Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15
As you know if you have been following my blogs, I have been commenting on thankfulness the entire month of November. It has been helpful to me to concentrate on the topic of thankfulness for that period of time. One thing it confirms is that I do not as thankful as I need to be.
This verse gives us some insights on why it is so important to be thankful and what that means.
Thankfulness indicates that you are at peace, "Let the peace of God rule in your heart...." Having a thankful heart indicates that you have found peace with God. How? By surrendering to His reign and rule in your heart. When you allow Him to be the Lord of your life, one of the by-products is a thankful heart. That happens because you come to appreciate His victory. He has won the victory over sin and death by virture of His atoning death and resurrection. When you surrender to Him, His victory becomes your victory! You also come to appreciate His value. Until you surrender everything to Him you will not understand that He is WORTH everything! He adds value to everything and everyone Who He touches. Anything that is separated from Him loses value.
Thankfulness indicates that you are at peace with yourself. In order to make Jesus your Lord, you have to confess that He is God and you aren't. That is the essence of surrender. When you stop striving against Him you can begin to serve Him. As you serve Him you gain a growing understanding of His value TO you and THROUGH you. As Jesus said to His disciples, "without me you can do nothing." And, as Paul confessed, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Thankfulness also indicates that you have God's vision, "since as members of one body you are called to peace." When you are at peace with God you not only realize His victory and His value but you gain His vision. You see life as He sees it. You see time and eternity as He sees it. You see people as He sees them. You see His Kingdom as He sees it. When you are at peace with God and at one with His purpose, life gets good, and when life is better than it has ever been you become thankful!
Thankfulness grows out of relationship with the God of peace. It is one of the fruits of the Lordship of Christ. So, if you are struggling with maintaining a thankful spirit that is the first place to look. Are you surrendered to the Lordship of Christ?
What a great time to check it out! As we move from Thanksgiving to the Advent Season, examine your heart over the Lordship issue. Do the hard work. Ask the hard questions. It isn't easy but it is worth it! You'll be thankful!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 2009

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7
Pastor Kent Crockett gives this insight on the nature of thankfulness.

One afternoon my wife Cindy called me from the bank where she worked. “The diamond fell out of my wedding ring!” she sobbed. “It broke loose from the ring prongs and I don’t know where it is!”

My mind flashed back two decades, while as a poor seminary student surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheap buffets, I saved $750 to purchase the most beautiful diamond ring in the world for my future wife.

Diamond appraisers wouldn’t describe it that way, of course. Less than half a karat. Small carbon flaw. However, the true worth of a diamond isn’t determined by karats and clarity, but by the love with which it’s purchased.
The chances of finding it were slim to none. We had no earthly idea where it could be hiding. Cindy could have lost it in our house while getting ready for work, at the restaurant where she had gone for lunch, or somewhere in the bank.

Lord, I prayed, You know where Cindy lost her diamond. Please show me where it is.

Immediately I felt prompted to go to the bank parking lot to begin my search. When I arrived, the first place I looked was inside my wife’s minivan. Nothing in there. When I turned around to scan the lot, I saw something glisten. Tiny rocks and small chunks of gravel covered the parking lot. As I drew closer to investigate, my heart leaped when I discovered Cindy’s diamond lying in a crack in the pavement. I snatched up the diamond and ran into the bank lobby holding it high for everyone to see.

“Look—I found it!" I yelled.

Bank customers turned around to find out why I was causing such a commotion. Cindy looked up from behind her teller window, burst into tears, and came running through the lobby into my arms. As we hugged in the middle of the bank in front of the customers, we looked like the final scene of a romantic movie.

Although we hadn't noticed the diamond that morning, it became the center of our attention that evening. We called our friends and relatives to tell them how our lost diamond had been found and then went out to dinner to celebrate.
Our lost diamond incident bore an uncanny resemblance to the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-9). The woman in the parable lost a silver coin, searched diligently, and found it. She was so excited that she called all her friends and neighbors to share her joy. After finding the lost jewel, Cindy and I had unwittingly followed the same script as the woman in the parable.
Had the value of the diamond changed? No.

What had changed? Our perception of its value.

I learned one of the great secrets of thankfulness through this adventure. The value of something isn’t determined by how much it appreciates, but by how much it is appreciated.
Salvation is certainly like that. Once you discover Him you don't want to lose Him. And the longer you walk with Him and live in Him the more valuable He becomes to you. The more you value Him the more thankful you are that you found Him - and He found you!

November 28, 2009

"Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold."
Acts 28:1-2
The Apostle Paul had a difficult life because of his determination to do the will of God. Because he preached and ministered in places and ways that were illegal, he often suffered arrest or harrassment. In fact, several of his epistles were written from prison.
With that in mind, an act of "unusual kindness" had a memorable effect on him. So much so that he noted it in his record of his missionary journeys. The warmth of a fire against a damp chill makes a significant difference. You tend to remember that - and he did. He was thankful.
I believe we tend to underestimate the importance of small acts of kindness - small to us but not so small to the recipient. Often we aschew the little obvious deeds in search of the big dramatic one. Obviously, when you get a chance to do the spectacular deed, go for it. But understand the impact of small deeds done well, or done often or done in a timely fashion.
You could probably tell me if I asked you the last nice thing someone did for you. Can you remember the last act of kindness you extended to someone?
This week I had such a kindness extended to me by someone I barely know. It might not mean much to you but it was significant to me and it made my Holiday week-end extra special. A friend of a friend gave me tickets for the Virginia Tech versus Virginia football game in Charlotesville today. That's $200 worth of tickets generously handed over to me. Nice!
Due to the kindness of this person, Barbara and I got to enjoy Saturday afternoon with 58, 555 of our closest friends in Scott Stadium. It was a great day made even more enjoyable by the fact that the Hokies won!
I would venture a guess that far more people have been won to faith in Jesus Christ by small acts of generosity than by extravagant gifts or exeptional deeds. Small things done well or done often or done at precisely the right moment can have significant impact for the Kingdom of God.
Who are you trying to reach for Christ? What Christian brother or sister are you trying to encourage? Have you considered doing some small thing that might be big for them - and for your influence for Christ?
A simple act of building a camp fire got recorded in the Holy Scriptures and remembered some 21 centuries later! A small thing?
What do you think? What can you do?

