Thursday, November 24, 2011
The Pilgrims in Boston, England: From, the History of Christianity and Western Civilization Study Course
Go to Boston, England, with Dr. Joe Morecraft, Bill Potter and yours truly Doug Phillips to hear the truth behind the Pilgrim story. Hear fantastic insights from the great Joe Morecraft, and VF historian Bill Potter. This video will help prepare you for a vigorous Thanksgiving Day dinner table discussion.
I will praise the name of God with a song;"I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving." It is a mark of all the true children of God that they long to magnify the God of their salvation.
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive!
May all who seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee.
May those who love thy salvation say continually,
"Great is the Lord!" (Psalm 40:16)
O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. (Psalm 48:1)This was the heart cry of every Old Testament saint. And now it is the longing of every true Christian. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). That is, do everything so that God might be magnified. If you have met the living Son of God, Jesus Christ, and have joined yourself to him in faith, then does not your heart say with Paul, "It is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not at all be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death"? Therefore, I say it is the mark of all God's true children that they long to magnify the God of their salvation and his Son Jesus Christ.
Let us pray.
Gracious and all-knowing God and Father of our Lord Jesus, discerner of every heart, before whom we are all laid bare, we confess the weakness of our longing to magnify you. And we acknowledge that not everyone here has this longing. Some here are still outside the eternal family, more eager that they themselves or other things be magnified more than you. O God, I pray that in these next moments you would so speak as to awaken a longing in all of us to magnify you. Beget saving faith that loves to do all things to your glory. Lord, the heart of stone is impregnable by me or any man. But you have promised to take out the heart of stone and put in the heart of flesh, to turn hardness into tender joy. Almighty God, may nothing in anyone's mind stop you this morning from performing this radical surgery to make us new—that we might all leave this place magnifying you with thanksgiving. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Telescope MagnificationDavid said, "I will magnify God with thanksgiving." The word "magnify" can be used in two different senses. It can mean: make something appear greater than it is, as with a microscope or a magnifying glass. Or it can mean: make something that may seem small or insignificant appear to be as great as it really is. This is what our great telescopes help us begin to do with the magnificent universe which once upon a time spilled over from the brim of God's glory. So there are two kinds of magnifying: microscope magnifying and telescope magnifying. The one makes a small thing look bigger than it is. The other makes a big thing begin to look as big as it really is.
When David says, "I will magnify God with thanksgiving," he does not mean: "I will make a small God look bigger than he is. He means: "I will make a big God begin to look as big as he really is." We are not called to be microscopes, but telescopes. Christians are not called to be con-men who magnify their product out of all proportion to reality, when they know the competitor's product is far superior. There is nothing and nobody superior to God. And so the calling of those who love God is to make his greatness begin to look as great as it really is. The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God.
That God is great in every way that greatness is to be valued should be obvious to everyone. As the apostle says,
Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So men are without excuse for, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks. (Romans 1:20, 21)It ought to be obvious. But it isn't, due to the sinful insensitivity and forgetfulness of our hearts. Many of God's greatest attributes and most awesome and loving deeds pass in one ear and out the other without causing the slightest ripple of emotion within our hearts. Seeing we do not see, and hearing we do not hear. When our hearts are in such a condition, we need to beg God (like Paul did) to open the eyes of our hearts that we might know (that is, really know and feel) the hope to which he has called us, and what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe (Ephesians 1:18, 19).
But even when God graciously removes the scales from our eyes so we can be moved by his greatness, we are still prone to straightway forget what we have seen.
Haven't you all had experiences like I have in which you feel the goodness and faithfulness of God so intensely that you leap in the air and shout and hug your kids or hug somebody and say, "O God, how could I ever doubt you after this? How could I ever again despair of your help?" And then some short time later you find yourself doing just that—discouraged, and feeling no confidence in the goodness and greatness of God. Why? Because we are so prone to forget the evidences of God's goodness which we ourselves have experienced, not to mention the evidences in Scripture.
Isn't that why David preaches to himself:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.Soul, do not forget what God has done for you. Instead, soul, do what Asaph does in Psalm 77:11.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:1, 2)
I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; yea I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate on all thy work, and muse on thy mighty deeds. Thy way, O God, is holy. What God is great like our God?We are called to be telescopes: people who make the greatness of God seem as great as it really is. This is what it means for a Christian to magnify God. But you can't magnify what you haven't seen or what you quickly forget. Therefore, our first task is to see and to remember the greatness and goodness of God. So we pray to God, "Open the eyes of my heart," and we preach to our souls, "Soul, forget not all his benefits!"
