Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas!

 

 

Christopher Columbus introduced St. Nicholas Day to the New World when he landed in the West Indies on December 6, 1492, and named the harbor, in honor of the patron saint of sailors, Port of St. Nicholas. Dutch Americans eventually adopted December 25 as their day of celebration, and by the end of the Civil War, St. Nicholas the Bishop was generally known in the United States as Santa Claus.

Those who read my blog posts on a regular basis know that I was born in The Netherlands. Last week on December 6th the Dutch people in the Netherlands and Belgium celebrated Christmas. The character of Santa Claus (Sinterklaas in the Dutch language), is based on St. Nicholas.

So I wanted to share you with about Saint Nicholas: who he really was and what he stands for.

The Dutch Tradition of St. Nicholas

For Dutch speaking people, St. Nicholas comes by steamship from Spain, arriving early in the month of December with lots of gifts for the children. He rides a white horse across the rooftops of all the houses to deliver the presents he’s brought. Children write letters to St. Nicholas asking for a doll or a train. But sometimes they ask for a new dad, when their own dad had passed away, or perhaps for their divorced parents to get back together.

Dutch children leave drawings and wish lists, in their shoes along with carrots or hay for St. Nick’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will reward them with small gifts. The idea is that in order to receive you must give. I remember that as a child, I always went all out in making the best drawing.

Dutch people gather to sing, eat and exchange small gifts and surprises including candies, chocolate coins and initial letters, and riddles. Gifts from “St. Nicholas” include clever rhymes that humorously highlight a person’s strengths and shortcomings. It’s all a lot of fun. But let me share with you who St. Nicholas really is.

Who is St. Nicholas?

He is a great inspiration to many people. He was a godly man who had a reputation of giving to all people, from the rich to the very poor, from those who did great deeds for others to those devastated by life’s circumstances. He was a revered example to all of us – not a jolly, fat man who got about by flying reindeer and climbed down chimneys!

Nicholas was born in Turkey in the third century and raised by Christian parents. His parents knew that he was special and considered him a gift from God. They were diligent in teaching him about God and being devoted to God. They especially taught him to be generous to the poor.

At the age of 19, Nicholas was ordained a priest. His uncle, who was a bishop, prophesied that Nicholas would lend a hand and comfort many people and that he ultimately, also would become a bishop. All of this was fulfilled in Nicholas’ lifetime.

He led a life dedicated to God. It was said that he would spend all night studying God’s Word because of his desire to encourage people and to bring comfort to their lives He was also known as a man who fasted, prayed, and stood steadfast in his faith.

His life demonstrated his Christian beliefs and values. Over time his legacy has been perverted and misrepresented by Satan: most of us don’t know about St. Nicholas, rather we know him as the myth that Santa Claus has become.

The True Gift Of Christmas

This true story of St. Nicholas is a beautiful picture of the giving that Christmas is all about, because he represents the giving heart of our Heavenly Father. The greatest gift of all is the gift of Jesus Christ given to us by God the Father. In Him we have the joy of living a heavenly life on earth.

Christmas is Christ’s Mass and means anointing celebration. So when we talk about the spirit of Christmas, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus who came to this earth as a gift from our Heavenly Father, anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. We celebrate that Jesus was among us and “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

We Are Designed To Be Givers

Jesus personifies the nature of giving by His deeds, acts and His ultimate gift of sacrificing His life. We all have been endowed with that God-given nature to give to others. This nature is more obvious in some than in others; some of us love to serve our fellow man while others are so conformed to this world that this gift is masked by selfishness and the love of mammon.

Because God created us and we were formed in His likeness, it is in our hearts, in the core of our beings to give and serve others. It doesn’t matter how distorted the world makes us, deep down on the inside of every person is an instinct to look out for the person next to us.

This is the very nature of our Heavenly Father and it is this nature that He placed in us. Paul told us in First Corinthians 13:4-8 that this love toward others never gives up. Love cares more for others than for itself. This love toward others is the most powerful anointing that has been placed on us and in us.

Although the world has tried to mask all of this with different images, it is a fact that this deep yearning is imprinted inside of each of us directly from the personality of God.

Just be aware that it is not the spirit of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus that compels us to bless others this Christmas season. Instead it is the very Spirit of God that inspires us to help others in their time of need or just to spread the good cheer to others around us.

Now, that’s a Merry Christmas!

 

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Jesus Has Some Questions For You

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Jesus Has Some Questions For You Jesus Has Some Questions For You

 

Jesus Has Some Questions For You

 

The story of Jesus transforming a boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fishes into a meal for 5,000 men plus women and children is well-known. In fact, it is the only story that is told in all four gospels.

Large crowds had been following Jesus, intrigued by the miracles He had performed. Out in the middle of nowhere, it was meal time and His disciples reported that the people were hungry. The account in the gospel of John includes a question-answer exchange Jesus initiated with Philip about how the crowds were to be fed. Jesus’ question to Philip tells us much about His heart toward us and how questions can help us grow. Yes, questions can be a powerful tool to point us to Jesus.

About Questions

Have you ever noticed that when someone asks you a question, you’re internally driven to answer it? At least that’s how I usually respond. And I think other people respond similarly. Granted, there are some questions that don’t take much thought. However Jesus tends to ask us simple, yet deeply thought-provoking questions that require our self-examination. Many of His questions may take our entire lives to answer.

Questions have long been a fundamental method of teaching. God must like questions, too, since there are 2,272 questions in the Old Testament and 1,022 questions in the New (KJV). For teachers or Rabbis, asking questions was a part of long-established traditions. So, it’s not surprising that Jesus frequently used questions as a way to lead the respondent to new insight. His questions will always give us insight about our relationship with Him.

