Daily Archives: November 24, 2022

Giving Grateful Praise: Ultimately with R.C. Sproul | Ligonier Ministries

By His own blood, Jesus has cleansed us of all our sin. How can we fail to be grateful? Today, R.C. Sproul illustrates how true gratitude to our Redeemer produces reverent worship and joyful service in our lives. Hear more from Ultimately with R.C. Sproul:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL30acyfm60fWxph9skWjvcCF41XqShypw MB015CO6MHI0N4C

Source: Giving Grateful Praise: Ultimately with R.C. Sproul

Precious Things — VCY America

And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath.Deuteronomy 33:13

We may be rich in such things as Joseph obtained, and we may have them in a higher sense. Oh, for “the precious things of heaven”!

Power with God and the manifestation of power from God are most precious. We would enjoy the peace of God, the joy of the Lord, the glory of our God. The benediction of the three divine Persons in love, and grace, and fellowship we prize beyond the most fine gold. The things of earth are as nothing in preciousness compared with the things in heaven.

“The dew.” How precious is this! How we pray and praise when we have the dew! What refreshing, what growth, what perfume, what life there is in us when the dew is about. Above all things else, as plants of the Lord’s own right hand planting, we need the dew of His Holy Spirit.

“The deep that coucheth beneath.” Surely this refers to that unseen ocean underground which supplies all the fresh springs which make glad the earth. Oh, to tap the eternal fountains! This is an unspeakable boon; let no believer rest till he possesses it. The all-sufficiency of Jehovah is ours forever. Let us resort to it now.

Precious Things — VCY America

Melissa Dougherty: Christians and New Age Beliefs — Stand to Reason Podcast

Greg talks to apologist @Melissa Dougherty about how she fell into New Age beliefs, thinking they were Christian, her return to biblical Christianity, the importance of biblical literacy and clear thinking for all Christians, and New Age beliefs in the church.

0:00 Introduction
1:53 Melissa Dougherty on Christians and New Age Beliefs
7:46 Melissa’s background and conversion
13:12 How anti-intellectualism in the church led Melissa to New Age practices
22:13 What happens when Christians reject intellectual questions in favor of a good feeling
24:45 This might make you mad
26:50 Why New Age beliefs are not sustainable when mixed with Christianity
32:24 Same language, different things
41:32 The paradox of the New Age movement
48:16 Parallels between the Law of Attraction and Word of Faith
44:57 Mysticism sets false expectations

#StandtoReason #Apologetics #Christianity #Worldviews #NewAge

——- MENTIONED ON THE SHOW ——-

Melissa Dougherty: https://www.melissadougherty.co/about

The #1 Thing That Drove Me into False Christianity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRQP96DmrIQ

“Is Mormonism Just Another Christian Denomination?” by Greg Koukl: https://www.str.org/w/is-mormonism-just-another-christian-denomination-

“Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith” by J. Warner Wallace: https://www.amazon.com/Forensic-Faith-Detective-Reasonable-Evidential/dp/1434709884/

“Counterfeit Kingdom: The Dangers of New Revelation, New Prophets, and New Age Practices in the Church” by Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec: https://www.amazon.com/Counterfeit-Kingdom-Revelation-Prophets-Practices/dp/B0BLHVBCC5/

“Top Five New Age Teachings in the Church” by Melissa Dougherty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCDbO8Lc5NU&t=0s

Source: Melissa Dougherty: Christians and New Age Beliefs — Stand to Reason Podcast

Rejoicing Always (#1) | Grace to You on Oneplace.com

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It’s become a day more associated with travel, eating, and football games than what American President Abraham Lincoln envisioned. It was in 1863 the president declared the first official Thanksgiving, a time for remembering the gracious gifts of the Most High God. And what’s perhaps most significant about Lincoln’s declaration is that it came in the middle of the U.S. Civil War . . . a reminder that even during serious troubles, God is gracious, merciful, and deserves our thanks.

Source: Rejoicing Always (#1)

Peace is Yours… — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

When you have laid all things at His feet,
When you have placed all things in His Hands,
When you have entrusted all things to His keeping,
When you have released all things into His care,
When you trust Him no matter what—
Then the peace that passes all understanding will rule in your heart.

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]. Isaiah 26:3-4 AMP

I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return. 2 Timothy 1:12 (NLT)

By Roy Lessin
Used by Permission


Further Reading

•   God Is…

•  More than a Father

•  Salvation Explained

Peace is Yours… — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

Only by His Grace — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NLT)


I have come to find that my efforts alone are worthless when it comes to achieving anything I set out to accomplish.

I fail time and time again when I try to do things on my own. If it were not for the grace of God, I would not be able to go forward successfully in what God has called me to do.

Even when I get lost in finding my way through everyday routines — fighting to remain focused on the goals I have set ? I find that I can do nothing without Him. I often struggle because I am a “doer” by nature. My works often get me wrapped up in a performance mentality. I find myself doing enough just to get by rather than producing what I am capable of through His grace. Can you relate?

We are to commit and trust our works to the Lord. As it says in Proverbs 16:3, then He will cause our thoughts to become agreeable to His will and our plans will be established and succeed. This has become one of my go-to-scriptures when I am feeling overwhelmed. It puts me back into focus and helps me get out of my own way again. I recognize that I don’t have to have everything be perfect, I just need to relax and trust Him.

I encourage you today to rest in God’s grace upon your life. Rest in knowing that He will help you overcome every challenge you will ever face.

