Study: Thankfulness still priority at Thanksgiving
For Americans, Thanksgiving is about faith and family, and not much else, a new study shows. More than half (56 percent) tell LifeWay Research the most important part of the annual holiday is ‘being thankful to God for my blessings.’
Tell God How Thankful You are with These 5 Psalms!
What better way to share our thankfulness towards God than with the Book of Psalms!
How is Black Friday Slowly Eroding Our Thanksgiving Holiday?
Rachel Marie Stone discusses the joys of Thanksgiving and how Christmas shopping should not encroach on a holiday that began as thanksgiving to God. Everyone should get to take part in the holiday and that means closing down stores and refraining …
ISIS attacks can’t deter churches
PARIS TERROR ATTACKS | With France and Belgium on high alert in the wake of ISIS attacks, churches remain determined to minister
WORLD’s 2015 Daniels of the Year
DANIEL OF THE YEAR | As Islamic terrorists cut down victims from Palmyra to Paris, 21 Christians on a Libyan beach bravely represented WORLD’s 2015 Daniels of the Year: Christians martyred by the Islamic State
The fear of genocide keep Middle Eastern Christians from refugee camps
11/24/2015 Christians fleeing violence in the Middle East are sometimes avoiding refugee camps because they fear genocide even within the camps, some observers are warning,
Persecution fails to thwart Gospel inroads in Asia
Persecution of followers of Christ in one of Central Asia’s former Soviet republics fails to thwart Gospel inroads through disaster relief and clean water.
Mainstreaming Mystic Mindedness
This piece by Gaylene Goodroad is posted on Herescope. Christians who are involved in Eastern mysticism will read this, see the danger, and leave it. The Christian who chooses to participate in any sort of pagan practice is in rebellion against God.
“For You have abandoned Your people,
the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with
influences from the east….”
BEATLEMANIA AND EASTERN MYSTICISM
When the Beatles helped to bring Transcendental Meditation (TM) into vogue in the 1960s, few could imagine then that the mystical Hindu practice would endure beyond the hippie generation and become commonplace today from the elementary school classroom to the Christian church.
What modern meditators might not know is that the “Fab Four” learned Eastern meditation from Hindu guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Upon his death in 2008, a CBS News article recapped the Maharishi’s dark contribution to the world:
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles who introduced the West to transcendental meditation, died Tuesday at his home in the Dutch town of Vlodrop, a spokesman said. He was thought to be 91 years old… Once dismissed as hippie mysticism, the Hindu practice of mind control known as transcendental meditation gradually gained medical respectability. He began teaching TM in 1955 and brought the technique to the United States in 1959. But the movement really took off after the Beatles attended one of his lectures in 1967. Maharishi retreated last month into silence at his home on the grounds of a former Franciscan monastery, saying he wanted to dedicate his remaining days to studying the ancient Indian texts that underpin his movement…. With the help of celebrity endorsements, Maharishi – a Hindi-language title for Great Seer – parlayed his interpretations of ancient scripture into a multi-million-dollar global empire. His roster of famous meditators ran from Mike Love of the Beach Boys to Clint Eastwood and Deepak Chopra, a new age preacher. After 50 years of teaching, Maharishi turned to larger themes, with grand designs to harness the power of group meditation to create world peace and to mobilize his devotees to banish poverty from the earth.
“Too Much God Talk”: Rob Bell’s “Progressive” Successor Steps Down from Leading Mars Hill
Christian News Network reports:
Kent Dobson, who took over the leadership role at Mars Hill in 2012 after controversial author and speaker Rob Bell left the congregation he founded, has now also decided to step down, stating that “being a pastor is not who I am.”
“My place here has not felt right. Like I was wearing someone else’s suit that didn’t quite fit and I tried to get it tailored and maybe I had shoulder pads from the 90’s or something, I don’t know,” he told the congregation on Sunday. “It just felt like it didn’t quite fit me so well.”
Dobson said that he feels restless and uncomfortable around “too much God talk.”
Steven Furtick Gladhands TD Jakes’ Church – Gives $35,000 To Jakes
For those who are unfamiliar with Steven Furtick, he is among those the late Ken Silva dubbed: Evangelical Ecumenical Magisterium (EEM) which is comprised of megachurch pastors.
In a blog post entitled Steven Furtick and the Second Great Embarrassment, Silva quipped: “Furtick is the spiritually nefarious prophet-leader of the highly influential multi-site megachurch known as Elevation Church, who is without a doubt a leading member of this EEM along with e.g. James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll.”
So with this in mind, Pulpit & Pen has the latest on prophet-leader Steven Furtick.
Ronnie Floyd and IHOP Now Bringing Catholic Track
Southern Baptists will not be amused at what their president is doing. Seems he is leading that denomination down a very slippery slope. The Pulpit and Pen has the report:
Last week I reported on Southern Baptist president, Ronnie Floyd, participating in the Onething Conference put on by the apostate IHOP (International House Of Prayer) Church, founded by New Apostolic Reformation “prophet” Mike Bickle. I even went out on a limb and speculated that he may be attempting to unite the Southern Baptist Convention with the organization, since he has a similar religious worldview with them. Just when I thought this rabbit hole couldn’t go any deeper, it has been brought to my attention that this event will be strongly pro-Roman Catholic.
