Tag Archives: thankfulness

Thankfulness for the Unseen

Once again it’s Thanksgiving time, and I’m immersing myself in the festivities. I love to cook and find myself busy planning the menu and purchasing the plethora of groceries. When the actual day of cooking comes, though, I sometimes wonder, “What was I thinking?” as I buckle down in the kitchen. Yet, it’s usually with a smile on my face.

Thankfulness for the UnseenOn Thanksgiving Day many of us will share around the table with our family and friends for what we’re thankful. As we go from person to person, I’ll hear gratitude for freedom to worship; thankfulness for spouses, children, and grandchildren; and the blessings of a comfortable home, good health, and safety. We have so many blessings and I’m grateful for all God has done and provided.

But these are the obvious, visible things. I’ve been thinking about thankfulness for what’s on the other side, and by this, I mean the unseen. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) states, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

My finite mind finds it easy to comprehend the blessings I can see, but scripture cautions us, as these are temporal. This includes our family, friends, and health.

The unseen blessings are the eternal ones, and they spring from a life submitted to and committed to Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. The apostle Paul declares, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3, NIV)

As we live our lives of faith and obedience to Him we become more like Him. Some days are easier than others are, as certainly, complications and difficulties arise in life. Often when I feel like escaping due to life’s pressures and demands, it’s challenging to hold on. And, when we perform our roles at home and in work, service, and ministry, we may find ourselves wondering where the applause is. Where is the “attagirl” encouragement for jobs well done here on earth? That’s when I have to remember to lift my eyes to heaven, not allowing them to be dimmed.

We don’t perform for an audience here, but rather for what lies beyond and is of eternal significance.

That gives me hope. And so, this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for God’s many blessings, but even more so, for what is still to come.

Father God, Thank you for your hand of mercy and grace in my life, and I praise you for your generous blessings. I also want to acknowledge and thank you for your assurance of what lies beyond and is unseen—spiritual blessings in Christ of eternal riches and significance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 100:4 (NIV): “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

Colossians 1:3-5 (NLT): “We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.”

Hebrews 12:28 (NIV): “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV): “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Fall 2016

If Only

Earlier in my adult life it seemed the “if onlys” filled many of my days:If I Only Had a

If only my husband traveled less.

If only I had a bigger house.

If only there was more money left over after paying the bills.

If only I was physically stronger.

My thinking was if all those things were in order, then I could effectively serve God.

 

Are you allowing your circumstances to stifle how God wants you to serve?

If we wait until everything lines up and is in order, we’ll never get anything done. God places us where He wants us, and it’s up to us to take advantage of available opportunities. Granted, there will always be conditions or surroundings we’d like to alter, but I’m heartened with what the Apostle Paul shares with the early church at Philippi: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11b-12, NIV)

Satan delights in hindering us through our circumstances. It was difficult back in the years when my husband traveled extensively for business. After many episodes of frustration, we learned to keep a detailed calendar and arrange opportunities to serve, along with setting aside precious family time, to fit in our schedule. It didn’t always work out how we would prefer on all occasions, but God was faithful to provide.

Maybe your house is small and you’re uncomfortable hosting a Bible study, small group meeting, or having the pastor over for dinner. We recently downsized our home, and yes, I do have to gather extra chairs around our family room when people come over, but it works. Through this I’ve learned people have a higher comfort level when everything isn’t perfect. Be encouraged to go ahead and take those important steps of hospitality even if the house isn’t just right.

Money woes and physical issues, along with all the other “if onlys,” take away from and delay us in living fully as God intended. Am I grateful for where God has placed me, including all the circumstances of my life, and for the unique works He has created just for me? Colossians 2:7 (NIV) exhorts me to be, “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I know God has situated me exactly where He wants me. I must secure a strong foundation by strengthening my faith and abounding with gratitude. I’m able to firmly root myself by accepting the works He has prepared for me to do no matter what I think my situation is or what I want it to look like.

Father God, Please enable me to remove my attitude of “if only” and replace it with an attitude of “what’s possible.” Thank you for placing me exactly where you want me with my unique set of circumstances. May my life bring you glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

1 Corinthians 7:17 (ISV): “Nevertheless, everyone should live the life that the Lord gave him and to which God called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV): “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Summer 2016

Do We Appreciate God’s Gifts?

Clustered around the kitchen table, we were joyfully celebrating our granddaughter’s fifth birthday. With each present she opened, she exuberantly exclaimed, “It’s just what I wanted!” gift-553143_640After chuckling during each episode, I began to ponder how I regard the gifts God has selected for me. Do I treat my days, which are gifts, with passion? What about talents the Lord has endowed on me? Answered prayers?

Our granddaughter displayed excitement and thankfulness along with a sense of awe and wonder with every single gift she received. What about me—do I do the same?

God’s greatest provision to me is my salvation, which should thrill me every day. After all, it’s exactly what I asked for and I did receive it. Psalm 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance and salvation. Verse 14 (NIV) declares, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” and later in verse 21 the Psalmist expresses his thanks: “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.” This is how I want to value God’s gift of salvation. As I purpose to thank my Lord each morning for my salvation, this in turn, enables gratefulness in me for every day He gives me.

As I continue to question how I approach God’s gifts, I want to focus on joyfully accepting and appreciating what the Lord has bestowed on me. God generously supplied me with many talents. Now, granted, I wish He had given me a decent singing voice and the ability to carry a tune since I love music and love to sing, but that one just wasn’t in the cards for me. However, as my awareness of the capabilities God has granted me increases, I enthusiastically want to stretch myself and use those gifts to further His kingdom.

Awe is defined as “a strong feeling of fear or respect and wonder.” (Merriam-Webster.com, 2016) Habakkuk the prophet celebrated God praying, “I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works.” (Habakkuk 3:2a, NLT) One way God shows His marvelous works is by responding to our prayers. Do I regularly pause to reflect on all the prayer needs God has met? This should fill me with awe and wonder, as the vast number of answers is miraculous. I offer God my thanksgiving for answered prayer.

Smiling to myself, I watched our granddaughter continue her joyful and thankful cries of delight. Soon, we discarded the wrapping paper, toys were set free from their impossible packaging, and she was enraptured with all her birthday presents.

Father God, Please transform my heart to one of gratitude for all the gifts you’ve provided me. I thank you and praise you for my salvation, and ask you to enable me to approach each day with a childlike sense of awe and wonder as I view your marvelous works and recall your answered prayers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Hebrews 12:28 (NIV): “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

1 Timothy 4:4 (NIV): “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”

Ephesians 5:20 (NIV): “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Spring 2016