Thanksgiving Day 2017

Thanksgiving Day USA

Public days of thanksgiving have been common in the United States since the 1600s. In 1621 the pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the “New World” with what is now commonly called the first “Thanksgiving.”

In 1789 the first United States president, George Washington, recommended a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” He noted how prone we are to forget the source of the bounties we constantly enjoy.

Thanksgiving to God

Public thanksgiving started much earlier, of course.

Where were you…when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:7

Leviticus notes the sacrifice of thanksgiving. (Leviticus 7:12)

And we see that God hates grumbling. (1 Corinthians 10:10)

Thanksgiving Day 2017

This Thanksgiving, determine to give God thanks, and determine not to grumble.

One tool is to meditate on His blessings to you, both spiritual and temporal. You might designate a period of time, say 10 minutes, and list all the blessings you can in that period of time. Some families ask everyone at the dinner table to mention something for which they are grateful.

You might recite Psalm 100, individually, or as a group:

A Psalm for Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.

Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for Your many blessings. Make us mindful of the needs of others. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Thank You Lord!

~~~

The graphic is from the Midland First United Methodist Church, Midland, MI.

Praise the Truth

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Pilate asked Jesus: “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

And Pilate asked this while he was looking at the One who is Truth.

Who is Truth

God is the God of truth.

He who is blessed in the earth will be blessed by the God of truth; and he who swears in the earth will swear by the God of truth. (Isaiah 65:16)

Jesus Christ is the Truth.

Jesus said “I am … the truth…” (John 14:6)

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth.

When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)

What is Truth

Truth is God’s expression of all He is. Everything God is and does is permeated by Truth. It isn’t just that He speaks the truth, He—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the truth.

Nothing untrue comes from Him. He cannot lie. (Titus 1:2)

The Bible is the word of truth. (John 17:17)

The works of His hands are truth and justice. (Psalm 111:7–8)

And—there are many, many more illustrations.

Discern and Apply the Truth

We, the children of God, have believed the truth, and are to walk in truth. Our lives are to reflect the God of truth.

To walk in truth, we must discern truth from lie. The devil, by nature and practice, is a liar. (John 8:44)

We must apply the truth to all we think, say, and do, capturing every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), and walking in His way. (Psalm 86:11)

Learning to walk in truth, is a life-long endeavor. As children of God, we are guided to all truth by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and we are prayed for by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. What a privilege!

Praise the Truth

God, the Truth—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—I praise You for being entirely Truth and for expressing Yourself entirely in truth. God, I am so grateful You are who You are, and that in You there is no compromise, no shifting, no deception. Everything You say and do is permeated by truth, since You cannot do anything less. I praise You for Your Word of truth, for Your indwelling truth, for guiding me to all truth. Help me walk in Your truth, serving You in newness of life.

 

 

 

 

 

Acting on Fear

Fear is a common human feeling, both for Christians and for unbelievers.

Acting on Fear

Do you fear hurting someone’s feeling? Do you then stay quiet when the Lord tells you to speak up?

Do you fear lack of money? Do you then foolishly invest in wild schemes or take ungodly jobs?

Do you fear being rejected? Do you then not talk about Jesus?

Do you fear being alone? Do you then enter into alliances with unbelievers?

Do you ….

Christian Response to Fear

Our Lord told us to not fear and why we need not fear. He also told us who to fear.

I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Luke 12:5)

For the examples above, here are some responses in line with Jesus’ admonition to fear God.

If you fear hurting someone’s feelings by speaking up, ask the Lord for wisdom in what to say and how to say it. Then speak God’s way.

If you fear poverty, remind yourself that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and knows what You need (Luke 12:30). Pray for direction on acquiring sufficient income and eliminating unnecessary expenses. Seek Him first. (Luke 12:31)

If you fear being rejected, remind yourself of Christ’s rejection and His commission to all of us:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.  (Matthew 28:19)

If you fear being alone, remind yourself of God’s promise that He will be with you always (Matthew 28:20). Remind yourself of God’s command not to be bound with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Disobedience disrupts your fellowship with the Lord.

These are examples, since each of us has our own vulnerable areas. If we can identify our weak areas in advance, it’ll be easier to react in a godly way.

Costs

There is a cost in obeying God’s word. You don’t get what you want, in your “wisdom,” in your desire. You sacrifice your own plan.

But there is far, far greater cost in disobeying God’s work. There are “passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), but sin always, always, separates us from fellowship with God until we confess and are cleansed (1 John 1:9). And there are almost always natural and unpleasant consequences of our sin.

Choose the cost of obedience rather than the cost of disobedience.

Remedy

  1. Deliberately study and absorb God’s Word. Remember what He says.

 

  1. Intentionally chose to believe what God says and that following what He says is in your own best self-interest.

 

  1. Determine to act in accordance with His direction.

 

Press on!

 

 

 

 

Be Discontent

Contentment, regardless of our circumstances, is fully possible for those whose Lord and Savior is Jesus Christ. In fact, it is a command.

Paul said he’d learned how to be content.

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)

To Be Contented, First Be Discontent

In order to be content, however, we first must be discontent.

Huh?

Contentment requires that we know God is sovereign over our circumstances, and that we trust Him to be with us and bring good out of it. Contentment requires surrender to Almighty God, who knows what is best.

That level of knowledge, trust, and surrender requires us to be discontent with our spiritual growth. (This discontentment is with our own spiritual state. It is not discontentment with our situation, which is sin.)

Keep Growing

In this world, we are to keep growing. God is working on and in us (Philippians 2:13). AND we must press on to walk in a manner worthy of Him.

Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…please Him in all respects, bear…fruit in every good work and increase…in the knowledge of God;” (Colossians 1:10)

Strive to Grow

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

I discipline my body and make it my slave. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; (Hebrews 12:4)

Be Discontent with Your Spiritual State; Press On

Be discontent with where you are spiritually. Hate what doesn’t please Him.

Strive to walk in His way.

Press on.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)

Press On!

 

Current Event Bingo

 

Current Event Bingo

How hard is it for you to watch the news? Since I’m asking, you can guess I am having a hard time.

Many current events are a demonstration of 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

God is Sovereign and Judge

My comfort is that God is Sovereign, working out His plan of the ages. And that He is the righteous, holy judge. And that I’m not.

[God] works all things after the counsel of His will. (Ephesians 1:11)

God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:16)

It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

Walk in His Way

My goal is to “walk in a manner worthy of Him” through these dark days, making Him known, and helping others.

Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

Strategy for the News

But I still need a strategy to make it through the news.

Have you heard of Bingo buzzword? Bingo Buzzword is a tongue-in-cheek tool to help employees get through meetings. When an employee hears a buzzword, for example, “Outside the box,” “Mission Critical,” “World Class,” the employee crosses off that box. One cartoon had all the employees in the meeting yelling “Bingo” at the same time, to the dismay of their boss.

Well, I am going to try Current Event Bingo as a tool to analyze the news, and put it into a Biblical perspective. I think it would have helped when I watched the news this weekend!

BINGO!

 

P.S. This is to help with discernment, not judgment (condemnation), and to remind us of Jesus’ words: “When you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” (Matthew 24:33)

Praise the Son

Harry-Mouse Durgin

 

Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of Man.

Jesus is both eternal God, and perfect human.

Son of God

Jesus, the Word, is eternal, was God in the beginning, and was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1)

All things came into being through Jesus, the Son of God. (John 1:3)

Son of David

The Son of David was prophesized many years before His birth.

I will raise up your descendant after you [David], who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12–13)

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

Son of Man

Behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14)

Jesus referred to Himself most often as the Son of Man.

The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. (Matthew 9:6)

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:8)

The Son of Man came to save that which was lost. (Matthew 18:11)

The Son of Man came to serve. (Mark 10:45)

Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. (John 5:25–27)

Jesus, the Son

He lived a perfect, righteous life, and gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice to save us, believers, from our sins.

He lives at the right hand of God, always interceding for us as our great High Priest.

He will come again, with glory, to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Praise the Son

I praise You, Christ Jesus, Son of God, Son of David, Son of Man. You, Son of God, humbled Yourself to be born as the Son of David, and humbled Yourself as the perfect sacrifice to save us. You, the Son of Man, have an everlasting kingdom.  Thank You for ever interceding for Your flock. I praise You, our almighty, holy, ruler. Come, Lord Jesus.

Make Every Effort

 

 

Make Every Effort to Seek God First

Do you make every effort to seek God first? If you have determined to read the Bible every day, do you keep going even when you have a very busy schedule, are out of town, or have visitors? What about other aspects of your spiritual life?

Or, alas, do you forget about Him?

Certainly, we should not expect our days to be identical. How boring!

We should not expect to be in control of what we face day-to-day.

We should see the unexpected as part of His plan for us.

Seek God First

But, absolutely, we must seek Him first.

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

Plans and Contingency Plans to Seek God First

We should plan how we will seek Him first.

We should develop contingency plans when our primary plan is disrupted.

Keep Going!

We must keep going.

In order to continue his strength-training routine, an out-of-town family member constructed a temporary weight room!

The photo is an example of him making every effort to keep going.

Seek God first.

Press on!

 

 

Feeling Condemned?

What to Do

 

Ok, fellow Christian.* Have you done or said something that left you feeling condemned?

I’ve been there. What should we do to restore fellowship with our Lord and press on in His service and towards His goal for us?

Prayerfully take these steps:

ONE:

Confess your sin to Almighty God.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Believe Him.

Believe that He is faithful and righteous.

Believe that He has forgiven you.

Believe that He has cleansed you from all unrighteousness.

TWO:

Step One is really all that is needed. But, since we’re talking about feeling condemned, here are three additional helpful steps.

Remember Paul.

Paul called himself a wretched man, practicing what he didn’t want to do.

For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (Romans 7:19, NASB95)

This is the apostle Paul writing, the man through whom the Holy Spirit wrote much of the New Testament, who was a powerful, godly, missionary sent from God.

Fellow Christian, you are not, NOT, condemned.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Believe that if you are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation. No condemnation.

THREE:

Remember David.

David was the godly king, the sweet psalmist, the one who was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Yet David committed adultery with Bathsheba and caused her husband’s death (2 Samuel 11).

This was evil in the sight of Yahweh. (No kidding!)

David was convicted of his sin, confessed, and was forgiven (2 Samuel 12).

Pray, for yourself, Psalm 51, using your own Bible.

Read and pray it again, noticing:

God’s lovingkindness and compassion is what makes forgiveness possible (through Jesus Christ). It all starts with Him.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

Confess your sins

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.

Once you have confessed, and been forgiven, ask for blessing:

Make me to hear joy and gladness,

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.

Determine to press on:

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,

Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.

Remember:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

FOUR:

Believe that once you have confessed, God, in His faithfulness, has forgiven you.

Press on.

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Press on!