It’s as though we Southern Baptists are in a twilight zone of sorts. Martin Luther, John Calvin–all the men who put their lives on the line, or martyred themselves to separate from Rome–these great Protestant men would be turning over in their graves. It’s bad enough that prominent SBC pastor Rick Warren, and ERLC leader Russell Moore took to the Vatican last year to participate in a largely political event backed by co-belligerence. I, along with most Protestants, strongly opposed that too, but that is small potatoes compared to this.
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
Oh, How I Love the Law! – “I have been around Christians all my life, and I don’t know that I’ve heard too many of them exclaim, ‘Oh how I love your law!’ Yet in Psalm 119 we find David saying that very thing, expressing his love for God’s law. In the very first Psalm we find him declaring the man blessed who finds God’s law a source of great delight. It sounds a bit strange to our ears, doesn’t it? Aren’t we people of grace? Aren’t we free from the law?”
But Where Are the Nine? – “Everyone reading this blog has reason to give praise to God. The question is whether we will go on our thankless way like the rest of the former lepers, or turn around and fall at Jesus’ feet like the Samaritan. Are you part of the one or one of the nine?”
What Is Thanksgiving Day? – “Thanksgiving is an American holiday that stretches all the way back to a time long before America became a nation. The Pilgrims landed in 1620. They faced brutal conditions and were woefully unprepared. Roughly half of them died in that first year. Then they had a successful harvest of corn. In November of 1621 they decided to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving.”
Comparison and the Kind Word – “One perk of my job is getting to spend a lot of time around women. These women come in lots of different varieties, which has exposed me to a wide range of life stages, struggles, wins and losses. The same arms that have hugged new mommies, newlyweds and go-getters have also held the grieving, lonely and broken. I think all women would agree that being a woman can be hard.”
When Jesus called someone a “dog,” it was a prelude to mercy. – “I saw a tweet last week asking whether Jesus would ever call someone a dog. The comment was related to a recent news item, and almost immediately, a text from Matthew’s gospel came to mind in which Jesus did in fact call someone a dog. He was talking to a Gentile woman asking him for help. Rather than answering her request immediately, he compares her to a canine.”
Doug Eaton – Can I Lose My Salvation?
Atheist Objection Refuted.
Three Quran Verses Every Christian Should Know
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Today’s Kindle deals include John G Paton: South Sea Island Rescue ($2.99); everPresent by Jeremy Writebol ($0.99); Called Together by Jonathan Dodson ($0.99); Make, Mature, Multiply by Brandon Smith ($0.99); Sent Together by Brad Watson ($0.99); Gospel Advance by Alvin Reid ($0.99); A Primer on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by Winfield Bevins ($0.99); Gospel Amnesia by Luma Simms ($0.99); Sound Words by Jeremy Carr ($0.99); A Beginners Guide to Family Worship by Winfield Bevins ($0.99); The Stories We Live by Sean Post ($0.99); Proclaiming Jesus by Tony Merida ($0.99); Prayer Life by Winfield Bevins ($0.99).
Westminster Books has just added IVP ebooks and they’ve got a great selection of them on sale for just $1.99. This deal lasts for only a couple of days, so don’t dawdle. The no-brainers include: Basic Christianity by John Stott, Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves, God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts, and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer. There are many others besides.
There is a new issue of Credo magazine free to read and download. This issue looks at John Owen, the prince of Puritans.
Kevin DeYoung says it well: “Christianity is much more than getting your doctrine right. But it is not less. You can have right doctrine and not be a Christian. You can know all sorts of true things about Jesus and not be saved.”
Stephen Nichols: “We might think that times of adversity and challenge would spawn ingratitude, while times of prosperity would spawn gratitude. Sadly, the reverse is true.”
There are some neat graphics here that show where Americans are flying for Thanksgiving. Since 1% of the country flies somewhere this week, there’s lots of information to work with.
“When the police arrived, Laquan refused to put down the knife or to turn himself in. This was an illegal action in which jail time was certainly the deserved outcome; but not death.” This article suggests ways Christians can respond to another tragic death.
This Day in 1742. 273 years ago today, the Scottish Society for the Propagating of Christian Knowledge approved David Brainerd as a missionary to the New England Indians. *
Here’s another country I need to add to my list of places to visit. You know what to do: Full-screen and HD.
Coming Soon: Do More Better
Tim Challies. “I am really excited to announce that one week from today you will be able to purchase my new book Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Produ ctivity. I wrote this book because I believe God calls each one of us to emphasize productivity in our lives. He calls each of us to emphasize a particular form of productivity-the kind that emphasizes stewarding our gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.”
