1Cor 12 It is December, and that means Christmas is coming! God gave us the best Christmas gift ever when He sent His Son Jesus. But, God also plans ahead and He had your name on a special gift; the Spirit to reside with you FOREVER AND EVER!
Jesus said: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” [Jn 14:16] He is our permanent teacher, not just on Christmas morning but FOREVER! and EVER! In addition, Jesus prayed that; ” But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.” [Jn 14:26] And then in 1Cor 12, we read that the Spirit gives; better than Santa! He also distributes; not to just good boys and girls but to every saved believer as He wills. He works all these things for His glory and that we might edify others and especially the church. There may be a diversity of gifts, but the same Spirit who does all of this and more, and we are to receive each one gratefully.
Since eternity the Spirit has been actively distributing gifts, and you are blessed to have received His gift, whether it be knowledge or wisdom or the gift of x, y, z as he gave to Daniel.
Do you know your gift? Do others recognize that you have been anointed with the Holy Spirit? Are you grateful for the gifts He has given to you?
John 6 Today we are bombarded with trinkets, gifts, and so on and in fact so much that we have become the “gimme” generation, and this is not new. In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman and dialogs with her about living water. She says, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” [Jn 4:15] Now Jesus feeds the 5000, and soon after, they come to him and say, give me the manna that does not quit just like the manna our forefathers had in the wilderness. Jesus reminded them: “I tell you the solemn truth; you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate all the loaves of bread you wanted.” [Jn 6:26] Translation: you want something free, and you are not grateful for what you have been given.
In both cases, each wanted something for nothing, and so Jesus tells them about work. “So then they said to him, “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?” Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires—to believe in the one whom he sent.” [Jn 6:28-29] Paul reminded the Corinthians, which is a reminder to us as well: “These things happened as examples for us so that we will not crave evil things as they did.” [1Cor 10:6]
Challenge: Am I a “gimme” person, or am I a person who is grateful for what I have received?
2Chron 33 There is nothing like hooks in your nose, bronze chains, and extradition to a foreign land; a prison cell, cold gruel, day-old bread, and water to awaken your senses, and that is what happened to King Manasseh. He then “realized that the Lord is the true God” and repented. It was because of the mercy of God that he was released and returned to his kingdom. God’s mercy is overflowing!
God has placed this event to remind us that it begins with how you pay attention to the Lord and His Word. A word of caution here: his sin, just like ours, does impact family and children. His unrepentant son Amon is proof of that.
The Chronicler records these words: the annals record all his sins and unfaithful acts, and identify the sites where he built high places and erected Asherah poles and idols “before he humbled himself.” [2Chron 33:19] Mark that last phrase: he humbled himself, and that is what God is seeking.
You can listen and repent now, or you can do it later, but beware because God doesn’t guarantee there will be a tomorrow. Unfortunately, Amon learned that lesson the hard way; his life ended in an assassination.
What do we do to keep memories alive and fresh? We keep diaries, journals, and we rehearse orally. Yet, as so often happens, the succeeding generation, just like today, forgets, and the glory days quickly fade from memory. The Israelites were to enter a time of testing that God allowed. He did this “to test Israel…whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk in it as their fathers did, or not.” [Judges 2:22]
When the older generation passes on, we want to recall the benefits of their wisdom, so we rehearse that we may glean what insight they left us. That is what the Israelites needed. They needed a new commitment to God and His ways. But as so often the case, the hearts of the people failed and became short-sighted. They forgot how God had protected them. The author of Judges asks us to stop and recall the past, where it was when Joshua died, and what happened after and learn the lessons of a fading memory. Recall Joshua’s words: you are disobedient children, and what you say, you will not do. How quickly we forget.
Are we sharing the past with our children? Are we teaching them the lessons of the past? Are we asking: how is this relevant to me today?
Deut 17 God knew the Israelite kings would lose sight of Him because most of their wants were selfish. That is why God gave the king some parameters to keep their focus heavenward, not here on earth. Like the king, the Israelites were not satisfied with just manna. They wanted meat a.k.a. horses, women, and money. That is why God reminded them to not multiply them.
When Jesus came on the scene, people were looking to be fed what the world would give rather than the Bread of Life come down from heaven. In fact, while Jesus served here on earth, he often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Not one responded I want to be more like you. Not one responded, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I lack nothing.” Not one responded I am more blessed to give than receive.
It is not wrong to ask God for things because He is our heavenly Father; “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.” [James 1:17] God does tell us to ask for His provision in our life as well as other things. However, when we ask with wrong motives, so we may spend it on our selfish pleasures; God is not pleased.[James 4]
Are you prepared to ask God what He wants for you and not what you want?
Is your heart right before God as you enter your closet to pray?
