When something good happens and you want to give thanks for what it is, who is it to whom you give thanks?
All that we have has not come from our own doing, nor has it come from what ever riches – though little or much – we may have at any given moment in our lives. If, then, what we have that is counted as something for which we give thanks, has not come from our own abilities or wealth, from where has it come? In 1 Timothy 6:17 we read:
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”
In this verse, the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us that anything that we have that is considered good and is something in which we can enjoy has not come from anything we have done but from God. Even the wealth, no matter what level of wealth it is, also comes from God through what ever means that He chooses. In Deuteronomy 8: 11-14 & 17-18 we read this:
11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God…
17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ 18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…
It is not by your might or power by which you have all that you do. It is by God’s hand that you have what you do for it is from Him that we receive all things to enjoy. And since we receive these gifts from God is it not right to give Him thanks for what we have? In prayers always should we give thanks because it is pleasing to God so to do.
In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 we read:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
So, give thanks with a grateful heart, for all good things come from God and it is to God to Whom we should give thanks. Even if you are not a child of God, that is a disciple of Jesus – one who is called a Christian – you should also give thanks for God brings good on all people. However, if you want to feel the full “love” of God, to understand, know and be given forgiveness for our sins so that we can experience the love of God personally then you must become a child of God. Otherwise, you may receive from God but, without becoming a child of God, you will never know the why of God through His love.
In 1 John 3: 1 we read:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”
You may not be a child of God and you still may want to give God thanks, but what good is it to do so without knowing the love of God? As a child of God you can give thanks with love to the one who loves you as being one of His children. One who has believed in His Son Jesus and has submitted to Him not only as Lord but has received Him as Savior; being forgiven for your sins and given welcome access to knowing the love of God. Only then will you be able to know what manner of love God has bestowed upon you.
This then is the answer to the question of “To Whom Do You Give Thanks?” It is to God to whom we should give thanks. To God be the glory…
How many times have you heard a well-meaning Christian – Pastor or not – tell someone “God Loves You!” ? Most likely it is said to someone who is not a disciple of Jesus. Someone who does not love God nor has submitted to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
However, you really should “not” say that to someone “UNLESS”… unless they are a disciple of Jesus. Here is why.
I am sure you have heard it said that God loves everyone and just about all of the time it is based on John 3:16 but, have we all mis-understood that scripture? To find out why John 3:16 is not talking about individuals please read the article at the following link:
In actuality God does love individuals but who are these people whom God loves?
Let me just list a few scripture verses and you should be able to figure out for yourself who it is whom God loves… and why.
John 13: 1
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
John 14: 21
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
John 14: 23
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
John 17: 20 – 23
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
In short, just look at these phrases…
having loved His own who were in the world,
he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him
that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
God loves only they who are disciples of Jesus; who are obedient to Him and love Him. You see, God does “not” love everyone, as you have been told so many times. His love is only for born again believers in Jesus. These verses are very clear in that point and if you still do not believe it is because you do not understand what God is saying in His Word, nor do you want to do so because it is against what you have been made to believe; believing in something that is not in the Bible.
Jesus loved His own who were in the world. Whoever loves Jesus will be loved by the Father and whoever the Father loves Jesus also will love. They who love Jesus and keeps His word will be loved by the Father. The thing is the world is supposed to know that the Father has sent Jesus and that only they who believe in Him is loved by the Father as the Father loves Jesus and Jesus, too, will love them… and only them. For they are His own who are in the world.
Are you loved by God? Do you believe in Jesus and are obedient to Him? Do you love and cherish the salvation that God has so graciously given to you? Then, do not say to any and everyone that God loves you. If they are “NOT” disciples of Jesus you are only deceiving them and are actually lying to them. Instead, tell them that they can “know” the love of God and feel the kind of sweet love that only Jesus can give, and then tell them how they, too, can receive this love of God by submitting to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
So, do not say that “God loves you” – unless … unless you know for sure that the one to whom you are talking is a true disciples of Jesus and are a child of God. You see, God does love, but He only loves they who love Jesus. We know He does because, in His Word, He has told us so…
I am sure that you have heard about the Kentucky County Clerk, Kim Davis, who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses, not just to homosexuals, but to anyone who wanted a license. The question is why and what does she want? The answer is very simple. First read the following passage from Romans 1: 18-32. It may seem long but unless you understand from where she is coming you will not be able to understand her reasoning for refusing to issuing the licenses.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
I do not have to explain these verses. If you do not understand what they are saying it is only because you do not want to believe what you are reading. However, the very last verses is the immediately important one for a Christian. In short, anyone who just accepts the sinful activities of others and says that it is OK for them to do so, are just as guilty of those sins as if they had participated in doing the same.
