Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’


True Thanksgiving

In 1983 I took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC. It was a government sponsored trip to seek investment opportunities in Turkey. My last night I spent in Izmir having dinner with my interpreter and a business owner interested in doing business in America. They ordered for me and out came this huge Black Sea Bass (whole) sitting upright on a potato concoction. I ate the fish, but that night I got deathly sick, so sick I missed my early morning flight to Istanbul.

That fish gave me nightmares for several months, because it meant that I had to rent a car and drive 600 kilometers through at least three military check points, in unfamiliar towns and then into Istanbul late at night trying to find a place to stay. It was an exciting and terrifying experience to say the least. That is why I don’t like eating whole fish to this day.

Jonah Eats Fish at Thanksgiving

The book of Jonah relates a story that you are all familiar with, of a man who tried to run away from God’s will, and ended up being swallowed by a giant fish. Now if I had problems eating fish after my experience, I can just see Jonah being afraid to get on a ship or even go near the ocean or a lake. Every time he would hear a splash I can just see him running for cover.

But when I read what he wrote in chapter 2, I know that isn’t the case. In fact from the Psalm he wrote, I know that every Thanksgiving, Jonah would eat the biggest fish he could get.

Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV)

1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

How did Jonah come to experience True Thanksgiving in the belly of the Great Fish?

1. Remember God (even when your life stinks)

Jonah:

The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever;

Jonah sunk to the bottom of the sea. He saw where the mountains started. He was being choked by seaweed, he was losing consciousness.

He remembered God and cried out.

He thought he could run away from God, but Jonah realized that God was there, even when he was rescued by the fish.

Prodigal Son

He was lying down in pig slop, which if you ever smell will cause you to quit eating bacon for a long while.

Even there he realized he needed his Father. Even in that stench he remembered the love his father had even for servants.

2. Realize God is your only hope of steadfast love.

Remember the song “Looking for Love in all the wrong places?” It is so true for most people. Adam and Eve had all the love they could want, and it wasn’t good enough.

King David had all the women, all the wealth, all the power he could ever want, and it wasn’t good enough. He got into a mess of trouble because he committed adultery with another man’s wife, and then had him killed to cover it up.

We see this today…people making stupid decisions for the hope of love. People’s lives ruined because of choices, choices they think will bring them love, excitement, acceptance.

Jonah made a decision to run away from God rather than witness to some terrible enemies. He put himself and his selfish desires before God. He hoped he could get away from God.

What are you hoping in? Are you running away from God? Are you avoiding Him and hoping He goes away? Are you facing difficulties in your life today because of poor choices in the past?

Let me assure you, even though you are trapped in a stinky mess, being tossed to and fro, facing hardship after hardship, there is a Creator God who made you, knew every one of your poor choices, knew every one of your sins, and yet He desires to take you in his arms and cover you with His steadfast love.

Jonah discovered that God still loved him when he was at the bottom of the sea, breating his last breath. He discovered God’s love when he was in the belly of the great fish. Seaweed and fish guts were all over him. I can’t imagine the stink. Yet God’s steadfast love was there.

What is the secret to discovering God’s steadfast love even though you are covered in rotten seaweed and stinky fish guts? Jonah discovered it, but Paul reveals how we get there, covered in guts and stench:

Romans 1:21-23 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

NOT EXPERIENCING GOD’S LOVE?

So if you are wondering why you are not experiencing God’s steadfast love in the midst of your trials and hardships, understand what is preventing you from experiencing God’s steadfast love:

A.You have a problem honoring God.

Whatever you believe about the great men who founded this nation, it is super evident in 95% of their writings that they lived their lives with a principle that is missing in our leaders today. Our founding Fathers honored God as Sovereign God over the affairs of men. They realized God has the final say so in our lives.

B.You have a problem allowing God into your life.

Not only do we not honor God’s sovereignty, but we fail to give thanks to him in every aspect of our lives. We thank him for the rain, we thank him for winning the lottery, we thank him for food. Do we thank him when we lose our job. Do we thank him when we lose a loved one? Do we thank him when our friends turn against us?

Paul says that when we fail to honor God and allow Him ownership of all that happens in our lives (by giving thanks) our hearts become darkened and our minds become futile (or wasted or stupid) in our thinking. We exchange the glory of God for something stupid like a woman, a car, a job, a house, anything we put before God and say this is mine!

On November 11, 1620, Governor William Bradford and the leaders on the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact before setting foot on land. They wanted to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their lives and their need to obey Him. The Mayflower Compact was America’s first great constitutional document and is often called “The American Covenant.”

Life was hard in the New World. Out of 103 Pilgrims, 51 of these died in the first terrible winter. After the first harvest was completed, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. By 1623, a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during their prayers. The custom prevailed in New England and eventually became a national holiday.

3. Return your life to God

Have you given God ownership of your life?

It is one thing to say God is sovereign, but it is quite another to allow Him to be sovereign over all of your life, family and possessions. Can you honestly say that God is in control of everything in your life? Is there anything in your life that you are trying to keep control of, apart from what God may want to do? If you found yourself in the belly of a fish, covered with fish guts and seaweed, would you worship God’s sovereignty over your life, or would you be screaming “Get me out of here!”

From (AW PINK, SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD)

  • „ The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by the expression of the Sovereignty of God?
  • „ We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, over-throwing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1Timothy 6:15).

How do you return your life to Sovereign God?

A. Confess and declare that GOD is SOVEREIGN OWNER OF YOUR LIFE.

  • When you declare that God is sovereign over your life, you affirm His right to govern your life, your world, your family just as He pleases, because you were made for His Glory.
  • You affirm that He is the potter and you are the clay: that He may mould you into whatever form He chooses.
  • You affirm that God is under no rule or law outside His own will and nature, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His decisions to you are anyone else.

Jonah discovered he could not get away from the sovereignty of God. So Job made a decision to accept the Sovereignty of God over his life. When he did, when Jonah prayed with thanksgiving in his heart, Jonah experienced the most amazing miracle. He experienced the love of God in the most horrible of circumstances.

B. Sacrifice with Thanksgiving (todah)

Jonah 2:9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Discovered the power of tôdah Thanksgiving![1]

Psalm 42:4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

There are two pictures presented by “TODAH”

1. ADMIT

Tôdah has a deeper meaning than simply thanksgiving or gratitude:

At its core, todah is to admit.What a concept! The gist of thanks is to admit – but what are we admitting to? When we say tôdah, we are admitting that we are lacking and that someone else is giving to us. We are admitting that we could not do something alone. We are admitting that you helped us accomplish something. We are admitting, that we have been given “more than [our] rightful share” thanks to God![2]

This is why Joshua told Achan to confess to what he had done by admitting and confessing the Glory of God over his life.„

Joshua 7:19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise (todah) to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

The psalmist pictures the need to confession in proclaiming thanksgiving unto God:„

Psalm 26:6-7 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

To give “todah” to God always involves a sacrifice or offering on your part. You give your life to God. You allow Him to own your life. Admit it to Him!

2 Chronicles 29:31 Then Hezekiah said, Now you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord; come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.