Proverbs: Written to Christ, for Christ | Reformation21 Blog
“Connecting Christ and the Proverbs isn’t so easy. How do we read the book of Proverbs as Christians in a way that would distinguish us from how a Jew might read the same book? Also, why then was the book of Proverbs written? ”
Thought of Thoughts | The Christward Collective
“One of my seminary professors would routinely tell his students, “The most important thought that you will ever have is the first thought you have when you hear the word, ‘God.’” I think that he is correct. Our first thought about God tends to dominate our lives and living more than any other. ”
They Did Not Honor Him or Give Thanks — Why Thanksgiving is Inescapably Theological | AlbertMohler.com
“Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act, rightly understood. As a matter of fact, thankfulness is a theology in microcosm – a key to understanding what we really believe about God, ourselves, and the world we experience.”
Brother, Where Is Your Identity? | David Powlison
“Who are you? What gives a man his identity? On what foundation are you building your sense of self? Your answer, whether true or false, defines your life.”
Obama: I’ll Rebuke ISIS By Talking About Climate Change
This is beyond parody.
Kindle devices are for sale, with the least expensive now coming in at $49.99.
The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Al Mohler $1.99. The most important book on Christian leadership for many years.
The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage with Purpose by Lisa Anderson $2.51. Endorsed by Focus on the Family.
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles by Michelle Anthony $1.99.
5 Ways Etihad’s A380 Residence Will Blow Your Mind
Here’s what a $32,000 one-way ticket from New York to Abu Dhabi will buy you — a bedroom, a shower, a living room, a butler, and a chef.
Kindle deals for Christian readers
Lexham Press has a few books on sale for 99¢ through the end of the week that might be worth checking out:
- I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible by Michael Heiser
- Bible Word Studies: A How To Guide edited by John D. Barry and Rebecca Van Noord
- The Bible in Its Ancient Context edited by John D. Barry and Rebecca Van Noord
- The Bible in the Real World edited by Rebecca Van Noord, Jessi Strong and John D. Barry
- The Gospel Works Everywhere edited by Rebecca Van Noord, Jessi Strong and John D. Barry
- When the Bible is Complicated edited by John D. Barry and Rebecca Van Noord
The importance of enjoying your kids
But there are days when it’d be nice to be a soda machine. After all, if pastors are soda machines, then when you stand before Almighty God you can’t expected to be held responsible for dispensing what the folks asked you to dispense. They pushed the watery-teaching button. You just gave them what they wanted. They pushed the “let’s not really bother reaching the broken in our community” button, and so as a good machine you acquiesced and gave them what they wanted.
Can you thank your way into thankfulness?
This is a real question because this week, many of us might not be feeling particularly thankful. Perhaps your year has been filled with more loss than gain; more tears than laughter; more struggle than triumph. You’re confident, then, that there are indeed many things for which you should be thankful, but you’re not seeing – or feeling – any of them. Can you, then, thank your way into a spirit of gratitude, or is doing so disingenuous and fake?
If there’s one subject with which the mind of a minister is often engaged it is that which is framed by the question, “How do I know that I have been fruitful in ministry?” Fruitfulness in ministry is deeply important to those who have given their lives in service to Christ and for the sake of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul revealed that he cared deeply about fruitfulness in ministry when he told the church in Philippi, “If I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor” (Phil. 1:22). But what determines the nature of a fruitful ministry? How does one measure fruitfulness? These are among some of the most challenging questions that a minister of the Gospel faces. Thankfully, the Scriptures and church history provide us with a number of ways by which we may define and measure our fruitfulness in ministry.
What we missed in “love your neighbor as yourself” is that the emphasis is on love not on yourself. How can we treat others in a way that honors them, that respects them, that dignifies them and values their opinions and worth?
It’s almost Thanksgiving. But, there is still today, which is considered the single busiest travel day in the US. AAA estimates that 47 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles for the holiday. Airlines report that over 90% of their seats will be filled today.
With all the hustle and bustle, thankfulness may flee a bit. It doesn’t always come natural for various reasons. Some of us may be immersed neck-deep in immense trials. Perhaps giving thanks right now seems impossible. Others of us may be struggling to have a thankful heart towards God for no apparent reason at all. Whatever the case, Thanksgiving is an opportune, and, perhaps, a necessary time, to grow in the grace of God-ward thankfulness. In Christ, we are never without reasons for gratitude, even in the darkest of life’s valleys. But thankfulness is less of a pixie-dust emotion felt, and more of a grace cultivated through discipline.
So, whether you are standing in the TSA line, running to catch a connecting flight, in between trains, or on your way to grandma’s, here are a few of my favorite quotes and meditations on thankfulness which I hope will prepare our hearts for tomorrow’s wonderful holiday; Thanksgiving Day.
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).
Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.
Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.
Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’ Adoration says, ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
The worst moment for an atheist is when he feels a profound sense of gratitude and has no one to thank.
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
Impatience will just destroy thankfulness. Learn to thank God for the process. And learn, if you’re looking at your partner in life or your children or whatever it is, for the little signals of process for which you can thank God that He’s accomplishing His great purpose. Don’t be in a hurry to see the things happen that are happening perfectly on time in His economy.
You who are enriched with treasures of godliness, bless God for it. This flower does not grow in nature’s garden. You had enlisted yourselves under the devil and taken pay on his side, fighting against your own happiness, and then God came with converting grace and put for a loving and gentle violence, causing you to espouse his quarrel against Satan! You had lain many years soaking in wickedness, as if you had been parboiled for hell, and then God laid you steeping in Christ’s blood and breathed holiness into your heart! Oh, what cause you have to write yourselves as eternal debtors to free grace!