Father, we take so much pride in doing what we know is best. We get lost in our own ability and neglect the help you have freely given. Teach us to value your grace in our everyday life. Teach us to recognize the grace you have given us to accomplish what you have called us to. I pray that every day we will commit our works to you so that you will establish our thoughts. May our eyes be open to the countless rewards that await us when we do it your way and not our own. In Jesus name, amen

By Mary Pinckney
Used by Permission

Blog: https://findingtruthwithin.com/


Further Reading

•  Grace Upon Grace – A Devotional by Roy Lessin

•  Trading Flaws for Grace– A Devotional on Grace by Kathy Cheek

•  Salvation Explained

Only by His Grace — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

Why the Nativity? | Docudrama Film | Dr. David Jeremiah

Learn more about Why the Nativity on the official website – http://www.whythenativity.org/movie

Message Description:
Every year, millions of people around the globe celebrate Christmas. But what does it all mean? Do we really understand the profound importance and authenticity of the birth of Jesus? Why the virgin Mary? Why a carpenter named Joseph? Why poor shepherds and wealthy kings clamoring to worship a Newborn King? And why are the Old Testament prophecies that predicted the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem so important to the Christmas story?

Drawing from both the Old and New Testaments, noted pastor, author, and theologian Dr. David Jeremiah provides answers to some of the most thought-provoking questions surrounding the most pivotal moment in human history—the birth of Jesus Christ.

Travel back in time and experience the sights and sounds of that first Christmas. You’ll have a front-row seat to the Nativity story as you witness the Old Testament prophets foretelling the birth of Jesus, Gabriel appearing to Mary, Joseph and Mary traveling the road to the crowded city of Bethlehem, angels appearing to shepherds, the brilliant star guiding the Wise Men from the East, and baby Jesus lying in a manger in a humble stable in Bethlehem.

Why the Nativity? is a fascinating presentation of biblical history with stunning visual dramatics creating an unforgettable journey through the wonders of Christmas!

Make watching Why the Nativity? a new holiday tradition!

Source: Why the Nativity? | Docudrama Film | Dr. David Jeremiah

Speaking Against One Another | Today in the Word Devotional

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Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Today in the Word! We are thankful for you. Most of us look forward to a special dinner with our loved ones, but it can sometimes be stressful. Tensions flare when a sensitive subject is discussed. Instead of thankful and positive words, the holiday gathering can dissolve into disagreement. James, the half-brother of Jesus, would have been present at the dinner table with his half-brother, Jesus. Here James writes to the church (“brothers and sisters”), challenging them to consider their words toward one another (v. 11). The word for “slander” suggests complaining to others to destroy a person’s reputation. James had been guilty of doing that toward Jesus. We don’t know if it was James specifically mocking Jesus in John 7:1–4, but he was present and agreed with what was being said. Years after his conversion to Christ, James became a new man with a new plan. Instead of speaking evil against Jesus, he became Jesus’ biggest advocate. James also taught a great deal about the power of words (see James 3:3–12), and in chapter 4 he focuses on the way we use words against those within the family of Christ. In chapter 3, verse 10, he wrote, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been in made in God’s likeness….My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” In chapter 4, James says that when we speak “against a brother or sister” we speak against the law (v. 11). Which law? Here he refers to Christ’s command to love one another (Matt. 22:39). We are not to speak to one another or about one another in anger, but to submit ourselves first to God and to the law of love. >> Today as you celebrate Thanksgiving, consider the power of your words. Make it your goal to use your words to say something positive and life-giving to each person in your family.

Source: Speaking Against One Another

Why Thanksgiving Changes Everything Part 1 | Running To Win on Oneplace.com

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The Bible tells us to give thanks in everything. Does this mean we must be thankful for illness or loss? In this message, we learn why the Bible’s command to be thankful makes sense even when we don’t understand our circumstances. We can be content with what we have every day of the year.

Source: Why Thanksgiving Changes Everything Part 1

Thanksgiving and the Pilgrim Adventure — VCY America

Date: November 23, 2022
Host: Jim Schneider
​Guest: William J. Federer
MP3 ​​​| Order

https://embed.sermonaudio.com/player/a/1123222227153381/

William J. (Bill) Federer is a nationally known speaker, historian, author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc.  He’s the speaker on The American Minute daily broadcast.  He has authored numerous books including, America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of QuotationsWho is the King in America?, and Socialism: The Real History From Plato to the Present.  It has the subtitle: How the Deep State Capitalizes on Crises to Consolidate Control.


Starting with conditions in the world prior to the time of the Pilgrims, Bill provided a perspective on the American holiday of Thanksgiving you may not have heard.  He worked his way to the fleeing of the Pilgrims to Holland, their voyage to America, the Mayflower Compact and how that model shaped our government, their attempt at communism, Samoset and Squanto, the influence of Muslim pirates, and much more as he worked his way to the present. 

When Bill is on Crosstalk, class is in session!  So have a pen or pencil and notebook ready as you learn the true history that shows how God’s hand preserved the Pilgrims and that in spite of extremely difficult circumstances, this led to the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today.

More Information

americanminute.com

Thanksgiving and the Pilgrim Adventure — VCY America

What Is Thanksgiving Day? | Ligonier Ministries

The First Thanksgiving

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 American 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.

Ingratitude

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?

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To Whom Are We Grateful?

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).

The Necessity of Thanksgiving

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 way 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.

This article was originally published November 23, 2020.

Source: What Is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving in Embittered Times — Grover Gunn’s Blog

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday on which we take off from work and school, eat turkey and dressing, and watch parades and bowl games on television. But we need to remember that Thanksgiving should be more than a day off and a special meal and seasonal TV programs. Thanksgiving was instituted as a day which our culture sets aside to count our blessings and to give God thanks. Yet we must acknowledge that Thanksgiving as originally instituted is becoming more and more foreign to much of our culture. A radical form of ingratitude has come to characterize the culture that today dominates in certain spheres of our society. The philosophy behind this radical ingratitude is neo-Marxism, a new embodiment of the failed economic theories of Karl Marx.

