In the parable of the Sower in the 13th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus was referring to the scattering of the seed, God’s word. As it is dispersed everywhere throughout the world, it also falls in places where it has little or no effect at all. The seed that fell among the thorns is the one place which I believe mostly concerns God’s children. Jesus explained it this way: “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.”(vs 22) The King James Version says it this way: “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” The first (NIV) implies that God’s Word becomes unfruitful and the latter (KJV) says that the person becomes unfruitful.
Whether it is the effect of God’s Word which becomes unfruitful or we ourselves, this message should be clear: The cares of this life can cause us to either stray from God or else lose the joy of our salvation. Jesus did not suggest that we should completely ignore life’s issues. We should all attend to our needs and obligations. Without a doubt, a lot of our time has to be devoted to our jobs, careers, family, health issues, or other things. What we cannot do, however, is to let them become bigger or more important than our relationship with God. All pastors have seen this in the lives of their members. They know many who stopped attending church and then serving God altogether to attend to “more important” matters.
We have arrived at the time of year, which to me is the one where many of God’s children slip up, namely the Christmas season, or as the world calls it, the holiday season. Many of us can get too busy and focus more than we should on things such as shopping for the right gifts, planning or making preparations for parties, special meals, Christmas events, even sending out Christmas cards. Then , of course, we, tend to worry more than we should about the weight we will gain or the financial mess we’ll get into. When all is said and done, Christmas will come and go and some of us may realize that the “most wonderful time of the year” was not all that wonderful. Because we are human, we must ask God to help us not to fall into this end-of-the-year trap, to really capture the joy God intended for all people everywhere to have when He announced that His Son had come into the world. It is wonderful that Jesus was born for us, but more wonderful still that He lives today.
God’s word for today: (Psalm 5:11) “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”
A penciled note with these words was taped to the front door of my daughter’s house recently: “Dear neighbor, I wanted to say sorry for ringing your doorbell and running away yesterday, Sincerely, your neighbor Nicholas.” (some words were misspelled) It appears that the accompanying note from the mother was written afterward. It read: “I wanted my son to apologize in person. Unfortunately, you weren’t home. I am truly sorry (and embarrassed) by his behavior. Respectfully, Melanie.” I suspect that different thoughts came to mind with our readers when they read about this incident but I trust that it first warmed your heart and reinforced the idea that there is still hope for our world today.
Many people still believe in the idea that children should be seen and not heard. I think that Jesus’ Disciples were in that group during his earthly ministry. In particular, I am thinking about the account in the 10th Chapter of Mark where we read about some parents bringing their children to Jesus hoping He would bless them. The Disciples, mistakenly thinking that their Master had no time to bother with them, rebuked the parents because of it. We read in verses 14-15: “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
To me, to receive the kingdom of God like a little child begins with the simple trust a child has in his parents, childlike faith, if you will. Very much like we saw in my daughter’s little neighbor, it includes making a sincere effort to right our wrongs. To many, it was really not that big a deal and did not merit an apology. One thing this little boy learned, however, was that he hurt his mom first. When she insisted he apologize for his wrong, he was probably also reminded that whenever he commits a wrong in the future, she again will be the first one to be hurt. Is it any different for us as the children of God? When we sin or offend someone, don’t we sin first against our Heavenly Father? It is His name we dishonor and whose reputation we mar first. And if we Love Him the most, should we not want to honor Him and not displease Him? As strange as it may sound to many people, we can all sometimes learn a thing or two from children.
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 103:17) “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children.”
How good are you at giving directions? While I was at a local mall store waiting for my wife to complete a purchase yesterday, the lady behind her answered her phone and started trying to give directions to her friend that was at the same store but in another section. The lady was probably a minute away but it took her friend several minutes to tell her exactly where she was. She kept saying “Just keep going past the Jewelry section.” What she didn’t realize was that her friend could have gone past that section in four different directions. She was getting frustrated that her friend didn’t understand her and one time even said “I’m over here!” If she had told her at the beginning that she was at the service counter where the winter coats and jackets were, it would have taken her less than ten seconds and her friend would have arrived in less than a minute.
That scene reminded me a of a testimony Billy Graham shared many years ago. He told the story of a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter in those days, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, "If you will come to church tonight, I will tell you how you can get to Heaven." The little boy thought about it for a moment and said, "No, thank you, sir, I don’t think I will be there. You don’t even know how to get to the post office!"
