The God Without … A Thanksgiving Message

I have shared this message from Grace Thru Faith before, but it is so good that it bears repeating. May you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

The God Without …
A Thanksgiving Message

A Thanksgiving Message by Jack Kelley

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.   For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)

Each year on the 4th Thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the US.  It’s a holiday begun by the early settlers to express their gratitude to God for a bountiful harvest, and it’s patterned after the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.

After the harvest Israelites from all over the country would gather in Jerusalem for a week-long celebration. This was to commemorate the time God had spent with them in the wilderness and to give thanks for another good harvest. All year they saved up their tithes, the first-born of their flocks and herds, the first sheaves of grain, the first grapes, figs, olives and other fruit and vegetables and brought it all to Jerusalem in the fall where they cooked and ate everything in a national celebration of praise (Deut. 12:5-7).

After surviving a very difficult year in the new world, the Pilgrims of New England instituted a similar, though much smaller, thanksgiving feast, again with the intent of praising God.   This event finally became a national holiday in the US in 1863, but it took until 1941 to settle on the 4th Thursday of November as its official observance.

My parents made sure we never forgot that it was the Lord who provided for us and so Thanksgiving was a religious observance in our house. Prayers were offered and each family member gave thanks to the Lord for all the good things we had received.

Read the rest here,

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The Light of the World

The Light of the World

Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me,
he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.
When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.
I have come into the world as a light,
so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
John 12:44-46

The western portion of the U.S. was the scene of many massive wildfires this summer, and as I write this there is still some wildfire activity in certain areas. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land, buildings and personal property were wiped out and many firefighters exhausted themselves in fighting these fires. Many discussions and debates went on about the merits of tree thinning to remove trees and vegetation that were too dense or dead. In other words, these wildfires could well have been averted or at the very least, diminished in size. Some people might call this preventive maintenance. I like to this of it as a risk management plan.

So it is with the state of our souls. God offers us the free gift of His salvation through the death of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus willingly took on the burden of our sins so that we would not have to suffer for eternity. In my humble opinion, this free gift of salvation can also be considered as a risk management plan for God’s people.

I’m sure you’ve seen the signs displayed at professional sports games that read John 3:16. You may have asked yourself, what does that mean? These people are joyfully telling the world that there is a way for us to spend eternity in heaven! According to John 3:16, “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.” Verses 17-18 go on to explain:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.

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.
 

I have highlighted the words believe and not believe in the previous verses and in the ones in the opening of this article. To “believe” means more than agreeing that Jesus is God; it means trusting that Jesus Christ alone can save us from paying the price for our sins. Believing is to agree that what He says is trustworthy and that relying on Him gives us the power to change.

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, let the promises in these verses be yours. All you have to do is pray these verses to Jesus, believing them to be true. He’ll take care of the rest.

You can have everlasting life in heaven if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord!

I used to think at times that when I finally come face-to-face with God, I would have a list of questions to ask Him. However, I’ve come to realize that when I go home to be with Jesus, I won’t care about any of the “stuff” I have experienced here on earth. None of it will matter any longer because of the utter joy I will have in His presence.

Maybe if we thin out the debris and clutter in our lives, we’ll make more room for God to reside with us and within us. The more we rely on Him to guide our lives, the more we’ll be able to know His will for us. That’s when we might stop wondering what eternity holds for us and start believing in the only One who matters.

Now that’s a risk management plan I can live with forever!


To find out more about how to ask Jesus to be the Savior and Lord of your life, please go here to read more about it.

You are also welcome to email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com with any questions you might have.

The Daniel Protocol (from Koinonina House)

I originally published this article from Koinonia Institute Strategic Research a couple of years ago. It seems much has changed in our world, but in fact it really has not so this is still pertinent… maybe even more so. 

08-03-01-daniel-in-the-lions-den-520x315

The Daniel Protocol

By Steve Elwart
August 3, 2015
…..
Many claim “I’m a loyal person!”
but who can find someone who truly is?
—Proverbs 20:6, ISV

With all the worldview changes occurring today, what is a Christian to do? Does one hunker down and withdraw from the world or does one stand and fight? The answer may lie in The Daniel Protocol.

