CTT | Cattle on a Thousand Hills

Have you ever been listening to a sermon about tithing or fundraising or about our need to proclaim and declare prosperity because we serve a God who owns the “cattle on a thousand hills”? What does that phrase mean? Where does it come from? How does it relate to me? Well, today, we’ll take a look at this portion of a verse and then we’ll examine its context. We’ll find Biblical answers to all of these questions, and I’ll try to address some of its abuses.

The partial quote comes from the second half of Psalm 50:10.

Psalm 50:10 (ESV)  For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.

Interesting verse, but this isn’t a proverb, comes from a Psalm. So let’s read the Psalm and confirm who is speaking to whom, and what the topic of this conversation is.

Psalm 50 (ESV) | God Himself Is Judge

A Psalm of Asaph.
50 The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:

Okay, so far we have the LORD God who who speaks and summons the earth that He may judge His people. Let’s continue to see what He is saying.

5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah
7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

Interesting. The phrase we are examining today finds itself among several references to the fact that God is in-fact God, and that everything belongs to Him already. Who is God speaking to? Those who made a covenant with God by sacrifice, those under the Mosaic covenant. God declares that He will testify against Israel, for He is their God. God does not rebuke them for their sacrifices, their burnt offerings are continually before him, but notice he shifts immediately by saing He will not accept a bull from the house of Israel, nor goats from her fields. He owns every beast of the forest, all the birds of the hills and all that moves in the field. This reference to “a thousand hills” isn’t to be taken as a literal 1,000 hills, as if there could be cattle on the 1001st hill that didn’t belog to God, God is saying He owns them all. But where is this going? Is this headed toward a health, wealth, and prosperity teaching?

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?

Israel was not the only nation whose worship included animal sacrifice, they were just the only nation who worshiped the LORD God. The pagans (consider the Egpytian gods, and later the Greek and Roman gods) sacrificed to idols and false gods, for their gods had to be fed, served, nourished, and appeased. Here, God is reminding Israel that He did not require these blood sacrifices for His sake, and even if He could hunger, He wouldn’t look to us for His sustinence. God doesn’t need your permission nor your cooperation, the world an everything in it belongs to Him. The notion that God has need of us in any way is a purely pagan one. The sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant are part of their current covenant, but more importantly they point ahead to the Last Sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Christ, the Son of the Living God.

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

What does it mean to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving? It first requires faith that it is God who has provided for your needs, that it is God who has saved you. For this definition I’m borrowing heavily from Hebrews 11:4-6. Both Cain and Abel brought sacrifices, but Abel found favor in the eyes of the LORD by faith. But now we get to the judgment against the people. Remember, their observance of the animal sacrifices under the Law isn’t why God is pronouncing judgment on Israel, so let’s look at what has been missing.

16 But to the wicked God says:
What right have you to recite my statutes
    or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.
19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!

Verse 16 hits Israel of the day, and today’s prosperity false-teachers, right between the eyes. You don’t get to demand that God keep His promises “according to the Law” in response to your faithless attempts at keeping the Law. God plainly lists how Israel falls short of the Law. Sure they keep the outward works of the sacrifices, but the lack faith, therefore their gestures are not pleasing to God. Notice how it’s beeing worded, you cast My Words behind youyou who forget God.  A good cross-reference for this Psalm can be found in Isaiah 1 where, again, God is calling out Judah for her lack of faith despite the multitude of sacrifices. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

This thanksgiving is a fruit of faith in God’s Word, for apart from faith in God’s Word we do not give thanks to God. As we examine our lives according to the 10 Commandments, we see that we fall woefully short of these today. As we examine the sins pointed out in the Psalm above, we see that we fall in that very same category. We sin. We are not under the Mosaic covenant, so where does that leave us? We look to the cross of Jesus Christ, and we believe in His finished work on the cross. We offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for the body and blood of His son, Jesus Christ, received by Grace through faith.

So how does this Psalm 50 reference apply to us? We don’t feed God by our sacrifices, He feeds us by His Word. This passage in no way points to our temporal prosperity.


Whenever someone pulls out the description of God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, know that the Psalmist is declaring God to be God of all things, the whole earth, all of creation and all that is in it. If the invoking of this description of God isn’t focusing on giving thanks to God for our salvation, be careful… it’s probably being lifted out of its context. This isn’t a “do more good works” text. God isn’t rebuking Israel for their lack of good works; rather, for their lack of faith.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV)

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Jordan Smith

ApprovedThis post will serve as a bonus/appetizer to today’s DiM. I’ve already confessed here before that my wife and I enjoy watching The Voice on NBC. What happens on prime time television is rarely something worth discussing on this blog, but I would be remiss to not share Jordan Smith’s studio rendition of Selah’s version of Great is they faithfulness. It may be a bit shallow, but I love the fact that this was not accompanied by an organ.