Charles Spurgeon (can’t have just one from Spurgeon):
If we will only think, we shall begin to thank.
When we reach the hill-tops of heaven, and look back upon all the way whereby the Lord our God hath led us, how we shall praise him who, before the eternal throne, undid the mischief which Satan was doing upon earth. How shall we thank him because he never held his peace, but day and night pointed to the wounds upon his hands, and carried our names upon his breastplate! Even before Satan had begun to tempt, Jesus had forestalled him and entered a plea in heaven. Mercy outruns malice.
In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone…Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone!..when a man…has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father!
We bless God…for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial. ‘Afflictions, though they seem severe, in mercy oft are sent.’
The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song, “He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Cripplegate. May the Spirit of God warm our hearts in Christ-ward thankfulness today.
Thanksgiving is an American holiday that stretches all the way back to a time long before America became a nation. The Pilgrims landed in 1620. They faced brutal conditions and were woefully unprepared. Roughly half of them died in that first year. Then they had a successful harvest of corn. In November of 1621 they decided to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving.
Edward Winslow was among those who ate that first thanksgiving meal in 1621. He noted:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we gathered the fruit of our labors. …And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”
In addition to the fowl eaten that first Thanksgiving, the Indians also brought along five deer as their contribution to the feast. Presumably they also ate corn.
Over the centuries, Americans continued to celebrate feasts of thanksgiving in the fall. Some presidents issued proclamations. Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for a perpetual national holiday set aside for thanksgiving. In 1863, with the nation torn apart by the Civil War, he declared:
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
So we have a holiday of thanksgiving born in and further nurtured during times of great adversity and struggle. We might think that times of adversity and challenge would spawn ingratitude, while times of prosperity would spawn gratitude. Sadly, the reverse is true. A chilling scene from the animated television show The Simpsons demonstrates this. Bart Simpson was called upon to pray for a meal, to which he promptly prayed, “Dear God, We paid for all of this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”
Prosperity breeds ingratitude. The writers of the Heidelberg Catechism knew this. Question 28 asks what it benefits us to know that God creates and sustains all things. The answer is it gives patience in adversity and gratitude in prosperity. Moses also knew this. In Deuteronomy, he looks ahead to times of material prosperity for Israel, then sternly warns, inspired by the Holy Spirit, not to forget God. “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth'” (Deut. 8:17). We did this all ourselves. Thanks for nothing. Human nature trends toward ingratitude.
Another culprit breeding ingratitude is our entitlement culture. Simply put, why should we be grateful for what we deserve and what we have a right to? I was owed this, goes the culture, therefore why would I say thank you?
A third culprit concerns what UC Davis professor of psychology Dr. Robert Emmons calls the “to whom” question. In his scientific study of gratitude, Emmons came to the realization that gratitude raises a singular and significant question: When we say thank you, to whom are we grateful?
The interesting thing here is that if we trace this “to whom” line of questioning back, like pulling on the threads of some tapestry, we find a singular answer at the end of each and every thread. The answer is God. To whom are we grateful? We are grateful in an ultimate sense to God.
Our Benefactor does “good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). Theologians call this common grace. God as creator cares for all His creation and provides for our needs. He gives us our very lives and our very breath.
Our Benefactor also does good by giving His most precious gift, the gift of His Beloved Son. Theologians call this saving grace. Gifts often cost the giver. What a costly gift the Father has given us in sending the Son. So Paul exclaims, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).
When we consider God as the “to whom” we are thankful, we may well be seeing both the necessity of thanksgiving and the eclipse of thanksgiving. As culture veers more and more towards a secular state it shrinks back from gratitude. So vainly we think we did this all ourselves. So wrongly we think we deserve, or even have a fundamental right to, all of this. We also know what is at the end of the string if we pull on it long enough. We know that we will be confronted with a Creator. We know we will be accountable to a Creator. Saying thank you means we are dependent, not independent. We would rather be ungrateful. Paul says we know God from all the evidence He has left of Himself, but we don’t want to “honor him or give thanks to him” (Rom 1:21). Then the downward spiral begins. A culture of ingratitude careens ever downward into decline.
We should not be counted among those who see the fourth Thursday in November as nothing more than a day of football and over-indulgence. We should be thankful for one day set apart to consider all that we have and realize that all that we have has been given to us. Of course, such gratitude should in no wise be limited to one day out of 365.
Having been imprisoned for one year, four months, and eighteen days in a Nazi cell measuring 6 ft. x 9 ft, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what is certainly a reminder of the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday:
“You must never doubt that I’m traveling with gratitude and cheerfulness along the road where I’m being led. My past life is brim-full of God’s goodness, and my sins are covered by the forgiving love of Christ crucified. I’m so thankful for the people I have met, and I only hope that they never have to grieve about me, but that they, too, will always be certain of and thankful for God’s mercy and forgiveness.”
