“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” 1 John 1.6
When I remember that John wrote this letter to believers, then I am reminded that I must pay “close attention” to what he is saying to those who follow Christ. It seems tragic that such a truth as this needed to be written to God’s children – both then and now. Most of us know believers who say things like, “My walk with God is good. I just have issues with _____________ (you fill in the blank).” What does it mean for one who is a Christ-follower to walk in darkness? When I walk into a darkened room, I have the option of “turning on the light” or continuing to stumble about in darkness. When one of God’s children PURPOSELY continues to walk without the benefit of God’s truth to light their pathway, they are choosing to “walk in darkness.” Psalm 119.105 clearly states: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Fellowship with God requires that I spend time in His Word, allowing Him to speak to me THROUGH His Word and His Holy Spirit. If (or when) I choose to NOT have fellowship with Him through His Word, I am choosing to walk in darkness. People who have “issues” with church or some of God’s servants, and choose to let those issues go “unresolved” are walking in darkness. It does not matter what they SAY. What matters is how they LIVE. God said this, not me: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” THINK about it. Just my thoughts …
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” 2 Peter 3.14
The return of our Lord is a very real event. Peter has just reminded his readers that the Lord does not want anyone to die without His Son as their Savior. God’s patience with this wicked world is far greater than anything that I can imagine. So, what is my responsibility while I await His return? I am to live EXPECTANTLY – “seeing that ye look for such things …” – as though He may come today. Such a sense of expectancy will cause me to see my world differently. I am often haunted by the words of D. L. Moody, “Count no man cheap for whom Christ died.” Do I see this world the Where are you? God sees it? Lost, undone, desperate, with no hope?
Peter continues: “be diligent …” Diligence calls for focus – focus changes WHAT I do and WHY I do it? My life is not about doing what I want to do, but it must now and always be about what my Heavenly Father longs for me to do and that is to glorify Him in my life with every word and every action. Peter’s concern for his readers is that we live lives that are above reproach – not perfect, but holy and righteous. Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 15.19: “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.” Following God on a daily basis is not as hard as we sometimes want to make it. He makes our path CLEAR if we are paying attention. May we give Him our best today in every area of life – He may return today! Just my thoughts …
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5.7
This time of year can be the most “anxious” time of year for some people. Christmas is approaching – funds are short and shopping lists are long. And we tend to create an atmosphere of anxiousness all around us. Can I be so bold as to suggest that is an act of selfishness? In the verse above Peter tells us that God wants us to give our “cares” (anxieties) to Him. The reason is simple – He care for us. So if I INSIST on carrying my own burden when God has asked to carry them for me, I am being selfish. I am saying to God, “These are mine! You can’t have them.” Wouldn’t you agree that when we act like that and saying to ourselves things like that, we are being selfish?
I can hear some saying now, “But, if I give my burden to God, that doesn’t give me any more money to spend or make my shopping list any shorter” or whatever other excuse we want to tell ourselves. When we refuse to give our burdens to God, we take Him out of the equation and we are left to deal with each burden ON OUR OWN – with no help from God. Not only is that selfish, it is also a foolish choice. We are telling God, “I know more about my problem that you do and I am going to figure it out on my own.” Please hear me clearly – allow God to be God in your life – not just today, but everyday. He loves you more than you know and He wants to carry your burdens if you will allow Him. Just my thoughts …
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ” 1 Thessalonians 5.18
“Surely this verse doesn’t really mean what it says. I must have must misread it.” Is that what you are thinking? Please note what this verse does NOT say: “FOR everything give thanks …” None of us is prepared to give thanks for a loved one who is dying with cancer, or for a job loss, or a financial reversal, or a divorce, or a special-needs child – this list could go on for a long while. But Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians and us is simply this: “In the midst of WHATEVER life throws our way, as God’s children, we can STILL give thanks.
