Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving


O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Psalm 136:1
Thanksgiving can kind of sneak up on you. First there is Halloween and then there is Christmas. Blink and you miss Thanksgiving. But true thanksgiving should never sneak up on us. It should be our attitude every day. It is not a once a year event, or even a once a week event. Our lives, our thoughts, our prayers should be filled with thanksgiving daily.
If we truly believe that God is good, then we should thank Him for His goodness. If a friend brings over a casserole as a special gift to us, we thank them. If we get a flower, even one picked from our own prize flower garden, handed to us by our grandchild, we thank them. If we get a word of encouragement in a time of stress, we thank the giver. We thank others every day. We need the same mindset toward God.
The new day is a gift, but if we don’t live to see it, and we know Christ as Savior, we have already received a far better gift of seeing the Light of the World in person. The clothes we wear is a gift of God’s gracious provision through our employment or gifts from others. Our food is the same. Our house is the same. Everything we have is the same. God told the Israelites not to forget how they got the Promised Land. It wasn’t by their doing, but by God’s. Everyday everything that they had was a gift from God. When they forgot that, they became arrogant and forgot God as well.
It is the same with us. There is nothing we have apart from God’s bountiful provision. Every day we need to be thankful to Him. On this special day of Thanksgiving we can openly confess that all we are and have is from His gracious hand and give Him the hearty thanks that He deserves.


Dear Father, Receive our thanks this day for all that You have given to us. Amen. 


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gracious Truth

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
What does grace look like? Grace is an idea; can it have a valid picture to represent it? Yes, Jesus Christ is the picture of grace. If I want to show someone a picture of my children I can open my wallet and say, “Here, look at my children.” If I want to show someone a picture of grace I can open God’s Word and turn to any story of Jesus Christ and say “Look, here is grace.” Truth is another idea with the same image. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” The truth was that Truth was right in front of Him. Jesus is the perfect picture of truth.
But is there another picture of grace and truth? Yes, it is to be seen in the followers of Jesus. We are Christians, little Christs. We are to be the reflection of our Lord. We are to show His grace to others so that they might see Him. We are to demonstrate His truth to others so that they might see Him. Jesus told us to let our lights shine. Our lights are simply to be reflections of His light. Our lives are to be the book of Christ that is known and read by all men. Let us let our lights shine so that the world can see and glorify the Father and the Son.
Dear Father, Help me each day to keep the light of Jesus shining brightly in my life. Amen.    



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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Light that Split the Night

The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Isaiah 9:2
Isaiah had foretold that light would shine in the darkness and that all those who dwelt in darkness would see the great light. Isaiah was not speaking of anything directly related to his time or age. He prophesied the coming of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. In John 1 we find clear reference to this prophecy of Isaiah. In verse 4 it says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Then John adds in verse 9, “That was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” Jesus Christ wasn’t just the light for a small backwater province of the ancient world. He is the light for all men coming into the world.
Sadly He is not the light that men think they are looking for. They think that light is at the end of the prosperity road, or the peace road, or the education road, or the science road. Mankind wants to find light in all the wrong places. So, when Jesus offers them light, they do not receive Him. Jesus, you see, was poor; a failure on the prosperity road. He did not bring peace; a failure on the peace road. He was not well educated; a failure on the education road. He believed in miracles; a failure on the science road. But Jesus owns the cattle on the thousand hills. He is the Prince of Peace. He is all wisdom and knowledge. He performs miracles. As John went on to say in 3:19, “men loved darkness rather than light.” And so the light came and the world didn’t care. But those who believe in Him now have light that will guide them and care for them and lead them on the straight path all their lives. Rejoice in the Light of the World.
Dear Father, Thank You for sending the promised Light. Help me to look to Him for true guidance every day. Amen.