The affections of our hearts are central to true worship. Yet while praise, joy, contrition, and love are all important affections for worship, I believe gratitude is the most important worship affection. Here’s why:
All true spiritual affections of worship have an object, and their object is always God.
This is why true spiritual affections are different from what we often mean when we talk about our feelings. Feelings are different than affections. Feelings often have no object; mere feelings wallow in themselves. When we experience mere feelings apart from spiritual affections, our focus is not on any object; our focus is purely on ourselves and the feelings themselves. We love the feeling of love; we delight in the feeling of joy.
So sometimes we just feel happy, and someone might ask, “Why are you happy?” And we reply, “O, I don’t know; No reason; I just feel happy.”
But that’s different from spiritual affections. Affections always have an object; they always have a reason.
The problem is that sometimes we use the same word to both describe an affection and a feeling.
For example, “love” could describe the affection we express towards a spouse, a child, or the Lord because we value them. This affection has an object and it is directed toward that object. This love is more about an inclination toward the object and a commitment we have toward that object that it is about a particular feeling. The feelings may come and go, but true love endures all things.
But the word “love” can also describe a warm feeling we have. And even though that feeling may result from a particular object, we tend to enjoy the feeling for itself rather than the object of the feeling. Love in this respect is something people fall in and out of. When the feeling passes away, we say that we are no longer “in love.”
What we describe as joy, or even praise, is very similar. We could mean an affection we have toward an object, or we could mean a mere feeling we enjoy for itself. Often we mean both.
The thing about the affection of gratitude is that there really is no feeling we associate with it. I mean, think about it: what is the “feeling” of gratitude? And, by definition, gratitude always has an object. The object is always the focus of gratitude.
So you might say, “I just feel happy, but I really don’t have any particular reason.”
But you would never say that about gratitude. If you “feel” grateful, there is always a reason. You always feel grateful toward someone because of something they did for you or something they gave you or simply because of who they are.
Second, unlike most other feelings, gratitude isn’t something you can artificially work up through external means.
If you feel sad, you can work up happiness through something external like upbeat music or funny entertainment. In that case there really is no object of the happiness; you just feel happy because the music or the entertainment made you feel happy. We do this regularly in our lives.
But how do you work up gratitude? You can’t really. It has to have a reason; it has to have an object. That distinguishes gratitude from just about every other kind of affection.
Finally, gratitude is affection that we give to God in response to his gracious gift to us. Now it is true that getting a gift from someone often produces in us other kinds of emotions like joy, but isn’t it often the case that when that happens, we direct the joy toward the gift instead of the giver? When someone gives us something, we often are filled with happiness, but sometimes we’re mostly happy about the gift rather than the one who has given us the gift.
This is even often true with the gift of salvation, unfortunately. God gives us the gracious gift of free forgiveness from sin, and we are happy about that, but often we are mostly happy that we don’t have to go to Hell, or we’re happy that we get to spend eternity in heaven, then we are actually happy in God.
Gratitude never works this way. We could never direct gratitude toward a gift. By definition, by essence, gratitude is directed toward the giver.
So the reason I believe that gratitude is the central worship affection is that while love or joy or praise could certainly be directed toward God as a result of his grace toward us, many times what we call love or joy or praise are actually mere feelings that are more about us or the gift than the one who showed grace toward us.
God said in Psalm 50:23, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.”
We often think of praise or joy or love as the ultimate expressions of worship toward God. We expect that true worship will be characterized by intense emotion and heightened praise and excited joy.
But really, the affection most associated in Scripture with worship is actually something perhaps less flashy, less viscerally intense, and less directly connected to particular feelings; the affection most associated in the Bible with worship is thanksgiving.
Listen to how God characterizes Christian worship at the end of Hebrews 12:
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
In fact, many times in the Old Testament when translators use the word “praise,” the term they are translating is actually a word that has less to do with excited feelings and more to do with humble gratitude. So sometimes they translate it “praise,” and even more often they translate the same Hebrew term “thanks.” And when a term is used that explicitly means praise, it is often accompanied by the term “thanksgiving” as well.
Let me give you just a brief sampling of texts that connect the grace of forgiveness from sin with expressions of thanksgiving as we close:
Psalm 26:6 “I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.”
Psalm 42:4 “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.”
Psalm 69:30: “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
Psalm 95:2 “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise.”
Psalm 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name.”
Psalm 107:22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Psalm 116:17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.
Psalm 147:7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
Jeremiah 30:19 Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving and the voices of those who celebrate.
Jonah 2:9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!
Salvation does indeed belong to the Lord. It is his to give, and we are illdeserving of any forgiveness.
And yet, in Christ our sins are forgiven.
The Lord be thanked!
May this Puritan prayer of thanksgiving encourage us to thank and praise our great, holy, loving, and gracious God this Thanksgiving.
O My God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee, ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for:
the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.
From: Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 26-27.
John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously and leads others passionately.
But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person or another member. It wasn’t triggered by any single event.
John had come to a long-considered, thoughtful decision. He said, “I’m just done. I’m done with church.”
