SELF MADE OR GOD MADE?

1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

Proverb 21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin

           When the Bible speaks of a high look it is talking about one who in their demeanor give evidence of pride, self-conceit, and vanity. The origin of a high look is a proud heart. All of their labors, endeavors, their business, their occupations because they are in pursuit of their own glory are sin. If our heart is not right with God, our actions will be sinful. God expressly hates the proud heart that gives expression in a high look Pr. 6:16, 17.

           We often hear people describe someone that they view as successful as “a self-made man.”  There is no such thing as a self-made man unless you can find one that supplied both the sperm and egg, controlled the process of conception, carried themselves for nine months of pregnancy, pushed during the birthing, did the nursing, feeding, wiping, cleaning, changing, transporting, shopping, teaching, training, and educating of themselves. We are all the product of the contributions of others as well as what we have from the Lord as 1 Cor. 4:7.

           We ought to thank God daily in our prayers for our great grand-parents, grand-parents, parents, brothers, sisters, teachers, pastors, preachers, coaches, fellow-believers, the Body of Christ, the Church, our nation’s forefathers, our nations soldiers….  Who among us is not the product of the contributions and influences of others? No man is an island unto himself. It is only a proud self-centered person who doesn’t recognize this.

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ABC’S OF A GRATEFUL HEART

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving Holiday, we all have a lot to be thankful for in our lives. The Scriptures tell us to give thanks always and in whatever we do Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17. Thanksgiving goes beyond our National Holiday and it ought to be a distinguishing characteristic of a Christian’s life. Gratitude is the inward feeling of benefit or kindness received and thanksgiving is the outward expression of that feeling. How is this possible or how can we develop a heart of gratitude and expressing it with thanksgiving? Let me give you the ABC’s of developing a grateful heart.

A – ACKNOWLEDGE GOD AS THE SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS AND EVERY GOOD THING Psalm 84:11; James 1:17.

What do you have that you didn’t receive from Him 1 Corinthians 4:7?
The Greek word for giving thanks is “eucharisteo,” where you can see the root of it is “charis,” which is the word for grace. Acknowledging God and His exceeding abundant grace is a key to a grateful heart.

B – BASE YOUR GRATITUDE ON UNCHANGEABLE THINGS Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8.

For example:
Instead of being up one day and down the next in gratitude you feel in your heart and expressing it with thanksgiving, establish your heart in unchangeable things:
God’s love for you.
His faithfulness and that He cannot lie.
His mercy that endures forever.
The grace of God which is always sufficient.
The Word of God which is forever settled in Heaven.
God’s nature and character which are unchangeable.
He is the all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present God.

C – CREDIT THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHERS TO YOUR LIFE 1 Timothy 2:1.

Who among us is not a product of the contributions and influences of others?
No man is an island unto himself.
Allow your heart in prayer to reflect upon and remember all who have contributed to your life. Make giving thanks for others a priority in your prayer life. Perhaps our prayer life is God’s workshop where He develops a grateful heart in us.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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A TIME TO THANK GOD FOR HIS GUIDANCE AND PROTECTION

Proverb 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.

Thanksgiving is typically focused on celebrating the abundant provisions of God and His goodness to us going back to the initial Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims. What most don’t know is that the Pilgrims were initially headed to Virginia (then) now where lower Manhattan is, that they had already contracted for a tract of land. A storm shifted them off course to land up the northern seaboard. What they didn’t know is that had they landed there, they would have all died due to the Indian tribes along the Eastern coast plotting to kill any new settlers who would come to America. It was in the only place where there was no immediate Indian threat due to a recent plague that struck down the Indian tribe in the Plymouth Bay area that the Indians wouldn’t re-inhabit. They thought it was the curse of gods. Lucky or would you say the hand of God Psalm 37:24?

What we think as defeat, a hindrance, or getting off course can sometimes be the Divine hand of God guiding and protecting us. Second Corinthians 2:14 says, “Thanks be unto God which always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus (always leads us in triumph). Our God is able to make all things work together for the good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28.

