Month: November 2011

Getting the “Happy” in “Happy Thanksgiving”

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

In Acts 20, as he is heading out to Jerusalem, Paul addresses the elders at Ephesus and charges them to remain faithful in shepherding the flock that Jesus purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). He concludes his farewell speech by quoting a saying of Jesus as a motive for serving others. This saying is not included in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), but found only here in Scripture. While a very popular saying (even in pop culture), the truth of Jesus’ words must be at the forefront of our thinking when we don’t want to serve others.

Why does Paul say, “remember the words of the Lord Jesus?” Because we often forget that giving to others is better than receiving. Our sinful hearts love to be served and receive from others (and there is nothing wrong with being served by others). But the hard part is remembering that it is better to serve than to be served. In fact, this was the very mission of Jesus!

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

There is more blessing in serving than being served. Jesus modeled it; Paul preached it. The next time you are tired, weary, exhausted, depleted, fatigued, drained, and “all tuckered out”- remember the words of the Servant Jesus- “it is more blessed (Greek: Μακάριόν= Happy) to give than to receive.”

When you gather around family and friends today to celebrate Thanksgiving, remember the words of Jesus. Be a servant. Be the last one in line to eat. Offer to wash all the dishes. Get people re-fills on their drinks. Don’t take the last cookie or piece of pie! Keep before you the blessing and the joy and the happiness that you will receive as you serve.

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

~Pastor Benji

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What a Lanky, Emaciated, Wig-wearing Pastor Can Teach You About Glorifying God

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Puritan pastor Jonathan Edwards has had a tremendous impact on my life, even though he often used big words that I don’t know. Reading his infamous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in high school literature class started me on a journey of learning from this lanky, emaciated Puritan pastor who happened to wear a powdered wig (like many of the founders of America). One of my heroes wore a powdered wig! I don’t wear and don’t ever plan on wearing a powdered wig. Edwards’ fashion sense has not shaped me (you can thank me later), but the mind beneath that powdered wig has had a significant impact on my life.

What I’ve learned from Jonathan Edwards the most is the importance of joy in the Christian life. Listen up-

God is glorified within Himself these two ways: 1. By appearing… to Himself in His own perfect idea [of Himself], or in His Son, who is the brightness of His glory. 2. By enjoying and delighting in Himself, by flowing forth in infinite . . . delight towards Himself, or in his Holy Spirit…
So God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to… their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself…

God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it. (Miscellanies)

Re-read that last paragraph.

What Edwards is saying is that God is only partially glorified in the lives of His people if we only affirm the truths we know about Him. It’s not enough for us to merely see or understand God’s glory. We must take the next step and delight in it. We must delight in what we see or understand about Him. God wants our minds and our hearts (feelings, affections) to embrace His glorious presence.

God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it.

The person who glorifies God the most is the person who-
1) Affirms (testifies) to all that the Bible says about God.
2) Delights in all that the Bible says about God.

It’s not enough to only know the facts about God. Those facts must travel from our brains to our hearts. But how do we get the truths that we affirm about God to stir our affections? We have to pray like the Psalmist:

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

We have to ask God to stir our hearts, to satisfy us. It’s a daily task. It’s a moment-by-moment prayer that we must pray. While we are on this side of eternity, we have to ask God to stir and arouse our affections for Him. It will not always be this way. One day, we will see God in all of His glory and we will enjoy, rejoice and delight in Him. Edwards preached about this in a Thanksgiving sermon in November 1734:

…they there see God. This is a blessedness promised to the saints, that they shall see God (Matt.8). That they see God, sufficiently shows the reason why they praise him. They that see God cannot but praise him. He is a being of such glory and excellency, that the sight of this excellency of his will necessarily influence them that behold it to praise him. Such a glorious sight will awaken and rouse all the powers of the soul, and will irresistibly impel them, and draw them into acts of praise. Such a sight enlarges their souls, and fills them with admiration, and with an unspeakable exultation of spirit. (“Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven”)

One day we will see God in all His glory and we will be awakened, aroused and irresistibly drawn to enjoy Him and delight in Him. Until then, we must ask God to arouse and awaken us to know Him and delight in Him. Until then, we must ask God to satisfy us in the morning with His steadfast love that we might rejoice and be glad all our days. May God make us a church that longs to see Him and enjoy Him, both now and for eternity!

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Seeing and delighting in the Triune God,
~Pastor Benji