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Monday, November 20, 2017

Summing Up in One Word

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
John. 1:1
How do we express ideas? How do we understand ideas expressed by others? Yes, we use words. Words reveal an idea; they open up a window into the mind of the speaker or writer. We need words. In the Old Testament God spoke by words through the prophets so that His people and others as well might know the mind and will of God. Those inerrant words are recorded for us in clear language so that we can still know the mind and will of God.
John reveals another way that God conveyed Himself to us. It was through the Word, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the revelation of God to man. As Isaiah promised the virgin would give birth to a son who would be called Emmanuel, meaning God with us. Jesus Christ is the Word of God revealed in flesh and blood, very God of very God and very man of very man. Jesus told His disciples that those who had seen Him had seen God the Father. (Jn. 14:9) How do we know who God is and what He is like? We look at His Son Jesus Christ who is the word made flesh. (Jn. 1:2) Each day that we pick up our Bibles we need to see Jesus smiling back at us from the page. He is the Word of God.
Dear Father, Thank You for sending the true and eternal Word into our world that we may know You and come to You. Amen.



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Friday, November 17, 2017

False Confidence

Concerning the wicked, there is no fear of God before his eyes.” Psalm 36:1
Are you ever astounded at how greatly people can sin and not take any thought of it? How can a person perform even one abortion let alone hundreds or thousands? How can a judge uphold the right to murder the preborn and then eat his lunch without any regrets? How can a politician say that he has the best interests of his constituents in mind and then vote to kill his youngest and most defenseless ones? How can the wicked sin so freely and seem to have no sense of guilt about it? God says quite simply that they have no fear of Him in their thoughts.
If that is the characteristic of the wicked; how should our lives be different? In verses 5 – 10 of this psalm David creates the contrast. The righteous reflect on God’s mercy. They see the purity of His judgments. They rejoice in His lovingkindness and seek shelter under His wings. They also take note of the wicked and their ways and seek to be separate from them. And they note the end of the wicked and rejoice in the Light that God has given them to be saved. The world should be able to tell distinctly between the godly and the wicked, even if they are wicked themselves. And it should never be said of God’s children that we have no fear of God before our eyes.
Dear Father, Thank You for light, love, mercy, and grace. Help me to keep a clear view of a righteous God and a loving God always before me. Amen.


  The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend.  Amen
 



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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cause For Rejoicing

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation.” Ps. 35:9
When we think back on the joyful days of our lives, what do we most often think of? I remember the joyful day I met my wife and then the joyful day we were married. We have six children who all came on joyful days and twelve grandchildren who did, too. I remember when my first book was published. I wanted to jump for joy, and maybe I even did. Everyone has joyful days to remember. They may be work related, or getting to retire from work. They may be sports related whether it be a personal highlight or a favorite team’s victory. Lots of things can make us jump for joy.
David calls for us to take a deeper look at joy. While they have been few, there have been a few un-joyful days with my beloved spouse and a few more with our children. Joy in the home is not permanent. Our job that we so desired to get may end up in great disappointment and our team may have a losing season every year after their winning one. Earthly joys are all impermanent. But the joy of our salvation, that is different. There is always the certainty of God. He never changes. There are always His promises. They never change. The day we were saved should register first in our memories of joyful days and be quickly on our lips when others ask about our most joyful day. That is truly rejoicing in His salvation.
Dear Father, Thank You for the joyful day that You made me Yours. Help me to always think of that joy and express that joyful day to others. Amen.



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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

You Can't Go Two Ways

Depart from evil and do good.” Psalm 34:14
There are two misconceptions about the Christian life that lead to much confusion in the world. One is that some Christians actually do teach that since God is grace and love, we are free to sin indiscriminately to demonstrate just how gracious He is. This false teaching has been around since the first century and won’t go away because men revel in sin and will make any excuse to do it without fear of consequences. The second misconception is that Christian life is all about the “Thou Shalt Not’s”; that Christianity is the religion of “Don’t”.
David declared in this psalm that believers are to live differently than the misconceptions. Yes, we are to depart from evil; but then we are supposed to do good. Paul told Titus to teach the church to be “zealous for good works”. (Titus 2:14) Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God; which is turning from evil; and to love our neighbor; which is doing good. Paul told the Ephesians that when we become Christians we have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has ordained for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10) So let us listen to the psalmist and “depart from evil and do good”.
Dear Father, Thank You for saving me from my lost and sinful estate and giving me something good to do; help me each day to do it. Amen.



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