John is one in a growing multitude of ex-members. They’re sometimes called the de-churched. They have not abandoned their faith. They have not joined the also-growing legion of those with no religious affiliation—often called the Nones. Rather, John has joined the Dones.
At Group’s recent Future of the Church conference, sociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best.
For the church, this phenomenon sets up a growing danger. The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support are going away. And the problem is compounded by the fact that younger people in the next generation, the Millennials, are not lining up to refill the emptying pews.
Why are the Dones done? Packard describes several factors in his upcoming book,Church Refugees (Group). Among the reasons: After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all. One of Packard’s interviewees said, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”
The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done. Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place. Preventing an exodus is far easier than attempting to convince refugees to return.
Pastors and other ministry leaders would benefit from asking and listening to these long-time members, before they flee. This will require a change of habit. When it comes to listening, church leaders are too often in the habit of fawning over celebrity pastors for answers. It would be far more fruitful to take that time and spend it with real people nearby—existing members. Ask them some good questions, such as:
- Why are you a part of this church?
- What keeps you here?
- Have you ever contemplated stepping away from church? Why or why not?
- How would you describe your relationship with God right now?
- How has your relationship with God changed over the past few years?
- What effect, if any, has our church had on your relationship with God?
- What would need to change here to help you grow more toward Jesus’ call to love God and love others?
It’s time to listen. Even as I’m writing this today, another high-capacity lay leader emailed me with his decision to leave his church. He’s done. Like many others I know, he’s also a nationally known Christian leader. But he’s done.
Your church, even if it’s one of the rare growing ones, is sitting on a ticking time bomb. The exodus of the Dones, the rise of the Nones and the disappearance of the Millennials do not look good for a church afraid to listen.
It’s not too late to start.
The post Will the Done-with-Church Generation Ever Come Back? appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
Thanksgiving. A day of turkey, touchdowns, and tryptophan, when pumpkins and parades take center stage, and I am left wondering why Aunt Millie even bothered to bring those yams. It is a time to step back, reflect, and thank the Father of Lights for his many good and perfect gifts (James 1:17).
For many, one gift of the season is quality time with family. Grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, new grandbabies, all gathering to enjoy one another’s company, avoid the subject of politics, and poke fun at one another. My family’s annual get-together always managed to put the “fun” in dysfunctional.
And yet for some, the day is not all fun. For some there is pain; the pain of a student or young professional stuck two thousand miles away from family and friends, the pain of a widow whose memory of a recently deceased spouse is fresh and raw, the pain of a single person watching everyone else celebrate together while feeling desperately alone. Who would have thought that on a day centered on being together, one could feel so isolated?
The truth is that on this day — or any day, whether it is Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or any Tuesday — there is a tension. Paul names this tension in Romans 12:15 when he says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Each of these realities is true of someone you know on Thanksgiving. So how should we respond?
How do we live in the moment of our own reality without being insensitive to the joys and the pains that surround us?
To Those Weeping
I know what it is like to feel alone. I know what it is like to watch everyone else celebrate an endless number of special occasions with someone whose presence is simply assumed as absolute, while I scroll through my contacts trying to find a friend who isn’t “already busy.” In those times, the last thing that I want to do is “rejoice with those who rejoice.”
It is easy to throw a personal pity party. However, I have found that the less naval-gazing I indulge in, and the more outward focused I become, the more my singleness starts to feel like the gift that it is. This might sound a bit odd, since singleness is rarely thought of as a gift these days (and more like a plague to be eradicated). And yet, Jesus says that if you are single — whether by choice or circumstance — then in this moment of your life, it is actually better for you that you aren’t married (Matthew 19:10–12). And Paul explicitly labels singleness as a gift that is equal in beauty to marriage (1 Corinthians 7:7).
How is it a gift? It is a gift because those who are single in Christ have a monument and a name better than sons and daughters (Isaiah 56:5). It is a gift because there is no one who has given up mothers and fathers and children and houses for Christ’s sake who will not receive those things one hundred-fold in the body of Christ (Mark 10:29–30). It is a gift because the single person is free to devote time and energy toward service, hospitality, and sacrificial love instead of a spouse and children (1 Corinthians 7:32–34). And in these ways, singleness actually becomes more than simply a lack; it becomes an invitation into gospel community.
This doesn’t mean that no one will be left alone on Thanksgiving. There is a time for weeping (Ecclesiastes 3:4), and the holidays may be as good a time as any. But don’t stop there. Lift your eyes from your circumstances, give thanks to God for your good gift of singleness, and in so doing rejoice with those who rejoice.
To Those Rejoicing
What about those for whom Thanksgiving is a wonderful celebration where your heart feels so full it could burst? To you I say, remember those who are weeping. You may not want to. After all, it might put a damper on the festivities to consider the lonely, the outcast, the marginalized, those without a special meal or a warm embrace. But allow your heart just a taste of what that must feel like, and weep with those who weep.
