Living holy, godly lives at the end of the world

If you knew that the end of the world would come tomorrow, how would you live today? What would you do that you’d been putting off? What would you tell people around you?

I know I’m a horrible procrastinator. Many times I have things that I need to do, but I don’t do them until I absolutely have to. But the end of the world is going to come so quickly that procrastinators are just going to be out of luck.

Today’s verse is 2 Peter 3:10-11.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. 11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,

Verse 11 caught my eye today.

Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live.


The human inclination is to say, since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, it doesn’t matter how you live. Or you should live however makes you happy. Or you should live for yourself and forget everyone else.

But that’s not what it says. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live.

Holy and godly lives. What does that even mean? The Amplified version translates it as “holy behavior and devout and godly qualities.”

We don’t know when the end will come, but we can be sure it’s coming. The Bible says it is. And the state of the world is evidence enough that something big is coming.

But just knowing that the end is coming doesn’t do a whole lot for helping us deal with the world in the interim. What we need to remember is that the world will be destroyed. It must be. There’s no discussion.

So we shouldn’t get too attached to it. And we should live our lives like Jesus did, focused on serving God, focused on helping people, loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should be different than people who don’t believe. We should show Christ in every aspect of our lives, from our work to our home to the stores on Black Friday.

We need to live a holy and godly life because the end is coming, and it’s coming soon. And for the procrastinators, that means today. Not tomorrow. Because you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. None of us are.

So don’t try to fit everything in at the last moment because you won’t have time. And don’t let yourself believe that you are all that matters or that the world revolves around you. And don’t delude yourself that being happy is the most important thing in life.

The lives we live here are proving grounds for eternity. The bad things that happen in our lives aren’t punishment, they’re tests. This world isn’t our home. It’s just a temporary place we have to be for now, but that doesn’t mean our time here doesn’t matter.

While we’re here for however brief a time that is, we need to keep in mind that the things we see and the life we live now is temporary. It’s not going to last. And it’s all going to end much sooner than we think.

How long is forever?

I don’t think anyone on earth really understands the concept of forever. I think we try, but I don’t think any of us is capable of it. Forever can blow our puny little insignificant minds.

But the Bible really talks about forever a lot. So if it’s something that we can’t comprehend, why is it all over Scripture? Well, if we could understand everything about the Bible, we wouldn’t need it, would we? If we could understand everything about God, He wouldn’t be God, would He?

I learned a long time ago that whenever someone in authority over me repeated something, it usually meant what they were saying was important. So whenever my parents or my boss would say something at least twice, I knew to pay attention. Because there had to be a reason they wanted me to know whatever it was they were telling me.

And if that is true between us crazy human types, it’s doubly true of God. There aren’t many instances in Scripture where God repeats Himself, though, so when it happens, it’s super important.

So when I read today’s verse, I figured that what He was saying was important. But of all the things to repeat, I find this interesting:

Psalm 136:1, 26

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
         His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
         His faithful love endures forever.

What is God saying in this verse? Why did He choose to have David write, “His faithful love endures forever” over and over again? Well, obviously, God wanted to catch our attention. Remember, He only repeats Himself when He wants us to make sure we understand what He’s saying.

So how do we understand that His faithful love endures forever?

Well, what that tells me is that no matter what I do or where I go or how far I get or how badly I think I’ve screwed up, there’s nothing that will make God love me less. Because His faithful love endures forever.

Isn’t that what you would think if you saw “His faithful love endures forever” repeated twice in the same Psalm?

Want a real shocker? Read the whole Psalm 136. In fact, I’m going to post it. Because I think God is trying to tell us all something.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
         His faithful love endures forever.
 2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
         His faithful love endures forever.

 4 Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 5 Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 6 Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 7 Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—
         His faithful love endures forever.
 8 the sun to rule the day,
         His faithful love endures forever.
 9 and the moon and stars to rule the night.
         His faithful love endures forever.

 10 Give thanks to him who killed the firstborn of Egypt.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 11 He brought Israel out of Egypt.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 12 He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 13 Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea.[a]
         His faithful love endures forever.
 14 He led Israel safely through,
         His faithful love endures forever.
 15 but he hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 16 Give thanks to him who led his people through the wilderness.
         His faithful love endures forever.

 17 Give thanks to him who struck down mighty kings.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 18 He killed powerful kings—
         His faithful love endures forever.
 19 Sihon king of the Amorites,
         His faithful love endures forever.
 20 and Og king of Bashan.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 21 God gave the land of these kings as an inheritance—
         His faithful love endures forever.
 22 a special possession to his servant Israel.
         His faithful love endures forever.

 23 He remembered us in our weakness.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 24 He saved us from our enemies.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 25 He gives food to every living thing.
         His faithful love endures forever.
 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
         His faithful love endures forever.

