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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Everything Give Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:18 - In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

The essence of thanksgiving is the giving of thanks. This indicates that there is a giver and a receiver. The receiver is to give thanks to the giver. The words “thank you” is taught as a basic element of polite society. In a limited sense we receive things all the time from our fellow man and when we are the receivers we should be thankful. But in a much broader sense everything we have comes from God.

James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

The very fact that we have a national day of thanksgiving on our calendar is evidence of our Christian heritage. Historically we have not given thanks to Allah, or Buddha, or Mary, or to ourselves, but to the God of the Bible. There has been a self-evident willingness to acknowledge the God of the Bible as the giver of all things.

Matthew 5:45 - That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

So ultimately God is always the giver and we are always the receiver. Thus the natural result should be thanksgiving, the giving of thanks to the giver.

There are problems though.

When we receive something consistently we begin to look upon it as an entitlement. Yes, we may be receiving it, but we are only receiving what we deserve. The mentality of deserving quenches the spirit of giving thanks. In fact the mentality of deserving tends to breed the spirit of dissatisfaction. Consistent provision becomes commonplace and is thus taken for granted, is looked upon as next to nothing. Because we have developed a spirit of dissatisfaction we begin to complain about what we do have and yearn for something more or better. If we do not receive more or better we fall prey to a spirit of murmuring and complaining. We become small, greedy, spiritually deficient cry babies.

Waaa, Waaaa, as we toss aside what has been given and point to the other thing we want in its place.

So I want to take a little space and review some of the things for which I have to be thankful.

I was saved through the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as a 7 year old boy
I grew up in a Christain home where we were taught the Bible is God's word
God counted me faithful calling me to ministry at the age of 14
The opportunity to pastor the same church for almost 20 years

Parents who have faithfully served God for years
Brothers and a sister who are more kin to me than any other living person
Wife - Strong
Sara - Mother
Caleb - Dependable
Olivia - Domestic/food
Daniel - Affable
Kimberly - Laughter
Lydia - Sweet
John - Food/scrabble
Heather - Committed
Klarisa - Sincere
Five grandchildren with one on the way
Stable extended family

Flock who loves me and has proven their support
Friends from Alaska to South Africa to Japan
Trip to Colorado with the Kellys
Bible study with the Mannings

The American flag
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Gaurd

Comfortable, reliable transportation
Copy machines
Hand guns

Ability to read with comprehension
Large home
New roof

Part time employment that provides health insurance

Trials that provide opportunity for testing
Adversity that grows faith
Problems that point me to God
Discouragement that helps me to appreciate encouragment

Philippians 4:11 - Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

1 Timothy 6:8 - And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Hebrews 13:5 - Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Friday, November 20, 2009

American Civil Rights

I keep a copy of the Constitution on my desk all the time.  I have it opened to the first page where I find the preamble to the Constitution of the United States:  Do we remember what that says?

"We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America."

I make no claim to being a Constituional scholar, but I can read, and have fairly good comprhension which should be the primary tools for interpreting the Constitution.  It was the people of the United States that ordained and established the Constitution for the United States of America.  They did it to to "form", "establish", "insure", "provide", "promote", and "secure" to ourselves and our prosperity.  Posterity is us, we are their posterity.

Our Constitution is not for the world.  It restricts no other governments nor does it "form", "establish", "insure", "provide", "promote", or "secure" for anyone except citizens of the United States.  While I am not promoting the idea of cruelty to non-citizens we should not be afraid to draw a distinction between citizens and non-citizens.

When those non-citizens position themselves as the enemies of the United States they should be treated as enemies and not citizens.  The fact is they do not have Consitutional Rights.  Not one!  We are not obligate to secure their freedom of speech, we are not obligated to protect their right to keep and bear arms, they have no Consitutional right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.  They have no fifth ammendment to plead. They have no Constituional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

They certainly have no right to a trial by jury along with all the associated protections for the accused.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed it has been determined is going to be accorded all the right of American citizenship.  He is going to be tried for his crimes of 9/11 in Federal Court in New York.  It was not a police officer that picked him up.  It was the military.  The reason it was the military is because he is a sworn enemy of the United States.  He was on a battlefield, he was not at a crime scene.  He is not a citizen of the United States.  He has absolutly no Constitutional protection while in custody of the United States, or least shouldn't.  Fairness and justice is one thing, Constituionally protected civil liberties are another.  He may be entitled to the first but not in the context that Amercian citizens are entitled to these things.

And it is a farce.  Both President Obama and Attorney General Mark Holder have said that he will be convicted.  So much for the presumption of innocence.  What they are trying to prove here is being undermined by their own statements.

It is all a "dog and pony" show that may end up biting and trampling them to death, politically that is, and it should.

Known terrorist should be treated as such.  They should not be treated as American citizens with Constitutionally protected civil rights.

Charles Krauthammer has a good article on this very issue.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trouble The Origin Of Praise?

Psalms 50:15 - And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

Could it be that a life void of trouble would also be a life void of glorifying God?  Would we ever know deliverance if we never knew trouble?

God allows trouble in our lives to create a platform from which he can be glorified.  He is glorified in the deliverance he provides.  It matters not whether the deliverance comes in the form of "rescue from" the trouble or "grace to bear" the trouble he is glorified.

In the day of trouble calling upon God should be our first response.  If it is our first response then God will likely be the first responder.  He says if we call he will deliver.  Expect it to be so.  Believe it to be so.  It is not mind over matter.  It is faith in the promise of God.  Don't dictate the means of deliverance simply be prepared to accept the provision of deliverance.  Be prepared to glorify the God of deliverance.