Deut 14 to 16 We set aside different dates to remember various events, and soon we will remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. God set aside dates so the Israelites would recall events in their past and how the God of their provision was a God of promise. It is a privilege to know that one is chosen and elected to serve the most Holy God of the universe; thus, each date is to be a celebration of what God has accomplished.
As we celebrate, may we also remember the poor among us who have little to bring to the altar of sacrifice. We who have much are then to give out of our abundance to supply what the poor lack. We must not “must not harden our heart or be insensitive to his impoverished condition. Instead, open your hand and generously lend him whatever he needs.” [Deut 15:7]
Today many are poor due to extenuating circumstances due to the COVID. Today, some are in our communities, some in our churches, and some are homeless as they have lost all. Our hearts must be open to giving and giving wherever God reveals. We must remember that God is the God of provision, and He has blessed us beyond measure so that we might be able to reach out and touch the lives of those who in need.
Numbers 11 Are you a complainer? Complaining is another way of saying we are ungrateful. The Israelites had left Egypt with an abundance of materials of gold and silver and leaders that led them faithfully. Yet, the people began to be weary and with weariness began complaining. Complaining is like a plague; it infects the whole lot.
Complaining only selectively remembers the past. The Israelites began to recall the past of their lives in Egypt. Complaining is Satan’s favorite tool. He offers the sweet without the sour. He taints our memory to say it was not so bad. He wants you to remember the glory without the ugliness. That is Satan’s tool. It is what we call the selective memory syndrome. Your memory only remembers the good, and glorifies the bad. These Israelites began to think slavery was not so bad after all and began to remember the delicious foods that were abundant. Like them, we forget the ugliness of our sin and forget the price Jesus paid to release us from that sin. Beware of Satan’s tools; don’t fall into his trap and begin to whine with the “oh, woe is me” prayer.
The next time you feel a complaining infection setting in, go to God. Seek His face, seek his forgiveness for your complaining and then watch Him work.
Leviticus 1 to 4 Genesis and Exodus are books of the historical record of the Israelites and the three pictures of His presence:
The hovering cloud by day
The pillar of fire by night
The Tabernacle’s placement in the middle of the camp
Now in Leviticus, we find God calling the people and how to have a personal access to Him through the sacrificial system. Also, it will teach us how to be spiritually acceptable to God with clear instructions on how to be holy and reverent. For the Israelites to be a holy people, they must stop worshiping dead idols, a.k.a. the golden calf, and turn to the abiding, living true God, [1Thess 1:9] Have we also taken this step?
The sacrifices reminded the sinner of the costliness of sin and the needed atonement for forgiveness. The sacrificial system used an animal who became the sinner’s substitute, but now Jesus is our sinless substitute. The animal’s blood paid the price for the sinful person, but the perfect unblemished Lamb of God’s blood cleanses the sinner from all unrighteousness. Sinners transferred their sin to the animal, but now, we transfer our sin to Jesus. We are reminded that we were once dead in our trespasses but now are alive from the dead. Now, as cleansed sinners saved by grace, we are to present our bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is our reasonable service–not in payment for sin but as instruments to be used for righteousness. [Rom 6:13].
Our world is consumed with protecting investments. Seminars are replete with: give me your money and I will invest it and bring you dollars untold. As Paul closes this personal letter to Timothy he leaves him with one charge and it has nothing to do with the investment of money. Instead, he charged Timothy and us in turn, to invest and protect the gospel message. We are to “protect what has been entrusted to [us].” [2Tim 1:14]
He has entrusted us with the precious gospel message. We are to protect it because it is the life-giving message of hope. Practically we protect or guard this investment by being vigilant or intentional to stand firm in the faith. We conduct ourselves as a model of purity and righteousness. We are to be a Christ-like model in speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity being conscious about how we live and what we teach. Intentionally we are to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness.” [1Tim 6:11] And we are to do it until “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…” who is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”[1Tim 6:15-16]
We, who are believers, are charged with being the guardians of the TRUTH. How are we at guarding the investment Christ has left us?
Advent Series #2 1John 3 to 5 Compassion is the trait of sharing and caring for others in their time of need. The Apostle John lived his last years in Ephesus, but his heart is seen for the prisoners he ate, slept, and worked with on the Isle of Patmos. He never mentions that time other than in Revelation, but we can see his heart in this letter.
First, he recalls some have lost loved ones to death, and he mourns with them. He reminds them that if they were believers, they have entered eternity coming face to face with Christ. Don Wyrtzen wrote a hymn that shares this sentiment:
“But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven! Of touching a hand and finding it God’s! Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial! Of waking up in glory-And finding it home!”
The Apostle John wants us to keep the gospel message alive, and we do it as we “love other Christians.” After years of brutality as a prisoner himself, John could have been bitter. Instead, he comes alongside us to ask: how can you say that the love of God resides in you if you lack compassion for those in need?
It may be Advent, but the message is the same all year round: Christ is the gift God has given to us, and we are to share that gift with others.