By having her name on the marriage licenses, even if she did not issue them herself, in her belief she is just as guilty as they who are participating in the sin. In a September 8th news article by CBS news they wrote the following:
“Davis, an apostolic Christian, believes gay marriage is a sin. She also believes it would be a sin for her to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple because the licenses are issued under her authority.”
All she wants is for her name “Not” be on those marriage licenses and, as long as she did not have to issue them, she would be OK if someone else in the Clerks office would do so. This way she is not participating in this sinful activity by agreeing to allow homosexuals to marry; which does go against Christian teachings, as found in the Bible, and would by denying Mrs. Davis her first amendment right of practicing her religion. You know, “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The question for you is twofold. First, if homosexuals can demand their rights, why cannot Christians also demand theirs? Second, who are “you” going to obey – God or man? Maybe you should go back and read the above verses again. Even if you do not participate in homosexual activity, just by going along with them and saying that it is OK, makes you just as guilty of that sin as if you also participate in it as well.
I would advise you to answer very carefully as your answer may determine your eternal destiny…
In the Gospel of John, chapter 3 we read the following:
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
And in verse 5 Jesus said this:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
These phrases stump so many people. Can you blame them? Even Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, was stumped. Born Again? What does it mean to be “born again” and how does this happen? Well, these are very good questions and let us see if we can talk about this in basic every day language.
In Ephesians we read the following:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins
Basically, because of our sin nature we are spiritually dead towards God. All of us were born this way. In fact everyone down through the ages was born with a sin nature and spiritually are dead towards God. It is for this reason that we can read the results of being dead in trespasses and sins in this passage from Romans:
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
Being spiritually dead in our sins separates us from God and unless we are “born again” in the spirit we will never see God, we will never want God and we will never enter Heaven. So, the need to “born again” is very important and that is the reason why Jesus started from this point with Nicodemus and to impress upon him the need for being so.
Knowing about the need for being “born again” is one thing and it can happen without knowing how it happens. In fact, it always happens without the knowledge of it actually happening until after it happens. A very good example of how this works actually comes from the Bible and it is something that Jesus did in front of many people, and this one time occurrence by Jesus is a specific and quite plain way of how being “born again” happens according to the Reformed view of salvation.
This one event by Jesus shows that He not only has power over life but life in a spiritual way as well. Both physical and spiritual life comes only by way of Jesus. Maybe that is why He said that “no one comes to the Father except by me”.
In John 11 we read the story about Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, about he became sick and died. Then after he had been in the grave for four days Jesus finally came by to visit the sisters of Lazarus named Mary and Martha, and He had them lead Him to his tomb. Upon His arrival we read the following:
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Now where Lazarus lay dead there were also other dead people in their graves around him. So, the first thing that Jesus did was to call out the name of Lazarus and command him to “come forth”. Had He not done so, everyone would have come forth out of the graves. But Jesus specifically called forth Lazarus; He chose Lazarus and no one else.
Now stop and think about this for a moment. When Jesus called out the name of Lazarus and commanded him to come forth was there anything within the body of Lazarus to allow him to respond? Of course not! For he was dead and there was no life within that dead body. Before Lazarus could respond in any way, shape or form he “first” had to have been given life in order to hear the command of Jesus and to obey that command to come forth.
The same is for anyone who needs to be spiritually “born again”. In John 8 you can read where Jesus tells the Pharisees that they cannot understand what He says, nor can they listen to Him as He speaks spiritual things and because of that they cannot “hear” Him, and the reason they cannot do any of this is that they are spiritually dead. They first need to be made spiritually alive to be able to respond at all.
In John 10 where Jesus is talking to the people about His sheep and how they hear His voice and obey Him to follow Him we read we read this about “why” they believe:
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
Lazarus was a sheep of Jesus. Just like all of us who are truly “born again” by the Spirit of God. Unless Jesus first gives us life, that is, unless we are “first” Born Again we cannot hear His voice and follow the command to “come forth”, we cannot understand what He is saying, since we cannot hear Him, and we cannot, and will not, believe in Him as Lord and Savior of all who will be “born again” because we are “dead in trespasses and sins and, in that state, we do not want God nor desire Him.
