I hope that yesterday was a wonderful day of giving thanks as you celebrated with family and friends. I know we had a great time.
Today is the day after Thanksgiving. The retail world calls it “Black Friday”—a time of getting a good deal or buying Christmas presents for others. Or is it for many another day of self indulgence shrouded in the idea of saving money or buying a gift for someone else or even for “myself”?
Perhaps the day after Thanksgiving should be a day of giving—not to retailers or to myself. But giving of myself afresh and anew to the Lord and to others. When we do that it certainly is counter cultural. And it is certainly resisting the urge to be selfish.
Maybe on the day after Thanksgiving we should take a few minutes to renew our commitment to the eternal, to that which will last.
We could set our hearts on things above.
We could evaluate our priorities.
We could review and see if we have a heart of serving.
We could pray for others in need.
We could give to others in need.
We could give…more thanks to God, more time to God, more of ourselves to God, more to serve others.
I know it will never become a national movement but perhaps we can be among a few who start a new tradition on the day after Thanksgiving and make it “Friday Giving.”
Note: I am not saying that you would not go to work or that you will not find a good deal somewhere on Friday. I am suggesting that our mindset be very different than the world around us. And it takes working intentionally against our natural tendency to be selfish.
Maybe our verse for this Friday after Thanksgiving should be:
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Now is truly a time for gratitude and thanking God and others. Give yourself to that and it will go a long way toward a wonderful “Friday Giving.”
And if you can think of a new name for a day such as this, let me know. Who knows, maybe we will get something started.
Let me share a thought from an article that I read this past week.
“On one of his visits to the Continent, Charles Spurgeon met an American minister who said, “I have long wished to see you, Mr. Spurgeon, and to put one or two simple questions to you. In our country there are many opinions as to the secret of your great influence. Would you be good enough to give me your own point of view?” After a moment’s pause, Spurgeon replied, “My people pray for me” (in Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon [Banner of Truth], p. 44).”
Every week I ask you to pray for our services and for me as well. I knew that Spurgeon believed in the power of prayer by his congregation and that while he was preaching there were those who were praying. This article reminded me of that and affirmed that Spurgeon understood that the great work is the work of prayer and anything that will last is not because of the preacher but because God is at work.
Many in our generation have a very vague understanding of what it means to see God at work. In many cases there is little to no understanding of the real mission or even value of the church other than for social purposes or personal reasons. We desire to make sure that our church strongly emphasizes that the church is God’s plan for this age and we have a great calling and commission that we are to fulfill. It is a joy and privilege to serve Christ in the local church!
So let me return to preparing for Sunday worship. Here are some additional thoughts for you to consider as we gather together each week to corporately worship the Lord. Always pray for:
• Mutual edification—Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
• Love for one another—Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
• Spiritual “eyes”—Ephesians 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
• Humility—Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
• Unity—Ephesians 4:3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
• Forgive one another—Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
• Fulfillment of the great commission—Matthew 28:19–20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
There are other aspects of preparing and praying for our worship on Sundays. But this is a good start/addition to your prayerful preparation for Sunday.
In my recent travels I have had the opportunity to observe many things as you always do when you travel. While driving I saw and was passed by many semi-trucks. I saw many other vehicles on the road not just automobiles but dump trucks and delivery trucks as well as police cars and even a few ambulance/rescue vehicles. Not only that but I have seen people working and serving in so many other capacities as well. Sometimes they were those serving in a restaurant but there are also the cooks whether it is fast food or nice dining. There are so many personnel needed to run a hotel. There are those who work at gas stations and clerks of all kinds and those in the food industry, etc. We can immediately think of hundreds of occupations that are in our country from plumbers to businessmen to postal workers to those who work in a grocery store, to those in the airline industry and on and on it goes.
