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Thanksgiving In Adversity

We associate giving thanks with times and experiences of good fortune. However, this deprives us of the full benefits of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about giving glory to God, rather than glorying in the things of this world. It is to focus us on the person and power of God, regardless of our circumstances.

When Job lost all his children and was stripped of all his possessions in one day’s time, his recourse was: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” When David and his men returned home to find their homes burned, with their families and possessions carried away, while David’s men spake of stoning him, “David encouraged himself in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6). When Stephen was facing the blood thirsty crowd that would bash and crush his body unto death by stoning, “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55)

The Book of Daniel sets forth men who would rather die giving glory to God, than they would live under the favors of a God denying society. In the day of trouble, the Psalmist wrote: “I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities” (Psalm 31:7).

In times of adversity, we should be thankful that we have a God who knows all about our troubles: “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14). As we are yielded to and abiding in Christ, God can use our adversity to show us things that we would never realize otherwise–things needed for our spiritual improvement.

Faith and reconciliation with God’s will opens the door to the understanding of appreciating God and what God does through all the circumstances of our lives: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Consider–“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). A person robbed with violence once prayed: “I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, although they took all, it wasn’t very much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.”

“In every thing give thanks!” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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A Needed Perspective

“….I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18b

The New Testament Church is not to be in fellowship with the gates of hell. The gates of hell are simply the open doors to sin and doctrinal error. Satan seeks to open these doors up in every New Testament Church, through playing upon the sympathies of good hearted Christians. But his subtle plan is to lead the church into permissiveness towards sin, unto becoming a haven for that which God forbids.

The way a New Testament Church does their part in preventing the gates of hell from prevailing, is to keep the doors shut to willful sin and doctrinal error. The church is to be sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word, that it will be presented unto Christ as a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish–Ephesians 5:26-27

Thus, a church needs to stand straight and doctrinally sound with Christ. It needs to be understood that membership is a privilege, rather than some inherent right. People can either choose to serve God, or choose to serve self and sin, but not both at the same time: “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” 1 Corinthians 10:21

We must not respect individual pride over the truth of God. Due to pride, a person serving sin wants to be accredited with religious sanction and asylum. But the stand with Christ and on the Word of God, is not to be sacrificed in order to save the face of those who have chosen to serve sin. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20. “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:11,4,5.

In order for a church to keep the gates of hell from prevailing, it must wage a war of faith sufficiently strong enough against sin, that people’s hearts and minds will reject sin, rather than consider sin to be an allowable alternative to God’s will and way. “…Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” 1 Corinthians 5:6b-7a

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What’s Driving Us?

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God….But he that is spiritual judgeth all things.” 1 Corinthians 2:12,14a,15a

It is what spirit we are of that drives how we think and what we do, rather than what we know. Thus, people often find themselves being driven to do things they know is not right. This is evident in the number who know the truth, yet depart from it to follow sinful ways.

The Bible declares the fact of the spirit of our sinful, natural man, which acts independently of, yea, even contrary to, the Spirit of God, ignoring the wisdom of God’s way, in order to gratify the sinful desires of the flesh. Also, there is the spirit which is of God, working within those whose hearts are right with God, affording them the ability to judge all things, due to discerning things that are eternal as well as the temporal.

In a perfect world of perfect minds, people would choose to judge all things in the light of God’s omniscient wisdom, which is comprehensive of all things, rather than resort to the spirit of sinful flesh, which only sees the things of this present world, as well as only seeks those things that bring present gratification to fleshly lusts.

But in this sinful, imperfect world, the spirit of the inherently spiritually dead, depraved, natural man, is in objection to everything that disagrees with just living for the gratification of worldly desires.

Christians BEWARE! Should we fail, or cease to fight the good fight of faith in judging all things by the spirit afforded us by God, the spirit of our natural, sinful man will divert our attention away from the light of the Lord, unto the blindness of seeing only what the flesh wants to see, being the ways of this world that are at enmity with God.

Live Eve was, those raised up in a Christian environment are prone to be naïve and vulnerable when broadsided with temptation that ignites the spirit of the fleshly man. And as they suddenly are being driven by the spirit of the natural man, the truth that they do know will be overridden in their thinking.

