Thankfulness Must be Expressed

February 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 5 Comments
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The victory achieved by Christ for His people is sure, but its ultimate fulfillment is yet to be experienced. For that to happen, these things must occur:

V.anity must be expelled.
I.mmortality must be entered into.
C.orruption must be eliminated.
and
Thankfulness must be expressed.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57

The quickest way to lose our thankfulness, and to be discontented and dissatisfied, is to stop giving thanks. God does not owe us the victory. It is a gift of His grace, and He is perfectly entitled to our gratitude.

It has become very fashionable recently for famous athletes to thank God after winning a game.

athlete giving thanks to God.png

I won’t pretend to know how sincere they are when doing this, nor what their particular ideas of “God” may be in each case, but I can’t fault them for the idea. It certainly makes sense to give thanks to Him, but, if you are thankful to God (and should we ever be!), then don’t dilute it by saying, “Thank God!” flippantly, or by saying, “Thank God it’s Friday,” when God is the last thing on your mind as you enter the weekend, or by saying, “Thank You, Jesus, I thought that fool would never shut up!” when you are exasperated. Make sure you are sincere, but, being sincere, DO be expressive. Thankfulness reminds us that our victory is not really ours, but His.

Next time we will see that opportunity must be embraced.

Remembering the Garlic

February 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Posted in Exodus | 9 Comments
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Exodus 12:38 contains a seemingly minor detail at the climax of the plagues account that would have larger repercussions later on. In order to get the context, though, we will start here:

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

Exodus 12:30

This is the final plague/sign, commonly known as “the death of the firstborn.”

And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.

Exodus 12:31

The Lord had arranged a complete capitulation by Pharaoh, not a compromised or negotiated softening of his heart.

Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.

Exodus 13:32-34

The rules for observing the Passover feast would require the use of unleavened bread.

And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:

Exodus 12:35

These jewels and clothing were “borrowed” in the sense that the Egyptians gave them freely, not in the sense that they expected to get them back. God had arranged this “civilized plunder” of the Egyptians in order to make it clear that it was not the might of the Israelites that accomplished their deliverance; it was purely and completely the work of the Lord.

And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

Exodus 12:36

These things were “lent” from the perspective of the Egyptians, again meaning that they did it freely and voluntarily, although, from God’s perspective, these were the “spoils” of the war He had waged (and won) against Pharaoh and the false Egyptian gods. If the Israelites were more mystified than victorious in their demeanor when they received these spoils, it was because God had done all the fighting, not them.

And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

Exodus 12:37-38 (emphasis added)

This “mixed multitude” consisted of non-Jewish people who decided to leave Egypt along with the children of Israel for whatever reason. The term connotes the idea that these were some of the “rabble” or “riffraff” of Egyptian society. In other words, they were not the best and the brightest of Egypt. They may have included some escaping slaves or criminals – or maybe even people who were hoping to get back some of the stuff they had just given to the Israelites. They may have also been scared that the plagues would continue, and wanted to get out while the getting was good.

When you have a group of people who are truly following and fearing God, and another group of people mixed in who have an ulterior motive for being there, we might predict that a recipe for trouble is forming. Let’s see what happens when they turn up again in Scripture.

The Israelites didn’t have enough faith to go straight into the promised land, so they wound up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. God was feeding them with manna, which was “heavenly bread” that fell from the sky.

And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

Numbers 11:4

A great number of Israelites had just been burned up for complaining and being ungrateful and blaspheming God. Now they are being influenced by these hangers-on – the mixed multitude.

We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:

Numbers 11:5

Discontentment and a lack of faith can really play havoc with the memory. Cucumbers? What about the forced slave labor? Melons? What about the lack of freedom to worship? The onions? What about the beatings and torture and abuse? The garlic? What about when Pharaoh wanted to kill all the firstborn sons? Instead of rational analysis, and instead of looking on the bright side, they expressed ingratitude:

But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it. Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.

Numbers 11:6-10

Here are three simple lessons we can take from this account:

1. We need to be careful about who we allow to influence us.

The mixed multitude were in the Israelite crowd, but they were not really God’s people. Not everybody who claims to be a Christian really is. Not everybody who comes to church comes to worship God. Jesus taught about the difference between wheat and tares.

2. Don’t fall for the lie that the world tastes better.

Our flesh has a short memory. The Word of God tells us what is truly good for us.

3. God provides what is best for us whether we recognize it or not.

Satan and this world’s system will always attempt to counterfeit things to meet what we perceive as our own “needs.” Only God can truly meet our needs.

