Knocking on Heaven’s Door

In 1965 Bob Dylan wrote a song called Knocking on Heavens Door. It was later recorded by a group called Guns and Roses. I can’t say I was ever a Guns and Roses fan, but a strange thing happened this morning.  When I woke up, the chorus of that song was going through my mind. What it says repeatedly is ‘knock, knock, knockin’, on Heaven’s door.’  So when I got out of bed, I looked up the lyrics and found them to be rather dark. The song is apparently about someone in law enforcement who is dying and feels he is knocking on Heaven’s door. Yet, he talks about ‘that cold dark cloud coming down’.

When I opened my Bible study for the morning, I was amazed that my lesson for the day was about the Kingdom of Heaven. What I read in Colossians 1:13 is that God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the son he loves.” Did you see that? God has rescued us from darkness. There is no darkness when we knock on Heaven’s door and enter in.

In heaven there will only be light – there will be no darkness. We are told in Revelation 3:20 that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. The verse says, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and have dinner with him and he with me”. Then John, who wrote the Revelation, said this: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Revelation 4:1)

From this we learn that Jesus knocks on the door of our heart, and we knock on the door of Heaven. When Jesus knocks, we are to answer with faith, believing in who He is and invite Him into our lives. Then, when the time comes for us to knock on Heaven’s door before passing into eternity, there will be no darkness, and the doors will be thrown wide open for us to enter in. When we knock, Jesus opens the door.

For the Christian, the message of ‘knock, knock, knockin’, on Heaven’s door’ is not a message of death, but rather of life eternal!

Once we have opened the door of our heart when Jesus knocks, not only are we assured of eternity with Him as we knock on Heaven’s door, but we are promised an open door of response from Him on earth. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks find, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

In this passage, Jesus was teaching His disciples to be persistent in prayer for daily needs, confident that their Father in Heaven would provide whatever was best for them according to His gracious will. The same is true for believers today. After we invite Jesus in as personal Savior, He throws open doors for us that have been closed. The door opens to spiritual wisdom, opportunity, power to accomplish what He asks of us and so much more. Ask, seek, knock that we may find, receive, and know all that is needed for life and godliness.

Jesus is the Light of the World. In Him, there is no darkness at all. As believers, we have a call to action. We are to let His light shine through us to the world around us. The shield of His light dispels the darkness.

“The night is far gone, the day is at hand.

So then let us cast off the works of darkness

and put on the armor of light.”

Romans 13:12 ESV

We Are Surrounded

“But you LORD are a shield surrounding me, my glory,

and the One who lifts up my head.”

Psalm 3:3

 

As I read Psalm 3 this morning, the word that caught my attention was ‘shield’. What is a shield anyway? In Ephesians 6 we read about the armor of God which includes the shield of faith. That shield is one that we lift up for protection from the enemy rather than dragging it behind.

But Psalm 3:3 tells us that we are surrounded by a shield. That shield is God Himself. It is not one we have to lift up. It just simply is a fact. The shield is for protection and defense. This verse tells us that God is our protection and defense.

We need to know that today. We need to trust this today. God has entrusted us with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and will protect that within us. It is permanent and eternal.

But because of the decay of society by sin, there are times when we question God. We question our faith and become ensnared by the horrible things going on around us. When that happens, we don’t look like Christians. Our witness is damaged by our actions and words.

When we feel surrounded by evil and fear for our safety, we need to remember that God is everywhere present. He is our shield of protection, not just in front of us, but all around us. We are surrounded by Him! If I back away from a difficulty, He is there. If I move forward to face the circumstance, He is there. If I turn to the left or right, I will hear His voice saying, ‘this is the way – walk in it. He is there guiding, protecting, defending and speaking.

With the world in turmoil, with death and destruction taking place to terrorize us, it is hard to see God’s shield of protection sometimes. But we need to trust that it is there. We need to protect the cause of Christ by speaking and acting like Christians in spite of what social media tells us. Respond in love asking ‘what would Jesus say’. We must check the facts before speaking so we are speaking truth that benefits rather than assumed truth that harms. As believers in Christ, we simply cannot continue beating each other up with our words. Rather, we should trust the one who surrounds us to guard and protect our hearts in Christ Jesus.

