Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful In All Things


"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God." Philippians 4:5-6

At many Thanksgiving tables words and prayers of thanks will be uttered. Our words and prayers are almost always for the many good things God has given us and blessed us with. Abundant food, health, a warm home, children and many other blessings.

It's easy to be thankful when we have all we think we need and the ride of life seems smooth. Often it is in those times that we thank God for all He has given us and done for us or even whisper a half hearted prayer of thanks to God. It is easy to be thankful when things are going our way.

When things are tough and we don't understand a trial we are going through, we often become anxious. The anxiety of the unknown (to us) outcome overwhelms us. The opposite of true thanksgiving is anxiety. Our attachment to the outcome is greater at that time than our attachment to God. Instead of hanging on to God and a quiet heart filled with His peace, we hang on to the outcome of the situation being exactly as we would like. Any other possibility fills our hearts with angst. 

The future is a place God already is because He stands outside of time. It's in His control. He clothes the flowers in beauty; all the more we are cared for.  “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Matthew 6:28-30

Letting go of the bondage of anxiety in all things releases us to live in God's peace. God doesn't want us to lose sleep and make ourselves sick with worry. He wants us to live in His peace! This doesn't mean we don't feel sorrow or stress but that we feel a deep calm in the heart that comes from a deeper trust in God. Giving thanks to God in death, in life, in sickness, in health, in abundance and in poverty is what God wants of us. Our thanks, our grateful hearts.

Paul tells us: "What you have learned and received and heard in me---practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9) Paul is clear that it takes practice to achieve this peace. We must dwell on God's truth and keep that at the forefront of our minds. Like strengthening a muscle takes lots of exercise, spiritual strength to beat anxiety takes practice. We can't let the lies of our minds and emotions run wild. We can't walk in the lie of anxiety. Anxiety is just that--- a great, big lie.  "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused." Romans 1:21

God is not a God of chaos and anxiety.  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7  Anxiety is not from God and it is a weapon used against us to distract from and never know His peace. We have to fix our minds on God's truth and dwell on it. Dwelling on the unknown, the lies, the what if's is putting the outcome under our control and not God's. Knowing that God holds us in the palm of His hand, that He is the author of time, that this life is temporary and He is in control---what is there to be anxious about?

Before Jesus went to the cross, what did He do? “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24  Just hours away from a painful death---Jesus gave thanks! We have so much to be thankful for, but not only in material wealth. God loved us so much, that Jesus died for our sins so that we may have eternal life. If we do not have all we need this Thanksgiving, or we are facing the worst trial, let us remember that we have ALL we need in Christ, and give thanks.

May we be known by our peace and not our anxiety. 

“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.” -Ann Voskamp 

 Prayer: "Lord, it is so hard in this world's trials to find your peace. I am marked by my fear of the unknown and not turning it over to you who knows. Show me the miracle, the treasure of your peace. Make it wash over me and help me to practice and learn until your peace is what I live in. Mark me with your peace Lord. Amen." 

Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, Charis.  But, it also hold the derivative, the Greek word, chara, meaning ‘joy’… A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.  A threefold cord that might hold a life?  Offer a way up into the fullest life?  Grace, thanksgiving, joy, Eucharisteo.  A Greek word… that might make meaning of everything?” Ann Voskamp ("One Thousand Gifts")

The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air." Isaiah 51:3 

"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." John 6:11 

They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:12

"This is the testimony of all the good books, sermons, hymns, and memoirs I read- that God's ways are infinitely perfect; that we are to love Him for what He is and therefore equally as much when He afflicts as when He prospers us; that there is no real happiness but in doing and suffering His will; and that this life is but a scene of probation through which we pass to the real life above." Elizabeth Prentiss, "Stepping Heavenward"


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