WHAT DO CHRISTIANS HAVE TO BE THANKFUL FOR?

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God Is Our Savior

The Bible says that we should try to think of others as better than ourselves.

Philippians 2:3 New King James Version (NKJV)

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

I think you are smarter than I am. I think you are more charming and talented than I am. I think you love more deeply than I do. I even think you have the best of intentions. I do not know how I would fix you. I can only improve my own attitude. Why is that something to be thankful for? Everyone of us is broken. Everyone of us needs to be fixed. Yet if someone is better than myself, how can I fix them? I can only love them and share the things I have. The most important thing I can share is the perfect Word of God, but only Jesus can save anyone. So you are His fix-it project, not mine. We are His creation. He has made us His responsibility.

We Have Joyful Work

I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe that faith in Jesus, not obeying a bunch of arcane rules and regulations, leads to salvation. Was Jesus ever worried about obeying a bunch of arcane rules and regulations? No? And yet He lived a perfect life. If I am trying to follow His example, what do I need with a bunch of arcane rules and regulations?

I believe that faith, not good works, leads to salvation. Why is that something to be thankful for? Don’t Christians believe in work? Yes, but we don’t work for our salvation. We work joyfully because we have been saved.

Because we believe faith in Jesus leads to salvation, we need not worry about going to Hell or even going through the Great Tribulation. Because we love God and our neighbors, we put into practice the teachings of the Bible .

James 2:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Check out James 2:20 context. The Apostle Paul taught the same thing.

Ephesians 2:4-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.  10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

What are good works? If good works are not just about obeying a bunch of arcane rules and regulations, then what are they? Good works involve living this life to its fullest, loving God and each other.

  • How do we love God? We give Him praise. We give Him all the  glory. We appreciate the gift of His Creation with all our heart, mind, and soul, and we do our best to take care of this little Earth.
  • How do we love each other? We serve each other in love; we share with each other our hope in Christ.

We Have Hope

Our hope in Christ? What is that? What does it mean to be saved? In 1 Corinthians 2:9, Paul Isaiah 64:4. Let me add one more verse from Isaiah 64.

Isaiah 64:4-5 New King James Version (NKJV)

4 For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.

5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.

We are sinners, but God gives us salvation. It is a gift; we just have to accept it gratefully. We just have to have faith that Jesus has already provided for our redemption from sin. We just have to love God and each other. Then we can count on a life to come we cannot begin to imagine.

Does believing such a thing make this life dreary? If our pride rebels at the thought of needing to be saved from sin, I suppose it might. Yet think about the silliness of such pride. Compared to our Creator we have no significance. He created everything. He created so much so well that without Him we would be lost in the wonder of what He has made. Yet here He is, offering each of us Himself our our personal mentor, making Now just the beginning of an eternal existence. With His help, we can become perfect. How could it be any better than that? What could give us more reason to be thankful?

Other Views Of Thanksgiving Day

POSTS WORTH READING — September 27, 2014

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From time-to-time we must catch up with what others are writing. Such is one of those times for me.

News/Editiorials

  • 200,000 in Va. may lack proper ID needed to vote (www.washingtonpost.com) – This story now begins with this correction.

    Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 450,000 voters lack proper identification to cast ballots in Virginia. The correct number is 200,000.

    The title of that article changed too, of course.

    The problem is the usual scary newspaper headline and the lack of emphasis on the plain fact nobody knows how many eligible voters lack a valid ID.

    If we actually read the article, we find out that nobody will be denied the right to vote, but everyone has to have a photo ID, and those are available for free.

  • Rand Paul’s coherent foreign policy (www.washingtontimes.com) – Senator Rand Paul has not supported most of our nation’s recent military actions in the Middle East. Nevertheless, he supports bombing ISIS. Is he being consistent or pandering to the polls. This is an editorial that argues Paul is being consistent. I particularly thought this quote relevant.