Regardless of how good we are at giving directions on earth, as children of God we should be able to tell others how to get to Heaven. In the 14th Chapter of John, we read where Jesus was telling His Disciples that He was going back to Heaven and that, while there, He was going to prepare a place for them so they could be with Him one day. He added: “You know the way to the place where I am going.” (verse 4) When Thomas replied: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”, (vs 5) Jesus answered: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (vs 6) Thomas had to have been a special man if Christ called him to be His Disciple, yet He couldn’t figure out that when Jesus told them He was going to His Father’s house, He really meant Heaven. Perhaps that was the reason he didn’t know where his Master was going. That is why Jesus made this as plain as plain can be: If we know Him, we know the way to Heaven. What? I’m sure you didn’t think the Lord would save us and then leave it up to us to see if we could find our own way to Heaven. It’s as if Christ is telling us: “Don’t worry about getting to Heaven, I’ll take you there myself.” How simple is that? Want to get your friends and loved ones to join you in Heaven someday. Tell them about Jesus! Now, those are simple directions.
God’s promise for today: (Luke 10:20) “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”
You hear it in songs, you read it in poems, the idea that if the person you love the most, loves you back, nothing else matters. I was thinking about that truth recently as I heard an old song I hadn’t heard in years. It’s first stanza goes this way: “The snow is snowing / the wind is blowing / But I can weather the storm! / What do I care how much it may storm? / I've got my love to keep me warm.” The message of that tune is obvious: Bad days, problems of every kind, even strong cold winds don’t matter much when the love of our life loves us. That is especially true regarding God’s love for us.
Perhaps, that is what the Apostle John had in mind when he wrote: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) If we’re honest we’ll all admit that fear plays a bigger part in our lives than it should. We fear things such as our finances, health, jobs, relationships, old age, even the day of tomorrow, and that can be understandable. Nevertheless, we should not let those thoughts cause us to forget that if God is with us and loves us, these things really don’t matter all that much. Living in constant fear torments the soul, or at least robs us of our peace of mind, and that is not God’s plan for our lives. In fact, Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to earth so that we could have abundant lives. To live with continual worry or constant fear can never be considered an abundant life.
With this country still reeling from the effects of the depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said these now famous words to the American people in his 1933 Inaugural address : “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” I believe that, in Christ, this goes even deeper. We should not even be afraid to be afraid. What I mean is that worrisome or fearful thoughts will pop up from time to time. Let them come. When it does happen, however, those very thoughts should immediately point us to a greater truth that nullifies it all, the truth that God loves us. To me, the clincher to that truth is what Paul wrote in closing the 8th Chapter of Romans where he said that there is absolutely nothing or no one who can separate us from the love of God. This includes whatever fears we may have about our health, finances, jobs, or any other thing. Remember Tom Hank’s line in the movie, “A League Of Their Own”, “There’s no crying in baseball”? Well, I don’t know about that one. I do know that this one is true: There is no fear in Love. God’s perfect love drives it out.
God’s promise for today: (Romans 8:31 KJV) “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
These two opening verses in the 18th Chapter of Genesis typify a situation that occurs often in life: “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” This is just a small part of a longer and more complicated story, but in these two verses we see Rachel threatening her husband, Jacob, that if he did not give her any children, she would die. He, being the typical husband, lashes our in anger and frustration because he knows that he’s done all he could so that she would have children. She was obviously wrong in trying to pin the blame on her husband, and he did wrong by not being more patient and understanding. Nevertheless, the point I’m trying to make is that people every where, perhaps we ourselves have done it, often blame their woes on the innocent.
In Rachel’s case, it was God who had decided when she would have children of her own. If you know the story, you know that she later gave birth to two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. The attitude she displayed on that day is very closely related to the sin of blaming others for all our problems. This biblical account reminded me of the wife of one of my closest friends at the Post Office. When he was at the point of death, she kept yelling out to him not to leave her. Even after he did, she kept yelling out bitterly saying “you promised you would never leave me!” Obviously, my friend couldn’t have stayed, even if he had wanted and of course, his dear wife was overcome with grief on that day. Nevertheless, that scene impacted me so much, I later gathered my wife and children to plead with them never to do that to me. I suppose that in these cases, many of those who are about to leave their loved ones are already dealing with a broken heart. It would be cruel, therefore, to add to their grief by pleading with them not to leave, as if they have a say in the matter.
