Songs of Thanksgiving

Songs of ThanksgivingPraise the Lord!
For He has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust Him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. — Psalm 28:6-7, NLT

It is almost trite to ask what are you thankful for in this season. And I do believe that gratefulness is an attitude and discipline that we need to practice all year long; and it’s something that believers should be doing:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, ESV

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. — Colossians 3:15

But if you are like me there are a lot of sad memories in this season. November is the month that my Papa passed away over 50 years ago, my uncle Jerry passed away 11 years ago and just one year ago, my cousin Scott committed suicide. The good thing is that as I look back, I can see so many more good memories in this season – and much of my life – and for that I am truly thankful. I can and do choose to overcome the obstacle of sadness by thanking God for the good memories that by His grace and mercy fill my heart and mind.

The life of a Christian is not guaranteed to be smooth and painless; actually quite the opposite. And if the last two years have shown us anythihg, it’s that we all are not really good with dealing with life when things go awry. The real problem at hand is that God is left out of the picture; even His children seem to be chasing other sources of help, instead of crying for His mercy. We are too independent and think that we have got this (life) and we will make it through just fine but the first time we stub our toe on one of the stumbling blocks in life’s road – major illness, financial loss, soured relationships, you name it – we are lost and seem to enjoy finding someone to blame or making others miserable. Our tendency to take life (and God) for granted and our tendency toward ingratitude wreck our peace.

I think the solution is clear – maybe not easy, but clear nonetheless. We do what God designed us for – praise of our Creator and Savior (1 Peter 2:9). We praise Him and we pray. He hears and in His presence we are able to rejoice and with the Psalmist burst out in songs of thanksgiving. My late friend, Enoch, believed this with all of his heart and lived it (and I believe is STILL living it in heaven). So many more verses of scripture back this up also.

So, as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner – with family and friends or alone – remember to give heartfelt thanks to the One who hears your cry, who is your strength and shield. Let Him help you and let your heart be filled with joy. Let your songs of thanksgiving burst forth.

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
— Psalm 7:17, ESV

Steve Pierce

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“And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel”, saith the Lord God, “that My fury shall come up in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; so that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”

“And I will call for a sword against him throughout all My mountains”, saith the Lord God: “every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”  — Ezekiel 38:18-23

Men, in the latter times, the Lord is bringing a massive coalition led by Gog, the king of the north, against Israel. He will allow evil thoughts to corrupt their angry minds as they form camps around the mountains of Israel. The fury of the Lord will then be displayed. Earthquakes will shake every living thing in the region from the fish, to the fields and even the birds. All mankind shall shake at His presence. Mountains and walls will fall down. Confusion will take hold until armies begin fighting themselves. Disease and bloodshed will come in judgment. Flooding rain, hailstones, fire and brimstone will descend upon the enemies of God.

For all the idolatry, agnosticism, and atheism on the earth when this happens, the Lord will be magnified and made known. The coalition coming against Israel at that time will seem invincible, and overwhelming. If not for the Lord God demonstrating Himself powerful over all His enemies, Israel would then cease to be.

For those who won’t know this prophetic Word in this future time, all will seem lost. Men’s knees will go weak at the sight of insurmountable opposition. Men will consign themselves to accepting their end, and then the Lord will unleash a barrage of fury upon His enemies.

We each have challenges in our daily lives that threaten to bring us down. Our personal defeat may seem at hand. It may seem we are opposed from all sides, with no hope of escape or victory. The Lord knows all things. He is not distant. While we may suffer until the opportune time, He is our deliverer, our rescue, our strength and refuge.

Move forward men, waiting on a victory. Hold your faith, hold your ground. Stand upon His promises and rest under His wing of security in Christ, our everlasting hope.

Vance Durrance

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God is Aware

God is awareNow the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you.

“Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them. After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.” — Ezekiel 38:1-9, NKJV

Men, the Lord has promised to restore Israel and return the people to their land and to protect them from their enemies. Here in the next chapters God forecasts an upcoming season of hostility toward His people in “latter days” (v8).

In Genesis 10 we read a genealogy of the sons of Noah who would become the rulers of lands as they spread out and multiplied. The modern lands represented by the historic tribes of Noah will form a coalition, which the Lord God is against. This coalition of modern nations which will surround Israel include eastern Europe, Russia, China, the Arab states, Turkey, and the northern regions of Africa. When the nation of Israel is regathered, resettled, and finally lives in a measure of prosperity, security and peace, the Lord will lead this coalition out (v4) to come against Israel.

Brothers, a loose teaching of the end war has led us to conclude that the enemy, Satan, stirs this plan to motion. Read v4 again. The Lord God is in control. The enemy will seem to hijack the Lord’s plan (v10), but from the beginning of the prophetic word Ezekiel shares about Israel’s future enemies, we see clearly, the Lord God is not caught by surprise, but rather, working His plan to demonstrate His final authority. A strict reading of v4 tells us that Israel’s enemies will have no choice in the matter. They will come against Israel when the Lord God says so.

What troubles surround you today? What may the enemy be using today to convince you of God’s distance and your impending destruction? What God has spoken roughly 3500 years ago we can begin to see forming today. Are we really in any danger of finding ourselves outside of God’s expertise?

Move forward men, acknowledging God’s sovereignty, His awareness, His authority over all matters past, now and future. The Lord initiates what seems like distress, has a plan for victory and allows His people to share in that victory. Will we see His glory or only see dread and overwhelming opposition?

Vance Durrance

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Dry Bones

Dry Bones

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. — Ezekiel 37:1-2.

Men, everyone who reads the Word along with these devotions will recognize an immediate shift in language for ch. 37. Elsewhere we have read, “Again the Word of the Lord came to me saying:” before the Lord granted prophetic knowledge to Ezekiel. Here, we read, “The Hand of the Lord came upon me.” God’s hand represents a different value in His authority. I didn’t say greater or lesser, but different.

Elsewhere, Ezekiel has heard God’s Word, and recognized physical elements to use in his prophecy to the people, but here, Ezekiel is led out of his normal state of consciousness into a state where he perceives both the voice of God and the physical attributes of the environment shown to him in a very literal sense. He can see and feel physical things though clearly not in his normal state or place.

Ezekiel is set by God into a valley filled with dry bones. The Lord caused him to pass through the whole valley where he again acknowledges that there are many bones, and indeed they were very dry. The Lord then asks: “Son of man, can these bones live?” We might suggest “no” from our own time and normal cognition, but Ezekiel is not in his normal cognitive element. He recognizes that he is in the realm of God’s Spirit, where His authority and power are on display unimpeded by the laws of His creation.

There are 2 predominant interpretations for the dry bones. Some argue the bones are the slain Israelites of the siege that had recently decimated Jerusalem and all Judah. Others offer that this is metaphoric for the deadness of the persecuted church, perhaps through the time of Jesus when even the religious leaders were far off course.

V11 offers more clarity, but for now, move forward as we consider, the realm in which we inhabit is a very small place, and the Lord God is not contained within it. The Lord God sees, experiences, shares and creates from a place beyond our doubt or understanding. The Lord God is great and limitless beyond our comprehension.

Vance Durrance

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