“Dear church…”

“Dear church…”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

When I was in elementary school, we had a teacher who taught us how to properly write a letter. Miss Crews, my fourth grade teacher, told us it included the heading, greeting, body, complimentary closing, and signature. Isn’t it interesting what we retain (or fail to retain) from childhood?

Applying that basic analysis to the New Testament epistles, we are greatly helped. In addition to reading who the epistle of 1 Corinthians is from (1:1) and who it is to (1:2), we have a heading (helped by the information in verse 2), greeting (1:3), body (1:4-16:18), complimentary closing (16:19-20, 22-24), and signature (16:21). It is also in this first section of the letter (1:1-17) that we find the purpose of the letter. Notice some key aspects of these first several verses.

PAUL REMINDS THEM OF WHO THEY ARE (1:2-3)

In the daily grind, I can be apt to forget exactly who I am and who God has called me to be. It seems this had happened to the entire congregation at Corinth. Paul starts out this letter by reminding them they belong to God, set apart, and recipients of grace and peace. 

PAUL TELLS THEM WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR THEM (1:4-9)

Except for Galatians, Paul begins with a prayer, blessing, or thanksgiving. Here, Paul reminds them of how blessed they are–with grace (1:4), riches (1:5), confirmation (1:6), various blessings (1:7), hope (1:8), and fellowship with the Father and Son (1:9). I don’t know about you, but I often need to be reminded of how mindful the Lord has been of me. I need to reflect on my blessings so I won’t obsess over my problems. Paul is going to be addressing a serious problem in their lives, but he starts by centering their focus on their spiritual treasures. 

PAUL URGES SOMETHING OF THEM (1:10-17)

One of the ways a New Testament writer indicated the purpose of his writing is through petition verbs. While Paul actually uses a petition verb three times in this letter (1:10, 4:16, and 16:15), there’s no doubt that his first one sets the tone for the rest of the letter. They have a big problem at Corinth: division. We can see this in greater detail as we walk through the letter, but their division was seen in their allegiance to men instead of Christ, in their worship services, in their exercise of spiritual gifts, in their exercise of their Christian liberties, in their view on various sins, and more. So, Paul brings them into focus here.

  • He urges them to be complete, by being of the same mind and judgment (1:10).
  • He urges them to see the true nature of Christ (1:11-13).
  • He urges them to focus on the gospel and the cross (1:14-17). 

Keep in mind, as you read through this entire letter, that God had something He wanted Corinth and all subsequent churches and Christians facing the same general struggle to understand. It requires us to keep sight of our identity, blessings, and purpose. Otherwise, we open the door to division which can be the gateway to “disorder and every evil thing” (Jas. 3:16). 

photo credit: Flickr
Praise The Lord!

Praise The Lord!

Neal Pollard

Your version may use the word “hallelujah” to begin Psalm 135. Hallelujah means “praise the Lord.” While it is synonymous with giving thanks, it means to laud a superior quality or act, to acclaim and express joy in doing so. What is so noteworthy is that the psalmist does this in very specific ways, recounting times in history when God demonstrates His power and glory on behalf of His people. As we walk through the psalm, we see this. Why is He to be praised?

  • HIS CHOOSING OF HIS PEOPLE (4)
  • HIS NATURE (5)–Great, Above All
  • HIS WORK IN CREATION (6-7)–Heaven, Earth, Seas, All Deep, Vapors, Lightning, Wind, Rain
  • HIS DEFEATING OF THEIR ENEMIES (8-11)–Egypt, Amorites, Canaanites
  • HIS BLESSINGS (12)–Gave His People A Heritage (Possession)
  • HIS POWER (13)–His Name And Remembrance
  • HIS PROMISES (14)–Compassionate Judgment
  • HIS SUPERIORITY OVER HIS RIVALS (15-18)–Deaf, Dumb, And Blind Idols, Just Like Humans

