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Overcoming Difficult Trials

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Giving God Thanks

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As a matter of fact, God isn’t asking you to be thankful. He’s asking you to give thanks. There’s a big difference. One response involves emotions, the other your choices, your decisions about a situation, your intent, your step of faith.”  ~ Joni Eareckson Tada

God wants us to give Him THANKS, which is often expressed through worship and praise. It is a decision and choice. Some will ask, “Why give thanks to God?” There are many reasons to give our heavenly Father thanks, but the biggest reason is for eternal life and the forgiveness of our sins. Sin leads to death and through the blood of Jesus Christ we have the promise of everlasting life.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV)

When we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, His death and resurrection and repent of our sins, we become His adopted children. We are the daughters and sons of a King, true royalty. What an honor and blessing!

As co-heirs with Jesus Christ, we will be partakers of a glorious heavenly inheritance. This inheritance will never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:4). It is incorruptible and undefiled.

“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”  Hebrews 9:15 (NKJV)

“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”  Colossians 1:12-13 (NKJV)

But our inheritance has a condition, one that is often overlooked or ignored. Let us consider the words found in Romans 8:17….

“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  Romans 8:17 (NKJV)

Many of us focus only on the encouraging words found in this verse, overlooking the clearly stated condition, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

We must suffer WITH Christ, therein we shall thus be glorified together.

“Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”  1 Peter 4:13 (NKJV)

But WHY must we suffer? Why is this life so difficult and filled with pain and loss? Remember, man is born sinful, so God uses adversity to transform us into the very image of His son, Jesus. Philippians 3:10 further states that through suffering we come to know our Lord more intimately, and God longs to have a personal and intimate relationship with all of His children. He longs for our fellowship.

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 (NKJV)

Sadly, many Christians who have been tested with trials and adversity give up on God. They question HIS faithfulness and forget that it is THEIR OWN faithfulness to the Redeemer that must remain true. God desires a steadfast spirit. The Father is always faithful and always present, according to the Bible.

These believers, who fall off the path of righteousness, have lost sight of God’s position (Creator) and forget their own position (The created). They doubt His plan and question His love.  They rely on their own understanding and forget that His ways are so much higher than their own ways. God sees the end of our journey while all we see is the next step ahead.

We are called to persevere for a reason. This life is hard, although we are given many blessings along the way. The Bible warns us that we will be tested, but we must trust God and persevere. God has lovingly equipped us for every struggle in life. When we are weak, God will be our strength. Furthermore, we have spiritual gifts that include the armor of Christ. The shield of faith is often dropped in battle and accounts for the many who walk away from God.

“If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us”                       2 Timothy 2:12 (NKJV)

“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Romans 1:21 (NKJV)

Through prayer, we have communion with Christ. Conversations with anyone will bring about a bond. With prayer, our bond with Christ is strengthened, even when circumstances confuse us to no end. So, back to giving God thanks.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

In all circumstances, we are to thank God for His wonderful gift of love; Saving Grace. However, the enemy wants to change our perspective of God from Loving Father to that of a harsh and unkind Master. He wants to rob God of the glory and praise He deserves.

The Deceiver hits below the belt. He takes advantage of every opportunity, including personal moments of weakness. Hoping to fill our heads with doubt, he will use lies and half truths to cause us to question the purpose for our suffering. The thing is, we do not have to understand everything that happens to us. We just need to trust that God wants the very best for us. Trust! We must trust the love and faithfulness of our Creator. This is the test adversity is all about. With the Word stored in our heart, we can protect ourselves with our spiritual shield of faith and attack the enemy with our spiritual sword. And as we resist this foe while calling upon the name of Jesus, he MUST flee.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NKJV)

There is power in the name of Jesus. This is certainly something to give thanks for!

“Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 1:29 (NKJV)

Joy, an emotion, will fill our hearts when we consider the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. But it is when we choose to thank God, especially during our darkest times, that we offer up true worship. God commands us to give Him thanks at ALL times, through  ALL circumstances in life. Within this perimeter, we will find seasons of sorrow and death, illness, weariness, and loss. To believe in His love for us, is to believe He is worthy of thanks at all times. Don’t let your emotions, or circumstances affect your attitude of thanks. Give God thanks for each new day and for the glorious gift of eternal life.

