Giving Thanks Always – Even When You Don’t Feel It

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV)

      child-prayer-clipart-royalty-free-praying-clipart-illustration-216150       When my younger sister was about 4 years old at a family dinner with my grandparents, she requested to say the blessing at the table. My Granny, being one to always encourage us to pray, told her to go ahead. Everyone bowed their heads and closed their eyes, except me of course being the older sister I felt the need to keep an eye on her. She began to pray, looking around the table, thanking God for each and every item on the table, including the plates and forks, except one food. She closed her prayer with the words “But I’m not thankful for the green beans. I don’t like them and I’m not thankful for them! Amen.” We can laugh at a child’s honesty in refusing to give God thanks for something she doesn’t like, but how often are we unthankful? Do we too sometimes feel justified in not giving thanks?

            God wants us to have a grateful heart and thankful spirit. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:1-3) But we don’t always feel thankful. We all have times and situations in our lives that we don’t want or like, so how then can we be thankful?

            When we cannot be thankful for a specific thing or situation, we still can find ways to give thanksgiving and praise to God. Sometimes we have to stop and ask God to bring to our remembrance things to give Him thanks for. Sometimes we have to ask Him for the words to praise Him with. David wrote Psalm 51 after Nathan had confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. In verse 15 he says, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” David who wrote so many beautiful psalms praising God, asked for help to praise Him.

            How do we offer God thanksgiving when we are hurting, when we’re going through a spiritual battle, or we’re in a time of trial?

            First, we remember WHO God is. 

 “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13) God’s names tell us who He is. He is the great “I AM”. Whatever you need Him to be, He is. 

He is JEHOVAH SHALOM, The Lord is Peace. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  During some of the worst times and events of my life, God has been my peace.

He is JEHOVAH SHAMMAH, The Lord is There. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18, 20b) He was there with me in every crisis.

He is JEHOVAH-RAPHA, The Lord That Heals. “…If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26) He was my Healer when I had shingles in 2010.

He is JEHOVAH JIREH, The Lord Will Provide. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19 He has been and continues to be our Provider through job lay-offs and a bad economies.

He is EL SHADDAI, The Lord God Almighty, The All-Sufficient One. When God spoke to Abram in Genesis 17:1, He said “I am El Shaddai” (Almighty God) and He promised to bless him and make him great. He is the God Who sustains us. Genesis 18:14 says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?..”

 Whatever else is, wherever else we are, we can give God our thanksgiving for Who He is to us. Psalm 69:30 (NKJV) says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

          The second thing we can do is to remember WHAT God has done in the past.  Psalm 107:21-22 says “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!  Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (NKJV)

            Psalm 77: 5, 6 in the New English Translation says, “I thought about the days of old, about ancient times. I said, ‘During the night I will remember the song I once sang; I will think very carefully.’ I tried to make sense of what was happening.’” v.11-14 continues “I will remember the works of the Lord. Yes, I will remember the amazing things you did long ago! I will think about all you have done; I will reflect upon your deeds! O God, your deeds are extraordinary! What god can compare to our great God? You are the God who does amazing things; you have revealed your strength among the nations.”

            When we are walking through the valley, when we are under fire, when we have questions, we need to reflect back on the times God answered us and recall His great work in our life.

            Psalm 107:22 in the Amplified Bible says “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing!” We need to speak about what God has done for us to others. Hearing ourselves rehearse God’s goodness not only encourages them, but it encourages us too.

             The third thing is to remember the HOPE God has given us.  Romans 5:1-2, 5 says “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory… And (this) hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NET Bible)

            “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) We have been given hope through the Holy Spirit and that hope does not disappoint.

 “Blessed is the man [or woman!] who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For (s)he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV)

            When we don’t feel we have anything to be thankful for, we’re usually in some kind of spiritual battle, and we can’t afford to be silent. That is when we need to loudly proclaim the goodness of our God. We need to offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. Psalm 86:12-13 says “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, And I will glorify your name forevermore! For great is Your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”   The Psalmist is recalling Who God is and What God has done in the past.

            The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.

            When we have a bad report from the doctor, we say “Thank you God for being my Jehovah Rapha. When the bills are due and there’s no money we can say “Thank You God for being my Jehovah Jireh.” When there is turmoil all around us we can say “Thank You God for being my JEHOVAH SHALOM.

