Archive for November, 2011

Beseeching God

And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons?  saith the LORD of hosts. 

Malachi 1:9

When I read this verse, I immediately thought about our world today.  When this book was written, God had been longsuffering with His people for literally centuries.  And yet they had still rejected Him.  Now, His longsuffering was coming to an end.  Judgment was coming to the nation that had rejected Him.  Does that sound familiar?  If you look around, our nation has, for the most part, rejected the Lord.  And, if you look around, I believe that judgment is coming and, in some ways, has already started.

What did God tell His people to do in that situation?  “Beseech God that he will be gracious unto us…”  That is what we can do.  We can ask God for His mercy and for His grace.  Do we deserve His mercy and His grace?  No.  Did the nation of Israel deserve His mercy and His grace?  No.

God is very longsuffering, very merciful and very gracious.  Far from being a vengeful God, He “delights in mercy.”  He wants to have mercy on us.  He wants to show us His graciousness.  But we have to return to Him.  We have to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.  (II Chronicles 7:14)

Our nation is not beyond the mercy and grace of the Lord.  But we are facing the same judgment that the Israelites faced and we need to heed the advice of the Lord in this verse.  We need to humbly pray and “beseech God that he will be gracious unto us.”  As a nation, we have got to get back to the Lord.

Giving Our Best

Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?  In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.  And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil?  and if ye offer the lame and sick is it not evil?  offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person?  saith the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 1:7-8

In the book of Malachi, God has some serious problems with His people.  They have rejected Him over and over again and are seeing the fruits of those rejections.  In these verses, God is giving them some specifics in which they have rejected Him.

He tells them that they have polluted and despised His altar by offering the incorrect sacrifices.  They were supposed to offering perfect, spotless sacrifices.  They were supposed to offering lambs without spot and without blemish.  They were supposed to be giving the Lord the best that they had.  Instead, they were offering the blind, the weak, the lame and the sick.  They were giving God the leftovers.  Far from giving Him the best they had, they were actually giving Him the worst they had.

Needless to say, God was not pleased.  The question for us is this: what are we giving the Lord?  Are we giving Him the worst that we have or are we giving Him the best?  I once heard it said that we are not going to be able to serve God with our spare time and pocket change.  And I think that is a true statement.  God doesn’t want our leftovers.  He wants our all; He wants our best.  He deserves our all, and He deserves our best.

The Israelites were chastened for trying to give the Lord the weak and sick instead of the best.  What are giving?

Where Is My Honour?

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour?  and if I be a master, where is my fear?  saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name.  And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

Malachi 1:6

What a terrible situation in which Israel finds herself in this verse.  The priests, who are supposed to be serving the Lord and honouring Him, have despised His name.  And the saddest part is that they don’t even know it.  They have said “wherein have we despised thy name?”  They have rejected the Lord and they don’t even know it.  And those are the ones who are supposed to be the “spiritual leaders.”

God gives them a couple of simple examples: a son honouring his father and a servant honouring and fearing his master.  In both of these examples,  the honour and the fear are natural.  Nobody has to teach a son to honour his father.  It comes naturally.  Sons naturally respect, honour and want to please their fathers.  But these people didn’t even give that kind of simple, natural respect to God.

If we are going to respect anyone, shouldn’t it be God?  Our earthly fathers are obviously deserving of our honour and respect, but they are still human.  How much more should God be given our honour and respect?  He is our perfect Heavenly Father.

How do we show our honour and respect for our Heavenly Father?  The same way we respect and honour our earthly fathers: we obey them and try to please them by doing those things that we know would please them.  What would please God?  Obedience, faith, mercy and goodness to name a few.  Reading His Word pleases Him.  Talking to Him pleases Him.  There are so many ways in which we can honour Him.

Are we going to give Him His due respect and honour or are we going to be like the priests in this verse who despise Him and don’t even know it?

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Hymn)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
William B. Sandys (1833)

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
Was born upon this day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy!

