Friday, November 27, 2009


God is glorified when we trust Him unquestioningly. Faith is perhaps the basic form of worship. Romans 4:20 says, “[Abraham] did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.”

Every Christian will say that he believes God keeps His Word, but so few Christians live lives of total trust that the world isn’t always sure of the trustworthiness of our God. The slightest doubt about God or His goodness or His Word implies that He is not all He says He is. First John 5:10 says, “The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar.” In other words, when you doubt God, you make Him appear to be unfaithful.

God’s clear promise is, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” If we say that we cannot bear our temptations and the trials of life, we call God a liar.

For some reason, we think of doubt and worry as “small” sins. But when a Christian displays unbelief, care, or an inability to cope with life, he is saying to the world, “My God cannot really be trusted,” and that kind of disrespect makes one guilty of a fundamental error, the heinous sin of dishonoring God. That is no small sin.

A good example of unwavering faith is the account of the three young men in the fiery furnace. Daniel 3 tells us that before Nebuchadnezzar cast them into the white–hot furnace he gave them a chance to recant their faith in God and worship a golden image of the king instead. Verse 17 is their answer to Him: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” Then they added, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (v. 18, emphasis added).

They were in an extremely difficult position. No child of God on record had ever experienced the threat of a fiery furnace, and there were no convenient ready–reference Bible verses they could look to for a promise that they would survive. If they had succumbed to the circumstances, God would not have been glorified. Instead, they took a confident stand of faith in the goodness and justice of God. Their faith was vindicated, and God was glorified in the eyes of an entire nation.

John MacArthur, The Ultimate Priority : John MacArthur, Jr. on Worship, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998). 139–140.

Black Friday

Still thankful? The day after Thanksgiving certainly challenges that. I have decided to not be a part of that regardless of the sale. I am not interested in the day of greed. I remember one year when my father ventured out one early Friday morning to only have the items in his cart removed by some greedy shopper. What's the point? Whatever you do today, remember yesterday. But most importantly remember that "Thanksgiving" is not a day but an attitude. Be thankful!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Real Story of Thanksgiving

The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century. The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs.

A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community. After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.

On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible.

The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work.

But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves.

And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper!

This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments.

Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well.

They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it.

Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace.

That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation!

But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future.

"The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God," Bradford wrote. "For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice."

Why should you work for other people when you can't work for yourself? What's the point?

Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result?

"This had very good success," wrote Bradford, "for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been." In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.

Now, this is where it gets really good, folks, if you're laboring under the misconception that I was, as I was taught in school.

So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the "Great Puritan Migration."

Thanksgiving, in other words, is not thanks to the Indians, and it's not thanks to William Bradford. It's not thanks to the merchants of London. Thanksgiving is thanks to God, pure and simple.

The REAL Story of Thanksgiving...
Dead White Guys - Or - What Your History Books Never Told You
November 23, 2005

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Give Thanks to the Lord

Psalm 136

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
4 To Him who alone does great wonders, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
5 To Him who made the heavens with skill, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
6 To Him who spread out the earth above the waters, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
7 To Him who made the great lights, For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
8 The sun to rule by day, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
9 The moon and stars to rule by night, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

10 To Him who smote the Egyptians in their firstborn, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
11 And brought Israel out from their midst, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
12 With a strong hand and an outstretched arm, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
13 To Him who divided the Red Sea asunder, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
14 And made Israel pass through the midst of it, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
15 But He overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
16 To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
17 To Him who smote great kings, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
18 And slew mighty kings, For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
20 And Og, king of Bashan, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
21 And gave their land as a heritage, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
22 Even a heritage to Israel His servant, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

23 Who remembered us in our low estate, For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
24 And has rescued us from our adversaries, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
25 Who gives food to all flesh, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.


Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What is Needed When Going Through Trials

All of us experience trouble. From the terms that James uses in chapter one, verses 2-3, the trouble that we experience cannot be determined beforehand, avoided, or determined to their degree. But we can be sure of this, they are “tests!” Specifically, the “testing of your faith” (v.3). The fact that we are sinful beings, living in a sinful world gives indication that we will experience trouble on a regular basis. Even when we succeed in getting our own little worlds under control, something inevitably messes them up. We do everything we can to attain peace and comfort by protecting ourselves from trouble, but trouble arises nonetheless. Take marriage for an example, it was designed by God as a source of fulfillment and happiness, yet 1 Corinthians 7:28 says those who are married “shall have trouble in the flesh.” There is going to be trouble even in the best of what God gives us because of the sin principle that is active in the world. Jesus Himself experienced trouble and warned His disciples to expect tribulation in the world (John 16:33). John 11:33; 12:27, and 13:21 record Jesus’ troubled responses to the devastating effects of sin.  In all three cases it says He was “troubled.” Troubled at sin – its cause and its effects. Paul said the same thing when he stated he was “troubled on every side” (2 Cor.4:8). It is reasonable to expect trouble in our lives as well and not be surprised or overwhelmed by them when they come. Trouble is a way of life, so don’t think you’re alone if you’re experiencing it right now. What we need to learn is what Paul said in Philippians 4:12, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” In other words, as we said last time, we need to have a joyful heart, an understanding mind, and a submissive will. Because we are commanded to rejoice, we are not to let our troubles rob us of our joy. True biblical joy does not find its basis in the positive circumstances in our lives, it is based on the command of Scripture. We are to rejoice in the Lord regardless of the pains and difficulties in our lives because we know that trials test the strength and validity of our faith; they reveal what we really love; they enable us to help others; and they produce endurance and strength. Notice in verses 5 what James says you need so that you can have a joyful heart, an understanding mind, and a submissive will: Divine “wisdom.” He says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Notice the need we have for wisdom. He says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom.”

Everyone needs wisdom. James is not making this statement as if you have arrived and don’t need wisdom in your trials. He is stating it as a recognized fact. The verse could read this way: “If any of you lacks wisdom, and he does....”

Ralph Martin says, “The conditional clause does not imply doubt or suggest a contingency. Rather it presupposes "a standing fact" (Hiebert, 79). The readers are facing some real problems arising from persecution, and it is the gift and application of wisdom to see these trials in their proper light and respond accordingly” (Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.48).

You do not need philosophical speculation or worldly wisdom, you need wisdom “that is from above” (Jas.3:17). The first step in gaining such wisdom is the consciousness of our need of it. “If any of you” indicates that this consciousness of a wisdom shortage must come as an individual recognition. Proverbs 3:7 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes.” Romans 12:16 says, “Do not be wise in your own opinions.” Ephesians 5:17 says, “Therefore do not be unwise.” All of these passages reveal the need that we have for divine wisdom.

D. Edmond Hiebert says, “The believer needs ‘wisdom’ to see his trials in a true light and to profit spiritually from them. James knew from Psalm 73 and the book of Job that the trials that often overwhelm the godly do create struggles and call for God-given wisdom to resolve them. For James, wisdom is more than wide knowledge...As a Jew, James viewed wisdom as related to the practice of righteousness in daily life. It is that moral discernment that enables the believer to meet life and its trials with decisions and actions consistent with God’s will” (James, 79-80).

As you go through a trial, realize the need you have for divine wisdom so that you can respond with a joyful attitude, an understanding mind, and a submissive will.