Christian women, this blog post may not make you happy. And if that is the case, you may need to hear it more than anyone. As I type this today I want you to know that when I write about something, it means God is dealing with it in my own heart. He is a God of loving discipline (Heb. 12), and I often feel very loved by him! Yet, there are some of you who need to hear this just like I do. I do not see or hear happiness, contentment, satisfaction or a pleasure of the Lord from you. I see and hear the world. I see anxiety, busyness, and self-absorption pushing out the goodness of the Lord that should be on display.
Many of us have deceived ourselves into separating joy and happiness into different categories. As if one is real and the other fake. We too often allow ourselves to be moody, downcast or grumpy. When asked about joy in our lives, we may respond that we have a deep joy in the Lord, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy every day. Is this a true statement? The bible teaches us that what is in the heart will be displayed in our lives (and thus our days):
As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. – Proverbs 27:19
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45
Joy is a fruit from the Spirit within us. Happiness is not separate from joy or a superficial form of it. Happiness should be a “symptom” of the joy within us. We are commanded to “Rejoice in the Lord always;” (Phil. 4:4). Even in this verse (and many others like it) the Greek for “rejoice” (chairō ) is translated as “to be cheerful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off” (blueletterbible.org). Being cheerful and calmly happy sounds like a beautiful demonstration of being satisfied with the Lord.
There will certainly be times of sorrow, mourning and seriousness. However, these are not the norm and not adequate excuses to cover the majority of our lives. For even in times of difficulty there should be an undercurrent of contentment as we abide in Christ. What a wondrous testimony to be able to smile and praise while the fiery darts of the enemy are coming at you! The knowledge of victory with Jesus is that sweet.
Does this mean I want you to wear a “mask” of happiness? To slap on a smile and call it good? No. The joy of the Lord cannot be faked, so don’t bother trying. My desire is that you come to a point in your relationship with Christ that you do not feel the need for a mask. That your satisfaction in Jesus is so paramount that you are not hindered by worldly concerns. That offenses, disagreements, and the pains of life all seem petty and microscopic compared to the vast riches you have in God and the depth of grace you see in the face of Jesus Christ.
This is not a simple teaching, this comes with maturity in your walk with God. I see very few women who display such characteristics as this consistently, though it must be pursued. Do not think it will be accomplished without time and effort. And the ONLY way it comes is with deep and long fellowship with God himself. It comes from increasing in your knowledge of him through his Word and finding him infinitely valuable and precious above all else. It is only in his presence that “there is fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11.
Preacher, caretaker of orphans, and man of great faith, George Muller (1805-1898) made happiness in the Lord a priority:
According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life…after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself. (http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god)
If reading this blog stings today, I hope it is God’s Word doing its work on your heart. Allow it to bite and then take action on it. Go to God who is the source of all joy and abide (live, dwell, remain) in his Word. Be happy in Christ.
Most days my house is pretty neat and tidy. It may not be the most stylish or well decorated, but it is often clean and organized. There are times when the house is so crazy neat that I almost feel bad about it when people come over; as if I might appear a little too perfect. I have even purposefully left dirty dishes out to make people feel better (yeah, that kind of crazy). However…
…today is not that day…nor have I seen one of those days in quite some time.
Currently, my vacuum has been standing in the front entry of my house ALL week because I plan to vacuum “soon”; the dust bunny colonies are beginning to organize themselves into cities. I just started the dryer again to hopefully take the wrinkles out of clothes that I washed and dried three days ago. The counter in my bathroom is turning strange colors of orange and green, it has been on my “to do” list for 12 days straight… it remains unchecked…and today's not looking good either. I’m having trouble remembering when the boys had a bath last…they may soon turn strange colors too, let’s not talk about how they smell. Has anyone fed the dog recently? Has anyone seen the dog?
So there you have it, a peak into my glamorous lifestyle. You know what I have to say about all this?
Big deal, that’s life. Get over it.
God doesn’t love me less because my house is a mess and my kids are dirty. Clutter is not a punishment for some lacking in spiritual discipline. I’m not being outwardly punished for missing my “quiet time” with God this morning. Matter of fact I had a great time in prayer and Bible reading this morning, and yesterday too.
