As you end your day still chasing those magical eight hours, we’re just peeking in to say we hope you have a good night.
As the nights get cooler and lamp-side reading time gets cozier, the Bridge has you covered. I have a lot of favorites, but now I’m reading about Solomon again. Sometimes it’s good to go back.
Solomon died hating life realizing all the worldly things — partying, wine, women (multiplied), and wealth — all of it, every single aspect, was vanity. As the wisest man, he died as a fool. He had everything this world could offer but compromised and started cutting corners here and there with God, which led to bringing it all under the sun.
From Solomon, we learn that momentum is deceptive, and self-reliance makes you feel like it’s you.
Like Solomon, all of sudden, we thought this was because of us. We thought we’re cool. Look at what we’re building. Look at what we’ve done with this church group, with our business, our job, our talent, our money, our gift, in the church — look how God is using us, look how faithful we are, look at our department. Solomon shows us people can get deceived thinking it’s because of them. We forget we’re part of something much bigger.
You forget from whence you came. You forget the tap turns off from heaven.
I’ve read about Solomon before, but this time I felt completely taken over by it. These are chapters that make me want to say to people, Get out of here! Leave me alone. I’m reading. Some books envelop you. Solomon’s writings set life out in a way that feels very recognizable to me.
What are your favorite Bible reads for October nights? 📚📖
We have many weapons in our Christian arsenal for fighting the carnal nature and one that we underutilize. It’s one of Brother Nobles’ staple messages, and it’s one word: thankfulness. There is something incredible about a Christian who has harnessed the strength of thankfulness. It leads to good places, so stick around.
We’ve been thinking about our meetings. Brother Nobles and other ministers sometimes reference the importance of landmarks in our lives. During our meetings, the unified voices of ministers coming together are landmarks for us as a church. God does not bring voices like this together to play games.
In every meeting, the Lord made sure something happened in the church before we left that final Sunday, something that strengthened everyone as they returned home. The hope was that we would be hungry and sit on the edge of our seats listening and taking notes as God spoke to us through His ministry with direction for our lives.
Being saved is not an event; it is a journey we embark upon, transforming ourselves into His likeness. Keeping thankfulness in our heart is BIG. It will help us navigate across the rocky places and use hinds feet through the forest of underbrush and thick briar patches. It will keep us from getting stuck in the mud, those paralyzing spots that keep us barely trudging along the path.
We keep this spirit until we wake up one day, and we’re just grateful . . . for the truth, for God calling us, our family, our church, our job. We are thankful:
We have a place to go to hear the Word.
We have a Bible to read.
Even if we don’t have perfect health, that we have health.
That this is not some religion, but it is our life.
That we’re not where we used to be because of the grace and mercy of God.
That we get to go to bed tonight knowing we are covered under His ministry.
That we get to wake up tomorrow knowing we are part of His church.
That of all the people He could have called, He called us.
That we know what enemy we are fighting.
That we have decided to follow Jesus.
That we choose life.
Share this with a friend who has started looking for the surprise song🙂
Keep it Playing in the Background
Back in August, Brother John Shepard reminded the church to bring back to remembrance what we have been given and the chance we have today because God gave His only begotten (what He loved most), and Jesus poured out His soul unto death. As he went through the teaching and service, he told us to remember “thankfulness”, and keep it playing in the background of our minds while he taught.
The 120 in Acts had responsibility — 8,000 people came in at one time. They were spiritual enough that they influenced the 8000 newcomers, not the other way around. We have to be the same. The early church was working in perfect order, but still had problems. Although they weren’t fighting literal armies, they were fighting, conquering sin.
Living in the spirit of Love & Gratefulness
Brother John also brought to our attention the last words of Jesus and Stephen: forgive them.
Brother Patrick recently taught that we cannot let our basic, foundational things slip such as brotherly love. And no fake stuff — people can genuinely tell when you care for them.
