Monday, September 25, 2017

Desert Blooms



Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”  And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.  You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”  So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan.  And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.  And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
1 Kings 17:1-7

Here in Southern New England, our summer started out very cool and rainy.  Coming after last summer's severe draught, it was certainly welcome, even though the rainy, cold weather somewhat shortened our summer season here.  Although, we seem to be enjoying a warmer than normal September.  So I guess in the end it all balanced out.

I guess you could say we picked a good year to plant a garden again, taking full advantage of the rains the Lord provided.  

We used special garden planter boxes that were about four feet high.  Unfortunately or fortunately, however your glass is filled,  or in this case the planter is filled, we forgot to put peat moss at the bottom before filling the containers with garden soil, which would have helped reserve the moisture from the rains.  You see we placed our garden on the south side, a little too close to the house, and as a result, the heat from the sun radiated off the house, which negatively effected the garden plants.  

The fortunate part of both of these "fails" is that we learned from them and will know better for next year what to fill the containers with and where to place the containers in our yard.

We did get a few delicious bowls of garden leaf lettuce, a few tomatoes, which seeds said they were cherry tomatoes, but ended up being full size tomatoes, two zucchini, and a bunch of delicious carrot nuggets.  Yes you read that right.  Instead of growing deep, and they did have plenty of room, lol, they just grew into nuggets.  

So in the instance of our garden, too much sun and heat exposure caused it to wilt and die out quicker  which resulted in a low yield of produce.

Our flowers, on the other hand, suffered from too much rain!  

At first we thought the critters were eating the flowers off the tops of the plants, but then I would notice the flowers would reappear if it didn't rain for a couple of days.  Then the torrential rains would come again, and the flowers would disappear.  As this weather pattern continued the flowers took a beating and I just gave up on them.  They started to turn yellow and some turned brown.

And then just a couple of weeks ago,  despite the fact that my geranium had been dried up and lifeless in the hanging basket, this happened...




And in my planters on the back deck, this happened...





Even though the rest of the summer featured draught-like conditions, and I had already given up on these flowers, neither the harsh conditions nor my neglect could keep them from blooming.

I always thought that water was key for plant survival, but I think because in both the case of our garden containers and our flower boxes, not having the peat moss there to help absorb and store the moisture as well as protect the roots from over-watering, it was just too much of a good thing.

There is a spiritual lesson of hope here...

When we experience draughts in life, whether they be spiritual, emotional or physical, we can feel dried up and shriveled.  We may experience hopelessness or even despair wondering if we will ever see the rains again...  But as my summer flowers proved, when the Holy Spirit lives within us, He IS sustaining and nourishing us, and we will bloom again.

The hard part is that when we are in a season of draught, we may not perceive our souls being nourished by the experience.

We may be so consumed in our situations, that God even feels far away.  Suffering does that, doesn't it?  It makes us feel isolated, not only from God, but even from our friends and family.

Yet, take heart, there are many accounts in the Bible about the people of God going through seasons of draught, extreme in many cases, but in the end, we can see the beautiful blooms of increased Faith and blessing to others.
  • The Apostle John was exiled to Patmos where he received the words of the Book of Revelation.
  • The Apostle Paul was imprisoned, but the Word of the Lord went out in even more power. 
  • Job lost everything, yet in the end was blessed with twice as much as he had before. 
  • Joseph was thrown into a pit and left for dead by his brothers, wrongly imprisoned, yet ended up saving a nation from famine.
In every one of these situations, the Lord was sustaining and providing for them while they walked through the draught...

 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance that are in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and my testimony about Jesus. On the Lord’s day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, saying, “Write in a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”…
Revelation 1:9-11

On receiving this order, he placed them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly a strong earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. At once all the doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.…
Acts 16:24-26

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.  Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. 
Job 42:10-12

Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, "This is what your slave did to me," his anger burned. So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.…
Genesis 39:20-21

Oh what a Savior we have, He never leaves us or forsakes us, and never wastes any circumstance, but brings about beauty from ashes...  

