"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God." (Psalm 50:23)
Who here does not offer a word of thanks to one who opens a door, who among us does not offer thanks to a friend or stranger that provides a meal, and who would not offer thanks to one who wishes the Lord to bless? Who among us did not offer thanks to the One who provided the meal, or the one who prepared the meal, or to the one who gave entry into the dining room for the meal? And did we not pause this past Thanksgiving to give praise to the Lord for the abundance of blessings He has showered our lives with this past year? Giving thanks is an act of courtesy we show for each one or God every time we receive a blessing. Giving thanks is not a one-day event but a lifetime event. From the first pat on the backside to that pat on the head to that twinkling that we have arrived safely at home, we should give thanks.
The Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing, David tells us to give thanks when we enter into the courts of the Lord, and giving praise to God should be first because He has given to us first. “God created the heavens and the earth” and then He placed us on the earth. So let us not place thanksgiving behind us but always keep our praise to God before us because this is our chief end, to glorify God.
When we think of the righteousness of our holy God when we compare ourselves to the perfect life that Jesus lived here on earth, how can we not see the vastness of our falling short of God’s glory? We all walk in the mask of our goodness but we also know the darkness of the evil within tempted by a wicked sinful nature. We gravitate to the pit and seek the Lord’s favor to lift us up and save us from our own undoing. We often see ourselves to be good, but as the Pastor says, compared to who. To those whom we know are lost. Should we not be in prayer for them instead of being lofty over them? Or, do we compare ourselves to Jesus, the image we are striving to be as? As we know Him, we know how far we have fallen short of His righteousness. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
Moses was called to lead God’s people out of bondage from Egypt. Moses did not want to do that and offered excuses as to why he could not. The Lord God compelled Moses to go and told him that He would empower him to achieve the purposes of God. Moses went on faith, that same faith that we are to have, and that same faith that God will use to free us from the bondage of sin we have been bound in. Through obedience, Moses experienced the power of God and received God’s favor.
Moses was humbled by the love God had shown towards him and His people. Knowing his own wickedness and the wickedness of the Jewish nation Moses saw the goodness of God’s love for His chosen. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai and saw that the people had built a god for themselves in the image of a calf made of gold. He in prayer to God entreated Him to forgive their sin. He also offered himself as a sacrifice in place of the people that his name would be blotted out of the Book of Life. "But now, if You will, forgive their sin--and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!" (Exodus 32:32) The Lord God forgave Moses and the people and recommissioned Moses to lead the people on to the Promised Land. Later Moses was so impacted by the goodness of God’s mercy that he asked if God would not show him His glory and goodness. "And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion." (Exodus 33:19) God had promised Abraham and all his descendants that He would be gracious to them and show His compassion. This is the power and glory of the God we serve, His mercy and grace.
There is no other god, certainly, no man-made god that shows his unchanging love towards His people. The closer we as His people come together with God in a personal relationship, we should also become more merciful and loving towards our neighbor, our fellow creatures of humanity.
The Prophet Micah lived in time around 750 BC and 686 BC. Micah was deeply concerned about the social ills of the people of his day. He often taught of the oracles of doom and the blessings of the oracles of hope. His messages stressed that God hated idolatry, injustice, rebellion, and the empty ritualism that the worship of the Lord had become. Micah also taught the truth that God delights in pardoning the sins of the penitent. Micah was overwhelmed with the longsuffering of God towards His rebellious people, as God always delighted in showing them His unchanging love. "Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love." (Micah 7:18)
Today we see that we have not learned much over the centuries. As in the Garden of Eden, we sought to be as God and still to this day many seek to be gods among men. With every life being precious to God we in our day fail to see the value of life in that we are all sinners and Jesus died for each and every one. For one not to value the life around us, it shows that we neither value the holy blood of Jesus who died for the sins of the world. (John 3:16) In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed there could be another way to save man, but there was no other for He was the perfect Lamb of God for the sacrifice of our disobedience.
When Joshua went in to conquer the Promised Land he went with an untested, ill-equipped army against fortified cities led by the captain of the host of the Lord. Jesus, who bears the same name as Joshua, led His people into battle for the Promised Land, as He is leading us to the Promised Land of God’s Kingdom. "No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD." (Joshua 5:14)
Gideon led an army of 32,000 against the Midianites who were plundering the Israelite’s crops. The Lord told Gideon he had too many and to release the ones who wanted to go home. 22,000 left and Gideon had 10,000 men left to fight the 132,000 Midianites. God said that He still had too many men and to test them and only 300 remained. Imagine facing 132,000 with only 300. This surely must have given the army of Gideon pause. God does not need an army, He needs only the willing and faithful. Gideon mustered his army with these words. "He returned to the camp of Israel and said, "Arise, for the LORD has given the camp of Midian into your hands." (Judges 7:15)
Some say that these are just Bible stories, but I say they are the truth. Some say that God does not work His miracles as in the olden days, I say your next breath is a miracle from God. The story is told of a Pastor and an Author who were having a conversation one day. The Pastor stated to the Author you speak fiction and the people flock to hear but I speak truth from God among many empty pews. The Author answered that he told his fiction as if it was the truth but the Pastor spoke his God's truth as if it were fiction.
The story goes that a small country Church had outgrown their parking lot. The Church set on flat ground with a small hill behind that they wanted to level to a parking lot. The cost of that was prohibitive but they prayed and asked God for a solution. Time past and a contractor came to the Church and said that he was in need of fill dirt. The contractor offered to level the hill in exchange for the dirt he could haul away. God doesn’t need an army, He doesn’t need money, what God needs is willing people of faith to demonstrate His power through them for His name's sake. "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." (Romans 9:17)
Solomon who received the blessing of wisdom from God had all that his heart could desire. He lived a life without want and was near spoiled by it. In the later years of His life, he came to the conclusion that we should grasp as early as we can. God is the Creator, has been and still is, His purpose is to restore man to a right relationship with Him, and all He wants from a man is reverent respect and obedience to His Word. God loves us and He wants us to love Him. "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, November 29, 2017