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Saturday, December 29, 2012

2 Peter: Remember (Part 3)

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For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:8

It's important to remember that you must posses these things in increasing measure. Sure, you posses a little bit of faith, but to be effective, you must posses these in increasing measures. 

Increasing- verb to make greater, as in number, size, strength, or quality;augment; add to

Verb- noun any member of a class of words that function as the main elements of predicates, that typically express action, state, or a relation between two things, and that may be inflected for tense, aspect, voice, mood,and to show agreement with their subject or object.

When Peter said increasing measures, he means you should constantly be adding to you faith, goodness, etc. and that means action. You have do actually do something to keep yourself from being useless.

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:9-11

This portion is quite self-explanatory. Don't we all want God to tell us "Well done, good and faithful servant!" when we enter heaven?

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 
I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
2 Peter 1:12-15

It's easy to skip a blog post about "simple" things, or about thing you already know about. It's easy to tune out a sermon about basic biblical principals. For some of you, things like this is new material, but for a lot of you, this is a reminder. And reminders are good...we all need them.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

Taken from:

Why is Christmas such a magical time of year? I think its because everyone is expecting a miracle at Christmas. Consider all the popular movies. Each one has a miracle as it's central plot. Whether it's a boy hoping his parents get back together, a shop-owner hoping he can keep his business running, or a town who needs a new hero to help "save Christmas."
You might be reading this and wishing for your own miracle this Christmas. It's probably much smaller than what makes a holiday movie. But it no less important to you.
Maybe you're hoping our prodigal comes home. Maybe you're wishing for a job. Some are yearning for a special someone to sit next to you by the fire.
2,000 years ago, there was a couple who hoped for their own miracle. But like many, they had long given up on this dream. Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for a child, but year after year, that prayer went unfulfilled. So, they gave up on the dream.
But this couple didn't give up on God. They stayed faithful. Then, one ordinary day, the extraordinary happened. Zechariah, a priest in Israel, was chosen to give the incense at the altar. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, a rare honor for such a common man. Then, as he performed this sacred duty, an angel of God appeared, breaking God's 400-year silence with Israel.
The angel told Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth would have a son after all. He would have a special purpose an would prepare Israel for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
This all sounded impossible to Zechariah. Not the miracle itself—that Jesus would come, that John would be the forerunner. Zechariah, as a believing Jew, knew the Scriptures and believed this.
He just had a hard time thinking God could use silly old him. After all, he and his wife were well past the child-bearing age. But, true to His word, God performed this miracle in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth. You know the rest of the story. John the Baptist led revival in Israel and would later baptize Jesus Christ, the very son of God.
But let's focus on Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were faithful people in a time of unfaithfulness. And yet they had given up on the dream God had planted in their hearts—the dream of having a son. What's interesting is that Zechariah had no problem with the big miracle: God sending a Son to be born of a virgin and be the Savior. It was the little miracle he had trouble with, the miracle in his own life. Even though God had done a similar thing in Sarah, Hannah, Rebekah, Rachel, Zechariah refused to believe his wife, Elizabeth could bear a child.
He did something we often do. We believe in the big things of God—sending a son to be our Savior, Creation, Heaven—but when it comes to littler miracles, we limit Him. It's as if we say, Yes, God can create the earth in six days, be born of a baby, and send us to Heaven, but He can't possibly change me, fix a relationship, get me a job.
And God's answer is Yes I can. You see, the biggest miracle has already been done—Jesus. Everything else is small to God.
So maybe today, like Zechariah  you're letting God know that there is something too big for Him. Something even He can't fix.
And the story of Zechariah tells us that there is nothing too hard and that God is still in the business of doing miracles. Even in your own life.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012


These are the main verses used by people to say baptism IS needed for salvation

and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
1 Peter 3:21

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:4

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38

This verse is often used to say that baptism is part of salvation, but we know from other scriptures that it is not, lest there be a contradiction.  What is going on here is simply that repentance and forgiveness of sins are connected.  In the Greek, "repent" is in the plural and so is "your" of "your sins."  They are meant to be understood as being related to each other.  It is like saying, "All of you repent, each of you get baptized, and all of you will receive forgiveness."

