Preoccupied

Text Luke 12:13-15 “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

Luke 12 opens with Jesus instructing his disciples in the presence of the multitude. The subject of His instructions is pharisaical hypocrisy (vs.1-3), physical hatred (vs.4-12, and personal heralding (vs.11-12). Our Lord’s time of instruction is abruptly interrupted by “one of the company” (vs.13). The individual wants Jesus to intervene in a family dispute between him and his brother concerning their inheritance. From the text it is not made clear as to whether the man has a rightful claim to a portion of the inheritance. While Jesus will not entertain the problem, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you”; He will enhance the principle; “Take heed, and beware of covetousnes.”

Knowing the dangers of becoming preoccupied with the temporal treasures of this world, Jesus sets forth a warning; “Take heed, and beware.” The phrase “Take heed” means to stare at by implication to discern clearly physically or mentally, by extension, to attend to. The word “beware” means through the process of isolation, to watch or be on guard. The tendency of most is to immediately assume that Jesus is speaking to someone other than themselves! They point to the fact that the word “covetousness” means greed by implication extortion or the practice of fraud, and they are not involved in such hideous acts. While they have correctly defined the word, the definition also includes the idea of the desire for holding more and eager for gain. The first aspect of the definition may relate to the callous habit, the final aspect to the corrupt heart.

With respect to the spirit of covetousness, note two things that are set forth. The first thing to be noticed is the subjects! It is the mind set of most that only a select few have to worry about the spirit of covetousness and they fall into the class of what most consider rich. Even the parable that Jesus used to enhance the principle had a rich man as the main subject. But, please notice the wording in verses 14 and 15. Having been interrupted by one of the company, verse 14 says, “And he said unto him.” Jesus has a specific word for the individual. But verse 15 says, “And he said unto them.” While the problem of covetousness was manifested in the life of one individual, the principle of covetousness can infect all! If the spirit of covetousness is a threat to those that have walked away from successful businesses, left family and friends to do the bidding of the Master for three and a half year; are we so foolish to believe that we are immune from the infectious spirit? Speaking unto our Lord, Peter said, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee” (Mark 10:28).

Secondly, note the substance. There is one thing that is clearly set forth by our Lord; with respect to the spirit of covetousness, it is not a matter of possessions, but poverty! It is the opinion of Matthew Henry that the rich man in the parable was the prince or ruler of a district with people beneath him; thus making the possessions even greater than the average individual. If covetousness consisted of merely possessions, then men like Abraham and Job would have been individuals of corrupt character. Speaking of Job whose possessions consisted of “seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3); God said that he was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). The covetous person has a poverty problem; “and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). A covetous spirit is not the presence of substance, but the absence of the spiritual! The difference between Job and the rich man in the parable was Job esteemed the spiritual over the substance and the rich man esteemed the substance over the spiritual! While it is possible to possess both; only one can occupy the preeminent seat of authority; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

When determining if you have the spirit of covetousness; remember it is not a matter of possessions, but poverty. Are you preoccupied with the spiritual or with substance; “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Welcome In His Presence

Text John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

After reading John 6:24-37, we are enlightened to the manner in which Jesus welcomed the people. In verses 24-24, the people are met with rebuke, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth: (vs.27). But, in vs.37 they are met with reward, “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” How does one rectify the varied responses of Jesus to the same people? In Jesus’ first response, the people are drawn by substance, “Ye seek me . . . because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (vs.26). They were motivated to seek out the Lord Jesus Christ for physical reasons; they wanted more free bread and fish. Jesus’ second response is different because the people were not being motivated by the substance, but the Sovereign; “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (vs.37). In their first response, the people’s motivation was secular; in the second, it was spiritual!

While a study of the above subject is not only needful and necessary, my spirit was awakened to the phrase; “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Please notice a few things about the phrase. Within the first half of the phrase, Jesus is making a reference to a specific person that will move forward in His direction to assume a place near to Him or directly by His side. The last half of the phrase reveals the welcome that this person can expect to receive from the Lord Himself. The phrase “I will in no wise” is made up of two words; one is an absolute negative meaning no, not, or never. The other is a negative interrogative response of no, never, or God forbid. The phrase “cast out” means to throw out side or out of doors from the point of origin. When these thoughts are combined, Jesus is saying, “When a specific person moves toward me for the purposes of assuming a place by my side, they will absolutely never need to worry about being cast out of my presence!”