              Psalm 50:14-15 says “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” We can go to God with our needs, and we can do it in faith when we know Who He is and we can offer Him thanksgiving, not for the need itself, but for His response to that need.

               When David was on the run from Saul, who was trying to kill him, he fled to Gath but when he realized he was in danger there he pretended to be insane. (1Samuel 21:10-15) That is when he wrote the 34th Psalm. It begins “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

 

 

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Do You “Have a Dream”?

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.” Acts 2:17

Do you have a dream for your life? I’m not talking about just a general dream or idea of what you’d like to do with your life or how you’d like to live. I’m talking about a God-given, God-inspired dream? Something so big that only God could bring it about?

We all get ideas and have dreams of doing something – a career, a family, success in life, financial security. But how can we tell if the dream we have is something from God or just our own imagination or desires? There are “good ideas” and there are “God Ideas”. We want to pursue the God Ideas.

To understand what God’s dream is for us, first we need to believe that He has a dream or a plan for us individually. Then we need to set ourselves apart to learn what it is. Habakkuk 2:1 says “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.” Put yourself in a position to hear from God. Does He speak to you while you’re sitting alone in your house reading your Bible, or maybe while you’re listening to music? Where ever you need to be, get quiet before Him and ask the Holy Spirit to speak into your heart.

The Scripture goes on to say in verses 2 and 3 “Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.'”

Write out what you think God is saying, whatever the dream or idea is, write it out in detail and look at it. Pray over it, submitting yourself and your plans to God’s will.

Question it.

  • Is this something that will bring glory to God or only something that you want for yourself? 
  • Will it enlarge the Kingdom of God, will it bless or encourage other believers or is it something that will only benefit you? 
  • Is this something that will cause you to grow in your walk with Christ or pull you away from Him?
  • Does what you have written about it have a Scriptural basis, is it Biblically sound or does some part of it go against God’s Word?

As you continue to pray and seek God’s will, He will reveal to you either Yes or No, whether it is for Now or for Later.

When Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr wrote his now famous “I Have a Dream Speech”, was he only thinking about himself, or was he thinking about other people, the multitudes suffering from injustice? He was a minister of the gospel, and had the heart of a pastor. His concern was for others and for the generations to come else he would not have risked so much for the dream God had planted in his heart for equality for all people.

Rev. King risked all to follow the dream God gave him. And ultimately it cost him his life. But he was obedient and today we can see the fruits of his labor. Our society still needs improvement, the world will never be entirely just and righteous until Jesus returns to reign on the earth. But we have come a long way from where we were in 1963 when Rev. King gave his speech towards the day when men and women, boys and girls are not “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Do you have a vision or dream for your future or your life? God does and He wants to reveal it to you. Jeremiah 33:3 says ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

“But God…”

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

One of my top favorite phrases from the Bible is “But God”. The reason I love it so much, it reminds me that whatever may be going on now in my live, it is always subject to change. I was totally unlovable, but God loved me anyway and sent Jesus to die for me. And that was just the beginning!

Depending which translation you use, there are approximately 104 times in the Old and New Testaments that say “but God”, and the phrase “but the Lord” appears 155 times! Every time things look one way, God comes on the scene and with one word, it all changes.

Tempted to go where or do what you shouldn’t? Ask and God will show up with a way out. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Going through difficulty or hardship? “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19

Right now there are terrible things happening in our world that seem so hopeless. Every day Muslim terrorists attack Israel and Israel is defending them self (and rightly so), and they are being criticized by our government. Christians in Iraq are being told to convert to Islam or die. All these things and more seem to be out of control. “But God…”

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” But the Lord is faithful… If anyone knew about persecution for his faith, it would be the Apostle Paul.

We can’t let our hearts and minds dwell on the things going on in the world so that we become consumed with fear or worry. Yes, we need to be informed, but only as much as we need in order to pray effectively and call on God. He has the last word. We have to first of all know His Word (the written Word), then have faith in His Word and finally pray according to His Word.

“…but the Lord’s faithfulness overwhelms the one who trusts in him.”
Psalm 32:10b¹ Thank You Father.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

¹NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.
All other Scripture references from The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Disappointment 101

“My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” Mark 14:34

How do you handle disappointments? People don’t always behave the way we expect or need them to behave. Even our closest friends or family members let us down. Things happen that we have no control over cause us pain and disappointment. What are we supposed to do with those feelings? Who can we turn to in those times?