Jonah had to sacrifice his will, his pride, his prejudices against the Ninevites, and admit that he needed to follow God, he needed the provision of God and yes, he needed the sovereignty of God over his life!

2. WORSHIP LOUD!

“Todah” pictures thanksgiving to God so great that you start shouting and singing at the top of your voice!

Picture a huge Choir Singing thundering Songs of Praise, accompanied by a huge orchestra. Can you hear the SHOUTS of thanksgiving! When Nehemiah dedicated the wall he had all the leaders get on the wall and had a huge assembly of Levites playing instruments and singing praises to God.

Nehemiah 12:27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Nehemiah 12:31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate.

Two great choirs were on opposite sides, with the rest of the people in the middle. It was like the battle of the choirs, each one trying to praise God louder than the other. It was the ultimate thanksgiving celebration!

Are you experiencing true Thanksgiving this year? I am not speaking of “blessings” or anything you can attribute to what you have done. Millions of families celebrate a thanksgiving based upon how fortunate they have been, or how much they have because of good luck and hard work.

I want you to experience True TODAH Thanksgiving.

Todah Thanksgiving happens no matter how messed up your life is!

Remember…Realize…Return…Admit and Worship.

Believers

If you have already been born again, take this time to examine your life, and remember God and His sovereignty. If you have gotten away from Him by putting other things first, Realize that He is the only source of genuine love. Return your life to Him, Admit your need for him and lay your life on the altar and say God do as you wish with my life. Then Worship Him Loud. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid your friends will hear. WORSHIP LOUD!

Lost in sin

Remember, life is a journey, and no matter where you are in your journey, God is there. Realize that He loves you even with all of your rebellion and ugliness and stench.

Run to your creator God, just like the Prodigal Son ran home.

Admit you need God, that you have made a mess of your life through your pride and sin and rebellion. Admit you need Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Worship God by believing that He has your life, that the blood of Jesus has cleansed you and made you right with God.

Allow your Worship to be with you whole life, with your whole voice, Constantly give thanks and praise to God out LOUD! Allow the light of Jesus Christ to break through the darkness over your heart.

John 3:17-19 (NKJV) 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Do you love darkness rather than God’s light? Have you accepted the stink of your sinful, rebellious life? Wake up and take a good sniff! It is time for you to cry out with Jonah: Salvation is of the Lord.”


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “tôdāh”

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Dancing with the Stars is starting soon. I know that there are a few fans here. One Dance you will not see the contestants performing is the “Dance of the Moron”. And no you will not see this couple performing either. We laugh, but there really is a dance of the Moron that God says describes as the forbidden dance, one which He is Passionately Opposed to.

The Dance of the Moron looks exciting and wonderful to other morons, but to God, it is very deadly.

This Dance of the Moron is described in the verses we will look at in Romans 1:18-23.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)

Terms Defined

Before we examine this Dance of the Moron and God’s Passionate Opposition to it, it would help us to define some terms:

Moron (moraino-vs 22)

  • A person who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment.
  • In Psychology. a person of borderline intelligence in a former classification of mental retardation, having an intelligence quotient of 50 to 69.

God does not quantify morons by their IQ. God classifies people as morons based upon how they respond to the next term we’ll define. God is the one who determines who is a moron or not.

Revelation (apokalyptō – vs 17 & 18)

  • The act of revealing or disclosing; disclosure.
  • Something revealed or disclosed, esp. a striking disclosure, as of something not before realized.

I. God’s Case Against Mankind

    Why God Responds With Wrath? From Romans 1:18-23.

A.   God has Revealed Two Things to Mankind

1.    He Is and He is Righteous (vs 17)

Verse 17 says “For in it (Gospel God) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. This Gospel that we saw last week, that Paul surrendered his life to, is revealed in the Greatest Power this World has ever known-the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. By faith in God’s Message, we see, we know, we possess the very Righteousness of God. Gospel God is opposed to all those who by intent or by ignorance or by stupidity refuse to Honor His Righteousness.

Righteousness is “what God requires; what is right, uprightness, justice; righting wrong; (God’s) putting (man) in a right relationship (with Himself).”

God is not content being Righteous by Himself. This World, everything that is in it, including you and me, God desires with all His heart to set it Right once again. He created it RIGHT, but sin happened. He has revealed His Righteousness to us, His way of setting it right again, and it is by FAITH that this RIGHTEOUSNESS can be ours. Jesus Christ has made everything possible, and we must simply life in FAITH in what God has done through Him. IN THE GOSPEL, God has REVEALED HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOW IT IS AVAILABLE TO US!

2.    He is and He is Passionate (orge-desire – vs 18)

Various translations translate ‘orge’ in this way:

  • The wrath of God (KJV, ESV, NIV)
  • God shows his anger (NLT, GW, TEV, NCV)
  • God’s angry displeasure erupts (MSG)

Orgē is from orgaō, to teem, to swell. It is the temper of God towards sin, not rage, but the wrath of reason and law (Shedd).

Passion from Dictionary.com:

  • any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
  • strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
  • strong sexual desire; lust.
  • a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.
  • violent anger.

Instead of viewing ‘wrath’ as some angry outburst, we should see it as a passionate display of His Righteous character. The same way married couples respond to unrighteous threats to their marriage.

  • “Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness.”
  • God is not passive but active in response to sin.
  • This attitude and exercise of righteous indignation against evil is no vice but a virtue which God perfectly displays against sin.

B.   God is El Qanna – I am Jealous

  • for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” Exodus 34:14
  • God desires His Creation to Worship Him, to Walk With Him, and He jealously injects Himself into our life.

Police will tell you that the most dangerous situations they often face are domestic conflicts. Passions and Jealousies ignite tremendous rage at times.

PERSONAL WITNESS: One of the most dramatic things I have ever witnessed was as I was a freshman in Bible College at a Laundromat doing my laundry. It was Thursday evening, I was watching Kung-Fu. All of a sudden I hear a screeching of tires as a car slammed on its brakes. Into the Laundromat a gal comes stomping, screaming, “you been messin with my man. You better getta away from my man”. This other gal doing her laundry starts screaming back and before I know it these two women are down on the ground pulling hair, punching at each other, biting. Before long the police come and drag them away. Now, I don’t know who the guy was, but he obviously had ignited a lot of passion between these two women. That passion led to violence. Their passion was based on their own selfishness.

God’s Passion does not grow from selfishness but from His Righteousness…

  • Because He is Righteous, he cannot tolerate people who deliberately turn away from Him, from His righteousness, and then declare their own! They are Morons to Him. God’s angry displeasure is against all morons, because THEY JUST DON’T GET IT, IN FACT THEY REFUSE TO GET IT. They simply keep on dancing the dance of a moron.
  • The Passion of God is not an emotional outburst as people imagine. His desire is such that we know His righteousness, that we are Holy as He is Holy. When we are not, his desire for us is kindled to the point that He would do anything to get us to turn to Him.
  • No exact form of judgment is specified; the present judgments of God are seen in a variety of ways–“natural” calamities, local disasters, etc.
  • Whether or not you believe God had a hand in the natural disasters that have been so prevalent recently, and have been revealed from the heavens, the results have been that many people have turned to Jesus Christ.

