Archive for November, 2013

The Lord is Good

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.  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 100:1-5

During this week of celebrating Thanksgiving, our minds have probably been drawn to all of the things for which we are thankful.  We have probably thanked the Lord many times during this week for many different things, life, health, family, friends, salvation, and church likely among them.  I thought I would end this week with one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 100.

Verse 5 starts out “For the LORD is good…”  That is the exact conclusion that I came to after thinking about thankfulness and trying to be thankful during this week.  The Lord most certainly is good.  He is good in every way and at all times.  There may be times that we do not understand what He is doing, but we can rest assured that, whatever He may do, it will be good.

He has freely given us salvation.  He hears and answers our prayers.  He has given us a perfect Bible to read and study.  Even when we fail Him, He has made a way for us to be forgiven.  As verse 5 also says, “his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”  If we had nothing else in the world but our salvation, we would conclude that “the Lord is good.”  But He has chosen to give us so much more.  He has chosen to give us life, and health, and friends and family.  All of the blessings we enjoy come from Him.  That is why, in the words of verse 4, we should “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.

The Lord is good.

A “Post-Thanksgiving Post”

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.  Amen.

Revelation 7:11-12

On this the day after Thanksgiving, we will look at a passage of scripture that might help us to be thankful even on days that are not celebrated as major holidays.  The world refers to this day as “Black Friday,” a time when people madly rush from store to store buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have.  I find it interesting that right after spending a day celebrating being thankful for what we have, we spend the next day consumed with greed and materialism.  But, I digress.

In this passage, John shows us a scene in Heaven.  The angels and the elders and the four beasts are standing around the throne of God.  As often happens in the presence of God, they fell on their faces before Him and worshipped Him.  And notice what they said: “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.”  Even in Heaven, thanksgiving is still observed.  In Heaven, away from all of the sin and filth of the world, they are still thankful.

The thing I would like us to see and think about today is this: we are going to be giving thanks to the Lord in Heaven.  We might as well start now and get used to it now.  For all of eternity, “for ever and ever,” we are going to be thanking the Lord for all He has done for us.  We should just go ahead and start thanking Him today – that will give us some good practice for Heaven!

The Importance of Thanksgiving IV

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

I Thessalonians 5:18

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 100:4-5

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  It is a day in which we celebrate thankfulness.  That’s a great reason for a holiday if ever there was one.  We have all seen the above verses before, so there is little need for me to comment too much on them.  We are told over and over again to be thankful.  Are we?

Today, we should concentrate on being truly thankful.  We should, throughout the day, think of things for which we are thankful.  We should then express this thankfulness to God and to those around us.  Being thankful is a wonderful thing and it is impossible to be too thankful.  Enjoy the day.  Enjoy all the Lord has given you and done for you.  Happy Thanksgiving!

The Importance of Thanksgiving III

Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.  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 6:9-10

The decree that king Darius signed in verse 10 was the decree that no person should pray or ask any thing of anyone other than the king for 30 days.  The people who got his to sign this decree were just trying to get rid of Daniel.  They knew that Daniel was faithful and that he prayed consistently, three times a day.  So, Darius signed this decree that anyone who asked any thing of anyone else would be put in a den of lions and Daniel knew about.  What did Daniel do?  Daniel did exactly what Daniel was supposed to do.  He went right ahead and prayed, ignoring the king’s decree.

It is interesting to note that, in verse 10, the first thing he did was “gave thanks before his God.”  Daniel’s prayers were prayers of thanks.  He even prayed a prayer of thanksgiving when he knew that it would mean his going to the lions’ den.  It didn’t matter what the consequences, he understood the importance of offering thanksgiving to the Lord and the importance of just being thankful.  He was determined to continue to pray and be thankful even if it would cost him his life.

That is serious thankfulness.  I’m sure that none of us have ever been put in the position of having to choose to be thankful and die or to not be thankful and keep our mouths shut and live.  But if we were, what would we choose?  Would we still be committed to being thankful?  Let us be thankful during the good times, and that will make it easier to be thankful during the bad times!

The Importance of Thanksgiving II

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even the eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Romans 1:20-22

As we have come to the time of year in which we celebrate thankfulness, it is important to look at some of the passages of scripture that talk about thankfulness.  There is no shortage of verses telling us to be thankful and giving us reasons to be thankful.  This passage tells us what can happen when we refuse to be thankful.

God is, in this passage, telling us about the “descent of mankind.”  It can be viewed from the perspective of mankind in general or of any particular man who rejects God.  It is the downward spiraling cycle that occurs when man continually rejects God.  Man comes into the world with the understanding that there is a God.  God is clearly seen in nature all around us.  But, over time, man starts thinking of himself as a god, and rejects the true God.

One of the ways in which man starts rejecting God and placing himself in that position is unthankfulness: “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain…”  This vanity and losing sight of God comes, in part, from simply not being thankful.  When we are not thankful for something, we tend to take that thing for granted.  We tend to ignore it, assuming that it will always be there.  Men have ignored God and have taken Him for granted.  Thus starts a terrible slide that ends with God “giving them over” to their own lusts and sins.

