TITLE: THANKFULNESS—THE BAROMETER OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY
Subtitle: Blessings Are Often Overlooked And Not Fully Appreciated Until After They Cease!
If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, Ephesians 1:3 should be of particular importance to you:
"Blessing (praise, laudation and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (Holy Spirit given) blessing in the heavenly realm!" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
Notice that this verse says that God has blessed us. This is in the past tense and indicates action that has already taken place. Those who are His children—who have been born into His family through the new birth in Christ—receive and retain these blessings from the very moment of receiving Christ. Note too that we have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm! Do you believe the Word of God? Do you believe as I do that it is literally infallible and without error? If you do, then you should have no problem accepting the fact that each of us has been blessed—and continue to be blessed—with the finest that heaven has to offer!
Not only are we all the recipients of spiritual blessings beyond our ability to fully comprehend, but we all share many temporal blessings as well—such as the sun, rain, and enjoyment of the natural beauty of this earth. Most of us are citizens of relatively free countries, where we can live our lives (at least for the present) with minimal government interference and prosper in proportion to our own sweat. The technological advances of the past few years have made life so much easier that even the sweat aspect of earning a living has been reduced greatly for the masses. Surely each of us would have to admit that when we look at our lives and begin to count the everyday blessings, we find the number to be staggering—so many in fact, that we wind up taking most of them for granted.
I praise God that he recently allowed me to pass another milestone in my life. A little over sixty years ago I was born into a different world—a world that was struggling to extricate itself from ten years of financial depression and on the verge of entering into the dark days of World War II. My parents were typical of those who grew up on a farm in that era in that they were well acquainted with hard, backbreaking work. As a youngster I remember my mother telling me that she had seen many days as a teenager when she would gladly have fallen at the end of a row of cotton and died! Toiling in the hot summer sun, chopping cotton with a hoe, was not optional for family members old enough to do so. Survival of the family was literally at stake because the meager income from the sale of the cotton was needed to get them through each winter. A lot of the children’s clothing came from feed and flour sacks, which my mother and grandmother made by hand in their "spare time". Each day they had to rise long before daylight, start a fire in the wood burning kitchen stove and get breakfast ready. (Only someone who has experienced getting dressed in an unheated house during the dead of winter can really appreciate central heat and air conditioning!)
Once everyone was fed and off to work or school, the noon meal had to be prepared (leftovers of which were covered and left on the table for the evening meal, because there was no refrigeration). Money was scarce and most of what they ate had to be grown on the farm—which meant that when the vegetables were in season, the women had to pick them and cook them and then preserve the surplus by canning. Washday was also a treat—the cast iron wash pot out in the yard was filled with water drawn from the well and a fire started underneath to heat it. The clothes were put into the hot soapy water and stirred around with a "battle stick" to agitate them and soak out the heaviest stains. They were then removed from the hot water with the stick and dumped into a "wash tub" where they were scrubbed using a corrugated "rub board" to aid in the cleaning process. Next they went into a tub of rinse water and when the excess was wrung out, they were hung on the clothesline to dry. I can still see in my mind’s eye the red and raw knuckles of my mother and grandmother’s hands as they scrubbed clothes on those cold winter mornings. While the women were busy with these necessary every-day chores, the men were working in the fields, cutting firewood, tending to the livestock, repairing equipment, or a seemingly endless variety of other jobs that had to be done.
Some have wistfully referred to these times as being "the good old days", but I honestly believe that the relative goodness remembered was produced by the severity experienced! Financial hardships were experienced by almost everyone and just maintaining the basics of life made constant toil necessary. This commonality of existence produced within most of society a sense of empathy for one’s fellow man. Politeness and gentility were much more prevalent then than now and the other fellow’s rights were greatly respected. And speaking of respect, women in those by-gone days were considered to be ladies (whether they were or not). Men were careful to watch their language in the presence of "the fairer sex" and made it a point to be polite to them—tipping their hats as a gesture of respect when meeting on the street, opening doors for them, and holding chairs for them to be seated. Such quaint customs today are considered to be anachronistic and some women profess to be offended if an old geezer like me forgets himself and dares to open a door for them. Please forgive me if I mistook you for a lady!
Neighborliness. Now there is a term guaranteed to baffle young folk today! Why, we barely know our neighbors and don’t have time to be bothered with them. We’re too busy chasing the "American Dream" of two (or more) cars in every garage and a satellite dish in the back yard. So what if burglars clean out the people next door—that’s their hard luck. Believe it or not, there was a time—not too long ago—when people respected and valued their neighbors and would go out of their way to help them in time of need. Today, they are pretty much on their own—sink or swim! Selfishness has been elevated to the position of a virtue and how dare that idiot cut me off on the freeway! Beloved, our society is rotten to the very core and, as a result, very few today take the time to consider how much God has blessed us as a nation. The laborsaving technological marvels we now take for granted have enabled us to have leisure time that our forefathers never even dreamed of! But rather than take advantage of it, we have redoubled our efforts to work as much overtime as possible in order to buy more marvels! Some famous person (and I don’t remember who it was) said "there is no hope for the satisfied man." That could well be the national motto of the United States today. We are running around like ants on an ant-hill that has been stepped on, many sleep-deprived and flying on "auto-pilot"—trying our best to remember what we want to buy next. Very few seem to be satisfied with what they already have and are literally driving themselves insane trying to get it all. Do you see something wrong with this picture? A careful study of history will quickly reveal that we are on the road to destruction. Every major civilization for the last 6000 years has made the same fatal mistakes and wound up with God pulling their credit cards.