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 27,2009

"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Ephesians 1:15-16

I was thankful yesterday that I was able to begin my Thanksgiving Day by having a phone conversation with my mother. She had been up late baking pies and a german chocolate cake from scratch. It was up to her to supply dessert for the family gathering at my sister's home. I am so blessed to still have my mother and have her doing so well.
It was a good year for my sister. She has taught high school for about twenty years and had been thinking about teaching on the college level. This Fall the local Christian college called her and asked if she would interested in teaching one class. She had already committed to help the the local Community College so she asked if they would need her in the Spring semester and they told her they would. I am thankful she will get to realize a career dream.
Her husband retired last Fall and they have grown much closer since he hasn't had to be on the road so much. He has enjoyed becoming domestic and she has enjoyed letting him. He is one of the best men I know. They have had a great marriage but it's getting better! I am thankful for them.
They recently found out that their middle daughter is pregnant. She is due in the Spring. Joanna is married to a fine young man and they are serving the Lord together. I was privileged to unite them in marriage several years ago. I am thankful for them!
My son hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my daughter and her crew. They had a great day together. Life has been hard for her recently. She needed a good day. I am thankful for them!
Bill and Resa Kjar invited us to join them for their Thanksgiving dinner at Resa's brother's home in Stafford. They graciuosly welcomed us like family. It was nice. We were thankful for their kindness and their generosity.
Throughout the day I received text messages from various members of the church family wishing us a good day. When I returned home I had several emails of the same kind. Each message meant a lot. I was thankful.
Being away from family on this family Holiday made me thankful for cell phones and email and facebook. I felt close and connected even over the miles.
I am especially thankful to God Who has so richly blessed me with amazing family and friends! It was a great day - but today is, too!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November 26, 2009

When it comes to thanksgiving and praise it is hard to do better than the Psalmist! So, in his words:
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. 4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. 5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. 6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. 7 who made the great lights— His love endures forever. 8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. 9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever. 10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever. 11 and brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever. 12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever. 13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever. 14 and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever. 15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever. 16 to him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever. 17 who struck down great kings, His love endures forever. 18 and killed mighty kings—His love endures forever. 19 Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever. 20 and Og king of Bashan—His love endures forever. 21 and gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever. 22 an inheritance to his servant Israel; His love endures forever. 23 to the One who remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever. 24 and freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever. 25 and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
Thank God His love endures forever! Without it, nothing else matters. Because of it, everything is blessed!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 25, 2009

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
I don't have to think very long to identify reasons to be thankful. I can't even list all of them.
This morning before Thanksgiving I am thankful that one of my bad days is still more blessed than many peoples' good days.
What a faith! What a God! What a way to live!
How can I say that? Because it is fact! James verifies it in the first few verses of his letter to the believers.
If you were writing a letter to bless and encourage struggling Christians how would you begin that letter? I am not sure I would begin it by reminding them of their sufferings but James did. And it makes sense when we think about it.
These are some of the very first believers. This Christian faith is a brand new phenomenon. They have seen the signs and wonders. They have experienced the freedom and the fellowship. All the wonderful benefits that have come from receiving Christ and joining these Christians almost seemed too good to be true. How long can this last? What am I missing here?
Now they are facing the pressures of persecution. Some of their beloved leaders have been jailed. It is risky to identify yourself as a Christ follower. Public worship is becoming a thing of the past. The heat is being turned up on every hand. BUT through these trials and tribulations they have discovered something very significant - THEIR FAITH WORKS! Everything is true! God is real! Suffering as a Christian is better than prospering as a pagan! What would have destroyed them before they believed now develops them!
What sort of faith is this! What an incredible God! What a blessing to have a faith that works! What a joy to know the truth - because the truth is in the Truth. Pain now has a purpose! Suffering now has significance! Heartache now helps me understand the heart of God!
Can I count it joy when I suffer? What sort of notion is that? Is that healthy? Is it a delusion?
No! It is the blessing we have as Christ-followers! It is real! It is His reality! "All things really DO work together for the good of those who love Him....."!
On the eve of Thanksgiving, I thank God that because He is so good and so strong and so holy that living for Him and with Him makes my worst day make sense!
How about you?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 24, 2009

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Corinthians 15:57
I love winning. I hate to lose. Most people I know are the same way. I don't remember meeting anyone who enjoys losing. I would not care to meet someone who likes to lose.
When I played ball in high school and college, I played on teams that won more than they lost. I got used to winning and always hated to lose. Even to this day I remember the loses more than the wins.
One of the reasons we won a lot of basketball games in high school was because we had Charlie McKenzie. Charlie was tall and talented. He started on the varsity when he was a Freshmen. He ended up as one of the all-time leading scorers in the rich history of Indiana High School basketball.
I was thankful to have Charlie on our team. Charlie simplified our game strategy, get the ball to Charlie! It worked well! In his four years we went 19-3, 22-2, 18-5, and 22-4.
"Thanks be to Charlie who gives us the basketball victories!" Charlie was a winner and made us all winners! I was thnnkful to have him on our team! He took a losing tradition and turned it into a championship program.
My point is that one person can make the difference between winning and losing if that one person is good enough. And for people who like to win, that is good news!
In the game that REALLY matters, living life, losing should not be an option. It is the ONLY game with eternal significance and you only get to play it once. If you win you win forever or if you lose it is forever.
That is the point of our text in I Corinthians 15. You were born a loser into a losing tradition called the human race. So were we all. You were a loser because you were born a sinner with a sinful nature that separates you from God. If you die in that condition you will lose for eternity.
But God is a winner. And He doesn't want those He loves to be losers. So He needed a winner to change the game. And He needed a game-changing strategy. Being the champion that He is He came up with the most amazing game-plan that could turn forever losers into forever winners.
God's strategy and game-plan centered around His Son, Jesus. He is a game-changer. He is undefeated and can change any loser into a winner. He understood that the key to winning to not just defeating the opposition but destroying it! That is what He did! He had to allow Himself to lose His life in order to win the victory. He laid down His life, became a sinner, died in sin to atone for your sins, and then - in the greatest comeback ever - He arose from the dead to defeat sin and death forever!
If you will get on the same team as Jesus, you will instantly become a winner! If you will team with Him and play by His rules you will live and die a champion!
That is the point of this verse! That is what the Apostle Paul knew when he penned these words. This is why he was so thankful when he wrote - "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Tired of losing? Ready to win? On the wrong team? Need a game-changer?

