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“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:1-3
We have so much to be grateful for. Every day that we are alive, we have a reason to give thanks. However, it is not easy to have a thankful heart. We’re struggling. We’re busy. We’re weary. Maybe we feel like God really doesn’t care about what is troubling us. The reality is that sometimes the constant demands, struggles and worries of life do more to create a spirit of defeat than a heart of thanks.
But we always have a choice. A thankful heart is a powerful thing in the life of a child of God. Here is a list of some of the things a thankful heart will do:
- A thankful heart helps us get our eyes off ourselves and helps us put our focus back on God.
- A thankful heart reminds us that we are not in control, but that we serve a mighty God who is.
- A thankful heart keeps us in a place of humility and dependency on God.
- A thankful heart reminds us to be thankful even for the small things.
- A thankful heart takes our attention off our problems and helps us reflect on and remember the goodness of God and the many blessings he has bestowed on us.
- A thankful heart reminds us that God is the Giver of all good gifts; that ultimately God is our provider; that all blessings and gifts are graciously given to us by His hand.
- A thankful heart has no room for complaining or negativity.
- A thankful heart makes the enemy flee. The forces of darkness can’t stand to be around hearts that give thanks and honor to God.
- A thankful heart opens the door for continued blessing.
- A thankful heart invites God’s presence.
- A thankful heart is renewed and refreshed in Him.
I encourage you to meditate on these truths on a regular basis and focus on giving God thanks in ALL circumstances. I know that your life will change for the better because of your thankful heart. There is power in a thankful heart. CHOOSE THANKFULNESS!
Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks he distributed them to those who were seated—so also with the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were full, he told his disciples, “Collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.” So, they collected them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten (John 6:11-13).
How amazing is our Lord Jesus! He took a little boy’s lunch, blessed it, broke it, handed it out to His disciples, and they fed the whole crowd, 5000 men plus women and children!
Not only were the people fed and satisfied, but the disciples salvaged twelve baskets of fragments. The Lord wasted nothing.
Have you ever wondered who got all the leftovers? I would like to think that it was the little boy who gave his five loaves and two fishes to the Lord. In my mind I can see this little boy running down the road that evening dragging those twelve baskets of loaves and fishes’ home.
“Look mama, you know that lunch you sent with me this morning? I gave it to this man named Jesus.”
“You what? Now son you remember this morning when I gave you that lunch, I told you that this was last food there was, and I didn’t know what we were going to eat tomorrow?”
“Yes mama, but look what He gave me in return. Now we can eat a long time.”
You see Jesus not only blesses others with what we give, He always gives back more than we give. The scripture says. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over.” (Luke 6:38a)
Out beyond our doors is a world full of hungry people. All of them are hungry spiritually. Some of them are hungry physically. Jesus stands on the edge of this hungry world. He’s moved with compassion about their needs. He is looking for people just like you and me with five loaves and two fishes that he can take bless and break and use to feed the multitude. Will you give him your five loaves and two fishes’?
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:19-23).
There is an old Cherokee legend that is loaded with truth. It goes like this: Once, and old man and his grandson were walking through the woods when the grandfather turned to the young man and said, “Young one, inside all of us there is a battle raging between two wolves. You have felt it even in your young years, and I have felt it all my life. One of the wolves is evil – he is anger, envy, greed, regret, arrogance, resentment, lies, hatred, and ego. The other is good – he is love, joy peace, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, compassion, truth and faith. Everyone has this battle going on inside them.”
They walked a little further in silence, until the young boy stopped and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” The wise, old man simply replied, “The one you feed.”
In some earlier verses (vs. 16-18), Paul tells us to “walk by the Spirit and the we will not gratify the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other.” So, the question is, will we feed the Spirit or will we feed the flesh? That is a question that is easy to discern. What fruit categorizes your life: the fruit of the Spirit, or the fruit of the flesh? Consider the two list of fruits Paul mentions in this passage:
1. Fruit produced by the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21):
• Sexual immorality
• fits of rage
• selfish ambition
• factions and envy
• and the like
2. Fruit produced by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22):
Would the people around you say they see more of List #1 or List #2 in your life? Be honest. Think deeeeeeply. Are you feeding the flesh or are you feeding the Spirit? Which list best characterizes your life? What fruit needs some cultivation in your life?
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance is like the wickedness of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
The first king of Israel, King Saul, was told by God to utterly slay Amalek and his descendants. In blatant disobedience Saul allowed Agag, the king of the Amalekites and the best of the cattle to remain alive. The following day, Saul tried to remedy his disobedience by attempting to sacrifice the best of the cattle to the Lord.
But the prophet Samuel informed Saul that because of his disobedience, his family would no longer reign over Israel, and he told Saul, “to obey is better than sacrifice.” If offering the “best of the cattle” for sacrifice was a poor excuse for disobedience, its negative consequences must have paled in comparison with sparing the Amalekite King – whose infamous descendant Haman, an Agagite (Esther 3:1) later rose to power seeking to destroy the entire Jewish population of Persia.
