Be Thankful

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

–1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

I’ve really been pondering a lot of things lately.

Things concerning faith in God.

Being a Christian, all of my life actually concerns faith.

Lately, though, I have been really contemplating matters of blessing, disobedience, and thankfulness.

Those three may seem random, yet those are some of the things I have been reading about and praying about.

My focus has been on thankfulness the last couple of days.

I really am very grateful for so many blessings in my life.

My relationship with Jesus, my health, my job, my family, the provisions I have of food and shelter.

The radiant sunrise I photographed this morning on the way to work.

Why, I could write a list that would never be finished!

What I’ve been thinking about lately are the things that I have considered to be bad.

Sicknesses, poor choices, accidents—things like that.

Not just in my own life, but in the lives of others.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads,

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

All circumstances.

All.

Thanking God for the loss of a job?

I know He can work good from that and also provide a different job.

Thanking God for the situations arising from a poor choice?

I know He can work good from poor choices as we learn of our dependence on Him and the need for His guidance.

With every “bad” circumstance that I can think of, I have to acknowledge that God has not left me or others.

Having a thankful heart in the midst of trouble– and not just when everything is good–seems to be what verse 18 is saying.

Since circumstances change day by day and moment to moment, our thankfulness should be renewed with each situation.

A heart of thankfulness.

I’m going to continue to think about that….

thankful

 

Everlasting Rock

Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

–Isaiah 26:4

If we trust in ourselves for guidance without God, who are we to have the answers?

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

When we try to do things our way instead of His way, who are we to know what is best?

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

If we trust in God all of our lives, we are putting our confidence in an everlasting rock.

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

We are to be thankful….

 

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I Will Give Thanks

Salvation.

Redemption.

A new life here on earth.

The gift of eternal life in Heaven.

Forgiveness.

Unfailing love.

Guidance.

Assurance.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.

—Psalm 9:1

 

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Those Who Led You

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Doing some sightseeing with a visiting relative this past week, we drove by a church in another town.

Looking high above the trees, we could see the cross on top of a bell tower.

As far as I can tell, I don’t know anyone who attends that church, but I know there are those that do.

And—-there are those who have attended in the past.

Probably many, many people.

People who have come there to worship.

People who have come there to teach others.

People who have led each other as they spoke God’s word.

Think back—-

Who has invested their life into your spiritual journey?

A parent?

A friend?

A teacher?

A pastor or priest?

Do you remember them?

Do you remember their faith in God?

Are you investing your life into the spiritual journey of those God has brought into your scope of influence?

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Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
—Hebrews 13:7
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Go to Your Room

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When you pray,

go to your room

and close the door.

Pray privately to your

Father who is with you.

Your Father sees

what you do in private.

He will reward you.

—-Matthew 6:6

Quiet moments.

Time spent seeking God’s guidance.

Listening with our hearts for our heavenly Father’s words to gently, yet clearly, speak to us.

There is no communication more precious and priceless…

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Your Worries

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Walking along the dock tonight, it was peaceful and calm.

My heart was fairly peaceful and calm, as well.

The sun had long been gone, but a hint of orange still remained in the gray sky of dusk above me.

It was raining and the lights reflected in the soaking wood beneath my feet.

In the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve had many issues to bring before the Lord in prayer.

Already, there have been answers to some.

If I just stop to consider, I have so many blessings to be thankful for.

Despite the issues that seem difficult and overwhelming, there are so many things that are right and good.

Things that are just as they should be, or actually, even better.

1 Peter 5:7 reads,

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

God loves us.

He doesn’t want us to be sick with worry and concern over things that are in His control.

He wants us to come to Him with our concerns.

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The Desires of Your Heart

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The sun was setting as I went for a walk in the neighborhood.

I consciously thought of enjoying the time, taking in the reality of the moments I was being blessed with.

The sunlight was still falling on the trees in the orange grove beside my house, giving them a warm glow as they nestled in the thick green grass that had succumbed to the shadows.