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23, 2009

"I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus." I Corinthians 1:4

Last evening we did our church Thanksgiving meal. We did carry-in (or potluck, as we called it back in Indiana) and the food was great! The fellowship was better!
I was thankful for both the food and the fellowship. I was thankful for the freedom that we had to gather and enjoy an evening together. Eating is fun and eating together with people you love is even more fun!
As I came across this verse in I Corinthians I realized why being together is so good. It is more that just delicious food and it goes beyond awesome fellowship. It is even more than the joy of serving together and serving one another.
Here's what it is, it is the grace of God that is resident and active in each of us. What we love about one another is more than just each other, as wonderful as our people are, it is God in us!
When I talk about church health. That is what I am talking about. When I talk about church growth, that is what I am talking about. Church health is about each of us receiving the grace He has for us through Christ Jesus. Church growth is about each of us allowing His gift of grace change us and develop His character within us. His grace that is sufficient for each of us strengthens all of us! A church is only as strong as its ability to receive His grace and recognize it in one another.
A healthy church is a grace place. A growing church is, too!
If you are thankful for the grace of God, you should be thankful for that grace that is expressed through your brothers and sisters in your church fellowship. He graces us. We grace one another. Together we grace our world to demonstrate His grace in a world of dis-grace.
Last evening as we gathered around the tables ladened with food, we stopped to say grace. But after we said grace we showed it - and celebrated it!
"I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 22,2009

Is it just me or does it seem like there is a lot more bad news in the media than there is good news?

Does anyone want to guess what the ratio is of bad news to good news in the newspaper?

Bad news stories outnumber good news stories 69% to 31%. They rationalize that by saying that bad news sells.

Oh, really?

I did some research this week and when you check the best sellers – books, movies, dvd rentals – you name it, the majority of those books, movies or dvd’s are about positive or feel-good themes.

People instinctively know that we need good news in a bad news world. That is why I have chosen this subject for this month.

“Good News! God Is At Work!”
“Good News! It’s Your Serve!”
“Good New! You Are Blessed!”

Here Are Two More Reasons You Are Blessed Beyond Your Stress:

I. You Are Blessed With HARDSHIPS, Vv. 5-7

An organization in Montana once offered a bounty of five thousand dollars for every wolf captured alive. Two hunters named Sam and Jed decided to head for the hills and make some money capturing wolves. Day and night they scoured the mountains and forests searching for their valuable prey. Exhausted after three days of hunting without any success, they both fell asleep. During the night, Sam suddenly woke up to find that he and Jed were surrounded by a pack of fifty wolves, with flaming red eyes and bared teeth, snarling at the two hunters and preparing to pounce. Sam nudged Jed and said, "Hey, wake up! We’re gonna be rich!"

THE EFFICIENT USE OF PAIN God does not waste an ounce of our pain or a drop of our tears; suffering doesn’t come our way for no reason, and He seems especially efficient at using what we endure to mold our character. If we are malleable, He takes our bumps and bruises and shapes them into something beautiful.”

God’s POWER In Hardships, V. 5
One writer (Warren Wiersbe) wrote a book called “Victorious Christian” about a woman named Fanny Crosby. Crosby was the author of over 8000 songs including several that we sang today. In fact she wrote so many that she had to write under pseudonymns just so she could get more of her songs into the hymnbooks. At 6 weeks of age Fanny Crosby developed a minor eye inflammation and was taken to a local doctor for treatment. However, the doctor who treated her used the wrong medicine on her eyes and she became totally and permanently blind because of his carelessness. Interviewed years later, Fanny Crosby said she harbored no bitterness against the physician. In fact, she once said, "If I could meet him now, I would say thank you, over and over again for making me blind." She felt that her blindness was a gift from God to help her write the hymns that flowed from her pen. How could Fanny Crosby, blinded by a tragic failure of a careless doctor –still be filled with such joy and power in her songs? Because she kept her heart focused on God. She looked up toward God rather than around at her disability and weaknesses. As with Paul, she was convinced that she could do all things through Christ who gave her strength.

God’s PLAN In Hardships, V. 6

In 1809, Simon Renee Braille and his wife Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world-- a lively boy named Louis. They lived in a small stone house near Paris where Braille was the local harness maker. Leather working tools are dangerous, so the toddler had been instructed not to go into his father's shop alone. But when Louis was still small, he slipped into the shop, and with curiosity started to handle all the fascinating tools. As Louis was inspecting an awl, the sharp tool used to punch holes in leather, he slipped and punctured a part of his eye with the tool. The injured eye became infected. The little boy could not keep his hands from rubbing and scratching the wound, and soon the infection spread to his other eye as well. When Louis was only 4, he became completely blind. Louis was fortunate enough to study at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. He excelled as an organist, and at twelve years old began asking the question “How can the blind read?” Over his summer break at home, Louis was determined to find the answer. As He moved and groped around his father’s shop in search of the right tool for his task, the awl presented itself as perfect for the job. The awl would make the raised dots he had seen in the French military system of “night writing.” And with the very instrument that had blinded him, Louis worked and worked until he had created a system of dots whereby the blind could read and write, work math problems and compose music.

