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Overcoming Difficult Trials

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Giving God Thanks

*9

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)

Pure Joy or Mere Happiness?

*Joy

To pursue joy is to lose it. The only way to get it is to follow steadily the path of duty, without thinking of joy, and then, like sheep, it comes most surely unsought, and we “being in the way,” the angel of God, bright-haired joy, is sure to meet us.” ~Alexander MacLaren  

“The Lord has done great things for us,and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3 (NIV)

Look carefully into the Word of God and you will notice that scripture teachings on the topic of HAPPINESS point to our trust and relationship with God.

“He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he” Proverbs 16:20 (NKJV)

A dictionary definition of happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.”

The definition of the word “rejoice,” from which our word “joy” comes, is “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.”

Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times.
http://www.gotquestions.org/joy-happiness.html#ixzz3CgX0g78m

Happiness is short-lived because it depends on things outside of ourselves. Joy comes from within and is based on our relationship to Christ. The Bible does not command us to pursue happiness or even seek it out. Happiness is an emotional response to and the result of God’s goodness and blessings. However, JOY is very apparent in the Bible and this joy comes through God and God alone.

Yes, there are good times and bad times in life. During bad times we experience emotions of fear, sorrow, and depression. In good times we experience emotional happiness and pleasure, but this is not the supernatural joy God speaks of in James 1:2-3. The difference between happiness and joy rests in our focus. We can be joyful in the midst of great adversity because our focus is on God and in the blessing of sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings. Feelings of happiness are absent when we are experiencing pain, sorrow, and tribulations.

Happiness is a self-centered emotion. We experience happiness when we receive a gift or experience something apart from acknowledging God for the blessing. We can even be pleased for somebody else yet remain self-centered in our happiness: “I am happy because you are happy.”

When we receive a blessing that produces a happy feeling AND we turn our focus to God, acknowledging and thanking Him for the favor and benefit, joy is experienced. Pure joy comes by giving God His due. His desire to fellowship with us…. His creation, and build an intimate relationship full of intimacy should leave us awestruck.

Presently, there are some popular church leaders who teach that worship should be for our own happiness and benefit, that when we are happy God is happy. We may experience spiritual joy while praising His name but our motive behind worship should never be self-centered. We ought not think of how our time of praise will benefit us, it should be for God’s pleasure alone. Thinking about our time of worship as a means to profit is hedonistic.

http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=24785

“This is a hedonistic view-a doctrine that teaches that the chief end of life is one’s personal pleasure-to worship God or attend church for what man can obtain in return.”

“If we participate for a pragmatic benefit—to say, ‘Just worship because look how much better you’re going to feel’—that is minimizing the worth of a holy God and making self the benefactor of worship, when worship is simply the glorifying of God entirely,” he outlined.

http://christiannews.net/2014/09/06/i-stand-by-my-point-joel-osteens-wife-unrepentant-over-remarks-of-worshiping-god-for-self/

Complete joy comes from God. In times of selfless worship we will receive joy because our focus is entirely on God, but never when our focus is on ourselves. And yes, there are benefits that come as a result of our worship, for the Word says He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and that if we draw close to Him… He will draw near to us(James 4:8). Time spent with God will always bring forth a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Creator.

“Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.’ Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.”   Psalm 96:8-12 (NKJV)

When we enter into the awesome throne room of God and witness His power and might, we should be filled with reverent fear. This holy and righteous fear should purge us of all self-focus. Why? Because the Creator of the universe is omnipotent and fearsome in His might yet still, He appreciates the songs of praise offered by that which He created.

Our God seeks a pure heart. A pure heart is not a selfish or self-centered one, nor do the pure of heart look for gain and prosperity while worshipping their Savior. Because God has done great things we are filled with joy and that joy is indeed our strength.

Let us then decide to magnify God with the sole purpose of glorifying His precious name. Let us lay aside all self-interest whenever we enter into His courts of praise. May our heart and mind be completely focused on giving Him pleasure, without a thought to our own happiness. Shall we simply adore Him and the glory of His splendor? It is here where joy is found, and joy trumps worldly happiness every time.