I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Matthew 3:11

I'll start with the big verse that says baptism isn't needed for salvation. This one pretty much says it all. These are clips from John three. So a Pharisee comes to Jesus and Jesus explain how to become a Christian.

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
John 3:3-6

If you just look at verses 5, you could say Jesus said baptism is needed for salvation,  but quite the opposite is true The following verse says "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." 
And then Jesus said:

that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.
John 3:15; 18; 36

3 verses uttered by Jesus say "Faith only"

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Baptism is a work.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.
Roman 4:1-11

Circumcision was the old testaments version of baptism. Faith is simple, and yet so incredibly complicated. All you have to do is believe. You don't need to be baptized or circumcised. Those are symbols. You just have to believe.

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Romans 6:3-8

Baptism is a symbol of being one with Christ.

for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Galatians 3:27

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:13

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Luke 23:39-43

This man was not baptized, and he is in heaven.

And then there's Acts 10.The holy spirit came upon Cornelius (Romans 8:9, 1 John 3:24) and his household and THEN they where baptized.
Baptism is clearly a symbol of faith, and not a part of it. If you believe baptism is necessary for faith, then you must ignore numerous passages that state otherwise.


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Monday, December 17, 2012

2 Peter: Faith (Part 2)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Everything means everything. God gives is EVERYTHING we need.
Life is hardly easy. We all face the challenges of life, but no matter what, God gives us everything we need for all of our life. We have everything we need to face life, and to honor God. And you'll begin to understand that when God is all you have, God is all you need.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:4

Either a promise is true, or it isn't. 
God alone is my rock and my salvation (Psalm 62:1-2); or he isn’t. The Lord will fight for me (Exodus 14:14); or he won’t. The arm of the Lord is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1); or it is. God takes hold of my right hand and says, “Do not fear; I will help you (Isaiah 41:13); or he doesn’t. God will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:7-8); or he will.
Do you believe God's promises?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
1 Peter 1:5-7

This is teaching us how to build up character one step at a time. All of your life should be dedicated to getting closer to Christ, but whether your removing a bad habit from your life or add a good habit to your life, it should be taken one step at a time. And this is exactly what Peter tells us to do, to take things bit by bit.


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Thursday, December 13, 2012

2 Peter: Introduction (Part 1)

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 
2 Peter 1:1-2

2nd Peter is 3 chapters long. It may be short, but it's a good book. 

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to meAnd I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
2 Peter 1:13-15

These three verse tell a LOT about why Peter wrote this book, to
  1. Remind people
  2. Because he knew he would die soon
  3. So that they would remember
So Peter was giving his last words in the form of a letter. 
And I don't doubt they were his last words to them. Peter died a martyr hanging upside down because he would not die the way Jesus had.
Peter's letter may have been a reminder to the people back in Peter's day, but it is also a reminder to us in 2012.


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Monday, December 10, 2012

Daily Reminders #8

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
John 15:1-9

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Friday, December 7, 2012


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Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Job 38:22-23; 29-30

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He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
Psalm 147:15-18

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God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' So that all men he has made may know his work, he stops every man from his labor. The animals take cover; they remain in their dens. The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen. He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them.
Job 37:5-11

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"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1:18

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Does the snow of Lebanon ever vanish from its rocky slopes? Do its cool waters from distant sources ever cease to flow?
Jeremiah 18:14
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Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7
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Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome.
Ezekiel 1:22
When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
Exodus 16:14
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On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost.
Zechariah 14:6

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Prayer Request Update

Thanks to everyone who is praying! My brother is doing good, he broke a part of his vertebra, but it was the best place to break it. He is home, and without any neck support at all. He broke a bone that is attacked to the muscle, which is really good because we where all concerned that is was a part protecting the spinal cord. Thanks to all who prayed!

Prayer Request!