The writer calls on God’s people to praise and worship Him in song, expressing their adoration (1-3). He ends with a threefold call to “bless the Lord” (19-21). May I suggest that you work through something both in your daily life and in your preparation before every time you assemble to worship? Call it setting the table for fellowship with the Divine. Either meditate on the specific works and ways of God that are worthy of admiration, praise and honor or pray to Him, expressing these matters in specific terms. Focus on how He’s demonstrated greatness in blessing your life and the lives of those around you. Perhaps it’s answered prayer, providence, deliverance, or relief. Focus on His power and might in the affairs of our nation, in the activities of our congregation, and the occurrences within your family and personal life. Let the worship flow as you look around at all you see in nature, from the universe to right out your window. Think about the gift of Jesus for your sins. All of this will surely cause you to echo the writer in Psalm 135 and call out to others, “Praise the Lord!”

Photo credit: Kathy Pollard
“Give Thanks To The Lord”

“Give Thanks To The Lord”

Thursday’s Column

Smiling middle-aged man with purple shirt and tie on with evergreens as a backdrop
Neal Pollard

I wonder if Kathy felt like she was living with Briscoe Darling and the boys (imagine them if they were talkative) through the years they were growing up. She is refined and genteel, words that are not usually connected to our three sons and me. One thing she impressed upon us was the importance of timely, thoughtful thank you notes. Gratitude, though it can be expressed with very little time and expense, is telling. It acknowledges the kindness and generosity of the giver. 

One of the elements of worship, generally, and prayer, specifically, is thanksgiving. Our songs call for it: “Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart,” they express it: “Thank You, Lord,” “For All That You’ve Done,” “How Great Thou Art,” “10,000 Reasons,” and “He Has Made Me Glad.” Though that songwriter, Leona Von Brethorst, apparently wrote the song from Psalm 100, she includes a line from Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made.” 

Five times in Psalm 118, the psalmist says “give thanks” (1,19,21,28,29). He urges others to do so, but also expresses his resolve to do the same. Why?

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS GOODNESS (1-4)

“Good” is a general word that takes in pleasantness, desirability, and beauty. The good quality specified here is His everlasting mercy (lovingkindness). The writer moves from the broad to the specific–Israel, house of Aaron, those who fear the Lord. Everyone is the object of God’s lovingkindness. The righteous freely express their thanks for it.

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS DELIVERANCE (5-13)

There is a sudden, dramatic shift in tone in verse five. From an upbeat, positive tone, he turns to thoughts of trouble and difficulty. Distress, hatred, being surrounded, and violence threatened him, but God was there for him as protection and help. This kept him from fearfulness. It gave him refuge. 

It is an amazing thing to think of all the ways and times God has been with me, but those are just the instances I’m aware of. How many trials has God spared me from, disasters has He caused me to avoid, and troubles has He averted for me that I won’t know about on this earth? Just what I do know humbles me, and it should fill my heart with gratitude. 

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS GREATNESS (14-17)

The writer turns to the Giver. He is strong, a Savior, valiant, and exalted. Summarizing God’s qualities, the writer says, “I will not die, but live, And tell of the works of the Lord” (17). Awareness of who God is for me, physically, materially, and spiritually, will drive me to grateful thanks.

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS DISCIPLINE (18)

Though it is almost a parenthetical phrase in the middle of this song of thanksgiving, it is important and an additional reason for gratitude. He writes, “The Lord has disciplined me severely, But He has not given me over to death.” Who is brave enough to say that with the psalmist? He implies gratitude for God’s severe discipline. Hebrews 12:7-10 tells us that God disciplines those He loves and calls His children. It is for our good and allows us to share His holiness. Can I thank Him for the trials and challenges that refine me and grow my dependence on Him? Or do I just plaintively ask, “Why?”