Even if the draught is caused by our own neglect, He has the power to raise up blooms of Faith and Obedience once again within us.

It may take longer if we continue in disobedience, like the Israelites who wondered in the desert for 40 years, before they were allowed to enter the promised land...

After Moses the Lord’s servant died, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: 
“Moses my servant is dead. Get ready! Cross the Jordan River! Lead these people 
into the land which I am ready to hand over to them.  I am handing over to you 
every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. 
Joshua 1:1-3

But when we continually walk in obedience, the Holy Spirit helps us to absorb the life-giving Words of the Lord, to store up and treasure in our hearts...  The peat moss of our souls...

Just as the peat moss in the plantar box needs water first in order to hold it for later when there is no rain, so we need to drink from the well of Jesus Word daily, so that we are prepared for life's draughts.

Then, when the draughts of life come, we will apprehend more quickly life-giving nourishment for our souls from the Holy Spirit and be sustained even though on the outside we may feel like we are dried up and shriveled.


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, 
yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.…
2 Corinthians 4:16-17


And just like that, our draught will pass, and we will bloom once again for God's eternal glory.

The next time you find yourself in a season of draught, remember that every circumstance that effects you only does so by the Lord's permission and for your good.

And we know that for those who love God 
all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

In the opening verse of this post, we see that the Lord sent Elijah away to hide, yet promised to provide food and water for him.  When the rains stopped, and the predicted draught was upon him, the Lord told Elijah to go to Zaraphath and stay with a widow who would feed him...

For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, 
and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain 
upon the earth.’”  And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her 
household ate for many days.  The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
1 Kings 17:14-16

When the Lord sends us away to hide, in our own desert place, we can be assured that He will use that draught to draw us closer to Himself, grow us in new and wonderful ways, and cause a fresh bloom to blossom.

I still look at my geranium plant in wonder, seeing the bright, healthy red flowers, which still have as it's root dry, burnt looking foliage.

Let us be encouraged that even when our bodies or our emotions are wracked with affliction, the Lord is working to produce blossoms for Christ, which will bring joy to our hearts and a sweet smelling fragrance to those we encounter, testifying to the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.


Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, 
do you not perceive it? 
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


If you'd like to read more spiritual reflections on gardening, you can read my post, Gardens & Groundhogs.



You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Warriors of the WordCandidly Christian Link-upSunday ThoughtsWriter WednesdayFaith Filled Friday


Monday, September 18, 2017

The Power of Obedience



About ten years ago, Dakota came into our lives.  Dakota was our daughter's German Shepherd.   He was an old soul, with a sweet spirit and an obedient temperament.  He never jumped on people or furniture, he didn't chew things up nor did he get into our garbage or make any kind of messes really.

But he did like to herd children and adults which, of course, is the nature of the breed.  As a result, he could tend to be nippy and that coupled with skittishness, made it important to enroll him in obedience training early on.

Wikepedia defines obedience training as follows...

"Obedience training usually refers to the training of a dog and the term is most commonly used in that context. Obedience training ranges from very basic training, such as teaching the dog to reliably respond to basic commands such as "sit," "down," "come," and "stay," to high level competition within clubs such as the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club, where additional commands, accuracy and performance are scored and judged...

...Obedience implies compliance with the direction or command given by the handler. For a dog to be considered obedient rather than simply trained in obedience, it must respond reliably each time its handler gives a command.

...Typically the individual who is caring for and living with the dog participates and trains the dog, as they will be the one who will be giving the commands. The relationship and trust between the dog and handler are important for success.

One thing they stressed the most during Dakota's obedience training was to inflect our voice differently than any other command when the dog was headed for danger.  The reason for this is that a dog might be so hyperfocused on, for example, the squirrel he's chasing that he needs something to snap him out of it before he runs across the road and gets hit by a car.   For Dakota's critical command, I switched which syllables of his name I accented when I needed Dakota to STOP, calling -- DAkota!!  And it worked!