Being a Christian does not equate to having things all together. There are days when we are messy on the outside yet are well prioritized on the inside because we are attending to what matters. There are also times when we are perfectly well-to-do looking on the outside when our insides are a mess. Faking a peace that is not there. I know which I would prefer, how about you?
When we are obedient to God there is no guarantee of life being neat and tidy either on the inside or the outside. We still live in the same world we did before we became Christians. God changes us, not our surroundings. There are no special angels that guard against dust accumulation, give fashion advice, or remind the boys to shower (as cool as all of that would be!). However, there are golden promises from God that will hold us together through it all and make this life truly worth the living, messy times and all. Here are just a few precious nuggets:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
There is hope that abounds beyond this temporal world and we find that in Christ alone. He is the one who holds us securely in his loving hands, never to be snatched away by the enemy or the literal messes he may throw at us (John 10:28, one of my personal favorite promises). So the house may fall to shambles for a time, but my soul never will. That is true peace.
I guess I should wrap things up now, that dryer buzzer went off ages ago and the dog has turned up…he looks hungry. So, ladies, I want to encourage you today, no matter how things look on the outside, if you are in Christ, you are okay. In fact, you are beautiful, dust bunnies and all.
Ladies, when was the last time you felt radiant? Been awhile? Yeah, me too. I was recently staring into my closet wondering if it’s a bad sign that many of my clothing purchases in the last year have come from Sam’s Club… wait, don’t answer that, I know the answer. As women our lives are so full of demands, chores, and people to take care of that we rarely spend time thinking about being radiant. Usually “good enough” or “not too bad” will do.
Today, I want to change your attitude in that area and mine too. First, what does it mean to be radiant? Radiant means to send out light, to glow or shine. In regards to a person it is as if that person is emanating light, joy or gladness. These are just my simplified definitions. If you are radiant, you are certainly having an effect on those around you and it is obvious something awesome is going on inside of you.
The verse that got me thinking on this idea of radiance is found in Jeremiah 31:12, “and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord”. Why will they be radiant? Because of the “goodness of the Lord”! No mention of stylish clothes, make-up or a good tan. Duh, radiance couldn’t be caused by any of those things, they are outside of you. Radiance is something that emanates from the inside out.
That verse is part of a chapter in which God is speaking through his prophet Jeremiah telling of the restoration of the Israelites to their land and to himself. Here are a few more awesome snippets from chapter 31: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (v. 3), he will gather them and keep them “as a shepherd keeps his flock.” (v. 10), “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” (v. 13), “my heart yearns for him, I will certainly have mercy on him” (v. 20), and “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (v. 33).
With a God loving you like that, how could you keep from being radiant with joy? This God is certainly overflowing with goodness. In fact, he is goodness.
Do you belong to and serve the God that wrote the Bible? How about the book of Jeremiah? Chapter 31? Yes, yes and yes for me. I pray it is true for you too. Then what are we waiting for?? Our radiance does not come from anything we can put on these bodies (whether from Sam’s or Saks) but what resides within us – which is the goodness of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
If my radiance is dependent on the goodness of God, I should blind people when I walk by. So how does this happen? The answer is also so perfectly in Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 14, “my people will be satisfied with my goodness”. God’s people find their full and perfect satisfaction in God alone. If you are one of God’s people, find your full satisfaction in his goodness. Soak yourself in God’s Word, be with him in prayer. We should be so filled with the abundance of God’s love, grace and mercy that it consumes our being from the inside out and overflows onto a needy and dark world. What a glorious picture. It is a gospel picture.
Jesus radiated love for me when he poured out his blood on the cross. In this act he paid my ransom price and now I am eternally secure and all the words spoken in Jeremiah chapter 31 are meant for me. How could I be dissatisfied??
In a world filled with women trying so hard to accessorize themselves into beauty or to live a “good life” hoping that will translate into being a “good person”, we should shine like the sun. While they are hoping all their work on the outside will seep into their soul, we stand confident that Jesus has done the work already and our soul is beautiful. Therefore we do not fear, we are satisfied.
If the Holy Spirit lives inside you, he should be shining through you. Ladies, find your full satisfaction in the goodness of God and be radiant.
We were late again, not unusual for our family of six. Dad found a parking space in the crowded church lot and we four kids tried to make ourselves look presentable after having slept for the last hour and a half on the drive up. Even before we made it all the way inside, we could hear one particular voice rising above the rest as the congregation sang…we smiled at each other. We knew that voice well. The sound of it may cause you to make a strange face, but the sincerity in it would make you stop.