That’s 26 times. God repeats this 26 times in 26 verses. So if we’re supposed to sit up and pay attention when God says something twice, what do we do when he says it 26 times?

Me? I believe it. God isn’t going to waste our time just saying the same thing over and over and over again. If He allowed David to write this Psalm this way, He did it for a reason.

God’s faithful love endures forever. So when your day sucks and everything goes wrong and nothing goes the way you planned it and when you feel like God has turned His back on you, remember that His faithful love endures forever. And even though we can’t understand what forever means or how long forever is, God does.

And when God says He’ll love us forever, He knows what He’s promising. He’s seen forever. Shoot, He is forever. He made forever.

It’s not about us understanding forever. It’s about us believing that God’s got it all taken care of and that there’s nothing that can separate us from His love. Not even ourselves.

Entitlement in blessing

When someone does something nice for you, what is your reaction? Do you expect people to be nice to you and do things for you? So when someone does, do you just act like they were required to do it? Do you refuse to accept someone’s kindness? Are you humbled that someone would be kind to you? Do you run around and tell everyone about it?

I love to watch little kids open presents. They get so excited, and once they have it open and know what’s inside, they’ll usually run around showing everyone.

If someone does something nice for you, generally your first reaction is going to be to tell people about it. Isn’t it? You’ll want to tell your friends and your family and the people you work with that someone you know did something amazing for you.

That’s what I thought when I read today’s verse, 1 Chronicles 16:8.

8 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
      Let the whole world know what he has done.

1 Chronicles is one of those Old Testament books that gets looked over sometimes. It’s a history book, usually used for extended reference with 1 Kings. But it has detail in it that 1 Kings doesn’t, and we can learn things from the Chronicles that we don’t in the Kings.

In 1 Chronicles 16, David and a select group of people are moving the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. This was a big event. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of God. It was where He would speak to the High Priest. The Israelites carried it into battle with them. It was a symbol. Not an idol. And it was supposed to be at the center of the Temple, in a chamber called the Holy of Holies. Well for some reason or another (it’s complicated), the Ark needed to be moved back to Jerusalem (I can’t remember if this was the time the Philistines stole it or if it was a separate occurence).

In any case, when David and his people got the Ark back to Jerusalem, David wrote a song. The first line of the song is today’s verse.

When was the last time God did something for you that He didn’t have to do? I bet it was more recent than you think. Did you wake up this morning? Are you able to read and understand the words in this post? Do you taste the coffee you’re drinking?

How much has God done for you just in your early morning routine?

I think we expect God to just do things for us because He’s a good God. But we live in such a screwed up world that the entitlement mentality of our culture has spread to our faith.

God is not required to do anything for us. I mean, He already sacrificed His Son so we could have eternal life. What more can we ask from Him? Yes, He tells us to ask Him for what we need, that we don’t have because we don’t ask. But even when we ask, we’re supposed to have the right heart. And many times, I don’t think we do.

God has done amazing things for us. God is doing amazing things for us, and many times we don’t even realize it. So we don’t thank Him like we should, and we don’t tell others about it either.

So today, think about what God has done for you. Because even the “little” things are bigger than we think, too big for us to accomplish on our own. And once you see the things that God has done for you, tell others about it. Because nothing demonstrates gratitude like telling other people what someone else has done for you.

God helped me wake up this morning. He gave me a life where I have a warm bed and hot coffee to drink. He’s provided me with a job that I enjoy, even though it stresses me out sometimes. He’s given me a car to drive that is still going strong at nearly 121,000 miles. He gave me the ability to write and the hands to type my thoughts down. He gave me a family that’s incredible and friends who help keep my focus straight. He gave me a church that’s out-of-this-world awesome. He’s given me opportunities to do the things I love and help people at the same time. He’s given me everything that I need and many things that I wanted. And the things that I wanted that He hasn’t given me are probably just around the bend.

God has been good to me. Very good. And the least I can do is proclaim that goodness to other people. I want the whole world to know that God has blessed me when He didn’t have to.

How has God blessed you this morning?

Think about it. Thank Him for it. And then tell somebody.

Before you gobble, gobble, take time to remember

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you have a warm, bright day full of laughter and lots of family time (and far too much pumpkin pie than is probably healthy).

And as we celebrate our plenty, I hope none of us forget to be thankful. Truly thankful. And not just for the food and the family or anything else that’s obvious.

We need to be thankful for something more important than all of it. Colossians 2:6-7 says:

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

If you’ve chosen to follow Jesus, you have something to be thankful for today that is more precious than too much to eat. You have a life with Him and a relationship with God, open access to the creator of the universe. And it’s not just that, but it’s strength to live your life. Christ provides us with a foundation to survive the craziness of the world we broke.