I thought about Dakota's obedience training recently noting the similarities with my two-and-a-half year-old granddaughter and the extreme importance of obedience when it comes to protecting her from similar dangers - like chasing after a ball toward the road.  I think that is probably where the use of addressing a child sternly with their full given and middle name came into being.  lol.

And then there is the obedience training of the Children of God...

Through His Word and through the Holy Spirit, we have everything we need for being obedient children of the Lord...

All Scripture is breathed out by God 
and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, 
and for training in righteousness,
2 Timothy 3:16

 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, 
whom the Father will send in my name, 
he will teach you all things
 and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 14:26

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines obedience as follows...

The highest significance of its usage, however, is that of the relation of man to God. Obedience is the supreme test of faith in God and reverence for Him. The Old Testament conception of obedience was vital. It was the one important relationship which must not be broken. While sometimes this relation may have been formal and cold, it nevertheless was the one strong tie which held the people close to God. The significant spiritual relation is expressed by Samuel when he asks the question, "Hath Yahweh as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22). It was the condition without which no right relation might be sustained to Yahweh. This is most clearly stated in the relation between Abraham and Yahweh when he is assured "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:18).

In prophetic utterances, future blessing and prosperity were conditioned upon obedience:

"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:19). After surveying the glories of the Messianic kingdom, the prophet assures the people that "this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Yahweh your God" (Zechariah 6:15). On the other hand misfortune, calamity, distress and famine are due to their disobedience and distrust of Yahweh.

Unlike the Old Testament times where future blessing and prosperity were conditioned upon obedience, we who are in Christ Jesus have Christ's blessing even in our disobedience.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation
 for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

But as the Apostle Paul stated...

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life...

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:1-4; 12-14

And Jesus says of obedience...

You are my friends if you do what I command you.
John 15:14

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
2 John 1:6

 The Lord will not remove his blessing from us when we disobey.  We are sealed by His blood.

However, there will be consequences as a result of disobeying God, no different than in any time of the Bible, Old or New Testament, or the times we live in now.

The Bible is replete with examples of consequences for disobedience, from Adam and Eve, to Lot's wife, to David, just to name a few...

In the New Testament, not even the apostles were exempt from disobedience.

For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. 
Romans 3:23  

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7:15-20


And they were not exempt from consequences either...

Consequences in and of themselves provide training.  Certainly not the type of training we should seek after, but even in disobedience, God has built in consequences to help lead us to repentance.

But the Lord has built something else into our obedience training, and that is Christ Himself and His power!  He has not left us alone in our walk of Faith.  

I have been crucified with Christ. 
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. 
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galations 2:20

As the modern day praise song by Tasha Cobbs says...

There is power in the name of Jesus
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain

The story of the wall of Jericho showcases the power of obedience in a beautiful word picture.

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in.  And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.  You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.  Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat,and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”  So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”

 And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them.  The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually.  But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.”  So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

And as the Biblical account goes, they did this six more days as the Lord had commanded and on the seventh day...

 they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times.  And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the
 sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat,
 so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.  Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
Joshua 6:6-11;15-17;20-21

There are many other accounts in the Bible that showcase God's power through His people's obedience.

I think too often, we feel that we couldn't possibly have that same power; that those powerful acts were reserved only for Bible times.

Dr. Goulburn, Dean of Norwich, had this to say in the following excerpt from Streams in the Desert.

"The greatest saints who ever lived, whether under the Old or New Dispensation, are on a level which is quite within our reach. The same forces of the spiritual world which were at their command, and the exertion of which made them such spiritual heroes, are open to us also. If we had the same faith, the same hope, the same love which they exhibited, we would achieve marvels as great as those which they achieved."

The same power that was at work in the Saints of old, is absolutely at work in the Saints of today.

What are the walls in your life that you would like to crumble down?  Is there a besetting sin; a strained relationship; a paralyzing fear; a self-centered bent?  

You need only to rest in the Lord Jesus.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14

It is in stillness that we will find our obedience.