What is your awl--The hardship you face, either by your own doing like young Louis, or someone else’s? Is it a divorce, the death of someone you love, a lost career? Let God take it, and use it in your life for good—to reshape you or comfort others

God’s PROOF In Hardship, V. 7

The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!" One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!" To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail. About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way. As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this." "No," his friend replied, "This is good!" "What do you mean, ’This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?" "If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you."

Parnell Bailey visited an orange grove where an irrigation pump had broken down. The season was unusually dry and some of the trees were beginning to die for lack of water. The man giving the tour then took Bailey to his own orchard where irrigation was used sparingly. "These trees could go without rain for another 2 weeks," he said. "You see, when they were young, I frequently kept water from them. This hardship caused them to send their roots deeper into the soil in search of moisture. Now mine are the deepest-rooted trees in the area. While others are being scorched by the sun, these are finding moisture at a greater depth."

That is how God wants to use hardships in your life!

II. You Are Blessed With HAPPINESS, Vv. 8-9

A little girl, on the way home from church, turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.” The mother said, “Oh! Why is that?” The girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?” “Yes, that’s true,” the Mother replied. “He also said that God lives in us. Is that true, too?” Again the mother replied, “Yes.” “Well,” said the little girl. “If God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”

The optimist says, the cup is half full. The pessimist says, the cup is half empty. The child of God says; My cup runneth over.

True Happiness Is:

True LOVE - Loving Without Seeing
Isn't it incredible how much we can love God even though we have never seen Him? We HAVE seen Him work through our hardships - His power and His plan proving Himself to us!

True FAITH - Believing Is Believing

I like that story about the boy and his father who were planning a fishing trip for the next day. That evening as the father was putting his son to bed, the boy hugged his father’s neck and said, "Daddy, thank you for tomorrow."

True REJOICING - Rejoicing Greatly

Billy Sunday said, “if you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity.”

True SALVATION - Receiving Salvation

“Joy in Christ requires a commitment to working at the Christian lifestyle. Salvation comes as a gift, but the joy of salvation demands disciplined action. Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful. They know enough about the biblical message to keep them form doing the things which the world tempts them to do; but they do not have enough of a commitment to God to do those things through which they might experience the fullness of his joy.” (Tony Campolo.)
Lost and Found ad - Lost dog, brown fur, some missing due to mange, blind in one eye, three legs, slightly arthritic, goes by name of Lucky.

I distinctly remember the first time we ever went out to eat after I had accepted Christ. I found myself wanting somehow to share Jesus with the waitress who was serving us. Then an idea came to me. If I didn't order a meal, I could take that money and leave it as an extra-generous tip along with an evangelistic tract. Maybe the tip would encourage her to read the tract and come to know the Lord. So that's what we did. Before we left, we said a few words to her about how much God cared about her.

About a month later, we were back in that restaurant for our monthly "splurge." Through the month, I had prayed that God would bless us with enough extra money to be able to leave an even bigger tip along with another tract.

Just as I had asked, our faithful God had allowed us to accumulate an extra $50 that we could leave along with a booklet about salvation. That night we requested the same waitress and left her a $50 tip on a $10 meal.

We returned to the restaurant one month later, very eager to see if that waitress was still working there. She was, indeed.

When she saw us, she said, "I read that little booklet you left last time you were here." We tried not to show how excited we were to hear that. She continued, "And I prayed that prayer to receive Christ at the end of it." Of course, we were thrilled to hear that. But she wasn't finished. "Then I called my husband on the phone and read the whole booklet to him, and he prayed that prayer, too."

At that point, I said, "That's wonderful! But what do you mean, you called your husband? Does he travel for a living?"

Looking embarrassed, she said, "No, my husband is in prison. He will get out in two or three years. We both want to thank you for leaving me that booklet and being so generous. Money has been pretty scarce since he went to prison."

Over the next few years, my wife and I discipled this sweet waitress and saw great spiritual growth. We also began to mentor her husband in prison. When he was released, he joined the church with his wife, and they were baptized together. I had the privilege of knowing that the lives and eternal destinies of this couple had been changed because I gave.
And I gave because Christ changed my life.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 21, 2009

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1-4
Have you ever thought to be thankful to God for being thankful?
Think about it.
We are not born into this world as thankful people. By nature we are pretty demanding. If you have forgotten that hang around an infant for awhile.
If left you are left to yourself you will form your world around yourself as the center of your universe. You will value people based on their value to you and how they fit into your universe. You will relate to God in the same way. That's just how it is. It is called the sinful nature. You have one, I have one, all God's children have one - no thanks to Adam.
Due to the nature of your nature, you are not thankful because you tend to believe you deserve the good things you get, don't deserve the hard things and secretly believe you should be treated better than you are.
So, when the Psalmist writes these words he is reflecting a change of nature:
"Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever" - when you come to know God as the God of gods, life changes. When you experience His unconditional love, you are never the same.

"Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever." - coming to know God not just as your God but as your Lord REALLY changes things! That's releases His nature to operate within you in place of your nature. His love reigns in your life and rules your attitudes and actions.
"to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever." - once He has done a wonderful thing within you He can then begin to do wonders through you. And one of those wonderful things is making you thankful.
Are you thankful?
Are you thankful for being thankful?
It's a good thing! It's a God thing!

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20, 2009

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" II Corinthians 5:16-21

One of the things that humbles me the most and gives me the greatest cause for thanksgiving is when God works through me to touch another person. There is nothing more exciting that to see God transform a life through me.

