Value of Life

     It is interesting that the third Sunday of January, designated by President Ronald Reagan as “National Sanctity of Human Life Day” should be followed by the third Monday in January which, beginning in 1986, has been set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the minister and civil rights leader who is remembered for his non-aggressive demonstrations for civil and social justice. Throughout our country this past weekend and for the month of January we have peaceful protests and messages preached on the value of human life (which starts at conception). Since the fateful Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on Jan. 22, 1973 to legalize abortion through the 9th month of pregnancy, more than 60 million babies’ lives have been terminated for any reason.  Approximately 4,000 abortions are done daily in the United States. Every 22 seconds a baby dies from abortion. The most dangerous place on earth is in the womb of a mother, for one out of every three babies are killed before the mother gives birth. (If the pre-born is African American, the chance of survival is much less!). 
     If we say a life is without meaning, we are not saying something about that life so much as we are saying something about ourselves.  Norma McCorvey, the original Jan Roe of Roe v. Wade, had a complete change of heart and on Jan. 18, 2005, filed a legal appeal with the Supreme Court to have the decision of 1973 reversed.  Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece appeared on Fox News on Jan. 21, 2005 to answer questions about abortion. She had aborted two children in the past and had great remorse over dong so. She realizes what it says to her other children and also that she has a much greater danger of breast and cervical cancer as a result. When asked if she thought it would be right for the government to make abortion illegal or if women should have “free choice,” she replied with an illustration of a recent actual case. She asked, “Why is it murder for a man to hit a pregnant woman in the stomach with a baseball bat, killing her baby, but it would be all right for the woman to kill the baby via abortion?”
     In President George W. Bush’s Inauguration Speech on Jan. 20, 2005, he stated: “Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth.”  If God didn’t have a purpose for us, we wouldn’t be here. It is not a “choice,” it is a life!  Every person conceived in the womb is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26,27) and has inherent value as a unique individual.  What does it say about our nation that all the candidates for president enthusiastically approve the right of a woman to have an abortion—for any reason, or no reason—right up to the moment of birth at nine months, and in some cases even after the baby is born? They don’t simply approve it. They celebrate abortion—or as they prefer to call it, “women’s reproductive freedom.” “They insist It is the most enlightened human-rights achievement of our age, and if you disagree, you’re immoral and bent on denying women their constitutional rights” (Whistleblower, Sept. 2019).
     From a Christian, biblical viewpoint, we are to view life as God does, which is that life is sacred and valuable from conception to death. Unfortunately, when men ignore or reject the truths of God’s Word, they become “futile in their imaginations and their foolish hearts are darkened. Professing to become wise,they become fools…for they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” (Ro. 1:21-25).  We are suffering from the influence of such men as Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins and their atheistic, evolutionary (or more correctly, evilutionary) teachings which have become the basis of public education for several generations of our young people. We are reaping what we have sown (Gal. 6:7,8). Human beings are not longer seen as precious creations of God but mere products of blind evolutionary chance.
     Doug Nichols, missionary, in considering the presidential campaign in 2016, concluded that, “While some issues affect a country’s safety, prosperity, and greatness, any nation that advocates or even tolerates the destruction of innocents deserves neither safety, nor prosperity, nor greatness. Get this one wrong and your moral compass can guide you in nothing else.” God does not take lightly the abuse of children, let alone the murder of children (Lev. 19:19-23; 2:1-5; Mt. 18:6,10; 19:14).   Abortion is an affront to the great heart of the Creator who planned each individual before he or she was ever conceived (Psa. 139:13-16). God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5; cf Isa. 44:2). Of all the controversies that divide our country at present, none is more frightening or consequential than the controversy over “the sanctity of human life,” for our societal foundations, based on biblical Judeo-Christian ethics, are shaking! 
