America is in the midst of an epidemic of ingratitude. “Thank you,” seems to be the forgotten phrase. It is one more clue that we have turned our national backs on God. Has it affected us? Probably, and that is a shame. Expressions of gratitude should be as natural to a Christian as breathing. Our lack of thanksgiving demonstrates that we have closed our eyes to much.
The church should be saturated with thanksgiving every day. God has blessed us beyond measure. There is no way that Christians could ever list all that the Lord has done for them. In our hopeless state of sinfulness, He plucked us up and made us something new. It was, to be sure, not without our cooperation, but He did the dramatic makeover. The Bible describes it in terms of being born again. We might say a second chance, a fresh start.
We had tarnished that magnificent image in which we were created beyond recognition. Any resemblance to our Creator was lost under the layers of worldliness. The scars of sin had left their marks, and the only fitting place for us was somewhere out of the sight of a holy God. All of that changed when that mess was washed away, and He fitted us for the inheritance (Col. 1:12). That is sure a reason to give thanks.
Satan had us in his clutches. We had surrendered all control to him, and he was more than glad to take it. Once in those powerful hands, we could not free ourselves. He was our king. Darkness dominated until the Light took over (Col. 1:13). We made the choice and He took the reigns. Christians look to a different king now, one who has only our best interest at heart. The Lord freed us from the old rule and gave us a new citizenship. We belong! Thank you Lord.
All of those poor choices and rebellious acts of the past are erased. We have been redeemed, and the redemption price was blood (Col. 1:14). Pure, holy, sinless, perfect blood cleansed the slate. He suffered, and we receive the benefits. Guilt is awful, and He took care of that with the most precious gift imaginable. For God so loved the world….Can you imagine that much love? And for that, let us always give thanks.
Thoughts of the church in Corinth give us a headache. Their troubles ranged from moral to doctrinal and everything in between. God had blessed them with an abundance of miraculous gifts, but they were stuck in spiritual immaturity. It revealed itself in a dismal array of ills within their ranks.
Unlike many of today’s news stories, there were no unnamed sources that provided Paul with his information (1 Corinthians 1:11), and they had been very clear about the situation. The church was in disarray. Some followed this man and others followed that one (1:12). They had obviously lost sight of the one to whom they should have been loyal. He had died for them. They had been baptized in His name. Yet, their focus was elsewhere. The church of the Lord was a disaster.
Where do you begin straightening out such a mess? Paul showed them the eternal perspective of who they were. They were the church of God (1:2). He had not disowned them or thrown them overboard. Not only had He not rejected them, they were also sanctified. This bunch was holy? They hardly appeared that way, but they were. The Lord really does look at things differently.
They hardly seem the type for which to be grateful, but they were (1:4). Paul was thankful that they had been recipients of grace (1:4). Without that, none of us would have a chance. We are saved (Ephesians 2:8) and educated by it (Titus 2:11-12). It gets us out of the mess that we make for ourselves in sin and teaches us how to stay out. The Corinthians needed it in the worst way. So do we. They received it. We do, too.
It was time to grow up. Internal strife is a clear indicator of a maturity issue. They were tongue-speaking, prophesying babies (3:1), and it was displayed by the division among them. It is both cause and effect. Following men stunts growth which results in further reliance on them which inevitable leads us in different directions. They were more devoted to some man than they were to the Lord, and it was ripping them apart. Unity is a product of the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:3) not following human paths.
How important is unity? Of all the problems that plagued the Corinthian church, division was the first one that the letter addresses. Others are not unimportant, but it came before any doctrinal discussion or moral issue. It is not an afterthought. Neither was it for Jesus. He prayed for it (John 17:20-23) and died for it (Ephesians 2:14-15). Spiritual maturity demands it. We must grow together.
It is hard to make sense of the world today. Recent events leave us scratching our heads and looking for answers. The very people who have been charged to keep us safe are discovered to be unsafe. A major in the army turns a weapon on his fellow soldiers and kills more than a dozen people. In another case, body parts are discovered in a Cleveland home, eleven more are dead. The news is bleak, and the times appear to be getting worse. It may be a better time than we think.
People are searching. Discouraged Americans find themselves continually bumping into walls of despair, seeking answers in new age philosophies and old-timey remedies. Neither works, and frustration builds. They look for relief in the bottom of a bottle or through emptying a syringe and do not find it. Pills fail and phony preachers disappoint. People are fed up with superficial answers to deeply profound questions. God alone has the real solution, and He has been squeezed out of the public square.
