“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
We can eat healthily, take vitamins, exercise regularly, apply anti-aging creams and even have surgery in an attempt to look younger, but there is no way anyone can avoid the inevitable; we are all going to die one day. We must determine that we will not spend our lives in fear, sidestepping any risks simply because something potentially bad could happen and we might die.
Of all people, Christians should be the most untamed, wild risk-takers for the sake of the Gospel because we believe that death has been defeated by Christ’s victory at Calvary!
Let’s determine to live the kind of life that shows we do not fear death.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:17-19).
In Luke’s Gospel we read the amazing story of ten lepers who were miraculously healed by Jesus. Later, just one of the men returned to thank Jesus for what He had done. I often wonder what happened to the other nine. So did Jesus.
Like nine out of the ten lepers in this story, often we can go about our lives having been cleansed by God, but still very much wrapped up in ourselves.
There is a direct link between thanksgiving and wholeness in the Christian life. Many Christians live cleansed because God has saved them, but they don’t live whole because they don’t understand the value of thanksgiving. Being cleansed is essential, but I don’t just want to be a “survivor” in the Christian life; I want to harness the power of thanksgiving and be more than a conqueror!
“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:1).
It is amazing how thankful we are when we first become Christians. We step out of one world and into another, and suddenly everything looks great! When I first got saved, every day was an adventure with God and I was grateful for every blessing He sent along. Most new Christians would be the same.
But it doesn’t seem to take long before all those things that were “awesome” lose their gloss and cynicism and criticism set in. Why does this happen? Because we quickly forget to be thankful. Even if we have nothing else to be thankful for, if we know Jesus Christ, then we have something to be grateful for.
It is vital to keep nurturing that spirit of thankfulness and allow it to infuse everything we do.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).
Remember in grade school when we played sports at recess? Two kids were appointed as captains – one for each team – and the rest of us nervously stood there, hoping that we wouldn’t be the last one picked. I think that was when most of us first began to notice that popularity was closely linked to the kinds of gifts and talents we possess.
As Christians, we cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of being enamored by someone purely on the basis of his or her gift or talent. A person’s spiritual gifting does not define who that person is. We need to examine the fruit of a person’s life to truly determine his or her character. Certainly, every one of us is unique and special to God and has God-given gifts and talents, but it is the fruit in our lives that truly reveals the depth of our intimacy with the Father. It is when we are in His presence that we are changed into His likeness and consequently produce the fruits of His Holy Spirit.
Let’s resolve to focus on developing the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the measure of our Christlikeness.