At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. – Matthew 12:1
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22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
– Lamentations 3:22-2
We all like fresh. Fresh air, fresh veggies, fresh bread, freshwater. Yes, that word fresh is how we communicate something is wholesome, good, and able to make a positive impact. Right? Who wants stale bread? Who wants to breathe smog? Who wants to eat a shriveled tomato? Who wants to drink stagnant water? None of us do! Now, chefs, don’t take the stale bread rabbit trail.
We all like fresh. I believe this is something that God wired into us. I think that when God was designing HIs human, He embedded within our architecture, a satisfaction response to “fresh.” However, there’s a problem. Every child of Adam is immersed in sin, and even after we receive Jesus, God’s Beloved Son, as our Savior, we still have the nature of Adam tugging at us.
Temptation sleeps at our doors. We are always one decision away from sin, and sometimes we make that wrong decision. And that wrong decision may result in really bad things happening. That’s where God’s mercy comes in.
The definition of mercy is forgiving the sinner and withholding the punishment that is justly deserved. Mercy means being spared. Now, God doesn’t just reach in some moldy old bag of mercy and toss it at us like some grinch. That’s not our God! God’s mercies are new every morning; they’re fresh.
You get the full strength from His mercy. You get the full efficacy when you receive His mercy. You get all of everything that He created mercy for. And you can rely upon it, for great is His faithfulness. Now, you must not abuse HIs mercy. His mercy is a gift; it’s not earned or deserved or required through some contractual fine print. You can’t build up an inventory of grace and then cash it in for mercy. Mercy is like the manna from heaven (Exodus 16), it’s only good for “today”, while it’s fresh.
When we have messed up, we can go to the Father through Jesus and confess our sins, repent, and we can ask Him for His mercy; the mercy you receive will be fresh, full strength, unlimited and unassailable by satan. And, during your daily prayers, ask God for fresh mercy for our nation. As a nation, we must recognize our sins, confess our sins, and turn away from our sinful activities. Still, we as a nation have sinned greatly. We need fresh mercy.
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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16
I am blessed. I have a brother-in-law that continually studies God’s word and fills in his pastor from time-to-time. He is a man that loves God’s word, and that’s what comes out when we chat. Sometimes I just kind of lean back and let God’s word wash over me.
When we talk about the things of God, I am deeply aware of the richness of Jesus living in me and the chastening that comes from my Lord. What a privilege we have in Christ; what a richness we can find in Him.
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and
drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
– Psalm 19:9-11
Receiving the teaching of a fellow Christian is easy. Still, from my experience, it takes time, and investment for Christians to receive “admonishment” from other Christians, despite those admonishments come from Christ who dwells in us. I treasure the few in my life that I can receive admonishment from and know without a doubt that the source of their correction is Jesus.
I pray that you have a few Christians in your life that you have shared this long journey in the same direction, a journey that enables you to receive the joy of correction.
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Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.Colossians 3:15-17 The Message (MSG)
As long as I’ve been a Christian, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. Shouldn’t Christmas be it since I am a Christian? Good question. Yes, it SHOULD, but the intention of that Holy Day is more soiled, shredded, and mutilated than the items people hold in their avaricious hands as they stand in line at Walmart. Why not Easter? Same story. The Easter egg hunt reigns supreme on this intended Holy Day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
No, for most of my Christian life, the best that conspicuous consumption could stir up against Thanksgiving was a turkey and pumpkin pie. Both are good but not able to overshadow the 800-pound gorilla in the room; to whom do we give thanks?
Giving thanks implies a Giver and places the Giver above the receiver. What’s Christmas? It is a one-shot day of giving stuff that pales when compared to the Giver. From God, we receive every breath we take for every second and every day we live.
So, I am still grasping on to Thanksgiving despite its slow, maniacal disassembly. We have Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, and Cyber Monday. We have Christmas commercials that overlap Halloween. Commercialism is in a no-holds-barred battle against Thanksgiving, and it’s winning. To so many people, Thanksgiving is all about Black Friday.
Last year I saw a commercial that called Thanksgiving “Friendsgiving”; they tossed the gorilla out of the window. My guess is that Thanksgiving will fall in line with the other three and four-day weekend holidays: Zoom a few friends and family, pop some popcorn and watch football. Yes, I think that is the future of my beloved holiday. But not for me. Not in this house. “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV).
In closing, I’d like us to consider Andrae Crouch’s song, “Take A Little Time.”