Stillness from striving.  Stillness from worry.  Stillness from control.  Stillness from self.

While reading Guarded by Christ:  Knowing the God who Rescues You, the author, Heather Holleman, shared an interesting fact about eagles.  Apparently, when we see those majestic birds in the air, 90% of the time they just soar, and only 10% of the time flap their wings.  Imagine that!  Ninety percent of the time the eagle is resting into the air currents, trusting them to carry it along. 

Heather encouraged her readers to do the same - to rest and soar on God's power.

For it is God's power that produces Christlikeness, protects us from sin and Satan, and helps us to proclaim His Truth to others.

May we all operate through the power of obedience.

For anyone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, you too can have the power of Christ living in you.  

You need only to recognize that you are a sinner, and that the only way to receive eternal life is through trusting in Jesus's death on the cross, a death He died for you, so that you would be forgiven. For God placed your sins upon Jesus, who was your substitute on the cross, who suffered the wrath that you deserved because He loves you and gave His life for yours.  And because he was raised from the dead, you too have been raised from death to new life, and the power of Christ will raise you up one day to live in Heaven with Him.  That same resurrection power will continue to work in your life all the days He has ordained for you here on earth to love him, serve Him and bring Him Glory.

Wikepedia actually touched on this in its definition of obedience training for dogs.  Yep!  You read that right!....   

The relationship and trust between the dog and handler are important for success.

The only way to successfully obey God, is not by our own efforts or works, but through our relationship with Jesus Christ, by getting to know Him, and most especially to know His commands. Then we must trust His power to be at work within us, and that all of His commands are for our good and His Glory.

And in further Godly wisdom from Wikepedia's definition of obedience training...  ;-)

For a dog to be considered obedient rather than simply trained in obedience, it must respond reliably each time its handler gives a command.

Too often, we know God's commands, but we don't actually respond in our hearts and walk in those commands.  We are then simply trained in obedience, not obedient.

May our head and heart connect in obedience as we soar on the currents of the Holy Spirit's power.


If you would like to read about the The Power of Thanksgiving, you can read my post here.

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Warriors of the WordCandidly Christian Link-upSunday ThoughtsWriter WednesdayFaith Filled Friday

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Summer of Sunsets

Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.
Ralph Waldo Emerson





I am so very blessed to live where a short drive affords ocean vistas.  There is a reason why they call it the Ocean State!  ;-) 

And along with ocean vistas come great opportunities for magnificent sunsets like these that I captured earlier this summer...










I am also blessed to live in a town that has a beautiful park with the Mt. Hope Bay as it's backdrop - a backdrop that provides spectacular sunsets.   My husband and I try to walk at this park every night in the summer, and we time our walks just right to catch the sunsets.    It never gets old!  My Google photos album is filled with sunset pictures!

Here is a sampling...   :-)  

















As I reflected upon my summer of sunsets, sunsets that I looked forward to seeing every day with great anticipation, I thought about another kind of sunset, those sunsets that occur throughout life's seasons...

The sunset of our youth, of having children still at home, of our jobs, of our health and of our lives.  

I think we all can admit that although some sunsets of life may be looked forward to like retirement, most of life's sunsets are not happily anticipated, but bring with them wistfulness.  

When you watch the sun set, it is amazing how quickly it does just that!  My husband and I always say, it's like we can actually see it moving before our eyes!

Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder 
not just because they are beautiful 
but because they are fleeting.
Richard Paul Evans

And so it is with the sunsets of life, they too are fleeting...  

And with every new dawn, whether it be the dawning of a new day or the dawning of a new season of life, we have hope in this promise of God...

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

What can we learn from these sunset pictures, where some sunsets are intensely bright, others show through volatile looking clouds, others create cloud luminaries, and still others cast beautiful colors upon the waters and sky evoking feelings of peace, is that every sunset has at it's core light and that light becomes more and more intense the lower in the horizon it sinks, resulting in a magnificent display of colors that reaches farther and farther out from its center.

