Gratitude, Holidays (Other), Prayer, Thanks/Thanksgiving

Throwback Thursday ~ 25 Things I Forgot to Thank God For

Originally published March 13, 2015

25 things

I’ve just been in a funk, lately. Nothing out of the ordinary is wrong, but it’s been raining for eleventy two days in a row, and the constant darkness and dreariness seems to have wormed its way into my psyche and, I noticed recently, even into my prayer life.

A couple of days ago, I started out my prayer time with a huge sigh followed by a bunch of wimpering and whining about nothing of consequence. I was just moody. And I didn’t feel like praying.

And then God graciously brought a lovely little snippet of Scripture to my mind:

give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Want to know God’s will for your life? There it is: give thanks in all circumstances. When you get a new car. When you catch your spouse cheating on you. When you’re on a glorious vacation. When you get laid off from work. When you’re happy. When you’re sad. When you’re in the mood, and when you’re not in the mood.

Give thanks in – not necessarily for, but in – all circumstances.

Well, this was certainly a circumstance. Why not give gratitude a try? I was in the car headed to pick up my boys from school, and I decided to spend the entire twenty minute drive just thanking God for things.

I started with the big stuff: salvation, forgiveness for my sin, times when God has miraculously provided, specific answers to prayer…

I was starting to slow down and I still had about half the drive left. Surely there was more to be thankful for! And that’s when it struck me. How often do we forget to thank God for all the (in our eyes) tiny little unnoticed things He does for us every day? We thank Him for the miracles, but what about the mundane? What “little things” had I forgotten to thank God for?

1. Air conditioning. I live in the South. Enough said.

2. I know where my next meal is coming from.

3. Social media and e-mail. I can keep up with far off loved ones, and I’ve “met” some awfully nice people.

4. I can see. I can hear. I can think clearly. I can walk.

5. I live in a country where Christianity is not yet against the law.

6. Sunsets.

7. Cute baby animals.

8. I can read and write. That’s not the case for women, globally.

9. I was able to conceive and carry my children to term.

10. Warm quilts on cold nights.

11. The Bible is available in my native language, and I have several copies of it.

12. I have no fear of suicide bombers in my community.

13. The beach.

14. A crawfish boil with friends.

15. Reliable electricity.

16. Hearing my children sing when they think no one is listening.

17. My husband is a believer and is good to me.

18. Mountains. I miss mountains.

19. Indoor plumbing and clean drinking water.

20. Laughing hysterically with my family.

21. Level-headed discernment ministries.

22. Peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.

23. A roof over my head.

24. Home schooling.

25. People who are kind (or crazy) enough to read my blog articles all the way to the end.

Well, that was my list, and I think I’ll keep looking for things to add to it. Thanking God for the “little things,” realizing they might be big things to others, and recognizing the pervasiveness of God’s blessings and provision cheered me up and was truly a worship experience.

What kinds of things would you put on your list?

Salvation

Throwback Thursday ~ He Knows My Name

Originally published September 6, 2016

440px-Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svg

One of the things I love about checking my notifications on my social media pages is learning my readers’ names. They are all so interesting!

Some of you have the same names as some of my family members, which makes me think fondly of them and wonder if you’re like them in any way.

Some of your names remind me of characters in funny movies and make me smile.

Some of your names sound like they are French or Chinese or Middle Eastern or African or originated somewhere fascinating, and lead me to think about the beautiful places God has created all over the world.

Some of your names are a mystery of phonetics, and I have a fun time trying to figure out how to pronounce them.

Some of you have biblical names, and those call well-loved Bible stories to mind.

But whatever your name is, it doesn’t really matter what it makes me think of. What matters is what God thinks. He who calls the stars by name (Psalm 147:4) certainly knows your name. What does He think of you when He sees your name?

Does He see your name written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27) because you have repented of your sin and placed your faith in Christ alone for salvation?

Or, when your name comes before Him in eternity, will He say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you”? (Matthew 7:23)

If you’re not sure of the answer to those questions, or how God sees you, here are some resources that can help. God wants you to know for sure (1 John 5:13).

Basic Training: The Gospel

Am I Really Saved? A 1 John Check-up

Basic Training, Salvation

Throwback Thursday ~ Basic Training: The Gospel

Originally published February 3, 2017

For more in the Basic Training series, click here.bt-the-gospel

Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read, you begin with ABC
When you sing, you begin with Do, Re, Mi…¹

And when you talk Christianity, you begin with…

The gospel. It’s the foundation of the Christian faith. The thing all genuinely regenerated believers have in common. And it’s the ABC’s of our Basic Training series.

Without a right understanding of the gospel, none of the subsequent articles in this series will make much sense to you. In fact, you’ll find yourself standing in opposition to biblical teaching because the Bible says that only those who are born again and empowered by the Holy Spirit can embrace the things of God in their hearts:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

But far more important than your reaction to this series of articles,

If you don’t have a clear understanding of,
and response to,
the gospel, you aren’t saved,
and you’ll spend eternity in Hell.

