We’re So Thankful…

Canadian Thanksgiving was about a month and half ago, but as many of you know, today is American Thanksgiving. It’s a little different to celebrate Thanksgiving when Christmas is just 4-1/2 short weeks away, but just the same, we are thankful for all that God is doing in our lives. Here are some of the things we are most thankful for:

  1. We get to dig into the Bible every day for hours and hours; we’ve been blessed with a really unique opportunity to get to know God’s Word. We’re so thankful that we are finally doing what we feel we are meant to do!
  2. YWAM Montana is an amazing community of staff (volunteers) and students from all over the world, of all ages, and all backgrounds, united in Jesus. We’re thankful to get to glorify God with a wonderful group of His people!
  3. We couldn’t be here without an awesome community of friends and family who support us through prayer and giving. We are so thankful for all those who partner with us, and for God’s provision.
  4. Montana is seriously gorgeous; we get to experience one of God’s most amazing creations – the Rocky Mountains – every time we walk outside our door. We’re thankful for a tangible reminder of God’s power, creativity and beauty.
  5. Christmas is only a few weeks away, and we’re so thankful that we have been lent a car to drive up to Edmonton! We’re thankful for the opportunity to visit family and friends in Alberta (though we will certainly miss our family and friends in Ontario this holiday season).

What are you thankful for? Even if you’re not American and you’re not celebrating today with turkey and pumpkin pie, thank God for what He is doing in your life! Every day is a good day to be thankful!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).

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Philippians & Romans

Ever wonder why we sin? You probably think “well, it’s inevitable – it’s just our human nature” – and for unbelievers, this is true. Until about a week and a half ago I thought this went for everybody, unbelievers and believers alike. Sin is just what we do, right? Wrong! We all sin because we love sin! When we come to believe in Christ, however, God gives us His righteousness; this makes us free from the bondage of sin. In Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. This means that sin is a choice, and that every time we sin, we are choosing to love our sin more than we love Christ. It’s a great comfort to know that Christ has set us free from sin, but it’s difficult to admit that we would willingly choose anything over God. God has given us His righteousness through belief in His Son, enabling us to choose His way rather than the sinful way of the world, but time and time again, we pick the world’s way. This realization should change us! I know it has changed the way I pray over the last week! Rather than simply asking forgiveness for my sin, I can praise God that He has set me free from sin, and ask Him to forgive me for choosing sin over Him and that He would help me to walk in the righteousness He has already given me.

If you’re reading the Bible with me, the next two books are 1 & 2 Corinthians – you can read both in about an hour and forty-five minutes.


Philippians

Main Idea: Paul writes to the Philippians, urging them to rejoice in all circumstances. Though Paul is in prison during the writing of this book, he rejoices in the preaching of the Gospel, encourages the believers to walk in Christ, in unity, and in contentment, and emphasizes that their righteousness is found in Christ.

Reason Written: Paul writes this friendship letter to thank the Philippians for their gift of support. He regards them as friends, urging them to be unified, rejoice in the Lord, and be content regardless of their circumstances.

TT: Believers are to be content, regardless of the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).


Romans

Main Idea: Christ is righteousness for those who have faith in Him, regardless of Jew/Greek status.

Reason Written: When the Jews returned after having been kicked out of Rome, they attempted to claim their privileges back from the Gentiles. Paul writes to assert that regardless of whether a believer is Jew/Greek, they are equal in Christ, as Christ is their righteousness.

TT: Believers are no longer slaves to sin, but are called to live lives of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18).

Acts, 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Though I’ve read Acts and 1 & 2 Thessalonians before, I confess I probably couldn’t have told you much about them – these are not your typical sermon series books of the Bible! As I studied through Acts, what struck me most was the way in which God goes to great lengths to have His elect hear the Gospel. Whether it’s the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius, or Lydia, God sends the apostles to specific people so that they can come to know Him. The overwhelming theme of 1 & 2 Thessalonians is the return of Christ, as the Thessalonians have all sorts of misconceptions about the Day of the Lord. Not much has changed since the days of the Thessalonians; throughout history, people have spent so much time and energy trying to figure out when Christ will return – 172 dates have been suggested in the last 2000 years! Rather than spending so much energy trying to predict the unpredictable (“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows” – Mark 13:32), we’re to live in a way that is expectant of His return – living in a way that glorifies God. What would the world look like if we spent as much time telling others about Jesus as we do trying to figure out when He will return?

