Be Thankful

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Today’s the day that’s set aside

To thank the Lord with all our might.

We set a time to make a list

Of things, if gone, so quickly missed.

We’re grateful for His love so shown

When He sent down His only Son,

To die for sin’s so awful cost;

For saving us when we were lost;

For home, and friends, and family too;

For joy, for love, for lots of food;

For shelter, heat, and shoes to wear,

For stars above, for land so fair.

For books to learn what e’er we will,

The chance to at an alter kneel.

Sometimes we moan and cry because

We don’t have what another does:

But if we look at what we have,

Our lives, you’ll see, are not so bad.

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What Is Your Purpose?

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Are you unhappy? Do you ever wonder why you were even put on this earth? Do you question why you can’t ever seem to find joy or contentment? Well, you’re not the only one. Every year, thousands of unhappy people try to bury their sorrows in alcohol, in illegal substances, or even in their work. Every year, thousands of those try to end their discontentment by committing suicide; causing the suicide rate to drastically increase throughout the world. Why are so many people unhappy and depressed? The answer is this: they can’t find their purpose. It seems like everyone is trying to ‘find themselves’. The truth of the matter is that they know where they are, they just don’t know what to do with themselves! So what is the answer to this oh-so-important topic? God’s Word. The Bible not only teaches us right from wrong, but it shows us how to lead our lives…with purpose.

1. Why should I even try?

Am I any different than the animals? Does God care about me any more than He does about my pets?  The Bible is very clear about these matters. The Bible itself is proof that people are different from animals. The fact that all the stories in the Bible are about people (not animals) should be enough to convince anyone. We are also more important than any animal. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29-31) Does God care about the animals? Yes! He knows when each one dies. But not once does the Bible say that God counts the hairs of an animal. Not once!  God the Father cares about us so much that He numbers the hairs of each and every human being! That is some intense love right there. So, yes, we are different from animals, and thus more important to God. Consequentially, if we are different from animals, then we must have a different purpose. Humans are not designed to simply eat and sleep. We have in us the potential and the desire to build, to design, to learn, to be different. It’s ingrained in us! God, Who designed us, knows this and gives us specific tasks to fulfill our needs.  If we don’t fulfill these tasks, we can not and will not be happy. It’s impossible!

2.What should I be doing?

A. Our primary task is to serve God. Most people are unhappy because they aren’t fulfilling this most important desire. Man may try to replace God with paganism, cults, humanism, or atheism; but it won’t work. Deep in the heart of every man is the desire to be accepted by the one true God. While this need can be temporarily pacified by worshiping the devil, the devil can’t fulfill our desires.  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.“(Matt. 6:24) If we wish to be happy, we have to worship God. There is no substitute.

B. Our secondary task is to serve others. If you are a selfish, uncaring person, you won’t be happy. Part of the reason for the unhappiness of our generation is the “take care of #1′ mentality. While this selfish way of life may sound good in theory, in reality it makes people miserable. We like to be liked, and the only way to be liked is to be a giving, caring person. Someone once said,”An unhappy,selfish person thinks the world revolves around him, while a happy, giving person chooses to make the world revolve around others.” The Bible teaches that a man who isn’t friendly will bear the fruits of it in his spirit. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?… A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…“(Prov. 18:14,24a) We need friends: if we don’t have friends, our spirit (heart) will become wounded and depressed. If we want to be happy, we must not be self-centered.

3. How can I change?

If you have decided that you are tired of being unhappy, and want to fulfill your purpose in life: Congratulations! The very act of deciding to change is a big step in the right direction, because you can’t fix a problem until you acknowledge it’s there. Here is a simple list of ideas to get you started. This list is by no means exhaustive, and doesn’t claim to be. However, doing these things will help you get back on the right track. Here we go!

A. Accept Jesus as your Savior. Before you can have happiness or peace, you must settle the question of your eternal destination. The first thing you must do is accept the fact that you’re a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Rom. 3:23)  You must also believe that there is a penalty for sin, and Jesus has paid that penalty. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)  You must next accept that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Lastly, call upon the Lord to save you from your sins. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.(Rom. 10:13) Only those who have trusted in Him can be truly happy.