God has done so much for us, he is shouting at the top of HIs Voice, I am Your Creator, Your God. Why won’t you give your lives to me? Why do you insist on ignoring me, on living your own way? Why do you insist on being ungodly and unrighteous? Because of my Righteous desire for you, here is a taste of my Power. Wake up and turn to Me!

Look at What Has Happened as the Result of His Wrath in the recent earthquake in Haiti:

In Haiti: A reported 40,127 Haitians have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ since a major earthquake hit the impoverished nation in January, according to pastors and directors of missions within the Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d’Haiti (CMBH).

“Haiti is ripe for a spiritual movement from God,” said Craig Culbreth, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s partnership missions department, which coordinates the work of the CMBH, upon his Feb. 22 return from Port-au-Prince.

During a Feb. 16-17 citywide holiday observance in Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, Culbreth saw “thousands upon thousands filling the streets where people are seeking God and asking Him to spare them from what happened in Port-au-Prince. For me, it was a New Testament expression of what it looks like when the Spirit of God shows up. I have never seen anything like it.”

God’s Passionate Desire is For Us to Walk in His Righteousness

You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. Psalms 89:13-16 (ESV)

Men May Complain That God is Not Fair and that He is so Hateful…Yet one day we will all see that His Acts Have all Been Based upon His Righteousness:

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:2-4 (ESV)

God Reveals Himself in His Righteous Acts, even though they may seem like wrath.

II. GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS VS. MAN’S UNRIGHTEOUSNESS

A. Man’s Reaction to God’s Revelation

1. Ungodliness (asebeian). Lack of Reverence because of an innate wickedness – wanting to do things their own way.

2.Unrighteousness (adikía).

  • Injustice. What ought not to be, that which is wrong. In 1 John 5:17, “all unrighteousness [adikía] is sin [hamartía].”
  • Lack of right conduct toward men, injustice  This follows naturally from irreverence. The basis of ethical conduct rests on the nature of God and our attitude toward him, otherwise the law of the jungle (cf. Nietzsche, “might makes right”).
  • Unrighteousness will result in deeds which violate law and justice
  • Immorality

B.   The Result of Man’s Reaction:

1.    Men Hold Back (Suppress, repress-Katechonton) the TRUTH by their Unrighteousness

  • The conduct of men that is a result of their lack of reverence for God actually hold’s back God Truth.
  • Just as disobedience caused Adam and Eve’s eyes to be opened to see their nakedness, so sin blinds our eyes to God!

2.    Sin blinds us to our need for God!

Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness (Philips Translation)

C.   Man Chose to Ignore the Truth of God

1.  God  Reveals Himself to Man

  • God Reveals Himself in Blazing Neon Signs
  • Men deliberately chose to be irreverent toward God
  • Men deliberately chose their own morality which leads to injustice, disobedience, partiality, greed, selfishness, and every kind of immoral behavior.

For what can be known about God is plain(phaneron) to them, because God has shown(phaneroo) it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)

  • phaneron  phaneroō

That which can be known about God is phaneros – (to shine, to make to shine or to cause to appear. Apparent, manifest, plain –  it is that apparent!) You cannot escape the obvious revelation of God!

2.    His Invisible Attributes Shine Big and Bright

JBPhilips: It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse.

Paul is speaking of what man can see in the created order because of the knowledge he inherently possesses as a creature made in God’s image.

  • Special revelation shows God as Redeemer;
  • General revelation shows God as Creator!
  • Special revelation is the norm for the church;
  • General revelation is the norm for society!
  • Special revelation is the means for salvation;
  • General revelation is the means of condemnation!

3.    Men are Without Excuse

Even if Jesus had been preached to them, they would have rejected Him, because they reject God Himself!

III. Why Are Men Without Excuse?

THEY REFUSE TO KNOW THE TRUTH IN THESE THREE WAYS:

A.   Men Refuse/Fail to Glorify God as God

1.  They know (ginosko) there is a God.

  • to know by personal experience.
  • En autois suggests intuitive knowledge, the sphere in which God is known (phaneron), our heart and mind.
  • Murray combines the two ideas: God is known “in them” (en autois, v.19a) because He revealed Himself “to them” (autois, v.19b) in creation.
  • This knowledge of God in man is a result of God’s own self-disclosure. All men possess clear (albeit limited) knowledge of God, for He has made Himself known to them.

Paul addressed the Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill:

that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Acts 17:27-28 (ESV)

God made us with the capacity to recognize that there is a God, that this God created us, designed us, and desires to have a relationship with us.

2. They Refuse or Fail to Render Proper Glory to God.

  • doxázō: To honor, bestow honor upon, exalt in dignity, render glorious. CWSD
  • Proper Honor means to render glory to Him, recognize Him for Who and What He is, to celebrate with praises, worship, adoration. CWSD
  • Proper Glory means we seek to Worship Him with our substance, with our hearts, with our hands, with our lives.

Whatever we do we do it with the Glory of God in Mind! How many people would murder, steal, lie, cheat if they lived to give proper Honor to God?

3. How Does Mankind Refuse or Fail to Give Proper Glory to God?

  • Act like He doesn’t exist.
  • Ignore His Message
  • Complain about What Happens
  • Depend upon yourself or your friends or the Government
  • Fail to acknowledge Him as you work and play
  • Act as if He doesn’t exist.
  • We are not just talking about Heathens, Hooligans and the Hell-Bound!

“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.” Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit. “Therefore I still contend with you, declares the Lord, and with your children’s children I will contend. For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:2-13 (ESV)

B. Men Refuse/Fail to Give Thanks to God

1. Wonders of Creation

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalms 19:1 (ESV)

2. Provisions and Blessings

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. Psalms 40:5 (NASB)

3. In the Way they Treat Others and their Environment

God’s Law had amazing provisions for care of the blind and lame, as well as taking care of refuse and trash.

4. In the Way we Treat our Possessions

  • Look at the way God wanted His Tabernacle constructed and maintained
  • Do You Tithe, do you treat your money as your own?
  • One way God says that we fail to give Him thanks is to Rob Him of His Tithe. Malachi

C. Men Become Vain in their Thinking

Became vain” is mataioō. The noun is mataios, “devoid of force, truth, success, result.” The word “vain” today means “proud.” The Greek word did not have any idea like that. Mataios refers to that which is in vain, futile, that which is without result or success. It refers to the unsuccessful attempt to do something or be something. It refers to that which does not measure up to that which it should be.

1.  In scriptures becoming vain usually means to become corrupt and wicked.

Vain conversation and living is CORRUPT when contrasted with God

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1 Peter 1:18 (KJV)

Vanity is a Wicked Walk away from God

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19 (KJV)

2.    They think of Themselves

a)   Look at me,
b)   Look at what I can do,
c)    Look at all that I have accomplished.

