conversation with our stories…but as an image bearer of Christ, we should imitate a heart full of love & compassion, ears ready to listen, hands willing to help, and feet ready to jump into the mess with them. That’s right, life is messy & rarely picture perfect for anyone. But when we give generously of our time it will only deepen our own experience of God’s grace. Giving generously of our time for someone may take rearranging our own schedule, it may not be convenient or easy, but if we can see it as a Divine Appointment set up by God…we will be grateful for the chance not grouchy.

Philippians 1:3 ” I thank my God every time I remember you.”

To thank God for someone in our life is one thing…to thank that person publicly is another. In Romans 16:4 the Apostle Paul does just that when he wrote, “Greet Pricilla & Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the Churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.” Priscilla & Aquila were some of Paul’s closest friends. They were not only also tent-makers by trade as Paul was, but staunch supporters and mature Christian leaders in the early Church. Paul even made his home with them in Corinth, staying for 1 1/2 years…their home becoming the meeting place for the fledging Church in Ephesus. This dynamic couple had made a lasting impression on Paul and he wanted them to know just how much they meant to him…so he penned his gratitude. This week of Thanksgiving who are you grateful for? Someone who’s poured into your life & shaped who you are today? The question is, have you ever told them this? Take a moment today to write a note of gratitude…it will be well worth it.

Colossians 3:15 ” Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

This week of Thanksgiving we’re going to look at what it means to be grateful and show gratitude to others. For many, the Thanksgiving Dinner includes at least one person who rubs us the wrong way. It may be their political opinions, manner of speech, or some other thing that always upset us. But this year can be different if we will take to heart this verse and practice the gracious forgiveness & reconciliation God first showed us through Christ. In response to this verse, we are to extend to others this mercy, or as Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” An attitude of gratitude, peace, & unity can immediately change the atmosphere at the Thanksgiving table this year as we extent God’s grace & mercy to others.

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