Thanksgiving

Ephesians 5:20

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 34:1 – “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Isaiah 63:7 – “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.”

Hebrews 13:15 – “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

I Peter 2:5 – “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

INSTANCES OF THANKSGIVING

  • Jacob – Genesis 32:10 – “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.”
  • Samuel – 1 Samuel 7:12 – “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
  • David – 2 Samuel 9:1 – “Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
  • Daniel – Daniel 6:10 – “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”
  • One of the ten lepers – Luke 17:15-17 – “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”
  • For victory over death – 1 Corinthians 15:57 – “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Back From the Dead

Romans 6:8-11 (New Living Translation)

And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:8-11 (Amplified Bible)

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

This testimony is not my testimony of how a life is changed.  It is rather a statement of fact of what God will do in a life, when that person surrenders to Him.  I want to focus on the goodness and the love of Jesus Christ my Lord and Master and for Him to receive all the glory. 

Looking back on my life from the post salvation view, I believe that I was called by God to the ministry at about the age of thirteen.  I was the sixth of seven children born in 1940 to poor parents who were still struggling from the affects of the Depression.  They had purchased a three room house in Bethalto Illinois in 1936 and attended the church just three or four blocks away.  We all lived in that three room house, minus two children that had died in infancy, along with a grandmother.  Togetherness…yes. 

I attended that church every time the doors were opened but even though I had experienced a closeness or call of God at thirteen I never was baptized, nor did I ever take communion.  No one ever questioned this fact.  Today I ask myself, why did they not question.  The deacons that passed out the Communion, the Pastor, the Sunday School teachers I had had, even my own parents never questioned this.

When I was eighteen, having finished high school, and having no job, I went into the Air Force and eventually spent twenty years, retiring in 1979.  Of course, as is often the case, I drifted away from Church and what relationship I had with God. 

I went deep into sin.  Drinking, carousing, smoking, cursing, dirty stories, porn, drugs, and all the things that sin does over time.  I was calloused to the things of God, even though my position in the service was working in the Chaplain’s office.   Again, no chaplain or supervisor ever questioned my behavior.  I was foul in my language and what I lacked in size I did very well at trying to make up for with my mouth.  My biggest problem was the alcohol.  One drink was never enough.  I believe now the reason I had this insatiable addiction to booze was due to lack of self control and insecurity.     At eighteen I weighed just 110 pounds and because of my insecurity, I was scared to death to say anything to anyone.  I was a different person when I was drinking.  I couldn’t remember my insecurity when I was drunk – so I drank.

On more than one occasion after a night out on the town drinking, I would come home in a taxi or someone would drive me home.  Several times I had to go looking for my car the next day.  Many times I just drove drunk not remembering a thing the next day.  God was merciful for He spared my life on many occasions when I was in that condition.  I remember one occasion as I was driving home in the middle of the night, drunk as usual, I heard an inward voice say to me, “Your mother’s praying for you.”

While I was stationed in Taiwan in 1973-74 my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I went back to see her on emergency leave because family did not believe she was going to live.

Up to this point I was without question, a sinner, lost, undone, chained, condemned, bound for hell and its torment, and without hope, bound for eternal separation from God’s love.  I was doomed, eternally lost.

Romans 5:8 (New King James Version)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

On my way back to Illinois on emergency leave, I had a layover in Seattle-Tacoma Washington International Airport.  All I could think about was my mom and losing her.  I was thirty four at the time.  It was past the hour of the bars being open, so I was alone with my thoughts, or so I thought.

At some point there in the middle of the terminal, while I was alone with my thoughts, there appeared what I would describe as a street sign. One part of the sign where the name of the street would normally appear said heaven and was pointed upwards.  The other part of the sign was pointed downward and it said hell.  As if this wasn’t enough of a shocker, I heard a voice inwardly that said, “And which way are you headed?”

Of course I knew enough about the bible and church that I knew where I was headed.  In my heart I answered and then I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.   Hallelujah.