We all have, or will have, our share of troubles but we must never forget Who is in control of all things and directs all our steps. In the end, God decides what will happen to us. If we have any gripes or complaints about anything in our lives, we have the right to bring them to Him. After all, it is He who let it happen. Besides, He can take it. What we don’t have a right to do is to blame others for our misfortunes, especially the innocent. If you’ve committed that wrong, I trust you will ask forgiveness, first from God and then from those you’ve offended. We already need God’s grace to help us carry our everyday burdens. Why would we want to add to them?
God’s Word for today: (Psalm 37:23 KJV) “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delighteth in his way.”
We can add Hebrews 12:2 to the multitude of things we can learn from Jesus. The NLV (New Life Version) says it this way: “Let us keep looking to Jesus. Our faith comes from Him and He is the One Who makes it perfect. He did not give up when He had to suffer shame and die on a cross. He knew of the joy that would be His later. Now He is sitting at the right side of God.” The writer of Hebrews, quite possibly Paul, is reminding us to look to Christ as an example regarding the matter of enduring life’s difficult trials. Obviously, the thought of the future glory that would be His, after suffering the pain, anguish, heartbreak, and shame of His appointment with the cross at Calvary, helped to supply Him with the grace and strength He needed in order to endure.
With this example in mind, anytime I find myself facing a difficult appointment, I always focus on the following hour or day. In other words, I look beyond the trial. I’m always aware that the Lord will be with me every step of the way, and know that I will overcome and make it safely to the other side. Isn’t the method of looking beyond better than dwelling on the impending trial itself ?
How about you? Is there an appointment up ahead that worries you, even strikes fear in your heart? Has it caused you to lose some sleep, even lose your appetite? Look unto Jesus! Because He was victorious, you will be too. Remember that in Christ, everything ends well. That’s what is implied in the favorite bible verse of many of you: “And we knowthat all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Permit me to remind you again: Don’t focus on that difficult event or trial up ahead, look beyond it. To borrow a line from an old hymn of the faith, “There’s a great day coming.”
God’s promise for today: (Psalms 4:8) “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
It is sad to say but last Tuesday’s presidential election succeeded in widening the gap in our already divided nation. Even today, there seems to be more anger, bitterness, and resentment than ever before just about everywhere you go. Although it is troubling, to me it is understandable that there would still be such animosity among our citizen’s because of it. What bothers and distresses me, however, is that there is division in the family of God as well. The Lord’s people in the days of the Apostle Paul were not much different than us. By what he wrote to the church in Ephesus, it seems that, even in his day, something had arisen among them which caused them to be divided. That is why he pleaded with them in his letter with these words: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3)
To me, a life worthy of the calling in a Christian’s life, in a nutshell, is one where others can see some of the virtues of Christ in our lives. I supposed that we won’t always be humble, gentle, and patient, but if God’s Spirit lives within us, there will never be a reason for us to be the opposite of it. I’m not on Facebook myself, but I did see in one subscriber’s entries where professing Christians were tearing into each other over the election results. The losing side was venting their anger by accusing and name calling, exposing their bitterness, and the winning side by gloating, calling them “sore losers” and telling them to “grow up.” God’s people, aren’t we better than that? What happened to the Christian virtue of bearing with one another in love?
The votes were cast, the American people have spoken, and a winner was declared, but above all things, God’s will was accomplished. Can’t we accept that and move on? We won’t always understand God’s will, and we won’t always be happy accepting it, but I’m sure we can all agree that, above all things, He is in control. Even before we knew who would be our next president I was reminding my fellow believers that, in the end, God would decide who our next president would be and that He would place him or her in that position to either bless or chastise our nation. I choose to believe the former. Whatever it will be remains to be seen, but as far as today is concerned, we should all declare like David: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24 KJV) Make that your choice today! Make up your mind that today you will rejoice and be glad. To include an overused cliché, “At the end of the day”, you will be happy that you did.
