From the minister's desk
First let me say in our tradition “Happy Thanksgiving” to all. Since we know who our Father is, we should be thankful in our giving. But let me relieve you of any stress or tension you may be feeling. I’m not talking about your money yet. Knowing who your Father is, where He is, all that He has done for you and the things He has in store for you ought to make you thankful in your giving! “…it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
This is that time of year when families and friends come together to have a meal and update themselves on current events in their lives. Every household probably offers a prayer to God for the family, food, friends, jobs, health and various issues of life. All say they are thankful! All are thankful for what they have gotten, but what have they given? Every year I’ve asked that you invite a stranger, (non-member, coworker, neighbor or someone who recently had a loss) into your home to share in your blessings. Though many have not God still blesses them. But do you know what your heavenly Father really expects on such occasions?
He gave us wise advice via wise man Solomon: “Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor.” Pro.22:9 Have a Happy Thanksgiving by feeding someone in need or has less than you do. “A poor man’s own brothers turn away from him in embarrassment; how much more will his friends! He calls after them, but they are gone. 19:7 No one in God’s family should be without on Thanksgiving or any other day! If you know of a member in distress, God wants you to know to see what you will do. Remember who your Father is and be ye thankful.
“When you help (or feed) the poor you are lending to the Lord and He pays wonderful interest on your loan.” 19:17 You can be thankful in your giving when you are giving with a godly heart. “Mocking (ignoring) the poor is mocking (ignoring) the God who made them. He will punish those who rejoice at others misfortunes.” 17:5 “If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied, but cursed are those who close their eyes to poverty.” 28:27
Notice the connection between God and the poor. The message is to bless others and God will bless you.
Remember “We can justify our every deed, but God looks at our motives.” 21:2 Jesus our brother tells us “When you make a dinner or supper, don’t call your friends, brethren, relatives nor your rich neighbors; for they will return the invitation and invite you over. Instead, invite the poor, the cripple and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the godly, God will reward you for inviting those who can’t repay you.” Lk.14:12-14 Thanks For Your Giving! Really you are only sharing what your Father has given you with others. Be thankful that you are like your Father and you have it to give. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you that you lack nothing…” 2Cor.9:8
God said “All the animals are mine, the cattle on a thousand hills and all the birds upon the mountains. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the whole world is mine and everything in it… What I want from you is your true thanks; I want your promises fulfilled. I want you to trust me in your times of trouble so I can rescue you and you give me glory.” Psa.50:10-15 We can glorify God by “first giving our own selves to Him” then obey the teaching. “Now upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store as God has prospered him…” 1Cor.16:1-2 “For if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man has and not according to what he does not have.” 2Cor.8:12
Whatever you give today in any way “must first be of a willing heart and cheerfully to be acceptable by God.” So, give Him your best as He have given us His best. Then watch how He blesses your life! Thank you for your giving and giving thanks. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
As a minister of Jesus Christ, an overseer of this part of His flock and a teacher in His Kingdom, nothing matters more to me than doing my best to ensure that I have shown, led, taught and made diligent efforts to helping all who “loves the Lord and are called according to His purpose” to learn of God, trust in the word of God and redeem the time he has given each of us. Since none of us know when the last time we will see one another when we separate. No time for foolishness.
Consider the historical overview of the “Heroes of Faith,” both men and women God has listed for us. Heb.11:1-40… Why won’t you spend some time reading the rest of each of their life’s account and what God was so pleased with about them that He honors them in the scriptures. To have their names listed as “all dying in faith, yet not receive the promises, but seeing them afar off, and were persuaded of the promises, they embraced the promises and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They plainly declared that they were seeking a country… But now the desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.” 13-16 He has prepared a city for us as well, Heaven. Have you been persuaded that it exists and working to get there? We must not make him ashamed by calling Him our God and hanging out with Satan.
Pay close attention to the lesson this month. Learn of the good and evil that each of us must endure in this life, knowing that “our light afflictions are but for a moment, and works for us a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen: for the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal.” 2Cor.4:17-18 This means each of us must make a determined effort to prioritize and refocus our energies and efforts on “the things above and not on the things of the earth.” Col.3:1-2 Learning that “we have been called to be holy as he who has called us is holy.” 1 Pt.1:15-16 We will come to understand more fully how and why our suffering and remaining faithful through it until the end is pleasing to and glorifies God the Father. “We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2Pt.3:18 We are to learn of His suffering, the good and evil in it and have faith that our suffering will be rewarded as well.
