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.”
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
There will be times in our lives when we are thrown into dangerous situations. Our heart is pounding, our knees are shaking, our hands are unsteady, and our nerves are frazzled…but we also know we must keep a clear head and act quickly. We may have time for a prayer, or we may be praying as we’re acting…”Lord, help me!” But regardless, we can rest assured in the promises of God that He will give us the necessary strength, courage, and ability to do what needs to be done.
A.W. Tozer once wrote, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” And this includes suffering, pain, loss, & persecution…or as II Timothy 3:12 reminds us, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” But when it comes to enduring those painful & anxiety-filled trials, we want to know God’s purpose beforehand…but most times we don’t have a clue why God is taking us through this long road of suffering. But if we can hold on to the promise that nothing will ever happen to us that God hasn’t first ordained…the peace of Christ & His calming grace will rule & reign in our hearts.