In Bethlehem in Jewry
This blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn;
The which his mother Mary
Nothing did take in scorn.


From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came,
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name.


‘Fear not,’ then said the angel,
‘Let nothing you affright;
This day is born a Saviour
Of virtue, power and might,
So frequently to vanquish all
The friends of Satan quite.’


The shepherds at these tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed Babe to find.


But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this Infant lay,
They found him in a manger
Where oxen fed on hay;
His mother Mary, kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray.


Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace.
The holy tide of Christmas
All others doth efface.


It is now after Thanksgiving and that means it’s the Christmas season.  With the Christmas season, it’s time to start singing Christmas hymns (which I personally like to sing all year long).

My favourite part of this hymn is in the first verse: Jesus came to Earth to “Save us all from Satan’s power, when we were gone astray.”  That is why He came, and that is why we celebrate Christmas!

A Week of Thanksgiving, Day 6

O death, where is thy sting? O grace, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:55-57

Thanksgiving week is a good week.  It’s nice to have a time when people really think about a virtue like thankfulness.  Wouldn’t it be nice if other virtues had their own days?  We could have a Forgiveness Day in which we thank the Lord and others for forgiving us of the stupid things we’ve done and in which we could make it a point to extend forgiveness to those who may have wronged us.  Or we could have a Holiness Day, in which we really concentrate on drawing closer to the Lord.  Those would be nice, but I digress.  Thanksgiving is enjoyable and I have enjoyed looking at a few of the verses that tell us about being thankful.  This is the last one that we will look at and, in my opinion, gives us one of the best reasons to be thankful.

“Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  That gives us the whole Thanksgiving season in one sentence.  It gives us the object of our thankfulness: “Thanks be to God…”  It gives us the reason for our thankfulness: He “giveth us the victory.”  And it gives us the source of everything we have: “through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We have it all right there.  We are to thank God for our victory over sin and death that has come through our Lord Jesus Christ.  If we can’t find a reason to be thankful after reading and meditating on that, we will never be thankful.  Everything else in life for which we usually give thanks (health, family, friends, possessions) are all just an extension of this victory given to us by the Lord.

Thanksgiving may be over for this year, but let it never die in our hearts!

A Week of Thanksgiving, Day 5

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 5:18-20

This week, we have been looking at some verses about Thanksgiving and thankfulness.  And, when you boil it down, they all say pretty much the same thing.  We are supposed to be thankful at all times and for all things.  Sometimes that is a harder assignment than others.  When everything is going well, it’s easy to be thankful.  Even the vilest, Godless heathen is thankful when things are going well.  That is what separates the Christian from the non-Christian.  The Christian has faith in God.  He has faith that, while he may not understand everything, God does understand everything and will work all things together for good.  So, no matter how bleak it may seem, the Christian can remain thankful for the Lord’s goodness and mercy.  The Christian may not even see the fruit of his faith in this lifetime, but he will be rewarded for his faith and for his thankfulness.

When you think about it, the command to be thankful for all things and at all times is really a matter of faith.  If we can believe what we have not seen, it is not a huge leap to be thankful for what we do not understand.  When something bad happens, I don’t need to understand it.  I simply need to believe that God is still in control and be thankful.

The question is this: what kind of faith do we have?  Do we have a weak faith that complains when it does not understand something?  Or do we have a faith that can truly be thankful in all things?

A Week of Thanksgiving, Day 4

And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offering: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God.

Amos 4:5

In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were required to offer many sacrifices.  Many of them were animal sacrifices.  Those have been done away with, but here is a sacrifice they were told to give that we can (and should) also give.  What better sacrifice could there be than a sacrifice of thanksgiving?

Christians are constantly trying offer various “sacrifices” to the Lord.  We are running around doing this and doing that, trying to please the Lord.  And that is good.  There is nothing at all wrong with running around doing things for the Lord.  He deserves everthing that we can do for Him.  He deserves our entire lives.  He is worthy of our all, every day and at all times.  But sometimes we need to stop and think about what the Lord actually wants.