Two Sides to Every Blessing

January 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 3 Comments
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In a previous lesson we learned two fundamental principles from Psalm 116:

1. God answers the prayers of His children.
2. God’s attributes tend toward rescue.

Here is another:

3. God’s affections are set on His children.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:12-13

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” This question can be taken two ways. It can be seen as rhetorical. Obviously we can never pay the Lord back for all the benefits He has granted us. It can also be seen as practical. Although we can never pay the Lord back for what He has done for us, we certainly ought to be encouraged to serve Him out of gratitude.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalm 116:15

Again, this verse has a double application. First, God rewards those who die in the faith, and second, God is not indifferent when His saints are threatened with death.

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

I Peter 2:4-7

God loves His Son, yet He gave His Son to die for us. Therefore, it stands to reason that He loves us deeply. He will not let us die until the appointed time.

4. God approves His own Covenant.

O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.

Psalm 116:16

A “servant” is a “son of the Covenant.” God is faithful to keep His promises.

After God has rescued you, be sure to express gratitude. We cannot “buy” God’s blessings, but when we call for help in an emergency, it is only right that we thank Him, and keep whatever promises we made in the time of trouble.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:12-14

God knows our hearts, and He may overlook rash words and promises, but here is a good recipe for post-rescue gratitude:

1. Give a thank offering.
2. Pour out some highly-valued part of your life like wine on the altar. People are often afraid to pour out the sin and vanity in their lives because they are afraid it will leave them empty, but it won’t! The Lord will fill you with something better.
3. Set aside part of your offering for sharing with others, and publicly thank the Lord in front of them.
4. Keep the promises you made.

The Last but Not the Least – Part 2

August 20, 2010 at 10:05 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 8 Comments
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Previously, we saw that:

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

Now we will see that:

Being content brings gratitude.

What are you thankful for? “Count your many blessings – name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done,” says an old hymn. Do you ever feel like God has not really done so much for you? Do you ever think that your car isn’t the fanciest car, or maybe parts of it don’t even work that well? Do you ever get depressed because your house isn’t the nicest house? Do you sometimes think your marriage is not all you hoped it would be, and wonder, why did I wind up with this spouse? Are there times when your kids are behaving like heathens, tormenting you to death, and you think, why can’t they be like so-and-so’s kids? When that happens, grab your steering wheel and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the car You’ve given me – it gets me from work to home and home to work – thank You for it!” Husbands, when your wife isn’t always nice and sweet – or when you wish she looked like she did when you first married her – or when you wish she looked like that Hollywood actress or model – look at your wife and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the wife You’ve given me!” Wives, when you think, why can’t my husband be more romantic – why can’t he spend more time with me or with the kids, why doesn’t he ask me how my day was, or why is he too tired to talk after working all day – look at your husband and say, “Thank You, Lord – thank You for a husband that works, that supports the family!” Parents, look at your kids and say, “Thank You, Lord, for these kids – these are the kids You’ve given me – I love them – help me to be a help to them!”

When you are not satisfied with your husband, your wife, your job, your home – when your children don’t make good grades like someone else’s children, ask God to change things – but THANK HIM for what He’s given you already. Contentment is when a Christian draws on Jesus Christ for his or her joy. Covetousness is when you blame God because you think deep down He didn’t know what was best – that He gave to somebody else what He should have given to you. Be very careful about thinking you know better than God. He sees things we don’t see – and He knows who can handle what. I once heard an evangelist named John Bishop say, “If we took all our problems and hung them on a line, you’d choose yours, and I’d choose mine.”

Being content brings gratitude, but being covetous brings gall.

What is gall? It’s the Bible word for bitterness. When God brought His people out of Egypt He warned them not to covet after all the things and the possessions and the ways of the Egyptians and the Canaanites.

(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

Deuteronomy 29:16-18

According to God, the water of covetousness is poisonous water. This poisoned water waters a poisonous little root – a root of bitterness. And bitterness, when it grows into full bloom, doesn’t just defile you – the Bible says beware of a root of bitterness because many therewith will be defiled.

The things and the people in your life that tempt you to covet may be ordained by God to make you like Christ. Don’t spit in God’s face by being covetous – by wanting what He’s given to someone else. The grass is not always greener on the other side – sometimes the grass is Astroturf – and you’ll die trying to digest it.

Next time: Being content brings glory to God, but being covetous brings grief to a generation.


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