Here's a great story of how God used a Christian to reach a Muslim:
In 1993, Lt. Col. Gary Morsch joined the Army Reserves as a doctor to care not only for U.S. soldiers, but also for wounded civilians and prisoners of war. In 2005, as a part of the war in Iraq, he was called up to serve as the field doctor for a battalion near the Iranian border. In an article for Today's Christian, he shares a story of something that happened on the last day of his tour of duty:

The Saturday before I left Iraq was one of the most amazing days of my life. I was scheduled to see patients and make rounds at the POW camp, and I asked the chaplain to join me. I wanted to say goodbye to the prisoners. Many of these Muslims had become Christians, and they had been asking for a baptismal service.

The chaplain suddenly decided to conduct a simple service. The POWs gathered their water bottles, and we pulled a cot out of one of the tents, setting it in the middle of the compound. One by one, the POWs sat on the cot and leaned back while we poured water over their heads and baptized them in the name of Christ. We baptized about a dozen that day.

During the baptisms, we asked each man if he wished to take a Christian name. One man asked me to write down each of the apostles' names so he could choose one. Another prisoner, named Afshin, asked me to suggest a name. I suggested James, the brother of Jesus, and told him that my father and brother are named James. Since my family name was on my uniform, Afshin asked about Morsch as well.

The chaplain asked me to baptize Afshin. I asked my friend what name he wished to take. He said, "I wish to take the name James Afshin Morsch." With tears in my eyes, I poured water onto his head, baptizing my Muslim friend into the fellowship of Christ. After our baptismal service, James pulled me aside and told me it was an Iraqi tradition to give a good friend a gift. He slowly slipped a ring off his hand.

"This is my wedding ring," he said. "I haven't seen my wife in many years, and I probably will never see her again. I'd like to give it to you."

I was stunned.

"No, James, you must keep it," I eventually said. "Someday you will see your wife again."

"No, I want you to have it," he said, as he pressed the ring into my hand.

We hugged and said a tearful goodbye, and then I walked out of the POW compound. It was time to return home.

I left on a plane full of wounded soldiers. The airstrip was under attack even as we taxied for takeoff. But I was at peace. God had brought me to Iraq to serve soldiers, civilians, and the enemy. But I saw that those categories are meaningless before God. He loves them all, and calls us to serve them all.
I am an ambassador for Jesus in an alien world. You are too. What a joy! What a blessing! Thank you, Master for choosing us to represent you in this world! Manifest yourself through us in a spirit of thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 19, 2009

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:15-17
The Apostle Paul gives us another great insight into being thankful. Thanksgiving is "thanks- living". He makes that clear in these verses. What you give when you give thanks is - you!
"Let the peace of God rule in your hearts......."
The word used for "rule" is the word "umpire". Finding peace with God is a result of allowing Him to be the umpire in your life. He makes the calls, especially the judgment calls. You surrender to His authority and His judgment. You play the game He makes the calls. That sounds like surrender to me!
"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God."
If you are going to allow God to be the umpire in your life on a permanent basis you will need to know the rules. That is where knowledge and understanding of the Word comes into play. It is impossible to know whether or not the umpire is making good calls if you don't know the rules. God's Word not only outlines the rules but it give detailed insights about the Umpire so you can know Who He is.
As this was being written the believers in the churches only had the Old Testament. The New Testament was still being written. These verses are part of that process. The stories about Jesus and the formative doctrines and teachings of the Apostles were memorized and passed on by word of mouth. That became the focus of their fellowship and worship. No wonder they had such exciting services!
Thankfulness ultimately must be lived out! How do I know you are thankful unless you show it with your attitudes and your actions? This is why I say thanksgiving is "thanks-living". According to this text, thanks-living is not something you do occasionally or once a year but it is a lifestyle. It is a mindset. It is a perspective. Everything you do and every decision you make is filtered through a thankful spirit.
Thanks-living is living out the transformed life for the glory of God. Thanks-living is the outward expression of an inward presence and power.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. Thanks-living is the holy way!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18, 2009

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:12-13
Most people can be thankful for their freedom but who can be thankful while in prison?
The Apostle Paul was in prison chained to prison guards while he wrote these words about contentment. How do you do that? Not sure I could.
Are contentment and thankfulness the same thing? Can you be thankful and not be content? Can you be content and not be thankful?
What do we need to learn from this spiritual giant?
"I can do....."
The first thing is to decide to have a willing attitude. A willing attitude is a decision to do God's will. Paul discovered that contentment develops from accepting God's will and not from trying to convince God to do it his way. "I can" really means "I will".
"all things...."
That willing attitude is only as good as your willingness to live it out. It is one thing to say you are willing to accept God's will but it is quite another to stay committed to it when the shackles are applied and the cell door slams. I think sometimes "all things" really means "all my things". When Paul said "all things" he meant "anything God wills for me". Sometimes it meant abundance and sometimes it meant abuse, but Paul was committed to God's will in God's way.
"...through Him Who gives me strength."
Here's the key, when we have the will to do it His way then He gives us the strength to do it. I don't know about you but sometimes I have expected God to MAKE me willing and Give me strength BEFORE I commit to do His will. Paul shows us that it doesn't work that way. If I front load it with willingness and if I surrender to the circumstance, He will backload it with His strength!
Paul's contentment was a result of his relationship to his Christ not to his circumstances. THAT'S IT! That is the secret.
Most of us will never be shackled and thrown into a cell, but we have our prisons. Some of those prisons are prisons of discontent. For others, their discontent is the result of their prison. Either way, there is much to be learn from Paul's testimony of contentment.
You are only a couple of commitments away from contentment. The prison door is open.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17, 2009

"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." Romans 6:17-18
The greatest freedom is the freedom of choice. If you can't choose you are not really free.