In my consideration of that statement made by Jesus, the thing that moved me was not only the rest for the sinner, but the ramification for the saint! If this was to be the manner in which God welcomes a sinner; what is to be the anticipation of a son. If this was to be the manner in which God welcomes a rebel; what is to be the anticipation of a relative. As a son and a relative by the complete and finished work of Christ on Calvary, I am encouraged by God’s Word; “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

As a child of God, have you ever been hesitant in your approach to God. You have somehow convinced yourself that you will be met with a less that favorable welcome; this type of faulty thinking is due to our misunderstanding of the attributes of God and the appropriation of grace!

You are welcome in His presence because of forgiveness; “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Because of the sufficiency of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; all our sin, past, present, and future, have been atoned for and we occupy a righteous standing before a Righteous and Holy God! The only one that retain knowledge of our sin is self and Satan; if we are being reminded of them, it is not the work of an all forgiving God.

You are welcome in His presence because He is your Father; “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). I am told that the phrase “Abba, Father” is one of endearment projecting the idea of our word, “Poppa.” Alfred Barnes said that slaves were not permitted to use the title of Abba in addressing the master of the family to which they belonged. It was a title reserved for the lips of free men; thus revealing that this is the language of those not bound under the servitude of sin. Matthew reminds us of the benefits of our fatherly relationship; “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11).

You are welcome in His presence because He is a friend; “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). Thank God for forgiveness and the fact that He is our Heavenly Father, but what a blessing to know that He is our friend! The writer of Proverbs said, “A friend loveth at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). I have heard it said that a friend is one that can take the wheat and the chaff and with the breath of kindness blow away the chaff and keep the wheat!

The next time you are hesitant to approach God, remember the forgiveness, the Father, and the friend. If He would never cast out a sinner that is motivated by the spirit, could we as sons, expect any less of a welcome in His presence?

Welcome In His Presence

Text John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

After reading John 6:24-37, we are enlightened to the manner in which Jesus welcomed the people. In verses 24-24, the people are met with rebuke, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth: (vs.27). But, in vs.37 they are met with reward, “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” How does one rectify the varied responses of Jesus to the same people? In Jesus’ first response, the people are drawn by substance, “Ye seek me . . . because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (vs.26). They were motivated to seek out the Lord Jesus Christ for physical reasons; they wanted more free bread and fish. Jesus’ second response is different because the people were not being motivated by the substance, but the Sovereign; “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (vs.37). In their first response, the people’s motivation was secular; in the second, it was spiritual!

While a study of the above subject is not only needful and necessary, my spirit was awakened to the phrase; “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Please notice a few things about the phrase. Within the first half of the phrase, Jesus is making a reference to a specific person that will move forward in His direction to assume a place near to Him or directly by His side. The last half of the phrase reveals the welcome that this person can expect to receive from the Lord Himself. The phrase “I will in no wise” is made up of two words; one is an absolute negative meaning no, not, or never. The other is a negative interrogative response of no, never, or God forbid. The phrase “cast out” means to throw out side or out of doors from the point of origin. When these thoughts are combined, Jesus is saying, “When a specific person moves toward me for the purposes of assuming a place by my side, they will absolutely never need to worry about being cast out of my presence!”

In my consideration of that statement made by Jesus, the thing that moved me was not only the rest for the sinner, but the ramification for the saint! If this was to be the manner in which God welcomes a sinner; what is to be the anticipation of a son. If this was to be the manner in which God welcomes a rebel; what is to be the anticipation of a relative. As a son and a relative by the complete and finished work of Christ on Calvary, I am encouraged by God’s Word; “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

As a child of God, have you ever been hesitant in your approach to God. You have somehow convinced yourself that you will be met with a less that favorable welcome; this type of faulty thinking is due to our misunderstanding of the attributes of God and the appropriation of grace!

You are welcome in His presence because of forgiveness; “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Because of the sufficiency of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; all our sin, past, present, and future, have been atoned for and we occupy a righteous standing before a Righteous and Holy God! The only one that retain knowledge of our sin is self and Satan; if we are being reminded of them, it is not the work of an all forgiving God.

You are welcome in His presence because He is your Father; “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). I am told that the phrase “Abba, Father” is one of endearment projecting the idea of our word, “Poppa.” Alfred Barnes said that slaves were not permitted to use the title of Abba in addressing the master of the family to which they belonged. It was a title reserved for the lips of free men; thus revealing that this is the language of those not bound under the servitude of sin. Matthew reminds us of the benefits of our fatherly relationship; “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11).