Allow me to share with you this Thanksgiving Day some circumstances in which I choose to give thanks: (1) I give thanks for godly parents who loved me enough to teach me to love God no-matter-what. My godly mother was snatched from my life when I was 11 years old as the result of a tragic car accident. But in those short 11 years she taught me to love God. (2) I give thanks that even though my late wife and I were unable to conceive children together, we were able to adopt two wonderful children who have blessed my life in ways I cannot describe. (3) My late wife, Jean, was taken with cancer after 46 years of marriage and ministry together. God’s grace in that circumstance was more than I ever imagined it could be. (4) God brought my wife Carol into my life after the passing of time and we have been married 8 years and share life and ministry together. Again God has brought us through life’s trial together. (5) After 55 years in a life of ministry, I still have the strength and desire to serve God in the ministry He has chosen for me at this present time. While some of these things are things FOR which I can give thanks, all of these life events are events IN which I can give thanks. The choice is mine. Happy Thanksgiving. Just my thoughts …
“Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29.13
In this last chapter of 1 Chronicles David is coming to the close of his life. He is finishing his last instructions to those gathered around. At the end of this conversation, he begins a prayer to God. Look at his words: “Now … God, we thank you, and praise your glorious name.” Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America – a time for families to get together. Many of the tables across our land will be spread with plenty – food in abundance. There will be parades on TV followed by football – football – and more football. But we will be remiss as Christ-followers if we do not pause, and with purpose of heart, lead our families, as David did his, in giving thanks to God. Genuine giving of thanks must begin, not in the mind, but in the heart. If you have children, ask them to write down one or two things for which they are thankful. As a parent, lead them in genuine, heart-generated thanksgiving. As a grandparent. I have so many things for which I must give God thanks.
Giving thanks and praising God go hand-in-hand. I am reminded of these words from a hymn: Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise Him all creatures here below; praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen! Just my thoughts …
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Corinthians 15.57
What does it mean to have “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”? Does that mean that we are never tempted to sin? Or does it mean that we are never treated wrongly by other people? Or does it mean that we never get sick? Or does it mean that everything in life always goes “just the way we planned it? The answer to each of these questions is “No, that is not what victory through our Lord Jesus Christ means!” OK, so what does it mean? First of all, when you use the word “victory” that implies that there has been a struggle and you have won the battle.
What did Christ do in order for us to gain the “victory”? When He arose from the grave, He had conquered death, hell, and the grave for everyone who believes in Him. Since I need have no fear over these things, where else in my life can I – do I – have victory? I can have victory over TEMPTATION. Temptation is not sin, but if I choose to embrace the temptation, that is sin. When someone wrongs me or offends me, I have a choice. I can either react in the flesh and be angry (that is sin), or I can forgive them and NOT sin, because I have gained the victory. When things don’t go the way I planned, I can throw a fit and get mad at everybody that I think messed things up, or I can simply say to the Lord, “I don’t understand all of this, but I choose to trust you, because Your way is perfect.” You make the call! The victory is yours if you choose it. Or you can go on in defeat and remain mad at God. Just my thoughts …
“ Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” Psalm 119.35
What is it that makes you happy each day? If you are like me, you may respond, “A good cup of coffee.” But that is a shallow answer – and I know some don’t like coffee. The psalmist here says that walking in the path of the Lord’s commandments is a delight for him. There are several hidden truths in these words. (1) I must KNOW the commandments of God, (2) I must recognize the voice of God in my life, and (3) I must be so in love with God that I DO find my “delight” in obeying what He commands.
It seems that no matter where we plug in to this matter of God’s commandments, we MUST begin with His Word. What makes us think we can do ANYTHING that pleases God if we are NOT in His Word regularly? Some find the Bible an interruption in their day so they ignore it. Others find the Bible the inspiration God intended it to be, so they “delight” in it. So, if I am willing to spend time with God in His Word, when He speaks to me about something I need to do, do I recognize that He is talking to me or do I just pass it off as “that’s not for me. He must mean someone else”? If I don’t recognize when He is speaking to me, how can I obey what He commands? Finally, what would need to change in our lives in order for us to find “delight” in obeying His Word? What would God need to do in order for me to love Him more? Let me answer that emphatically – God has already DONE everything He needs to do. Every demonstration of His love cries out, “I love you this much” and it is beyond measure. The change lies in what WE must do in order to love God more. When you pray today, are you willing to ask God what changes need to come into your life in order for you to “delight” in His commandments? If you pray that prayer, be ready for Him to give you the answer through His Spirit. Let go of your life today and let God have His wonderful way! Just my thoughts …
“O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” Isaiah 25.1
When I read the Old Testament, I am constantly reminded of the expressions of a grateful heart. A grateful heart is easily given to PRAISE – praise to the God who, in His faithfulness, accomplishes everything that He has promised He will do.
