Of course all of us know what this Thursday is: it’s Thanksgiving. We also know what Friday is: it’s “Black Friday.” Friday is a day set aside for people to sit outside stores in hopes of getting the “bargain of the century” (or at least the best bargain until the after Christmas sales).
And if you have ever found yourself in the middle of “Black Friday,” you know that the thankfulness for what we have of Thursday is all but forgotten for the bargain hunting for what we want of Friday.
I saw a commercial on TV this past week where the company was advertising their “week long Black Friday sale.” They closed the commercial by wishing everyone a “Happy Thanksgetting.” The advertising worked, in a manner of speaking: I remember the name of the cell phone carrier and will NOT be using them in the future.
Some car dealerships are having their “Black Friday” sale all month long. Some stores are starting their “Black Friday” sales as early as Thursday afternoon...so much for spending Thursday night camped out in front of a store!
You see retailers know that it is human nature to seek out a bargain. They also know that when we see a bargain, we are likely to purchase the item, whether we need it or not.
Do we do the same thing when it comes to church? Do we “shop” for the “best bargain?” The place that is going to require us to give the least (time, effort, etc.). The place that makes the path to heaven the path of least resistance.
We need to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
The “narrow road” may not be paved with “bargain basement” Christianity; it may not be the “path of least resistance” and it may not be the easiest path to follow. But it is the only path that leads to eternal life...which is all we really need anyway! 2 Corinthians 9:15
I want to thank those of you who have been so complimentary of the past three Sunday morning sermons. I sincerely believe that if we want to succeed as a congregation, each one of us must commit ourselves to being the men and women that God calls us to be and, as a part of that, we must take our relationship with Christ seriously.
If you missed any of these sermons, I encourage you to watch or listen to them on our website, YouTube channel, or ask for a copy on CD.
There has been much discussion of late (particularly on social media) about what it means to be a Christian. There are many different issues where people claiming to be Christians are on opposite sides. How do we respond? What do we say? What side do we come down on?
Many of these current issues are political in nature. We all have our political leanings and we typically lean toward one “party” or the other. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes, though, it does matter.
Social/political issues always tend to divide people...they have even been known to split churches. When we allow our personal feelings and “leanings” to be the determining factor in our lives rather than God’s Word, it always leads to trouble.
There are some things that God allows us to make up our own minds about. He gave us a brain that is capable of thought: He wants us to use it! He tells us to do something, but leaves it up to us to determine the most expedient method.
But then there are other things about which He is very clear about what He wants and how He wants it done. These Biblical issues have no room for “leaning.”
When deciding which way to “lean” on a social or political issue, make sure you always consult the Bible and prayerfully consider if your “leanings” are pleasing to Him.
11:00 AM on November 11, 1918 saw the armistice ending the hostilities known as World War I (a.k.a. “The War to End All Wars”) took effect.
On June 4, 1926, the US Congress declared November 11 to be a legal holiday. An act approved May 13, 1938 made “Armistice Day” (every November 11) a legal holiday. Then on June 1, 1954 the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans” making it a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
I believe it is important to honor all those who were and are willing to make various sacrifices to ensure that our freedom is not taken away. All of our military service persons deserve our gratitude and our thanks.
There is another type of war being fought even today...right here...in Siloam Springs, AR. It is a battle that has been waged since the beginning of time. It is not a physical war, but a spiritual war (see Ephesians 6:10-18).
Satan has many dirty, sneaky, underhanded, tactics that he uses in this war. One of his most effective is to confuse us as to the identity of our real enemy. He figures if he can get us focused on each other and our differences of opinion, then he’s got us right where he wants us.
And he is exactly right. The more we fight with each other over who’s opinion is right and who’s opinion is wrong, the less time and energy we have for focusing on him: our real enemy.
So how do we stop fighting each other? We look at what Paul tells us in the last part Ephesians 6:18. After talking about our real struggle, he says, “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
It’s difficult to fight with someone over an opinion when you “always keep on praying for” them. It’s difficult to fight with someone over a difference of opinion when you remember that they are not the enemy: Satan is.
So, when was the last time you prayed for someone with whom you had a difference of opinion? Well, that’s too long! Pray for them NOW!
Have you ever known a person who thought rules did not apply to them? Maybe because of who their mother or father is...or because their family has so much money...or because of who they are (at least in their own mind).
It’s hard not to think about professional athletes when this subject is brought up. I guess they feel that since they are who they are and they do what they do that somehow rules, and more specifically, the law does not apply to them.
“Don’t you know who I am? I’m (so-and-so) and I’m the quarterback of (such-and-such) team...you can’t arrest me!”
I remember seeing movies where a person who thought himself or herself to be “above the law” actually told police officers they were making a “career decision” by enforcing the law. “I play golf with the Mayor” or “the Governor's wife is a close, personal friend of mine.”
What all these people are really saying is that the rules do not apply to them. They are entitled to special privileges because of who they are or who they know. It can really be aggravating! I was once on a jury in a case where the defendant did not think that the law applied to him. We let him know that it did!
Even more sad and shameful than people who feel man’s rules and laws do not apply to them is the person who feels God’s rules and laws do not apply to them.
It seems that they feel they will be able to stand before God on the Day of Judgment and say, “God, don’t you know who I am? My grandfather was an elder...my father was a preacher...I have two brothers who were both deacons. I got baptized when I was 12 years old and was faithful until I went to college. So you have to let me into Heaven because of who I am.”
And they will hear, “I never knew you!” (Matthew 7:23).
And Jesus will tell them, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
Do you truly love Jesus? Do you show that love by obeying His commands? His rules do apply to you.