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS PROVISION (19-29)

He uses the imagery of a city here–gates, stones, and chief corner stone. Then, he ends with a temple analogy, with the house of the Lord, festival sacrifice, and the horns of the altar. Saved inside God’s walls of protection, we are free to offer worship which He accepts. We marvel, we rejoice, we are glad, we prosper, and we extol. He has given us light. The primary thrust is not material, but spiritual. However prosperous or impoverished you are, financially, however strong or weak you are, emotionally, we have the greatest provision of all in Christ. Eternal salvation, the hope of heaven, fellowship with God and the saved, the church, strength to endure, the list is endless. 

Today, as you go through the day, why not stop and spend time in prayer to God thanking Him categorically: physical blessings, relationship blessings, emotional blessings, national blessings, and spiritual blessings. No doubt, there are things in your life right now that are dissatisfying and disappointing. You may be struggling mightily. Perhaps those are ways God is disciplining you in His love. Whatever is happening in your life, choose to give thanks and know God is trustworthy! It’s more than polite. It’s righteous!

The True Meaning of the Thanksgiving Holiday 

The True Meaning of the Thanksgiving Holiday 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

Hopefully, those within the United States enjoyed a safe and joyous Thanksgiving holiday yesterday. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that has come under attack by secular humanist forces in recent years. Worse than merely shifting the focus to turkey and American football, some people are trying to attack the holiday based on injustices perpetrated against the American Indian population over a century ago. While true that the “Thanksgiving feast” in seventeenth-century Plymouth serves as a romantic backdrop to our current holiday, we should not forget that days of giving thanks is not limited to one group or one time.  

 

Many countries observe some Thanksgiving holiday today. These observances are typically about the giving of thanks for the bounty of the harvest. They may reflect a pagan rather than Christian influence. However, to single out the United States’ practice as a matter of perpetuating injustice is a move by those seeking to erase American history with its Judeo-Christian values. The removal of said Judeo-Christian values are necessary to create the secular humanistic state esteemed by the disciples of Karl Marx. It is not an exaggeration to say we are in the midst of a great cultural war here within the United States. The winner of this cultural war will determine whether the United States continues to be free or becomes despotic. I realize that may sound like hyperbole on my part. Still, the Founding Fathers were clear in emphasizing that only religious people could maintain the liberties enshrined within the Constitution.  

Thus, we find the American Thanksgiving holiday’s actual genesis in 1789, the year of the United States Constitution’s ratification. President George Washington wrote that Congress had tasked him to declare a day of Thanksgiving. The purpose of this day was to thank God for blessing the newly-formed United States with peace and prosperity. A cursory examination of all of the Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations demonstrates the common theme of acknowledging and thanking Providence. Many Presidents likewise include an exhortation to remember the less fortunate and spend the day in service to others. President John Adams approached it differently. He asked people to fast on Thanksgiving and include with their prayers those of penitence, acknowledging national sins. How novel!  

Thomas Jefferson balked at the idea of making Thanksgiving Proclamations. He thought it smacked too much of enjoining the populace to some State religion. I believe Jefferson was mistaken, but it should help you understand that this holiday has been one long conceived as religious in tone. After Jefferson’s successor, Madison, the practice of the President giving a Thanksgiving Proclamation fell by the wayside until the Civil War. At the behest of Secretary Seward and a private citizen, Sara Josepha Hale, Lincoln reinstated the practice of issuing Thanksgiving Proclamations. Essentially, Lincoln helped make Thanksgiving an annual observance. It would not be until 1941, though, that the federal government made Thanksgiving an official holiday. Except for President Garfield, who died from an assassin’s bullet, every President since Lincoln has issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation, regardless of party affiliation.   

The beloved Norman Rockwell contributed to the iconic depiction of Thanksgiving with his painting “The Freedom from Want” in 1943. (It was a part of Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” series.) A patriarch and matriarch stand at the head of the table around which the family has gathered. The matriarch has prepared a sumptuous turkey feast. Delight fills the faces of all assembled. For me, however, the best Rockwell depiction of Thanksgiving was the last Thanksgiving cover he would paint for The Saturday Evening Post in 1951. He entitled that painting “Saying Grace.” A “grandmother” and a little boy sits in a restaurant. Their heads are bowed in prayer as others look on. The looks given by their tablemates seem to show amusement or curiosity. (Frankly, they seem to be reacting as if it were the first time they have seen this behavior.) Within those brush strokes, Rockwell has, to me, captured the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Amid the rush of a secular world, we pause, giving our thanks to God for even the simple meal. It matters not if others are willing likewise to thank God.  