The Question Jesus Asked of Philip

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’” John 6:5 (NIV). This seems like a straightforward easy-to answer question, doesn’t it? But Jesus had a lesson plan in mind and it was designed specifically for Philip.

Jesus Singled Out Philip

All the other disciples were present. Why do you think Jesus singled out Philip to ask this particular question? Bible commentaries observe Philip was from that area and would have first hand knowledge of where to acquire provisions. But Andrew and Peter were also from the same area. I think that Jesus singled out Philip to build his faith – to lead Philip into knowledge of who Jesus was. John 6:6 says “He (Jesus) asked this only to test him (Philip), for He (Jesus) already had in mind what He was going to do.” The way the word test is used here means to ascertain quality. Jesus wanted to not only determine how Philip viewed Him, but also challenge Philip to test his own perception of who Jesus was. It was a moment that Jesus had designed especially with Philip in mind.

He does the same for us. Questions may come from a Bible verse or may initiate from an inward witness of the Holy Spirit. A question that often engages me is “Simon (Peter), lovest thou me?” I can hear Jesus asking “Olga, lovest thou me?” I pause and think about the reasons I love Him. My love for Him is reinforced and I am challenged to love Him ever more deeply and completely.

Another question that causes me to think is the one Jesus posed to the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6). It’s a very simple question, yet requires deep self-examination. And I also must ask myself: Do I truly want to be made whole? But Jesus’ question to Philip was somewhat different than these: On the surface, it was totally framed in the natural.

Jesus’ Question Was Framed In the Natural

What do I mean by saying that Jesus’ question was framed in the natural? When Jesus asked “Where can we buy bread for these people to eat?” the words he used meant exactly that. There is no hidden or deeper meaning in the words themselves. Jesus asked where physical bread could be purchased with money for the people’s physical sustenance. It was not posed as a spiritual question.

And so Philip answered the question considering the natural factors: availability of such a large amount of bread and the means to pay for it. And his proposed solution would have yielded a meager portion for those in the crowd.

But natural questions don’t necessarily have natural answers. Philip was focused on the “how” of solving this problem that Jesus had posed in His question. Jesus saw the opportunity to solve this natural dilemma in a supernatural way. Jesus wanted Philip to know Him as the “Who” – the answer to every need of mankind.

“How” Versus “Who”

Jesus wanted to lead Philip to recognize Him as the Bread of Life; the Supplier; the giver of all good things. Jesus could have supplied the food, yet Philip hadn’t yet understood Jesus’ divinity. Jesus could have rained down manna, or money or any other number of things to solve the problem. He wanted Philip to discern that when Jesus is present there is no lack. He is our Provider.

I wonder what Philip made of Jesus’ question when he looked back on that incident. I would imagine that he marveled when he compared his “how” response to Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the multitude. How about you? Are you trying to workout the “how,” when the “Who” is tenderly calling you to rely on His infinite creative power to bring forth your miracle?

To Sum It Up

Jesus teaches us through questions, both throughout the scriptures and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If we’ll listen and reflect, His questions are customized to bring about deeper revelation of Who He is, which will help us grow. As Believers we have the privilege of knowing Jesus personally – we know Who He is and that covers the “how” of our circumstances.

 

 

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You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit

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You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit

 

 

You Are Being Rebuilt By The Holy Spirit

 

 

Do you want to discover the life you were born to live – to know and to carry out your life assignment? Many of us share such desires. But when we’re in the middle of adversity, vulnerable and weak from the attacks of the enemy, it’s tempting to want to give up, and go with the flow of the world. You’re not the first person to feel this way. This is exactly how a group of Jews, who lived during the prophet Nehemiah’s time, felt. Their assignment of rebuilding Jerusalem was overwhelming. They were under attack from the enemy and they wanted to give up.

The book of Nehemiah opens with Nehemiah saying to the Persian king whom he served: “They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire’” (Nehemiah 1:3). The temple was being reconstructed but there was no wall to protect the city. And no one had taken charge of the situation. But God had raised up such a helper in Nehemiah.

The Holy Spirit – Our Helper

Last Sunday, as my pastor spoke about the condition of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah, I saw similarities to the state of so many Christians today: their walls are broken down. Many feel unqualified and unequipped for the assignments God has given them. And they find themselves weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy to the point of being without hope.

Just as Nehemiah was assigned to restore the walls and gates of Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit is assigned to restore our lives. Nehemiah and the Holy Spirit share a name: Nehemiah means “Jehovah comforts” and the Holy Spirit is called “the Comforter.” Jesus told us, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, whose ministry is to restore our lives by transforming us into the very image of our heavenly Father.

When we find it difficult to deal with the challenges that will inevitably arise, we must strengthen ourselves by calling on the Holy Spirit’s help. He is always available to comfort and lead us in time of need.

Once we have been born again, we are a temple and dwelling place of the Most High God. But the walls of our soul may be broken down and our gates remain burned down, just as in the book of Nehemiah.

God has provided help. The Comforter was sent to help us build your life and transform us into God’s image of strength and stability. He has come to deliver us from our enemy and make us a beautiful city that is secure and safe. Security means to be free from worry and anxiety, free from the fear of lack, and free from sickness and disease.

Your Soul Is A Fortress

Your soul is designed to be a mighty fortress; it is the command center of your life. Your soul has three parts: your mind (intellect), your emotions (feelings) and your will (choices you make). The Holy Spirit is the only person who is able to rebuild the crushed and ruined areas of your soul. As your walls are rebuilt and your gates are set in place once more, you will find yourself less vulnerable to the attacks of Satan.

He is a defeated foe and can no longer afflict you with being vanquished by the same weakness over and over again. You are being built into a mighty city and fortress to bring glory to your King! There is much treasure to be found in the book of Nehemiah and I particularly like the metaphor it provides for the Christian life.

