The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:43
It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Follow me.
Follow me when times are great.
Follow me when times are tough.
Follow me when you’re surrounded by loving, caring people.
Follow me when you’re all alone.
Follow me when the world is heaping praise on you.
Follow me when the world wants to stone you.
Follow me when you barely have two nickels to your name.
Follow me when your bank account is full of money.
Follow me when you have a solid roof over your head.
Follow me when a flimsy plastic covering keeps you dry.
Follow me when you’re young.
Follow me as you get grayer and grayer.
Follow me when it’s the “in” trend.
Follow me when it seems like you’re the only one.
Follow me when you can run and jump hurdles.
Follow me when you can barely sit up in bed and your pain is unbearable.
“Follow me,” Jesus says.
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, Revelation 7:11
When you look at these two verses, it’s easy to miss what they both have in common. God is on the throne. Ain’t that the truth!
But it’s very easy to miss in our day and age when time is marching on faster than we want and we are busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers. When all the news is telling us the end of the world is rapidly approaching, when our politicians seem to not have our best interests in mind, when our loved ones do things that are clearly not good for them, it’s easy to miss that God is still on the throne. He hasn’t fallen off.
With thanks to my theology teacher, Dr. William Thrasher:
Yesterday He loved me
Today He’ll do the same
How long will it last?
Forever, praise His name
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children. Ephesians 5:1
At first glance, it’s an impossible task: imitating God. Who could even think about doing it and admitting that they are, in fact, imitating God? Some would give up because surely they aren’t up to the task.
Ah, but that’s where we’d be wrong.
The rest of the verse helps us out: “and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” How are we to imitate God? Through love.
But before you get too carried away by thinking it’s a cinch, let’s look at the verse a little closer: “and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Loving is one thing. Obviously some people are easier to love than others. Giving yourself up for that person, well, that’s a different animal altogether, isn’t it? Even the best of people are not all they’re cracked up to be.
And that includes me and you.
So, let me narrow it down to this: is there someone right now that you’re loving in such a way that it’s “sacrificial” love? If so, be encouraged because you’re imitating God.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19
This is one of those verses that I’d love to have seared into my head. Why? Because it’s so practical and pertinent. When I get stressed I tend to have “an edge” to my tongue. My tongue gets sharper and I offend much more easily. The first person I take things out on is my wife. I’ve curbed that as much as possible but it still rears its nasty head when I get stressed.
The other thing about this verse is something I’ve noticed with guys in general. We tend to “compartmentalize,” which means we turn our emotions on and off rather quickly and leave our mates behind. If we are having a heated discussion with our spouses and then decide to get romantic, it doesn’t quite work for the women. In other words, if you tell your spouse you love her and the next ten minutes berate her for not doing something you thought she should, there is a disconnect between your “I love you” and your belittling her.
Bottom line: We need to keep our tongues in check around our wives.
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. …Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. John 11:1-46
There is so much in this story that can be discussed. The very fact that Jesus stayed where He was for two more days must have driven Mary and Martha absolutely crazy. There was a reason for it but they didn’t know it. It took a great deal of trust for them not to push Him to go to their village right now! Even before he started his journey, He told them that the sickness wouldn’t end in death.
What is God saying to you? Is there something right now that He is trying to drill into your head that you question? Do you have the patience to hear the same thing over and again until YOU get it right?
I guess the bigger question is, are you going to obey what he’s telling you?
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:6
So ends our jaunt into Psalm 1. It was a “study” of right and wrong, good and evil, wicked and righteous. To be certain, there is good and there is evil. Very few honest people question that. The “post-modernists” might say that truth is relative and that there is no right and wrong. I don’t know that they are living in reality.
There will always be a struggle between the righteous and the wicked as long as man is alive. There is even a constant battle within man regarding good and evil (Romans 7 clearly lays out this struggle). Those who deny that battle are probably giving in too easily. Those who claim they have reached “sinless perfection” every day just might be pulling your leg. The Book of Romans seems to indicate a different struggle (Romans 6-8).
One day, however, there will be an end to the strife, an end to the evil, and an end to the wicked. Until then we can rest in His peace. We can sleep with a clear conscience at night. The wicked probably don’t have such a pleasant night of rest.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. Psalm 1:5
This is a merely a continuation of the previous verse. There will come a day, and quite possibly in the not-too-distant future, that the wicked will be judged. We don’t look forward to that day necessarily but we shouldn’t shy away from it either.
In Genesis, the Bible states that “the Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become.” When we see the word “wicked,” we don’t always equate it with us! But it’s true. Romans 3:23 teaches us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We’re wicked; we’re sinners; we’ve fallen short of the glory of God. And what do we get for this being all of this? “For the wages of sin is death.”
Ouch. Seems harsh, doesn’t it?
“What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24
The sin, the sinner, the solution, and the Savior.
Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Psalm 1:4
Throughout Scripture and throughout history there has always a contrast between good and evil. Entire libraries are filled with books and philosophies trying to solve the problem of evil (mainly “how could a good God permit evil?”). Likewise, there are good and evil people. Other Scriptures warn us not to be seduced by evil people who enjoy the good life. They seem to get away with everything! It’s not fair. It really isn’t.
Doing the right thing day after day, month after month and year after year seems like it’s getting you nowhere. You don’t cheat. You don’t cook the books. You keep your thoughts pure. You hold your tongue. You’ve become accustomed to it and you’ll always do it that way. It’s probably even a boring routine. Don’t fall for the lie. Don’t be seduced by those who “get ahead” in shady and deceitful ways.
Stand firm in what you know to be true. It is not in vain.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. Psalm 1:3
Have you ever had the feeling that sometimes the sermons you hear and what you read goes in one ear and out the other? And those of us who are growing older each minute (all of us!) have that feeling even more so. Some
times you can’t even remember the sermon from that same morning!
I have one question to ask: can you tell me what you had to eat on the second Thursday of last month? Odd question, you say, but bear with me. Why can’t you remember what you had to eat? Does it matter why you can’t remember? If you’re still here today, you probably had something nourishing to eat. The important thing is, you ate and were filled and nourished. You get through another week or two.
Scripture is like that. I don’t remember what I had to eat a month ago but I did get nourishment from it and moved on. So, go easy on yourself when you can’t remember the finer points of a sermon or a teaching. Take it in and let God help you nourish it.