Never take your life for granted. Prepare yourself for the good and evil which will come into your life. Be careful not to deceive yourself. “Therefore, if you think you stand (are alright) take heed lest you fall.” Know that “no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1Cor.10:12-13 Don’t be over confident in your life’s challenges lest you fall prey to them. Never think that your problems, your evils are only happening to you. Trust that God knows and will not allow you to have any evils in your life that no one else has encountered. But know that He knows your weaknesses, your frailty and what you’re able to endure. Have faith that God will make a way for you to escape or get out of any temptation so you can endure it. Don’t let your trials or sufferings cause you to leave the only one who can help get you through them. Take the good and the evil and leave the outcome to God. “Rejoice in your trials, having faith in God, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul.” 1Pt.16-9 Spend more time with God, in His word and in prayer being “doers of the word and not just hearers and readers only” that your faith may increase. God will reward your faith with eternal life with Him.
People age well when they have a purpose. God has given each of us a purpose. Not fulfilling your purpose will ultimately leave you feeling empty, useless, unwanted and unimportant. Living to get old is a blessing. It is a good thing, especially when in Christ and serving His purpose. The experiences and wisdom he blesses us with is to be use to help those coming after us, to avoid certain mistakes in life so that they may be better prepared to live a better life while being faithful and fruitful for the cause of Christ. The older are to teach the younger. This is not a suggestion, but a command from the Lord.
The Psalmist gave us helpful, hopeful and encouraging information that should comfort and energize us in our old age. One of his psalms read, “Don’t cast me off in the time of old age; don’t forsake me when my strength fails.” Psa.71:9 “Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me; until I have shown your strength unto this generation and your power to every one that is to come.” The Lord has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So, we can boldly say, the Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Heb.13:5-6 The evils man brings upon you is still far less than the good God gives you now and in the afterlife. Do you trust Him in your old age?
“They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” Psa.92:14 If you are not bringing forth fruit still for the Lord and if you are not doing well and flourishing by God’s standards, you are holding back from God. Someone or something has hindered you from being all you can be for the Lord. This has kept back blessings that God has for you.
The evil things about getting old might be the pains, trials and tribulations you encounter, some resulting from your choices and decisions in life, others are such as common to man.
We are told that “the hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” Psa.16:31 Don’t be ashamed of your age if you are in Christ. It is a blessing indeed with greater benefits if you have been living right. It is not a joke or a mockery to remind anyone complaining about getting old of the only other choice they have, that is to die.
Look ahead to the promises and rewards you have as a child of God whether young or old if you believe scriptures. You have “all that you need that pertain to life and godliness.” You have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort you in truth and in life. You have salvation in Jesus Christ. You have a home prepared where all saints will abide, over in the glory land. You have a mansion in the Father’s house prepared for you, prepare yourself for it. You have so much that you can’t see that far out weigh the things that we can see which can be deceptive and a hinderance to our faith. Old people have so much more to be thankful and must let the younger people see their thankfulness, joy and commitment to Jesus Christ!
But right here, right now what ever your age, please acknowledge that you did not get to this point on your own. It was God’s goodness, grace and mercy. Celebrate everyday you live, for everyday is a gift from God that ought to be appreciated and lived as a child of God.
We are embarking on another relevant topic to learn about and discuss. As we are surrounded by good and evil, it is important to know where it’s coming from and why? Let’s define good and evil. Good is by definition ‘whole, free from injury or disease, profitable, deserving of respect, virtuous, honorable, just, right, etc.’ God embodies all of these and more. All good things are of God.
Evil is a force which stands in opposition to God and righteousness. This force originates with Satan, the archenemy of truth and good. The scriptures reveal evil from two distinct aspects; moral and physical. Moral evil or sin is any lack of conformity to God’s moral law. It is the cause of the existence of physical or natural evil in this world. Adam and Eve, the first humans, enjoyed perfect fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden. When they ate of the tree which God had forbidden them, they disobeyed God, thus being evil and were banished from the Garden of Eden.
Just as with Satan, God did not destroy them, but He allowed or permitted evil to exist that His justice might be manifested in its punishment and His grace in its forgiveness. As far reaching as the sin of the first humans has been, even so does the grace and forgiveness of God. God permits both good and evil to abide and uses one to offset the other to accomplish His good pleasure.
