Giving Thanks Always

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Ephesians 5:20

Reading: Ephesians 5:1-21

Sometimes in the midst of trials it is difficult to give thanks. We may be inclined to postpone thanksgiving until some future time when we will have passed successfully through the trying experiences of the present. Today we may have some very difficult situations to meet. Perhaps we are longing for relief from them by the end of the day. We may feel that we can truly give thanks then!

When the Lord delivers us from our afflictions we should give fervent thanks. But Paul instructs us that we should give thanks always for all things. This means that before and during our trials, as well as after them, we should give thanks. This means, also, that we should give thanks to God not simply for deliverance from our trials, and not simply in spite of our trials, but also for the trials that He has appointed for us. Our God causes all things to work together for our good and His glory. In everything we are to give thanks. And whatever we do in word or deed, we are to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).

 

Skilton, John H. Think on These Things: Bible Truths for Faith and Life. Philadelphia: Skilton House – Sowers, 1986.

The Lord is My Shepherd

Today we take a moment to consider Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. David’s relationship to the Lord was as a sheep to his shepherd. Sheep are not smart, so they need to be led. So too, we need to trust the Lord to lead us in safety, to know where we should go because we do not know what’s best for us, and to care for us, supplying everything we need.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. When sheep are well fed, they lie down in grass, but then they wander off, so the shepherd has to lead them back. But we see here how the content sheep stay where they belong. When we wander off, how often does He have to bring us back.

He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. It’s during the quiet times that God speaks to us. When we are not quiet, we have a lot of chaos in our lives.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. When we walk through the shadow of death, doing dumb things, but knowing the Lord, we don’t have to fear evil because He is with us!

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. He not only has prepared a table for us, but a mansion! Without His mercy and grace, we would not be blessed. By His grace He rescues us, and His mercies are new every day.

The Good News of Christ’s Death

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” –1 Corinthians 15:1-3

Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Hebrews 4:14-5:10; 7:22-27; 9:11-14; 10:10

A professor in one of our large American universities once said that Jesus should be regarded as a genius, but not as a successful genius. The professor reasoned that Jesus was defeated in His death, that His teachings were rejected, His purposes frustrated.

But Paul does not regard the death of our Lord as defeat. He includes it in the good news, the Gospel, that he preaches. He even informs the Corinthians that he had determined not to know [preach] anything among them save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Paul regards the death of Christ as providing good news, for he knows that the holy and undefiled Saviour died for the sins of His people, as the Old Testament had foretold and as God had determined before the foundation of the world. Our Lord had come to give His life as a ransom for many. He who knew no sin became sin for His own. He freely in their place, as their substitute, paid the penalty required by the law; He covered their guilt; He satisfied the justice of God for them; and He has propitiated God and reconciled Him to His people.

The death of the Saviour did not mean defeat for Him, but it meant triumph—yes, it meant good news! Indeed, apart from it there could be no good news or no Gospel or no salvation for men.

 

Skilton, John H. Think on These Things: Bible Truths for Faith and Life. Philadelphia: Skilton House – Sowers, 1986.

 

“Blessed Be My Rock”

Today, we’re taking a look at another psalm. Don’t forget the main focus of each psalm is Jesus who is the Son of God, one with the Father and the Spirit. In Psalm 18:1, 2, 3, 46, David, the servant of the Lord, says,

1. I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
2. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.
46. The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock;
And exalted be the God of my salvation. (NASB)

Through life’s trials, let us remember that “Fearing God replaces fear of others and things” (author unknown). Nothing can sway God, nothing can change His plans, no one can change His mind. When we call on Him and trust in Him, we know that He is “my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,” because He says so. He loves His people, and nothing can get between Him and us (Romans 8:31-39). When life falls apart around us, it’s comforting to know that He won’t leave us or fail us, even if everything in this world does. He’s always with us, and like a rock, nothing will move Him. We can rely on Him. Everything He promises in the Bible, He’ll do. Always has, always will. “Blessed be my Rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.”

We Beheld His Glory

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” –John 1:14

Reading: John 1:1-18

John beheld with his own eyes the glory of Christ. He bears witness in his Gospel to One whom he has seen and known. He is not writing about a stranger; he is not presenting the mere traditions or theories or speculations of men about the Son of God. The Word was made flesh and His glory was manifested. John witnessed that glory. And he saw mighty signs that the Lord performed in the presence of His disciples; he heard His revelations of divine truth; he observed His perfect life; he beheld Him risen from the dead. John gives us facts and an inspired interpretation of those facts.

Nothing can overthrow the testimony of John. No new theory, no discoveries of science, no ungodly philosophy can ever succeed in shaking that witness. Whatever men today may choose to believe and do, nothing whatsoever can shatter the fact that John and others actually beheld the glory of the Saviour of the world and the Son of the living God. Nothing can erase the historical record of those divine signs that John and others witnessed. Nothing can ever disprove the existence of the sovereign triune God; for apart from God there would be no facts, no signs, no existence, no meaning. John’s testimony stands, and we by God’s grace and power believe that testimony. And we look, in faith, toward that day when we will be admitted to the presence of our Redeemer and our God, and we too shall behold His glory.

 

Skilton, John H. Think on These Things: Bible Truths for Faith and Life. Philadelphia: Skilton House – Sowers, 1986.

 

The Glory of the Lord in Creation

Today we take a moment to consider the glorious and beautiful Psalm 8.

 

Psalm 8 (NKJV)

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, You have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and infants, You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?

For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,

All sheep and oxen (flocks and herds)–even the beasts of the field,

The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, (all) that pass through the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!

————–

God is great and greatly to be praised!

God is mighty, so He can give even little children power over His evil enemies. Jesus quoted verse 2 after cleansing the temple, as the children praised Him, acknowledging that He is God (Mt. 21:16).

God only needed fingers to create the universe, not a strong arm. And yet God thinks of us and cares for us, small though we are in a vast universe. Look at His greatness, rather than the smallness of our troubles. Know that He takes care of all of it. God is in control.

God has given man dominion or power over creation, but not as an equal to the Creator. It is a gift, not a right. Ultimately, verses 5-6 speak of Christ, the Son of Man, to Whom all authority has been given (Mt. 28:18). All things have been put under His control, and He is “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:8-9).

This psalm and our meaning start and end with the glory of God and Who He is.

 

Great is the Lord

 

“But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis [Diana] of the Ephesians!” –Acts 19:34

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” –Psalm 145:3

Reading: Acts 19:23-41; Psalm 145

In the large theater of Ephesus, the devotees of Diana…confessed with one voice, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” The cries of their loyalty expressed the esteem that many had in that day for the crude goddess whose worship centered in the magnificent temple that was one of the seven wonders of the world. If insistent and emphatic affirmation could establish falsehood as true, the cries of faith that were uttered in the theater of Ephesus should have established forever the excellence and magnificence of Diana.

The centuries have passed, however, and the worshipers of Diana have gone; the great city of Ephesus has fallen into ruins; the temple of Diana has been destroyed, and now a stagnant frog pond is found at its site. Today, instead of cries of devotion to Diana one hears the croaking of thousands of frogs.

Ephesus is dead and Diana is dead. With other discredited and abandoned deities of antiquity, Diana has perished—and her followers have been replaced by frogs in a stagnant pond. But the Gospel that Paul preached in Ephesus is not dead and will not die. And the God to whom Paul testified in Ephesus still lives and reigns and will live and reign forever. For He is the One who alone is great and is greatly to be praised, and whose greatness is unsearchable.