Issues for Today

Over the past few years, world events have brought new meaning to the Biblical prophecy of a time where good is called evil and evil is called good. Some of the issues we face today are:

  1. Sanctity of Life: There has been a steady encroachment on the sanctity of life by abortion, euthanasia, cloning and embryonic stem cell research.
  2. Religious Liberty: Every day religious liberties are being attacked. Christians are ostracized, fined, and imprisoned for following Biblical dictates. People are being told to “keep their religion to themselves.” Moral virtue is being decried as intolerance. It is acceptable to condemn Christianity, but nothing bad can be said about Islam. What a few years ago was called “mainstream religion” is now being called “extremist religion.”
  3. Marriage: The recognized concept of marriage that has been in place for millennia has been redefined. All kinds of sexual proclivities are not only considered acceptable, but are now deemed natural. The family, the foundation of any nation, is being eroded in the name of Progressivism.
  4. Terrorism: There is a war being waged where the enemy is not acknowledged. Shootings in the name of Allah are termed “workplace violence.” Jihadists who murder Christians, burn villages, and enslave women and children are called “warring tribes.” The violence being perpetrated on innocents is being termed “war in the name of fundamentalist religion,” placing many Christians in the same category as ISIS and Boko Haram. It is a clash of civilizations that is being put in terms of mere criminal activity.
  5. Judicial Roles: Judges are usurping the role of legislatures and creating law out of thin air.
  6. Faith-based solutions: Churches and faith-based organizations are being told they cannot operate unless they repudiate their religious mandates. Many Christian services are closing rather than bending to pressure from the State, leaving many people without help or hope.
  7. Education: Education is becoming less about learning and more about becoming “good citizens.” Those that choose to educate their own children along religious precepts are being put under great pressure to turn over their children to the State. Sometimes this means imprisonment.
  8. Media: All this under the watchful gaze of a Progressive media that is only reporting the news that fits their worldview.

Read the rest here.

Taunts and #Trust

Taunts and #Trust

By Patricia Knight

When he visited his three oldest brothers at the military battle field, David didn’t anticipate he would gain insight into military tactics, become involved in the conflict, and earn status as a national hero.

Israel was at war with their perpetual enemy, the Philistines. The armies faced each other positioned in battle lines on separate hills between a valley. The Philistine army decided issues of war through one champion, thereby offering economy of warriors. One soldier from each camp typically met in combat in the valley between the opposing armies. Adopted from the ancient Greeks, the Philistine tactic struck rigid terror in the hearts of the Israeli troops. Unprepared, the Israelis were caught at a definite disadvantage; they had no physical giants in their fighting force and fewer men with a colossal amount of courage. Thus, a stand-off ensued.

Goliath, the Philistine giant, stood nine feet, nine inches tall. He was protected by layers of impenetrable iron armor everywhere but his face. David heard Goliath bleat his usual chants of defiance to Israel. Twice daily for forty days, Goliath delivered his challenging taunts: “‘Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you become our subjects and serve us. This day I defy the ranks of Israel. Give me a man and let us fight each other’” (1 Samuel 17:8b-9).

Forty days is a long period to contemplate a formidable foe without taking action, plenty of time for the Israeli soldiers to acquire an overload of accumulated pessimism. The troops were demoralized and terrorized. Fear devastated their faith and their trust in God. Oddly, neither King Saul nor a priest reminded the men of God’s rich covenant promise. They were searching for security and relief from a human encounter. God’s important promise of sovereign support was scorned by the Israeli soldiers, who believed that Goliath, rather than their own God, was invincible.

Their paralyzing fear demonstrated that God’s people had lost all recall of the covenant promises God had made to destroy their enemies in the Promised Land. Victory was a conditional promise, contingent on the people trusting and obeying God. “‘When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory’” (Deuteronomy 20:1; 3b-4).

David, at age sixteen, had recently been anointed the next King of Israel, the shepherd of God’s people, and he was planning to defend the threatened and frightened flock. Although there were financial rewards and other perks for the victor who killed the Philistine giant, David was grieved that God’s honor had been violated by Goliath’s accusations. “‘The Lord who delivered me {David} from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine because he has defiled the armies of the living God’” (1 Samuel 17:36b-37).

When David heard Goliath’s threats, he volunteered to fight the giant. Immediately scoffers dismissed him. King Saul personally attempted to discourage David. “’You are only a boy and he {Goliath} has been a fighting man from his youth’” (1 Samuel 17:33). Goliath sneered in contempt and cursed David, calling him a dog.

David didn’t quickly fabricate courage at such a critical moment. He lived a life of constant obedience, depending on God’s provisions and faithfulness. When an emergency situation arose, David recognized his source of power, assured he could lean heavily on God. By slaying Goliath, David exhibited heroic faith, empowered exclusively by God’s sovereign strength and accuracy.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the commitment to perform in the midst of fear.