God’s promise for today: (Philippians 4:7) “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Our nation has set this day of the year apart to honor our military veterans. Although many parents and family members struggled with fear and uncertainty at the time they went out to serve in every part of the world, the fact that they were out defending us, gave millions of Americans a level of peace and comfort, helping them to sleep better at night just knowing it. Our nation, as it should be, is extremely grateful for our veterans and if you’ve seen them when they stand proudly with their hand over their heart every time our flag is waved in parades or any time our National Anthem is played and it doesn’t put a lump in your throat or produce a tear or two, I suspect there is something terribly wrong with you. Any normal American with an ordinary level of patriotism and love for our country will be moved when they witness scenes such as these. There is a certain You Tube video out there showing a group of old military veterans arriving at an airport, most of them in wheel chairs, and a big crowd of people cheering them as they pass by. It makes me cry every time I see it. If you haven’t seen it yet and happen to find it, I bet you’ll do the same.
After God, it was men and women in our military who made it possible for us to be free and, despite our many flaws, made this the greatest nation in the world today. Some of you who are reading this blog today are especially proud because your sister, brother, mom, dad, even a grandparent served in the military. For you, this day has a deeper and greater meaning.
One bible verse I employ at some funeral services definitely applies to our veterans. It is Romans 13:7, where the Apostle Paul wrote: “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”In the case of our veterans, if nothing else, we owe them honor and respect. I pray you’ll take some time today to look up into the heavens and thank God for our veterans. And if you have a chance, perhaps you can thank one personally, expressing your respect and appreciation to him or her. Giving them a warm hug will be better still. Happy Veterans Day!
God’s Word for today: (Romans 12:10) “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
If God’s Word is inspired then it should be obvious that every written word is important. Too often, bible readers pass by the words so quickly that they sometimes fail to get the complete meaning of the message. One example is a favorite verse of many, Proverbs 3:5, which reads: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”Mere trusting in God 10s not enough; we must trust Him with all our heart.
I was recently reminded of the difference between trusting, and trusting with all our heart. Ever since my heart procedure of a few years ago, I have adopted the practice of taking my readings every night before I go to bed. I have informed my PCP that on occasions my readings get to an alarmingly low level and he suggested that when that happens, I may forego my blood pressure meds for a day or two, or at least until my numbers get back to normal. Well, recently, my numbers went down so low, I skipped taking them for several days. Low readings concern me more than the high ones. Visiting my sister later, I saw a blood pressure monitor on her kitchen table and took a reading with it to see how it compared to my low numbers at home. To my shock, the numbers were alarmingly high. After checking several other monitors, it became apparent that mine was the faulty one. To make a long story short, I had put myself in danger by trusting in my monitor more than I should have.
This was a perfect example of the danger in trusting in something or someone, other than God, with all our heart. He is the only One who merits that kind of trust. By all means, continue trusting in others, especially those who have been trustworthy in the past. Should one of these fail you for whatever reason one day, please realize that they, just like you, are human and are prone to error. Don’t give up on them should they should slip up every now and then. Continue to love and trust them. Realize that if they love you, they will always have your best interests in mind. When it comes to God, however, you can always trust Him withall your heart. With Him, you can be totally assured that He will never fail you.
God’s word for today: (Psalms 5:11) “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.”
It is finally over. One of this nation’s ugliest and cruelest presidential elections has come to an end. New leaders are in place and poised to take office at the start of the coming year. This campaign appears to have divided our nation in half and many voters let their differences turn into outright hate and resentment. Now, it’s time to ask God to heal our nation. After all, He is the only One who can do it. This morning some of you are glad at the results and some are sad, but no matter what side you are in, we must keep this one thing in mind. God continues to be on the throne and is fully in control. He has always ruled in the affairs of mankind and will continue to do so. In one of my favorite psalms, David wrote: “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.” (Ps. 103:19)
As God’s children, and among other things, we must now do these two things. First we must accept the results and realize that the people of this country have spoken and God’s will has been accomplished. God’s grace can help us all to be gracious in victory as well as in defeat, and if we love and trust Him, we can be at peace about this all other things around us. Whether last night was one of them or not, sooner or later we will all experience things we don’t like or are not satisfied with. To me what happened last night is not much different that rooting for your favorite team. Whether it is the Super Bowl, World Series, or NBA Finals, many of God’s people pray fervently for their team to win. We must keep in mind however, that there are other people praying in the same manner for the opposing team. If we don’t know the Lord as well as we should, or if we just prefer to pout, we may get our feelings hurt or be offended with Him when we lose, thinking He let us down. What can He do? One has to win; one has to lose. Because you’re human, you may even be angry with God right now. If that is you, I pray you’ll snap out of it quickly.
