29 November 2008

Thankful for What I Lost

Psalm 100 -- A psalm of thanksgiving.
1 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! 2 Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. 3 Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

God wants to provide for us always, to give us what we need. He also provides for our wants. We come before Him and make our requests known to Him. When we receive His blessings, we are thankful and acknowledge the gifts are from Him through His mercy and His mighty love for us. Not because we deserve them, but because He loves us. At this time of year, we might think about it more often because of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

We generally give thanks for the things we have. The gift of Jesus and my salvation, good health, loved ones, faithful friends, prosperity and possessions are a few examples of what I am thankful for. However, this year I am giving thanks for things I don’t have; things God has taken away from me.

1.0 Fear: I am no longer afraid of what will happen to me. I know that God is right there beside me. He keeps me safe in His loving arms, protecting me from all harm and evil. Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Isaiah 43:2 “ When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." He will be with me, always. Difficult and painful events are going to happen. I’m going to go through times of discipline, just like any child does. Whatever it is, I know I won’t be alone. I know He’s going to be there right beside me, and when necessary, carry me through. Psalm 31:24 “So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD”! When it is time for me to rest, I know that it will be for just a while. 1Thesalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” I will be called upon along with the others and we’ll make the journey together with Jesus to be with our heavenly Father for eternity. Jesus told Nicodemus that whoever believes in God’s son will not perish but will have everlasting life (John 3:16), and He said that those who are victorious like He was, those that hold on to their crown, will sit with Him on His throne just as He sat with His Father on His throne (Rev. 3:21).

2.0 Worry / Anxiety: There is simply no point in worrying. It accomplishes no good. It changes nothing and surely does not add a single day to your life. Worry is an expression of faltering faith. Matthew 6:31-34, [Jesus says] “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” What outcome will be different by worrying and stressing over it? Not one. God allows difficult events in our lives. No one is exempt. Not even his own son, Jesus, was spared. The good thing is that we don’t have to face these crisis alone. He is there for us, to comfort and strengthen us, and to bring us peace. Everything happens according to God’s plan for us. He determines if things will go this way or that way. The apostle Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” In Philippians 4:6-8 he says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

3.0 Bitterness / Resentment: Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” God has given me a way to overcome all of the bitterness I once had in my heart. He gave me the divine gift to forgive and forget. Because of His grace, I was able to forgive those who hurt me the most. I am free from the control they once had over me. If any one of them would come to me for help, I would do for them as God would lead me to; to extend love and compassion just as I would to anyone else. God loves them just as much as He loves me. What I do to the least of them, I do to him. Matthew 25:40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"

4.0 Importance of material possessions: “Stuff” I have no longer holds the same importance to me as it once did. I used to think I needed a lot of things, such as a dining room, an up-to-date kitchen, an additional bathroom, a four-wheel-drive vehicle, more jewelry, so on and so forth. We live in a society where a person’s worth is measured by their possessions. Big houses, expensive automobiles; the boy with the most toys has the most friends. Praise God, He’s shown me that everything here on earth is only temporary. Our real riches can be found only in Heaven. Matthew 6:19-21;24 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. [24] “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other. You will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Anything that we put ahead of God is an idol. If you spend more time chasing after possessions than you do pursuing a relationship with Jesus, the possessions become idols. Isaiah 44:19: “The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?” Anything that keeps us from God is an idol. That includes activities, and yes, even our job. Ephesians 5:5 “You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Nothing can be more important than God. He wants to be first, above everything, before every one. Our first role in this life is as His children. Then we are spouse of s/he, or a parent, or a doctor, or a secretary or a student.

5.0 Control: I’ve always known I am a better follower than a leader. I can, and have been, in the control position over numerous situations and instances. I’ve had management positions in jobs that I’ve held. I can make sound decisions quickly when the need arises. I have the ability to effectively delegate responsibilities to others. I was allowed to take control of my own life when I moved out of my parents home at the age of 18. I still went back to them for support on a regular basis; however, I made my own decisions. I paid dearly for many of them. After I surrendered to God, everything changed. I heard about the concept of total submission. Of course I was apprehensive, but then I gave it a try. I held out my hands and said, “Here I am, Lord. I’m all yours. Use me to do your work. Do with me according to your will.” Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Each morning, I give myself to Him again. Freely, willingly, eagerly and thankfully. Life has been so much easier. Life has been so much better. Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” I let the Lord lead me in everything I do, and ask Him to control my thoughts and feelings, and to protect my heart from the evil one and what he tries to put in my head. I don’t want to go through another day, not one, ever, without God being in control. Psalm 25:10 “The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness, all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.” I’ve become so dependent on Him, I can’t and don’t want to go it alone.

The changes in me are remarkable. I am so different than I was six months ago. All inward changes have been gradual and many more are yet to come, but the result so far shows a totally transformed person. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, a new one has begun.” He gave me the strength to quit smoking after 30 some years, and took away every desire for drugs and alcohol I once had. He’s taken away doubt, jealousy, anger, envy, emptiness, loneliness, deceitful talk, prejudice and replaced them with the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him or everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

1 comment:

  1. This is a really good post. I would have never really thought about what he has taken away, or what I have lost to be thankful for, before reading this. Another good thing to think about.:)