3.    Man attempts to become something, and instead becomes NOTHING!

  • Solomon said, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” That is, “futility of futilities, all is futile.” All that he tried was futile, unsuccessful, in giving him complete satisfaction.
  • Men and Women, refusing to glorify God and be grateful, became futile, unsuccessful in their reasonings (imaginations). The word is dialogismos, “the thinking of a man deliberating with himself, deliberation.”Wuest

4.    Man’s Thinking Gets Messed Up

  • Men, in refusing to recognize the true God, entertain foolish and wicked thoughts of who God is.
  • The implication is they become evil and wicked
  • The thoughts of men were continually evil before the flood.
  • They become foolish in imagining there is no God.
  • They become foolish and start worshipping other gods, idols, things, even themselves.
  • Mental Disease is also the result.
    • Depression
    • Schizophrenic
    • Anxieties

IV. The Result of Man’s Choice

They Dance the Moron Dance

“their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:21-23 (ESV)

  • They lost the light of divine knowledge;
  • foolish heart: ἀσύνετος, Without insight or understanding, unintelligent, foolish. CWSD
  • Their heart becomes darkened so they no longer have any insight into God.

The Hebrews in the Wilderness

This is how the Israelites could be the way they were in the wilderness. In spite of all God had done and was continuing to do, they were clueless when it came to the need to worship and honor Jehovah God.

God had Moses take the Jews the long way around Edom. It was desolate land, not plush and green like the many oasis in Egypt. Even as slaves they had a choice of food, stores they could go to, nice things they could buy. Water was plentiful. Clothing was beyond compare. The ladies could buy the latest slave fashions. They had nice homes to live in, stoves to cook on.

Now they were forced to march in the desert, going who knows where. No stores, no variety of food. None of those Egyptian delicacies they had grown so fond of. All they had now was this Manna that they had to pick up off the ground. Water was scarce and had to be rationed. The heat was unbearable. They had to pitch tents all the time. No cushy commode to sit on and relax. You had to fight off the insects and wild beasts when you went to the bathroom. No fancy Egyptian makeup or Spa treatments in the wilderness.

They got to thinking they were better than this. They deserved more! They started complaining against Jehovah and against Moses.

“Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”

So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Numbers 21:4-6 (NLT)

  • Have you ever seen someone trying to avoid an aggressive, striking snake?
  • They start dancing a silly, stupid, moronic dance

When the snakes started attacking, there was a lot of dancing going on.

Paul wrote: Claiming to be Wise, they became fools-moraino. That’s that word we learned about a few weeks ago. Jesus said that salt can become “moraino” insipid, bland, useless, good for nothing.

God says to you and me:

I created you in my image. I meant you to be so wonderful and so marvelous, yet you refuse to honor me, you refuse to thank me, you put yourself first. You’ve become a moron, you’ve become useless to me, and to top it off you are doing a stupid end zone dance saying “Look at me, look at what I’ve done, Look at how great I am!”

  • You start doing the moron dance, and then you dance around your idols, your stuff and you say look at all my great stuff.
  • You start dancing around at a football game and say look at how great our team is.

God says, “OK, you want to dance the Moron Dance, go ahead. Here I’ll help. How about an earthquake. How about a Tornado? Can you dance in a hurricane? How about some aggressive snakes?

The Dance of the Moron is the dance of someone who refuses by intent or by stupidity to Honor God as God, to Thank God, and instead put themselves on the pedestal.

They become moraino and exchange the Glory of God meant for them into something stupid and temporal like a car or a house or a football team or a soft pillow on Sunday morning. Or they create their own God, their own religion.

What Can I Do?    –   Have a New Focus!

We think that Romans 1:18 – 32 applies only to heathens, gentiles, those that reject God. But if you read Scriptures, Christians can become darkened in their heart, carnal in their heart, fleshly. Christians can even do the Dance of the Christian Moron.

You supposedly know better. You supposedly have been made alive to God. You supposedly have God’s Holy Spirit living in you?

Why then are you not honor God, Honoring His Word, Obeying Him? Why are you robbing God? Why do you pay him lipservice, but go out and do what you want to do?

Why are you so ungrateful to HIm? Why do you hold on to your money and your possessions like they are yours?

Why do you pat yourself on the back so often, and think how well you have done.

Could you heart be getting dark? Could your soul be getting hard toward God? Is that your leg starting to quiver, to move. Is that your arm starting to wave?

Christians can dance the Moron Dance as stupidly as any heathen. How do I stop? How can I become useful to God? How can I experience this Glory of God?

Journey to the Cross for New Life


I just had to comment on the following OP-ED piece from the New York Times on Nov 26, 2009.

What I am amazed at is how people who do not know God try to ACT like they know Him. What they fail to realize is that God must be “revealed” to us (Paul calls it the ‘spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him’ –Eph 1:17). He is not to be figured out by our tiny brains. Why do we even pretend to think we can figure Almighty God out? As Mr. Kristof illustrates, modern ‘self-enlightened man’ thinks we have an ‘evolving’ view of God. As he concludes:

“I’m hoping that the latest crop of books marks an armistice in the religious wars, a move away from both religious intolerance and irreligious intolerance. That would be a sign that perhaps we, along with God, are evolving toward a higher moral order.”

Mr. Kristoff, if there is any evolution going on here, it is man evolving farther away from our Creator God. Yes, He is an ‘intolerant’ God. He says “You shall have no other god’s beside me“. Modern man as well as ancient ‘heathen’ man has had the same problem from the very beginning…we make ourselves and what WE think to be more important than God. We become our own ‘god’s’.

Paul brilliantly explained in Romans 1 that God and His invisible attributes (eternal power and divine nature) can be clearly perceived by even the most ignorant and backward man. The problem as Paul points out is that even though we can perceive this awesome God and what He has created, we refuse to honor Him as God and refuse to have a grateful heart toward Him. We become futile (I might add stupid) in our thinking and our foolish hearts become darkened. God opens the door to our hearts, but when we fail to honor Him, our hearts become darkened, and there is no ‘revelation’ from Him as to His amazing Grace and Love. He has been the same yesterday, today and forever. It is mankind who changes, becoming wiser and wiser in our own ‘conceits’.

Mr. Kristoff’s article is an excellent representation of just how foolish our thinking is becoming. I am placing his column here so that you can discern for your self. To see further examples of darkened hearts (this time ‘celebrities’) read my column “We don’t need no stinkin’ God, we’re Celebrities and Rock Stars!” One example of further ignorance is the comment by Angelina Jolie, who said this when asked if there is a God:

“Hmm… For some people, I hope so, for them. For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesn’t need to be a God for me. There’s something in people that’s spiritual, that’s godlike. I don’t feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don’t really know if it’s better to just not believe in anything, either.”

If we can’t come to an agreement on who God is, maybe we should follow Angelina’s advice and ‘just not believe in anything, either.” The we won’t have ‘Religious Wars’. I might add that we won’t have Salvation either!

The Religious Wars By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

“Just a few years ago, it seemed curious that an omniscient, omnipotent God wouldn’t smite tormentors like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. They all published best-selling books excoriating religion and practically inviting lightning bolts.

