Thanks and Praise!

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29.13

This is the last chapter of 1 Chronicles. David is wrapping up his comments as Solomon takes the reins of government. I love the emphasis of his comments as he is teaching us the value of thanking God and praising His glorious name. The word “therefore” points us back to the previous things David has said. V. 12 says: “Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength to all.” David wants for his son what each of us wants for our families, for them to succeed. In light of the fact that Solomon did not ask for wealth, but for wisdom, shows us that God heard David’s prayer for his son.

I believe there is a strong example for us to follow here. When you and I learn to incorporate thanksgiving to God in our prayer life, we have taken a “first step” in our spiritual maturity. I believe far too many of God’s children go dad-after-day without thinking God for His goodness, His provision, His protection, and everything else He does for us. I have asked the Lord to help me REMEMBER to give thanks every day.

In addition to giving thanks, David speaks of praising God’s name. Once again we are often remiss when it comes to praise. How do you praise God? Is it a matter of something you do daily? Do you verbally express your praise to God? Is your life a testimony of praise to God? Those are the things that I want to do daily in my praise of God and His Holy Name. Just my thoughts …

Advertisements

Grace – Enough!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12.9

How many times do we wake up and instead of saying, “Good morning, Lord” we say, “Good Lord, it’s morning.” The day we are facing seems impossible for us to negotiate alone. As I read this verse this morning, I realized afresh that these are the words of Jesus to Paul and all of God’s children. “My grace is sufficient for thee … ” The verse doesn’t say that it is barely enough, but rather that it is sufficient. In other words, it is adequate. Whatever I need, it will be enough. Whatever you need, it will be enough.

Why is that important? “ … for my (God’s) strength is made perfect in weakness.” It doesn’t matter HOW weak we are, His strength is made perfect, i. e. fully enough, for whatever the need is that is before us. The next time you think your problem is one that is greater than God an handle, remember these words. I find that I am weak many times and don’t even know how weak I am. When the Holy Spirit prompts me to turn my weakness over to Him, I am not only relieved, but I find great contentment.

Paul closes the verse with a powerful observation that we do well to remember: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I think that is a pretty good exchange – my infirmities for the power of Christ resting on me. I don’t want to consciously or purposefully live any day without the power of Christ resting on me. I want HIM living His Life through me. Just my thoughts …

Where Is The Focus?

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20.24

But none of these things move me … ” What things Paul? Verse 23 closes with these words: “ … bonds and afflictions abide me.” If any man ever had reason to complain about how he was treated, other than the Lord Jesus, it would be the Apostle Paul. From the time he was saved on the Damascus Road to the time of his death, he went from one crisis to another in serving the Lord. I don’t think any of us reading these words of Paul can fully understand what he went through to be a servant of Christ. “ … neither count I my life dear unto myself … ” Paul’s life was never about himself. Everything he did was about serving God faithfully, bringing glory to God through his life, and helping others see how much God loved them. He did not count his life dear so that he might sacrificially count the work of God and the kingdom of God dear.

“ … so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus … ” How can anyone of us finish our course with joy? We can do so by turning the focus of our life and ministry away from ourselves and placing the focus clearly on the person of Christ. It should bring us great joy to be able to glorify the Lord through our lives. I must ask myself, “Is my life a testimony of the gospel of the grace of God?” And if it is not, I am the only one who can change that. If it is, then I can finish my course with joy. I think the question for us to answer today is this: “Is the focus of my life on the person of Christ, and can I finish my course with joy by pointing others to Him?” Just my thoughts …

What Manner of Love!

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3.1

Every time I read this phrase, I am overwhelmed: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us … ” Does that phrase speak to you like it does me? “What manner of love …” There is nothing about me that would cause God to do such a thing. To think of God loving me at all is an overwhelming feeling. What manner? It is an unconditional love that has nothing to do with my performance, but only with my person. God loves me because I am, not because I do. When you and I fully realize that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more or less, then we realize that His love for us is simply His choice.