What if we viewed life's sunsets as opportunities for the Light of Christ to become more and more intense, allowing Christ to be seen through us in a magnificent display of contentment and peace that reaches to all we come in contact with.


From the rising of the sun to its setting 
The name of the LORD is to be praised.
Psalm 113:3


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem as if 
we were looking through the gates of Heaven.
John Lubbock




You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Warriors of the WordCandidly Christian Link-upSunday ThoughtsWriter WednesdayFaith Filled Friday

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Power of Thanksgiving




Lately, it seems, the Lord is stopping me in my tracks while reading very, very familiar verses.  Shedding entirely new light onto verses I thought I understood to their fullest...

And so it happened with 1 Thessalonians 5:18...

Give thanks in all circumstances;
 for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


The way I've always internalized this verse was that even in trials, I must be thankful to the Lord.  Something that does not come easy, and if I were to be honest, I rarely put into practice...  

I saw this verse at face value, nothing more and nothing less.

But I realized there is so much more to be mined out of this verse.

 
Dictionary.com shares the following definition of the word thank...

:a grateful feeling or acknowledgment of a benefit, favor, or the like,

I'm sure you would all agree, this definition pretty much sums up why we say "thank you" or  "thanks".  Usually in response to someone who has complemented us, has helped us out or has offered to help us out, or someone who has given us a gift.

As I pondered the word "thank", I thought more deeply about what it is that the Apostle Paul is implying when he exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances...

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good
 to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

All circumstances that effect our lives, even fiery trials, have been ordained by God, as a gift, if you will, to show His favor... 
 
As for you, you meant evil against me, 
but God meant it for good, 
to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, 
as they are today.
Genesis 50:20

Here we see Joseph telling his brothers, who had originally purposed to kill him, but then sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelites, that God meant it for good.  

While we are walking a hard road, we too can absolutely know that God's favor has not left us.

Joseph's story beautifully showcases the favor of the Lord when circumstances would have otherwise seemed hopeless.

But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, 
and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.
Genesis 39:21

Now his master saw that the LORD was with him 
and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.
Genesis 39:3

Let that sink in.  No matter what circumstances or trials we find ourselves in,  the Lord will always be with us and will cause all that we do, in His name and for His Glory, to prosper.

The Apostle Paul, who is exhorting us to give thanks in ALL circumstances, himself had many, many opportunities to practice what he preaches...

with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.  Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;  on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;  in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure.  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 
2 Corinthians 11:23b-27

Yet the Apostle Paul's ministry prospered, even while he was in prison chains, because the Lord prospered the work of His hands.

We may not have a pivotal mission like the Apostle Paul, and our sufferings may be of a very private nature, but the Lord sees and He knows His Kingdom purposes for having us walk in those circumstances.  The Lord may not prosper our hands to save an entire nation, like Joseph did, but from our own private hurt, He will prosper us to have the words of comfort that will plant seeds which will save one person to Christ...  and the Heaven's will rejoice over - even just one.

In God's economy, the word thank is a very powerful word which holds promise to be realized.

As we saw from the definition of "thank", and what we know to be true from our own experience, we don't thank someone unless we have received something or know we will be receiving something from someone.

God's Word tells us that when we pray, we are to do so with an attitude of thanksgiving - to thank Him.

We can know then that whatever we ask in prayer, with thanksgiving, we WILL receive an answer from the Lord!  The Lord would not ask us to thank Him if He did not fully intend to answer our prayers.

Be anxious for nothing, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication
 with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
Colossians 4:2


See that, keeping alert with an attitude of thanksgiving.  There it is!  The promise to be realized!

And so we come full circle with this very familiar verse from 1 Thessalonians 5...

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

God's will for you and for me is to expect much from Him, in all circumstances, and in every prayer.  

For in thankful expectation we receive.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17


Give thanks in all circumstances...

The Lord has now opened my eyes to the power of thanksgiving, and that indeed, I can be thankful in ALL circumstances, for God's power is at work in me.

May you all realize the power of thanksgiving.



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