Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

Am I Thankful?
I Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Well, Thanksgiving is over, did your gratitude last beyond your afternoon nap and football games? For many, that’s the extent of their Thanksgiving holiday. Too often and too quickly, people resort back to being ingrates after Thanksgiving Day is over. After the turkey has been eaten and the leftovers warned up for the last time, the spirit of ingratitude can begin to raise it’s ugly head. But God wills us to be thankful all the time and in all things.
In everything carries an unlimited demand. It refers to everything that occurs in your life. You are to demonstrate and express thanks for everything no matter the circumstance or trial that may come into your life. God commands you to find reasons for thanking Him always. I don’t know about you but there have been times when I have failed so miserably in this area of my life. So, if you’re saved, living for God and loving Him with all your heart, you have one thing left to do in order to follow God’s will—be thankful. It is a command. If you’re not obeying that command, you’re not following God’s will for your life. If being thankful doesn’t come easy for you, neither will finding God’s will. If you struggle with being thankful, you’ll struggle with following God’s will for your life. Here are a few reasons why God wills you to be thankful. 
The greatest act of worship you can offer to God is to be thankful to Him for all He has done for you. This is the height of worship because through gratitude, we uphold God as the ultimate source of both trial and blessing—and acknowledge our acceptance of both in humility. With a  humble heart you can say in the midst of anything, “God be praised.” That kind of attitude looks beyond the circumstance, through the tears of pain to the plan of God. Those who are thankful see the providential hand of God everywhere and say, “God, I thank You for the peaceful times as well as times of extreme heart ache—a difficult marriage, loss of a job, or severe illness—because I know You will use difficult things for my good and Your glory.”
Man’s pride fails to honor and glorify God as Creator, and in so doing he also refuses to thank Him for His gracious provisions. Ingratitude reveals a heart that is unthankful, and both sins bring about God’s judgment.  God is the source of every good thing that men possess and He is good to all, the just and unjust alike. The natural man refuses to thank God because he would have to acknowledge his obligation to worship Him for who He truly is––God Almighty, EL SHADDAI.
Thought: God’s will for you is to be thankful in all things, the ultimate expression of a grateful heart. Thanklessness can permeate throughout a church, a marriage, a family and a home and destroy it. So, cultivate a heart of gratitude and be thankful for all things in all circumstances because this is the will of God for you.  Are you thankful?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Where is Thy God? 
Despondency and Depression are Tumultuous Emotions

Psalm 42
To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.f  Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.  I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
There is a conflict that runs between our faith (spiritual realities) and sight (our human emotions). As we read Psalm 42, notice the psalmist struggling with some depression and the feeling of isolation from God. These feelings of isolation may have come from an absence of fellowship or discouragement from other believers, godly friends, or by relentless darts thrown at him by unbelievers. Whatever the cause, the feelings are real and recorded for our benefit. 
Spiritual reality says: “My soul panteth after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.” Emotion says: “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” The Psalmist feels it is important to be honest with God about his doubts and struggles with a heavy out-pouring from his heart.. The writer is responding to the oceans of trials in which he seems to be drowning in and alleges that God is ultimately responsible for each turmoil.
Some have assigned David to this psalm with his heart longing for the worship he knew in Jerusalem. He has left his home, the throne on which he ruled and now is fleeing from his son, Absalom in great despair. Eating nothing because of his extreme grief and the bitter words expressed, his heart is overwhelmed. Others look at this psalm as though it were written for King Hezekiah during his debilitating and life threatening disease. Hezekiah’s illness fits the various moods and crying out of one’s innermost soul. The horror and fear of death had a grip upon his soul. 
Thought:  Have you wrestled with the emotions expressed in this psalm? Has your soul been “cast down,” within you? Are you facing challenges at this time and need to see the hand of God working in your life? Psalm 42 reveals the character of God and ways He will help you “walk by faith,” when you are downcast and depressed.
~ Seek for God, the living God. ELOHIM: The Strong Creator. (Verse 2)
~ Hope in God and again praise Him for who He is.  JEHOVAH-EL ROI: The God who sees. (Verse 5)
~ Trust in God and He will command His lovingkindness to be upon you. JEHOVAH-ROHI: The Lord My Shepherd. (Verse 8)
~ Sing, His song will be with you in the night. JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH: The Lord is There (God is always present with His people). (Verse 8)
~ Pray always, especially in darkness. JEHOVAH-SHALOM:  The Lord our Peace. (Verse 8)
~ Talk to yourself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul?”  Remind yourself, “Hope in God, He is your help!” JEHOVAH-JIREH: The Lord Will Provide. He is JEHOVAH-EL EMETH:  The Lord God of all Truth. (Verse 11)
~ Give thanks to God for His saving power and His mighty hand working in and through your life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Putting Off These Things