“ … that we should be called the sons of God … ” So, tell me again who you are. I am a son of God. Romans 8.17 says we are, “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ … ” What a wonderful realization – we are joint-heirs with Christ. The inheritance we have in unimaginable. Sometimes we wonder why the world treats us as Christ-followers the way they do. John 3xplains that because they did not know (or understand) what Jesus was all about, they fail to know or understand what we are all about. Our goal is to see people come to a saving knowledge of Christ but we are often seen as Bible-thumpers who want to condemn everyone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s reflect the love the Father bestows on us to a world who is struggling to know who this God is. Just my thoughts …

A Prosperous Soul

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1.2

How do we pray for our family and friends each day? John’s words here bring us to a fresh realization of the need that others have, and that need is that they would prosper. I know that I would appreciate knowing that someone is praying for me to prosper and be in health. But John attaches a condition to this kind of prayer. His last phrase says: “ … even as thy soul prospereth.” It is quite a sobering thought to connect our physical health to the spiritual health of our soul.

We give daily attention to our body and how we are feeling. If something feels wrong, we call the doctor to see what needs to be done. But when something appears to be wrong with our soul/spirit, do we give the same attention to that need? You may be thinking, “I don’t need to call the doctor for that” but the truth of the matter is we do need to give attention to it and speak to our Heavenly Father about what we need to do.

Some people hold the opinion that we can somehow separate our emotional life from our spiritual life, but here is a powerful truth … one cannot be emotionally stable until we are spiritually stable. Our emotional life is uniquely connected to our physical life. If we have emotional needs, that may produce physical needs that we need to address. It is critically important that you and I maintain our spiritual well being so that we can maintain our emotional well being and not consciously produce issues in our physical well being. And these are just my thoughts …

Faith – Real Faith!

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. ” Hebrews 11.1-3

How do you define faith? I like the acrostic ­Forsaking All I Take Him. It seems strange for the words substance and hope to appear in the same sentence. But when God becomes part of the equation, it makes perfect sense. Faith in God allows me to have hope in what I cannot see because of the substance that only God can provide.

Hebrews 11 is called the Hall of Fame of Faith. Why? Because “ … by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report.” By faith Abel, by faith Enoch, by faith Noah, by faith Abraham … each one of these individuals is known for living by faith. Forsaking all, they took God at His Word. Is that something that you are able to do on a daily basis? It is something that I am forced to do some days on a moment-by-moment basis.

Look carefully at this next phrase: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God … ” The evolutionist says that things in our world evolved from nothing. To accept such a position requires faith … a lot of faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God … ” That takes faith too, but not nearly as much as the position of the evolutionist. “ … things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Only God can make something out of nothing. That is where I put my faith … in this God. Just my thoughts …

Sharpen? Really? Yes!

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27.17

Over the years God has allowed me to be under the influence of some very godly men, men who were used by God to help shape my life. Beginning with my father and my grandfathers, I can look back at each one of those men and remember some things in their lives that God used to sharpen my own life. I am not sure that there is a definite process involved in men sharpening men, but when a man of God sets out to live for God every single day of his life, that influence that his life wields is undeniable. My mother’s father did not live close to us and did not live long after I was born, but I remember one particular thing in his life that impacted me. That was his love for the Word of God. Every time I saw him, he wanted to know what scriptures I had memorized recently. He always carried silver dollars in his pocket, and if I could quote some scripture to him, he would give me a silver dollar. More important that the silver dollar was the emphasis he placed on hiding the Word of God in my heart. My dad’s father had a genuine love for his church and a stubborn commitment to his church to be faithful and do his part to build his church. I never forgot that. My own father demonstrated to me a genuine love for the work of God that could not be deterred by the criticism of others. I have never forgotten the way these men sharpened my life just like iron sharpens iron.

