thankful – a devotion

thankful

I Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

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

 

Shopping for the upcoming bridal shower for our oldest daughter, I drug my middle daughter into a local home store. Filled with a surplus of decorative items, no necessities and not much to enthuse my teenager, she reluctantly began to look with me. A shelf of unique signs with different sayings greeted us at the door, as well as a lovely associate with a coupon, and as soon as we could start breathing in the midst of tons of potpourri, I saw it. It said, “There is always always always something to be grateful for.” It was that simple. My hand instinctively shot out and grabbed it. I wanted this. I needed this. We could all use such valuable wisdom in our life.

Be thankful in all circumstances. Can you say that today? I am thankful. Without any but or reservation, can you feel contentment rising up in your heart enough to just thank the Lord? I know that you are struggling because I keep up with your Facebook posts. I know that there are trials in your life because I have walked through hell, fire and rain to stand here today, too. I get that things did not turn out the way you planned even though in your own special and unique way that you were pursuing a stronger relationship with Christ. He was right there with you when trouble came, remains with you as it goes. I know you don’t know how to make it to tomorrow but you will. Thankfulness is God’s Will for our life if we belong to Jesus Christ. How do we find it? When can we live in it? God, today I want to be thankful in all circumstances.

I Chronicles 16:34-35 (NLT)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, O God of our salvation! Gather and rescue us from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you.”

 

The Lord is good! God is good! His Spirit is good and creates goodness in us. (Galatians 5:22-23) Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all attributes of God reserved for His People who invite His Spirit to live and breathe inside of them. Give thanks to the Lord because He is good not because life is good. Faith says that God is always good and hope reminds us that His Goodness will make it to those who endure to the end. There are many “ends” that we must make it to. Checkpoints on our way through life that lead us to forever with the Lord. If we got it all right the first time, we wouldn’t need a lifetime to do so. Do you believe that the Lord is good? You have to in order to be thankful otherwise what is the point? If the Lord cannot do anything more for you than people can, then what’s all the fuss about knowing Him more? Who cares? I do because I know that God is good. Is everything perfect in my life? No, absolutely not. But I have chosen to believe that God is good and that He is perfecting my life (Psalm 138:8) according to His Plan and Purpose which is always good with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) This is the mission statement of my passionate pursuit to discover the Goodness of God reserved for my life. He promises if I seek Him wholeheartedly than I will have His Goodness in my life. (Jeremiah 29:13) His Faithful Love endured before I knew Jesus. It lasted while I tested and tried that Love completely. His Love will carry me through to the end of my course so I can finish this race of faith successfully. Do you believe God is good? The enemy is going to spotlight the bad things that have happened in our life or the struggles we are currently engaged in as proof that God does not love us and is indeed punishing us for our disobedience. This is not true. God is good. He is always good. Thankfulness requires that we believe this more than any lie that the enemy ever offers us in its place.

John 16:10-12 (NLT)
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.”

 

My daughter and I accomplished a great deal on our shopping trip for her sister’s shower. Everything except the food has been purchased and is ready to go. Last night, I had a dream that the house was decorated and the guests began to arrive. It was a success and people filled our house to overflowing. When I went to serve the food, I realized that I had forgotten to buy any for the occasion despite a pre-planned menu that had been completed weeks ago. My best intentions thwarted by one tiny detail. I panicked and it woke me up only to realize that there was still time. This is exactly how the enemy likes to operate. He loves to cause panic and chaos in our life so that we lose sight of God’s Plan. Jesus had been teaching a multitude of followers when dinnertime rolled around. The disciples had an excellent plan – wrap up the service and send them all to the local buffet. Problem solved. Not so fast, Jesus had something else in mind. He had a plan. He had a lesson for the disciples now. The Lord took what they had which was a boy’s lunch of fishes and loaves. He blessed it and broke it. It was more than enough to feed everyone and even with plenty left over. The Lord told his helpers, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” This is a promise for you, my friend. If you will just decide to trust the Lord in the midst of your overwhelming and debilitating need that nothing will be wasted. You have been equipped with everything you need to experience the miraculous and supernatural power of God if you will just sit and wait for the Lord. Jesus took what they had and “gave thanks to God” before distributing it to the people. When was the last time you gave thanks to God in your lack? Can you be grateful when in need? Faith can and will produce a miracle in our life when we learn to be thankful and content in the knowledge of God’s Goodness rather than our natural circumstances. God always responds when we trust Him. It is His Divine Intent and Nature to meet our every need according to His Riches in Glory. But He cannot do it when we settle for less than His Very Best.

Philippians 1:3-5 (NLT)

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.

If fifty percent of our problems arise from discontentment, I would say that the other half are derived from discord. People who think other people are their problem. Well, God just put a cap on that for me so I will share it with you. I have read Philippians over and over again especially these verses as I have added it to many notes to my friends and family. “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to God.” How sweet! We are to love our enemies, too. (Matthew 5:44) Jesus said it so we must do it to stay close to Him as we follow the Lord. Yeah, I began to get a little squirmy here, too. Then I read the next verse, and God’s Spirit asked me from within, “Now do you get it?” I did. “Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy…” The Lord invites us to put all our expectation in Him even those expectations that we have placed on other people in our life. In fact, we are to be thankful for them AND ask God for what we require of them. If we would stop expecting other people to be perfect, to do the right thing, to meet our needs, and to put all of these expectations into the Lord – we would learn to be content in our current condition and not expect those around us to make a change but rather we would be changed! There would be no division or discord because there would be no violation of trust. I have taken my expectation from humans and put it all in Jesus Christ. “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (I Timothy 2:1) If people are letting you down, then they have been given too much real estate in your life. It is time to call in the markers and turn them over to the Lord who will make good on your faith investment time and time again. This gives Him every detail of our life to make good on every promise for them. (Romans 8:28)

Psalm116:16-18 (NLT)

O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.  I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people…

 

I think sometimes the biggest sacrifice is human expectation. We have preconceived notion of what our life must be like to be successful. We have a number in our head that marks our prosperity. We have people identified as the source of true happiness. The Lord stands before us with outstretched Hands that bear the mark of freedom. He set us free from every chain that held us bound to the earth so that we could pursue Heaven on earth. God’s Goodness is more than we can even think to ask for. Asking for our way limits God’s Way in our life. His Will is for the very best but our will is what we usually ask for. When things don’t meet our expectation, we are disgruntled and begin to doubt the Lord according to worldly philosophies and human thinking. God’s Ways are not like our ways and His Thoughts so much greater than our own. We will never be satisfied with anything less than all of Jesus. We will never find contentment in our misplaced expectation. He is the Source that will satisfy my soul. The last three years have changed our lives forever. I will never be the same as I was before our family faced the terrible trial called cancer. Though it feels like our life has been out of control and will never stop spinning, I am now certain that God is good. I am thankful because I know that He is good even though in many areas of our life things seem slow in their resolution. It may feel like a sacrifice but today I choose to be thankful. “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” (Psalm50:23)

Ephesians 5:16-20(NLT)

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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