Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks to God

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday in this country, we tend to be more mindful of the blessings we have. We have many things to be thankful for, and we ought to recognize God as the source of these blessings (James 1:17).

With this in mind, I want to briefly look at Colossians 3:15-17. These three verses contain three reminders to us to be thankful. These verses also give reasons why we should be thankful to God.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (v. 15). As Christians, we can be thankful because we are part of His body, the church, where salvation is (Ephesians 5:23). We have the peace of Christ, being assured of the salvation we have in Him.

"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (v. 16). We sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God for His goodness. We also sing in order to teach and admonish one another. This reminds us that we should be thankful that we have our brethren for support and encouragement (cf. Ephesians 4:15-16; Hebrews 3:12-13).

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (v. 17). We often cite this verse to show that we must do all things by the authority of Christ. But this, too, is a call for thanksgiving. Give thanks that God has revealed His will to us that we can know how to please Him.

As you reflect on the many reasons you have to be thankful, do not forget what Paul mentions in these three short verses. Give thanks to God for your salvation as part of Christ's body, for your brethren, and for the Word that reveals the will of God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Forgetting the Past

In writing to the church in Philippi, Paul spoke of the pursuit of his goal, which should be our goal -- the resurrection of the dead to the hope of eternal life.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

In order to obtain this goal, Paul was willing to give up anything that could hinder him from reaching it. In these verses, he said he was going to forget the past. He does not mean we should completely remove past events from our memory. Realistically, this would not be possible. Instead, Paul is talking about not dwelling on the past so that it hinders us in our present and future service to God.

We also must learn to put the past behind us. There are at least 3 ways in which we might let our past hinder us:
  1. Dwelling on our past sins. We all make mistakes. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But God offers forgiveness where our sins will no longer be held against us (Hebrews 8:12). Paul, before his conversion, was the “foremost of all” sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). But he was forgiven. He did not allow his evil past to prevent him from faithful service.
  2. Thinking about what might have been. Had Paul not become a follower of Jesus, he had a promising future ahead of him among the Jewish people (Philippians 3:4-6; Acts 22:3-5). What if Paul had never given that up? Would he be suffering the persecution that he was at the time of this writing? Frankly, it doesn't matter. Paul says, “whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). What if we had done things differently in our lives, for good or bad? We cannot change the past. There is no sense in worrying about what could have been. Focus on where you are now in relation to your service to God. Look forward, not backward.
  3. Focusing on our accomplishments. We may do great things in our service to God. We may make sacrifices to follow Him. But just because we've been faithful in our lives to this point, that does not mean that we have an excuse to slack off. Paul had not obtained anything yet (Philippians 3:12-13). We also have not reached the goal. We must continue to “press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14). “Be faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10). Do not fall “short of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15).
We should learn from the past and continue to grow. But do not let your past hinder you from serving the Lord as you are capable of doing. There is much work to do and a great reward to be obtained. Do not look back. Keep focused on the goal.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Better Country

Following an election like we've had in this country, it is expected that some will be pleased with the outcome and some will not. As Christians, whichever side we fall on, in this and every election, it is important to keep things in perspective.

Those of us who live in the United States of America have the blessing of being able to live in what is arguably the greatest country on earth. We have the freedom to worship God and teach the gospel. We have the opportunity to work and provide for our families. We live without fear of persecution or harassment from the government. Many around the world cannot ever expect to experience these blessings in their lifetime.

But as great as this country is, we seek a better country. This better country is not contained in campaign promises and political rhetoric. It is not obtained through congressional legislation or presidential policy. It is not preserved and maintained by law enforcement and military might. The better country we desire is one we will never see here on earth.

The Hebrew writer describes the faithful of old who sought after this better country:

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

The better country we desire is our home in heaven. We, like these, must seek it in faith. We must put our trust in Almighty God, hear Him, believe Him, obey Him.

While we should be thankful to God for the blessing of living here, we must remember that there is something more important than our American citizenship. It is our heavenly citizenship. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

Whatever our opinion of the election results, let us not take our eyes off of the goal. Our home is in heaven. We are eagerly waiting for the Lord to return to take us home. Never lose sight of that.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

PBT - November 2008

The November issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

  • The Eternal Gospel by Andy Sochor
  • The Anti-Christ by Andy Sochor
  • The Importance of Assembling by Andy Sochor
  • The Lord's Prayer in the Garden by Andy Sochor
You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you may find the new material helpful to you.

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