Thursday, November 27, 2014

Be Thankful!!

It is so joyful to have special days, festive days or days of celebration. It lifts up our spirits and brings in fellowship and communion with each other.  However, it is imperative that the reason behind the festivity and feasting & celebration is about honoring God and giving thanks to Him.  Bible says in Romans 14: 6 He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God;  It is good to give thanks to the Lord everyday and it is also good to specialize a day to remember all the goodness and blessings of the Lord and be thankful to Him. 

To be thankful is nothing but doing Gods Perfect Will.  He has revealed His Will in His word in I Thessalonians 5:18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

Being thankful is feeling or being appreciative of kindness or benefits received; It is most of the time expressive either by words or actions.  It is a very sweet attitude.

Colossians 3:15b says And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

Psalmist says about expressing the thankfulness in the sanctuary of the Lord.  Psalm 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

Ephesians 5:4 says Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God].

The Lord’s will is always good for us.  Thankfulness to God and people around is also associated with our well-being.  People who have the attitude of gratitude are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and higher sense of self-worth.  According to Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman Philosopher, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others." Multiple psychological studies have shown the correlation between gratitude and increased wellbeing not only for the individual but for all people involved. 

There is a curse if we are not grateful to God.  It is recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 28 in verse 47 and 48

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of [mind and] heart [in gratitude] for the abundance of all [with which He had blessed you],

Therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and in want of all things; and He will put a yoke of iron upon your neck until He has destroyed you.  
Therefore it is implicated here that we need to cheerfully serve the Lord with gratitude in heart.  It will definitely bring in more blessings into our lives.
Know The Schemes Of The Enemy:
Discontentment is one of the biggest weapons the enemy uses.  It makes you feel dissatisfied with your life in spite of all the good things you have and you enjoy.  It causes jealousy, bitterness, envying, complaining, etc.  It causes you to oppress others as well.  It makes you stingy and not generous and benevolent.  You would not be able to thank God for what God has done in your life, but you'll always be looking at the other person.  Finally, you are not living your life to the fullest as God ordained.  It is well said “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.”  Perhaps that is why the Lord has made it one of His Ten Commandments, not to be covetous of what is others. When we covet what is others', it would cause discontentment with our own life causing us to ungrateful to God.  You may wish to have blessings like car or house, but let that wish be not because somebody else has them, but let that be because you need it for your life.  God is good and benevolent to supply all your needs according to His riches and glory.

How do we cultivate this lifestyle of Thankfulness:

Ask the Lord for a Sensitive Heart:
Hard and insensitive heart cannot appreciate the goodness or benefit or blessing.  It would take everything for granted.  We need to appreciate everything around us.  Albert Einstein said “There are only two ways to live a life; one is as though nothing is a miracle; The other is as if everything is.” If we look at everything as a miracle, how excited we would be and it creates a positive attitude and gratefulness towards God.  That gratitude towards God will reflect into other avenues and areas of life. 

Though there are circumstances that you would not be able to show your thankful because of certain constraints, when you express your gratitude in the presence of the Lord for that person or a thing and pray for that person, though they may not know that you are being thankful for them but the Lord knows and He sees you.  As you continue in this lifestyle of gratitude and being thankful, at the right time, the Lord will enable you to bless those who blessed you and express your gratitude for them in action. The Key is Gratitude in heart. For the lips speak from the fullness of the heart.  Luke 6:45.  Not just words you would translate your gratitude into actions as well.

Journal It:
It is good to record events and things on a daily basis because you may forget as you carry it over or procrastinate.  I maintain a notebook called “Record of The Goodness of the Lord In Year __________” I have been having notebooks like that since 2011.  I should have started it before itself.  It is better late than never.  This has been a very effective way to defeat the schemes of the enemy and to appreciate the Lord’s goodness everyday.  Everything I attribute it finally to the Lord.  The sentence would start like this invariably “Thank you Jesus for __________.” 

Here is a simple or silly example:
October 23, 2014:  Thank you Jesus today there’s a milestone in my ministry, today my youtube video – Closer crossed 1000 views (1314 views actually). 

This is just for example, you and I can be thankful for so many other good and great things the Lord has done in our lives each and every day.  Nothing is simple or silly.  Everything counts.  If we do not record them, we may forget them and we may lose this lifestyle of being grateful and thankful to God.

Count Your Blessings by The Martins have these wonderful lyric lines;

He had family friends and money, loved the lord with all his heart
So the devil went to God and said ole Job would fall apart
If you would take away his fortune, let me put him to the test
Soon poor Job had lost his health, and wealth, and all the rest
And as his troubles added up, he fell down on his knees
He said lord I still got one thing, and that’s your love for me

You got to count your blessing, you’ll find one if you try
Count on the lord and watch that blessing multiply
All those might have, could have, should have beens, are nothing but distressing
When you’re down and out, its time to count your blessing

You might go through hard times, when you fall into despair
Remember you’re surrounded by his blessings everywhere
It’s in a neighbors helping hand, or in the sunshine of a smile
One blessing leads to one more, you’ll be counting for a while
It’s best to look at what you have, forget what you have not
And just learn a lesson from old Job and give thanks for what you got

Find Ways To Express Your Gratitude:
Praising God is a way of expressing our gratitude.  Every morning when we get up to seek God, our heart should be filled with gratitude for the new day, for His new mercies, for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, for the salvation wrought through Him, for the Holy Spirit who is with Us, for the Father God’s love over us, so on and so forth.  As we begin our day with gratitude for God, then we become appreciative of other things in our lives.  Though you may feel life has been so unfair or unkind to me what is there for me to be thankful for.  If you are washed by the Blood of Jesus Christ, that is enough for you to be grateful and thankful for the Lord.  Just focus on Jesus Christ, His sacrifice and His grace and what He accomplished for you on the cross and this one thing is ENOUGH for you and me to be thankful for.  He has expressed His love for you and me by dying on the cross.  This Love of God is more than enough to be thankful for.  Other things are just additions. 

