Archive for November, 2015

26
Nov
15

ALWAYS THANKFUL

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:18
I remember a scene in the cult favorite movie, “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie gets a precious gift from his aunt: a handmaid, full-body, pink bunny outfit. The look of horror on his face is priceless as he is forced to put it on so mom can admire it. I’m sure that he was a little less than thankful for that gift. I can remember in my own childhood during gift-giving occasions having the same kind of feelings toward gifts that I saw as duds. I think we have all had those moments.
But as we prepare today to sit down at a table to eat Thanksgiving dinner with gathered family and friends, it is important to note that being thankful for what we have is vital to our relationship with God. And while that is an important component of our walk with Him, in this verse, we are stretched a little further. We are told to give thanks in all circumstances.
Give thanks when you have been told that your job has been terminated. Give thanks when your bank account is overdrawn and you don’t know where the money is going to come from. Give thanks when you have buried your spouse and you have three children to raise. Give thanks when your bed consists of a couple of wooden pallets and some cardboard. Give thanks when the doctor has diagnosed you with terminal cancer with six months to live.
It seems outrageous to think about thanking God when we may face these circumstances. But when we give thanks to God, it deepens our relationship with Him by reminding us who is the giver and sustainer of life. When we thank God while we are in the middle of a pile crap, it reminds us from whom all blessings come. When we thank God in the middle of the storm, it reminds us who is our shield, our fortress, and our rock. When we thank God in the darkest of nights, we are reminded that He knows our path (Job 23:10) and that He has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11).
Thank God, always.

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19
Nov
15

THOUGHTS ON THANKS: PROVISION

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
It is probably a no-brainer that when we approach God in prayer, that we will be asking Him to provide us with our needs. After all, it was Jesus who taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

God has been in the providing business ever since the beginning of creation. He provided Adam and Eve with food to eat in the garden, and after they they sinned, He provided animal sacrifices with skins to wear in order to cover their sin. In Genesis 22, it is Jehovah Jireh, or “God will provide,” that provides the ram for sacrifice after Abraham was stopped from sacrificing Isaac. Ultimately, it was God Almighty who provided the Messiah who came to take away the sins of the world.
Coupled with our thanks, letting God know about our needs is pleasing to God. Let us never forget to thank Him for His provisions to us.

17
Nov
15

THOUGHTS ON THANKS: GOD’S LOVE

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Oh let Israel say, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Oh let the house of Aaron say, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Oh let those who fear the Lord say, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”Psalm 118:1-4
It seems so significant that in these four verses, it says to thank the Lord because, ultimately, His lovingkindness is everlasting, and that this phrase is stated four times. In the book “Numbers in the Bible” by Robert D. Johnson, it is suggested that the number four is “composed of three + one, [denoting] that which follows the manifestation of God in the Trinity.”
But what is even more notable is the fact that God’s lovingkindness, the Hebrew word chesed, is used exclusively referring to God’s kindness to people, motivated by love. These declarations in Psalm 118 underscore that God’s lovingkindness is without end. We are told from the Scripture that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God was so good, just, holy, and kind in that while we were still enemies to Him, He showed us how much He loved us by bruising and crushing His Son on the cross for our benefit unto salvation.
Yes, we should thank God for His love. It should cause us to pause and wonder in worshipful reverence at how high, how deep and how wide is His love for us. “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

17
Nov
15

THOUGHTS ON THANKS: ATTENTIVENESS

And so they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “l Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me.”John 11:41
 I have always thought it significant that Jesus the Messiah, who is the second person of the Trinity, and the God-man, felt a need to pray. It would be an interesting study to look at the prayers of Jesus and the circumstances surrounding the times that it is recorded that He prayed. But in this verse, He specifically takes a moment to thank God for hearing His prayer.
 Any time we approach God in prayer, it should be done with reverence and respect. Solomon extolled us not to be too hasty in word or thought about approaching God in prayer, because we are on earth and He is in heaven (Ecclesiastes 5:22). In his book “Crazy Love”, Francis Chan says, “The wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him.”
 It has been estimated that there are between 100,000,000,000 and 400,000,000,000 stars in the milky way galaxy, in which we live. And it is estimated that there are at least 100,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe, with each one containing about as many stars as ours possesses. So by man’s best estimates and guesses, the universe contains over 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! And that is just an estimate!
 Psalm 147:4 tells us that not only does God know the definite number of the stars, but He is on a first name basis with each and every one of them. Yet, this same God who knows how many stars there are and knows them all by name, who keeps all the planets in orbit, and tends to keeping all the universal phenomena in order, still cares to know how many hairs are on my head (Luke 12:7)!
 This is the God whom we approach in prayer.
 Then is it any wonder that Jesus gave us the example that we must thank Him for hearing our prayers?
  “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!” Psalm 8:3-5

