Has Thanksgiving lost its meaning?

Has Thanksgiving lost its meaning?

For many, Thanksgiving is a day for overeating and football followed by a mad dash for Black Friday specials. Stores are decorated for Christmas moments after the Halloween stuff comes down and Thanksgiving is mostly “celebrated” by on-air personalities who talk about the rising cost of Thanksgiving dinner and the number of people who will be traveling for the long holiday weekend. So, it may seem that Thanksgiving has lost its original meaning–a day set aside to thank God for America’s abundance and freedom.

The traditional First Thanksgiving was an acknowledgment by Pilgrims, who arrived on the Mayflower, that through God’s grace some of those travelers survived the first terrible winter of freezing and starvation. Those survivors were able to plant and harvest grains and vegetables that allowed the community to flourish. After their first harvest, they expressed thanks to God for His sustaining grace and for the help they received from nearby native communities.

Through the years, more and more English settlers arrived in the New World and harvest celebrations, like the ones they celebrated in the old country, became part of their annual rituals. Throughout New England, especially, an annual Thanksgiving was proclaimed. One hundred sixty-eight years after that first Thanksgiving feast along the shore of Cape Cod Bay, President George Washington, at the request of Congress called for Thursday, November 26th to be set aside as a day for prayer and giving thanks to God. Subsequent presidents, except for Thomas Jefferson, continued the tradition. Almost 75 years later, President Lincoln proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 26, 1863 as a National Thanksgiving Day. The 4th Thursday in November became the official date of Thanksgiving during the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

So where does that leave Christians? Pagan harvest festivals predated and seem to form the basis for our Thanksgiving holiday. Christians don’t need a special day to thank God for his provisions, that is an everyday occurrence. They also shouldn’t give the day any more spiritual significance than any other day. But Thanksgiving does offer Christians an opportunity to reflect on God’s goodness to them in the death and resurrection of Jesus, their lord and savior. Likewise, it provides Christian moms and dads a time to retell the story of the First Thanksgiving and how God spared the Pilgrims and allowed them to enter a long period of friendship with natives who lived nearby. It also provides an opportunity to invite international students and recent immigrants into Christian homes to learn about this unique holiday.

So what are you thankful for? You don’t need to have a great job, or perfect family, or new car, or a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to realize that you probably have many reasons to be thankful. You might start by being thankful for what you have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t have.

Millions of people walk this earth with much less than you have, yet many of them enjoy contentment and are thankful for what they do have. Think about this.  If you live in America, you are already among the most blessed people on earth. And those blessings come directly or indirectly from God–the God who created everything, even you.  So take stock of your blessings and thank the God who has made them possible. Objects of your desire may fail you. People may let you down. But even if some things are not going your way right now, God still loves you, and He wants you to know contentment even in your suffering.

All that is required for true joy is a relationship with our Creator (Ps. 37:14), who wants us to be happy and to bless us with everything we need (Phil. 4:19), even though we may not think so. When we have a good relationship with God (Prov. 10:3), like Paul, an apostle of Jesus, we will learn in whatever situation to be content (Phil. 4:11-12). We will find that the most important thing that God can give us is Himself (Eph. 2:8-9). Once we have our eyes set on God, everything else falls into place (Matt. 6:33). Thank God with your whole heart this week!

If you would like to learn more about how you can enter into a relationship with the eternal God to whom we give thanks, we encourage you to read our blog post: How does one become a Christian?

What is Heaven?

What is Heaven?

Heaven is a place where time will not exist as we know it on Earth. This means life in heaven will be eternal; no more death. Heaven is a destination Jesus promised for all who put their trust and faith in him as their Savior. He is the only way to that eternal place of peace, joy, abundant love and eternal life. In John 14:3, Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be also.” That is one of the greatest promises ever made to mankind. It’s called God’s grace. God giving us something we did not deserve and never could earn by our own good works.

While heaven is a place where those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus will spend eternity, eternal life is much more than heaven. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” ( John 17:3)  What this simply means is that when you have an intimate personal life with Jesus as your Lord and Savior you have eternal life here and now. Then you will experience an abundant and exciting adventure with the one through whom God created the entire universe.

