Fear of God Devotional: Church And Family Reformation Handled Poorly



How can reformation in the church or family be handled poorly?

Paul Carrington explains in this video that reformation in the church or family can be handled poorly when we as fathers or leaders make changes without any communication. We must communicate the “why” behind what we are asking our family or church to do. We must lay the groundwork and explain why we are making changes. We shouldn’t make changes just for the sake of change.

It does go back to our heart – why are we making changes? If we start without Christ at the center, we will run into numerous problems. We ought to have everything stem out of a love for Christ. Reformation should flow out of a heart to please God.

Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV) – “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

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Fear of God Devotional: A Church Without Mourning and Repentance



What is an issue present in many churches today?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that in many churches today, there aren’t enough people that are concerned about sin. They do not have the right perspective about sin. Those who demonstrate false repentance are merely concerned about themselves.

But, a person who truly repents understands how grievous their sin is in the eyes of God and hates their sin because God hates sin.

Hebrews 10:26 (NKJV) – “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”

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Lead Your Family into Thankfulness – 14 Thanksgiving Tips

It has always amazed me that we live in a nation where a holiday is given to the people for the purpose of Thanksgiving. Let’s seize the day! It is a marvelous opportunity for us to lead our families in thanksgiving, building cultures of happiness and gratitude in our families that spill over into the church and the society at large. If there ever was a truly biblical holiday in America, Thanksgiving would top the list.

What follows are fourteen Thanksgiving Celebration Tips.  I write this that we “may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,” and to tell of His “wondrous works.” (Psalm 26:7), and to declare the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ across the land. In it, you will find encouragement to read the scripture, sing the songs, recount the history and dedicate your family to building a culture of thankfulness.

1. Do what a fun family in our church does…

We have a family in our church that has a large and fantastic Thanksgiving celebration that engages all ages in the Pilgrim story. It is educational and engaging for all. Anyone who comes must be dressed as a character of someone on the Mayflower, and ready to tell the story of their lives, reciting a speech to all – from the littlest to the oldest.

2. Read Psalm 136 

A couple of years ago, our family read Psalm 136 and each person gave a personal testimony of thanksgiving between each verse. Ezra 3:11 gives the basic idea for this, “And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.”

3. Capture the opportunity to teach the sufficiency of Christ

Thanksgiving offers fathers a wonderful opportunity to intentionally use an entire day to teach your family and friends about the importance of giving thanks. Families need leaders who will establish and undergird and constantly reinforce a culture of joy in a family. Thanksgiving offers a brilliant opportunity for leaders to lead their tribes in thanksgiving and drive a stake in the ground to say, “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57), and to declare, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor 2:14).

4. Play some Pilgrim games

It’s always nice to go outside and have some fun after such a fantastic meal. Over the years, we have played various pilgrim games. Here are some supposedly authentic pilgrim games. Following are two games that I think the pilgrims might have played that our family has played. 

The Spoon and Apple Race

Mark a start and finish line and move the apple along with a spoon. 

Pumpkin Roll 

Make a circle about 5 feet across out of a rope, and give the kids pumpkins around the circle at an equal distance from it. The first one who rolls the pumpkin into the circle is the winner.  

5. Exercise your guns

This is a distinctive pilgrim game. There is didactic evidence that the pilgrims got out their guns and went shooting… Here’s the reason we are confident this is a pilgrim game: Edward Winslow wrote, 

amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted.” 

6. Have a hayride to end all hayrides

For the past several years, we have had a Hay Ride on Thanksgiving. One year we pulled a low farm trailer with hay bales to sit on and we drove around re-enacting the voyage of the Mayflower, including people getting washed overboard as did John Howland during a gale about halfway in the journey… How was John Howland saved? 

“In sundrie of these storms the winds were so fierce and ye seas so high as they could not baree a knote of saile, but were forced to hull for diverce days together. And in one of them, as thus lay at hull in a mighty storm, a lustive yonge man, called John Howland, coming upon some occasion above ye grattings, was, with a seale of ye shippe, throwne into ye sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of ye tope-saile hallards which hunge overboard and rane out at length; yet he held his hould (though he was sundrie fadomes under water) till he was hould up by ye same rope to be brime of ye water, and then with a boat-hooke & other means got into ye shippe again and his life was saved; and though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after and became a profitable member both in church and commonwealth.” (From Bradford’s, Of Plymouth Plantation)

7. Read the First Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1777

Read the rich and biblical language in the First Thanksgiving Proclamation, delivered in 1777 by the Continental Congress. The authors spoke beautifully of the elements of true Christianity. Here is a shortened version. They spoke of the, 

“Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence… (to) express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor… (to enter into) Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor… (to offer) Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance…”

8. Read George Washington’s proclamation, Oct 3, 1789

This is a very eloquent and moving call to the nation to repentance, gratitude, prayer and to obedience to God. In the following excerpt, Washington appeals to, 

“all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions…To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue…”

Here you can read the Full Text of George Washington’s proclamation from the Library of Congress website.