The original version of Marxism tried to promote revolution through conflict between factory workers and the capitalist owners of the means of production. In the twentieth century, economic versions of Marxism were tried in numerous places and without exception proved to be economically disastrous. At the same time, the economic status of workers continued to improve in societies with a free market. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, socialism and communism were abandoned in many nations as failed economic experiments.

Sadly the ghost of Marxism has risen from the grave in the twenty-first century. The newer version of Marxism tries to promote revolution through conflict not between economic classes but between social classes referred to as the victims of oppression and the oppressors. Instead of promoting gratitude for the real blessings that people experience, neo-Marxism encourages people to view themselves as oppressed victims even when they are not. Neo-Marxism tries to convince people to view truly good things about our culture as sinister means used by the powerful to maintain power and to oppress their victims. To give some examples, free speech is opposed as a form of hateful violence, police protection for high crime neighborhoods is opposed as racial profiling, private ownership of defensive weapons is opposed as the cause of criminal violence, constitutional limits on government are opposed as barriers to radical social change, the traditional family is opposed as a barrier to new sexual liberties, and so on. In today’s world, things for which we should be grateful are labeled as means of oppression.

Perhaps the most tragic consequence of neo-Marxism is the current trend for young people to be dissatisfied with the biological sexual identity that God has encoded into every gene in their physical bodies. It is a sign of our times that instead of saying with the psalmist David, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” many young people resent the physical bodies which God has given them.

In contrast to much of our culture today, the biblically defined Christian is characterized not by an embittered ingratitude but by thanksgiving. To use the language of the hundredth Psalm, we enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Giving thanks to God is the Christian’s duty. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul exhorts us, “In everything, give thanks.” And consider Ephesians 5:3-4:

3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;

4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Worldly people may be known for their dirty jokes and filthy language and coarse jesting, but the Christian should be known for giving thanks to God.

I chose Colossians 3:15-17 as our passage for today because it mentions the concept of thanksgiving three times, once in each verse. This is very obvious is verses 15 and 17. Verse 15 says, “be thankful,” and verse 17 says, “giving thanks to God the Father.” The reference to thanksgiving is not as obvious in verse 16, at least not in the New King James Version, which reads, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The reference to thanksgiving in verse 16 is obvious in some other translations. For example, the New American Standard and the English Standard Version both translate verse 16 as referring to singing “with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

The Greek word here is usually translated “grace.” Yet like most words, this Greek word has more than one possible meaning. The meaning of this word which we are probably most familiar with is the goodwill which motivates a giver to give a gift as an undeserved and unearned favor. This is the meaning that this word has, for example, in Ephesians 2:8, which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” This is a reference to grace as the goodwill which motivated God to give us the unmerited and undeserved gift of salvation. Yet this Greek word also has other related meanings. It can refer to the gift itself. It can also refer to the gratitude of the person who received the gift, to the gratitude motivated by the reception of the gift.

In verse 16 of our text, the Apostle Paul is here using the Greek word often translated “grace” to refer to the gratitude of someone on the receiving end of God’s undeserved favor. This is the possible meaning that makes the best sense of verse 16 and is also the meaning that is most consistent with verses 15 and 17, both of which mention thanksgiving.

I believe our passage for today gives us some insight into how we as Christians can maintain the spirit of thanksgiving in spite of the ingratitude that dominates so much of our culture. Our passage today consists of three verses, and each verse contains a command. The three commands are 1) let the peace of God rule in your hearts, 2) let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, and 3) whatever you do, do all in the name of Jesus. I believe that obedience to these commands is the soil in which the spirit of thanksgiving flourishes. Obedience to these commands is the lifestyle which is most conducive to the thankful spirit.

I want to look at these commands and through them exhort us to give thanks to the Lord our God.

Paul’s first command is, Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Now notice at the onset that Paul is not talking about just any old inner peace. There are plenty of people who are at peace with themselves who should not be. Many people have hearts like the false prophets of old who cried out, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace. The Bible describes the unregenerate heart as calloused and stony, which is a metaphorical way of saying unfeeling. Their lives are burdened with sin and with guilt and yet they feel no inner grief. They have the peace of spiritual indifference, the peace of spiritual ignorance, the peace of spiritual death. Their hearts have the peace and quiet of the graveyard.

Paul is not referring to just any old inner peace. He is referring to the peace of God. This is the peace which Jesus promised as His legacy to His people in John 14:27, where He said,

27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

This is a God given peace which is grounded in reality. It is not some delusional fantasy based on nothing more than wishful thinking. The objective foundation of our peace is explained in Romans chapter five. Look first at verse 1:

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Now go down a little further and look at verse 10:

10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Verse one says, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and then verse ten explains how this was accomplished: “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.”

As people covered by guilt and controlled by sin, we were once the enemies of God. This implies a state of war, which is the opposite of peace. It is a terrible thing to be at war with God. That is a war which we have no chance of winning. That is a war where we are by definition on the wrong side. But if we have a faith relationship with Jesus, then that war is over for us. Jesus has reconciled us to God through His work upon the cross. To reconcile enemies means to remove the enmity that separates them, to restore peace between them. Jesus’ death on the cross reconciles us to God through a double action. The power of the cross removed the wrath that hung over us and the war that raged within us.

The wrath of God against our sins once hung over us. On the cross, Jesus endured that wrath for His people. Once we trust Jesus for our salvation, that divine wrath is no longer hanging over us like Damocles’ sword. Jesus experienced that wrath in our place through His suffering upon the cross.

