I was given a devotional book over 30 years called "Drawing Near" by Kenneth Boa and Max Anders by Dr. Ted Place for memorizing 1 Corinthians 13. I pick up this book every now and then. When I picked it up today, I went to the "Spiritual Prayer Guide" section for Day 17. I wrote down the following notes.
The LORD trieth the hearts. - Proverbs 17:3
God, let my heart be right with You. Renew Your Spirit withing me, God. Let all that I think, say, and do always be pleasing to You, God. Let me fell Your presence every day. What I leave behind? Will I be remembered as a man of God? God, You care about what I do today: lead me in all that I do,
I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect. - Genesis 17:1b
How was your 2020? How did your 2021 end?
Life goes by fast, we can remember when we were children, young teenagers, and now we are already in adulthood reaching the age of maturity.
The Word of God tells us that our life is like a breath “Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4; also, in James 4:14 it says that our life is like a fog “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are only like a mist that appears for a moment and then dissipates.”
The Word of God also advises us to seek wisdom from above, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and we must seek the wisdom from above that comes from God, because this world is passing away and is passing away.
“but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, folly to Gentiles; but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, we preach Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the folly of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-25
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure; then peaceable, indulgent, agreeable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, without pretense.” James 3:17
Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and teaching.”
Do we wish to be wise? Do we want to make good decisions? Do we wish to be blessed in 2022? The book of Proverbs at the beginning, as the verse above says, shows us the way to fear the Lord and submit ourselves to Him always. Seek communion with Him daily through prayer and reading His Word without omitting ourselves from communion with the saints as the book of Hebrews 10:25 advises us “Let us not forsake the assembling together, as is the habit of some; rather, let us give admonition, and all the more so as you see the Day approaching.”
In the letter of First John 2:18, the apostle John tells us that we are living in The Last Hour, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as ye have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have arisen; for what we know is the last hour.” Let us be prepared to meet the Lord, because his Coming is certain.
May the year 2022 be a year in which each one of us can seek communion with the Lord, and grow in the knowledge of him every day as the apostle Peter advises us in his second letter (3:18) "but grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory, both now and in the everlasting day.”
In Exodus 16, we learn that the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron for lack of food. But this was really a complaint against God. They remembered their food in the midst of slavery. God heard their cry and provided them with bread from heaven. When the people saw it, they called manna which means “what is it?”
And when the dew that lay was gone up,
behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing,
as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another,
It is manna: for they wist not what it was.
And Moses said unto them,
This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
The people were provided for in their time of need. They were given specific instructions concerning the manna. Only gather enough for one day for the first five days of the week. Anything left until the next day would have worms. On the sixth day of the week, they were to gather enough for two days because God would not provide manna on the Sabbath. Those who went out the gather manna on the Sabbath found nothing.
God provided for His people, but they had to obey him to get the maximum benefit. It is critical that we follow God’s instructions.
In Numbers 11, we learn that the people grew tired of manna and complained again.
And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting:
and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely;
the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
But now our soul is dried away:
there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
They were not satisfied with God’s blessing. They demanded their own way from God. They wanted flesh to eat instead of the manna God had provided. God gave them what they demanded. God forced them to eat quail for an entire month. This became sickening to them.
We need to be thankful for what God has blessed us with. Who has prayed for a job and God provided? Who has prayed for a husband or wife and God provided? Years later, we forget that these are the blessings of God and detest what God has provided. We should not complain against those answers to our prayers. We need to learn from the mistake the children of Israel made and not demand something different from God. Be thankful for what God has already given us. What God provides first is always the best. When God gives you manna in the beginning, don’t demand something different later.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory:
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
We are told many times in the time of the Exodus that Israel angered God. Here we read that Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD.
And the LORD'S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.
This was not a one time occurrence. See Numbers 32:13; Deuteronomy 4:25, 31:29; Judges 2:11, 3:7, 3:12, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, 13:1. We also see that the anger of the LORD was kindled.
And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
We can read of other times where the Lord's anger was kindled are in Numbers 11:10, 12:9, 22:22, 25:3, 32:13; Deuteronomy 7:4, 29:27; Joshua 7:1, 23:16.
