What Spiritual Lessons Can We Learn from the California Fires?
1. Life is uncertain
"Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14).
Life is uncertain. You might die unexpectedly. Are you prepared to meet your God? Are you living in light of eternity? Do you have assurance that your sins are forgiven and if you die now, that you will go to heaven? As of this writing, 79 people have died in the California fires. What if it were you? Are you prepared? 151,600 people die every day around the world. Are you ready? The Bible says, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
2. The World is passing away
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15-17).
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matt. 6:19-20).
"But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:7).
"Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter 3:12).
Where is your heart? Are you putting your affections on the things of the world or on things above? Hundreds of people lost their homes and their cars unexpectedly during the California fires. Many famous actors and celebrities lost their possessions also. This is a lesson not to put our hopes in this world. The fires in California are only a small picture of that day when God will destroy the whole world with fire and create "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13).
3. Hell is real
"Where 'Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched'" (Mark 9:46).
"And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name" (Rev. 14:11).
The California fires are only a small picture of the reality of the fires of hell which will never be quenched. Repent and look to Christ to be saved!
"Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; and to our God, For He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).
"To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43).
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
"Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other" (Isaiah 45:22).
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 136:1).
Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is my second most favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is a time for us to look back and remember what the Lord has done for us. Thanksgiving should always be in our hearts and lips not only once a year in November but every day of our lives. The Lord wants us to be a thankful people and not forget all His benefits.
What does the Bible say about Thanksgiving?
1. It is God’s will for us to be thankful. We need to be thankful in everything – in the good times and in the bad times; in times of prosperity and in times of adversity; and in times of joy and in times of sorrow. That is God’s will for us. God does not like a people who murmur or complain but only those who are grateful and thankful.
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
2. We need to be always thankful.
“Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name” (Psalm 30:4).
“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2).
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4).
“Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad” (Psalm 34:1-2).
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 4:2).
3. When we come to God in prayer, we need to bring our thanksgiving also.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving”(Col. 4:2).
4. We need to be ever mindful and not forget what the Lord has done for us.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5).
What I am Thankful For
I am thankful that Jesus intercedes for me. He is my great High Priest who sympathizes with me and cares for me.
“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34).
“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).
I am thankful that Jesus has died for me and that He is my substitute.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
I am thankful that Jesus has set me free from my sins. I was once a slave of sin and of Satan but Jesus has made me free. He has unshackled my chains.
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).
I am thankful that Jesus has reconciled me to the Father. Because of Jesus, I can boldly approach the father. And because of Jesus, I am fully accepted by the Father.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18).
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
“To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).
I am thankful that God has forgiven me of all my sins – past, present, and future. I no longer have to carry this burden of guilt upon my shoulders anymore. God has cast all my sins behind His back and He remembers them no more.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:13).
“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19).
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 8:12).
I am thankful that God has given me eternal life, and no one will be able to snatch me out of His Father’s hand.
“And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25).
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
I am thankful that God keeps me through trials and tribulations. He works everything out for my good and conforms me to the image of His Son through these trials and afflictions.
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:5-7).
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
I am thankful for God’s mercies and His faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning and His mercy endures forever.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:8-13).
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).
I am thankful that God provides for me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know also that He watches over me.
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).
The word “Blessed” in Psalm 1:1 means happiness or blessedness. Indeed, happy is the man who does not walk in the advice or the way of the ungodly.
Reference: Prov. 4:14, Rom. 12:1-2
Our delight and pleasure ought to be in the Word of God and we ought to meditate on the Word of God day and night.
Reference: Psalm 119:14;16;35, Josh. 1:8
As we abide in Christ and in His Word, we will bear much fruit. God will bless the works of our hands.
Reference: John 15:5-8, Psalm 92:12-14, Jer. 17:7-8
The ungodly are not like the righteous. They do not abide in Christ, who is the true vine. And they are cast out as a branch and are withered and will be cast into everlasting fire. They are like worthless chaff.
Reference: Jer. 17:5-6, John 15:6, Job 21:18
The ungodly will not be able to withstand during the Day of Judgement and will be cast away forever from the presence of the righteous.
Reference: Psalm 5:4-6, Matt. 22:13
The Lord approves and delights in the way of the righteous. But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Reference: Psalm 37:18, Nah. 1:7, John 10:14, 2 Tim. 2:19