Do you realize the gift you have been given? Do you realize the blessings you have received? Are you grateful for the things you have and do you appreciate them? Today between God’s Word and a post a friend put up about his dad and how it was 24 years ago today that he lost him, it made me stop and reflect. Stop and think about all the haves that I have and consider if I really appreciated the things I had and the things I have.
When I think about growing up, I am so grateful for the family who loved me. My parents. My grandparents. I miss my pappy but I know how much we had and how much we loved and how much we invested in that relationship. I am so grateful for the people who were with me to help me become the man I am today. I am so grateful for the friends I have had and the new ones I am getting. I am so grateful for the divine intervention of God who took me right where I was at and took me in and embraced me and taught me how much He loved me and the plans He has for me. He has calmed many a storm in my life either by calming me down or by calming down the hustle and bustle of life. He helped me learn through obedience and hesitation/disobedience. Helped me learn the power of forgiveness to heal so many pains and stresses. I am so grateful for the church that was right down the street after a big move so many years ago that invited me in and helped train me and help me get interested in spending time with God and in His Word daily.
Do you realize all that God has done and has given you? Are you grateful or taking it for granted?
Have you allowed all He has done for you to go to your head? Or are you allowing Him to have control of your heart and to allow His love and His blessings to flow through you in a way that will bless Him and spread the Good News to everyone you come into contact with?
Are you taking what you have and using it for good? Are you appreciating what you have and God’s love for you? Are you walking with Him? Are you talking with Him? Are you?
God’s love for you is great! His plans for you are good! He wants you to have a hope and a future. So are you following after Him? Are you keeping your relationship with Him strong? Are you walking with Him or are you walking away? Is your love for Him being built up or are you mistreating it? Is He really a priority for you?
Consider the bar, the measuring stick, the units to measure life against. The old testament had the 10 commandments, but we see Jesus calls us to a higher bar. The 10 commandments show us how much we need a savior to be able to get to heaven. It shows how much and why we need Jesus to intervene and intersect our lives. When we check what Jesus tells us about the law, He wants us to live at a higher standard. Consider when He said: (in Matthew 5)
Completing God’s Law
17-18“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
21-22“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
23-24“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25-26“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.
Adultery and Divorce
27-28“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heartcan be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
29-30“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.
31-32“Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
33-37“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
Love Your Enemies
38-42“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
43-47“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
God wants us to live to a higher calling, because if we just live an average life, the average is going to keep dropping. If we don’t live to a higher calling, it becomes a slippery slope that will not only allow others to drag us down, but what is OK and what is good will change. Consider the higher calling. Consider the minimum bar. And realize first we need Jesus in our hearts and then we need to be living to the higher calling of life so as to help those in need through generosity and grace by giving them a hand up rather than just a handout.
How are you living today? What are your relationships like? Are you having healthy relationships? With your wife? With your kids? With your family? With your friend? With those you work with or meet? How are you living today? Is it building up? Is it positive? Is it healthy? How are you living today?
Are you brave enough to stop and turn back to the truth? Are you brave enough to stop and ask for forgiveness before it is too late? Are you brave enough to accept the forgiveness and start fresh? Will you be willing to give and receive forgiveness?
Fear Not, Just Believe. Faith is the antidote of fear!
If someone was going to compare you to something, what would it be? If someone was going to see how you measure up, what unit or standard would they use? Consider today your life and how you are living and what you can do to improve your life, how you live, how your life impacts others, how your life compares to God’s Word. As God’s Word says it, let’s live our lives:
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13
So let’s live lives that show our faith and trust in God! Let’s live lives that show how much our hope is placed on Him! Let’s love so that the world around us knows His love, true love, the real meaning of love, not what the world has soiled it to mean. In the end, the best of these is LOVE!
So live a life today that will shine for God! Live a life that will shine the light of Jesus into the world that you are in. Let your light shine so that others will come and glorify our Heavenly Father. This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it!