Every day we are confronted with intimidating situations. Do we seek God’s guidance in prayer as our first response? His promises to us are just as valid as they were to the Israelite nation centuries ago: “‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go’” (Joshua 1:9). God is bigger and more powerful than any of our foes, no matter how insurmountable they may appear.

Josh1-9--AMP

Like us, David wasn’t fearless. Fear is a normal human reaction to threats or danger. God desires to relieve us of the emotional stress created by the myriad fearful situations that occur daily: fear of criticism, panic of public speaking, dread of death; even our personal insecurities are masked fears. King David wrote, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burden” (Psalm 68:19).

Do our lives demonstrate a consistent faith that exhibits obedience and worship? Asking God to intervene is often a last resort. That need not be, according to the assurances in God’s Word. “‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’  So I say with confidence, ‘the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

The next time your heart begins to freeze with fear, whisper a quick prayer to Jesus. In a time-sensitive situation, simply cry out, “Help!” When we experience shock, words often elude us, but we are assured that God knows our predicament and He has made provisions for it. As believers, our spirit is joined with the Spirit of God. During those times when fear renders us spiritually mute, “the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (Romans 8:26b-27, NLT).

As Christians, we are permitted ready access to Almighty God. Let us not diminish the love and grace buttressing that gift. “‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’” (Jeremiah 32:27). God is worthy of our obedience; He is always faithful, fulfilling every promise in exact detail. Jesus came to earth with the promise of peace as the Messiah. In His war against sin and injustice, Jesus is the ultimate victor (Colossians 1:20).

How many giants do we face who threaten to reduce us to a quivering mass of fear? God’s directions remain the same as centuries ago. “Do not be discouraged, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give” (2 Chronicles 20:15).

Our Lord will slay giants so enormous we cannot see beyond them,
for God is our ultimate source of confidence, power, and victory.

Why I Believe the Bible Is the Word of God

This is a wonderful article by Billy Graham that was featured in the September 2017 issue of Decision Magazine.

Billy Graham writes: “The Bible was written by 40 writers, over a period of 1,600 years, in 66 books. And the great theme from one end of the Bible to the other is redemption.”

Why I Believe the Bible
Is the Word of God

By Billy Graham

In the fourth chapter of Hebrews, verse 12, it says: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

It is the world’s best-seller. Yet this book, for the past 200 years, has been under increased attack. Many people, even within the church, have come to doubt whether the Bible is authoritative and trustworthy. When you talk about the Bible, someone will allege “Bibliolatry.” In other words, worshiping the Bible and not the Christ of the Bible. No, this is not Bibliolatry; the only knowledge we have of Jesus Christ is in the Bible.

Today there’s a growing movement to do away with the Bible. And if this movement succeeds, anarchy will rule. This generation must face the appalling fact that it’s either the Bible, or back to the jungles, because that’s exactly what will happen.

Today there’s a growing movement to do away with the Bible. And if this movement succeeds, anarchy will rule. This generation must face the appalling fact that it’s either the Bible, or back to the jungles, because that’s exactly what will happen.

Now the Bible teaches that God loves. All over the world men hunger to know God. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, all the religions of the world, arise from man’s searching for God. But God has already revealed Himself, and it’s reasonable for me to suppose that God, an intelligent Being, would somehow reveal Himself to us as a human race. Even our most atheistic scientists are beginning to say that something is behind the universe. There is some sort of order behind the universe and there must be some sort of intelligence. They may not say it’s God, but we call Him God. This Intelligence Who orders, and arranges, and creates, and makes us—down in our hearts we hunger to know Him.

Has God revealed Himself?

Read the rest here.

Complimented By Sheep

John10-14-15--AMP

Complimented By Sheep

By Patricia Knight

In the ancient Near East, Israeli people were known as nomadic herdsmen; the barren plains were dotted with sheep. Israel was dependent upon sheep for its livelihood: wool for warm coats, leather for tents, their milk and meat for sustenance, and live animals for temple sacrifices and offerings. Both Jacob and Job were wealthy patriarchs, their prosperity determined by the size of their livestock herds.  Jacob was “exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks of sheep and goats” (Genesis 30:43). Job “owned seven thousand sheep” (Job 1:3).

Sheep are mentioned more frequently than any other animal in the Bible. It seems natural, then, that so many narratives and parables in God’s Word use illustrations of shepherds and sheep. Kings in Old Testament times were often referred to as shepherd-leaders of their people. Jesus is our Great Shepherd.‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep’” (John 10:14-15). How miraculous that Jesus describes our shepherd-sheep relationship in terms He shares with His heavenly Father!