What spirit is driving you? Are you judging all things that reveal godliness to be profitable in this life and the life to come, or are you taking a “new look” at what the world’s ways have to offer?

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Freedom & Responsibility

Picture in your mind the soldier at Valley Forge, as he holds his musket in his bloody hands. He stands barefoot in the snow, starved from lack of food; wounded from months of battle, and emotionally scarred from the eternity away from his family. He is surrounded by nothing but death and the carnage of war.

He stands tough, with fire in his eyes and victory in his heart. He looks at us across the centuries in anger and disgust and tells us: “I gave you my birthright of freedom born in the Constitution and now your children graduate too illiterate to read it.

“I fought in the snow barefoot to give you freedom to vote, and you stay at home because it rains. I left my family destitute to give you freedom of speech, and you remain silent on critical issues, because it might be bad for business. You “badmouth” the country because you are irritated at something the politicians do. I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you, and you are apathetic when democracy is stolen from the people.”

It is the soldier, not the reporter, that gives you freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, that gives you freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who allows you to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves the flag, whose coffin is draped with the flag, that allows the protester to burn the flag. Shame! Shame!

“Lord, hold our troops in Your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts of heroism they perform for us in our time of need. Press close to them the hope of just coming home safe.” (copied)

Freedom is not free. The slogan is simple, “You may differ but you can’t divide.” Freedom is responsibility. There is no other definition that correctly displays the real meaning of being free.

“…Christ hath made us free…” “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5:1,13. With the liberty in Christ, comes the responsibility to use it for Christ.

As Americans, we all cherish the Bill of Rights. As Christians, we enjoy the privilege to stand for what we believe. But with this freedom comes the responsibility: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Galatians 5:15. As we see the folly of those who spit on or burn the flag, let us also be advised against the folly of doing those things that undermine the local New Testament Church.

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The Little Foxes

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.” Song of Solomon 2:15a

Human nature is a complex mixture of inconsistency: “Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24)

Every Holy Spirit convicted, repentant, converted, born again sinner, saved by grace, has a deep consciousness of the sinful adamic nature. Every servant of God has a constant warfare with his or her own sinful nature, that must be denied in the course of seeking and carrying out God’s will. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:17

Whenever we apply this conviction of our sinful imperfection, it will serve us well to keep us vigilant against Satan and sin. But as imperfection is, so imperfection does. Being imperfect, we often imperfectly apply this conviction to what we are and do.

In the course of imperfectly assessing and managing our own imperfection, we may very well allow things to go on in our lives that we know do not measure up to what they should be. These are the little foxes that spoil the vines. These are the little errors that throw off the big equation.

Satan knows that a direct affront to a Christian’s conviction and faith most likely wouldn’t work, but would only put us on the defense against his wiles. So, he works on getting us to allow for some imperfections, that there are no real justification for them, BUT they are gratifying to, or fit well with our imperfect nature. Eventually these allowances will grow unto making more allowances, unto “a little leaven leavening the whole lump” 1 Corinthians 5:6.

Do not err, beloved brethren! It only takes a spark to get a fire going. “Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” Romans 14:22

Be circumspect and reject inconsistencies and strive for perfection: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

“…be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:14b

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The Foundations Being Destroyed

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” 2 Timothy 4:3

Not all lusts are base, but some are self-exalting. Man has always used his religion to enhance himself. Today, religion is on the move. It is seeking relevance in society through what is esteemed to be progressive minded. Sound doctrine and “the old paths” are acknowledged as an ancestor of today’s religion, but ill-fitted for modern application.

Contradictions have always existed between man’s wisdom and God’s. Man considers his own wisdom to be increasing; and the more “understanding” man thinks he has acquired, the more base and out of step he considers Biblically sound doctrine to be. Modern theology deems Biblical laws and doctrines to be intolerable. But this new self-enlightenment on man’s part, is nothing more than the old lack of spiritual discernment glorifying itself above the Truth of God: “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:7

Man esteems not the preaching of the Word, but that which proclaims itself to be the authority over the Word. Many proclaim to have knowledge superior to, and understanding that exceeds what the common man reads in the scriptures. While this may be new and intriguing amongst professed fundamental churches, it is the old ways of the Roman hierarchy creeping in, who have always maintained to have authority that preempts the written scriptures.

