Category: Thought for Thursday


Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

God desires us to worship him. But, if we have an unresolved conflict with someone, that will hinder our worship. In the passage above, Jesus explains that before we offer up service to God, we need to first reconcile any conflicts we might have with someone else. Does anyone hold anything against you? Are there any conflicts you have yet to resolve?

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

What do you think about? Spend time pondering? Your mind and heart is from what all your actions stem. Do we spend time thinking about how we can help others? Improve their lives? How we can better take care of the world that God has placed us in? Do we think about things that please God, about doing what is morally right?

If you are a believer, God has given you the power of his Holy Spirit to do this. Through God’s power, you can discipline and train your mind to be focused on things that are right.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Is God your boss? When you go to work, who would you say you are working for? According to Paul in his letter to the Colossians, we Christians should work as if we are working for God. Because, in fact, we are working for God. Even if your boss is not around to see your work, God is. If you feel your work is underappreciated, know that God has seen it and will reward you for it. If you are slacking in your work, know that God sees this too, has forgiven you of that, and has given you his Holy Spirit to help you work better. So, remember that when you go back to work: God is your boss, and his praise will last for eternity.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

I am a shy person – I tend to be awkward at social events, and quite nervous. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that on its own, if it detracts from my ability to trust in God and socialize with others, then it is a problem. In this passage in Peter, we are reminded that it doesn’t matter if we think we are awkward. God cares for us. So what does it matter what others think of us?

Perhaps you need to make an important decision in your life. I’ve been applying for graduate school, and thus have had to make many important decisions. But, we shouldn’t late that worry us – God is in control. Yes, we should make wise decisions, but it shouldn’t eat away at us.

If we allow anxiety, allow worry, to build up inside, how does that help? God wants us to go to him with our worry, with our concerns. He will be there in our distress. Talk it out with him. Let his peace fill your soul.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” 1 John 5:14

In this passage, the Apostle John tells us that we can be confident in our faith. We can go to the God who created the universe, and ask him to help us. John makes an important note, though: We should ask according to God’s will. If we ask within his will, our prayer will be heard. So how do we know God’s will? Studying the word of God, and through prayer. Jesus, who was God and yet also a man, prayed that God’s will be done, but he also expressed his anguish and physical desire that he not have to endure the torment that was coming. So, prayer is aligning our will toward God’s will, and seeing what he desires come to fruition within our lives.

 

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘”After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.”‘” Acts 15:15-18

When David was king, he commissioned musicians to constantly be performing music for God surrounding the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. The prophets Isaiah and Amos looked forward to a time when constant celebration before the presence of God would be restored.

In Acts, we learn from the Apostle James that these prophecies have been fulfilled: The church is for what the prophets searched. We, the believers in Christ, are the singers constantly worshiping God. And this worship is no longer confined just to those of Abraham’s lineage, those who are ethnically Jewish: It is for all, Gentile and Jew alike. I, someone of mostly Northern European ancestry, can participate in this celebration. All in Christ are part of the rebuilding of God’s Kingdom, are part of the grand festivity.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10
This past Sunday, one of the elders at my church preached on Micah 6:8, and referenced Zechariah 7:10. It was a very convicting sermon.
In both of these passages, we see that God is very concerned about what is commonly called “social justice” – that everyone in a society be treated fairly, justly, and equally. Much of the Old Testament prophets and much of Jesus’s sayings and the apostles’ writings in the New Testament strike home the importance of taking care of the disadvantaged in society. Zechariah gives one of the most complete lists – orphans, widows, the poor, and immigrants.

As a Christian, I am commanded to care for those who are disadvantaged, to bring them justice and relieve their suffering. So the thought for Thursday is, how can I do that? What can I do in my life, with my social position, talents, and experience, to help achieve justice?

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:20-21

This fall, I will be going to graduate school in the field of historic preservation. Historic preservation is the protection, conservation, and restoration of object, buildings, and other things valuable to the human story. Thus, the idea of restoration is an important one for me. And, according to the passage above, it is important to understanding human destiny.

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On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom  and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11

I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29

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“Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27

Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which had conquered most of the Middle East. This included the Kingdom of Judah (Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians, whom the Babylonians supplanted). Daniel was a Hebrew, and thus a captive of the Empire. But he was an important political official, and the king relied on him to interpret dreams, since God gave Daniel prophetic power. The above passage is at the end of Daniel’s interpretation of a dream: Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of much of the known world, would be humiliated. But, if he follows Daniel’s advice, he might be spared.
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