Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
With thanksgiving. I think sometimes we miss those two little words that mean so much. Be anxious for nothing is a bold endeavor. Raise your hand if you never worry, stress, fear, or experience anxiety. Yeah, I didn’t think so. We are to give everything (care, worry and burden) to God in Jesus Christ. Now hang on, everything has to mean more than that and it does except that is not the problem. We praise God when we win, overcome and triumph. When things are good, great and better than expected, we give Him praise and say, “Thanks”, right? Or at least, we should. No, it is before victory comes that our thanksgiving is most powerful and effective. We are to bring everything by prayer and that thing called supplication before our God which means to pray, seek or ask humbly. We petition God not for our haves but have nots. To be anxious for nothing means surrendering our wants, needs and desires before the Lord for fulfillment. People have never really had a problem making their requests known to God. In fact, they offer very little else in their approach. However, we must learn what it means to be thankful to experience the triumph associated with faith in God and living in the realm of confident hope.
Philippians 4:10-13 (NKJV)
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul indicates in this passage that the “givers had stopped giving” for a while. “At last your care for has flourished again…” Paul goes on to say that his words are not in “regard to need” for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I touched on the subject of contentment yesterday. I should not be surprised that the Lord was leading me to this place. Thankfulness is the thread that secures contentment to our heart and mind. It is a shift from our current circumstances to look beyond today, tomorrow and the natural world in which we reside to the Kingdom of God. To be content in all things comes at the cost of sacrificial thanksgiving. To give thanks in all things is our primary goal to move from merely surviving to thriving in the Presence of God. It has absolutely nothing to do with our haves and have nots but the faith and confident hope found in trusting the Lord. He is our Provider. He is our Strength. It is the radical shift in our attitude that frees us to follow Jesus. It is a surrender of self and forfeiture of comfort that allows us to move from tragedy to triumph in life.
I read an article yesterday that is all too common in this perverse world today. A father ruthlessly murdered his daughter. If possible to be more heinous is the fact that the child was turning the corner in her cancer treatment for retinoblastoma. She was a living, breathing miracle. When the two did not show up to pick up mom after work, she called the authorities. The man was soon found childless. Upon questioning, he described the horrific act of killing the toddler. When asked for a motive, he told authorities that he committed the act of murder because his child’s illness had consumed the attention of his wife. I am appalled. This little girl was finally able to live her life again. She was stepping over the finish line into victory lane.
I came across this story while flying home from Cancun, Mexico after a much needed break with my sweet husband. This was our first getaway alone after a more than three-year cancer battle with our son. After a year of remission, it is apparent that our life is turning the corner as he has triumphed over the disease. As I was laying in the middle of paradise with my husband in the soft ocean breeze resting and relaxing under a tiki hut, I thanked the Lord that we made it. We finally could breathe again. Most couples do not make it through the ordeal, it is just so hard. I don’t know how anyone survives life’s tragedies without faith and hope in the impossible thanks to God through Jesus Christ. She was almost there. Her tiny foot poised for victory and evil took them out. I think of all the time and attention fixed on our son at the price of others. I was not able to be home all the time off waging a war. My husband did a wonderful job. He took excellent care of our children and supported me wholeheartedly.
What made the difference? Why did we make it to victory while others have not? It is simple. Too simple, in fact, for some to accept. You probably do not want to hear it. Jesus. Pure truth. If we had not had faith in the Lord, we would have never made it to triumph. It was a complete sacrifice of self in total abandonment to our faith that kept us all going when the medical team seemed to be losing. Thankfulness is a sacrifice that leads us to triumph because in the midst of the ultimate opposition in life it forces the attention off of us (who can do nothing) to our Lord (who can do anything). It was never about us. Jesus is the only one who can lead us from victory to victory and glory to glory. Tragedy strikes when we take our eyes, hearts, and minds off of Him. In the middle of the fight, when the doctors opened the conversation to hope because modern medicine was no longer working a decision had to be made. Would I respond to the hope we have in Christ or allow their words to have a worldly meaning because they were telling us that he may die? We chose faith and trust in God no matter what. Live here or live with Him – we would be thankful. See thankfulness as a response to faith and confident hope has eternal impact on our life.
Romans 1:20-23 (NKJV)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 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. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
From Creation, God has been revealing Himself and His Intentions to all mankind. He has clearly handwritten His Instructions and sent His Spirit to many men to construct the Gospel for our use. We have it all presented in the Word of God. It is clear the Lord’s Great Care and Concern wrapped in Unconditional Love and Overwhelming Grace claimed by faith alone. We can do nothing for God. Our only hope is to accept His Grace by Faith. Thanksgiving in all things, all circumstances and living in contentment all point to a made up mind, steadfast and immovable in the Lord. There are people who know “of” God and then there are those who strive to know God. I am know of many people. I am acquainted with some of them. I am friends with fewer of them. This is the movement and progression our relationship with God. We knew of Him. We decided to meet Him. Finally, we choose to become intimate with the Lord allowing Him access to our life.
Romans 1:17 tells us that God reveals Himself to us faith to faith. Faith is trusting, leaning, relying on God. How do we know if we are successful? We become thankful in all things as His Faith and Confident Hope begin to resonate from our life as thanksgiving. Not for what He is doing, but because of who He is. To know God really is to love Him. To trust Him leads us to triumph. If we hold on to our faith and remain anchored in confident hope no matter how rough things get.
