We should always have an attitude of gratitude. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above. (James 1:17) This starts with the Good News (salvation) and continues as long as we are in the flesh. We have a hope laid up for us in heaven and the blood of Jesus assures us of that inheritance. We can talk about God or gods and we may not get much reaction. But, when we mention the name of Jesus, there is always a reaction of some sort. The name itself calls for acceptance or denial. The name of Jesus always produces results one way or the other. With acceptance comes salvation and understanding of the love and kindness of God. So thank God continuously for his goodness and mercy toward us. If He did nothing more than save us, that is far more than we deserve. Jesus does not treat us as we deserve, but shows us mercy every day.
We have all heard the story many times of couples that live together for years. As time passes, they take on each other’s attitudes and characteristics. They even get to the point that they can finish each other’s sentences. As we spend time with our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, we do the same thing. We start to take on His characteristics of grace, godliness, affection, and His love for others. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to finish God’s sentences? We will never get to that point, but we can become more like Him every day, if we will just commit to spending time with Him and meditating on His Word. After You have talked to Him, allow plenty of time for Him to talk to You. He has a lot to tell you and He has an unending stream of love that He wants to lavish on you. Be still, wait on Him to speak, and really, really listen. When just knowing about Him isn’t enough and you get to the point of wanting to know HIM, your attitude toward others and your outlook on life will begin to change for the better.
As we spend more time with God, we are slowly being changed into His image.
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. — Luke 1:31 NLT
To anyone who knows anything about the Bible this is a very familiar story. The angel of the Lord appears to a young girl named Mary and prophesies to her that even though she is a virgin she will give birth to a son without ever having sexual relations with a man. Not even considering the legal and social ramifications, this is an amazing announcement. How is this young girl to understand this? She is being told by an angel (which I understand could be quite a frightening sight) that something that has never been known to happen before and will never happen again is about to happen to her. We can’t know what experiences or situations she had been through before but somehow God had chosen her and prepared her for this occasion. Mary trusted God to do exactly what Gabriel said. When God speaks to us, whether it be through an angel, His Word, His people, a dream or a vision, do we have the faith to take Him at His Word and act on it? Even if that action could result in us being put in a situation where we could very easily be ridiculed and cast out? Or do we say this can’t possibly be God and He can’t possibly be asking me to do this? God needs those that are willing to be world-changers no matter the cost here on earth. He has a plan for each of us and He is asking us to participate in His work, Are willing and ready to do so? If we are and we say yes, God will take provide the ability and the resources. Do we trust Him to do that?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
28 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.”
29 “Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.”30 And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone. — Mark 7:28-30 NLT
Hearing the words that Jesus had just spoken to her, it would have been understandable if this woman would have just crawled out of the room and left without receiving anything from Jesus. But instead she suffered the humiliation and showed great humility by humbling herself before Jesus. She told Jesus, I am not asking for the best, your leftovers will be more than sufficient to fulfill my needs. Because of her humble response, Jesus answered her request and healed her daughter. Is there a request in our lives that Jesus hasn’t fulfilled? Is it possible that our “unanswered” prayers only appear to be unanswered because we refuse to humble ourselves before the Lord? Is it possible that God can’t say “yes” because we refuse to say “yes” to His request? Is it possible that we will only accept our preconceived notion as the answer and we miss what God is trying to do in our lives? In this instance, Jesus first said “no” (which is an answer) but then because of her humbleness and persistence, He said “yes”. God always answers every prayer, just because we don’t like the answer doesn’t mean He didn’t hear and answer us. We need to be like the Phoenician woman, we need to be persistent but humble. If we give God a good answer, He will give us a good answer.
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. — 1 Peter 5:6, 7 NLT
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world? — Matt. 24:3 NLT
Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven with His promise of returning, people have asked the question — When? The disciples had even questioned Jesus about this before His death and resurrection. Is when important and if so, why is it important? If we knew for sure Jesus was coming back at the end of this month, would it make a difference? Would it cause us to be more diligent in witnessing to our family, friends and neighbors? Would we be more committed to living a Holy lifestyle? Would it change our priorities? Would we gather our families around us and hold on to them tightly? Would we mourn or rejoice? Would we say. “even so, Lord, come quickly” or would we ask Him for a few more days to be sure our families were all saved? If we are truly honest with ourselves, would it really make any difference? If it would, then why doesn’t it make a difference even now? Only the Father knows when Jesus will return and only the Father knows when each of us will leave here. Since we don’t know either of these times, doesn’t it make sense to assume that it is today and live our lives accordingly? Shouldn’t we live each day seeking first the Kingdom of God and trust God to take care of the rest? If we could get to that point, then peace would overflow our hearts and life here on earth would be “joy unspeakable and full of glory”! Then “when” would become unimportant.
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. — 1 Peter 1:8, 9 NKJV
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? — James 4:11, 12 NIV
If there is an area in the life of a Christian where we sin daily, and shall I dare say it, deliberately, it is in our thoughts and our words. It is hard to look at someone and not immediately form some sort of opinion of that person before we even get to know them. We are told over and over how important first impressions are in this world. As Chritsians, we need to pray for discernment and patience before forming opinions of others. We need to predetermine that we are going to love the people we meet every day. When we love someone, we usually give them the advantage of any doubts we have about their goodness. We need to assume that they are good and show them the same respect we want them to show to us. We should look at every person, regardless of their station or situation, with the assumption that they are innocent until proven guilty. We should assume everyone is worthy of our love and affection until they prove by their words and actions that they are not. We need to pray that we will see others with the eyes of Jesus, hear their words with the ears of Jesus and above all, filter every thought through the love of Jesus.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: — Phil. 2:3, 4 NIV
What a wonderful world it could be, if each of us, each day, strived to have the same attitude toward others that Jesus has for us.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. — Hebrews 11:24-28 NIV
Every day, we make choices about the things in our lives. A lot of those decisions are almost robotic or habitual. We do this at this time because we always have. Some decisions require us to actually consciously think about them before we decide what to do. Every now and then, we have what we refer to as “big” decisions. These are the things that affect our lives today and in the future. Some of those decisions will be irreversible and affect all the people in our circles of influence whether we want them to or not. Some of us will be given opportunities to make world-changing decisions, maybe all of us. Do you think Moses had any idea that his decision that day was a world changer? To him at that time, it was probably a small decision that only affected the lives of a few people. But, consider this, “what if” Moses had not made the decision he made. “What if”, he had decided that he liked the riches and the glory of Egypt more than his people, what would have happened? Reminisce with me today. Let’s think back over our lives, how many “what if” times have we had? How many times has God given us opportunities to change our little corner of the world and we made the wrong decision? The next person the Holy Spirit nudges us to witness to could be God’s choice to be the Moses or the Billy Graham of the next generation. “What if” we don’t follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and talk to that person about salvation? Today, let’s make a renewed commitment to be faithful in following the leadership of the Holy Spirit and encourage those around us. Let’s be faithful in the “little” things because “what if” there aren’t really any “little” things in our lives? Now is “the time” and where you are is “the place” to make that “big” decision!
14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” — Esther 4:14 NIV