Dealing with Anger
Putting Off These Things
Proverbs 13:10
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
Colossians 3:8-10
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.   Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;   And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Colossians 3:12-15
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Anger and pride are mentioned in the same context in Scripture almost invariably. The Bible teaches us that fighting, arguing, and anger always stems from pride, a self-centeredness and that love and forgiveness stems from self-denial, a heart submissive to God’s authority, a righteous counterpart to anger.
Anger is contagious and is as much a learned habit as it is a natural human response. The more we are exposed to people that are characterized by anger, the more we will be influenced to react in the same way. Our children are not excluded from the power of impact anger will have upon their lives, therefore, we need to withdraw them from this destructive force before it becomes entrenched in their lives by habitual practice.
Anger has the capability of being extremely crippling both internally (physically) and externally if it is not resolved in a righteous way. God’s way in handling this is to put off sinful behavior and deliberately choose to put on the righteous counterpart, which in this case is love. The Lord directs us to confront problems directly and honestly, going to one another in love with the purpose of helping those who have caused hurt to see their offense.
Finally, we must act to solve our part of the problem and If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Overcoming anger is not accomplished overnight. Through prayer, Bible study and reliance upon the Holy Spirit, an ungodly temper can be overcome. We may have allowed anger to become a bad habit in our lives, but by practicing a godly response this can become a good habit in itself.
Thought: Anger and unforgiveness seem to travel together so, if you are still wanting people to know what someone has done against you, you probably have not fully forgiven them. Give to them the forgiveness that our Lord has given to you through the gift of grace lavished upon you. Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Maybe you need to offer  someone grace and promise to pray for them every day, ask for their forgiveness and grant them the same and tell them you will be their friend always. If through this trial you are not the friends you once were, you can still pray for them, love them and forgive them to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Here's My Heart....

Prove My Heart, O Lord
Psalms 17:3
Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Psalms 66:10-20
For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.  Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.  I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows, Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.  I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.  Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.  I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:  But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
“We, too, often forget that God lays our afflictions upon us; if we remembered this fact, we should more patiently submit to the pressure which now pains us. The time will come when, for every ounce of present burden, we shall receive a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
What purpose does God have in taking you through painful or difficult circumstances? How has God used affliction in your life to test and refine you? Is there fruit that has been brought forth, and will God continue to bring forth more fruit in your life?  The question we most frequently asked is, “Why, Lord?” Why has this happened to me or to my family? What good will come from this pain and suffering and how will I ever, “In every thing give thanks:” when I hurt so bad?
These are hard questions that fill our minds when experiencing tremendous loss, dashed hopes, and unfilled dreams. The humiliation of rejection by the ones we love, the dull ache of loneliness, or, the reality of failure that is one’s own fault. All of these and many more are the circumstances that contribute to anxiety and the emotional pain we suffer at various times in our lives. Sometimes we are even called upon to help carry the burdens of others experiencing devastating adversity in their lives––knowing when friends and loved ones hurt, we hurt along with them.
The psalmist is eager to share with others what God has done for him. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, (those that are saved) and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. Though pain and suffering has filled his life, he is willing to express gratitude for what God has done for him. He is trusting God in the midst of adversity.  The response the psalmist has towards God is that of praise for who He is and his confession of sin that God may hear his prayer. 
When we are going through difficult times in our lives, we are to praise God for His greatness, mercy and love and ask Him to search our hearts for any sin that may be there. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more (Psalm 119:18,34; 25:3,4; Job 34:32). We can praise God for the trials He has used to test us and praise Him for His promise to bring us through those trials to accomplish His purpose. 
Thought: Admit to God any sin that you have been holding on to in your heart and ask Him to give you a submissive heart towards Him. Pray for a heart that will openly receive whatever God brings into your life as you trust Him to strengthen you and give you a peace in the midst of life’s storms. When all looks hopeless, remember, Christ is still alive and we can bring any situation to Him, a place of power and authority, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27b).