A terrible fate comes with unthankfulness.  Let us be thankful, both during this season and all year long!

The Importance of Thankfulness I

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Colossians 3:12-15

As we come into this season of Thanksgiving, I think it is important to remember why we should be thankful and just how important it is to be thankful.  Beyond the family and friends and turkey and stuffing, we really do need to be thankful, both at this time of year and all of the other times as well.

This passage is about what we, as Christians, are supposed to “put on.”  Just as we would put on a change of clothes in the morning, there are certain things that the Lord would have us “put on.”  Among the things mentioned here are mercy, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, forgiveness, charity, peace, and thankfulness.  Thankfulness is mentioned toward the end of the passage, at the end of verse 15: “…and be ye thankful.”

“…and be ye thankful.”  It’s just a short and simple statement, but a powerful one.  It’s a very simple command.  Be ye thankful.  To borrow a phrase from Nike, “just do it.”  A Christian is commanded to “be ye thankful.”  We can look at other simple commands such as “thou shalt not kill” and have no problem understanding and obeying it.  But sometimes “be ye thankful” gives us problems.

Are we really thankful today?  Are we obeying this very simple command?  It couldn’t be worded any simpler.  Are we thankful?

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Christmas Hymn)

O come, O come, Emmanuel
Translated from Latin to English by John Neale (1851)

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse,
Free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


This version of the song is a little bit different than the version I am familiar with, but it’s an equally good one.  Christmas is all about Emmanuel coming to Earth.  We can, as the first verse says, Rejoice! because Emmanuel has come.  Christmas time is a wonderful time because it is the time that we celebrate that fact!

The Power of Conviction

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.  When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.  But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord.

Acts 7:51-57

When Stephen was brought before the council of priests, scribes and elders, instead of defending himself, he preached to them.  He told them about Jesus, the Just One they had crucified.  He told them the truth about who Jesus was, and who they were.  He knew he was telling them the truth, and they knew that he was telling them the truth.  They were deeply convicted: “they were cut to the heart…”

When confronted with the truth, especially a truth we are not obeying, we get convicted.  We all know the feeling of being “cut to the heart” by some truth.  When we find ourselves in this position, we have a decision to make.  We have two options: we can accept this conviction and change what we need to change or we can rebel against it.  These men chose to rebel against it.  When they were “cut to the heart,” they “gnashed on him with their teeth.”  They attacked him.

Conviction is a powerful thing.  And conviction comes from the truth.  It’s an important and powerful thing.  We need to use it wisely and pay attention to it.

They’re All the Same

Then said the high priest, Are these things so?  And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken;

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?  and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Acts 7:1-2a. 51-53

I love this chapter.  The high priests and scribes and elders have conspired against Stephen.  They bribed people to lie about him and dragged him in front of the council to falsely accuse him and hopefully either imprison or kill him.  They asked him in verse one if the things they said about him were true.

He didn’t even answer their question.  He knew and they knew that they things said about him weren’t true.  Instead of answering their ridiculous question, he went into a little sermon.  Chapter 7 is that sermon.  He had the opportunity to tell these people about Jesus.  And he took it.  And he didn’t mince words.  He gave it to them hard and straight, as you can see from verses 51-53.  They rejected the Lord Jesus and they crucified Him and Stephen let them know it.

You can’t help but admire Stephen.  He wasn’t Peter or John.  He wasn’t the pastor of the church.  He was a deacon, just a man in the church who loved the Lord.  But he told these people the exact same thing that they had been hearing from Peter and John.  And I’m sure that any other Christian they picked up would tell them the exact same thing as Stephen, Peter and John.  They were all the same.

They all talked about Jesus and His Words.  That’s exactly what every one of us should be doing every day: talking about Jesus and His words!

The Face of an Angel

And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.  And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Acts 6:12-15

The story of Stephen is an inspiring one for us today.  Stephen was not an apostle.  He had not literally walked with Jesus.  He had not been one of the “inner circle” of disciples.  He was not a pastor.  He was simply a deacon.  He was just a man in the church who loved the Lord.

In these verses, the priests and scribes and elders started stirring things up against him.  They hated him for his testimony and they hated the fact that he was always talking about Jesus, which tortured their consciences.  They bribed some people to lie about him and to say that he had been blaspheming just about everything.  So, on these trumped up charges, they brought him before the council and started questioning him.

But the people questioning him saw in him something interesting.  As they looked at him, they “saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”  That is an incredible statement.  Even in the midst of being lied about and falsely accused of terrible things, his face was like “the face of an angel.”  His heart was at peace with God and it showed on his face.  The glory of God on the inside was showing through to the outside.

Could people say that about us today?  Could people look at us and see the countenance of an angel?  What’s on the inside will come out.