     Think of the contribution to society we have missed because of the millions of babies that never reached their destination! Bob and Pam Tebow were missionaries in the Philippines when Pam had to take a series of aggressive antibiotics for amebic dysentery. Then she discovered she was pregnant, and though she immediately stopped taking the antibiotics, the doctors advised an abortion because of the irreversible damage the drugs had presumably caused to the fetus. They said that her own health was also in danger. Bob and Pam, as Christians, knew that it would be wrong to abort the baby, and two months later, the future MVP of the Orange Bowl National Championship and Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow was born!  At 6 feet 3 inches and 240 pounds, Tim looks pretty healthy to me!  And, in spite of his many accomplishments in sports, His great passion is to share Jesus Christ and he has founded several ministries to do just that—helping thousands. 
     Mya Dobbins became pregnant when she was 18 years old and went to the doctor thinking about aborting the baby—but changed her mind. That baby turned out to be J.K. Dobbins, whom she calls her “miracle baby,” who this football season moved into second place on the Ohio State Buckeye’s all-time rushing list, was a contender for the Heisman Trophy and led his team to the NCAA playoffs this year.
     The world will never know how many millions of similar stories there would have been if more moms had been told the truth— that their babies had value and purpose and potential—not because of what they could do, but because of who their Creator made them to be. Tim Tebow and J.K. Dobbins aren’t special because of their success in football; they are special because they were created in the image of God, who had a plan for their lives. If Martin Luther King, Jr. were still here today, I’m quite sure he would be advocating for the sanctity of life! 
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave 
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No Pieces Left

  When I was working for Hyster Company in Portland, Oregon, I once decided that I could fix a clock we had at home that had failed to work.  I thought, “Hey, I’m an engineer, I can do this!”  Well, this was before the days of the internet and Google and Smart Phones to get a picture so you could see how to put things back together. I got done and had a couple pieces left. I tried again, but with no better success.  I finally put everything in a sack and took it to work with me and gave it to Norm Shepersky, who happened to be a watch/clock smith.  He returned it in good working condition—with no leftover parts!
     It is never a good sign when you are trying to repair something and have parts left over that should have been incorporated into the item, whether it is the transmission of your car or the mechanism in your clock or watch or a jet engine!  But, what about our lives as Christians?  God gives us each natural talents and then adds to them spiritual gifts when we become Christians and the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, equipping us to serve the Body of Christ.  I remember the “parable of the talents” which Jesus shared,  recorded in Matthew 25:14-30.  In the parable, before the man left on a journey he entrusted his possessions to his slaves, giving one five talents, to another two and to a third, one talent.  (A talent was the largest denomination of money in the Greco-Roman world and is estimated to be worth as much as 6,000 days’ wages—or about 20 years of income— for an average laborer.  Each slave was given a different amount, “each according to his own ability,” but the same expectation appeared to go with each, use it to be fruitful. Don’t hoard or squander it. Two of the slaves used their talents to gain more while the third buried his. When the master returned he told the two slaves who had multiplied their talents: “Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (vv. 21,23). The third slave (who hid his talent in the ground) is condemned for his laziness (vv. 23-28). 
     In this parable, the man traveling to a far country represents Jesus Christ during His absence from earth. He entrusts gifts to His servants. The five and two-talent servants are believers who faithfully uses what God has entrusted to them and they are rewarded with even greater service for the Lord in the future kingdom (and eternal state).  The third slave forfeits any rewards. He, in fact may be a mere professor who is excluded from the kingdom, and swept away in judgment.
    While the context of this passage is most likely referring to the Tribulation period and the ensuing Millennial Kingdom, the principle applies to the Church age as well:  God provides us with time, talents (including spiritual gifts) and treasures that are to be used in service to Him, and “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful, reliable)” (I Cor. 4:2). 
     When we come to the end of the days that God has allotted to us (Job 14:5), we should not end up with “pieces left”!  We are not to “bury” the talents that God has given us, but to use them to build up His Kingdom.  There doesn’t come a stage of life at which we can say, “I have done enough. I’m just going to relax and sit around to wait for God to take me home.”  We can’t take anything with us to heaven; we can only “send it on ahead” in terms of rewards for being faithful with what He has given us to use for Him here. 
