Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”
Text: Deuteronomy 8:10-18
“What do you say?” How many times would you guess a parent says that in a lifetime? Christmas. Birthdays. Receiving candy at Halloween. Getting a lollipop from the bank teller. Leaving someone’s house after a party. You can count on it like you can count on a summer rain shower in Florida. “What do you say?” (because the child forgot). Begrudgingly, shyly, and certainly less than completely sincere, the child responds, “Thank you.”
I would guess I’ve said this dozens and dozens of times already in almost eight years of parenting. We know that this is an important part to being a functioning human being in society. We teach our children that when someone gives you something or does something for you, you say thank you.
This is so important and this is such common knowledge that everyone does this. My parents engrained in me as a child that when you receive a gift you even write a Thank You note. Even still to this day if my grandma doesn’t receive a handwritten thank you note or at least an Email I know she will tell my parents and I’ll hear about it shortly. Read the rest of this entry
Find Strength to Give Thanks
Text: Philippians 4:10-20
This Thanksgiving stuff is a lot of work. It takes a lot of energy and strength to pull off a successful Thanksgiving. Hours are spent cleaning every nook and cranny of the house. After all, it’s been a while since you cleaned the dust bunnies off your ceiling fan and that would be embarrassing if your company saw that! All the sheets and towels need to be washed and put in place. All the fine china needs to be unpacked and washed off.
Then there’s the Thanksgiving menu. How many visitors are we going to have again this year? 15? Wait cousin Sal has three kids now? Ok, 16. How big of a turkey do we need? 18 pound? 20 pound? Can we trust Jennie-O’s calculations of pounds per person? Do you think we need a ham too? What sort of stuffing should we make this year? Do we need three pies or four? When am I going to have time to bake those pies, because I need the oven all day on Thanksgiving for the bird.
What time should we eat? Well, what does the football schedule look like? Which games do we want to watch? Definitely not the Lions game. Boring! We have to plan dinner properly so we can watch football and so we can also plan when we pass out in a turkey-tryptophan coma. (By the way, the tryptophan in turkey making you sleepy is not true and just an urban legend.) Oh, and most important of all—Black Friday sales start as early as 7pm on Thursday now! Which store do we want to stand in line at first? We need to finish our Christmas shopping ASAP so we have time to put up the Christmas lights and tree on Friday. Read the rest of this entry
21st Sunday after Pentecost
A Tale of Two Hearts
Text: 2 Kings 5:14-27
The year was about 850 B.C. The location was northern Israel. Things weren’t so great. Actually, they were near terrible. Israel had been ripped in half and split into two kingdoms. Though the northern kingdom was worse, both kingdoms were plagued with bad kings and bad spiritual leaders that led the people astray. As idolatry and the worship of false gods increased, so also adultery and immorality increased. Often, the people even combined the two and committed adultery while worshiping other gods.
As the spiritual state of Israel was pathetic, the political side wasn’t much better. Since the kingdom split, things hadn’t quite been the same since the glory days of King David and King Solomon. Israel was always being threatened. At this particular time, it was the Arameans from Aram just to the north and east that were threatening. Spiritual turmoil. Political turmoil. War. Not easy times for Israel. Not easy times for Elisha to be a prophet in Israel.
It was at this time that one brief little episode took place, a story so short and strange that most of you may not have even heard it before. Read the rest of this entry
Text: 2 Kings 5:14-27
The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
The apostle Paul wrote those words to a young pastor by the name of Timothy. How true his words have remained over two millennia! How true his words are in a country of consumerism like America!
This is nothing new though. Throughout the history of the world money has been a source of all kinds of problems. Today’s devotion gives us a glimpse of just one example from Israel’s history.
God allowed the prophet Elisha to bring healing to an Aramean named Naaman. Moved by the awesome power of God and a newly planted faith, Naaman offered gifts of thanks to Elisha and his right-hand servant, Gehazi. But Elisha refused so that God received the glory and thanks, not Elisha.
However, Gehazi had dollar signs in his eyes. He privately ran up to Naaman and concocted a story about Elisha needing the gifts that had been offered. He then took the bounty and hid it in his house. He even tried to lie to the prophet of God to cover up his greedy theft. As a result, Gehazi and his family received the same disease that Naaman had.
It is a clear example of the difference between greed and humble thanks to God. Naaman was thankful to the Lord for what he had done and freely and willingly offered gifts of his own treasures. But Gehazi wasn’t content with what he had. He just had to have more.
This week our worship and our daily devotions will focus on how love overcomes our greed. So we can pray today that God gives to us the reformed heart of Naaman, who gave in thanks and joy to the Lord. We can also pray that God keep us from the greed of Gehazi!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Help me to be content with all the things you give to me in life. Help me to trust that you will always provide. Help me to graciously give gifts of my treasures to help others and to give thanks to you. I pray in your holy name. Amen.
Devotion Text: Philippians 1:12-18
Sometimes jealousy isn’t just envy and covetousness about what material blessings someone else has. Sometimes, jealousy is about the life God has blessed another person with compared to the trials and temptations God has blessed you with.
The apostle Paul had every reason to be jealous of other people, other believers.
For him, the Lord had a special plan. Paul would be the first Christian missionary to the Gentiles. He would travel from city to city–far from home–and under constant danger. He would be jailed and he would eventually be killed–all for the sake of the Gospel. Other apostles, even those who were martyred enjoyed the relative peace of their homes and a large Christian population in Jerusalem. Many had families and were blessed with long lives with much less trouble than Paul.
Still, Paul did not begrudge his chains or his fellow Christians, he considered himself blessed.
Jealousy at its core, is the enemy of love and it is the opposite of contentment. Paul notes that some at his time were even preaching out of jealousy and envy–may God protect us from this! But, perhaps, Paul’s conclusion is even more apt to the overall point.
In the end, even those who preached to advance themselves, still preached Christ. While we would not laud them as great examples, God still worked through them (and hopefully eventually in them) to advance the Gospel! The Gospel is the cure for these symptoms because it attacks the underlying illness–sin.
With our sins forgiven and the freedom to live a new life, we have the ability to cast off our jealousy and accept our trials along with our blessings as God reveals his greater plans for our lives. All this as we trek onward to the ultimate plan for our lives, an eternal life in heaven.
Prayer: Let me be content, Lord. Let me be content with your plan for my life. Let me be content, Lord, not only for all the blessings you’ve given me, but that you have blessed me at all when I have not earned anything from you. Let me be content, Lord, with the ways in which you have blessed others. Let me rejoice with them and never be envious. Instead, let me always be content, Lord, with your times and your plans. Let me be content, Lord, as I await the much fuller joys you have planned for me in heaven. Amen.