I Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.
Just arriving home from vacation, I am overwhelmed by the long to-do list that accompanies our late night arrival. With about five hours of sleep, the husband repacked leaving on business, mounds of laundry, no food in the house, among various other catchup things – not to mention I will be late for work today – I am a bit overwhelmed. Back to life. Back to reality. It would be very easy to give up today. Give up my joy. Give up my peace. Give up my thankfulness.
We had a good trip. We were able to spend time with our daughter. When we arrived home last night, after what seemed like hours of making our way through airports, grabbing our luggage and aimlessly wandering for miles to find the car, we found a Chick-fil-a restaurant which is a favorite in the South. When we went to order dinner, it was with great delight that we could order sweet tea again. It’s the little things in life. As we sat down to enjoy our late dinner and southern delicacies, my heart was a bit sad. A huge chunk of my heart lives in New England now. I want to be thankful. I do. I want to live in constant joy and follow Jesus every step of the way. But those steps become weighted when I don’t understand or cannot fully accept God’s Plan or His Way and especially His Timing. So sipping on sweet tea enjoying a chicken sandwich, I looked at the faces around my table. I heard the familiar drawl of y’all and I am thankful to be home but that is not enough. I am to be thankful in ALL circumstances even those I am really not too happy about.
Always be joyful. You’re kidding right, I have teenagers Lord. Never stop praying. Jesus, there are times I do not seem to have a moment to breathe. Be thankful in all circumstances. Let’s be real, God, is that even possible. It is. I cannot do it myself. It is the God of Peace who makes me holy in every way including filling me with joy, responding when I pray and making me whole spirit, soul and body. Thankfulness is produced by satisfaction and contentment. We will never find such things in this world or according to this life. It is all produced by God’s Spirit in us cultivating the fruit that we survive on in this life as we make our way into the Kingdom. God makes this happen. He is the One who completes us and fills us with those things that He calls us to have or even express.
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 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.
You know the old saying that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, that is our youngest child. During this trip, especially aboard the airplanes, we have tried to keep her happy and content to overcome the anxiety she has about flying. Not just on this trip but in life, she is our little squeaky wheel. We are attentive to her needs because she is able to express them most effectively. I think that sometimes we are thankful for most of the things God is doing in our life but fail to be content in all things. This is produced by faith and confident hope that He is always working out the details of our life for our good (Romans 8:28) and perfecting that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) It is important that we are careful how we live in order to have faith and confident hope. We must think about how we live and constantly turn it over to the Lord.
When I was a kid, I was notorious for putting water on the stove for macaroni and cheese but letting it burn up. Or forgetting I put the pasta in and it would clump together and stick to the bottom of the pot. I have learned that I need to keep stirring it. Adjust the temperature. Pay attention to what I am cooking or risk it bring ruined. Our walk with Christ is exactly the same. We must pay attention to how we live and what we do.
There are some tips to living a thankful life that brings honor and glory to God. We are to be careful how we live. Considering the things we do. All things are permissible under the Law of Grace but NOT ALL things are beneficial. We must decide what we want out of life. Do we want a good life or a God Life? We are to be wise. Wisdom is considered by God to be more precious that rubies and other gems. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh sent to give us the message that God truly loves us and desires a relationship with us even going as far as to make the Way for it to be possible. We have to know the Word of God in order to live God’s Way and be complete in Him. We are to make the most of every opportunity. God has hidden blessing in our life. Some things are automatic and others are planted to be harvested in the next season. We cannot live for today without considering tomorrow and make it anywhere. To follow Christ is a commitment and is a requirement to have all that He is offering. Act thoughtfully. I think this is the most important tidbit of advice. We must think about our life in Christ more than we do the details of life. What if we paid as much attention to the Lord as we do our budget and other people’s business? To be filled with the Holy Spirit means we must daily nail our sins, passions and desires not of Him to the Cross. Every single day must start with repentance that will make room for His Spirit who will produce thankfulness and joy in our life along with every other fruit that He promised. Finally, always praising God. The attitude of gratitude is not common to humanity. Discontentment and dissatisfaction are the very qualities that brought us to Jesus Christ in the first place. How will we ever rid our life of such things by never changing our attitude or actions? I must become consciously aware of Christ and His Place in every single moment that I live to move from desperation to completeness especially in those areas that rise up as hurts, pain, brokenness, misunderstanding or anything else that stands out as contrary to the things that the Lord wants to produce in my life. The squeaky wheels must be greased. The pots must be stirred until His Spirit takes over every aspect of our life.
Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT)
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Sitting in the airport yesterday, I was priding myself in doing really good. I usually cry when I leave my daughter knowing I will not see her for a while. This move has been very hard. I do not understand why the Lord moved my child more than twenty hours from home. I know that there must be a reason. There must be a prevailing purpose to this painful aching in my heart. Then she text me, and the tears came tumbling out. I must continue to follow Christ even when it hurts. You may not understand. Kids grow up. They move away. I feel silly sometimes but all I know is that I don’t know why the Lord did it. I don’t like it. I need His Love especially in this area. I need His Peace each day to overcome feelings of bitterness that try to take root. I want to share my life with her every single day. Not on the phone or over a video call, but in person. This area is producing a blessing in my life. It is a squeaky wheel and requires constant help from the Holy Spirit. This is my promise. In Christ lives all the fullness of God in the human body, so (I am) also complete through (my) union with Christ who is the ruler and authority over me.
Perhaps, you have an area like me that you just can’t seem to wrap your head around. What are you doing about it? Last night driving the four-hour journey home from the airport, I listened to praise and worship music. I pressed into the Presence of God in the backseat as my husband drove. In the quietness of sleepy children and a long drive, I talked to the Lord candidly and openly about my feelings turning each one over to Him one by one. It was a struggle. I am angry. I am sad. I am confused. I don’t get it. But ultimately it really doesn’t matter as His Spirit reminded me of all the promises that God has made me and the Word of God that backs them up until my soul was once again at peace within me. There are many areas of my life in process right now. Just like you, I have burdens and cares that I must daily thrust into the Hands of My Savior. We must consciously and actively choose to seek the Lord first and sacrifice our thanksgiving when life doesn’t add up until it does. We are made complete in Christ and our union with Him. We cannot let this life dictate our mind, will and emotions about things. God is greater than our feelings and His Son, Jesus will give us peace of heart and mind when we make Him our one desire.
Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
I have shared my feelings about the separation from our daughter today, but that is not the only burden that I have. I choose not to share them with everybody because when I give them to others it allows the enemy to know where I am struggling. Sometimes I think if we would move in closer to Jesus and whisper our cares and worries to Him rather than standing on the rooftops shouting our discontentment with God. Wait? Hang on. Discontentment with God. When we question Him openly and complain about our life isn’t that against God? We gave Him our life when we decided to follow Jesus Christ accepting His Promise to supply our needs and equip us for a godly life. To let the peace of Christ rule in our heart – we must be one with Him. Discord comes out in our communication with words of dissatisfaction rather than thankfulness, praise and adoration. Choices produce consequences in life and it takes time for God to work them out for our good and His Glory. Those who have faith and confidence in the Lord will always be thankful even when it is a sacrifice. (Psalm 50:14) The Word of God and all its promises are enough to fill our life with His Goodness even in the waiting and tests of endurance. Today it doesn’t matter what you cannot see or understand just knowing that Jesus is alive and He will do everything that He promised to do for you. Peace begins when we take the time to quiet that thing squeaking loudly in our mind or stir up the Holy Spirit in our heart and mind to release the Truth and Wisdom we need to keep hanging on to faith and confident hope. Not everything is as it should be, I know it. But that is not God’s Promise for my life. So as He makes good of all His Promises, I choose to wait quietly in prayer and thanksgiving just because He is and He will be my peace as Christ rules my heart today.
Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.