Mag's Thoughts

Gratitude

Jesus was in Jerusalem and as evening came to close the day, a man named Nicodemus approached him. He was a Pharisee and came under the cloak of darkness to learn more about this rabbi that had performed so many miraculous things. The Pharisee had heard about this teacher and came to see for himself.

Jesus began to tell the Pharisee and as it is recorded in John 3, we too learn about a gift given to man, given out of a perfect love the Creator had for mankind. Jesus said in John 3:16-18: 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

There is far more conversation with the man who came in darkness and I challenge you to read the entire discourse. Most important, the gift of Jesus Christ, given to die for our sins, is clearly explained by the Savior himself.

My point in all of this is our reaction as a Christian. You see as we approach Thanksgiving, are we grateful for all God did for us in the act of sending Christ to earth? We have been given salvation, eternity in the presence of Almighty God through Jesus Christ and the blood he shed for our sin. Our reaction should be extreme gratitude played out in our lives by our being as Christ asked, Christ-like and responding in obedience to share the Good News.

Our Sunday School children wrote a letter to God detailing how, in their young lives, they can be thankful for what God gave them, salvation. So much more could be explained and many other passages discussed, but from the heart of a child to the heart of those who have lived long lives, it is so very plain in John 3:16. God loved us with His perfect love. He gave His Son to die in our place. We believe and then, our response on earth is? Our gratitude played out in living is what?

1 Peter 2:21
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Romans 12:1
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

 

Redirect

Our moral inclinations are manifested in our reactions when others violate our rights, but we don't see the moral law nearly as clearly when we violate others' rights." Norman Geisler

The world teaches us that self- preservation is above all else and certainly above the well-being of all others.  We expect others to treat us with respect, yet we often, with our words, our actions, and sometimes lack of action, disobey that which Christ taught us in our relationship with others.

In John 13:34, Jesus teaches us saying, "I give you a new law. That law is, love each other as I have loved you, so you also love each other." Christ intended that we love even those who love us not, or do not think like us,  or live differently from us. Skip Moen in his Hebrew Word Study, "Different Strokes", says, "Yeshua is telling His disciples that the Hebrew  ahav is to be understood not in terms of single devotion of YHVH, but rather in terms of the act of embracing those who are not like us."

We deny the  basic tenets that Christ taught us when self is above all others. We are to love the Lord and love others as Christ loved. There is no gray area in what Christ teaches. We are certainly the first to speak up when others treat us badly.  A more positive way to understand what Jesus is saying is to be like Christ, to embrace all others as Christ does. Again, as followers, we fish for men, we shine brightly, we reflect to  others the glory of a God who gave His Only Son that we might have eternal life.  How can we love  if we are   making sure  all is right with self first?  It is love as defined by Jesus Christ that redirects our attention from self to others.

I Surrender

"I  surrender, I surrender all!" I just sat down and played that old hymn, a little rusty on that piano for sure. I recently completed a series of lessons on Christ. Hopefully, God spoke to some about surrender to our Savior, being Christ-like. He sure spoke to me.

You see, as I understand it, surrendering of self means our days, our thoughts, our words and our deeds. Jesus said for us to take up our cross. He said make disciples and be my witnesses. He said be the light.

You could say I am a little rusty as I am now 74. Rusty or not, when we surrender to Christ our whole, we do what we physically can to serve, including the most important, going before God in prayer and reading His Word. Surrender is really an attitude change. The focus is our Lord and Savior. That shifts our focus from self to Christ.

Ephesians 5:1-2: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant in offering and sacrifice to God.

Surrender is a change of attitude and focus in all areas, not just those seen by others.

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