Archive for November, 2012

Be Thankful, Part 2

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

I Thessalonians 5:18

In these days around the holiday of Thanksgiving (in the United States), we will look at a few of the many verses in the Bible that deal with the subject of thankfulness.  It’s an important subject to remember today in our society of greed and covetousness.

This verse tells us about the importance of being thankful.  There are a couple of phrases that are both going to be hard for us to do.  They are not “easy sayings.”

“In every thing give thanks…”  In every thing give thanks.  It doesn’t say to give thanks when we think we have something for which to be thankful.  It says that we are to be thankful in every thing.  That is easy to say, but tough to do.  It’s tough to be thankful when things don’t seem to be going right.  It’s tough to be thankful when we are going through a trial.  It may be tough, but according to this verse, it’s exactly what we are supposed to be doing.

“…for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  This is the will of God.  So often people are concerned with finding “the will of God.”  We want to do “God’s will.”  Well, here it is: God’s will spelled out in plain English.  Giving thanks in every thing is the will of God.  (And, just in case we’re wondering if it’s really for us, He puts in that it is the will of God in Christ Jesus “concerning you”)

Considering that we are commanded to give thanks in every thing and then told that it is the will of God, it must be something that God thinks is important.  How are we doing?

Be Thankful, Part 1

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalm 100:3-5

In these days around the holiday of Thanksgiving (in the United States), we will look at a few of the many verses in the Bible that deal with the subject of thankfulness.  It’s an important subject to remember today in our society of greed and covetousness.

In these verses, the Psalmist tells us to “enter into his gates with thanksgiving…” and to “be thankful unto him.”  When we come before the Lord in prayer, we are to come with thanksgiving both in our hearts and on our lips.  And, just in cast that isn’t enough of a reminder, he also tells us to be thankful unto Him.  When I pray, I try to start and end the prayer with some form of thanks.  I don’t know that you have to do things that way, but it helps me to keep a spirit of thanks to the Lord.

We could all write a book of things that we should be thankful for, but if we have trouble remembering, the Psalmist reminds us of a few things in these verses.  He hath made us.  We should be thankful that God created us and gave us life.  We are his people.  That is reason to be thankful.  We are the sheep of His pasture.  He cares for us and provides for us.  His mercy is everlasting.  We can always thank Him for His great mercy.

If we look around us, we can always find reasons to be thankful.  Now let us express that thanks to the Lord Himself!

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus (Hymn)

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Author: (?)

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
Sing aloud the Name;
Till it softly, slowly,
Sets all hearts aflame.

Jesus! Name of cleansing,
Washing all our stains;
Jesus! Name of healing,
Balm for all our pains.

Jesus! Name of boldness,
Making cowards brave;
Name! that in the battle,
Certainly must save.

Jesus! Name of beauty,
Beauty far too bright
For our earth-born fancy,
For our mortal sight.

Jesus! be our joy-note
In this vale of tears;
Till we reach the homeland,
And th’eternal years.

I have never heard the tune of this song.  I tried looking up the author, but couldn’t find any information.  I was actually looking for the words to a different hymn with a similar name, but I came across this one and loved the words.  Any hymn that lifts up Jesus in the way that this one does is good to me.

Biblical Thanksgiving (Jesus)

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves.

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:17, 19-20

We will conclude our look at people in the Bible who were thankful by looking at our greatest example in every way, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In this passage, it is said that Jesus “gave thanks” twice.  In it, we have the institution of the Lord’s supper.  What amazes me about these verses is that Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him.  He was going to be betrayed, arrested, and crucified.  He was going to suffer a death more agonizing than any man had ever suffered.  he was going to suffer like we will never understand.  And yet, in the face of all of that, and knowing what was coming, He still “gave thanks.”

What was He being thankful for?  That is a good question and one worth thinking about.  He may have simply been being thankful for the food and drink that they were having.  But I think it goes deeper than that.  Maybe He was thanking the Lord for the opportunity and responsibility that have been given to Him.  He was to be the Saviour of all mankind.

And then there is the possibility that thankfulness was just a part of who He was (and is).  Thankfulness was not just a habit, but it was His very nature.  As Christians, thankfulness should just be a part of who we are.  It should be natural for us to be thankful every day for every thing that the Lord has brought into our lives.  We have a great example in the area of thankfulness; are we following it?

Biblical Thanksgiving (Anna)

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, 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 unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

As we continue to look at different people in the Bible who were thankful for something, we come to the prophetess Anna.  She was alive when Jesus was born and, as soon as she saw Him, she “in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord.”  This godly lady was thankful because she had seen the salvation of the Lord.

We can be thankful for the same reason.  We should be thankful every single day of our lives that we have seen the salvation of the Lord.  Like Anna, we have met the Saviour and we should be thankful for that.  No matter what else is going on in our lives, we can be thankful for having a Saviour.  Even if everything else in our lives is falling apart, we can look to the Rock of our salvation and be thankful.

Not only does Anna give us an example of thanking the Lord for salvation, but she gives us an example of what to do after we have seen His salvation.  After seeing His salvation, she “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”  If we are truly thankful for our Saviour, we should speak of Him to others who are looking for a Saviour.

When was the last time we thanked the Lord for salvation?  When was the last time we expressed our thanks by telling someone else about that salvation?

