Thanksgiving

Psalm 100: 4

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courtyards with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

It’s been a hard year but let’s give thanks for all the Lord is. Offer him sacrifices of thanksgiving. What if we did that, made thanksgiving offerings.  That is what they did in the Old Testament.  They showed their thanks in a tangible way by taking an offering to the church.

Like the Pilgrims of old, let’s be grateful for having survived the year and that we have food to eat. And while we are giving thanks, let’s remember those who perished this year and who don’t have food. Open your heart to the joy of the Lord but also to His heart of compassion. Thank you, Father, for looking after us and please care for all the people who don’t know you and feed those who are hungry. Thank you.

Glory and Majesty

Jude 1: 24 – 25

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.

To God be glory, majesty, dominion and authority. Amen. That is enough of a prayer on its own, a really great prayer in fact. Still, Jude paired it with other concepts. He gives us reasons to praise God and exalt Him because of the miracle of these gifts. Significantly, that we might be able to stand in His presence, in His glory, and though that would be enough, there is still more. Because of the great miracle of substitutionary redemption, we can stand in the Lord’s presence perfectly blameless. That’s amazing! Thank you, Jesus,!

So let us meditate on standing in the presence of our beloved savior and our Father seeing ourselves clean and pure, standing there with them in the fullness of joy. Lord, may your kingdom here on earth reflect the glory and majesty of your kingdom in the New Jerusalem and thank you for allowing us to be citizens therein. Amen!

Healing Hopes

Psalm 107:20

He sent His word and healed them, and saved them from their destruction.

If you have read the Word of the Day for long you probably recognize this as my favorite healing verse. It came to mind recently but in a completely different context. This is the question it presented to me, “Can you use this to pray about the healing of nation?” I believe the answer is, “Yes.”

When I write the Word of the Day, I try to be sensitive to the challenges and mood of the global Christian community and to that of my own nation. I write to what my heart feels is the need. Additionally, I hear what people are saying especially as they articulate their feelings and concerns. I take those to the Father and ask for His help and guidance because I am completely invested in the premise that He is the answer. Today’s message is what I believe the Father answered me.

This year’s election has divided us. It probably would have looked much different but for the Coronavirus epidemic. People are more sensitive and emotional and really do feel the stakes are higher this year. Christians are in that lot too. Overall, as I asked Christians how they were praying to God about the election, most said their main prayer was that God take care of our country. As for the presidential race, Christians voted both parties. The reality check is that everyone of us probably voted for some people who won and some who lost but the common factor is that we all voted for the people we thought would do the best by our country. And we prayed. We asked our God to prevail.

Now comes the hard part. If we prayed and some of our candidates lost what does that mean for our faith? Here is what I believe Father God would have me broadcast across the country. God has not abandoned His throne, nor has He turned a mute ear to our prayers. He is listening and He cares. Now we have to respond to Him. We must invest our faith in Him and believe He has us in His hands. It is not the man in the Oval office that is the most important part of the picture. It is the God who reigns over us all. In our state elections as well as the presidential race, our faith must be towards God and reconciliation. We must pray for unity amongst us and faith in God to carry us forward.

This is so important. It is up to us to reunite this country. Christians need to show that we are people of faith. Do you believe, with me, that our God is bigger than politics? Can He turn the angry rhetoric into a language of reconciliation and cooperation? A house divided cannot stand. So, do we have what it takes to reunite as one people who stand together for love, justice and mercy? Can we stand, again, in the chasm of faithlessness and show the world that God reigns supreme and that He loves humanity? Please take some time to think about this. Let us turn our eyes to Jesus and fix our eyes on him so resolutely that the fire of 2020 politics grows cold in comparison. Jesus is the answer. He is the way. Let us all set aside our political opinions and take up the banner of one nation united under God, with freedom and liberty for all.

Vanity, Vanity

Psalm 127: 1

Unless the Lord builds a house, they who build it labor in vain.

We just saw in Friday’s Word of the Day Jesus saying we should build our houses, i.e. lives, on the rock of his teachings. Do you think he had today’s verse in mind when he said that? Friday’s verse taught us that the foundation of any life must be Jesus’ words. Otherwise, there will be no firm foundation and every storm of life will blow the house down. Today’s verse teaches us the vanity of building a life on anything other than the Lord Jesus. What is the difference?

The implication of today’s verse is that if we do not construct our lives on Jesus’ teachings then we are essentially relying on our own strength and wisdom. This, the psalmist tells us, is vanity. In other words, we think ourselves wise and able. In fact, if we fail to build on Jesus’ foundation, it suggests we are wiser than he and more capable. We are vain in the way we puff up ourselves and the end result is a house of cards which falls down around us at the first stiff breeze.

It can be hard for us to admit we don’t know everything. It can be challenging to actually humble oneself under the direction, much less the lordship, of another. None the less, that is one of the foundation stones which Jesus has given us. Humility, rather than vanity, is the way to a successful and stable life. Do not labor in vain, build your house on the rock.