We walked into the sanctuary, hoping the back row would be open so we could slip in. It was. When the song was over, Grandma June (who always sat in the very front) glanced back, saw us and beamed. She gathered her belongings (the hundred pound purse, her Bible and the many tissues) and proudly walked back to sit with us. The next song would begin and her voice would again loudly send forth praises to her Savior.
This scene plays in my mind as one of my favorite childhood memories. What warm feelings I have of visiting that church, of seeing Grandma June smile at us; knowing we were there to worship with her. My fondest memory of Grandma is one of sound. Her loud, off key singing was glorious. An odd thing to say, I know, but so true. If God would allow me to relive this experience once more I would love to hear her sing “How Great Thou Art” at the top of her lungs as she raised her arms to heaven and tears rolled down her cheeks.
If you have been reading my series of writings this month you have already read of Grandma June’s contagious joy and her fervent love of God’s Word. However, I cannot allow you to think you have a good picture of Grandma June in your mind unless you have been told about her legendary singing. My brother Aaron once said that what Grandma lacked in quality she made up for in volume. My Uncle John, her youngest son, recently expressed it this way, “Mom sang with great vigor, although she had problems with ‘carrying a tune.’"
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 100:1 was the very verse that Grandma June often quoted regarding her singing. It doesn’t say to make a perfectly pitched tone, to harmonize, to hit the high notes or even to make a beautiful noise. It says a joyful noise. And that is what Grandma June did. She didn’t just sing with all of her heart she worshiped with all of her heart.
Here are a few brief points I want you to learn as I did from Grandma June’s example of worshiping in song:
However, don’t stay silent for long. Not singing out to God can be a display of a prideful heart or one that isn’t truly owned by him. Those who truly love God cannot help but to proclaim his greatness and worship him. Luke 19:37-40, “the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
No stone will take my place in praising my savior; I know Grandma June would heartily agree.
A few weeks ago I cleared off my treadmill that I keep in our basement storage room. I took off the boxes of Easter eggs, the camping gear and the gigantic stuffed rabbit (a story for another day). I blew off the dust as best I could and started it up to make sure it still worked. Yep, it was ready for action! I would be fit and trim in no time, I was sure of it.
So, have I lost weight? Taken inches off my waist? Am I down a couple jean sizes? Well, um, let me see, ah… no, no and no. Hard to believe yes, the simple act of preparing my treadmill was not enough to scare the fat cells right off of me (even when I ran it really fast to blow the dust away). What gives?
Can’t I just have the appearance of fitness? Can’t I just make my treadmill look well used and walk around in sporty clothes? I could add some free weights and resistance bands to the scene. I could talk as if I actually exercise.
Oh the lengths we will go to attempt to keep up appearances. Yet the evidence of how we truly live is as plain as day. I could do any or all of the above, but if I never put the effort into getting fit or make regular use of that treadmill I will remain the same. No true change can be faked. If I am out of shape now, I will remain out of shape until I do something about it. Ouch, man the truth hurts sometimes!
Just as I won’t be mistaken for a fitness buff, someone faking the Christian walk will not be mistaken for a true follower of Christ. You can call yourself a Christian, carry a Bible, attend services, celebrate holidays, and decorate yourself with religious knickknacks but you are fooling no one. If your daily actions and what comes out of your mouth does not line up with the Word of God you are an obvious imposter.
The Bible tells us that a tree is recognized by its fruit. “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.” – Luke 6:43-44. You know what type of tree it is by what it produces. A peach tree does not produce coconuts.
What fruit does a Christian tree produce? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23. Good works are also produced, springing forth from the faith in Christ that resides in us (see James 2:14-26).
Jesus goes on to say in Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Whatever is inside is destined to come out and it is evidence of what your heart is full of.
Remember this works from the inside out; you do not work to be joyful in order to change your heart. True joy can only flow out of a changed heart.
What do you hear and see coming out of the hearts of those around you? Is it proper for us to evaluate others like this? If we love them it is (2 Timothy 3:16). If I see one of my children producing thorns in their life or hear evil coming out of their mouth, I need to correct them and deal with this heart issue. If I see a friend who says she is a Christian but acts in a way completely opposite of the Word of God; I need to confront her with grace because I care about her.