There are many Thanksgiving proclamations on record. Here are various Thanksgiving proclamations, from the website of Pilgrim Hall, in Plymouth, Mass.

9. Read Edward Winslow’s description of the first Thanksgiving

Here is his description of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, in modern language,

“…our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

10. Explain the value of giving thanks from the Bible

Here are five ways:

First, do a word search on “Thanksgiving”
Get out your computer or concordance and look for “Thanksgiving,” “thankful,” and “thanks” in the Bible and find a few favorites to read.

Second, explain how in thanksgiving God calls us out of our sorrows
God is kind to lift His children out of despair by calling them to lift their voices in thanksgiving. He takes us beyond where we are. He takes us higher than we were. See how greatly the Father has loved us… He has done so much to lift us out of the despair that comes so naturally. He does this by calling us to give thanks.

Third, explain the value of acknowledging the goodness of God 
One of the blessings of God for His people is that He not only calls us to acknowledge the evil but to praise the good. God is a God of contrasts. He never leaves His people in the pit of despair. This is why we have so much to be thankful for. For His sovereignty over all things; for His provision for us; for the people, He has put in our lives; for our churches; for a day of thanksgiving.

Fourth, explain the importance of praising God for victories
We can rejoice in His power of His Hand in the victories He has accomplished for us. This is one of the great uses of feasting in the Bible. For example, the first example of feasting in the Bible occurs when Melchizedek brings bread and wine to Abraham after his victory over five kings, “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.”  Genesis 14:18-20

Fifth, express gratitude for deliverance
The second example in scripture of feasting arose out of the victory of deliverance from Egyptian captivity where God commanded two annual holidays for feasting and thanksgiving. These feasts were, Shavuot or the Feast of Pentecost and Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles which was a celebration of the Ten Commandments.

Sixth, explain that through Thanksgiving we endure the hard years
You may be thinking, ‘It’s been a hard year, and it is difficult to rejoice.”  Remember the first Thanksgiving of the pilgrims in Plymouth.  They were giving thanks, even though only seven women were left alive after the first winter in America.  Yet, out of these seven women came the blessed rise of a “city built on a hill,” a light to the nations.

11. Read selections from “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford

Especially consider reading Chapter 4, “Reasons which led the congregation at Leyden to decide upon a settlement in America.”

12. Sing hymns the pilgrims sang

The pilgrims were lovers of music and singing. They sang the songs of the Ainsworth Psalter. Click the previous link and listen to Priscilla Mullins sing one of them. One of the more popular pilgrim songs is,  “We Gather Together.” You can listen to it here.  It originated during the time of the Dutch persecution in Holland. It is thought that Dutch Calvinists brought the song to  America in the 1620’s. This song was sung at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader in battle,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

The Old One Hundredth

There are various versions of this song. The lyrics below are from The Book of Psalms: Englished both in Prose and Meter (Amsterdam 1612) by Henry Ainsworth, carried to New England on the Mayflower.

Leader:  Shout to Jehovah all the earth (Congregation Repeats)
Leader: Serve ye Jehovah with gladness (Congregation Repeats)
Leader: Enter His gates with singing mirth (Congregation Repeats)
Leader: Know that Jehovah He God is (Congregation Repeats)

It's he that made us, and not we;
his folk, and sheep of his feeding.
O with confession enter ye
his gates, his courtyards with praising:

Confess to him, bless ye his name.
Because Jehovah he good is:
his mercy ever is the same
and his faith, unto all ages.

Following are some other lyrics that are sung to this tune:

All people that on earth do dwell
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell
Come ye before Him and rejoice

You faithful servants of the Lord
Sing out His praise with one accord
While serving Him with all your might
And keeping vigil through the night

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Here are the words from the Genevan Psalter based on Psalm 134

You faithful servants of the Lord,
sing out his praise with one accord,
while serving him with all your might
and keeping vigil through the night.