We know that Jesus is good. We also know that following Jesus will draw even more evil unto us. But do we understand what that is and why? Are we preparing ourselves to deal with the good and evil that comes with being a Christian? Being a Christian is work and is ‘a work.’ As we work on our own lives in Christ to be more like Christ, we must also work to bring others to Christ.
Being a Christian is good. But there is a lot of evil that comes with being a Christian. Though evil abounds, so does good abound even more. We can try to figure out good and evil for ourselves, learn by trial and error, or we can listen to God and avoid many of the evil things that may befall us.
Jesus was preaching, and recruiting disciples at the same time. He told them to follow Him and what their work would be. They all left their work and committed themselves to doing His work. Their work was to learn how to follow Jesus, work together and rescue others. That’s the teaching of these verses. Mt.4:17-20… Their identity as a disciple of Christ was met with much evil. They like Christ endured, persevered and overcame evil with the goodness of obeying God.
As we try to teach, remind and encourage one another in the work of the Lord, let’s maintain “the mind of Christ” and be concerned about others, for this pleases God. Phil.2:1-5… Having the mind of Christ, we would constantly seek after those who have no idea that they are wrong because of the lies, false teachers and false doctrines in the world; those who have wandered away from God by not being faithful, not staying on the road map or studying or feeding their spirit with the word of God. Regardless of their demise or how they got there, we are to be rescuers, fishers of men for the Lord. Just as none of us “deserve” God’s mercy and none of us can save ourselves, the good news is that in spite of our state, when we call out to God for help, He rescues us. God is good! Believing this, we must accept the good that comes into our lives as well as the evil and trust God to deliver us.
Last week we had a four-day revival by Bro. Brandon Starling. He reminded us of four deaths, three in which we as children of God will engage in and four deaths that all mankind must engage in. The spiritual, baptismal, and physical death for us and spiritual, physical and second death for everyone else. Only the baptismal death puts one in Christ, where “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places are.” Eph.1:3 You can see what divides the human race in God’s plan. Not everyone will choose to believe on or be baptized into Christ Jesus, which was God’s plan “before the foundation of the world.” 1:4 How we learned this, it is necessary that we be reminded and revived from time to time because of the overwhelming temptations and influences in our world. Like drowning to the point of death and being brought back by resuscitation or revival, I pray we have been revived.
To be restored suggests that we were once stored, put up, kept, etc. As time passed, some have left the sanctity of God’s boundaries for the wide gates of the world. Restore means to give back, return, renew, rebuild, etc. Often one may leave the Lord, then realize their potential lost condition and come back to him or renew their commitment to Him for life that they may gain eternal life. We should pay closer attention to the words of the songs we sing; ‘restore my spirit, revive the fire, renew my courage.’ We can sing, we can pray, but we must also do! This is done by studying God’s word and putting the things we get from His word into practical application in our daily lives. Our Father and our loving Savior through the Holy Spirit and the word stands ready always to restore us, but we must seek to be restored.
Once we have been restored, we must refocus our hearts, our minds, bodies and souls to God.We must “love Him with our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, with all our strength; this is
the first commandment.” Mk.12:30 When we do this, not only are we restored but we are refocused. We will “set our affections on things above and not on the things of the earth.” Col.1:3 We will get back to “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and allowing Him to add the things we need to use.” Mt.6:33 Our focus will be on “saving ourselves from this untoward generation,” and seeking to save souls and working to keep souls saved.
Let’s not allow the Father of lies to have more influence on us than our Father which is in Heaven.
Let’s not allow him to cause us to be too proud to call upon God, too proud to pray to God, too proud to forgive as God has commanded that we might be forgiven. Let’s not allow the devil’s ways cause us to miss out on the blessings the Lord wants to give to us. Let’s not allow him to deceive us into thinking we are doing well when we know we could be doing much better.
God blessed us to have a revival. Half of our membership did not show up to be revived. So, those who did must understand that we may have to work a little harder for a little longer to show that we are a revived and restored congregation. Now, as we refocus our efforts while staying fired up for the Lord, be patient and encourage those who missed the revival to work with us. We cannot and will not allow Satan to keep us from showing our love and thanks to God for His wonderful blessings upon us.
Have you been revived enough to be restored to be able to get to “work for the Lord in His vineyard, where the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few?” Let’s refocus our energies to the things of God.