What is coming out of your own heart? Does it show that you have been filling up on God or the trash of the World? It is very easy to get filled up with garbage; it is what most people do all day long.
A heart full of godliness does not happen by osmosis. You have to intentionally consume and study God’s Word. Do the hard work it takes, Ladies! Don’t just blow the dust off your Bibles like I did my treadmill. Make use of it to change your heart and your eternal physical condition.
I enCOURAGE you to check what fruit you are producing today and remember to continually fill up on the only true source of good for your heart, the Word of God.
Yep, that would be me. Now before you start to think this is just another blog on trusting in God to be our strength when we are weak, keep reading. You are wrong. Although it is true, God is our strength when we are weak, that is not my point today.
A couple weeks ago I was struggling to like myself even a little. I felt like a failure at all I put my hands to: this blog, my Bible study, counseling, housekeeping, eating right, child rearing…do I need to go on? The word that kept running through my mind was “inadequate”. The only thing I felt good at was failing. Yes, picture Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh but looking like me. Ever find yourself there? Oh, bother… where did my tail go?
So I have experienced these occasional states of “woe is me” before, I knew what I needed… ice cream with a big spoon, cosmic brownies and HGTV… no? No, I have tried that route before; I know it leads to feeling worse in every way.
I was well aware that I needed God and to hear from his Word. I read through chapters like Psalms 9, 16, 18 and 139, Hebrews 13, Philippians 4, 2 Corinthians 12, the list goes on. After soaking in God’s mighty Word did my rotten feelings lift and was my joy restored? No. They didn’t and it wasn’t. I still felt like my miserable self.
How can this be? Isn’t God’s Word all powerful and uplifting? Yes, it is. Aren’t God’s promises always reliable and rock solid? Yes they are. Isn’t God supposed to be our refuge and shelter? Yes, he is.
Here is the truth. My feelings, good or bad, do not heighten or lesson the Word of God. I have walked with God long enough to trust him no matter how my physical body feels. I cling to his promises more than I cling to my emotions of the moment.
Am I really inadequate? Well… yes. But I don’t put my trust in me and my ability to succeed or fail, I trust in a God that is more than adequate in every way possible.
This is what God wants from us and the lesson he wanted me to understand that week. Our obedience to what he calls us to is not dependent on how we feel or what we are going through. We read and trust God’s Word because we have faith in the one it is all about, Jesus Christ.
I don’t read my Bible just to feel good and I don’t stop when I don’t feel good. I read it because it contains the words of life and truth. Like Peter said to Jesus when the huge crowd deserted him after the difficult teaching he gave, Jesus turns to Peter and asks “Do you want to go away too?” Here is his response: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68.
Why would I look anywhere else? Only God’s Words have the power to save me. I knew all that I read was doing a work in my heart even if I could not feel it at that moment. Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
I have kicked old Eeyore to the curb; God has graciously and patiently restored my ability to identify in him. No matter how wonderful or rotten I feel, I will always trust in the goodness of God. Like David I will proclaim Psalms 13:5&6, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
I may seem like a very mild-mannered, gentle lady, but sit down across from me at a board game, deck of cards or anything slightly competitive and you will see a whole other side to me. Just ask my husband what I’m like to play Ping-Pong or air hockey with. I just love winning. You get to see a glimpse of this today.
Several years ago a former pastor of mine who liked using football analogies said in a sermon that there were no sidelines in life; everyone is on the field playing on one team or the other. Being someone who also loves football, the visual stuck with me.
No sidelines, no benchwarmers, no plank riders. Everyone in the world is on the field playing for one side or the other at this very moment.
People like to think that they are “on the fence” and undecided about this Jesus person. When they are ready, they will make the choice to take him or leave him. The truth is found in John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
If not currently playing on God’s team, you stand condemned just as you are (on the other side of the ball). By not making the decision to follow Christ, you have decided against him. You are wearing Satan’s jersey and fighting side by side with demons. This puts you in a very dangerous position; you are fighting against God as his enemy (James 4:4). The wrath of God remains on those who do not obey him (John 3:36).
