A Christian Journey

Archive for November, 2015

Thanks For All People

“First of all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men.”  1 Timothy 2:1   Amplified

As we continue looking at verses regarding thanksgiving, this verse today encourages us to give thanksgivings on behalf of others. So not only are we to be thankful to God for what WE receive, but also for what others receive. The verse says on behalf of ALL men, all people. We don’t usually have a problem with being thankful for the people around us who are a blessing to us or who are nice to us, but those others? The human tendency is to complain and runaway from those “others”, those who bring stress and even harm into our lives.

There are a number of people who dread the Thanksgiving holiday because it means they will have to be with their families and that can often be uncomfortable. The larger the group the more chance there is that there may be several people who don’t get along or who we don’t get along with. Past hurts, that may go as far back as our childhood, resurface and the heartache is felt all over again.

I believe this verse is twofold. First, Paul tells us to offer petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings on behalf of all the people we know. Do you pray for those who have hurt you? Not the prayer that tells God to go get ’em like sicking a dog on an enemy, but the prayer that thanks God for blessing them, and asks God to continue to bless them. Secondly, in praying for all people, even those we don’t like, doesn’t that humble us before God and bring us closer to Him? To me that’s the key to praying for all people. We can be thankful that though they bring us stress, they bring us closer to our Creator Who gives us the peace we want and need.

Give Him the stress and be thankful.

Rehearse His Deeds

“And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing!”  Psalm 107:22  Amplified

In this Thanksgiving week we are looking at verses that talk about just that, thanksgiving. Today’s verse is short, but oh how powerful it is.

First, it talks about the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Well, how exactly do you sacrifice an intangible? The Bible has many stories, especially in the old testament, of the Jewish people sacrificing animals to God for their sin. Since Jesus gave the greatest sacrifice at Calvary we as Christians are not required to give animal sacrifices. This verse tells us what we are to sacrifice, our words, our life, by continually thanking God for what He’s done for us.

Secondly, the verse says to rehearse His deeds. If you’ve ever been in a play or had to recite anything you know that you have to repeat it over and over again. We should almost daily telling someone of what God has done for us. This verse says we are to do it with shouts of joy and singing!

Go shout hallelujah today to someone, everyone!

Say So To Him

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and with a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.”   Psalm 100:4-5   Amplified

In honor of Thanksgiving, a holiday started by the Pilgrims to glorify and honor God for what He did for them, we will look at verses this week that speak of thanksgiving.

When we read today’s verse it speaks of God as someone you converse with, like a friend. God is our friend, at least if we are a believer. If you have a hard time doing what the verse says, then just for a moment give Him the name of a friend and substitute it in this verse. I’ve heard the story of a little boy who said he knew God’s name and when asked what it was he replied Andy. When asked how he knew that was God’s name he said he heard it in a hymn sung at church. Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am His own. So thanks to that little boy let’s review our verse today replacing God with Andy (I don’t think God will mind if it gets the point across).

Enter into Andy’s gates with thanksgiving and with a thank offering and into Andy’s courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Andy, bless and affectionately praise Andy’s name! For Andy is good; Andy’s mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, Andy’s faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.

It’s not as hard to “say so” to Andy is it? God wants you to talk to Him and He especially loves to receive your praise. As parents we enjoy hearing our children say thank you to us and so does God, he is our Father after all. Try, at least for this week, to be more thankful than ever before. We can all find something to be thankful for, start with your next breath.

What Are You To Say

“But when they deliver you up, do not be anxious about how or what you are to speak; for what you are to say will be given you in that very hour and moment. For it is not you who are speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”   Matthew 10:19-20   Amplified

As we stay in the 10th book of Matthew studying what Jesus told His disciples before they went out, we see He tells them to wait. He’d already informed them that they’d be arrested, in verse 17 He said that those opposing God will deliver them up to councils to be beaten. Now He tells them not to speak until God gives them the words to say.

I don’t know to many people who like waiting, it seems the faster and further along in our society that we go the less and less patient people become. Quite often though, we miss out on the best because we’re in a hurry. In this instance the Lord tells them they wouldn’t have to wait long, He said in that hour and moment God would give them the words.

As believers we must ready to be brought before councils and if we are standing up for God and speaking His word, we must then wait for Him to speak through us. It would appear that troubling times lie ahead for Christians and we must be ready.

Bear Testimony

“Be on guard against men whose way or nature is to act in opposition to God; for they will deliver you up to councils and flog you in their synagogues. And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a witness to bear testimony before them and to the Gentiles, the nations.” Matthew 10:17-18  Amplified

We return to the scene where Jesus is instructing His disciples before they go out into the world to share the good news. I find it interesting that our verse today applies to our situation in this country. With the possibility of foreign refugees coming into our country and possibly bringing among them those that would seek to harm us, we must be on guard. Islam is in total opposition to what God says in the Bible and based on the radicals who practice it, it’s a religion of conform or die.

Most pastors and leaders of Christianity believe we are in the end times. In fact even unbelievers comment on how fast the time seems to be going and how much is going on around the world. The escalation of events around us is incredible and can be frightening. Jesus never wants us to be afraid, He is victorious and has already won the battle, but the enemy will do whatever he can to make us doubt.

In our time we may very well see believers brought before authorities for being a Christian. If and when that happens we must heed the advice He gives us, in tomorrows verse.

