The beloved disciple John wrote the Gospel of John, the three epistles I, II, and III John and Revelation. Reading I John again it is clear that his commitment to Jesus never got lukewarm. I John 2:22-23 says the liar denies that Jesus is the Christ. I John 4:2-3 says the Spirit of God acknowledges that Jesus came in the flesh, but a false spirit will not. I John 5:11-12 says life is in God’s Son. If one doesn’t have the Son, one doesn’t have life. The key to not becoming lukewarm is to keep one’s focus on Jesus.
I want to be self-sufficient. God never wants that for me. He has something so much better—trust in Him to be my sufficiency. So I Peter 1:3 says God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. I will never find it in myself. II Corinthians 9:8 says God is our sufficiency—He will provide what we need (not always what we want). The context of a life where God becomes our sufficiency is a life where we share with others, sow generously, and practice good stewardship of what God provides for us.
Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate grace—all the blessings and gifts in life we didn’t deserve or earn. Yesterday, I enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with some family in the house provided for me by the church. We are all in reasonably good health. I realize so much of my life has been a gift. I realize so much of what I have taken for granted is actually something for which I should have been grateful. I realize I should have spent less time being preoccupied with stuff and more time being thankful for relationships that have blessed my life.
It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). But faith in what? Two things. First, that God exists. That’s not so hard for me. Second, that God rewards those who seek Him earnestly. This is where I am challenged. Well, of course, I say I believe that God rewards those who seek Him earnestly. But do I live like it is a core conviction of my life? James says faith without works is dead. What I preach means nothing if I don’t live convinced that God rewards those who seek Him earnestly.
I served for a time as a chaplain at the Fort Meade Veterans Center. We sang many older songs, but it seemed to me that there was always a spark that came to life in these aging men and women when we sang the songs of the Armed Forces. These veterans didn’t lose their lives serving our country, but many of them were forever impacted as their buddies lost their lives and they bore the physical, mental and emotional scars of their service. Much of what I see today tells me we are unworthy of these great Veterans.
When I was 25 I lacked confidence, courage and competence. Today I have gained some of each of those. But I often envy the young because of what they can do that I can no longer do—even though I finally have enough confidence to try it and know-how to do it! My brain has an idea and my body reacts like a rusty tractor. But I serve a God who is forever young. He does not wear out. His power, wisdom and love are always there for me regardless of how my body works or doesn’t work. Psalm 102:26-27.
Craig Groeschel captured my attention when he wrote that good decisions are easy to make while the best decisions are hard, risky and costly. That’s what keeps us from making the best decisions—we know they will cost us something valuable up front. Michael Pietrzak says the Latin root of the word “decision” means “to cut off.” So the best decisions come by eliminating any other course of action. It is sink or swim time. But what makes them the best decisions is the reward that comes later. Following Jesus is a costly, best decision with eternal reward!