When King David penned this Psalm, it was at a time when his own son was trying to kill him and take over the throne. But when others said of him, ‘there is no help for him from God’, David claimed the Lord as the shield of protection surrounding him. He claimed God as his shield and the One who lifted his head when despair and discouragement threatened to overpower him.

I believe this is a lesson we can all learn from. God will not allow us to linger in despair, but instead will lift our heads to press on knowing He is all around us to guide and protect. As we trust Him, He gives peace. It may not be what we perceive peace to be, but will be peace as God intends.

Let Freedom Ring

As we approach the 4th of July this week, known as Independence Day; it is important to recognize that this day stands for more than vacation and fireworks. However, fireworks have been part of the July 4th celebration since 1777.

July 4th in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago in 1776 on July 4 by the Continental Congress.

The second paragraph speaks of our freedom. It says, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What is freedom? Freedom is the condition of a citizen. It is exemption from punishment.

The Bible talks a lot about freedom. We find Paul speaking about a greater freedom than even national freedom.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

What he is speaking of is the freedom from the burden of the rigorous demands of the Old Testament Law as the means for gaining God’s favor. This did not represent the freedom given through Christ. In fact, this demand impeded the development of the Christian life.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free exempting us from the penalty of our sinful state.

This is explained further in Romans 7:4-6. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”

What does this mean? The Law was condemning and could not free a person on a daily basis from their sin. They had to wait, sometimes, a year for their sin to be atoned and forgiven through a priest.

But through Christ, we have access to God on a daily, moment by moment, basis. Therefore, He gives a freedom like no other. He does not condemn us in our sinful state, but rather delivers us from it.

In fact, Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery; “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She said “no one sir”. Jesus replied, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11

Freedom also addresses the state of citizenship. We are born as citizens of the country of our birth, but with freedom in Christ, our citizenship is in heaven. Phil 3:20. Once we become citizens of heaven through Christ, we are in this world, but not of it because our final resting place will be with Jesus in Heaven. And if we are citizens of Heaven, we should act like it by patterning our lives after Jesus.

And so, what is it that sets us free from this earth and all its troubles? The answer is found is John 8:31b-32. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  • What sets us free? – The truth.
  • How do we know this truth? – From the teachings of Jesus.
  • How do we know the teachings of Jesus? By reading the Bible and prayer. If you are new to the Bible, I would recommend you begin with the book of John in the New Testament.

Let’s continue with these verses in John 8:33-38.

“They answered Him, we are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

“Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

But even though we are free in Christ and have access to God through Him at any time and all the time, we are not to abuse that freedom by doing whatever we want even if it is wrong.

The thinking of ‘oh, it’s just a little white lie or spreading gossip, or rebelling against authority and saying, “but God will forgive me”, is wrong thinking. Yes, it is correct that God will forgive our sins, but to intentionally do what we know is wrong with the attitude of, but God will forgive me later, is simply wrong.

As believer’s, having experienced freedom and God’s forgiveness, it is our responsibility to live accordingly.

I Peter 2:16-17 addresses this.

“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone. Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

And so to live as free men and women does not authorize rebellion against constituted authority, but to freely obey the word of God and to live under earthly authorities. Genuine freedom is the freedom to serve God. Liberty is not permission to do as we please. We are to obey the governing of the land because it was God who ordained the system of human government.

We see that in Romans 13:1-2: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

However, the highest and first authority the believer is to follow is God Himself. If someone in your life, who you consider to be an authority figure is leading you to sin against God, you are to look to the guidance of God and follow His will and His way for your life.

Rulers exist for the benefit of society – to protect the general public by maintaining good order for the freedoms granted the citizens. Lives have been lost for this freedom. Wars have been fought. Young men and women have served this nation at great sacrifice so that you and I could be free in our nation.

It began with our founding fathers and continues today. Freedom is not easy, nor is it free. Even the freedom we have through Jesus came at a great cost – His life paid the price for our freedom from sin.

And so, as I am writing this, I am humbled. I am humbled to know that I have not had to fight for my freedom, but others have fought for me. How can I not honor them and honor God, by rebelling.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

We all know that we need healing in our land. As a nation, and as believers, we must pray for the healing of our land. We have God’s promise that He will hear, forgive and heal our land.

Corporately and individually we need to ask God’s forgiveness for the rebellion, for the violence, for the immorality, for the destruction of life and the disunity that is occurring every day in our land. It is the only answer we have for being able to keep the freedoms we have been given. It is our hope.