The Response That Magnifies God: ThanksgivingBut suppose that we have seen and do remember the greatness of God's power (Psalm 147:5; Revelation 11:17; Nahum 1:3), and wisdom (Romans 11:33; Proverbs 3:19), and mercy (Psalm 57:10; 103:11), what sort of response will magnify him best? What must the human telescope do in order to cause God to appear as great as he really is?
Our text in Psalm 69:30 answers: "I will magnify God with thanksgiving." When we give thanks to him from our hearts, God is magnified. Gratitude glorifies God.
Why does it? The answer is simple: Givers are more glorious than receivers. Benefactors are more glorious than beneficiaries. When we thank God, we acknowledge and display that he is the giver; he is the benefactor. We pay him a high compliment. When my sons are angry at each other they do not say, "Thank you," very easily. "Karsten, tell Benjamin, 'Thank you.'" So he mumbles, "Thank you." "Benjamin, say, 'You're welcome."' So he mumbles, "You're welcome." And we all do this. Why? Isn't it because saying "thank you" is a compliment; it magnifies people: You did a good thing for me; I'm indebted to you. But when you are angry at somebody, you hate to pay them a compliment; you want to belittle them not magnify them; you hate to think of them as your benefactor.
Therefore, when gratitude springs up in the human heart toward God, he is magnified as the wealthy source of our blessing. He is acknowledged as giver and benefactor and therefore as glorious. But when gratitude does not spring up in our hearts at God's great goodness to us, it probably means that we don't want to pay him a compliment; we don't want to magnify him as our benefactor.
And there is a very good reason that human beings by nature do not want to magnify God with thanksgiving or glorify him as their benefactor. The reason is that it detracts from their own glory, and all people by nature love their own glory more than the glory of God.
In Psalm 35:27 David says, "Let those who desire my vindication shout for joy and be glad and say forevermore, 'The Lord be magnified!"' And he contrasts this group of people who love to magnify the Lord with another group in verse 26, "Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me." There are only two groups of people in the world whose differences from each other are of any eternal significance: those who love to magnify God and those who love to magnify themselves.
At the root of all ingratitude is the love of one's own greatness. For genuine gratitude admits that we are beneficiaries of an unearned bequest; we are cripples leaning on the cross shaped crutch of Jesus Christ; we are paralytics living minute by minute in the iron lung of God's mercy; we are children asleep in heaven's stroller. Natural man hates to think of himself in these images: unworthy beneficiary, cripple, paralytic, child. They rob him of all his glory by giving it all to God. Therefore, while a man loves his own glory, and prizes his self-sufficiency, and hates to think of himself as sin-sick and helpless, he will never feel any genuine gratitude to the true God and so will never magnify God, but only himself.
There is an interesting connection between our text (Psalm 69:30–32) and Psalm 50 and 51 which bears this out. The text goes on, "I will magnify God with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs." Why is that? Why does the offering of some expensive animal please God less than offering genuine thanks? Psalm 50:9–14 suggests an answer:
I will accept no bull from your house, nor he-goat from your folds, for every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. And pay your vows to the most high.One of the reasons God was not pleased with the offering of an ox or bull or goat was that the giver often thought that his gift was enriching God, was supplying some deficiency in God. But what seems like an act of love among men—meeting someone's needs—is an insult to God. "Every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills." You can't give me a bull or an ox! They are already mine.
Here is man's self-exaltation again. Even in the practice of religion, he finds a way to preserve his status as giver, as self-sufficient benefactor. In the very act of worship, he belittles God by refusing to assume the part of a receiver, an undeserving and helpless beneficiary of mercy.
As an antidote to this arrogance in worship, God prescribes the opposite: "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanks!" Acknowledge God as the giver and accept the lowly status of receiver. This is what magnifies God. That's why the last verse of Psalm 50 (23) says, "He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me." So when David says in Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise," he is simply describing the only sort of heart from which the sacrifice of genuine thanksgiving can flow. Until the stiffness of man's arrogant neck is broken and the hardness of his self-sufficient heart is softened, he will never be able to offer genuine thanks to the true God, and therefore will not magnify God but only himself.
The last verse of our text (v. 32) says, "Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God let your hearts revive."
The Liberating Demands of GodEven though the words we have spoken so far have been bad news for those intent on maintaining their pride, their love for their own glory, and their commitment to their own self-sufficiency, they are not bad news to the oppressed. To those who have come to the end of their rope, who have fallen exhausted from pulling at their own bootstraps, our text is good news.
