As I end this month long journey of thankfulness, I am more content and satisfied with my present circumstances because of all of the wonderful promises and truths we’ve seen. My final choice this last day of November 2020, which has been a particularly difficult year world over, is Philippians 4:6-7. I like the Amplified translation as it makes it very clear, 6 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. 7 And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
This promise of not needing to worry about anything is very reassuring. To really believe this, one must believe God exists and is Sovereign over all things in His creation. God is in control and I need to pray specifically about my concerns and needs and leave it to God. Worry or anxiety is human but is not what God wants for us. He wants us trusting in Him, releasing our worries to Him and living with His peace in our hearts. His peace for our mind, body and soul comes from and through Christ Jesus. He promises to guard our hearts and minds and give us a transcending peace. All this comes as we commit ourselves to being thankful in all things and believing in faith that God has things handled.
May the thankful promises of November carry you into December so you can rejoice in the Advent season. The reason for our thankfulness is found in Christ!
Matthew 21: 20-22 is the setting for today’s promise that will lead us to greater thanks. Jesus was hungry and on the road with his disciples. He went up to a fig tree and it had no figs. Jesus cursed the tree and it immediately withered. This provided a teachable moment for Jesus. When the disciples questioned him, he was able to explain to them the power of faith and answered prayer.
When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
So is Jesus saying, I can pray for anything in faith and it will be given to me? Not at all! Jesus wants us to know the power of prayer and faith together can, through Him, can accomplish anything. If that is true, why don’t I have all the things I want or desire? I can just pray for them. James gives us the reason this is not possible. 2 “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ” James 4:2-3 God knows our hearts and sees what our real motives are for asking. Yes, faith and prayer can overcome but our heart attitude needs to be right with God and aligned to His purposes. Perhaps, you feel that you asked with the right heart attitude and were praying for God’s will to be done. Don’t lose heart. Remember our timing is not God’s timing and you may still have to wait longer for your prayers to be answered.
I find this encouraging. God knows the desires of my heart and I need only tell Him. I need to trust Him to bring it about if it is in His will, in His time and in His way so that He is glorified and I am uplifted in faith. Faith and prayer can accomplish great things in and through Christ. Pray fervently and have faith trusting God for the answer whether it is yes, no or wait. Walking in faith is difficult but always produces godly results and brings thankfulness.
I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’. It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’. It began as a term used to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians. It then became a day term retailers used to signify when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased. In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me. His death on that darkest day brought the greatest profit for us. John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen. “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath. Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they hurried to get Jesus down from the cross, buried and settled in a borrowed tomb. Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste. After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday. “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” Mark 16:1 Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as they learned of Jesus’ resurrection and his defeat of sin and death. An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” What joyous news they had to share!
That blackest Friday brought death and burial to Jesus but brought the greatest profit to you and me. Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history. Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven. We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God and that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin. That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.
During these COVID times you may not be venturing out physically but think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ. Praise Him and Give thanks for His sacrifice that brings the greatest gains-salvation, eternal life, His indwelling Holy Spirit, heaven, godly character, a relationship with God, resistance to temptation, purpose in life…..- to you and me!
Are you in a hard spot this Thanksgiving Day? The prophet Habakkuk gives us words for difficult circumstances that bring hope and thanksgiving to our lips, no matter what.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19
The situations that are described in verse 17 are about as bad as it could get for an ancient agrarian society. Famine, crop failure, animals dying, no oil for lamps or cooking or wine for pressing and barren fields would mean complete destruction of life as they knew it. What devastating circumstances are you experiencing- loss of job, illness, Covid-19, death of a loved one, aloneness this Thanksgiving? Then Habakkuk’s words of hope and resolve in verse 18 and 19 are meant for you today.
Realign your thinking and focus on the goodness and provision of God. He alone is to be the source of our joy and strength and He is eternal. No devastating circumstances can remove or diminish God’s love for us. We are saved through faith in Jesus and salvation is a permanent state of being. Through God we can have the strength to endure hardships both physical and emotional. By concentrating and relying upon His strength, we can and will endure. My go to verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9 ” “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God gives me exactly what I need each day to endure with and in Him.
May we live each day dependent upon God’s Grace and be filled with Thanksgiving in our hearts.
Isaiah 49:15-16 are precious verses that give us hope, belief in the permanence of God and show how much God loves us. All of these things cause me to increase my gratitude for God and His tender loving care for me. Isaiah wrote these words to the people of Israel to encourage them. God had promised to punish them as a nation with captivity is Babylon if they did not return to worshipping Him and forsake their idols. Israel did not repent and spent 70 years in captivity, and yet God was faithful and remembered them. He brought them back to Israel and they did not pursue the worship of idols again.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
Why are these verses precious to me today? Here are some truths contained in these verses. Let them penetrate into your heart and mind and let them create greater thankfulness within you.
God does not forget anything about me. verse 15
God has made me, my existence, a part of His being.(16)
Engraving is a permanent marking, therefore God’s love and care for me is eternal.(16)
God knows where I am at all times and is continually seeing to my protection and well-being. (16)
When I read these verses, I feel loved, cherished, valued and protected by the love and character of God. He is a promise keeper, and I can depend upon His faithfulness. May these truths cause you to be even more thankful today.
Psalm 34: 7-10 hold many truths about God that cause my heart to sing praises to Him with thanksgiving.
The angel of the Lord encamps God protects. around those who fear him, and delivers them. God delivers. 8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! God is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! God is our refuge. 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, God is to be revered. for those who fear him have no lack! God provides abundantly. 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; God is tireless. but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. God wants us to seek Him and promises to provide all we truly need.