“And in that day you will say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name.

Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.’ Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth.” Isaiah 12:4-5 (NAS)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1 (NIV)

“Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”  Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV)

Giving Thanks…. ALL THE TIME!

*Thanks

To have a heart of thanks is to have a heart of praise. It is easy to thank God for times of health and prosperity but it is not so easy to thank God for our times of trials, storms, and adversity. However, we are called to give thanks in All circumstances.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

God designs, plans, orchestrate, permits, and even sends difficult challenges our way. After all, we have to build up our spiritual muscles some how. A challenge from God often comes in the form of a test of faith.

Needless to say the Devil, who is always lurking about, will stick his nose in any situation hoping to implant discouragement. So, put in your earplugs and put on your spiritual armor. The Helmet of Salvation will keep your mind clear of confusion. By cinching up your belt of truth, you will expose all of his miserable lies.

Fruit produced from such tests of faith are well worth the temporary discomfort you may endure. Perseverance is needed to finish the race set before you, and spiritual tests will train you to endure. Nobody likes to eat unripe fruit and with every struggle you face, with God by your side, the fruit of the Spirit becomes riper and sweeter to the taste.

While bravely setting out on the journey He planned for you, the goodness and kindness of Christ will grown within your heart. You will notice gentleness and compassion have extended their boundaries, empowering your love for Christ and others to mature through sanctification. The Holy Spirit working within you is the only explanation for your budding capacity to love. Oh, what joy there is when we realize spiritual growth!

It takes patience and self-control to trudge through difficult times, but the peace of Christ will always greet us if we lift up our needs in prayer. A peace that transcends all understanding is available for every child of God. It is never withheld or out of reach. This peace comes when we surrender our challenges and submit to God’s plan, trusting Him to equip us for every obstacle.

I encourage you to train your eyes to see the goodness of God, trusting that everything you face has God’s stamp of approval. Just as Satan had to get permission in the throne room to test Job, the Devil must also get permission to buffet you. God did not look to destroy Job and He does not intend to test you beyond your ability to weather a storm.

Have faith in God’s intentions and purpose. Decide now to praise Him in the midst of your pain. This sacrifice of praise will give your heavenly Father much joy and cause the enemy much discomfort. It will also serve as a quiet witness to those all around you. Be brave and courageous. Be of a stout heart. Praise the name of Jesus in ALL circumstances because He is worthy of ALL our praise.

DURING YOUR QUIET TIME ENTER HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE. THANK GOD FOR ALL OF YOUR BLESSINGS.

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 (NIV)

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 118:1 (NKJV)

“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.” Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” ~C.S. Lewis                         

This devotion is from FACING ADVERSITY: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE… available the first week of December on Amazon. Check out my other books

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Use Each Day God Gives With Thanksgiving

**First-Day-of-Rest-of-Life-TL-256-DPI

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”    – Thomas Merton (Thoughts on Solitude) 

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! 
For His mercy endures forever.”  Psalm 118:1 (NKJV) 

It is good to give God thanks. A grateful heart is one that appreciates the love and sacrifice of Christ. And since each new day is a gift, we shouldn’t be caught wasting our time on meaningless pursuits. How then are you using today to thank and glorify God?

Because Jesus willingly took our sins upon the cross, we are able to approach God as His adopted children. Eternal life is our sweet reward.  But while we are on earth, we should use our time wisely.

I believe earthly lessons, and the wisdom gained from them, will be carried with us into heaven. Earth is our Prep School, so I encourage you to learn as much as you can about God. Reading the Bible increases knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  Scripture should also inspire and motivate you into action and service. Jesus was all about service and timely action. 

When thankfulness for God’s grace is apparent, He is able to turn our heart of stone into one that is pliable and usable for service. Hearts full of bitterness and anger are often caught up and distracted by supposed injustices. These hearts spend their time voicing stories of how they have been wronged, rather than proclaiming the ways God has provided. 