I got to St Louis International Airport and my brother picked me up.  I went to my sister’s house where my mother was staying.  She was taking chemo and radiation treatments and could not stay by herself.  I said nothing about the airport encounter to anyone. 

Several days later my mother was feeling a little better and she wanted to go home to her house and her own bed.  She told my sister that Paul could go with her and if she had any problem she was only about six blocks away.  That night as she slept in her own bed and I lay on the sofa I could not sleep.  In the wee hours of the morning I could sense an awesome presence of the Lord.   I believe His presence was in the whole house.  My mother was one of those great prayer warriors we often hear about.  That was probably the main reason she wanted to go to her own house, to have His presence.  I slipped off the sofa and sat on the floor near the door of her bedroom.  After a few minutes, she said, “Paul, is that you?”  She wanted to know if anything was wrong.  That is when I told her about what happened at the airport.  Her statement when I finished telling her of my encounter was “I knew something was different about you.”   My mother went into remission and lived for another five years when the cancer returned.

I went back to Taiwan where I was stationed.  The first thing I did when I got back was look up a fellow serviceman I  knew attended church.  He told me where we went and that Sunday I headed to the church.  

Of course, this foul mouthed, drinking serviceman was no longer foul mouthed and drinking every night of the week.  It did not go unnoticed and I began telling what God had done in my life.  The little church suddenly began to have other individuals and families that did not attend church show up.  A revival was truly in progress. 

The four or five busses going to the base some thirty miles away suddenly became filled with new Christians.  No more cursing, no more dirty stories were heard.  Instead, bibles were being read, questions about scriptures were being discussed.   One weekday we took a bunch of musical instruments up to the base from the church and did a gospel music concert during the lunch hour at the dining hall. 

Fast forward…now out of service…now a graduate of Bible School…now a definite call to the ministry.   In 1984 God gave me a Christian wife to work with me in my ministry.   Victory Tabernacle, Alpha Chapel, Bible Fellowship Church,  House of Prayer, Gospel Lighthouse, New Life Tabernacle, all churches where we served and Missionary to Iloilo Philippines along with Jessica our youngest daughter.  She is also a minister today.

Today I am retired – but you can never completely retire from God’s call.  My wife and remain active in our local church and try to share God’s love whenever and wherever we meet someone in need.

I am so thankful for a mother who never gave up but kept praying for me.  I am so thankful for the mercy and love of God that kept me and brought me back to Him.

Never give up praying for your family.  

  • Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Philippians 4:4-7

  • New King James Version

Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  • Amplified Version

Rejoice in the Lord always (delight, gladden yourselves in Him); again I say, Rejoice!  Let all men know and perceive and recognized your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).  The Lord in near (He is coming soon), Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, And God’s peace (shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace) which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

  • The Message Bible –

Celebrate God all day, every day, I mean, revel in Him!  Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.  Help them see that the Master is about to arrive.  He could show up any minute!  Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

  • New King James Version

“Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

  • Amplified Version

“Rejoice in the Lord always (delight, gladden yourselves in Him); again I say, Rejoice!  Let all men know and perceive and recognized your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).  The Lord in near (He is coming soon), Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, And God’s peace (shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace) which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

  • The Message Bible –

“Celebrate God all day, every day, I mean, revel in Him!  Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.  Help them see that the Master is about to arrive.  He could show up any minute!  Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

I Will Praise the Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Psalms were set to the accompaniment of stringed instruments and served as the temple hymnbook and devotional guide for the Jewish people, The tremendous amount of subject matter in the Psalms includes diverse topics, such as jubilation, war, peace, worship, judgment, messianic prophecy, praise and lament.  It is the largest, perhaps most widely used, book in the entire Bible.  It explores the full range of human experience in a very personal and practical way in its 150 songs.

Originally unnamed because of the wide variety of material, it became known as the “Book of Praises”.

The Greek word Psalmoi became an early title for this book and where we get the word Psalter and Psalm. 