Nehemiah As A Metaphor

The book of Nehemiah, a true historical event, is also an apt metaphor for living the Christian life and allowing the Holy Spirit to bring restoration to those places that need to be healed and made whole. By applying the metaphor of the book of Nehemiah to our own spiritual lives we can emerge stronger and more secure in our Christian walk.

The Temple represents our hearts, where we worship and fellowship with the Father. The inner temple, our spirits, can be alive in the midst of brokenness, just as the temple stood amid the walls that had been broken from past attacks.

The city of Jerusalem represents our mind; the walls of the city represent our spiritual walls and the health of our relationship with Christ. And the gates of the city represent our eyes, ears and mouths. The walls and gates serve as protective boundaries and portals for our hearts and minds.

The inhabitants of the city represent our thoughts; our thoughts are often difficult to control, but thoughts contrary to God’s Word can be limited by guarding our gates (eyes, ears, mouths) and admitting only those things which reinforce God’s Word.

Nehemiah built the city walls and installed the gates to protect the city and the temple. We do the same by reading the Bible, praying and being doers of the Word by obeying what God tells us to do.

To Sum It Up

If you feel like it is too late for you or that your life is too messed up right now, let me tell you that God is not through with you yet. He will never give up on you. The moment you were born again, God moved into your life and made your heart His dwelling place. Your heart became His sanctuary, and He is preparing you to do great and mighty exploits. God desires us to come to a place of total wholeness in our life; this is an ongoing process which takes place through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us. Allow Him to restore your walls and rebuild your gates. May your report be as Nehemiah’s:

When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:16).

 

Wise choices will watch over you. Pro 2:11 NLT
You can subscribe to The Daily Choice which is a SPIRITUAL Devotion that helps you to make the right choices in your life!

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How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season

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How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season1 How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season

How to Enjoy a Stress Free Christmas Season

 

 

Being “stressed out” is a relatively new concept, entering contemporary usage in the late 1920′s. In many respects, the notion of being stressed is an idea promoted by modern media which tells us all the things we must do to experience perfection and then commiserates with us as we consistently fail to achieve it. In particular, the multitude of expectations surrounding the Christmas season can set us up for stress, if we don’t make conscious decisions to be “in the world but not of it.” Let’s first define stress and then move on to removing it from our lives.

What Is Stress?

According to Merriam-Webster online, stress is “the burden on one’s emotional or mental well-being created be the demands on one’s time.” Put simply, stress places demand on one’s resources that exceed the available supply of those resources; be it time, money, emotions or physical capacity. But wait. As Believers, who is our resource and who is our supply? Stress is the inevitable response when we allow ourselves to become disconnected from our Source. Let’s redirect our attention to our Supply and Source.

As A Man Thinks, So Is He

How do we know that we are stressed? Some telltale signs are worry, fear, irritation and weariness. Often we experience physical symptoms including a rush of adrenaline, and perhaps feelings of breathlessness or overwhelming fatigue. But I believe the main way that we know we are stressed is that our minds become occupied with it. We think or even say “I am so stressed out” or “I don’t know if I can take this much longer” or “How will I ever get everything done?” and so on. It doesn’t take too long for our thoughts and words to bear fruit – the unwanted fruit of stress. But there is an antidote to physical symptoms and troubling thoughts. There is a Name that is above stress.

The Name Above Stress

If you have been dwelling on the demands being placed on your finite resources, take a deep breath and focus on your infinite Supply and Source. God needs many names to describe the multitude of his perfections. Here are a few of His names that demonstrate His superiority over finite supply – which is at the root of stress.

Jehovah-Jireh

This name describes His perfection as our supply: Jehovah-Jireh means the One who sees our needs and provides for them. Do you have a need? Is your supply lacking? Then behold and meditate on Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord your supplier.

Jehovah-Rohi

Another name that describes God’s role as provider is The Lord My Shepherd. Psalm 23 tells us that we shall not want for any good or beneficial thing. Do you need more time? Fewer things to do? The Lord your Shepherd is your faithful provider.

Jehovah-Shammah

When we are in the middle of situations that outstrip our supply, we often feel that we are alone. One of Satan’s craftiest tactics is to create a sense of isolation from each other and from our Source. But God has another name that addresses our temptation to feel alone: Jehovah-Shammah. This name describes how God will never leave us nor forsake us. Psalm 139:8 states the ever-present quality of God like this: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

Jehovah-Shalom

Stress robs us of our peace. “Absence of trouble” is the world’s idea of peace. In other words, external circumstances dictate whether or not we are at peace. But God always has a better way. Jehovah’s shalom penetrates our spirit man. In the midst of trying situations, we can shape our circumstances from a position of supernatural peace that comes only from God.

There are many more names of God that speak to his desire and sufficiency to supply our every need. When feeling stressed, it’s good to remember that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

What’s Our Part In Reducing Stress?

In addition to meditating on God as our Supply, we need to ask Him for help to honestly evaluate the demands on our resources. God doesn’t honor laziness, but He also has a spirit-directed plan for how each of us use the resources He has given us – particularly time.
God has promised wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5). We can ask for and receive wisdom to know what to commit to and what not to commit to. If you are prone to overextending yourself, ask God for wisdom in this area.

Isn’t it interesting that when we are under stress, the first thing many of us skimp on is time with the Lord – BIG mistake. We must go to the Lord and seek His wisdom at the first sign of stress. Ask Him to show us His way that we may walk in it. Ask Him for discernment in requesting help from others.

To Sum It Up

Make a conscious decision to be “in the world, but not of it.” There is no family or societal tradition that is more important than loving God and honoring Him. Let this be a year that you and your family experience a Christmas season free of stress.

