Jude 24-25 – “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” NIV
In 2011, I had hip replacement surgery, and the next day after surgery they got me up to walk. It was painful and difficult but something that had to be done. There were two people near me at all times to ensure that I did not fall, and they also provided a walker to help me stabilize myself so that I could gingerly move across the floor. They placed a strap around my waist and when I asked what that was for, they said, “So you won’t wind up on the floor. It is to enable us to keep you from falling.”
I have thought about that since that time I realized that in a real sense that is what the Holy Spirit does in our lives to enable us to “Walk The Christian Walk” without stumbling or falling. He wraps the Word of God around us and stands ever so near to ensure that if our footsteps are unstable or our ability to traverse the particular path before us is difficult, He upholds us to keep us from stumbling to prevent our fall. Adam and Eve fell in the Garden due to disobedience but if you and I set our hearts to walk according to the Word of God and are sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit we Will Not Fall!
God is not only able to keep us from falling but keeps us from falling. In a real sense, He presents us before the Father daily. One He will present us ultimately and finally before Him so that we can enter into the Eternal Joys of the Lord! We should live every moment of every day with great rejoicing in that reality. We should always be conscious that in our own strength, ability, and nature we would fail miserably and continue to be Mark Missers coming short of the Glory of God. Yet, through Christ Jesus our Lord and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we can go through this life without Falling!
While I do not want you to think of Him as a crutch, I do want you to think of Him as your ultimate support. A crutch could become an excuse or a justification for not rising to the level of maturity that God desires, and we need but a support system is designed to enable us to do just that.
Therefore, if you are struggling to live the Christian Life maybe you are attempting to go it alone without the aid of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Instead of trying to go in your own willpower and strength “cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”
May the Lord bless you as you go through this day and week in Him.
Psalm 61:1-2 – “Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” NKJV
I love the Psalms! Every time I read this particular passage it moves me more than words can describe because I have been there so many times in life. We have all faced those moments in time when we were overwhelmed by life or the events and circumstances of life.
There have been those times when the news that came was so earth-shattering that we did not think we could take another step. There have been those times when we were not certain how we would survive the situation and disaster appeared imminent. There have been those times when we were so battle-fatigued that we hardly felt that we could pray much less that there would be an answer to our prayers. It is in those times that this Psalm rises within our hearts!
Listen to the Psalmist – “From the end of the earth I will cry to You!” Wow!That is an expression of both desperation and confidence that we all need to maintain in our hearts. Our dependency needs to be so completely upon God that no matter what transpires our first inclination is to CRY Out to Him!
“When my heart is OVERWHELMED; Lead me to the Rock that is Higher than I.” In my moment of total despair, I need you. Oh Lord to have Your Holy Spirit come, take my hand, and lead me to You! I need to ascend above my trials, troubles, and tribulations and take a seat at your feet so I can see not only your hand working but that there is a place above the fray! I need to know that you are my strength, my sword, my shield, my sustainer, and my life!
Lord, you know my frailty and humanity. You know that I will despair at times and show signs of losing heart, so I cry out to you that in those times you Lead Me to the Rock that is higher than I. You, Oh Lord, are my Hope! I know that you are my keeper and my shade on my right hand. I know that you will never leave me nor forsake me and will always be there whenever I need you and even when I do not know that I need you.
My continual cry is “Lord help me always remember that I need you every hour.” My continual prayer is “Lord lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” I give you praise and thanksgiving for not only are you worthy of all praise, but you have never and will never fail me!
My precious friends whenever your heart is Overwhelmed know that the Lord is there to lead you to the Rock that is higher than you!
May the Lord bless you richly as you go through your day!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you.”
Ephesians 5:20 –“Giving thanks always for all men to God the Father in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ.”
Colossians 3:17 –“And whatever you do in word or deed, do it in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Now, shall we move to the second thing on my list of what we have to be thankful for?
THE WORD OF GOD AND ALL ITS PROVISIONS.
