Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thankful...Really?!

Next week is Thanksgiving, and many in this country are facing severe economic hardship or trouble of other kinds. I don't want to belittle anyone's situation, because I understand the worry about what the future might hold. Things look pretty dark to many people. But I want to offer some perspective on suffering.
When our pilgrim forefathers came to this country, what they were up against was far worse than anything we face now. The first year, over half of their band of 110 died. Our pilgrim fathers dug seven times more graves for the dead than they built huts for the living. And yet during that same period is when they decided to carve out a day where they could say, "Thank you, Lord, for all of your benefits." One of their leaders, Edward Winslow, wrote of that first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621: "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 that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in 1863, in the middle of a terrible civil war. He said the country's blessings were due to the "ever watchful providence of Almighty God... No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy." And he asked for the "Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it."
That's our history. I think that kind of thankfulness pleases the Lord. And as a country, we have a lot to be thankful for, but as Christians we have even more.
This idea of giving God thanks; it's God's will! People ask me all the time, "How can I know the will of God?" One part of the will of God for your life is that you be a thankful person, that you have an "attitude of gratitude. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul gives a series of short little commands like "rejoice always," and "pray without ceasing." In verse 18 he says, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." One of the things God loves is when we're thankful, even when we don't understand, even when we're going through hard times. So let's not forget the "gracious gifts of the Most High God."  
You know you want to say it.God Is Good All The Time

ThankfuLove God Love People

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Yes...God is Jealous

I heard a story about a little girl who was writing a letter to God. "Dear God," she said, "What does it mean You're a jealous God? I thought You had everything." I was amused at the innocence of the question, but she wasn't alone in her confusion over that portrayal of God. The idea of a jealous God bothers a lot of people, and it may not sit too well with you. Yet, God is referred to as "jealous" eight times in the Bible.  Exodus 20:5 says, "For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God." And He never apologizes for it; He just states it.

The jealousy of God is actually a wonderful thing. In the original language, the word means to have zeal over one's property; it means "Hands off! This belongs to me." A holy kind of jealousy should accompany the love we have for those closest to us; it protects the relationship from those who might want to damage it. I think something is wrong in any relationship of love where there's not some kind of jealousy. For instance, I'm jealous over my wife. If someone asked me if they could take her out on a date, I wouldn't say, "Well, I'm not a jealous husband; go ahead." I'd have to be a nutcase to say that! I have a jealous love for her, and she has the same for me.

Different translations have different ways of expressing the jealousy of God. Young's Literal Translation says, "I…[am] a zealous God." The Torah says, "I am an impassioned God." The Living Bible says, "I, the Lord your God, am very possessive. I will not share your affection with any other god!" The Good News Translation says, "I tolerate no rivals," and the Contemporary English Version says, "I demand all your love." So, jealous is an accurate translation.

The servants of God know this about Him. Paul and Barnabas didn't allow the people at Lystra to bow to them (see Acts 14:8-18). Twice in the book of Revelation, angels rebuked John for bowing to them (see 19:10 and 22:8-9). Why? Because God alone is worthy of our worship. He forbids us from worshiping angels, Mary, saints, pastors, movements, theologies, or ideologies. God is a jealous God.
Yes, as the little girl said, God has everything. But He is jealous—possessive, impassioned—for all of your love, devotion, and worship. That's as it should be. You belong to Him.


Love God – Love People

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Can You Figure God Out?

The story is told of a  little girl who was drawing a picture during art class in school. When the teacher asked what she was working on, she said she was drawing a picture of God. “But nobody knows what God looks like!” the teacher said. Without looking up, the little girl said, “They will in a minute.”
By ourselves, we can’t figure God out. We have never seen Him, so He must reveal Himself to us. We live in a closed box with the walls of time and space around us. We can’t transcend our natural limitations. God is in the supernatural realm, and we’re in the natural. We can’t, by ourselves, reach out and have fellowship with Him. God has to speak to us who are in the box in order for us to get the message.
Most religions are attempts to escape from the box: “Hey, let’s get in touch with the supernatural! Let’s get out of this box and touch the divine!” And so things like Buddhism, Hinduism and New Age theologies developed. Those are man’s attempt to crawl out of the box.
But instead, God reaches in to man. He speaks and reveals Himself in a supernatural way. Hebrews 1:1-3 tells how He did it. He revealed Himself through His prophets at different times and in different ways. And finally He sent His Son to crawl into the box with us. God revealed Himself when Jesus got up on a cross and died, to let us know how much He loves us.
So God’s final message to us is through Jesus. Everything that God wants you to know is found in Jesus. He’s the answer. It sounds like I’m being simplistic, but I’m not. The truth is, all you need is Jesus. We make things so complicated; God made it so easy. He has spoken and revealed Himself to us through His Son.
Focus in on verse 3. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His being.” So, do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Read the gospels and see the portrait painted there by the writers who walked with Him in His earthly life. They tell all about who Jesus is, what He thinks, and how He lived. As you get to know Jesus, you’ll get to know the mind of God.
Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9). He lived among us so that we could see exactly who God is. And it’s a wonderful picture!

Love God Love People