The most important way to reduce stress is to spend time in the presence of the Lord. Meditate on the names of God, Your Supply and Source.

Do your part to minimize stress by honestly evaluating your commitments.

 

Wise choices will watch over you. Pro 2:11 NLT
You can subscribe to The Daily Choice which is a SPIRITUAL Devotion that helps you to make the right choices in your life!

 

 

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The Most Important Asset in Prayer

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The Most Important Asset in Prayer The Most Important Asset in Prayer

The Most Important Asset in Prayer

 

It is all too human that when we do something repeatedly, it can lose its significance and meaning. Familiar acts become part of our habit and we don’t give them much thought – we just do them automatically. God’s Word instructs us to pray to the Father in the Name of Jesus. So we conclude our prayers with the phrase “In the Name of Jesus” – sometimes without truly considering what we are saying. The name Jesus has significance and is weighty with meaning. Did you ever wonder how Jesus got His name?

How Did Jesus Get His Name?

Then name of Jesus and the authority of Jesus are one and the same. Have you ever thought about that? His name represents His authority and Jesus is worthy of His name through inheritance, obedience, and resurrection.

1. Jesus was given His name and the power in His name through inheritance. (Hebrews 1:4). Jesus inherited His name, a royal name, from His Father, just as your parents named you. It was the Father’s will for the name of Jesus to be superior to any angel, human being, or demon spirit.

2. Jesus received His name and the power in it by His obedience (Philippians 2:5-11). Every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord, whether in this life or in the next, whether in heaven or in hell. The best time to do it is in this life through salvation; accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

3. Jesus proved His name and the power in it by His resurrection from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-23). The name of Jesus is more powerful than anything named. It is above sickness and disease, poverty, lack and anything else.

Understanding how Jesus received His name opens up new awareness of the One to whom we entrust our prayers. Jesus is not just a name – it is THE NAME. And it is a privilege to call on Jesus’ name – a privilege that comes from our relationship with Him.

Privilege Through Relationship

The privilege of access to the Father comes through our relationship with Jesus. When we pray in the name of Jesus, we pray in His power and authority, asking the Father to act upon our prayers because we come to Him in the name of His son, Jesus – our Savior.

Jesus states in John 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

It’s not so much the words that we speak at the end of a prayer, that make calling on His name powerful. Instead it is how our relationship with Jesus motivates us to honor and glorify Him.

However, many believe that concluding a prayer with the name of Jesus assures that God will grant what was requested. In essence, they treat the name of Jesus as if it were a magical formula.

Prayers that are contrary to God’s will neither honor, nor glorify Jesus and are meaningless. In order to pray according to God’s will we must be aware of His will. Such awareness comes from abiding in His Word.

Abide in the Word

John 15:7 clearly states that when we abide in Jesus Christ, his words abide in us. It is from this position that believers ask and receive answers to their prayers. In order to relate to the name of Jesus, we must be identified with the Word of God. This means we abide in it, dwell in it, walk in it, submit to it and make a commitment to obey all of it- not just the parts that we choose.

Abiding occurs progressively. Submit to what you now understand of the Lord. As you grow, you will be able to ever more fully submit yourself to His authority.

Submit To Authority And See Authority Released On Your Behalf

Acts 19:13-16 tells us about the seven sons of Sceva; how they heard of the miracles that took place by using the name of Jesus and wanted to try it themselves with a man who had an evil spirit.

The sons of Sceva used the right formula and they even used the right words; they believed in the name of Jesus but didn’t believe in the person of Jesus. They had not placed themselves under Jesus’ authority. To them, the name of Jesus was merely a curiosity – something to be tried and laid down.

The devil knew that the sons of Sceva didn’t have the same authority that Paul had in the name of Jesus. The Bible says that the evil spirit they were attempting to exorcise “leaped upon them, mastering two of them…” In contrast, Paul was under the authority of Jesus. Jesus’ authority released through Paul was based on Paul’s being under the authority of Jesus. Under that authority, Paul brought forth much fruit – fruit that is still productive today. We are also to be fruitful.

Bring Forth Fruit That Will Remain

In John 15:16 Jesus states “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” There is authority in His name to ask and receive from the Father. We are to bear fruit that remains because it is fruit birthed by prayer in the name of Jesus.

You and I have been given the power of attorney in Jesus’ name; we have been given authority to act for Jesus Christ by using His name. In essence, Mark 16:17-18 says, “Everything I have been doing, you will do.” You can say that we are called to carry out Jesus’ business in His name.

Through the authority of His name we can heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out devils. We are called to demonstrate His authority, which means that God will use His power to bring to pass that which we speak when we are operating in His will in accordance with His Word in the name of Jesus.

To Sum It Up

The name of Jesus is our most important asset in prayer. It is a privilege to be in relationship with Jesus and to grow ever more intimate with him through abiding in His Word. As we come to know Him better, we more fully submit to His authority, which releases the power of His authority in our prayers. With the authority of Jesus we can bring forth much fruit that will remain.

 

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Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day

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For Believers Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day

 

Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day

 

 

About seven weeks ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. Today Americans will commemorate their national day of thanks. God has much to say about giving thanks. Simply acknowledging that our Heavenly Father loves us so deeply gives us cause for gratitude – every day. Here are some things God’s Word has to say about thanksgiving. But first, what is it?

What is Thanksgiving?

Are you a little fuzzy on the distinction between thanksgiving, praise and worship? So am I. I like this definition of thanksgiving: thanking God for His goodness. (Praise is thanking God for His greatness; Worship is thanking God for His Holiness).

