Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Tx

Full-body scans and Thanksgiving

Have you been through one of the new airport screeners? I passed through one last week. If you are flying this Thanksgiving week, you may have the experience as well.

Nearly 400 scanners have been installed in 68 U.S. airports, including all of the 25 busiest airports. They cost $150,000 to $180,000 apiece. The government expects to install 1,000 scanners by the end of next year. This morning’s Los Angeles Times tells us that most passengers will continue only passing through metal detectors. A smaller group will be asked to submit to a body scan. Those who refuse will be asked to undergo a pat-down which is more invasive than in previous years.

These are strange days in which to celebrate Thanksgiving. This week we’re learning to apply four simple imperatives to our lives: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19). We have learned that by submitting our lives to the Spirit of God, we receive the “joy” which is his fruit (Galatians 5:22). When we pray about everything we experience, we encounter his peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Now let’s consider the third imperative: “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (v. 18). Note that Paul does not instruct us to give thanks “for” all circumstances, but “in” them. Everywhere you find yourself today, you can find cause for giving thanks to God. Psalm 100 says that we “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (v. 4). Giving thanks brings us into the empowering presence of Almighty God.

Paul and Silas sang hymns at midnight in the Philippian jail, and God sent the earthquake which freed them and led their jailer to Christ. John was worshiping “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s Day while imprisoned on Patmos, and Jesus visited him with the Revelation. When we give thanks for God’s goodness even in the hardest places of life, we position ourselves to experience his power.

Fourth, “do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (v. 19). The Holy Spirit is often described in Scripture as a “flame” or “fire.” When we insist on self-sufficiency, pray sporadically, and give thanks only at Thanksgiving, we quench the Spirit as surely as throwing water on coals. Then we are less joyful, less prayerful, and less thankful.

Do you need more joy, peace and power? Begin every day by surrendering it to the Spirit of God and you will have his joy. Walk through the day in prayer and you will experience his presence. Give thanks through the day and you will experience his power. You will not quench his Spirit—you will be empowered by his Spirit.

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