Youth Is No Excuse

Today’s reading on Thanksgiving is 2 Thessalonians 1-3 which is the entire, short book.

Paul is writing this letter to the church he founded in Thessalonica which is now part of northern Greece. In this letter Paul addresses how we must be ready for trouble and adversity from the Evil One before the Second Coming, as well as warning against idleness.  Since today is Thanksgiving, we will mostly focus on verses 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 where he gives thanks for them.

Thanksgiving

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,[a] as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

Who do you think of when you read this? Today’s young people…we will say 15-25 year old’s get a bad reputation for being on their phones all the time, having everything given to them, and for being lazy. I have to laugh though because the same people that criticize youth for having everything given to them or always getting a trophy are the same ones that gave these things to them! A little ironic…don’t you think?

Although most would say our society is moving away from Christian and Biblical values as a whole, I have recently taken notice of a growing number in the 15-25 year old age group who are very convicted in their faith and living in a way that aligns with the Bible’s instruction. They read their Bible, attend church regularly, typically are involved in a Bible study or small group, listen to Christian music, and are also committed to keeping sex sacred to the marriage relationship. While I don’t have any specific numbers to back how many or the growth so to speak, it seems to me it is occurring. I don’t know whether a poll would say the number in this age group who believe are growing, but is my personal observation that the ones who are believers are actually living out their faith through their actions more so than previous generations who would have said they were believers, too. I’m not trying to start a debate or call one generation better than another, but rather pointing this out so we take notice. Not only should we give them credit and give thanks for them, but we can learn from them and their example even (1 Timothy 4:12).

Why is this occurring in this age group despite society trying to tell this age group they don’t need God  or biblical values and are free to live however they feel? I believe it is for a couple reasons. First, I believe God has planted it in our hearts and minds to know what’s truly right and wrong. Secondly, I believe there is so much confusion about what is the truth, young people (and all of us for that matter) are attracted to the one place we can go for all truth which is the Bible.

When you woke up this Thanksgiving and thought about what you were grateful for today, I doubt this group of young people was on your list. However, will you join me today in thanking God for them and also praying that will continue to stay convicted in their faith despite the adversity and ridicule they are likely to face now and throughout their lifetime? This generation will shape our future.

Finding Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Today’s reading on Thanksgiving is John 21.

Is it easy or difficult to have a grateful heart this Thanksgiving? For most reading this 2020 has been very challenging and for many downright heartbreaking. For others, it may have actually been a year of many blessings strangely enough. Whichever group you are in, or maybe neither or a combination of both, I pray this Thanksgiving we call find contentment and joy in the blessings we do have.

Our reading today gives us 4 examples of God providing exactly what was needed when it was needed..even if those involved didn’t realize it before or even after.

  1. The disciples went out to fish at night sometime in the days or weeks after Jesus crucifixion and Resurrection. They fished all night and hadn’t caught anything. Was catching fish needed for their next day’s meal because they were out of food or to sell for money because they had no more? What stress were they under? We don’t know for sure, but we do know they were likely feeling frustrated from catching nothing when Jesus showed up at just the right time before daybreak and told them from the shore to throw down their nets on the right side (John 21:6). When they listened and obeyed, they caught so many fish their nets tore….153 to be exact (John 21:11).
  2. While eating breakfast with Peter, Jesus asked Peter 3 different times if he loved Jesus. Peter affirmed he did all 3 times. What’s the significance of this? Three is the same number of times Peter denied he knew Jesus after His arrest. Jesus knew the significance of Peter saying he loved him the same number of times as he previously denied him. He knew 3 times would likely be needed to make Peter feel he was fully forgiven and redeemed…even though belief in Jesus was all that is needed to be forgiven.
  3. Jesus then told Peter the way he would die which was to be crucified upside down in John 21:18-19. You may be asking yourself how Peter being martyred was exactly what was needed. Well, we are also told in these verses this was necessary to glorify God. Through it God has some plan. What we want and what we think is needed is not actually what’s always needed for God’s glory. However, that’s why He made each one of us…for His glory..even if we don’t always like how He does it. This is hard…but we must figure out how to trust fully trust in this and His love for us no matter what.
  4. We learn in John 21:22-23 from Jesus that John would not be martyred. Most historians agree that John was the only disciple that was not killed due to his belief in Jesus. While Peter and the other disciples may have been thinking while facing death for their belief how horrible it was or how unlucky they were, John may have been sitting on the island of Patmos where He was exiled for his belief wishing he died and was in Heaven. Or maybe he was wondering if He was not worthy enough to be killed for his faith like the other disciples. It’s all about perspective. Whatever you are going through…there is likely someone that would absolutely love to be you or have your life right now as hard to believe as that may seem. Whatever you are going through…it’s necessary for God’s glory. We now know John’s long life and exile to Patmos was necessary to write the book of Revelation to complete the Bible and tell about God’s ultimate restoration of brining Heaven and Earth together some day when there will be no more pain, crying, or sin (Revelation 21:4).