Unto his house lift up your hand
and to the Lord your praises send.
May God who made the earth and sky
bestow his blessings from on high.

13. Tell the story of the pilgrims

My friend Stephen Hopkins, NCFIC Regional Facilitator in the Southwest, and pastor at Burnet Bible Church has written the following to tell his children the story. It is taken mostly from selections of William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation.” It takes him almost an hour to get through it, so he breaks it up into two sections. Here is the full text of his notes.

14.  Use the day as preparation for heaven, where you will be giving thanks for all eternity.

Tell your family that this holiday for thanksgiving is a foretaste of heaven. Why? The Lord instructed us in several places that we ought to give thanks in everything (Eph. 5:18; Col 3:17; 1 Thess. 5:16-18). It is also the disposition of the godly, (Rom. 7:25; 1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 2:14). Why? Because this is the activity of heaven… We give thanks, today as a foretaste of that day when we will be filled with everlasting thankfulness… This will be one of the dominant emotions in heaven. It begins at the Lord’s Supper, and is continued at the marriage supper of the lamb which inaugurates times of everlasting joy. The day is coming when we will have everlasting joy on our heads. See Isaiah 51:11, So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

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Fear of God Devotional: A Story of False Repentance



What is an example of false repentance?

Curt Daniels explains in this video that about 18 years ago, a man came and showed up and said that he had sinned in his past and he was sorry. There were many tears shed. Curt told him that you need to go back, repent, and face the consequences of his sin.

But instead of showing characteristics of true repentance, this man went right back immediately to the same sin that he said he was repenting of. This is an example of what appears to be false repentance – an individual returning to the sin that he allegedly repented of. 

Proverbs 26:11 (NKJV) – “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” 

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Fear of God Devotional: What Are the Blessings of Repentance?



What are the blessings of repentance?

Rob Ventura explains in this video that fellowship and communion with God is restored when we repent of our sins. As Christians, we are in an undissolvable union with God, but communion with God can be broken when we give into and embrace sin.

If we do not break from our sin, our fellowship with God is impaired. But, when we repent and turn from it by God’s grace, the Lord forgives us. Repentance is necessary for the Christian. It keeps maintains vital communion with God.

1 John 1:7 (NKJV) – “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

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Journey Through the Bible Now in Stock



Newsflash: We just received our first shipment of Journey Through the Bible

Through the month of November, we are selling these for HALF PRICE – $14.96.

This 600 page, hard copy book came about from our family worship times as we read the Bible together as a family, my own personal study as well as preaching through the Bible.

As our children were growing up, our family made it our practice to read the Bible from cover to cover. We did this for many years. Some of our children learned to read by reading progressively more words as we read the Bible together.

We took turns reading going around the circle. The little ones would repeat one or two words that we coached them to pronounce. Those who could read would read one to five verses and the best readers would read five verses each. We would read around four chapters per day, usually in the morning.

As each year passed, I kept adding to a document which contained introductory information about each book. I used this document to give my family background information for each book and to record the things I felt were important about it. By the time our children were adults, I had over 400 pages of notes. These notes documented the following kinds of information:

  • The historical context of each book of the Bible.
  • The questions I asked them.
  • An explanation of the meaning of each book.
  • A list of the important matters of each book.
  • A list of key memory verses.
  • A basic outline of each book

This book is a compilation of these notes as well as notes I collected as I studied these books on my own and as I preached through them over the years.

Sincerely,
Scott Brown

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Fear of God Devotional: What Is the Pivotal Factor in Reformation?



What needs to occur for a reformation of thinking in our day?

One of the most important things is a person’s view of God. Anthony Mathenia explains in this video that if we were to have a reformation of thinking in our day, we would need to realize that as A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Accordingly, if we were to have a reformation in our thinking, we must think rightly about God. Therefore, we should go to Scripture. We need to see who He is, what He says about Himself, and how we should interact with Him. We must endeavor to think more about God according to Scripture.

Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV) – “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.” 

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Fear of God Devotional: How Repentance and Faith Work Together



What is the relationship between faith and repentance?

John Snyder explains in this video that faith and repentance are two sides of one coin. No one would turn to God from their sin apart from a saving faith. After conversion, we believe what God has said about us and the world and sin. We want to make room for God and to turn away from all other substitutes.