Wise One

Matthew 7:24

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

Those who are wise build their lives on the rock which is the teaching of Jesus. It is his words that form the firm foundation. Those who act on Jesus’ words are building their lives on that strong foundation.  Be clear.  The firm foundation isn’t built by a confession of Jesus.  It is constructed through deliberately, routinely acting on his words.

You know this but here is part two. If you have acted on the teachings of Jesus, if you continue to build your life on the rock, then you should expect your house to stand through the rain and wind. By God’s grace, you should expect to be able to weather the storm.

God has wisdom available for His kids and He gives His wisdom freely. We don’t have to blow in the wind. We can have a strong foundation which allows us to weather storms. Don’t misread me to say that I think we should act foolishly in a hurricane, tornado or any other life-threatening event. What I mean to say plainly is that when you listen to Jesus’ teachings and act on them, when you tune your ear to the voice of the Lord and obey what He says, you can, and should, expect your house to withstand the pressures of the storm.

It’s gonna rain folks. Winds will slam against our lives, but lean on that rock and you will be alright. Expect your house to stand.

Christian Model

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves.

It you really want to see Christianity in action, here is your verse. Christians are supposed to put the needs of others ahead of their own. We are supposed to consider others as more important than ourselves. That is what Jesus did. He sacrificed his wants and needs for the rest of us. He didn’t want to be crucified. He didn’t want to die. He gave himself for us.
We see this in others. I cannot help but think of all the doctors, nurses and other health care workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way to care for us. I think of the military. Military personnel routinely put the needs and concerns of others before their own desires and needs, even putting their lives on the line. Firefighters, law enforcement and many others daily put our needs above their own safety. They forego time with their families so that we can be safe. I am sure some of them would love to be in lockdown with their families for a few weeks. Meanwhile, some of us complain about these measures. I think it is an insult to the people who are daily sacrificing for us.

This is the hard work of Christianity and I do not make light of it. It is human nature to think of oneself, but because of Christ and his sacrifice, we no longer have to operate at a mere human nature level. We have been given the grace of God. When Paul was faced with a personal challenge, Father God told him that His grace was sufficient to meet the need (2 Corinthians 12: 9). That is how Paul learned this important lesson so that he could convey it to us.

The reason I am writing this series on the Christian Model is so that you can protect and inform yourself regarding others. The verses I have sent this week and last present the model of Christianity and so by using them, we can inform ourselves of a person’s, or an organization’s, true intent. Jesus began this dialogue by informing us that wolves would present themselves to us disguised as sheep. We need tools to unmask them and it is precisely that which I have sent to you so that you can protect yourself and your family.

Today’s verse is in that same vein, but I find it turning the corner too. It begins to turn around and face me, challenging my own ethic. Am I the Christian I purport to be? Am I worthy of bearing Christ’s name? Maybe not, but this verse shows me the way. It is as clear a roadmap as one could require. If you critique yourself in light of this verse, I pray you fare well. However, we all can improve here so please, do not beat yourself up. This is an area the whole church should be growing in.

In conclusion, as you evaluate yourself don’t forget that this verse is important in the Christian model for dividing the wolves from the sheep. While we all may be self-interested to a greater or lesser degree, those who are self-important and who serve self rather than others are revealing their wolfish features. Beware these ravenous wolves for they will rend you if ever there is a choice between you and them. Learn to discern who is serving their interests rather than the interests of the whole or of others.

I believe this has been an important series, especially in this time of great challenge. All over the world people are dealing with abnormal levels of stress and need to know whom they can trust. We must be the church, the lovers of humanity. We must be Christ’s hands in this generation. There has never been a time when we have been more needed. Arise my beautiful Christian brothers and sisters and let the love of Christ be seen, felt, heard and witnessed the world over. Those of you outside the United States, though we are rooted over here, we don’t forget you for one moment. Our love and prayers are for you and your countries. May our dear Father bless you all.

Words of the Heart

Matthew 15: 18

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those things defile the person.

Matthew 12:34

You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.

Jesus said that in the last days, wolves would come dressed as sheep so we must be adept at discerning who is of the truth and who is not. Jesus said you would know the wolves (and the sheep) by their fruit. Yesterday, I sent you the test. It comes out of Colossians 3 and Galatians 5. Here is another way to tell the difference between those who say they follow Jesus from those who actually do. Check the fruit of their mouth.

No one who is of Christ lies. Period. End of story. Does that mean if a person ever tells one lie they are devil spawn? No. It means they relaxed their guard for a moment, perhaps have not been spending enough time with the Lord. However, a habitual liar or one who doesn’t have a strong relationship with the truth is not a Christ disciple. I’ve said it before, lying comes from the devil’s house. You can’t dance to his tune and be in harmony with Jesus.

Other language will give one away too. Is the person’s language kind, gentle, peaceful, patient, filled with goodness and faith? Or are their words harsh, critical, and judgmental. You can tell what is in a person’s heart by what comes out of their mouths.