This week, many of us will sit down to a table filled to overflowing with a meal we will call “Thanksgiving dinner.” Regardless of who will be around the table with us, or what foods are on the table, EVERYONE of us can honestly reflect on God’s faithfulness to us this past year. Isaiah intentionally offers his praise. Observe: (1) thou art my God; (2) I will exalt thee; (3) I will praise thy name; (4) you have done wonderful things; (5) your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. I submit to you that it is important for US to be INTENTIONAL in our praise. It is far too easy to just mouth the words, “thank you God for your blessings.” Why not take a few minutes and write down some times when God has shown Himself faithful TO YOU? Think of your lowest moment – He was there. Think of your greatest pain – He was there. Think of your time of greatest joy – He was there. Think of the time when you knelt to pray and the heavens seemed as brass and your heart was aching like it had never ached before – and yes, He was there! Let’s display our gratefulness with an intentional effort this Thanksgiving. Just my thoughts …
“Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah (3) But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” Psalm 3.2-3
If I listen to the wrong voices around me, I draw false conclusions and make unnecessary mistakes. When others who do not know God attempt to tell me who God is and what God can do in my life, I cannot allow their voices to override the voice of God within me REMINDING me what God CAN do. The psalmist here says that “many there be which say of my soul, There is NO HELP for him in God.” Then he inserts this little word Selah, which means “pause and think about that.” When he thought about it, it made no sense to him at all. Look at his response, “But thou, O LORD, are a shield for me …” If God is my shield, what more do I need? He will handle the “fiery darts of the wicked” when I let Him. His protection of me is as perfect and complete as I allow it to be. His power is only limited by my unwillingness to let Him be God in my life. But the psalmist continues: “my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” Whatever glory that may come into my life is from God. He is the One who puts His finger under my chin and lifts my head so that I can see Him – not the enemy, not the problem, not the discouraging scene, not the elements of my life that would lead me into depression – He is THE LIFTER UP of my head. Often times our church choir sings this song, “Thou O Lord, Art a Shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head.” I just about come up off my seat when I realize ALL that He is to me. Let the naysayers say what they want … I choose to believe that God really is a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head! Just my thoughts …
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4.17
There are some truths that are so rooted in my mind that I think about them almost daily. One of those truths is this: “The devil doesn’t care how much of the Bible you know, as long as it never changes you.” I honestly don’t know if I heard that somewhere or if the Holy Spirit prompted me to say it in the distant past. But, every time I read the verse in James written above, I think of that statement above. For the large majority of Christ’s followers, the problem in not rooted in IGNORANCE but in OBEDIENCE. We KNOW what to do, we just struggle with the self-discipline to DO what we KNOW. Paul Harvey, a radio news commentator from the recent past, used to say, “We KNOW so much more that we DO.”
Let me give you a challenge today. Take a moment and evaluate your own life. This isn’t about looking at others and comparing ourselves with them. This is about doing a self-inspection and asking the Holy Spirit to SHOW us the areas in our lives where we are not DOING what we know the Word of God teaches us we should be doing. This requires spiritual integrity and bold honesty. If you are going to ask the Spirit to SHOW you where you need to change, you must be willing to accept His response to that prayer. Remember, KNOWING what to do is a good start, but DOING what we know is to move into the arena of absolute OBEDIENCE. So, press on Christ-follower and watch what God can do in you and through you. Just my thoughts …