We must never forget that the Word of God, the Bible is loaded with benefits, provisions, instructions, protections, and privileges that equip each believer for life. Tragically, too often we allow ourselves to be robbed of what the Father has already provided for us.
Psalm 103:1-5 – “BLESS the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,3 Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.4 Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.”
God’s Word provides for life here and hereafter. It is not just a Word it is the Inspired Word of God. It is God-breathed. It is as good as God Himself.
2 Timothy 3:16 – “All scripture, written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness”
2 Peter 1:21 – “For the prophecy did not come by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke when they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.”
It is the Infallible Word of God as Hebrews 13:8 declares, Jesus is the same eternally and Jesus is the Word! It is the Indestructible Word of God. In Matthew 24:35 we read, “Even heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” In Isaiah 40:8 we are advised, “Even heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Then in 1 Peter 1:25 we find, “But the word of our God endures forever. And this is the very word which has been preached to you.” It is Infallible and Indestructible.
We must also remember that it is Indispensable. It is as vital to our spirit man as food is to the natural body. Through the pages of God’s Word, we find provision for Salvation, Healing, Deliverance, Blessing, Guidance, and Protection. We are to “Forget None of His Benefits.” We should be thankful for such a word that has been provided for us.
FOR THE PROMISE OF JESUS’ RETURNING
I am going to possibly overload you with scripture to prove my point so get ready.
John 14:1-3 – “LET not your heart be troubled; believe in God, and believe in me also.2 In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and take you to me, so that where I am, you may be also.”
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 – “For our LORD himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and those who died in Christ will rise first.17 Then we, who are alive, and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet our LORD in the air: and so shall we ever be with our LORD.18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
1 Corinthians 15:51:52 – “Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed,52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Philippians 3:20-21 – “But our labors are in heavenly things, from whence we look for our Savior, our LORD Jesus Christ,21 Who shall transform our poor body, to the likeness of his glorious body, according to his mighty power, whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
This Promise is to those who are Born Again. This Promise is to those who are Faithful. The Blessed Hope is something to be incredibly Thankful for. We are not left comfortless, abandoned as orphans, but He is Coming Back!
Regardless of how the economy is, God is still God.
Regardless of how vile and sinful mankind may become, God is still God.
Regardless of the situation of the world, God is still God.
We have Hope in Christ!
We have much to be thankful for and more than we will ever thank Him for. He brought Salvation to us because He Loves us. He has given us His Word, to guide us. He is coming back for us so that we can spend Eternity with Him.
What Have We To Be Thankful For? EVERYTHING!
God bless you as you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend. Have a Great Day!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you.”
Ephesians 5:20 – “Giving thanks always for all men to God the Father in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ.”
Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do it in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
It would be an understatement to say that as Americans and as Christians, we are Blessed! Things may be difficult now and from time to time, but we are Blessed! The problem is that too few give consideration to our blessings and truly count their blessings. That is what this devotional is designed to address and answer the title question, “What Have We To Be Thankful For?”
The Bible in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and other places identifies a time in the Last Days when people would be unthankful, and ungrateful toward God and their fellow man. It speaks of a time when people would be more interested in themselves, pleasure, possessions, and power than God and the things of God.
It speaks of a time when people would be so filled with the desire to satisfy their ambitions, reach their goals, and fulfill the desires of their hearts they would have little time or interest in God and the things of God. No time for Him, His Word, or His Worship. It speaks of a time when churches and professing Christians would have a form of godliness but without power.
Unfortunately, too many times God has blessed His people with prosperity, and they prospered to the place where they forgot the source of their blessings. It is a shame that too many only find time to express gratitude at Thanksgiving each year. Once a year in November give lip service to blessings. We must never forget that we are Blessed!
Now, to the question – “What Do We Have To Be Thankful For?” Obviously, time would not permit, nor could the libraries of the world contain all that we have to be thankful for, individually or collectively. Not to overuse this, but We Are Blessed! We are a very Blessed People!
I would like to mention three (3) major things that we have to be thankful for and hope it resonates with you.