Express your gratitude to God not just by words also by actions.  A teaching leader in our Bible Study Fellowship has put it beautifully,
“Jesus Paid It All – Gratitude demands that I grow my relationship with Him.”

“Jesus Paid It All – Gratitude demands that we live holy obedient lives.”
Beautiful isn’t it?

Similarly, we should express our thankfulness and gratitude to people in our lives.  We normally express our thankfulness to so many people outside our family but we take our own people for granted.  Appreciate your husband, your wife, your mother, your father, your sister or brother, even the little ones.  Express your thankfulness for them.  As we journal everything in our record, we also record the people who were instrumental for every goodness and blessing, be grateful for them and express your gratitude for them in ways you can find possible and at right times.  Make them know that you are appreciative of them.

Give thanks to the Lord for the Lord is good and His Love endures forever!!

Hope this post is a blessing to you.  What are you grateful for today and what are the ways you follow to cultivate this lifestyle of gratitude? Please feel free to share. 

This time of the year has always been a blessed time.  Happy Thanksgiving!! God Bless!!

Written by Shanta S. Daniel

[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Friday, November 07, 2014

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done

How many of us know the prayer taught by Lord Jesus Christ.  I know that every Christian who has gone to Children’s Bible School or catechism in school or any Christian who has read the New Testament would have come across this prayer.  It is a very common prayer that is  most often said like chanting a mantra.  The prayer goes like this in Matthew 6:9 & 10
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

In this post, we are focusing on what Jesus meant by praying “Thy Kingdom Come and Thy Will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.”

What is the Kingdom of the Father like and What is His Will like in GENERAL.  I am not probing into the specific Will of the Father God, who is in Heaven, but His GENERAL WILL and HIS KINGDOM which He has in Heaven.  We will glean through some of the verses to understand what His Kingdom is like and How He rules and reigns.

Psalmist David himself is a king and in most of his psalms he would address God as the King.  He had the right perspective about God and always kept Him as the King of kings.  Through his psalms David describes the character of the GREAT King of Heaven and Earth and His Kingdom attributes. 
 God has set His throne in heaven; He rules over us all. He’s the King! Ps 103:19

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.  Psalm 145:13

For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. Psalm 47:7

God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. Psalm 47:8

Our King loves righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with God and hates wickedness; Psalm 45:7

David calls God as the Lord.  Lord means the one who lords over or who has the dominion or authority over something or someone.  It also implies the kingship.  Wherever David calls the Lord he acknowledges that He is the ruling One.

The below verses point out the characteristics of our King and Lord.

Psalm 145: 14 - 19
The Lord upholds all those [of His own] who are falling and raises up all those who are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait for You [looking, watching, and expecting] and You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand and satisfy every living thing with favor.
The Lord is [rigidly] righteous in all His ways and gracious and merciful in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth.
He will fulfill the desires of those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him; He also will hear their cry and will save them.

Psalm 103: 3-9 (MSG)
The Lord forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in His presence.
The Lord makes everything come out right; He puts victims back on their feet.

The Reign of Our King Jesus Christ will be filled with justice, righteousness, without oppression, tyranny or evil.  No one will harm another.
 Psalm 103 (AMP)
The Lord executes righteousness and justice [not for me only, but] for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness.
He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge.
10 He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe].
14 For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children—
18 To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts].
19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.

Isaiah 11
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord—
3 And shall make Him of quick understanding, and His delight shall be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, neither decide by the hearing of His ears;
4 But with righteousness and justice shall He judge the poor and decide with fairness for the meek, the poor, and the downtrodden of the earth; and He shall smite the earth and the oppressor with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of His waist and faithfulness the girdle of His loins.
6 And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted domestic animal together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed side by side, their young shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
10 And it shall be in that day that the Root of Jesse shall stand as a signal for the peoples; of Him shall the nations inquire and seek knowledge, and His dwelling shall be glory [His rest glorious]!

Thus our King is full of love and compassion, faithfulness and righteousness who has the power to render a perfect governance.  There is peace and joy in His Kingdom.  There is  prosperity and protection in His Kingdom.  That is the reason Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray Heavenly Father, who is in heaven, Thy Kingdom Come and Thy Will Be Done on earth as it is in heaven because Your Kingdom is Perfect and Your Will is the Perfect Solution to us all.  

To all the problems in the society, the solution is not in any man-made systems which is flawed but it is in the Kingdom of God.  When we declare and decree the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and pave way for its rule and reign, it brings in solutions of peace and prosperity.  Submitting to His Kingdom and His Will is the wise decision one can make, as taught by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  So it is quite meaningful to say “Father in Heaven Thy Kingdom Come and Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” Isn't it?

So, what are your thoughts on the Kingdom of God and His dominion and Power? Please feel free to share.

Written by Shanta S. Daniel

[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

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