 

I fully expect that should God allow time to continue that we will see an assault on the Thanksgiving holiday of 2021 since that would mark 400 years after Plymouth. Again, secular humanists want to take God from the picture. They wish to define the holiday as an observance in which we celebrate the rape and plunder of indigenous peoples by calling their seized property our possession. Yet, such critics demonstrate ignorance also of that original Plymouth feast. Thanksgiving is not about what we have. Thanksgiving is about acknowledging our Benefactor. It is a day for our nation to pause and admit that we would not be here without the Providence of God. And, as we count our blessings, we are motivated to show mercy to our neighbor as God has shown mercy to us. 

Works Consulted and Further Reading 

“Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789.” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association,www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources-2/article/thanksgiving-proclamation-of-1789/

 

Maranzani, Barbara. “How the ‘Mother of Thanksgiving’ Lobbied Abraham Lincoln to Proclaim the National Holiday.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 3 Oct. 2013, www.history.com/news/abraham-lincoln-and-the-mother-of-thanksgiving

 

Miller, Cheryl. What So Proudly We Hail, What So Proudly We Hail, 30 Apr. 2013, www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-american-calendar/thanksgiving-day-proclamations-1789-present

 

“‘Freedom from Want,” 1943 – Norman Rockwell Museum – The Home for American Illustration.” Norman Rockwell Museum, Norman Rockwell Museum., 1 Mar. 2017, www.nrm.org/2016/11/freedom-want-1943/

 

“Saying Grace (Rockwell).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Sept. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saying_Grace_(Rockwell)

 

“Praying The Scriptures”

“Praying The Scriptures”

MONDAY’S COLUMN: NEAL AT THE CROSS

Neal at ATF 2020

Neal Pollard

Yesterday morning, Chuck Raymer prayed an especially beautiful prayer, well-thought-out and earnest, but also filled with quotations of Bible verses or parts of them (near the beginning, he quoted Psalm 100:3)(his prayer begins at about 6:30 of the recording on YouTube of yesterday morning’s service: It starts here). My good friend and former co-worker in Colorado, Corey Sawyers, would often adapt the words of an entire psalm and pray it as he led us in the assemblies. There is something especially powerful about prayers that are Scripture quotations. It’s certainly something biblical.

In Acts 4:23, Peter and John, after having been released from being held by the Jews for preaching Jesus, met with the Jerusalem congregation. They lifted their voices to God with one accord and addressed Him. In their brief prayer (note verse 31), they quoted Exodus 20:11 (also found in Nehemiah and Psalms) and Psalm 2:1-2. They were so full of the Word that it came out even in their prayers. Look at the Levites who led Judah in prayer in Nehemiah 9:4-37. Much at that prayer quotes passages and events found in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). Most powerfully of all, Jesus prayed Scripture at a more difficult moment than any other human being will ever face (Mark 15:34). The praying prophet, Daniel, turned to God in prayer being moved by the words of Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2-3). How will it help us to pray the Scriptures in our own lives, whether in publicly leading prayer or in our private devotional lives?

IT LETS THE GOD WE WANT TO HEAR US KNOW THAT WE ARE LISTENING TO HIM.

Certainly, God knows His Word, but so does He know our every innermost thought, desire, and need. But, there is something about addressing God by including great truth from His Word that can really enrich those prayers. It tells Him we are mindful of His will even as we seek to influence it. 

IT BUILDS OUR FAITH IN THE TRUTH AND PROMISES OF HIS WORD.

