I’ve heard many people tell stories of their mother warning them to always wear clean underwear, because you never known when you’re going to be in an accident. If you’re like many people, it won’t matter whether you’re wearing clean underwear before the wreck because you may not be after the wreck. If you just could know when that wreck is coming, you could make double-sure … if you could.
If you knew when a thief were coming to break into your home, you’d make sure that your home security system is armed. Or you’d make sure that you’re armed. But you’re never given advanced notice when you’ll have a wreck or when someone’s coming to break into your home. So you always have to be ready.
In today’s Bible reading, Paul tells the Thessalonians to be ready, because Jesus will return like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) In fact, Paul adds that Jesus will come not just unexpectedly, but at the most inopportune time. You always have to be ready. And Paul actually tells us to always be armored up with “faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation”. (1 Thessalonians 5:8 CSB)
As I said in my last devotional, Paul knew our nature. Just like Jesus, he knew that if we were given a time and date for Jesus’ return, we’d live like the devil as long as possible and then clean ourselves up just in time for His return.
But it doesn’t work that way. We never know when Jesus will return. And if we did, we have no guarantee of when our time on this planet will end. Neither do we know when our friends, family, and coworkers will cross over to the other side of eternity. They need to hear this message! They need Jesus!
Paul’s takeaway application for us is that we need to encourage each other to always be ready. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Below is a letter I just finished reading to the Customer Service Representative at Chic fil-A after hearing that Chic fil-A will no longer support the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I was on hold for over thirty minutes. It seems the company is receiving a lot of feedback.
At the end of my call — which was recorded by the customer service representive — she asked if I had seen the company’s 2020 Foundation webpage which explains their current focus of charitable funding and suggested that I check it out. I did. I like the organizations they’re supporting. But I find their decision to no longer support the Salvation Army and FCA to be troubling.
I encourage everyone to call or write Chic fil-A to give feedback. Note: Their web form only allows up to 1500 characters, hence the reason for my call.
P.O. Box 725489
Atlanta, GA 31139-9923
Monday – Saturday
8:00 AM – Midnight ET
Subject: Feedback on Your Recent Decision to Cease Funding Salvation Army and FCA
I’m very sad to hear that Chic fil-A has caved to the Politically-Correct LGBTQ+ thugs.
Since my first bite of a Chic fil-A chicken sandwich at a church youth event at Duke University in the late 1970s/early 1980s, I have enjoyed your food and culture. I have no idea how many (tens of?) thousands of dollars of hard-earned cash that I have spent at your restaurants across the South, traveling back and forth from Texas to North Carolina and around town in the DFW Metroplex.
I have enjoyed supporting an organization that proudly stands for pro-family values and organizations. It has been refreshing to see one company consistently stand for Christian values. I applauded Dan Cathy’s Christlike efforts of befriending LGBTQ activist Shane Windmeyer. It seemed to be a genuine gesture to prove that he and Chic fil-A are not homophobic, but just prefer to support traditional pro-family organizations.
Chic fil-A has never refused service to any LGBTQ+ individuals; if it had, the mainstream media would have had a field day. Through the years, Chic fil-A has remained true to Truett Cathy’s vision for so many years. And now, barely past five years after your founder’s death, you have caved. You have capitulated. You have betrayed his principles.
You have stopped donating to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It baffles my mind to try to figure out why you decided to cease donating to these organizations. The only reason I can find is that you no longer support Truett Cathy’s values. You care more about appeasing left-wing activists than remaining true to your base: traditional Americans with traditional values who have made you one of the most popular fast food restaurant on the planet. Your sales would far surpass everyone else if your stores were open seven days a week. Instead, your sales in six days are close to those of stores that are open seven days a week.
You may see it as a small change to appease the LGBTQ+ advocates, but I see it as spinelss behavior. Behavior which will not be honored by God, nor by the millions of traditional Americans who have made your restaurants so popular.
This is one American who will no longer consider Chic fil-A among my top choices for a quick bite of delicious food. I’m confident I am not alone. I am also confident that your franchisees feel betrayed. Your choice will result in lost income by every single franchisee.