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Collins Dictionary defines natural-born as meaning “by virtue of one’s nature, qualities, or innate talent.” For example, “a natural-born musician.”
Just by simple observation, I’m sure we all have known people that have a natural-born talent. I don’t remember where I saw it, but there is a video of the singer Adel disguising herself and participating in a contest for Adel’s best singing impression. There was no doubt from any of the contestants that she won. Then, of course, she revealed herself, and chaos ensued. Adel is a natural-born singer and songwriter.
It is wonderful when a person recognizes their natural-born talent and then hones it into a skill they can use to make a living. However, there is a chasm between natural people and the sons and daughters of God. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14
A “natural” person is still spiritually dead. What value is there in trying to have a theological conversation with a dead person? None! What a dead person needs is life. Spiritual life is only given by Jesus. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) If we’re going to have a conversation about spiritual things with a natural person, then that conversation should be about Jesus and the cross.
For those of us that are Christian, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:12) We no longer depend upon “natural-born” talents, and we no longer think in “natural” ways. Now God may use our natural-born gifts to His glory. Still, as a child of God, “…each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” You can find a list of these gifts in 1 Peter 4:9-11.
We are no longer dead. We live! We live by the life Jesus imparted to us. We have spiritual gifts that God has given us for His purposes. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 God is so generous. Use the spiritual gifts that God has given you!
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This photo (below) is of an early Christian ichthys symbol carved into some marble in the ruins of Ephesus, Turkey.
Briefly, the fish symbol is based on a Greek acronym for the phrase Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. In Greek, the phrase is Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ. When we take the first letter from each word in that phrase, we have ΙΧΘΥΣ, which happens to be the Greek word for “fish” (ixthus or icthus—the spelling can vary in English).Got Questions
During the first 300 years, Roman persecution of Christians required a way for Christians to find each other. When a Christian came upon a stranger, the Christian would take their staff and draw an arc in the dust. If the stranger were a Christian, they would take their staff and complete the symbol by drawing the opposite arc, thereby creating a fish symbol.
The fish is an apt symbol for Christianity since Jesus, during His earthly ministry, used and referred to fish in many places (Matthew 12:38-45, John 21:11, Mark 1:16-18). And the Greek acronym for the phrase Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior, spells the word Fish. Fish is the Gospel of Jesus in just five words. There is a lot packed into just two arcs and five Greek letters!
We should learn the invaluable lesson that the early Church has taught countless believers throughout the past two-thousand years. This lesson is critical for Christians today. The lesson is this: No matter how tough it gets, no matter what the cost, no matter how great is the risk, Christians need other Christians. Our challenge is not too much, our cost not too great, our risk not too high for you and I to fellowship together in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.Romans 1:16
So, do you know the Fish?
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Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.John 21:12-14
Boast – an act of talking with excessive pride and self-satisfaction. – Oxford Languages
There’s a running feud between my son-in-law and me. He is deeply afflicted, for he is a Chicago Bears fan. As for me, I prefer “professional” football teams, like the Colts.😉
To ridicule me, he sends me pictures of my precious grandchildren dressed in some profane Chicago Bears apparel. It may be a sock hat with a Bears logo or a Bears t-shirt, or countless other heinous jabs. He’s even gone so far as to coach my grandkids to boast about the Bears and demean the Colts. He merciless since I can’t retaliate; how can I tell my grandson that he should be ashamed of wearing a Bears t-shirt!
Boasting about favorite teams is an integral part of sports. Boasting is also part of our Christian walk. Really? Within our life in Christ Jesus, we are told in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
The apostle Paul’s discipline about boasting is within the context of theology. We can tell this from the previous thirty verses of 1 Corinthians, chapter one. But, let’s take a moment to consider Paul’s defense for only boasting in Jesus – by “Lord,” the readers could only understand Christ, already five times thus titled (Expositor’s Greek Testament).
Our boasting in Jesus is not something that is to be considered unimportant or something secondary to salvation. No! When we boast in Jesus, it is not like sports. He is not the best of many, and He has not helped us to be saved. What Paul is saying is the bedrock of salvation. We boast in Christ, for it is Christ alone, devoid of human contribution, by which God created the way for people to be saved. I especially like 1 Corinthians 1:29:
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
Within God’s plan of salvation, which He planned before His creation of everything (2 Timothy 1:9), there was God’s intent to deny humanity any scrap pride in our salvation. We, as children of Adam, have nothing to boast about. God did everything for salvation; everything except force us to receive it. Only we can receive salvation and then only by faith in Jesus. And let me tell you, that is something to boast about!
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