Second, we must pray for our president and all those who are in positions of authority and leadership everywhere. As God ‘s children, that is our duty whether we like the person or not. Paul wrote: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” (I Timothy 2:1-3) Let’s keep these two eternal truths in mind: (1) If God is God, He is perfect and never makes mistakes. (2) He is, and has always been in control of all things. Therefore, relax, trust Him, and be happy.
Verse for today: (Hebrews 12:28 - ISV) “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and worship God in reverence and fear in a way that pleases Him.” * (ISV) International Standard Version
A well known biblical account found in the 17th Chapter of Luke pictures a human attitude we all see on a regular basis. I am referring to ingratitude. In the story, Jesus healed ten lepers who cried out to Him to have mercy on them in a village outside of Jerusalem. He instructed them to go show themselves to the priests in accordance to the Jewish law which stated that only the priests could declare a leper cured. As they were on their way, and even before they saw the priest, they were all cleansed of their leprosy. However, only one of them came back to thank and worship Jesus personally. Christ then said: “Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine?” (verse 17)
Times and customs have changed since that day over two thousand years ago, but one thing has not; people are still the same. I bet if some would have pointed out to the nine their apparent ungratefulness after they were healed, most of them would have denied it, even resented the accusation. One may have said he was going to come back after his visit to the priest but Jesus was no longer around. Another may have said he didn’t realize that he was healed until after the priest declared it, and still another may have replied: “Jesus knows my heart; He knows that I am grateful even though I didn’t say it.” Heard this last line before? Obviously, only the one who came back to worship and thank Him publicly did the right thing, else Jesus would not have said “where are the nine?” Therefore, it should be obvious to everyone that Jesus’ question indicates that God expects people to openly express their gratitude to Him, as well as to others.
Before we point the finger at these ungrateful nine, how good are we at expressing our gratitude? Are we like the many who assume people know they are grateful even if they don’t say the words; those who pretend to live by the unwritten law that “actions speak louder than words”? To be honest, that adage is correct, but we have to admit that a “thank you” attached to our actions would be better still. With some reservations, I can understand how some folks may find it difficult to utter such phrases as “Please forgive me” ,“I was wrong”, or even “I love you.” A simple “thank you” on the other hand, should be as easy for us as drinking water. Don’t hesitate to openly and publicly express your love and gratitude to others, but especially to God. And if such a thing is hard for you, remember that with God all things are possible. Ask Him, trust Him, and He will help you.
Today’s verse: (Colossians 3:15 - NLT) “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
During my early years in the postal service, before I committed my life to Christ, I would abuse every privilege I had. Because of it, I would perform my duties just well enough to keep from being fired, which meant that I would call in claiming sickness or an emergency situation often. Of course, in almost every case, I was lying. I do remember, however, one particular boss who approached me one day and told me something to this effect: “Joe, you’re the best worker I’ve got but I’ve noticed you miss a lot of work, and as good a worker as you are, you’re no good to me when you’re not here. I don’t want to outright call you a liar , but even if you’re as sick as you claim to be, if you can’t do your job, I’ll see that we get someone who will.” In retrospect, I think God used that man to get me to thinking that I had to change, if not for me, for the benefit of my wife and kids. Not too long after that, Christ came into my life and the man who almost got fired, the one who one postal higher up said had “the worst record in the post office” was able to become the worker I should have been all along.
Many, many years have passed since that incident and now in the many years I have been involved in the pastoral ministry, I have seen the mindset I had many years ago in the life of many Christians, including those whom the Lord has blessed with a particular ministry. I suppose that a good number of these, as I did once, may not be as sick or as hindered with a certain situation as they claim to be. Yet, even if they are, they are not rendering a complete service. As a result, those whom they minister to are losing out on the benefit. I also believe that the Lord will eventually replace anyone who shirks in his or her Christian ministerial duties.