In the Bible the root word for thankful is the same word that is used for grace. To say thank you in the Greek language one uses the word charis. We cannot separate thankfulness from the grace of God. His goodness is manifested as grace toward us. The Bible is a record of God’s goodness to man and tells us much about the characteristics of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Is Essential – Not an Option

We are instructed in Colossians 3:17 that “whatever we do in word or deed we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” I love it when God doesn’t allow for wiggle room. This scripture clearly states that our hearts are to be ever thankful. There are no circumstances under which we are exempted from expressing our thanks. It is God’s will.

Thanksgiving Is the Will of God

First Thessalonians 5:18 states that it is the will of God for us to give thanks in everything. God created us in his image. He knows what we need to be whole and effective for destiny to which He has called us. Much research has been done in the academic world about the personal positive effects of gratitude. The research validates the perfection of the Father’s will for us – to give thanks. And thanksgiving goes beyond the words “Thank you.” It is the overflow of a grateful spirit.

Thanksgiving Is an Overflow Of Our Spirits

Jesus said that we speak out of the abundance of our hearts (Luke 6:45, Matthew 12:34). As we meditate on God’s goodness, the overflows of our thoughts come out in spoken words of thanksgiving. Ephesians 5: 18-20 describes how we are filled with the Spirit: We begin by speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns; then our hearts become filled with melody; and all of that spirit-inspired gratefulness overflows into “giving thanks for all things unto God.”

Thanksgiving Is Our Approach to God

In Bible times, God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies that was located in the innermost part of the temple and could only be entered by the High Priest. For a non-priest to come close to God’s presence, one first entered the temple gates, and then progressed to the inner courts. Psalm 100:4 describes this approach to God as “entering His gate with thanksgiving and entering His courts with praise.” Using our earlier definitions of thanksgiving and praise, we enter his gates by acknowledging His goodness and approach even closer into His courts by acknowledging His greatness. Since prayer is a way of approaching God, an expression of gratitude is part of every prayer.

Thanksgiving Is A Part of Every Prayer

The Bible teaches that two things are to be in every prayer: First, we are to pray in Jesus’ name and second, our requests are to be accompanied by giving thanks to God (Philippians 4:6). God made prayer available to us and even told us how to make our requests known to Him. It is through our thanksgiving that the supernatural power of God is released.

Thanksgiving Unlocks the Supernatural Miracle Power of God

Our prayers can become very detailed and very impassioned. In contrast, often when speaking to the Father, Jesus used very few words. The few words in these instances would not even be considered a prayer, but were rather a simple expression of thanks for what God was about to do. The power of God was released by giving thanks.

In John 6 when Jesus fed the 5,000, he didn’t pray over the meal – He thanked the Father for providing it. And that small offering of fishes and loaves were supernaturally transformed to feed everyone who was present – with twelve baskets left over!

Standing at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus performed one of the most astounding miracles without praying publically. He simply said “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” “and He that was dead (Lazarus) came forth.” Death’s hold on Lazarus was broken through Jesus’ simple expression of gratitude for God’s goodness. The supernatural power of God was made manifest by Jesus expression of gratitude.

Yet, many prayers are offered without gratitude, and worse, there are those who go through life without acknowledging God’s goodness. And if we are not thankful (if we fail or refuse to acknowledge the goodness of God), there are consequences to pay.

What Happens When We Are Not Thankful?

Romans 1:21-32 describes the consequences of not being thankful and it’s a steep, slippery slope that leads away from God. The passage outlines the decline of the human race into a most depraved state, estranged from God. And where did such a decline start? Beginning in verse 20 we are told that man can clearly see God existence and power from the created world. And despite that understanding “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful…” (verse 21).

All the consequences, debasement, defilement and separation from God are consequences that have their genesis in failure to be tanksful, to acknowledge God’s goodness.

But we are not of that breed. We are blood-bought Believers, whose lives overflow with gratitude for God’s goodness expressed so many ways through His grace toward us.

To Sum It Up

Whether you live in Canada, the US, China, Latvia, or the North Pole, don’t wait for a designated day to give thanks. Today is always the day to acknowledge and give thanks for God’s goodness.

 

 

 

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Your Marriage Is Important To God

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Your Marriage Is Important To God Your Marriage Is Important To God

Your Marriage Is Important To God

 

Is your marriage important to you? It is to God. And if it’s important to Him, it should be important to you. If that’s not the case, it would be good to change your priorities. We pay attention to those things that are important to us.

I have known my husband since he was 11 and I was 13. That is a long time to know someone and we are more in love than ever. We recently celebrated our 32nd anniversary. We are blessed with two beautiful children who love the Lord. But our current happiness was threatened at one time.

Lost And Without Hope

About 25 years ago, before we had a foundation in the Lord, our marriage was in trouble. Neither of us knew how to fix it. Suddenly, the challenges all marriages face began to snowball and we both decided to split up. We were lost and without hope, in terrible shape in every area of our lives.

My kids’ welfare was the only thing that was important to me and I decided to focus on them and not on myself. I devoted myself to giving them all the attention they needed. That was one of my best decisions at that time. Bit by bit, I began to get my thoughts together. But everything was still very, very painful.

A Strange Resemblance

After a few weeks I received a phone call from a friend who asked me to go to an Amway meeting with her. As part of the program, a couple gave a testimony about how their marriage had been restored after their decision to divorce.

As I listened to their story, I noticed how much the husband resembled my husband. It was almost if my husband were standing on the platform saying things such as “You must fight for your marriage” and “Your struggle is worth it” and “Stick with your partner and work things out.”

I had no clue that God was working in me and on behalf of our marriage. God had a miracle for me and our marriage right there in front of me. Not yet being a Christian, I didn’t recognize God’s hand in my situation. BUT…..I yielded to the goodness that was portrayed through this couple’s testimony. They told us that their miracle was possible for everyone. So, I decided that I would be that “everyone” in my situation.

