Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving is a fresh aroma

In verse 15; “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Our actions of thanksgiving are a fragrance to those who know Jesus and to those who do not know Jesus. My grandmother always had a rose garden outside her front door. She loved aroma of roses. The people around us should love the aroma we bring to the place. You actions of thanksgiving are to be evident in everyday, in every hour, in every action that takes place within your world.

You say, well Don, you don't know my world...my world is hard. I struggle with coworkers that are evil and mean. I go to school with people that are vicious. Let me tell you, my neighbor is horrible...and his dog has his own source of aromas...if you know what I mean...my circumstances just don't allow for me to be living in thanksgiving.

This is an illustration that just might apply to your circumstance:
A little girl walking in a garden noticed a particularly beautiful flower. She admired its beauty and enjoyed its fragrance. “It’s so pretty!” she exclaimed. As she gazed on it, her eyes followed the stem down to the soil in which it grew. “This flower is too pretty to be planted in such dirt!” she cried. So she pulled it up by its roots and ran to the water faucet to wash away the soil. It wasn’t long until the flower wilted and died.

When the gardener saw what the little girl had done, he exclaimed, “You have destroyed my finest plant!”

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t like it in that dirt,” she said. The gardener replied, “I chose that spot and mixed the soil because I knew that only there could it grow to be a beautiful flower.”

Often we murmur because of the circumstances into which God has sovereignly placed us. We fail to realize that He is using our pressures, trials, and difficulties to bring us to a new degree of spiritual beauty. Contentment comes when we accept what God is doing and thank Him for it.

OUR ACTIONS of Thanksgiving are a FRAGRANCE. What do you smell like?

Happy Thanksgiving! You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Parade of Thanksgiving that lasts all year long!

What do you do for thanksgiving? Maybe you celebrate with family and friends. You might watch a Macy's day parade. You probably will watch some sort of football. Then there is the food...loads and loads of food...turkey or ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin or sweet potato pie. Your family might sit together and play games or retell the stories of past Thanksgivings. Maybe you will go to the movies or rent a movie to watch at home. You might put up your Christmas decorations. You might buy a newspaper and look through all the ads for black Friday. You might take the time and tell others how you have been blessed.

It might be a sad time for you. Maybe there is no house to visit, or meal to cook, or family to share the day with. It might be a time that reminds you that things are not what they used to be and there are people missing from your life.

It is a time to move beyond the Holiday to a place of daily living. We have talked about Giving Thanks through being an Encourager, by living in gratitude, by Praising the Lord...and today we wrapping things up by talking about Giving Thanks through living a life of Thanksgiving.

Giving thanks and thanksgiving are not the same thing. Giving thanks is exactly what is says...to “give away thanks.” Thanksgiving is the act of expressing thanks. It is more than saying “thank you.” Thanksgiving is the expression, the essence, and the life of encouragement, gratitude, and praise. The response of life atoned through the power of Jesus is reflected in the actions of thanksgiving.
What happens when God gives a parade? 2 Corinthians 2:14, “who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
The Military marches in formation in honor of the King. Yet, look at the text closer...You and I are not the military in formation. We are the spoils of the war. We are the captives of the war. Christ has paid the price for our captivity and we are lifted up because of His willingness to go to war. He is the authentic King. Our thanksgiving is on parade so that all of Jesus' enemies might see He is Lord above all.

Our actions of peace within a hostile world brings about transformation within us and within the world around us. OUR ACTIONS of Thanksgiving are on PARADE.

The following story is an prime example of our Thanksgiving Parade!
An Armenian nurse had been held captive along with her brother by the Turks. Her brother was slain by a Turkish soldier before her eyes. Somehow she escaped and later became a nurse in a military hospital. One day she was stunned to find that the same man who had killed her brother had been captured and brought wounded to the hospital where she worked. Something within her cried out "Vengeance." But a stronger voice called for her to love. She nursed the man back to health. Finally, the recuperating soldier asked her, "Why didn’t you let me die?" Her answer was, "I am a follower of Him who said, ’Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you’" (Luke_6:27). Impressed with her answer, the young soldier replied, "I never heard such words before. Tell me more. I want this kind of religion."

OUR ACTIONS of Thanksgiving are on PARADE. What are your actions like?

