November 23, 2014

Be Thankful – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Please consider this address by Abraham Lincoln and excerpts from the executive action accompanying it. While many challenged the constitutionality of his military action, this proclamation received unquestioned acceptance and deep appreciation.

Some deny that Lincoln was a Christian, perhaps provoked by the fact that he did not appreciate nor attend denominations (an attitude with which I wholeheartedly concur). However revisionist historians may judge his motives, the ready reception that was accorded these words provides undeniable evidence of a prevailing attitude toward God then, that flickers only dimly today.

When this attitude was the rule (not the exception), not only did our nation prosper, the truth of the gospel was much easier to communicate. America at that time was a much more fruitful field. It should be our prayer and determination to do everything within our power to restore this reverence toward God, from the lowliest citizen to the highest officials.

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Address

(The origin of the Thanksgiving Holiday)

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that all nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those whose are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

(signed)

A. Lincoln

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. …

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

 

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November 16, 2014

Count Your Many Blessings – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing. The meadows are clothed with flocks And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for joy, yes, they sing;” (Psalm 65:11-13)

The entire countryside, the hills, meadows, valleys shout for joy. They sing. They sing of praise and thanksgiving for God’s marvelous blessings.

The brightly colored leaves that cover our hills remind us that a special day of Thanksgiving is approaching, a day set aside by America’s president in a time too long gone, when a nation would accept the suggestion to stop count its blessings and give thanks. If Christians count fairly and fully, no matter what our problems may have been during the year, we will have to confess that God, as always, has crowned the year with goodness.

Have you noticed that this coronation figure (crowned) is frequently used in Scripture to speak of God’s blessings in the child of God?

For example: “

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;… Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion;” (Psalm 103:2-4)

Even our testings and trials are always in the context of God’s grace and love. Christ Himself wore a crown of thorns so that we may be crowned with mercy and salvation.

Consider also…

“For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD,

You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12)

The word “surround” is the same Hebrew word as “crown.”

The Key Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic defines the term this way:

“to encircle (for attack or protection); especially to crown (literally or figuratively): — compass, crown.”

Other sparkling jewels in the believer’s crown are God’s grace and glory.

“She [wisdom] will place on your head a garland of grace;

She will present you with a crown of beauty.” (Proverbs 4:9)

David marveled that the creator of the vast, unfathomable universe would think and care for man, let alone crown him with glory and majesty.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,

The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;

What is man that You take thought of him,

And the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than God,

And You crown him with glory and majesty!

You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;”

(Psalm 8:3-6)

Finally, Isaiah looked forward to the time when the believer’s crown would be none other than the Lord Himself:

 “In that day the LORD of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people;” (Isaiah 28:5)

 Most Christians have an abundance of material blessings for which to thank the Lord. Even if they have none, however, God has crowned the year with goodness and favor, with lovingkindness and tender mercies, with grace and glory and honor and, best of all, with His own presence.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;”(Psalm 103:2)

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

 

November 9, 2014

Fiery Ordeals – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (I Peter 4:12 -14)

If you do much listening to country music, you should understand that you are not the only one who has painful problems. As Job murmured,

“Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil.” (Job 14:1)

But the Christian should expect to get more of his normal share.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (I Peter 2:21)

In addition to the normal distresses of life comes direct opposition to the Christian and his faith by enemies of the cross. It is seldom recognized as coming from Satan but He knows when you are doing a good job (persecuting Him) and He knows how to retaliate. Thousands down through the ages have suffered, even martyrdom for their stand for truth and opposition to error.

And, many are suffering today, here in America, and obviously around the world.

Christ promised many wonderful things for his brethren, but He also promised that we would be hated.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘ A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21)

But, He also prayed for us, not that we would be spared the persecution but that we would be victorious in it and sanctified through it.

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. ‘Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.’” (John 17:14-17)

This is the encouraging message of the fourth verse of the familiar hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” published in 1787, probably written by Robert Keene.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply, The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design, Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

In His wisdom, He may choose to allow persecution to block life’s pathway, but we will not face such opposition alone. His grace will supply our every need.

Heating gold above its melting point allows the denser gold to be separated from the frothy impurities (or dross), thus purifying the gold. Likewise, God allows “fiery ordeals” in our lives, pushing us beyond the melting point, to “purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:14)

 

Adapted from an article by John Morris, who is today suffering terribly from relapsing multiple sclerosis,

likely triggered by lightening strikes on Mt. Ararat.

 

 

 

 

November 2, 2014

A Wonder Smell Or A Stench – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” (II Corinthians 2:14-16)

I was seven years old, in Birmingham, Alabama, when I attended my first religious debate. It was between Brother W. Curtis Porter and Baptist, Glenn V. Tingley. I remember thinking they sure talked a long time, but even then, I was amazed that two groups of adults could react to the same speech in completely different ways. It was much more like a football game than a search for truth. A dozen years later, an Elder at that North Birmingham church told me that over one hundred were baptized into Christ as a result of that debate. But I remember many there who seemed ready to lynch brother Porter.

A presentation of powerful scientific evidences supporting creation may be received with excited joy and grateful appreciation by some, and at the same time provoke furious hostility in others! (not an exaggeration) Still others may respond with determined indifference. Such diametrically contrasting reactions (verbal, written or behavioral) are typical when messages have any kind of spiritual dimension, messages which Satan works to oppose. Faithful Christians should know all about this, from experience. Unfortunately, many are taken aback and disillusioned.

The contrasting reactions are analogous to the pillar of cloud in the wilderness, which came…

“between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.” (Exodus 14:20 NIV)

We have seen that same sermon that draws and wins the one, repels and condemns the other. We need to remember that there are some with noble hearts (Luke 8:15; Acts 17:11) who appreciate truth. At the same time, there have always been those who hate it. We must remember that this does not indicate a flaw in the truth. The fault is 100%, squarely on man’s self-serving reaction to God’s holy and perfect truth.

“…men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:19)

We should not be amazed and must not be discouraged when the beautiful message of the gospel yields two diametrically opposite results. Peter reminds us that the prophets understood the Messiah would bring both unity and division.

For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “ THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; (I Peter 2:6-8)

In our text, contrasting reactions to the gospel are compared to very different aromas. Linski, in his commentary, expressed it well.

“Paul and his co-workers are the aroma of Christ as they proclaim the gospel. But when they proclaim it, they see that the gospel divides mankind into two groups. Some people hear the spoken words, refuse to accept them, and turn away from the source of life. They perish because the gospel is for them a smell of death that leads to death….the smell which a corpse emits is death. When people reject the Word of God, they constantly smell this foul odor.

Others listen to God’s voice and respond in faith. For them, the aroma of the gospel is a fragrance that emerges from life and produces life. As in the spring of the year nature bursts forth with new life, so the smell of newness is everywhere. By preaching the good news, Paul and his associates bring life to those who believe so that together they rejoice in the word of life.”