There is plenty in life to be concerned about along with the many problems which beset us on a regular, oftentimes even daily basis. But how about simply being thankful? Blessings fill our lives at every turn as well.
I know though how easy it is to drown in all of life’s afflictions. Emotionally we may go down and be spent, hardly able to breathe the air of thanksgiving to God. This can be a sacrifice on our part as well, as perfunctory as something we do regardless of how we feel, something done perhaps at set times, here continually which still might mean on a regular basis:
Through Jesus…let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
Praise and thanksgiving in scripture are often linked. We give thanks to God for what he has done, is doing and will do, for his works. Praise is given to God for his goodness. Praise and thanksgiving then if not synonymous are closely linked.
To give thanks and be thankful is part of our life in Christ, part of the Spirit-filled life. Something then that is given to us so that both the blessings and the praise to God for those blessings are gifts from God.
In the best case scenario thanksgiving is not something automatic. We do it. But it should become as regular to us as the air we breathe. So that we are becoming more and more a thankful people in and through Jesus.
Sometimes there’s no better answer than simply to roll up one’s sleeves and get to work in what one believes God has called them to do, seeking to grow in faith through it. Right now we are in a fork in the road, and we’re not sure which way we’re to go. And added to that is some rather heavy duty challenge coming our way. On top of this life both presses and hums on.
My own determination at this time is simply to get on with it, to try to do what I think God has put in front of me to do, to get to work in that. Too often I’ve simply let the day rule me as well as some tendencies rather than managing the day well myself. Of course we have to leave it open to special works God may have for us, especially in helping others.
And the more we work the more we need to wait on God.
And so I go on with Deb, intent on seeking to follow the Lord and hopefully finish whatever works he has given me to do.
This is my only joy and heart’s desire: to extend the kingdom of God, reveal the truth, reprove sin, teach righteousness, feed hungry souls with the Word of the Lord, lead the straying sheep into the right path, and gain many souls to the Lord through his Spirit, power, and grace. So would I carry on in my weakness as he has taught me who has purchased me, a miserable sinner, with his crimson blood, and has given me this mind by the gospel of his grace, namely, Jesus Christ.
Menno Simons quoted from “his Foundation Book” by Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers, 303, the section entitled, “The Anabaptist Vision.”
Broken dreams. Newer thoughts which seemed dashed forever. Present places which require faith to keep putting one foot in front of the other. An altogether different scenario than I could have imagined.
This requires the adjustments which might come to mind. While keeping our focus on God through Jesus. And while keeping the gospel, the good news of God’s grace and kingdom come in Jesus front and center.
In grace we are always and forever in formation. Change in us for sure, but change elsewhere can well be a part of that. We have to remain open.
There is no doubt that there are some heavy duty issues on the board nowadays, although it will depend on which side of the culture war you’re on as to which are important or how much. We in Jesus need to take a stand for the poor and the helpless. And the desire to be good stewards of the earth. We will always and forever be considered backward by the world. We don’t buy into the sexual revolution that anything goes. But we do buy into Jesus’ promise that all can come.
The curse of the culture war perhaps most simply put is that Christians on either the left or the right get caught up into an agenda which at best is only partly of God’s kingdom, but is more or less of this world. I notice that Christians on either side march pretty much in lock step with either the Democratic or Republican Party or their ideal of that. And while everything is important in its place, it seems that this is front and center, often the ready topic of conversation for any day.
Again, I am not suggesting that Christians can’t have political leanings with regard to the world scene. And perhaps some are called to a political endeavor. The politics we as followers of Jesus should be engaged in is the politics of witness. Our witness as the church is in terms of the good news for us and for the world of God’s grace and kingdom come in Jesus. The difference that makes in our lives together and individually. Although realized only through Jesus and in his church, a light even for nations. So that for example instead of learning and training for war and building up their military (war machines), nations can learn and train for peace. Using violence strictly as a last resort to protect the innocent from evildoers. Even while we in Jesus continue to live out the ethic of the kingdom spelled out in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the way of the cross, the way of nonresistant love even against our enemies.
However this plays out for us and for our church we need to hold steady in living out something of the answer and refuse to get caught up into an agenda which is something other than our calling in the grace and kingdom of God present even now even as we await its fullness for all things– in Jesus.
Scripture is the written word of God, evident throughout the Bible, one prime example where this is taught being Psalm 119. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. God’s final word to us, the fulfillment of the written word. So it ends up that in order to understand the story, we need to see the end that’s in view. It’s fine to start with Genesis and proceed on, and let it unfold, in fact, good. But a Christian reading of scripture will start with Jesus himself, God’s revelation in him, and will see all of scripture from that perspective.
All of scripture ends up pointing to Jesus, so in retrospect we need to look back at all of scripture from what we understand of Jesus. Does this answer all of our questions? Surely not. But it does help us end up in a good place as we see what God’s goal was all along, put into effect through Abraham and Israel. Fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah, God’s Son our Savior and the Savior of the world. God’s word to us and for this weary world.