30 Days of Thanksgiving

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP)  Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.

Every November I start each morning posting what I am thankful for. A heart of thanksgiving will overflow with gratitude. It is the fruit of us being deeply rooted in Jesus. It is proof of our faith. It helps build our faith because we choose to overflow in it with gratitude.

Last week my church finished up a six week small group plan following Get Out of Your Head, a study in Philippians, by Jennie Allen. The final chapter talks about anxiety. Could we be focused on fear of a real or, often really the case, perceived threat? Can we trust God, even if?

Philippians 4:8 (AMP) Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

Philippians 4:8 is one of my go to verses that I often meditate on. Why? My mind wants to spiral into some crazy thoughts. Often we think of all the things that can go wrong when presented with a challenge. In reality the more success we have is when we focus on all the things that can go right. The same is with our relationships. If I cannot think of our brothers and sisters in Christ this way, I have a deep issue that has not been rooted in His love. If I cannot bring our minds to think on things that is worthy of praise, if I cannot implant His Word in my heart, I have a deep rooted issue centered on not trusting God.

A couple of years ago a church that we had a semi relationship with (our youth groups would get together) hurt me pretty bad. They had started using some of my youth leaders to do various helps in their church, without us knowing. These leaders eventually left ours to join in with their leadership team because of the relationship they developed. My heart hurt and we cut ties with that other church. Even though what they did was wrong, I became so consumed to what they did and what they are doing that bitterness and eventually depression set it. I had allowed it to do that to happen a year ago. I still had friendships in that church, but I cut off all communication with the pastors. I stayed away from my friends because I did not want to spew my hurt onto them. I do honor the office of a pastor and we should not use the reason of hurt to talk bad about them (James 4:11). When I did come together again, with my friend, I did tell them why, but I did tell the I her I was working through my hurt. I always encourage her to honor her pastors, to join in and help with the vision of the church. I have also started to pray for the church, not to see their errors, but to fulfill the vision that God put inside of them. I am not ready to see them again. I will continue to pray. I focus my mind on what is worthy of praise. They are called by God with a purpose. They are bringing people into the Kingdom.

You do not have to wait to feel good to start having a time of thanksgiving. Joy will start to come out of your praise. Praise even when you are hurting, that is the way out of it. Start with just one. You might say, I cannot come up with thirty things. Just think and be thankful one day at a time. Before you know it, you will have filled the whole month with thanksgiving. Here are a couple of ideas if you need help:

Father, I thank you for challenging us to see the best in others. My hearts desire is to grow close in your presence, because in your presence is fullness of joy. I repent for speaking words or having thoughts that slander my brothers and sisters in Christ. I choose today to think on things that pure, lovely, virtuous, and to not take an account of a suffered wrong. I speak blessings on those that hurt me. May they be successful and favored in every place they go. May they minister the gospel and set people free by pointing them to your Son. I am thankful for the forgiveness you have given me so that I may freely give it to others. Thank you for leading me. Thank you for the friendships that I have. I thank you that we point each other back to Christ. I thank you for surrounding me and rooting me in your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Motives

Colossians 3:17 (AMP) Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

I believe this verse needs to be as memorized as Philippians 4:13. What is our motive? Why do you want to do something? Or even why should I do it? I should do everything in the name of the Lord, no matter what.

Is it to please our leadership? Is it to make ourselves feel good or more pious? You have a choice. Many people want to do something and do not want to be held accountable (especially when they make a verbal commitment). Their motive is wrong. Let’s be honest. We are self seeking. When we do not measure up, we say we make a mistake and should never have committed to that. True! You were not doing it unto the Lord.

Who or what is your dependence on? If it is not in Christ then you will feel like a failure. In Christ we cannot fail. Keep your heart motive on Him no matter what!

Luke 19:31 (AMP)  “If anybody asks you, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ you will say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 

Matthew 14:28 (AMP) Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus was referred to as Teacher, Rabbi, Son of God, Savior, Friend and Lord. Which one of those titles holds the most weight? It is unto the Lord that we serve, worship and dedicate. “Lord” carried the most weight when it came to trust in what they were told to do. Peter, said, “Lord, if it is really you….”

Maybe we get frustrated at our leadership because we want them to be Lord (sometimes, but not all the time, only when it is convenient). That is not their role. When we make a commitment to people, what is the intent? For example, my husband and I are pastors. We have heard “Pastor, I am committed to this church. Nothing can run me off.” Or “Pastor, I am all in.” Both parties are pumped and ready to do ministry together. Can I be honest and transparent? Most of the times it does not end well. Guess who is to blame? The pastor. Not really, but they are left to pick up the pieces and move on. We do have a part to play. We are not perfect. It is in the imperfection that you should pray for us.

