Thoughts on Thanksgiving Week Continued

It is traditional to make a list of things you are thankful for at Thanksgiving. Most of the time we focus on material things we have been blessed with. Some go deeper, thanking God for spiritual blessings bestowed during the year. Thanks for friends, family, health and employment top many lists. One category that gets left off many lists is arguably the most important. We should thank God for the things He has taken away from us.

In order to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind as commanded means we have to give up any and everything that obscures Him in our lives. Praise be to Him that He works in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son. To do this, He many times has to prune away those things that hinder us from reaching that goal. It may be that He has helped you to kick a destructive habit, end an unhealthy relationship, stop a hurtful lifestyle. It may be that He has forced you to accept the death of a loved one in order to lean only on Him. He may have taken away your job in order to prove to you that He is sufficient to meet all your needs.

As you make your list this year, how about including thanks for the things taken away that has made your faith stronger? I guarantee that it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving Week

As Thanksgiving rolls around, I am once again dismayed by the lack of contentment and gratitude among the masses. It is very hard to be thankful for what you have already been blessed with if you are in a hurry and a worry about getting more stuff the very next day. I know the arguments – stuff is cheaper so it is good stewardship to buy on Black Friday. Or, that a person is buying for others and not themselves, gifts for Christmas Day. My answer – it is even better stewardship not to buy at all unless something is absolutely needed. The same holds true whether you are buying for yourself or others.

I am not saying that one cannot buy things for fun. What I am saying is that we should not try to justify or spiritualize our indulgence. We need to simplify our lives and practice  giving to the kingdom of God rather than secular merchants. Guys – how many guns, video games or fishing equipment do you really need? Ladies – how many shoes, kitchen gadgets or spa treatments do you really need? Do any of us really think $95 designer jeans are better than $20 discount store ones? Do we really need the latest upgraded electronic device, the latest model pickup, the “in-fashion” clothing? Can we not be content and thankful for what we have already been blessed with, instead of telling God that we are not satisfied and we have to have more.

Are we truly grateful for His provision, or are we greedily planning on getting yet more stuff that won’t have any bearing on a person’s eternal destiny?

Hymn Devotions Day 40 – More About Jesus

DAY 40 – MORE ABOUT JESUS

             What a great way to end forty days of devotions. To learn more about Jesus everyday should be the desire of each of us. No matter how much I study and how much I learn, I have only scratched the surface of knowing Him. I desire to know more about Him. I am glad that eternity means forever, because that is how long I anticipate it taking to even begin knowing Him.

In learning more about Him, I will come to understand what He means when I am given direction by Him. I will be able to discern His will more clearly and obey Him more completely. I will come to understand His Words revealed in the Scriptures, written for our guidance.

One of the greatest ways to learn more of Him is to talk to Him, through prayer, each day. It is in conversing with Him that we learn to hear His voice. We also read of Him in the Bible, so that we can compare what it says to what we hear, to make sure we are hearing His voice and not an imposters.

Another reason I desire to learn more about Him is to be able to show others I know, whom I care about, what He is like. I long to show His grace and transforming power to those around me who need Him most. If I am going to be greedy and shout more, more, I want it to be a holy greediness to understand my Lord better.

My prayer for you, is that you will desire to know more about Him also.

 

Lord, help us desire to know more of You. Reveal Yourself to us as we come to You in prayer, as we read of You in the Bible. Speak to us in an unmistakable voice, one that cuts through the clutter and noise of the world. Help us to know You so that we may live a life pleasing to You and bring others to You for salvation.

MORE ABOUT JESUS by Eliza Hewitt

 

More about Jesus would I know

More of His grace to others show

More of His saving fullness see

More of His love Who died for me

 

More about Jesus let me learn

More of His holy will discern

Spirit of God, my teacher be

Showing the things of Christ to me

 

More about Jesus in His Word

Holding communion with my Lord

Hearing His voice in every line

Making each faithful saying mine

 

More about Jesus on His throne

Riches in glory all His own

More of His kingdom’s sure increase

More of His coming, Prince of Peace

 

REFRAIN:

 

More, more about Jesus

More, more about Jesus

More of His saving fullness see

More of His love who died for me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hymn Devotions Day 39 – We’ll Understand It Better By And By

DAY 39 – WE WILL UNDERSTAND IT BETTER BY AND BY

“Why, God, why?” So many times we ask that question. We cannot always see the plan God has for us. We stumble and crash through life, avoiding some things, falling into others. We watch as lives around us are destroyed. We see plans fall through. One day we are on top of the world, the next we are far below sea level. Each time we ask “why?”

Funny, isn’t it, that when things go well for us we rarely ask why. When things go wrong, we are quick to ask the question. The real understanding of man, though, would lead us to ask God why He blesses us at all.

We could have been born anywhere in the world, to any parents. God put us where He wanted us to be for a reason. Some of us have riches, some poverty. Some live in free societies, others in tightly controlled countries. He places us where He does for reasons that may not be obvious to us. Later, perhaps, we will come to understand the reasoning behind His actions. Sometimes we never will.