FOR THE LOVE THAT BROUGHT REDEMPTION
John 3:16 is such a familiar passage that too often it is quoted without actually thinking about what is promised and provided. “For God – Who? God the Creator of all things. God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes on Him SHOULDNOT perish but have everlasting life.” (Emphasis mine). Notice it is whosoever believes and that they should not perish. Believing alone is insufficient to enter in, it requires repentance of sin and confession that Jesus is the Christ.
Let’s walk through the condition of man from the Garden to the coming of Jesus. Man began in innocence but through rebellion and disobedience fell and darkness fell on the race. God gave the Law of Moses; the Torah and man could not fulfill it revealing the need for a Savior.
Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and are short of the glory of God”
Galatians 3:22 – “But the scripture has included everything under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
God made man aware that the only provision was a sinless substitute to buy us back from the authority of the devil and made that provision in Jesus. Man was hopelessly and helplessly lost. He was doomed eternally, but Jesus came to give life!
Hebrews 9:23 – “It is necessary, therefore, that the patterns of things which are heavenly should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves, with sacrifices better than these.”
Matthew 26:28 – “It is necessary, therefore, that the patterns of things which are heavenly should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves, with sacrifices better than these.”
God, in the abundance and overflow of His Love, was willing to give the one thing that was required for our salvation. He was willing to do what was necessary to give people who had turned against him the opportunity for restoration and regeneration. John 3:16 became a reality and the door to salvation was opened.
God gave His Son, not just any son but the Only Begotten of the Father, the Lamb of God. Jesus came freely and willingly to be our substitute and pay our debt. The Way of Redemption, the Only Was now open. The Door had come!
What Have We to Be Thankful For? Jesus! Salvation! Love!
I will pause here and take this to the second reason in the next devotional.
God bless you and may your Thanksgiving be Awesome! Have a Great Day and a Great Week!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the year of our Lord 2022. There will be a myriad of celebrations that include traditional family gatherings, meals, and parades. There will be games and a marathon of watching football on TV. There will be various types of gatherings tomorrow. That is all good.
However, I often wonder how many of those celebrations focus on the blessing of the LORD. Last year and this year my celebration is somewhat smaller in scale since my wife went home to heaven in April of 2021. This year will be a small gathering and my focus will be on the blessings of life that God has provided and allowed me to enjoy.
As I reflect on my life, I have much to be thankful for and remind myself frequently just how blessed I am. I hesitate to make this personal but would like to share some of my life’s journey and the reasons that I am Thankful and make Thanksgiving a Day of Giving Thanks.
I was born in the late 40s in Pasadena, Texas. My dad worked for the Goodyear Rubber Plant and had the best job he ever held in his life as far as pay and benefits were concerned. Shortly after I was born, I developed health problems that required my parents to take me to the doctor virtually weekly, and even with the tests they conducted were unable to determine the root cause of my health issues. At one point the doctors told my parents that I would not likely live to be a teenager.
I do not doubt that my health concerns and the fear of losing a child weighed heavily on both of my parents, especially my mother. When I was a little less than two-years-old, one of my grandparents, in East Texas, became sick and my mother took me and my baby sister to take care of them. We were there for about two weeks and my dad noticed that I appeared to be better. I suppose the LORD put the question in his mind that caused him to ask the doctor if he thought I would be better and possibly recover if I was not in Pasadena. The doctor’s response caused my dad to send my mother, my baby sister, and me to East Texas for a more extended visit.
The amazing thing is that during that time I got definitively better and as a result my dad quit his job and moved the family to Grapeland, Texas where in a matter of months I fully recovered. It seems that the atmosphere in Pasadena was causing my health issues and in East Texas, my body was able to restore itself. The toddler that was not expected to live past his teens is now well into his 70s and still active and healthy. That provides several reasons to be Thankful. Health, God’s Grace, Loving Parents, and the privilege to live in the country in rural East Texas.