The power of the cross removes not only the wrath that was hanging over us, but also the war that was raging within us. We were in bondage to sin, and sin is rebellion against God. In that sense, we were at war with God. The power of the cross freed us from that bondage. The power of the cross transformed us into a people who delight in obeying God, into a people zealous for good works.

By removing the wrath that hung over us and the war that raged within us, Jesus made us at peace with God. That is our objective state which roots our inner peace not in fantasy but in a rock solid reality.

From this objective state of peace, there arises a life experience of peace. This is peace in the sense of the Hebrew word “shalom,” which means a total well-being, the salvation of the total person. This peace is the well ordered and blessed life which is the opposite of chaos and curse. This is the peace spoken of in Romans 8:6: “… to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” From this objective state of peace, there arises a life experience of peace. And from the life experience of peace, there arises a heart condition of peace. This is an inner peace patterned after that peace which dwells in the Savior’s own heart. It is an inner rest and repose which is a foretaste of heaven. It is an inner calm which is not shaken by adversity nor disturbed by fear. It is a tranquillity which looks at the past and sees all sins forgiven, washed away at the cross of Calvary. It is a tranquillity which looks at the present and sees God working all things for the good of those who love Him. It is a tranquillity which looks at the future and sees that nothing can separate God’s people from the love of God in Christ Jesus. This is the heart condition which is most consistent with and which should result from the salvation that is ours in Christ Jesus.

We have defined the peace of God as an objective state which gives rise to a certain life experience and heart condition. Paul then goes on to command, Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. What does that mean?

I think it is helpful to look at the root idea behind the word translated “rule.” That word originally had reference to an umpire officiating at an athletic contest. An umpire scrutinizes the conduct of the athletes and decides if that conduct is consistent with the rules of the game. If we can personify the peace of God as an umpire, it rules in our hearts in the sense that it scrutinizes our conduct and determines if it is consistent with our being at peace with God. If we are weighed down with guilt, doubting our forgiveness in Christ, then the umpire blows the whistle and cries out, “Spiritual anxiety which contradicts the peace of God that is ours in Christ Jesus.” If we are entangled in sin, then the umpire blows the whistle and cries out, “Moral rebellion which contradicts the peace of God that is ours in Christ Jesus.” If we are not running with endurance the race that God has set before us and if we are not looking unto Jesus as our finish line and goal in life, then the umpire blows the whistle and cries out, “Apathetic aimlessness which contradicts the peace of God that is ours in Christ Jesus.”

The first command is, Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. This means that we must conduct our lives in a way that is consistent with our being at peace with God as opposed to our being at war with God through spiritual rebellion.

Let’s now go to the second command, which is, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. This verse goes very well with the previous verse. If verse 15 implies an umpire, verse 16 implies a rule book. Verse 15 is not teaching that we should be guided first and foremost by our subjective feelings with no objective guidelines. The umpire of verse 15 bases his rulings not on our feelings but on the rule book found in verse 16, and that rule book is the Word of God. Our sense of inner peace with God will be a reliable guide in life only to the degree that we are well grounded in the Word of God.

You will run into people who call themselves Christians and who are absolutely determined to do something clearly forbidden by the Word of God. They will say that they are confident that they are doing what is right because God has spoken to their hearts. And who are we to argue with what God has told them in their hearts? The answer is that their argument is not with us. Their argument is with what God has clearly said in the Bible. God never tells someone in his heart to do something which God has forbidden him to do in the Bible. God speaks to His people through His Word and His Spirit working together and never with His Word and His Spirit contradicting each other.

Paul says to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. This means that Christian truth is to have its enduring abode within our hearts. It is not to be a stranger to our hearts, or the occasional guest. Christian truth as found in the Word of God, the Bible, is to be a permanent resident in our lives. According to the first Psalm, the blessed man delights in the law of God, and in His law he mediates day and night.

Colossians 3:16 gives us some helpful descriptions of people in whom the word of Christ dwells richly. They are constantly giving wise counsel and instruction to one another based on their study of God’s word. And they enjoy singing thankful praise to the God of the Bible.

Let’s now go to the third command found in verse 17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of Jesus.” We are not just to give admonition and instruction to one another in the name of Jesus. We are not just to sing songs of thankful praise in the name of Jesus. We are to do everything both in word and deed in the name of Jesus. The key to understanding this command is to understand what Paul meant by doing something in the name of Jesus. Jesus compared Himself to a master going away on a long journey and leaving his household in the care of his servants. The master has entrusted his servants with the authority they need to run the household in his absence. He has left them with instructions on how he wants the household to be run. He has left them with the resources they need to fulfill his instructions. While the master is away, these servants act in their master’s name. This means that they act with their master’s authority. This means that they act in harmony with their master’s instructions. This means that they act in dependence upon the resources which their master has entrusted to them. Jesus in His humanity has ascended to heaven, and He will stay there until the end of this age. He has left us the Great Commission as His instructions for us. He has made us His ambassadors to act with His authority. He has poured out His Holy Spirit upon us to empower us. We are acting in Jesus’ name when we act in submission to His authority, in harmony with His instructions and in dependence upon His power. I believe that is what Paul means when he says whatever we do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Again, we should do all that we do both in word and deed in submission to Jesus’ authority, in harmony with Jesus’ commands and in dependence upon Jesus’ power.

In our passage for today, Paul gives us three rules: 1) let the peace of God rule in your hearts; 2) let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; 3) whatever you do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Obey these three commands, and you will be a grateful people.

You will avoid the error of Israel in the wilderness. God gave them bread from heaven and water from the Rock. Instead of giving thanks, they were constantly grumbling and complaining. That generation was not allowed to enter into God’s rest.

