Friends in Christ are a priceless gift from God.

friend push After yesterday’s post in 1 Corinthians I was drawn to Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul often opened his letters with thanks towards the people he was addressing.  I particularly love this passage in Philippians 1:3-6.  “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” 

Paul was thankful for his Christian friends who worked alongside him in preaching, teaching, praying and witnessing.  They had been together in spreading the Good News about Christ for a long time.  They had a bond of friendship that was sealed by their love for their Savior, Christ Jesus.   Look at verse 6, Paul is saying that he knows Jesus will continue to work in their lives, no matter what.  He knows the faith they have will grow in Jesus until their death or Christ returns.

The friends I have that are believers are bonded to me in a very special way.  No matter how long we are apart, when we get together again it is like we never parted.  We share the spirit of Christ that lives within us.   I am so thankful for the  brothers and sisters I have in Christ that work alongside me in ministry.  I know that the good work that Christ is doing in their lives and mine- molding and shaping us to be more and more like Jesus will continue into eternity.

Phil 1 3Do you have special friends that come along side you and support you day in and day out?  If so, let them know how you appreciate them this week.  Send an email, call, send a card or go for a visit and tell them how much they mean to you.  Give thanks this week for friends and pray for them.

Eternally thankful for friends,

Linda

Are you Living Thankful in light of Christ’s return?

1 corinthians 1 4As Paul begins his first letter to the Corinthian church, he introduces himself and then proceeds to tell them why he is thankful for them and their faithful witness for Jesus.  Walk with me through 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 and put yourself in the place of a receiving Corinthian believer and see what Paul is saying to you too.

 “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.  Have you thought about the gifts God has given you in Christ?  Who would give thanks for your serving them with your gifts of encouragement, love, peacemaking, hope, and joy? Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.  Okay, how active are you in your church?  Do you go there with the intent of serving the body of Christ?   This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Knowing you have faith and gifts from God, are you serving with anticipation of His return?    He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Through faith in Jesus we have all we will need to keep a steady course and await His return, are you living like He could come today?  Are you doing things (praying, studying, worshiping) to keep you strong in your faith?

I thank God for Paul’s ministry, sacrifice and love for others that spills over to me generations later.  He was committed and totally living in anticipation of Christ’s return.  He wanted to encourage others to follow Christ completely knowing that Jesus equips every believer to complete the tasks He has prepared for their lives.  How are you doing in giving thanks for your fellow Christians that serve alongside you at your church, workplace, or neighborhood ?   Are you using your God given gifts to support the body of Christ and live a life filled with thanksgiving and praise?

thanks servingMay this November be a time of renewal and praise for you as you consider Christ and all He has done and given you to keep you strong for Him.  May it overflow to others daily as you give thanks and serve Him.

Linda

No God, No Thanks = useless thinking

What are the effects of not acknowledging God and being thankful?  As I pondered that thought I was led to Romans 1:19-22For what can be known about God is plain Romans-1-20to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”  Paul is explaining that all people know about God because they see His power in nature, and the creation that is all around them.  He says they have no excuse for not knowing there is a God.  Creation is too magnificent to have happened by chance and the power of the wind, rain, sun and seasons are so orderly and precise they could not have been by happen-chance.  Paul continues, 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”    Paul is saying that when people continue to not acknowledge God they become futile, ineffective, useless in their thinking and their hearts turn away from God with dark and foolish thoughts of pride, contempt, greed, and gain. The center of their life’s focus is on them and what they can get or achieve.  

Francis schafferPaul was talking about people who did not believe in God, who refused to believe He exists and how it effects their thinking and future.  However, part of this lesson could be applied to the one who takes credit for all the good things in their life, their success at work, having a great family or home, having money in the bank and being able to take great vacations.  All of those things come to us from God.  He is the source of all wealth and honor and the glory, praise belongs to Him.  I need to call myself up short if I begin to go down that road with that kind of futile thinking as it leads to dishonoring God.

Today as you consider all you have- thank God for those things, for the ability to do the things you do, for your health and family, your job, your home and most especially your faith in Jesus…. Philippians 4:19 is one philip 4 19of my favorite promises and reminds me who the provider of all is. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Linda

Who are you telling about God?