As you let Jesus transform your life into his image you will see and experience life as you never could have imagined. Then you have eternal life and your spirit/soul will never die. It will go to heaven where one day you will get a glorious new eternal body. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you would like to be assured of participating in this eternal life, check out our post, How does one become a Christian? 

 

Should Christians try to convert those of other religions?

Should Christians try to convert those of other religions?

Yes, and No. While Jesus commanded his followers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), he taught and dmeonstrated that it is God, not Christians, who does the converting.

Christians are to be Jesus’ ambassadors to the world bringing the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus alone saves. God does all the convicting of sin and the need for a Savior and the converting through His Holy Spirit. When speaking to those of another faith walk or religion, a Christian’s conversation and testimony are to be shared in love and compassion. Even when speaking to those who consider themselves agnostics or atheists, the best approach is to meet them where they are and share the Good News found in the Bible. over and over we see Jesus launching conversations that specifically address individual concerns and circumstances. Likewise, his disciples learned to preach and teach in a way that found common ground and then told the story of repentence, forgeiveness and restoration in a way that resonated with them.

Christians do all this because they are instructed to do so in many passages of scripture and because they want to share God’s love and their joy of knowing Jesus as Savior. They want every person to experience that wonderful transformed and meaningful life that God gives now and forever to all who believe. When a person experiences God’s love and forgiveness, he or she is saved from God’s wrath. So, why would he or she not want to tell others about their new life and the source of that new life in Jesus their Savior.

When Christians tell others about Jesus, the Gospel and how He died and rose again for their sins, they are serving as God’s ambassadors. We go and tell just like the Apostle Andrew said to his brother Peter, “Come and see. We have found the Messiah, Jesus.”

There is nothing greater than seeing a lost soul find Jesus as Savior. Now how about you? If you are a Christian do you tell others about Jesus? Perhaps it’s a family member or friend or colleague that needs to know Him. We encourage you to be that Christian friend that shares the ‘Good News” and points them to Jesus just like Andrew did to Peter. Then watch in wonder as God does a marvelous transformation in that person’s life. What happens really does surpass all human understanding but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

If you don’t know Jesus as your savior and lord, please take a look at our post, How does one become a Christian? 

What is Biblical Law

What is Biblical Law

There are two important factors in understanding law: (1) man’s moral worth; and (2) man’s rebellious nature.

Man has worth. Man was created by God in the image and likeness of God. Thus, there is an inherent value in a person. That worth is not earned but is given in man’s creation. It is often called “moral worth” or “the dignity of man.” Thus, to harm or murder a man is to deny him the value and dignity bestowed upon him by God.

Also, man has a rebellious nature. Man disobeyed God and the result was a change in man’s nature. His nature became self-centered. As such, man will devise ways to achieve his own self-interests, often harming others. Law attempts to control this rebellion in man.

Because of these two factors, moral worth and rebelliousness, God has given two types of law: (1) natural law (which we addressed in last week’s post) and (2) Biblical law (which we address in this post).

Through his word, the Bible, God has provided a framework for living in relationship with Him, with our families and with all other humans. That law is first laid down in the first five books of the Bible know as the Mosaic Law or the Torah. That law is detailed across many pages, but the essence is contained in what has become known as the Ten Commandments.

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

 

Exodus 20:1-17

The intent of Biblical Law is not only to protect man, but keep him on a right path that provides a healthy, blessed and happy life. 

. . . happy is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Biblical Law and Natural Law are beautifully summed up by Jesus when he was asked by one of the great Bible scholars of his day, “What is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

In addition to God’s law that is burned onto the hearts and minds of men (Natural Law) and made evident through

God’s word (Biblical Law), man creates civil law. Man realizes that laws are required to temper the natural instincts of men and women. These laws are usually designed to protect individuals from harmful actions of others and to make individuals accountable for their actions. However, civil laws may not conform to God’s Biblical Law, and in fact, may contradict both Natural and Biblical Law. Such contradictory laws are often established based on the selfish desires of man.

Law that follows Biblical principles protects each of us and the ones we love. God’s law is true. It is designed to increase the happiness of everyone, ensuring a fair and just society when it is obeyed.