Although many initially died because of the illnesses and hardships of the wilderness, along comes an English speaking Indian, Samoset, who later brings back another English speaking Indian, Squanto, both of whom were friendly to their cause along with the Massasoit Chief with his tribe who taught them how to farm, trap, and hunt. What are the odds of connecting with these two English speaking Indians who helped them? Once again I’d say it was the hand of God.

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The Pilgrim’s Failed Socialist Experiment

 by Dr. Harold Pease

           Few realize that New England’s first form of government under the Pilgrims was communalism (socialism) where “each produced according to his ability and each received according to his needs,” more than two centuries before Karl Marx first penned the above script. The result of “share the wealth” then and now was, and always will be, shared poverty.

           William Bradford, the colony’s governor its first 30 years, wrote of the agreement between the Pilgrim passengers and the financial “Adventurers” in his book Of Plymouth Plantation. He noted that the seven-year contract signed July 1, 1620, before leaving Plymouth England, stipulated that the Pilgrims were to pool, for common benefit, “all profits and benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons…” It further noted “that at the end of the seven years, the capital and profits, viz. the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt the Adventurers and Planters…” During this time the colonists were to “have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock and goods of the said colony.” It doesn’t get more socialistic than this because the government divvied out the goods and loafers received the same as those who worked.

           The first two years the result was shortages and starvation. About half the colonists died. No one did more than the minimal because the incentive to excel was destroyed. The industrious were neutralized. Bradford wrote of the scarcity of food “no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any.” The socialist experiment Bradford added, “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to the benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense….” In other words, socialism made strong men lazy. In another book written by the same author, History of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford spoke of another problem because of the government created famine—thievery. Even in this Christian community, “much was stolen both by night and day….”

           After two years of such, with the survival of the colony at stake, they contemplated upon “how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery.” They opted to abandon the incentive killing socialist contract in favor of the free market. And so they “assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end…”

           The effects were almost immediate. A delighted Governor Bradford wrote: “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor… could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.” In other words, the free market is a much greater stimulus than governmental force. The Pilgrims now wished to work because they got to keep the benefits of their labor. “Instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God…. Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”

           Secure property rights are the key to prosperity for all who wish to work. When this right is threatened by confiscatory taxation or outright confiscation of property, or by excessive government rules and regulations governing such, whether planned as in a contract enforced by the government at Plymouth, or gradual as in our day, work and production slow and can eventually stop. The answer for them was to extract socialism from their midst as it is for us today as well. May we have the wisdom to do so?

(Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College).

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WHAT IF THE PILGRIMS WERE OBSESSED WITH RELEVANCE?

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

In today’s Church, Biblical separation is seldom practiced to any degree and instead of coming out from among them and being separate (2 Cor. 6:17) the new church growth driver is being relevant and adapting down the truth and the Church to our culture.  Preachers want their messages to connect with their audience and be pertinent to people’s lives which in itself isn’t a bad thing.

We can, though, become so obsessed with relevance that we are deceived into holding back what is profitable and compromise preaching the whole truth. God’s Word hasn’t changed and it still calls for a clear-cut separation from all that defiles or contaminates His holiness 2 Corinthians 6:14‑18. Grace makes holiness possible for every Christian because of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30). Practicing separation is holiness in action. Separation doesn’t mean from total contact with evil in the world.  It means separate by not conforming or complying with its influence.  Separate in desire, motive, and acts.  Jesus was separate, but He still was in contact with the evil of this world.

There probably would not be an America as we know it and its founding being influenced by Christianity as it has been had the Pilgrims (Puritan Separatists) attempted to be relevant to the culture, government, and Church of England. It was because they took seriously the principle of separation from the corruption in their society and Church that they first separated as a local church congregation from Scrooby England to live in Leiden Holland. Years later, after securing an agreement to be able to travel to America in exchange for their freedom without interference from the King they returned to leave from the port of Plymouth in England in their voyage on the Mayflower to the New World.