Traditionally, religious wars were fought with swords and sieges; today, they often are fought with books. And in literary circles, these battles have usually been fought at the extremes.

Fundamentalists fired volleys of Left Behind novels, in which Jesus returns to Earth to battle the Anti-Christ (whose day job was secretary general of the United Nations). Meanwhile, devout atheists built mocking Web sites like www.whydoesGodhateamputees.com. [One profound statement from this site: “If God is imaginary, then religion is a complete illusion. Christianity, Judaism and Islam are pointless. Belief in God is nothing but a silly superstition, and this superstition leads a significant portion of the population to be delusional.” Well mudpreacher contends that the delusion is all in the minds of those who refuse to honor God as God, and the delusion results from a darkened heart(-mp)] That site notes that although believers periodically credit prayer with curing cancer, God never seems to regrow lost limbs. It demands an end to divine discrimination against amputees.

This year is different, with a crop of books that are less combative and more thoughtful. One of these is “The Evolution of God,” by Robert Wright, who explores how religions have changed — improved — over the millennia. He notes that God, as perceived by humans, has mellowed from the capricious warlord sometimes depicted in the Old Testament who periodically orders genocides.

(In 1 Samuel 15:3, the Lord orders a mass slaughter of the Amalekite tribe: “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child.” These days, that would earn God an indictment before the International Criminal Court.) [Once again, man wants to exert authority over God-mp]

Mr. Wright also argues that monotheism emerged only gradually among Israelites, and that the God familiar to us may have resulted from a merger of a creator god, El, and a warrior god, Yahweh. Mr. Wright also argues that monotheism wasn’t firmly established until after the Babylonian exile, and he says that Moses’s point was that other gods shouldn’t be worshiped, not that they didn’t exist. For example, he notes the troubling references to a “divine council” and “gods” — plural — in Psalm 82.

In another revelation not usually found in Sunday School classes, Mr. Wright cites Biblical evidence that God (both El and Yahweh) had a sex life, rather like the Greek gods, and notes archaeological discoveries indicating that Yahweh may have had a wife, Asherah. (I find this statement as stupid as you can get. It brings our Creator God down to our level-maybe that makes Mr. Wright feel more at peace with his conscience. He will be in for a harsh awakening when he finally sees God as He is. But it will be too late).

As for Christianity, Mr. Wright argues that it was Saint Paul — more than Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet — who emphasized love and universalism and built Christian faith as it is known today. Saint Paul focused on these elements, he says, partly as a way to broaden the appeal of the church and convert Gentiles.

Mr. Wright detects an evolution toward an image of God as a more beneficient and universal deity, one whose moral compass favors compassion for humans of whatever race or tribe, one who is now firmly in the antigenocide camp. Mr. Wright’s focus is not on whether God exists, but he does suggest that changing perceptions of God reflect a moral direction to history — and that this in turn perhaps reflects some kind of spiritual force.

“To the extent that ‘god’ grows, that is evidence — maybe not massive evidence, but some evidence — of higher purpose,” Mr. Wright says.

Another best-seller this year, Karen Armstrong’s “The Case for God,” likewise doesn’t posit a Grandpa-in-the-Sky; rather, she sees God in terms of an ineffable presence that can be neither proven nor disproven in any rational sense. To Ms. Armstrong, faith belongs to the realm of life’s mysteries, beyond the world of reason, and people on both sides of the “God gap” make the mistake of interpreting religious traditions too literally.

“Over the centuries people in all cultures discovered that by pushing their reasoning powers to the limit, stretching language to the end of its tether, and living as selflessly and compassionately as possible, they experienced a transcendence that enabled them to affirm their suffering with serenity and courage,” Ms. Armstrong writes. Her book suggests that religion is not meant to regrow lost limbs, but that it may help some amputees come to terms with their losses.

Whatever one’s take on God, there’s no doubt that religion remains one of the most powerful forces in the world. Today, millions of people will be giving thanks to Him — or Her or It.

Another new book, “The Faith Instinct,” by my Times colleague Nicholas Wade, suggests a reason for the durability of faith: humans may be programmed for religious belief, because faith conferred evolutionary advantages in primitive times. That doesn’t go to the question of whether God exists, but it suggests that religion in some form may be with us for eons to come.

I’m hoping that the latest crop of books marks an armistice in the religious wars, a move away from both religious intolerance and irreligious intolerance. That would be a sign that perhaps we, along with God, are evolving toward a higher moral order.”

Thank you Mr. Kristoff. I became so focused on thanking God for all He has done in my life and for my family and for my church that I forgot how much still needs to be done. I thank you for reminding me that America is joining the ranks of the rest of the nations that have forgotten who God really is. We have our work cut out for us, because America needs to rediscover who our awesome Creator God is!

Hope everyone takes time to thank God, the REVEALED God of His Word!


going-thereCome with me this morning and gaze upon a very sad moment. We find a young woman standing at a tomb, a rich man’s tomb. A huge stone has been rolled away, and she is standing there sobbing her heart out. She is wailing the middle eastern death wail. She has just experienced the most horrible weekend of her life. She had to witness the execution of the man who had saved her life. He had rescued her from a life of sin and abuse. Her life had been so different since he cast the seven demons from her life. She had never known such forgiveness and acceptance and love. He was gone, crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers, and the least thing she could do was to go and anoint his body for a proper burial. To say goodbye one last time. But he is gone. His body is not there. She arrived early in the morning and the stone had been rolled away. The Roman guards were gone, the grave cloths were laying in the grave. Jesus was gone. Someone had stolen the body away.jesus_tomb-mary-weep

Suddenly a man approaches her. He asks her “Why are you weeping”. She doesn’t recognize him, thinks he is the gardener. “Sir”,she asks, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have laid him”. She then turns to stare and sob.

He simply calls her name, “Mary”. And in a flash she knew. She turns to him and says “Rabboni”!

This morning, Jesus stands before each one of us. He is alive. He is God! He is our Savior! He is at the right hand of God His Father. He is awaiting the day when the Father will say, THAT”S ENOUGH! Your day is here.

But until that day when He shall descend from heaven with a shout and the blast of the trumpet, Jesus stands in front of you and asks WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? I am your teacher! Do you not know what I have taught you? He calls each one of us by name and asks, “Why are you weeping?”

You say that’s silly, because I’m not weeping. But I say, Jesus knows your heart. He sees the tears that are there. They may be buried, they may be hidden, but they are there. We can all say as David said in Psalm 44:19: “thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.” Jesus wanted Mary to realize she did not need to weep. She did not need to sob her heart out.

Glenda Brost of Indiana tells us:

On a beautiful day in May 1996, I came home to find that my fifteen-year-old daughter, Patti, had shot herself to death. I was absolutely devastated. Patti had been diagnosed and hospitalized with severe depression that winter, but seemed to be improving dramatically. In April, she gave her life to the Lord, and everyone saw a big change in her.