Turning around, I noticed the flowering Crepe Myrtle trees in my yard, towering high with bundles of color.

A dog barked in the distance.

Gopher turtles had dug holes in the ground to shelter themselves in many places I walked.

The pink, fluffy clouds to the south looked like a lovely painting.

If I had decorated a room especially for someone, I wonder how I would feel if they entered it, but failed to notice or appreciate the decorations?

Day after day, God creates unspeakable beauty in our surroundings.

He gives it especially to us, to appreciate and enjoy.

Instead of hurrying through the hours and moments I am given, failing to notice and appreciate the creative works of His hands, I should take the time to enjoy what He has prepared with a thankful and grateful heart.

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Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

—Psalm 34:7

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Present Your Requests

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While visiting my son’s lakeside apartment, I suggested that we take a walk in the park across the street.

As we began our stroll, we noticed some heavy equipment parked near the fishing dock.

Neither of us could tell what work was about to be done, but it obviously looked as though some serious digging was planned.

On the way back from our walk, I decided to photograph the machines.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have only a spoon with which to dig in order to complete a task like the one probably planned near the dock?

Diligent work for weeks and months—perhaps years—might still not be enough to tackle the need.

There are many times in our lives when God provides a spoon for us to complete a work because a spoon is all that is needed.

At other times, situations loom before us as we feel helpless and defeated with our lack of resources or ability.

God knows our limitations.

Sometimes, He is the only One who can take care of a situation.

In an instant, He can heal, provide, change, forgive and encourage.

Even so, we can forget that He is available to help us.

With spoon in hand, we tackle those things never meant to be faced alone.

Philippians 4:6 says,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

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Sing Among the Branches

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He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.

—Psalm 104:10-12

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What provisions has God made for you and your family lately?

How has He made blessings pour into your lives?

How have those blessings flowed between the mountains of the problems you are facing?

How have those blessings provided for each of you, meeting individual needs?

Tell me: Are you rejoicing in those blessings?

Are you “singing among the branches” today?

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nest light

From Those To Whom It Is Due

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What does it mean to give?

In most churches, there are opportunities to give a monetary tithe or gift in order to maintain the building and its ministries.

There is more to giving, however, than placing money in an offering plate or an offering box at the back of a sanctuary.

If I look back over my week, what are some ways that I gave to others?

Did I help anyone who had a need?

Did I call or text a friend who was hurting?

When I saw the troubled countenance of a coworker, did I say a silent prayer for them?

Did I bring a dessert to a neighbor, just to brighten their day?

Did I suggest that the elderly woman behind me in line at the grocery store go ahead of me?

What about the man across the street? When his dog broke from his leash, did I help to find him?

Did I offer to pray with a sick friend?

Did I take the time to talk about Jesus to someone?

When I bring a monetary gift on Sunday, I am giving a portion of my earnings back to God.

When I leave the church on Sunday, am I faithful to give to others in His Name for the rest of the week?

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Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

—Proverbs 3:27

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A Day That Has Just Gone By

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It’s actually quite a distance away.

I have friends that live in a different country from my own.

In order to keep up with exactly what time it is where they are, I have set a world clock on my smart phone to their time zone.

Also, on the same phone page, I have the time zone where I live, on the far eastern side of my country.

That way, I can compare what time it is here to what time it is there at a glance.

By default, the manufacturer of my smart phone placed the time that it would be where their company is located—on the far western side of my country.

While checking the time on my world clock page today, I was struck with a thought as I read the words that went along with my friends’ time zone in another country.

It simply read,

Tomorrow. 9hr 30m ahead.

Tomorrow?

Really?

Although I understand the concept in simple numbers of minutes, seconds and hours, something else came to mind.

Tomorrow—my friends are already experiencing it.

I will be soon, but not yet.

When tomorrow comes for me, God will already be there.

In fact, He’s there now.

He is as much in my future as He is in my present.

God is not constrained by human measurements of existence.

The Bible tells us that,

“A thousand years in Your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.”

—Psalm 90:4

Whatever concerns we may have about the future, we must trust that God will be there with His power, sovereignty and love.