My brother fell on his head and is in the hospital. He might have broken his neck. Please pray for my brother to be OK. I'll keep you updated, but prayer is awesome.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Daily Reminders #7

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Mathew 5:14-16

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Holidays: Christmas Edition 2012

Merry Christmas everyone! I have decided to hopefully give you some new thoughts on Jesus and his birth. I actually wrote this post up in May, and it's finally the right time of year to post it!
Jesus Christ was born in a manger for one reason. Humility.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Corinthains 9:19-23

Paul is like Jesus because while Jesus is a king and ruler of the world, he became a like everyone else to win as many as possible. The king was willing to humble himself and be born in a manger. Jesus put himself lower than some of us are.
There are a lot of ministries that help people, I’ll take Samaritans Purse for example, an origination provides for the needy people of the world.
But there are very few people who will become poor to help the poor or homeless to help the homeless. Don’t take this the wrong way. I think Samaritans Purse is a great company and I am not trying to criticize them, but trying to say that Jesus did more than help people he became like those he was trying to help to win as many as possible.
We want to help people without sacrificing our comfort. Just be glad Jesus doesn't feel the same.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Philippians 2:5-7

Jesus took the low place with his birth, life, and even death. I doubt he was ever envied, especially as he died nailed to a tree.
When a king a queen have a child, everyone know about it, but only high classed people are allowed to see the child. In Jesus’ case, his father sent his messenger (an angel) to low class smelly peasants (Shepherdsso that they could see the newborn king.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you
Luke 2:11

Look at the last word of Luke 2:11. YOU. For unto the low class Jesus has been born not to the nobles or kings, but to those who work with sheep. And they were most likely the first to see Jesus besides Mary and Joseph.
Jesus wasn’t even average, he was considered below average. He became below average to reach those below average. If you have read about Jesus life, then you know that Jesus was despised by the Pharisees (the above average). If Jesus wanted to reach them, he would become above average, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to reach those who were poor.
Even as a baby, the high ranking people did not like Jesus. King Herod tried to kill Jesus as infant because he misunderstood Jesus. He thought that Jesus was for the upper class, and didn't want to except that.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
John 1:10-11

Even today, the world does not receive God. Instead of saying "Merry Christmas" we say "Happy Holidays" or "happy Xmas" People have marked Jesus out of the picture with a great big X over his name.
Even in the modern world his own do not receive him. The people of today want to be in darkness, so they reject the light.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves
Colossians 1:13

The only reason we are in the light and accepted it is because God forgives. And he forgives because Jesus was willing to be rejected by the human race. He was willing to be mocked and beaten up.

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.
Luke 1:46-55

This is Mary’s song Mary sang this before Jesus was born. “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” Mary understood that Jesus wasn’t here for the rich. She knew that the rich wouldn't even want Jesus. If the rich were hungry, then Jesus would have given them some food...and there was a small amount of rich people who were "hungry" (Like Nicodemus, the Pharisee (See John 3 for more information))  She knew that he was here for the poor, the ones who knew that they need Jesus. The poor knew they were hungry, but the rich thought that they were full. Mary understood that God chose her to carry his son because of “the humble state of his servant.” Mary understood the humbleness that was in the manger.
Are you ready for Christmas? Be sure you don't get caught up in the celebrations, and remember to celebrate Jesus.

Here are a few Articles and Blog posts that are insightful and I would recommend reading this Christmas:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

The Bible

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Jesus nailed to the Cross:
Christ(x)mas: Me

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Daily Reminders #6

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:11-14

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day 2012

After enduring religious persecution in their native England and for twelve years in Holland, the pilgrims sailed for America. They were modest men and women with a great hope and inward zeal. They rested in the providence of God that He was leading them to a land of religious freedom to advance the gospel of the kingdom of Christ.
The voyage of the Mayflower took twice as long as Christopher Columbus' voyage, enduring several wintry storms. After arriving in their new land, they faced disease, famine, bitter cold and many dangers. However, when the Mayflower made its return voyage, none of the pilgrims returned with it.
Their first harvest occurred in the autumn of 1621. Their own seed had barely grown, but the Indians had shown them how to plant corn which yielded a huge harvest. On the first Thanksgiving, they celebrated God's goodness to them with a party of ninety Indians. Their Thanksgiving feast lasted three days and included a festival of sports.
Thanksgiving Proclamation
by Abraham Lincoln
"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on the occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations."
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving... be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4

Thanks to DaySpring cards for the word to this post. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown.  They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom.  Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.  They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week.  At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
-Edward Winslow
Autumn Stream
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
-Psalm 95:1-6
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
-1 Chronicles 16:8-12

