thanksgiving

Restoring Thanks Giving

This devotional was inspired by a message our Pastor delivered last Sunday. As I was listening, I felt that it would be a great Thanksgiving devotional.

What does it mean to be “Thanks Giving”? Thanks (is a noun) Giving (is a verb).  Thanks giving means to be giving praise to someone for something.

The word “Thanks” in the Greek is “יָדָה” (yadah), means: to give thanks, laud, praise. Praise as a result of blessing.

So the question comes, what are we thankful for, and to whom are we thankful for it? When we give thanks, we are praising the One whom all good things come from, God. James 1:16-17, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

There are people who love to praise God, dropping to their knees in the name of Jesus, and His sacrifice for them on the cross. These people are called the children of God, and love their Father.

Then there are others who say they don’t experience good things from God, that life is unfair, that they don’t feel His love, they do not like God, and are angry at Him.. so why should they be thankful to Him?

The reason why a person doesn’t feel thankfulness or love toward God is because they are out of fellowship with God. In order to give thanks, you have to have fellowship with that someone. The Greek word for “fellowship” is “κοινωνία“, meaning: what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship.

The common basis is love.  If you lack love, you lack fellowship. Look back at Genesis chapter 1. In each of the 6 days of creation God says the same thing after He creates, “and God saw that it was good.” Why? Because God takes pleasure in what He creates. Look also at verse 27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Why would God created us in His own image if He did not love us? 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love“. 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.

And if this wasn’t enough, we didn’t even get 3 chapters into the first book of the Bible and we sin, choosing, power, selfishness, and trusting the devil (serpent), over God’s love. Sin in Greek is “ἁμαρτία” (hamartia), means: missing the mark, to be without a share in, wander from the path of uprightness and honour, an offense to God. Romans 3:23 says it well, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Have fallen short of what? God’s standard. God is perfect, so His standard is perfect. Perfection is not something we are capable of. Jesus is the only man who did not sin, lived a perfect life. How? Because He is God (incarnate – God in the flesh). John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” God is perfect, cannot sin. This is why Jesus was the only and perfect sacrifice in our place, to defeat death, raising from the grave. For those who repent of their sins, believe in Jesus, they are reconciled (restore friendly relations between) to God in/through Jesus.

So now tell me that God has no love for you. So not tell me that you don’t owe Him thanks, praise, and worship. How can you not love Him back? How can you not desire to be in fellowship with Him?

By the way, many people have a big issue with the word worship. For many it might sound scary, strange, does not sit right in their ears. The Greek word for “worship” is “σέβομαι” (sebó), means: to show reverence, personally esteem, to hold in the highest respect. To worship God means that He is first in your life, that you want to show Him your love and devotion, and how much He means to you. (Luke 10:27)

If you are not in fellowship with God, if you have no joy in God, if you are not thankful to Him, I pray you will have the desire to restore this relationship. To restore fellowship requires 3 parts: commemorate, thank, and praise. (1 Chronicles 16:4)

Commemorate: Greek “זָכַר” (zakar), means: to remember, recall, call to mind. This is what we did earlier in this post. We remembered 2 out of i’m sure many many many amazing things God has done in your life, your family, friends, stories you have heard. God created us, provides a way back to Him through Jesus, and does so much in between.

Thanks: Greek “יָדָה” (yadah), means: to give thanks. Giving thanks is to be grateful.

Praise: Greek “הָלַל” (halal), means: to praise, to boast. This means to make God popular. When you remember something God did, you share the story, you are bragging about what God did, making Him popular.

If you do not have fellowship with God, you have no joy, and you have no thanksgiving. This year when you celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving with family and friends, please remember that it is not about the food, nor the football, and especially not about the black Friday deals at the store the next day. Thanksgiving is to remember all God has done in your life, being thankful to Him for everything He has done, and praising Him in the name of Jesus. Thanksgiving is being in fellowship with the one who created you, loves you, and desires that none would perish, but all come to repentance. This Thanksgiving, if you are believer, restore your fellowship with God. If you have never trusted in Jesus, and Jesus alone for your salvation, I pray you would believe, repent, and begin your fellowship with God in the living Jesus.

A very Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Ephesians

A Messenger of God’s Good News

Think of a time when you have listened to someone speak, or have read a sentence in an article, or book. Did you ever stop and ask yourself, “I wonder why they chose the words or the tone they did?” What about the last conversation you had. Why did you use the words or the tone? You had a purpose, a message to deliver, and you wanted the other person to understand that message. You wanted the other person to hear your tones to feel what you were telling them.

