Tuesday, November 22, 2011

People of Thanks-Giving

This is the time of year intended to slow us down and give us opportunity to share with one another what we are thankful for. And that “giving of thanks” really ought to be given to the One from whom all blessings come: the Lord God. But, as with any holiday, Thanksgiving can become invaded by housecleaning, hors d'oeuvres, and hosting hungry people! Instead of truly making it a day of giving thanks to God, we say a brief prayer and then proceed to fill ourselves with turkey, converse about anything but thankfulness to God, sit on the sofa feeling a bit bloated, and take a nap or watch football. At least this has been my experience in the past. It grieves my heart! Of all people, those who have found salvation in Jesus Christ should be most thankful, and here we have an opportunity to openly give thanks to God.
In my study of Isaiah, I read chapter 12 today. How very timely, just two days before Thanksgiving (as you will see). While the context refers to how the remnant of Israel will respond when God gathers them together, I was excited to see how this short chapter has great application for believers! Will you read through this seemingly lengthy blog so I can share with you what I learned from this chapter? I hope that you will be as blessed as I was, and ready to be a person of thanks-giving this week...and the rest of our lives.
Isaiah 12: 
“Then you will say on that day, ‘I will give thanks to You, O Lord; for although you were angry with my, Your anger is turned away, and you comfort me”’ (v. 1).
  • Believers could say the same thing. The moment a person repents of sin and trusts Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, God’s anger is turned away. He moves from the position of Judge to Father (John 1:12; 3:16-18; Romans 8:15-17). What an awesome, awesome truth. Have you given thanks to God for this? Can you? Or do you need to come to Him through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ? 
“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation” (vv. 2-3).
  • Jesus Christ is our salvation. Those who trust in Him need not be afraid! “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). 
  • The blessings of being "in Christ" overflow (see John 7:38). Jesus is the Living Water. He satiates our deepest thirst so we will never be thirsty again, never again seek satisfaction in broken cisterns that cannot hold water (see Jeremiah 2:13).
“And in that day, you will say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted’” (v. 4).
  • Believers in Jesus have so much to give thanks for! As you study the Bible, make it a point to look for things that you can give thanks to God for. If you are in Christ, the blessings abound! (If you are not familiar with the blessings of being “in Christ,” read Ephesians. Make a list of all of the things you can be thankful for.)
  • We also have the privilege to call upon His name and know that He hears and answers us according to His will.
  • We ought to make it known to others the “deeds” God has done: what He has done in, for, and through us. Talk about it this Thanksgiving; don’t hold back. Help them so see that His name is exalted -- lofty, esteemed, worthy of praise!
“Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; let this be known throughout the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (vv. 5-6).
  • Praise Him with singing and music. Proclaim the excellent things He has done, from the creation of the world to making you a new creation in Christ. We should be so humbled and thrilled by what He has done in, through, and for us that we cannot keep quiet about it.
  • And where is the Holy One dwelling today? Within believers! He is always in our midst (see Ezekiel 36:27; 1 Corinthians 6:19).
Now, what do you have to be thankful for? If I have any readers out there in cyberspace (and I hope I do!) please post a comment and share at least one thing you are thankful for. (Even if you are reading this in the spring time, I want to hear from you!) 
As we enjoy our Thanksgiving meal with friends and/or family, or even quietly alone, let us all make it a point to give thanks to the one to Whom it is due.
His Blessings Abound!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Are You Building or Demolishing?

“The wise woman builds up her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1
One of the ways that we can be either building up our homes, or tearing them down with our very own hands is in the way we relate to our husbands. (Of course, our children apply to this as well, but the husband-wife relationship is on my heart lately.)
Are you (and I!) striving to build up our homes by building up our husbands? Consider your words, your attitude, your actions toward the man God has given to you.
  • What kind of words proceed from your mouth more often: those that edify him and build him up, or critical words that tear him down? (see Ephesians 4:29)
  • What kind of attitude do you express most often: one of disrespect and disdain, or one of humility, gratitude, and lovingkindness? (see Ephesians 5:20-22; Philippians 2:5-8)
  • What actions do you demonstrate to your husband: are you self-focused or do you intentionally look for practical, meaningful ways in which you can show your love to him and put him first? (see Philippians 2:3-4)
I admit to you that my natural tendency is to be the critical, fault-finding wife. But the truth is that each moment I choose to live that way, I tear down my own home, piece-by-piece, with my very own hands. I cannot shift the blame to my husband. 
What about you? Are you making choices that will build up your home, or tear it down?
 If you are married, I urge you to ask the Lord: “Am I making a focused effort to build up my house, or am I somehow tearing it down with my own hands?” You can even go a step further and ask your husband this question (gasp!), or a close friend who sees you interact with your husband on a regular basis. 
As God shows you and I where we are guilty of tearing down our husbands (and therefore our homes), by the grace of God, let’s determine to do it no more. Instead, take those very areas and replace the sin with specific effort to build our husbands up. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, then you have the power to please the Lord: the Holy Spirit living in you. Tap into that power! “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh...if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:16, 26).
Blessings as you build up your home,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tell of His Wonders

If someone were to ask you, “What is God teaching you lately?” how would you respond? Would you take offense to such a question, or would you welcome the opportunity to share what God is doing in your life? Would you even have anything to share?

I have had just a handful of friends who faithfully ask me that question. Such friends are true gems! They ask me and genuinely want to hear what I am learning, and they willingly share with me as well. Do you have such a friend? Are you such a friend? Maybe it’s time to start asking that question of others, and being willing to share as well.
The question challenges us, don’t you think? Certainly, it may catch us off-guard at first, but then we have to pause and really ask ourselves, “What is God teaching me? Am I learning anything from Him?” In order for Him to teach us, we have to be teachable; we need a spirit of humility before the Lord, a heart open to Him and sensitive to the Spirit as He reveals sin in our lives (sometimes in painful ways!). We also need an attitude of meekness so we can talk about what He is doing in a way that does not come across as pious or prideful. 
If you are a child of God, you can be sure that He is always in the process of teaching you -- about Himself, about your relationship to Him and others, you name it (see for example Psalm 86:11; 119:33-40; 2 Tim 3:16-17). There is always something to share with others. If only we are willing. Are you?

If you do not think that God is teaching you anything right now, then join the psalmist and ask Him to teach you what He wants you to learn -- about Himself, His character, His will, etc. Then dig into His Word and be prepared, because this is a prayer He is certain to answer!
“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” (Psalm 9:1)

Share His Blesssings!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who's Your Elmo?

I’m hoping the title to this post will provoke some curiosity. I know I talk about my kids a lot -- especially my 4-1/2 year-old, Eliana -- but who knew I could learn so much from a child? Today, in response to the question, “Don’t you think Elmo is a little annoying sometimes?” Eliana said simply, “No. He’s just the way God made him.”
Now, it’s true that I have to teach my daughter the difference between puppets and humans, but that’s not the point I want to make.
What kind of a difference would it make if we had Eliana’s point of view toward people we know? people we work with? people we come into contact with? 

Of course, I am not referring to tolerating sinful lifestyles and choices (we need to speak the truth in love! see Ephesians 4:15), but sometimes people with personalities that differ from our own can rub us the wrong way. Let it go no further. Remember we are all uniquely created by God for His purposes and His pleasure. Let’s try to appreciate the differences of others instead of being aggravated by them. 
After all, “He’s just the way God made him”...or her!
Blessings, my friend,