As Thanksgiving approaches, it is a good time to reflect on that for which we are thankful. I hear people say all kinds of things they are thankful for. These include their families, jobs, health, or even their bank accounts. While these are indeed good things, have you considered that all of this would not be possible without the generous nature of our God?
In the book of Genesis, God is portrayed as a generous host who provides everything needed for His creation to enjoy. God appoints humanity (Adam and Eve) to be co-rulers over His creation and generously supplies for all their needs. He asks them to trust in His generous provision and live according to His wisdom.
But Satan came into the garden as a serpent and deceived mankind to think that God was not generous, but was actually holding out on them. He tricked them into focusing on what they did not have instead of fixating on all the wonderful things He had given them. The result was the fall of man as they sinned against God. Instead of trusting in the truth of God’s gracious generosity, they trusted in a lie and believed they needed more than what God had generously provided.
The rest of the Old Testament demonstrates how God chose a people (Israel) on whom to pour out His generous blessing. But humanity constantly rebelled against Him and selfishly wanted more and more, just as Adam and Eve did. They were never satisfied. Sadly, the Old Testament concludes with God going silent and mankind remaining in a state of selfishness, rebellion, and sin.
As we turn the page to the New Testament, one might think that God would bring utter destruction and judgment upon humankind. But instead, we are stunned by God’s incredible generosity.
God sends His own Son, Jesus Christ, as the most generous and gracious gift to selfish and ungrateful humanity. Jesus could have come to live in opulence, but instead, He chose to live a life without comfort or abundance. He lived without the comforts of this life so that He could relate to the poorest of the poor and share God’s generosity with all who would receive Him. Jesus was so generous that He gave His own life and allowed His own people to kill Him, so that He alone could pay the enormous cost of their sin.
In Jesus, we see this unfathomable generosity of God. Because of God’s love and provision provided in Jesus, mankind has a new opportunity to trust in God rather than to selfishly trust in self or the things of this world.
Remember what Jesus said: “Do not worry about what you will eat or what you drink or what you will wear. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33).
Where is your focus this Thanksgiving? Is it on what you do not have or is your focus on what God has generously given in Jesus Christ? Jesus also said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Jesus is God’s most generous gift to mankind!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Hopefully, we are thankful for all His blessings. Ultimately, though, I am thankful for Jesus Christ because He truly is God’s most generous gift and my greatest treasure!
Have you ever stayed as a guest in a home where the people made you feel like an unwelcomed guest? I recently read a story about a pastor who had been asked to preach at a church that was far away from his home, but the congregation could not afford to put him up in a hotel. They told him that a family in the church had offered to have him stay in their home for the few days that he was there.
When the pastor arrived at the home the mother of the family greeted him coldly and showed him his room. She then told him, “Don’t expect any meals or expect us to talk with you. We agreed to let you use this room but you are on your own for anything else.” She left the pastor standing in the doorway, and for the next five days and nights that he was there, the entire family went about their business as if he was not there. He had never felt more awkward and unwanted in his life. He was an unwelcomed guest.
That story got me thinking about what Paul the apostle says in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…”
In Colossians 3:16, Paul tells us that the word of Christ should dwell in us richly. The word dwell is taken from the Greek word enoikeo, which is a compound of the words en and oikos. The word en means in, and the word oikos is the Greek word for home. Together they mean to dwell in a home. It carries the idea of someone who takes up permanent residence in a home.
So when Paul tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, he is encouraging us to give God’s word a warm and welcoming reception so that it feels at home in us and takes up permanent residency within us!
Does the word of God have this kind of place in your life? Does it dwell in you richly? Does it feel at home in your life or is it being treated as a complete stranger just as that pastor was? I pray that the word of God is a welcome guest in your life and that it will always be at home and dwell in you richly!
Are you a realist? Do you need to see all the facts before you make a decision? That was the way it was with two men who were walking on a road to the town called Emmaus. Luke’s account of the resurrection in Luke 24:1-49 focuses half of its attention on Jesus’ meeting with two men who were walking on the road to Emmaus that resurrection Sunday. We know that one of the men was named Cleopas. As Cleopas and his friend were walking, suddenly Jesus approached them and began to walk with them. They did not immediately recognize Jesus because God prevented them from knowing it was Him. Jesus asked them what they were talking about and Luke tells us they stood there looking sad.
Luke 24:13-17: “And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, ‘What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?’ And they stood still, looking sad.”