There are so many things in my teen years that I won’t get into. But when I went to Vietnam in 1967 there was an event that impacted me powerfully. I was not living for God when I went to that war. Upon arrival in the bay leading to the river to Saigon, our orders were to proceed via the ship I was on to deliver some goods to the base in Saigon. As we anchored in the bay, I heard a voice say to me, “You are about to die!” No one but me heard the voice and while some will say that it was just my jitters about being there, I know better. I almost fainted and the medical staff questioned me, but I would not divulge what had just happened.
In a matter of minutes, our orders changed, and we were rerouted to DaNang. A merchant ship took our place. About two hours later a radioman came out of the radio room and said, “You will never guess what happened.” He then informed me that the ship that took our billet number and our place had taken enemy fire and everyone in the location I would have been positioned was killed. That voice was telling the truth, I was about to die, but God protected me, even though I was not living for God. For that, I am eternally grateful and very thankful. There were other times I was spared in that country, and I look back on the experiences with gratitude and a heart filled with Thanksgiving.
I have had experiences where the automobile I was riding in was miraculously spared from a collision that would have likely resulted in my death. I have been on airplanes that were eerily near a collision, and I was spared. I had parathyroid cancer and God miraculously healed me. The medical doctor was the one who used the term miracle in detailing my situation. I have had broken bones supernaturally healed and medical conditions reversed through prayer. God has repeatedly kept me alive and for that, I am eternally grateful and thankful. So, I have much to be thankful for and Thanksgiving is a Day of Giving Thanks for me.
I have a loving family and enjoyed a loving marriage with the most wonderful woman in the world. I have a very nice home, and a good vehicle to drive, and God has provided the needed income for me to live and pursue His purposes. I am not wealthy in this world’s goods, but I am the richest man on the planet because of God, faith, family, and the freedom I have enjoyed. Therefore, Thanksgiving is truly a day of Giving Thanks to me.
I do not mean this as a slight toward any other country, but I feel blessed to have been born in America and lived here my entire life. I weep for those who are enslaved in despotic tyrannical nations and do not know freedom or the prosperity we have enjoyed. I weep for the many deceived people in my nation who do not know the truth of God’s Love and do not enjoy His guidance and grace. I am a blessed man. I have wonderful children, an incredible extended family, and deep-abiding friendships that are lasting. I get up every day and say, “Thank You!” to the Lord.
What do we have to be thankful for? Let me sum it up with a poem that I wrote in the 90s, more than 25 years ago.
Thanksgiving Is For Thanks Giving
Long before Halloween had arrived in the Fall
Christmas Decorations filled every Mall.
We no longer celebrate one Holiday at a time
And to me, that seems such a moral crime.
The commercial side seems to overrule
And we the citizens must play the fool.
No one seems to care at all
That Thanksgiving is also in the Fall.
I offer this plea to all who enjoy living
Remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving.
It is for the Bountiful Life and the Gift of Love
Sent to man from God above.
But Thanksgiving seems to be a thing Long Forgotten
In a land where we have been spoiled rotten.
We take for granted our very lives,
Not to mention parents, children, husbands, and wives.
Therefore, I offer this plea to all who enjoy living
God bless you and may you enjoy the most wonderful Thanksgiving you have ever experienced tomorrow. May you be cognizant and vocalize your thanks to God and to those in your life for all that you have been given. If you know love, you are rich in treasures that this world knows nothing of. It is not the material things that make you rich but those things that money cannot buy.
1 Samuel 1:24-28 – “Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.” NKJV
The words leaped off the page at me as I read, “…as long as he lives, he shall be lent to the LORD.” Imagine a mother whose heart was so heavy because she had no children and how troubled she was. Then her fervent prayer resulted in a prophetic word coming to her and a miraculous work of God to provide her that child, a son, that she had desired. Now, imagine that mother being willing to totally dedicate that son to God and giving him physically as well as spiritually to the LORD.
I have had people tell me they thought less of Hannah because she gave up the child. I urge you to remember her vow in v.11, “…O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” Her vow was her covenant with God and the life that was produced in Samuel is nothing short of extraordinary.