He wants us to be thankful.  That is one thing about which there is no question.  He has told us over and over again to be thankful in every thing.  He has told us to be thankful for every thing.  There is no situation in which we should not be thankful.

We don’t need to offer literal sacrifices, but we do need to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, both during this season and all the year long.

Have a good Thanksgiving and remember to be thankful!

A Week of Thanksgiving, Day 3

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

This is sometimes a tough verse.  It’s not a tough verse to understand, but it is a tough verse by which to live.  In my opinion, the difficulty with this verse lies in it’s simplicity.  Sometimes there is a verse that is “difficult.”  It might be hard to understand.  It might somehow allow for exceptions.  This one is nothing like that.  “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  Simple and straightforward.  We are supposed to give thanks in “every thing.”  And, just in case we don’t understand why we should be giving thanks in every thing, the Lord tells us that it is the “will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  We might not know God’s will for every moment of our future, but we can rest assured that God’s will will always include being thankful.

There are some things for which we are not normally thankful.  In some situations, we might have trouble being thankful.  But that does not change the command.  When things are going well, we should be giving thanks.  When things are not going so well, we should trust that the Lord knows what He is doing and give thanks.

I am constantly struck by just how encompassing “in every thing…” is.  A good thing for us to remember would be the simple fact that giving thanks is always the correct response.  No matter the situation, giving thanks is a proper response.  No matter the question, giving thanks is a correct answer.  Even in the most terrible situation, we can thank the Lord for His promise to “never leave us nor forsake us.”

God’s will is for us to be thankful.  We think about being thankful now at Thanksgiving season, but if we would be in God’s will, we would be thankful all year long.

A Week of Thanksgiving, Day 2

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;  Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father…

I Thessalonians 1:1-3

Paul is writing to the church of the Thessalonians and tells them that he is thankful for them.  That may seem like a simple thing, but it is definitely something for which we should also be giving thanks.  We should be thankful for our fellow Christians who help us along the way.  God puts other Christians in our lives to help us, encourage us, exhort us, and sometimes even rebuke us.  We should be thankful for that.

There are many, many people whom the Lord has used to help me along the way.  Some of them were pastors or teachers who showed me something out the Bible.  Some were simply friends who showed me how to live by example.  There are fellow bloggers who have been a great encouragement to me, and I am thankful for them.  Can you imagine a life with no other Christians anywhere around you?  You would have no fellowship and would get no encouragement.

Part of the benefit of being a part of a church is the fellowship with other like-minded Christians.  I think that many of us take that for granted.  Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus were thankful for these Thessalonian Christians and we should also be thankful for the other Christians that God has placed in our lives.

A Week of Thanksgiving, Day 1

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Pahnuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite season of the entire year.  We have so much to be thankful for, but often end up complaining and bitter because we don’t have even more.  There is not one single person out there who could not stand to be a little (or a lot) more thankful.  Every day this week, we will look at a verse or passage dealing with thankfulness.  I hope it is an encouragement to be more thankful.

In these verses we find the person to Whom our thanks is due and the main reason that we should be thanking Him.  An older lady named Anna, who had been loving and serving the Lord for years, had just seen Jesus for the first time.  As soon as she saw Him, “in that instant,” “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord…”  The minute she saw Jesus, she began thanking the Lord.  That should be us.  The minute we see or hear or think about Jesus, we should start thanking the Lord.  “In that instant gave thanks… unto the Lord.”  And why should we be giving thanks to the Lord?  The same reason as Anna:

She “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption…”  That is why we should be thankful.  Jesus brought (and bought) our redemption.  He is our Redeemer.  If there is no other reason on earth to be thankful, that is a great one.  That is why Paul could be thankful and rejoice in a Roman dungeon.  People have been tortured and killed for Christ, while being thankful the whole time to be counted worthy to suffer for His name.

Be thankful for Jesus.  Every day and at all times.