If you’re reading the Bible with me, the next two books are Philippians and Romans – you can read both in about an hour and fifteen minutes.


Acts

Main Idea: The Gospel is shared with Jews and Gentiles throughout Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth, as the Holy Spirit enables the disciples to carry out the instructions given to them by Jesus..

Reason Written: Documents for Theophilus the spreading of the Gospel and the giving of the Holy Spirit, after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

TT: God pursues His elect individually. (Acts 8:26-39; 9:1-19; 10:1-48; 13:48)


1 Thessalonians

1 Thesalonians

Main Idea: Paul writes to the Thessalonians, commending them for their faith in Christ and encouraging them to continue to live a godly lifestyle as the coming of the Lord approaches.

Reason Written: Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage them to stand firm in persecution, to clear up confusion about what will happen to believers when Jesus returns, and to defend himself and his ministry.

TT: Believers are called to live in a way that is expectant of Christ’s return. (1 Thessalonians 5:4)


2 Thessalonians

Main Idea: Paul writes to the Thessalonians, telling them that Christ has not yet come but is coming, and that they are to not be idle but to work for their living.

Reason Written: It seems that the Thessalonians have received false teaching with regards to the second coming; Paul writes to them, informing them of that which must happen before Christ returns. In addition, it seems that the believers are not working; Paul instructs them to return to their labor.

TT: God’s enables His elect to have faith in Him, which allows them to repent from their sin, turn to God, be saved and grow in Him. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)

Galatians, Mark & Luke

The last three books we’ve studied are Galatians, Mark and Luke, and it’s been a tremendously transforming last few weeks. Studying the Gospels for myself, and having more light shed on the reality of what Jesus suffered for our sins has been an eye-opening experience. Something I’ve been really struck with as I’ve studied has been the way in which the Pharisees completely missed who Jesus was. They spent their whole lives attempting to look righteous – playing the part of “holy” – and the Holy One Himself was in their midst. Rather than rejoicing, they condemned Him to death. They had the opportunity to have their lives and hearts changed, but because they were expecting a Messiah who would reward them for their observance of the law, a Messiah who would come as a conquering king to overthrow the Roman Empire, they chose to reject Him. The Savior was amongst them and is with us still today through the Holy Spirit, yet how often do we refuse to recognize how much we need Him? Without Him, our sins make us deserving of the death He died; through Him, we are made righteous, just as He is completely righteous. Join us in thanking God for what He has done for us through sending His Son, and follow Him with your whole life! This is the call for those He has rescued – those who know they need a Savior. The kingdom of God is in our midst – and Jesus – God Himself – has died, so you can be a part of it.

If you’re reading the Bible with me, the next three books are Acts, 1 & 2 Thessalonians – you can read all three in less than three hours.


Galatians

Main Idea: Paul writes to the Galatians, urging them to remember that they are justified by faith and not by works of the flesh. Paul opposes those who claim that one must be circumcised to receive salvation. in Christ, all believers are heirs and sons, but if they submit to any part of the law (such as circumcision), they are under the whole law, and can therefore not hope to be righteous.

Reason Written: The Galatians have been given false teaching with regards to circumcision. They have been taught that they must be circumcised to receive salvation, which is contrary to the gospel of Christ.

TT: Grace through faith in Jesus Christ has saved believers from the condemnation of the law. (Galatians 4:4-5)


Mark

Main Idea: By recognizing that Jesus came as a Suffering Servant, the recipients of this gospel would be encouraged to suffer with Jesus for the faith, despite the persecution they were enduring under the Roman Empire.

Reason Written: This gospel was written as an encouragement to an audience who was suffering under great persecution.

TT: Believers are called to take great risks for the kingdom of God. (Mark 15:43-46)


Luke

Main Idea: Jesus has come to seek and save those who do not depend upon their own self-proclaimed righteousness, but those who know their desperate need for a Savior.

Reason Written: Luke writes an orderly account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for Theophilus, so he may have certainty with regards to what he has been taught about Jesus thusfar.

TT: Jesus is Savior for those who realize their great need for Him. (Luke 11:39-41)