This breakdown and destruction of the foundations (Psalm 11:3) is occurring, not so much through bold and open defiance, but with the subtle legalization of that which is illegal. “Reverend Doctor so-and-so” holds the congregation in awe as he instructs them in how the wording of the written scripture is so much better expressed and more easily understood in some modern version of the Bible than it is in the Holy Bible (KJV). But what they don’t detect, is that he is leading them astray regarding the authority of inspiration to change the wording of the Bible in any way. The Bible itself condemns the writing of new versions. God gave His Word by verbal inspiration, and it is forever settled in heaven.

To admit any new version, is to agree to the principle of accepting all new versions. To accept any new version is to accept that the Holy Bible is not sacred. To accept a changed version is to say the Holy Bible needs to be changed. To accept man’s new versions is to concede that man is a greater authority than the written Word. Once this concession is made, the precedent is established for churches to practice what is deemed to be correct by man, rather than defer everything to the written Word of God. WHO IS ON THE LORD’S SIDE????

DO NOT ERR, BELOVED BRETHREN! “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Titus 1:9 We must separate ourselves and reprove that which is not the walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel. To not stand firm on the inerrant, holy Word of God, is to depart from the ways of the Holy Spirit which inspired the Word.

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Be Ye Kind

There once was a school that had but one rule. (Oh, what a wonderful place that would be!) It is now known as Washington and Lee University and Robert E. Lee was at one time the headmaster of this institution. During his tenure, the story is told that only one rule was enforced. It was simply: Be kind.

This world of sinners can be a cruel place to live. Churches full of sinners are often no less cruel. Meanness abounds. Because of this, it is always refreshing when you cross paths with someone who exhibits true kindness.

Kindness is not a sentiment. It is an action. It is the action of our loving Father and it should be the action of all of His children.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

• Kindness is the opposite of meanness. We all have a “mean streak.” It is called sin nature. We want our way. Selfishness and “one to another” living cannot coexist in the same home.

•Kindness is rooted in tenderness. Soft hearts can make a great difference in a hard world. A kind word. A tender tone. They do not begin in the tongue, but in the heart…“tenderhearted.”

•Kindness is demonstrated most in our response to others who have done us wrong. “Forgiving one another.” It is not kindness to be kind when others are kind to us. That is just common courtesy. It is kindness to treat others lovingly when we have been treated hatefully.

•Kindness is a characteristic that makes us most like our Lord. “Even as God.” Only God is our example and only God can enable us to act and react kindly.

Of all the truth in this one little verse, I believe the greatest is to be found in the words, “for Christ’s sake.” Here lies the open secret to real kindness. We all want to be kind. How many times I have scolded myself for not having reacted as a Christian. But, how? There is only one way. We must not look at others. All eyes must be on Jesus.

I should not treat others kindly because they deserve it. At some point, I will reason that they do not deserve it! I should treat others with kindness because that is what Jesus would do. No, that is what Jesus has done. He has treated me with kindness when I did not deserve it.

Look at the cross of Christ and your heart will be tender. Listen to the kindness of the Saviour in the middle of His mistreatment and you will know how to respond.

“Be ye kind.” Ye means me. What a difference could be made by kind people in a mean world! Somewhere today, you and I will cross paths with some hurting person, some wounded soul. May they see and hear the kindness of Christ in us.

–Scott Pauley

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Beyond Understanding

“And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:7-8

This was a most difficult question for Abraham at the moment. How could he tell his son that he was the one to be sacrificed?

So, rather than resort to trying to come up with some satisfactory explanation, he directed Isaac to trust in and wait upon the Lord.

This is where Abraham had to go for his reckoning: “By faith, Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Hebrews 11:17-19 Abraham did not attempt to deal with this on the circumstantial level, but only by complete trust in God’s righteousness.

There was the testing moment when Abraham had to lay hold on and bind his son, put him on the altar they had built, and draw the knife to slay Isaac. Again, this moment could only be endured by sheer faith in God’s promises, that Isaac would be alive to perpetuate the promised seed.

Whatever agony Abraham experienced and whatever fear beset Isaac, yet they were both relieved and elated when God supplied the substitute to take Isaac’s place.

