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Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for Karen, my wonderful wife of 32 years; good family and extended family; a good and healthy church; colleagues and students at Cor Deo Christian Academy; great friends; not to mention a million other things – far too long for a blog post. Most of all, I’m thankful for the sovereign and gracious God who chose me before the foundation of the world to be His child, even though He knew full well I didn’t deserve it – in fact, I deserved the opposite. He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to live, die, and rise again in my place (He took my sin upon Himself and gave me His perfect righteousness), and through His Holy Spirit applied all of His blessings and benefits to me. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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wisdom

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

Wisdom can be defined as “knowing the best goal and the most effective way to achieve that goal” (hat tip to J.I. Packer). God is wise – the embodiment of wisdom. In fact, His wisdom is perfect, holy, and righteous. He knows which goals are best as well as the most effective ways to achieve them. We can absolutely count on that.

I’m convinced that we will fully appreciate the wisdom of God only when we are in His presence. Then, and only then, will we understand what God has done and why He has done it. Thankfully, we will see that everything God has done was wise – He knew the best goals for us and He knew the most effective ways to bring them about. We’ll say, with all praise to God, “Lord, You did what was best for me (even though I didn’t like it at the time and wanted You to take it away), and the way You did it was the most effective possible – it couldn’t have happened any other way! You knew exactly what You were doing, Lord!”

May we pray for wisdom from the God who is wisdom!

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asn010

When we talk about evangelism or how people get saved, the inevitable question is asked: “Why doesn’t God save everyone?” He certainly could do that if it was His desire. The better question, however, is “Why does God save anybody?” He’s under no obligation to save any of us. Because of our sin and sinfulness, we deserve His wrath and not His blessings. God’s grace and mercy alone are the driving motivation behind His choice to save some from His wrath. We should be grateful that God chose to save anyone at all, including us!

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 95. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Our worship should be joyful, thankful, centered on God, which results in a softened heart that believes and obeys God.

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There are other circumstances in which those who are pious should stand firm in peace and patience. Such qualities should extend to every situation that we encounter in this life. No one, then, has properly denied himself except the one who has abandoned himself to the Lord so that every aspect of his life will be governed by his will. The person thus composed in soul will neither judge himself to be miserable, nor will he spitefully complain against God for his lot in life, come what may.

The true necessity of having such a disposition is clear if you consider how many unforeseen events we are exposed to in this life. We are continually harassed by one illness or another; the plague advances; we are cruelly vexed by the calamities of war; frost and hail render the land barren and leave us with little, devouring our expectations for the year’s crop. Wife, parents, children, and close relatives are snatched away by death; homes are consumed by fire. These are events which make men curse their lives, despise the day they were born, hold in contempt heaven and its light, rage against God, and, being fluent in blasphemies, accuse God of unfairness and cruelty. But the believer must in these circumstances consider the mercy and the Fatherly kindness of God. If the believer, then, should see his house made lonely by the loss of those nearest to him, even then he must not stop praising the Lord. Rather, he must turn himself to this thought: “The Lord’s grace continues to dwell in my home and will not leave it desolate.” If the believer should see his crop consumed by drought, disease, or frost, or trampled down by hail and famine threaten him, even then he must not despair within his soul, nor should he become angry toward God. Rather, he must persist with confidence in this truth: “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever” (Ps. 79:13). God, then, will provide for us, however barren the land. If the believer should be afflicted by illness, he must not be so stung by the severity of his hardship that he erupts in impatience and demands from God an explanation. Rather, he must, considering the justice and gentleness of God’s discipline, recall himself to patience.

Indeed, the believer should accept whatever comes with a gentle and thankful heart, because he knows that it is ordained by the Lord.

(A Little Book on the Christian Life, by John Calvin; translated by Aaron Dendinger an Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust, 2017, pp. 51-53)

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“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Paul asked the Corinthian church that question in his first letter to them (1 Cor. 4:7). The apostle was writing, in this section of the letter, to correct the divisive spirit that had made its way into the church. Some were thinking of themselves as better than others and maybe even Paul himself.

Paul makes several points in verse 7. First, God gave the Corinthians everything they had. There wasn’t one thing they had that God didn’t give them – everything comes from His gracious hand. Second, they shouldn’t boast about what they have because it didn’t ultimately come from themselves.

These truths have meaning for us, too. Everything you and I have comes from God. What do we have that we did not receive? The question is rhetorical and the answer is a loud and clear “nothing!” In His common grace, God has given us air to breathe, water to drink, clothing and shelter, gifts, talents, and abilities, and everything else. It’s only by His mercy that we’re even alive. All of us should respond with gratitude and thankfulness to God. In His special grace, or saving grace, God opens our eyes and ears as well as removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh, and gives us the very faith we place in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. That saving grace didn’t come from us – it came from Him – therefore, we shouldn’t boast about it.

Knowing that God has given us everything we have motivates our praise, encourages humility, informs our stewardship, and drives our gratitude.

 

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John Calvin wrote:

Men will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey Him with sufficient zeal, until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy.

Remember that as we gather together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to worship the Triune God.

 

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