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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Photo of fall porch arrangement
Porch arrangement in eastern Lancaster County, PA
These arrangements will soon be replaced with a Christmas decorative theme but we are still enjoying them.

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"The Consequences Of Spiritual Rebellion"

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21).

I recently prayed with a lady whose former husband is living deep in sin.  Although divorced she still is burdened for the state of his soul and continues to hope for reconciliation.  She told me how his actions had greatly harmed not only their marriage but also their children.  Several years ago he had gone to see a pastor about his spiritual condition and the pastor observed at that time that he was "sitting on the fence" in regard to a decision to follow Christ. He went from his half-hearted condition to full-hearted rebellion against God and is now ensnared in various heinous sins.

Spiritual unbelief and unleashed rebellion always bring about consequences. Sometimes they're immediate, other times they lag for a season.  We might even think that the fallout from our actions will be inconsequential. But God's Word plainly states, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction" (Galatians 6:8).

Today's verse is from a powerful section in Romans 1 dealing with a panoramic view of man's state of disbelief, disobedience and rebellion against God.  
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."  I chose this selection today due to the phrase that reveals the ungrateful heart of man, "nor gave thanks to Him."

God's Word is so abundantly clear regarding His desire that we glorify and thank Him.  Doing so is a direct consequence and overflow that comes from our belief, obedience, and submission to God.

Disbelief, disobedience and rebellion against God lead to one's failure to glorify and thank God. This in turn results in the dire consequences described in the remainder of the daily verse (as well as the verses that follow).  Although this portion is describing the human race as a whole it also describes the individual response to God.

"Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."  This is a portion that is very helpful to me in seeking to understand current events.  Increasingly the world is mocking people of faith and labeling them as ignorant and uninformed. Sadly some in the professing church want to be loved and esteemed by the world rather than God, and they sacrifice their beliefs to accommodate the world's way of thinking. I am appalled at the increase in liberal and "emergent" outlook that is affecting so many of our historic Christian colleges which eventually dilutes the pure message from God's Holy Word in our pulpits.

The very next verse has this stunning indictment, "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools."  Today we live in a time when so many consider themselves wise and advanced education is rampant. Many claim to be wise, but the wisdom of this world does not reconcile its message with the Bible text.  Sadly, there are those who then try to make the Bible say something it doesn't or silences that which it does say.

Praying man
Today we who follow Christ need to examine this passage and determine that our knowledge of God will result in belief, obedience and submission. This in turn will fill our hearts with a desire to glorify and thank God.  In turn our thinking will be clear and our hearts will be enlightened as we walk in His ways each new day.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, Romans 1:21 indicates that those who knew You neither glorified nor gave thanks to You which led to their futile and foolish thinking.  It eventually caused the light of Your Word to be veiled and ineffective in their lives as darkness crept in and covered the radiant light of Your truth.  They sought honor for themselves and lived for self-glory.  Anything good in us is but a reflection of the Spirit of Christ who lives within, so we will glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ though it is mocked and ridiculed by the world.  We are unashamedly children of God whose depth of wisdom comes not from the understanding from the world but the understanding from Your Word. May its truth always be our source of light in the darkened age in which we live.  In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today's Scripture portion is here.  Precept is a powerful online Bible study resource I periodically use in preparing these messages.  It has an outstanding layout with direct links to many other resources. Here's a section on Romans 1:21 for those desiring further study.  

Foggy morning
This morning we awakened to a beautiful day with a light fog covering. By the time I prepared this it has lifted and we have bright sunshine.

Today's suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to open and play)

"It Wouldn't Be Enough"  Audio  

"Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart"  Video

I regret that it's hard to find audio versions of the classic hymns available on the internet. One such hymn has these words:

We praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator,
In grateful devotion our tribute we bring;
We lay it before Thee, we kneel and adore Thee,
We bless Thy holy Name, glad praises we sing.

Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these ideas to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
(We'll be posting these resources all week.)

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns" - A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thankgiving Table (webpage) Most every year our Thanksgiving celebration is first and foremost the turkey and trimmings. Lots of food with little meaningful conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" or the questionnaire we've provided in the link below.  Perhaps you could just use it as a discussion guide to provide stimulus for other's reflections.

CD label for "Stories of Great Hymns""Hymns of Hope" Brooksyne has compiled eleven hymns that deal with the recurring theme of loss and ongoing trial and titled it "Hymns of Hope" based on Romans 12:12,  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Amber Martin plays the hymns on the keyboard and Lauren Gingrich accompanies her on six of the hymns with the viola. Tracks 12-22 play each hymn softly in the background while Brooksyne shares a personal devotional thought, the biographical setting of the hymn text, and an intercessory prayer. We recorded this in the very modest and limited computerized recording studio of Daily Encouragement so that we could make this ministry project available to all who are in need of such encouragement without huge overhead expense.  Thus we realize the audio quality is not what most are accustomed to. You can go to this site to listen to the songs. You can download one song at a time if you find this to be of special blessing or know someone whose spirit might be lifted by listening to these meditative hymns.

A Thankgiving prayer - (written by Joe Sherer, pastor of the Mount Joy Mennonite Church, and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service last year.)  Webpage  For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading -
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Thanksgiving family exercise - We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.  (pdf)

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony - This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)

"ThanksLiving" Bob Southard  shares a weekly online sermon. Here's a pdf version of his thanksgiving sermon.

Resources used in Brooksyne's research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers  By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims  By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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