Repetition is not just the key to learning, but it can also greatly aid our comprehension and retention. As you pray Scripture, you help reinforce those promises and truths. You will actually be reflecting on them as you pray it back to God. 

IT HELPS US TO APPLY THE WORD TO OUR DAILY LIVES.

Scripture can become more real and meaningful as we make verbalize it in prayer. It can take incidents and teachings in Scriptures and directly apply those verses to what we are going through. So often, we are going through the same exact types of things men and women of the Bible were going through. How can it be more practical than this: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psa. 119:11)?

There are probably several more reasons why we should quote and allude to Scripture in our prayer lives, but these are at least a few. You will certainly never say anything more truthful and right in your prayers than God’s Word. You will also be walking in some very righteous footprints, of those in Scripture who prayed Scripture back to God. 

“Let Us Sing!”

“Let Us Sing!”

Don’t miss the latest TBNB Podcast with Dale and Carl (subscribe here)

Monday’s Column: Neal at the Cross

Neal Pollard

I counted 96 people present for the singing at the Waddells’ home Friday night, sitting in our camping chairs in their beautiful backyard. Beyond the hospitality and tasty desserts, this was such a wonderful, needed time of fellowship and singing. There were babies up through senior saints, with a whole lot in between. It was exciting to see visitors, several who have been attending but have not yet placed membership, elders, deacons, and so many others. Though the air was surprisingly chilly, you could not help but feel the warmth and glow of brothers and sisters enjoying life together. It felt so first-century!

While it is extremely valuable for us to make as a goal improving our singing, from training our song leaders to becoming better, more attentive followers, it is even more important to understand what God is trying to do for us and through us in our singing. Notice just a few of the objectives God achieves through those who follow His will by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

  • We communicate to one another in a special, spiritual way (Eph. 5:19).
  • We teach and admonish one another with all wisdom (Col. 3:16).
  • We express gratitude in our hearts to God (Col. 3:16; cf. Psa. 28:7).
  • We proclaim God’s name to our brethren (Heb. 2:12).
  • We praise God’s works and nature in a unique way (Rev. 15:3; cf. Exo. 15:1,21; Psa. 68:4).
  • We offer up a sacrifice of praise by the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name (Heb. 13:15).
  • We help others see and fear and trust in the Lord (Psa. 40:3). 

Certainly, much more is implied concerning the power, effect, and blessings of saints singing together. But, it is helpful for us to consider the value of singing on its own. As a sacrifice of praise, singing is, of itself, worship. Worship is ” to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure” (BDAG 882). From “I Need Thee Every Hour” to “Holy, Holy, Holy” to “You Are My All In All” (and literally hundreds more), we prostrate ourselves before God as an act of reverence, fear, and supplication (Louw-Nida 217).  Our Creator designed us to connect to words and their meanings in a unique way through singing. We memorize better when we set something to music. We connect music to events and people, forming deeply touching memories and recollections. We touch our own hearts and those of others in a crucial way through melody. It is not just “filler” between prayers and the Lord’s Supper. It is a profoundly meaningful act God purposed for us to help us grow and be strong. By doing it together, we are connecting our hearts and encouraging one another’s spiritual lives. 

So, think about what you can do to make this act of worship so much more effective.

  • Clear your mind and focus intently on the message of each word of each song.
  • Focus on the people around you, deliberately trying to teach and admonish them.
  • Sing out so that your teaching and admonishing can be heard (forgetting yourself and how you think you “sound” to others).
  • Put forth effort, not just with your vocal cords but with your heart and mind.
  • Do not be afraid to connect your singing with your feelings.
  • Consciously work to communicate to God your praise and adoration each and every time you sing.
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly by your singing.

Do you remember when government mandates suggested that church goers not sing for fear that virus germs might be spread? Will you consider that God intends for something vital to be spread through our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs? His Word! It should spread to our own hearts and to others. It should even reach the throne of God in heaven! Whether you are worshipping Him alone or with your physical family in song, assembled on the Lord’s Day, or gathered with saints in other places, let us sing!