Psalm 107 1Psalm 107:1-2  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble

Is this a scripture that describes you?  Do you give thanks for His goodness and love for you?   Do you tell others how good God is?   This psalm reminds us that because God is good and loves us unconditionally, we should be shouting His praise and thanksgiving.  Because of God’s goodness and love, that we do not deserve and did nothing to earn, we should be overcome with gratefulness and proclaiming the goodness and love of God to all who will hear.

say soMake today one of proclamation and tell others about your good and loving God.  He will hear you and be pleased by your faith and glorified in your testimony.

Linda 

What Stops You from Giving Thanks?

Daniel was an upright believer in God who was in a position of power in Babylon.  His adversaries hated him and sought to discredit him.   They tried but could find nothing to hold against him.  So, they got the idea to ask King Darius, over the Medo-Persian Empire, to make a law that no one could pray to any other god but him for a whole month.  The king was pleased, puffed up and overtaken with pride,  so he signed a law making it unlawful, on penalty of death, to worship any god but him.  The men who hated Daniel knew Daniel prayed to the God of Israel three times a day without fail.  They were hoping that he could continue this and then they could catch him and have him put to death.

Daniel 6:10 “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”   Daniel knew of their hatred and deceit but he trusted God more.  The story continues and Daniel is called before the king for praying to his God.  The king realized his mistake but could not change the law, since once a law was signed even the king was helpless to change it.  The penalty was being cast into a den with hungry lions.  The king liked Daniel and did not want to see him killed but was powerless.  The unbelieving king did something amazing, “Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.  Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to daniel 6 21the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:16,18,19-22 

The lesson for us in this favorite Old Testament story that is that Daniel was committed to God.  He knew his God was more powerful than any earthly king,  and he would not relinquish God’s place of preeminence in his life to anyone, no matter the cost.  Daniel 6:10 said he prayed as was his custom and gave thanks.  Nothing could deter Daniel from prayer and thanksgiving.   Romans 12:12 describes Daniel’s attitude towards prayer. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

romans 12 12What about you?  What stops you from praying daily?  Our obstacles could not be any bigger than death by lions,  but we let them rob us of our prayer time and take away our opportunities to give thanks and praise Almighty God.  Will you mediate on this today and ask God to reveal to you what is taking preeminence in your life that keeps you from regular prayer?  Confess it to Him and start praying regularly with praise and thanksgiving.

Linda 

11/11 Veteran’s Day- a day to remember our patriots with Thanks!

This year I have read several novels set during WWII.  They all describe the horrors of war and the tragedies inflicted on human beings surrounding war.   On one occasion one of my high school students and I went to see the movie, They Shall Not Grow Old, which was about WWI.    It was a moving account told through the eyes of the British soldiers.  I did not realize until the ‘after talk’ by the producer that the narratives read during the scenes were actual accounts from soldiers who served in the pictured battles or areas.  That made the scenes all the more moving and real.  Although the film footage was very old and not at all what we usually experience in high definition, it was authentic and gave you a real vision of what the conditions were really like.  I did not have a true concept of what the trenches actually were.  When I saw for real the conditions, the extent and size of the trenches I was amazed.  The film was a tribute, by the producer, to honor his relatives who served during that war.

Nothing adequately describes the horrors of war and its aftermath in the mind and soul of the individual.  November 11th is set aside for the specific remembrance -the 11th month, 11th day at the 11th hour the armistice was signed ending WWI, named the war to end all wars, and yet it did not.  Scripture tells us there will we wars and rumors of wars until the end of time.  Today we remember those who served and those who died in any war or conflict with grateful hearts.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are some pictures of the beaches and cemetery at Normandy.  This was a place of great sacrifice during World War II.  Thank you to each Veteran on this Veteran’s Day for your service and the sacrifice of all those who have died to preserve our freedoms.  I am most grateful.

veteran's dayIn John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”.  These brave men and women paid the ultimate price, and they did not even know me.  I am humbled by their patriotism and sacrifice on my behalf.