If Saul had dealt with Agag as God instructed him, he would have spared his people, centuries later, from the agonizing contest with a vicious enemy who would destroy them. So, it is with sin. Allow it to live and be sure it will return to slay you with more power. “Small” sins lead to bigger ones, and soon enough the early footholds that are ignored will turn into strongholds. Don’t compromise. OBEDIENCE IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE!
Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it Endures. Your laws endure to this day, For, all things serve you. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes. To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless (Psalm 119:89-96).
One of the reasons we sometimes fail to understand the Bible is because we skip around as we read it. The Bible has an organized structure, and all the parts fit together as a whole. By reading through it systematically, we’ll see God’s plan of redemption clearly revealed in an orderly fashion.
The Plan. In Genesis 1 and 2, the Lord created the heavens and earth and all that fills them, but His plan of redemption through the death of His Son was already in place before creation.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:18-21).
The Need. In Genesis 3, sin entered the world, but God sacrificed an animal to cover the sinners’ shame and promised to send a Redeemer.
Preparation. God eventually chose the nation Israel, through whom He proclaimed Himself as the one true God and brought the Messiah into the world.
Redemption. The Gospels document how Jesus came as the Messiah, died as God’s sacrifice for man’s sin, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven.
Proclamation. The book of Acts tells of the growth of the church through the spread of the gospel.
Explanation. God inspired the apostles to write letters to the churches regarding the faith and instructions for spiritual growth.
Completion. The book of Revelation reveals Christ’s future kingdom, in which His followers join Him eternally in a new heaven and a new earth.
Even though God’s Word is organized in sections, do not forget that it functions as a whole. Once you understand the Bible’s outline, you can see how all the diverse elements connect to make one story of redemption.
The word “revival” is from the Hebrew word “chayah” and means “to bring back to life,” to “restore to consciousness,” or to “restore to a previous condition.” We might say, “The drowning victim was miraculously revived.” As used in the Bible, it means a restoration, rejuvenation, or renewal of interest after spiritual neglect, oblivion, or obscurity.
One of the keys to the true meaning of the word revival is found in Psalm 85. In the first three verses of Psalm 85, the Psalmist recalls the way God worked so majestically in the past history of Israel: “You showed favor to your land, O LORD; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.”
Then in the following verses he says, “Do it again God!” Verse 4,6: “Restore us again O God our Savior … Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”
There is not anything we need more as individuals or as a church than revival. Join me in this prayer today:
DO IT AGAIN!
DO IT AGAIN IN ME!
DO IT AGAIN IN MY CHURCH!
DO IT AGAIN HERE!
DO IT AGAIN NOW!
IN JESUS’ NAME. AMEN
“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3 NIV).
Most people have never heard of the first overseas missionary from America to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Judson was a brilliant man who learned to read when he was only 3. He went to college when he was just 16. He graduated valedictorian of his class at the age of 19. He was the son of a pastor, having been raised with Godly values, however while in college, he met a student named Jacob Eames, a deist who denied the miracles of the Bible. By the time Judson finished college he had turned completely from the Lord. For a short while, he lived a vagabond and reckless life, until a series of God-incidences turned his life inside out.
During this time, he left to visit his uncle, but instead, unexpectedly encountered a pious young man who amazed him by his strong Christian convictions, yet without being austere or dictatorial. The Lord placed this young man in the path of Judson to recapture the heart of the prodigal.
The very next night, he stayed at a small village inn where he had never been before. The innkeeper apologized that his sleep might be interrupted because a critically ill man was staying in the next room. The following day, as Judson was leaving, he asked the innkeeper about the sick man, and was informed that the man had passed during the night. Judson then asked the innkeeper, “Do you know who he was?” The man replied, “Oh yes. Young man from the college in Providence. Name was Eames, Jacob Eames.”
Upon hearing it was his old friend that just passed, Judson could hardly move. He stayed there for hours pondering death and eternity. He thought, if Jacob Eames was right, then his death was just a meaningless event. Judson could not believe it, and said, “That hell should open in that country inn and snatch Jacob Eames, his dearest friend and guide, from the next bed-this could not, simply could not, be pure coincidence.”
From that moment forward, Judson knew God was real. He rededicated his life and became a missionary in Burma for nearly 40 years. Before he died, he translated the Bible into Burmese, and planted over 100 churches.
Perhaps God will place someone in your path today because He wants you to be a light so that his or her life might be turned around! With the greatest harvest fast approaching, each of us is called to the mission field – the one right outside our door!