She kept him in the early formative years of his life before taking him to Eli, the priest. That calls to mind the words of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Her vow indicated that Samuel would act and serve as a Levite but would be raised as a Nazarite or one who willingly dedicates himself to God. This was signifying that he would be totally dedicated to God, and I am convinced that is the message she conveyed to him in those formative years.
She taught him God’s covenant and instilled in him the importance of keeping vows made to God and pursuing God’s purposes in life. She taught him through her words and actions, that God was supreme above all things. Then when she took him to Eli he had been saturated with the Word of God, Prayers, and the impact that his godly mother had would impact and influence him for the rest of his days.
Of course, that is only one side of the equation. We dare not omit personal responsibility and personal commitment. Samuel could have resisted and rebelled, but he did not. He did not because the method and message of his mother resonated in his heart. She had kindled in him a desire to serve God and while I am sure that her leaving him with the priest was somewhat traumatic or would have been for most children. I am sure her heart was torn from her chest as she walked away. I am equally sure that God saw both their hearts and through His Spirit, Power, and Love provided a balm of peace in their hearts. Samuel had to decide to fulfill the vow his mother made, and he did.
Would Samuel have become the mighty prophet of God and man of the hour had she not made that vow and kept it? Probably not. Would Samuel have become a strong pillar in Israel had his mother not instilled in him from his birth the purpose of his life and the purpose of God? Probably not. I cannot emphasize the value and importance of godly parents in raising children.
One of the most significant problems in our world today, especially in America, is the lack of two-parent homes and the lack of godly parenting. Thank God for those who view their role and responsibility as parents as a ministry and mandate from God to fulfill the first part of Proverbs 22:6 so that the latter part can become a sure reality.
If you have children, they are your responsibility, and you are accountable to God for the training and example they receive. You are their role model, not Hollywood, Athletes, or Entertainers. YOU ARE! Your value in the shaping of their lives is almost incalculable.
God bless you as you fulfill your purposes for this day in Jesus!
Judges 2:7 – “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.” NKJV
There was an old country preacher that I knew who often said regarding the presence of God, “It is better felt than telt…” I love feeling the presence of God and basking in the sunlight of His presence, power, and love. And, as I reflect on that preacher’s words, I find that there is something in it worthy of consideration regarding experience. I personally, do not want to ever reach the place where I base my relationship with God on an emotional experience, but I never want to discount or discontinue that either. I long to make my permeant residence In His Presence here and in eternity.
In this particular passage, there is a realization that is important in life. I have heard about some of the great revivals of days gone by but did not experience them. However, I have been in the presence of God and had some incredible experiences, and witnessed some powerful moves of God’s Spirit that lasted long in churches, communities, and people. I treasure those.
Who among us is not cognizant of the fact that historical experiences we did not participate in do not captivate us as those we did experience? This passage reveals that so long as Joshua the Moses mentored leader who lead the nation into the Promised Land and the elders who were also eyewitnesses lived God Reigned in the hearts of people. When they died, there were no longer those who had experiential first-hand knowledge of God’s mighty deliverance and fulfilling His promise to bring them to the Land of Milk and Honey. When experience died there was a gradual erosion of commitment and a turning away or growing cold in dedication.
Every revival of the church lasted until the generation that witnessed and experienced it died and then it began to wane. The fervor and fire of that revival kept the Church on track pursuing the truth that revival revealed and/or restored but when there were none who had experienced it around those who had heard about it could not embrace it with the same devotion nor feel the same compulsion to comply with the directives of the Spirit of God.
It was, to them, theoretical rather than experiential. Sadly, many identify themselves as Christians in much the same way, theoretical rather than experiential. We talk about God being able to “do all things” but if we have not witnessed or experienced His miraculous it is, to us, theory and when the chips are down, we cannot stand on the promise with confidence.
I know some who grew up in Church and in homes where there was a fervent dedication to God, prayer was a staple, and the Bible was the guide. They heard about it from their parents and grandparents but never truly experienced it for themselves and as those who had the experience received their eternal promotion the devotion and practices that kept the fire burning waned and diminished.