Since all men and women are incapable of keeping the law–natural or Biblical–they are forever separated from their creator God. That’s why God, sent his son, Jesus, to provide a way to restore the relationship between God and man. If you’d like to learn more, check out our post, How does one become a Christian?

 

 

 

What is Natural Law?

What is Natural Law?

There are two important factors in understanding law: (1) man’s moral worth; and (2) man’s rebellious nature.

Man has worth. Man was created by God in the image and likeness of God. Thus, there is an inherent value in a person. That worth is not earned but is given in man’s creation. It is often called “moral worth” or “the dignity of man.” Thus, to harm or murder a man is to deny him the value and dignity bestowed upon him by God.

Also, man has a rebellious nature. Man disobeyed God and the result was a change in man’s nature. His nature became self-centered. As such, man will devise ways to achieve his own self-interests, often harming others. Law attempts to control this rebellion in man.

Because of these two factors, moral worth and rebelliousness, God has given two types of law: (1) natural law (which we address in this post) and (2) Biblical law (which we will address next week).

Natural Law. Man, whether Christian or not, has a conscience. The conscience includes a memory bank of rules of right and wrong. Man is born with these rules. As man acts, his conscience views this memory bank, and signals to the man whether he should or should not carry out the action. It is an inherent sense of right and wrong. It is called natural law. Thus, all individuals are held accountable to God for their actions in abiding by or disobeying the built-in understanding of right or wrong known as conscience.

Many cultures, including Judaism and Christianity, summarize this law as the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

The signers of America’s Declaration of Independence referred to the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God and proclaimed that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. They concluded by appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world firmly relying on the protection of divine Providence.

All of the men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1776, identified themselves as Christians and were well acquainted with the Bible, They “believed in and based the nation’s independence on Natural Law; that is, that God in creating the universe, implanted in the nature of man a body of Law to which all human beings are subject, which is superior to all manmade law and which is knowable by human reason.”*

The nation’s founders tied their understanding of Natural Law to a set of God-given rights later codified in the Constitution and, in particular, the first 10 amendments. Those rights come under the broad headings of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Since all men and women are incapable of keeping the law–natural or Biblical–they are forever separated from their creator God. That’s why God, sent his son, Jesus, to provide a way to restore the relationship between God and man. If you’d like to learn more, check out our post, How does one become a Christian? 

* BARKER, ROBERT S. “NATURAL LAW AND THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.” The Review of Metaphysics (Nov. 2012)

What is Christian Apologetics?

What is Christian Apologetics?

The dictionary defines apologetics as “reasoned arguments in justification of something, someone or a cause. Persuading with reason and evidence and truth.”

 

Therefore, Christian apologetics are the reasoned arguments that justify what Christians believe about God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, Creation, Sin, Salvation, Nature, the Origins of Man, Heaven, Hell, End Times, Judgement and Eternity. These apologetics undergird Christianity, allowing Christians to understand the solid foundation on which their belief rests.

Through apologetics, Christians are able to coherently explain God’s existence, the truth of the Bible, and the reliability of the Biblical and Secular evidence for the life, teachings, miracles, death on a cross, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. What Christians believe and why they believe it matters because those who have placed their faith and trust in God and Jesus find real meaning and purpose in life. They overcome the fear of death and find peace with God, joy for living and the assurance of eternal life in Heaven.

Christian Apologetics demonstrates that the truth of God’s Word best matches the reality of the human condition and life itself. That’s why hundreds of millions of people have become followers of Jesus. They recognize that He is who He said He is: The Son of God, The Prophesied Messiah, The Anointed One… the only way to peace with God and eternal life. Jesus is the only one who can forgive sin. He is the only real hope for world peace. He is the only intercessor between man and God. He has promised that he will return to earth to Judge all who have or will have lived in this world, making all things new including Earth and Heaven.

That judgment will be final. Those who have not placed their trust and faith in Jesus as their Savior will be eternally separated from God and his perfect love. If you would like to know how you can become one of God’s children and begin to walk into the best possible future, check out our post, How does one become a Christian?  How you respond will be the most important decision of your life.

Image by Antonio López from Pixabay