Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 13 November 2018

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.  1 Timothy 4:3-5 (NIV).

“Received with thanksgiving:” those are powerful words.   They can make all the difference in the world.

Next week is Thanksgiving and that means we’re coming up on the time of the year when we’ll reflect on 2018 and talk about what we’ve done (and unconsciously avoid those not done).  May I submit to you that an attitude of thanksgiving for all things, ESPECIALLY the bad things, makes everything ok?   No, I’m not Pollyanna.  This year, just in my own family circle, we’ve known death, terrible illness, separation, extreme financial difficulties, loneliness, encounters with Satan, and more.   Let’s just assume you’re in a similar situation (because you probably are).

Give thanks.   Thank God for them.  Thank God for the bad things and the good things, too.

Winter is coming and I just detest cold weather.   But I’m thankful for it.   Yesterday was a REALLY EARLY morning, seeing me wake up at 3 to leave the house by 4 to catch a 6:30 flight at Love Field.   I’m thankful for that because it means I have a good job.   Every payday there always seems to be more in bills than there is in paycheck…you guessed it:   I’m thankful because the life my wife and I lead is one of family and friends and faith and love.

God gives us EVERYTHING on this planet and more.   He did it (and does it) out of love, out of wanting to provide for His children who He created to be “very good.”  Who am I (or you) to put conditions on it?   Who are we to put rules and regulations all over something that God gave to us freely?

In the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter learns in a dream that every food is “clean” and a gift from God.   All through his life, Peter had observed Jewish laws about what to and not to eat.   It makes sense that the early church, an offshoot of Judaism, would start to adopt some of the Jewish traditions.   But God switched things up, telling Peter that all foods were clean.   In an even larger sense, God was telling Peter that all PEOPLE were clean, all people were worthy of His blessing and should hear the Gospel of Christ.   Give thanks for EVERYTHING, good and not good, clean and unclean.  It’s all from God.  Even the bad things He allows are used for His good purposes.

How could someone not be thankful for that?

Thanking Jesus as the start to all we are is the start of making things better.

For further reading: Acts 10, 1 Timothy 4:6

Lord, thank You.   Just thank You.

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 7 January 2016

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. Mark 13, verses 21-23.

Just a little over a month ago, we talked about the concept in these verses, about false Christs.   See verses 5 and 6 as well as Luke 9, Matthew 24, Acts 1, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Titus 2 and all over Revelation. Let’s not tread on covered ground.

Instead, consider these words:   “I have told you everything ahead of time.”

Jesus has informed us. In saying “I have told you everything ahead of time,” Jesus has been the news anchor.   He has been imparting to us information that we need to know in order to make informed decisions.   What an amazing concept that is!   Two thousand years ago, God personally came here to tell us, His creation, things that He knew we needed to know.   “Everything” means just that:   ‘I have told you all there is.’   It’s not just “you have sufficient information,” though that’s part of it.   It’s more.   It’s everything.   It’s everything that is needed, everything that’s important, all of Him. That’s some newscast.

Jesus has prepared us. Because Jesus wants all people to live with Him in eternity, He gave us the information and the tools to do our part.   He gave us all that we needed – back to that ‘everything’ thing, you know – to prepare us for both the tough end times to come as well as living past them into eternity.   The end goal isn’t something as small as surviving tough times or even death.   No, the end goal is eternity.   Jesus is a Hall of Fame batter, always keeping His eye on the ball.   To that end, He gave us all that we need to know to prepare us to assume our place on His team for eternity, forever.

Jesus has forewarned us. Yes, these are verses that warn us of how Satan will try to deceive us into believing that he is the Messiah.   Jesus told us here in Mark and in those other books all we need to know to be forewarned against false messiahs and all the trouble they’ll wreak. He gave us all we need to stand fast.   Face it: we’re gullible.   Let’s not kid ourselves:   iPhones, the internet, robotics, and all this sexy technology can sometimes be lipstick on a pig.   We aren’t any wiser or smarter than our ancestors in most matters of the heart.   And the heart is where Jesus deals.   The heart is the battleground for which Satan contends. Accordingly, Jesus warned us to be on our guard.

Most of all, consider that Jesus has confided in us.   Really, truly noodle that thought, that the Son of God, that God Immanuel, that the great I AM Himself talked with us personally, as a friend, as a brother as well as a Savior.   He trusts us. He told us things dear to His heart that He wanted us to know because He loves us.   Satan doesn’t do that; there is no love in him.   But there is only pure love in Jesus, and He wanted us to know that.   Instead of commanding us, Jesus confided in us.

That’s a lot to consider. But doing so will change everything.

Lord Jesus, I praise You!   Thank You for confiding in me and loving us!

Read Mark 13, verses 1-31.