When people truly commit their life to Christ, they immediately realize that they have to be much different than before, that others are going to call them out if their life doesn’t coincide with the message they are proclaiming. 1 Peter 3:15 reads: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Those who give themselves completely over to Christ will attend to their duties and obligations even when they are hurting or are actually sick. This is what happens with people everywhere whose commitment to Christ is a true one. In the customary wedding vows, the man as well as the woman are called to “forsake all others” and cling only to each other. Many pastors take this vow to heart in their calling as well, which is why many of them rarely commit themselves to anything or anyone outside their churches. How is your commitment to Christ?
God’s promise for today: (Hebrews 13:16 CEB - Common English Bible) “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.”
At an evening outdoor event at church this past Monday night, I could only make out one solitary star in the sky. There may have been many others, and my wife said she saw two. I never did. Back at home much later that night, I went out to see if I could find more stars in the sky. Again, I only saw that bright solitary star. Earlier that evening, one of our church members noticed I was gazing at the heavens and she too said she could only see that one star. Then, she commented: “Isn’t it mind-boggling that God knows all of them and calls each one of them by name? The answer is yes! It is mind-boggling when we consider that there are many more stars in the heavens than there are people on earth. Her comment immediately reminded me of the bible verse she was referring to, Psalm 147:4, which reads: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Bible scholars have not come to a general conclusion regarding the author of the psalm but many think it was King David.
As I pondered the remark I heard earlier that night, these two things came to mind: names and stars. Names: how good are you at remembering them? Do you remember them when people tell you theirs? I personally consider it a challenge and an obligation on my part to try to learn people’s names, especially our church members. I feel that if I once knew all the streets in San Antonio as well as their general location, which during my post office days were more than a thousand, I should be able to learn and remember a smaller number than that. I believe that knowing and calling people by their name is important, and they sincerely appreciate it. Doesn’t it make you feel good when people call you by your name, especially those you thought didn’t know you? Does your heart not get filled with joy when you realize that the Lord knows you by name and that one day you’re going to hear Him call it out? I bet old Zacchaeus felt a thrill when Jesus called him by his name when he saw him up on the sycamore tree. In my mind, I picture him saying to himself: “Wow, He knows me!” (The story is in Luke 19) Make a genuine effort to try to learn and remember people’s names. It will mean a lot to them.
Stars: Just as I saw only that one bright star in the sky this past Monday night, you may be the only star certain people in your life will ever see shining for Christ. And if you think one star won’t make a difference, may I remind you that over two thousand years ago, some wise men from the East found Jesus just by following one star? They may have possessed brilliant minds and may have known a lot about astronomy, but these men practically knew nothing about God. Yet, the Lord used that one bright star in the sky to bring them to Christ. Make a sincere effort to learn and remember people’s names and to be a bright star for Jesus.
God’s promise for today: (Daniel 12:3) Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
There is a very interesting and instructional story 1 Kings, Chapter 22, concerning the good king, Jehoshaphat, and the wicked king, Ahab. Here is one of it’s lessons: God’s children must be careful not to get too overly involved with those who don’t believe in Him; Jehoshaphat almost lost his life because of it. I’m not suggesting we should isolate ourselves completely from unbelievers, otherwise how can we tell them about Jesus? We just should not join them when they do or are involved in things God is clearly against.
The lesson I want to focus on today, however, is that, as God’s children, we must obey the Lord even when He tells us what we don’t want to hear. That, specifically, is what almost got Jehoshaphat killed. Even after the prophet Micaiah told both kings, by the word of the Lord, that they would not be successful in their joint battle, he joined up with Ahab anyway. Earlier in the story, when Jehoshaphat asked if there was a (genuine) prophet of the Lord in Israel who could come and give them God’s word before they went into battle, Ahab replied:“There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”(vs 8) Can you see why Ahab hated God’s prophet? It was because he told him the truth, unlike his bought false prophets who would only tell him what he wanted to hear.
Many people in the world will immediately dislike you when you don’t agree with them. That is especially true in the current presidential campaign. That someone, in your opinion, may be mistaken or misinformed in their choice of a presidential candidate, should not be reason enough for you to hate them, especially if you call yourself a child of God. Yet, people today hate one another just for that reason alone. To me, this is a troubling matter and it points to a greater unrest and division that is soon coming upon our nation. Let’s not be like that! If we are God’s people we are peacemakers, not rabble-rousers. And if we truly love the Lord, we will honor and obey Him even when He tells what we don’t want to hear. We are convinced that what a great hymn of the faith says is true: “Trust and Obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.”
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 32:10) “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.”