Truthful Tuesday: Representing the Invisible God

representing-god

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God’s transforming truth makes us truth bearers.

Scripture:

Joshua 2:19-20

“Anyone who leaves your house will be responsible for his own death–we are innocent in that case! But if anyone with you in the house is harmed, we will be responsible. 20 If you should report what we’ve been up to, we are not bound by this oath you made us swear.”

Truth is so very sweet to the soul.  Words like integrity, honesty, and responsibility smack of a valor from another era, but are just as much required of the child of God as they always were.

On the verge of imminent attack from Israel, Rahab took a risk.  She trusted in the spies from Israel and betrayed her own country in so doing.  This shrewd maneuver spared her family and ultimately her son, Boaz, who was in the lineage of the geneology of Christ.  God’s sovereignty always trumps all of man’s plans.

It is amazing to consider that she would trust these strangers, who were coming to destroy her people.  Why would they spare a prostitute?  What made her place her faith in them, her enemy?

Seeing God’s activity on the Israelites behalf was a testimony to Rahab.  If the God of this universe would part the Red Sea for His people, she wanted to be counted as one of them.  If a Holy God would do such things for His people, they must bear character worthy of such favor.

God’s mercy on Rahab and His people is such an example of the sweet grace of God, who had compassion on us, as well.  He could have destroyed us, yet chose to include us in His family.  With such mercy, we, too, are ambassadors of this grace so given.

As Christians, we stood before Truth incarnate and He judged us as innocent.  Not because we were guiltless, but because His grace was greater.  So often we forget this precious truth and do not bear the character of the One who redeemed us.

Promises are often unkept, sins repeated and grace often abused.  We lie to one another. We who have been extended such grace should not participate in or tolerate glossing over realities with half truths and schmoozing, which should be far from the people of God.

The Red rope hung from her window is reminiscent of the red painted over the Israelite’s door frames during the Passover, symbolic of the blood that covers us, too.  Our salvation has the potential to cover those in our household, as well, if we walk in the grace and truth God imparted to us.

Oh God, may Your involvement in our lives be obvious to those around us!  Help us to never forget the great salvation that You have provided and to represent you well, all for Your glory.

Mundane Monday: Unruly Rulers

Steward What You Do Have - unruly ruler

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God has given us everything from provisions to positions, yet still owns and rules it all.  

Scriptures:

Genesis 1:26-27

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.’ 27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”

Genesis 2:18

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.'”

No one likes to be told they have to follow someone else’s rules. Ugh. Our flesh in this culture cries out, “no one can be the boss of me”. That’s our nature. God made us to rule, after all. But in what manner?

Man and woman were both made to rule over God’s creation according to His boundaries, but the tendency of mankind is to add or subtract rules to define our own boundaries to suit our desires.

We were to be stewards of all He had given, and within that work was a blessing – our enjoyment. But we can easily forget that it all belongs to Him. The One Who gives us the right to rule is still the owner of it all.

Something innate within us wants to own things, but in God’s economy, He shares it all with us freely.  While He was demonstrating love and generosity to Adam and Eve, they were pursuing their own glory and wants instead of His.  Their rulership became all about them and was no longer blessed.

He knew all that they needed, provided food and even provided for their need for fellowship – woman was made as a companion for man.  With such blessings, why would they ever want for more?

Both of them were present when they chose to violate God’s law.  Both confused the purpose of the role of dominion and what they ruled over was therefore cursed.  Even their fellowship would never be the same.  A sad ending, if that were the end of the story.

In Christ, we can see the impact of the curse in our own lives and resist evil, but it is a battle we will have to fight our entire lives.  Our flesh gets wearied by this continual internal and external conflict, but it is a battle worth fighting.  Even though the curse is evident all around us, God uses even curses for good in our lives.

When things are not perfect, the curses in our lives can be a catalyst for seeking God and seeing our need of Him.  The initial punishment meted out by a Holy, righteous, perfect Judge ends up as a blessing to those who die to self and seek God’s glory and not their own.  What an amazing God.

It is ironic that the pursuit of wisdom would lead to their demise.  A pursuit of wisdom for our own glory bears cursed fruit, but loving wisdom in order to glorify God bears eternal fruit.  If we can see our rule over what God has given us as a position of servitude instead of a position of power, we begin to see the wisdom in God’s plan and reverse the curse.

Lord, thank You for Your kind provision.  You have blessed us beyond measure and we still always want for more.  Help us to be faithful stewards and to care for everything You have placed in our hands.  May we be content and grateful, never forgetting that everything we have is Yours and for Your glory. 

