Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name;
proclaim His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works!
Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Search for the LORD and for His strength; seek His face always. Psalm 105:1-4 (HCSB)
Lectionery Texts: Exodus 16:2-15, Psalm 105: 1-6, 37-45, Philippians 1:21-30, Matthew 20:1-16
The lectionery them this week is about obedience and God’s extraordinary grace when I don’t succeed in the obedience. God’s inspired word teaches me so much.
Be careful looking back to the Good Ol’ Days. In the Exodus text Moses is catching the serious whining and complaining of the Israelites. They want to go back to Egypt where they say that they had plenty to eat and apparently plenty of time to sit around those full dinner pots. Hmmm. I thought they worked plenty and had little time for anything but working.
When God leads me into a new season that involves many changes in my life, I can find my mind going back to â€œthe good ol’ daysâ€ when I knew what I was doing and I knew what God was doing. My memory is often a filter as I forget the difficulties of that time that if I did remember it accurately, I would realize that there were changes then just as there are now. I would remember the faithfulness of God and how He brought me through that time. It would boost my trust in God to bring me through this season, too, even a â€œdesert seasonâ€.
Keep my eyes on the Goal. I love this passage but I began reading from the beginning of the chapter and came into a focus starting with verse 15. Paul is recognizing that there are some in ministry who â€œaren’t throwing strikesâ€ (to use a baseball metaphor). He tells the church to not get distracted by whether other people are doing their job for Jesus right. Make sure I am doing my job according to Jesus’ plan.
Whatever I may accomplish in the Kingdom â€“ remember that I am not â€œall that and a bag of chipsâ€! By that I mean, many prayers of many unseen saints and the work of God’s Spirit has made it possible. I am only a tool in Jesus’ hands.
I regret that it’s only in the last ten years, since my young son died and I have had some health difficulties of my own, that I began to understand Paul’s words. He expresses conflicted feelings about going on to heaven with Jesus and staying here with Jesus and working for His Kingdom. Paul helps me understand that my life is forever sealed with Jesus so my life will be about suffering but it will be in much greater part (time) about being with Him in glory.
Late or early, our reward will be generous. I call this my â€œhospice passageâ€. During my time as a hospice nurse, I had the honor of attending the deaths, the â€œgoing homeâ€ of many people. Many of them I got to know over a period of weeks, months, even years. I met people who did not know a time when they didn’t walk with Jesus. He was always a part of their lives. I also met people who came into this time of their lives without Jesus. Maybe they knew Him as a child but had questions as they got older that became a barrier, even resulted in rejecting Jesus as God. It was an indescribable experience to see someone realize that Jesus had not given up on them. He was there all the time. I have literally seen a room glow with the presence of God as a person left this life. I will see all of these people around the table at the wonderful feast that Jesus has planned for us.
Jesus is with me every day, teaching and guiding. He wants me to walk with Him but He does not lower His standards when I choose not to obey. It is God’s grace, His unconditional love, that is a great teaching tool in my obedience. It is His love that pulls this desire to come closer to Him; to be obedient so that my life is a total act of worship (Romans 12).