Thanking God in the midst of difficulty

I look at everything that has happened in my family’s lives and recognize that God has allowed so much to happen (even while I recognize that people have made their own choices and those choices have affected them and others).
I know that what man and the enemy meant for evil (or even selfish pleasure), God meant for good (Genesis 50:20).
I know God will use these things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
I am comforted by the fact that my family can be comforted by God so they can comfort others with the godly love and comfort they have received (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
So even in the difficult times, we can easily find ways to be thankful to God and praise Him.
I thank God for what He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives.

The Elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture

The elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture.

True worshippers are to worship in truth and spirit (John 4:24), by the Spirit of God (Philippians 3:3). True believers remained in the teaching of God (2 John 1:9). They would have obeyed God as opposed to rebelled against God (1 John 3:10).

Men, women, and children would have gathered together to hear what was being taught – It may have been that only children who were old enough to understand who were in church service (such as those who were age 12, the age of when Jewish boys have their bar mitzvah, which happens to be the age of Jesus when he was in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions) (Deuteronomy 31:12; Nehemiah 8:1-3; Luke 2:41-47; Luke 18:15-17; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; 2 John 1:1).

They met together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). They met in the temple courts, in people’s homes, beside rivers, in synagogues, and in lecture halls (possibly schools) (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 16:13; Acts 19:8-9).

The church leaders were male elders and male deacons and female deaconesses (Acts 6:2-8; Acts 16:13; Romans 16:1; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-10).

The communion supper (also known as the Lord’s Supper) was observed (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:18-32).

Prayers were offered up to God alone, in harmony with the will of God (1 Corinthians 14:15–16; Nehemiah 4:9; Matthew 6:9,;1 John 5:14).

Songs were sung to the glory of God and thanks to God was given (Ephesians 5:19-20; Psalms 95, 96, 98).

A free will collection was taken (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). The Church was not involved with business (Matthew 21:12–13).

Sometimes church discipline occurred (Matt. 18:17).

The Scriptures were publically read (Colossians 4:16; 1 Tim. 4:13), and the Word of God was proclaimed (Acts 20:7; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Timothy 4:2).

Indeed, each had a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:28).

Who do you give thanks to?

You know, I’ve been wondering to whom should we be giving thanks to?

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday. Many who do not believe in God would give thanks to individuals. And there are many who believe in a deistic God – a God who exists but does not interact with his creation. It makes no sense to me give thanks to a god like that.

But when I look at the founding fathers, I see THEM giving thanks to a God who interacted with mankind and who protected them and who guided them.

How can anyone think the founders of this nation meant to keep God out of our government is beyond me – especially when I read the first president’s Thanksgiving proclamation which he asked to proclaim by BOTH houses of congress

‘Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’

The Second president of the US did something similar, but not exactly the same. President John Adams did not declare a day of thanksgiving. Instead, he declared a day of fasting and humiliation:

“I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.”

And President Lincoln Thanked GOD in his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation:

“To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible 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.”

Through out most of the history of this country, GOD is the one to whom we gave thanks – not a god who did not interact with his creation, but one who is active in his creation – guiding, protecting, loving us all.

Almost Christmas…

Last year on this date, I was wriiting about how it is a sad time of year for some people. i wrote how sometimes people are sad because they or their parents divorced at this time of year. When I wrote that, I never for a second considered myself to be one of those for whom in the future that statement would be true.

But I am at the tail end of a divorce. I have no idea how my children will feel in the future about their parents getting divorced at this time of year. But right now, I think they are adjusting, even if they dont like it (neither do I, for that matter).

This has been a year of changes for our family. I will not go into the details, but suffice it to say that there have been some challenges this year that were totally unexpected.

However, there have been good things as well. God has provided people to help us through difficult times. Also, God has provided financially. God’s love has grown in our lives through relationships old and new.

This year two of my children were baptized. My kids and I have built stronger and closer relationships with each other.

But most importantly, as we close this year out, we are able to remember the reason for the season – that God sent His Son to be born a human. We celebrate that birth this time of year as Christmas. Just as God gave the gift of eternal life to all who believe, the gift of adoption into His family through faith, so do parents give gifts to their own children this time of year.

My kids are laughing and playing as I write this. There is peace in our home. There is love in our home. There is joy in watching my children smile,. I give thanks to God for every blessing He has bestowed upon me and my family. I pray you will be able to find peace and joy in the midst of any suffering you find yourself confronting. Know that God is there in the midst of your troubles as well.

God bless and merry Christmas to you and your family!

Cruising for a missions trip!

Yes, the rich among us can go on a mission trip while going on a cruise! What a nice way to combine two loves!

And of course, lets not forget the working cruise: Mercy Ships:

And really, some cruises can be paid for over time, so it turns out to be affordable for those of us who dont have so much money. :)

Giving Thanks

I was asked to preach the week of Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving.

Its amazing the places in the New Testament where Christ and thanks are mentioned:

Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the Temple after the time of purification was done – Luke 2:36-38

Feeding of the 5000 – Matthew 14:13-21 (cf. Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)

Feeding of the 4000 – Matthew 15:29-39 (cf. Mark 8:1-10)

Last Supper – Matthew 26:17-35 (cf. Mark 14:12-31; Luke 22:7-30)

Road to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-35

Paul discussing remembering the Last Supper – 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Then we have other places where giving thanks to God are mentioned:

Paul prisoner on ship in storm – Acts 27:27-38

Paul telling believers in Rom they have been set free from sin by grace – Romans 6:15-23

Paul does not do what he wants to do and so gives thanks for being rescued from his body of death – Romans 7:14-25

Those who are convinced in their own minds and eat give thanks and those who abstain give thanks – Romans 14:1-23

Telling people about what God has done through Christ results in thanksgiving to God – 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Generosity results in thanksgiving to God – 2 Corinthians 9

People who love God should not even give the appearance of immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse jesting – but thanksgiving to GOD for everything – Ephesians 5:1-21

Do not be anxious, but present your requests to God with thanksgiving – Philippians 4:1-9

Requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving should be made for everyone – 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Receive what has been given with thanksgiving – 1 Timothy 4

Give thanks in all circumstances – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Be holy, forgive, be thankful. Colossians 3:1-17

Giving thanks for  faith (yours and others’) – Colossians 1:3-14

The cup of thanksgiving in communion is participating in the blood of Christ, give thanks for what you eat and do not be judged for it – 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

Even in heaven, thanks is given to God – Revelation 4:1-11, 7:9-12,  11:15-19.

We see Christ and Paul giving thanks in many places. Even in heaven thanks is given to God. We see Paul telling us to give thanks for faith, for what God has done through Christ, for everything, in all situations.

Are you able to give thanks for the situation you find yourself in today?

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