Daily Archives: January 16, 2021

Be Committed To The Goal

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A Fickle Generation

Fickle.

For a long time I thought that word was a quaint, southern lady-like version of a cuss word. Not a real cuss word of course, but I remember hearing my grandmother whisper it when her rolls burned or when she was poked by a stick pin while laying out a new pattern on some material.

As I grew older, I learned it means to be likely to change. More specifically, it describes someone who isn’t constant or loyal in their affections.

Fickle.

Jesus described people this way. He said,

But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not lament.’” (Matthew 11:16-17 NKJV) .

On the surface, this saying is hard to follow. But other translations shed some light on its meaning.

“How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy…’” (Message).

“You’re like children playing games on the playground, yelling at their playmates, ‘You don’t like it when we want to play Wedding! And you don’t like it when we want to play Funeral! You will neither dance nor mourn.’” (Passion).

In other words, they’re fickle.

But Jesus wasn’t talking randomly. He wasn’t being rude in His criticism. He was making a point about how people inconsistently judge the things of God.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children” (Matthew 11:18-19 NKJV).

The Message Translation says,

“Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they?”

Now we’ve hit the nail on the head. From Jesus’ generation to ours, human nature hasn’t changed. Opinion polls are worthless — they’re just opinions — beliefs and judgments often based on feelings. “Well, that can’t be of God because do you know what he did 20 years ago?” Or “I know God forgives, but He would never use a flamboyant personality like that guy.” Really? Are we being fickle?

God has given us His Word as a guide. It shows us the path of life. And more importantly, His Word shows us which results to be looking for — regardless of how we got there. John the Baptist was an unusual character who separated himself from society but he fulfilled his purpose and produced results (revealing the coming Messiah). Jesus was a complete opposite personality, in the center of everything, touching lepers, eating with tax collectors, and letting former prostitutes and demon-filled women serve His ministry. And undoubtedly, Jesus produced eternal results.

“Wisdom is justified by her children.”

So I encourage you today to be cautious of opinions — yours or others. Opinions are fickle. They’re often based on the emotion of the day instead of God’s Truth, which is only found in His Word. Instead of being whimsical, unsteady, or like a yo-yo (all synonyms for fickle), choose the opposite: aware, constant, faithful. In a generation bombarded by media-driven opinion polls, let the word fickle be your occasional slang and not a description of your behavior and judgments.

 

Keeping the Best Things First

by Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best… – Philippians 1:9-11

How often do we resign ourselves to the “tyranny of the urgent”? If you’re me, it’s a daily struggle not to use that little phrase as an excuse for losing sight of the big picture. It’s so much easier to take care of what’s immediately in front of me instead of what should be first in my life.

I’m a task-oriented Martha, so concerned with getting the job done that I forget to focus on Him first. I can tell myself that I’m doing my work “as unto the Lord” as much as I want, but I don’t serve anyone when I get harried. You probably know the feeling; you tell yourself that you’re cooking a wholesome dinner as a supreme act of service and love for your family – if they only appreciated how many other things you have to do besides stand over a stove! – when little Anne asks if you’ll help her find a favorite CD. Something boils over, and it’s not the pot on the stove. In taking care of dinner, you’ve forgotten to feed a godly attitude of patience and love.

That’s me to a fault. James makes it clear that faith is constantly looking for ways to serve; like Martha, however, we can get so busy that we forget why we’re doing it. I often catch myself thinking that if I’m not busy, I’m not “doing enough” for God. But then the act becomes its own end, instead of an outworking of love. Imagine Martha in the kitchen, fluttering around and looking for that special recipe to serve Jesus, while Mary just sat, soaking up His words. Martha’s response to this was probably well-intentioned – that is, from a human point of view. She was serving and wanted others to serve with her! But Jesus called her bluff. “Only one thing is needed,” Christ said, “and Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42). Better? Lord, you mean that sitting at your feet and being quiet is better than my idea of being busy serving you? That’s right.

I think I got a double-portion of Martha’s spirit. Too often, I think that sitting and listening to Jesus is the same thing as sitting and doing nothing. I think it’s laziness. Satan whispers that my time could be better spent doing than learning, and then the tyranny of the urgent takes over. But even Olympic acts of service are as nothing if not done in love (1 Corinthians 13), and only time at the feet of Jesus can teach me that.

Love leads to action, as Paul writes to the Philippian church, not the other way around. I can’t “discern what is best” in my work and words unless I keep the very best in front of my eyes, like Mary. My prayer this week is that I will focus on Jesus and see how to love. Then the priorities will fall in line. Then I see what is best, because I see Jesus.

 

Frost and thaw

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.’ Psalm 147:16–18

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 19:1–6

A man puts his hand into a woolpack and throws out the wool; God giveth snow as easily as that. ‘He giveth snow like wool.’ A man stands upon a heap of ashes, takes up a handful, throws them into the air, and they fall around. ‘He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes’—just as easily. There are wondrous marvels of nature in ice and snow; those who have looked at the crystals, and examined their marvellous beauty, must have been astonished at the inimitable skill displayed in them. ‘He casteth forth his ice like morsels’—just as easily as we cast crumbs of bread outside the window to the robins during these wintry days. When the rivers are hard frozen, and the earth held in iron chains, then the melting of the whole—how is that done? Not by the lighting of innumerable fires or the sending of electric shocks from huge batteries through the interior of the earth—no; ‘He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow’. The whole matter is accomplished with a word and a breath. See the magnificent ease with which God accomplishes all his purposes in nature! If you and I have any great thing to do, what puffing and panting, what straining and tugging there must be; and even the great engineers, who perform great things by machinery, must make much noise and stir about it. It is not so with the Almighty One. Here is this our world spinning round every day in four-and-twenty hours, and yet it does not make so much noise as a humming-top. If I enter a factory I hear a deafening din, but God’s great wheels revolve without noise or friction: all the divine work is simply, easily, and beautifully managed.

For meditation: God doesn’t need to make a lot of noise to speak to us (1 Kings 19:11–12); but we sometimes make too much noise to hear him and need to quieten down (Psalm 46:10).