Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

This beautiful hymn is a wonderful reminder of the Creator whom we serve with joy and gladness.

Four times in Psalm 107, we are told these words by the Psalmist David.

Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31 – “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! … 31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

An Encouraging Thanksgiving

Dear Reader,

With all the hubbub about the recent US Presidential election still not over, I felt it would be appropriate to go a different direction with this post. May it be an encouragement to you as we enter a very special season.

In the UK, a special day reminds us to be thankful and is often called Harvest Sunday or Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday. Many churches gather together and have a large display of crops from the surrounding farming lands. They give thanks to God that stomachs are not empty, pantries are stocked, and another year of working in the fields has come to a productive end.

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In the USA, schoolchildren are taught that Thanksgiving came about as a way to thank the Lord for bringing the Pilgrims through a bleak winter where many of them died. Proclamations were made for a Thanksgiving remembrance by various officials until,

“As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, ‘as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.’”

Oh, how is it that we have fallen so far from such a proclamation about what we should be doing. This year though there will be no prayer to Almighty God. Our nation has become a nation where the vast majority prefers to live in a way that emulates the Book of Judges. “Every man (and woman) does that which is right in their own eyes.”

The apostle Paul could have easily been seeing the future when he wrote Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This once great nation, established as one nation under God, has crumbled. It has gone from being a moral and upright democracy to a nation that has no morals. We are not an immoral society but have gone far beyond that point.

Even a vast majority of those who claim the name of Christ have determined that, in the words of Doris Day, “Que sera, sera.” Whatever will be, will be. The world and the church glibly sings, “The future is not ours to see. Live for the moment. Eat, drink, and be merry.”

Yet, the future is there to behold to the eye of the saint who is watching, waiting, and working for the return of her Beloved Bridegroom. The future holds so much hope and promise knowing that one day we will no longer have to remain living in a human shell that still craves at times what was paid for on the Cross of Calvary.

One day, we will no longer have to deal with even a single vestige of the old man. We will no longer have to cry bitterly with Paul as we both proclaim, “O wretched man, who will deliver us from the body of this death?”

This last week, I read more than one person who thinks a large percentage of Americans are true Christians. Several have expressed hope in the new US President-Elect, yet within days of having won the election is already waffling on his promises.

Many think that we should just wear safety pins to show everybody they are loved and accepted just as they are with no change required. What a travesty that all of this has so permeated the church to the point that believers look almost identical to the world.

The church-at-large has failed. Let me reiterate that – THE CHURCH-AT-LARGE HAS FAILED. Miserably. Conclusively. Totally.

However….

Elijah was reminded that there were 7,000 who had still not bowed the knee to Baal. In like manner, I want to remind those who are true believers that there are others who have not bowed their knees to the Baals of this world. My hope is not found in politics. It is not found in a bank account. It is not built on failed promises that will never be kept by mortal men.

This Thanksgiving season is one that I choose to remember the glory of the Risen Christ. It is a season that I choose to remember the price that was paid so that I can reign with Him on high. This year, I will again bow the knee and heart and give thanks with a grateful heart. A true heart of Thanksgiving will not be destroyed by the depravity of the world around us. We will and MUST remain grateful and keep our eyes looking up to the prize that is set before us.

Our Lord went to the cross and despised the shame. It is from that Cross that He calls us to TAKE UP our cross and follow Him. As strangers and pilgrims, we are not called to bind ourselves to this world that C.S. Lewis rightly called, “The Shadowlands.”

Lord willing, a few of us will be writing and sharing words of Biblical encouragement during this season. Yes, there will still be a depraved world to live in, but we can encourage one other with these words as Paul was eager to remind the Thessalonian believers.

My desire is not to point out the fallacy of all that is transpiring in the world. I do not want to get to the point where I say, “See, I told you so.” My heart is to share with you and encourage you to such a point of thankfulness that when we close our eyes on this earth and wake up in the arms of our Blessed Redeemer that we will be able to say, “The half has never been told!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Would That We Had Died in Egypt

“And the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’” (Exodus 16:3).

“Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:3).

It’s interesting to me how much we tend to think we know better than God. “Oh, that we had died in Egypt instead of being brought into this wilderness to die?” (As if those were the only options.) “Back then we had food to eat and a roof over our heads.” (Forget that we were being controlled and beaten and treated cruelly and that God led us out in response to our cries for help.) I think the problem is that we try to figure God out when, in reality, God’s ways are not our ways. He is not obligated to tell us His plans. Our job is to trust Him.

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You may not realize it but grumbling is a sin. It is being ungrateful for what He has given you. It is easy to fall into this trap, but important that you do not.

I’ve walked with God long enough to know that His plans are good. He does not bring you through the wilderness to kill you. Everything that happens is for your good and His glory. If you keep moving forward and refrain from fainting, you will one day reach the Promised Land.

