Incomparable

bible.com/72/isa.25.1.hcsb

Who else could do the things our God can do? Who else can rightly be called “God” than the One who made the heavens and the earth by his mighty power and outstretched hand? There is no one else, and thus we have no One else to thank but Him. God is the proper object of our worship and praise today. We were made to praise Him and without Him as our object, our praise feels hollow and worthless. Praising men for their great deeds is good, but praising God is better. Praising a child is good, but praising God, Who gives us all from the liberality of His hands in abundance is far better.

Worship is a natural part of our being, whether we choose to acknowledge God. We will naturally praise someone or something. We will give our allegiance to sports teams, athletes, great thinkers and minds, family, friends, those whom we admire. And we will do it without even thinking about it, because it is an instinctual as breathing. Giving your time and attention to any object or person can be moved into the realm of worship.

We worship an invisible God, whose worship and praise must be intentional. He is made evident by the creation we see around us. We are witness to His majesty through His creative acts, and He draws us to Himself by the awe we feel in His works. Worship of God is deliberate. It is something we may fall into, but to worship a God we cannot see requires our intention and concentration. It is so much easier to worship things we can see. God forces us to engage both heart and mind in worshipping Him, our spirit and our will.

So let us engage the Lord with thankfulness for His marvelous works, His blessings innumerable, and the joys He has graced us with in this life. If you have family, be thankful for that. If you have a home, food on the table, children who say “I love you”, a wife who is still a woman worthy of the descriptor “beautiful”, a good job that pays for your needs, you already have numerous reasons to be thankful.

Celebrate and enjoy this holiday in thankfulness and worship. God bless you today.

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Of God and Country

Mom, baseball, and apple pie. November is going to bring all of these home. The World Series is wrapping up, and both teams will go home, one a world champion, the other, next year’s contender. November we also go home. Moms become important again, because we go home for Thanksgiving, and Mom will work tirelessly again to prepare yet another expansive feast, including apple pie. We turn our focus this month to these basic American values, and how we find them reflected in the Scriptures.
America is first a Christian nation. From the puritan pilgrims who landed on her shores with their Protestant Geneva Bibles, to the Founding Fathers Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin who sought to form a nation with Christianity at its center. Those we call the pilgrims were all members of the same church. It was a massive church relocation project, from the friendly confines of Europe, to the hostile American coast. Yet they believed that God had something greater in store for them and their descendants. 100 years later, they were proven correct. Their descendants became the backbone of a nation determined to serve God above King. In God our nation found its stalwart defender. And her fathers made God and His Word the core of our nation’s heritage and government. Our country was founded on the assumption that everyone would be engaged as citizens with strong moral cores. And of all the safeguards in our government to keep it from becoming tyranny, this was one they did not foresee.

They never thought the moral core of the citizen would become so corrupt, that the system would be in danger. They never thought that prayer would be removed from school, or that Jesus Christ would cease be a part of popular culture. They never thought that the perversion that is homosexuality would become the gold standard of tolerance. Or that the slaughter of innocents in the womb, the safest place in all the world for a child to grow, would become commonplace. They never thought that the people would become so desperately corrupt in their own lusts that less than half of the country would attend church. For the standards and ethics of Christianity are what form the basis for a people governed by God, and a government formed by those people. For a people who will not be governed by God will be governed by any man strong enough to take the crown. Pray that our country will not go the way of Cuba, Venezuela, or the old Soviet Union. There are strong men waiting in the wings if we do not assert that God indeed is King, and all of us are His subjects. Are you ready to defend our nation before the throne of the Lord of hosts? Please pray for our nation today.

Tasting the Goodness of God

bible.com/72/psa.34.8.hcsb

So what comes to mind when you see this verse? Can God be tasted, or is that what God intends for you to take away from this verse? And how do you combine both the idea of refuge with the perceptions of taste and sight?

Many a time, David sought refuge in caves. For him, a Cave was a place of safety. It was hidden, inaccessible but to the ones who know where the caves are. As a boy, he probably spent months exploring the caves while out keeping watch over sheep, looked for caves that he and his sheep could take refuge for the night. This became for him a metaphor for the protection of God.

So what does a cave taste like? Maybe our understanding of what this verse means needs to meet its context. Are there odors so powerful you can taste? And would those odors, associated with safety and comfort arose those feelings in you whenever you smell them?

As we approach Autumn, I begin to smell these things again. Burning wood, Pumpkin Spice, autumn leaves, baked pies and roasted meat. These are smells of comfort, safety, and family. Our senses are reacquainted with home and our anxiety resets when we feel safe. Like David, we feel the surrounding reassurance that everything is going to be ok. Why? Because we are in the presence of God.

Wherever you are, taste. Wherever you are, see. Take in the world around you and be reminded of the goodness of God. He is a certain and steady refuge for the weary of heart.

November Meaning

Before we get into the Christmas season, and start taking about Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds, we need to look at what November means. November doesn’t have all the lights and tinsel. November is about home. There is the Homecoming, the homemade pumpkin pie, and the family coming home for the holidays. November is about coming home. It can be a time of great gladness and great sorrow. My family lost a family member this year. And there will be an empty place at the table. I doubt my story is unique.

But November also reminds us of great sacrifice. For the original thanksgiving was celebrated at great personal cost to Gov. William Bradford and the colonists of Plymouth Rock. It is a story that deserves to be retold as part of our nation’s history and religious heritage.

The Pilgrims’ story begins as their religious sect is marginalized in English society. Their stance on morality and virtue are too strict for some, and they are persecuted. They move to Amsterdam where any religion is welcome, but they find the morals there too loose, and are afraid their children will emulate them.

The make the decision as a congregation to emigrate to America, the newly discovered land where the English King has little power, and the English Church has little influence. Their chartered ship, the Mayflower, sets sail in the harsh North Atlantic, and finally sets sight on the Massachusetts coast that fall.

Their first winter was cruel, with cross after cross erected on the hill outside of the settlement. It is not an easy thing to be a settler in the new world, and it is not until they make some peace with the Indians, through the help of Squanto, that they are able to make any success.

The story of the pilgrims as we remember ends with the celebration of Thanksgiving in their first good harvest in the new world. Around their table was welcome one and all. It is this celebration that most people remember, not the sacrifices and lessons that preceded it. But this distant mirror of the marriage supper of the Lamb may yet remind of our celebration with the Son of God when at last our labors are done.

And maybe those two stories, of our family griefs and joys, and the sacrifice and faithfulness of the Puritan pilgrims, at some point intersect and intertwine, because our struggles are the same. Could we find in their story hope for our own? If we understood the faith of those pilgrims, perhaps we will find courage ourselves.