     I often get asked if I am enjoying my “retirement.”  I guess I don’t find that concept in Scripture. I find that we are to serve the Lord all the days of our lives.  One of my favorite Bible characters is Caleb, one of the two spies (along with Joshua) who gave a good report of the “Promised Land.” When they conquered the land, He was 85 years old and you would think would be ready to sit back and take it easy. Not so!  He said, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me (to spy out the land); as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you have heard on that day that the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me and I shall drive them out as the LORD has spoken” (Josh. 14:10-12).  The Anakim, by the way, were giants who had been a terror to the Israelites for generations. “So Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb for an inheritance” (v. 13).  Good for you, Caleb. May your tribe increase!
     In the New Testament, we find another great example like Caleb. The Apostle Paul had suffered much in his ministry as God’s chosen missionary to the Gentiles. He lists some of his adversity in II Cor. 11:18-33, from beatings and stonings to shipwrecks and imprisonments.  But listen to what he said to the Ephesian elders: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus Christ to testify of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 KJV). Then in Paul’s final letter, written from a Roman jail before His martyrdom at the hands of Nero, We read: “…the time of my departure has come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6b,7).  There were no talents hidden away, unused, no “pieces left.”  
    What a challenge to each one of us to use all that God has given us until the day we are called home through death or rapture. “And now little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (I Jn. 2:28).
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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Spiritual Fitness

As we begin a new year and a new decade, many have made renewed commitments to work on their physical fitness through diet and exercise plans. And most likely, some of them have already broken their New Year’s resolutions!  It is amazing how many are very concerned about their physical well being, and religiously spend time at fitness centers to stay in shape, yet how few are concerned about something far more important—their spiritual fitness.  It is true that we are to be good “stewards” of the bodies that God gave us, especially since they are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” and we are told by the Apostle Paul:  “glorify God in your body”  (I Cor. 6:19,20).  We only have a ministry for God as long as we have a body, so we need to do our part to keep up that body.  Listed among the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22,23 is “self control” which includes self-discipline and that affects not only our spiritual and moral life, but our physical appetites.  A growing Christian, when under the Holy Spirit’s control, will demonstrate discipline in all areas of his/her life. 
     Paul, in writing to his understudy, Timothy, said: “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (I Tim. 4:7,8). Note that Paul didn’t say that “bodily discipline” (training/exercise) was of no profit, but of “little profit” compared with “discipline for the purpose of godliness” (spiritual fitness). We are bombarded these days with diet plans, exercise programs, health foods, beauty aids, etc.—all aimed at improving our lives or lifestyles. These may profit a “little” and should not be ignored, but we must never allow a preoccupation with physical things to negate our true priority of “discipline for the purpose of godliness.”  We need to keep in mind that “our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is (should be) renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:17). I admire those who have the discipline to get up early to work out regularly at a fitness center before they go to work.  Yet how much more profitable to have the discipline to meet with the Lord and regularly spend time in His Word.  I don’t believe we can “stay in shape” spiritually unless we are regularly spending time talking with and listening to the Lord, and reading and studying and meditating on and memorizing His Word.  Paul told Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth,” for “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” ( Tim. 2:15; 3:16,17). 
     “Like newborn babes, (we should) long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (I Pet. 2:2). “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about Christ, let us press on to maturity…” (Heb. 5:14; 6:1).  We are to be “nourished on the words of the faith and of sound doctrine” (I Tim. 4:6).
     A proper diet is essential to maintain physical well being. Our spiritual diet—being nourished on a regular basis by the Word of God—is essential for our spiritual well being.  God’s Word is an essential ingredient if we are to grow spiritually. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Ro. 10:17).  In addition to a proper diet, exercise is also necessary if we are to be “fit” both physically and spiritually. We need to put into practice what we are learning from God’s Word. James wrote: “But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James. 1:22-24).  God gave us the Bible not to satisfy our curiosity but to transform our lives. 