Americans no longer want to be bothered with the Lord, and we are reaping the consequences. We are seeing the unavoidable results of abandoning biblical principles and the God who stands behind them. Disillusionment and disappointment are spilling over into angry actions. It is no different than the times described in Romans 1. Pushed out of our collective minds, God allows people to go their own way. That is always a disaster.
Lost respect for our fellow man follows. Life becomes cheap. Normal relationships within the family falter. Healthy relationships are perverted. People would rather assassinate someone’s character than build one within themselves. The entire culture suffers, just as we are now. Without a doubt it is a dark moment in our history, but we should seize the opportunity because that makes the light even more visible.
Now is the time for us to step up and shine. We can do so by simply living up to who we are. Our neighbors have never needed that more. Christians should have perpetual optimism. We walk with direction. Our existence is neither pointless nor hopeless. We have a reason for being and a future that knows no limits.
We are the richest of people, and no economic downturn can rob us of that. Our treasures are securely stashed where no human hands or natural deterioration can touch them. Death does not intimidate us, because we have a conviction of the resurrection. Declining health only leads to anticipation of the eternally incorruptible spiritual body that awaits us. We look with excited expectation at today and tomorrow because we are Christians, and that makes all the difference.
There is nothing in this world that can compare to the word of God. Its power is immediately apparent in the creation account where nothing is turned into something. God commands and the material world comes into being. The chaos becomes orderly. The empty is filled, and it is all accomplished by Him speaking.
Behind that word is an omnipotent will. Nothing can measure up to it. By its exertion, things happen. Reality is determined by the exercise of it. Jesus demonstrated its effectiveness from the temple to the tomb. He commanded the demons, and they obeyed. He ordered storms to stop, and they did. He summoned dead people, and they responded. No authority tops His.
He spoke and people marveled. No one had ever talked like He did. He climbed a mountain, took a seat and taught unlike any of their experts (Matt. 7:29). He challenged them at every turn. He put a face on God that they had not expected. His teaching was amazing. He pulled the plug on their preconceptions which, at first intrigued them and then infuriated them. Those words have startling power.
His apostles sat at His feet listening and learning. They saw the demonstrations of His authority. He showed them and told them. He has it all (Matt 28:18). No one can challenge His supremacy. He stands over everything in creation for the benefit of His new creation, the church (Eph.1:22-23). It is all the product of His will and word. His is the last word (Hebrews 1:1-2) and it has more power than we can even imagine.
Sin has ruined the world around us. No one is untouched by it and its indescribable damage. It severs a person’s relationship with God and places them in an eternally precarious position. The word of the Lord brings them in touch with their only hope. Jesus sent His disciples to spread that message of salvation and transformation. It should never be far from our minds that we are the lifeline to those who are dead in sin. Go into all the world and preach the gospel…
Deception crept into perfection, and the world has been staggering ever since. God provided the perfect setting for Adam and Eve, and the devil duped them. He masterminded the most destructive trick or treat that there ever has been. He has not lost his clever edge when it comes to dealing with us. He makes sin look good and God look unreasonable.
The truth of God was plain and simple. Do not eat or you will die. The setting was pristine. No environmental concerns or bad influences had yet intruded on that paradise on earth. It could not have been any better, and there was just one condition to keep it that way: Stay away from that tree. They stumbled, and the tumble has been underway to this day.
Ease and comfort are not always the best conditions for maintaining our spiritual equilibrium. God warned of the pitfalls of prosperity when the Israelites were still making their way through the wilderness (Deut. 8:11-20). Success has a way of dulling our sacred senses. A full stomach can lead to an insensitive heart. A nice house takes our attention off of that heavenly mansion. We forget how puny we are when we acquire a little worldly power. It is a dangerous thing to be too prosperous.
The church in Laodicea had fallen for the deception. They had more money than sense, and it was reflected in what they said and did. Their mediocrity turned the stomach of the Lord. A wave of nausea swept over Him when He considered them. Their big bank accounts produced a self-sufficiency that resulted in a sickening uselessness. Their arrogance said it all. They felt that they needed nothing (Revelation 3:17). Their blind eyes could not see the miserable condition in which they lived. Could our vision possibly be so distorted?
The expectations of God are not so complicated that we cannot understand them. Adam and Eve certainly did, and they chose to forsake them. It is always our choice. That serpent is still pushing his lies, but it is up to us whether to buy into them or not. The first couple did, and the consequences have never changed. Death will forever be the result. It is the devil’s deception that it is not so.