The question I have for you and me today is this … have our lives been used by God to sharpen the lives of others who have been watching us? I don’t want to wander through life, having had no affect on those men and women who have chosen to observe the way I view the Word of God, the church of God, and the criticism of some who disagree with me. may God allow me to be different because of the men who sharpened my life early on. Just my thoughts …

You Do It!

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7.1

Paul has just spent several chapters telling the Corinthians about the promises they have from God. And these are our promises as well. If you are wondering, go back and read chapters 1 through 6.) Then he calls them and us to a level of responsibility before God when he says to us, “ … let us cleanse ourselves … ” Let me suggest that cleansing ourselves is much more beneficial for us than NOT cleaning ourselves. When I was a boy growing up, my mom would sometimes say to me, after I had taken a bath, “Let me see your ears.” And that was not usually a good sign for me, because I did not clean them the way she wanted them cleaned. She would take a look inside, and then proceed to do a THOROUGH job of cleaning anything out of my ears that she didn’t think should be there.

If I were to ask you today what kinds of things you need to clean up in your life, you wouldn’t have any problem telling me the areas of your life with which you are struggling, and you probably know what it would take to clean them up. So, the phrase   “ … cleanse ourselves … ” is not something that you and I can’t do. Paul is specific about the areas that need cleansing: “ … from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit … ” If there is a struggle with your flesh that the flesh is winning, you need to clean it up. If there is a struggle with your spirit and your spirit is winning over God’s Spirit, you need to clean it up. “Why?” you ask. In order to perfect “ … holiness in the fear of God.” God longs for us to live holy lives. He can call us to it and show us how to do it, but He will not make us do it. It is up to us to “ … cleanse ourselves … ” Just my thoughts …

Is It Today?

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9.28

After 50+ years of ministry, I am still amazed at the number of people who believe they can be saved, lost, and saved again. I believe this verse puts that notion to rest. The writer says to us: “ … Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many … ” If it is possible for someone to be saved and then lost, in order for them to be saved again, Christ would need to come die again. He was once offered to bear the sins of many. If it was only necessary for Christ to die once for sin, then one can only be saved once from his/her sin. Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. God has done the work once for all. We don’t need to try to add something to it.

“ … unto them that look for him … ” Now a word about how you and I live today. Do you honestly expect Jesus Christ to come back someday to take you out of this world? Could that day be today? Are you living in such a way that IF He came today, you would not be embarrassed but would rejoice at His coming? My pastor, Dr. Howard Sears, told us over and over, “When Jesus comes back, you don’t want to be doing anything He wouldn’t want you to do. You wouldn’t want to be any place He wouldn’t want you to be. And you wouldn’t want to be saying anything He wouldn’t want you to say.” That’s pretty good advice. Let’s live today as one who looks for him to appear … Just my thoughts …

He Really Did That?

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1.14

… the Word was made flesh … ” The Word is Christ. The word used in the Greek is Logos and indicates the personification of truth. It was God’s desire to make His message so clear that no one would misunderstand it. I remember a story that radio commentator Paul Harvey used to tell. He said there was a man sitting inside his house beside a large window and there was a severe storm outside. Several birds kept crashing into the window trying to get in out of the storm. Just a few feet from the house was a barn where they could go for safety. He went outside and tried his best to corral them into the barn but they were afraid of them and kept flying away. He asked himself, “How can I get them to not be afraid and trust me? If I could just become one of them, they would trust me and follow me to safety.” God said, “If I could just become one of them … ” And the Word became flesh … But men still don’t trust God. Men still run from God. The answer is for them to see God in us and the difference He has made in our lives.

John says, “ …we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father …” Can you fathom what it was like for those disciples to get to walk with Jesus everyday and see Him in all His glory? They watched Him perform miracle after miracle and continued to be amazed until He want to the cross and ultimately came out of the grave. So friend, let your life be a demonstration to this dark world of all that God wants to do for them, because they see what He did for you. Just my thoughts …