The first month after Patti’s death was a blur. I knew I had two choices—to allow my anger and hurt to take over my life and my marriage, or allow the Lord to help me through the struggles and somehow bring good out of this tragedy. My husband, Bill, my son, Brent, and I vowed we wouldn’t let Satan have the victory; we would serve the Lord no matter what. That summer I spent much time reading the Bible and praying. I felt the presence of the Lord in such real ways, comforting and strengthening me. Whenever I was down, someone would call or send a card or say she was praying for me.

limbic-systemOur heart records emotional distress and sends the message to the limbic system of our brain. Here the emotional hurts, painful memories are stored just beneath our conscious thought. These memories surface in strange reactions to certain impulses or circumstances. We can’t explain why so and so frustrates us so, or why so and so brings fear. We bear the mark of emotional pain and suffering upon our heart.

It would be horrible to think that a child’s suicide, the death of a small child, the diagnosis of a terminal disease is something we must bear alone. It is even more tragic that there is no God to make sense of all the pain and suffering in this world. There must be something more to this life. There must be a cure to the stain upon our heart that this life can leave.

Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the “stations of the cross” crucifixes-in-italian-alpsto stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as they cross, but there they stopped.

I have known people who have let the pain of their heart ruin their marriage, their relationship with their children, ruin their career, ruin their life. If we only focus on the pain and the suffering, we will be held captive and our lives will be ruined. Jesus asked Mary “Why are you weeping.” Don’t focus on the loss, focus on the VICTORY! Don’t stop at the cross, Praise God for the Empty Tomb. Praise God for the Resurrection!

jesus-wears-the-cross-on-his-chestJesus doesn’t wear an “S” on his chest. He wears the cross, because He conquered the cross! He endured the Cross for the Joy that was set before Him. The joy was not heaven, He already had that. The Joy was seeing His VICTORY GIVEN TO YOU AND ME! He wants to MARK our HEART with the Victory of the Resurrection!

Mark Your Ball With “JPT”

Dr David Cook is a renown sports psychologist. He has written a book titled Golf’s Sacred Journey. He was invited to speak and discuss the book at a gathering of Christian golfers at the number one golf course in the World, Pine Valley. These men were all great golfers, successful executives. The last day he was paired up with one of the greatest amateurs. He had a horrible reputation fro being a raging maniac on the course. His attitude had kept him from making it to the pro’s, and had affected his success in business. In the short devotion before they played,

pine-valley-hole-18Dr Cook told him I am going to teach you something that will change the way you approach life. God wants to use golf to change eternity. You’ll never play well until you understand God’s purpose for your life, and that is to use your life to change eternity. God wants to use everything in your life to effect eternity. God wants to use your Golf to change this world for eternity. This game is not about you.It is not about your score, it is not about how you look to other people, it is about God and what He wants to do in your life and the lives of the people you play with.

Gave him a verse I Thess 5:16-17: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving

So he marked his ball with “JPT”

He said “I want you to go and play a great game, but no matter what you do, always have Joy and Give Thanks, whether you birdie, bogey or double bogey. And as you play, pray! This is why God called you, to use your game to change the eternity of those you play with.

Everyone was noticing a different attitude. He was playing great, and was 4 under par at the 12th hole. He was 30 yards out on the 12th hole. He went to hit an easy chip shot for a certain birdie when he duffed it. He hit the ball only two feet. You could just see him turn inward and start to go ballistic. David rushed to his side and said “remember, this game is not about you, it about your purpose in changing eternity. The enemy wants to use circumstances to take you out, to render you powerless. He wants to embarrass you on the golf course. He uses three weapons, “KILL STEAL & DESTROY” That’s how he makes you powerless. Look at your ball, what does it say: “JPT” – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving. Those are your weapons to change your world for eternity.

He calms down, says a quick prayer of thanksgiving and ends up bogeying the hole. He keeps on playing and gets back to 4 under. The last hole and he’s feeling great, everybody is noticing his new attitude. He hits a mighty drive 330 yards and it hits directly into a bunker at the foot of the green. Three feet down from the top. The ball is buried. He goes to his ball and he starts yelling for David to come!

jpt-ball-markLook at this! The only thing showing is the “JPT”. He’s on his knee’s praising God. He says David, this is my message from God. From now on I will use JPT to change the eternity of those around me. No matter how deeply I’m buried I will praise God.

Jesus is before you and he is looking into your heart. He sees the hurt, the disappointment, the bitterness, the coldness, the pride, the scars upon your heart. He wants to mark your heart with JPT, because He has conquered all! He overcame the devil, He overcame sin and our alienation from God. Satan has no claim on us anymore. If we place our life in Jesus, we share in His death, His burial and His resurrection. We already died, so Satan has no power over us. Hebrews 2:14,15 says: “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

Just because we are in a bad place, buried in the sand, doesn’t mean we have to stay there, crying or angry or frustrated. We all have to go there at times, but we don‘t have to stay there. Jesus has already gone there, and He has given us His victory! Satan wants to kill your love for God, he wants to steal your heart away from loving God, he wants to detroy your effectiveness and testimony.

hebrews-2-14_15Jesus has changed this World for eternity. He has overcome every terrible situation that you could every encounter in your life. He assures us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28 Through the resurrection we can mark our hearts with “JPT”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ signaled the defeat of Satan, sin and death. But we fail to see the power of the resurrection when we fail to see the power it has for our lives. Jesus knows you will have heartbreak, sorrow, tears, disappointment, mistakes, struggles, you name it, Jesus knows you will have it. But Jesus still stands before you and says: “You don’t need to weep!”

Jesus wants us to know that no matter the tragedy we will face, if we allow His Resurrection to EMPOWER US, he will transform heartbreak and sorrow into POWER to LIVE and LOVE Life. Hebrews 12:2 records that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Jesus had to go to the cross to get to that joy. That joy is knowing that you and I can share in His victory. Our lives can be transformed because Jesus went there to get there.

2-cor-3-18Paul reveals:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

Jesus Christ wants to change us, to reveal His Glory in us. He wants to mark our hearts just like you mark a golf ball. Only He wants to mark it with the power of the Resurrection! Through His HeartMark you will be changed into His Glory! You will be victorious.

You can focus on the pain, the heartache, the broken promises. Or you can focus your life on the Victory of Jesus Christ! You can mark your heart with bitterness and pain, or Joy Prayer and Thanksgiving! The Power of the Resurrection is only experienced as we focus on Jesus and His Victory! If you focus on your problems and your sad situation you are defeated. You are like Mary, staring at the tomb and wondering what you are going to do. Jesus is standing before you saying WHY ARE YOU WEEPING. Whose Mark is on your Heart? Are you willing to claim the victory of Jesus for your life?Are you willing to see your life as changing this world for eternity? Are you willing to have Joy, to Pray in every circumstance, to Thank God for everything? To Believe that Jesus is Victorious?

Joseph

joseph-Heart MarkJoseph was one of the most mis-treated people you could ever meet. He was betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused and thrown into a horrible prison. He was betrayed once again and if had been like most people would have become bitter and angry and rotted away. But he had JPT on his heart. How do I know? Because when he was finally placed on high as the second migthtiest man in the world, and had a chancve to get even with his mean brothers, he said “ You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good! Only someone with JPT on their heart could say that.