You are welcome in His presence because He is a friend; “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). Thank God for forgiveness and the fact that He is our Heavenly Father, but what a blessing to know that He is our friend! The writer of Proverbs said, “A friend loveth at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). I have heard it said that a friend is one that can take the wheat and the chaff and with the breath of kindness blow away the chaff and keep the wheat!

The next time you are hesitant to approach God, remember the forgiveness, the Father, and the friend. If He would never cast out a sinner that is motivated by the spirit, could we as sons, expect any less of a welcome in His presence?

The First Step

Text Luke 5:4-6 “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.”

Having been overcome by the magnitude of the masses, Jesus found it necessary to get into a ship and distance himself from them so that he might declare unto them the Word of God. Finished with the declaration, Jesus turned and spoke personally to Simon Peter; “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” At first glance it is possible to miss the magnitude of what Jesus is asking Peter to do! It is not just the fact that Jesus is asking Peter to encompass a massive haul of fishes in a single act, but He is asking Peter to be successful on the heels of total failure; “we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing.” Peter not only experienced minimal failure, but rather utter failure! Peter is saying, “We have labored all night to the point of physical and mental fatigue and I have yet to take hold one fish of any size or description; the only thing that we have successfully done is dirty our nets creating more work for ourselves!”

It is at this point that things are about to turn around for Peter and his crew. Peter’s recovery began with the acknowledgement of corporate failure: “we have . . . have taken nothing.” There are two aspects to the first step that I want to magnify. Please note Peter’s willingness to acknowledge his problem; “have taken nothing.” One will find it difficult to get or receive help until one is willing to acknowledge the fact that they have a problem! I am of the opinion that one of the greatest deterrents to experiencing revival is the fact that most don’t see their need for it! Snared by the deceptive spirit of apathy, the nominal Christian, if there is such a thing, is poised to conduct business as usual; “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). The masses of Christianity are much like Samson; “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him” (Judges 16:20). Pause for a moment and ask yourself one question, “What one thing could I have not accomplished this week had it not been for the personal intervention of God?” We must not only acknowledge that we have a problem, but the sooner we recognize the need, the easier it is to fix. David should have recognized he had a problem when he failed to accompany his troop into battle (see II Samuel 11). Even a common soldier like Uriah knew that wasn’t right; “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing” (vs.11). The man after God’s own heart should have known he had a problem when he attempted to satisfy a natural desire in an unlawful manner; “the woman was very beautiful to look upon . . . and took her; and she came in unto him” (vs.2-4). The sooner David realized he had a problem, the easier it would have been to correct! Do you see any early signs of a problem in your life?

Please note Peter’s willingness to acknowledge his participation, “we have.” We know from the text that Peter had at least two partners that accompanied him in his endeavors to catch fish. Unlike so many of us, Peter was willing to accept responsibility for the failure. The fault wasn’t to be lain at John’s feet or James’ feet; the failure was corporate, as a unit we have failed in the endeavor of catching fish! It is this particular truth that most impresses me about Nehemiah. I think that it is possible that this young man was born in captivity and had never set foot in Jerusalem; at best he was but a child when carried away. Yet, when it came time to accept responsibility for the sin of a nation and the condemnation that followed, he said, “which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned” (Nehemiah 1:6). We quickly reveal the nature of our first birth in the likeness of the first Adam when we magnify the all the faults of others while remaining blind to our own; “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat . . . And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12-13). Are we willing to accept responsibility?

If we are to ever experience help, the first step is acknowledging our problem and our participation.

The First Step

Text Luke 5:4-6 “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.”

Having been overcome by the magnitude of the masses, Jesus found it necessary to get into a ship and distance himself from them so that he might declare unto them the Word of God. Finished with the declaration, Jesus turned and spoke personally to Simon Peter; “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” At first glance it is possible to miss the magnitude of what Jesus is asking Peter to do! It is not just the fact that Jesus is asking Peter to encompass a massive haul of fishes in a single act, but He is asking Peter to be successful on the heels of total failure; “we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing.” Peter not only experienced minimal failure, but rather utter failure! Peter is saying, “We have labored all night to the point of physical and mental fatigue and I have yet to take hold one fish of any size or description; the only thing that we have successfully done is dirty our nets creating more work for ourselves!”