They had been followers of Jesus and now their dreams of overthrowing Rome and establishing a new Jewish kingdom were over. These men viewed Jesus as a prophet who could perform mighty miracles and healings, and they shared with this stranger how Jesus had been crucified and buried in a tomb. But they also shared how some of the women who went to the tomb that Sunday morning had told them that the body was not there. They also claimed to have seen some angels who told them that Jesus was alive. Even Peter and John confirmed that the tomb was as the women had said it was. But Cleopas and his friend did not really believe what they had heard. They were realists and, wanting to see it to believe it, they demonstrated they had a lack of faith and found the resurrection too difficult to believe.
Jesus then spoke to them with some harsh words. He said: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25-26). Then Jesus began to instruct them with the teachings of Moses and all the prophets. He explained how the Old Testament spoke about Him and pointed to Him as the Messiah. Then to confirm what He said was true, He suddenly revealed Himself to them and their eyes were opened to recognize Him. After this, He simply vanished.
The Scriptures reveal many things. They teach us about theology and who God is. They instruct us on how to live a God-honoring life. They comfort us with words of encouragement when things are difficult. But we must never forget that both the Old and New Testaments point to Jesus as Savior and Lord. The ultimate question from this portion of Scripture rests in whether you believe this to be true. These two men had a lack of faith. All the evidence was there. Jesus had spoken like no one else. He had performed countless signs and wonders. There were eyewitnesses and even angels who attested to His resurrection. Jesus Himself showed them that the Old Testament Scriptures testified that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and yet these men were foolish and slow of heart.
How to respond: Do you believe and trust God’s word that testifies that Jesus is the resurrected Lord who takes away the sin of the world, including yours? If you do believe this, spend some time thanking Jesus for His incredible sacrifice and the life you now have as a result. Reflect on the fact that death is not an end of life, but merely a transition to our home with Christ. If you don’t believe this, today is an opportunity to respond to Jesus’ invitation to confess your sinfulness before God and accept the forgiveness that is offered in Jesus’ name. Today, may we all proclaim the glory of Jesus, believing that He is risen; He is risen indeed!
If you were to ask your closest family and friends who Jesus is, you would probably get a number of different answers. Some might call Jesus a good teacher. Others might consider Jesus to be a political leader, and still, others might call Him a religious zealot. Jesus had three and a half years of amazing ministry that was filled with preaching, miracles, and healing. He developed a reputation among the people who had many different opinions about who He was. Some thought Jesus was just a common man from Galilee. Others called Him Rabbi and believed He was very religious, while still others thought He must be a Prophet because of all the miracles He performed. Almost no one considered Jesus to be the long-awaited Messiah.
But God in His wisdom set out to fulfill the Scriptures and made sure that His Son, Jesus, received all the honor and glory that He deserved. God had preordained that the people of Jerusalem would acknowledge Him and accept Him as the long-expected Messiah. Here in Luke 19:28-44, we see three events that happened to confirm that He is, in fact, the Messiah. The first event was the preparation. This was Jesus’ last Sunday before the crucifixion which began with preparation for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. To fulfill the Scripture stated in Zechariah 9:9 we read, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
On this day Jesus sent two of His disciples to find and bring Him a female donkey and its colt. It had been pre-ordained by God and confirmed by this prophet Zechariah that the Messiah would come into Jerusalem precisely in this manner. This, then, brings us to the second event. The second event was the celebration. Jesus sat upon the colt and began riding toward Jerusalem. When the people saw Him they began to shout and celebrate! They demonstrated reverence and respect by laying their coats and palm branches on the ground for His donkey to walk on. Matthew 21:9 tells us that they shouted out the messianic title, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! “Hosanna in the highest!” And Luke 19:40 tells us that Jesus said, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
Their praise, however, was empty. They were hypocrites, like actors on a stage, because they did not truly love Him or really worship Him. These same people who praised Him here on this special Sunday would cry out on Friday, “Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:13). So as Jesus approached Jerusalem we see that the third and final event took place.
The third event was Jesus’ lamentation. He looked upon Jerusalem, Jesus was full of sorrow because He knew that in just a few years Rome would come and destroy the people and the city. Jesus lamented because they rejected their Messiah, the only One who could save them. Then Jesus said, “If you had known this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the day of your visitation” (Luke 19:42-22).
How to respond?
Imagine yourself in the crowd of people watching Jesus enter Jerusalem. Try to envision the sights and sounds. How might you have responded to the Person of Jesus? How much do you worship Him on a regular basis now?
The people of Jerusalem got caught up in the excitement of the moment when they saw Him ride into Jerusalem and they had an emotional response. But they did not worship or praise Jesus with genuine affection and surrender. I pray as we celebrate Palm Sunday we would be true worshippers of Christ! I pray our praise is genuine and our worship is done through the testimony of our lips and also the testimony of our surrendered lives. To Jesus be all the Glory, Amen!!