Photo Credit: Shedona Tillman
PRAYER: A PRACTICAL GUIDE

PRAYER: A PRACTICAL GUIDE

TLC is coming August 1, 2020

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

PRAYER: What Is it? Why do it? How do I do it?

Some pray the way they heard others pray in worship growing up while others look for a prayer on the internet. A few pray the way their parents taught them to pray, and still others just kind of make it up as they go along. Over time it develops into a well-known string of words that we can call upon in case of emergency. It’s the prepackaged prayer that we’re comfortable praying when we’re called upon to lead one publicly or “bless” the food. Tragically, this can be an insight into a weak prayer life. This is what Jesus wants us to know about communicating with God— and how we can do it effectively. 

Three Facts About Prayer 

1.Through Jesus we must pray  (I Tim. 2:5)

2. Through Jesus we learn to pray (Matt. 6:5-13)

3. Through Jesus we are able to pray (Heb. 4:16) 

Three Fruitless Prayers  (Matthew 6)

  1. Prayers to glorify ourselves— when they should be Focused On The Spiritual  (v.5)
  2. Prayers for the gaze of others— when they should be said Fervently In Secret  (v.6)
  3. Prayers full of gab— when there must be Forethought and Sincerity  (v.7)

Five Ways To Pray Effectively (According to Jesus) 

“Pray then like this…” 

1. With Reverence 

a. “Our Father” — His authority over ours. 

b.“In Heaven” — His dwelling place is above ours.

c.“Hallowed be your Name” — His holiness needs to be apparent to us. 

2. Seeking Righteousness 

a. “Your Kingdom come” — So I must be righteous 

b. “Your will be done” — In order for me to be righteous 

c. “On earth as it is in heaven” — If heaven is to be my future, I must make        righteousness a part of my present. 

3. Acknowledging Our Reliance 

a. “Give us this day” — Each day and each moment, a moment God allowed to exist.

b. “Daily bread” — It’s all through Him we move and exist.  

4. In Repentance

a. “forgive our debts” — What do I need forgiven?

b. “As we forgive our debtors” — What do I need to forgive? 

5. With Recognition 

a. “Lead us not into temptation” — God knows the way around what tempts us. 

b. “Deliver us from evil” — God has the power to deliver us, but we should recognize                                that we must follow if He is to lead. 

Six Things To Offer Up, And What You’ll Get

  1. Give Him your praise – He’ll show you why He deserves your praise. 
  2. Give Him your heart – He’ll heal and purify it. 
  3. Give Him your schedule – He’ll organize it for you. He will reveal our most important priorities.  
  4. Give Him your attention – He’ll help you focus. 
  5. Give Him your plans – He’ll perfect them. Any plan God touches becomes holy.  
  6. Give Him your life – He’ll give life eternal.  

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Learning To Pray From A Man After God’s Own Heart

Learning To Pray From A Man After God’s Own Heart

Neal Pollard

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), they were asking the most qualified instructor. However, they had a good teacher from the background of their own heritage in David. The book of Psalms is at times a songbook and at other times a prayer journal. Numerous examples of David’s prayers are contained in this beautiful book of Old Testament poetry. In Psalm 141, for example, we have several characteristics of prayer from a man after God’s own heart (cf. Acts 13:22).

First, David’s prayer was urgent (Psalm 141:1). He writes, “Lord, I cry out to You; make haste to me!” David saw prayer, not as a last resort, but as a first retreat. Since David knew God was able to help, he wasted no time in bringing matters into God’s own hands.

Then, David’s prayer was intense (Psalm 141:1b). He continues, “Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.” You will not hear rote memorization of prayers or lackadaisical lethargy in David’s prayer. David cried out to God. He is pleading with God. These are indicators of a fervent prayer life, which God includes as typical of righteous people of prayer (James 5:16).