We see through these 4 examples in John 21 how what happened and what was given was exactly what was needed at the right time for God’s glory. Whatever you are going through right now which might be really tough, I’m sorry. I pray you know Jesus faced pain, sorrow, and rejection in his life too…and ultimately suffered and died for you for the forgiveness of your sins. I pray you can find contentment and gratitude in your circumstances and through His grace this Thanksgiving…perhaps even joy.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Faithful Prayers

Today’s Readings: 1 Kings 14; Colossians 1; Ezekiel 44; Psalms 97–98

As Paul faithfully writes his letter to the church of Colosse I’m reminded of the power of prayer.  The impact Christians can have on your neighborhood, community and around the world through prayer is limitless.  Our love for God should be mirrored for other Christians so we can lift up others everywhere. Paul’s timely prayer was meant to influence the Colossians to be wise and remind them to use their knowledge to learn more about Him and put what they learned into action by helping others. These words of love can influence us into action today.

I can often pray for the day, family, small group requests, and other situations that influence my heart or thoughts throughout the day. Paul teaches us how to pray for other Christians. This intentional letter and prayer is important as we pray for missionaries, pastors, and leaders around the world who influence hearts through the Holy Spirit. There is much pain around the US and around the world and our prayers to God are necessary to give thanks, wisdom,and love to others.The Tyndale Life Application Study Bible shares a study pattern by Paul for prayers to other Christians that I thought was simple and God filled.

  1. Be thankful for their faith and changed lives (Col. 1:3).
  2. Ask God to help them know his will (Col. 1:9).
  3. Ask God to give them spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9).
  4. Ask God to help them live to honor and please him (Col. 1:10).
  5. Ask God to give them more knowledge of himself (Col. 1:10).
  6. Ask God to give them strength for endurance and patience (Col. 1:11).
  7. Ask God to fill them with joy and thankfulness (Col. 1:12).

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col. 1:9-10)

As believers we all have these same basic needs.  These seven steps can help other Christians grow spiritually in order to make a difference in those they influence.

How many people in your life could be touched if you prayed in this way? 

Dear God,  Thank you for who you are,  and the grace you have given us in order to continue to go out into the world and share your love.  We pray for all Christians here and around the world to keep you Lord at the center of all we do.  Give our leaders, missionaries, and pastors the wisdom to be able to share your story with others.  Give them the patience and endurance to withstand the enemy and continue to build your kingdom until you return.  Thank you for the joy we have because of who you are.  Amen

I’m bored Mommy

Today’s reading: Numbers 11; Psalm 48; Isaiah 1; Hebrews 9

May 4th, 2016

im bored mommy

And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. – Numbers 11:1

This is a good reminder to how God responds to complainers. God’s anger is kindled when His people complain. Does this seem a bit extreme to you?

A housewife was overheard correcting her daughter. The daughter slipped and complained. “I’m bored.” she said. “We do not say such things my child.”, the housewife’s tone changed as if to keep the child from running into the street. She explained to the child, “Such things are offensive to the Creator. His creation is more than enough for us to enjoy.” Hearing the conversation the goodman of the house reinforced the truth, “He has given us everything my daughter.” The goodman and the housewife and the daughter went off to explore God’s creation in all its glory; the intricacies, the details, and the vastness of wisdom contained in single view kept them in awe until the thought of boredom had been chased far, far away, never to return in the presence of the truth.

The eyes of all wait upon thee; And thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, And satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways,

And holy in all his works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, To all that call upon him in truth. – Psalm 145:15–18

May we all be in awe and may our children always be captivated by Your creation. May we all have trust in You.

Extra credit:

  • Consider Psalm 23:1, “The LORD is my Shephard, I shall not want.” Is this a statement about a a Santa Clause in the sky who is always ready with shinny things? Or could this be a statement about our trust in God? Sheep are an interesting sort, consistently going astray to seek out greener pastures.
  • Some commands to consider as we trust in the LORD with thankfulness:
    • In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
    • And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. – Colossians 3:17
    • Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into his courts with praise: Be thankful unto him, and bless his name. – Psalm 100:4
    • This is the day which the Lord hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
    • Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, – Romans 1:21–23