What are God's demands? What does an all-sufficient God, who owns and controls all things, demand from the creature he has made? His demand is great, but it is not that we be great, but that we cease to be great in our own eyes and become small that he might appear great. "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." "It is not the well who need a physician but those who are sick." Jesus has nothing to do for those who insist they are well. He demands something great: that we admit we are not great. This is bad news to the arrogant, but words of honey to the oppressed who have given up their charade of self-sufficiency and are seeking God.
For by such he will be found; and he will pour into their empty hearts such a love as they have never known. And there will arise freely and joyfully a sense of gratitude so genuine and so visible that God will be greatly magnified as the merciful giver of everything we have and are.
I beseech you all by the mercies of God, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility . . . for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you" (1 Peter 5:5–6).
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
I will praise the name of God with a song. I will magnify him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)
Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is in me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:1, 2)
Thanks Be to God
Giving thanks to God is a way of life for every person who walks closely with Jesus. Life itself is a priceless gift, and there are countless smaller gifts every day.
Happy Thanksgiving, America
This video is a celebration of America and some of the many things we have to be thankful for. Among those things are our freedoms, our Constitution, our President and Vice President and our government. It is not a political statement, but recognition of the positions they hold in our country. Surely we can all be that tolerant. Happy Thanksgiving, America!
Seven Things to Do With Your Family This Thanksgiving
This is the second of five Thanksgiving week articles which will be posted here on Doug’s Blog, and are meant to be read aloud to your family in preparation for our national celebration of gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ. Article One: Journey To Scrooby—A Thanksgiving Pilgrimage; Article Two: Seven Things to Do With Your Family on Thanksgiving; Article Three: Seven Quotes to Read at the Thanksgiving Table; Article Four: Refuting the Seven Myths of the Radical Left About Thanksgiving; Article Five: Seven Pilgrims to Welcome to Your Thanksgiving Table.
By Douglas W. Phillips
Many of my happiest memories as a young man, and now as the head of my own household, come from Thanksgiving. Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a day where our dearest loved ones gather around the table and feast, followed by a time of poetry reading, Scripture recitations, song, more feasting, and family story-telling. But more than anything, Thanksgiving has come to be a time when we focus as a family on gratitude. It is a time to humble ourselves in the face of God’s great mercy, and to chronicle the providences and blessings of God in our life.
One of the blessings for which we are most grateful is you — the many friends of Vision Forum. So this year, the Phillips family wants to begin our Thanksgiving celebration by sharing seven simple recommendations for your own day of thanksgiving.
1. Stop and Thank God from the Bottom of Your Heart and the Depths of Your Soul
O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. —Psalm 95:1-6
If you were to spend every waking moment of every day for the rest of your life noting God’s goodness, you would never begin to chronicle all the things for which you should thank the Lord. His blessings are innumerable. But on this day, take time to chronicle much. Get very specific. Thank the Lord for all things. Thank him for your provision, and the protection He has given to you all year. Thank Him for the pains and sorrows that are driving you closer to Him. Thank Him for the problems you have, and thank Him for all the horrors from which you have been spared. Thank Him for your parents, your children, and your loved ones. Thank Him for the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. Thank Him for those friends who love you and who you love. Thank Him for the opportunities He has given to you. Thank Him for the mentors in your life. Thank Him for the sweet seasons and the beautiful memories He has given to you. Thank Him for His Church and His Word. But most of all thank Him for Jesus Christ. Because of Christ, you can be forgiven of sins, reconciled to the Father, and have the promise of eternal life.
2. Share the Greatest Stories of the Pilgrim Fathers and God’s Providence
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
Thanksgiving Day is a time for quizzes and story-telling. A great place to begin is by dedicating time to recount the rich historical evidence of God’s providence in the life of this nation through the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims. From their humble beginnings as a cadre of faithful friends and devoted Christians meeting in Scrooby, England, to their visionary leadership and perseverance in the New World at Plymouth Plantation, these faithful Separatists left one of the greatest legacies in the history of the New Testament Church. Yet most American Christians know little to nothing of the true story of these indefatigable men and women of God. This Thanksgiving, remedy the problem by telling their story.
