In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

Graduated!

Monday, August 21, 2017

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV).

Death is never easy, but the death of a Christian is easier. It is somewhat easier when an aged person dies, but a young person’s decease is quite difficult. Yet, if that young person was “in Christ,” that death is easier to bear.

Recently, an online friend passed on to Heaven after a long battle with cancer. She was only 18 years old. Even though she suffered much, she was a strong testimony for God’s grace. As her friends struggled with trying to reconcile how God could let His saint grow so horrifically ill, she reminded them that, while Father God has redeemed our souls, He has yet to redeem our bodies from sin’s curse. A firm foundation in the Bible rightly divided caused her to rejoice even in the midst of great trouble. While we are secure in Christ, there is no guarantee we will meet our Lord without first experiencing unspeakable bodily infirmities. An aged ministry coworker just told me his aching body was “falling apart.”

I just read the obituary of a dear saint whose Bible studies benefited me. The article was certainly written from the grace perspective. It began by saying that the brother “‘graduated’ on… to be with his Lord whom he loved and served so faithfully.” He was an evangelist for 40 years: “He loved preaching in Rescue Missions, proclaiming the Gospel of the Grace of God to the lost. His passion in life was leading people to Christ and encouraging the body of Christ.” After preaching the Gospel for so long, he at last experienced its hope. Doubtless, he is still enjoying the Lord’s presence all these years later!

Yes, we sorrow, but we sorrow not as those which have no hope. We have a sure expectation that our loved ones in Christ are not lost forever. Father God has them in His loving care, and we will see them (and Him) in His own time. There will be an endless eternity to fellowship with them around the Word of God. For now, dear brethren, we must remember that they want us to continue being ambassadors for Christ down here! 🙂

Confidence

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV).

What assurance the Christian has!

I recently watched a sad documentary on the kidnapping and murder of a teenager. Her murderer had been captured, incarcerated, and executed. Near the end, her father, a preacher, revealed that “she knew where she was going.” In her farewell note, she urged her family to keep on living for Jesus Christ, and that all would turn out right. Undoubtedly, God’s grace is the only reason this family has coped with such a loss all these decades. While it will never bring her back here, it gives them hope to see her in Heaven one day.

Friends, there is no guarantee that our physical bodies will remain intact until we die (or reach Heaven via the Rapture). Due to various sicknesses and injuries, we may lose limbs, tissue, and organs. However, in Christ, we never have to worry about our spirits being separated from Almighty God. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finish crosswork, we have been bound forever to God Himself. The Apostle Paul, awaiting execution, wrote in today’s Scripture that he was “persuaded.” God was “able”—yes, more than able—to hang on to him. As someone would store a valuable item in a safe, so Paul had entrusted his soul to Father God. There was complete security in Christ: nothing would be lost or misplaced. God the Holy Spirit would personally see to it that Paul made it safely to Heaven. The Apostle would in the meantime have some obstacles to endure—ultimately, a decapitation—but his eternal abode in Heaven was sure!

Evidently, that was the confidence that that preacher and his wife had concerning their murdered daughter. She had lost her life at a very young age, but Father God did not lose her soul and neither did she. What persuasion, what hope, what confidence Calvary’s cross provides us! “That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is Romans 2:24 talking about?

Guarded

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

With today’s Scripture in our hearts and minds, those hearts and minds are guarded!

Second Timothy 3:12 tells us: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Acts 14:22 says of Paul and Barnabas: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Whenever we purpose to live godly in Christ Jesus, we will suffer persecution. This is a fact of Christian doctrine, even though the popular idea in “churchianity” today is that God wants to remove all of our problems (or remove us from them).

If Satan cannot cause us to change or pervert the doctrine that we teach and preach, then he will do his best in using whatever he can to stop us from teaching and preaching. In other words, after unsuccessfully attacking the message, he proceeds to attack the messenger. Should we worry? Should that bother us? Should we fret? Should that discourage us from even trying to do right at all? No, dear friends, no! Today’s Scripture reminds us not to be “careful”—we should not be anxious, worrisome, taking thought of it.

In our circumstances, regardless of our circumstances, we are “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [to] let [our] requests be made known unto God.” Why? Prayer is not designed to change our circumstances, as commonly thought, but it is to change us within as we endure those circumstances. “The peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The idea here with “keep” is guard. Satan is out to harm us internally (mentally and spiritually). Thankfully, God has given us the ability—through His written Word and us praying according to it rightly divided—so we can ward off his attacks. Ultimately, it will cause us to think of our circumstances the way God Himself does.

Not Worthy

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 KJV).

What hope in such a hopeless world!

