Archive | November, 2013

Psalm 100 and the reason for our “thanks”

25 Nov

This is Thanksgiving week, and at some point along the way this week, each of us will likely think about how we should be more thankful.  The truth is that it is difficult in to be thankful in our American culture that breeds dissatisfaction on every hand. We have to work at thankfulness.  No question there. Probably the great teaching the Bible regarding thankfulness is found in Psalm 100…

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:1–4, ESV)

These verses certainly have much to teach us about giving thanks. However, I believe the most important truth is easy to miss.  Did you notice why we can make a joyful noise and serve the Lord with gladness?  Verse 3 is the answer to that question: because we know the Lord is God. He is the Creator. He made us.  The reason we can do these things is because of God himself. He is the sovereign creator and ruler over this world and each of us.  Think about it.

In addition, Psalm 100 ends with a great declaration of God…

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5, ESV)

The reason that verses 1-4 are true is because verse 5 is true.  Think about it.  Because verse 5 is true, then we are driven to do the things described in verses 1-4.  You see, in the Bible, giving thanks is more than just saying an obligatory prayer at the family gathering.  Biblical thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart that overflows into words and works of praise to God.  Once we recognize God for who He is and we surrender to Him, love Him, serve Him, seek Him, and fear Him, only then can we truly be thankful.

Have you ever wondered why there is such discontent and a lack of thankfulness in our country today?  Actually it is entirely predictable if we study the Bible. So many in our culture have jettisoned the Biblical teaching of creation in favor of evolution and a secular worldview that permeates everything.  Certainly, one result is the moral revolution (for the worse) that our country has experienced in recent decades. However, the lack of satisfaction and thankfulness in America today can be traced directly to a culture that has left God and wants nothing to with Him. How do I know that?  Just read Psalm 100:3 again.  If there is no Creator, there is no reason to give thanks and be content; all that matters is my life and what I want.
Think about it.

Don’t miss the other side of the Psalm 100 coin.  Since we KNOW the Creator, then we CAN give thanks and serve Him. There is a reason to be thankful if we know the Lord, and it is far, far more than simply, “Lord, thank you for my stuff.”  Oh Lord, help us understand this Thanksgiving that the giver is far better than any gift!

When you don’t feel like Thanksgiving

20 Nov

For many Christians, next week is very positive. It’s Thanksgiving week. It’s a short work week and a time to gather with family.  Oh yes, there’s quite a bit of food involved too!  However, for some Christians, the very thought of Thanksgiving week is almost unbearable. How could that be?  If you have ever experienced the first Thanksgiving without a loved one at the table, you know exactly what I mean.  For others, this is the first Thanksgiving after a crushing divorce, and still others are wondering if a struggling adult child will even show up for Thanksgiving dinner.  Others are dealing with a cancer diagnosis or great job uncertainty.  Let’s be honest, there are many people (even many Christians) who don’t feel like Thanksgiving right now.  Their pain is very real. They feel that they are on the verge of totally losing hope. What do you do when you don’t feel like Thanksgiving?

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV)

Don’t recoil at reading this verse. It doesn’t say what you THINK it says.  It’s doesn’t say give thanks “for” all circumstances, but rather it says to give thanks “in” all circumstances. That is an extremely important distinction.  Here’s what I mean.  A very good friend of mine recently buried his wife after an excruciating battle with cancer.  He is not thanking God that his wife died.  That is a crushing hurt that only those who have been there know. However, he is giving thanks for God’s faithfulness.  Do you see the difference?   My friend is giving thanks “in all circumstances.”  If we really believe what we say we believe as Christians, we have much to be thankful to our great God for – even if He allows tragedy to touch our lives.  For instance, no matter our circumstances, we can be thankful for God’s love and mercy which was displayed on the cross and extended to us as His children.  No matter our circumstances, we can be thankful that we know without reservation our faith will end in sight and we will live with our Savior forever.  The truth is that even in this life, God has blessed us abundantly more than we ever could deserve.  He is faithful.  He is good. He is Lord.  THAT is why we can give thanks in all circumstances.

So, what do you do when you don’t feel like Thanksgiving?  You must consciously choose to give thanks to God.  Choose to give thanks, even if everything in you feels like giving up. You’ll be glad that you did!

Update / Praying for My Hope with Billy Graham

8 Nov

Thank you all for your prayers during this time of transition. The first few weeks at Lakeside have gone very well. Day by day, Lakeside feels more like “home.”  I have had several people ask me about sermons on the church website. I am happy to report that they are now current after our Media Services Director, James Carr, overcame a number of issues along the way to get the website updated, etc.   You can view my most recent messages weekly at…

http://lakesidebaptist.com/pages/media.htm

Finally, don’t forget to join me in praying for the My Hope with Billy Graham emphasis.  The gospel went out to millions last night on the Fox News Channel and thousands of families and churches are hosting My Hope events that are designed to reach out to those who don’t know Christ. In our own church, I am happy to report that we have fifty families who have committed to reach out and attempt to share the gospel in this way.  I am praying that we will see many thousands come to know Christ during the month of November.  If you aren’t familiar or would like more information, you can visit their great website…

http://myhopewithbillygraham.org/