And so as we approach Independence Day this week, let’s all enjoy the day. Let’s have fun with friends and family. But let us not forget to let freedom ring by remembering how it came about. And let us remember to pray before we begin the day of celebration for the safety of our nation, our people and especially all those young men and women who are away from home fighting for our freedom.

Independence Day is not a day for rebelling against leaders of our land, but a day of celebrating the freedom made possible by the leaders of the land from the beginning of this nation called America.

Perspective

Putting Things in Perspective

“…should I not have compassion on Nineveh?”

Jonah 4:11

This is an excerpt from “Facing Fears, Quenching Flames”, a devotional book on overcoming fear and anger. Available on amazon.com and christianbooks.com.book

 

 

Scripture Reading: Jonah 4:1-11

“Do you have good reason to be angry?” Jonah was so angry that he wanted to die. But what God recognized in him was an outburst of anger for a surface issue that covered a deeper problem. The surface issue was a plant that had died. The real issue was Jonah’s attitude toward God over circumstances that he could not control. He was still angry that God showed mercy instead of judgment for Nineveh, but the anger he expressed was related to taking away his comfort. His attitude was so resentful and despondent that he no longer wanted to live. But what purpose does it serve to be angry at God? I think we learn from Jonah’s example that it serves no purpose other than to make us miserable.

There was a pattern of behavior in the life of Jonah that God was trying to get him to acknowledge and change. His attitude led him to a place of despair and self-pity. Jonah was trying to control God and His actions, so the results would be the way he thought they should be, rather than according to God’s character of mercy and compassion. God’s point to Jonah was the value of life. He pointed out that Jonah was angry over the death of one insignificant plant, but God was concerned with the lives of 120,000 people.

This story is a picture of how anger distorts our thinking until we have unrealistic expectations of others and of God. When those expectations are not met, emotions plunge to despair. As difficult as it may be for us, God wants us to put things in perspective. Whatever it is that has caused our anger, we may never know the why or the circumstance which caused it. And so, in order to survive this frame of mind, there are several things to do that help in getting our emotions to a place of healing.

  •   Acknowledge that God is wiser and more powerful that you are – Isaiah 40:21-27
  •   Identify the root of the anger before you become bitter – Hebrews 12:15
  •   Give your emotions and circumstances to God – Psalm 55:22, Psalm 69:19
  •   Be forgiving and merciful – Ephesians 4:32
  •   Re-join the land of the living – Matthew 22:32, 37
  •   Hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5

This book of the Bible ends in a very strange way. It just simply stops with God’s question to Jonah. Perhaps God wants us to consider this as food for thought. Perhaps He wants us to remember this question and the point that people are more important than our personal comfort and damaged pride.

And so, what we learn from this book of the Bible is that God is Sovereign, He is the God of salvation and He is compassionate. We can trust Him to do what is best even when it is not what we expected or wanted.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, Your wisdom and power are greater than anything my mind can comprehend. Please forgive my anger and take control of my emotions that I may be forgiving and merciful as You have been to me. Amen.

 

The Blank Page

It is a new year! I can’t say I am sorry to see the last one go. 2016 was filled with tension, conflict and transition for our nation, for many of our lives personally.

For myself , it was also filled with tension, illness and transition as my husband and I moved from a metropolitan area where we have lived for many decades, to a remote area by a lake.

This move meant saying goodbye to lifelong friends, our church home of 35 years and everything near and dear to us. It meant saying goodbye to teaching Bible Study that I had done for years.

When we moved in the summer, I had already committed to teach before I knew we were moving. So my sweet husband told me that if I wanted to keep that commitment for the fall, that he would drive me the five hours each week so I could complete my commitment. And that is what we did.

It happened that I was teaching from the book of 2 Timothy. This book of the Bible is the last letter the Apostle Paul wrote and the last word Timothy heard from him. So, it was very emotional for me because it was my goodbye to a class of women I had taught for many years.

For some reason in the fall semester, I used a different Bible than I had normally used. This one was new and I was not as familiar with how the books and chapters flowed on the pages. Then, in the last week of my study, as I read the last few verses of the book of 2 Timothy, I turned the page for more.

The page was blank.

