Thanksgiving Thursday, Did He Really Say That??

My daily devotions has taken me recently through the book of Daniel. From the first chapter to the last, I am reminded how very little the book – and every other book of the Bible, for that matter – holds to a quote that is mistakenly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:

St Francis Misquote

The fact is that St. Francis never actually said these words, but instead lived within the tension between declaration and representation of the Gospel. He was himself a preacher, known for both compassion and severity. An early biographer wrote, “He denounced evil wherever he found it, and made no effort to palliate it; from him a life of sin was met with outspoken rebuke, not support.” The Gospel Coalition says of the often used misquote, “While there’s a nice and good sentiment in the statement…the notion as it is typically presented is neither practical, nor faithful to the Gospel of Christ. It does not align with St. Francis’ own practice.”

Still, those who are uncomfortable with overt or proactive proclamation of the Gospel are all too happy to use this idea to affirm their hesitant position. But from Noah to Moses to Esther to David to Nehemiah to Daniel to Malachi to Jesus to Paul to Peter to Timothy to John – and many in between – we see that this philosophy is entirely umbilbical.

The last verses of the last chapter in Matthew tell us, “Then Jesus came to them and said,…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

The translation of this passage implies aggressive teaching and instruction, not timid lip-zipping. Likewise, when Jude instructs believers to “earnestly contend for the faith,” he refers to contention by argument, reasoning, and holding fast to the principles of religion; to maintaining truth by living a steady life and speaking with a steady voice. The Gospel is a message, it is news, and how can anyone believe in One of whom they have not heard and how can they hear unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14)

It is important to make a distinction between speaking truth and antagonistic rudeness. All words ought to be spoken in love and in the spirit of the Gospel. John MacArthur says that “Love of conflict is no less sinful than craven cowardice.” Passion and zeal for truth must always be tempered with grace and gentleness.

But one good look through the life and words of Jesus and the other biblical characters mentioned above will show that they didn’t seem to suffer from the angst which causes many people today to set aside linguistic diligence to the truth. The manner in which these people of God dealt with their knowledge of the holy is a serious rebuke to many of this generation who maintain that words ought to be a last resort when proclaiming the Gospel.

Learning once again from John MacArthur, “We need to pay more careful attention to how Jesus dealt with false teachers, what He thought of religious error, how He defended the truth, whom He commended and whom He condemned – and how little He actually fit the gentle stereotype that is so often imposed on Him today.”

Certainly we must not give verbal allegiance to our faith, then act and live in a way that betrays our words. But St. Francis, along with biblical examples of hearers, doers, and proclaimers of the Word, stand as a challenge to Christians today to boldly live and speak in a way that proclaims the worthiness of the Christ we follow.

While quite the departure from the usual Thanksgiving Thursday post, this is what was on my heart. As one writer has said, “…hesitancy to share the Gospel verbally simply will not do if you even remotely consider yourself to be a biblical Christian.” My friends, my prayer is that you not only live the life of thanksgiving and gratitude for the Good News of Jesus Christ, but that you proclaim it loud!

My Thanksgiving List 1/17/13

705. Reading the Bible to Peanut every morning during her breakfast

709. Standing with Hobby Lobby….and getting great deals while I’m at it!

714. The discipline of the Holy Spirit

740. Gingerbread Kahlua

746. That because of His great and startling mercy, we are not consumed

719. A balmy winter walk with Peanut

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720. A table FULL of groceries

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731. Peanut’s new red toy box

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723. Date night with my hot husband

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What are you thankful for

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Thanksgiving Thursday: Yet! Therefore! Behold!

Gift…The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means, “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23

 

It is said that no one appreciates a cure unless they have first experienced sickness. And so it is with the Christ of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas, of God with us, can only be truly understood and appreciated by the one who comes face to face with his sickness, his sin.

 

The glorious truth, the immeasurable mercy, the inexplicable grace of Immanuel is only seen when we grasp what Isaiah 59 says: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear…We grope for the wall like the blind…we are as dead men.”

 

This is our sickness. In our sins, we look for justice but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us (v.11). YET! Yet, the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice, no intercessor. THEREFORE! Therefore His own arm brought Him, brought us, victory (v.16)!

 

So (as a result of the Messiah’s intervention)….when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight…He shall come as a Redeemer to Zion and to those in Jacob (Israel) who turn from transgression, says the Lord.

