So you also must be ready...

Mt. 24:44

True Thanksgiving – Joel Ericson

Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I recalled the holiday we’ve just completed and began to examine the purpose behind Thanksgiving; back to our forefathers. The meaning of Thanksgiving has undergone numerous transitions — an expression of gratitude for survival, a council’s recognition of its flourishing community, submission of the local natives, the defeat over the British, resulting in a collection of our nation’s traditions and values. Over the centuries, families added their customs to the Thanksgiving celebration, preserving that which they held most precious. At best, this includes:

·         Gathering with family and dear friends reconciling with them of our commonalities and purposes.

·         To devote our hearts to gratitude for all we have been given, granted by our Lord and blessing us throughout the year and in our lives.

·         Remembering the sufferings and sacrifices of those that came to this country and settled, seeking after the freedom to worship the lord in the manner that seemed right to them

·         Hopefully also to extend ourselves to those less fortunate

 But sometimes I am afraid that there are less than noble traditions seeping into this worthy holiday:

·         The carnage observed at various “Black Friday” war zones as our brothers and sisters FIGHT for a chance to purchase the latest discounted fad item in preparation for the Christmas holiday; imagining that these things will make THAT holiday (holy day) a success.

·         The flood of circulars overfilling our mailboxes announcing sales and special pricing, not to mention television and radio. We’re assaulted for the next month.

 Let us hope that we remember well the former and eschew that latter. Thanksgiving is really about our relationship with God and our earnest prayers and communication in supplication, for those benefits that the Lord offers and freely grants us as his children.

Upon their arrival at New Plymouth, the Pilgrims composed The Mayflower Compact, which honored God. Thanksgiving begins with acknowledging God as faithful, earnestly giving Him thanks, in advance, for His abundant blessings. “. . . In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And: (1 Timothy 4:4-5) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

Thanksgiving is an attitude that reinforces our intimate relationship with our Savior.

 Dear Lord:

 I come before you with all humility in order to give thanks for the great bounty that you have given to me and mine. I am thankful Lord for everything that You allow to cross my path. 

I am Thankful for the decisions that You allow me to make and the lessons that come from these decisions. I thank you for the good, and the hardships, and the strength that the you provide to overcome those difficulties.

            God You are and always will be there with me.  When I am in the wilderness, or when I am conducting my daily business, and in times when my path takes me further and further from You, You, my God are there guiding me back to Your arms.

            We thank you for the sustenance that you provide. Dear Lord, this table overflows with your abundant blessing. Help us to always be aware that all gifts come from You.  May we serve Your heavenly will In everything we do. 

 Amen.

 BTW: What did Solomon discover? That our purpose here is to serve God and keep his commandments. From that simple concept comes all that is good, a sense of purpose and a grateful heart.

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Martin Luther – Matt Ragain

Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

In the year 1505, Martin Luther was caught in a tremendous lightning storm. He was convinced that he was going to die. In the midst of his great fear, he prayed to St. Anne. He cried, “Help me St. Anne! I will become a monk.” This was the beginning of Luther’s life as a professor and priest.

What makes Martin Luther so unique is that he started his career as way to earn God’s grace. He became a priest, not because he was called into it, but because he knew it was the best path to earn God’s favor.

Ironically, Martin Luther learned that it is impossible to earn God’s favor in any meaningful way. To put it in the form of a question, how much do you have to do for God to save you? How much is enough? How much is too little? These questions are impossible to answer. Romans 3:10 says, there is no one who is righteous, not even one. So even if we live as best as possible, we still fall impossibly short of God’s perfection and holiness; this Martin Luther became convinced of after reading through the book of Romans.

In his book on Galatians, Martin Luther explains it well. He says there are two types of righteousness: the active (the things we are obligated to follow, i.e. laws of man and God) and the received (what is given to us by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross). The more important is the received righteousness. This is the kind of righteousness that we cannot hope to attain on our own, but can only do so through God’s free gift of grace.

One of the best examples of this received righteousness comes at the cross. Next to Jesus hangs a thief. He is unrighteous, a law-breaker and rightly condemned to death. And yet he humbly confesses that he deserves to die, and asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus responds, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” How did the thief become good enough for Jesus to welcome into his kingdom? The answer is, he didn’t. He received the free gift of righteousness.

Had he lived longer, I’m sure the thief would have become a totally redeemed and different person. But he died hours after Jesus. My question is, did he deserve to go to heaven with Jesus? No! And neither do we. That is what is so amazing about grace. We all deserve what the thief got, and much worse. Even on our best days we are selfish, inward focused and undeserving of heaven. And yet our hope does not rest on our own ability to get to heaven on our own, but on the grace of Jesus Christ.

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