For the past 25 years, Thanksgiving serves as a dual purpose for my family. The first is obvious, to reconnect, reflect and share how the past year has gone, either good, bad or indifferent. The second is a precursor to Christmas, exchanging gift wish lists. Thanks to Amazon, most of this is done online to avoiding writing down the same list several times on a piece of paper. Nonetheless, as Christmas Day approaches, there is an internal list with decorations, gift wrapping and preparations that need to completed before you can actually enjoy Jesus’ birthday.
For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations],” Romans 10:10-11.
A 2007 film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman introduced another kind of list. The Bucket List involves two men who have been each diagnosed with terminal cancer. After meeting in the hospital for the first time, the billionaire hospital magnate Edward Cole played by Nicholson finances a series of trips before each man dies. In a race against the clock, these men invest their energy doing the things in life they always wanted to do, but never took the time. Since the initial release of the Bucket List, several # movements have transformed others on the verge of death to pursue their own check list of dreams and goals to accomplish.
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:1-2.
My favorite list is one that gets little attention, but results in eternal rewards, the Jesus Check List. Instead of going through life focusing on the things you want to experience, the Jesus Check List is based upon fulfilling God’s will for your life. Before you can start this list, you need to join Jesus’ team as described by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:10-11. The moment you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you gain access to the Holy Spirit. C.S. Lewis refers to this as theological virtues in Mere Christianity, enabling new converts to obtain charity, faith and hope as you progress down Jesus’ Check List.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life. 14 This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us, 1 John 5:13-14.
As individuals begin to daily prayer, read the Bible and begin to worship God throughout the week, not just on Sunday’s, lives can be radically changed if you stick with the Jesus Check List. The apostle Paul refers to this as a process, offering up your life each day as a living sacrifice to God. This involves asking God a series of questions in the form of a prayer. What do you want me to do today? Where do you need me to go to help others? Who needs to be encouraged, give me eyes to see? How can I reach the lost; using the God given talents you have blessed me with? If you take this blog to heart, you will be well on your way, certain of the eternal rewards awaiting you in heaven with each day you commit to serving Jesus.
by Jay Mankus