~~~

*This post is strictly for those who have received Christ as Lord and Savior. If you’re not, see Becoming A Child of God.

License to Learn

A private pilot’s license is a license to learn. At about 40 hours, a pilot is a beginner, safe within good conditions.

I was a private pilot when I met my husband, an airline captain. I was shocked and sobered when I realized he was more conservative in a single engine airplane than I was. Oh dear! Lots to learn.

The question, then, is how much is an inexperienced pilot learning? When the pilot has 1000 hours, does that represent 1000 hours of learning or is it 1 hour 1000 times?

What is the pilot doing with his or her license to learn?

Is the pilot learning or coasting?

The same question should be asked of Christians. Are we learning or are we going over the same “hour” many times?

Paul told the Corinthians they were in the category of 1 hour 1000 times:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able. (1 Corinthians 3:1–2)

We should ask ourselves about our progress in the Christian life. God is, of course, continually working on and in us. But we are responsible also. Can you detect growth? Are you more reliably walking in His will now than you did a year ago? Can you sense that you are more deliberately seeking Him and His will than you did in the past?

If so, keep on keeping on.

If not, you need to deliberately make changes, such as more regularly and deeply studying His Word, praying more, spending more time with godly friends who will challenge and encourage you.

Determine to make these next 1000 hours ones of learning.

Press on!

 

 

 

Praise the Redeemer

 

Enemies of God

We—all of us—were enemies of God, walking in darkness, slaves to sin.

Some of us, those of us who trust in Christ and have received Him as Lord and Savior, have been redeemed by Christ’s precious blood.

Redeemed with Precious Blood

We were redeemed with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:17–19)

Our redeemer bought us from the control of sin and death.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— (Galatians 3:13)

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4–5)

We were Hopeless without a Redeemer

We could not escape by ourselves through our own actions, nor can we rescue others.

No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him— (Psalm 49:7)

Our Redeemer Made Us His Own

We were lawbreakers, rebelling against Almighty God, and headed to judgment. But Christ redeemed us, freeing us from sin, and making us His own.

Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:13–14)

Christ suffered and died in order to redeem us.

~~~

Praise the Redeemer

I praise You, my Redeemer, for buying me out of my hopeless condition of enmity toward God, inescapably mired in sin and death. I praise You that You bought me, at the cost of Your own suffering and death, in order to make me Your own, enabling me to be adopted by the Father, and entering into a new life. I praise You that You, my Redeemer, will one day present me to the Father holy and blameless.

Please help me tell others of You.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. (Psalm 107:2)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)