You will instead be a people who are able to give thanks to God in every situation. I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul:

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Thanksgiving in Embittered Times — Grover Gunn’s Blog

4 Reasons Why Every Christian Can Be Thankful Today — BLOG – Beautiful Christian Life

Image by Steve Halama
Image by Steve Halama

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning Beautiful Christian Life LLC may get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through its links, at no cost to you.

It’s not always easy to feel thankful. Christians around the world find themselves in various circumstances. Millions of believers reside in places where they can worship Jesus freely while millions in other parts of the world face life-threatening persecution for their faith. Many believers experience conditions of extreme poverty while others live in abundance. There are believers who enjoy good health and those who endure short and longterm illnesses. Some Christians experience great sorrows while others seem to live relatively peaceful lives.

Even with these wide differences, all believers can rejoice in the Lord. As the apostle Paul reminds us,

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

Paul also comforts us that we can rest in God’s sovereign will because the Lord is with us through all the ups and downs of life:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11–13)

Here are four reasons every Christian can be thankful to God today:

1. You are still alive.

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash
Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

Because you are alive, God still has more purpose for your life here on earth. Be thankful for another day to grow in the knowledge of your beloved Lord. Also, each day you have is another opportunity to love and serve God and your neighbor:

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

2. This present world is still here.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
Photo by Shutterstock.com

Because this present world is still here, God is still bringing people into Christ’s kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 3:9). Pray for God to redeem as many souls as is in his perfect will. Think of ways you can share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with people you come in contact with today:

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Pet. 3:15)

3. Satan won’t have the final word; God will.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash
Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Even though the world is filled with so much sorrow and evil, Jesus Christ has already reconciled the world to himself (2 Cor. 5:17). Evil will not exist forever. Nothing and no one can thwart God’s perfect will. The Lord’s good plans will be accomplished, and he will be glorified in all things. Christ will return, the old shall pass away, and the new will come:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

4. God will never forsake you.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
Photo by Shutterstock.com

Even though life can seem overwhelming at times, Christians can take heart that God is their heavenly Father who always cares for them (John 16:33; 1 John 3:1). The Lord has promised that he will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5), and he has a glorious eternity waiting for you that is beyond anything you could possibly imagine:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29–31)

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

Related Articles:

4 Reasons Why Every Christian Can Be Thankful Today — BLOG – Beautiful Christian Life

November 24: Ezekiel 32–33; 1 Peter 1 | ESV: Read through the Bible 

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Morning: Ezekiel 32–33

Ezekiel 32–33 (Listen)

A Lament over Pharaoh and Egypt

32 In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him:

  “You consider yourself a lion of the nations,
    but you are like a dragon in the seas;
  you burst forth in your rivers,
    trouble the waters with your feet,
    and foul their rivers.
  Thus says the Lord GOD:
    I will throw my net over you
    with a host of many peoples,
    and they will haul you up in my dragnet.
  And I will cast you on the ground;
    on the open field I will fling you,
  and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you,
    and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.
  I will strew your flesh upon the mountains
    and fill the valleys with your carcass.1
  I will drench the land even to the mountains
    with your flowing blood,
    and the ravines will be full of you.
  When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens
    and make their stars dark;
  I will cover the sun with a cloud,
    and the moon shall not give its light.
  All the bright lights of heaven
    will I make dark over you,
    and put darkness on your land,
      declares the Lord GOD.

“I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries that you have not known. 10 I will make many peoples appalled at you, and the hair of their kings shall bristle with horror because of you, when I brandish my sword before them. They shall tremble every moment, every one for his own life, on the day of your downfall.

11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you. 12 I will cause your multitude to fall by the swords of mighty ones, all of them most ruthless of nations.

  “They shall bring to ruin the pride of Egypt,
    and all its multitude2 shall perish.
13   I will destroy all its beasts
    from beside many waters;
  and no foot of man shall trouble them anymore,
    nor shall the hoofs of beasts trouble them.
14   Then I will make their waters clear,
    and cause their rivers to run like oil,
      declares the Lord GOD.
15   When I make the land of Egypt desolate,
    and when the land is desolate of all that fills it,
  when I strike down all who dwell in it,
    then they will know that I am the LORD.

16 This is a lamentation that shall be chanted; the daughters of the nations shall chant it; over Egypt, and over all her multitude, shall they chant it, declares the Lord GOD.”

17 In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month,3 on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me: 18 “Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and send them down, her and the daughters of majestic nations, to the world below, to those who have gone down to the pit:

19   ‘Whom do you surpass in beauty?
    Go down and be laid to rest with the uncircumcised.’

20 They shall fall amid those who are slain by the sword. Egypt4 is delivered to the sword; drag her away, and all her multitudes. 21 The mighty chiefs shall speak of them, with their helpers, out of the midst of Sheol: ‘They have come down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.’

22 “Assyria is there, and all her company, its graves all around it, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, 23 whose graves are set in the uttermost parts of the pit; and her company is all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living.

24 “Elam is there, and all her multitude around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised into the world below, who spread their terror in the land of the living; and they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. 25 They have made her a bed among the slain with all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for terror of them was spread in the land of the living, and they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit; they are placed among the slain.

26 “Meshech-Tubal is there, and all her multitude, her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for they spread their terror in the land of the living. 27 And they do not lie with the mighty, the fallen from among the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; for the terror of the mighty men was in the land of the living. 28 But as for you, you shall be broken and lie among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword.

29 “Edom is there, her kings and all her princes, who for all their might are laid with those who are killed by the sword; they lie with the uncircumcised, with those who go down to the pit.

