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Archive for November, 2010

A Sign of Commitment

Day 11–“Offer to God the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.”  Psalm 50:14 (Amplified)

Why would thanksgiving be considered a sacrifice?

In the old testament a sacrifice was a sign of obedience and commitment.

True worship and gratitude requires more than just words.  It’s more than just listing our blessings.  Real worship is the result of knowing how costly God’s sacrifice for us was.

If  someone gives you a rare and valuable gift, and you said thanks because it was the thing to do, and then tucked it away in a closet or cupboard and never used it, the gift would be worthless.  On the other hand, if you used it and shared it with others, it could bring a lot of joy to the giver and to others.

We’ve experienced and know God’s  unconditional love and the amazing plans He has for each of us.  If we say we accept that love without committing ourselves to Him, we are not holding that gift in high value.

Commitment to Him is reflective of our desire to:

  • trust Him
  • allow  Him to change us from the inside out
  • partner with Him in love for others
  • use the gifts He has given us
  • acknowledge Him as the Lord of our life
  • bless Him

What could you offer today as a sacrifice of thanksgiving?  What could you do that would bless God?

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Let’s Hear It!

This is Day 10 of our Virtual Thanksgiving Feast.  Today’s verse is : “That I may make the voice of thanksgiving heard and may tell of all Your wondrous works.”  Psalm 26:7 (Amplified)

Psalm 26 is all about integrity.

What is integrity?  The Hebrew word is tom which means completeness. It’s plural is the word Tummlym which was one of the epithets worn by the high priest, an emblem of complete Truth. (Thummin)

The dictionary defines it as possession of firm principles, completeness, wholeness.

For the Christ follower those things are the result of one thing.  Our confidence and trust in the Lord.  After stating that he has walked in his integrity, the Psalmist says in Verse 1:  “I have expectantly trusted in, leaned on, and relied on the Lord without wavering and I shall not slide.”

We can’t walk in full integrity simply based on our own action.  As humans we mess up.  But we can rest in Christ, embracing His principles, knowing that His principles are firm and true.

We can stand complete, because He is loving, kind, and faithful and His character is in us and we are empowered to live through Him.

We can walk in integrity because He has made it possible to let go of the things that could have damaged us.  We can let go because He has taken the wounds on Himself and we have been given the gift of freedom.

A life of integrity is a good way to make the voice of thanksgiving heard and to tell of all He has done.  We walk in integrity when we trust in and lean on Him.

A life of integrity speaks louder than any sermon or words.

Let’s live it!  Let’s hear it!  Loud and clear!

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How God Sees Me

Today, I am thankful for how God sees me.  It’s so different than my lifetime of struggle based on my low self-esteem and view of myself.

It’s easy to label ourselves and each other based on things like physical appearance, gifts and abilities, educational background,  and even religious or political ideas.

We often look at our past, focusing on our failures rather than our successes, our losses rather than our victories.

For many years, I really believed that there was something sinful about feeling strong and confident.  It was certainly not Godly to be proud of anything you had accomplished.

Somewhere in my upbringing in the church, I got a message that a sign of your humbleness and meekness was to walk around acknowledging your weakness and never accepting a compliment with a simple thank you.

According to our verse today, God’s view of us is different.

“I give thanks to Him Who has granted me (the needed) strength and made me able (for this):  Christ Jesus our lord because He has judged and counted me faithful and trustworthy, appointing me to (this stewardship of ) the ministry.  I Timothy 1:12 (Amplified)

Let’s unpack it a little.

1.  God gave us strength and ability ‘for this’.  I don’t know what your ‘this’ is, but He equipped you and enabled you to accomplish or overcome it.

2.  God has counted you faithful and trustworthy.  I love the word count.  When something is counted it implies that it is significant enough to matter.  So first of all, you count!  You matter.

When God took notice and counted you, He judged you by His nature in you.  He believes in you.  He trusts in your ability to be faithful to complete whatever is before you.  He trusts you to wisely use and tend to whatever ministry He has given you.

3.  God has appointed you.  God put you here to love and serve others.  Our lives are a mirror of His unconditional love toward all men.  We  are enabled to do greater things than Jesus did.  In this passage of scripture, Paul goes on to talk about what he was formerly–a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.   He goes on to acknowledge the grace of God through Christ and the transformation that grace brought.

When we understand that God’s view of us is always through the eyes of grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, we like Paul will not only speak but live our lives as a reflection of praise to Him.  “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who is wise alone, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.” I Timothy 1:17.

What could happen if you saw yourself as God sees you?

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No Matter What

“At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”  Ephesians 5:20

Really? At all times, for everything?  How is that possible?

I’m not sure I have the answer to those questions.  At least not in any words that will explain how.  I think it is one of those mysteries of  God in us.  It goes beyond human reason and comprehension.

How can a mom in a third world country thank God for everything?  How can we thank God for the suffering we see in the world–the child with cancer, the war torn nations, or the brutality of some horrific crime?  I don’t know how that could be possible, yet I have seen it and know it is.

When our family was the recipient of injustice several years ago, I also experienced the benefit of thankfulness first hand.

The only thing I know is that like forgiveness, praise and thanksgiving is a choice.  It doesn’t mean that you are acknowledging the situation or circumstances as good.  It doesn’t mean you think God is responsible for bringing the suffering or pain your way.  It doesn’t mean you pretend it doesn’t hurt or that it’s unfair.