Someone who sees the goodness in a person, rather than focusing on their faults, are following in the steps of Jesus. Prostitutes, Tax Collectors, and Thieves all had sins apparent to Christ. But with unconditional love guiding our Lord, He chooses to see the good and not just the sin. Jesus never excused transgressions, but He understood that repentance started with love and acceptance. 

With each new moment of the day there is new grace to be found.  We do not have to wait for the sun to set or rise to receive new and abundant grace and mercy. The grace of God is never ending and limitless. This fact alone should make our hearts sing with thanks. 

God has given us everything we need to run our race with love and mercy. We are well equipped.  Within each believer the Holy Spirit lives, serving as our guide and counselor. Is this not another reason to thank God daily?

Surely there have been many occasions in your life that give witness to His divine intervention and grace.  Are these not worthy to share with those around you?  They provide material and opportunities to give God the glory and praise He deserves.  

With ALL of your heart, not just part of your heart, thank God and praise Him for His immeasurable love and grace. Look at each new day as a new beginning, and an opportunity to show Him how grateful you are for all He has done for you.  Recognize that the trials in your life have been orchestrated out of love and for a reason. They are meant to refine and transform you. Oh, praise the Lord for each new day, and each new challenge, and each new person He sends our way.  

MEDITATE ON THESE WORDS OF WISDOM 

“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before You. For You have maintained my just cause; 
 You have sat on the throne judging righteously.” Psalm 9:1-4 (NAS)

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NKJV)  

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18 

“Thankfulness is the ‘chief exercise of godliness’ in which we ought to engage during the whole of our life. ‘Gratitude is the heart … of the Christian life.’”  -Unknown

Thankfully Use Each Day For God

**First Day of Rest of Life TL 256 DPI

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”    – Thomas Merton (Thoughts on Solitude)

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! 
For His mercy endures forever.”  Psalm 118:1 (NKJV) 

It is good to give God thanks. A grateful heart is one that appreciates the love and sacrifice of Christ. And since each new day is a gift, we shouldn’t be caught wasting our time on meaningless pursuits. How then are you using today to thank and glorify God?

Because Jesus willingly took our sins upon the cross, we are able to approach God as His adopted children. Eternal life is our sweet reward.  But while we are on earth, we should use our time wisely.

I believe earthly lessons, and the wisdom gained from them, will be carried with us into heaven. Earth is our Prep School, so I encourage you to learn as much as you can about God. Reading the Bible increases knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  Scripture should also inspire and motivate you into action and service. Jesus was all about service and timely action.

When thankfulness for God’s grace is apparent, He…..

To read the rest of this post please go to http://facingtrials.com

Ten Thousand Reasons To Bless the Lord by Matt Redman

Psalms 100:4      Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!

Dear Reader,
I am feeling led to extend the concept of blessing our God with some thoughts about our need to worship Him. First, let’s define worship as, “the feeling or expression of reverence and the adoration for a deity”

We as believers are thankful for the salvation we find through the Son of God and in His ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross. With an inexplicable love, God sent His only Son to die a horrible death so that we may be redeemed and called His adopted children. For this incredible act of mercy and love we should be in a constant state of worship, praise, and thanks.

There are many ways for us to express our reverence and adoration for Him. To start, a thankful heart will often spur a believer into a state of gratitude, which can then turn into a song of praise. Music and song is a great way for us to show our love for God. Praise means, “to commend, to applaud or magnify.” For the Christian, praising God is an expression of worship. By lifting Him up, we glorify and edify Him. By focusing our complete attention on the Father, we bless Him.

An act of service is also an act of worship, praise, and thanks. The Word tells us to comfort others with the comfort that we ourselves have been given. When we obediently follow God’s leading to serve and help others, we are submitting to His divine will. It is not just the act of serving but our obedience and submission that blesses the Lord. To honor and exalt Him is worship and we can do it through praise, submission, service, obedience, and acts of devotion and kindness.

God does not have to have our worship, but we must worship Him in order to please and bless Him. Worship brings us closer to God. The Bible says that, “God inhabits in the praises of His people.” (Psalms 22:3) This makes me think that He “dwells” in the atmosphere of our praises for Him. This is communion with God. As we draw near to Him, He in turn draws near to us.