We have to make Jesus Lord of our lives. When we try to short cut and submit with the wrong intent, we are setting ourselves up for hurt. Yes, honor your pastor. Your pastor is called to equip and lead you to do the works of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11).

I will not remind you to tithe.Yes, I have had someone ask to hold them accountable to that. Did I do it? NO!! Something else made them mad and they left anyways. That is between you and God. Now, when it comes to giving you a leadership role, should those who do not financially support the church be put in leadership? I will let you answer that question yourself.

I will encourage you to love God, I will encourage you to seek the best for others and to love unselfishly. I will encourage you to pray, to get in your Word and to serve in and outside of your church. I will encourage to make Jesus Lord of your life. You can ask me if you heard Him correct and for the direction of your life? I am going to point you back to your Word and ask if it lines up with His character and nature. Will it cause division among believers? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it cause someone to stumble in their faith? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it bring healing? Will it encourage you and others to grow in their faith? Does it show love? Will it draw people closer to a relationship with Him? Then yes you have heard from Him correctly.

What are our motives?

Lord, I want to glorify you with whatever I put my hands to, no matter who sees it. Lord, I want to serve your people, no matter who acknowledges it. Lord, blind my eyes to what does not need to be seen to keep me from stumbling. Lord, I have faith to step out, all you have to say is ‘come.’ Yes, You have given me free will and everything is permissible for me, but not everything will bring glory to You. I choose to make you Lord over my life. What I choose that may be best for me, may not be what is best to glorify You. My dependence is on You today and every day. I choose today whom I will serve. Amen.

A willing offering

Philippians 2:14-17 (AMP) Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness],  holding out and offering to everyone the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to rejoice greatly because I did not run [my race] in vain nor labor without result.  But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith [for preaching the message of salvation], still I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Colossians 3:17 (AMP) Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

1 Corinthians 16:14 (AMP) Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].

Providence is the protective nature of God, trusting that I have a future. Can we just do everything He tells us in His Word without questioning if He has our best interest in mind? It gets more challenging, we are not promised that it will not be hard. We are anointed for the hard stuff. Paul is telling us to do EVEN IF your life is the offering. The race I run, the labor it brings forth, is not in vain. The sacrifice and service of my faith is for the salvation of others (the real prize)!

When God speaks to you to do something, do not be concerned with why not someone else. I have learned that when He calls you to it, He will equip you for it. When I started speaking, I was not great at it. It was actually very painful to watch. I had to trust that the words He gave me were impactful. My heart motive was not to make a name for myself, but to make Him famous.

I am not waiting on the situation to be right so that I can shine. I have never been into that “it’s my time to shine” when it comes to serving. Why do we need to feel like if we are not elevated then we really are not doing anything. Paul said even if I am being poured out as a drink offering. Pour all of me out Lord. Use everything that you have placed within me.

In the first part of 2 Kings 4, Elisha comes across a widow and her sons. She had a great debt and man she owed the debt to was coming to take her sons and make them bond servants. Elisha asked what she had. She replied only one jar of oil. He instructed her to get all her jars and even borrow from friends and neighbors. As she began to pour out of the single jar into the other, per his instruction, every jar was filled. She poured until the last jar that had been gathered was filled. Then she was instructed to first pay off her debt and then live off of the rest.

What if we applied that same principle to Matthew 6:33? But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. This is exactly what Paul was telling us in pouring out our lives as a drink offering. The anointing you have needs to be poured out. You are not called to this alone. Notice the widow needed the help of her friends and neighbors. Paul even refers to himself as a bond servant to Christ. Does not mean I have a debt to pay off? No, Christ paid that debt. My hearts desire should want to pour my life out because of His great love sacrifice. However, when I think of my needs first am I really trusting in the providence of God?

Colossians 3:14 (AMP) Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].

I want the best for you. I hope you feel the same way about me. If it takes me pouring myself out to be a drink offering for Him, so be it! Now, do not take me to the extreme. I do believe in rest. If you do not allow Him to pour back into you, then you will be pouring out of self. We cannot grow glory to glory without taking time with the Holy Spirit and the body that He called me to (for equipping). Pouring out has to be healthy. There is a fullness to this Gospel. I pray you dig more into your Word today to find out just how full your life can really be!!