Others are looking to us, so we cannot afford to be nonchalant. That spirit grows and spreads. He gave the example of being in the military. If the leader takes off his pack, it isn’t long before the ones under him take off their uniform. He went on to give us guidance on how to be peaceable as much as possible (at work, the doctor’s office, or any place you go). Elder sowed love in this assembly, and without it, we don’t have the Holy Ghost. We’re just making noise (tinkling cymbals). Without the main ingredient, you cannot bake a cake. Without love, we cannot build anything for God.
“It was a long time before I even noticed the ragged, rundown building.”
When Brother Jack first came to the Body of Christ to that building in Potter’s Hill, he was so hungry for more of the Word being given and felt the love of God’s people so strong, that was all he noticed. As God continues to call His people home, into His church, they need to be met with love. We can’t afford to be wrapped up in unforgiveness. Every time Sampson was led by his emotions, he got in to trouble. Every time he was led by the spirit, God guided him out of trouble.
Brother Nobles talked to us a while back about how forgiveness is not a feeling — it is a choice. We cannot allow our emotions about external situations or conditions that happen to us to rule our lives, but rather encourage ourselves to keep a disposition of thankfulness no matter the circumstance.
Sampson didn’t really stop to contemplate his unforgiveness; he just went around with his bad blood (which comes from not getting and giving forgiveness). King Saul kept bad blood and ended up standing angry, alone, and impenitent. The same can happen to us.
We can become accustomed to our bad blood and carry it around with us.
We bury and suppress it, but it becomes part of us. It’s like the kid who covers his head with a blanket and thinks no one can see him. But your friends can see it, your family can see it, brothers and sisters see it, even people at your work place can see it . . . and it influences your life.
Forgiveness is opportunity to propel our growth. We weren’t called to only forgive those we like, or we would probably be excluding half the people God called. People are going to hurt you and offend you. That is just life. The question is, “What are you going to do about it?”
It starts in our house, here at church. Often Christians get offended and leave and run to the next church and the next. We are taught to deal with it here and given tools to overcome. We don’t run. We stay and work on it until we can overcome.
Here’s the thing. How we love each other in here demonstrates to the people out there what God’s love is. Our love for one another in the Body of Christ is like a litmus test of our love for God (Brother Patrick talked about that in his Brotherly Love message last week). There is coming a day when we have no more time in God’s house for bad blood or unforgiveness. We will need to stop fighting against each other and start fighting for each other. There are too many things God needs us to do to reach the lost and keep the church growing.
Do not lose your desire to overcome.
As Brother Nobles just reminded us Saturday evening, we can lose our souls while sitting right here in the pews at church.
Go Here If You Need to be Convicted of Your Lack of Gratitude.
“And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” -Luke 17:12-19
Y’all Mind if We Back Up?
Elder said sometimes we have to go back to go forward. Joseph went backwards before he could go forward in God’s plan. He could not have won over his brothers. Think nowadays: buying them tickets to the super bowl, posting their photo on instagram with #bestbrothers, having them over for a steak on the grill — nothing he could do would have changed them.
The dream God gave Joseph let him know it would take God. A dream from God should cause you to run to Him because He is the one who is going to make it happen. You don’t have a dream from God . . . a real dream from God has you. I heard Elder talk about that in his life when God came to him and changed his direction through a dream.
Before we can push through hard circumstances and get to the next level, we often have to go back to landmarks in our lives and remember what God has done for us.
On the Road Again
In Luke, things are heating up, and Jesus decides to travel with everyone following Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. A lot of chapters in Luke give us a play-by-play account of what Jesus says and does during this journey.
Hiding in plain sight
When you’re reading the Word, do you ever step back and appreciate how beautifully the Lord allowed it to be written — with messages hidden from the wise and prudent, but in plain sight if He has opened your eyes.
Like most things in the Bible, this travel narrative in Luke is about more than a physical account about the route Jesus and His followers took to Jerusalem. It also represents the figurative path the disciples should follow in their lives.
Something else worth noting . . .