It is at this point that things are about to turn around for Peter and his crew. Peter’s recovery began with the acknowledgement of corporate failure: “we have . . . have taken nothing.” There are two aspects to the first step that I want to magnify. Please note Peter’s willingness to acknowledge his problem; “have taken nothing.” One will find it difficult to get or receive help until one is willing to acknowledge the fact that they have a problem! I am of the opinion that one of the greatest deterrents to experiencing revival is the fact that most don’t see their need for it! Snared by the deceptive spirit of apathy, the nominal Christian, if there is such a thing, is poised to conduct business as usual; “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). The masses of Christianity are much like Samson; “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him” (Judges 16:20). Pause for a moment and ask yourself one question, “What one thing could I have not accomplished this week had it not been for the personal intervention of God?” We must not only acknowledge that we have a problem, but the sooner we recognize the need, the easier it is to fix. David should have recognized he had a problem when he failed to accompany his troop into battle (see II Samuel 11). Even a common soldier like Uriah knew that wasn’t right; “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing” (vs.11). The man after God’s own heart should have known he had a problem when he attempted to satisfy a natural desire in an unlawful manner; “the woman was very beautiful to look upon . . . and took her; and she came in unto him” (vs.2-4). The sooner David realized he had a problem, the easier it would have been to correct! Do you see any early signs of a problem in your life?

Please note Peter’s willingness to acknowledge his participation, “we have.” We know from the text that Peter had at least two partners that accompanied him in his endeavors to catch fish. Unlike so many of us, Peter was willing to accept responsibility for the failure. The fault wasn’t to be lain at John’s feet or James’ feet; the failure was corporate, as a unit we have failed in the endeavor of catching fish! It is this particular truth that most impresses me about Nehemiah. I think that it is possible that this young man was born in captivity and had never set foot in Jerusalem; at best he was but a child when carried away. Yet, when it came time to accept responsibility for the sin of a nation and the condemnation that followed, he said, “which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned” (Nehemiah 1:6). We quickly reveal the nature of our first birth in the likeness of the first Adam when is magnify the all the faults of others while remaining blind to our own; “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat . . . And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12-13). Are we willing to accept responsibility?

If we are to ever experience help, the first step is acknowledging our problem and our participation.

Be Thankful

Text Psalm 100:1-5 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

The title that precedes Psalm 100 in my Bible is, “A Psalm of Praise.” I notice that unlike some, this particular psalm is not attributed to any specific author or event in time. I think there is a reason for both; no matter who it may be and what is occurring, it is always an acceptable time to praise the LORD! Within Psalm 100 there are at least four aspects of praise that readily surface and manifest themselves. Praise manifests itself with the salutations of grandeur; “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Praise manifests itself with the service of glee; “Serve the Lord with gladness.” Praise manifests itself with the singing of gladness; “come before his presence with singing.” And, praise manifests itself with the spirit of gratitude; “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving.”

Yet, amid this psalm of praise there are two words in verse 4 that captured my attention, generating a spirit of conviction; “be thankful.” While it should be the natural out flow of my heart; is it necessary for the Spirit of God to remind me to “be thankful.” Paul speaking of the perilous times that would come said that those days could be identified by the following signs; “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:2-5). Note that one of the hideous signs of those days is being “unthankful.” While my outward physical actions and activities may not be associated with those wicked days, does the inward attitude of an unthankful spirit tell a different story?

Having reminded me of my need to be thankful, the psalmist then places before us the motivation for being thankful. The motivation for being thankful is the consideration of a person; “For the LORD” (vs.5). The motivation for our thankfulness isn’t about money or materialism; it’s all about the Master, the Self-Existent and Eternal God! We should be thankful because “the LORD is good.” The terms that the psalmist uses to describe the LORD means good in the widest sense; to be, to do, or make good. Speaking of the character of God, Abraham said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). Has there ever been a time in your life that the LORD has been anything less than good? The Bible said that it was “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4). We are to be thankful because of “his mercy.” In spite of the fact that He has the right to execute judgment at any time, He delights in extending mercy; “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). We are to be thankful because of “his truth.” The word means firmness, security, moral fidelity and comes from a word meaning trustworthiness. Solomon said, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19). While we may be disappointed by man, we will never be disappointed by the Master, for the LORD will never prove to be unfaithful in the time of trouble. The LORD can be trusted in any situation!

May we turn our eyes away from the temporal aspects of materialism and focus upon the Master; the Self-Existent and Eternal God; the God that is ever good, merciful, and trustworthy in every aspect of life. May the quality of His character encourage us to “be thankful.”

