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A “Happy” or a “Blessed” Thanksgiving?

It is with great sincerity that most of us wish one another, “Happy Thanksgiving”, but have you ever stopped to think about the whole concept of what makes one “happy”?  Now, I am not being critical of any of us wishing a “Happy Thanksgiving”, just reflecting that perhaps we could wish one another something even better.

Happiness is very temporary.  You can be happy one moment and sad or angry the next. Happiness is temporal, conditional, circumstantial, and often self-focused.  It can be because you have enough to eat (or too much), your team makes a “first-down”, you are at the front of the line at the store when they open for the “Black Friday” sales, or your family made it safely, to gather together.  If you are homeless, it may be a warm grate, a hot meal, a warm, dry coat.  The list can go on and on of those things that can make us “happy” for the moment, but honestly, can change in an instant. 

When you attach this to “Thanksgiving”, it does seem to make it a little shallow, doesn’t it?  The giving of thanks implies gratitude for something received.  Since we are persons, it is recognition of another person and their kindness toward us, a benefactor.  It is not expressing “thanks” to a non-person, a non-entity or non-being, as those who like to refuse to acknowledge the God of the Bible, are wont to do, because, to “give thanks” implies one that can acknowledge and receive it.  Since the Bible says that God causes the “sun to shine on the good and the bad…,” it is appropriate for all to acknowledge Him and give “thanks”.  As Romans 1 says, it is the utter fool who refuses to acknowledge God. 

To be “blessed” is very different.  Implied is not a temporary, changeable, circumstantial feeling, but a gift of condition that is long standing and not necessarily tied to feelings.  Also, it is almost always tied to God blessing one, which suggests something that is continual, not ending, even eternal.  No one ever expressed a “God bless you” intending it to last for a day, and then no more, (that should give us something to think about when one sneezes…).  In fact, if one is blessed of God, an eternal condition is expressed, because God’s blessings (“the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable”) don’t change.  The “Aaronic Blessing” expresses this:

“The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”(NASB).  God’s blessing is fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He is the light shining in the darkness, the “Light of the World”.  In the angels announcement of His birth, is the announcement of this fulfillment. “

10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” ESV   Luke 2:10-14. 

Much more can be said, but let me come to the conclusion of the giving of “Thanks”.  I think that I would rather the people that I know and care about, be “blessed” of God, than to just be “happy”... “happy” doesn’t last, but the blessing of the love of God poured out in Jesus Christ, never ends (Romans 8:32…).  So, I wish for people a “Blessed Thanksgiving”, a “blessed giving of Thanks” for His gracious gifts in Jesus Christ.  That is, that our sins can be forgiven, paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross, and we be adopted into God’s family…all by believing in Christ. 
 

Posted 11/26 01:09 PM
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Elections and Providence

I was asked about my thoughts on the election issues.  I have been thinking about it all morning and the providence of God. I am afraid that God is really going to purge the Church. We will have to be either 100% trusting and submitting to Him(and those He places over us!) or have anarchy in our hearts! Fear of man will make us crazy. My country can fall, but my trust in the promises of God and work of Jesus Christ cannot, and the one is not bonded to the other. Hab. 3:16-19 We need to focus on not the falleness of Man, but trusting God. We should exhort and reprove those brothers and sisters that are not thinking Biblically. We need to be exhorting/encouraging one another to BELIEVE God, wait upon God; which is not necessarily the same as a McCain victory! It is running with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.(Heb 12:1-2) It is that peace that surpasses all comprehension, that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7 And do you know what? I realize that as I write this, we need to speak these words and more to others, because as this testimony is upon our lips, we strengthen and encourage one another… Heb 10:24-25. In the Grip of His Grace, Pastor Parker

Posted 10/29 11:21 AM
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Is Excommunication unloving?

Here is an interesting editoral by Rev. Paul Viggiano, on the subject of excommunication.

Posted 02/11 02:23 PM
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Music and Christian Culture

Rick Phillips gives an excellent assessment of contemporary Christian music and its impact in the Church.  See his Blog in Reformation 21

Posted 11/27 09:12 AM
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Pain, Suffering and Back Surgery

If Christ is ruling now, why do “bad” things happen to God’s children?  Scripture teaches that Christ is ruling now, but we don’t always perceive it, Heb 2:8.  I see it being like being awake during back surgery.  We have a skilled and gifted surgeon, but we can’t see what he is doing and it “burns like fire”!

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Posted 11/20 06:55 PM
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Thanksgiving Meals and Sin

Many times we practically take the wrong attitude about our sins.  We think of them being like our overeating at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we will make up for it by eating “good” or fasting in the weeks that follow.  But no amount of being “good” will cover the debt of our sin.  It is only the obedience of Christ that pays for our sin.   Adapted from the sermon, “The Humility of the Son of Man.” 