Being spiritually dead in our spiritual grave the first thing that must be done to us is to be given life, and that is the act of being “born again”. Once Jesus calls us by name, gives us life, then, and only then, can we hear Him, believe in Him and become willing to obey the command to “come forth”, and we do obey and we come forth gladly.
In short, faith in Jesus is the action of the heart, having first been quickened (born again) by the sovereign grace of God. That is why Jesus was so adamant about being “born again”. Without it you will not hear, understand, and obey the command to “come forth” and be given the right to enter into Heaven. How about you? Has Jesus specifically called you by name to “come forth”? Have you truly been “born again” by the Spirit of God?
As Jesus impressed upon Nicodemus about the need to be “born again”, I do the same to you. You must be “born again” if you want to enter Heaven.
I pray that today, even right now, that this wonderful phenomenon will happen to you in a most personal, knowing and loving way, and that you will “come forth” to be with Jesus.
Without sounding “churchy”, here is how I perceive things. There is relative truth and there is absolute truth.
Relative truth blurs the lines between right and wrong. Depending on the situation, depending on the person, what may be wrong at one time could be right another time. In this view, relative truth is based on the wisdom of man in any situation or circumstance in which they may find themselves. Basically there is no specific right or wrong in which a person can be guided. As such, relative wisdom is based in man’s wisdom.
Absolute truth is where there are specific rights and wrongs; do’s and don’ts I guess you could say. With absolute truth to guide you no matter what the circumstance or situation is in which you find yourself you are guided by these truths so that you know how life should be lived guided by what you know to be right and wrong. Absolute truth can be found in God’s word the Bible.
So, basically one is guided either by man’s wisdom which is based in relative truth or they are guided by God’s wisdom which is absolute truth. However, even true Christians can be tempted by, and give into, relative truth, which is a wrong as seen by absolute truth, because at that moment it seems right to them, but they will not stay in that wrong because God will show them the wrong they are doing and bring them out of it.
The problem is that there are many people who are Christians in name only, because they have no root grounded in the Bible because they have never experienced being “born again”, and when they do fall into the gray area of relative truth it seems right unto them and there they remain with the feeling that all is OK.
Then there are those who are not Christians and they will look at the world through the dark glasses of relative truth and most anything looks good to them, even if they would not participate in it themselves. It is not for Christians to judge them but a Christian does have, and should have, the right to say that in God’s wisdom a certain activity is wrong and should not be done.
In short, morality is based either in God’s wisdom or man’s wisdom. God’s wisdom is the basis for absolute truth and man’s wisdom is the foundation of relative truth. A true Christian will find themselves on the side of God’s wisdom and non-Christians will see things through man’s wisdom, and that is just the way things are as man’s nature is bent towards that way.
Having tasted Christianity you might remember the verse that says:
“But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 2: 14
Relative truth or absolute truth, where does your wisdom lie? Before you answer remember this from 1st Corinthians 1: 19 – 21 and I pray that God will open your understanding to receive these verses and apply them to your heart:
19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
May you be among those whose heart God will change and bring you into the Kingdom to be included with those who believe; disciples of Jesus and followers of the way.
Almost daily you will hear or read about someone who has died and there will be those who will say something like, “Well, they are in a better place now.” even though there has not been one bit of evidence of them ever being someone other than a “good” person.
Being just a “good” person will not get you into Heaven. What you may not know or realize is this:
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10 – 12
No one is good, not one of us. In fact God looks at our “righteousness” – that which makes us look good – in this way:
6 “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;” Isaiah 64: 6
God knows that we are not good. We have no righteousness of our own. There is nothing we can do to deserve to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. We all belong in the trash heap of life called Hell.
However, God has made a way for one to be allowed into Heaven, to spend eternity with Him and to enjoy what He has done for us. As the God Man, whose name is Jesus, God told us plainly what is needed for anyone to enter into Heaven:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3: 3
For anyone to be able to see and to enter into Heaven all that is require is to be “born again”. Basically what this means is that we must turn away from our present self-righteousness and to believe in and to submit to the Lordship of Jesus, who has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves – be found worthy of entering Heaven for all eternity.
Think of this. No matter what religion to which one belongs, even if you belong to no religion, unless you are “born again” you will not go to Heaven after death, and you will spend eternity in Hell. When you really give that some thought, just think of all of the people who has ever lived who has not been “born again” who will be spending eternity in Hell. God has provided us with only one way for us to be found “qualified” for Heaven and that is only by being “born again” by the Spirit of God.
