Thanksgiving and Praise – Psalm 95

It is good to give thanks and praise to God for the many blessings we enjoy. When we are going through tough or stressful times, it is easy to focus on our problems.  It is better to look to the giver of all good gifts. As the USA celebrates Thanksgiving this next week, I pray this reflection on Psalm 95 blesses you.

Psalm 95 (NIV)

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
    as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

Reflection on Thanksgiving and Praise

I love to sing and listen to Christian music.  I live with a grateful heart. In contrast, the liberal media and politicians tends to portray Christians as critics, complainers, and dour people.  Christians need to show our love for God and our neighbor.  We can do that by focusing on being thankful and thanking those that help us.

Christians should be the most gracious customers and employees.  We recognize we have forgiven much so that we can forgive others.  Also we acknowledge that we are all created equal by God. Much is expected from those who are given much.  Americans have more wealth than 90% of the world. Most Americans give away less than 3% to the church and other charities.  How is God challenging you to be more thankful and generous?

I recently saw a report about how comedian Michael Jr. modified his tours to include homeless shelters and prisons, so he could give the gift of laughter to those in need.  You can find out more about helping others through his site Punchliners.

Or maybe you could encourage more civil discourse on politics and/or religion like Dan Crenshaw.

I found a couple good reminders of the heritage of thanksgiving in America:
George Washington Thanksgiving Proclamation from One News Now.
History of the Pilgrims and their faith in God from CBN News

Finally, check this out for more encouragement on gratitude.

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Vote November 6th 2018

There is a Christian responsibility to vote November 6th 2018 for the more godly and honorable candidates for election.  The very term election originated in voting for the person that is more devout to the Christian faith and more likely to be part of the elect of God, those who have been reborn in Christ.  Surveys by George Barna indicate that those who rarely attend church or consider themselves Christians not committed to evangelism, Barna would categorize as born again. They tend not to vote or to vote based on non-biblical and secular standards.  These are marks of immaturity in Christian discipleship. They are swayed by the liberal media and false advertising. In the USA, surveys estimate between 30% and 50% of the population consists of born again Christians.

Additionally, those mature in the Christian faith, Barna categorizes as evangelical.  They have a commitment to living their lives on biblical principles and standards.  Also they demonstrate a devotion to God that includes showing God’s love by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They tend to educate themselves on the candidate’s positions in light of biblical truth and standards. In the USA, there are estimated between 8% and 15% are considered evangelicals.

Vote November 6th 2018 from a biblical and Christian perspective

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Some churches make efforts to avoid talking about politics. Others encourage voter registration drives.  Even further, some distribute voter guides or even talk about biblical values in the pulpit.  If our government is to become more civil and fiscally conservative, more Christians need to encourage others to vote with biblical convictions. We need to encourage one another to vote smart. We need to be better stewards of government and vote November 6th 2018!

Finally, The Republican Party may not perfect, but the Party Platform includes a push to restore the right to life.  There are voter issues we should discuss and encourage others to consider from a Christian perspective.  Take time to talk about the election, pray for wisdom, vote, and pray for our government leaders.

 

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Weddings and Marriage – Hopes and Expectations

Reflections on Marriage from Ephesians 5:21-28 – Submit to one another

Scripture Reading:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Reflection on weddings and marriage, Hopes and Expectations:

With the Royal Wedding in England this weekend of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle it got me thinking about expectations at weddings and in marriage.  We all have hopes, dreams, and desires when it comes to life and relationships.  In a healthy relationship, expectations should be clearly expressed to avoid unintentionally offending or disappointing one another. In a marriage, we are called to seek the good of our spouse above our own comfort or desires.

As part of our wedding preparations, my wife and I attended premarital counseling and discussed our expectations after marriage.  Have you shared your hopes, dreams, and desires with your spouse or significant other?  I pray this encourages you to talk about them some more.

Prayerful Reflection on marriage and relationships:

How is God calling you to be more humble in your relationships?

What can you do to honor God and your spouse more?

How can you help others in difficult relationships find healing and hope?

For futher reflection consider watching this sermon from Grace Bible Church on “A Happy Couple’s Secret

More on Christianity

Marriage - a gift from God

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Resurrection Response

Sermon outline from April 2018, The Resurrection Response

American society has seen an increase in persecution of Christians by the media, politicians, and others. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus and knowing He is with us can help us be courageous in sharing our faith in truth and love.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

John 20:19-31 NIV:

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. 

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

(John 20:19-31 NIV)

How do you respond to the resurrection of Jesus?
– Respond with fear or joy?
• John 20:19-20
(Perfect love casts out all fear.  We can rejoice because Jesus is with us)
– With or without forgiveness?
• John 20:21-23
(We are called to ask forgiveness from God and those we offend and forgive those who repent of their sins.)
– Doubt or faith?
• John 20:24-29
(It is ok to question the faith honestly, because the Christian faith is well documented and reasonable)
– Believe and embrace life
• John 20:30-31
(We must all choose whether or not to believe in the resurrection, but choosing to believe is better because it leads to eternal life.)

Resurrection Response Reflection Questions:

How do I need to respond to Jesus?
– How can I embrace forgiveness?
– What can I do to strengthen my faith in the resurrection?
– How can I share the resurrection of Jesus with others?

resurrection response to Jesus

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The Gift of Eternal Life

Scripture:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[a] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[b]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.  – John 3:14-21 (NIV)

How can you know and share eternal life? 

  • The Gift of Eternal Life has a cost of Atonement (forgiveness of sins)

John 3:14-15 (Son of Man, not sum of man)  What Jesus did, not what you do.

  • The Gift of Eternal Life is a loving choice

John 3:16  (God loves us and chose to redeem those who would seek after God)

  • The Gift of Eternal Life is a limited choice

John 3:17-18  (Everyone must choose life or death, there is no third option)

  • Choose in your Life to Embrace and Share the light of Jesus Christ

John 3:19-21  (Choose to follow the light of Christ knowing some will reject Jesus and you)

Reflection questions on the gift of eternal life:

  • How do I need to choose life?

– How can I seek forgiveness for my sins?

– How can I show respect for other peoples choices while disagreeing?

– How can I share Jesus with others?

Resources to help embrace life:

I pray this draws you closer to God and encourages you to choose to embrace the Gift of Life in Jesus Christ. Choose Life, Choose Christ.

gift of Eternal life in Christ

 

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