Sometime take a look at the different chapters throughout the Psalms and you will find verse after verse starts with the words “I will”.  “I will praise Him, I will lift up my voice, I will sing unto the Lord, I will bless the Lord, I will, I will, I will.”   “I will” is a positive declaration of the individual who is determined to praise the Lord.  It is something you must decide.   You can choose not to praise God or to praise Him.   If you simply do not choose to praise Him, it is an act of defiance which is rebelling against the Word of God which is sin.   You can come to church week after week and sit or stand in the presence of Almighty God and either praise Him or not.  You have that right.  Praise takes many forms from a simple singing of the songs or saying amen to clapping your hands and many other forms.  God wants you to praise Him.  

As a result of praising God your heart will be lifted, your cares and burdens made lighter, and you will feel a warmth and joy that only God can give.  It is far beyond my ability to think that man, woman, boy, or girl would not want that from God when it requires so little effort.

The prophet Malachi in the book by his name probes deeply into several practices of the people of his day.  One of those was the offering of polluted offerings.  When the law was given by Moses from God, the children of Israel were under a system of rules that were complex and very regulated.  Offerings of various types were to be made for different occasions.   In the book of Leviticus we find a list of all the sacrifices they were to offer.  Those sacrifices and offerings included a peace offering, a burnt offering, a meal offering, a guilt offering, a sin offering and a daily sacrifice.  Those can be found in Leviticus 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 16, and 29.

Now, thank God, we do not have to do all that ritualistic sacrifice and offering, but God does want us to offer the sacrifice of praise, of worship.  There is a correlation between the offerings of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament and praise and worship of the New.   Let us look at the Word of God.

Malachi 1:6-9 – A son honors his father and a servant his master.  If then I am the Father, where is My honor?  And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?  Says the LORD of hosts to you priests who despise My name.  Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’  You offer defiled food on My altar, but say, ‘In what way have we defiled you?’  By saying ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’  And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil?  And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?  Offer it then to your governor!  Would he be pleased with you?  Would he accept you favorably?” says the LORD of hosts.

He said go invite your governor and offer him a meal that is diseased and see how he likes it…then ask yourself, why would I offer this to God almighty God?  But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us.  While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?” says the LORD of hosts.”

Did you hear that question?   We should ask that same question of ourselves when we offer halfhearted praise in His house.  How many times do we come into church and instead of focusing on praising and honoring God, we look around to see who is here, we talk to the one sitting next to us, we let our mind wonder to where we will eat lunch?  How would we behave if the president or some sports figure or famous person was speaking to us?  

Is God pleased with the praise that we offer?  Not just here in the church.  Even more important, what about our daily life?  We need to do a self check to make sure our praise, our life, our worship is from the depths of our heart and is truly meaningful.  Our praise is to an Almighty God.  He is worthy.  He is worthy, He is worthy.

Malachi 1:10-14 – Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,” says the LORD of hosts.  Nor will I accept an offering from your hands for from the rising of the sun, even to its going down My name shall be great among the Gentiles.  In every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it, in that you say ‘The table of the LORD is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’  You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ and you sneer at it says the LORD of hosts “ And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick.  Thus you bring an offering.  Should I accept this from your hand?” says the LORD?  “ But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male and takes a vow  But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished—For I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts.   “ And My name is to be feared among the nations.

Over and over again in this passage He states several different ways “My Name shall be great”.  By the sincere offering of the sacrifices and now in our day, our praise and worship, we glorify God.  As we do, we are a witness to the unbeliever of the goodness of God.  In other words if you want to be a good witness…praise God by the way you live your life, the way that you worship Him, the way you exalt His name….You will be blessed as a result and others, including the nonbeliever will begin to take notice.   

Malachi 2:1-3 – And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.  If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,” says the LORD of hosts.  “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.  Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it.

In this passage God is simply saying the refuse (or dung) I will not receive and in fact will smear it in your face because it is unacceptable.  He further states that our children will be cursed if we follow this pattern.    

If you are going to praise the Lord, do it in a praiseworthy manner, in song, in praise, in conversation, in word and deed.  Let your thoughts, your words, your deeds, your praise so honor God that men will see your good works and glorify God.

Colossians 3:23 – and whatever you dodo it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

Matthew 5:116 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.