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Pam is a member of Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan and wrote this as a Church History paper for Mr. Van Uffelen at Covenant Christian High School.

All of us should take a moment and think of all the wonderful things that God has blessed us with. He has given us so much in our lives that we cannot even begin to name them all. All too often we forget to thank God for the little things, but we can also forget to be thankful for the major things in our lives. One of these things is the Christian atmosphere that God has put us in. Our Christian surroundings are so common, that we forget that they are a privilege and a blessing. We take for granted our Christian environment, and we must learn to continually give thanks to God for the circumstances that He has blessed us with. Furthermore, evidence of our gratitude must be shown through our actions.

Christian schools, homes, and churches are extremely important in our spiritual lives and especially in our spiritual upbringing. Our teachers and parents began to teach us the basic truths of the Bible before we even realized it. We were baptized as young infants, enrolled into Christian schools, and taught in Sunday School classes before we can even remember. We’ve grow up with these Christian surroundings, so we do not think twice about them.

Try to think what it would be like if we weren’t blessed in the way that we are. We would not be able to begin our school days with the word of prayer. The temptations around us would be even greater than the ones we encounter in our lives today, and to whom would we look to help us overcome those temptations? The majority of people around us encourage evil thoughts and actions. We cannot look to the world like we can do with so many of the people God has placed in our lives. Our Christian friends, parents, and teachers have done so much more than we realize. Sadly to say, we do not pay attention to these sorts of blessings. How many of us pay attention to our parent’s or teacher’s entire prayer? How often do we speak badly of the schools or homes that God has given us? Sometimes we do mumble a little, “thank-you for our Christian schools, teachers, Bibles, Psalters,” etc. Do we just say it, or do we actually think about what we are saying and say it from the heart? We’ve been blessed with so much we really cannot even comprehend what it would be like without them.

There are those in the world and in our communities who do not know what it’s like to have these same blessings. Think about what a non-Christian home could be like. The parent-child relationship that should exist would be totally distorted. The children would have no real respect for their parents because they do not have a Father in heaven upon which they can base their earthly relationship with their parents. The parents would have no real reason for discipline. “Because I said so,” has no spiritual backing to it. If our parents say that, we understand that our parents have based their beliefs on the Bible. It isn’t only what they think. Also, the divorce rate is unbelievably high these days. We should thank God every day that He has blessed us with godly parents who know the importance of a marriage and know that it cannot be broken by some document. What if one of your parents was an alcoholic? What if your older brother that you used look up to was now a drug addict? Things would be a lot different for us, and not for the better. These are common things in the world that we often think will never affect us. They could affect you, and we must be thankful that God has kept them from us.

This is not to say that we are totally sheltered from these types of things, and that they will never affect us, because they can. God has put some of these situations in Christian’s lives. This does not make them any less of a Christian, and they may not think that God is punishing them for something. Often God puts these trials in His people’s lives to strengthen their faith and the faith of those around them. If you talk to someone who has been in a situation like this, they will often say that they did not realize how good they really had it. It’s true that all too often we do not realize how much we have until it’s gone. We should not have to have our circumstances change in order for us to realize that God has blessed us. We must recognize right now all the blessings that God has mercifully bestowed upon us.

There are also Christians with other types of situations which may seem like a burden for them. The Christians in places like Ghana and Singapore do not have the religious freedoms that we do here in the United States. Many of them grew up not knowing the Lord. They did not have the strong spiritual upbringing that most of us have had. Some are Christians themselves, but their parents or other loved ones were not converted with them. How awful would it be to be rejected by your own family for your beliefs? How sad to know that your loved ones will not be spending eternity with you in heaven!

Having a Christian family is definitely one of the blessings that we too often take for granted. In most of our communities it can be said that God has shown that He continues His covenant through the generations. Our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives are mostly Christians also. This is how the majority of us were taught to live our Christian lives. Loved ones with whom we can share the good news of Christ are one of the greatest things God has given us here on this earth. We can look to those who are older and wiser for advice in our lives. They have been given to us as great examples of how we are to live. We are responsible to thank God for our Christian families, and we must strive to show our true thankfulness for our families and our other many blessings.

How can we show that we are truly thankful for the blessings in our lives? Is it enough to thank God when we pray? Although prayer is a major part of our thankfulness, it cannot be the only way to show it. Our lives must be a continuous life of praise and thanksgiving. To show our gratitude for our parents and teachers, we must respect them. If we do not exhibit respect for those in authority over us, it is like we are saying that we really do not want them to rule over us. We, in our pride, want to do whatever we want. This not only goes against the fourth commandment, but it shows no sign of thankfulness. What about thankfulness for our friends? How should we do that? One of the best ways is to be a friend ourselves, and not just when it is convenient. At all times we must be willing to help those around us and be a friend unto them. Christ never put Himself first. He was willing to sacrifice His own life for His people. Christ is our greatest friend in the world, and we must strive to follow in His actions to be a good friend. Also, just by living a godly life reveals our gratitude. If we live thoughtlessly, doing whatever we please, it is like saying to God that we really don’t care that He has given us wonderful opportunities and blessings. We would rather be without them. We must not do this but show our love to God by loving everything that God has given us.

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” This is a passage that we must take to heart. God truly is unbelievably gracious and merciful to us. He has bestowed upon us more than we will ever comprehend. His lovingkindness will never end, and neither should our praise and thanksgiving for all of our blessings. We are forever indebted to Christ for giving us the wonderful blessings here on this earth and the most blessed gift of eternal life in heaven. There is no way in which we can try to make up for that, but we must live godly lives out of gratitude. May we no longer take these things for granted, but see how wonderful God has been to us.

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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