“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.  In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” Psalm 97:1-7 (NKJV)

“Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:2 (NKJV)

But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3 (NKJV)

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.My heart leaps for joy,and with my song I praise Him.” Psalm 28:7(NIV)

 

A Reverent Fear For God

*Respect for the Lord RL

There is a fear of God that admiration enfolds with arms of  adoration. It acknowledges the absolute power of the Creator and the inconsequence of man. This holy and reverent fear is the beginning of wisdom, for it is wise to know ones place in this world…. And in the next.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)

The Bible gives many examples of believers showing reverence for God. Abraham (Genesis 17:3), Moses and Aaron (Numbers 14:5), Daniel (Daniel 10:15) and Joshua (Joshua 5:13) all fall on their faces in humble adoration and respect. In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene demonstrates her devotion for Jesus by pouring expensive perfume on His feet and using her hair to wipe them clean.

Because of pride, man often thinks too highly of himself and claims credit for that which God has achieved. It is dangerous to be wise in your own eyes. Stealing from God is no small matter, be it His plunder and goods or acts of might. Consider what happened to Achan (Joshua 7:20-25) and the arrogance of David’s soldiers when they demanded spoils for an unmerited victory. God had gifted them the spoils and the battle victory, it was not won by mere flesh and blood (1 Samuel 30).

“Do not be wise in your own eyes;Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:7 (NKJV)

When we live a life of contentment and satisfaction we provide the enemy with fewer foot holes to tempt us with. A fulfilled life leaves the adversary little room for traps. Temptation is harder to achieve with a saint living in peacefully with what God has provided. Evil will readily slip past the door of a contented man and seek out easier and less satisfied prey to devour.

“The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction;He will not be visited with evil.” Proverbs 19:23 (NKJV)

Certainly a holy reverence is due our God yet, we have fallen away from positions of prostration during prayer. No longer is it a common practice to bend a knee during times of prayer or during solitary moments of thanksgiving and praise. Where has our reverence for God flown?

In mercy and grace the Savior freely gives atonement for sin. Yet, do flippant confessions and petitions show up in the throne room with an expectation of unquestionable forgiveness? This is my prediction. Is not a broken and contrite heart the sacrifice God expects when delivering His gifts of redemption?

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,a broken and a contrite heart~
These, O God, You will not despise.”Psalm 51:17 (NKJV)

Consider how you have been approaching God as of late. Are you entering into your prayer time with an awareness of His righteous sovereignty? Do you toss petitions at His feet without any thought for quiet meditation? Forgiveness is a precious gift and your prayers should be made with reverence and offered in awe.

“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” Proverbs 14:27 (NKJV)

“In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.” Proverbs 16:6 (NKJV)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we mayserve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV)

“Fear the Lord and the king, my son,and do not join with rebellious officials,” Proverbs 24:21 (NIV)

Ten Thousand Reasons To Bless The Lord

Come Before W:JooyfulSong

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDGE_lRI0E

Dear One,

This is such a great song, I wanted to repost it along with the words I wrote a while back.  May you see the many blessings that are all around you today.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am feeling led to extend the concept of blessing our Lord 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…..

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

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

 

Man Worships God

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8JJbDsHQOg

“Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow” (Sung by the David Crowder Band)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.                                                                                    Praise Him oh creatures here below                                                                                            Praise Him above the heavenly hosts                                                                                            Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost                                                                                               Amen 

Deuteronomy 28:2 (NIV)      “All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God”

Dear Reader,

I love the old hymns, even when younger musicians write a newer rendition.  The words are gold and inspirational.  Songs of praise are a form of worship that God will not turn a deaf ear to or ignore.

Praising God in good times AND bad times shows a maturity in Christ.  Trusting that He has a purpose for those things in which we see as “bad” is called FAITH.  He works out our sanctification and transformation through struggles as it increases our perseverance, thus promoting maturity in our walk. 

Are you able to thank God for the very thing you cursed?  Can you see the wisdom and goodness that was birthed out of the trial you have suffered? Have you actually thanked God for the trial and the strength He provided, as it enabled you to be victorious for the glory of God and the sake of those witnessing your struggle?

The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy will continue on through eternity.  It is as fresh as the morning and as sure as the sunrise.  You can count on it… now and forever more.

Exalt Him in your heart today, even if you are facing a storm…. Will yourself to give Him the praise He deserves.  Things are not as dark as you think they are since He is in control and holding your hand as you walk through the difficulty you are facing.  He can do exceedingly and abundantly above all you can ask or even think.  The struggles you face on earth are not worth comparing with the glory soon to be revealed in you once you reach your eternal home in heaven.

Romans 8:18 (I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 

2 Corinthians 4:17       “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 

Psalm 21: 3       
”For You meet him with the blessings of goodness; You set a crown of pure gold upon his head.”

Ephesians 1: 3     
”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

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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