Speaking of history, have you ever read about the "roaring twenties"? The years of 1920-29 have been characterized as those spent by a nation with an insatiable appetite for fun and frivolity. World War One had just ended and people were in a mood to celebrate. Prohibition made it a little bit inconvenient to buy and consume one’s favorite libations, but the country pitched a ten-year party anyway! The economy had never been more robust and everything looked rosy. The Wall Street prognosticators were convinced that it was clear sailing ahead and minced no words in saying so. Then came the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. Fortunes were lost in a matter of hours and many men jumped to their deaths from the tall buildings of New York City, rather than face reality. The nation was immediately plunged into ten years of financial depression and the fun and frivolity of earlier times was quickly forgotten. Some formerly prosperous Wall Street traders were often seen on street corners trying to sell apples for a nickel each. The euphoria of the 20’s settled into the grim and gritty realities of the 30’s as society tried to cope. Fortunately, a sizeable percentage (if not the majority) of the nations’ population was still farm or small town related and therefore the food supply was never seriously in jeopardy. Many were forced to renew acquaintances with their rural cousins in order to eat, but life limped along until better times arrived. It is also worthy of note that during this time there was a resurgence of "religion" and churches enjoyed steady growth. You see, God has a way of getting our attention.
Now then, what is the situation of our day? The Stock Market has never been better and fortunes are being made on a daily basis. The prognosticators are basking in the glow of unmitigated success and the collective psyche is that of "Eat, drink, and be merry—What could possibly cause any rain to fall on our parade?" All the while, the ominous shadow of a highly centralized food production system looms in the background. Too much necessary food is shipped by JIT—"Just In Time" delivery by numberless hordes of trucks, planes, and other vehicles. The country cousins still on the farm are often in worse financial shape than the average and there are far too few of them to feed us. As we begin to inspect our situation, we find that somewhere along the line we have become a society totally dependent upon technology. Almost every chore in our lives can be, and usually is, accomplished by pushing buttons. (I understand that the index fingers of Americans are the largest in the world due to more use!) We have become so intent upon saving time and energy that we have literally become prisoners of our own gadgets. Dr. Monroe Parker used to that that young men today, when questioning their prospective brides, no long ask "Can you cook?", but rather "Can you thaw?"
Do you ever express your thankfulness to God for allowing you to live in such a marvelous age? Are you remotely conscious that the relative ease of your life-style is one that even kings did not enjoy years ago? I have expressed this sentiment before, but it distresses me to hear the term "poor people" used to describe those in our society today who "are less fortunate." With very few exceptions, the "poor people" of our country are considered to be filthy rich by the majority of those living in "third world countries." I understand that a growing number of people are now losing their jobs and having a hard time "making ends meet," but let’s face it—as long as they have clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads, and food in their mouths—they are better off than multiplied millions in other nations! How many people in our country are classified as poor, yet they own a TV set, drive a car, smoke cigarettes, and never miss a meal? Think about it! I remember watching the "Walton’s" on TV—a series based upon the premise of a family growing up during the depression of the thirties—and how rough they had it. But I couldn’t help but notice that they owned an "A-model" truck, had a refrigerator in the kitchen, operated a sawmill, etc! Believe me, anybody in that day who enjoyed such amenities were "living high on the hog."
We have become so used to living in the lap of luxury that we have lost all sense of proportion. Minor inconveniences become major obstacles when one is spoiled. Paul, in writing to his "son in the faith", Timothy, gave him some very good advice to pass along to others:
"As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment." (2 Timothy 1:17, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to have to go back to days like the twenties and thirties, or even earlier? When your very existence would likely depend upon hard physical labor every day—day in and day out? I strongly suggest that you devote some time to contemplating that very issue, because it is not out of the question that it might happen! Preachers have been trying for many years to warn America that judgment is coming, but for the most part America just keeps rolling on her merry way—blinded to the possibility. The warning signs are everywhere: children are being gunned down left and right by those whom I believe are demon-possessed, witchcraft is now a legitimate religion, government is running amuck and awash with unbelievable corruption, murder of the unborn has become almost fashionable, and intolerance of Christianity is becoming more prevalent—just to name a few societal signs.
At some point in the future this house of cards we have built is going to tumble and when it does, great will be the fall thereof. I still believe that God is going to spare genuine Christians from most, if not all, of this disaster via the rapture, but what if I am wrong? On the other hand, what if I am right and you are left behind? In either case some of you reading this will likely come face to face with the awesome reality of struggling just to survive. Because of the very real possibility (if not probability) of this happening soon, I implore you to stop and take stock of your relationship with God. Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Are you certain that if you die you will go to be with Him forever? If not, I urge you to trust Him today and to throw yourself unreservedly upon His mercy and grace, seeking His forgiveness and salvation.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order -- Kingdom of Antichrist -- in their daily news.
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