Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.” Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” Matthew 8:1-4 The Message Translation.
“Your cleansed and grateful life.” Seems a little too simple, doesn’t it? Yet how many of us lack gratitude? Especially right now, when the world has drastically changed.
Even before the pandemic, the competition for who has it worse, was a widely practiced sport. There we were, living in a first world country with abundance all around, whining and complaining about how bad we had it.
There’s no strength in that.
There’s no success in ingratitude.
Lack of appreciation only wears down our hearts.
When God led me to the scripture above, I was blown away by how deeply he loves us, because being grateful, whether you have little or much, is what gives us satisfaction. We could have all the materialist desires of the world, but if we’re not grateful for them, they’re nothing.
For example, the picture above is my fireplace. I’ve wanted a real wood burning fireplace since I can remember. The first winter I got to use it, was amazing. Then south Texas heat came. It wasn’t as appreciated. The other day I was inspired to decorate a log with some LED lights. The lights are on a timer, and every day I’m reminded of that initial gratitude. It’s amazing how with just a little work, something we take for granted can bring us joy again, but only if we’re grateful for it.
Now we live in a world flipped upside down, probably longing for most of the things we used to complain about. With the serious financial pains millions are dealing with, it’s hard to be grateful. But we must find gratitude, even if only in the little things. More importantly, we must not give up hope.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are–no more, no less. that’s when you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” Matthew 5:5 The Message Translation.
On top of the financial and social shock, just about everywhere we look, there seems to be some form of religious persecution. Yet even with as bad as things are right now, they could be a whole lot worse.
After God led me to that passage on a cleansed and grateful life, he led me to read this:
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Daniel 3:2 KJV
Before I continue to share this scripture, I want you to read over the same list (it repeats) and really put yourself in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s shoes, they are worshipers of God, watching a vile, sinful act being forced on everyone. The stakes, are immeasurable. When right now, most Christians, especially pastors, walk around on eggshells TERRIFIED of their faith offending a very small percentage of the population. I think some may even be terrified of their faith offending just ONE mortal. Consider this, these three men, were up against EVERYBODY! From the royalty, to the military, to the money changers, to the lawmen, they faced offending EVERY earthly authority there was at the time. The punishment wasn’t just being shaming on social media, it was being burnt to death…
Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:3-6
Here in America, even with the current Covid-19 restrictions, it’s hard to imagine living under that kind of tyranny. I believe God led me to this for two reasons:
First, to show me to be grateful. The restriction on religion is not as bad as it’s been before. We’re still free to pray to God, and to God alone. No one is threatening to kill us over it.
Secondly, to inventory my own faith and ask myself, if under that mountainous pressure; if threatened to be burned alive for my faith, would I still stand for it?
It’s so easy to say, “YES!” But actions speak louder than words. How many congregations and individual Christians have already fallen to their knees, worshiping the idol of political correctness?
As I type that, I know the risk just in saying it, but the Holy Spirit within me grieves for how little of a threat so many have already betrayed God for.
And I’m talking about from before Covid-19 hit. I’ve see Christians cower, and the gospel being watered down, for years.
So many have lost the gratitude for their salvation that they take it for granted and then wonder why they don’t see the caliber of miracles in their lives that were performed in Biblical times.
How God moves for those who are faithful to Him!
Back to Daniel Chapter three, even though the rest of the people bowed to a statue, these three men stood their ground…
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the corney, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musik, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver ye out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which though hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, therefore, he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats and other garments, and were cast into the midst of the fiery furnace. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his councellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s councellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might now serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can delivery after that sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:14-30
Talk about a 180! Not only did God spare their lives, but he justified them. God made their enemy king, become their defender in front of the large, nay-saying crowd, who had no choice but to be in awe; making all weapons formed against them, fail. Then, to top it all off, God promoted them! Whether or not it happens in this life, or his heavenly kingdom, THAT’S how God defends those who don’t waiver their faith, and REFUSE to bow to other gods.
Do we see this faith in America? Maybe in small pockets, but on a larger scale, I doubt it.
Not only have most Christians lost their gratefulness for Christ’s salvation, but they’ve also set God aside for what the world says to worship. They’ve allowed political correctness to become the golden statue of western civilization, and it’s an idol they happily bow to on a daily bases.
The fire is gone. The message is flat. Prosperity doctrine and religious braggarts have replaced the true passion and fire of God’s presence in far too many churches; leaving the flock lukewarm and susceptible to manipulation. Most Christians are pushed to their knees by those who hate God and his word.
How can we expect the number of Christians to grow, when we’re too afraid to really live our faith?!
Too many Christians are even scared to defend their faith online…
If you’re going to believe in something, then BELIEVE IN IT! Don’t tiptoe around, with a divided heart and a forked tongue.
Cowering before man, means you’ve forgotten: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth. Philippians 2:10
Now we can’t even congregate in most places, and I hope Christians everywhere are using this time to pray and take a spiritual inventory of their lives to find any golden statues (sins) in need of being thrown out.
When we die, we meet our maker ALONE. Whatever group, whatever celebrity, whatever trend you bowed to here on earth, won’t be there. It will be just you and God.
Nothing else, no matter how popular it was, is worth putting before Him.
So stop bowing down to what’s trending, and learn to stand for what you know is right!