That reminds me of the truth that “You cannot get to heaven on Mama or Papa’s faith or experience.” Christianity is a personal experience and relationship, not something that is inherited like property. Growing up going to church may help you establish some important moral principles and ethics but will not save your soul. The fact that Mama or Papa had their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life does not automatically inscribe yours there. It is an individual and personal experience. “If we (each individual) confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”
Experience or having a spiritual encounter with God personally is incredibly valuable in helping us to resist temptation and maintain our dedication as we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.” If you do not personally know Jesus, I urge you to go into your prayer closet and call upon Him in repentance and receive His pardon and grace transforming you from darkness unto light. Jesus has promised that if Anyone will call upon Him, He will not reject us. Today is the day of salvation and now is the accepted time. Experience God for yourself and the Bible will no longer be a theory but reality.
God bless you as you open the door to today with all its problems, promises, and potential. Have a Great Day!
Deuteronomy 2:1-7 – “Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness of the Way of the Red Sea, as the LORD spoke to me, and we skirted Mount Seir for many days.
2 “And the LORD spoke to me, saying: 3’You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward. 4 And command the people, saying, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. 5 Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. 6 You shall buy food from them with money, that you may eat; and you shall also buy water from them with money, that you may drink.
7 “For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.”‘ NKJV
When Israel was wandering in the wilderness during their 40-year trek they came to a time when the LORD spoke to Moses and said, “You’ve taken enough laps around the mountain, now is the time to move to take the next step.” I have discovered, in life, that if we experience a test or trial in our lives and we fail to learn the lesson, modify our attitude and/or actions we get to take another Lap around the Mountain.
It may not be exactly the same situation, but it will become obvious that it is the same mountain, the same test, the same demand, and the same type of issue. In school, if we fail a course, we have the distasteful task of retaking the course. If we are trying to correct a problem and we take inappropriate steps or we fail, we have to repeat the repair.
In relationships, we may not get a second chance with the person we have failed, but we will go through the same type of situation allowing us to get it right. That is one of the reasons some people find themselves in the same kind of relationship time after time. They never learn the lesson and the same type of situation arises repeatedly. If, after a few times, you face the same type of situation you might want to reconsider what you are doing, and your attitude, and allow the Holy Spirit to change you. Sometimes, it is not a new partner that is needed but becoming a new partner.
Even in their trudging through the wilderness learning God’s life lessons they were never lacking! As we learn the life lessons God is teaching us and then begin the northward trek toward the Place of Promise and the Abundant Life God has designed and desired, we will face enemies. Not only will we face enemies but face them on an escalated scale. Sometimes, we tend to think that our purpose is to force others to adopt our worldview and in that, we begin to meddle with them.
There is a Place of Promise God has designed for us and what He has given another is not ours so Hands Off! Never allow envy or jealousy to grip your heart. What someone else has is not your concern. Being who God desires you to be is. If we are willing and obedient to the LORD, we will eat the good of the land and God will be with us in all that we do and face. That is a Position of Power and a Place of Promise!
Mark 16:14-18 – “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” NKJV
My title question is a valid one and a question that I have received more varying answers than I could have imagined. Some take this passage and relegate parts of it to bygone eras, the disciples, and the 1st Century Church and yet include other portions as valid for today. Who makes that decision?
At what point in this passage did Jesus say, “This part is for now and this part will continue from generation to generation?” I have had some use or attempt to use 1 Corinthians 13:10 as their argument against anything miraculous or the operation of the gifts of the spirit today. It reads: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away.” The assertion is that the recognized Bible fulfills that which is perfect and therefore many things are no longer valid or appropriate for today.
Hold on Nellie! Let’s back up a few verses in 1 Corinthians 13 to verse 8 and begin evaluating what the apostle said in its fullness. He said, “Love never fails…” I get that because love and God are eternal therefore if we are to experience, operate in, and demonstrate God we will have love present always. So far so good, right?
