Do you ever wonder if you’re doing God’s will? Is there something you need to be doing that you aren’t? You look at what you’ve done in your Christian life, and it doesn’t look like much. Your accomplishments certainly aren’t noteworthy. If you think that way, and I have, we’re both right. Because no matter if what we’ve done seems small in our eyes or has made us famous and sent awards our way, it’s what God has accomplished that matters. We can be the most charismatic speaker or persuasive writer, but if God’s Spirit is not involved in our ministry, we are only entertainers. Whether in small ways or great, only God can make a difference in people’s lives.
The dinner guests were startled. Why was Mary kneeling at Jesus’ feet? Then amazement turned to critical disbelief as a jar was broken and a sweet aroma filled the room. After pouring ointment worth a year’s wages on Jesus’ feet, Mary wiped his feet with her own hair. What was she thinking? Some were immediately critical of this embarrassing and costly display of affection, but not Jesus. Only days before his death, he recognized Mary’s sacrificial act not as wasteful but as absolutely appropriate. Would we all be as extravagant in our love of our Savior!
You’ve probably heard the quote, “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.) While some read this as Christians shouldn’t be so fixated on getting to heaven that they forget their mission here on earth, others define “heavenly minded” as focusing on God continually as we live out our time here on earth. I agree with both outlooks. Yes, we can become so involved on assuring our own spirituality, we can neglect the needs of others. And, yes, If we fix our minds on Christ and our relationship with him, his concern for others will be the result.
Life is hard sometimes and painful. A couple of my friends have lost sons in the last few weeks and another a younger brother. Two adult sons and a brother, gone way too early. A tragic loss of a loved one, a health crisis, a failed relationship, all can cause grief, fear and anxiety. As the Scriptures say, in times such as these, God is our refuge and strength. Jesus was totally human as well as divine. Our Savior knows how we feel. He suffered loss in his physical time on earth. We don’t know how old he was when Joseph died, but you know he missed his earthly dad. He also lost his cousin John to a tragic death. When life is hard, we can go to him because he understands and grieves with us.
I want to shout, No more bad news! I feel overwhelmed sometimes with each day’s awful news, but I’m not discouraged. We have a day set aside once a year to remember to be thankful. With all the freedoms and material blessings we have, that hardly seems enough. No, I don’t deny the negatives in this world, but gratefulness is an attitude of mind. If we’re not careful we can become fixated on all the bad we see and forget how blessed we are. On Thanksgiving Day, let’s be grateful for the positives in our lives. And, every day, not just on Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful.
There are many ways to serve God, but have you ever thought that just being thankful and joyful can be a service to God? Psalm 89:15-16 (NIV). Even when we aren’t able to serve him in other ways, our joyful gratitude is a worshipful gift to our good God. And, we have so much to be thankful for, so many blessings, both physically and spiritually. This is a time we’ve set aside for thanksgiving, but not a day goes by that we don’t have reason to celebrate and rejoice in his righteous and merciful ways.
The older I get the more I appreciate our fantastic starry heavens. When I lived out in the country as a child I could see more stars, but even now with more light pollution I marvel at the night sky. The full moon is always thrilling to see and I like to pick out the Milky Way, the big dipper and Orion. Often Venus is visible and sometimes Mars and Jupiter. In Australia, my hosts pointed out the Southern Cross constellation, which can’t be seen from North America. Both sun and moon eclipses are spectacular, and I’ve often gotten up at midnight to watch meteor showers. Thank you, Lord. Your light shows are the best!
My daughter and I planned to take a short walk after eating, but her Jack Russell terrier didn’t go along with the plan. When we turned around to go back home, Callie stiffened her little legs and pulled against the leash. It was as if she were saying, You call this a walk? We’ve only gone half a dozen blocks. This is ridiculous! So instead of turning around, my daughter, being the diplomat, turned left and we walked around the block and back home. Though we didn’t walk much farther, Callie was happy. It made me think of those times I’ve drug my feet, not wanting to do something I should. Sometimes God in his infinite mercy has led me on a different path to achieve the same goal. Our God is not a tyrant. He works with us in our weaknesses.
Do you ever feel invisible? It’s not often, but the older I get the more I find myself feeling that way. It makes me feel insecure and want to say, Hey, I’m still here! I can see myself absent from my friends and family not that many years from now, slowly fading away like the Cheshire cat. I’m thankful my family cares for me and is so close, but life does go on. They already can easily do without me in their lives. As I age, God’s commandment to honor our parents holds so much more meaning for me. Our older parents and other elders may not be able to contribute as much, but God knows they need to be acknowledged and respected for what they have done and still do.
Christians are expected to pray for their enemies. Christ said as much. That’s what we do. Don’t know about you, but after reading about the horrible atrocities various leaders commit on other nations and even their own people, I find it hard to pray for them. When I say that, I mean to pray for them sincerely. It’s not hard to say it, but to really mean it? It reminds me of Jonah. He wanted those wicked people of Nineveh to suffer for their evil ways, not repent and avoid punishment. Whenever I want someone to get what they deserve, I have to ask, is that what I want for myself. God have mercy!