Gratefully,

Linda

IMG_0824IMG_0826IMG_0816IMG_0831IMG_0830IMG_0810

 

 

Dipping into the Well of Salvation Brings Joy!

isaiah 12 4Isaiah 12 has 2 short songs of praise that lead us towards thanksgiving.  Let these songs of praise create joy and thanks over your salvation.

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be made known  in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
    for great in your  midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

 

Isaiah 12 3This psalm gives us a picture of our salvation.  God hates our sin but through the well of salvation in Jesus we are forgiven.  Being cleansed by the waters of salvation through faith in Jesus’ work on the cross,  God brings us into His comforting arms and His anger  over sin is turned away.  Having drunk deeply from the well of salvation we are compelled to shout and sing His praises with great joy!  Thank you Jesus.

May yours be a day of thanksgiving and praise to God as you meditate on His forgiveness, love and redemption in Christ.

Linda

Are you Thankful for your firm foundation in Jesus?

Ezra 3:11-13 records the reaction of the people when they succeeded in rebuilding the foundation of the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians.  God had allowed them to be deported to Babylon for 70 years to refine them and cause them to give up idolatry that had plagued them for generations.   Their reaction is genuine and heartfelt. Ezra 3 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.”    The weeping was joyous but  also many lamented the glory of Temple Solomon had built that was gone.  

These verses about their rejoicing over the temple’s foundation reminded me of the foundation we have in Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith.  1 Peter 2:4-6 describes Jesus:  As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God 1 peter 2 6through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Our faith in Jesus places us in ‘God’s building’, His  spiritual house, that has a firm foundation in Jesus.  You cannot build a building without a firm foundation likewise, faith without Jesus at its base will crumble, fall and be meaningless.

Think about your foundation of faith today.  Soon you will be rejoicing over your foundation, Jesus, and praising and singing thanks to Him!

Linda

Are you thankful? For how long???

psalm 30 12You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

David described his state of thanksgiving as being eternal in Psalm 30:11-12 .  Why was he going to be thankful forever?  Earlier in the Psalm David said God had lifted him out of the pit, saved him from his enemies, healed him physically and spiritually, had shown him forgiveness and favor.  David had experienced God’s forgiveness as he mourned Romans 4 8over his sins.   In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32  ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”  Experiencing God’s forgiveness, seeing that God had covered his sins and that his sins would never be used against him in judgement made David eternally thankful and filled him with joy.

What about you?  Have you experienced God’s hand lifting you out of despair or trouble, has He rescued you from your enemies or from a really bad situation?  Has God touched you physically or spiritually to heal you?  Have you been given favor by God in blessings you did not expect and in no way deserved?  God had shown himself faithful to David,  and David recognized this.  His responds was eternal thanks that was filled with joy.  What is your response to God’s grace and forgiveness in your life?

GraceandGratitudeBegin today to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving that is based on God’s grace and forgiveness.  You will experience joy from now to eternity.

Linda

Focus on Heart Health with Thankfulness

Many of our prayers are sent heavenward for good health.  John begins his third letter like this:  “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John :2   Scripture often refers to the health our souls and not necessarily our bodies.  Jesus spoke about this in His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:22 ““The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”   Perhaps we have our focus wrong when praying for others.  Not only should we pray for healing of the body but be concerned about the health of the soul.  James tells us that we should pray for health by getting involved with the sick person. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:14-16   Verse 16 encourages us to rid ourselves of sin through confession and pray for each other so that we may be healed.  Healing here is both in body and soul.  Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine,  but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Points us to the state of one’s heart and soul as the source of good health.

My thoughts on praying for health and well being of others needs to be adjusted.  When I pray for good health, or return to health for someone I should also be praying for the state of their relationship to God, their soul.  If we want healthy souls, we have to have the light of Jesus in our hearts as that will bring permanent light and healing to our bodies.  As James admonished we should pray for each other when sick but also check in with their spiritual health too.  Having a healthy soul is more important than having a healthy body.   As Proverbs says, a cheer heart attitude is good medicine and enlightens our soul, but a discouraged, depressed heart is crushing. Pray for one another that we may be heart healthy in both body and soul. 

cheerful heartGive thanks for your good health today as you look at your heart.  If you see the light of Jesus in your heart, you are well and blessed!

Linda