1 Kings 12:26-28
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
-At this point is Israel’s history, the nation has been split; the nation of Israel under King Jeroboam and Judah under King Rehoboam. Jeroboam is afraid that if the people go back to Jerusalem to worship the Lord, they will decide not to return. Look how he decided to deal with that possibility. He creates a false religion in the form of two idols and tells the people that it is okay to stay in Israel to worship. This is the same problem we have in the modern age. Blind leaders have peddled countless false religions out to the people under the premise that “it is too hard to worship the Lord”. They say His laws are too strict and His standards too high. That may be true, Jesus Himself taught us that “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48), and you may find many other “religions” that are easier to follow. But think about what you are getting. If you can have the God of all creation, how could you ever be happy with anything less?
1 Thessalonians 5:18
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
-The idea of being thankful is high on everyone’s list this time of year. We are often asked to share what we are thankful for, but I think a better question would be who are we thankful to? When you give thanks do you have someone in mind deserving of your gratitude or are you just throwing thankfulness vibes out into the atmosphere? If you think about it, the idea of expressing gratitude is really a two-party deal; thankfulness, by nature, should be directed towards a benefactor. James 1:17 teaches that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights”. If you have been blessed and feel grateful, remember that it wasn’t the indifference of a cold universe that provided your blessings, it was the Lord.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
-This is an important teaching to remember for Thanksgiving. In this season, everyone is looking for a reason to be thankful and expressing that appreciation in feasting and celebration. While it is true that the whole world has cause to be thankful (for God is good to the just and the unjust- Matthew 5:45) those of us who are saved have extra cause to be thankful. It follows that just as Jesus taught that our righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the world; so too should our thankfulness exceed the thankfulness of the world. The Lord has given and forgiven much; we should love and praise much in return. (Luke 7:47) By the way, if you haven’t trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior- hurry up so you can celebrate with the rest of us!
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
-Have you ever seen the label “Product Sold By Weight Not Volume, Contents May Settle”? That means that a manufacturer will only fill a container to a certain weight and then we open a bag of potato chips and it already looks half empty. In Jesus’ day, items on the public market were sold by volume instead of weight; which means that the vendor would fill up a standard container and then sell it. If the vendor really liked the customer, they could press the item down into the container to make room for more of it. This is the principle introduced in this scripture. You’ll never open a bag of God’s blessings and it look half empty; rather, His bag of goodness will be pressed down to make room for more goodness and then more still until the bag is overflowing. That’s why when you see someone who’s just experienced God’s blessing they look like they are about to burst at the seams.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
-Jesus Christ is in the highest and most exalted position of all, that of God Himself. Yet even though he had no reason to be humble, He made the choice to do just that. The Bible tells us that He walked the Earth as a Servant and made no effort to reap glory or make a name for Himself. How does your life look in relation to the example of Christ? Do you strive and reach and struggle to make something of yourself in this world? Do you seek the praise of men and the reward of wealth and possession? Even if you do carve out a place or earthly glory, what do you really have? Maybe 100 years of privilege? What is that compared to eternity? “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Jesus plainly teaches that there is no profit in exchanging your soul even for the whole world, and yet many let their soul slip away and receive far less than the world in return.
24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
-Have you ever taken time to think about the fish in verse 27 when you read this account? Just think- the Lord gave this fish a very peculiar task: carrying a piece of money through the sea and delivering it at an appointed time. The fish may have been confused by why it had something in its mouth that was obviously of no benefit. The fish may have even been resistant to the idea and thought that it shouldn’t have to carry such a burden. Nevertheless, the fish did carry the coin and arrived right on time to ensure that it was delivered to the Lord. Because of that obedience, THE FISH MADE IT IN THE BIBLE!! Has the Lord asked you to carry something that didn’t seem to have any benefit to you? Maybe you are resistant to the idea and think that you shouldn’t have to carry such a burden. Just think about how God might use your life if you simply trust Him and obey.
2 Samuel 7:19
29 Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.
-Everyone wants to be blessed, right? How many will take the time to consider where a blessing comes from? Notice David’s specific request here in 2 Samuel– He doesn’t just want to be blessed, he wants to be blessed with the Lord’s blessing. Blessing simply means favor. The world can show you favor, even the powers of darkness can show you favor. What’s the difference between these and the Lord’s blessing you ask? The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22)
3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
6 Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!
7 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.
-Mephibosheth is the grandson of Saul and so is the product of a bloodline that is reproached before the Lord. If that wasn’t bad enough, he is lame on both feet. He is, by all account, worthless. Yet, David seeks him out for the explicit purpose of giving him a place at the King’s table, as one of the King’s sons. David doesn’t do it because he found some worth in Mephibosheth; rather he does it for the sake of his friend Jonathan. The Bible contains another story about a group of people who come from a cursed bloodline and are completely worthless. In that story another Great King seeks out those worthless people in order to give them a place at His table and to make them as His own sons and daughters. That Great King is the Lord, those worthless people are you and me and just as David gave so much for the sake of Jonathan, The Lord sees fit to give us Salvation and Righteousness for the sake of Jesus Christ.