Thanksgiving 2012 – In Every Thing Give Thanks

November 21, 2012

by Shawn Brasseaux

On this Thanksgiving Eve, we will take a moment to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures. We will reflect on sound Bible doctrine, and we will thank God that He has preserved Word so we can read and rejoice in that sound Bible doctrine!

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This life is filled with uncertainty. It is dynamic, constantly changing. In short, it can be likened to a roller coaster. Furthermore, emotions intensify that ride, too! People are worried about their financial stability; their health; their social life; their education; and the wellbeing of their children, grandchildren, and friends. Again, life is uncertain, as material possessions are “uncertain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17). Because of sin, this life abounds with a variety temptations—sickness and disability, grief, poverty, and stress, and, short of the Lord’s coming, physical death. Life can change in only a moment, so we need to rely on something that does not change. Once we identify what that “something” is, we need to thank God daily that we have it.

The Apostle Paul was certainly not exempt from this life’s troubles. Unbelieving Jews followed him wherever he went (as documented throughout the book of Acts). They persecuted him and his Gentile converts (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Eventually, these wicked Jews convinced the Roman government to imprison—and finally execute—Paul.

Paul’s second epistle to Timothy was the last letter he wrote before his execution. Let us read the following excerpt from that epistle: “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:11,12 KJV).

Undoubtedly, when Paul spoke of his “suffering” for the sake of the Gospel of the Grace of God, he was reflecting on his ministry, the last 35 years of his life. We cannot imagine the horrific suffering of Paul, who endured at least 195 lashes; three beatings with rods; one stoning; three shipwrecks; a night and a day stranded in the sea; food, clothing, and shelter shortages; and numerous other troubling ordeals the Bible only briefly recounts (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

Above all, while writing this final epistle to Timothy, Paul is in prison again, and he confesses, “Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11a). Over three awesome decades of ministry are drawing to a close, but Paul’s circumstances seem grim. He has been forsaken by nearly everyone, and his beheading is near. Regardless, Paul declares, “I am not ashamed.” He knew, no matter what had happened or would happen to his physical body, his spiritual body was secure in Christ. Read his words again: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV).

Life is dynamic; life in Christ is not! Paul’s circumstances repeatedly changed, but he knew his soul was still secure in Christ. It took time for him to learn that, and it will take time before we come to grasp that. Paul would eventually lose his physical life, but never his spiritual life. All those spiritual blessings he had in Christ would never be lost (Ephesians 1:3). We can rejoice in that, too. In Christ, we believers will always have redemption, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, and reconciliation, to name just a few.

Paul remembered what the Lord Jesus Christ told him years earlier, when the Apostle pleaded with the Lord as he endured his mysterious “thorn in the flesh:” “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a KJV). Thus, Paul could “glory in [his] infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon [him].” He could “take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when [he was] weak, then [was he] strong” (verse 10). Paul did not enjoy suffering, but rather he recognized the value of that suffering for the sake of the Gospel of Grace. He valued God’s Word to the extent that he willingly suffered for the sake of preaching it! The more he suffered, the more he realized how much God could bring him through anything and everything!

After all, Acts 14:22 KJV says, [Paul and Barnabas were] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Christians are not appointed to some tribulation,” but Scripture says, much tribulation.” “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV). Furthermore, when we are willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake, we demonstrate that we value God’s Word. Just as the apostles and prophets of old suffered, we are also privileged to suffer for God’s Word.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV). God has equipped us in Jesus Christ to handle all of life’s difficulties. He does this, not by removing the troubles, but by empowering us to “bear [them].” It is for this reason that we can give thanks to God.

We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Notice how this Scripture does not say, For every thing give thanks”—it says, In every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. It took a long time for even the Apostle Paul. Observe what the Apostle wrote in Philippians 4:11-13 KJV:

“11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins.

To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process. The way we spiritual mature is by studying the Holy Scriptures, and then believing them. In this case, we spiritually mature by learning how to handle problems as Jesus Christ would. Bear them in Christ—rely on Him to strengthen you!

When we consider all of the provisions that God has given to us who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we can be thankful that these spiritual blessings will never be lost. We can rejoice that, no matter what happens in this life, we can join our Apostle Paul in declaring, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We can thank God that He is there to comfort us, and to encourage us to continue. God has completely equipped us to make it through this life, no matter how dire it seems at times.

CONCLUSION

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn, “Be thankful in every thing.

Dear saints, let us remember this sound doctrine when life is difficult. Our circumstances will change; our identity in Christ never will! J God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saints, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.” And, for this reason, we can in every thing give thanks.”

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM arC MINISTRIES!


Bread-Picking Sinners and Faithful God

October 15, 2012

by Shawn Brasseaux

We will search the Holy Scriptures to observe how sinful man is and how faithful God is!

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In Exodus chapter 16, we find the nation Israel about one month after her deliverance from Egyptian bondage (verse 1). For the past few weeks, the Jews have annoyed Moses by “murmuring” (complaining in a low tone) that the LORD has not provided water for them to drink. We read in Exodus 15:22-24 KJV:

“22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”

How great is Israel’s ungratefulness, but how great is God’s grace. He provides them with potable water:

“25 And he [Moses] cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.”

Notice God is “proving” Israel (verse 25), testing them, seeing whether or not she will believe Him, and whether or not she will obey Him. But, Israel is unthankful once again. Now they complain that they have no food! Exodus 16:1-3 KJV:

“1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

God now proceeds to “prove” (test) them again. Verse 4 says, “Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.”

Besides giving them quail to eat in the evening, God promises to feed Israel by raining down manna (bread) from heaven in the morning. He then gave Israel very clear instructions about gathering that manna. Verses 5-16 say:

“5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna [“What is it?”]: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.”

Firstly, per day, each man was to gather “one omer” of manna for each person in his tent (verse 16). Secondly, on the sixth day, they were to gather two omers per person (verse 5), for there would be no manna given on the seventh (Sabbath) day. Verses 25 and 26: “And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to-day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.”

What do you suppose Israel did with God’s simple instructions about picking that manna? Verse 17 explains: “And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.” Those sneaky rascals—some individuals were picking less than an omer of manna for each person, and some were picking more! Surprised? Do not be: these sons of Abraham were like us in that they were also sons of Adam. They were sinners; they did not listen to God.

God knew what they were doing, and He compensated. Miraculously, “And when they did mete [measure] it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating” (verse 18). Even though they did not listen to God, He still took from those who gathered too much, and gave to those who gathered too little. But, Israel is not done sinning! Verses 19 and 20 affirm: “And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.”

Now, the Jews were not only ignoring God’s instructions; they were also disregarding Moses’ orders… and the camp began to stink because of it. Just imagine the putrid smell of unbelief and sin that filled God’s nostrils! Their sin smelled much worse than that molding bread!

Recall earlier that Moses told Israel, “Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none [no manna]” (verse 26). How did Israel respond? “And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none” (verse 27). How sad, now they began to break the Sabbath day!

Verse 28 says, “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye [Israel] to keep my commandments and my laws?” For the next forty years, Israel ate that manna (verse 35), constantly disobeying God throughout that period. Although Israel failed God’s test again and again, God in His mercy and longsuffering tolerated those bread-picking sinners.

Oh, the abounding mercy of God, that He holds back what we deserve! Oh, the abounding grace of God, that He freely offers what we do not deserve! Thank you LORD, for your grace and mercy!