But don’t stop there; let your feeling turn to action. Consider the fact that when you welcome one of the least of these, you welcome Christ himself (Matthew 25:35–40). Consider that the bonds between brothers and sisters in Christ run deeper than blood in the true family of God (Colossians 1:2; 1 John 3:2). As a member of that family, you have the opportunity to become the hundredfold mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children that Jesus promises to provide in Mark 10.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to practice. Author Lauren Winner writes that every dinner party should have an odd number of chairs, breaking the barriers between married and single folks. This Thanksgiving, why not set an extra place for someone who would otherwise be alone? And why not consider other ways to tangibly express our family ties in Christ, and in so doing bear the burdens of those who weep?
And in all of this, remember to give thanks for his gifts. No matter your circumstance, no matter your season of life, the gift God has given you is the one you need.
Articles on Thanksgiving
Ten days ago, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed a black man, Jamar Clark, suspected of assault. The incident has prompted ongoing protests led by the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement at the fourth precinct station.
Some witnesses claim that Jamar was handcuffed when he was shot — which is why the community is outraged. Police contest that their investigation shows that Clark was not handcuffed, but the investigation is ongoing.
On Monday night, five people were shot at the Black Lives Matter demonstration site where protesters have been camping out since November 15. Thankfully, no one sustained life-threatening injuries. It’s being reported that “white supremacists” were involved in the shooting. Since the incident, three suspects have been arrested.
As we wait to learn the truth, justice moves forward in Chicago — where video footage of the shooting of Laquan McDonald is now public (thirteen months later) and the officer who shot him sixteen times is charged with first-degree murder. So what do we do while we wait in Minneapolis?
Justice without facts is no justice at all. When the institution of justice fails to report the facts, we should suspect injustice would happen. We must do everything just within our power to demand that the facts be disclosed. How else could we be confident that justice was served? We need to prosecute the ugly ambiguity cloaking partiality behind closed doors. We need the facts.
And injustice is guaranteed when we fail to listen, speak with haste, and act swiftly in anger. As unjust as any one of these shootings may be — and undoubtedly some of them are — we cannot allow ourselves to answer the ambiguity with a different kind of injustice. After all, justice without facts is no justice at all.
Fast and Slow
When perceived injustices occur, it’s common to run to our computers and share our thoughts with the world. We want to be the first in our circles to break the story and give our opinion. James 1:19–20 is often forgotten.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James is clear: Every person should do one thing fast and two things slow. First, he cautions Christians to quickly listen. This theme of cautious speech is blatantly encouraged throughout Proverbs:
- Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Proverbs 17:28)
- Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20)
- A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2)
- When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Proverbs 10:19)
In an age dominated by social media and breaking news, these words may be timelier than ever. Platforms are built on quick and abundant words rather than slow and cautious wisdom. Rather than wisdom, our feeds are dominated by ignorance and foolishness on display for all to see. And rather than condemn it, we sadly celebrate and encourage it.
We Want Truth and Justice
This week I visited the black man’s country club, also known as the barbershop. Naturally, the conversation shifted to the shooting. I quietly but anxiously waited to see where the comments went. The barber and customers — frustrated that a black man is dead and annoyed by the rhetoric of those who believe the shooting was justified — all admitted that they don’t know what happened.
I only recently started going to this barbershop so I can’t speak with any kind of authority whether I was among any Christians. Nevertheless, they were practicing James 1:19–20. These brothers recognized the value of gathering facts before flippantly condemning.
The reality is, we really don’t know much. We know that police killed a young man. We know that a father and mother have lost a child. We know siblings have lost a brother. We know friends have lost a loved one. But we don’t know if an injustice was committed. The only people that know what happened are the witnesses and the officers that were present, and their stories conflict with one another. We await more information from the investigations.
The end goal of James’ exhortation is justice based on truth and facts. Injustice is guaranteed when we fail to listen, speak with haste, and act swiftly in anger. We’re in dangerous territory when we pit the Bible’s command to “seek justice, correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17) against its command to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” We’re so anxious for justice — our perception of justice — we can’t wait for truth. But so-called “justice” absent of facts is no justice at all. It’s just more injustice.
You Can Do More Than Listen
Without the facts, we’re called to patiently listen. But we can do more than listen. We can also pray. John Calvin, commenting on 1 Timothy 2:1–2, writes,
Some might reason thus with themselves: “Why should we be anxious about the salvation of unbelievers, with whom we have no connection? Is it not enough, if we, who are brethren, pray mutually for our brethren, and recommend to God the whole of his Church? For we have nothing to do with strangers.”
This perverse view Paul meets, and enjoins Christians to include in their prayers all men, and not to limit them to the body of the Church.
In that same spirit, please pray for Minneapolis, and for Chicago. John Piper once wrote, “If prayer seems to you a diversion from productivity, remember God does more in five seconds than we can in five hours.”
So if prayer seems unhelpful, and like a cop out, when tragedies like this strike, remember that God can do more in five seconds than thousands of Facebook posts, tweets, and blogs ever could.
And God loves justice. Job and Habakkuk both questioned his justice and received answers convincing enough to make them speechless. God will see to it that justice is done. It is only a matter of time.
Justice is moving forward in Chicago, and we pray it will come to Minneapolis as well — and true justice only comes with truth. Those who truly love justice will not want to commit further injustices by rushing to speak before knowing the truth.