 

As for Me, this is My covenant…says the Lord: My Spirit, Who is upon you (and Who writes the law of God inwardly on the heart), and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth…from henceforth and forever (vs.19-21 Amp).”

 

Immanuel, God is with us. In this one name, we have God’s entire plan of salvation. Immanuel. God. Is. With. Us.

 

 

 

My Thanksgiving List 12/6/12

 

592. Immanuel. Thank you, Lord, for coming to and staying with us!!

 

513. Peanut scribbles on my journal page

 

533. Writing tithe checks

 

572. My Christmas village

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576. Free lunch at Dion’s

 

532. Snuggling on the couch and watching Rick Steves’ Europe

 

589. Training a very special coworker

 

580. Decorating the perfect Christmas tree for our little haven-home

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592. Garlic and onions

 

594. That our little haven-home is consistently filled and alive with the sound of music

 

595. Cute baseball caps that hide bad hair days

 

593. My Christmas bear collection that began in 1997, our first Christmas season married. Another year married, another Christmas, another bear

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El Elyon

 

Preparing for the beginning of this new series on the names of God has been more difficult, required more, and meant more than I anticipated. I love the names of God and find it to be an exciting and comforting topic, and believed it would take me very little time to post a blog on any one of His names. As soon as my last blog announcing this new series was posted however, I felt the nudge of the Spirit. “This is My holy name, and My name is at stake. You must not write this in an unholy manner. Take your shoes off, Jodi, you are on holy ground.” From then on, God has searched me and pruned me thought by thought, action by action, motive by motive, to give full glory and honor to His name in holiness and sanctification, excellence and dedication .

 My prayer is that His words will be my words. So, my friends, with reverent awe, allow me to help you become acquainted with the One Who commands your world and guards your life – His name is El Elyon.

 We find this name approximately 40 times in the Old Testament, most frequently in Psalms, 12 times in Daniel, and 4 times in Genesis, with the first time being in Genesis 14. El Elyon means the God Most High, the Strongest Strong One, Possessor of heaven and earth, Sovereign over all, I AM (Gen.14:19-20).

 As I was searching for which name to present first, I became keenly aware that in order to trust and rely in the heart of Abba, our Father, to fully believe that Jehovah Roi sees me in my distress, to truly submit our lives wholly unto Adonai, our Lord and Master, to curl into the lap of Jehovah Shalom our peace, we must know that our God is Sovereign – over all; He is fully supreme, He alone is God. This name, this God, is our basis and foundation for faith in the midst of crisis, the heat of battle, the heartache of life, the testing of trials. Knowledge and understanding of the sovereignty of the God Who’s name is Most High governs the whole of our lives and encourages the fibers of our being, for in El Elyon we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

 Do you see it?! We serve, we are governed by, we are loved and cared for by the most high God! This is our Beloved, and we are His! He blessed Abram (Gen. 14:20), He enlightened Daniel (Dan 4) , He was David’s hope, rescuer, and deliverer (Ps.18:13), He delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 3:26), and He holds our future and we are upheld by the lovingkindness of our Rock and Redeemer (PS. 21:7; 78:35). He is free from any and all external control, boundaries, influences, or authority.

 It is the Strongest Strong One that empowers and enables us to live a life above the stronghold of a life of sin. For if God be for us, who can be against us?! (Rom 8:31).

 It is the Sovereign One that enables us to be certain that unseen things are still being held in the righteous, sovereign hand of El Elyon, and allows us to stop resisting and fighting when trouble is permitted into our lives.

 Charles Spurgeon noted that “men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne…for God on His throne is not the God they love.” We don’t often like the God that does as He pleases with His own, without consulting us on the matter.  Nevertheless, on the word of the Strongest Strong One, we can trust unwaveringly that His plan is to grow us in faith, maturity, and relationship with Him and not become bitter, rather empowered!

What would our lives look like if we inscribed this name on the tablet of our hearts? What fear would His perfect love cast out? What would we believe is possible if we knew that with El Elyon, nothing is impossible? We can know that we are upheld, guarded, guided, loved, surrounded, covered, and carried by the Most High God! Dear ones, when sorrows like sea billows roll, run into your strong tower, the name of El Elyon, the Most High God, for ,“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”, for we have made the Lord, our refuge, even the Most High our dwelling place. (Ps 91:1 & 9).

May it seem good to us to declare the signs and wonders which the God Most High has done for us (Dan 4:2).   O magnify the LORD the with me, and let us exalt His name together! (Ps 34:3).