These great verses from the sixth chapter of Romans remind you that you are as free as you choose to be. Good choices lead to freedom and poor choices place you in bondage.
What is the choice that brings freedom? It is the freedom to choose your master. That sounds like a contradiction doesn't it? How can you be free if you have a master? I thought freedom was serving no one.
God is the only One Who has absolute freedom and yet He has placed some limits on His freedom in order to allow you freewill! When He created Adam, He made him free. Adam could enjoy fellowship with God and roam Paradise at will. There was only one prohibition - do not eat from the tree of good and evil. There was no freedom without a choice and God gave Adam and Eve one choice - and they chose wrong. When they chose to disobey God they chose to serve another master - sin. When sin is your master you are not free!
Because of the sin of Adam you are born into this world as a slave to sin. As a slave to sin you serve your sinful nature and go from bondage to greater bondage. Each sinful choice adds another link to the chains that bind you. What a miserable plight!
Is there no hope? Is freedom only a dream?
It was until Jesus came to set you free!
How can you claim that freedom? Choose a different master! That is the essence of the freedom Jesus came to give us - the freedom to choose a different master!
By "wholeheartedly obeying the teachings". Freedom comes by way of truth. In this case it comes through spiritual truth - by obeying it, that is. Truth sets you free! That's because truth is more than a concept it is a Person - the Person of JESUS!
Serve sin or serve righteousness? It is your choice - thank God!

Add Image

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009

"Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." I Chronicles 29:13
One of the things we give thanks to God for is His provision for us. Here is a great story of how God provides.
There is a true story of an old man who visited an old broken pier every Friday on the eastern sea coast of Florida until his death in 1973 his name was Eddie Rickenbacker whilst at the pier he would feed the sea gulls with a bucket of shrimps. Many years before in 1942 Eddie was a captain on board a B-17, he was on a mission delivering important documents to General Douglas Mac Arthur. On route there was an unexpected detour which would hurl his crew into a most harrowing adventure. Somewhere over the south pacific they lost radio contact and the fuel ran dangerously low as a result they had to ditch the plane into the ocean. For nearly a month the crew of the flying fortress would fight the water, the weather, the scorching sun. They would spend sleepless nights as 10 ft sharks would ram into their 9 ft by-5ft rafts. But out of all their enemies’ one that proved formidable was starvation. Eight days into their dilemma all food and water was out. It would take a miracle to sustain them. A miracle took place. In Eddie's own words he said that “Cherry” who was the pilot read the service that afternoon and we finished with prayer and deliverance and hymn of praise. There was small talk but with the oppressive heat it tapered off with my hat pulled over my face, I dozed off. Now something landed on my head, I knew it was a seagull I don’t know how I knew, I just knew, everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on the faces of the men. They were staring at the gull because it meant food....If I could catch it.” And the rest as they say is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull the flesh was eaten and the intestines were used as bait for fishing. The men were sustained and their hope renewed because of a lone seagull hundreds of miles from land offered its life as a sacrifice. Of course you know that captain Eddie made it... and you also know that he never forgot that lone seagull that saved his life and his men that day. With his bucket filled with shrimp every Friday you would find him feeding the gulls – in remembrance of that lone gull who gave himself for them without a struggle... like manna in the wilderness. That reminds me friends that so often it is our encounters in the past that shape our futures, for many of us its the reason why were here today because of the past deliverance out of sin and death, through the Lord Jesus Christ, through his sacrifice we are rescued from sin – death and hell and are recipients of eternal life. Isn’t that a cause of real thankfulness?
God IS good! He WILL provide! Trust Him and be thankful!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15, 2009

"Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men." Psalm 107:15
God doesn't have to do anything to prove His love to me! He has already done everything He can. It is up to me to recognize it and receive it - and be thankful!
He doesn't have to demonstrate His wonderful deeds. He has already done far more than I deserve and it up to me to realize it and to be thankful.
BUT, He does! He continues to demonstrate His love for me and He continues to accomplish wonderful deeds! And I AM thankful!
Just this morning at worship service we were recognizing our military veterans when one of our couples mentioned that their son was being deployed to the Middle East on Tuesday - so we prayed for him.
Minutes later, as I was preparing to preach they interrupted me to say that they had just received a message via cell phone from him saying that his wife had gone into labor about six weeks early and her water had broken. They were having trouble getting a heartbeat from the baby. So, they came forward and the good people of our fellowship surrounded them and we prayed for them.
"Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men."
Not too long ago I received a phone call from that couple with a happy update! The doctors decided to take the baby via c-section. The little girl weighed a little over 3 pounds and is 16" long - and healthy! She is being moved to the neo-natal unit. Furthermore, when they did the c-section they discovered that the placenta had partially torn away from the uterus and had her water not broken and had they not taken the baby, the detachment would have become worse and potentially life-threatening for both. Wow! Thank you, Lord!
And, due to these circumstances the military is likely to postpone his deployment temporarily so he can remain with his wife and daughter! Thank you, Lord, for your unfailing love and your wonderful deeds to men!
I am thankful that even though God does not have to prove His love or His faithfulness for me to have faith in Him, He does! I guess He can't help it. It's Who He is!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14, 2009