At no time are we more motivated to glorify God than when we are keenly aware of a great deliverance at his hand.  It is our troubles that set the stage for our glorifying him.


Charles Krauthammer is the main reason I watch the last 20 minutes of Special Report on Fox News every evening.  He is smart and has a form of subtle humor that I find very engaging.  He is an intellectual critic of the Obama Administration.  When I first took note of him he seemed a bit quirky, but I soon came to appreciate his thoughtfulness.  I especially like it when someone appears with him on the panel from NPR.  The arguments contrasted side by side reveal the superiority of conservative thought.

Check out this short article on his opposition to the Obama administration.

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Sentimental God

We live in a day when people go to the Scripture and treat it as a theological buffet.  We go from book to book picking the things we like about God and passing over the things we don't like.  In the process we fabricate a God that bears little if any resemblance to the God of the Bible.  Yet we worship this God of our choosing as though he is the real God.  Is this not the essence of idolatry?

The following is from J. R. Miller's message, The Silent Christ.

Matthew 15:22,23a - And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.  But he answered her not a word.

"We are apt to forget that the aim of God with us, is . . .

not to flood us with tenderness all the time,
not to keep our path always strewn with flowers,
not to continually give us everything we want,
not to save us from all manner of suffering.

No! God's aim with us, is . . .

to make something of us,
to build up strong and noble character in us,
to mature qualities of grace and beauty in us,
to make us more like Christ!

To do this--He must ofttimes deny us what we ask for, and must seem indifferent to our cries. "Jesus did not answer her a word!"

There are 'sentimental ideas of God' prevalent, which are dishonoring to Him. There are those who imagine that God's love means tenderness that cannot cause pain. They think that He cannot look a moment on suffering, without relieving it; that He must instantly hear and answer every cry for the removal of trouble.

Not such a God--is the God of the Bible! When suffering is the best thing for us--He is not too sympathetic to let us suffer--until the work of suffering is accomplished in us. He is not too kind to be silent to our prayers--when it is better that He should be silent for a time, to allow . . .

faith to grow strong, self-confidence to be swept away, and the evil in us--to be burned out in the furnace of pain!

There is a danger with all of us--our tenderness lacks strength. We cannot tolerate to see people suffer, and so we hasten to give relief--before the ministry of suffering is accomplished. We think of our mission to others, as being only 'to make life easier for them'. We are continually lifting away burdens, which it were better to have left resting longer on our friend's shoulder! We are eager to make life easy for our children--when it were better if it had been left hard.

We must learn that God does not deal with us in this 'sentimental' way. He is not too tender to see us suffer--if more suffering is needed to work in us the discipline that will make us like Christ!

Here we have the key of many of the 'mysteries of Providence'. Life is not easy for us--and God does not intend it to be easy!

Suppose for a moment, that God immediately gave us everything we ask for--and immediately removed every little pain, trouble, difficulty, and hardness that we seek to have removed; what would be the result on us? How selfish it would make us! We would become weak, unable to endure suffering, to bear trial, to carry burdens, or to struggle. We would be only children always--and would never rise into manly strength. God's over-kindness to us--would pamper in us all the worst elements of our nature, and would make us only poor driveling creatures!

On the other hand, however, God's wise and firm treatment of us, teaches us the great lessons which make us strong with the strength of Christ Himself.

He teaches us to yield our own will to Him.
He develops in us--patience, faith, love, hope and peace.
He trains us to endure hardness--that we may grow heroic, courageous and strong.
It is well for us to make careful note of this--that in all God's delays when we pray--His aim is some good in us.

Perhaps we are willful, asking only for our own way--and must learn to say, "May Your will be done."

Perhaps we are weak, unable to bear pain or to endure adversity or loss--and we must be trained and disciplined into strength.

Perhaps our desires are only for earthly good, not for heavenly blessings--and we must be taught the transitory character of all worldly things, and led to desire things which are eternal.

Perhaps we are impatient--and must be taught to wait for God. We are like children in our eager restlessness--and need to learn self-restraint.

At the least, we may always know that silence is not refusal--that God hears and cares, and that when our faith has learned its lessons--He will answer in blessing!"

Monday, November 09, 2009

Plato's Wish

The following is from J. R. Miller.

Song of Solomon 4:7 - Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

"Plato expressed a desire that the moral law might become a living personage, that men seeing it thus incarnate, might be charmed by its beauty. Plato's wish was fulfilled in Jesus Christ! The holiness and the beauty of the divine law were revealed in Him. The Beatitudes contain an outline of the ideal life--but the Beatitudes are only a transcript of the life of Christ Himself! What He taught about love--was but His own love stated in a course of living lessons for His friends to learn. When He said that we should be patient, gentle, thoughtful, forgiving, and kind--He was only saying, "Follow Me!"

If we could gather from the most godly people who ever have lived, the little fragments of lovely character which have blossomed out in each, and bring all these fragments into one personality--we would have the beauty of Jesus Christ! In one person you find gentleness, in another meekness, in another purity of heart, in another humility, in another kindness, in another patience. But in the holiest of men, there are only two or three qualities of ideal beauty--along with much that is stained and blemished, mingled with these qualities. In Christ, however, all that is excellent is found, with no flaw!"

I suppose there is more wrong with us than will ever be right with us in this life.  And all that is right with us we cannot claim as our own but rather acknowledge that it is a reflection of that which is lovely in Christ.

Just studied recently from John 18 the events in the garden and Jesus' betrayal by Judas.  We are shocked at Judas' treachery.  I began to wonder if we should not be more in awe with the eleven men who continued to stand with him rather than with the one who stood against him.  Why is it surprising to us when men do wrong?  Should it not be more surprising when they do right?  Just wondering???