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Archive for November, 2008

Pray for Congo

beda-congoOh, Christian friends, pray for the people in Congo.  250,000 displaced people, 500,000 in desperate need of food, water or shelter.  Cholera outbreak, senseless violence!

For a photojournalist perspective go here and for a weblog and pics click here.

I wonder as I read and see what is happening in this country in Africa:  will we ever learn from the past?  Such meaningless suffering and tragic loss.

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Heart questions

Here are some questions that really get to my heart. My heart is the center of my spiritual allegiances, imaginations, desires and motives, thoughts and feelings, and actions.  I am reminded by this list that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart!

  • Who do you love? God or the world? (1 John 2:15)
  • Who do you trust?  God or people? (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
  • Who or what do your worship?  God or gods?  (2 Kings 17:36)
  • Who will you serve? God or money? (Matthew 6:24)
  • Who do you obey?  God or the devil (1 John 3:10)
  • For whose glory do you live?  God’s or you own?  (Romans 1:21-23)
  • Where is your treasure?  In God or the world? (Matthew 6:21)
  • To whom do you belong?  To God or Satan?  (John 8:44)

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The God of missions

“God is a God of missions.  He wills missions.  He commands missions.  He demands missions.  He made missions possible through His Son.  He made missions actual in sending the Holy Spirit.  Biblical Christianity and missions are organically interrelated.”–George Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions

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This was the name of the message I heard today at North Hills Community Church in Greenville, SC. The message was from Luke 16:14-18 when the Pharisees locked horns with Jesus over the issue of money.  Pastor Peter Hubbard showed how the the Pharisees derided Jesus, defended themselves, and distorted God’s Word.  Here are some simple take-away points that instructed and convicted me:

  • How easy is it to deceive ourselves
  • How much like the Pharisees we often are (hearing words of Christ but not doing them)
  • The important balance between truth and compassion in our lives
  • “Covetousness is dry drunkenness” (Thomas Watson)
  • When our hearts are oriented toward money, status, and people-pleasing, we lose our objectivity in seeing ourselves clearly, we rationalize our unwillingness to show compassion, and end up loving what God detests and detesting what God loves.”
  • The way we view money determines how we view the needy

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Have you had a week of thanksgiving?  I hope this brief series has helped cultivate gratitude in your heart!

As was mentioned on Sunday evening, sometimes it it difficult to give thanks for some things.  But God’s Word says,”Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  It is challenging to give thanks for some circumstances or some people.

Life Action Ministries provides this counsel:

Dr. Helen Rosevear, long-time missionary doctor in the Congo, told of a point in her life when she was shamefully mistreated at the hands of rebel soldiers.  She described the painful struggle that took place in her heart, as she sought to make sense out of the humiliation and physical suffering she had undergone.  Then she told of the release and peace that came when she sensed God asking her, “Helen, are you willing to give me thanks for that which I may never give you the privilege of understanding.”

Are there past or present circumstances, events, trials, or relationships for which you have never given God thanks?  Write them down.  Then, as an expression of faith and obedience, say, “Lord, I choose to give You thanks for _______________________, which you may never give me the privilege of understanding.”  Acknowledge God as the loving, wise, and just Sovereign over your life.  Trust Him and give thanks in all circumstances.

Well, I hope that these entries have encouraged you to cultivate thanksgiving.  Aim to develop the lifelong habit of cultivating and attitude of gratitude.  Doing so will transform your life and conform you into the image of Christ more and more.

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Paul describes the Spirit-controlled Christian as one who is “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

I read of one man of God who was meditating on this verse while he was brushing his teeth one morning.  He was challenged by the thought of thanking God for everything!  He said, “I began thanking God for my toothbrush. Then I thanked Him for the toothpaste. Then I realized that I had never thanked God for my teeth!”  He went on to ask this probing question:  “If tomorrow’s supply of blessing depended on today’s thanksgiving, how much would I have tomorrow?”

As you go through this day, try to consciously thank God for all things. . .small and big things!

(Acknowledgment:  Nancy Demoss’ “Search My Heart”)

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If you have today off to shop, relax or spend more time with family, you already have something to be thankful for! I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving!

But even though the holiday is over, don’t forget that we are to be 2:7 Christians.  “Rooted and built up in him [Christ] and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:7)

Remember the list you made yesterday of all kinds of people who have influenced your life for Christ? OK!  To cultivate thanksgiving today, call, write, or email three people on that list and express your thanksgiving for their influence and input in your life.  Didn’t write the list? OK!  Make it today and express your appreciation to them.

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Happy Thanksgiving to you today!

You are probably going to see some of those family members today that you wrote something down about yesterday.  Be sure to thank them for a specific character trait today. Put into practice what Paul wrote, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3)

And if you get a few quiet moments of reflection today [in between basting the turkey or watching the football games], make a  list of other individuals who have blessed you and touched your life in some way.  These might be teachers, friends, co-workers, neighbors, authors, missionaries, pastors, etc.  As you write down names, just ask yourself, “Have I ever or recently thanked this person for the way God has used him/her in my life?”

One ministry that has helped me develop an attitude of gratitude is Life Action Ministries, from which I have drawn some of the ideas for this post.

That’s it for today–a simple follow up to this suggestion comes tomorrow though, so don’t throw the list away.

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Can’t do it?

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”–Henry Ford

Where do you need to apply this advice in your life right now?  A paper due at school or finishing your semester or education?  Cleaning your house?  A major ministry undertaking?  Responding to God’s call in missions?  Reading a book?  Planning for a major change in your life?

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When you give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, among other things thank God for the Puritans.

One professor reminds us in this essay,puritans

Who should we thank on Thanksgiving, as we count our blessings? A complete list, beginning with God Himself, is far above my pay grade. But if we begin at least very near the beginning, we should thank those who gave us Thanksgiving — the Pilgrims or Puritans — for all they have given us. . . .

[The Puritans] “took care of the poor, maintained their highways, kept careful records and registries, secured law and order, and, most of all, provided education for everyone — through high school. The purpose of universal education was that everyone should be able to read the Bible to know what’s most important — his or her duties to their Creator — for themselves. Everyone must read in order that no one be deceived or suckered by others.”

And another author asks,

Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving—at least, we know the Pilgrim version. But how many of us know the Indian viewpoint?

No, I’m not talking about some revisionist, politically correct version of history. I’m talking about the amazing story of the way God used an Indian named Squanto as a special instrument of His providence.

Read his brief account of “Squanto: God’s Instrument of Providence”

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