I know that sounds blunt, but that’s just the meat and potatoes of it, ladies. In the same way you can’t get a molecule of water unless you add exactly one atom of oxygen to exactly two atoms of hydrogen, believing whatever you feel like believing doesn’t produce a Christian. You have to “follow the recipe,” so to speak, to the letter. And that recipe is in the Bible. Let’s take a look at it.

♦ You are a sinner (you have transgressed God by breaking His law).

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— Romans 5:12

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

♦ The penalty for your sin is an eternity in Hell.

For the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23a

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. Romans 2:8

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15

♦ You can’t escape Hell by being a good person, having a good heart, or any other effort on your part.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. Isaiah 64:6a

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5

♦ Salvation (being in good standing with God) is a result of God’s mercy and grace, not something you can earn. It is a gift.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Romans 9:16

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

♦ The gift God offers you is that, on the cross, Christ took the punishment you deserve for your sin. He will take away your sin and give you His perfect standing before God in exchange.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, 1 Peter 3:18a

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:23-25a

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

♦ The way you receive that gift and have Christ’s righteousness “credited to your account” is to repent from (have the heart desire to turn away from and ask God’s forgiveness for) your sin and trust that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for your sin.

[Jesus said] “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, Acts 3:19

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

That’s it. That’s the gospel. Turn from your sin and trying to earn favor with God by your so-called good behavior and throw yourself on the mercy of God, trusting Christ’s finished work on the cross to forgive your sin and make you righteous in God’s eyes.

That’s what salvation – or becoming a Christian – is. Adding anything to the gospel or taking anything away from it is not salvation or biblical Christianity. It is a false gospel. Believing a false gospel will not forgive your sin, make you right with God, or take you to Heaven when you die. Unfortunately, many people believe a false gospel and there are many people who claim to be Christians, pastors, and Bible teachers who teach a false gospel.

What are some of those false gospels?

If you’re basically a good person, or your good deeds outweigh the bad, you’re OK with God, and you’ll go to Heaven when you die.

If you’ve been baptized at any point in your life and for any reason, you’re saved.

If you go to church regularly, you’re a Christian.

If you participate in communion or the Lord’s Supper, you’re a Christian.

The reason we come to Jesus is to have a better, more comfortable, or more successful life.

The reason we come to Jesus is to get healed from a medical condition, because He will make us wealthy, or because He will do cool supernatural signs and wonders in our lives.

Simply saying you’re a Christian, or believing that you are a Christian, makes you one.

If you were born in America and you’re not Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or some other religion, you’re a Christian.

If you believe in God, you’re a Christian.

If you give mental assent to the facts about Jesus (without repenting and trusting Him), you’re saved.

If, at some point in your life you repeated the words of a “sinner’s prayer,” “accepted Jesus,” or “asked Jesus into your heart,” (even if you didn’t know what you were doing, and without true repentance and faith) you’ve been born again.

You can become a Christian without repenting from your sin.

You can believe in a “Jesus” of your own making, rather the one described in Scripture, and still be a Christian.

Are you a Christian? Have you ever felt the weight of your guilt before God and asked Him to cleanse you and make you right with Him? Do you believe and embrace that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection satisfied God’s wrath against you for your sin?

The Bible says we should examine ourselves to discover whether or not we are truly in the faith. Take some quiet, undistracted time alone with God today and search your heart. What do you really believe? Is it the true gospel of Scripture, or something else? (If you need some help, this might be a useful tool.) Don’t put it off, it’s too important.

If you find that you’re not in Christ, talk to Him. Confess your sin and your need for Him to save you. Ask His forgiveness and declare your trust in Him.

Don’t wonder and guess any more about where you stand with God. Know.

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2


¹Do-Re-Mi. Rodgers and Hammerstein, The Sound of Music, 1959.

Sanctification

Throwback Thursday ~ Jesus Wants You to Be a Hater

Originally published February 26, 2015

hater

Hater. It’s a word that gets tossed around a lot these days. If you disagree with someone, you’re a hater. If you believe the Bible when it says something is a sin, you’re a hater. If you vote pro-life or pro-marriage, you’re a hater. Gone are the days when a Christian could stand on her convictions without being accused of hating everyone else who does not hold those same convictions.

In fact, when you first read the title of this article, I’m betting that’s what you thought I was saying Jesus wants us to do: hate everyone who doesn’t agree with us.

And I hate that.

I hate the fact that Satan has sold the world – and even the church – the lie that those of us who love Christ with all our hearts hate the sinners He died for.

Did you know that the Bible actually tells us to hate certain things? Not people who disagree with us or people enslaved by sin- that’s the world’s definition of being a hater. Luke 6:27-28 tells us:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

We are not to hate, but to love, do good to, bless, and pray for those who, because they are at enmity with Christ, are at enmity with us.

