An important part of American heritage is the story of the group of British Christians who fled persecution and planted the Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts.
It was a daunting task to settle in such an undeveloped area, and the Pilgrims were ill-equipped. Their first winter in Plymouth, half of them died from disease and inadequate supplies.
Things were so bad that they had to ration their supply of corn to five kernels per person per day.
Several years later when crops were abundant, the Pilgrims started their Thanksgiving celebration by serving each person five kernels of corn as a reminder of what God had brought them through.
They understood what Paul meant when he wrote:
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” Philippians 4:12-13
Whether they were struggling through lean times or enjoying abundance, they knew they could trust God’s strength to get them through.
Before our Thanksgiving meal, I serve five kernels of corn to remember our pilgrim heritage and God’s faithfulness. Why not make this your tradition too?
Resource: David Manuel and Peter Marshall, The Light and the Glory (Fleming Revell, NJ, 1977).
Have you ever accepted or justified a book, movie, or teaching that misrepresented the gospel, simply because it contained some good elements? Sadly, more and more Christians are doing this.
This has always been a dangerous type of compromise because it leads to a loss of discernment. But it’s especially dangerous considering our present spiritual climate with so many people redefining Christianity to fit cultural values.
We must be careful not to make “ungodly alliances,” approving of things which mix truth with error (2 Corinthians 6:14). Satan loves mixing Scripture with his lies. He couldn’t fool Jesus with this “trick” (Luke 4:9-13), but he has much more success with undiscerning Christians.
For example, when I first wrote about the serious errors in The Shack, many Christians defended the book because it contained some “good” parts. Most of them claimed I’d totally misunderstood the author’s portrayal of God.
A few years later, my concerns were proven true when the author wrote a book about the beliefs he’d presented in The Shack. He claimed that God did not plan Christ’s redemption on the cross because only a “cosmic abuser” would do that. What “good” in the story could justify such a serious mockery of God’s
Accepting half-truths is the same as – or worse than – accepting outright lies. It causes us to lose our discernment, our ability to separate right from wrong, truth from error.
May we have far greater loyalty to God and His Word than we have to the “good parts” of anything which misrepresents Him.
During the course of his ninety-five years of life, Billy Graham shared the gospel with millions.
There were times he preached to thousands of people six evenings a week for four months straight.
Several years ago, the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC, invited a group of Christian bloggers to a “behind the scenes” presentation of the ministry. I left with a deep respect for how powerfully God can use a faithful man or woman.
Sometimes hearing about Christians like Graham makes us feel insignificant. But it shouldn’t. God gives us different gifts, opportunities, and callings, and He’s prepared kingdom work for each of us (Ephesians 2:10).
He called Graham to preach to millions, but he’s called most of us to shine our light in a much smaller sphere of influence (Matthew 5:16).
God doesn’t measure our significance by numbers but by faithfulness to His call. So today let’s be deliberate, eager, and faithful in whatever God calls us to do.
I’d had a rough night and there was a cold winter rain beating my windows, so I decided to stay inside the whole day.
As I sank into a comfortable chair ready to savor my first cup of morning coffee, my daughter called.
“Did you remember Paxton’s school program this morning?”
“Oh, no! I forgot!”
Everything within me wanted to skip it. Then I thought of the gleam in our four-year-old grandson’s eyes the day he told us about his program, and I immediately knew I would go. Not because I had to go, but because I love my grandson and he loves me.
I dressed quickly and ventured out in the rain, cold and achy but resolved. And I thought about my relationship with Jesus.
Sometimes I really don’t want to do something I know He’s asked me to do. But then I think of His nail-scarred hands outstretched, bidding me to follow (Matthew 16:24). And I venture out.
Not because I have to, but because I love Him and He loves me.
There was a time when my life went pretty smoothly, and I had biblical “formulas” for all of life’s problems.
It wasn’t until I experienced chronic health problems, broken relationships, deep heartaches, and scores of other challenges and difficulties that I realized my pat answers weren’t really scriptural.
I was a genuine believer, but my faith was shallow and untested.
I began to wonder if my brokenness made me useless to God. After all, my life was no longer “picture-perfect.”
In reality, I was becoming more useful.
Something new was happening to me.
I was learning perseverance and trust.
“The testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4
I’m still on that journey, failing at times, but persevering and growing stronger spiritually.
Christianity isn’t a “formula faith.” It’s dynamic, alive, useful, mysterious, and wondrous.
Formulas fail, but every principle in Scripture can be tested and proven true (Proverbs 30:5).
God is perfectly forgiving and perfectly just.
That’s why He offers salvation to those who repent and believe. But to satisfy His perfect justice, Christ gave His life for our sins.
Perfect love is sacrificial and forgiving, but it cannot approve evil.
Sadly, there have always been people who think a good God should overlook their sins. That’s the belief behind universal salvation. It’s not enough that Christ died for those who repent. Universalists expect Christ to die for unrepentant people who reject His sacrificial offer of grace. This is a false belief that we find throughout human history.
For example, in 2 Samuel 14, Joab sent a “wise woman” from Tekoa to encourage David to pardon his son Absalom even though Absalom was responsible for the premeditated murder of his brother.
The Tekoa woman told David that God wanted him to give unrepentant Absalom a complete pardon because God “devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.”
It’s true that God provides a way for “banished people” (i.e. sinful mankind) to walk in freedom in His presence. But we must believe in Christ and genuinely repent.
Sadly, the woman from Tekoa convinced David to pardon unrepentant Absalom, and Absalom went on to bring great shame and hardship on Israel and his family, especially on David.
Perfect love is sacrificial and forgiving, but it cannot approve evil.
4 Steps for Overcoming Temptation…
It’s hard to overcome temptation, but never too hard.
The more we say “no,” the more self-control we develop, and the easier it is to say no the next time.
“Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
1. Remember: It’s possible to overcome this temptation because others have done it.
2. Trust: God won’t allow anyone or anything to tempt us beyond our ability to resist. That’s a fact, not a feeling.
3. Look: In every temptation, God will provide a way out, but we must look for it.
Dear Lord, help us stand up against temptation by remembering, trusting, looking, and fleeing.
copyright 2012, Gail Burton Purath