Fort Worth, TX
Hate will drive people to do hateful things. In today’s Bible reading, we read that the chief priests schemed to kill Lazarus because people were following Jesus after seeing Lazarus raised from the dead. (John 12:10-11) Think about that. The chief priests plotted to kill not just Jesus, but Jesus’ friend, Lazarus.
“Don’t murder” was the Sixth Commandment. (Exodus 20:13) By the First Century, the Jewish leaders heaped on hundreds of additional laws to the Mosaic Law through their commentary on the Law and their commentary on the commentary on the Law. That the chief priests could resort to murder reveals how derranged these men had become.
Meanwhile, Lazarus walks around, telling people about his Friend. Many more people believe Jesus as a result of Lazarus’ testimony. It’s hard to argue about Jesus’ authority as the Messiah when one of His most vocal followers walked out of a tomb the day before.
I’ve said it before, you don’t have to be a trained theologian to tell your story to your friends, family, and neighbors. All you have to do is tell what Jesus has done in your life. You may not have been delivered from a physical tomb, but you can tell people how you have been delivered from a life of sin and death. You can tell people about how you once lived as a child of wrath, as God’s enemy. Tell them what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished for you. And invite them to give their lives to Him as you have.
Peter closes his first letter in today’s Bible reading. He reminds the elders how they should lead their churches: with humility.
Humility goes a long way in leading people! Humility recognizes accountability to someone else.
In any organization, everyone is accountable to someone else. Unless you’re working for yourself, someone else has the ability to terminate your employment. And even then, if you’re working for yourself, you’re selling some kind of product or service, so you are accountable to your customers. The CEO/Chairman of the Board is accountable to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is accountable to the stockholders. Everyone is accountable to someone else.
It’s true in a church as well. Everyone is accountable to someone else. Everyone needs to clothe himself/herself in humility. What does that look like? It looks like living the Golden Rule with those under your care. It looks like recognizing my place and recognizing that for everything I do and say, I will give an account before God Himself. And that’s a heavy thought!
That’s what Peter was trying to convey to his elders in 1 Peter 5:1-5, with verse 5 echoing Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 5:21.
submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 (CSB)
John Donne famously said, “No man is an island.” Each of us is connected to all the others. If Peter were a Southerner, his command, verse 5 would sound something like, “Now all y’all need to look after each other! Don’t be all uppity. God’s watchin’ you.”
Everyone is accountable to someone else. If you’ve been given authority over someone, always remember that you’re accountable to someone else for how you lead those in your care. This applies to church elders. It also applies to parenting and employment situations as well as others.
To whom are you accountable? Live the Golden Rule with those under your care.
As I was reading today’s Bible reading, God reminded me that He isn’t a stingy God.
Pondering this thought, I can’t think of anywhere in the Bible where God limits Himself in giving of Himself to His people. Actually, I cannot think of anywhere in the Bible where God limits Himself in giving of anything … good or bad. And Paul highlights this in Titus 3:4–7 “But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” (CSB)
James tells us, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (CSB)
God gives to all “generously and ungrudgingly”. The actual wording Paul uses is, “God Who simply gives without blame” What a great picture of a loving, freely-giving God!
Jesus put it this way,
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11:9–13 (CSB)
God loves to shower His kids with gifts, mostly the gift of Himself! In saving us, Paul tells Titus, God didn’t hold back. Instead, He poured out His Spirit richly — or abundantly, depending on your English translation. This word richly/abundantly means, “a high point on any scale and having the implication of value as well as abundance”
Yes, God loves to give. And He doesn’t give just a little bit. He gives a lot!
What could be a more appropriate response to His giving than to simply give Him praise, honor, and glory? He is worthy of all of that and more. We are created in His image with an incredible capacity to give. Spend some time today simply asking Him how He would have you to give of yourself to your family, friends, including the lost ones. Ask Him how He would have you to give of your time, your talents, and your treasures to further His Kingdom.
Then simply obey what He tells you to do.
 Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains 1996 : 685. Print.