Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our 24/7 God

We live in a society where people want access to things 24/7. We have 24-hour fast food restaurants, 24-hour pharmacies, and 24-hour convenience stores. In 1977, Citibank introduced the first 24-hour ATM's, giving people access to their money around the clock. That led to the advertising slogan, "The Citi never sleeps." While it is debatable as to whether or not we really need all these things, many people probably take comfort in knowing they are there.

In Scripture, we learn that there is something else that is available to us 24/7, something that we truly do need and something that is of more comfort than 24-hour ATM's. That something is actually someone, and that someone is God. Psalm 121:3 tells us that the God who keeps us will never slumber. Just as the "Citi never sleeps," so our God never sleeps. He is there at all times, when we are awake and when we are asleep. Day and night, He is watching over us.

When we are anxious, He is there to calm us. When we are grieving, He is there to comfort us. When we face a difficult decision, He is there to give us wisdom. When we are weak, He is there to give us strength. When we are lost, He is there to guide us. And, when we are happy, He is there to rejoice with us. No matter what our circumstances, God is there, and He is there at all times. All that we need to do is call out to Him and He will answer. All we need to do is set our eyes on Him and He is at our right hand (Psalm 16:8).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Are You Content?

"He who dies with the most toys wins." This popular saying, which appeared on bumper stickers and t-shirts in the 1980's, was attributed to the flamboyant American entrepreneur, Malcolm Forbes. Although there is some debate as to whether or not Forbes actually did utter those words with his mouth, his extravagant lifestyle certainly said them many times over. Forbes was know for spending a fortune on parties, travel, homes, yachts, motorcycles, and many other "toys." Forbes died in 1990, but his "toys" lived on. Did he win? What did he gain through all of those earthly things?

God's Word tells us that we will take out of this world exactly what we brought into it - nothing (1 Timothy 6:7). We are also told that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6, KJV). Godliness is a respect for God that is shown in the way that we live our lives. But what exactly is contentment? What does it mean to be content? Basically, being content means that our desires are in line with our lot in life. We are happy with what we have, even if that is just food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8).

The apostle Paul knew both times of abundance and time of need. He knew what it was like to be hungry, and to have more than enough food to eat. But Paul was content in whatever circumstances he found himself. He knew that, in spite of his circumstances, whether in times of plenty or times of need, there was nothing that he could not do because of the Lord, who he knew would give him strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

Perhaps the best reason provided in Scripture for us to be content with what we have comes in the letter to the Hebrews, which says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5, KJV)." No matter how much or how little we have, God's promise is that He will always be there. He will never leave us and He will never forsake us. And that is a great reason to seek true contentment in what we have.

Possessing great wealth and many "toys" does not make us winners when we die. But having God in our lives does. To paraphrase that saying from the 1980's, "He who dies with the most God wins."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lost and Found

Luke, chapter 19, tells of a day when Jesus entered Jericho, surrounded by crowds of people. As Jesus made His way into that town, a short man named Zacchaeus, in an effort to see Jesus, climbed up into a sycamore tree. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in the tree, He told him to come down so that He could stay at Zacchaeus' house that day. Now, Zacchaeus was a tax collector and some in the crowd began to grumble in self-righteousness over the fact that Jesus was going to be a guest in the house of a "sinner." But Jesus went to Zacchaeus' house despite this, and it was at the home of a tax collector, a sinner, that Jesus said that He, the Son of Man, had come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:1-10).

Throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus sought out those whose sin separated them from God. He sought out the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the adulterers, all those who needed Him the most. He did this because they were lost in their sin. From the time that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, God has been seeking and saving those who are lost, which is all of mankind. We are all lost and dead in our sin and so God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, into the world to seek us and save us from our sin. God wants us to be found.

In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), when the prodigal son is left with nothing after having thrown away his inheritance on reckless living, he returns to his father's home. Now repentant, he decides to seek his father's forgiveness and mercy. When he does, the father is filled with great joy because this son who was dead in his sin is now alive again, he was lost and is now found. The father is so joyful that he throws a celebration.

God sent Jesus to seek us when we were dead in our sin, when we were lost. When we repent and accept Jesus as Savior, we receive the gift of salvation that God offers us. When we receive that gift, we are no longer dead in our sin, we are no longer lost, but found. And, like the father of the prodigal son, our heavenly Father is filled with joy when we are found and there is much rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:10).

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rejoice in Suffering

Becoming a Christian, a follower of Christ, does not mean that we suddenly become exempt from suffering, from trials and tribulations. Jesus Himself said that we will have trouble in this world. But, when we have Christ in our lives, we have the ability to endure that suffering, to walk through that tribulation and not lose heart. Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Our response to suffering and tribulation should be to rejoice. When we rejoice in our sufferings and remain joyful through trials and tribulations, endurance is built in us (Romans 5:3). As we endure, God gives us the strength and courage to face our sufferings and our tribulations head on and stand firm in our faith. The joy that we experience through those difficult times in our lives comes from knowing that we suffer with Christ, who also suffered, and that through our suffering we will be glorified in Him (Romans 8:17).

Our God is a God of comfort. When we share in the suffering of Christ, we also share in God's comfort through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5). The things that we suffer through in this life, the trials and tribulations that we face, are nothing compared with the glory that will one day be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). That glory will be revealed when Jesus returns to reign on earth. When that day comes, all of us who are in Christ will rejoice and be glad (1 Peter 4:13).

As difficult as they may be, our sufferings and our tribulations are temporary. But, our future with Christ will be eternal. And in that eternity, there will be no suffering, no trials, no tribulation. There will be nothing but exceedingly great joy and gladness as we stand in the presence of our God, praising Him and worshiping Him forever.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Our Heavenly Father

Today is Father's Day, a day on which we honor fathers. For many of us, today is a day when we spend time with our fathers, thanking them for all they have done for us throughout our lives and pouring our love out on them. For some of us, this day is bittersweet, as we have lost our fathers, but we still have the cherished memories of the time we had with them. And then there are some of us who may not have had a good relationship with our fathers, or had fathers who were not there for us, making today a day that is no different from any other day, or perhaps even a difficult day.

But, there is one father whom all of us can celebrate today, one whom we can truly honor. He is a father with whom we can spend time today, whom we can thank and on whom we can pour our love. That father is God, our heavenly Father. He is a Father who knows us better than anyone, who knew us before we were even conceived in our mothers' wombs (Psalm 139:13). Our heavenly Father provides for us in a way that no earthly father can (Matthew 7:9-11). He is a Father who knows our every need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

Out of His great love, God, our heavenly Father, chose us to be His adopted children before the world was created (Ephesians 1:3-6). But sin came between us and our adoption as God's children so, at exactly the right time, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to redeem us so that, as God's adopted children, we are able to cry out to Him, saying, "Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:4-6) When we receive Jesus as Savior, when we believe in His great name, we receive the right to become children of God (John 1:12). And, with Christ in our lives, we can be led by the Spirit of God, through whom we receive the Spirit of adoption, not just as children of God, but also as heirs of God (Romans 8:13-17).

Today, let's honor our heavenly Father. And, not just today, but every day!