    In his Heritage Foundation speech, Mr. Paul accepted the conventional view that the West was not in a conflict with Islam itself, but rather with radical elements within Islam. He added: “The problem is that this element is no small minority, but a vibrant, often mainstream, vocal and numerous minority.” Whole countries, he noted, adhere to certain radical concepts of Islam, and the Muslim peoples are animated by powerful political sentiments born of a long history of frustration and passion. “Radical Islam,” he declared, “is no fleeting fad, but a relentless force,” one that makes up for its military weakness “with unlimited zeal.”

    One thing I have slowly come to understand is that we cannot trust what anyone says about anyone else. Is Senator Paul a foreign policy radical? Well, depending upon our own viewpoint he may seem like one. However, what any politician’s critics say about him is going to be distorted. Inevitably, our own biases intrude. So before we judge Senator Paul’s stance on the issues, we need to listen to the man first. We must compare what he says against our own point-of-view, not someone else’s. Therefore, I recommend Senator Paul’s Heritage Foundation speech.

Blogs

  • I support Jeanine Lawson for Brentsville District Supervisor (pwceducationreform.wordpress.com) – Republicans will be choosing their nominee for the special election to replace Brentsville District Supervisor Wally Covington on October 1, 2014 (see Brentsville Special Election). This post is a well-considered endorsement of Jeanine Lawson.
  • Polling for Marriage (familyfoundation.org) – Polling in support of same-sex marriage is decreasing.  That’s good news, but I especially enjoyed this quote.

    Accusing someone of being on the wrong side of history says nothing about whether he is on the right side of the argument. It is a mere threat, and a somewhat hollow one. History is an arbitrary enforcer. (from here)

  • Shak Hill 2014 (jatticus.wordpress.com) – The guy Republicans nominated as their candidate for the Senate here in Virginia, Ed Gillespie, is not catching on yet. I suspect the voters are still yawning, trying to finger out the difference between an Establishment Republican and Senator Mark Warner. Since there are real differences, we would be better off with Ed Gillespie, but I sure wish we had nominated Shak Hill. However, no matter who runs against Warner, it seems we are going to have some funny business. For some reason, my antivirus software seems concerned about the safety of Gillespie’s website, but it has no concerns about Mark Warner’s campaign website. Are some users reporting Gillespie’s website as part of a phishing scheme? Could be. Is it a political dirty trick? Democrats would never do that sort of thing, would they?
  • This Parallel Between LBJs And Obamas War Plans Will Terrify You (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com) – Black or white President Obama is first and foremost a politician, and he behaves like Liberal Democrat politician. Therefore, we can expect him to manage military operations like previous Liberal Democrats. Hence, while some people were hoping that the Obama administration would do something about ISIS, others just wished the White House and Congress would give our military forces the resources they need and then let them do their job.
  • Christianity and Progressivism (level-head.livejournal.com) – This post springs from a post I wrote, WHY ARE POLITICS AND RELIGION LOST SUBJECTS IN AMERICA? The post makes some interesting observations, and the commentary that follows it is very interesting too.

POSTS WORTH READING — September 16, 2014

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News/Editiorials

  • Don’t Give the Masters of the Universe Their Amnesty (www.nationalreview.com) – This article by Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) begins as an exhortation on the subject of amnesty for illegal aliens. Then it progresses to an analysis of how what C.S. Lewis would have called the “Inner Ring” (speech at Kings College called the “Inner Ring) is stealing our freedom from us.
  • Success or Failure? (townhall.com) – In this editorial, Thomas Sowell takes issue with “Those people who say that President Obama has no clear vision and no clear strategy for dealing with the ISIS terrorists in the Middle East.” Sowell suggests Obama has a strategy; it is just not a strategy that is in our nation’s best interests.
  • Why Britain is poorer than any US state, other than Mississippi (blogs.spectator.co.uk) – The article really doesn’t answer the question, but it interesting anyway, particularly for those of us who want America to be more like Europe.