B. Begin to serve God. As stated earlier, you can’t be happy without God in your life. You can serve God by going to church, being baptized, reading your Bible and praying daily, obeying His commandments, and teaching others what you have learned. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”(Matt. 28:19-20) If you ask me, nothing could possibly make you happier than Christ being with you forever. If you desire to have God’s hand on your life, then follow His instructions.

C. Care about others. Plain and simple, helping people makes us happy. Even if it didn’t, the Bible commands us to treat others as we would like to be treated. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 7:12) And again, “…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…” (Mark 12:31b) If you would apply yourself to being loving and kind, you would be amazed by the results. Smile at people! Decide to do an act of kindness every day! Think before you speak! Write thank-you notes! Call on birthdays and anniversaries! These seemingly little things will revolutionize the way you look at life. Suddenly, a whole new world will open up- a world of joy. It doesn’t take much… just a little of your love. Believe me, you’ve got plenty of that to spare !

D. Don’t quit. It won’t be easy at first. These things don’t come naturally- you have to keep at it. People might look at you funny, and maybe even think you’re trying to butter them up; don’t let them discourage you! The peace of mind you will get from doing kind things is well worth any sideways looks you might recieve. And if you keep at it, people will accept the ‘new you’, and maybe even be convicted to change themselves! The greatest joy you can ever have is watching someone else change for the better because of your influence. Don’t give up-it will be worth it in the long run.

The Seasons

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Oh, Autumn’s a mischievous fellow-

Did you see? He dyed the leaves all yellow!

And Spring, that sneaky little thief,

Stole Winter’s snow quick as a wink.

So Summer, who is Winter’s friend,

Tried hard to steal it back again;

But as I’m sure you well do know,

Heat does not go well with snow.

So when that snow began to melt,

Old Winter let out quite a yelp.

At that, poor Summer felt so bad,

She began to cry with all she had;

And that’s why it rained hard last year-

From Winter’s snow, and Summer’s tears.

Lost Love

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“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Rev. 2:2-4)

The church of Ephesus was known for their labor for God, for their patience, for their longsuffering, for their holding to the faith; yet Christ said that they had left their first love. Is it possible to serve God in the church, to honor Him in your lifestyle, and still to have lost your first love? Yes, it certainly is. Too often we Christians get lax in our love for God. Oh, sure, we look fine on the outside- we go to church, teach Sunday School, go soul-winning, give to missions- but on the inside, we have lost the fire that keeps our love going. It almost seems like the Christians in Ephesus had gotten tired of serving God. They were just going through the motions (so the pastor wouldn’t notice), drifting ever so slowly from the reason they started serving in the first place. Do you remember why you started serving God? Do you remember the feeling in your heart when He saved your soul? We all do it- serve for the wrong motives- but we don’t have to! If nothing else, the duty we have towards God for saving us from hell should keep us going full steam for Christ. Catch yourself the next time you start to mentally list all the things for God- saying that you’ve done enough-and remind yourself that you can never repay God’s love for you. Ever.

However, this is not just a church age problem. In Jeremiah’s day, the Israelis were having a problem similar to that of Ephesus’ . Under Josiah’s reign, they had ‘returned’ to Jehovah God and had followed His laws and honored His Sabbaths. Yet deep down inside, they never truly regained their fire for God. Through Jeremiah, the Lord sent a heart-rending message of His love, offering forgiveness if they would only turn back to Him.

“Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?…Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead.  For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2:5,9-13)

God here is pleading for His children to return their hearts to Him. He even brings to mind the pagan gods of the people surrounding the Israelis, reminding them that they wouldn’t change their religion, even though it was false! Yet God’s people were turning on Him like He had done them wrong. Are you blaming God for something that happened in your life? Let me remind you that God doesn’t make mistakes. It is not our right to blame God for things that don’t go our way. We have to trust Him with everything: if we don’t we will eventually leave God and hew ourselves out broken cisterns that can hold no water.

So don’t think that you are immune. Losing love can happen to anyone- even you. Be sure that you stay close to God, that way you don’t have very far to return if you lose your love.