The reason I was thinking of all these things is because it struck me as to how different people enter their professions. Why do certain people do what they do? Why is one person a plumber and another in the military? Is it always their skill set? Is it because they are limited by the location they are in and cannot get another job? Is it because it is a family business that is passed on from one generation to another? Who can even answer the question of why people choose or end up in their career? There is no answer to that question.
But I want you to consider something with me. All of those and so many other professions are needed. We need plumbers and doctors and manufacturers and clerks and cooks in restaurants and mechanics. I am sure that if you think about it you will be glad for those who do their occupations. We might not need them every day but how would we function without them? And it is not necessarily their pay that is equal to what they do that is so important. Many civil servants do not receive a large salary but we are sure thankful when the 911 call goes through and the police arrive or the paramedics or the fire fighters.
All of this has me thinking and reminded of how God has gifted every believer and the role and necessity of everyone to the body of Christ both universally and in the local church. One passage to consider is I Cor. 12:1-31. As a believer you have a spiritual gift that is part of your stewardship for which you are accountable. And you are necessary for this local church to function properly.
We are gifted differently. We do not all have the same gift. Every gift is important and critical in our church. All the gifts are needed. And everyone of us need to use our gift to the greatest capacity that God gives us to serve Him in and through the local church.
As you consider what your spiritual gift is you should ask yourself some questions:
Our church is dependent on believers who will know and use their spiritual gift constantly. You are necessary to the future of our church!
So instead of only recognizing the jobs of those around us, take some time and consider the job God has for you to do. You are here for a purpose. God has graced you with a spiritual gift. You must now use your spiritual gift regularly in our local church. There is a job for you to do in our church. Let’s work together with all our spiritual gifts functioning at their greatest capacity and see all that God will do.
That begins on Sunday where we have the opportunity to corporately worship our great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We will worship the one Who knows everything. At church, we encourage and strengthen one another. We bow before God and adore Him. We become more firm in our commitment to Him.
I have no idea where the idea originated but for some reason there has been this seemingly philosophical or scientific question that revolves around the question that if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
Have you had time to ponder such a question? I doubt it. It stands to reason that sound happens when an event like that would happen. Imagine one of the giant redwood trees along the west coast crashing to the ground. There would definitely be sound. It would create enormous sound waves. And I am sure that the theoretical side sets in with the whole idea that even if there are sound waves, there must also be a receptor (presumably the hearing of the human ear) for there to actually be sound. And so, the debate begins.
By the way, if a branch falls from the heights of a giant oak tree and hits the rear window of your vehicle, is there sound? Does the window break? I can say from personal experience this week that even if you did not believe there was sound you could know for sure that it happened when you find your window completely shattered.
Obviously, we know the principle of cause and effect!
But have you considered the principle that God is interested in everything? EVERYTHING!
Matthew 10:29–31 says, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
That well-known text answers many questions. It also leaves many questions unanswered. But for now, I want you to consider what it does answer.
It answers the question about whether God cares about what goes on in the world. It answers the question about whether God cares about what goes on in my world. It answers the question about my worth and value. And it answers a whole range of questions about God Himself. God knows and is personally acquainted with all that goes on in this world and in the lives of all of His creation. Some depth to that is included in the idea about the number of hairs on our head. Seemingly there are about 5 million hair follicles on the adult human body and only about 100,000 on our head. But that number is constantly changing.
This should help us catch a glimpse of the greatness and glory of God. He absolutely knows and cares about what is going on in your life. He does not miss anything at all. And somehow it is all working together for your good and His glory.
Is there a sound when the tree falls in the forest? I believe the answer is yes. Does it matter? Maybe not. Does it matter to God? Emphatically yes—though I do not understand.
Take some time and meditate on Matt. 10:29-31. If you want to consider the tree/sound concept, go ahead. But spend more time thinking of our God who made the tree and the capacity for sound and really does know and care. Think about how this should affect your life today!
Dr. Wynne Kimbrough is the editor of this resource.
Some of the articles are written by him while others are found and shared with permission from the original authors. Some of of these authors wish to remain anonymous.