The following has been written by Elaine Stedman:

Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14).
What does God want from us? He does not want mere hymn singing, although that is fine. Nor does He want only prayer, although that too is fine. He does not simply want our attendance, although that is fine. What He wants, first, is a thankful heart. That is what He seeks, a thankful heart. Each one of us is to offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. A sacrifice is something into which we put effort; it costs us. Have you ever asked yourself why the Scriptures stress thanksgiving so much? Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize that above everything else, God wants thankfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances, says the apostle Paul, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Why is this? It is because thanksgiving only comes as a result of having received something. You do not give thanks until you have received something that comes from someone else. Therefore thanksgiving is the proper expression of Christianity, because Christianity is receiving something constantly from God.
Of course if you have not received anything from God, then you have nothing to thank Him for. Though you come to the service, you really have nothing to say. God is a realist. He does not want fake thanksgiving. I know there are certain people (and they are awfully hard to live with) who think that Christianity consists of pretending to be thankful. They think it means screwing a smile on your face and going around pretending that troubles do not bother you. That is a most painful form of Christianity. God does not want you to go around shouting, Hallelujah! I've got cancer! But there is something about having cancer to be thankful for. That is what He wants you to see. There are aspects of it that no one can possibly enjoy, but there are other aspects that reveal purpose, meaning, and reason. God wants you to see this--what He can do with that situation and how you can be thankful. Thanksgiving is the first thing He wants in worship.
The second thing is an obedient will. Fulfill your vows to the Most High. Notice the kind of obedience it is. It is not something forced upon you; it is something you have chosen for yourself. A vow is something you decide to give, a promise you make because of truth you have seen. You say, I never saw it like that before. I really ought to do something about it. God helping me, I'm going to do such and such. That is a vow. God says, I'm not asking you to do things you have not yet learned are important. But when you have vowed something, then do it. Act on it. Obey it.
Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to if the copy is posted on the Internet.

And now for a little bit from me!

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
- Genesis 4:3-7

That's a pleasant first thanksgiving, now isn't it. 
People like to say thanksgiving was first when the pilgrims had it, but think of Cain and Abel. They were giving an offering to please God. (Which is really what thanksgiving is, remembering to please God)
Cain had a green thumb and so he figured he'd give God an offering of food instead of lamb, and God didn't like it.

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
- Hebrew 11:4

God wants us to offer what we can. I think if Cain had brought his best fruit, then God would be please, but it only says Able brought his best.
So I'll leave you with this: You are offering something to God so are you offering him your best lamb, or your tiny, shriveled fruits?

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Inspirations for this post:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Was the Cross "Plan B?"

First, I'll start by say these are not my ideas! I took the following from Answers in genesis because I found this article interesting. Enjoy. 