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THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


The fact that we continue to be the longest ongoing Constitutional Republic in the history of the world is not an accident but that God has shed His grace on us. It is being threatened and there is no guarantee of good government among men except that we the people influence it. The superficial brand of Christianity that is so popular today will not give its followers the power and endurance needed to stand for righteousness and truth in these last days. It either caves or compromises. Many American Christians seem to forget that Christianity was birthed in the midst of one of the most hostile and aggressive governments against Christianity. The Roman Empire was brutal in enforcing adherence to its religion of emperor worship. Facing persecution, opposition, and an anti-Christian government was commonplace. We have not known this kind of government in America in modern times but we are facing elements of it today.

Jesus, in spite of the oppressive government in His day said, “I will build MY CHURCH, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it Matthew 16:18.” Saints, we are built for this day and hour. It is in our spiritual DNA. America may not go on but the Church will. It is America that needs the Church. It is time for the true Church to stand up, keep preaching the Gospel, keep making disciples of the saved, keep living holy, keep speaking the truth in love and keep being salt and light to this sin-sick world.

We should also be encouraged by the fact that Jesus gave us the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11, 13), His fighting suit (Isaiah 59:16, 17). Ephesians 6:13 says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Notice the armor is able to withstand the EVIL DAY. We are living in an evil day but we should be encouraged because the armor of God has been pr-approved, tried and tested, and given to every child of God to withstand the EVIL DAY. It is built to take a hit so do not quit but keep on fighting the fight of faith. It is an evil day but we will prevail!

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TRUE GRACE AND FALSE GRACE

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.

The Apostle Peter, in his first letter, in summing up all he said in the letter, said “…this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand,” 1 Peter 5:12. There is a true grace of God which the New Testament teaches. If there’s a true grace, there must be a false grace. If there’s a true teaching of grace, there must be a false teaching of grace. There is a true grace that produces a holy, godly life, and there is a perverted, twisted, greasy grace that produces license to do as you please and serve yourself.

Grace that promotes license is not grace but lasciviousness (Jude 4) and a false grace. Jude 4 says, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Grace doesn’t mean a license to do as one pleases. Lasciviousness is the total lack of self restraint that has no feeling of shame and no restraint from impurity. Grace also doesn’t mean defiance for or disregard for God’s moral standards, which is called lawlessness (1 John 3:4). 1 John 3:4 says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

True grace teaches us how to live soberly, godly, righteously (Titus 2:11, 12) while denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. Titus 2:11-12 says, “11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

Any teaching on grace that produces slackness, looseness, ungodly, unrestrained living is a perversion of true grace. True grace never promotes unrestrained careless liberty but loving service (Galatians 5:13). Galatians 5:13 says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” True grace frees us to serve.

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GROW IN GRACE

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

When a person comes to Jesus and is saved, he becomes a child of God, born again.  That event took place in their life because of their faith, yes, and their believing, but also because God has chosen to deal with mankind in terms of grace, or a grace covenant.  We are saved by grace.  We come to know the grace of God in salvation, or the grace that saves, but getting saved is only the beginning of our Father dealing with us by grace. Our entire life is now to be under grace and to be a further uncovering and unveiling to our hearts of the exceeding riches of His grace.  It is true that a revelation of grace is a revelation of Jesus but that same grace can be understood in a number of its dimensions or expressions. We can see grace expressed in:

1. The PERSON of Jesus Christ

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

(Also Galatians 1:12, 15, 16; Acts 20:24).

2. The PLAN of Redemption

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

3. The PROMISES of the Covenant

Roman 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

4. The PROVISION God’s prepared

Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

5. The POWER that enables

Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

(Also Ephesians 3:7; 4:7; 1 Peter 4:10, 11).

