Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks--even for the Lions!

If you gave a gift to me, how would you feel if I thanked everyone in the room...except you?

We hear a lot about being thankful at this time of year.

Today is one of the few days when the entire country is 'on the same page' and giving thanks for something. Some are thankful for family, some are thankful for jobs, some for health, houses, some for turkey...even the Detroit Lions on t.v.!

Question: Who are we thankful to?

Is it simply some impersonal 'force', or 'fate' which has put you here at this time, in this place?

I don't think so.

I am convinced it is the hand of Almighty God who has blessed us with all these blessings, even if we haven't acknowledged Him in any way.

"Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:16-17)

In fact, in back in 1789, President George Washington's first Thanksgiving address, he said this:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and 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:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be..." (The entire Proclamation can be found at the link:

The point is that we should be thankful to a specific Being-Almighty God!

It is He who gives us everything from air, water and food to family, freedom, and fun times! Even football (yes, even the Lions on Thanksgiving day) is part of the blessing of Almighty God!

Psalm 100 says it this way:

"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation."

Today, be thankful...enjoy family, friends, and football.

Just remember to give thanks to a Almighty God, as the One who is the source of your blessings...and tomorrow, when you move on to Christmas Prep, ask Him to be a bigger part of your life--not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Good Example (Revelation 3:7-12) in Philadelphia?

Here's a total NON-news flash: The world is full of bad examples.

Bad examples from Hollywood...from Washington...from Lansing...and even from Kalamazoo.

Even in the Church--the worldwide family of those who believe in and follow (at least, theoretically) Jesus Christ.

Bad examples are where are the GOOD examples?

In this 6th letter to the churches in the book of Revelation, there's one. This letter is to the church in Philadelphia (In the Ancient near east--not the one in PA)!

So many churches had been confronted in these chapters...over things like comprimise, tolerating sin and evil within, inconsistency in commitment, and the desire to 'fit in' with this world...that it's refreshing to hear of a good example!

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth." (Revelation 3:7-10)

There are a lot of important points in there (best reserved for more in-depth Bible study), but the important overall point is that this church, which was apparently relatively small, had power--Power to stand firm. Power to NOT compromise. Power to remain firmly committed to the Word of God--to GOD'S standards and teachings--not this world's!

This church had endured persecution, and was remaining true and loyal. They had not 'denied [the name of Jesus]', but had kept worshipping and following Him. This meant more than simply resisting the pressure to recant their Christian testimony--it meant being faithful to Jesus in every way!

It's not just about what we don't do that God is interested's about what we DO do! It's about how we live our faith out...not only the things we avoid, that matter.

Jesus promised to rescue them from the trial which would come upon the world (the rapture?...unclear in my mind), but again the point is that BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN FAITHFUL, He promised to deliver them.

So, what's this mean to us?

If you're a believer, it should be an encouragement to you! Jesus sees our deeds! He knows when we remian faithful, despite pressure to 'cave' and outright opposition to our faith--or to key elements of it! He will give us the power--even in small congregations, and even as individuals--to overcome...and He will give us a permanent and secure place in His Kingdom.

This should also be a reminder to remain faithful! Despite opposition, despite pressure, despite all those who say that following God's word is ...old, antiquated, out of date, irrelevant, ignorant,...or whatever else, that we remain faithful!

God sees you! He knows! He WILL deliver you and give you peace!

Onward to Victory!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The "Next Level"

We hear it all the time--that someone has to 'take it to the next level'.

An athlete needs to take his play 'to the next level' if he's going to be great...a student needs to take her studies 'to the next level' if she's really going to excel...

...So what does it mean to take our Spiritual Lives 'to the next level'?

For me, it has to do a lot with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit "is with you, and will be in you" (John 14:17). I believe that this was fulfilled at Pentecost, and has been fulfilled from that day forward for every believer (Paul says that we are "sealed" by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4), and that our bodies are "temples" of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6).)

Clearly, the Holy Spirit IS in the life of the believer in why do we often live as if He's not?

For me, God has been showing me that I've been trying to do the impossible: I've been trying to live my life in a Spiritual way, by depending on my own strength. I've been trying to do what only God's Holy Spirit can do! I've been trying to accomplish something through my 'flesh' that can only be accomplished by yielding to the Holy Spirit.

Remember that Paul said that "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18).

In other words, it is God's Spirit who works in us to accomplish this change--to bring us to "the Next Level".

As for me, I want to cooperate with Him more. I want to be more sensitive to His leading. I want to sense His work within me more--changing me 'from glory to glory' (as one version puts the above). I want His power at work in my life, and I want Him--not me--to get the glory for it.

What does that look like for you?

Is it more passion in your relationship to God? Is it more willingness to obey? More commitment to His Word? A yielded heart and mind? A willingness to 'live by faith' and DO 'that thing' He's been leading you to?

Stop yourself long enough to answer this question: "If God, through the Holy Spirit, wanted to take YOU to the next level, what would it be?"

What does He want to accomplish in you?

May God continue to take each of our faith "to the Next Level"!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Red vs. Blue: Where do we go from here?

So, the Republicans won the House. The Democrats still run the Senate, and President Obama is still in the White where do we go from here?

Note: I am NOT talking about political strategy!

Some of you know my political leanings--I am conservative and I often vote Republican...but, at least for today, I'm not thinking about votes, office, campaigns, etc.

I am reminded (actually, it's happened a lot lately) that I am a Christian 1st, an American 2nd. What I mean by that is that I need to keep my allegiances and attention in the 'right' order. In my opinion, it is MUCH more important how I follow Christ than it is how I follow a politician--no matter who it is!

A politician, at best, can bring about his plans. They may be important, but they pale in comparison to the Lord's plans!

"The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance." (Psalm 33:10-12)

I want to be sure to keep clear in my own mind: The LORD is God--the LORD is sovereign! The LORD directs me, directs His Church, and directs the plans of this world!

I speak to myself as much as I do to anyone else: Don't let yourself get too caught up in the political tug-of-war that happens. While not unimportant, these things are NOT eternal! Only the Kingdom of God is!

"For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior." (Philippians 3:18-20)

I know you're an American, and part of taking that seriously is to be informed, be involved, and vote...just don't lose sight of the fact that, IF you are a Christian, you live on a much different level. Your primary identity is "Christian"!

Let us do everything we can to Live like it!