Was Jesus’s death on the Cross a result of God’s best-laid plans gone wrong? Did human sin take God by surprise? Was there an emergency plan B forced upon the Creator of the universe after the Fall in Genesis? The question might be restated this way: Did the Bible’s redemptive history in a fallen creation result from an eternally wise and powerful God’s purposeful plans, or was it His attempt to remedy an unforeseen tragedy?
If the Fall in Genesis was a surprise to God, we would certainly have some major questions to ask. For instance, how could we be confident that another surprise won’t happen in the new heavens and earth yet to come? How could we be confident that God’s plan of redemption will actually work?
To find these answers we must look into the subject of God’s eternal wisdom and gain a miniscule glimpse of the riches of God’s glory. There is, however, a word of warning. Many theologians through the ages have wrestled tirelessly as they have gazed into the eternal wisdom and counsels of a triune God. We can only dip our toe into this infinite ocean.
It is certainly difficult for us as finite humans to understand the concept of infinite wisdom. After all, we are talking about the kind of wisdom that is the predetermined purpose behind all the works of an almighty God, from creation to Christ’s redemption at the Cross, and the yet-to-happen final consummation when He returns. The Bible reveals clearly that behind every work of God is His wisdom from eternity past. “The Lord possessed me [wisdom] at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth” (Proverbs 8:22–23).
The design of an atom, the color of a rainbow, the information in a strand of DNA, and countless other wonders—including the very breath of life—all started not just at a point in time but in eternity past according to God’s eternal wisdom.
God’s eternal wisdom is simply amazing. It is not just a selection of clever sayings that we should study simply so that we might somehow be more knowledgeable. God’s wisdom is the display of His power. As He follows through on His plans, we see that His purpose is sure and His will is certain. What other being has power like this? “Then I [wisdom] was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always” (Proverbs 8:30).
God’s eternal wisdom displays His true deity. While man has been created with a capacity for wisdom, only God’s wisdom is infinite and omnipotent. Only God’s wise purposes are 100% certain and drive everything else to display His ultimate glory. Paul expresses this truth beautifully in his writings about the redemption of both Jew and Gentile. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? . . . For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33–36).
God’s will and purposes aren’t random. They pursue a single objective: the glory of Christ. Nowhere better are the riches of God’s eternal wisdom on display than in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in whom “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
Through the wisdom that is displayed in Christ, we are also able to discern the vain philosophies of fallible mankind. Any philosophy that does not place God’s glory as the pinnacle focus is empty of real wisdom.
Look at the sweep of the plans that God is fulfilling through Christ: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15–17). Christ both ordains and accomplishes all, and He does this in fulfillment of God’s eternal plans.
As the One who is before all things, He providentially rules over all things as He pleases. Christ is the sovereign Lord. He does not make choices willy nilly; nor is He surprised by anything that happens on earth—even Adam’s original sin. He is the unchangeable God, and what He purposed before the world was created will certainly happen. Nothing can change those plans.
No, Jesus went to the Cross exactly as God had intended before the world began. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
Jesus is the very design and accomplishment of God’s eternal wisdom. The plan of redemption was not a necessary afterthought to remedy a plan gone wrong. Jesus Christ had purposed to redeem us from eternity past. His work on the Cross is nothing short of the pinnacle of the revelation of God’s eternal and sovereign wisdom.
This means that when you have faith in Jesus Christ, His promise of salvation is as sure as God’s eternal power. No surprises, just the execution of eternal wisdom.
Taken from Answers in Genesis:

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Splendor of Thorns

First, I'll start by say these are not my ideas! I took the following from Answers in Genesis because I found this article interesting. Enjoy. 

Can you imagine the Wal-Mart floral department offering a bouquet of thorns? Does the Garden Center ever advertise Acacia thorn bushes? Do carpenters choose two-by-fours made of thorn wood?
Except for our botanist friends, few people find thorns captivating. They are not beautiful. And they don’t seem very useful, though they do burn extremely well.
The negative associations of thorns are what make their appearance in the Bible so intriguing, for God weaves these very thorns into the revelation of His grace. He gives them a star role in the unfolding drama of His judgment and unbelievable mercy.
“Thorns and thistles” (a Hebrew phrase referring to the entire class of thorns) were not in the original creation (Genesis 3:18). When man sinned, God cursed the ground with thorns—a negative, hurtful, even repulsive element that intruded into the original creation’s perfection.
Every pricked finger, every overgrown field, every ugly thornbush, reminds us of the frustrating pain of sin and its hideous blotch on the canvas of God’s masterpiece. Thorns have all the natural charm of Magic Marker on a Monet painting.
At first glance, the perfection of the pre-Fall world seems forever lost because of unsightly thorns. But God has woven these thorns into a beautiful plan.