So, how does one know if they have been born again? It is very simple and it is something that we do in response to the Spirit’s working within us in giving us a new heart, in washing us clean of our sinfulness, and in applying God’s forgiveness to our lives.
In Romans 10: 8 – 13 God tells us:
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
You see, we cannot work our way into Heaven, we cannot “accept” that Christ died for us, we cannot rely on what our family has done for us in order to be given the right to spend eternity in Heaven. Only by what Jesus has done for us will we be granted this right. Only by God’s mercy on our souls is this made possible, and we show this be admitting that we are sinners in need of being forgiven for our sinfulness, believing in the fact that Jesus died and rose again (bodily) from the grave and by submitting to Him as Lord of our life, and by showing our willingness to do His will in working in us what He wants for our good and for His glory.
You can know if you have been born again, and you can know this right now. Can you cry out to God to be forgiven for your sins? Can you confess, right now, that Jesus is Lord of your life and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to become the person that God wants for you? Do you believe that God the Father has raised Jesus from the grave? If you can then you have all the proof that you need that you have been born again by the Spirit of God.
Won’t you do this right now? Remember what God has promised… “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”… Will you not call upon Him right now? I pray that God is working in you right at this very moment and is leading you into that glorious place of being forgiven and of being “born again” into the Kingdom of God.
For the Christian prayer is an important avenue to God. Actually, prayer is only for the Christian as they are the only ones who stand before God forgiven for their sins, and have been given the right to come directly to God with our petitions. All other people are still under God’s wrath and God’s condemnation. So, being a Christian allows us a way to talk with God anytime anywhere for any reason.
Therein lies the reason for prayer.
God knows our needs even before we think of them and come to having a desire to call out to Him. Our prayers cannot change God’s will nor can it bring anything to Him that He does not already know and for which He has not already a planned response. So, if God knows all things and controls all things through His direct and permissive will, then why is there a need for prayer? Why should we pray if we cannot influence God or change His will in any manner shape or form.
Because prayer is not for us to bring God around to our way of thinking. Prayer is for our benefit. Through prayer we can, and will, grow in our reliance upon and trust in God. You see, prayer allows us to come to God and tell Him all about our problems, our concerns, our joys and our sorrows. We can tell Him what we would like, how we think the results should be in a given situation, why we need the things for which we ask, in short, we can bare our souls desires to Him and let Him know what it is exactly what “we” want and yet, be completely reliant upon Him for the answer, no matter what it is, knowing that He has our best interest at heart.
We may not get the answer that we want, but can rest assured that we will get an answer. How we respond relies upon our trust in Him for knowing His way is always the best way.
For instance, we know what it is that God tells us in Romans 8: 28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
All true Christians are the “called” of God and since we are called by God to be His children do we not think that He will take care of us in the best way possible? That is what prayer is all about – trusting in God and relying upon Him for our care while in this life.
As this trust and reliance upon God grows we will find how much at peace we can be no matter what the situation is in which we find ourselves.
In Philippians 4: 6, 7 we read:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We can pray to God for any and all reasons and, if we do so with an understanding of how God responds and how we find our faith, trust and reliance upon God growing, we can have a peace no one else in this world will ever know. We can have much or we can have little, we can even be in the worst of times but we can still have this peace, a peace that keeps us in God’s will and love knowing that what is happening is for God’s praise and for our good.
So, dear Christian, pray always. Actually prayer is nothing more than talking with God, not some ritual that we must repeat or go through every time we want to come before God. He knows you, He loves you and He is always there whenever you want to be with Him. What I like is that we can talk with Him whether we have a need or not. Just to talk with God about anything is the greatest feeling there is, but only if we grow in our trust in Him and in our reliance upon Him for responding to us in a way that is good for us. The peace that follows is something that this world does not have nor will it ever know or experience.
So, what is a good reason for prayer? Anything at all and the peace that we can find within it. And, remember this. The more you pray, or talk, with God the more your trust will grow and you will become more reliant upon God for being there at anytime you want to talk with Him. The result is peace of mind and peace of heart, and feeling the love of God fill you with joy unspeakable no matter what the situation is in which you find yourself.
Oh, one more good reason for praying is the fact that God wants to hear from you, but He will only listen to you if you are a Christian. So, why not submit now to Jesus as Lord of your life, confess your sinfulness and you will find that Jesus is also Savior of your soul. He is the only way to the Father and only through Jesus, and no one else, can we have access to the throne of God.
Peace is waiting for you, and you can find it in Jesus through your prayers to the Father.