(1 Corinthians 10:1-4)
In the book of Exodus, there is a passage referring to the actions of the Israelis after Passover. It says, “After the Passover Lamb . . . saved their life, they were led to freedom. Then they demonstrated their faith by walking through the sea.”
In a way, the obedience of the Israelis was like their baptism, similar to the baptism of a new believer in Jesus Christ. God was saying to Israel (as He was saying in our scripture reference to the early Christian church), “Look, once you take that first step, there’s no going back!” Once God brought the waters of the sea together again, there was no going back to slavery in Egypt. They had to walk forward on their journey of faith.
The same is true when we accept Christ. We are then to be baptized as a testimony of our faith in Christ. When we enter those baptismal waters, there’s no going back! We’ve determined to make it to the Promised Land . . . and with faith and by His grace, we will complete our journey with joy.
(James 1:17) “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
In 1674, an Anglican priest wrote a simple song of praise for his students at England’s Winchester College. Although the lyrics expressed praise to God for his wonderful blessings, he was careful to warn the boys to only sing the hymn in the privacy of their dorm rooms during their personal devotions.
At that time the church believed hymns should only include words directly from the Bible. Using your own lyrics was like adding words to Scripture. Blasphemy! “Praise should be words ‘consistent’ with Scripture,” they would say.
Fortunately this hymn, which is referred to as the Doxology today, was soon taken from the shadows and saw its popularity quickly spread. Do you catch the irony here? This hymn, first used in secret worship, quickly became the most frequently sung piece of music used in public worship. There is a lesson in this for us. Take the time and opportunity to make your secret praises public during this season of Thanksgiving.
What’s more important – doing great things for God, or doing small things for Him?
Many Christians have good intentions and a great passion for God, but it is a mistake to have our minds set only on pursuing lofty future adventures for Him – while neglecting the daily and constant battles of the Christian life. What good is it to do great things for the Lord a few times in our lives, and have no passion for the daily spiritual battle which He tells us to fight?
The word admonishes us to pray without ceasing (Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17), to overcome sin (Rom 12:21, Col 3:5), to daily take up our cross, and to die to ourselves (Luke 9:23, 1 Corinthians 15:31). Let your passion to do “big things” for God never overshadow your passion to daily live a life that is pleasing to Him.
(1 Peter 1:3-5)
Human beings have a fundamental need to feel safe and secure. The truth is, however, we are living in very uncertain times – times plagued by high unemployment, diminishing retirement accounts, terror threats, and record crime levels. That’s why remembering our eternal future is so important.
Don’t let daily demands and responsibilities overshadow the reality of eternal certainties and securities. Take time each day to refocus your mind and heart, and remember that the best is yet to come.
(Esther 4:14) “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (NKJV)
The big issue today is not understanding God’s power; it’s understanding God’s purpose. The reason, without His purpose His power is seldom needed. We often look for the right thing in the wrong place. When you’re fulfilling God’s purpose, you won’t have to worry about the power. When Esther realized her purpose, she also realized a real, hidden power. Esther‘s life story teaches us that everyone needs a purpose in life. We don’t just need a what; we need a why because life becomes meaningless, directionless, and powerless without it. There is no dimension of success that will take the place of a God-given purpose in life.
There are benefits to intentionally living life the way God wants us to. He will give us purpose, help us develop discipline, and give a vision that will sustain us.
(Psalm 139:1-6) “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”
When God Looked at the world He’d made, He declared it good. In fact, Genesis 1:27 summarizes the crowning achievement of His creative work: “God created man in His own image. . . .” Psalm 139 also reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v.14). The Lord has given each of His children great potential for service in His kingdom. However, some of us have serious doubts that this is true.
When we compare ourselves to other people, we notice the things we lack. At other times, we repeatedly criticize ourselves for mistake we’ve made. Consider Moses who killed an Egyptian and fled the country. Consider Paul who vehemently persecuted those who believed in Jesus. Consider Peter who denied three times that he knew Jesus. Our Father sees beyond our human frailties to the potential we have in Christ. Because we were made in God’s image and His Spirit dwells in us, we have a greater capacity for spiritual transformation and service than we could imagine. Seek to become the person God has equipped you to be.
Don’t hesitate to call God’s 911 hotline for help. You can tell God when you feel like you are running out of hope and energy and ideas that you need — “not words taught by human wisdom, but those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:13, 16).
If you are diagnosed with a deadly disease, are given devastating news about someone you love, or encounter a life-altering financial crisis, you will soon discover that your greatest enemy is not the disease but those subtle, slippery feelings of despair, the thieves of peace. It’s imperative that we come to rely heavily on God’s 911 service to get through these kinds of challenges, one day at a time.
Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, don’t hesitate to call 911 for God’s supply of wisdom, strength, and grace.