But as Christians, the Bible tells us there are certain things it is good and holy for us to hate. If we don’t hate them, we’re being disobedient to our Lord.

We are to hate evil:

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. Proverbs 8:13

We hate evil, pride, arrogance, and perverted speech because God is good and holy. Evil stands in rebellion against God’s person and in opposition to God’s purposes. Pride and arrogance exalt self over God, who alone is to have preeminence in all things. Dishonest, wicked speech can damage God’s beloved children and lead them away from Him.

We are to hate opposition to God’s word:

Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way. Psalm 119:128

When we love the Lord and His ways, we will necessarily come to hate false ways and false doctrine which defy His word and lead us, and others, away from Him.

We are to hate our own sin:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:14-15

While it is good to hate evil in the world, we must also hate the evil that lurks within us in the form of sin. Those who have been born again loathe their sin and continually and sorrowfully turn from it, flinging themselves upon the mercy of Christ for forgiveness.

We are to “hate” all things in comparison to our love for Christ:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

Our devotion to Christ must run so deep that we are gladly willing to sacrifice any relationship -even with our closest family members- any worldly goods, even our lives, if required to by our Lord in His word. Our love for Him should so far surpass our affections for all others that any other love relationship seems like hate in comparison.

There is a time to love, and a time to hate. When we love Christ, we will hate what is evil and cling to what is good. The hatred of the things the Lord calls us to hate is evidence that we love Him and are having our hearts and minds conformed to His.

If you’re a Christian, by God’s definition, you’re a hater. And that’s not a bad thing.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Obedience

Throwback Thursday ~ Faultfinders Contending With the Almighty

Originally published September 25, 2015

faultfinders

Nobody could ever accuse Christianity of being easy. A religion that tells you to die to self and take up your cross daily is no walk in the park. And there’s no magical moment in this life when you’ve suddenly “arrived” at the top level of spiritual 1 tim 2 12maturity where everything in the Bible makes perfect sense, your prayer life is phenomenal every day, obeying Christ’s commands is a breeze, and you’re floating around on a little cloud of holiness.

We are all messed up, muddling through, and constantly battling the flesh, from the person who got saved five minutes ago to the theologian who’s been walking with the Lord for decades.

It’s hard enough to obey the Scriptures we embrace – love one another, be kind, be matt 6 15truthful – but then we encounter Scriptures that, for whatever reason, we butt heads with. Scriptures to which our initial, fleshly reaction is, “No way. I’m not doing that.” We argue with them. We look for loopholes and ways we can get around them. We reason out all sorts of caveats as to why that Scripture doesn’t apply to us or why we don’t have to obey it.

My parents hurt me deeply. There’s no way I’m going to honor the people who did that to me.

God gave me a special gifting and called me to preach. It doesn’t matter that I’m a woman.

Why should I forgive him? He’s never even said he’s sorry!

You have no idea how badly she hurt me. I’ll never be able to love her or pray for her.

ex 20 12There’s no denying it, sometimes obeying a certain Scripture will be the hardest thing we ever do. But slaves to Christ are not given the option of saying “no” to their Master. If you’ll look in your Bible at the verse you’re struggling against, you’ll notice there’s no asterisk next to it that says, “except you.”

When we approach one of God’s commands to Christians and decide we’re not going to obey it because we don’t want to or shouldn’t have to or it’s too hard, what we’re really doing is setting ourselves above the Bible in judgment of it and coming to the conclusion that we know better 1 pet 3 1 2than God.

Yeah, that’s not a good idea. Especially for Christians.

Ever read the book of Job? Job went through some pretty awful stuff. Stuff that I certainly would have argued against and questioned God about just like he did. And yet, despite all of Job’s suffering, God didn’t give him a pass.

And the Lord said to Job:
“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?

He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?

I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.”
Job 40:1-5

 And how does this grab you?

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Romans 9:20-21

Do you get the sense from these verses, which address very different situations, that God isn’t crazy about people questioning His sovereignty, His decisions, or His word, regardless of their circumstances?

God is God. We are not.

God sets the rules for Christianity, not “everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes.”

matt 5 44Lots of times we think we have to “feel comfortable” with a certain Scripture if we’re to obey it, but the truth is just the opposite. When we say, “Lord, I don’t want to do this, but I’m going to do it anyway because I love You and Your word says so,” guess what happens? God begins to change our hearts. In time, He helps us grow to embrace the Scriptures we once rejected. He helps us to love others and see them through His eyes.

Yes, it is going to be hard. There are going to be times when we have to grit our teeth, hold our noses, and obey Christ even when everything inside us screams, “NO!

But we have a precious Savior who has promised to help us be content in any circumstance and will give us the strength to do anything He puts in front of us.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I’ve fought. I’ve cried. I’ve whined, “I can’t!” And every time God has brought me back to this verse that says, “Yes, you can, and I’ll help you.” And you know what? He did.

Obedience is hard, but Christ is worth it.