I Can’t Keep Up

I’ve been texting with my “little” brother this morning. He’s sending pictures of their place. The garden and greenhouse he built for them. My attempts are so feeble compared to his. It’s not that I don’t want to do better and have better, I just can’t keep up. There was a time when I could. My body has betrayed me, and I hate it. I look at my yard, and I can see how I want it…. and that’s where it remains. In my mind.

Then I opened my devotional by Max Lucado to today’s selection. Tears came. God knew I would be upset, and He arranged this for me to read today. It’s in God is With You Every Day, for May 22, titled Your Best Days. He tells the story of a little boy trying to keep up with his family in an airport, until he plops himself down on his bag and shouts, “I can’t keep up!”

That’s how I feel. “GOD, I can’t keep up!”

Max Lucado goes on to say this: “Sometimes the challenge is just too much. You want to keep up. You try. It’s not that you don’t. Life has a way of taking the life out of us. When you run out of fight,remember that the promises of God are your to claim. God’s Word dares you to believe that your best days are ahead of you. God promises you a Promised Land.”

Thanks, Max. I needed that today. My Promised Land is coming. I know that, and I need to be reminded sometimes. It may not be on this earth, but someday, I’ll have a garden that defies anything I can imagine now. Remember that. Whatever your dream is. Your Promised Land may not be on this earth. Are you confident that you will reach it? Are you a Child of the King, to claim your inheritance?

“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your GOD gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
Joshua 23:14 NIV

https://joshua.bible/joshua-23-14

Give THANKS to the LORD

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 1 Chronicles 16:34 NASB1995

https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/1ch.16.34/652

He is good! Give thanks for your life! Give thanks to the LORD.

For what, you ask?

Most of all, more than anything else, thank the LORD for His Son, Jesus Christ, and His life-saving Salvation!

Is your life good? Give thanks to the LORD!

Are you healthy? Give thanks to the LORD!

Are you alive? Give thanks to the LORD!

Is your life a mess? Give thanks to the LORD!

Is your body sick, ill, diseased? Give thanks to the LORD!

Are you alone, lonely, yearning? Give thanks to the LORD!

Easy to say; hard to do. Thank God today for what you have. Thank God for the hard life you have. Thank God that you can feel. Thank God for your doctors! Thank God for pharmacists and nurses and medicines; for hospitals and rehab! Thank God for the roof over your head, and for the clothing you wear. Thank Him for the good landlord and the bad one. Thank Him for the service members who protect us. Thank God for living in a free country, and thank Him for the good and the bad politicians…..

Thanksgiving, even when we don’t feel like it!

“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.”
James 5:13 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jas.5.13.NASB1995

As Americans, we are especially blessed. Even with all of the ridiculous shenanigans (I’ve always liked that word) in Washington and around the country, we really are blessed. That said, I know there are many who are struggling and suffering, and my heart and prayers go out to them. I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful in the midst of suffering, or being cheerful in times of stress. Pretty much the opposite… and definitely not like James tells us:

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19 NASB1995

https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/jas.1.19/2932

Here’s another one, this time from John.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1jn.4.7.NASB1995

That’s a verse I really have to work on applying in my life! Coming up on Thanksgiving, with Christmas following close behind, I find that this might be the thing I struggle most with. I think most families have that person that we struggle with liking….. or even tolerating. God knows, and He is very clear on this. After all, being fully aware of the plans the Pharisees had for Him, and knowing that Judas would betray Him, Jesus showed love to them. He showed love to the thief on the cross next to Him. I am to reflect the love of God by showing love to everyone around you whether they deserve it or not.

If you don’t have that “special” person in your life, I almost envy you. However, if we are honest with ourselves, I expect that we have that someone whom we don’t like. Whether their actions or their personality. You, or I, might even be that person to someone!

LORD, Father God, I bring this to You today, and pray that You will take the resentment and anger and frustration from me, and help me to show Your love to that person. It’s only through YOU that I am able to do this. Let me be a blessing to that person, so that they might see Jesus. Amen.

Peace On Earth

I read this statement this morning: “The New Testament does not say that the angels prophesied peace: they proclaimed peace—peace to men of goodwill toward God.” (Emphasis mine) It’s funny how you can know a thing, and yet read it again and suddenly it hits you. The angels weren’t saying that peace would come to the world, but that peace would be among those with whom He is well pleased. Compare these two versions of Luke 2:14.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;”
Ephesians 5:15‭-‬20 NASB1995

“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds. They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 6:13‭-‬15 NLT

I want to be among those people with whom He is pleased, careful of how I walk, filled with the Spirit, and always giving thanks for all things in the name of the LORD. I don’t like being ruled by greed, and it’s easy to fall into it with the materialism of the world so loud and pushy around us. I see so much of it around me, and the longing of wanting what I perceive as my right…. but is it, really? If I should receive what I truly deserve – if anyone got what they truly deserve, I don’t think we would like it very much!