I was so excited…especially since this man looked so much like my husband. I returned home where my husband was babysitting our children, filled with joy and hope. I told him what I had heard and asked him if he would like to try to make our marriage work. He said, that he had been thinking about the same thing all night. Well, isn’t that just like God?

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So, we made a mutual decision to come together again. With the help of friends, we worked through some hard places in our marriage. A few months later we were born again. It was the best day of our lives. And here we are at 32 years of marriage. Praise the Lord!

Later, my husband and I returned to one of those meetings where I had heard the life-changing testimony. I wanted to tell that couple how much their testimony had blessed us, and tell them our testimony, of course. This time, to my surprise, the husband didn’t at all resemble my husband. My perceiving him that way was part of how God worked a miracle for us. He wants to do the same for you if you will yield to His goodness. God is a good God. He loves you unconditionally. His mercy is there for you all the time. Receive it by releasing all that bitter junk that is compromising your marriage.

Six Key Ideas To Elevate the Importance of Your Marriage

If you want to begin putting the same importance on your marriage as God does, I Peter 3:1-13 provides six key ideas to make your marriage stronger and to help you grow together as husband and wife.

1. Adapt yourselves (I Peter 3:1 AMP)
The Amplified Bible translates submit as adapt yourselves to them. Submit doesn’t imply being a doormat. To adapt means to “fit and flow together.” It is a wonderful thing when a husband and wife flow together in everything that they do and in everything that they envision in their life.

2. Honor your mate
When you honor someone, you treat them as you wish to be treated. Do you wish to be treated as a king? Then treat your mate in the same manner. If you are the king, treat her like a queen. If you are the queen, treat him like a king. Your act of honoring will return honor to you.

3. Be of one mind (I Peter 3:8)
It takes effort to be of one mind (one in thought), but it is possible. We need to grow in our communication. We also need to be able to receive and give correction to one another. In order to give correction, you must be able to receive it.

4. Show compassion to one another
You need to be able to feel what your mate is going through. The KJV version tells in 1Peter 3:8 that we need to be courteous; I always appreciate it when my husband is courteous to me.

5. Do not render evil for evil
Whatever you sow, you will reap (Galatians 6:7). This is true for every area of life. Plant a seed of love when your mate is going through a difficult time, or when you’re in a situation prone to strife. Don’t join in the strife with your mate. Sow mercy and love into the situation, and you’ll see your mate change before your eyes. You will reap what you have sown, good or bad.

6. Flee evil situations
Run from the appearance of evil. If you’re in a situation that’s a temptation to you, whether it’s on the job or wherever it might be, obey the warnings your spirit gives you.

It is really important that you not only love each other, but that you appreciate each other as husband and wife

To Sum It Up

Whether your marriage is in the valley of despair (like mine was), mundane, or on the mountaintop, it’s important to pay attention and do things to nurture it.

 

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How To Gain The Proper Perspective In Your Life

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How To Gain The Proper Perspective In Your Life

 

 

Have you ever noticed that when you are worrying about a certain thing in your life, seeing someone else enjoying himself or herself can really feel annoying?

It seems that some go through life having such a good time that they appear naive and immature. People can clearly enjoy their lives and it can appear to us as if they don’t have a worry in the world. But the truth is that they have made a choice to have that attitude.

What Is Your Outlook On Life Today?

Do you wake up every morning to embrace the day? So many people allow their circumstances to dictate their lives. They don’t realize that they have been given free will to choose how they want their day to be. We can make a decision every morning to rejoice and be glad for the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24).

The Bible encourages us to constantly put on a fresh mental attitude. When we wake up in the morning we can make that first choice to focus on good things (Philippians 4:8). We can choose to be grateful for and excited about the day.

It is too easy to let our responsibilities and the pressures of life cause us to drift into negative thinking. Negative thinking weighs us down, causing us to lose our joy and enthusiasm. Before we know it, we stop appreciating our friends and family, and begin to doubt that they are for us. And soon, we may even think that the entire world is against us.

Negative thinking makes the small things seem tremendously large, until we are living in constant worry and frustration.
If that is how you feel today, take heart because your life can be different. You can take off that garment of heaviness and put on a garment of thanksgiving. You do this by making a choice to engage your will; you can choose to have a new outlook on life.

Everyone faces difficulties and huge challenges. We all have obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. The difference between those who are able to rise above their adversities and those who are mired in them is their attitude.

What Are You Thankful For?

A key to enjoying your life is finding things to be thankful for every day. Make a list. Write down all the good things in your life. Review it each day, every morning, before you leave the house. This will help you focus on the many treasures that fill your life, and it will give you a positive perspective and a grateful heart.

We all have things to be grateful for, but sometimes our perspective becomes distorted and we fail to recognize and focus on those good things.

I think we all have one or two friends who have a tendency toward a negative perspective. They are always having a bad week. Their children are always sick, they are almost always late for work and the list goes on and on.

No matter what season of life you are in, you must deal with the temptation to focus on the negative. Make no mistake, we all choose where to place our focus. Those who have the richest perspective on life choose to be happy and content with what God has given them and to trust Him in those things that are truly difficult.

Compare the Proverbs 31 Woman to Eve

The Proverbs 31 woman seemed to have it all: she was diligent, faithful, content and she ran a huge household without murmuring. She totally enjoyed her life.

Compare the Proverbs 31 woman to Eve. She was a woman who truly did have it all. She was living in the most gorgeous situation ever with the perfect man by her side. Then the day came that she chose to focus on one negative thing, which was the only fruit tree from which God had told her not to eat. She couldn’t focus on all the other fruit she was permitted to take.