Our world abounds with sickness, suffering, and death. My family recently learned a relative has been diagnosed with malignant (and terminal) brain cancer. Another relative’s great-granddaughter, age 2, just died of a defective lung. I have an online teenage friend whose cancer has returned. One elderly sister in Christ, after suffering bronchitis for days, has now developed pneumonia. Her husband suffered internal bleeding—losing half of his body’s volume!—and nearly died weeks ago. An elderly neighbor has bronchitis (which may turn to pneumonia). Another elderly neighbor died of pneumonia weeks back. Horrible!

Physical sickness and resulting death undoubtedly make this fallen creation most painful. While we should take care of our bodies, they are only temporary. No matter how much we diet or exercise, or take medications, we all have to die of something eventually (mostly true). That parenthetical statement is very important, for surely there will be a group of Christians living when Jesus Christ comes at the Rapture to take His Body to Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:15,17). They will never, ever see death: their bodies will simply be transformed. We may be that generation of Christians—or, maybe not. I know of many Christians who have been waiting for 40 or 50 years, and they, because of advanced age, may very well go the way of death if the Lord tarries much longer. (We may find ourselves there in the coming decades.)

Remember, brethren, every day of the Dispensation of Grace holds back the wrath of God from being poured out on our world. There has been nearly 2000 years of God offering His grace, and yes, that grace will have to be withdrawn someday. Let us not be selfish. Lost souls still need to be saved in Christ before that righteous judgment comes. The only way this is possible is if God extends the curse another day, postpones the Second Coming of Christ for another day, delays that earthly kingdom of healing and restoration another day. Deliverance will come, but there are more important things on God’s schedule at the moment.:)

To Abide in the Flesh

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:21-24 KJV).

We Christians often want to go on to Heaven to meet our loved ones, instead of staying here in this present evil world. Countless brethren throughout the centuries have agreed with Paul that “to depart, and to be with Christ… is far better.” But, we must also agree with his other recognition!

Paul’s epistle to Philippi was written from a Roman prison—technically, he was under house arrest (Acts 28:30). When he penned in today’s Scripture, “this is the fruit of my labour,” the “this” was his “bonds,” his confinement (see Philippians 1:13). He was a hated man preaching an “illegal religion.” No doubt, in the midst of all his suffering for the Gospel’s sake, there were times when he just wanted to leave this wretched world forever. However….

The Holy Spirit transformed his mind. Despite the pleasure he would get in leaving to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, something was much more important than alleviating his pain and suffering. He needed to stay here on Earth in order to continue ministering to his Gentile converts. After struggling to decide what to do, notice his resolution in the verses following today’s Scripture: “[25] And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; [26] That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”

Paul hoped to be freed, thereby allowing him to return to Philippi and encourage his Christian brethren in person. He decided Earthnot Heaven!—was the best place to be at the moment. Let us realize the same, brethren! There are still more people (lost and saved alike) for us (!) to reach with sound Bible doctrine, so let us be about “abiding in the flesh!” 🙂

The Final Score

Friday, May 5, 2017

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 KJV).

Lo, the final score!

Friend, have you ever watched a sports game whose score was very close? What about when your favorite team had done so well in previous games, but was now losing so horribly? Surely, the other team would win the game! However, in the final moments, your team surges ahead—beating their opponents by few or many points! See, things can change very quickly in life.

Surveying the realm of Christendom, the truth seems to be losing. The masses flock to the false teachers; very few are interested in sound Bible doctrine. Christians are mercilessly tortured, robbed, silenced, imprisoned, and killed all around the world. God’s Word is ridiculed in many a school classroom and—yes, sadly—in many a “Christian” church! None of this is new, actually. You can study Genesis through Revelation to see that human history is riddled with such depressing news.

From chapter 13 until today’s Scripture, the Lord Jesus has been eating and fellowshipping with His disciples on the night of His death. For much of that time, He has talked to them, telling them various bits of sad news. He informs them that one of them will betray Him (13:21). He will be leaving them (13:33-35). Peter will deny Him thrice (13:38). The world will hate them for following Him (15:18-27). They will be killed for His sake (16:2). They, fearing for their lives, will abandon Him shortly (16:32). What “bad” news! But, will truth lose?

In closing, He says in today’s Scripture, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.” “In the world ye shall have tribulation….” Having awareness of all their upcoming troubles, how could they have peace? The Lord gave them the final score in the battle between good and evil—“but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” He spoke with absolute certainty: no matter what happened to them, no matter how Satan afflicted them, He told them that He (and thus they in Him) had won! Yes, brethren, we win, too! 🙂