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Give Thanks, Get Perspective

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The practice of stopping and thanking God for His blessings is as American as roast turkey and apple pie.  The Pilgrims ushered in our annual tradition in 1621.  It was reinforced by numerous proclamations over the next four hundred years.  Governor Bradford, of Plymouth Plantation, issued the first such proclamation in 1623, two years after the first Thanksgiving was celebrated.  Different colonies and states proclaimed their own days of thanksgiving over the years.  The tradition was continued by Governor Dummer, of Massachusetts Bay, in 1723.  The first "national proclamation" of Thanksgiving was made by by the United States Congress, in 1777, only a year after declaring independence.  Congress kept declaring days of thanksgiving throughout the Revolutionary War.  Afterwards, many Presidents, beginning with Washington, kept the tradition alive. It was Lincoln who set the national standard, ordering that government offices shut down and that the last Thursday of November be set aside for a day of praise and prayer. 

Many of these proclamations did not wait for times of peace and prosperity.  People thanked God while enduring hardship.  Pilgrims gave thanks after their numbers were cut from 100 to almost 50.  Congress asked the nation to praise God only a year into the 8-year revolution.  Lincoln called for thankfulness while the carnage of the Civil War raged on.  It is a sobering thought.  We are called to thank God, even when things aren’t going our way.  This kind of Thanksgiving alters my perspective. 

Giving thanks is not being happy after getting what I want.  It is first and foremost an act of faith.  When I thank God, I declare my dependence on Him.  I recognize He is good, even when things for me go bad.  To give thanks is to have a perspective that looks beyond past and present circumstances.  This perspective is hopeful about the future while acknowledging life's brevity.  It looks toward eternity.  

This thanksgiving, tune out the noise of the news, economy and politics.  Tune in with a renewed perspective that declares dependence on the God who made you and sustains you.  This God gave his one and only Son to save those lost in the darkness.  Rekindle that faith by giving thanks and regain the hope that burns undiminished, even when the earthly light flickers. 

Read Psalm 136

Posted by Joshua Holland with
in Hope

If There Was No Resurrection...


On this day, Resurrection Sunday--Easter, we celebrate one thing, an empty tomb--a risen Savior. Everything hinges on this.  The Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose from the grave three days later is the core of Christianity.  We don't stay focused on His death, because everyone dies.  The miracle is the fact that He didn't stay dead.  If there was no resurrection...
If there was no resurrection, then Jesus lied before He died.  Jesus said He was going to die and come back to life on the third day.  Here are some examples:
"From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day." (Mat.t 16:21 CSB)
"The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day." (Luke 9:22 CSB)
If there was no resurrection, then why did Jesus' disciples, including the apostle Paul, believe so much that Jesus rose from the grave that they were willing to die for it?  Take a moment to consider these few who died terrible deaths.
James, the brother of John, was put to death by the sword by Herod Agrippa I, just before Passover, around A.D. 44 (Acts 12:1-2).
Peter was crucified in Rome, during the persecution under Emperor Nero, in A.D. 67 or 68.  Origen records that he was crucified upside down, because he didn't consider himself worthy to die the same way as Jesus.
Paul was beheaded during the same time, outside the city of Rome.
Andrew is traditionally reported to have been crucified in Patrae, in Achaia.
Matthew is traditionally considered to have been martyred in Ethiopia.
Thomas is said to have died by a lance in Persia or India.
James, son of Alpheus, was thrown down from the temple and stoned by scribes and Pharisees, according to tradition.
Jude (Thaddeus), was reported to have been martyred and was buried in present day Iran.
John was tortured, imprisoned and exiled, and died between the year 90 and 120.
If there was no resurrection, then the apostle Paul says we are all in trouble. We need Jesus because of sin.  He is the sacrifice that brings us to God, but if Jesus did not come out of that tomb, then we are still separated from God, spiritually dead, and going to hell.  Here it is in his own words:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone. (1Cor. 15:17-19 CSB)
So, take time to consider what the resurrection means.  IT CHANGES EVERYTHING.  Hundreds of men and women saw Jesus "in the flesh," alive, after He was buried and rose form the dead.  Over 500 saw Him at one time (1 Cor. 15:6).  If these people just made it up, why go to such great lengths.  No body willingly dies for a lie, unless they are crazy.  The explanation is that these people saw life after death.  Jesus is not some ethereal wisp of a spirit we hope to catch a glimpse of .  He breaths. Blood flows through his veins.  He lives right now, in the presence of God-the-Father.  Jesus said He is God-the-Son.  The resurrection proves it.  He was sinless so He was able to pay for your sins and mine.
Stop right now and talk to Jesus.  Thank Him for taking your sins upon Himself.  He lives to listen.  Because He lives, if you believe in Him, even if you die, you will live forever.

 Jesus said... "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NAU)

Posted by Joshua Holland with