Blogs

  • WOULD YOU BUY A PIG IN A POKE? (familyallianceonline.org) – Here is a blog that kicks in every election season. Why? It seems that every election we vote for far too many candidates who offer us a pig in a poke. If your congressional district is in northern Virginia, you will definitely find it worth your while to check this post.
  • President Bush Predicted What Is Happening In Iraq (www.ldjackson.net) – Here the title explains the post. After reading Sowell’s article (above), how can we say Obama did not know what would happen? Nobody told him?
  • Not Islamic? If terrorists aren’t Muslims, why give them Korans when imprisoned? (bpirandomtweets.wordpress.com) – I need to summarize a tweet?
  • Master and Servant (lifereference.wordpress.com) – Here is a post that reminds us that no matter what our station in this life, in the next we are equally accountable to God.
  • What is Confucianism? (altruistico.wordpress.com) – Here is one blog post in a series that compares the religions of the world with Christianity.

A BIBLE STUDY: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSE TO LOVE EVERYONE THE SAME WAY? — PART 2

bibleWe began this series this morning (part 1).  Based upon one of the comments (from  Rob Barkman at August 24, 2014 at 3:58 pm), before we consider the different alternatives ways we might try to obey Jesus’ command to love one another as he loved us, it seems a little discussion of the Greek language is needed.

Why this discussion of Greek? When we love someone, isn’t worth considering what kind of love we are talking about? The Greeks thought so. Perhaps that is why so much of the New Testament was written in Greek.

Let’s illustrate the point. In a sermon he gave decades ago, The Secret of Service, J. Vernon McGee described the events in John 21. These occur after Jesus’ resurrection, when Jesus restored Peter.  John 21 records how Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times.  Part of McGee’s explanation of the events required a bit of instruction in Greek.

Words for Love

      There are three words in the Greek language that are translated into the English by the one word love. Perhaps, my friend, you are not aware of the fact that the English language is a beggar for words. We have the one word love, and that is about all. Hollywood today would give a million dollars for another word. The best they have done is sex, and that is pretty low. But Greek is a language that is versatile; it is flexible. They have several words for this thing called love.

      The first word we will look at is the word eros. In the use of this word the Greeks degraded the meaning of love by personifying it. The fact of the matter is they made ‘Eros’ a god and put together in combination the names Aphrodite and Eros. Today we know these names better as Venus and Cupid. The latter are the Roman names, but they are the same, as the Greeks are the ones who started this idea with Aphrodite and Eros. Eros is a word of sensuality, and we do believe that the Hollywood word sex, which has really been put into high gear today, would best express what the Greeks had in mind. But this word eros is never used in the Word of God.

      There is another Greek word, phileo, and it means ‘friendship.’ It has to do with the affection and the emotion in a human relationship at its very best usage. We get our word philanthropic from it, and Philadelphia comes from it – Philadelphia, the ‘city of brotherly love.’ And that is a word that is used in Scripture.

      The third Greek word for love is agapao – it is a word of dignity, the highest and noblest word and, in connection with this verse, there is always the note of worth; that either the lover or the beloved is ‘worthy’ of love. I am sure this is a Bible word, for we see it used in John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.’ Again, Paul said, ‘Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ John said, ‘We love Him, because He first loved us.’ These are instances where this word appears, and it is the word Christ used twice with Simon Peter. (from here)

Because the difference between phileo and agape is directly relevant to John 21, McGee takes the time to define the difference in The Secret of Service.  Ashamed, repentant and not so boastful anymore, when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him using the word “agape,” Peter replied using the word “phileo.”

Similarly, SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 5:25 at Settled In Heaven, highlights the importance of agape love by pointing out the alternative words that might have been used in this verse.

Ephesians 5:25 New King James Version (NKJV)

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

There are actually four words in the Greek language that are translated into the English by the one word love. However, this passage uses the word “agape.”

1. eros – the physical, intimate, sensual type of love, not used in the Bible
2. storge – the natural affection of family members, not used in the Bible
3. phileo – love of the brethren, it is affection to family, friends, acquaintances or even activities, used in the Bible
4. agape – the deepest, greatest form of love, it is sacrificial and unconditional, used in the Bible

(from here)

Still curious about those Greek words? What does the Bible say about Love? and Four Kinds of Love provide sources focused on the terms themselves.