Then he says, “But whether there are prophecies, they will fail…” So, we toss prophecy out the window under this interpretation. Next, he says, “Whether there are tongues, they will cease…” The assertion is that tongues are not for today but what tongues are we talking about? Then we come to a major problem where the apostle says, “Whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away…”
I must ask, who is going to attempt to argue that knowledge has vanished? Wouldn’t that be counterintuitive because the Bible dispenses knowledge and is filled with instructions to seek knowledge? However, if we are to follow the interpretation to its logical conclusion, we toss knowledge out the window too. What are we left with? Love! Now, I would never argue that we would be better off with love as the driving force for our world but how can we conclude that is what God was talking about?
What do we do with James 5:13-18? “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. AND…”
I must caution that the “and” is important because the next words declare, “AND the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” The remainder of that passage we tend to receive and embrace when it suits our doctrinal view and interpretation but reject when it touches things we have relegated to bygone eras, or not seeing, or do not believe. Who decides which we can pick and choose?
The writer of Hebrews makes a powerful statement and one that is difficult to square with the view that we are to take some of God’s promises and directives as valid for today and relegate others to history. It says in Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” If He is and He is then we might need to reexamine what we contend is for not and what is not. Next, we discover 1 John 4:17 which speaks about perfected love and its power and then adds something spectacular, “…because as He is, so are we in this world.” As He IS, not was and not will be but AS HE IS, so are we in this not the next world?
I cannot help but ask why God would tell us to do something if He did not mean for us to do it? That, to me, is nonsensical and God is never nonsensical. Virtually all believers embrace, “Go into all the world and preach…” However, many have declared that only the 1st-century church had miracles because they needed miracles to establish the church.
Let me ask, “If miracles got people’s attention back then, why do we think they would do less today? If miracles opened doors for preaching the gospel, then why would it do less today?” I confess I do not want to pick up snakes and have no intention of doing so. However, I fully believe that if I were to, as happened to Paul, accidentally encounter one I could expect God to perform a miracle for me. Also, knowing that there is a literal side to this I am convinced there is also a spiritual aspect to the serpents and while the slithering critter is definitely in the scope interpretation, I believe demonic powers are as well and that old serpent, the devil and his crowd are also rendered powerless when we go in Jesus name.
Someone asked me if I believed in divine healing, and I quickly answered yes! I have personally experienced it in my own body. One occasion was when I broke the radial head in my right arm playing softball in a church league. I saw the X-rays and heard the reports of the doctors declaring that it was broken and depressed enough to require surgery. Ten days later, at my insistence X-rays were taken and the diagnosis was a perfectly healthy right arm was in the film. Bones do not heal in ten days naturally, but God healed mine.
I had parathyroid cancer and my doctor declared that what had transpired was a miracle and beyond medical possibility. I saw God heal my mother of a broken back where she was paralyzed. I have seen other miracles of healing. Then they asked, “Why is it that everyone doesn’t get healed?” Now, that is admittedly a perplexing question.
I have prayed for some who have not been healed, but that does not diminish my confidence in the Promise of God to Heal. Some people believe that those who are not healed do not have enough faith. If I believed that a person was not healed solely because I did not manifest enough faith, I would go into such depression or become so calloused.
I had an evangelist once say, “Well, they just didn’t have enough faith.” He absolved himself of any responsibility and blamed the person needing healing. I cannot square that with James 5, nor can I square it with many other passages of scripture. The truthful answer is, I Do Not Know! I believe in every promise God has given and understand that faith or the lack thereof is a part of any equation, but I also know that I am not God and some things I wrestle with and am not casually willing to just say, “Oh well, the providence of God” and absolve myself from responsibility. No, I want to continually seek God to be and become a person that walks in the fullness of His promises and follows His directives fully.
So, I choose to believe that if God says it, He means it! I choose to believe that if He is, and He is, the same yesterday, today, and forever then what He declared to the apostles He speaks to me today! You can agree or disagree, and I will leave it to you and God to sort it out. But, if you are sick, I will lay on of hands, anoint with oil, and pray and believe that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much.