Be Strong

“Be strong and courageous. Be not afraid or dismayed before your enemies, for there is Another with us greater than all those. With them is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7-8    Amplified

We have certainly seen some horrendous events take place over the weekend. It’s one thing for some sort of weather event like tornadoes, earthquakes, fire and hurricanes to wipe out lives, but it is a whole different effect when man is cruel to man.  We feel the presence of an enemy when that happens, an evil that hangs over us and we often wait for the next strike. This brings along with it the feeling of fear and anxiety primarily because we don’t know when that next event could take place. We ask ourselves and those around us, are we safe?

Today’s verse tells us Who we need to turn to. Those who choose to harm others only have an arm of flesh. No matter how smart or devious they are, God knows what their plans are and can intervene. Why He does that sometimes and not always is a great unknown. All I know is that all things go through His hands and I trust Him with my life.

As Psalm 27:1 says “The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.”  I keep His word even closer to me at times like this, you can too. I just gave you two to get you started, the Bible is full of more. I recommend you go and find them.

Anyone Who Serves

“If anyone serves Me, he must continue to follow Me, to cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, and wherever I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26  Amplified

In honor of Veterans Day I chose the scripture above. I know not all those who served in the military are believers, but serving in our military is an unselfish act. I’m sure there are those who joined for other reasons, but they still offered their life as a sacrifice.

To me the point of this sacrificial service and our verse today is that as believers we are to have that same mind-set. We have joined the Lord’s army when we accept Him as our Savior. He is our Lord and the Commander of our life. We must follow, cleave steadfastly to, confirm wholly to and if need by die for Him.

When we stop and think about and thank the men and women who served this country in our military, we must decide for ourselves if we will do the same in the Lord’s service.

Shake The Dust Off

“And whoever will not receive, accept, and welcome you nor listen to your message, as you leave that house or town, shake the dust of it from your feet. Truly I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” Matthew 10:14-15   Amplified

We looked yesterday at Jesus telling His disciples to go to houses and towns that were deserving, those who were seeking the Lord. Today we see Him telling them that if the opposite happens and people reject them, to shake the dust off their feet. This was literal, but also figurative. There were no paved streets or sidewalks back then, concrete didn’t exist, so when the disciples walked out of a town or house dust had collected on their feet. The figurative aspect of this is that it can weigh someone down who is trying to talk to others when they don’t listen, but you have to shake that off. We must all stand firm in our beliefs, in what the Lord wants us to do, and we cannot allow ourselves to be bogged down by unbelief.

The houses and towns we visit to day are the people around us. We might think that if someone won’t listen to us that we are defeated and let down, but listen to what Jesus says about those who are obstinate. It will be worse for them when they stand before God than it was for Sodom and Gomorrah, the town and people were destroyed by fire because of their sin. Ultimately even our loved one must stand alone in front of God.

The sin of disobedience leads to an unrepentant heart, a dusty heart, Jesus calls us to leave it there.

Give Them Your Peace

“And into whatever town or village you go, inquire who in it is deserving and stay there until you leave. As you go into the house, give your greetings and wish it well. Then if indeed that house is deserving, let come upon it your peace, that is freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin. But if it is not deserving, let your peace return to you.”   Matthew 10:11-13  Amplified

We continue in our study of Jesus as He instructs His disciples before sending them out into the area to the people. Now He tells them in today’s verse to go to peoples homes who are deserving. The Mirriam Webster dictionary defines deserving as someone who merits praise. So what did these individuals do to deserve praise? Later in this chapter Jesus tells the disciples to be on guard against those who oppose God. So that would define those who are deserving as those who are FOR God. You can usually go where any group of people gather and quickly find out who the people are that stand out in opposition to God or their defense for Him. Our verse today says when they got to a town they would ask around to find out who the people were who were for God or acted in a godly way. If someone was opposed to God they certainly wouldn’t have faith in Him or believe He could heal anyone anyway.

I love the part of the verse that says “let come upon it your peace, that is freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin.” Have you ever heard of anyone not suffering distresses as a result of sin? A sinful lifestyle is so distressing. Interestingly the Mirriam Webster dictionary states that the word Dis is the Roman name for the god of the underworld! Think about all the disses you know – disease, disaster, disappoint, distract, dismember. I can’t think of a positive word that contains dis in it.

The peace that God gives us through our faith in Jesus relieves us of all the disses we know of. They may try to come in upon us every now and then, but if we keep our eyes on Jesus He will give you that peace that chases them away. So this verse tells us we can give our peace away to others who are seeking it.

Gve your greeting and wish all well, those that are happy to receive it give them your peace.

Freely You Have Received

“Freely without pay you have received, freely without charge give.” Matthew 10:8b  Amplified

In todays verse Jesus continues to give His disciples instructions before they go out to help others. He tells them to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons and then adds, don’t take money for it.  Being human some might be tempted to do that, or those who were cured, raised, cleansed and released might insist they receive something for what they did.  Jesus tells them though, that they received their power freely, nothing they did earned it, therefore they shouldn’t charge or be paid for doing it.

The ministers today have gotten so far away from this original admonition by Jesus. Later in this chapter we’ll see that He does not say they shouldn’t receive support, such as food and housing, else how would they live. The Lord is talking about anything above that. Mother Theresa is a good example of someone who helped others, but had nothing else except a place to live and food to eat. We have to keep our carnal self in check when we start accumulating things that move beyond that.

So how does this apply to us? As believers we receive abilities as well, and we must always keep a humble heart knowing that whatever we can do or say doesn’t come from us, but is a gift from God.