30 “The princes of the north are there, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who have gone down in shame with the slain, for all the terror that they caused by their might; they lie uncircumcised with those who are slain by the sword, and bear their shame with those who go down to the pit.

31 “When Pharaoh sees them, he will be comforted for all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, declares the Lord GOD. 32 For I spread terror in the land of the living; and he shall be laid to rest among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword, Pharaoh and all his multitude, declares the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel Is Israel’s Watchman

33 The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

Why Will You Die, Israel?

10 “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

12 “And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness5 when he sins. 13 Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. 14 Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.

17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. 19 And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

Jerusalem Struck Down

21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has been struck down.” 22 Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came; and he had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.

23 The word of the LORD came to me: 24 “Son of man, the inhabitants of these waste places in the land of Israel keep saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he got possession of the land; but we are many; the land is surely given us to possess.’ 25 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: You eat flesh with the blood and lift up your eyes to your idols and shed blood; shall you then possess the land? 26 You rely on the sword, you commit abominations, and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife; shall you then possess the land? 27 Say this to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: As I live, surely those who are in the waste places shall fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in strongholds and in caves shall die by pestilence. 28 And I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and her proud might shall come to an end, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that none will pass through. 29 Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations that they have committed.

30 “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ 31 And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. 32 And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays6 well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. 33 When this comes—and come it will!—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Footnotes

[1] 32:5
[2] 32:12
[3] 32:17
[4] 32:20
[5] 33:12
[6] 33:32

(ESV)

Evening: 1 Peter 1

1 Peter 1 (Listen)

Greeting

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Born Again to a Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time1 the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Called to Be Holy

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action,2 and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for

  “All flesh is like grass
    and all its glory like the flower of grass.
  The grass withers,
    and the flower falls,
25   but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Footnotes

[1] 1:11
[2] 1:13

(ESV)

Source: November 24: Ezekiel 32–33; 1 Peter 1

November 24 Morning Verse of The Day

16:34 give thanks to Yahweh This verse is most likely adapted from Psa 106:1, although both refrains are common throughout Psalms (Pss 107:1; 118:1; 136:1).

his loyal love is everlasting This refrain acts as a repeated chorus in some psalms (Pss 118:1–4; 136:1–26).[1]

Ver. 34. O give thanks unto the Lord.Thanksgiving due to God for His goodness:

I. Instances of the loving-kindness and mercy of God.

1. The unfolding of a plan of salvation for sinners through His well-beloved Son.

2. The furnishing so fully of the means necessary to salvation.

(1) Birth in a Christian land.

(2) The Bible.

(3) Preaching of the gospel.

3. Temporal blessings.

II. The thanksgiving that is due.

III. This goodness ought to lead us to repentance. We ought to improve both the temporal and spiritual privileges we enjoy to the promotion of His glory. (Alex. Davidson.)[2]


[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., Whitehead, M. M., Grigoni, M. R., & Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Ch 16:34). Lexham Press.

[2] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther (Vol. 1, p. 61). Fleming H. Revell Company.

November 24 – Waiting on a new River in Jerusalem! — VCY America

November 24
Ezekiel 47:1-48:35
1 Peter 2:11-3:7
Psalm 119:49-64
Proverbs 28:12-13

Ezekiel 47:1 – DeYoung notes the similarities between this and “when water flows from the ‘throne of God’” in Revelation 22:1. Right now, the east side of the Temple Mount is  fairly dry.  Here’s some photo’s I took when I was in Israel: As you can see, it’s not quite “a river that could not be passed over” (Ezekiel 47:5). Nor has the Dead Sea been healed yet (Ezekiel 47:8). There’s no fishers at En Gedi yet (Ezekiel 47:10).  But the LORD God is saying that it will happen!

East side of the Temple Mount.
Dead Sea near En Gedi

Ezekiel 47:16 – Hamath is 240 kilometers north of the current northern Israelite border in Mount Hermon. This prophecy is still yet to be fulfilled.

Ezekiel 47:23 – The LORD God is allowing for immigration into the Land of Israel, but not just immigration – He is calling for adoption. The stranger will have an inheritance of the tribes of Israel? That’s what Paul talked about in Romans 9:4, adoption into the Israelites.

We read earlier about God’s Old Testament immigration policy in Ezekiel 44:9 – they must be circumcised in heart and flesh.  But as Paul declared we are circumcised by Jesus Christ in the flesh as he took away our sinful flesh (Colossians 2:11), and circumcised our heart (Romans 2:29) as we are risen with him (Colossians 2:12).

Ezekiel 48 – Here’s a map from 1729 depicting what they thought it would look like:

Map of Ezekiel 48

Ezekiel 48:35 – Ezekiel’s vision closes out similar to Revelation 21:2-3, noting that the LORD God is there. We have a different arrangement of the twelve tribes from Numbers 2 though. Also notice that the twelve gates match up to the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:12. 

When we get to Revelation we’ll read about the New Jerusalem – both the New Jerusalem and Ezekiel’s city are perfect squares. Some compare the “camp of the saints and the beloved city” in Revelation 20:9 to the City of Ezekiel, but the New Jerusalem, measured like Ezekiel’s city was, is 1,000 times bigger, with walls 1,380 miles high (or almost 6x the height of the International Space Station). God is preparing a place for us! (John 14:3).

I Peter 2:13-14 – Peter echoes Paul’s message in Romans 13 – submission to human government. God ordained human government back in Genesis 9:6, authorizing mankind for the first time to execute capital punishment.

1 Peter 2:18 – Why does the Bible justify slavery? The Roman “servants” were not there of their freewill. But Peter says to submit to their masters, even the froward (difficult to deal with), who may punish those who are doing well (1 Peter 2:20). He calls for wives to submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1). Why?

