Monday, November 26, 2007
With a similar heart of reverence and thanksgiving, I would like to offer to Almighty God a 21-Thanks Salute to honor and glorify His name. This praise is lifted up to Him in recognition for the innumerable ways in which His blessings have been poured out upon His people. The foundation to this Salute lies in the ultimate sacrifice made for all mankind - the blood of Jesus shed for the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of the resurrection of the dead given us in the resurrection victory of our Lord. There is no greater freedom to enjoy than the freedom from the chains of sin's guilt and shame. It's by the unlimited measure of God's grace and mercy I offer to Him a "heart that leaps for joy," giving "thanks to Him in song" (Ps. 28:7).
Among the many categories of thanksgiving which could be listed, I have chosen to focus this Salute to give thanks for the work that God is doing in His church here in Ridgway. What a pleasure and privilege to serve as shepherd to such a flock. I shared this Salute with the church on Sunday morning (Nov. 25) and reprint it here, in honor of God hearing the prayers of His people and answering in the strength of His might.
1. I thank God for the deacons He's called to serve, who have been invaluable as supporters and friends and prayer warriors.
2. I thank God for all those who teach and serve in Sunday School and VBS, devoting themselves to the spiritual nourishment of those they lead.
3. I thank God for those who take care of the administrative duties in the church, the financial records, budget reports, membership records, business meeting minutes, etc.
4. I thank God for those who care for the grounds, the maintenance and upkeep of the building and property.
5. I thank God for those who minister in the name of Christ Jesus to others in need, in the hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons through phone calls, cards, visits and prayers.
6. I thank God for the love and compassion of His people here, who encourage the weak and strengthen the weary with a desire to build them up in the strength of the Lord, and for the fellowship that results as we help carry one another’s burdens.
7. I thank God for the prayer warriors, those who pray for others in need, those who pray for their Sunday School teachers, for their pastor, for each other, those who pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out workers into his harvest fields, those who pray for the lost, those who pray for the work of the kingdom of God to be done here in Ridgway.
8. I thank God for those who witness for the Lord, not only with their lives that shine with the light of Christ, but for those who boldly and in the power of the Holy Spirit, tell others about the salvation that is offered through Jesus Christ alone.
9. I thank God for those who give faithfully, financially, to the ministry of the church; who not only offer you the tithe that belongs to God, but give sacrificially above that 10% to the work of building His Kingdom.
10. I thank God for those who invite others to join in the worship and Bible study here, and for those who will this week invite someone to “Orange and Blue Day” next Sunday.
11. I thank God for the ones who brought the donuts and made the coffee this morning.
12. I thank God for those who prepare food and serve and give their time in providing meals for families who have lost loved ones.
13. I thank God for the Iron Men.
14. I thank God for a church who has caught a vision of His mission – who not only prays for the work of missions, who not only gives to the cause of missions, but who is willing to go as He leads them.
15. I thank God for the WMU, who helps educate and encourage us to be more involved in the work of missions.
16. I thank God for those who watch our little ones in the nursery.
17. I thank God for those who have come this morning for the first time, or maybe the first time in a long time, and in advance for those who will be here next week.
18. I thank God for the ones who lead us in giving thanks and praise to God in song.
19. I thank God for the little children He's brought to us, that we may help bring them up in the faith.
20. I thank God for all those who work with the children and youth on Sundays, Wednesday nights, and sometimes give up a weeknight or a Saturday or a weekend for them, and are available any time.
21. I thank God for a church who has invested in me and my family with the love of Christ, and who has given me encouragement to keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to keep preaching and teaching the glorious gospel of our salvation.
As I humbly fire this thanksgiving salute, may the name of Jesus be honored and glorified.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Psalm 28:7 says, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."
These words attempt to convey my humble thanksgiving before my gracious Savior and Lord.
Overwhelmed by God’s great mercy
Overjoyed yet by His grace
Gently raise my hands in wonder
Humbly bow in grateful praise
For our Father, our Provider
Overwhelms me with His love
Pouring blessing after blessing
From His heavn’ly throne above
God is gracious, full of kindness
Slow to anger, rich in love
Strong in power, grand in splendor
Highest praise He’s worthy of
He exalts the lowly servant
Who cries out unto His name
Watching ever, leaving never
Age to age He is the same
What have I done to deserve His
Overwhelming grace divine?
Chief of sinners, my description
Death and hell, my final fine
But then Jesus, to my rescue,
Shed His blood upon the tree
Poured His grace out in abundance
Gave Himself to set me free
When I dwell in contemplation
On the goodness of my King
How my thankful heart keeps longing
For the perfect song to sing
How I long to bring Him glory
How I long to love Him more
In the beauty of His presence
Overwhelmed my soul does soar
Father, bring Your church to glory
Raise her up in Christ alone
Grant her strength to be Your witness
Let her love flow as Your own
Thank you for her glowing kindness,
Overwhelming grace to me
Let her radiate that brightness
Desperate for the world to see
In gratitude to Ridgway First Baptist Church for their overwhelming love.
November 19, 2006
Monday, November 12, 2007
“Help, Lord, for the godly are no more.”
How often it seems as though the faithful followers of Christ have vanished from the face of the earth. There are times when we feel surrounded by wickedness, evil, perversion and sin of every kind. People everywhere are strutting around boasting of their irreverence, flaunting their immorality and applauding those who join them while ridiculing those who stand for righteousness. What is vile is being honored among men.
“Everyone lies to his neighbor.”
Can we even trust one another? Who’s not looking to take advantage of someone else? Whose agenda is not to look out for his own interests? We set our hearts on guard, being cynical and cautious in our relationships. We don’t allow people to get close because we feel that in the end they’ll burn us and betray us.
How should we who claim the name of Jesus respond to such a corrupt generation? Paul addresses the Philippian church urging them toward continual reverence and obedience to God. "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine out like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..." (Phil. 2:14-16).
God's word is indeed flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.
God will certainly triumph over His foes. He already has, and He will! We are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, even as we live holy and blamelessly, letting the light of Christ within us shine before men. Wow! It seems impossible. Yet in the power of Christ who dwells in the hearts of His people, we cannot help but to love. We cannot help but to shine.
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
This world will know that we belong to Jesus by our love for one another. And what an impact on a sinful, unbelieving world when we love even our enemies!
Like David, I trust that our Lord will keep us safe and protect us forever. He sees the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, and in His strength He arises and protects them.
I pray that God will bring repentance to the lost. Yes, God’s judgment will be swift and sure and severe to those who reject His salvation and love through Christ Jesus. But may no one step into such eternal fire unwarned and un-prayed for.
Help us, O Lord, to love. Love through us, O Christ, with your supernatural love. Shine through us with your holy light! Turn hearts from evil to good, from darkness to light, from boasting to humility, from wickedness to the righteousness of Jesus. Do it for your glory and name’s sake. And keep us who call upon your name faithful. Strengthen us for the task of bringing the gospel to all nations, urging men to be reconciled to you. Help us to endure in fighting the good fight, running the race and finishing the course. Your grace and your mercy reaches farther than we can know. We bow in reverence, thanksgiving and adoration.