17
Nov
15

THOUGHTS ON THANKS: OTHERS

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all them saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers.Ephesians 1:15-16
Putting others in front of ourselves is an act that is encouraged in the Scripture (Matthew 20:16). As a matter of fact, it is a virtuous fulfillment of the law, because when we put others first, we are loving our neighbor as we would love ourselves (Galatians 5:14). One of the ways that we can fulfill this virtue is to thank God for other brothers and sisters in Christ, and remember their needs in prayer. It is a truth that disciples are commanded to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
The Bible is full of examples of people who prayed for others. Abraham (Genesis 18:23 and 20:17), Job (Job 1:5 and 42:8), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 42:4), and Jesus (John 17) all offered up intercessory prayers and supplications for the cause of other people. And the examples listed here is just the tip of the iceberg of all the examples given in the Word of God. The lesson here is that intercessory prayer for others has been a custom and practice for many thousands of years, even practiced by the Son of God, Himself.
Taking prayer requests and “making mention” of them in our prayers is not only a virtue of putting others first, but it is a commandment to “bear one another’s burdens.” Let us not forget to take seriously the task of bearing the weight of others in our prayers.

17
Nov
15

THOUGHTS ON THANKS: THE DARK SIDE OF THANKS

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1:21-22
 It is easy to be happy and thankful to God when things are going well, but it gets more difficult when the going gets tough. And this is a period that can be dangerous for believers. It is when things get tough that we must remember to continue to thank God. Not doing so could be deadly.
 Paul describes people who “knew God,” but “they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks.” It is unclear if He is speaking of people who were truly born-again or those who merely thought that they were religious. Only God truly knows. But notice two things that the Holy Spirit specifically points out about these people: they did not honor Him and they did not thank Him. It almost seems that the two go hand in hand.
 The progression from there seems like a downward spiral. They became futile, or useless, as they started to lean on their own understanding. Any time that we lean on our own understanding, and start rejecting God’s wisdom, the result is not good. In this case, “their foolish heart was darkened.” They put their thoughts, ideas, speculations, and opinions ahead of God’s Word, and “they became fools.”
 Therefore, let us not forget to thank God in all circumstances of life. Not doing so could encourage the rotting of our very own souls.

17
Nov
15

THOUGHTS ON THANKS: TRIALS

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
 It seems a bit odd that, when looking at this verse, one would point to thanking God for trials, when the scripture plainly says, “in everything give thanks.” Born-again believers should absolutely thank God for the good things that He gives us in our lives. It is easy to do that when all around us looks like pretty flowers, butterflies and sunshine. But on the flip side of the coin, we should also thank God for the things that don’t seem so good. Giving thanks in both of these circumstances is “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
 James taught us that we should be joyful when we encounter various trials and adversities (James 1:2). Notice that he did not say that we should be happy, but that we should be joyful. Happiness is a temporary emotion. We can be happy now, sad in a few minutes, then be angry. Our emotions always change. But being joyful is meant to be a deeper attitude that we possess as adopted children of God. Being joyful is meant to be a more permanent state of mind, while happiness is meant to reflect a temporary emotion.
 James went on to assert that trials produce endurance (James 1:3). This means that we can stick close to God through thick and thin. While we may waver and question, we will always seek God for comfort, strength, and peace. And let us not forget that endurance eventually better perfects us to do the work of God with more confidence (James 1:4).
 A fine example is that of Job, who had lost everything, but was still able to proclaim, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. Then Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Let us strive to have the endurance through trials to keep thanking God for what He has done, and for what He is going to do.




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