When our understanding doesn’t seem to be enough for our every question and perplexity, we are counseled to ask that we might receive, and to trust without doubting, in waiting upon the Lord in full confidence of God’s righteousness.

Because Christ is our substitute and means of deliverance, rather than suffer loss and deprivation, we are assured of being made overcomers beyond our understanding.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

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Personal Convictions

“For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.” Romans 14:2-3

Personal convictions are very important in the life of a Christian. To believe in God’s righteousness is to care about our lives in His sight. But it must be remembered that personal convictions are just that, they are personal. Whenever we try to make our personal convictions the public norm, we run into problems. We must remember that our personal convictions are to be between us and our Master. We must do all we can to make sure they are approved of by Him, for the judgment’s sake and our testimony of faith. For if God approves them not, they are just weights that easily beset us.

For the most part, personal convictions are made up largely from our own person: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 It must be remembered, that at best, our person is still incomplete and is still yet to discover more things than we now know.

Personal convictions do not necessarily imply Christianity proper. People of heathen religions have personal convictions. The Pharisees had personal convictions, and because of these, they were given to finding fault against Christ and His disciples. Job’s friends had personal convictions, and due to their convictions, they deemed Job to be “unholy” and under Divine judgments for ungodliness. Peter had very high convictions about loyalty to Christ, unto death. And it was his personal convictions that got in his way of doubting himself enough to fully surrender himself to the admonitions of Christ, and thus Satan took advantage of him. When we become driven by our own personal opinions, we are wide open prey for Satan to sift us as wheat.

Due to personal convictions, some view a ministry to be too strict, while others view the same ministry to be too lenient. There is no way to form a bond of unity out of a mix of people’s personal convictions.

Real unity, and things done in a way that is expedient for the Lord’s work, comes to pass from the fruit of the Holy Spirit working within. People who live right and make decisions that honor God and build up His work, do so, not because of self-assertiveness, but by forsaking their own thoughts and ways, unto becoming directed by the Holy Spirit in what they are doing. Due to parties with strong personal convictions, the church can be sharply divided. But due to submission to the Holy Spirit, unity, growth, and fellowship abounds. BE CAREFUL! By personal convictions, we can be a more conscientious Christian, or become a law to ourselves, hardened in our own conceits!

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Men Who Paid Freedom’s Price

Our nation’s founding fathers knew how to count the cost of liberty.

On July 7, 1776, there was signed in the City of Philadelphia one of America’s historic documents: the Declaration of Independence. It marked the birth of this nation which, under God, was destined for world leadership.

We often forget that, in declaring independence from an earthly power, our forefathers made a forthright declaration of dependence upon Almighty God. The closing words of this document solemnly declare:

“With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

The fifty-six courageous men who signed that document understood that this was not just high-sounding rhetoric. They knew that if they succeeded, the best they could expect would be years of hardship in a struggling new nation. If they lost, they would face a hangman’s noose as traitors.

Of the fifty-six, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes, from Rhode Island to Charleston, sacked, looted, occupied by the enemy, or burned. Two lost their sons in the army. One had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six died in the war, from its hardships or from its bullets.

Whatever ideas you have of the men who met that hot summer in Philadelphia, it is important that we remember certain facts about the men who made this pledge: they were not poor men, or wild-eyed pirates. They were men of means; rich men, most of them, who enjoyed much ease and luxury in their personal lives. Not hungry men, but prosperous men, wealthy landowners, substantially secure in their prosperity, and respected in their communities.

But they considered liberty much more important than the security they enjoyed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They fulfilled their pledge. They paid the price. And freedom was won.

Someone has said, “To be born free is a privilege. To die free is an awesome responsibility.”

Yet freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost.

Little did John Adams know how significant his words would be when he spoke to his wife, Abigail, on the passing of the Declaration of Independence and said, “I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states; yet, through all the gloom I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means.”

To those who sacrificed for our freedom, the end was worth the painful means. Where would we, who are citizens of the United States of America, be today if there had not been those who counted the cost of freedom and willingly paid for it? Where will we be tomorrow if men and women of integrity do not come forward today and pay the price to reclaim a dying America?

–Unknown

“Posterity–you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” –John Quincy Adams

“What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” –Thomas Payne, 1776

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