A little humor to start the week of Thanksgiving Day.
Category Archives: Baby Blues
It is always surprising how few people understand the connection between the choices they make and the consequences they experience. Everyone thinks they will be the exception to the rule. They disregard the law of the harvest.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Being surrounded by negativity, it is far too easy to adopt the mindset of our culture. We can play the “It’s not fair!” card or become consumed by worry about what might happen.
Considering what we are bombarded with, it’s no wonder we feel as bad as we do.
To change our mindset, we have to make a conscious choice as to what we feed our minds. We must shift our attention from woe to worship, from pity to praise, from complaining to confidence, and most importantly, from me to God.
Praise plays a key role in this process. Praising God for the past helps us trust him for the future. Moses provides an excellent example of this principle in his song in Exodus 15:1-21.
Moses states his theme in verse 1: “Praise God, he won!” The song contains three stanzas—“See what God did” (2-6); “See who God is” (7-11); and “See what God will do” (12-18). The theme is repeated in the chorus (19-21).
Following the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, Moses led Israel in praising God (1). When God does something great, he deserves to be praised. Often this praise comes in the form of a song, something you see throughout the Old Testament.
The three stanzas of Moses’ song focus on God—what he did in the past, who he is, and what he will do in the future. In the first 18 verses, Moses refers to “the Lord” at least 45 times. It demonstrates that praise is focused on God, not on us.
In the opening stanza, Moses acknowledges God’s strength and it leads him to praise (2-6). In the middle stanza (7-11), Moses moves from history to theology, from describing the victory to exclaiming his wonder about God. He uses metaphors and word pictures to help describe God’s attributes and actions (8, 10). In the final stanza (12-18), he moves from proclaiming his wonder about what God did in the past to a statement of confidence and trust in what God will do in the future. God not only brought his people out of Egypt, but he will bring them in to the Promised Land.
The song concludes with Moses’ sister, Miriam, picking up a tambourine and leading the chorus. Considering that Moses wrote this song when he was 80 years old and Miriam played the tambourine in her 90’s, who says seniors can’t learn new songs and lead in worship!
This passage challenges me to consider three probing questions: (1) What can I praise God for today? (2) What does this tell me about God’s character? (3) What do I need to trust him for tomorrow? Praising God for the past helps us trust him for the future.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 20, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.
Rather than be consumed with worry, Christ followers are to practice the advice given by Jesus during his Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:25–34, he said,
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
On Sunday, I taught my Sunday School class about the importance of being intentional about what we allow into our minds.
I began by having the group analyze a number of comics. As I have explained on other occasions, comics are a great source of fun entertainment. But they also provide insight into culture. Each writer weaves a worldview into his particular comic. I asked them to discuss what theme was in each comic.
After talking about the comics, I discussed a recent episode of the TV show, “Once Upon A Time.” The prior episode, “Souls of the Departed,” the twelfth episode in season five, presented the idea that you can work your way to heaven. In the episode, the characters of Emma, Regina, Mary Margaret, David, Henry, Robin, and Gold take the S.S. Purgatory to the Underworld to rescue Hook. (I know, you have to suspend some disbelief to watch the show.)
While they are there, they meet several characters who are confined in the Underworld because they have “unfinished business.” Henry Mills, Regina’s father, helps Regina, and thus is able to cross over to a better place, while Cora, Regina’s mother, fails in her task, and receives greater punishment.
The episode communicated an underlying philosophy that you can live your life without any thought of the consequences because you will have a second chance after you die. If you do enough good work in purgatory, you can still work your way to heaven.
I used the comics and the TV show to illustrate what Paul was teaching in Romans 12:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 10:3-6, that we are to control our minds.
Romans 12:1–2 – 1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
2 Corinthians 10:3–6 – 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
In Romans 12:2, Paul says that we are resist going with the flow and becoming just like the world. Instead, we are to be transformed by renewing our mind and testing what is the will of God. In 1 Corinthians 10:3-6, Paul says that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, and part of the battle is in the world of ideas. The world erects ideological strongholds such as selfishness and earning your salvation which need to be torn down. But it is not enough to merely tear them down, we also have to bring our thoughts captive to Jesus Christ in order to be obedient.
Whether reading the comics or watching TV, whether going to the movies or listening to talk radio, we need to keep our minds engaged and thoughtfully analyze what is being presented. Will it help us become more like Christ? Does it teach a philosophy contrary to God’s will? What does Scripture say in regards to what is being presented? What would God have me to think on this topic?
To become like Jesus, we are to exercise intentionality in what and how we think.