When we choose to act on our desire to selflessly worship, bless, and praise our Creator, it should cause us to reflect on His power and majesty. These acts should also cause us to think more like Him. A heavenly perspective that is lived out in daily life is another way we can worship our God.

The Bible tells us that we can come BOLDLY to the throne of God with our petitions and requests. However, worship demands a contrite and humble heart of submission. Psalm 51:17 reminds us that the “sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” It is only with a pure heart, humbled by the sacrifice and love of the Father and Son, that our worship attempts will be an acceptable offering to our Father.

So, even on the dark and difficult path you are presently enduring, you need to thank Him. At all times, you need to look up and BELIEVE in His goodness and kindness. You may not understand the “whys” of your trial but that does not matter. It is by faith you were saved and it is by faith that you must trust your situations to God. Set down your burdens today and make time to thank Him. Choose to bless His name even though you don’t feel like it. Decide to trust in His goodness and praise Him. This will be a sacrifice of worship pleasing onto God, like sweet smelling incense before His throne.

Exodus 23:25 (NIV)       Worship the LORD your God, and His blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you

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Praise And Bless the Lord!!

Glory to God

Psalm 34:1 (NIV)            “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.”  

Psalm 67:3-5 (NIV)       May the peoples praise You, God; may all the peoples praise You.  May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.  May the peoples praise You, God; 
may all the peoples praise You.

Dear Reader,

Here is something to consider……

We often go to our Father with requests, but how often do we actually go before His throne to THANK and PRAISE Him??  We all know what praise reports are, but do we really make a point of sharing the praises in our lives with others?  Praise reports and answered prayers can be such an encouragement to others.

God wants to bless His children.  I once heard a Pastor tell his flock that God was running after His children with a gift in His outstretched hands.   Sadly, the children of God don’t recognize His gifts or decide they don’t want them.  This sounds a bit presumptuous to me.  God gives only good gifts, or shall we say blessings?

Psalm 23:6 tells us that God’s goodness and unfailing love PURSUES US ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIFE.  He does not sit on His throne and wait for us to come before Him asking for blessings.  Rather, He actually pursues us in order to hand out His blessings.  Think on that for a minute.

We should take our Heavenly Father’s example and pursue Him with praises, which are blessings to His ears.  With thankful hearts we need to lift up our voices in prayers or songs of praise.  Our prayers and praises are like incense before His throne, a sweet smelling sacrifice.  

So how do we extend God’s blessings?  By telling others of our blessings we extend His reach into the world.  Our blessings will encourage others and spread hope, a thing the enemy loves to steal from us.  When we receive favor from God, we should immediately turn it into an opportunity to bless others.  By doing this, we bless our Father.

Today Dear Reader I was blessed.  The snow day closed schools so I got the day off from work.  This left me time to take care of personal matters and spend time with my son.  I was then told I had been nominated for another blog award, which is always encouraging but not truly what I am after.  Finally, I scored big time on Craig’s List. 

As many of  you know, I moved into a house with little of it landscaped.    I have limited funds and yet, I have been yearning for a prayer garden.  Well, today I am getting MANY PAVERS delivered to my house for a fee I can only praise and thank God for with assurance.  There is no doubt in my mind that He is fulfilling one of the desires of my heart.  I may have to wait until next year to get the pavers laid out, but I am half way there and that has given me joy and a hope for the future. 

I do so hope that you can believe that God is pursuing you with blessings.  When they come, remember to turn your blessings back to God into a praise of thanks.  He is mighty and loving and kind.  Let us always be ready to lift up our voices in songs and praise for our Creator.

PS-This dear young man unloaded and stacked all of the pavers, with my son’s help.  I invited him for dinner and we ALL enjoyed a yummy bowl of chicken soup and lattes…..  Unexpected company can be such a blessing!

 

Psalm 141:2 (NIV)    May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 23:6 (NLT)    Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.Matthew 7:11 (NIV)     If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!James 1:17  (ESV)       Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.Image

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