God bless you as you enjoy all His blessings on this wonderful day!
Matthew 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. NKJV
As we consider our Commission from the Lord Jesus Christ several factors are of the utmost importance. Our text is the basis for the Commission and is based on the Authority of Jesus. We are informed in Ephesians 1:7 that we have been redeemed through His blood and therefore candidates for the Commission. In Colossians 1:13 we discover we have experienced a transfer of kingdoms. Our citizenship has shifted from the kingdom of darkness to God’s kingdom of light. Then in Colossians 2:11-17 we find that Jesus “legally” owns us, has “legal” standing to seek for us and His authority is backed by the full force and authority of Heaven’s Power.
Why are those things important? It shows that our Commission is not just a directive to go search for whoever might be interested but is a Rescue Mission for all those who Jesus bought and paid for with His blood on the Cross. We are “plucking them as brands from the burning.”
In Matthew 16:18 our Lord makes us aware of a powerful encouragement that even the powers of hell are powerless against us saying that the gates of hell cannot prevail against His church. I want you to catch the truth and powerful encouragement that we are sent or commissioned based on God’s Supreme Redemptive Authority to Rescue the Perishing! We are empowered and sent as Representatives of Heaven. In a very genuine sense, His Power is now our power because we are His commissioned representatives.
Mark 16:15-18 has a direct connection to this overall commission. We are to go In His Name which means we are representing all He is, does, and will do. We have been given legal standing and authority over all the powers of darkness, including demons, dangers, and diseases.
Therefore, in the light of our commission to go, we go in His Stead and His Power. We have been given biblical and legal authority to bind demons, defeat danger, and destroy disease. We may or may not be doing that, but it is the biblical commission. That is an incredible Weapon if we can believe it and learn to use it. In the biblical record, it is first “bind the strong man” and then “spoil his house.” The devil’s claim on man has been revoked by Jesus’ sacrificial work on the Cross.
If we link the statements of Mark 16 with Evangelism, we can see the incredible power afforded to the followers or disciples of our Lord. When a person is free from satanic bondage, they are more readily able to hear the message of the Gospel. We have been promised divine protection and have the promise that the sick will be healed as an expression and demonstration of the Love of God, which also opens new doors to proclaim the message of the Cross. We have also been afforded the Spiritual power and authority to pray in the Spirit and even when we do not know how to pray as we should the Holy Spirit does and prays through us. These thoughts make my heart rejoice and increase my anticipation daily.
The Commission is GO.
This is the soul-winning part of the commission and the starting point. Until we launch out, we have no hope of filling our nets with fish (souls).
The Commission is to MAKE DISCIPLES.
This is the grounding and anchoring of the new convert. It is not enough to win converts we need to equip them for walking the walk and living the life. We are to disciple and that means investing in individual lives and imparting to them the Word and Wisdom of God. It means an investment of TIME!
The Commission is to BAPTIZE THEM.
Some have overlooked that this is the responsibility of the Evangelist or Soul Winner. We do not just win them and leave them floundering on the shore. We invest time or ensure that time is invested in making disciples of them and we lead them in the public declaration that is evidenced in baptism. In their being baptized they are making a declaration of their conversion and testifying to the world, “I am now dead to the old and rising to the newness of life in Jesus.”
The Commission carries PROMISE.
Jesus said, “I am with you all the time and until the end of your earthly journey.” What a Promise! We take the message of John 3:16 with the knowledge that those who come to Christ will have their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life and can look forward to eternity with God, but also that in the interim they can go in total confidence that He is with Them!
Our love for others and the lost should be easily demonstrated because of His Love for us. I suppose that we could say that if love can be measured at all it can be measured in our desire and willingness to please and obey Him.
I pray that you are never hesitant or timid about sharing the reason for the hope that is in you and demonstrate the Love of God in today’s world.
God bless you as you embark on this leg of your journey in Christ.