Jesus had more rights than anyone. He had less sin than anyone (to be accurate, no sin) (1 Peter 2:22).  Yet he suffered (1 Peter 2:21), submitted himself to unjust human government, to cruel Roman masters, to Jewish taunts, without retort (1 Peter 2:22), to bring us life through His death.

1 Peter 2:24 – Peter declares the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5 – “with his stripes we are healed!”

1 Peter 3:7 – Husbands, want God to listen to your prayers? Dwell with your wife according to knowledge! Honor her! 

Psalm 119:49 – Are you discouraged? Hope in God’s Word! Need comfort in Affliction – go to the Word (Psalm 119:50). Need a song? Go to the statutes (Psalm 119:54). Can’t sleep in the night? Remember the LORD (Psalm 119:55). Be not discouraged!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siu7_E7c8vs

Proverbs 28:13 – God already knows what sins you’ve committed, just admit to Him what He already knows!

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

November 24 – Waiting on a new River in Jerusalem! — VCY America

November 24 – Missing out or mercy | Reformed Perspective

“…waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” – Jude 21b

Scripture reading: Romans 6:15-23Jude 17-23

Sin has twisted how we look at earthly things. We deceive ourselves into thinking that if we don’t enjoy every temporary earthly thing that catches our attention, we have missed out on the best experiences life can offer. And even once we have that one experience, we deceive ourselves into thinking we need it again, or we need more of it, to be satisfied.

But keeping ourselves in the love of God means looking for what is permanent, steadfast and real. In Christ, we are no longer slaves to the need for more and better, making idols of the moment and being afraid of missing out. We are, joyfully, slaves of God, which means that we have something far better to live for: mercy. Mercy is worth waiting for. Mercy is worth having self-control over our desires. Mercy has promised to give us a far better satisfaction than sin can provide. The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will lead to eternal life.

Do you find yourself getting anxious over earthly things? Do the desires of your heart have control over you? Remember that Jesus gives us a far better life to live, beginning already today. Sin cannot satisfy us, but knowing that His mercy leads to eternal life means that we can enjoy being free from slavery to temporary things. Live as one who is free in Christ!

Suggestions for prayer

Confess the ways that earthly things consume your mind and heart, taking your eyes off of the mercy that has set you free in Christ. Pray that God’s people would be witnesses of that freedom to their neighbours.

Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Source: November 24 – Missing out or mercy

How Calvinism Shapes Christian Ministry: Irresistible Grace, False Gospels, and Guarding the Sheep | Josh Buice

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Picture the scenario: The perfect Son of God is preaching some of the greatest sermons the world has ever heard and performing a series of miracles that no mortal eye has ever beheld, when—practically without warning—a vast multitude walk away from him. Why? What happened?

As it turns out, Jesus had simply proclaimed the truth to those who hated the truth. He had told the people that “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (Jn 6:37), and “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:44).

The crowds, upon hearing these things, expressed their disdain to Jesus when they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (Jn 6:60). But Jesus refused to comply with the sinful standards of a sin-hardened crowd. He instead doubled down on the so-called hard saying and responded, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.… This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (Jn 6:61-63, 65).

The multitude, upon hearing all of this, turns away (Jn 6:66). They cannot bear to hear such things spoken aloud. But, turning to his disciples, Jesus confirms their allegiance to both himself and the truth. In John 6:67, Jesus asks the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter responds that there is nowhere else to go—it is Jesus, after all, who possesses true words of life. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68-69).

One of the so-called hard sayings of Jesus that day was the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. Jesus explained that, apart from the grace of God, sinners will always reject both himself and the truth of God’s Word. Those who have the grace of God imparted to them, however, will be irresistibly drawn to Christ, as a bride is drawn to her new husband.

The fact that the saints are irresistibly drawn to Jesus and his teachings is an encouragement to pastors behind the pulpit to remain true to God and his Word, to faithfully proclaim the truth without thrills and frills, and to guard the good deposit of the Word of God for future generations (2 Tim 2:14).

Defending Irresistible Grace and the Free Offer of the Gospel

As the fourth letter of the TULIP acronym, Irresistible Grace simply teaches that those whom God has sovereignly elected to salvation, and those whom Jesus perfectly atoned for at the Cross, will hear the gospel and, by a special imparting of grace through the Holy Spirit, be drawn to Jesus in such a way that they will willingly come to him as their Lord and Savior. This moment of irresistible drawing will occur at the time the Father has appointed, and not a moment sooner or later. God’s perfect plans will be fulfilled.

Of course, as with the other letters of the TULIP acronym, Irresistible Grace has its detractors. Here, the objections are simple: If salvation requires God’s drawing of the sinner to himself by a special outpouring of grace, why does God not show this grace to all his creation? Is it not unjust and unfair that God would only show grace to an elect few? Besides that, is it not the very heart of God for all to be saved? Does not 2 Peter 3:9 declare that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance”? Does this doctrine not stifle the free offer of the gospel?

The refutations to these objections are as follows: God is not required to show grace—or mercy, for that matter—to anyone. If grace is “getting what we do not deserve,” and mercy is “not getting what we do deserve,” then, by definition, neither grace nor mercy are required by God. He is able to freely give grace to whomsoever he will and shed mercy upon whomsoever he will, but there is no injustice on the part of God if he withholds mercy and grace from some sinners. In fact, this is the basis of Paul’s argument in Romans 9:14-16:

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

It is God’s prerogative to show mercy and grace to whom he will. By not lavishing his mercy and grace upon all, he chooses instead to show just judgement to others for their sins. This is not injustice, but perfect justice.