Biblical Thanksgiving (Paul)

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

I Corinthians 2:14

The apostle Paul was a thankful person.  It’s hard for us to imagine just how he could have been as thankful as he was, considering many of his writings were written from a prison or were written after he had been beat, whipped, stoned, etc.  Paul faced some serious trials and tribulations, yet he always remained thankful.  I think that these verses give us some insight into how he was able to maintain a thankful heart in the midst of his tribulations.

“…thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Paul didn’t have victory in himself.  He was thankful for his victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul faced trials and went right on through them, serving the Lord the whole time.  Reading about him, he almost seems superhuman.  Beatings, stonings, lashes, shipwreck – nothing could stop him from serving the Lord.  But he didn’t do all of the great things that he did in his own power.  He was thankful to God for the victory given to him in Jesus Christ.

While we may not face the beating, stonings, lashes and shipwreck that Paul faced, we can have victory in our lives.  We can endure whatever the devil throws at us, because we have the same victory and the same source of victory that the Apostle Paul had.  We have victory in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.  If that isn’t a reason to give thanks, I don’t know what is!

Are we living in the victory Jesus has given us?  Are we thankful for it?

Biblical Thanksgiving (David)

`It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High

Psalm 92:1

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psalm 100:4

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:17

Some form of the word “thank” (thank, thankful, thanksgiving, thanks) is used 33 times in the Psalms.  If you read any of that book or if you read anywhere else about David, you will readily see that he was a very thankful person.  These are just three of the Psalms in which he expresses his thankfulness to the Lord.  David was described as a “man after God’s own heart” and was one of the greatest figures in all of the Bible.  I think that there is a direct connection between his closeness to the Lord and his ever thankful heart, which we would be wise to emulate.

In these verses, we can see that David had (and we should have) a spirit of thankfulness.  Being a thankful person is not just saying “thank you” to the Lord whenever he answers a prayer or does something miraculous for us.  Being a thankful person is having a spirit of thanksgiving that is always thankful.  Thankfulness, as David understood, is not dependant on our circumstances.  Even when David was dealing with trials and troubles, David was thankful.  Even when he was surrounded on all sides by his enemies, David was thankful.  He was thankful because he had a thankful heart.  That is a lesson that we should learn and learn well.  We need to be thankful people, not just on one day or week out of the year, but every month, every week and every day.  We just need to be thankful for all the Lord has done for us!

Biblical Thanksgiving (Daniel)

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Daniel 6:10

As we come upon this season of Thanksgiving, let us look at a few of the people in the Bible who gave thanks or were thankful.  After looking at their examples, hopefully we will take a minute or two to be a little more thankful ourselves.

This verse is about Daniel.  The story is familiar: the king was convinced to put out a decree that anyone caught praying or “petitioning God” would be cast into the den of lions.  Daniel knew about this decree and just went on doing what he did every day, which included praying.  Part of that praying was “giving thanks.”  He knew that if he prayed, he would be put into a den of lions, yet he prayed and thanked the Lord anyway.  I don’t know if he was thankful for the opportunity to go the lions den or not, but he was thankful.

In the face of persecution and (as far as he probably assumed) even death, Daniel remained thankful to his God.  That is a great lesson for us: no matter what we face in our lives, we can be thankful.  Thankfulness is not based on what we have or what we have been given.  Thankfulness is a heart matter and a state of mind.  We can look at our circumstances and think that we have little for which to be thankful, but as long as we have Jesus Christ, we have the best reason of all to be thankful.  No matter where we find ourselves, let us always remain thankful.

Eating With Publicans?

And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.  And he left all, rose up, and followed him.  And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.

Luke 5:27-29

In the days of Jesus, the publicans were among the most hated of men.  They were looked down upon and were widely considered (in most cases rightly considered) to be dishonest, crooked thieves.  They were in charge of collecting taxes and would use any means necessary to extract as much money as possible from the people (much of which went into their own pockets).  In short, they were greedy, lying sinners and everybody knew it.

Levi (Matthew) was a publican when Jesus called him out.  After Levi followed Him, he made a “great feast” in his house, to which he invited his publican friends.  A “great company” of them came to this feast with Jesus.  Apparently, being reviled by everyone else, the publicans stuck together with each other.  So, in this scene we have Jesus sitting down to eat with His new convert (Levi) and many of his friends.

Of course, in the next verse, we find the Pharisees having a problem with this.  But before we get to the attitude of the Pharisees, let us look at this situation a little more closely.  Jesus, a preacher and teacher of righteousness, was sitting down with a bunch of publicans, who were generally regarded as some of the worst sinners around.

The Pharisees probably weren’t the only ones who questioned this action.  Why would Jesus be eating with publicans?  The simple answer is that He wanted to help them.  And, in order to help them, He had to be among them.  He was not one of them.  He was not in agreement with their ways.  But He was willing to be with them and be seen with them in order to reach them.  How far are we willing to go to reach people?  Are we willing to be a friend to someone who needs the Lord, or are we content to sit back and look down our noses at them?

Jesus Christ is Risen Today (Hymn)

Jesus Christ Is Risen Today
Charles Wesley (1739)

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!

But the pains which He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation hath procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!

Charles Wesley is one of the greatest hymn writers of all time and this is one of his best.  I know that there are quite a few verses, but these are the ones I could find.  I like how every verse points us directly to Jesus and what He did for us on the cross.  Alleluia! indeed.