"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." Psalm 105:1
I just returned from two days of interviewing ministerial students and evaluating their progress in their ministerial studies. Some are just out of college and a few are just short of retirement. A few have just a few courses to complete while others a justing beginning the journey.
We listened to their stories. We heard their struggles. We were warmed by their passion and excited by their dreams.
They come from small towns and tiny churches. They come from large churches in cities. Some have overcome amazing headships and heartaches. Others have had a pretty smooth path. But all of these came before us with a sense of awe that God would choose to call them for ministry and a deep sense of gratitude for what God is doing in their lives.
They are eager. They are anxious. One part of them is thrilled about God's calling on their lives and another part of them is overwhelmed by all the responsibilities of Local Church Ministry. That is precisely how it should be.
Each of them had different dreams, different talents, different agendas, various spiritual gifts and they alternated between acting very self-confident and entirely inadequate. But one thing was evident, they were unspeakably grateful for the work God had done in their heart and they were praying for the day that they could take leadership in a church and "make know among the nations what He has done".
We ministry veterans find it encouraging and envigorating to see this next generation of pastors who will stand beside us in the work of the Gospel and then someday come behind us to . We count it a great privilege to come long side them and share in their development. Someone did it for us and we are thankful for the chance to shape the next generation of ministers.
I left those meetings after hours of interviews and climbed into my car extremely grateful to God for these who have answered the call to "...make know among the nations what He has done!" I thanked God for calling them and I thanked God for their obedience. I praised God for their eagerness to do anything, go anywhere and give up anything in order to follow their calling. And I thanked Him for calling me and giving me the great privilege working with the called.
"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

"It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night." Psalm 92:1-2

Being thankful and counting your blessings this Thanksgiving may help you mentally and physically -- recent research shows it's healthy to be grateful.

"Depending on your view of history, the holiday of Thanksgiving is either a commemoration of an event that changed North America for the better or for the worst; but the idea of Thanksgiving itself -- of reaching across the table, of being thankful for the good things that have happened throughout the year, particularly around the harvest time -- actually has a very important scientific basis in making us all feel better. It's going on inside of us, mentally, physically.Jeffrey Froh, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hofstra University, is on "The Takeaway" (NPR radio program) to talk about research into the scientific biological basis of Thanksgiving itself.Froh's research focuses on being grateful as a continuing behavior, and the benefits that accrue by doing that: "The one particular study that we did was we had students count blessings, which is essentially focusing on the things they were thankful or grateful for, and we had them journal that daily for two weeks."We followed them up three weeks later to see the benefits, and we found that students who counted blessings reported feeling more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, more school satisfaction -- and actually, the trend for being more satisfied with school not only occurred immediately after the experiment, but actually lasted up to three weeks later. "There's a broad literature emerging in science and psychology that is attempting to measure the benefits of certain consistent behavior, like praying and being thankful, and there are some surprising findings. Froh: "It's beyond feeling good, and beyond happiness ... we found that grateful kids tend to report less physical complaints; bit also in the adult literature ... they found that grateful people who counted blessings were more likely to exercise, more likely to report better sleep; less likely to report these physical complaints. There's even some research done, we're looking at, when you have a sense of appreciation your heart rhythms are more coherent and smooth, which of course is healthy."

There you have it! A liberal scientists agrees with the Psalmist - being thankful is good for you! It will preserve your mind, soul and body!

You know you have much to be truly thankful about, so don't be a turkey - be thankful. It's beyond being right - it's healthy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12, 2009

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Thankfulness is first and foremost an attitude. You attitude determines your perspective. Here's a story that illustrates that truth.

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?" "It was great, Dad." "Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked. "Oh yeah," said the son. "So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father. The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them." The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."
Isn’t perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don’t have.
How's your attitude?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11, 2009

"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Ephesians 1:15-16
Paul lived with an attitude of gratitude. It shaped his ministry, it influenced his writing and it sustained him through his sufferings.
His gratitude formed around his understanding of what he deserved from God - judgement; and what he had received - grace. Once that realization got into his consciousness it never left. Instead, it grew and flourished and deepened.
On this Veteran's Day I want to zero in on a specific area of his thanksgiving. Paul was thankful for the saints, those people of God who had gone before and those who stood with him in the work of the ministry.
Are you? When was the last time you thanked God for those saints who have gone before you? When was the last time you thanked those ministry veterans or those well-seasoned saints who have shaped your life? Paul was very aware of the place he occupied in the history of the Church. He knew that he stood on the shoulders of many faithful men who had gone before and he appreciated that he stood shoulder to shoulder with the current generations of saints. And, he also knew that future generations of the faithful would stand on his shoulders.
Today as you stop to thank God for the many brave veterans who have fought to defend our freedoms, those who came home and those who died on foreign soil, will you also take a moment to thank God for those saints - veterans of the faith - who have defended the faith through praying and serving and sacrificing to build churches or strengthen churches so that the hope of salvation could be shared with a new generation?
Will you commit to become one of those for the next generation? Will you stand on the shoulders of the saints and shoulder to shoulder with you pastor and the saints at your church? Steve Green sang this song years ago, but on this veterans day will you make it your prayer?
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift though all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10, 2009

"Our God, we thank you for being so near to us! Everyone celebrates your wonderful deeds." Psalms 75:1

Our awesome God is the sum total of a number of incredible attributes. One of His attributes is omnipresence. Omnipresence refers to the fact that God is fully present everywhere in the universe at all times. God has always existed and has always filled every square inch of His creation! He can do that because He is a spirit - an amazing, eternal, holy, powerful, and loving spirit.
If that were not true, then God could only be at one church on a given Sunday. That would mean that if He showed up at your church He would be absent at mine. But, fortunately, He is able to be fully present at every church everywhere.
That is what the Psalmist is giving thanks about! He is thankful that God is near! Not only is He near to you but He can be near to me at the same time! God is ever near everyone! His presence fills the universe. As the Psalmist celebrated:
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:7-12
The Psalmist is thankful that God is near, but who would't be?
It would seem that only a person who is not living well or who is self-willed would not be excited by the knowledge that God is near. For those who are seeking to serve God and to know Him, it is a blessed thought that God is near.
So, how do I know when God is near? How can I be sure? I can't see Him or touch Him, so how can I know that He really is near. The Psalmist answers that in the second part of this Psalm - God's presence is accompanied by His wonderful deeds. He does not hide Himself from us.
Why then does it seem sometimes He is not near when, by His very nature, we know He has to be? Could it be that we don't see or recognize His wonderful deeds? Could it be the deeds that He is currently doing is a work within you and you cannot yet see what He is doing?
It is impossible to have His presence and not have His deeds. Be thankful that He is near! And because He is near, He is at work accomplishing His wonderful deeds!