The more she looked at the forbidden fruit, the larger it became in her mind. She allowed the one negative in the garden to twist her perception of the entire garden. She magnified that one forbidden thing until it was so large in her thinking that she couldn’t see anything else.

What Are You Magnifying?

When you magnify something, it doesn’t actually change the size of the object, it simply changes your perspective of the object. When you hold a pen or something in your hand and stretch your arm out in front of you, the pen seems small compared to your surroundings. But when you pull the pen in nearer to your eye, it appears much larger.

In fact, when you hold it close enough, you aren’t able to see anything else. So often in life, our difficulties and challenges seem so much larger than they actually are, simply because we are holding them closer to us than necessary. But when we have the right perspective, those same difficulties become much more manageable.

What’s the point in choosing the negative? It’s like swimming against the current – it makes everything a struggle. An improper perspective will drain your energy and vitality. It will sap the fun and joy right out of your life. Your life was meant to be enjoyed. You weren’t created to constantly struggle and be in perpetual discouragement.

I am always amazed how my perspective changes when I have a grateful heart and choose to count my blessings.

To Sum It Up

To keep the right perspective, we must magnify the right things in our lives. When I come up against challenges, I remind myself of all the great things God has done for me and will do for me. I begin to thank Him for allowing me to know Him; I thank Him for my family, my husband and my children. I thank Him for my awesome church family and my pastor.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Wise choices will watch over you. Pro 2:11 NLT
You can subscribe to The Daily Choice which is a SPIRITUAL Devotion
that helps you to make the right choices in your life!

 

 

 

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Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke Without Bitterness

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Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke Without Bitterness Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke Without Bitterness

 

 

Four Ways To Receive and Process Rebuke
Without Bitterness

 

Rebuke is a curious, yet serious, word. It’s not used much outside of church circles.

I have taken inspiration for this post from Sparkling Gems from the Greek, November 6 (www.renner.org). The author, Rick Renner, approaches this topic from the perspective of having the integrity to confront a person who has offended you. I will instead examine it from the outlook of the one who is being corrected.

Quite honestly, just thinking about being rebuked makes me want to recoil. Isn’t that what Believers are always doing to Satan? Yet, I know that at times, I offend others both knowingly and unknowingly. It’s one thing to be called out from within my family, and quite another to be confronted by a friend or stranger.

Pastor Renner’s devotional, titled Confront, Forgive and Forget, inspired me to reflect back on the last time I was personally rebuked by someone outside of my family. The Holy Spirit taught me a lot from that experience which I want to share here. It is important that I clarify that this post is not about corrective actions that fall under the category of church discipline. We will discuss Believers rebuking fellow Believers. But, first things first, let’s define the biblical meaning of rebuke.

What Does Rebuke Mean?

Perhaps the thought of being rebuked is uncomfortable because I am thinking of the dictionary definition: “to express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.” That implies a harshness that is intended to wound the person being rebuked. The biblical meaning is quite different.

Pastor Renner does a beautiful job explaining the meaning of the word rebuke found in Luke 17:3. He says, “The word “rebuke” is the Greek word epitimao, which in this case means to speak frankly, honestly, and politely as you tell a person how you feel that he has wronged you. This doesn’t mean you have to speak to him like he’s a devil; it just means you need to directly and honestly confront him.”

The underlying motivation of the first is to strike out at the person being rebuked and thus harm the relationship. The underlying motivation of the second is to clear the air, and to restore the relationship to wholeness.

This topic is controversial because of the potential for the abuse of rebuking and also because, by nature, we are defensive when confronted. It is our nature to strike out. When someone corrects us, even in the most loving way, it takes a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit to remain open and grounded. However, when we ask, God always provides a way for us to productively receive and process rebuke.

Productive Ways To Receive And Process Rebuke

The suggestions offered here have two overarching goals: to honor God and to guard against a root of bitterness. I can’t overemphasize the importance of immediately and routinely rooting out thoughts that would lead to bitterness. In my experience, it is extremely painful and difficult to eradicate bitterness, once left unchecked and deeply rooted.

• Center Yourself in the Holy Spirit

In any situation in which you are caught off-guard, or begin to feel emotional, train yourself to make your spirit aware of the Holy Spirit. This practice is so vital, yet under used. In essence you are praying, asking for His help in responding in the moment and beyond. What a comfort and encouragement it is to know the Helper and Comforter is right there with you, helping you to respond appropriately. Although it is done without speaking, it is powerful. The times I have, on the spot, asked God to help me to see the situation/person as He does, are the times I have been able to respond supernaturally, beginning with assuming the best about the person’s motives.

• Assume the Best

If you will take the position that the other person truly wants to make the relationship better, you can appreciate them for their candor in addressing the issue rather than letting it grow into a root of bitterness. It’s fairly natural to receive rebuke with defensiveness – especially if it’s delivered imperfectly. But we have the Holy Spirit as our helper to assess our part in causing the offense and to help us respond with the right attitude. And remember: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood…” (Ephesians 6:12).

• Join Forces Against Your Common Adversary – Not Each Other

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and that includes relationships. Satan is the author of strife and loves to see Believers take offense. If you can be in agreement with the other person that you both want to restore wholeness to the relationship, it takes you out of a victim’s role. The person rebuking you is not your enemy. When both parties yield to God, relationships can be strengthened by dealing with the grievance instead of burying issues and pretending they don’t exist. Once the grievance has been aired and you are working together to resolve it, it’s time to seek and accept forgiveness and mercy.