Jesus suffered disappointment in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took Peter, James and John, the inner circle of the twelve men He’d called to follow Him, His closest friends, into the Garden to watch and pray with Him. One of the twelve had already deserted Him and was going to betray Him.

“Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.’” Mark 14:32-35

“Remain here and stay alert” Jesus asked them, but when He returned they had fallen asleep, not once, but three times. When He needed them the most, they were sleeping. (See Mark 14:32-42)

David wrote in Psalm 31:7 “I will be happy and rejoice in Your faithfulness because You are aware of how distressed I am.”

God notices our pain, emotional as well as physical. He is aware of our disappointments. But He does more than just notice and be aware. David goes on to say, “But I trust in you, O Lord! I declare, ‘You are my God!’ You determine my destiny!” (31:14, 15a)

Keep trusting God. He knows what happens in your life, and He has a plan for you. Other people do not have final say in your life – God does!

Verse 19 says, “How great is your favor, which you store up for your loyal followers! In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.”

When your friend lets you down, when your spouse disappoints you, when you get passed over at work, pull into Jesus. He knows your hurts and He understands them as no one else can.

“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus suffered disappointment without letting it cause Him to sin. He forgave and continued to love those who had let Him down. He held to the plan that after His resurrection, those eleven men would be the leaders and take the gospel to the world. Forgive without being asked, keep loving those who hurt you and hold fast to Jesus.

David closes Psalm 31 saying, “Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the Lord!”
Be strong. Be confident. Wait on the Lord.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

References: New English Translation (NET)
Mark 14:32-42
Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-16

Resurrection Power

Resurrection Power.

Since I first wrote this blog, I have heard one of my pastors teach from Ephesians 1:18-20 more than once that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in believers through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places]” Ephesians 1:18-20 (Amplified Bible)

Feeling powerless? Feeling low? Feeling defeated? Call on the Power that dwells within you by the Holy Spirit. If you’ve been born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, It is there.

Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dee

DEBRIDEMENT OF THE SOUL

Have you ever been in a bad place emotionally or spiritually and thought it would be that way the rest of your life? The days so dark you believed you’d never feel right again? I have. I’ve been in that place. I understand exactly what the Psalmist was talking about in the 102nd Psalm:

“By reason of my loud groaning [from suffering and trouble] my flesh cleaves to my bones.

I am like a melancholy pelican or vulture of the wilderness; I am like a [desolate] owl of the waste places.

I am sleepless and lie awake [mourning], like a bereaved sparrow alone on the housetop.”

(Psalm 102:5-7, The Amplified Bible)

When my mother died in June 2000, it was unexpected. Even though her health had not been good, none of us, except perhaps my dad, had a hint it was as bad as it was. As Christians, we all rejoiced that she was no longer in pain and that she was with her Lord, but that did not mean our pain or our lost was not real.

Over time, my grief turned to anger and I turned inward. Outwardly, I said and did all the things expected of me. I told my children not to be angry at God because Mamma was gone, but inside I was questioning God. How could He let this happen without preparing me?

I became angry because I didn’t feel my husband was as supportive as he should have been, but I was too inward to tell him what I needed. Issues arose in our marriage and we became more and more distant. When we did reconcile, it was still not as it should have been because I began substituting my relationship with my husband for the relationship I’d once had with God. I expected more of my husband than God ever intended.

Except for a couple of friends, most of the people at my church were clueless about what I was going through. Even those who knew I’d lost my mother had no idea that I was struggling. I kept my feeling inside, not letting anyone close enough to see my pain. We stopped going to church for a while because I felt the church had let me down.

I stopped reading my Bible or praying. I questioned God’s love for me or if I had really ever heard from Him. But even when I was deep in unbelief, there was still a small spark of hope. God’s call to us is “without repentance” – He promised to never leave or forsake us, even when we turn our backs to Him.

Sometimes God uses things from unexpected sources to reach us. The Creator of the universe creates a way to reach us even at our lowest. For me, it was a song. Not a “Christian” song, but God used it to scratch the scab on my heart.  The same year my mother died, Kathie Lee Gifford put out a CD “Born For You”. I’d listened to it many times, but one night while I was up late writing, one special song touched that small spark in me and something began to break.