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Six Praise Worthy Attributes of God!

Who is God? It is a good question that everyone in this room will have to struggle with at some point in their life. In our text we see in verse 15, “You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect” We don't have time to talk about everyone aspect of God, but these six are attributes that encourage us to give thanks. 

GOD IS KNOWABLE!
God, who created the universe in all of its magnitude and creative details, is able to be known, by us. He tells us about himself, but even goes beyond that. He welcomes us into a relationship, so that we personally can get to know him. Not only can we know about him, we can know him, intimately.
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord,
who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23,24)
GOD IS APPROACHABLE!
God invites us to talk to him and engage him in what concerns us. We don't have to get our act together first. Neither do we need to be polite, theologically correct or holy. It is his nature to be loving and accepting when we go to him.
"The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth." (Psalms 145:18)

GOD IS CREATIVE!
Everything we make is put together with existing materials or built on previous thoughts. God has the capacity of speaking things into existence, not just galaxies and life forms, but solutions to today's problems. God is creative, for us. His power is something he wants us to be aware of and to rely on.
"Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit." (Psalms 147:5)

"...where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalms 121:1,2)

GOD IS FORGIVING!
We sin. We tend to do things our way instead of God's way. And he sees it and knows it. God does not merely overlook such sin, but is prepared to judge and condemn people for their sin. However, God is forgiving and will forgive us from the moment we begin a relationship with him. Jesus, the Son of God, paid for our sin with his death on a cross. He rose from the dead and offers us this forgiveness.
"We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done... We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us." (Romans 3:22,25)

GOD IS HONEST!
Just like a person who lets you know their thoughts and feelings, God clearly tells us about himself, the possible difference being, he is always honest. Everything he says about himself, or about us, is reliable information. Truer than our feelings, thoughts, and perception, God is totally accurate and honest in what he says. Every promise he makes to us can be fully counted on, he means it. We can take him at his word.
"The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path." (Psalms 119:130,105)

GOD IS CAPABLE!
How would you like to be always 100% right, about everything? God is. His wisdom is unlimited. He understands all the elements of a situation, including the history and future events related to it. We do not have to update him, counsel him or persuade him to do the right thing. He will, because he is capable and his motives are pure. If we trust him, he will never make a mistake, never undercut us or deceive us. He can be fully trusted to do what is right, in all circumstances, at all times.
"No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame..." (Psalms 25:3)
Life is about having a relationship with God...in any good relationship the goal is to get to know each other better. The question is...are you getting to know God? You cannot give thanks without knowing God...you cannot know your destiny of praise without knowing God. Are you working on getting to know God.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 18, 2013

Give Thanks Through Praise!

 There are many reasons to praise the Lord. Scripture repeatedly calls us to do it, so we praise God out of obedience (for example, Psalm 96). Praising the Lord often impacts our own souls. We might begin to praise God with heavy hearts, for example, but as we praise, we experience a lightening of our burdens and the joy of the Lord. We can choose to praise the Lord, therefore, because of the benefit it brings to us. We might also praise God because it builds Christian community. When the people of God gather, focusing their minds and hearts on the Lord, using their bodies to honor him, they are bound together in a Spirit-created unity. So, a good reason for praising God is that it fosters the community of God’s people.

Psalm 96:4 gives another reason for praising the Lord, a bedrock reason based on his own nature: “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise!” This translation captures the essence of this thought, though missing the poetic balance of the classic King James Version: “For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised.” The Hebrew of this verse could be translated literally, “For great [is] the Lord and very much to be praised.”

Psalm 96:4 explains why we should “publish [the LORD’s] glorious deeds among the nations” and “tell everyone about the amazing things he does” (96:3). We should praise him, proclaiming his wonders to all people, because the Lord is great. Praise is a response to his superlative character, which is expressed in wondrous works. Even as a brilliant sunset calls forth praise, so it is with God, many times over.

The more we reflect on God’s greatness, the more we will be impelled to praise him. Moreover, we will find that our praise, however inadequate it might be, will increasingly reflect God’s nature. Because he is great, so our praise will be great. It makes no sense to be stingy in honoring one who is utterly worthy of all honor and praise.

 Praising God is a destiny of all people....Give Thanks. You Know I love ya, Don