Jordan Smith – Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Studio Version – The Voice 9


Shorter Version that was aired on NBC’s TheVoice Season 9


Great is Thy Faithfulness (Selah) Lyrics

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

And All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

*Jordan’s changes are in italics


This is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God the Father for all He has provided for us… including forgiveness, peace, strength for today and hope for tomorrow. This is an excellent song that has endured for well over 100 years.

The song draws from Lamentations 3. You’ll see the refrain in verses 22-23, but to get the full picture, please read the whole chapter.

Lamentations 3 (ESV) | Great Is Your Faithfulness

I am the man who has seen affliction
    under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
    into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
    again and again the whole day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
    he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
    with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness
    like the dead of long ago.

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
    he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help,
    he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;
    he has made my paths crooked.

10 He is a bear lying in wait for me,
    a lion in hiding;
11 he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;
    he has made me desolate;
12 he bent his bow and set me
    as a target for his arrow.

13 He drove into my kidneys
    the arrows of his quiver;
14 I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
    the object of their taunts all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitterness;
    he has sated me with wormwood.

16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
    and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
    I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
    so has my hope from the Lord.”

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone in silence
    when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
    and let him be filled with insults.

31 For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.

34 To crush underfoot
    all the prisoners of the earth,
35 to deny a man justice
    in the presence of the Most High,
36 to subvert a man in his lawsuit,
    the Lord does not approve.

37 Who has spoken and it came to pass,
    unless the Lord has commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that good and bad come?
39 Why should a living man complain,
    a man, about the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us test and examine our ways,
    and return to the Lord!
41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands
    to God in heaven:
42 “We have transgressed and rebelled,
    and you have not forgiven.

43 “You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
    killing without pity;
44 you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
    so that no prayer can pass through.
45 You have made us scum and garbage
    among the peoples.

46 “All our enemies
    open their mouths against us;
47 panic and pitfall have come upon us,
    devastation and destruction;
48 my eyes flow with rivers of tears
    because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.

49 “My eyes will flow without ceasing,
    without respite,
50 until the Lord from heaven
    looks down and sees;
51 my eyes cause me grief
    at the fate of all the daughters of my city.

52 “I have been hunted like a bird
    by those who were my enemies without cause;
53 they flung me alive into the pit
    and cast stones on me;
54 water closed over my head;
    I said, ‘I am lost.’

55 “I called on your name, O Lord,
    from the depths of the pit;
56 you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
    your ear to my cry for help!’
57 You came near when I called on you;
    you said, ‘Do not fear!’

58 “You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
    judge my cause.
60 You have seen all their vengeance,
    all their plots against me.

61 “You have heard their taunts, O Lord,
    all their plots against me.
62 The lips and thoughts of my assailants
    are against me all the day long.
63 Behold their sitting and their rising;
    I am the object of their taunts.

64 “You will repay them, O Lord,
    according to the work of their hands.
65 You will give them dullness of heart;
    your curse will be on them.
66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
    from under your heavens, O Lord.”


In Christ Jesus,


CTT | Christmas Pitfalls

The “Christmas Season” is a great way to liven up an otherwise dreary time of the year. Since so much time will be spent indoors, it serves as a good time to gather together friends and family for feasts and merriment. Since it comes at the end of the year, it’s a good time to reflect on the year in much the same way as we in the U.S. do for Thanksgiving. Not everyone has the means for festivities and merriment, especially during this harsh time of the year, so Charity is often promoted heavily during this time of year with food drives and gift-giving. All of these things are “good” things. I enjoy Thanksgiving-style festivals. As Christians, we know that for Thanksgiving, all praise and glory and honor and thanks go to God the Father. Unbelievers talk about “being thankful” but to whom and for what remains undefined… because they lack faith. They are lost and have rejected God by suppressing the Truth in their unrighteousness, knowing God but refusing to worship Him as God (Romans 1)… but they still observe the feast of Thanksgiving without acknowledging the Creator. Essentially, we observe the same festival in two distinctly different ways… Christians thank God the Father for all He has done, while unbelievers focus on mankind and “being thankful” in a general sense.

Christmas and Thanksgiving are Man-made Feasts

In fact, when we look at these two modern-day holidays as feasts or festivals, we see that they are not all that different from feasts and festivals around the world. Sure the trappings and the details change, but all of the “good things” in these festivals are the food, family, and fellowship. These are man-made feasts. Neither of these feasts is intrinsically Holy, for neither of them were instituted by God in Scripture. That doesn’t make them evil, it only means they are man-made customs. That they are both nationally recognized means that they are extremely popular, but that doesn’t mean everyone is celebrating the same thing. Just as we discussed the difference between how unbelievers and believers honor Thanksgiving, there are major differences in what the world celebrates and what Christians celebrate for Christmas. At least, there should be. The problem is that we’ve allowed the world to set up some rather perilous pitfalls with the season.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In truth, it isn’t. This time of year is hard, difficult, cold, and depressive. The world turns to a lot of legends, folklore, romance, and alcohol to pass the time and look out for each other to make the most of this time of year. Jack Frost, Old Man Winter, Santa Clause, elves, fairies, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, ghosts of Christmas past/present/future,… these are all folklore and pagan legends.  None of them are Christ-affirming, and that is to be expected from a world that Hates Jesus.