What your choice to give thanks and praise no matter what  means is you choose to trust God.  It’s a way of acknowledging His power to deliver you from it or His strength to help you rise above it.  Praise and thanksgiving in the middle of the stormy seasons, is a way of resting from your own struggle to make it all work out.  It’s about knowing that whatever happens, He will use it and turn it around for your good.

Somehow in the middle of what we went through there was a special grace to give thanks and praise to God.  As we did, our strength was renewed in the midst of a bitter struggle  And though in the natural world, the battle was lost, somehow in heaven we knew we had prevailed.  We still declared God faithful, kept our faith in Him, and are seeing the good He is bringing into our lives because of what we experienced.

It wasn’t easy.  It was actually God’s grace that allowed us to maintain an attitude of gratitude.  But, it was still a choice. The more we chose to praise, we understood that nothing could separate us from His love and  we could rest in that alone.

Giving thanks is a necessity, no matter what season or circumstance we find ourselves in.  It’s actually a weapon in our arsenal when something or someone is trying to keep us down or destroy us.

Think about Paul and Silas.  When they praised the prison doors flung open from an earthquake and they were set free–after they influenced the guard to believe as well!

What could happen if you gave thanks in all seasons for everything?

We were meant to be full of gratitude no matter what!

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The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Black Friday is coming.  I’d rather shop online but so many friends are excited about the 5 am rush to get the best gifts at a bargain price.

Today’s verse is II Corinthians 9:15.  “Now thanks be to God for His God, (precious) beyond telling (His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift)!”

Imagine receiving a big package.  You open it and begin to empty the contents.  Each thing you pull out is so valuable and useful.  The thing that is most amazing is that the box never empties.  You can never reach the bottom and say that’s it, that’s enough. How exciting would that kind of gift be? Would you leave that gift unopened or stop pulling out the contents.

The gift of Jesus is like that,  surpasses anything we could ever receive from anyone else.  We are about to celebrate His birth.  Think about it.  God in human form to walk and talk and live among man.  God showing us the unconditional love He has for every man, woman, and child.  God placing the gift of Jesus in front of us and saying, All you have to do is open this and you’ll have everything you need.

As we enter this holy season, I pray we’ll all take time to open or re-open the gift of Jesus and what it means in our lives.  I hope we’ll understand the profound blessings we have in Him and through Him.

He is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

 

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Trophies of Triumph!

Loving today’s verse.  “But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph (as trophies of Christ’s victory) and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere.”  II Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified)

For anyone wondering who they are this paints a great picture.  Just think about it!  You are a trophy of Christ’s victory!  It is God’s plan for you to triumph!

You are the one who gets to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere!  That’s His plan for you.

Living life as a Christ follower, means there is nothing we can’t overcome because Jesus overcame it all.  We are now the evidence of that to the world around us.

I wonder if we really understand the profound victory that Jesus had.  Do we really believe that He overcame every obstacle in man’s way?  Do we really believe that He also empowered us by His Holy Spirit to live in victory?

A Christians life can be full of difficulties.  The Bible tells us to expect that.  But, our lives are meant to  be a living example of not letting ourselves be held back by circumstances or challenges,  no matter how small or big.

How is that possible?  Because we KNOW our God.  We know He has the power to do anything, even raise from the dead.  We know He is always with us so we don’t have to fight alone.  We know He has promised us that His purpose and work in us will be completed.

Next time you feel defeated or like a loser remember this verse.  Picture yourself as a trophy– the kind with a big base and a cup, with two handles.  You are a trophy of the living God, a reflection of all that He is.

Now visualize that Jesus’ hands are holding that trophy and that He has filled your cup with the essence of who He is.

Don’t know about you but I’m smiling because I can see that every time I choose the good thing, trust in Him, ask for help, serve someone else, etc.  He tilts my cup and spills His fragrance.  Others get to smell God through me!

Today, I am thankful for Christ’s victory and what that means for me.

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“I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessings) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus.”  I Corinthians 15:57 (Amplified)

Grace!  I love even the sound of that word.  Something about the way it sounds makes me feel good.  It feels flowing, soft, tender.  It’s Greek root word is “chairo which means to be cheerful, especially used as a greeting to be well, glad, rejoice.   The word grace in this verse is the word charis which according to Strong’s Concordance is graciousness of manner, especially the divine influence on the heart, and it’s reflection in life.

Think about it!  God’s graciousness, His amazing grace is all about divinely influencing our hearts and lives.  It is transformational.  When we experience His grace, we understand His love isn’t based on our perfect behavior or on our love for Him.  It is a gift freely given, without strings, paid for by Jesus Christ.

When we become aware of His grace, it influences are actions, are motives, our passions, and our decisions about life.

When we believe that God is truly gracious toward us, we are more cognizant of His favor and blessing to us.

I love the worship song, Amazing Love.  It’s because of grace that we can say:

We are forgiven — He was forsaken.

We are accepted –He was condemned.

We are alive and well, His Spirit lives in us!

Why?  Because He died and rose again!

Paul recognized the transformational gift of grace through Jesus Christ in the church of Corinth and gave thanks for them.

How has the gift of grace transformed your life and influenced your heart?

What do others see in you and give thanks for?

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