Here are a few highlights of things missed over the Thanksgiving weekend:
- What issues should the Christian care about? Recent college grads expanding Christian concerns – beyond abortion or First Amendment rights – to immigration [New York Times, On Religion – Evangelical, and Young, and Active in New Area]. “[The Lord] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 10:17-18, ESV).
- Will we ever have a president of hope? We’ve replaced one President of disappointment with another and we’re disappointed: “The most disappointed people I meet are under thirty, the generation who made the Obama campaign a movement in its early primary months. They spent their entire adult lives under the worst president of our lifetime, they loved Obama because he was new and inspiring, and they felt that replacing the former with the latter would be a national deliverance.” [The New Yorker, Obama’s Troubles: Interesting Times]. When we make God our leader and the focus of our moral compass, we place our hope in the one thing that does not disappoint. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, ESV).
- Are the times a-changin? Bob Dylan – born again Christian convert from Judaism in the 1970s – has a new Christmas album out and the proceeds benefit hunger-relief and homeless organizations [New York Times, Arts, Briefly – Dylan on the Record About Christmas]. The Lord condemns those who do not care for the poor: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes – they that trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and turn aside the way of the afflicted.” (Amos 2:6, ESV).
Do you seek for things that are not lost? In a few weeks, I’ll arrive to my parents’ home in Florida and, upon seeing my mom’s car in the driveway, I’ll walk in the door and call out, “Mom, where are you?” Although I haven’t lost her, I want to see her face and hug her.
Similarly, although God is not lost, the Chronicler promises us:
If you seek [the Lord], he will be found by you. v. 9, NIV.
Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence, to see his face. In a sense, we’re always in the presence of the Lord since he’s omnipresent and has covenanted with his people. In another sense, however, we’re not always in the presence of the Lord, which is why the Bible continually calls us to seek his presence always (see Psalm 105:4).
We are called to do so because there are seasons in which we give no thought to the Lord – when we do not put our trust in him or recognize his beautiful and incomparable value. Since we are always at risk of falling into this mindset, we must continue to set our minds and hearts to seek the Lord (see 1 Chronicles 22:19).
How do we do this? We seek him through the things around us (see Psalm 19). The heavens declare of the glory of God. He reveals himself through his word. We see him in the evidences of grace in other people. At The Park Forum, one of the ways by which we seek the Lord is through the news – considering how God is working all over the world through a biblical lens.
As the Chronicler promises us, when we see him, we find him. And he is our greatest reward. When we have him, we have everything.
Every Thanksgiving, I travel to Connecticut to be with my family in the Northeast. They’re not my real family, but they’re my friend Kate’s family. Since my family lives in Florida, Kate’s family takes me in year after year and welcomes me at their dinner table. Therefore, although I am physically far away from my childhood home, my heart is full of child-like joy as I consider my thankfulness for having this family.
Her family truly practices the command we read today:
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. v. 9, NIV.
As I think about how to obey this command myself, however, I stumble. For it’s easier for someone in Connecticut to offer hospitality than it is for a New Yorker – with a matchbox apartment. Right?
I don’t think so.
When I return to my home in New York City, I’ll walk into my tiny one bedroom apartment. When I arrive, it will be empty because my new roommate – who sleeps on an air mattress in our one bedroom as she looks for a job – will still be with her family in Miami. On Tuesday, however, our apartment will be filled with our urban family, i.e., our small group Bible study that meets in our home. Twelve of us will pack inside the den/kitchen/dining room, as we sit on wooden folding chairs and consider the Word of God.
Practicing hospitality is one of the most joyful things that we do. I don’t say this to brag, but rather to offer hope and creativity. I often hear New Yorkers say that they would offer hospitality if they had more space or a dining room table (etc.), but the words of Peter don’t give caveats for excuses not to practice hospitality.
Rather he offers motivation. For the practicing of hospitality is actually an example of how to carry out the verse just prior to this command, which reads:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. v. 8, NIV.
To practice hospitality without grumbling, therefore, is to love one another deeply. And we should care about loving one another deeply because it covers over a multitude of our sins.
How can you practice hospitality and, thereby, cover over a multitude of sins?
When someone makes a promise and then delays in keeping it, sometimes it’s hard to continue believing that they will. I think of engaged friends who delay in setting the date – they wonder whether they will actually get married. I think of my promises to my mom that I would clean my room “by Friday” and then, on Thursday, I had touched nothing – she questioned whether I would keep my promise and then nag me until I did.
God made a promise to King David – that his son would build a house for the Lord and that his kingdom would reign forever. In Chronicles 22, David tells his son Solomon of this promise (see 2 Samuel 7):
My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Behold, a son shall be born to you … He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.” ESV.
Yet, Solomon died and his throne was not forever. Did God not keep His promise to David?
Almost one thousand years later, an angel named Gabriel visited a virgin named Mary. He said to her:
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:31-33, ESV.
God keeps His promises. And we should be slow to indict Him before He does. For Peter writes:
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness …” 2 Peter 3:8-9a, ESV.
What promises are you thankful for today? For what promises do you await? Trust the Lord that He has a plan – even if it may seem a long way off to you – and it is better than anything you could ever ask for or imagine.