Peter

If anyone could ever say he was not fit to follow Jesus, it would be Peter. Such a man with big dreams. He told Jesus he would follow him anywhere. Why he even picked up a sword and tried to prevent a squadron of soldiers from taking Jesus away. He obviously was not a trained swordsman. He only managed to cut off a servants ear.

peter-denies-jesus-meltonWhen push came to shove, and Jesus needed him, Peter was afraid to go with him to the Governors’s court. A simple servant girl, cousin to Malchus, whose ear Peter cut off, said “I know I’ve seen you with Jesus”. He started speaking fisherman and denied he had ever known Jesus. Then he heard the rooster crow for the third time. Peter wept bitterly. All his hopes, dreams plans perished with Jesus on the cross. Peter was a failure, Jesus was a failure. I imagine he was relieved when he heard that Jesus had died. At least his betrayal did not mean anything.

How his guilt came streaming over him when he heard the tomb was empty. He ran to the grave, he went in. There was no body. Peter had failure and regret inscribed upon his heart. Then one morning he saw Jesus on the banks of the sea. Embarrassed Peter jumped into the water and reluctantly swam ashore. There Jesus asked him a funny question. “Do you Love me?” Semantics aside, Jesus wanted Peter to erase the bad heart mark and replace it with LOVE! The Resurrection is the greatest LOVE mark you can ever place on your heart! Do you LOVE me? Then don’t weep, don’t let your heart be destroyed. Love Jesus, Love His Resurrection! Let that be your Heart Mark!

Prodigal Son

prodigal-heart markThe prodigal son broke his father’s heart. He took his inheritance and wasted it on every despicable thing you can imagine. Finally he came to the end of himself and found himself feeding the pigs. But there, amidst the stench and squalor of his life, he remembered the love of his father. His heart still had a touch of his father’s love. He went home to discover that his Father’s love is overwhelming, matchless, victorious. He allowed the Father’s Love to Mark his Heart!

Isaac

Isaac was a young boy when his father Abraham said they were going to Mt Moriah. When Abraham told his servants to stay there, for he and Isaac were going to worship, we can only surmise what was going through Isaac’s mind. isaacFinally he cried out Father, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said God would provide. What horror must have been in his eyes as he watched his father raise the knife, because he was the sacrifice! When the angel stopped Abraham’s hand, I know that Isaac did not hesitate to get off the altar. But I know that indelibly etched upon his heart was the image of the ram that God indeed provide for the offering. He could have been that offering, but God provided another.

The sacrifice of that ‘lamb’ was indelibly inscribed upon young Isaac’s heart. And so should the Sacrifice and Victory of Jesus be inscribed upon ours.

jesus-gives-us-victoryJesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. He stepped forward and said I’ll save them. I’ll go to the cross. I’ll drink the cup of God’s wrath. Because He died on the cross and rose from the dead, WE HAVE LIFE! We are not defeated. We can stamp JPT on our hearts. We can have Joy no matter the heartache. We can have continual prayer with our Father who loves us. We can be thankful for all things because we know that all things work to good for those who love God.

WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? WHY ARE YOU DEFEATED? WHY ARE YOU LETTING THE ENEMY TAKE YOU OUT, EMBARRASS YOU, RENDER YOU POWERLESS. WHY DO LET HIM STEAL KILL AND DESTROY. LOOK AT THE INITIALS ON YOUR HEART – JPT. BECAUSE JESUS LIVES WE HAVE JOY WE HAVE PRAYER WE HAVE THANKSGIVING! WE HAVE TOTAL VICTORY! LET THE RESURRECTION BE YOUR HEARTMARK!

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (ESV)


Jonahs family eats fish at ThanksgivingIn 1983 I took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC. It was a government sponsored trip to seek investment opportunities in Turkey. My last night I spent in Izmir having dinner with my interpreter and a business owner interested in doing business in America. They ordered for me and out came this huge Black Sea Bass (whole) sitting upright on a potato concoction. I ate the fish, but that night I got deathly sick, so sick I missed my early morning flight to Istanbul. That fish gave me nightmares for several months, because it meant that I had to rent a car and drive 600 kilometers through at least three military check points, in unfamiliar towns and then into Istanbul late at night trying to find a place to stay. It was an exciting and terrifying experience to say the least. Mudpreachers experience with fishThat is why I don’t like eating whole fish to this day. The book of Jonah relates a story that you are all familiar with, of a man who tried to run away from God’s will, and ended up being swallowed by a giant fish. Now if I had problems eating fish after my experience, I can just see Jonah being afraid to get on a ship or even go near the ocean or a lake. Every time he would hear a splash I can just see him running for cover. But when I read what he wrote in chapter 2, I know that isn’t the case. In fact from the Psalm he wrote, I know that every Thanksgiving, Jonah would eat the biggest fish he could get.

Jonah eats the biggest fish he can catch

Jonah eats the biggest fish he can catch

Jonah says in his Psalm recorded in chapter 2: “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will I sacrifice to you” This he prayed while still in the fishes belly.

The Hebrew word for Thanksgiving has in view a Choir Singing Tremendous Songs of Praise, accompanied by a huge orchestra. People with SHOUTS of Jubilation!

The word depicts worship by the presentation of songs of thanksgiving and praise that extolled the mighty wonders of the Lord (Neh. 12:27; Ps. 26:7; Isa. 51:3). It refers to shouts of jubilation and thanksgiving (Ps. 42:4[5]; Jon. 2:9[10]). It describes the purpose of the choirs used by Nehemiah, i.e., they were choirs of praise (Neh. 12:31, 38).—Complete Word Study Dictionary, The

Walldedicated with todaWhen Nehemiah dedicated the wall he had all the leaders get on the wall and had a huge assembly of Levites playing instruments and singing praises to God. This is the picture Jonah presented in his prayer while lodged deep in the stinking stomach of a huge fish! Now how was Jonah able to praise God while he was deep in the belly of a stinking fish? Because Jonah had a firsthand lesson in something which many of us are not familiar with.

Would that our Thanksgivings featured such spontaneous expressions of Joy and Rejoicing over what God has done in our lives.

Face it, most of our Thanksgiving meals consist of a few arguments over such and such, a short prayer of blessing, then maybe a forced “What are You Thankful For?’ and then the guys go and watch football or go to a movie or such like that. Even in my family I can’t recall spontaneous shouts of Joy over what God has been doing.

Festival of BoothsGod wanted His people to have festivals and feasts where there was spontaneous rejoicing! One Such Event was the Festival of Booths held once a year in the Fall:

Leviticus 23:39-43 (KJV) Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Sovereignty vs. Thanksgiving

Sovereignty of God vs ThanksgivingThe story of Jonah is so appropriate at the time of Thanksgiving, because it addresses the conflict that most of us experience at this holiday time. This is the conflict we have between our experiences with the Sovereignty of God and the Joy (or lack of it) we feel in our Soul!