John 15:18-25 (ESV) | The Hatred of the World

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did,they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

So then, the first pitfall I want to make clear is that the world that Hates Jesus, is NOT celebrating Him. When the world gathers together for Thanksgiving, it isn’t to thank God… they find their own things to thank: themselves, humanity, or nature in general. They tend to celebrate the food, the Football, the Parade, the time away from work… anything but God. Similarly, when the world celebrates Christmas, they celebrate Santa, Gifts, Romance, Time off from work, the food. If there is a spiritual element to their celebration, it’s usually a spirit of humanism, or some sort of pantheism. The world has constructed a malleable idol of “the christmas spirit” which compels them to do good works in hopes of a reward from Santa. If you listen to the songs that play in the stores and on the radio, you’ll quickly recognize that they are honoring the feast, the parties, the traditions of the season, not the birth of the Savior. That’s what the world celebrates. And as the world celebrates their thing, they demonstrate their benevolence toward Christians by allowing us our nativity scenes. The world isn’t intimidated by “Baby Jesus”, or “Christmas Jesus” as was demonstrated so horribly in the Thanksgiving Dinner scene of Talladega Nights (ref scene here). The world doesn’t bow the knee to a Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… yet. When Christ returns, every knee will bow… and tongue confess… but for many it will be too late to escape judgement.

When the Church Conforms to the World’s Version

A common refrain within the visible church is, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. If that is the case, why are so many Christians offended by those who reject the Santa lie? Why do we bring Santa into churches? Why do Christians take part in “Elf on the Shelf” nonsense? Probably for the same reason that so many popular pastors have deemed it appropriate to preach sermons based on blockbuster movies rather than the Word of God. They’ll preach their own experiences or a recent Christian self-help book from a best-selling author (who may have bought that title) rather than the Word of God. Here is the second pitfall I’d like to point out, that simply including some mention of Jesus or insisting on “keeping the ‘Christ’ in Christmas”, doesn’t somehow make everything associated with Christmas sacred. If the Christmas tree in the foyer is just a decoration, fine… it’s a decoration no more/less holy than a welcome mat. Just don’t fall into the trap that somehow it needs to be there or the holiday is ruined.

Christmas Songs

Few Christmas songs actually point to Christ. Of those, not many convey the full Gospel. Of those, few are played on the airwaves and in the stores. What does get played a lot are the songs glorifying “the Christmas season” or various cultural traditions “at this time of year”. We actually have songs singing to the Christmas Tree, to Santa Clause, and songs about other fantasy creatures such as Rudolph or Frosty. My blood flash-boils whenever I hear one of these songs sung in a Church during Praise and Worship. Who are these songs praising and worshiping? Let that sink in a moment…

Christmas Movies

To date, the only decent one is A Charlie Brown Christmas, because of the scene where Linus recites the Luke 2:8-14 Narrative.

[youtube http://youtu.be/pn10FF-FQfs]

There are a lot of entertaining movies that are released at this time of year, but none of them convey the Gospel message. And that leads me to the next pitfall, there is no way of ‘Saving Christmas’ so that it becomes an institutional Gospel message. Do not expect the world, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is the Great Commission for Believers. Don’t expect the world to keep this holiday sacred, that’s patently absurd.

So is Christmas okay or wrong?

Neither. There is nothing intrinsically Holy about Christmas. The Gospel isn’t Christmas, it’s Jesus Christ. I pray you understand the distinction I’m making. The Christmas Holiday is a great festival, but completely disposable… the Biblical account of the Virgin Birth is indispensable and is part of our faith and Gospel year-round. Avoid the pitfalls of making more of the wrong things than we ought. Don’t lie to your kids about Santa… he’s no more necessary for their upbringing than my-little-pony and he’s potentially far more dangerous for their faith. This culture pushes kids to believe in what they KNOW to be a lie, harder than they push for them to know their Savior Jesus Christ. God forgive us. But more importantly, don’t conflate what is essentially a Thanksgiving festival with the Gospel Message of the virgin birth of the Messiah, Son of the Living God. In all things, even in this rebuke/warning, we are to walk in love and in thanksgiving to God. For our final pitfall, let us open our Bibles to Romans 14.