Who is like God? No one or nothing can compare to the riches we have in Jesus. God is our provider, protector, a refuge in times of trouble, giver of all good things and tireless on our behalf. Do not these wonderful truths about God cause you to be thankful and want to praise and worship Him? He desires that we experience His love and goodness and have a relationship with Him.
Share your love for God with someone this season out of a heart filled with thanksgiving.
Do you have friends, neighbors and loved ones who do not have faith in God or even know of Jesus? How can that cause me to be thankful? Worried and concerned for their eternal fate is more like it. However, Isaiah 55:6-9 holds facts about God Almighty that will create thankfulness in the midst of these troubling thoughts.
Isaiah was writing a message to the future Israelites who would become captives in Babylon. He was imploring them to remember God and return to the Lord as He alone can satisfy. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;” Isaiah 55 verse 1. He continues with his call to return in verses 6-9 giving them and us profound hope and thankful hearts.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9
Why would these verses cause us to have hope, creating thankfulness in our hearts? 1- verse 7 God promises to freely forgive anyone who turns to Him and forsakes his sinning ways. 2- God promises to have mercy on them by not giving them what they deserve for their sins, but treating them with grace and love. These two things bring us hope for our loved ones and friends that do not know Jesus. We know that God is waiting and promises forgiveness and mercy towards anyone who comes to Him! God will not change His mind and decide their sins were to numerous or egregious. God is unchanging and we can depend upon Him as He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” Hebrews 13:8.
Why include verses 8-9 in this discussion as they are not part of the promise of forgiveness?Verses 8 and 9 explain to us the fact that God does not think or act like us. He is does not harbor hate, grudges, or resentments. We cannot think or act like God as it is not in our nature, but it is in His! This is something to be thankful for too. God is above us and His way of dealing with people and circumstances are not anything like ours. How many times have you seen God answer prayer in amazing, out of the box, ways! I am thankful that He my merciful, omnipotent God and that His ways and thoughts are greater than mine.
Let these promises of mercy and love for the lost fill you with hope as you continue to pray for the salvation of those you know who do not know Jesus as Savior. Let the knowledge of God’s ways being so unlike our own cause you to be thankful for Him and fill you with Hope.
Have you ever thought, I don’t have the energy, time or money to do another good thing for someone else? Or I’m used up so let God choose someone else to do this or someone else to meet this need? Today’s verses from 2 Corinthians 9:7-9 address these questions and needs and shows us how to keep our priorities straight and God focused.
Paul writes, “7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” He was mainly addressing the giving that Titus was going to be collecting when he arrived in Corinth. The churches were collecting moneys for the destitute Christians in Jerusalem. Paul knew that the Corinthians were generous but wanted to remind them of how much their giving pleased God and the benefits of giving to both the giver and receiver.
I want to focus on verse 8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” This principle of blessing when we give is applies to all things- money, time and our talents. God promises to meet all our needs from His great riches and give abundantly- not just adequately, but abundantly so we can abound, thrive and excel in doing His good works. If we look to Jesus, He will supply all our needs. That is cause for thanksgiving and celebration!! God blesses us as we give out of what we have. We don’t do His work for the blessings that will come but out of our love for Him. The blessings are a byproduct of serving Him.
Thank Him today for His blessings and the opportunities He gives to serve Him.
What is your response when someone gives you a gift? Usually people say Thank you. Have you said Thank you to Jesus for the most precious of gift He and the Father have given you? FaithHebrews 11:1 describes faith this way, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is knowing God exists and has the world now and in the future in His hands. It is the knowing in our heart, mind and soul that God is who He says He is and that He exists now and forever.
Here are some scriptures about faith to meditate on. Let them create in you greater thankfulness. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” Know that God desires all to come to Him in faith and He is waiting for those who still do not believe, or have faith in Him, to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
How did you come to faith in Jesus? How do you know for sure that He died for your sins, rose from the dead and now has His Holy Spirit indwelling you? Here is the truth, plain and simple, faith is a gift from God. We can’t make ourselves believe, work or learn to believe, nor can we ask someone else to give us their faith. Each person comes to Faith by answering God’s call upon their life by accepting His gift of faith. He gives it to us. For this we should be eternally thankful. The gift of faith is special and shows God’s love and favor towards us.
Thank God for your gift of faith. It is so easy to take it for granted or wrongly assume it is because of something I have done for God. No, it is a gift pure and simple. Let God know how much you love and appreciate His gift of faith.
How do you know things will turn out okay in the end? When the world seems to be falling apart around you and circumstances seem overly dark, where is your hope and peace? Jesus knew his disciples finally had faith in Him as the Son of God, but He also knew hard times were coming that would challenge their new faith and cause them to doubt and succumb to worry. He spoke these words in the Upper Room where the Last Supper was held and His arrest and death were imminent. John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
God knows about the pandemic, the economic troubles, our election conflicts, power struggles in our government, sickness, death and our own individual problems. As Jesus pointed out, In this world you will have trouble. That is guaranteed by the nature of our sin-filled world. However, He promises us HOPE and PEACE! Jesus says He is greater than anything we can or will face as He has overcome the world. He will be the victor and we will be with Him in victory by holding fast to our faith and trusting in Him. Jesus said that ‘in me’ you will find the peace you need to sustain you now and in hard times to come.
I find this verse encouraging as it tells me I do not need to worry about the temporal things of life as God is sovereign and He will overcome all. The peace I have in Jesus creates in me a great sense of thankfulness and hope as I face each day and look into the future.
May you know His peace today and give Him thanks and praise!