      We also get “exercise” when we share with others what we have learned in Scripture and what God is doing in our lives.  But, if we are not spending time in the Word and in prayer, we will probably not be excited about the Lord and His Word and likely are not sharing with anyone.  What we are “full of” is what will “spill over” when we are bumped!  If we are full of God’s Word, that will be what comes forth. If we are full of self and our expectations and what we consider “our rights,” then we will experience anger and resentment and disillusionment. 
     Of course, cleanliness is also important for our physical and spiritual health.  The Psalmist gives us good advice: “How can a young man (or an older person!) keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word… I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psa. 119:9,11).  Either sin will keep us from the Word or the Word will keep us from sin!
     I am amazed at how people have time to “hit the gym” or spend time on social media and yet don’t have time to spend with the Lord and in His Word. No wonder our society is struggling!  It’s time to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33).  We all have the time. It is a matter of our priorities.  If we are loving God with all our heart, we will make time to get spiritually fit.  What can you do this year to improve your spiritual well being?  How about starting today.
           Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
    “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge (from God’s Word) and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11).
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Speechless

Have you ever been speechless? I suppose all of us have at times been unable to express our feelings of sorrow, joy, love confusion, or admiration—times when words just don’t seem adequate. 
     When the Creator of the universe came to visit our earth, heaven burst forth with angelic revelation and praise, but earth had no language to sufficiently describe the wonder and meaning of His coming. The Apostle Paul, who didn’t seem lacking for the ability to express himself, wrote in his letter to the believers at Corinth: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable (inexpressible or unspeakable) gift” (II Cor. 9:15).  Paul was speaking, of course, of God’s gift of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). 
     At Christmas there is a focus on the giving and receiving of gifts because of God’s “unspeakable” gift to us of Jesus Christ, the Son of God taking on human flesh in order to live a perfect life and die the “God-Man,” a substitute to pay the penalty of our sins. “He (God the Father) made Him who knew no sin (God the Son) to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).  
 Why is God’s gift “indescribable”? 
        BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS
            1.  He is the Creator of the universe (Gen. 1:1; Ex. 20:11; Neh. 9:6; Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16,17) which is 
                 made up of billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars separated by incomprehensible                           distances. He placed each star in space (Isa. 40:22) and even though “the Host of heaven cannot                   be counted” (Jer. 33:22), “He counts the number of the stars; (and) He gives names to all of                     them” (Psa. 147:4)!
            2.  He is God manifested in the flesh. “Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold a                     virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (God with us)
                (Isa. 7:14).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word  was                    God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt
                among us…” (Jn. 1:1,2,14).  
        BECAUSE OF WHAT HE CAME TO DO  (Why did the God of the universe, the Creator, the Almighty God, visit the earth and why did He take on the form of the created beings—mankind?)
            1.  To do the Father’s will (Jn. 4:34; 5:19; 6:38,40; 17:4)
      
            2.  To show us what God is like  (Jn. 1:18; 14:7-10; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:1-3).  Man had lost the                                   knowledge of God he once enjoyed in the Garden of Eden and had substituted idols. Christ came to                   show us God’s true nature—holy, just, loving, merciful, patient, tender, forgiving and compassionate.
            3.  To fulfill the Law  (Mt. 5:17; Jn. 1:17).  The Law demanded righteousness of man, but because of                        the weakness of the flesh, mankind agonized under the unbearable burden of the Law. Christ came                    to meet its every demands as He lives His life in every believer.
            4. To fulfill Scripture (Mt. 26:56).  There are over 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah which are                        fulfilled in the life of Christ,
            5.  To destroy the works of Satan  (Heb. 2:14,15; I Jn. 3: 8).  The devil works to blind and destroy us                       and to keep us walking in darkness. Jesus came to break Satan’s stronghold on us and help us                         walk in light.
            6.  To seek and to save the lost (us!)  (Lk. 19:10; Isa. 53:6).  Mankind is lost, dead in trespasses and                        sin (Eph. 2:1).