Thursday brings another Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving begins the end of another year. The United States will collectively pause over turkey and stuffing to ponder the good things in life, and many of us will give thanks to God. And it is always good to give thanks to God (1 Thessalonians 5:18). After all, he “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25).
The holiday presents itself as a fitting resolution to the year’s highs and lows, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. It’s timed perfectly to allow for restful reflection before the generally happy chaos of Christmas. But what if Thanksgiving was meant to be a beginning, and not just another over-fed ending?
Thanksgiving isn’t ever the end in the Christian life because gratitude cannot bear the weight of that responsibility. Gratitude is good — and a means to something greater. It’s meant to fuel our faith in God and deepen our love for God, the Giver. Gratitude does look back, but it’s only a matter of time before it has the Christian looking forward. John Piper says,
The Bible rarely, if ever, motivates Christian living with gratitude. Yet this is almost universally presented in the church as the “driving force in authentic Christian living.” I agree that gratitude is a beautiful and utterly indispensible Christian affection. No one is saved who doesn’t have it. But you will search the Bible in vain for explicit connections between gratitude and obedience. (Future Grace, 3)
God means for our appreciation for all he has done to propel us to believe in all that he will do, and to live more fully for his glory as your greatest treasure. It’s the whole shape of the Christian heart and life. God does not bless you simply so that you’ll be filled with thanks and give him recognition, but so that you’ll be filled with faith and joy in him.
Receiving Is Believing
One great danger in gratitude is our temptation to thank God and then attempt to pay him back. Piper writes elsewhere,
First, it is impossible to pay God back for all the grace he has given us. We can’t even begin to pay him back. . . . Second, even if we succeeded in paying him back for all his grace to us, we would only succeed in turning grace into a business transaction. If we can pay him back, it was not grace. (Godward Life, 36)
What does Thanksgiving do to shape your view of God’s grace? As you look back, remember that every single thing you’ve received is another undeserved gift from the well of God’s mercy toward you (James 1:17). Have thoughts of entitlement or familiarity or indifference crept in to diminish or color your gratitude? If we knew how much we have sinned against God, and how little we deserved from him, and how much good he has lavished on us — from the smallest, least memorable provisions to the largest, unforgettable answered prayers — we would thank him differently.
And as you look forward — and you should on Thanksgiving — remember that any good that lies ahead rests entirely on that same grace. You will not deserve anything you receive in the next year anymore than you ever have. Nothing you will do next year will make you any more saved. You cannot meet any of God’s needs, because he has none (Acts 17:24–25). Our gratitude should inspire us to move forward in throwing ourselves more fully on his grace, rather than to try and rebuild or repay on our own what he’s already freely given us. Receiving is believing, not achieving.
Better Than All His Gifts
Faith in God for the future is not enough, though. Many of Thanksgiving celebrations will express real, genuine gratitude on Thursday, and yet will be horrifically offensive to God. Why? Because the gratitude has nothing to do with God at all. Even when it’s offered to him — often in some trite, ambiguous, once-a-year way — it has little, if any, regard for him beyond his gifts. No affection, and no allegiance.
Piper writes, “God is not glorified if the foundation of our gratitude is the worth of the gift and not the excellency of the Giver. If gratitude is not rooted in the beauty of God before the gift, it is probably disguised idolatry” (Godward Life, 214). He goes on to say that appreciation without devotion treats God “like a tool or a machine to produce the things I really love.”
As you give thanks, ask where your deepest affection and appreciation lie. Is it with God himself? Is he the greatest gift you received in the past year? Or is it with your family — your spouse, or children, or children’s children? Or is it your career — the one you have, the one you want, or the one you had? Or is it comfort — the size of your bank account, or the condition of your home, or the technology in your pocket? God gives us a lot of good things laced (because of our sinful hearts) with a poisonous potential to become gods.
With our gratitude, let’s keep the gifts as gifts, and God as God. Be specific with your gratitude —child, home, food, and phone — but also be personal. Follow every gift back to God himself, and let it be a reason to fall further in love with the Giver.
Plead for More (of Him)
This Thanksgiving, see your gratitude to God through to greater faith in him and greater love for him. We’re prone to a wait-and-see kind of gratitude, instead of a see-and-believe kind. Instead, receive God’s grace and plead for more — more of his grace, and more of him.
Here’s one biblical pattern for gratitude that pleases God: “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12–13). Ask him for more. He’s the kind of Father who loves to give good gifts to his kids (Luke 11:13), and he always knows exactly what you need (Matthew 6:32–33). He created the universe and governs your life “to show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward [you] in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
Let your gratitude to God this Thanksgiving be just a window into the storehouses of all he’s offered you through Christ. And let this be an occasion to lift your eyes in faith above every gift to your all-satisfying, never-failing Father in heaven.
Our Time is Short
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.
The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
If you picked up a hitchhiker (not that I recommend doing that) and he saw a Bible on your car seat and said, “I’ve heard about this thing called the Gospel – can you explain it to me before you drop me off in one minute up the street?” What would you say?
Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?
Here’s one way I have found helpful. The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:
1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension
Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:
1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.
2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.
3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.
4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).
5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.
That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
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