O Give Thanks Unto The LORD

cornucopia2O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;  And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.

Oh that men would Praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;  Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore He brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.

Oh that men would Praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

For He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder. Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.

Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saveth them out of their distresses. He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Oh that men would Praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of Thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.

Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Oh that men would Praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there He maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;  And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Yet setteth He the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.

Psalm 107

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No Other Gods

As the Children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses gave them final instructions in possessing the land and faithfully obeying God’s commands who was giving them the land. The Book of Deuteronomy is a record of Moses’ final words to those he had led from Egypt, through the wilderness, and on to their final destination. With Moses’ prohibition from entering the land flowing with milk and honey due to his disobedience of God’s command to speak to the rock to receive water, upon which Moses “smote the rock twice” in anger during the wilderness wandering (Numbers 20:7-13), his words to them were filled with great significance concerning the seriousness of obeying God’s Word.

God’s command to the Children of Israel entering the Promised Land after crossing the Jordan River was to destroy all the inhabitants that were occupied there: the Hitties, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; “Seven nations greater and mightier than thou… For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods. The Israelites were to “destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire,” all of which pertained to the idol worship that permeated the land (Deuteronomy 7).

The very first commandment given by God on Mt. Sinai forty years earlier had been, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” (Exodus 20:3-5). The commandment included not to make any graven image, bow down to them, nor serve them. The Promised Land they were about to enter was polluted with idolatrous images which were bowed down to and served by those who resided there. God’s judgment was about to be poured out upon those who dwelt there by His Chosen People in destroying the idol worship that God forbids.

Much is written in the Book of Deuteronomy concerning not following other gods, in addition to the Book of Exodus where God further commands, “Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth,” (Exodus 23:13). In Deuteronomy 13 the Children of Israel were admonished, “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones… Because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you,” (Deuteronomy 13:6-10).

“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”

500th Anniversary of “THE REFORMATION”

On October 31, 1517 a German monk named Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg seeking a discussion on the selling of Indulgences for the remission of sin by the Catholic Church. The aim of the Church in selling the Indulgences was to raise money to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther, who had become the Professor of Theology at the college, knew from his reading and studying of the Scriptures there was no forgiveness of sin except through the blood of Jesus Christ. The people were being put under great deception by being told by their priests the Catholic Church held the key to God’s forgiveness through the purchase of Indulgences. The simple act of Martin Luther on that day began a Reformation to return to the Truths of Scripture and away from what had become the tenets of a man-made religion.

During Martin Luther’s early days as a monk he came under great conviction of his sinfulness before God. Whereas other monks in the monastery would spend a few minutes a day confessing their sins to the priest, Luther would spend hours confessing his for he was cognizant of how sinful man is in his fallen state. It was not until he read in Galatians 3:11, “But that no man is justified by the Law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith,” that he realized it was not by the works of confession, simplicity of living as a monk, or even self-flagellation that provided forgiveness of sin but having a living faith based totally ALONE upon Jesus’ voluntary death on the Cross for man’s sin, His burial, and bodily Resurrection triumphant over sin and death (Romans 10:9-10). As a repentant sinner, Luther placed his full faith and trust in Christ apart from the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church from which he was eventually excommunicated and proclaimed anathema, bound for hell.

Only available in Latin and confined to only being read and interpreted by the Catholic Church, Luther began translating The Scriptures into the language of the German people so they, too, could read for themselves, “The just shall live by faith,” and find salvation in none other name but Christ Jesus as the Apostles preached on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 4:12). In doing so, Luther found himself having to be in hiding to complete the task as those led by the demons of Hell sought to stop his work. The Scriptures we hold in our hands today, written in our own language, found its beginning in the days of Luther on that fateful day in October 1517 when God opened the floodgates, that whosoever reads and keeps those things written therein will be blessed (Revelation 1:3).

Making a Name

When those living near Babylon wanted to make a name for themselves by building a tower that would reach unto heaven, their language was changed and the people were scattered (Genesis 11:1-9). When wicked Haman wanted to make a name for himself by killing all the Jews throughout the Persian Empire, he was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for another (Esther 3-7). When Judas desired to make a name for himself by selling Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, he went out and hanged himself (Matthew 26; 27:1-10).

 When God makes a name of someone, an Ark is built to save mankind and the animal kingdom, as with a man named Noah (Genesis 6-8). When God makes a name of someone, a nation is built that numbers the stars of heaven, as with Abraham (Genesis 15:1-6). When God makes a name of someone, a man and young woman become the earthly father and mother of Jesus, as were Joseph and Mary (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). When God makes a name of someone, a man intent on destroying God’s people becomes the greatest missionary to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and the writer of the majority of the New Testament, as did the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-18). When God makes a name of someone it is life-changing for the entire world.

 

Why So Many Denominations

In his classic book, “The Trail of Blood,” J.M. Carroll, a Texas pastor and educator of the last century, lays out the beginnings of the multitude of different religious denominations. After the ascension of Christ back to Heaven as recorded in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, the spreading of the Gospel by the Apostles and the early Christians continued as Jesus had commanded before His departure, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15). Once the early believers passed on to Glory through death and new generations arose, the way of salvation in Christ Alone as found in Scripture began to be distorted by some of the churches that had been established throughout the known world. Those churches began requiring the addition of baptism for salvation, referred to as “baptismal regeneration.” It was from this error that the birth of different denominations arose.

The separation of churches thus began. As early as A.D. 251 churches loyal to the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ broke fellowship with the erring churches. As an outgrowth of requiring adults to be baptized for salvation, it was determined by A.D. 370 to begin baptizing infants by immersion, too.