6. The POSITION we have IN Christ

Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Philemon 6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

The Bible doesn’t play the doctrine of grace against the Person of grace. It declares it is both a doctrine and a Person. Hebrews 13:9 implies grace is what we should be established in as opposed to strange doctrines, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.  For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.” Though it specifically doesn’t say be established in grace doctrines it is implying we should have our hearts established with them instead of divers and strange doctrines. 2 Peter 3:18 also reveals grace is something we can grow in not just receive once like the Person of Jesus at salvation, “But grow in grace, and [in the] knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever.  Amen.”  We are commanded to continually grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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GOD LOOKED AHEAD AND MADE PROVISION FOR YOU

1Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

According to the Word of God in 1Timothy 5:8 there is a principle on the surface of what we read, but then there is something beyond.  Failure to provide for one’s family members calls the defaulting provider to be worse than an infidel and is a denial of the faith.  Why?  Because many unbelievers even understand fulfilling their family responsibilities.  Even those who do not have eternal life understand provision for this life.  Even those who do not have the love of God shed abroad in their heart understand provision for their loved ones.

  A man’s house is his responsibility to provide for.  The word “provide” means to provide for by seeing the needs in advance.  It is the Greek word “proneo”, and it means to think ahead and make provision for.

Can you imagine a principle requiring us to be more holy, righteous, and good than the one who gave it?  Would our Father say, “Do as I say, not as I do”?  The Bible makes it clear that God is our Father.  We are members of His family and household of faith.  He is our Father because we have been born of Him, not of the will of man, nor the will of the flesh, but of the will of God John 1:12, 13. We are not an accident and God never saved the wrong person. We are a part of the Father’s house.  For Him to tell us, as human beings over our house, to look ahead and make provision, yet not do so Himself for His own house and children, He would be worse than what He said we would be. 

I want you to know that our Father is not worse than an infidel. You see God looked ahead, He thought ahead, which was the first course of family planning that ever existed before the foundation of the world.  He looked ahead and made provision for the family. Before our needs ever came into existence, the provisionary plan of God existed.  He made His provisionary plan for the entire family, His own house.  It was the plan of redemption Romans 3:24 and it was all done on the basis of His grace not out merit or our working to get it. The cross was the center of it all and it covers all things (Romans 8:32). God is much more willing for you to be provided for than you are for your own family. He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider.

GOD IS NOT WORSE THAN AN INFIDEL

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OUR POSITION IN CHRIST VERSUS OUR PRACTICE

            There seems to be faulty interpretations being made as to a believer’s responsibility now that he is under grace and wrong impressions being left from modern grace teachers because of not distinguishing between a believer’s position in Christ and his practice. The truths from the word of His grace address these two realms of truth and realms of existence. There are those who see the truths of our position in Christ and leave the impression there is nothing we should do now that we are under grace. There are others who see the truths addressing our practice or responsibilities in Christ but do not present them as something we should do as a response to what God has already done.

            Every believer has a wonderful standing in grace: “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). A believer’s standing has to do with his POSITION or status as a child of God, how God sees him in Christ. It has to do with all that is true of the believer because he is saved by grace. It is important to make a distinction between a believer’s POSITION (STANDING) and a believer’s PRACTICE (STATE). What is the believer’s PRACTICE? When we speak of a believer’s PRACTICE we are referring to the actual spiritual condition or state that he is in at any given point of time. It has to do with the believer’s walk, the way the believer lives and conducts himself.

OUR POSITION OR TRUTH THAT DEALS WITH OUR STANDING (sometimes called positional truth)

Is the result of the work of Christ on the Cross.

It becomes mine by faith in Jesus the moment I am saved.

It is perfect and cannot be improved upon.

My position and standing is the same as every other child of God.

My position and standing is wholly based on grace.

OUR PRACTICE OR TRUTH THAT DEALS WITH OUR STATE (sometimes called temporal truth)

Is the result of my work, faithfulness, and practice.

It is what I am exhorted to do to match my position and standing.

My state falls short of perfection; it can improve or it can get worse. 

My state is not the same as every other child of God.

My state is the basis of rewards.

Examples: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new 2 Cor. 5:17 (POSITION). Yet Ephesians 4:24 says, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (PRACTICE).”

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ Rom 5:1 (POSITION) Rom 5:1. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful (PRACTICE) Colossians 3:17

Ephesians 1:6 says: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (POSITION).” “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of  Him” (PRACTICE) (2 Cor. 5:9).

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast (POSITION).v.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (PRACTICE).

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