We used to know what the Sovereignty of God is. The Pilgrims who settled in America had a profound sense of the Sovereignty of God…

On November 11, 1620, Governor William Bradford and the leaders on the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact before setting foot on land. They wanted to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their lives and their need to obey Him. The Mayflower Compact was America’s first great constitutional document and is often called “The American Covenant.”

Life was hard in the New World. Out of 103 Pilgrims, 51 of these died in the first terrible winter. After the first harvest was completed, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. By 1623, a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during their prayers. The custom prevailed in New England and eventually became a national holiday.

Because they understood the Sovereignty of God they could rejoice regardless of whether there was rain or drought, death or life. We have lost our concept of what the Sovereignty of God is. Let me share just a bit from AW Pink:

From (AW PINK, SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD)

The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, over-throwing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1Timothy 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible. The sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, infinite. When we declare that God is sovereign, we affirm His right to govern the universe, which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases. We affirm that His right is the right of the Potter over the clay: that He may mould that clay into whatsoever form He chooses, fashioning out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. We affirm that He is under no rule or law outside His own will and nature, that God is a law unto Himself, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to any.”

The Exercise of His Supremacy

The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” ( Isaiah 46:10); “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” ( Daniel 4:35).

Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things “after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

We affirm that He is Sovereign in the exercise of His power. His power is exercised as He wills, when He wills, where He wills.

  • God is Sovereign in the exercise of His mercy
  • God is Sovereign in the exercise of His love
  • God is Sovereign in the exercise of His grace.

God’s Throne is Supreme

  • To declare that God is frustrated by sin, is to dethrone God.
  • To say that God has no control over the evil of this world is to dethrone God
  • To say that God has no control over the bad things that happen in our lives is to dethrone God.

Sovereignty speaks of God’s divine control over everything that happens. There is nothing outside the control of his loving hand. Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for the good of God’s children and verses 38- 39 implies that there is nothing beyond the control of God’s sovereign hand. God’s sovereignty reminds Christians to fear nothing as God is always in charge, no matter how dreadful the situation.—AMG’s Encyclopedia of Bible Facts

We have lost our sense of God and His Sovereignty in our churches, our preaching, our Thanksgivings!

Man-Centered vs God-Centered

A recent survey found the number one question people would ask God is “Why do you allow suffering?”

Instead of focusing on God and His Sovereign Right to Act as His Nature Dictates, we focus on ourselves and we go “boo-hoo”, why did you do this why did you allow that. We are so man-centered, that every time something doesn’t go our way we shake our fist at God!

When you learn to focus on the Sovereign Will of God, you trust in an all powerful God who works His Glory in whatever happens in your life! You know that nothing is by accident, that He is working all to accomplish what please Him, in accordance with His Word and His Nature!

The whole issue is whether we live lives that are man-centered or God-centered.

In the Book of Jonah we see an obstinate, self-centered man who runs headlong into the mighty Sovereignty of God.jonah centered

Jonah-Centered

  • Jonah centered world results in captivity
    • Jonah wanted to do what he wanted when he wanted
    • He was swallowed by the fish, held captive.
  • Jonah centered world results in damnation.
    • Jonah experienced Hell.
    • The people of Nineveh were doomed.
  • Jonah centered world results in anger and hatred.
    • Jonah was mad that Nineveh was saved.
    • Mad at what God had done.
    • Dependent on Circumstances

God-Centered

  • God-centered world results in deliverance from the storms of life
    • Sailor saved
    • Jonah rescued
  • God-centered world results in deliverance from the hell of life
    • Jonah deleverd from the Hell of the fish.
  • God-centered world results in deliverance from sin
    • Nineveh repented and was saved
  • God-centered world results in Rejoicing and Thanksgiving
    • The people of Nineveh rejoiced because God spared them
  • Jonah learned to shut up and started eating Big Fish

Why Does a God Centered World result in Repentance, Deliverance, Mercy and Salvation?

  1. The Sovereignty of God means that God seeks to Deliver Repentant man.God seeks to deliver repentant man
  2. The Sovereignty of God means that God’s Mercy is for Repentant manGods Mercy is upon repentant man
  3. Gods Salvation is for repentant manThe Sovereignty of God means Salvation for Repentant man.

We have so much to rejoice in. If you have turned from you sin and embraced Jesus as your Savior, Rejoice, you have been delivered, you are wrapped in the Mercy of God, You are being saved. Rejoice and tell your relatives – make em think you are crazy. Jonah was stinking like a fish when he told the people of God’s coming judgment. Rejoice because God is sovereign. Why don’t you put God on His Throne in Your Life!!! He is on His throne. Whatever you are going through, all you need to do is repent of your sins and rejoice in God’s Mercy. He will do all according to His Will.

YOUR CHOICE

You can live this Thanksgiving Man-centered or God centered.

You Can Brood and Burn in Pain!

You can be on your own throne or you can submit to God on His throne. Jonah go upset at God for bringing revival to Nineveh. God asked him: “Do You Do Well to be Angry?”(Jonah 4:4)

That little word angry is “hara” which means to cause fire to burn- pictures a “burning sensation in your throat.” This is a kindling or simmering of anger. When you put your self on the throne you set in motion the kindling of your soul as you react to what God does in your life. Instead of praise and spontaneous rejoicing, your throat is burning, your are mad and resentful because God has not done as YOU wanted.

You can Seek God and BURN BRIGHT with Joy!

Psalms 105:3 (ESV) Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

You can realize God is Sovereign and is actively governing as He pleases upon His throne. You can repent of your selfishness and sin and seek after Almighty God and His reign over your life.

Then you will know SAMAH!

  • SAMAH means to burn bright, to make joyful, merry. This joy comes from within your heart and lights up your eyes! (TWOT)
  • SAMAH results in spontaneous emotion and extreme happiness which is expressed in some visible manner.
  • When David killed Goliath, the women danced in the streets and shouted with JOY! (! Sam 18:6)

Psalms 32:11 (ESV) Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

The True Shining City on the HillPresident Ronald Reagan gave a famous farewell speech on Jan 11, 1989. He talked about the “shining city on the Hill”:

The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the ‘shining city upon a hill.’ The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

America may no longer be that shining City on the Hill, but God still Reigns. He still seeks men to repent and come to Him. All the financial and political travail that is going on is the Throne of God giving us one last chance to Repent and Honor Him as Sovereign God!

One day He will place His Son on that Shining City on the Hill, Jerusalem. All nations will come to Him there. He will reign.

Do you know King Jesus as your Savior. Is His Father your Sovereign Lord? Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. He paid the price for your freedom with His precious sinless blood. Will you come to Him?  Will you repent of your sins and say “Jesus I need you to be my Savior!” Will you come and make Him your Lord, so that He can shine bright in your life?

God Still Reigns. God is Sovereign.

Samah - Jumping for JoyWhat will be your visible expression of joy before God this thanksgiving!!!!

Will You allow God to be on His throne in your life? Will you jump for joy because of his deliverance, his mercy, his salvation for you?

That which you think has most injured your life, God can enable you to rejoice in it, even eat it! Never fear it! Even if it swallows you!