A group of the erring churches formed into the Catholic Church, organized during Constantine’s reign, and became involved in legislative activities. In A.D. 416 a law was passed making infant baptism mandatory throughout the Roman Empire. Those who rejected the practice as unbiblical took their stand against obeying the new law and suffered the consequences. Just ten years later in A.D. 426 the “Dark Ages” began, lasting over 1,000 years with over fifty million Christian martyrs giving their lives for the Truth of the Gospel.

It was not until 1530 during the Great Reformation the Lutheran Church came about in Germany under the leadership of Martin Luther, a former Catholic monk who was converted to faith in Christ Alone upon reading in the Scriptures, “The just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17). In 1541 the Presbyterian Church came into being in Switzerland under the leadership of John Calvin who left the Catholic Church upon his conversion to Christ. England’s King Henry VIII established the Church of England around 1534, making himself the head of the church after the Catholic Church would not annul his marriage to his first wife. In spite of their coming out of the Catholic Church, each of these denominations continued the practices of church and state alliances, baptismal regeneration, and infant baptism, which had evolved throughout the intervening years to either sprinkling or pouring for baptism.

The Methodist Church was born out of the work of John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitfield, in the 1700s, who had been members of the Church of England and had hoped to reform it from within. The Episcopal and Anglican churches also derive from the Church of England begun by Henry VIII. Those who remained true to the Scriptures since the days Jesus walked with His disciples and taught them salvation is by grace alone through faith alone were first referred to as Baptists in 1523 in Switzerland.

Preparing for Eternity

The coming eclipse of the moon passing before the sun caused numerous details to be considered and executed in preparation of its arrival throughout the United States for its safe viewing. Some traveled great distances at great cost to be in the direct path of its totality of coverage. Maps were pored over, arrangements for travel and lodging were made, meals were planned, the acquisition of solar viewing glasses were sought out and action taken to be in the best possible location for the best possible view. Much preparation took place by individuals to see the once in a lifetime event.

Before natural disasters strike, such as hurricanes in the current age, much time is given broadcasting the time of their potential arrival. Admonitions are made to prepare for the coming wind, rain and flooding such storms bring. Windows are boarded up, store shelves are emptied of their products, fuel is sought out to power transportation and generators, arrangements are made to either stay or find shelter elsewhere until the storm passes by. Much time and preparation takes place by each individual in its path in anticipation of what is about to befall them.

The Prophet Amos in the Old Testament of the Holy Scriptures admonished his hearers “Prepare to meet thy God,” (Amos 4:12). The judgment of God was once again upon the Children of Israel after endless years of rebellion and rejection of God’s Will for their lives. The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament over 800 years later called for Spiritual preparations to be made, “As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27). Preparing for Eternity is the most important preparation each individual must make.

To find what is needed to prepare for an Eternity with God one must spend time in His Word reading the Scriptures for what God requires of man to be in a right relationship with Him. One must spend time in prayer seeking God’s forgiveness and His Will for their life. One must daily be about the Father’s business, going where He would have them go, doing what He would have them do, sharing the Good News of the Gospel with all who will hear. The first step in preparing for Eternity is to begin with the ABCs…  Acknowledge your sin (Romans 3:10, 23);  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection for sin (Romans 5:8-9; 6:23);  Confess your need to Him of His Forgiveness (Romans 10:9-13). From there, as the Apostle Peter admonished in 2 Peter 3:18, “Grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be Glory both now and forever. Amen.”

God’s Instructions to His Children

As the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God spoke to Moses concerning His statutes and judgments they were to obey once they entered the Promised Land in order to receive His blessings. God spelled out for them what they should eat (Leviticus 11), how to curb the spread of leprosy (Leviticus 13-14), the importance of personal hygiene (Leviticus 15), and how to conduct themselves in the new land they would inherit (Leviticus 19).

God’s words to Moses to speak to the Children of Israel included the familiar “Ye shall not steal;” “Neither lie one to another;” “Neither shalt thou profane the Name of thy God,” (Leviticus 19:11-12). The LORD further related to Moses the Children of Israel were not to turn to idols (v.4), they were to give their offerings to Him of their own free will (v.5), pay those they hired (v.13), and were not to be talebearers (v.16). They were also not to eat anything with the blood, use enchantments, nor observe times of supposedly good days or bad days for human activity (v.26).

In order to “Be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy,” (v.2), God instructed Moses to “not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind,” (v.19). From the days of Creation each animal was designed by God to reproduce after its kind. The mixing of different animals to produce a new type of animal was forbidden by God. The same applied to different seeds being “mingled” together to form a new type of plant, or a garment made of an alternative type of fabric that combined linen with wool. In order to keep the strains pure, God instructed Moses to admonish the Children of Israel to abstain from any attempts at these practices, which were part of idol worship taking place in the land they would inherit.

Included in the idol worship of the Canaanites was the rounding of the corners of their heads and marring the corners of their beards, cutting themselves to mourn the dead, and printing marks upon themselves. God forbade the Children of Israel to participate in any form of idol worship, for “I am the LORD” (vs.27-28).

God’s instructions to the Children of Israel to “keep all My statutes, and all My judgments, and do them,” was to cause them not to be spewed out of the land as was happening to those He was removing for them to occupy the land. God said, Ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.” The inheritance of the Children of Israel of the land flowing with milk and honey for which God laid out strict instructions was for His people to know, “I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people… I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be Mine,” (Leviticus 20:22-26).