            7.  To die in our place  (Heb. 2:9; II Cor. 5:14,15; Isa. 53:5,6).
            8.  To provide eternal and abundant life (Jn. 3:16; 5:24; 10:10; I Jn. 5:11-13).
            9.  To become our great High Priest (Heb. 2:16-18; 4:14; 7:24,25).  He is our advocate and intercessor                   before the Father.
        BECAUSE OF THE BENEFIT TO US
            1.  Sins forgiven  (Eph. 1:7; I Jn. 3:5; I Pet. 2:24).
            2.  Eternal life and abundant life (Jn. 10:10).
            3.  That we might become rich  (II Cor. 8:9).
            4.  That we might become sons of God, joint heirs with Jesus (Jn. 1:12; Ro. 8:17; I Jn. 3:1,2).
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him” (I Jn. 4:9). “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (II Cor. 9:15)!  Have you received God’s love gift?  Remember, you must open a gift for it to become yours.  We receive God’s gift by acknowledging our sin and need for forgiveness, believing that Jesus died to pay for our sin and rose again, and asking Him into our life as Lord and Savior.  If you’ve never done that, receive God’s Christmas gift to you. If you have, pause and thank God for His “Indescribable Gift.”
        Forever His,.
                Pastor Dave.
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Life Expectancy

This last week I heard on the Moody station that we listen to (KMBI) that the life expectancy in the United States has declined each year for the past three years.  You would think with all our medical advancements and available hospitals and clinics that longevity would continue to increase, but, because of increasing rates of suicide, mental illness, drug overdoses, homicides and mass shootings, the average expected lifespan in our country has actually decreased for three consecutive years. And that doesn’t take into account the millions of babies that are aborted, since our society doesn’t consider those as lives taken before birth.
     Actuarial Science studies and helps to determine life expectancy and creates an “Actuarial Table” (or “Mortality Table”) which shows for each age, what the probability is that a person of that age will die before their next birthday. Life insurance companies determine their rates based on these table.There are a number of factors which obviously have an affect on life expectancy, things such as where you live, what you eat, whether or not you get regular rest and exercise, and of course your DNA—what you have had passed on to you by your ancestors. 
     It is interesting to look at life expectancies in recorded history.  When we go back to time between creation and the Flood, when the earth existed in a sort of terrarium effect with a vapor canopy to protect from harmful suns rays, the average life expectancy of those mentioned in Scripture was 912 years!  Methuselah lived the longest at 969—wow!  The universal Flood which God sent to judge the earth because of the wickedness (Gen. 6:5) was caused by the deluge of rain upon earth from the vapor canopy dispelling and fountains of the deep breaking loose (Gen. 7:11,12,19,20). The new generations that populated the earth through Noah’s three sons and their wives experienced a much harsher world of seasons and weather changes, including an ice age. Life became much more difficult and there was no longer the vapor canopy to protect from the sun’s rays, and life expectancy dropped drastically to approximately 120. 
     As the curse on the earth and the affects of sin on the human body continued to take a toll, life expectancy dropped to what Moses wrote in the oldest of the Psalms and the only one credited to him: “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away” (Psa. 90:10).  Interestingly, several millennia later, we are still in that same range of life expectancy.  One factor I failed to mentioned in the above list of things that affect how long we live is that it is ultimately God who determines our lifespan.  Job, a contemporary of Abraham, wrote: “Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and doesn’t remain…Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee, and his limits Thou hast set so that he cannot pass” (Job. 14:1,2,5).   In the New Testament, the author of the book of Hebrews writes “Inasmuch as it appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). 
     Each of us has an appointment with death and we won’t be early or late!  God has set a boundary on the length of each life.  That doesn’t mean we should be careless or reckless with our lives and our bodies, for we are the temples of God on this earth (I Cor. 3:16; 6:19,20) and are to be good stewards of the bodies God has given us as His dwelling place.  In His Psalm, Moses went on to say, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Psa. 90:12).  The Apostle Paul, in his challenge to the believers at Ephesus, wrote: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (and do it!)” (Eph. 5:15-17).