Thorns appear next in the Bible as the burning bush.1

Both Jesus and Stephen use a special Greek word to describe this bush’s thorny nature. Stephen describes the scene in Exodus with these words: “in the flame of a burning thorn bush” (Acts 7:30, NASB). Jesus says the same thing in Luke 20:37.
So why did God choose to appear inside thorns at this dreadful mountain, where He later gave the Law—a law that serves only to remind us of our failure (Galatians 3:10–4:25Hebrews 12:18–24)?
When God later visited that same holy mountain to give the Law, it was so deadly that any human or beast that merely touched the mountain would be killed (Exodus 19:12). So why didn’t the thorns—that combustible remnant of the Curse—explode in flame when the Holy One, in fire, first appeared to Moses?2
The whole event at the burning bush is almost a parody of the Curse in Eden. The One who appeared in the Garden and pronounced the curse of thorns now reappears in the midst of thorns, promising deliverance. Ultimately, He promises a land flowing with milk and honey. How can these things be?
The enigma of the thorns continues in God’s revelation. The next time we meet thorns, God instructs Moses to build a tabernacle.
The raw material of that tabernacle is Acacia wood (Exodus 26:29), a small tree or bush whose branches are covered with long thorns. God then directs that they cover this thorn wood with gold (Exodus 26:29).
Now, why would God take a cursed element of the Fall and beautify it with gold? How can thorns, fit only for fire, become the glorious dwelling place of the fiery pillar of God’s presence?
The last place Israel encamps before they enter the Promised Land was called Abel-Shittim, which means “the Field of Thorns” (Numbers 25:1Joshua 2:1). Israel was living in the Field of Thorns because the lawgiver Moses had not fully obeyed the law (Deuteronomy 32:49–51). He must perish without entering the Promised Land.
Disobedient Moses could only gaze from afar, pining for that land, pleading with God in vain to go in.
The people of Moses thus languish in the Field of Thorns, longing for that promised Prophet, who was like Moses, but better—that utterly perfect prophet, priest, and king who would accomplish all things that other men from dust failed to do.
In the Old Testament, God foreshadows that One who will come after Moses. His Hebrew name is Joshua, “Yahweh saves.” Greeks would translate his name as Iesous (Jesus). God the Father points to this connection between Joshua and Jesus when He commands, “You shall call His name Jesus (Iesous), for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is that promised Prophet like Moses, but much more than a prophet. He is the One to lead God’s people into Paradise.

Thorns find a role in the climax of this divinely crafted plan of redemption. Jesus, tortured in anticipation of crucifixion, was mocked while wearing a crown of thorns. The “thorns and thistles” of Eden’s Curse now became this mocking crown.
God first promised His people redemption when He appeared in the midst of thorns at the Mountain of the Law (Mount Sinai). To fulfill that promise, Jesus appeared in thorns again, but this time bearing the curse of Mount Sinai’s law. He wore the crown we earned by our rebellion in Adam and by the years of ratifying Adam’s choice as we sin every day.
The beauty of thorns is that they remind each of us of God’s lavish—almost foolishly lavish (1 Corinthians 1:23)—grace upon us. He died for us, absolutely guilty sinners, whose sin caused those thorns to so mar God’s creation and Christ’s brow.
Adam and Eve attempted to usurp God’s place as the only lawgiver in Zion. God would have been just to hang them on their tree of rebellion—like the rebellious kings of Canaan who were cursed by God for all Israel to see (Joshua 10:26).
But God had a different plan. God the Son stepped out of eternity. He took human flesh on Himself, lived under the law in perfect obedience, and then suffered all the punishment due Adam, and all of those who would ever come to Jesus.
God the Son wore the thorns. On behalf of rebellious mankind, He allowed Himself to be stripped naked and hung on that tree, cursed by God. Just like those kings of Canaan who were hung by Joshua, Jesus was hung and then His body was placed in a garden cave, with a stone over its mouth (Joshua 10:27)! But death could not hold Jesus.
God intends to transform us, the descendants of the rebels in Eden, entangled as we are with thorns. He will turn us into a kingdom of priests. In fact, we ultimately are a new temple, the heavenly temple, where the holy, fiery, triune God dwells with His redeemed people forever (2 Corinthians 6:16).
The story of the Bible is this. Adam comes naked to a live tree and spiritually murders the entire human race by a single act of disobedience. Jesus comes to a dead tree and allows Himself to be stripped naked. Then, in the ultimate act of obedience—His very death after a lifetime of full and total obedience to God—He makes alive all those who would ever by God’s grace repent of their sins and trust in Him alone for salvation.
As Eve had encouraged her husband in his rebellion against God, Jesus’s love for His bride, the church, motivates and enables her to obey God from her heart. Adam took from his wife food which kills. Jesus, by His death, provides all grace, enabling us to partake of eternal life.
Through Christ, thorns take on a whole new meaning because they focus our thoughts on God’s plan of redemption, worked out through the centuries. While Adam’s sin disrupted the beauty of God’s creation, the Son of God came to earth to set things right, which brings beauty even to thorns.
Taken from:
"Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
1 Corinthians 15:55b-56