Romans 14 (ESV)

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

The biggest pitfall of this season, is in casting judgment upon our brother/sister over how they choose to celebrate (or abstain) this man-made festival. We will continue studying God’s Word and what is Written our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and how the Word became flesh and walked among us. It is always a good thing to everything you do to the honor and Glory of God, and Christmas can be such an occasion, just like Thanksgiving, New Years, Easter, the 4th of July… that’s why we are called to walk in Him. We walk everywhere we go, thus wherever and whenever we are walking we are to do so in Him. Now there is one holy occasion in Scripture that we are told to observe in Christ’s honor. In fact, He instituted it Himself. Let’s look at that before we close.

Luke 22:14-20 (ESV)

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

The Apostle Paul also received these instructions and relayed them to the Corinthians who were making a mockery of Communion (some were getting drunk and eating for their fill).

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you until the Great Day of His Return.
In Christ Jesus,

Thanksgiving Thursday 2014

The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

For those in the United States, Happy Thanksgiving!

Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV)| Alive in Christ

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

2 Thessalonians 1:2-4 (ESV) | Thanksgiving

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

Revelation 7:9-14 (ESV)

A Great Multitude from Every Nation

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

OT | Water in the Wilderness (Exodus 17:1-7)

For those who’d like to continue in our Old Testament study, the next portion of our text has already been covered once back in September. In the meantime, may the Lord Bless and keep you this day.

Today’s Study: The Bread and Water of Jesus

Next week we will begin our Christmas (Advent) study in the Book of Matthew.

In Christ Jesus,


A time of Thanksgiving in the U.S.

This week, the fourth week of November, we will be celebrating the American Holiday of Thanksgiving. What a wonderful time of gathering together with family and loved ones, to give thanks. Now, this is not a Biblical festival in that it cannot be found in the Bible; nevertheless, it is one that was born in the early days of North American exploration, and has its roots in the right type of soil. Let’s look at how it became an official Holiday:

Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November. (History.com, accessed 11/25/13 emphasis mine)

The early Pilgrims came to the New World in search of land they could call their own, and a place where they were free to practice their faith, rather than be forced to observe the faith of the State. In many way, we still struggle with these 2 things here in the U.S. Only now, unlike before, the attacks are mostly on the Christian faith above all else. Why is that? Because the world hates Jesus. Am I being melodramatic or pessimistic? No. I’m simply quoting scripture:

John 15:18-27 (NASB)

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 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. 20 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. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

There is much that can be said (and, in fact, is being said all over social media) about the decline of American Culture, and the fact that this nation has completely lost sight of the principles of God, that is not what this holiday is about. This holiday is about giving Thanks to God for His many blessings, and for His grace and mercy that enables us to weather the storms of life in a fallen world. Don’t let the enemy rob you of your thankfulness to God, or tempt you to complain and murmur. Throughout the Bible, thanksgiving (or thankfulness) is expressed through Praise. In fact, in many cases, it is out of our thankfulness to God that we are commanded to praise Him.

Colossians 3:12-17 (NASB)

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (emphasis mine)

We are commanded to live in a continual state of thankfulness to God. So this holiday fits well with that command. Sure there is room to slip (gluttony, strife, ungratefulness, envy, debt, etc.) but that is always there. Let us turn our hearts to God. Remember the trials He has brought you through this year. If you are currently in a struggle, perhaps now is the time for fasting and prayer… in the same way that Governor Bradford recognized the need to seek His Face. Remember the widows, the orphans, and the poor this Thanksgiving. Now is also a time to thank God for the provision that will carry us through the winter months into a new spring. If after all of this you are still finding it hard to give thanks to God… then I pray that you will soften your heart to the things of God, and repent of your bitterness, unforgiveness, and stubbornness. The Word is very clear that God disciplines those He loves (Heb12:6), and digging in your heels or stiffening your neck only makes it worse for you.

In closing, I thought it would be cool to share Psalms 9:

Psalm 9 (NASB)
A Psalm of Thanksgiving for God’s Justice.  For the choir director; on Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.

1 I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.
I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turn back,
They stumble and perish before You.
For You have maintained my just cause;
You have sat on the throne judging righteously.
You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins,
And You have uprooted the cities;
The very memory of them has perished.

But the Lord abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.
9 The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble;
10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

11 Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion;
Declare among the peoples His deeds.
12 For He who requires blood remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13 Be gracious to me, O Lord;
See my affliction from those who hate me,
You who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 That I may tell of all Your praises,
That in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in Your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made Himself known;
He has executed judgment.
In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared. Higgaion Selah.

17 The wicked will return to Sheol,
Even all the nations who forget God.
18 For the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.
19 Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged before You.
20 Put them in fear, O Lord;
Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.

May the Lord bless you and keep you in His Will.

In Him,