The Bible is the same way. The authors were inspired by God to write what they did. There was a purpose, a message they wanted to deliver to the reader. Many books of the Bible are letters, sent to a specific city, or person, with an important purpose.

The “Book of Ephesians” is a book of the Bible, a letter in fact from Paul, to the people of the city of Ephesus.

Paul’s introduction, first line in his letter reads, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” (Ephesians 1:1 NIV)

Why did Paul begin his letter with this sentence?  Why did he introduce himself in this way? There are literally pages that could be written on Paul’s first sentence, verse 1, alone. There are words and phrases here like “apostle”, “Christ”, and “by the will of”. Let’s dive in to better understand what Paul wants to tell you, me, and the people of Ephesus. So let’s go back a in time, and look at the original Greek and Hebrew.

We start with Paul’s third word, “apostle“. Apostle in the Greek is ἀπόστολος (apostolos), which means: a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. So Paul is a representative with a messenge to deliver. Who is he representing, and what message does he have to deliver? Our answer is next.

In the Greek, the word for Christ, comes from the Hebrew word Messiah. Messiah in Hebrew is “מָשִׁ֫יחַ” (mashiach), means: the promised deliverer. In the New Testament Greek, is translated to, “Χριστός” (Christos), meaning: anointed, or the anointed [One].

In the Greek, the word for Jesus is, “Ἰησοῦς” (Iēsous), meaning: Jesus = “Jehovah is salvation”. So Christ is the title for Jesus. That Jesus is the Messiah, the promised deliverer, the anointed One, and that Jesus is salvation. Many see Jesus as simply a nice guy, a really good teacher, and someone who lived a really good life. Before reading on, please re-read this paragraph again, and I pray that God opens your eyes to who Jesus truly is.

The Greek word for salvation is “σωτηρία” (sótéria), meaning: God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. Humanity falls into sin, back in the book of Genesis chapter 3, choosing selfishness and power, over trusting in God’s love. As time went forward, humanity falls more and more into sin, into the temptations of the devil, and everyone did as they saw fit (Judges 21:25). The people forgot the God who had saved them, and chose their own ways (Psalm 106:21; 78:11). The Bible tells us that Jesus is salvation, humanities only hope to not spend an eternity in hell with the devil in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Salvation is found in Jesus, in believing in Him, repenting of your sins, dying to self, and becoming a new creation. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

So now we know that Paul is bringing the message that saves life, the message of salvation in Jesus. To me, there no more important message for people to hear.

Now let’s look at the second half, “.. by the will of..“. This phrase in the Greek is “θέλημα” (thelēma), which means: what one wishes or has determined shall be done. What does this mean?

If you look at John 4:34, ““My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” To me this means that Jesus came from God, God in the flesh (Noel – God with us), and lived to, thrived on, loved, desired, and came to deliver the message of life. This is better known as “the Gospel – God’s good news”. His desire was to do the will of the one who sent Him, to share the best news ever.

The same Greek word is used here too, “θέλημα” (thelēma). Jesus came to share and spread the Gospel, “εὐαγγέλιον” (euaggelion), which literally means: God’s good news. This is the news of salvation, God’s love, mercy compassion, to restore humanity from sin to life, and into His safety. Jesus said it very simply, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:16).

His desire was to share the God’s good news to those who would listen, and after hearing would see and desire life in Jesus, instead of the death they were living in, and headed to. Was Paul forced? No.. he lived to, thrived on, loved, desired to deliver the message of life.

The word God in the Greek is “θεός” (theos), means: the one true God. God is simply amazing, giving us His Word, Bible, for the people throughout history to read, to know His truth, to know life in Jesus, and to repent of their sin to receive the gift of salvation.

So now let’s put all of the puzzle pieces together..

So “Paul is a messenger, sent by the will of God, to deliver Gods good news of life in Jesus, to those who will hear it and repent of their sins“.

Are you a true believer? Are you a Christian? Did you know that you are a messenger as well? What message do you deliver to the people you encounter each day, or that simply see you during the day? You have heard this same message of life in Jesus, repented of your sins, and become a child of God. You have left your old life behind, now living in your born again, new life, in Jesus, in the love and forgiveness of God. There is no better purpose in life. Wherever God has you right now, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” .. “Love your neighbor as you would yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39). Go now, and continue this mission, to share the “Gospel – God’s good news” to those who have not heard it, to those who need it, so that they may come to know salvation in Jesus too. Remember, there are other Christian brothers and sisters who are doing the same. Pray for and with each other, support each other, and do it all in the love of God. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23)

Reaching the Lost, Equipping the Saved, and Daily Steps by Faith that bring you Closer to God