Repentance is not a one-time event. Similarly, faith has a beginning and it continues throughout the life of a believer. There is a life of believing God and responding to God. In the same way, in regards to repentance, there is an ongoing turning. We turn away from all, that we may turn afresh to God.

Acts 20:20-21 (NKJV) – “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

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Fear of God Devotional: Repentance: A Daily Experience in the Life of a True Christian



How is repentance a daily experience in the life of a Christian?

Michael Beasley explains in this video that we sin daily. If we say that we do not have sin, we deceive ourselves and we call God a liar. We must recognize the fact that we sin well beyond our ability to understand. The battle against it is a daily one and repentance is a daily experience.

If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive. The believer, understanding these truths, will acknowledge sin, repent and come to the throne of grace. Through Christ, we have eternal forgiveness. It is a daily, ongoing experience for the Christian.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) – “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

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Fear of God Devotional: The Effect of Compromise in the Church and our Children’s Education



How have our churches brought about the falling away of our children?

Ken Ham explains in this video that out of our children today, 40% say that they are not born again. 65% say that if you are a good person, you can get to Heaven, and 40% agree with homosexual marriage. These people will be the leaders of the future church.

The majority of these children daily attend public schools where they’re taught, among other things, the validity of evolution. Every day, they are taught how the Bible is not true. Our children begin to believe that churches merely present “Bible stories” while they learn fact-based evolution at school. Attending church simply becomes an hour-long entertainment and story-telling session. 

Our churches encourage our kids to believe nearly anything they wish so long as they trust in Jesus when they were little. We need Christian leaders to repent of compromise and to boldly preach Scripture and unashamedly stand on His Word. 

Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” 

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Fear of God Devotional: What Brings People To Repentance?



Is repentance something we can bring about by our own efforts?

Jason Dohm explains in this video that repentance is a gift from God. Repentance is not something that occurs naturally in the life of an unbeliever. Rather, apart from the grace of God, an unbeliever would never repent and turn their back on sin. 

Repentance is not something that comes about as a result of man’s efforts but it comes from God. He is incredibly patient and merciful towards us despite our rebellion against Him. Repentance is not something that we can earn based on our own actions. 

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 

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Fear of God Devotional: How Did the Reformation Help Us Better Understand the Trinity?



How did the Reformation bring about a better understanding of the Trinity?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that the Reformation helped to point individuals to the Scripture and come to the understanding that there is only one Mediator between God and man. There are not individuals that we go to in place of Christ.

The Reformation gives us a Trinitarian theology in which our life can serve God. Samuel Rutherford exclaimed, “I know not which Divine Person I love the most–Father, Son, or Holy Ghost–but I know that I love each of them and need them all!”

1 Corinthians 8:6 (NKJV) – “[Y]et for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”

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Fear of God Devotional: How Church Leaders Can Promote a Culture of Transparency and Accountability



How should church leaders promote a culture of transparency and accountability?

Dennis Gunderson explains in this video that leaders in the church should be real and let others know that they are fellow brothers in the faith. They shouldn’t be distant from their congregation. 

It is important to share that they as pastors are not invulnerable from sin and that they need close friends who will hold them accountable. That is why multiple elders is important. Having only one pastor sometimes prevents him from having relationships with others with whom he can receive accountability. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NKJV) – “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

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Fear of God Devotional: “Lord, Stamp Eternity on My Eyeballs”



How important is it to keep in the mind the reality of eternity and Hell?

Paul Carrington explains in this video that it is important to remember the eternal reality of Hell. When you think of the millions of people who will be spending eternity in a place of eternal torment, how can you keep going on as normal? 

One Puritan explained it that 5 million years from now, a soul in Hell will be no closer to being released than the first day that they entered. Jonathan Edwards once stated, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” We ought to have a similar urgency in the church for holiness and for the souls of men. 

2 Thessalonians 1:9 (NKJV) – “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Is My Church a Repentant Church?



Is your church a repentant church? How can you tell?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that a repentant church that lives out true repentance in the 21st century is the same church that lived it out in the 1st century. It is the church that understands the Beatitudes. It is a church that understands that it needs to be reforming.

There has to be a mourning over sin and repentance for sin in the church before there is a comforting. There has to be a distraugtness. The same Holy Spirit that brings the convicting force also brings great joy. If there is a church that has no conviction for sin, there is no mourning. That is not a true church.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV) – “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

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