That said, God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez 18:23). As some theologians have pointed out, God has three basic wills: His efficacious will (wherein he ordains all that comes to pass); his prescriptive will (wherein he reveals his laws and commandments); and his permissive will (wherein he permits things to occur that are otherwise against his desires). The proclamation of the gospel often relates to all three. In his prescriptive will, God has given his law, which we all have transgressed, along with the gospel call to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matt 4:17). Within his efficacious will, he has sovereignly determined that there will be some, upon hearing the gospel, who will be drawn irresistibly to Christ as their Lord and Savior. Within his permissive will, he has also sovereignly chosen to pass over some and not show them mercy or grace, so that they will be guilty of not only breaking the commandments, but also guilty of having rejected the only begotten Son of God.

For the pastor, this simply means that the grace of God is still sufficient to save those sinners whom God has elected. Those who do not receive grace from God will become even more hardened in their sin, just like Pharaoh. Our mission is not to determine who is due to receive grace on what day, but to simply be faithful to preach the free offer of the gospel and allow God to operate in his sovereignty. As Paul points out in Romans 9, God creates some people as vessels of mercy and others as vessels of his wrath. In both instances, he has the right to do as he pleases for he is the Potter and we are but clay in the Master’s hands. “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Rom 9:18).

Graciously Bearing Fruit

Those who have been the recipients of such great grace as this, who have been irresistibly drawn to Christ, should display a new pattern of actions, words, and thoughts. With new affections that have been oriented towards Jesus, the one who has received great grace and mercy should behave with utmost graciousness and mercifulness toward others. The pastor, especially, should be a conduit of loving grace and mercy.

Jesus gets to the heart of the matter when he tells his disciples that, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (Jn 15:16). The Christian, and especially the Christian minister, should remain ever humbled by the truth that Christ chose us and drew us to himself, and forever thankful. This thankfulness should overflow in an abundance of fruitfulness.

In fact, fruitfulness for the Christian should look a lot like loving God above all else and loving our neighbors as ourselves. As Jesus told the disciples, “These things I command you, so that you will love one another” (Jn 15:17). The two tables of the Ten Commandments can indeed be summarized as follows: The first table containing the first four commandments demand that we love God, and the second table containing the remaining commandments demand that we love others as we love ourselves. The one who has experienced the grace of God must model this ever-growing and expanding love.

This grace, mercy, and love that we exhibit exists predominantly because Christ first loved us. While we continue to offer the gospel freely to sinners, we must not anticipate they will return our kindness, nor must we require their generosity before lavishing them in love. Jesus explained that we are not going to be loved by the world; on the contrary, we should expect the world’s disdain and hatred. He warns in John 15:18-19 that “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” And, again in verse 25, “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

Augustine of Hippo once wrote that “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Those who have been drawn to Christ and have found their rest in him must now live for Christ whom our hearts love, and that means bearing fruit.

Graciously Guarding the Flock

While bearing fruit means loving others with a great deal of grace and mercy, it also means upholding the truth. Jesus warned in John 10:10 that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Similarly, there are many false shepherds who are merely “for hire” and will run at the first sign of danger (Jn 10:12-13). This means that the true under shepherd, who has been called by Christ to care for the flock of a local church, must be prepared to do theological battle for the truth to guard the sheep from all manner of assaults. As John Calvin famously said, “The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both.”

Even within the Church, we must be leery of those shepherds who are “for hire.” These are the ones of whom Jude spoke, in Jude 4, who “Have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” False teachings abound today. There are many attempting to pervert the grace of God by teaching doctrines that lead to great sins of lasciviousness. There are others who would deny the truth to gain favor with the world, and yet more still who preach a Jesus of their wicked machinations. They are, “Waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved” (2 Pet 2:17).

Guarding the flock against such thieves, robbers, and false shepherds means, primarily, that we teach the truth. We preach the whole counsel of God’s Word (Acts 20:27) without cheap tricks or worldly techniques. While the churches specializing in playing on the emotions of people, or entertaining the goats with theatrics and entertainment may, for a time, attract and garner a large following, and while the churches with ministers faithful to God’s Word may find themselves in a similar predicament to Jesus at the end of John 6, we must not despair or lose hope in our calling. We do not need the light shows, fog machines, or drama teams because God draws his sheep irresistibly to himself. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied through our faithfulness to the Word, and God will lead his faithful elect to our churches, by his grace.

But more than preaching the truth, we must also be prepared to do battle. We are to, “Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22-23). This means that when errors creep into the church and lies are spewed from pulpits, we must pick up the Sword of the Word and clash against those enemies of truth. But, to do so, we need to hold to a humble dependence upon Christ.

Graciously Praying for both Those Within our Flocks and Outside

Teaching the truth, contending for the truth, and defending the truth may seem a thankless job, and it may also appear a task that we are most inadequate for. This is where Irresistible Grace becomes most encouraging: Not only will God keep his elect from falling away by this grace, but he will keep drawing us back to the truth by this same grace. But this means that we must depend on God, and not ourselves, in this battle. We must, in short, be men of prayer. The Apostle Paul urged Timothy, “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:1-2). We must pray for ourselves and our sheep, that God would guard us against wicked schemes and evil plots, while also praying for those who have been deceived and are deceiving. This, after all, is the beauty of the gospel: God can irresistibly draw even the most hardened, devious, and deceptive sinners to himself. He can turn thieves and false shepherds into members of his flock and, by his grace, even transform them into genuine under shepherds guided by his grace.

Let us, then, continually be drawn to Christ by this irresistible grace that our dependence would be on him and not ourselves, and let us be a people of great prayer.

Source: How Calvinism Shapes Christian Ministry: Irresistible Grace, False Gospels, and Guarding the Sheep