In Luke 15:11-32 Jesus told a story about a young man who felt an urge to leave his father’s house. It’s a familiar story, one that has happened in almost every family. This young man asked for his portion of the family estate and left for a distant land. There he squandered his money on wild living. Days passed, then weeks, then months. At last the day came when the young man had spent all his money. Now broke and destitute, he found himself in a desperate place, far from family and friends. Although he was ashamed, he hired on with a farmer who put him to work slopping the hogs. He was so hungry that he found himself ready to eat with the pigs. At that precise moment the light turned on in his brain. In a blinding flash, he saw himself and he saw what he had become. Most of all, he saw that it was his own stupidity that had gotten him in such a mess. No longer would he blame his father or criticize his older brother. No longer would he pretend to be something he wasn’t. In that moment of self-revelation, he saw what he had become. He knew that there was only one way back.
The strange irony of his situation hit him like a ton of bricks. His father’s servants were eating their fill back at home, while he, the master’s son, was living with the pigs. Then he thought to himself, “I’m going to get up and go back home. When I get there, I’m going to say, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’”
With that, the young man got up, brushed himself off, gathered his things and began making the long journey back home. He was still a long way off when his father spotted him trudging up the dusty road. Before the young man knew what was happening, his father ran to him, threw his arms around him, kissed him and said, “Welcome home, son.”
The son said what he had memorized in the pig pen. “Father, I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
But the father cut him off. He would hear no more of it. The cry went out, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Find the fattened calf and kill it. Call the neighbors and spread the good news. Tell everyone you see. This son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.”
I make one observation and one only. This young man, whom we call the Prodigal Son, turned his whole life around by saying three simple words: “I have sinned.”
He said it while he was still living with the pigs.
He said it while he was still far away from home.
He said it while he was still broke and hungry.
But those three words turned his life around.
It is a parable of your life and of mine. When we have sinned, we are so ashamed to find ourselves in the pig pen that we dare not tell anyone where we are. So, we try to clean ourselves up, we try to be presentable, we brush our teeth and comb our hair, but we still have pig slop under our fingernails. Everybody knows we’ve been with the pigs.
This story is for everyone who is tired of eating with the pigs. If you are ready to go home, I’ve got good news for you. The Father is standing in the road waiting for you. His arms are open wide. He knows where you’ve been, and he is still waiting for you. The only thing that matters is for you to come home.
That’s what the grace of God is all about. You can come home. You can start over. You can be forgiven. The slate can be wiped clean. You don’t have to live the rest of your life in hiding. You don’t have to live in fear that someone will find you out. You don’t have to eat with the pigs forever.
It is possible, and it depends on one thing. You have to do what the Prodigal Son did. You have to come to your senses and say, “Father, I have sinned.” When you do, you will find the mercy that Proverbs 28:13 talks about. When you do, you will discover 1 John 1:9 is true. He is faithful. He is just. He will forgive your sin and will cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Several places in Scripture refer to the believer’s being “in Christ” (1 Peter 5:14; Philippians 1:1; Romans 8:1). To be “in Christ” means we have accepted His sacrifice as payment for our own sin.
You need to know who you are in Christ so that you can live your life as God intended and fulfil your destiny. The more you agree with God about your identity in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your GOD GIVEN identity. Learn to see yourself as God sees you. God’s opinion is the one that counts. Accept what God says about you, agree with Him that it is true of you and become the spiritual person you are.
Understanding who you are in Christ will give you a strong foundation to build your life on. Knowing who you are in Jesus is the key to a successful Christian life and a life lived ON purpose.Your identity doesn’t depend on something you do or have done. Your true identity is who God says you are. Once you choose to follow Jesus, you become a new creation, the old you passes away and you become who you are in Him. Please stop living out of who other people say you are and take hold of the truth of God’s word. Find out what God says about you and agree with Him.
Because you are in Christ, EVERY ONE of these statements is true of you.
• In Christ, I am loved. 1 John 3:3
• In Christ, I am chosen. Colossians 3:12
• In Christ, I am redeemed. Colossians 1:14
• In Christ, I am forgiven.
• In Christ, I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1
• In Christ, I am righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21
• In Christ, I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:14-16
• In Christ, I am complete. Colossians 2:10
• In Christ, I am seated in heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6
• In Christ, I have direct access to God Ephesians. 2:18
• In Christ, I do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
• In Christ, I am established, anointed, and sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1:21
• In Christ, I am a new creation because I am in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17
• In Christ, I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1
• In Christ, I am joint-heir, sharing in His inheritance with Him. Romans 8:17
• In Christ, I can do all things. Philippians 4:13
• In Christ, I am blessed.
• In Christ, I am victorious.
• In Christ,
• In Christ, I am complete.
• In Christ, I am free.
• In Christ, I am saved.
• In Christ, I am alive.
• In Christ, I am adopted. Romans 15:7
Two identities—you have an identity from earth and an identity from heaven. See yourself as God sees you. Believe everything that God says about you. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. As you grow as a child of God, you will learn more and more about who you really are. And that’s the truth that sets you free!