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Monday, November 7, 2011

A Time For Thanksgiving

By Gerald Cowan
Col. 3:15, Eph. 3:20, Phil. 4:4-7

AN IMPROPER THANKSGIVING PRAYER

          An Orthodox Jew reportedly prayed, "God I thank you that you did not make me a Gentile, a slave, a woman, or an animal." This is wrong on all counts! First, God does not "make" anybody in that creative, directive, or manipulative sense. Species is determined by parents, each after its own kind (Gen. 1:21). Gender is determined by the male of the species. Jew and Gentile are determined by the birth parents, and so is nationality. Social distinctions are determined by society, or by the person himself.

THERE ARE MANY MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE ACTION
OF GOD IN HUMAN AFFAIRS.

          It is not uncommon for some to claim that God chooses and rules in certain governments of men. It has probably been said of many presidents in our own country by someone at the time or later that it was the will of God that he be president at that time. If asked if that meant God chose the particular man to be president, to be consistent one would have to say yes. But it may be difficult to convince some that God actually chose leaders who turned out to be inept or, worse than that, immoral and corrupt. The United States of America is not the only nation in the world, and certainly not the only nation for whom the claim has been made that it is blessed by God and is established by God’s grace. If God chooses national leaders – kings, presidents, or dictators – please explain why He wanted the past or current rulers in any of the hundreds of trouble spots and oppressive regimes in the world. The whole concept is wrong on several counts. God does not choose individuals (although He once did He does not now) as rulers, political or spiritual leaders. Governments are necessary, and God’s intention is that they serve Him and His purpose, actually function as administrators of His will (Rom. 13:1-4, 1 Peter 2:17-19). Probably none has ever done so, at least not perfectly. God has not chosen or preferred a certain form of government – He does not prefer the "American way of democracy" over other forms and He does not tell us we should Americanize the world. God does not choose nations. He certainly has not chosen and does not rule the USA. The founders of the nation may have had their eyes and hearts on God, as they understood Him, and may have tried to implement what they thought was His will. But the fact is, they were uninspired and so their concepts and their efforts were imperfect. Succeeding officials have not perfected the will of God in their efforts either, and it is unlikely that anyone ever will. The point: God has not chosen us or any other nation to be His nation; God does not rule the nation; it does not exist by the will and grace of God . Do not blame God for anything that is wrong with it, or with us, or with yourself.
DO NOT EXPECT GOD TO CONTROL EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE
          A certain Christian woman of advanced years had been diagnosed with cancer. She went through a period of blaming God for her condition. "I have been a faithful Christian for many years and have served you to the best of my ability in many ways. I’ve been a faithful wife and always tried to be a good mother. I have tried to be kind and helpful to others. I can’t think of anything I’ve done to deserve cancer. God, why did you do this to me?" This is also wrong on several counts. God does not inflict diseases and death upon individuals (although He once did, He does not do so now). Disease and death from "natural causes" are the common lot of mankind. Nobody is exempt or immune. God does not grant good health, wealth, or other rewards, benefits and blessings on earth for faithfulness or service rendered in His kingdom. He promises spiritual strength and grace so that His people need not give up or be destroyed spiritually by what society or the natural world may do to them (1 Cor. 10:13, Phil. 4:13 and 19).

A LESSON IN THANKFULNESS

1. Be thankful to be alive, to have strength, presence of mind and ability not only to serve God but to keep faith with Him through Jesus Christ.
2. Be thankful that no matter how difficult life in this world may be, we have hope of a better life in a place infinitely better than this world can provide.
3. We can learn lessons from circumstances and events – good and bad – that improve life for ourselves and others.
4. We can learn to thank God no matter what our condition may be, no matter what our nation or who our rulers may be, no matter what our health, wealth, or social station may be.
5. We can teach others by our attitudes and actions, and by our interpersonal relationships that being faithful people of God is worth the struggle, both now and forevermore.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com

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