As I looked at that blank page, I was overwhelmed with grief and thought, “this is what my life looks like right now. Blank. I don’t know what is ahead for me.” No sooner had I thought these things then I sensed God in my spirit saying “What looks blank to you, I have already filled. I know exactly what your future holds – trust me.”

Trust means to be confident and secure in something or someone, and as I thought about it, I remembered one of my favorite passages of scripture:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

In that moment, I had immediate peace like a weight had been lifted because I knew I could be confident in my security with Him. I began to pray “Lord, I do trust you with my life and my future and I thank you in advance for it. Because my understanding was flawed by my human nature and grief, all I saw was a blank page, but you knew what was written upon it and I am confident you have gone before me and paved a path for me.”

One month later, as I sat in my remote lakeside home, I received an unexpected invitation to speak and teach through a radio program. I was shocked! But as I prayed about accepting and spoke with a spiritual mentor, I remembered God’s promise. The page that looked blank to me, God had already filled.

And so as I begin this New Year, I am thankful. I am thankful for God who goes before us preparing the way in which we are to go. He has made all things new in this New Year. He has provided a way for me to continue teaching, even from a remote location.

If He will do something new in my life, He can surely do something new in your life. Trust Him with your present and with your future. He will make a way for you. “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 KJV

Father, what a blessing it is to know you, to trust you and feel secure in your loving arms. And as we begin this New Year, I pray for our readers and beyond, that you will teach us to love one another. That you will teach us to trust you with the blank pages of our lives. Thank you for guiding our footsteps to the places you have gone before in order to make a way for us. Amen

5 Me’s


“O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;

In your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.”

Psalm 143:1 NIV

It is the holiday season – that time of year for celebration and giving thanks for our country and God’s provision for those who landed on the shores of this great land all those years ago.

And yet, for many this Thanksgiving and holiday season, celebration is the last thing on their minds. Hearts are broken, health is in question or provision unknown. Where is the hope and help needed in these times of despair and hopelessness?

In reading a prayer of David in the Psalms, you will find five “me’s in his requests of God in chapter 143:

  • Answer me
  • Show me
  • Rescue me
  • Teach me
  • Lead me

David was overwhelmed by his situation. He was desperate for mercy and word of God’s unfailing love. Despair was trying to drag him down into a pit, but he was determined to trust God. He cried out to Him for his needs of rescue and guidance.

  • He needed a quick answer because his spirit was failing, meaning he was at his wit’s end and sinking into despair fast.
  • He needed guidance and direction for which way to go through the difficult circumstances facing him.
  • He needed to be rescued from those who were out to destroy him.
  • He needed lessons for how to know God’s will and how to do it.
  • He needed to be led on a path that was free from obstacles at every turn.

Throughout David’s prayer, he made commitments to the Lord to meditate on all the works of God and the things He had done. This is where you would remember that it is God who created you to be His very own. It is God who loves you with an everlasting love that cannot be taken away from you.

Then David surrendered his situation, made his “me” requests known and trusted God for answers, love and deliverance. There are times in our prayer life when we intercede for others, but there are times in our prayer life when it is all about “me”. When you are heartbroken and in despair it is perfectly OK for your prayer to be all about you. God wants you to be healed from your broken heart, illness, despair or whatever state has tried to drag you down. He will give you strength to endure.

This Psalm of David is short but filled with hope, encouragement and teaching for all, but especially those in seemingly hopeless situations. With Jesus, there is always hope because He is our Hope! (I Timothy 1:1)

Practice the five “me’s” in your prayers as you trust God for hope, answers and direction. He will guide you through whatever difficult situation you may find yourself experiencing. No matter what you hear, experience or who comes against you, He is with you always. He is there for you and hears the cries of your heart.

You Decide

Choices. We make them every day. Some are thought about for a long time, while others are made on the spur of the moment. There is power in a choice. The decisions we make today will impact our future and the future of others. They reflect our personal needs, desires and our very character. Our will is determined by what we think, feel and know. It is a reflection of the heart and mind. There is power in our “will”.

According to the Merriam/Webster Dictionary, “will” is described as desire, wish, choice, consent, appetite, passion, determination. Something desired: a choice or determination of having authority or power. Mental powers manifested as wishing, choosing, desiring or intending. Act according to principles. Power of control over one’s own actions or emotions.