If you don’t have any of the books on the Pilgrims available from Vision Forum, do a little online research. Visit the website of Pilgrim Hall Museum, for example. Share the stories of the friendship of William Bradford and William Brewster; of the persecution of the Scrooby Congregation; of the hardship and perseverance of the families on board the Mayflower; of the first Sabbath at Pulpit Rock; of the importance of the Church covenant and of the long first winter in America. Tell how God used a young Indian boy named Squanto to save the colonists, and share the story of the peace treaty between the Pilgrims and Chief Massasoit which lasted fifty years. Make sure to read the farewell letter of pastor John Robinson to his congregation. Have your children join in the story-telling. Make sure to emphasize the faithfulness and providence of the Lord.
3. Read the Fourth Chapter from Of Plymouth Plantation Aloud to Your Family
Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways toward it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.
If you only read from one book other than the Bible this Thanksgiving, make it Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. And if you only have time for one chapter, make sure it is the fourth. It is in this chapter that we learn about the true reasons why these homeschooling Pilgrims debated over whether or not they should risk their lives to go to America, the ultimate reasons for their departure (including concern over bad peer influences with their children), and their tremendous confidence in God. Most importantly, it is here that you read of Bradford’s multi-generational vision of victory.
Note: From the approximately fifty survivors of that first winter, more than 30 million progeny have descended.
4. Take a Pilgrimage to the Homes of the Pilgrims — From Your Living Room
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.We are losing our landmarks to liberty in our nation. As I documented in my article Plymouth Crock, we are even desecrating the landmarks to our Pilgrim fathers. This is one reason why I believe it is so important that we physically bring our children to the great Ebenezers of our freedom while they yet remain. Finally, after more than a decade leading families to Plymouth, home of the Pilgrim fathers, I was able to take 100 Americans this year on a journey to Scrooby, England, and the little manor house where the Pilgrim congregation was birthed. What a journey! Please let me share it with you by watching the video which I have posted on my blog. Then learn about the little eight-hundred-year-old manor house that changed the world in my article, “A Pilgrimage to Scrooby.”
5. Read George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation at the Dinner Table
Whereas it is the duty of 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 Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.
The practice of setting aside days of prayer, days of fasting and humiliation before the Lord, and days of thanksgiving for the mercies of Jesus Christ was practiced by our Pilgrim and Puritan fathers, promoted by our legislatures and Congress, and honored by our presidents. On this national day of Thanksgiving, let’s remember that we do not honor a “turkey day,” but the God of Heaven who George Washington described in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789 as “the great Lord and Ruler of Nations.” I recommend that you print off the proclamation and read it before your dinner meal.
6. Tell the Story of the Providence of God in the Life of Your Family
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
The Lord has not only blessed this nation with a rich providential history, but you too have a story that needs to be told. Your children need to hear it and understand the mercies of God in the life of your family. So, this Thanksgiving, chronicle all that God has done in the history of your family. How many generations has your family been in America? How did they get here? When, if ever, did your fathers embrace the Gospel?
7. Purpose to Fight Hard and Hold Fast
History is not made by majorities, but by dedicated minorities of like-minded friends who have joined together in common cause. This was the Pilgrim legacy, and it must be ours as well. To change the world, courageous men and women must “fight hard and hold fast” to the things they know to be true. Most people will not fight hard and hold fast (which is why most people are spectators instead of world-changers). If you are grateful, purpose to be engaged. Purpose to be part of an important work for the Lord. Purpose to stand with those who are fighting hard and holding fast. Purpose to be a twenty-first-century pilgrim for Jesus Christ.
Happy Thanksgiving! On behalf of Beall, Joshua, Justice, Liberty, Jubilee, Faith Evangeline, Honor, Providence, and Virginia, and all the families of Vision Forum, we wish you a truly happy, truly grateful, truly blessed Thanksgiving Day! May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He cause His face to shine upon you.
Tomorrow: “Seven Quotes to Read at the Thanksgiving Table.”
The Mayflower Compact: 391 Years Ago Today
When the Pilgrim Dissenters sent by the Virginia Company to plant a colony in the “northern parts of Virginia” were blown off-course by a storm into the coast of Massachusetts. No longer under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Company or its governor, they realized that they needed a new governing document. So before they landed, the men of the colony drafted what we know today as the Mayflower Compact. The date of the Compact’s signing states that it took place on November 11, 1620. This is because it was signed under the Old Style Julian calendar. England did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. The Gregorian date would be November 21, 1620:
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.
Quite a politically incorrect document, wouldn’t you say? How far we have fallen.
15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
May the Lord bless this special day of Thanksgiving!
May you all find that quiet part of the day to just get alone
and thank Him for all that He has done
for all that you have
for all that He has abundantly given.
To say a special prayer of thanks
for the very miracle of life
the love of family;
His unfailing faithful providence.