So, how can we compare what time it is here to what time it is with God?

It’s already tomorrow.

Infinitely eternal hours ahead…..

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I Lack Nothing

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
     He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for His name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

—Psalm 23

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dwell in

The Lord is Good

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What does it mean to depend on God?

To trust Him in every area of my life?

What does it mean to trust His goodness?

How can I search for Him throughout all of my day?

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The Lord is good to those who depend on Him,
    to those who search for Him.

—Lamentations 3:25

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Let Us Love

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I received three gifts this week from my sons.

They were gifts of love, and I will cherish that love, because my heart is filled with love for them.

In thinking about these recent gifts, something deep inside of me realizes that the gifts were not just from them.

God was loving me through my sons and their thoughfulness.

When I think of the love shown to me this week, my heart will smile.

God loves me…

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1 John 4:7-8

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

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Along the Road

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There was once a blind man.

A man who was alive at the time Jesus was here on Earth.

This blind man’s life would soon be changed forever:

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

—Mark 10:46-52

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What do you think you would do if you had been that blind man?

Would you have followed Jesus on the road?

What if that happened today?

Would you get in the car with Jesus and just go with Him down the road, wherever He went?

Jesus has given us the greatest gift of all.

The gift of salvation.

The gift of eternity with Him in Heaven.

Should we get in our cars and follow Him along the road, wherever He goes?

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Love Endures Forever

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After completing a photo session with a client late this afternoon, I stepped over to the side of the road to look at the ornate landscaping.

A rod iron fence was separating the road from the grassy lake area below.

Admiring the lush, red flowers before me, I photographed them up close.

As I looked down the road, I realized that the flowers were not only in front of me, but they lined the pavement as far as I could see.

If I traveled down the road a little farther, I’d still be graced with the beauty of the delicate red petals.

Psalm 136:26 reminds us to–

“Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

No matter how long our journey is, God will love us the entire time.

Even though I couldn’t see it, I knew there had to be an end to all those flowers blooming along the road.

At some point, they would cease to adorn it.

God’s love isn’t like that.

It endures.

It endures forever.

It endures forever as far as we can see with our incredibly limited understanding, plus on and on with a divine steadfastness we cannot fully comprehend.

If things are difficult for you right now, why not take a moment to visualize God’s love for you.

It’s right there in front of you, and if you look up, you’ll see that His love will be there to greet you with each new step that you make.

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Rejoice In All His Faithfulness

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Driving home around sunset, I noticed a break in the gray clouds ahead of me.

Many times, sunsets are a brilliant orange, red and yellow.

Other times, it seems that they take on only a white and gray glow.

Such was today.

The break in the vast silver curtain of clouds was so bright it couldn’t be looked at straight on.

Pulling off the highway, I photographed the scene in the sky above a tree nursery.

I had been listening to a song as I drove.

Part of the lyrics say,

All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

The sun shines brightly, no matter what circumstances I may find myself in.

As consistent as the sun is, it will one day cease.

In all my life and for eternity, God will still be God.

Holy.

Faithful.

All powerful.

Sovereign.

I will always have a reason to worship Him.

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It is good to say thank you to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods.

 Every morning tell him, “Thank you for your kindness,” and every evening rejoice in all his faithfulness.  Sing his praises, accompanied by music from the harp and lute and lyre.  You have done so much for me, O Lord. No wonder I am glad! I sing for joy.

 O Lord, what miracles you do! And how deep are your thoughts!

—Psalm 92:1-5

*Desert Song–Brooke Fraser

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Thank you

A Record of Sins

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The tiny white flowers were beautiful, but too numerous to count.

Even though there were a great many blossoms, I would’ve had more sins than that even in a relatively short period of time.

Wrong attitudes?

Unkind words?

Neglecting what God wants me to do?

Selfishness?

The list is long.

The Bible tells us these words in Psalm 130:3-4:

If You, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
 But with You there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve You.

Knowing that God has forgiven us should soften our hearts to forgive others.