Thoughtful Thursday: Raising Abel

Train up a child

Photo Credits: kidsministryresources.com

Ecclesiastes 11:9 

“Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes, but know that God will judge your motives and actions.”

Ecclesiastes 12:1

“So remember your Creator in the days of your youth–before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”

A mantra spoken often in our culture is that teens think they know it all. And while there is surely a grain of truth in this statement, a step back reveals that it is a blossoming seed coming to fruition of the investment of earlier days.

It is sheer delight seeing the wonder in a child learning something new about the world around us.  Watching that wonder grow over time into fascination and a depth of wisdom and knowledge is even more amazing to see.  Such is the privilege of being a parent.

The quest I have held closely to in 21 years of parenting is an earnest desire to nurture a love of wisdom, fear of the LORD and a sincere love of the LORD in each of my children’s hearts.  Words cannot convey how wonderful it is to see them seeking after God and seeking to walk in His ways in a troubled generation.

The world around us insists that teens have to indulge in the flesh, sass their parents, live for self and rebel.  That is not what Scripture says.

Subcultures within Christianity can also have fads and recommendations of what convictions we should hold to in order to have godly children. While there is wise counsel often given by various authors and ministries, it becomes religiosity if we hold to methods and an external approach more than an internal commitment focusing on character.

We did not have television or electronics for most of my children’s childhood.  Then we did.  We learned lessons and how to grapple with this world around us and seek to impact the world rather than just avoid it.  We also utilize social media with age limits, are accountable and seek to use it for the glory of God.

I hesitate to share the parameters we set because everyone’s personal convictions vary widely and each one needs to honor God with the boundaries they have for their household.  Creating a center of wisdom through the provision of devotionals, worship music and a Christian education helped lay a foundation of providing a biblical lens in all that my children face.

Paramount above all is the voice within reminding us that “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”.  We go through seasons in which we recognize the world creeping in and have to take actions to “clean house”, but such revelations are a gift from God and part of walking in relationship with Him.  More than rules is an understanding why we have such boundaries.

Giving space little by little for children to make their own successes and failures is frightening, but also a tool for them to learn from.  Encouraging them to pray for wisdom themselves will be their key to a faithful walk with God if they dare to ask.

Trying to find a magic bullet or set of rules will not produce the youth God is looking for, but fostering, living it our ourselves and creating an environment which encourages a love for God’s word and provokes living an honest life before our Maker is fundamental.

Instead of buying into the propaganda which makes excuses for folly in youth and wastes the days of youth, we can spur the next generation onto greatness.  There is a joy that comes from being accountable and living life through a biblical lens that no frivolous childhood could ever compare to.

Dispensing away with lies that say being godly is not fun and debunking the fear that says we cannot be in the world yet not of it, we can raise our children to have freedom within boundaries, genuine “wise guys”, guided by wisdom and the fear of the LORD.

Lord, it is a humbling, overwhelming task to raise children for You and for Your glory.  Please enable us to live a radical life for You that is infectious and attractive so the future generation will see the joy of the LORD in our faces, which far surpasses worldly pleasures.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 12 – Our Wise Counselor

Photo Credits: www/pixabay.com

Photo Credits:
www/pixabay.com

Ecclesiastes 7:10-12

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?” for it is not wise to ask that.  11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing; it benefits those who see the light of day. 12 For wisdom provides protection, just as money provides protection. But the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.

James 1:5

“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.”

When I am tempted to give in to emotion or make a rash decision, it is to God that I run.  What a precious gift that we can come to Him and seek His wisdom in all things.

Recently I was reminded of this privilege when I was trying to understand the best course of action in a situation.  “Why are you trying to figure it out on your own?” ran through my head.  I guess that is my natural disposition – to try and come up with my own solution, but the foundation of that decision should be to seek wisdom from God above all else.

Wisdom, likened to an inheritance, can only be given by God.  Man can hand out down insight and knowledge, but any wisdom he has was given to him and comes from above.

Wisdom from God looks markedly different from the wisdom of this world.  It is not self-glorifying, it does not boast. It serves and glorifies God as the giver of it all.  The wisdom God gives is pure and peaceful, opposite what our flesh would offer as a solution.

Contained within all 66 books of the Bible are page after page of wisdom and folly fleshed out.  Few have truly found wisdom and to those who have found it, it is a never-ceasing pursuit.  Wisdom is not a once and done possession.  It is part of the beauty of being in relationship with the most amazing genius in all the world, our God.  He gives it freely, to those who ask . . . again and again.