     As a pastor for nearly four decades, I conducted many funerals and graveside services and observed that death is no respecter of age.  I was involved in services for a pre-born and for those who made the century mark and nearly every age in-between.  Although, as someone—it may have been Bob Hope—said, “If you make it to 100, you’ve got it made, for not many die over a 100!”  (that’s true, because not many get there!). 
     You could go to an “Actuarial Table” to see what the probability is that you will live until your next birthday, but the bottom line is, only God knows and He has determined the number of your days.  The important thing is that you be ready to meet the Lord at any time, for you are not even promised tomorrow. For many—maybe even some receiving this—this could be your last year or even last day day in your earthly body. And don’t forget that one minute after you die it is too late to decide your eternal destiny. That’s a decision you need to make now. If you have not done so, I urge you to consider that “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.   He who has the Son has life and He who has not the Son of God does not have the life” (I Jn. 5:11,12).  
     At Christmas we exchange gifts with those we love, because we are celebrating the greatest Gift ever given when “God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave (us) His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Eternal life is in a Person, Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us. Have you received Him? If so, you can “know that you have eternal life”  (I Jn. 5:13).
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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Right Thinking

Ever wonder about what amazing minds and brain power Adam and Eve must have had, especially prior to their disobedience in the Garden when sin entered the world, and as a result the beginning of aging and ultimate physical death?  Remember, mankind alone was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26,27) with the ability to communicate with and to love and worship God.  Adam and Eve and their offspring were given the responsibility of filling the earth and subduing it and ruling over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over every living things that moves on the earth (Gen. 1:28).  Adam was also given the job of naming all the animals that God had created (Gen. 2:19,20).  Prior to Adam and Eve’s disobedience, they had a perfect relationship with God, with each other, with themselves and with their environment. Their thoughts about God, each other and the world God had created were totally right and pure.  That all changed when they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Their relationships with God, each other, themselves, and their environment were all broken and their thought processes became distorted by their newly acquired sinful nature. 
     Over the several thousand years since the Fall in the Garden, man’s old nature continues to plague each person who is born. In the Psalm which records David’s sin of adultery and murder, he wrote : “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psa. 51:5), indicating that life begins at conception and from that moment on we have to deal with a sinful nature that is in rebellion against God, and with distorted thinking about Him, ourselves and the world around us.  The Apostle Paul, in describing the response of man to God wrote: “For though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Ro. 1:21,22).  Today we have many who are considered to be highly intelligent but who have such distorted thinking about God, others, themselves and our environment. And many of them are in positions of leadership making decisions which affect the direction of our country in its moral and spiritual spiral downward.  Our world looks much like the one described in Gen. 6:5 when “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”   Only Noah “found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6: 8) and he and his family was spared in the ark when God sent the judgment of the Flood which destroyed all other life on earth.
     It didn’t take long, however, for sin to again take its toll, for man continued to be born with that sinful Adamic nature (Ro. 5:12,19). Today we see all around us the evidence of man’s evil and wickedness and wrong thinking. And not only has sin affected our moral compass but it has very much limited the capacity of our usage of the human brain which God so amazingly engineered. Medical science admits how little we really know about the human brain and believes we utilize only a small portion of its real capabilities (the result of the Fall).  A recent television series, Limitless, explored the unlocking of the human mind through medication with a miracle pill named NZT-48 which supposedly allowed the brain to work at superhuman efficiency, giving the user perfect recall and leaps of intuitive insight.
     In reality, there are no magical “smart pills,” but there is a way to restore our right thinking about God, others, ourselves and our environment. The brain is much like the hard drive of a computer. A computer has memory capacity and a central processor that can access memory and process information. But a computer won’t work properly unless it also has the right software.  The information stored in its memory banks must be accurate.  The computer’s programming must be consistent with its design and free of viruses or other malware that can slow its performance or cause it to crash. God designed our minds to operate with a biblical worldview. They cannot and will not function consistently and reliably with any other worldview. We are supposed to base our thinking and our ways upon God’s thoughts and God’s ways as revealed in God’s Word. While we can’t ever reach God’s level of thinking (Isa. 55:9). we can, by God’s grace, learn to reason correctly—in a way that is consistent with His nature.