Even though God is Sovereign, meaning He rules and controls all things, from the very beginning He has given mankind the freedom to make choices. They are a matter of our own will; what we desire, wish, determine and choose for ourselves. But He has also given clear direction for how to make right choices. The power of the will determines how you will live your life.

God places His desires for each of us in our hearts and when the time is right, He gives us the wisdom to make right choices. If there is a desire in your heart that will not go away, ask Him to show you clarity of knowing if this is of Him or simply something that you want to do. Seek Him for the answers through prayer and scripture and He will give direction. Remember, the choices you make today will impact your future.

Questions to ask when making decisions:

  1. Lord, is this Your will or simply my own desire? Jeremiah 29:11
  2. How do I move forward from this – what are the next steps? Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Will my choice impact others for good? Jeremiah 6:16
  4. Show me your way that I may walk in it. Isaiah 30:21
  5. How will I know You are speaking to me Lord? John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let now your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

When God gives the answer and direction, you will experience a sense of confidence and peace internally. You will feel confident in moving forward with your choice even when it seems impossible – even when you do not feel equipped to handle the outcome. God will never lead you to a choice that is not in keeping with His perfect plan for you. He will not lead you to go against His Word.

The first example of free will is written in Genesis 3 when the crafty serpent tempted Eve by questioning what God had told Adam in the garden. The decision she made to eat the forbidden fruit and then give to her husband changed the course of history for all mankind. Her choice didn’t just impact her life. It impacted life for all forever. That is how powerful free will is in our own lives. We have the power to change the world around us.

RIGHT Choices….lead to

RIGHT Actions…that can

IMPACT our World for

RIGHT Living.

When we make decisions without seeking the will of God in a situation, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and possible failure. But in seeking Him, we are equipped to make right choices leading to right actions that can impact our world for right living. I know I have made poor choices in my past and have not always sought the Lord in my life and decisions. But I am thankful for the lessons I have learned in my spiritual journey to “seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness” knowing all I need or want is provided as I follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is never too late to turn things around for good. Praise Him for His patience and faithfulness.

Worry Free – Part 2

Matthew 6:33 is the first verse I memorized as a new believer. As a young single, unbelieving mom, I had been a worrywart of the worst kind. My life was filled with uncertainty. But when I came to know Christ, this is a verse He used to help me overcome my fears and anxieties.

Worry is a constant state of anxiety over what has happened or may possibly happen. Its root is “to choke” and “to divide” (strangle). Worry fills you with fear, stress and thoughts of a negative nature that keep your focus divided and choke your joy.

A mind divided (worried) is one that is filled with thoughts of many different things at one time. When we are worried, we may be trying to take care of the task in front of us while our thoughts are consumed with difficulties that have nothing to do with the task at hand.

Worry can also be about something that has not happened, but that we think might happen. The “what if” of worry can choke our joy in a way that we are unable to move forward because of constant fear over an expected negative event in our lives.

We all deal with different types of circumstances that are difficult.

  • Will there be a paycheck
  • Is my job secure
  • Are my teenagers safe, are they bullied
  • Does my husband love me
  • Will my baby be healthy
  • Can I prevent disease in my body, and so many more…

And so, how do we overcome the worries of the day so we can be undivided in our hearts and minds to experience joy in the everyday of life? Perhaps Matthew 6:33 will help you as it has me.

“SEEK FIRST” – The verse begins by telling us to seek first – that is to look toward one specific thing before anything else. What are you going to look for first when difficulties cause your anxieties to escalate? What is that one thing?

“HIS KINGDOM AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS” – Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. There is a future kingdom to come, but there is also a present kingdom. It is the establishment of the rule of God through Christ in your heart. It is allowing Him to be the King and Lord of your life. When Jesus said your life is more important than food, clothing and the body, He was talking about the life you find in Him by allowing Him to be the King and Lord of your life in the present. He rules and reigns in your heart as you allow Him to by seeking Him. Therefore, when decisions are to be made or worry threatens disruption in your peace, seek Him first. He will guide you and give you peace. How do we know this?

“GIVEN TO YOU” – He has made a promise to us in the very next phrase of the verse. “all these things will be added unto you.” All what things; everything your mind is divided over. When you take your worries to Jesus in prayer, He will give you wisdom and lighten your load simply because He loves you. When you seek Him first for the answer to life’s problems and allow Him in your heart as Lord and Savior, your future is secure. There is no need to worry with a future secure in Him. Trust Him with your cares and allow Him to be in control of your life. The thing about a Kingdom is that there is a King. With a King, there are people under his care.