Solomon pleased God by asking for wisdom above all else, yet He did not utilize that wisdom in one area of his life, in particular.  Did he know better?  I think so.  His heart was turned away by his unwise decisions regarding women, and I daresay that the brief satisfaction from choosing folly instead of the wisdom he had at his disposal could not compare to the joy he could have had from walking in wisdom.

This priceless gift of wisdom is continually given to those who would humble themselves and see their need of godly wisdom.  Available to all.  That’s the all-wise God we serve – generous and perfect in all He does; available to give us counsel when we need it.

Lord, thank You for never leaving or forsaking us.  You provide wisdom when we need it and are faithful to give us grace to seek You for it in the first place.  We praise Your Name, Sovereign King!

 

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 8 – God of Mercy

Hebrews 8:12

“For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”

Micah 7:18

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Isaiah 43:25

“”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Guilty, yet pronounced innocent.  Unearned, undeserved, unworthy.  Why extend mercy to people such as these?  Because that is His nature.  He is good.  He is kind.  He is loving and He is merciful.

We deserved wrath and He would have been righteous to give us His judgment, but instead He wanted to demonstrate His forgiveness and compassion toward us.

A prisoner who is set free cannot contain the joy and gratitude over a punishment being rescinded; so it should be with us. If each day His mercies are new, may we recognize all of the mercies around us.  Are we able to think, speak, walk, breathe?  Basic components of living, but God allowed us to have those abilities another day.

Sometimes we can equate mercy with comfort – “if God is merciful He won’t allow suffering”.  However it is often in God’s mercy that He permits afflictions to visit us, for otherwise we would not be cognizant of all the blessings He has brought into our lives.

This God of mercy extends grace to those who are willing to humble themselves and ask for it.  To see our need of Christ’s amazing forgiveness is yet another sign of His mercy in opening our eyes at all.

Lord, thank You that You delight to show us mercy.  So Holy and righteous are You!  Help us to extend the same grace that you have given to us, ever mindful of your gift.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 5 – Nothing is Wasted

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing. 9 What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. 10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already done long ago, before our time.

If this world is all we have to live for, perhaps Solomon’s insight would ring true, but not so for the believer.

To a parent changing diapers and attending to screaming kids with snotty noses, seemingly mundane chores become a holy work, changing our character and molding us into His image.  Selfishness is washed away as we are absorbed in the well being of others.

To a farmer striving to yield a bountiful harvest yet confronted with the brutal realities of drought or a flood, reliance on self dissipates and a dependence on the God over all becomes paramount.

To the family head, struggling to make ends meet, waiting for the next paycheck or provision to come and overcome by bill collectors, faith begins to blossom in the midst of hardship.  Insight is formed, revealing that provision was not to be chased after in the first place.  God is our Provider.

To church leaders dealing with complaining sheep, their work becomes a holy endeavor as God changes their heart and perspective toward the people God calls them to minister to.  They discover that this calling is for God’s glory and not their own, not about them at all.  Offenses are dismissed and concern is raised for the offended one, instead.

To the sick who wonder if God cares at all, He shows the need for spiritual healing and uses the affliction to draw us nearer. He becomes our comfort in the midst of pain and humbles us to depend on Him.

To the wounded, broken heart, shattered by another’s sin – God sees you.  Even this is not wasted in His hands.  Instead of death, if we hope and wait on Him, He will turn our greatest sorrow into a thing of beauty.  Suddenly our eyes are opened to realize that a human being was never supposed to be our joy or our life.  Hoping in fallible humans is idolatry and temporary, but hoping in our living, loving God is eternal.

Everything is vanity apart from God, but everything done in Him has a purpose.  All of the wearisome repetitiveness and burdens of this life are working something great for those who will see more deeply. Thank God that we serve a God where nothing is meaningless and nothing is wasted.  He uses it all.

Solomon was the wisest man and yet he chose women who ultimately turned his heart from God and cursed the next generation.  Big consequences for someone who had allowed his blessings to become his snare.  Boredom replaced gratitude and awe over all that God had provided.

Mundanity has its purpose, after all.  Satisfaction was never meant to be fulfilled completely apart from Christ.  In the endless pursuit of meaning and happiness in a world that could never deliver that quest, we finally end up at His feet, where we were always meant to be.

