Pastors Trent, Ken, and I are reading through the Old Testament right now. We’re in II. Samuel or I. Kings depending on who’s reading fastest (I think Trent is in the lead). Sadly, a noticeable trait of many that we’ve read about is their lack of faith and thankfulness. They’re a bunch of self-centered whiners. They complain about every little thing and forget their God. He did huge miracles for them in front of their eyes, from the plagues in Egypt to the parting of the Red Sea (wherein they walked on completely dry ground), to giving them manna from heaven for food, water from a rock, and even scary punishments for the rebellious (such as swallowing up a family in the earth). God kept their shoes from ever wearing out as they ran around the wilderness for 40 years! But, over and over again unbelief and ingratitude won the day.
Do you know that the people we read about in the Old Testament are no different than we are? We sometimes read these accounts and wonder how in the world could they have such a lack of faith? How could they have miracles right in front of their eyes and not believe?
Then, we see that this is what happened when Jesus walked the earth. He did miracles right in front of their eyes, some very dramatic. Yet, they didn’t believe, and those he healed often left without ever giving Him thanks.
John writes to encourage people to use their logic and see that Jesus didn’t hide His miracles, but did them openly in front of many eye-witnesses. Amazingly, a whole cult was developed over hidden miracles (Mormonism) wherein Joseph Smith found gold tablets that no one ever saw. He then would hide in a tent or room and supposedly translate them but no one ever saw it happening. He claimed there were two lost tribes of Israel that came to America, though there is absolutely no historical record of such an occurrence, nor any archaeological proof. Yet, almost 15 million people follow and closely adhere to this false religion without any valid proof.
Do you see anything wrong with this picture? I believe that the first and most important thing you and I need to do is to be more committed to biblical Christianity than others are to their false, unsubstantiated religions. We have God’s written Word confirmed by eye-witnesses, we have secular writings confirming the Bible, we have archaeological proof galore, and the list goes on.
In fact, Josephus, a Pharisee who did not believe in Jesus, stated of Him such:
- “At the same time there was Jesus, a wise man, if yet it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of those who willingly receive the truth. He had many followers both of the Jews and the Gentiles: —he was believed to be the Christ. And when by the envy of our principal men, Pilate had condemned him to the cross, yet notwithstanding, those who had loved him at first persevered, for he appeared to them alive on the third day as the oracles of the prophets had foretold many of these and other wonderful things concerning him; and the sect of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.”
Furthermore, we have the confirmation of God’s Holy Spirit which should settle it for us.
John 20:31 is our leitmotiv for this book, our thesis statement. John tells us that he has purposed to provide us with evidences of Jesus’ validity, and the reality of His claim to the Messiahship:
- but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
And why is this so important? Because:
- Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.—Romans 10:17
- The more you are thankful to God the greater your faith will grow:
- What trials in your life right now can you thank Him for seeing you through? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What insights in your daily Bible reading can you thank God for teaching you? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What past events in your life can you thank Him for accomplishing? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Sunday we sang, “We Will Remember” by Tommy Walker. Remembrance is a key to being thankful. One of the lines of that song states: “I still remember, the day you saved me, the day I heard you call out my name.”
- As we continually promote on Thankful Thursdays, thank God now for oh so great a salvation that He has granted you.
- Reflect now on how you can thank God for the following:
- He has given you each day to start over with even more mercy from God! (Lamentations 3:22-23) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- You exist for God’s purposes, to worship Him, serve Him, and be loved by Him! (Ephesians 2:10) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- God gave us a beautiful world. Here on the Big Island we have God’s creation on display with brown desert areas, grassy hills, forests, jungles, snow on the mountains, the ocean surrounding us, dramatic sunsets, awesome cloud formations, and on and on (Nehemiah 9:6) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- You and I can worship Him! (Psalm 100:4) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Peace in the midst of all circumstances regardless how good or bad (John 14:27) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- We can have a full, abundant life! (John 10:10) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- God gave us His Word because He loves us and cares for us even today (Hebrews 4:12 & II. Timothy 3:16) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Christ died for the church, His Spirit dwells in it, and through our brothers and sisters we don’t walk alone (Hebrews 10:24-25) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Our lives have hope and a guaranteed fulfillment of God’s promises (Numbers 23:19 & Romans 8:28) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
We Will Remember by Tommy Walker (inspired by Nehemiah 9:16 & Psalm 77:11-12)
We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness
You’re our creator, our life sustainer
Deliverer, our comfort, our joy
Throughout the ages You’ve been our shelter
Our peace in the midst of the storm
With signs and wonders You’ve shown Your power
With precious blood You showed us Your grace
You’ve been our helper, our liberator
The giver of life with no end
When we walk through life’s darkest valleys
We will look back at all You have done
And we will shout, our God is good
And He is the faithful One
To the one from whom all blessings flow
To the one whose glory has been shown
I still remember the day You saved me
The day I heard You call out my name
You said You loved me and would never leave me
And I’ve never been the same