How do you seek Him first? Prayer is the answer. Time alone with Him in conversation and trusting Him for peace and joy. Jesus is your King and He cares for you. In Him, you can be worry-free!

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

Seeing True Thanksgiving

“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I Thessalonians 5:16 NIV

 

Last week I saw what it truly looks like to give thanks in all circumstances. We visited my niece in the physical rehab facility where she has been for many weeks following an extensive hospital stay. Her legs will not hold up her body and she was continuing to get weaker and weaker. The doctors finally diagnosed her with Gillian Barre Disease. It is a rare and unusual disease causing weakness and paralysis.

As we visited, I was amazed at her sweet and positive attitude. Just before we left, I prayed for her. Immediately following the Amen, she said; “Can I tell you something. The way I am able to cope with this is by being thankful. I just tell the Lord all day long how thankful I am for everything that happens, and I know this experience will simply strengthen my testimony for ministry.”

I was speechless. This is a young woman in her 30’s, married with three children. She has a busy life and certainly doesn’t have time for this illness. She lives in West Texas and was brought to a Dallas hospital, then transferred to Fort Worth closer to her Mother. She has been away from her young family for at least two months and is unable to walk. But she is thankful. What a testimony of faith to others she already has, beginning with her Aunt Virginia in that humble moment of sharing.

And I was not only speechless, but deeply humbled to realize how much complaining I have done in my life. I learned a very important lesson in seeing the scripture lived out in my sweet niece. When God said to be thankful in all circumstances, He knew it was not an impossibility. He did not give a task we would not be able to accomplish. Audrae is living proof of it.

Today I want to wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with an attitude of gratitude. May we all be thankful in all circumstances for that is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.

And if you would please remember Audrae in your prayers and give thanks for her testimony of faith as God does His work of healing in her life, I know she would appreciate it. I am thankful for you. Have a blessed weekend.

Virginia

For Faith and Freedom

In 1620, the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts after a difficult voyage from England. Following a winter filled with hardships, the native Indians helped the pilgrims learn how to plant corn and produce crops. At the first harvest, in November 1621, pilgrims and native Indians joined together for a meal to give thanks for the harvest. And so, we in America have followed this tradition of our forefathers in celebration each year on the day that was designated as Thanksgiving.

But have we lost sight of what we are celebrating? Do we look at it as just another holiday when we don’t have to work? The pilgrims sacrificed lives and property in order to come to this new land to have the freedom to worship and practice their Christian faith. Thanksgiving was the day to give thanks to God for His freedom and provision. This faith was passed from generation to generation, but somewhere along the way, the Christian faith has lost national momentum.

In Second Timothy, as Paul gave thanks to God for Timothy, he was thankful for the faith of that young man. He stated it was a faith that had been passed down for two generations that Paul was aware of. This faith was lived out by Timothy’s mother and grandmother before him. Paul’s personal purpose in writing the letter to Timothy was to give him encouragement for carrying on the ministry in Paul’s absence. Apparently Timothy was timid in doing so, therefore, Paul’s words were given to empower him to overcome his fear. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (II Timothy 1:7) He was thankful for Timothy. His prayer of thanksgiving was personal, powerful and affirming. Paul was pouring into the life of the next generation for the purpose of growing others in faith for generations to come.

As we approach our designated national day of Thanksgiving next week, let us remember the purpose of our forefathers’ arrival in this land. Let us be thankful for the sacrifice they made for a country of freedom and for our current day military serving to keep our country safe and free. Let us not forget the purpose of this holiday. And then, may we make our thanksgiving personal, giving thanks and encouragement for those close to us who need an extra boost of affirmation for their life’s work and calling of God as we pass along the faith of those who have gone before us. Pour into the next generation the faith made possible for us by the sacrifice of Jesus. Pour into the next generation the history of our country and the true meaning of Thanksgiving that the momentum of the Christian faith may be revived in America.

“Thank you O Lord for the freedom we have in Christ. Thank you for those who have gone before us as a testimony of faith and freedom. Amen”

“I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did,

with a clear conscience, as night and day

I constantly remember you in my prayers.”

II Timothy 1:3 NIV