Lord, all of the tasks, burdens, joys and sorrows are ultimately serving Your purpose in our lives and in this world.  Give us Your eyes and understanding and the wisdom to walk and chase after You, not the things of this world that always disappoint us.  Thank You for being our sovereign God who wastes nothing.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day Three – A Righteous Standard

Day Three Thankfulness God's unchanging standard

Leviticus 19:2-3

“Speak to the whole congregation of the Israelites and tell them, ‘You must be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.  3 Each of you must respect his mother and his father, and you must keep my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God. 4 Do not turn to idols, and you must not make for yourselves gods of cast metal. I am the LORD your God. 11 “‘You must not steal, you must not tell lies, and you must not deal falsely with your fellow citizen.  12 You must not swear falsely in my name, so that you do not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. 13 You must not oppress your neighbor or commit robbery against him. You must not withhold the wages of the hired laborer overnight until morning. 14 You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. You must fear your God; I am the LORD.  15 “‘You must not deal unjustly in judgment: you must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. 16 You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the LORD. 17 You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. 18 You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Leviticus 22:9

“They must keep my charge so that they do not incur sin on account of it and therefore die because they profane it. I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

He created us, made us in His image.  He established His righteous laws and communicated His requirements to His people.  Then He paid the price and sanctified us.  Words cannot adequately convey how amazing our God is.

Some think rules spoil the fun.  They are somehow unfair and unnecessary, legalistic and burdensome; wrecking our happiness due to the judgment felt when we break God’s righteous laws.

Leviticus – that book of the Bible that many dread to read.  Gruesome with detail about sin and its consequences, we do not like to look at the devastation of sin or the standards of God because we are unable to keep His laws in our own strength.

But it is the revelation of His standards that ultimately sets us free.  God’s laws revealed our need for a Savior.  The conviction felt when we looked into God’s perfect law causes us to either run to God out of our desperate need or to rebel in our pride, thinking we are above the law.

As humans, we tend to think a loving God would let us do whatever we want.  But He loves us too much for that. He is GOOD and perfect in what He allows for His children.  That goodness commanded us to abstain from sin because He knew it would destroy us.  That righteousness would command us to rest and give us a salvation that we could never earn.

Sure, we could don our own covering like Adam and Eve tried to do, or cover ourselves with excuses that leave us feeling empty deep inside.  We could try to earn our own righteousness by good works, but ultimately, we would fail.  Rationalizing in a relativistic world does not cover our sin and making sinful actions lawful in our society will never wipe away our transgressions.

Our inability to provide for our own sin leaves us destitute before a Holy God with standards that do not grade on the curve.  But His grace overcomes our flaws and failings and His firm promises are our redemption before a Holy God when we admit our need of Him.

Thank God for His mercy and wisdom and complete Holiness that would have a standard in a world with constantly shifting standards.  Because of His faithfulness, we are secure in Christ.  Secure in a relationship with a Holy God Who does not change.  Ever.

Lord, thank You for providing us with boundaries that set us free in You.  Please open our eyes to understand more of Your perfect law and to rejoice and delight in You and Your perfect statutes.

Mundane Monday: A Watchman’s Joy

Ezekiel 4:4-6

“Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days for you–390 days. So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days–I have assigned one day for each year.”

Colossians 3:13

“Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

Galatians 6:2

“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Matthew 18:33

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

This image of Ezekiel, a watchman for Israel, lying on his left side for 390 days then on his right side for 40 additional days, eating exactly 8 ounces of food each day is tortuous.  Even moreso when we consider that he did not deserve such treatment.  It does not make sense to us, but the purposes of God are higher than our own.

We do not like to be inconvenienced in today’s culture.  Our flesh recoils at the idea of suffering for our own actions and the ensuing consequences, but to do so for someone else?  Not something eagerly desired.  Even a child will cry out “not fair” or “it was not my fault” when blamed for an action he did not commit.  This makes sense to us – no one should have to receive unfair judgment.  Still God’s righteous laws demand payment for our unrighteousness.

Ezekiel was a watchman appointed by God Almighty.  He was a covering for the Israelites.  The blood was on his head if he did not warn them, and by suffering symbolically, he, more than anyone, would have a zeal to warn His fellow people after catching a glimpse of what was to come.

This heart for God’s people and for the lost sheep is the very heart of Christ, who willingly chose to bear the iniquity of those who were unable to bear it themselves.  In fact, it was for the “joy” set before Him that He endured the cross.  Wow. Jesus had an unspeakable joy that his actions would deliver the entire world from the grip of sin and the sting of death.