For those who have been drafted and have decided to accept and follow Jesus, are you an active player or more of an obstacle to work around? Are you following the playbook (the Bible) God gave you to equip you and sustain you? Are you talking to the only one who can help you through the struggles of offense and defense?
C’mon, Ladies, this ain’t no powder puff game! Put the eye black on and get in on the action. Fight for your God and the teammates around you. Put all you have on the line for the one who gave his life so you could be his and have eternal life with him in glory.
The awesome part of all this is knowing Jesus has already won the victory for us. He accomplished this long ago on the cross. He allows us to share in this victory if we accept what he has done for us. I plan to be a part of God’s team and do all I can to increase our team numbers for the glory of God. Hey, I told you I love winning.
This game does not last forever, there is an end coming. The losers get an all-expenses paid team bus trip to Hell. The winners get to go to Paradise to live with Jesus. This seems like quite the easy decision to me.
As the football hype peaks this weekend, let it be a reminder to you to check your jersey. Make sure you are playing for the winning side and being an active participant. I may talk like this is a game, but it is a matter of eternal joy or eternal torture. Don’t allow Satan’s heavy, stinky jersey to stay on you another second, the Hell bus is warming up. Rip it off and choose Jesus. He will make you into a new creation and give you the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within you. Yes, it is a very nice recruiting package indeed.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luke 2:8-14
Why did God choose to first announce the birth of his son Jesus to lowly shepherds? Why not carpenters, craftsmen or dignitaries? Shepherds were not well thought of at that time and usually came from the lower class of society. They slept on the ground and smelled like sheep. They had to live well outside of town and tend to sheep even in the middle of the night like in the passage above.
So why shepherds? Well it is truly simple. God will reveal himself to those he chooses to reveal himself. That night he chose the shepherds; he knew their hearts were open to him. He knew they would be obedient to his directions and would proclaim the good news of the Savior to all around.
God is not concerned with your social status or occupation; he is interested in your heart. God chose these shepherds and blessed them with a special message. The same message still applies today and is now being proclaimed to you. The good news is that Jesus came to earth to redeem his people. Jesus Christ is the true Good Shepherd (John 10) and he wants to tend to your soul. Is your heart ready to receive this message? If so it is truly good news of great joy!
As a mother, there are times in our lives when our love for our children is overwhelming. Times when something takes place that we want to remember forever. We want to capture it and tuck it away in our hearts to bring back out to cherish over and over again. We want to wonder about its meaning and its significance. This is what I believe Mary was doing in Luke 2:19.
She had just given birth to a baby boy in a lowly stable. The shepherds had just visited and told her about the angelic choir they had just witnessed and how they had been told that a Messiah had been born and exactly where to find him. The shepherds were exuberant and made it known throughout the area.
Mary is there in the middle of it all, exhausted from her labor, so young and overwhelmed with the task she has been given. She feels the wonder of the moment; she loves her little boy with all her heart already. Yes, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, but I don’t think he stayed there long. As any mother would have done, Mary probably picked him up and held that precious child in her arms as soon as she was able. She would be kissing his forehead and checking his fingers and toes, in awe of how perfectly made he was. The knowledge that this child was special and the Son of the Most High God would have been too much to grasp, yet that is what she was told by the angel so many months ago. And in her heart she knew it to be true, though she didn’t yet understand all that it meant.
In the midst of this humble yet majestic scene so long ago, what did Mary do? In Luke 2:19 it tells us, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
She tucked these moments and events away in her heart to treasure and to dwell on. It was all too much to explain, too much to understand or comprehend. She believed every word and trusted in God with a true servant’s heart, but she couldn’t grasp the intense significance or know the impact of what had just occurred. She did what a mother does and tried to imprint that moment in time on her heart and into her mind. She wanted to be able to recall all these events later and think on them, ponder them. She wanted to hear again what the shepherds told her and begin to understand how everything that happened to her and Joseph on this journey was for great purpose. She could put the pieces together bit by bit as time went on and she raised her son and watched him grow.
I can’t help but wonder if while Mary was standing at the foot of the cross nearly 33 years later, if she was still placing events in her heart. She was overwhelmed again, this time with pain at watching Jesus be tortured and killed. Yet, I believe she still trusted in God to fulfill his promises, she had seen too much to believe otherwise.