• Seek and Receive Forgiveness and Mercy

Sometimes we are guilty of offense. Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding. And sometimes it’s just a matter of different personal styles of relating. At times, repentance and a change in attitude is called for. Other times, it’s appropriate to apologize in acknowledgement of what the other person is feeling. Sometimes, two people must agree to act in love toward each other despite personal style differences. Whichever the case, genuinely seek forgiveness and receive it. Follow your Heavenly Father’s example and then forgive yourself. Your heart is free. You have asked for forgiveness and received God’s mercy. Don’t mentally rehash it. Don’t continually talk about it. Consider the matter settled. Move on.

To Sum It Up

The meaning of rebuke implies a direct and honest confrontation. A rebuke can be personally and spiritually productive when we center ourselves in the Holy Spirit, assume the best of the other person, join forces against our common adversary, and seek and receive forgiveness. In doing so we honor God and guard against a root of bitterness.

 

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How Surrender Brings The Greatest Blessing

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How Surrender Brings The Greatest Blessing

 

Have you ever watched people walking their dogs? Some dogs are in sync with their owners. They happily trot directly ahead on a short lead, in pace with their master. And then there are those other dogs! It seems as if these dogs are walking their owners instead of the other way around. You see them constantly straining at the leash, eager to follow every distraction and oblivious to their master’s desire to protect them. The route the master wants to take makes no difference to these dogs. They are determined to have their own way – unwilling to yield to their master’s will.

Much like these pets, some believers have a hard time surrendering to the Master’s guidance and protection. Surrender can be perceived as negative, but let’s find out what it truly means in the context of our relationship with Jesus.

What Does It Mean To Surrender?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, surrender is an act of yielding or resigning your life or the possession of something into the power of another; to give up or to yield to the influence, passion, or power of another.

For example, the living Bible says, “We are not our own bosses…” and Romans 14:13 says, “Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong” (TLB).

So instead of following our desires and impulses, we are to yield our lives to the influence of Jesus in every aspect of our beings. Evangelist T.L. Osborn once said, “You are painting a picture of Jesus to others by every word you speak and every deed you do. Make sure you are painting a good picture.” Surrender is easier said than done. But our motivation to surrender has a big part to play in how consistently we yield to Jesus.

What Is Our Motivation For Surrender?

Surrender is based on love. When you truly love someone, you surrender your plans and desires, and instead do that which honours and pleases the other person. You give serious consideration as to how your actions affect another person.

In surrender to Jesus, you now think about how your actions affect your relationship with Him and with others. Your surrender to Jesus is not a one-time experience. It becomes a daily experience. And an experience that deepens over time. To the extent we surrender, the more we are willing to surrender.

What Is The Extent Of Surrender?

We choose to surrender to the will of Jesus’ every day rather than demanding our own way. When you go your own way, choosing to be strong-willed or self-focused, you’ll experience the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit (and your own conscience) warning you to stop. I know this for a fact, because I have experienced the convicting power of the still small voice of the Holy Spirit many times.
Once you become a Christian, you need to recognize that your body and your spirit are now God’s dwelling place or house (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Believe me, God cares about His house.

Now that you have invited Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior and surrendered to Jesus, you no longer belong to yourself. You belong to God. He owns you. By the way, He can’t just be your Saviour without becoming your Lord. Lordship implies authority over you.

Many Christians want Jesus to be with them to help them out when they get into trouble (like a personal maintenance man), but they don’t want Him telling them what do when things are going smoothly.

So, your surrender extends to considering Jesus in everything that you do. Consider means “to think seriously; to have regard for; to respect; to take into view in examination.” When you consider Jesus, you take into account His opinion and His view of things. You want your attitudes, thoughts, motives, words, behaviour, and yes, even your appearance to honour Him.

You’re more highly motivated to please Him than to please yourself or others. Ask yourself, “Do I consider Jesus in what I think, what I say, and in what I do?” “Do I represent Jesus well to others?” Are people attracted to Jesus when they look at you? It’s good to ask yourself, “Can people see Jesus in the way I live? Does my lifestyle as well as the words I speak help or hinder people in becoming closer to Jesus? ( Romans 14:7). Surrender to Jesus is the path of blessing and has a significant outcome on our lives.

How Does Surrender Determine The Outcome Of Our Lives?

Your life, whether it is a good life or a difficult life, is determined by choices you make daily, living submitted and surrendered to God or living your own way. When you have your personal time with God each day, acknowledge that you know He owns you and you want Him to keep you and lead you.

The choices and decisions you make will affect your future. Jesus understood the power of choice, and He chose to live submitted and surrendered even in the face of great temptation. He showed us that it is possible for us to submit our will and surrender to God.
God gave us free will because He wanted us to love Him and obey Him by our own choice. God won’t force us, even though He knows the end result of an unsurrendered will is difficulty, heartache, pain, hardship, and sometimes destruction.

So when we Christians know that the Bible instructs us to live a surrendered life, why do we ignore that knowledge? Most often it’s because we want to fulfil our own desires or lust. When you decide you will go your own way, you unlock and open doors or windows to the enemy.

Sometimes Christians wonder why their lives are full of heartache and difficulty, but if they will take time to re-evaluate the choices they have made, they will discover where they have made themselves vulnerable through poor choices. Choices in which they stubbornly insisted on going their own direction instead of surrendering to and obeying God’s promptings and warnings. When you are self-willed, stubborn, rebellious, and unsubmissive to God’s authority, the enemy has much greater opportunity to rob you or even to destroy you.

Once you decide to surrender your life to Jesus, obeying God’s Word will become easier, your natural way of doing things. You will begin to see the Word as a guideline to live by.

To Sum It Up

When you are under the guidance and direction of the Master, surrendered to His good plan and ways, you won’t be straining at the leash, following after every distraction that comes up. Surrender is a blessed state, motivated by love for Jesus and extending to every aspect of our lives. It is of highest importance to Believers because it determines the outcome of our lives.

 

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