At the height of suffering I have lamented for self, miserable that I have had to bear consequences for another’s actions, but Christ thought of us.  He chose rejection and suffering – I did not.  This revelation reveals the selflessness of Christ and our need to follow in His steps – serving others and considering them above ourselves.  Humbling and freeing at the same time.  We cannot accomplish this on our own, but we can ask God to open our eyes and to work in our stubborn hearts.

He is still calling servants today to be watchmen for His people.   It might be uncomfortable or inconvenient – forcing us to lay down our idol of comfort, but like Ezekiel, God needs humble servants willing to roll up their sleeves and bear iniquities on their knees for others still today.  No, we cannot wipe away the sins of others, but we can stand in the gap, pray and warn people of the devastation of sin.  When the sting of sin’s aftermath and its stigma is fresh in someone’s life, we can stand with them and guide them to God’s Word and the faithful forgiveness and love of Jesus.

Encouragement in the face of a fallen world might be the very catalyst to turn one from repeating the same sin or serve as an example for another to abstain from walking that path of sin at all.  The voice of truth might not be welcome today when absolute truth seems nonexistent, but more than ever the world needs to hear this voice of God’s people, uniting to be watchmen for the glory of God.  The temporary cost might be more than we want to pay, but the rewards are eternal.

Lord, forgive us for being lulled into complacency.  Help us to care for those around us as you do and to be faithful in the calling of watchmen for You.

Mundane Monday: The Purpose of the Law

Photo credits: pinterest

Photo credits: pinterest

1 Timothy 1:5-8

5 “But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. 8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately.”

Psalm 119:30

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.”

Here it is a Monday again.  The day-in, day-out drudgery of the work week awaits us as we open our eyes to a new week.  Well, that is one perspective.  Another viewpoint is one of gratitude.  Today is Labor Day and today I thank God for the gift of work and for a mission He has called each of us to.  We are blessed to have work and blessed to be able to work.  Work is one of the occupations God gave us to do in His sovereign wisdom that sometimes our flesh resists, much like the laws He has in place, which is the topic today for all of us rule breakers at heart.

Laws.  Deemed as spoilers by some, a means to judge others or of self-righteousness to some, and to still others a moment of grace – of seeing our need for salvation once we see within ourselves the inability to perfectly adhere to God’s law.

Everywhere there are signs of mankind’s desire for no limits.  What is it about rules that sparks a seed of rebellion in our hearts and deceives a people?  To some, breaking rules seems like freedom.  We are doing what we want to do.  Or are we?  The irony of submitting to our fleshly desires is that in doing what we want to do, we become a taskmaster for our own destruction.

The limits set in place by an all-wise, all-knowing God are intended for our benefit.  In our deception we strive for what we perceive is a thing of beauty – no accountability, no hindrance of following someone else’s idea, and yet that pursuit is what becomes our prison, after all.

It is so beautiful that the aim of God’s laws and instruction is love.  God is not a spoiler of fun.  Sin destroys us and He wants us to be in relationship with Him – not separated from Him.  He hates to see us suffer from poor choices made at the altar of the gods of self and pleasure.

We are all subject to God’s laws, universal and spiritual, whether or not we want to be.  No one escapes the law of gravity, and while some might escape the consequences of disobeying civil or spiritual laws for a season, seared consciences are the penalty borne and ultimately all deeds will be judged by the Perfect law maker and giver, Jesus Christ.

A rule breaker can be deemed as “cool” by the world and a rule keeper seen as “prudish”, but it is how one keeps the law that matters.  Just as rebellion is not acceptable in the sight of God, neither is legalism.  Rationalizing which rules are important and which ones are not also does not change the premise of walking in the liberty of following God’s laws regarding ethics, big or small laws.

Our flesh does not like to be held accountable or to have to conform to someone else’s plan, and yet His plan is best.  We want our way, and yet God beautifully has designed a structure of leadership and accountability that ultimately provides care for those who will submit to His leadership.

People can use laws for their own ends, manipulating the original intent in an attempt to justify their actions.  But inside a voice cries out for truth and righteousness if we listen.  Breaking rules does not bring the peace of God nor satisfy the heart cry of our soul.  God’s loving and perfect laws are safe boundaries He designed that are kept and fulfilled only by the grace of God.

Lord, thank you for revealing our need for your salvation.  Help us to love the boundaries You have so wisely set in our lives.  May we resist the flesh and live lives for Your glory.

Worshipful Wednesday: Worshiping the Grumbles Away

Photo Credits: fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Psalm 105:1-5

Give thanks to the LORD! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations! 2 Sing to him! Make music to him! Tell about all his miraculous deeds! 3 Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 4 Seek the LORD and the strength he gives! Seek his presence continually! 5 Recall the miraculous deeds he performed, his mighty acts and the judgments he decreed.”