Mary was a sinful, fallible human. People like to lift her high, pray to her, and even worship her. Mary would be disgusted; she would be appalled that we would even consider such despicable acts. However, we can learn a great lesson from Mary.
Throughout Mary’s earthly life she was watching and learning and treasuring all she could about Jesus. Putting pieces together little by little as she grew to understand more and more of who he was. This is what we need to be doing. We need to treasure up in our heart all that God has done in our lives and ponder his Words to us. We need to recall what he has to say to us in his gift of the Scriptures and think on these things continually. As we mature we should be seeing more and more of who Christ is and why things are the way they are. The closer we walk with him, the more he reveals to us.
This Christmas, treasure Jesus in your heart above all. Think on him and what he has done and what his life on earth was about. Ponder why he was born as a human, why he lived as he did and what caused him to die on a cross for you. Do not allow holiday busyness to push him aside so that you can indulge in material overabundance. Keep Christ at the center of all you do. If your heart and mind are set on Jesus this Christmas the rewards are eternal. Treasure and ponder your Savior.
Ladies, my goal of this blog today is to encourage you to become boldly thankful every day. If you want joy in your life then giving thanks to God is the path that gets you there. Being thankful is the antidote to the dissatisfaction you are experiencing in life today. This may seem too simple and too close to wishful thinking, but I challenge you to put it into practice and see for yourself.
Here is what Paul has to say about giving thanks – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This verse includes three activities that we should be doing perpetually: rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. That is what our days should look like; these are what should be on our lips continually: praise, prayers, and thanks to God. I want to focus on giving thanks because I believe that the other two will follow if you get that one right.
Give thanks in all circumstances. What does it take to always be thankful? An easy life? A life free from troubles and pain? Did Paul’s life look like that? No…read the book of Acts. Paul’s life after receiving Christ included beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, and more. He had no life of leisure. More importantly, look at the life of Jesus; he was hated, had no place to lay his head, and was brutally beaten and crucified. These examples should speak volumes to us today. We tend to think that those who lived two thousand years ago can’t identify with our lives or the pain we go through. Quite the opposite is true! We can’t relate to their lives of difficulties because of our lives of comfort. If Paul and Jesus could rejoice and give thanks to God in everything they went through, then I certainly can do the same in my life and through my difficulties.
I want to get very practical with you now, Ladies. I want to deal with the anti-thankful state we often find ourselves in; the state of want or dissatisfaction. If you are like me, you hate those feelings; always feeling a little behind and a little less than everyone else around you. Here is how you combat that emotion: get your eyes on Christ. Remove from your eyesight all earthly things that make you covet and want “more”. If you feel unsatisfied with your looks after reading a fashion magazine, trash it. If you feel unhappy with your home after watching HGTV, block the channel. If going to the mall makes you want to buy more stuff, stop going there. Be firm with yourself and get rid of distractions to thanksgiving. “Lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” - Hebrews 12:1.
Recognize that these are all the Enemy’s attempts at stealing your joy. Fight that by giving thanks to God for what he has given you. I find that when I am thankful for the house, body and life situation that God has blessed me with, there is no room for discontent. With Christ I am completely full; there is no lacking or need unmet. This is not to say that I don’t have earthly needs, but my eternal needs (what is of utmost importance) are fully satisfied.
Paul knew exactly what he was talking about when he told the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances.” He knew that our varying circumstances don’t change our relationship with our Savior. No matter what else goes on around us, or what happens to us, if we have Jesus, we have everything. If you have accepted what he has done for you on the cross, you are eternally well and safe. You can never lose that relationship and that is why there is always reason to give thanks. Our God is an awesome and mighty God, and has promised that once you are his, no one can snatch you out of his hand (John 10:28,29). In that we rejoice and give thanks in every season and in all circumstances!
If you have not started this relationship with Jesus, you are not eternally secure and no amount of thanksgiving will get you there. There is no better time than right now to accept his gift. Allow God to fill you with his eternal blessings and begin a new life of thanksgiving; always living in anticipation of his goodness.
Ladies, I want you to be determined in this quest of giving thanks. Not just in the next couple of weeks, but always. Get rid of distractions in life that lead to dissatisfaction. Mothers, teach your children to be continually thankful. Let them see you praise God when difficulties come. With a thankful heart fully satisfied in God you will find true and everlasting joy.