Touching God’s Heart This Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving, TD’ers!

I ask you to pause long enough today to give God one of the greatest gifts you can – the gift of time.  Please take the time to read and act on this Thanksgiving devotion.  You’ll be glad you did – and so will He! – Arthur

Let’s take advantage of this day instituted by President Lincoln, who during the civil war, proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” and use it for the Lord’s honor!

How? The Bible tells us how:  “In everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:18

Did you catch the significance of that? There aren’t too many places in Scripture that explicitly state, “This is God’s will for you,” so when it does, we need to take notice.

And what is God asking of us? Simply, to give thanks to Him everywhere, all the time. To be a walking “thanks dispenser,” if you will. Notice that He’s not calling us to have a grateful heart, though that is implicitly necessary. He’s calling us to go further than that to actually express thanks. Friends, He’s telling us that it WILL bless His heart! Think about it! God is explicitly telling us that it will bless His heart!

Wow.  This was brought home to me several years ago as my own heart was blessed.  The lesson has never left me since.  Let me explain via some thoughts I penned then:

“We arrived home from DC late last night. Of the many things on my to-do list this morning, I wanted to update the TD website and write this devotion, which I am now doing. A few minutes ago, I went to take a “bathroom break” and there on my sink counter, to my surprise, were two hand-cut, hand-drawn, hand-made cards with pictures and drawings of Washington DC on them and the words, “Thank You So Much!” I opened them up and inscribed within were deep heart-felt expressions of thanks from my two youngest children, Daniel and Angela, for taking them and for caring for them on our trip.

Sandra and I had heard some activity down the hallway early this morning while we were still asleep but didn’t think much of it. Now, I get it. Those two woke up before anyone else did and the first thing they did was to get busy to find a creative way to give us thanks. Had they already expressed verbal thanks to us earlier? They sure did, but they wanted to take it further to express their gratitude and to bless our hearts. And they did. My heart melted with appreciation and love for them. I went downstairs and gave them big, big hugs and kisses. Sometimes, little ones teach us the biggest lessons.

I think of how God’s heart has been blessed when His children have taken the extra time to write poetry, hymns, and songs to say thank you to Him; when they’ve carved out larger amounts of time in their lives to harness their skills and talents to painstakingly produce offerings to Him (whether visually, audibly, or tangibly) as an expression of their thanks to Him. I’m sure, in His own providential yet personal way, He gave them His “hugs” and “kisses,” for our Father will not be outgiven.”

Here are a couple of suggestions for you to bless your Father’s heart this month (I’m sure you can think of more):

  • Count your blessings, name them one by one – make a list of everything God wants you to be thankful for. Then give Him thanks for each one. Be specific and make it heart-felt. Notice I didn’t ask you to list things and people you ARE thankful for. Of course, that’s important but sometimes there are things and people we really ought to be thankful for that we don’t feel thankful for.
  • Produce something extra special for Him as a way of saying thanks. Make Him a card, write Him a song or poem, paint or draw Him a picture, practice playing a song for Him on your instrument, etc. Whatever you’re gifted in or trained in, use your skill for His honor in an extra special way for Him this month.
  • Make it a special point to “acknowledge Him” (Prov. 3:6) ALL day, EVERY day – audibly, silently, through singing, journaling, etc. We need to realize that God is actually with us all day, everyday. So, make a special effort to develop your everyday relationship and conversation with Him. 1Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing.” This is what that means. Always be relating with Him, including Him in your activities and conversations, as well as in your rest. Relate with Him without ceasing. You’ll both be blessed.
  • Express actual thanks to those God has used to bless you. Expressions of thanks go a long way for those who receive them. Go ahead and surprise them with a simple thank you for being your friend, sibling, or parent. Even though it may not be your “style,” it’s God’s style, and we all represent Him much better when we’re thankful. “As I grew older God continued to prepare my heart and teach me to seek Him. One of the first lessons that I have learnt was not to take things for granted. I had that wake up call around the age of twelve and realized just how much I was blessed with. I take my foot for granted, my family and the fact that I wasn’t born in a third world country all blessings that God had freely given and I still complain?” – Nick Vujicic (born with no arms and legs)