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe," Psalm 107:1-2

Who are the "redeemed"? What does it mean to be "redeemed"?

To be redeemed means to be "bought back". In this case, "Redeemed from the hand of the foe".

So, what's the deal with that?

The deal is we were sold out by Adam when he disobeyed God and sinned. When Adam sinned he became sinful, his nature became corrupted and his mind became wicked. Since we are his heirs we inherited his sinful and corrupt nature. Everyone born since Adam has been born as a sinner spiritually seperated from God and therefore, spiritually dead.

Because we are born as sinners we are cut off from the goodness of God. Even worse, we are unable to receive the love of God. His goodness and love have no effect on us when we are dead in our trespasses and sins. There is no hope in His goodness and no connection to his love.

But, because God is good and because His love endures forever, He would not allow us to spend time and eternity seperated from His goodness and love. Something had to be done. His goodness and love demanded it. A price had to be paid if we were to be redeemed.

What God did out His goodness and love was to send His Son, Jesus. Jesus became the second Adam and was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. That enabled Him to be born with a sinless nature. He was uniquely and divinely designed to redeem us, to buy us back. Because He was without sin He could take our sins upon Himself and become the sacrifice. Only One so filled with goodness and love would do such a thing.
Jesus redeemed us. God bought us back at the cost of His Son. We have been ransomed and set free!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say this, "God is good! His love endures forever!" Thanks be to God!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 8, 2009

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe," Psalm 107:1-2

Thankfulness is a forever thing. That's because those things that cause us to be thankful will be true forever.

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good".

God will always be a good God. His goodness is a function of His "Godness". Have you thanked Him for His goodness to you? Have you thanked Him that that you can hope in His goodness?
"His love endures forever."
Just as God is good forever, His love also endures forever. He never changes. He doesn't change because He doesn't have to change. He doesn't change because He is perfect - perfect in His goodness and perfect in His love. His love endured the cross. His love was multiplied by the cross and it endures because of the cross. Have you thanked Him that His loves endures forever? Have you received His love? Are you sharing it with others?
"Let the redeemed of the Lord say this"
Say what? Say, "The Lord is good!" Say it to Him. Say it about Him! Tell Him thanks for His love and His goodness. Tell others about His love and His goodness. Show them His love by the way you love and show them His goodness by the way you live. Say, "His love endures forever!" Live in His love. Love Him with all your heart. Receive His love. Share His love with those who do not know His redemption. Hope in His love.
Thankful people should not be silent people. Thankful people should declare the goodness and love of God every day they live. Celebrate His goodness forever and when you awake tomorrow His goodness will await you. Cherish His love today, receive it anew in the morning and hope in it forever.
Are you living in His goodness? Are you living in His love? Are you thankful? Are you redeemed?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 7, 2009

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:28-29
True thanksgiving is fireproof!
True worship fireproofs us!
There is an inextricable link between thanksgiving and worship. You worship because you are thankful and worship is sincere thanks. Our word for "worship" derives from the old English "worthship" and had the idea of giving worth to God by acknowledging His worth to you.
You can't worship without thankfulness and you can't give thanks without worshipping. Both come from an attitude of the heart.
Hebrews cuts to the heart of issue here. Thankfulness comes from the realization that you are part of a secure spiritual kingdom ruled by a Holy and Powerful King. Nothing can shake Him therefore, nothing can shake His Kingdom. That is cause for thanksgiving. That is reason to worship.
There is a day coming when everything will be shaken and everything will burn. But you will will not be shaken or consumed because you belong to the King in His unshakeable kingdom!
Let the Consuming Fire consume your spirit and your heart. Let His love and holiness burn within you. As you are consumed within you will be preserved to everlasting life. That consuming passion will be expressed in worship and thanksgiving.
Worship is an attitude not an activity. It should flow and not be forced. The more you consider His unshakeable kingdom and the more you are consumed by the King, the more you will be overwhelmed awe and reverence. You will be consumed.
Don't just give thanks, live thanks. It's a kingdom thing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6, 2009

"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." I Thessalonians 2:13
So, is thankfulness something you do or something you are?
The Great Apostle said, "And we also thank God continually......"
Can you actually be thankful ALL the time? Read the verse!
How does that happen?
Paul gives us a few insights:
He was thankful for the Word of God.
God's Word is life to the believer. It shows us God's way and God's will and God's wisdom. It connects us with the Person of God and the power of God and the principles of God.
If you have any doubts about this just stop and remember what your life was like before you knew His Word. I think you will notice an obvious difference.
When you are thankful for God's Word you can always be thankful since it is always true and transforming.
He was thankful for the witness of God's people.
One of the blessings of living in a faith community is watching lives being changed through the Word as it is lived out in a local church fellowship. This is why I am passionate about healthy local churches. I have seen the powerful positive impact when a group of Christ followers commit to love God together, and love one another, and live out God's Word in a lost world. I am the product of such a church. I have been privileged to serve in such places. I am involved in one now.
We was thankful for the work of God.
Anytime a believer or group of believers commit to honor and obey the Word of God, He works in their lives and in their fellowship. No matter what appears to be happening, trials, hardships, struggles, or strife - GOD IS AT WORK! It is Who He is and it is WHAT He does! Paul had as many hardships as any Christ follower ever suffered. If anyone would have had reason to be discouraged or downcast it would have been Him. But instead, he is thankful because He understands the goodness of God and the power of His Word. So, because He knew God always works in every circumstance at all times He lived in thankfulness. His attitude was one of continual gratitude!
How about you? Is thanks something you give or something you live? What will it take for you to develop an attitude of gratitude?