The instructions that Jesus issues are so many and so commanding that as readers we might feel sort of discipleship jet lag by the time we finally reach the suburbs of Jerusalem in Luke 19, but it sure shows us one thing — God is not playing around with our lives.
God had a plan, and Jesus knew He had a certain amount of time to bring forth words that would result in eternal life. He did not waste a moment or opportunity to teach and give lessons that would help them, and us today, overcome and stay on the path to eternal life. (Those who were around Elder know that he did that same thing, wherever he was and in whatever state he was in.)
Along the way, Jesus continued to teach, and the threats against His life grew as they made their way to Jerusalem.
The religious highbrows continued to attempt repeatedly to “catch Him” in a mistake by trying to trick Him, which Brother Nobles and Brother Patrick both just talked about.
The Red Carpet
When they make it to Jerusalem, Jesus is welcomed with fanfare, but He hasn’t come to entertain. He is there to fulfill God’s plan.
Jesus could have taken other routes to Jerusalem, but He chose the path they needed to travel (through towns that were warring and hanging out in places others would not want to be), not just to get there, but to learn what they needed along the way.
Which brings us to . . .
As they are about to enter a village and are probably weary and finally going to get some rest, they came upon ten men who were lepers (so much for the rest part) who met them asking Jesus to have mercy on them. Jesus instructed them to go show themselves to the priests. As they went away, they were cleansed of the leprosy.
Say Thank You
As the ten were walking away to do what Jesus told them, they were healed. Only one (from Samaria) got to thinking about the magnitude of what had just been done for him.
This man, no longer a leper, was not mediocre about his healing. His life was changed in the blink of an eye. In one moment, he went from being an outsider to being someone who had a new lease on life, a new name, a new future! Everything was changed! He physically demonstrated his thankfulness to the Lord because he had been made free of so much.
He went to exuberant lengths to show his thankfulness. He didn’t say, “Jesus knows what’s in my heart, or hey, thanks a lot, Lord.” This man made a scene for all of heaven to see.
He returned to Jesus and thanked him.
A Grateful Spirit: Keep it and Guard it.
Pray we never need an outsider to remind us on the inside that we need to be thankful.
I don’t want someone else who has no investment or stock in my home to come inside my house to remind me how awesome my spouse or family are. When we lose gratitude, things that should remain special get common really quickly.
When something is around us all time, we take it for granted, forgetting how much we wanted it, needed it, and loved it at one time.
In our church, in our spiritual lives, we have seen some things and we have been around things that should still be stirring our spirit and getting us going.
We stop being grateful for what’s right in front of our faces.
We are flawed and are striving to overcome, but we are His people, and if you get the chance to be part of that calling, don’t take it for granted. When we are so used to what’s all around us, sometimes God will bring in people to remind us of what we have, or He could even take His covering elsewhere. Some things that used to move us, should still move us.
When God fills someone with His spirit or we witness someone who was blind and they now can see — it should mean something to us and not be like just another announcement.
I don’t want to take for granted one answered prayer, one miracle, one victory — I don’t want someone to have to remind me of how good God has been to me. Brother Nobles tells us to be quick to have a thankful spirit.
A grateful spirit is a weapon that guards against a dormant spiritual life.
We would like to think we would be that leper who came back, but more times than not, we are the other nine.
Check your distance. Where are you now, and where did you come from? Never forget where you came from; never forget who blessed your life; never forget who gave you a second chance.
Can you imagine being the man healed of leprosy and thinking in case something happens to me, in case there is bad weather and I don’t get back, in case Jesus leaves before I return — before there is any more distance . . . I am going back to thank him right now. He immediately checked the distance.
Some do the opposite. The more things God gives you, the more He blesses you, the more He takes your life forward, the more good things happening — they get further and further away from living a thankful life.
Jesus is not here to give you things or perform a miracle for you. He is about fulfilling His Father’s plan. When He does something for you, use it for His glory and to serve Him. We get to experience Him as we are overcoming — that is more than we deserve. What is the distance between you and the Lord from the last time He helped you?
