Galatians 6:14

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Friends!

Happy, happy thanksgiving! I pray that it was truly a day of giving thanks for you!

When thinking about what thanksgiving really means, its not about the turkey, nor about the football games, as fun and meaningful to us they may be, I think its soemthing much deeper, it is a season to echo grace. Here is a post by David Mathias from that I think is so true and so appropos for this season:

"Giving thanks is no small thing for the Christian. But far too many of us have the wrong impression. Deep down we may see the summons to thanksgiving as pretty peripheral. Giving thanks — whoop dee doo — What really excites me is ___________.  It is tragic when gratitude seems obscure to the very people who have the most to be thankful for. To sinners forever saved by grace, thanksgiving should be significant. Even central. Healthy Christians are thankful Christians.

Central to Honoring God
In fact, Romans 1:21 shows us that thanksgiving is what we were created for, and it is “at the heart of what it means to be a Christian,” says Tremper Longman. Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21) There it is. Side by side with honoring God is giving him thanks. Don’t underestimate the centrality of thanksgiving. Gratitude is essential in doing whatever we do to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and thanklessness is deeply intertwined with what it means to “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This no small thing. So Longman gives us this jarring angle: “The real difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the former gives thanks to God” (How to Read the Psalms, 144). In A Praying Life, Paul Miller adds some similar reflections about the centrality of thanksgiving for the Christian. While it was thanklessness that was “the first sin to emerge from our ancient rebellion against God’ (Romans 1:21), in our ongoing redemption, it is thanksgiving that “replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one” (89–90). (For a strong couple pages on “Cultivating a Thankful Spirit,” see Miller’s Praying Life, 89-91.) Thanksgiving is important—essential—because the Christian life, from the beginning to end, is a life of extraordinary grace.

Created to Echo Grace
Thanksgiving “exults in grace,” writes John Piper. Gratitude was “created by God to echo grace.” We were created by God to echo his grace, and we’ve been redeemed by Jesus to echo his astounding grace all the more. Piper continues, I exalt gratitude as a central biblical response of the heart to the grace of God. The Bible commands gratitude to God as one of our highest duties. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). God says that gratitude honors him: “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me” (Psalm 50:23). (Future Grace, 32) There it is again. Note the close connection between thanksgiving and the massive biblical reality of honoring and glorifying God. Thanksgiving is big time.

Echoing Grace Without Nullifying It
But a danger lurks. The Bible doesn’t have much, if anything, to say about obeying out of gratitude. Giving thanks to God for what he has given to us is precious and essential—and so is trusting him for his ongoing provision in the future. Thanksgiving is beautiful, but it can go bad on us, if we try to give it Faith’s job. There is an impulse in the fallen human—all our hearts—to forget that gratitude is a spontaneous response of joy to receiving something . . . . When we forget this, what happens is that gratitude starts to be misused and distorted as an impulse to pay for the very thing that came to us “gratis” [free]. This terrible moment is the birthplace of the “debtor’s ethic.”  The debtor’s ethic says, “Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you.” This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce. God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another. He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors. If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic—and the effect is to nullify grace. (32)

Thanks for the Past, Trust for the Future
Thanksgiving must learn to delegate, and not attempt to do all the work itself. Thanksgiving has an indispensible ally named Faith, and they need to stay in good communication. Gratitude exults in the past benefits of God and says to faith, “Embrace more of these benefits for the future, so that my happy work of looking back on God’s deliverance may continue.” (38) And Faith is eager to respond, “Thank you, Thanksgiving, for sending me your impulses of delight in what God has done. I’ll happily transpose those into faith and keep on trusting him. I’ll keep believing in Jesus for more grace.”

More Grace to Come
May God be pleased to fill us to overflowing with thanksgiving for his amazing graces—the greatest of which is the gift of himself in the person of his Son. And may thanksgiving give rise to great hope that the God who has so richly provided for us to date, will most certainly give us everything we need for our everlasting good—and increase for all eternity in showing us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
The grace we’ve seen so far is only a taste of the grace that is to come. Have your thanksgiving ready. There will be much more echoing to enjoy."

Psalm 150-
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!

God we thank You for Your nearness to us this season and for always being with us!!

Forever in Him,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Decisions or Disciples?

Dear Friends,

For today I am posting a devotional by A.W. Tozer:

"Today we need people who dare to question the status quo and say, "Wait a minute here. Where do you find this in the Bible?" The idea that all you have to do is to accept Christ and you are in is a great mistake. It leaves people with the impression that if they accept Christ they have no fight to fight, no warfare, no job to do and no temptations. They are just in. When you accept Christ rightly as your Lord and Savior you are in, but to be honest, you have just started to fight. People get converted and we do not tell them that they must fight all the way through to heaven because of the spirit of degeneration and the tendency to deteriorate. They must fight, pray through, suffer it out and live in praise and worship, because if they do not they will deteriorate. Read the history of the Christian church if you can keep your faith and keep from weeping."

Acts 17:11-
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

A thought:
Winning people to Christ is one thing and extremely important. Discipling them is another. Teaching them God's Word and how to study it for themselves and apply it to themselves. Have we neglected to disciple?

O Lord, thank You for those whom You have used to disciple me by word and especially by example!

His bondservant,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Obedience or Independence

Hello dear Friends!
I am alive and doing well. My life has just been quite busy for blogging, but I am back :)

I was really encouraged and challenged by today's devotional in "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers, and I wanted to share it with you too. I pray that you will be as challenged and encouraged as I was!

John 14:15-
If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Our Lord never insists on obedience. He stresses very definitely what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit with Him. That is why whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an “If,” meaning, “You do not need to do this unless you desire to do so.” “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself . . .” (Luke 9:23). In other words, “To be My disciple, let him give up his right to himself to Me.” Our Lord is not talking about our eternal position, but about our being of value to Him in this life here and now. That is why He sounds so stern (see Luke 14:26). Never try to make sense from these words by separating them from the One who spoke them.
The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself. Jesus Christ will not force me to obey Him, but I must. And as soon as I obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small, petty happenings, altogether insignificant. But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God. Then, when I stand face to face with God, I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. When God’s redemption brings a human soul to the point of obedience, it always produces. If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others, because behind the deed of obedience is the reality of Almighty God.

He deserves our obedience, friends!

All for Him,