We want to be forgiven by our heavenly Father.

Isn’t that what others want from us?

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The Streams of God

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You care for the land and water it;
    You enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so You have ordained it.

You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    You soften it with showers and bless its crops.
 You crown the year with your bounty,
    and Your carts overflow with abundance.

—Psalm 65:9-11

You crown the year with Your bounty….

2015.

A new year.

The first month of the new year.

What will we see in the coming days and weeks?

I have faith that we will see the bounty of God.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bounty this way:

“good things that are given or provided freely and in large amounts”

Everywhere we look, even in difficult situations, there are blessings from God.

Things given.

Things provided.

Things that are bestowed willingly to us.

Things from the loving heart of God.

2015.

A new year.

The first month of the new year.

What do you think you will see in the coming days and weeks?

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To the Throne of Grace

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Below are some of the lyrics to a popular Christian song:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

(from “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher)

Lately, the words, “And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You” have gone to a special place in my heart.

How precious to even consider that during our greatest weakness, God is there for us to fall on.
In recent weeks, several people that I know have faced extreme circumstances.
In fact, some of them are still facing these trials today.
This song, when changed to an intercessory prayer, is a comfort to me concerning them:

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Lord, they come, they confess
Bowing there, they find their rest
Without You they would fall apart
You’re the One that guides their heart
Lord, they need You, oh, they need You
Every hour they need You
Their one defense, their righteousness
Oh God, how they need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, they are free
Holiness is Christ in them
Teach their song to rise to You
When temptation comes their way
And when they cannot stand let them fall on You
Jesus, You’re their hope and stay
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My heart is solemn as I yearn for healing of every situation in the lives of my each of my friends who are facing troubles.
God is the only One who can take care of each of the needs.
What a precious privilege to have the gift of prayer.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:16

 

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Throne of Grace

Always Give Thanks

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It was an unexpected blessing.

My husband and I had just left a Christmas dinner party at a local restaurant. We had both come right after work, so we were in two separate vehicles. We decided that since my car was parked closest, he would get into my car and I would drive him to his car which was parked some distance away.

He had chosen to leave his car at a lot by a lakeside park.

The sun had already gone down, leaving pink and gray swirls behind to wave goodbye just before darkness would settle in.

Seven ducks (I counted them!) were swimming in the lake which had been transformed into a glowing surface of color. Some fishermen were nearby, taking in their surroundings, just as I was.

Enthralled by such beauty, I looked up into the sky and took a deep breath, taking in the moment as a blessing from God.

The sky, the sweet, cool air, the ducks, the shimmering water—all played a part in a magnificently delicate scene before me.

I was thankful for the unplanned opportunity to see God’s creation.

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I’m on the Right Way

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I am grateful to God for placing my feet on the right path many years ago.

Just having turned 19 years of age, I was weary and worn from making my own decisions.

Coming to the place where I realized that I needed to invite Jesus to be the Lord of my life, I repented of my sin and asked for  forgiveness.

Since that time, my feet have been on the right path.

I’ve fallen a few times.

Actually, more than a few.

But I fell while on the right path that God placed me on, and I stood up each time to continue on with His help, continuing on that right path.

In a way that I cannot explain, this path “glows.”

I am drawn to remain there.

It is the only choice, as God holds my hand through the events of each day.

How about you?

Are you on the right path today?

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Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.

—Psalm 16:11 The Message

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right way

Give Thanks

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I am thankful.

My house is warm inside.

I ate dinner tonight.

My closet is filled with clothes and shoes.

I have a reliable car.

My refrigerator has food in it.

I also have food in my pantry.

I am blessed with a family and with friends.

I am blessed to have a job.

Besides these things, I am blessed with forgiveness and a promise of life forever with God.

I am blessed with the privilege of prayer.

I am blessed with the presence of God every moment of my life.

I am blessed with the goodness of God, my Creator.

I am blessed with His steadfast love that will never end.

What are you thankful for today?

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

–Psalm 107:1

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Thanks