So when you sit down enjoy your thanksgiving feast today, don’t forget to thank God for all that He’s done.

Thank Him. Mean it.

And dig in.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!

The lost holiday

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday that gets lost in American culture, I think. Nestled between Halloween and Christmas, the stores rarely put out Thanksgiving decorations anymore. They just have sales on food.

I remember as a child when Thanksgiving came around, stores would have images of turkeys and pilgrims to remind people that it was Thanksgiving time. Now, it seems we skip straight from the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween to Santa and the reindeer. Maybe there was no room for the turkey and the pilgrims in the world of secular icons?

Or maybe it’s just because, as a culture, Americans are so fat and happy all the time that a day devoted solely to eating and watching football isn’t that unusual anymore. If that’s the case, it’s ironic. Because Americans are fat and happy and they’re the one people group in the world that spend millions of dollars to lose weight and even more on medication to avoid being depressed.

Now, I’m not saying I’m against eating. Good grief, no. Personally, I’m supposed to stay away from sugar and grains. But let me tell you, I intend to eat my share (or more than my share) of pumpkin pie and stuffing tomorrow. I’ll probably go right to sleep, but I’m going to do it because Thanksgiving only comes once a year. … and I really really love pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate, but I think Americans have forgotten what it is that we’re celebrating. It’s not exactly a cut-and-dry type of holiday, after all. It’s a little unusual. And if you don’t know anything about history, it’s easy to get your focus off, especially with the consumerism in the American market now.

What do we celebrate on Thanksgiving? Do we celebrate that the pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and made friends with the “Indians” and learned how to make succotash? Do we celebrate that people play football? Do we celebrate that it’s autumn? Do we celebrate that Christmas is coming?

I think Thanksgiving is easy to forget in America because we have so much all the time, it’s hard to be thankful. Thanksgiving is being thankful. But after you spend all day, sometimes a day and a half, preparing food, it’s difficult to be thankful for it. You just want to eat it. Or after you’ve worked and worked and worked for eleven months, it’s easy to just want to take a day off and rest.

But that’s where I think we lose the holiday. It gets lost because we’re not thankful. Our focus is wrong.

If you’ve never been out of the country, you really have no context to understand how blessed America is. We are a blessed people. Blessed beyond belief or imagination.

2011 has been a difficult year. Actually, the U.S. has had a run of difficult years. We call them difficult years, but are they really difficult? Difficult means something different in the U.S. than it does in other countries. Difficult here means someone lost a job. Difficult here means a family had to move to a smaller house. Difficult here means someone has to survive on minimum wage or unemployment.

And I’m not making light of any of those situations. They’re all unfortunate. But what is difficult — truly difficult — about living in the United States?

The only thing that’s truly difficult about living in the United States is remembering to be thankful. Because even in our worst circumstances, we have more than any other country. And even if you have nothing, you have the opportunity to start something. Even if you have no one, you can meet someone. And if you’re all alone, you can ask for help. And many times, someone will help. Because this country is still the most generous, kind-hearted country in the world.

Do we realize how unusual that is? Or are we so caught up in the busyness and the excess that we just skim over it?

My heart breaks for this country because those of us with so much don’t think about those who have nothing. All I have to do is think about my dear Q’eqchi friends in Guatemala who live in homes with dirt floors and who are so happy and thankful for everything they have. I think I’m grateful for the blessings in my life, and they put me to shame.

So how can people from a country that has everything remember to be thankful? In my mind, the only way is to remember where our plenty came from. Because blessings don’t occur in a vacuum. Excess doesn’t just happen. America is blessed because the people who founded it followed God. And America is still blessed because there are many many people in it who still follow God and pray for this country.

Today’s verse is Psalm 100:4-5.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
      go into his courts with praise.
      Give thanks to him and praise his name.
 5 For the Lord is good.
      His unfailing love continues forever,
      and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

And whoever arranged this verse probably intended to focus on verse 4. After all, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. But really what stands out to me this morning is verse 5.

For the Lord is good.

His unfailing love continues forever.

And his faithfulness continues to each generation.

I’m thankful for turkey. I’m thankful for pumpkin pie. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my friends. I’m thankful for my country. I’m thankful for my church. And I’m thankful for words to be able to express my thoughts.

But more than anything, I’m thankful to belong to God. And I’m thankful that He’s a good God and that He loves me and that no matter what I do or where I go, His love will continue forever. Even until after time is gone, He will still love me. He’s faithful and that faithfulness has been passed down through the ages, and it won’t stop either.

We have so much to be thankful for. And while Halloween is fun and Christmas is epic, we shouldn’t forget the little holiday in between. Because if we forget to be thankful, we’ll lose more than just a holiday.