The Irony of It

The actual giving of thanks to God and others forces us to realize how blessed we are and how so much of that blessing had nothing to do with us deserving it. That then leaves us humble, and humble people are the ones God uses and blesses most, for “Blessed are the (humble), for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5)

So, leave it to God to instruct us to do something that seems to be for His benefit, but in actuality it benefits us! That’s our Father. Thank you, God!

– Arthur

 

“A TD Thanksgiving” on Friday!

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Hey TD!

Our annual tradition, “A TD Thanksgiving”, is upon us, and you don’t want to miss it!  Lots of faith, food, and fun are on tap as we gather with grateful hearts for all that God has generously bestowed on us.

It is a potluck, so make sure you let your small group leader know what you’ll be bringing.  Meet at my home from 6:30 – 10 p.m.  If you need my info, contact your small group leader.  We look forward to seeing you! – Arthur

Who Are You, God? Infinity!

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Jonathan Edwards believed that of all the forms of knowledge, knowledge of God and knowledge of self are the most important.  After taking a few months off from our Who Are You, God? essay series, it’s back!  Grow your perspective and understanding of the infinity of God with this essay that Kathy wrote back when she was a student in college.  Enjoy! – Arthur

Who can fathom infinity?

In The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis ends his Chronicles of Narnia series with a picture of infinity. Three of the Pevensie children have finally entered into the presence of Aslan, the “Great Lion” of Narnia, forever. C.S. Lewis writes, “All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Can you imagine reading a book like that—that goes on forever and in which every chapter is better than the one before? You’d never stop reading!

Or, if you don’t like reading, look up into the sky at night. Can you imagine counting all the stars in the universe? You’d never stop counting! Or, for all you chemistry-lovers, can you imagine writing out all the possible amino acid sequences that make up proteins and all the possible nucleotide sequences that make up our DNA? Can you wrap your mind around numbers like 41000000?

Imagine counting the sand from a massive desert sand dune, where the grains are so fine that getting them in your socks and shoes are not bothersome at all, but rather soothing. I’ve tried counting my handful of sand before, and let me tell you, sand is not meant to be counted. Neither are stars and neither are molecules. I think they are meant to give us a picture of infinity, to blow our minds about the greatness of who God is, to blow our minds that He who created and sustains all things knows us intimately, and to blow our minds that we know Him and call Him our Father. Who can grasp such magnanimity? “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is too high, I cannot attain to it!” Ps. 139:6.

The Psalmist has also exclaimed, “How precious also are your thoughts to me O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand!” (Ps. 139:17-18) He says that God’s thoughts are vast, too numerous to count, as sand is, because God is infinite! And we know Him. God says, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” (Jeremiah 9:23). And Jesus prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Knowing God is eternal life. Furthermore, the knowledge of God can’t be exhausted! There are infinite facets of His love, grace, kindness. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33) Just as C.S. Lewis described heaven as a book without an end that contains chapters in which the next is always better than the one before, I think something similar is happening for us when we come to salvation and enter into eternity—we will forever be knowing God, not merely knowing about, but intimately knowing in new ways that we have not known before! When we enter Heaven, intimate knowledge of God will continue to be a perpetual novelty. What blows my mind is that as my knowledge of the infinite God increases, my love and adoration for Him will also increase…forever and fully! It makes sense then that Charles Spurgeon would say that “The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he calls his Father.” For the Christian, knowing God is no simple and tiresome feat. In fact, we are characterized by who we know God to be, just as A.W Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

We know God to some degree because He first knew us and we love because He first loved us. Our whole life should be a hunger to know and love Him. If that is so, why is it that so few of us can fervently say with David, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1)? Or “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (Ps 119: 20)? Those are intense words, if sincere. We have only to measure ourselves against Scripture to see how far away we are from truly knowing our Savior, and God. Do we desire knowledge of God to the point that we can say we thirst, faint, and hunger for Him? Few of us can declare such truth in our life and use such intense language. Where does David get that passion? This much I know, we can only hunger and thirst and yearn for that which we have already tasted, and seen and known. How can we hunger and yearn for chocolate or frozen yogurt if we have never tasted how good they are? “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps 34:8) Have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good?

