Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Sermon
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name.     Psalm 100:4
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.   
1 Thessalonians 5:18

If you come into church and silently pray “Thank you for saving me, O Lord. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!” you’ve got it right. First things first: The God of the universe gave His Son to die for you and completely change your situation from unsaved to saved. “Thank you for saving me, O Lord. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!”
Then, after you have said thanks from your heart, live thanks from your heart. Someone has said, “The art of Thanksgiving is thanks living.”
It is gratitude in action;
it is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly with faith in Christ;
it is thanking God for your talents and abilities by using them to His glory;
it is thanking God for the good He has done for you by doing good to others;
it is thanking God for happiness by helping others to be happy;
it is thanking God for your health and strength by taking good care of your body;
it is thanking God for opportunities by accepting them as creative challenges to mold your life and those around you for the Savior;
it is adding to your prayers of thanksgiving acts of thanks living. 

From the moment of salvation onward, it is living a life that is one long season of gratitude.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Devotional Verse From 2 Kings

And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets.     2 Kings 24:2

When a man became king in Bible days, he thought he had it made. He was absolute ruler. The army, thousands of men, would draw their swords in his defense, and lay down their lives for him. He held the power of life and death. In recessionary times he still got the best food, and all he needed. People obeyed his every command. He thought he was safe and secure. He could do whatever he wanted, without fear of consequences, or so he thought.But when kings did evil in the sight of the LORD they were "crusin' for a brusin'" as we used to say in the 1950's.

Jehoiakim, king of Judah, was just one of many kings of the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah who did evil in the sight of God. He also did stupidity, in rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar. Before Nebuchadnezzar finally came and deported the Jewish nation to Babylon, this verse tells us that God sent against Jehoiakim gangs of terrorists, or marauders, so that even without his immediate problems with the king of Babylon he still had his hands full. This verse caught my attention because it mirrors the bands of terrorist and troublemakers roaming in the world today.

No king, or government, is safe without conscious vigilance to protect its people and property; without wisdom to avoid the stupid decisions that can hurt and disrupt a nation; and most importantly, without the realization that the LORD God not only ordains governments, but can bring them down as he chooses. The nations who seek the LORD, or, at least, seek righteousness and seek to do good to their people and the world are most likely to survive because of the blessing of God.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Devotional Thought From 1 Kings
So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. And she wrote in the letter saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. And there came in two men children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city and stoned him with stones, that he died.     1 Kings 21:8-13

Ahab pouted because his neighbor Naboth refused to sell a vineyard that had been in his family since they entered the promise land. Jezebel, Ahab’s wife and wicked queen, said leave it to me. I’ll get it for you.

Her plan was very simple. She put political pressure upon the leaders of the city of  Jezreel to get rid of Naboth. Suborn perjury she instructed: Get two wicked men to claim that he had blasphemed God, and the king also, convict him and kill him.

The pliant leaders did exactly that, and Naboth died by stoning, a tragic and wicked story.

Such things still happen today. Christian believers in countries dominated and ruled by other religions have often been accused of blasphemy against the dominant religion they do not believe in. They are convicted, jailed and even murdered in this quasi legal form at the word of one person, when the cause of unfounded charges may have been nothing more than a property dispute, or jealousy, or bad feelings between parties.

Sometimes the countries that allow these travesties have clauses in their constitutions  supposed to protect freedom of religion, yet they have these unfair blasphemy laws that essentially strip freedom of religion and certainly freedom of speech out of the culture of those nations. It often takes the outcry of the whole world just to save one of the many individuals who suffer this way. This is an area in which the United Nations should show its value to the world by supporting and enforcing religious freedom for minority religious groups in nations worldwide.

It is time to do away with the kind of actions committed by Jezebel and Ahab.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Devotional Thought From 1 Kings

The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.     1 Kings 8:57, 58

Solomon’s blessing, for the people of Israel, at the dedication of the Temple teaches us a great truth. He asks that the LORD will be with them just as He was in the days passed when He brought Israel through the Red Sea, kept them in the wilderness, gave them the promised land, and raised up his father, David, as a good and great King. But the prayer for God’s presence had a purpose beyond feeling that God loves them. Solomon prays that in God’s presence with them God will incline their hearts to Himself and to walking in God’s ways, according to His directions, and keeping those things He commanded the children of Israel. God’s presence determines faith living.

It is so in our modern Christian lives as well, God’s presence determines faith living. There are those who would say they believe in Christ as savior, that God is a presence in their lives, and yet they reject certain of the directions in His word because the directions cramp the lifestyle they desire to live. For example, fornication, among other sins, is often committed with no appreciation that committing such sin is not walking in the ways of the Lord. Non-Christian society looks on such sin as akin to something like exceeding the speed limit and not getting caught. Hence, they say, it’s much ado about little, but such sinning calls into question an individual’s quality of Christian commitment.

Praying for God’s presence in your life, believing for God’s presence in your life, living with God’s presence in your life means living His way even if the non-Christian social order gives you permission to sin.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Devotional Thought From 1 Samuel

With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt show thyself upright.     1 Samuel 22:14

David, a warrior of renown, and the face of his government, absolute ruler with the power of life and death, and an example of true “divine right” to be King under the one living God, tells us here that the one true God of the universe will be merciful to those who show mercy. If a person claims true faith he/she should be like his God: like God, like people. That’s the way Christians feel. What does it say that some people proclaim their own god is merciful, but they themselves never show mercy?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Devotional Thought From 1 Samuel
     In a world where headlines scream: Ebola in U.S.; war in Ukraine; terrorists behead another; Christians chased out of Iraq; violence in the streets; cyber hacking again; riots in the cities; what should believers do? Follow the example of David.
     Once when he and his army had left their city, Ziklag (a temporary home), it was attacked by marauders and burned. The women and children, including his wives were captured and taken as slaves. As a result David’s own men were so distraught they blamed him, and considered killing him by stoning, a desperate situation to say the least. David’s reaction was: David encouraged himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6).
     Believers in the God of the Bible need to encourage themselves in the Lord. God is able to carry them through. They need to strengthen their commitment, more and more deeply study and comprehend the Bible, God’s written word, and go forward in living a peaceful, godly life, facing as best they can whatever issues lie before them.
     None of us knows the joys or sorrows the immediate future holds, but we know that God is not mocked, that we walk with Him, and He will be with us even in the valley of the shadow. Christian encourage yourself in your God, Jesus.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Devotional Thought From 1 Samuel

And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.     1 Samuel 3:1

      Let me make a comparative application: there is an obvious parallel in today’s modern society. In the USA, for example, there are thousands of churches and dozens of denominations and in many of them a distinct dearth of faithful preaching of God’s Word (hence, no open vision). Some even enact organizational  policies in direct opposition to what God has stated in the Bible. Some in the church culture, and in society at large, that once revered biblical morality, now blocks it at every turn and attempts to force  religious followers in  the aforementioned denominations and individual congregations into rejecting the teaching of Scripture. So then precious and rare is the word of God again, in some areas of the church. Can you imagine, people think that churches and denominations exist to preach the word of God and make clear the meaning of what God has said, and today depending on what church you walk into that may not be what you hear.

     Churches and denominations should faithfully preach what the Bible says no matter what nonbelievers outside of the church desire or legislate. The testimony of God’s church in this world should be “If  you want to know what God says go to church, you will always hear a message straight out of the Bible.” That should be true of every church, and every denomination, that calls itself Christian.