“I’d like to lose all time again

And look for trees to climb again

Recite a little rhyme again

And dream a reckless dream.

For someone I’ve exiled in me

Awoke today and smiled in me.

I need to find the child in me again.”

(Child in Me Again, written by Annie Dinerman)

Yes, I needed to find the child in me again – the child who’d trusted God with her whole heart without question or reservation. The child who could laugh at life and who loved without reservation or expectation.  I sat face to face with who I’d become and desperately wanted to go back to the child I had been before. The last line of the chorus goes, “Oh I need to recapture the truths I’ve unlearned.” I needed to recapture The Truth I’d turned from.

I still was a long way from being spiritually or emotionally healed, or even wanting to do what I needed to do to get there. But it was beginning. Some of the hardness had been removed.

A few days later I “just happened” to read a verse of scripture from the Message Bible in a magazine.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt.11:28-30, The Message Bible)

It was as though Jesus was speaking directly to me, inviting me to just walk with Him. “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” I don’t have to try to please anyone. I don’t have to be a certain way. Religion had burned me out and let me down. He was offering me what I’d needed all along – a relationship with Him alone.

There is a medical procedure called Debridement which is the medical removal of infected tissue to improve healing of healthy tissue. It can be painful, but sometimes is necessary for the antibiotic treatment to work. Once the infected or dead tissue is removed the healing medicine can be applied.

Sometimes we need something to remove the dead part of our souls before the healing balm of God’s Word can heal what remains. It can be a painful process, but if we allow it, the Holy Spirit will do a work in us that will start the healing process that comes with the application of the Word.

He sends forth His word and heals them and rescues them from the pit and destruction.” (Psalm 107:20, The Amplified Bible)

Whatever is the cause or source of your pain, whatever the pit is you’ve fallen in, or whatever the sorrow is you’re carrying, you are not alone. Allow the Spirit of God to move in your life and He will heal you. The process may not be easy, it probably won’t be exactly what you expect, but true healing is yours through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace and blessings,
Dee

March 26, 2009

I’ve been cleaning house and clearing out some clutter. I cleaned out the pantry and threw out some stuff that was stale or expired and probably not that good for us when it was fresh. All this cleaning makes me wonder how many of us are walking around with emotional garbage, that’s expired and bad for us. But like the ignored pudding mixes and stale crackers in my pantry, we’ve hung on to it.

Many times we hang on to emotional hurts because of fear to let them out; we feel shame about them so instead of seeking help, we hide it and hang on to the hurt. It’s even sadder when those hurts were caused by someone else and we had no control over it. Like sexual assault.

How many women have been either molested or raped and are like I was for many years, walking around, wounded and fearful. Afraid of being hurt again, afraid of someone finding out.  I was very sure that if I told anyone about what happened, they would say it was my fault. After all I was with someone my parents trusted and was a friend. I only told my husband after we’d been married many years and I felt safe enough to tell him. He was angry, but not at me. Then it happened to someone close to me. She did not have to tell me what had happened; I recognized the signs in her eyes. I knew her pain and tried to talk to her about it, but she was afraid to tell me. Afraid I would judge her. It took her a long time to finally admit to me what had happened. It was not her fault, but she took the blame and the shame.

As women we do ourselves and other women a great disservice by continuing to carry the shame for something that’s not our fault. Let the men who did it feel the shame. Once we come out into the open and talk about what happened, we take back our power. If we are open about what happened to us, we will begin to heal. Once we’re healed, we will be in a position to help our sisters.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007.  That means that every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is the most under reported crime against individuals. One study shows that only 16% of all assaults are reported to the police. Another university study reported that 1 in 5 college women said they’d been forced to have sexual intercourse.  It happens to someone every 2 minutes.

Bad things happen to us in this life, but God offers healing and help if we only cry out to Him.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to [those who are] bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
(Isa 61:1-3, NJKV)

He wants to heal your broken heart. He wants to free you from the prison of shame. He wants to comfort you from mourning. He will give you beauty in living a joyful life for the ashes of despair. He will take that spirit of heaviness and give you a garment of praise. It will be a beautiful thing and God  will be glorified in you.

Peace and blessings.

Dee