Further, David’s prayer was sincere (Psalm 141:2). He treated his prayers as if they were actually offerings or sacrifices. He says, “Let my prayers be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” He was willing to lay open his prayers to the All-Seeing eye for His scrutiny. The entirety of this psalm reflects no superficial piety or pretentiousness. David simply laid his heart before God.

David put obvious trust and hope in the power of prayer. He had confidence in God’s ability and he had cognizance of his own dependence upon God’s ability. Never wait to turn to prayer until the need is desperate. The man after God’s own heart made prayer a staple in his religious diet. So should we.

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Are You Grateful?

Are You Grateful?

Neal Pollard

Jesus asked a lone, appreciative soul, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine–where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18). They were terrified (13), terminal (12), transformed (14), but they were not thankful. They were saved, but to what end? They were selfish and not spiritual. God made them whole, and what did they do? They blended into the world when they should have blessed The Word.

Ingratitude increasingly characterizes man’s interaction with man–the etiquette of thank you cards is rarer, the feelings of loyalty and appreciation for the American military and first responders is waning, and many have forgiven themselves of the debt owed to generations past whose sacrifice has led us to national plenty. This is not all-inclusive and at times there are spikes of improvement and pleasant, positive change toward greater thankfulness.

Yet, since the time when Christ’s sandals kicked up dust in Palestine, people have failed to show gratitude to Him. that the ingratitude comes from those whom He saved from the devil’s disease and death is remarkable! Yet, we all struggle with that sin.

New Testament writers point out how grave an error ingratitude is. Paul warned about the “ungrateful” (2 Tim. 3:2) who would ultimately make no spiritual progress. God rejects as foolish and futile those who “glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful” (Rom. 1:21). Someone may ask, “Why make such a big deal about something so seemingly minor?”

Is it minor? If we’re not thankful to God, one or more things have occurred. (1) We are convinced there is no eternity and it’s all about here and now. (2) We have forgotten how it felt to be forgiven. (3) We believe that everything is about us and nothing is about anyone else, let alone God. (4) We have come to believe that sin is just no big deal. (5) We think we owe everything we have and are to no one but ourselves. No doubt, more answers could be postulated, but here is the bottom line. A failure to thank God for His abundant blessings makes one in more dire condition than any leper ever was. We may not be losing our extremities, our hair may not be turning bleach white, we may not have painful sores, and we may not be social outcasts. But, here is what has happened. Our heart is cold, our soul is endangered, we’re in denial, and we’re blinded to the realest of realities.

Won’t you say with David, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Ps. 100:4-5)? Stop and think how much you owe to God. Translate that gratitude into godly servitude. Give Him your best. Give Him yourself. Give Him your thanks. 

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Homesick

Homesick

 

Neal Pollard

This time of year our minds go back
To days gone by, down memory’s track
Of laughter, stories, food and walks
Singing, sharing family history and talks

Some who once were in our clannish stable
Have left our banquets for the heavenly table
Childhood recollections may be larger than life
And death or loss may cut like the proverbial knife

Football played on the lawn or watched on the screen
Presents opened and distant relatives seen
For the blessed, much spiritual guidance and contemplation
And talk of our hope and our common anticipation

Do you miss those times of hearth or home?
Or revel in its prospect, when kids and kin soon will come?
Are you in the company of those Scripture upholds?
Those who desire a better country, with streets of clear gold?

Who are longing for a room in the Father’s house?
To bask in the Light that no tears can ever douse?
To stroll the banks by the gentle River Of Life,
A place of happiness, joy, peace, but no strife.

A place full of family, both known or which we meet
Of those we met in Scripture or those who made our lives sweet?
Are you longing for something far better than here,
Where sight replaces faith, where peace tramples fear?

Is your life centered around new heavens, new earth
Where righteousness dwells, only those of the new birth?
Do you long for what happens after being put in the ground
The home of the soul where eternity is found?

Let’s long for and live for that heavenly land
Where we’ll see God’s dear face and hold Jesus’ hand.

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Thanksgiving 1994, at Gary and Brenda Pollard’s house (baby is Gary)