Theologian Albert Barnes once said, “There is nothing more foolish than an act of wickedness; there is no wisdom equal to that of obeying God.” Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m so glad I…!” or, “I wish I didn’t…!” The Bible is filled with story after story of those who made both wise and unwise decisions, and the consequences of their choices. And from them we learn when we first seek the Lord, we save ourselves from a life filled with regret. Because God’s advice is perfect and His wisdom unmatched. And by applying practical principles we can receive His wonderful counsel, and great wisdom. These include surrendering our will to His, meditating on His Word, spending time in prayer, having patience in waiting to hear from Him, and trusting completely in the answer He gives. Gods knows our story from beginning to end. And if we ask Him, will guide us perfectly through every situation!
As one of His last acts before His sacrifice on the Cross, the Lord performed a task usually reserved for the lowest slaves in the house. He knelt and began to cleanse the feet of the disciples. Such an expression of self sacrifice, Jesus did as an example of humble love. Throughout His life on earth, everything Jesus did He did in love. And He made it perfectly clear that we are to do the same. But such a calling isn’t easy. For undoubtedly as soon as you make a commitment to love others, along a person will come as a test to your resolve. But the goal of the Christian walk is to become transformed into the image of Christ. And God never calls us to go it alone, nor to do what He asks in our own strength. Our strength comes from the power of the Holy Spirt. And through His power we can walk like Jesus and serve others joyfully and humbly. Our strength comes from the power of the Holy Spirt. And through His power we walk like Jesus and serve others joyfully and humbly.
One of the things I love most about God is His great love for us. There is nothing we can do, buy, or earn to climb our way to the Father. So He climbed down to us. Our mighty King traded His majestic throne in heaven for a bed of wood and hay. The Lamb of God came as a humble, helpless child, but the Lion of Judah will return as our conquering King and Ruler of all. Jesus made it clear that the life of a Christian will be filled with trials, persecution, and peril. Yet for those who stand strong in their faith until the end, no matter the circumstances, God promises deliverance from their enemies. And even better, a life spent by His side filled with eternal love and peace. As we bring this turbulent year to a close, the holiday season is a much needed time of joy, thankfulness, and festivities. And while we celebrate the glorious birth of our Savior, it is also the perfect time to celebrate His promise to save all who persevere!
It’s easy to have a deep and obedient faith when God answers our prayers exactly the way we want. But what about when He doesn’t? The prophet Habakkuk cried out to God to deal with the wickedness of Judah. But when God’s answer was the nation’s destruction, Habakkuk couldn’t understand the Lord’s reasoning. Have you ever felt like that? Unable to understand why God’s answer to your prayer would involve suffering? In Isaiah 55:8-9 we are told that the thoughts and ways of God are higher than our human brains can comprehend. So even if we don’t understand His methods, we can trust that God uses all things for our good. (Rom. 8:28) That’s what faith is all about! Trusting that even though this life is filled with trials and suffering, and we don’t have all the answers, we can still praise God. For He is our strength and our joy. And in His perfect love will never let us falter, carrying our feet to high places of safety!
Even those that have never read a Bible can recite the beautiful song of comfort written by David in Psalm 23. And its words remind me of a quote that says, “You’ll never have enough until you’re grateful for what you have.” In a world that tells us to always want more, gratitude is in short supply. But as followers of Jesus, thankfulness should be a way of life. Because although we might not have everything we want, as precious sheep in the flock of Jesus, we have everything we need. The Lord is our Good Shepherd who knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. And when we trust in Him, He promises to perfectly care for each of His children. The wolves around us may howl and try to lead us astray. But we are under the constant, watchful, eye of the Lord. And when we trust in Him to lead, care for, and provide, we can lie down in peace in His green pastures.
Relationships take work. Whether it’s our relationship with God or others, they need a foundation of trust, honesty, love, and repentance to stand strong. Satan is in the business of tearing down, not building up. And he loves nothing more than to form cracks in those foundations through harsh words, misunderstandings, and unforgiving spirits. So when we flee from our problems instead of dealing with them head on, it opens the door for the Enemy to do his worst. When Nehemiah was facing an assignation threat, his friends advised him to hide out in the temple. But he replied, “Should a man like me flee?” (Neh. 6:11) Nehemiah understood that as believers we should always face every problem head on. Standing firm in the faith that the Lord will uphold the righteous. And believing He will give us the power to confront each one in courage and wisdom!
1 Thessalonians 4:18
To comfort the believers in Thessalonica, Paul describes what will happen when Jesus returns for His church. “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16-17) This beautiful promise is known as the Rapture. And it’s the fulfillment of the promise Jesus made in John 14:1-3 to prepare a place where we will be with Him forever. In God’s perfect timing, Jesus will come for us and take us to our eternal home. Could there be more comforting words! In our new glorified bodies, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk. No more will we experience pain, sickness, or decay. Our bodies will be perfect in every way!
One of the things I love most about the Psalms is the way they convey the hurts, joys, hopes, and sorrows of every Christian. And in Psalm 6, the pain David feels resonates deep inside my heart. Because I too know the anguish of sinning against God. The brokenness of realizing what a mess I’ve made, and the despair of the consequences that are sure to follow. Like David, I have felt the wretchedness that comes from disobedience to God. How the shame literally manifests into physical pain, from deep in my heart to deep in my bones. But also like David, I trust in the mercy, promises, and love of God. I know that even though I’m not, God is good all of the time. The Lord knows my heart. And when I come bowed before Him in humility, He sees my sorrow. And in my repentance, He graciously welcomes me back to a place I don’t deserve; into His loving arms. Restoring me with all joy and peace, and abounding me in hope! (Rom. 15:13)
1 John 5:11
I am thankful that the evidence of the gospel is all around me
Evangelist Ray Comfort wrote, “Atheists who keep asking for evidence of God’s existence are like a fish in the ocean wanting evidence of water.” When witnesses testify in court they swear to to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth. But unfortunately we know that people and their promises can’t always be trusted. That’s not the case with God. We can trust that He is always true, honest, and faithful to keep His word. Throughout the Old Testament we read the glorious testimony of God promising a Messiah who would come to save the world. And that promise came true with the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And the evidence to back it up? God Himself, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. All testify that Christ is the One and only Son of God. And those who reject this testimony are in fact calling God a liar.
1 John 3:1
I am thankful to call God my Father
Jesus came to be our perfect substitute. Taking our place, He paid our sin debt allowing us to be redeemed to the Father. Because of His sacrifice we are not only forgiven of our sins, freed from the burden of the Law, we are also adopted as sons and daughters into God’s heavenly family forever. Imagine that! No longer called slaves, but heirs to the kingdom through the blood of Christ. But it gets even better. In one of my favorite verses Paul says, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:6) Abba is an Aramaic term which closely translated means Daddy. What a privilege to be able to call God, Daddy! As sinners on our own we can never be worthy of being in His family. But because of Jesus not only does God accept us, He calls us His own. And in this gift giving season, God’s gift of adoption is one I am forever thankful for.