Be Thankful

Text Psalm 100:1-5 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

The title that precedes Psalm 100 in my Bible is, “A Psalm of Praise.” I notice that unlike some, this particular psalm is not attributed to any specific author or event in time. I think there is a reason for both; no matter who it may be and what is occurring, it is always an acceptable time to praise the LORD! Within Psalm 100 there are at least four aspects of praise that readily surface and manifest themselves. Praise manifests itself with the salutations of grandeur; “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Praise manifests itself with the service of glee; “Serve the Lord with gladness.” Praise manifests itself with the singing of gladness; “come before his presence with singing.” And, praise manifests itself with the spirit of gratitude; “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving.”

Yet, amid this psalm of praise there are two words in verse 4 that captured my attention, generating a spirit of conviction; “be thankful.” While it should be the natural out flow of my heart; is it necessary for the Spirit of God to remind me to “be thankful.” Paul speaking of the perilous times that would come said that those days could be identified by the following signs; “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:2-5). Note that one of the hideous signs of those days is being “unthankful.” While my outward physical actions and activities may not be associated with those wicked days, does the inward attitude of an unthankful spirit tell a different story?

Having reminded me of my need to be thankful, the psalmist then places before us the motivation for being thankful. The motivation for being thankful is the consideration of a person; “For the LORD” (vs.5). The motivation for our thankfulness isn’t about money or materialism; it’s all about the Master, the Self-Existent and Eternal God! We should be thankful because “the LORD is good.” The terms that the psalmist uses to describe the LORD means good in the widest sense; to be, to do, or make good. Speaking of the character of God, Abraham said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). Has there ever been a time in your life that the LORD has been anything less than good? The Bible said that it was “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4). We are to be thankful because of “his mercy.” In spite of the fact that He has the right to execute judgment at any time, He delights in extending mercy; “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). We are to be thankful because of “his truth.” The word means firmness, security, moral fidelity and comes from a word meaning trustworthiness. Solomon said, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19). While we may be disappointed by man, we will never be disappointed by the Master, for the LORD will never prove to be unfaithful in the time of trouble. The LORD can be trusted in any situation!

May we turn our eyes away from the temporal aspects of materialism and focus upon the Master; the Self-Existent and Eternal God; the God that is ever good, merciful, and trustworthy in every aspect of life. May the quality of His character encourage us to “be thankful.”

Accounability

Text Philippians 3:12-17 “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”

Within our text is probably some of the most memorable and powerful words spoken by the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost! Writing to the believers at Philippi, Paul declares his spiritual activity. Unlike his writings in II Timothy 4, at the present, there is yet much spiritual territory to be occupied and he is busy about possessing it! While others may quit short of the finish line, not the Apostle Paul. Paul’s spiritual activity is marked by an assessment, “I count” (vs.13). The idea is that of taking inventory; Paul doesn’t want to be guilty of deceiving himself. Secondly, it’s marked by an awareness, “that for which also I am apprehended of Christ” (vs.12). God has not only a purpose, but a specific purpose for his life. Lastly, it’s marked by an attempt, “I press toward the mark” (vs.14). The word “press” means to pursue or move forward to such a degree that it appears as the persecution of self. Paul has taken the time to set forth what is transpiring in his life as a child of God.

Within the text, we can see not only the apparent spiritual activity, but there is the subtle manifestation of spiritual accountability in at least two areas. We see Paul’s spiritual accountability to the Beloved. There is a word that Paul uses several times in the text that clarifies this truth; it is the word “apprehend.” The word means to take eagerly, to seize or to possess and it comes from two words that project the idea of pursuit for the purpose of taking down or taking possession of! Mindful of his Damascus road experience, Paul sees himself as one that God has pursued and taken possession of so that he might fulfill a divine purpose. Paul knows himself to be “a chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15); one that is accountable unto to God; “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).

The second aspect of spiritual accountability is to the body. On two occasions within the text Paul makes a subtle reference to the body by using the word “brethren.” In Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, Paul emphasizes that while we are many members, we make up one body! As a member of the body we are accountable for our projection, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (II Corinthians 3:2). How the body is perceived by the world is directly related to what they see being projected from the lives of individual believers. Writing to the saints at Rome, Paul reminded them; “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7). We are to be held accountable for our participation; “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Corinthians 12:18). Paul reminds us that there is no member of the body that is not necessary. If the body of Christ is to accomplish its purpose in the world it demands the participation of every member of the body; “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary” (I Corinthians 12:21-22).

With the Scriptures as our directive, and the Spirit as our discerner, let’s do an assessment of our spiritual activity. Having gained a spiritual perspective from God point of view and being made aware of our spiritual accountability to the Beloved and the body, are there some changes that need to be made in our lives?