Is There an App for That?
No. We live in such a high-demand, high-result, I-want-it-now culture that sometimes God can do stuff that you prayed over, needed, or wanted — but we’re already on to the next, on to the next, on to the next . . . that we never actually celebrate a thing. On to the next meeting, the next miracle, the next blessing, next service, next problem, next healing.
We don’t stop ourselves and say, “Wait, there might be more to this”.
What’s working against us? Have you ever eaten with someone who eats like they are in a frenzy? We can be like that, individually and as a church — devouring all the blessings. There’s a big difference in demanding stuff from God and being grateful that He even cares about us at all. Be someone who understands there is a lot more to the miracle and the blessing than you might think there is.
The only man who got healed and saved is the one who came back to Jesus. Jesus was about saving his soul, not curing his leprosy.
Gratitude causes you to sit longer at the feet of the one who saved you, where you find out that the miracle was never about you.
It’s about what God wants to do through you and what He wants you to do for His kingdom and how you can help others. Take your miracle or answer to prayer and go help build the church. Go help the next person in a similar situation. That’s how God works. Can we hang around long enough? Can we close the distance? Many people have run away with their miracle. God blessed you, He called you out — and we haven’t heard from you since.
You ran after you got what you wanted.
God has so much more than you think He does. Don’t be guilty of using Jesus to get what you want or need for personal gain, then walk away. Be guilty of allowing Jesus to use us.
When is the last time you just hung out with Jesus? I thank you for all you’ve done, but I just want to be in your presence.
You might think if God did something for you like for that leper back then, you would show your thankfulness, too. Well, He has.
He has called us and we can come inside the camp and not be left outside in the cold. He has revealed the enemy to us and given us a chance to overcome and no longer be afflicted. He has given us revelation and shown us a better way!
Has God called you? Has He shown mercy in your life? Has He changed your life? Don’t be one who is waiting for Jesus to prove something worthy of your demonstration. He already has.
No statute of limitations
There is no expiration date on gratitude. No matter how long it’s been since God saved you, you can still look back and thank Him. Thankfulness is the ground you stand on when you need to go to the Lord again for something.
I don’t know what happened to the man who was healed — if he got the job he wanted or his relationships flourished. I’m sure it didn’t matter if business deals fell through or people let him down because at the end of the day, he no longer had leprosy. (Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Bible “Where are they now?” Haha.)
How Will You Wake Up Tomorrow?
That level of demonstration by the leper does not even remotely match up to the level of deliverance God has given us. So, if God opened your eyes, if He has ever cleaned your slate, and if He put you on solid ground — show it!
You can tell the people who aren’t far from their deliverance. They come to church, and you could say, “I’m sorry the music wasn’t so great tonight.” They would say, “I’m just thankful there was music. I’m just thankful I get to be in another service. I’m just thankful to be part of God’s people.” Their heart is grateful.
Pray we stay hungry. Pray we don’t let distance come between us and what God did for us. Pray we demonstrate our thankfulness — not because we have to, but because we cannot contain it.
Press the pedal on this.
Gratitude is attitude, although a cool saying, is not completely right. A lot of people think something grateful. No one’s thoughts have ever made someone else’s day better. But there have been days that someone has reached out to me in a text, call, or given me a hug at church, and that action helped me.
Thankfulness is part of the journey. When we show our gratitude for what Jesus has done for us, who knows what God can do with that?
There is something about a Christian who never forgets the first thing God ever did for them (that was Elder). He saved your life and gave you a new start and chance to overcome. He poured His spirit into you. Now, we can let that thankfulness lift us up. How can we be in despair or discouraged when we are grateful?
If you’ve gotten lost and feel there’s no way back, find your thankfulness — it will bring you to the Father. It’s the lifeline linking you back.
God can turn your life around. He is here for you. The door is open, but you have to walk through. Decide to follow Jesus — over mountains high and through the stormy seas.
It might not always be open. Eternal life hangs in the balance.