The LORD was with them every day. When they were in trouble, they called out to God. God had compassion on them and delivered them. They initially praised God but after a short time, they turned away. This cycle continued many times.
Are we any better than Israel? We look back at Israel and say if we were among them we would never be like they were. We would always follow God, or would we? How many times have we called out to God in our times of trouble and God has delivered us. We say we will never turn away again, but when things get better, we soon forget. We go on in life living in the good times, forgetting that it is the blessing of God.
We cannot let this happen. We must stay focused on God in both the bad times AND the good times.
We often think of ourselves more highly than we ought. When this happens, we can lose sight of who God is. To refocus our minds on Jesus, we need to spend time with Him and His Word daily. To gain focus, we need more light.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
We have to train our hearts and minds to keep that light brightly shining in our lives.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Let us refocus on Christ and have 20/20 vision in 2020.
Take time to breathe at Christmas. Don't take so much time in busy work that you miss Christmas. When things don't go according to plans, slow down. It is not that important even if you think it is. Others will never know that your plans failed if you don't tell them. This is not the time to be stressful. There is always much work to do and never enough time to do it. Instead, focus on what God has given us through His Son, Jesus. Our goal should be to please Jesus, not others.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
When we go running to and fro trying to make everything perfect, we miss the real reason for Christmas. Let's all be more like Mary and less like Martha. It's not wrong to make plans, but it is better to worship Jesus. When we have the right focus, we can be relaxed and breathe.
We must actively worship God. A one-sided relationship is not a relationship. It takes two to have a real relationship. A relationship here on earth where only one person is actively involved is worthless. It may take only one to initiate the relationship, but if the other does not accept, the relationship is dead.
God calls us, but we must respond. When the church sings praises to God, we must sing out loud ourselves. We cannot be a bystander watching others. We will raise our hands and shout at a sports game; why not give God more praise than we do for a sports team? They don't know us, but God does. We must read God's Word. Let us read it out loud. Engage all of your body when worshiping God. Stretch your hands toward heaven. Speak out loud to God. Thank Him for salvation with your voice. Give Him glory with your voice. Look around at all God has created. When you do these things with a sincere heart, God's presence will be more real. Active worship drowns out the distractions around us. The Bible tells us how to actively praise and glorify God.
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in His sanctuary:
praise Him in the firmament of His power.
Praise Him for His mighty acts:
praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet:
praise Him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance:
praise Him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise Him upon the loud cymbals:
praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD.
This is a new day. We can put our past behind us and look forward to the future. What ever mistakes we made yesterday, we can learn from them and ask God to help us do better today. Start fresh everyday. Look around you and see God's creation in the midst of chaos to get a new perspective of the day ahead.
This is the day which the LORD hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Things may be hard but God is always there, even if we don't feel His presence. We don't know what is going to happen, but God is always in control.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Baptist Hymnal 1991: Hymn 320
It's the day after Thanksgiving. Now what? Do we cease giving God thanks until next Thanksgiving? Do we even give God thanks on Thanksgiving?
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Our primary focus on Thanksgiving Day should be to give God thanks for all of our blessings. We all too often forget this and go straight to our needs and desires. Even when we don't feel blessed, we have been blessed. If you are reading this, you have been blessed. You are able to read. If someone is reading this to you, you are able to hear. Even in the worst times, we have more blessings than many people.
Count your many blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Baptist Hymnal 1991: Hymn 644
Let the day after Thanksgiving be the start of some new, not the end of giving thanks. We make New Year's Resolutions, so now we need to make Thanksgiving Resolutions. This new Thanksgiving year, let us resolve to give God thanks every day.
Thank You for the chores
Lord, thank You for this sink of dirty dishes; we have plenty of good food to eat. Thank You for this big pile of dirty clothes; we have them to wear. Thank You for these unmade beds; they were all comfortable last night. Thank You for this finger-smudged refrigerator that desperately needs cleaning; it has served us faithfully for a long time. Our family is grateful for the tall grass that needs mowing; we all enjoy our private yard. Thank You for that slamming door; the children are healthy and able to run and play. Lord, the presence of all the chores awaiting me says that You have richly blessed this family. I shall do them all gratefully. (FBCCR bulletin - Sunday, November 24, 2019)
God's Word tells us to be thankful all the time:
"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).