Give thanks for all things. That’s the ticket to a true and happy, full, and rewarding life.

Thank God!

A Psalm of David:

I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple. And give thanks to Your name for Your Lovingkindness and Your Truth; For You have magnified Your Word according to all Your Name. On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

“All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD. When they have heard the words of Your Mouth. And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the Glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your Hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your Right Hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your Lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your Hands.” Psalms 138:1‭-‬8 NASB1995

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Everything is a gift. Be thankful for His Mercy, Pardon, Patience, Lovingkindness, Truth. “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,….” Psalms 92:1‭-‬2 NIV

Pray. God delivers His promises in fulfillment of His Word. Don’t forget to say Thank You, Jesus! “….. to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,….” Ephesians 3:19‭-‬20 NIV

Remember God’s Pre-eminence. Eventually, EVERYONE will give thanks and praise the LORD. ALL of Creation will praise Him. He is our protection. Be thankful for all the troubles that have MISSED us. God’s Grace and Mercy will sustain us. He gives us Purpose. He will complete and accomplish His plans for me. God made me and He has a purpose for me!

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

“….. being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

Thank God for His fulfillment!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NIV

Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!

Motivated

Motivations can be positive things or negative things…. These are some motivations for us; the benefits of a robust spiritual life:

“For if these qualities (moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8‭-‬9a NASB

Spiritual growth is spiritual productivity; to be fruitful you must be growing and prgressing. Failure to grow leads to spiritual amnesia.

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; FOR AS LONG AS YOU PRACTICE THESE THINGS, YOU WILL NEVER STUMBLE [into doubt of your salvation]; …. 2 Peter 1:10 NASB

Do you need reassurance of your salvation? How do we make sure we are saved? God has called us and chosen us, He has elected us. HE chose US, but WE have to choose HIM. If we are not growing and moving forward, we are slipping backwards. We cannot lose our security in Christ, but we can lose our assurance when we stop growing in Him.

God’s Word to us – “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, …..” Romans 8:15‭-‬16 NASB

Along with the fruits of the Spirit that we read about in 2 Peter, our growth is shown by our prayer life.

“…… and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full.” Matthew 15:36‭-‬37 NASB

Wow. I fail miserably at this…. how many times have I sat down to eat something and skipped thanking God for the fact that I have food? What about the blessings of my life, and the challenges, too. Am I thanking God daily for them? I’m not concerned about where I will spend eternity, but I wonder sometimes how I will spend eternity…. Is my life, my example, enough to show the people around me that I am sure of my future? Our “glorious entry” to heaven is the evidence that we lived to please Christ, not to boast for ourselves. The kingdom is Eternal, it is the Future, and it belongs to Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” 2 Peter 1:12-‬15

In His Word I Do Hope

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD. LORD, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His Word do I hope.” Psalms 130:1‭-‬5 NASB

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the FATHER of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

I accompanied my Mom to a banquet Sunday night. When I took her home, she was thanking me for taking her. Why should she thank me? Considering all of the things she has done for me, places she has taken me, sacrifices she has made for me and my siblings, everytime I see her I should be thanking her. Likewise, every single good thing that has ever happened to me, I should be thanking my LORD. My bad decisions are all mine, and my good decisions are all His.

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12‭-‬13 NASB

I’ve had abundance, and I’ve had hardship. Sometimes it feels like it’s ALL hardship. A friend used to tell me “You have 5 minutes for your pity party, then get over it and MOVE ON.” Throughout my life, even at my lowest, there was something to be grateful for, even if it was having my family mad at me – because it meant they still cared. If there is absolutely NOTHING you can think of to be thankful for, be thankful for toilets and toilet paper!

What are you grateful for today? Where do you find your hope?

A Sacrificial Thanks

A sacrificial thanksgiving. That’s a different attitude!

I shall pay my vows to the LORD, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.” Psalms 116:14‭-‬15 NASB (Read verses 1-19)

Are we thankful for the people who have sacrificed their lives for us? Today, I’m reminded of the men and women who have unselfishly volunteered to dedicate their lives to keeping our nation free. They serve in our Armed Forces as Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force personnel. They serve in our Border Patrol, and they serve in the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. These men and women don’t know me, yet they are putting their very lives on the line to provide me with freedom and safety from other nations who want to destroy us.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6‭-‬7 NASB

You know the truly astonishing thing about those people serving us? Many of them aren’t even Christians! They don’t know our LORD; they don’t have a personal relationship with Him, and yet they are ready to give their very life to save mine.

A humbling thought.

Am I prepared to offer my life as a sacrifice – a joyful sacrifice at that, overflowing with gratitude that I could offer my life for my LORD? Not even for a stranger, but for my Saviour, Who died for me? Am I thankful for the uncomfortable things that are happening in my life?

Thanksgiving 2019

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord , for he is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:31‭-‬34 NLT