Christianity 201

May 16, 2015

Thankful for Mercy

Common English Bible – Phil 4:6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.

A year ago we introduced you to Hajnalka Elleh who works as a translator and writes devotional blog posts in both English and Hungarian. Click the link below to read the article in both languages, and if you know someone who speaks Hungarian, tell them about this blog.

Are You Thankful? – Selected Quotes, part 1

To be always in a thankful state of heart before God is not to be considered a high plane of spirituality, but rather the normal attitude of one who believes that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God, who are called according to His purpose’. – William Law (1686–1761)

The greatest saint in the world is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice. It is he who is most thankful to God. – William Law

Yes, ‘give thanks for all things’ for, as it has been well said, ‘Our disappointments are but His appointments.’ – A.W. Pink (1886–1952)

We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning. ― Albert Barnes (1798–1870)

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Are We Thankful For Mercy? (Thomas Watson)

Our needs may send us to prayer, but it takes a truly honest heart to praise God. The raven cries; the lark sings. In petition we act like men; in thanksgiving we act like angels.

A godly man will express his thankfulness in every duty. He mingles thanksgiving with prayer: “in everything by prayer with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). Thanksgiving is the more divine part of prayer. In our petitions we express our own necessities; in our thanksgivings we declare God’s excellence. Prayer goes up as incense, when it is perfumed with thanksgiving.

A godly man expresses thankfulness …in every condition. He will be thankful in adversity as well as prosperity: “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18). A gracious soul is thankful and rejoices that he is drawn nearer to God, though it be by the cords of affliction. When it goes well with him, he praises God’s mercy; when it goes badly with him, he magnifies God’s justice.

When God’s spiritual plants are cut and bleed, they drop thankfulness; the saints’ tears cannot drown their praises.

Where shall we find a grateful Christian? We read of the saints “having harps in their hands” (Rev 5:8)—the emblem of praise. Many have tears in their eyes and complaints in their mouths—but few have harps in their hand and are blessing and praising the name of God.

Let us scrutinize ourselves and examine by this characteristic whether we are godly: Are we thankful for mercy? – Thomas Watson (c. 1620–1686)

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“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”—1 Thessalonians 5:18

Matthew Henry was a biblical scholar who lived in England from 1662 to 1714. He is best known for the Bible commentary that bears his name. After being robbed one day Henry recorded this in his diary: “Let me be thankful. First, because I was never robbed before. Second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life. Third, because although they took my all, it was not much. Fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

Later in life, Henry suffered a stroke. Once his friend Illidge helped the dying man get to a bed. Henry said to him, “You have been used to take notice of the sayings of dying men—this is mine: That a life spent in the service of God and communion with Him is the most comfortable and pleasant life that one can live in the present world.”

If you can give thanks during the difficult times in your life you will tend to be thankful when things are not going well. Gratitude toward Christ and thanksgiving in difficult circumstances indicate Christian maturity. Thanksgiving during tough times brings growth in Christ. Today give thanks to the Lord not because of your circumstances but in spite of them.

Source/Forrás:

http://www.spurgeongems.org/fhg1-15.pdf; http://www.gracegems.org/Watson/godly_mans_picture4.htm; and an excerpt from Peter Kennedy’s “From Generation to Generation”, 1998. Source of illustration: here.  Translated by/Fordította: wordwatcherdawn

February 7, 2015

Whatsoever Things are Not ______________

NLT Phil 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

KJV Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I’m currently reading a forthcoming book by David Murray titled The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Christian in a Gloomy World. In the second chapter he takes the familiar scripture above, and turns it on his head by looking at the opposite of the things named in the verse…

Happy Christian…our educational, political, and business culture rewards negativity experts, those who can pick out a single negative in a sea of positives.

We ask our children, “What’s wrong with this picture?” We set class assignments, “Critique this passage,” or “Find the flaws in this article.” We mark mistakes with red ink but don’t waste blue ink on the correct answers. We scan our garden for weeds. We admire politicians and debaters who can punch holes in their opponents’ arguments. We promote lawyers who can detect a loophole from a hundred miles away. We love journalists exposés. We are drawn to watchdogs and discernment ministries. We honor theologians who can destroy a heretic with one devastating put down.” (p. 25)

It’s into that environment that Murray offers a response. To do justice to this would mean excerpting the entire chapter, but I want to share his outline in this chapter. The first section that he calls “Media Diet” simply looks at the opposite of each of the things named in Phil. 4:8. (Eugene Peterson is on the same track with the translation of this verse in The Message.) The second section, he calls “Ministry Diet” and follows the same pattern.

Media Diet

  • True, Not False:”Whatever things are true”
  • Noble, Not Base: “Whatever things are noble”
  • Right, Not Wrong: “Whatever things are just”
  • Purity, Not Filth: “Whatever things are pure”
  • Beautiful, Not Ugly: “Whatever things are lovely”
  • Praise, Not Complaint: “Whatever things are of good report”

Ministry Diet

  • More Salvation Than Sin
  • More Truth Than Falsehood
  • More Wooing Than Warning
  • More Victory Than Struggle
  • More Celebration Than Lamentation
  • More Life Than Death
  • More Strengths Than Weaknesses

I hope that outline leaves you wanting to read the book, which releases February 24th in paperback from Thomas Nelson. You can do a similar study by looking at I Cor 13, what we call the love chapter, and from each of the things listed, you can compose a picture of “love’s opposite.” If I were to combine these together and incorporate it into your character not to manifest each of these negative traits, I would certainly be a much better person; and so would you.