Furthermore, our soul can only thirst and our flesh can only faint for God alone if we find and seek our only satisfaction in Him. How can the degree of our yearning to know our Father be like David’s if we are constantly seeking satisfaction and delight elsewhere? One thing He has revealed about Himself time and time again is that He is a jealous God, desiring our full devotion, submission, love, delight, and obedience. God is El Qanna, a jealous God.

If ever I shall thirst, I pray that my soul shall thirst for God. If ever I shall faint, I pray that my flesh would faint for God. He is the greatest Person in the universe to know and love. So, who is this God that David thirsts and faints for?

It will take a lifetime and more to answer that question fully. The Great Story begins now. For “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” (Augustine)

– Kathy

 

 

Humbled and Set Straight

Hey TD!

After three weekends of experiencing a taste of heaven in three core areas of my life (I’ll explain later in TD) with the likes of RC Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, and Joni Eareckson Tada, we have arrived back home, hitting the ground running.

This week has been intense for me with the consuming and demanding nature of the tense, intense, and competitive CIF playoffs.  The Maranatha girls tennis team that I coach with Sandra has played every other day for two weeks and has made it into the championship match tomorrow.  So, things are abuzz and I’ve been thinking about what real success is, what real winning is, and what championship character is made of.  And who came to mind?  Paul Smith, who gets the absolute most out of what God has given Him, who puts me in my place, and sets me straight with his grateful, winsome attitude.

If you need a reality check, inspiration for your soul, and a kick in the pants, you NEED to see this. – Humbled, Arthur

“‘but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.'”  1Cor. 1:27-31

P.S. Don’t forget our montly visit to the convalescent home, where “humble pie” is humbly served! 🙂

 

 

 

“Good For Nothing” – TD Bible Study

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Hey TD’ers!

Thanks to Robert for not only giving our message last Friday, but for preparing this week’s small group Bible study, even though he and his family are enduring severe trial right now.  Please pray for them.  One way you can support and encourage Robert is to take the time to work through and engage with the study he wrote for us during difficult circumstances.  That would encourage him.  Your edification and growth are the reasons he persevered.  Please honort that commitment.

We look forward to our small group time together this Friday, where we’ll engage, share, study, and grow together.  Please work on the study BEFORE Friday and give God the opportunity to help you actually become the Christian you’ve become. Enjoy! – Arthur

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2Cor. 5:17

Below you’ll find links to the message and Bible study.

“Good For Nothing” (Bible Study)

“Good For Nothing” (message)

 

TD This Friday/TD Survey, Pt. 3

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Hey TD’ers!

TD This Friday

What do you expect from your Christian life? How does that compare with what God expects from your life?

This Friday, we will continue our series, Christ For Real, with a message is entitled “Good For Nothing.”  Robert will be leading us to a clearer focus of what your were personally made for and saved for!  Don’t miss it!

Part 3 of “The Theology of TD’ers” Survey

The 3rd and final part of the survey, “The Theology of TD’ers” is now available, Beliefs About Heaven and Hell, Beliefs About the Church, and Beliefs About Authority.  THANK YOU to all of you who have taken the survey so far!!!  Finishing the final part would be much appreciated.

For those of you TD’ers or TD alum who have not taken the survey yet, we’d appreciate it if you do.  Thanks in advance!  You can access it below:

The Theology of TD’ers Survey

Soli Deo Gloria! – Arthur