Don’t keep pining for the days when you had friends, “fun,” money, whatever. Those days weren’t as glorious as you may remember them to be. It’s walking with God that brings peace, joy, and contentment. If you are not experiencing that, there is something you still need to surrender. I implore you to do that today. Repent for your ingratitude and ask God to fill your heart with thanksgiving. He is truly faithful.

Love Your Neighbor

The pastor commented on Sunday that he had more friends when he was in the world than he did in the church. I remember an unsaved friend telling me the same thing. She preferred hanging out with prostitutes and people who did drugs, because they were “loving and accepting.”

I realize that is a cop out, but there is some truth to that. Unbelievers often treat their “friends” better than Christians do. It seems we forget the greatest commandment: love.

I feel bad that “What would Jesus do?” was a fad, because that is a question we should ask ourselves. Are we responding to others the way Jesus would?

I am not of the belief that Christians should not “judge,” but there is a difference between acknowledging that someone is sinning and actually being judgmental.  As humans, it is easy to look down upon those living in sin instead of realizing that, but for the grace of God, that could be me! Even in the Church, people tend to gossip about others instead of going to them and challenging them to keep walking with God. This is not really love for others. It is more focusing on others’ sin in order to get the focus off of your own.

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God did not save you because you are a good person. If you are truly saved, it is more than likely because you saw your need and knew that you were wretched without God. Don’t lose sight of that. No one is hopeless, but I believe many have been turned off due to the lack of love they see in those who claim to love God. As John asks us, though, how can we love God when we don’t love our Brothers and Sisters (1 John 4:20)? And I would add, how can we love God when we don’t love everyone that He died to save?

True love is carrying a burden for those who are hell bound. It is interceding for them and being willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus when necessary. There are a lot of hard hearts in the world, but I’m convinced that there are still many who will respond to love.

Love is also seeing the needs of your Brothers and Sisters and looking for ways to lift their burdens. It’s taking time to listen to their struggles when you would rather be doing anything else.

I work with Christians, so I am not around unbelievers that much. I am also not good with words, except on paper, so I struggle to walk up to someone I don’t know and begin a conversation. But I hope I am never too busy to share a kind word or a smile, to recognize a need when there is one and be willing to fill that need. I pray that, every time I walk out my door, people see Jesus in me. This time of year, especially, people are hurting, and they need hope. Don’t neglect to show God’s love wherever He opens the door for you to do so.

I also hope I am never too busy or preoccupied with my own struggles to be available for a Brother or Sister in need. Jesus was constantly giving, and we need to be willing to do so too.

Do All As Unto the Lord

Lord, help me not to be discouraged now and then
When work I’ve done brings someone else to fame
Help my spirit soar past the need to be adored
Lord, help me be the reason that lives are changed

Should satan come to blind or disillusion me
Come down when he shows up to make his claim
Don’t let it ever be because I couldn’t see
I missed the mark
Lord, help me when I aim

These words, penned by the late Kenny Hinson, reflect my prayer today. I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to get discouraged. Sometimes I hate being human, as I realize how far I have to go in order to be like Christ. At the same time, there is comfort in knowing that, in the words of Jim Brady, “He loves me too much to leave me just as I am.” The fact that God continues to reveal those areas to me is proof. I should be concerned if He ever stops.

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I am a “behind the scenes” person for our ministry. Not because I prefer it, but because that is where my gifts lie (or at least it is a need that I can fill). There have been times I have struggled with this, but God has helped me to understand that every work done for Him is significant. If the work I do allows my brother to successfully do what God has called him to do, then I am blessed, because I am right where God wants me.

I share that to say this: No work is big or small in God’s eyes. The important thing is that you are heartily doing the work He has given you to do. People may not appreciate you. They may not see how hard you are working. But God does, and He is the only One that matters in the end. Sure, there may be times you need to switch jobs if it is bringing you down. Just make sure it is God moving you on and not just your pride.

This week, determine to go about your tasks with a song on your heart and thanksgiving to God for using you. And pray this prayer with me:

So that I don’t miss the mark
Lord, help me when I aim

Dealing With Stress

Stress is a killer. Everyone knows it and yet it is so hard to avoid at least some degree of stress. Although everyone deals with it, I think women tend to have a harder time than men do in keeping their emotions under control as they are surrounded by the high demands of life.

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I am almost finished reading a book called Women and Stress, and it has been an encouraging reminder that I am not the only one who sometimes feels overwhelmed with things. The important thing is learning how to deal with stress. Although we have real issues that affect us, we still must handle them in a Godly manner.

God doesn’t want His children to be stressed out. Life is stressful but He will give grace if you lean on Him. If it’s a very stressful season for you, take time hourly to be quiet and draw near to Him. He is there with His arms open wide no matter how many times you need a shoulder to cry on.