I Corinthians 15:56-58 (NKJV)
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
God has given us victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. If you knew you would win the lottery, you would buy a ticket. If you knew that you would win the drawing, you would fill out the form. If you knew you had victory in all things, you would be thankful. I’m sorry. Did I trick you? People buy lottery tickets with crazy odds just at the thought of winning. You endure endless calls and inquiries from salespeople just for a chance to win a car or vacation. Why is it so hard for us to walk in triumph so freely given? It cost God everything yet seems too good to be true. There are no guarantees in this life, but forever is secure. If you want the same security today, one must invest their life in Jesus.
We labor for things freely given by the Lord when all along the key is to be steadfast and immovable in faith alone. So confident in our hope that we are consumed with sharing the Gospel with others so they can win, too. Any fraction, portion or part of our life surrendered to the Lord is never wasted. We do not labor in vain when it is an act of faith and confident hope in God. Yet, we decide our efforts well-placed in working for things hoping for natural comfort rather than choosing a life of thanksgiving that leads to constant triumph. We have victory in Jesus, how do we secure it?
Thankfulness is a sign or symptom of faith in God. It keeps us going from victory to victory in the Lord. Thankfulness is subject to the hope we have in Him, not our natural circumstances. This is how it guards our heart and mind when God’s Way is a little longer than anticipated or takes a little more staying power called endurance. It is that our hope is secure, we are able to remain steadfast and immovable until victory is evident and the win secured.
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NKJV)
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
Whatever grows in our heart, will release a fragrance in our life. If we allow bitterness to grow into discontentment and dissatisfaction because God does not move quickly enough or do it our way, it gives us a certain stink in our life. Others are driven away by it. The Lord cannot come close to us in such a state. We must yank bitterness, discontentment and dissatisfaction out by the root, planting faith that blossoms into confident hope which releases thanksgiving from our mouth. It is the aroma given off by a heart filled with faith and confidence in the Lord. It is the very thing that guards our heart and mind until fulfillment arrives. Our thankfulness is the fragrance of faith and confident hope that draws the Lord closer in our wait times. It is the comfort and peace that we need to make it across the finish line of faith to claim victory forever. Thanksgiving before He comes is like a burning incense on the altar that draws the Lord closer as it is written in the smoke – “I trust you Lord!” Thanking God in triumph is not a sacrifice. Thanking God in the trenches is.
2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (NKJV)
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
I believed and therefore I spoke. What is your confession over your life today? Are you thankful for Jesus today? Do you believe Him at His Word? When Lazarus died, Martha met Jesus on the road. She told Him, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give it to you.” Good one, Martha. But she was not telling the truth, she didn’t believe it. When Jesus told her, “your brother will rise again”, Martha quickly brushed it off to the day at the last day. See we all do that. When the Lord has a way other than our own, or decides a little more time is needed, we chalk it up to Heaven and decide to do our own thing. Later, when Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus fully intending to keep His Word that day, Martha protested that his body would stink too much. Our words hold power. They can facilitate God’s Power in our life or keep it stopped up dead in the tomb, what is your choice today? Will the dead dreams and buried expectations be brought to life by faith in God and confidence in His Word and Power? Or will you leave them scattered around like dry bones crying out for life again? We must learn to wrap our thoughts, fill our heart and release from our mouths confidence in God beginning with thanksgiving to keep ourselves open to the impossible and supernatural intervention of Jesus and His Spirit on our behalf. Do not react to God based on the temporary but respond to the Lord based on Who He is. (16-18) Thankfulness in Jesus Name has the same power that brought Jesus from the grave.
2 Corinthians 9:8-11 (NKJV)
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
Thanksgiving is like a seed sown in faith. When the farmer plants it, he hopes it will grow. He invests his resources, time and energy into cultivating it not knowing if it will become a harvest, yet he plants it just the same. I believe that God gives seed to the sower. Whatever you decide to plant and cultivate to the Glory of God has the potential to deliver in your life. When we make thanksgiving that seed, God gives us more because He gives seed to the sower. What produces more thankfulness? Results. When we plant thanksgiving by faith and hope in God it cannot and will not lead to disappointment. We wake up with even more to be thankful for. We begin to see our life through God’s Eyes and not our own. Suddenly all those “things” we took for granted, begin to add up. This process of cultivation will produce a harvest of victory and triumph in our life. It will require seasons. It will activate some rain and maybe a storm or two. It may get a little rough on the climb and dark in the valley but those who choose to continue will produce a harvest of blessing uncontainable that will pour out of your heart, mouth and life giving Glory to God. What is planted in thankfulness grows into triumph – of this I am convinced. When we give our thanks to God as a sacrifice, He moves a little closer and draws us in deeper. Our faith grows. Our confidence digs in and we become immovable and unshakeable in Him. Be on guard today. The only possible way to be anxious for nothing and have peace with God is to surrender your life in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. This is the sacrifice that will produce fulfillment in our life. I think I will try it today. Rather than complaining, I will give Him thanks. Instead of grumbling, I will be gracious before my God. Rather than giving up, I will press in. I will monitor the words of my mouth exchanging those reeking of bitterness covering them with fragrant thanksgiving. I am thankful and ready to triumph today. I will fan the flame of His Spirit today. Lord, may every word be covered in thanksgiving as I place it on the altar with my life. I want the fragrance of my life to bring You all honor and glory today and every day.
Psalm 100:3-5 (NKJV)
Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His Mercy is everlasting, and His Truth endures to all generations.