Jesus’ role extends beyond that of our shepherd; He is also our Shepherd-King, our salvation, security, and strength. We recognize His voice and respond with obedience. “Know that the Lord is God. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

The shepherd invests his life in the care of his flock. Such timid, docile animals are content to remain in the presence of their shepherd, as Christians thrive in the nearness of their Lord. The New Testament church was compared to a sheepfold and Jesus to the shepherd who protected the gate of the fold. The sheepfold is an enclosure where sheep gather in a flock at night. The shepherd sleeps at the entrance, the door or the gate of the fold, positioning his body between the defenseless sheep and nocturnal predators, scavengers, or thieves

Jesus is our door; nothing threatens us without it first alerting Him to danger. He is a living gate of the sheepfold, protecting us, His sheep. Jesus said, “‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture’” (John 10:9). In Jesus there is safety. We have the freedom to rest and have all of our needs supplied by the Great Shepherd, our Lord and Savior.

Israeli shepherds led their sheep rather than driving them. Their sheep responded to their own shepherd’s voice, and the shepherd knew each animal in his flock. “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. He goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But, they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John 10:3b; 4b-5).

Sheep are dumb, but curious animals. If a sheep wanders from his sheepfold, it is unable to find its way back. The shepherd must keep a keen eye on each member of the flock. Frequently an animal that roams gets entangled in briers, helpless to move; it may get mired in a water hole, or it may stumble over a cliff, lying injured below. The shepherd leaves the flock to search for one lost lamb. When he locates it, he tenderly wraps the frightened lamb in his coat and carries it to safety on his shoulders. Our Shepherd rescues us in a similar manner. “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12), the place of safety.

Sheep don’t seek isolation, but are social animals and prefer to live in a flock for safety and warmth. If one animal meanders from the fold, without his shepherd to follow, the lamb’s sense of direction is confused and it is quickly lost. As long as the shepherd is within hearing distance, sheep will bed down, comfortable and protected. Our Great Shepherd offers confidence, protection, and provision for us. “‘I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,’ declares the Sovereign Lord. ‘I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will build up the injured and strengthen the weak. I will shepherd the flock with justice’” (Ezekiel 34:15-16).

Sheep refuse to drink stagnant water, and are frightened by rushing or turbulent rivers, preferring to drink from tranquil streams. If there is no accessible water nearby, the shepherd patiently transports water in a pail to hydrate his flock.

John4-14-StreamMtn--AMP

Jesus taught the Samaritan woman at the well about Living Water. “‘Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (John 4:14). Jesus gives spiritual life by means of Living Water, as from a fresh water spring or a mountain stream, bubbling purity that refreshes and revives. Jesus, our Living Water, provides eternal life, producing rest and refreshment along life’s journey, the only antidote for quenching spiritual thirst.

We are created with free wills, but we frequently neglect to use our intelligence wisely, making bad choices, creating consequences like a wandering, lost lamb. Jesus, our Shepherd-King, promises to lead, to strengthen, and to rescue us from danger. He gave His own life as a sacrifice to redeem the sins of the spiritually lost. Those who know Jesus respond to His voice and to His leadership. “‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one’” (John 10:27-30, NLT).

Sheep symbolize the relationship with their shepherd that the Great Shepherd desires with us. Sheep are ideal models of submission; followers, not leaders, obedient to one shepherd, reacting to his call, comfortable in his presence. They depend upon their shepherd for food, for protection, and for treating their injuries. Jesus admonishes us to follow Him with similar dependency and trust.

Being compared to sheep may offend human pride, but Jesus himself designed the appropriate analogy. Like lambs, do we follow our Great Shepherd as if our lives depend upon His leadership? Let us humbly recall the numerous occasions on which our Shepherd-Lord rescued us from prickly brier patches of temptation and thorny thickets of sin. “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd, the Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Perhaps being compared to sheep is a spiritual compliment after all!

The Counsel I Often Give Young Married Couples

Sharing today from the Radical blog.

The Counsel I Often Give Young Married Couples

By Sean Gould

Have you guys had your orange juice moment yet?

This was a question my wife and I received over dinner with an older couple in our church. We had been married for a few months and were excited to spend the evening with an older and wiser couple in their home. This question, however, was a little bit of a shock to us. We had not received it before and certainly did not know what they meant. We stumbled a bit in our response and confessed we were a bit confused by the question.

They proceeded to tell us a story that explained the origin of this odd question. Many years ago when they were a newly married couple, they ventured out one Saturday morning together to the local grocery store. After walking through various aisles together and placing items into their cart they finally came to the orange juice section.

Read the rest here.