     That begins by admitting our sinful, lost condition, and trusting Christ, His sacrificial death on our behalf and His burial and resurrection as the only means of being made right with God. When we do that, we are “born again” (Jn. 3:3) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, and through the Spirit, Christ also comes to live in us and we thus have a new, divine nature abiding within us (II Pet. 1:4) which give us the ability to renew our minds through spending time in God’s Word and obeying what we read (Ro. 12:2).  While the natural man’s mind cannot comprehend spiritual things (in fact, they are foolishness to him), the spiritual man (one indwelled by the Holy Spirit and Christ), “appraises all things,” and in fact, has “the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:14-16).
     Right thinking begins by thinking right about God, and that happens only when we come to know Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior.  The only solution to the mess we see in our country and the world is for people to come to know Jesus so that they can have their minds and thought processes renewed, as they become new creations in Christ (II Cor. 5:17).
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
    
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Thank-You Theology

Have you noticed that the further a culture falls away from God, the less grateful it becomes and the closer a culture comes to following God, the more grateful it is.  The same, of course is true for each of us as individuals.  If we are believers and the closer we stay in fellowship with God through time in His Word and in communication with Him and in fellowship with fellow believers, the more grateful our hearts and the less our circumstances matter in our attitude. 
     As I think about the theme of thankfulness in light of this being Thanksgiving week in the United States, I can’t help but reflect on the many times in Scripture when we find men and women offering thanks to God. Their example clearly teaches us to express our thanks, both for the tangible gifts God gives us—home, food, family, health, friends, a job, etc.—but also for the spiritual blessings He sends our way—“God sightings” of His love and mercy in our everyday lives. 
     Thankfulness is one of the major themes in Scripture and one of the greatest indicators of the condition of the human heart. In the King James Version,  “Thanksgiving,”  “Give thanks,” “Be thankful,” and “Thankfulness” appear a total of 133 times! Here is just a small sampling (from NASB):
            “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving…” (Psa. 50:14)
            “I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psa. 69:30)
            “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise, give thanks to Him, bless His name”                 (Psa. 100:4)
            “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your                         requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6)
            “Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as your                    were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Col. 2:7)
           “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be                    thankful” (Col. 3:15)
            “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2)
            “Therefore I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Thy                        name”   (II Sam. 22:50)
           “O give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people…O give                thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for
            His loving kindness is everlasting” (I Chr. 16:8,34…repeated in Psa. 107:1; 118:1,29; 136:1,2,3,26)
            “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thes. 5:18)
            “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father”                  (Eph. 5:20).
     You will note the we are to give thanks, not only in everything (I Thes. 5:18), but for everything (Eph. 5:20). And then we can throw in Phil. 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”  So, Rejoice! Give thanks!  That’s easy to do when things are going well, but how about when we’ve lost our job, or have serious health problems, or a loved one dies?  Rejoice? Give thanks? You’ve got to be kidding! No, the Apostle Paul wasn’t kidding. He meant every word, for He knew the God revealed in the Bible. That was what the Psalmist had also discovered when He repeatedly wrote: “O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His loving kindness (mercy) is everlasting.”  Until we are convicted in our heart that God is both Great and Good—all the time, we won’t be able to “Rejoice” or “Give Thanks” in and for all things.  Because Paul knew that God is sovereign and God is good, He could write: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (to be conformed to Christ’s image)” (Ro. 8:28,29). As a result of knowing the character of God, Paul had a “Thank-You Theology,” as illustrated when Paul and Silas were stripped of their robes, beaten with rods and placed in stocks in a filthy prison cell in Philippi for sharing the transforming power of the Gospel (Acts 16:16-24). Their response?  “But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God” (v. 25). 
     So, this Thanksgiving week, meditate on the verses above and ask God to show you that He is both Great and Good and develop a “Thank-You Theology.”
                    ”Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One;
                     Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.”   (Give Thanks  by Henry Smith)
     Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
                   
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