Psalm 106:1, 7, 12,13, 20-25, 29, 35-45

Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his loyal love endures! 7 Our ancestors in Egypt failed to appreciate your miraculous deeds, they failed to remember your many acts of loyal love, and they rebelled at the sea, by the Red Sea. 12 They believed his promises; they sang praises to him. 13 They quickly forgot what he had done; they did not wait for his instructions. 20 They traded their majestic God for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They rejected the God who delivered them, the one who performed great deeds in Egypt, 22 amazing feats in the land of Ham, mighty acts by the Red Sea. 23 He threatened to destroy them, but Moses, his chosen one, interceded with him and turned back his destructive anger. 24 They rejected the fruitful land; they did not believe his promise. 25 They grumbled in their tents; they did not obey the Lord.  28 They worshiped Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead.  29 They made the Lord angry  by their actions, and a plague broke out among them. 35 They mixed in with the nations and learned their ways.  36 They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. 38 They shed innocent blood – the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan. The land was polluted by bloodshed. 39 They were defiled by their deeds, and unfaithful in their actions. 40 So the Lord was angry with his people and despised the people who belong to him. 41 He handed them over to the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them; they were subject to their authority.  43 Many times he delivered them, but they had a rebellious attitude, and degraded themselves by their sin. 44 Yet he took notice of their distress, when he heard their cry for help. 45 He remembered his covenant with them, and relented because of his great loyal love. 

The saga of the broken down cars began to ebb away on nerves yesterday.  I confess I had a pity party.  Alright, I grumbled.  We are all entitled to a little grumbling every now and then, right?  Hmmm . . . maybe not.  I was praising Him in the storm on Monday and ready for the trial to be over by Tuesday.  Patient, aren’t I?  This morning I was so thankful for a correction in my attitude from a loving God.  His Word is just as effective and able to speak to us from a message spoken thousands of years ago to some other grumbling spirits . . .

The sea was parted for them to cross and God defended them like no other, but they were bummed over the food God provided.  While I have judged them in the past, the same whining and ingratitude can flow in my veins, IF I let it.

We were made to praise God.  Our hearts need to praise the living God, the One Who is far greater than ourselves.  We need to thank Him, sing to Him, boast about Him, seek Him and remember all that He has done for us.  This thankfulness expressed to God changes us.  But what if we don’t?  What if we choose to complain about what God has allowed in?  This passage truly is a sobering one and injects the fear of God in me.  When we do not praise God, we are not doing what we were created to do, but the consequences of ceasing to thank God at all times are devastating, as well.

The destruction of a people began because they failed to appreciate what God had done.  That simple.  They also forgot God – the One who made them.  They chose to focus on what they felt were unfair circumstances and replaced the glory of God for complaints about things that don’t matter in all of eternity.  Ultimately, they forgot how important it was to be a grateful people.  How do we fail to appreciate God?

Thinking we deserve more than what He has allotted to us is perhaps one of the chief causes.  I remember being caught off guard by a brother who, when I asked him how he was doing, he said to me “better than I deserve”.  I recognized in that moment the humility and grace to be able to say such a statement.  Could I say that with the same sincerity?

It is easy to be religious and say the typical statements associated with ascribing glory to God, but God knows our hearts.  The words fall flat when my being is not completely about bringing Him glory but is distracted, instead by bitterness, unforgiveness or irritation over our discomfort.

The root sin long ago and today is the same – a lack of thankfulness and not purposing in our hearts to be faithful to acknowledge the God Who gave us everything.  Like Jonah, who grumbled when God took away the vine He had previously provided, we must hold all that He gives us loosely and be thankful for all he has given and done for us, even when He chooses to remove the blessings He has provided, too.

God help us to see our need of Him.  How quickly our spirits can go from worshiping Him to making our worship a thing of mere duty.  Slowly time with Him can be crowded out and before you know it, gratitude is replaced with a distrust in God, if we are not careful.

The enemy is ready to take us down the lane of ingratitude.  He knows the ending result – our demise.  But we do have a choice, as powerful as emotions can be.  To be thankful even when the chips are down, to love even when someone has hurt us and to forgive as we have been forgiven.  These actions are catalysts for sincere worship and gratitude to our God, Who is so very worthy of our praise!

Lord, we take so much for granted.  Please forgive us for the many times we have chosen grumbling over gratitude.  Spur us on to worship You in all circumstances.