Giving Thanks

In order to truly give thanks, we have to understand that all true blessings come from God, the perfect giver of every good gift. Everything we have is from Him. Therefore it is my desire today to express my deepest gratitudeThanksgiving-Pictures to God for the following blessings:

1. I give God thanks for rescuing me from the power of darkness and placing me into the kingdom of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13).

2. I give God thanks for gracing me with an incredible wife, whom God knew would fit me well, and whom God knew I would fit well. (Proverbs 18:22).

3. I give God thanks for the blessed treasure of two children, whom God is sanctifying and using to be a blessing to others. (Psalm 127:3).

4. I give God thanks for the privilege of owning a copy of His Word. I realize this is a privilege most in church history have not had. It is His Word which continually shapes my thinking and my living…and I have a lot to learn (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

5. I give God thanks for putting me into the ministry, knowing that I have done nothing to deserve the privilege. (1 Timothy 1:12-13).

6. I give God thanks for the assembly of the saints whom God has called together to worship together, encourage one another, and serve together for the glory of God (Ephesians 4:12). I am thankful to God for Heritage Baptist Church.

There are many other daily blessings from God, but these stand out to me. It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord. Root your thanksgiving in the grace, kindness, and love of our wonderful, awe-inspiring God.

Humility in a “Selfie” World

It is amazing to see how our technological world is changing year by year. I was speaking with someone recently about the fact that when I was in college, cell phones were not an option. Yet now, not even twenty years afterGUWG-Humility graduation, we don’t even have a land-line phone in our home. In college, the internet was still in its infancy, whereas today who can imagine life without it? Technology is a great blessing, with its portability, speed, links to worldwide information in a virtual instantaneous fashion, and so many other things. I would guess, though, it is still to be determined as to whether or not blogging is part of that blessing (I say with the proverbial tongue in cheek).

Today, we are in the midst of a technological phenomenon known as taking “selfies.” This is when an individual takes a photograph of him/herself and posts it on the internet (facebook, instagram, etc). The photos usually do not seem to serve a real purpose, other than to put one’s picture out for all to see. I could speculate as to motivations for doing this, but I will refrain. Young people are particularly adept at this, holding their cell phone/camera at arm’s length, or towards a mirror and snapping a “selfie” in some kind of pose.

First Peter 5:5 says to believers, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” This verse creates a picture that as Christians we are to wrap ourselves up in the garment of humility, so that it is what characterizes us, because God is in opposition to pride. He always has been and always will be. However, grace – God’s divine favor – is always extended to the humble person.

In light of the biblical virtue of humility, I would like to challenge the practice of taking “selfies.” Humility is not thinking lowly of yourself; it is not giving any thought to yourself or wanting any glory given to yourself at all because of your love for God and love for others. Humility does not seek its own advancement, its own pleasure, or its own attention. Humility attempts to deflect attention away and place it on others, and particularly on the One who is worthy of all glory, God himself. “Selfies” do not seem to fit with the biblical ethic of humility, but rather of pride. If God has blessed individuals with a certain level of physical beauty, it is not that person’s right to call everyone else’s attention to it.

Humility has been referred to as the queen of virtues, and is always honored by the Lord. When men humble themselves, there is great blessing. However, when men seek to puff themselves up, or garner attention to themselves for various reasons and away from God, there is opposition and consequences.

Humility must be cultivated, for we are not naturally humble people. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was “meek and lowly of heart” and this characteristic is something that the Spirit desires to produce in us to make us more like our Savior. Cultivate humility in a “selfie” world. As God’s people, let’s seek to draw attention away from ourselves, and point people to our great God.

Discernment in Behavior

At the end of Paul’s list of the various works of the flesh in Galatians 5, he includes the phrase “and things like these.” That is a very interesting way of concluding that list. What this phrase implies is that there is more that Paul could have added to that list, but chose not to. That list of fifteen works of the flesh are merely representative rather than exhaustive in nature. Our fleshly behavior extends well beyond those particular aspects, as we all well know.

This leads us to conclude that we need to make judgments as to what is fleshly and what is not. If the list could have continued, we must understand which kinds of things would fit the category of “works of the flesh.” This requires spiritual discernment. Discernment in our behavior is vital to the growth of Christians. Once a person is born again, he is free to live for the glory of God, but not free from the necessity of being morally discerning about his behavior as a Christian. He must, in fact, scrutinize his life to determine what is and is not pleasing to the Lord. His lifestyle, his behavior, his way of thinking and living are all aspects that must be addressed. This scrutiny comes by using the lens of the Scripture, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and even the leadership of godly people.

Christians are not immune from practicing the works of the flesh. In this 21st century, the potential works of the flesh are multiplied because of advances in many aspects of living. It has become easier and more portable to practice the works of the flesh. Christians, however, must live and behave in distinctly ways, and strive to not allow the works of the flesh to be evident. Discernment is necessary with regards to one’s own behavior; honesty is indispensable when it comes to assessing what constitutes a work of the flesh. The works of the flesh must be rooted out and replaced with the fruit of the Spirit, for the glory of God.

The Blessing of Voting

Today is election day, 2014. In the USA, we have a wonderful system in place which allows us as citizens to have the opportunity to express ouropinion through the ballot box. Every registered voter has an equal opportunity, and an equal voice in who they desire to be elected for various offices. But can you imagine what life would be like if we did not have that privilege?vote

For instance, think of Old Testament Israel. After the kingdom split, the northern kingdom of Israel never had one king who did right in God’s sight. One of those kings, Ahab, ruled for about 20 years. He was a wicked man, who had a wicked wife, and who did wicked things. Israel could not vote him out of office, but had to endure his reign. In the southern kingdom, though there were some kings who did right in God’s eyes, some did not. King Manasseh ruled for 55 years. While the end of his reign saw some heart change, he brought the kingdom of Judah into great wickedness. The citizens of Judah could not cast a ballot against the king, but had to endure all those years.

While the USA has had its fair share of Presidents who do not fear the Lord, we at least have the blessing of knowing they can serve no more than a maximum of eight years. And every four years, we have a chance to change who sits in the oval office.

I say that voting is a blessing that every Christian who is able to do so should take advantage of. We do not put our confidence or hope in any political party or candidate. We ought to vote responsibly, according to a biblical worldview, and with a mind to put people in office who will do our country good rather than evil.

So today, go out and vote.