Posted 11/20 06:47 PM
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A Good Beef Stew

We have probably all had beef stew, most good, some really bad and occasionally one that is great!  What makes the difference?  Most will have beef, potatoes, carrots, maybe onions that are all easily identifiable.  But much of the flavor comes in the stock or gravy of the stew and it is those ingredients will make it great, good or not so good!  A cook may keep those ingredients secret.  I see a marriage, and for that matter a ministry, much like the stew.  

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Posted 11/14 06:04 PM
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Pornography:  Idolatry and Addiction

Rick Phillips and Phil Ryken have written excellent blogs on the problem of pornography as an addiction and even more basically, Idolatry.  I highly recommend all men to read these articles.

Rick Phillips

Phil Ryken

Posted 10/03 01:04 PM
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Sailing and Sanctification

    There is a good analogy of faith between sailing and our sanctification.  Our being sanctified and and finishing the course that is set before us, is dependent upon the Holy Spirit. Yet, there is a part that we play. "Walking by faith"  is similar to "running" in a sailboat. 

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Posted 09/18 05:52 PM
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Setting Priorities

When we make something a priority in our lives, usually, everything else becomes subservient (becomes a servant to get it) in our lives to that priority!  We become focused on getting that which we have set as our goal, whether it is a luxury, job, the next meal…How do we formulate what is a priority?  Does life depend upon it, or is it something less critical?  For the Israelites, their lives depended upon their priorities, whether they would live in God’s blessing and fellowship or under His curse and chastening.  And so do ours.  Set your priorities in line with God’s Word/ God’s will.  See my sermon, Priorities and Grace, Nehemiah 10:28-39, for details in applying these thoughts.

Posted 09/10 11:07 AM
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Drafting

What is the effect of understanding or walking in the “fear of the Lord,” on my life?  I think that a good illustration is seen in "drafting".  You see it in a flight of geese or a group of bicyclists, who are so close to the one in front, that they don’t have to work as hard to keep going.  On the highway, a small car follows close to a  “Semi” so that his draft pulls the car along.  Walking in the fear of the Lord, is following so close to the Lord Jesus, that He draws me along with Him.  Falling back, or falling away from Him, makes it much harder.  Understanding the fear of the Lord, helps me to draft Jesus. Who do you follow?  How close?  Adapted from "Opposition from Within: We have met the enemy and he is Us!" a study on Nehemiah 5.     

Posted 08/09 06:14 PM
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Sanctification:  Visiting a Dermatologist or Oncologist?

I wonder if we really understand what we are praying for when we ask God to sanctify and purify us, to make us more like Christ?  I think that many times we are thinking in terms of minor changes, not unlike visiting the dermatologist and having something scraped, dried, frozen or maybe even cut off.  Just dealing with surface problems.  In reality, our sanctification goes to the very center of our being, treating heart issues, like going to an oncologist or cardiologist, and being treated in the very center of our being.  God uses fiery trials to drive the impurities from us, thereby conforming us to the Lord Jesus Christ. Adapted from "Bring on the Fiery Trials". 

Posted 07/30 02:10 PM
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The Purpose of Trials- like being on a ship.

God has some very helpful purposes for trials in the lives of Christians.  Romans 5:3ff and James 1:2-4, point out that they are for our being made complete, in Christ. This is seen by what we cling to through life.  It is like standing on a ship in calm waters…you will walk around, completely at ease, just as if you were on dry land.  But when the strorms of life come, the seas get rough and one hangs on to a rail or something solid, to stay upright.  God’s purpose is for us to hang on to Christ, and not let go!  Adapted from, "Bring on the Fiery Trials". 

Posted 07/30 01:49 PM
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Knowledge without Repentance

"Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell."Thomas Watson
Posted 06/27 01:46 PM
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“Snapping-in” and Prayer

    In Nehemiah 2:4, it says that he “prayed to the God of heaven.”  We understand from the context, it is a short prayer, that shoots up to heaven.  These are important, but they cannot replace the solemn labor of prayer, which in fact become the basis of effectual short prayers.  
    It reminds me of years ago, when I went through Marine PLC Officer Training.  They would place us in large circles around white barrels with black “bull’s eyes” painted on them.  We spent hours practicing firing empty rifles at them in the different shooting positions (snapping-in).  The purpose?  To become very familiar with the weapon and sight picture (view of the target in the sights), and “comfortable” in the shooting positions.  Then we would go to the ranges with “live” ammunition, where the bulk of the time would be spent on developing and perfecting our shooting.  After much time spent in this training, our familiarity and practice made us ready for combat.  In that setting, we could snap into the position and effectively shoot what we were aiming at, wasting little ammo and hopefully saving lives.
    Effective praying is very similar.

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Posted 06/25 04:04 PM
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