In reading through Job, I never find where God ever explained to Job the reasons behind his misfortune. He may know now, from heaven but he didn’t here on earth and that, I think is the point of this hymn. It may not be until we arrive home in heaven that we even begin to see how God weaved the tapestry of our life into that of all the other people on earth. It may not be until much later that we begin to comprehend His plan to bring glory to His name through our circumstances. Let us endure with patience, then, our lot in life and trust in Him to accomplish His purpose with us.

Lord, help me to realize that I do not have to understand, just trust. Help me to see that to develop faith in You, I must come to believe that You are in control and that You do not need to consult me or gain my permission. My life is Yours, do with it what You want.

WE WILL UNDERSTAND IT BETTER BY AND BY

by Charles Tindley

We are tossed and driven on the restless sea of time

Somber skies and howling tempest

Oft succeed a bright sunshine

In that land of perfect day when the mists are rolled away

We will understand it better by and by

We are often destitute of the things that life demands

Want of food and want of shelter

Thirsty hills and barren lands

We are trusting in the Lord and according to God’s word

We will understand it better by and by

Trials dark on every hand and we cannot understand

All the ways that God would lead us

To that blessed promised land

But He guides us with His eye and we’ll follow till we die

For we’ll understand it better by and by

Temptations, hidden snares often take us unawares

And our hearts are made to bleed

For a thoughtless word or deed

And we wonder why the test when we try to do our best

But we’ll understand it better by and by

REFRAIN:

By and by when the morning comes

When the saints of God are gathered home

We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome

For we’ll understand it better by and by

Hymn Devotions Day 38 – His Way With Thee

 DAY 38 – HIS WAY WITH THEE

 Yielding to the Holy Spirit’s guidance each day is easier said than done. My will, my desires, have to be constantly pushed down so that His desire and will can shine through. I cannot live a godly life in my own power. My heart is desperately and deceitfully wicked. I need to always submit myself to Him, in order to do what is right and holy.

Some of my favorite lines in this hymn point to great gospel truths. He can carry my load far better than I can. Better yet, He offers to carry that load. My worries, frustrations, concerns and ailments can be turned over to Him and exchanged. I especially love the next to last line in the second stanza. The line comes straight out of Jude’s epistle and gives us hope. He can keep us from stumbling or falling. What a magnificent Savior!

Everything is dependent upon Jesus. Only His saving power can make us what God intended for us to be when He created us. Only His atoning death on the cross can cleanse us from all unrighteousness and free us from sin’s power. Only His love can completely fill us because only He can love us with a pure love.

It is a mystery why I struggle with letting Him lead me. I know all these biblical truths. I see the truth of them lived out in my life day by day. Yet I still struggle with turning my life over to Him minute by minute. What a frail, fickle creature I am. How reassuring to read in Scripture that even when I am faithless, He remains faithful because His Spirit lives in me and He cannot deny Himself.

 

Lord, give me the ability to consistently turn my life over to You. I struggle with control issues. I know You know best but my own deceitful heart wrestles with You. Overcome it Lord and reign supremely in my life so I may experience true freedom in You.

 

HIS WAY WITH THEE by Cyrus Nusbaum

 

Would you live for Jesus and be always pure and good?

Would you walk with Him, within the narrow road?

Would you have Him bear your burden, carry all your load?

Let Him have His way with thee.

 

Would you have Him make you free and follow at His call?

Would you know the peace that comes from giving all?

Would you have Him save you so that you need never fall?

Let Him have His way with thee.

 

Would you in His kingdom find a place of constant rest?

Would you prove Him true in providential test?

Would you in His service labor always at your best?

Let Him have His way with thee.

 

REFRAIN:

 

His power can make you what you ought to be

His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free

His love can fill your soul and you will see

‘Twas best for Him to have His way with thee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Isaac We Learn …

Isaac is one of those patriarchs of the Old Testament who is revered, along with Abraham and Jacob, over and over. For many people, the question is, why? Isaac is not recorded as having won any great victories, spiritual or physical. He seems content to lean on the accomplishments of his father. A cursory reading might lead one to believe that his greatest claim to fame is simply becoming the father of Jacob.

Isaac is non-confrontational. He allows others to walk all over him. He is a pretty poor parent (witness the tension and favoritism between Jacob and Esau) and didn’t even pick pick out his own wife. Why is Isaac held in such high esteem? I think the answer comes from the story of Genesis 22, where God tells Abram to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac is close to 9, 10 maybe even 12 years old. Abram is well over a hundred. Isaac is conscious enough to realize there is no lamb for a sacrifice. He is willing to be bound by Abram and laid on the altar. He could have easily outran Abram, probably even been a physical match for him at his advanced age.

As Abram pictures for us God’s love, being willing to sacrifice His Son, Isaac pictures for us Christ, loving his father so much he is willing to lay his life down. As Abram shows us complete obedience to God our Father, so does Isaac – in his complete obedience to his father. We know from Hebrews that Abram believed God could raise Isaac from the dead. No such statement is made about Isaac. Even not knowing if he would come back to life or not, Isaac was still willing to undergo this trial for the sake of his father.

That is the lesson we learn from Isaac. Are we in love with God so much that we are willing to obey Him completely, even at the cost of our life? Jesus was. A good question to ponder as we begin another week of service to our Heavenly Father.