Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Requires Courage

Thanksgiving Requires Courage
By Barbara Henderson

The spirit of thankfulness is a tremendous gift from God.  It is the beginning of change for the better.  It is the beginning of a new and better way of living.  But, thanksgiving is also hard work.  It leads the thankful heart into an unknown future.  To be truly thankful, requires that one launch out into the wilderness without really knowing where they are going, or what they will actually be doing.  I think that is why people hang on to grief.  Grief is a known element.  Everyone knows how to grieve and mourn.  You just bawl your eyes out, or keep a pained look on your face while you go about your daily life.  You focus on the past, another known element, and shield your eyes from an unknown future.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, requires courage.  Here’s why.

First, thanksgiving acknowledges your own inability to achieve or gain anything without help from God.  Thanksgiving tells you that the things you have were not gained by your own hard work and perseverance.  If you had gotten things on your own then why the need to give thanks in the first place?   Thanksgiving is a tool by which a believer may rid his or her self of pride.  Thanksgiving leads to humility.

Somewhere in between thanksgiving and humility is repentance.  As you begin to give God the credit for all your blessings, you become aware of more blessings that you have taken for granite in your life.  You have a glimmer of understanding of how blessed and favored you are with God.  Humility begins to grow in your life.  From the extreme advantage point of a humble heart, you begin to see how pride has crept into your life.  You begin to feel the weight of burdens you are carrying that you don’t have to carry.  At some point, you begin to repent of thought patterns and a life style that thanks yourself for all your hard work and success.  You become sorry for your sins.  You come to an understanding that the measure of success or failure is not what is visible to the eye.  It is not in the measure of what you have or don’t have.  This requires a paradigm shift in one’s thinking. 

This attitude adjustment, this change in your way of thinking, is not easy.  In fact, it is so hard that many and even most people turn back.  They set their shoulder to the plow and start out with their eye on the prize at the end of the row.  But then, all the changes that thanksgiving brings become frightening.  They would rather go back to the known elements of an unthankful life. 

For those who persevere in developing an attitude of thanksgiving and praise, there is a tremendous reward.  That reward is meekness of spirit.   Meekness is the most powerful tool a Christian can have. 

‘Meekness - Meekness is reliance on God instead of yourself.
A mighty man of God was Moses; yet Moses was meekest of all men. Now how can that be? Simple. Moses, a former prince of Egypt, came to understand that through God working in him, he could accomplish more than all the mighty armies of Egypt. That is the meekness that we should seek. It leads us to understand that 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me'. (Philippians 4:13)
So, meekness does not mean 'I am a door mat. Come stomp on me!' It means that you have begun to understand that your success in any endeavor is not based on YOUR own abilities. Remember that Moses had plenty of natural abilities and talents. Yet, he set those aside in favor of reliance on the Lord.
Moses did spend 40 years in the wilderness caring for sheep between the time he rejected the power of Egypt and chose instead to be counted with the people of God. Like Moses, we may grasp the concept of meekness, but be slow to be able to fully implement meekness as a way of life. That means we should all get started working on fully relying on God instead of ourselves right away.
Right now, are you on the path to meekness; or, are you still trying to do all things through your own ability, wealth, or authority? Or have you set these things aside and chosen to rely on the ability, wealth, and authority of God Almighty?
No matter how great your personal talents and power, the arm of flesh will eventually fail you. If you were even greater than Alexander the Great, you would still eventually meet his fate. You would die, and your kingdom and possessions would be given to another mortal.
The inheritance God has for the meek is eternal.  Reliance on God instead of your self is the path to success.’  (end quoted article)
This is just a simple explanation of the benefits of thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a process, not a holiday.  Thanksgiving in your heart and daily life brings changes.  Some of the changes will be hard.  You can bet that some of the changes will be very hard.  They will be so hard, than many will turn back from thanksgiving, and go back to living on their own.  These people may be saved, but the joy of their salvation will be overshadowed with the cares of the world.  Meekness will elude them all their lives.  No matter what their earthly success may be, it will pale in comparison to what it could have been through meekness. 

Perseverance in thanksgiving is somewhat like Peter walking on water.  When he kept his focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, he stayed above the water.  When he looked at the water, he began to sink into the sea.  If a Christian gazes on the things of earth such as material wealth, hurt feelings, genuine grief, or bitter disappointments, they are going to be overwhelmed by these things and fall back into grief and things of the past.  Their only option for help in their distress is to keep their eyes fixed on the Lord.  And, I will be the first to admit that it really ‘ain’t that easy’.  In fact, it feels impossible sometimes.  Thankfully, nothing is impossible with God.     (Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23, mark 10:27,  Mark 14:26, Luke 18:27 )
So, there you have it.  The question is, are you one of the few who will be willing to set a course of thankfulness in your daily life?  Or, will you be one who finds the road of thanksgiving to hard and difficult?
Barbara Henderson

Monday, November 19, 2012

Improve Your Own Life by Praying for Others

Change Your Luck By Praying For Others!

Narcissism is rampant in the world. is reporting that our president is a Narcissist.  I think they are correct.  I think most government officials are narcissists as well as being foolish little puppets urged forward by their own pitiful image of themselves as superior beings. They consider themselves qualified to set rules by which all mankind should live – except them personally.  Note the failure of many of many of Obama’s nominees to even pay their own taxes.  They are placing burdens on other men’s backs which they themselves have no intention of bearing.  They are basically condescending, hateful, arrogant jerks.  They oppose everything right.  They call evil good and good evil.

What is the duty of Christians to such people?  How should we respond to their evil ways?

First, we have to call evil evil, and good good.  We are just supposed to tell the truth.  We should not kid ourselves that the evil world rulers have any fear or awe of the Most High God of the Bible.  They are enemies of the cross.  Those who accept and push forward their evil agendas are also enemies of the cross.

Second, we are to consider what our response to these people should be.  What is the duty of the Christian in response to their evil actions?

According to 1 Samuel chapter 12 it is our duty to pray for them. 
If we do not pray for them, we are sinning against God.  Man! That is hard to swallow.  I really don’t want to pray for them.  I WANT to curse them!  I have a choice.  I can follow my own heart, and curse them, and even pray for their immediate destruction.  OR, I can obey my God and pray for them.  Mind you, I am NOT praying for their success in the evil they are attempting to bring on this country and my family.  I am praying they will turn from evil and do good. 

I am praying Acts 26:18 which says, ‘to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by the faith that is in me.’  This was Paul telling King Agrippa what Christ had instructed him to do. 

I Samuel tells us that the people of Israel had sinned against God by demanding an earthly king.  What they asked was basically that a ‘middle man’ be put in place between them and God.  They didn’t like the answers and instructions they were getting from God Himself, so they choose an earthly leader who might  say what their itching ears wanted to here.  In truth, they had stepped off the way of righteousness, and had chosen instead to do what seemed right to them or for them at the moment.  (How many times have you heard someone say they were doing what was right for them when they were jumping into sin with both feet?  It seems to me that the ‘doing what is right for me’ people are usually excusing their adultery.)  Anyway, back to the subject of prayer.  Israel as a nation had just done a one-eighty from the path of righteousness in demanding an earthly king.  Samuel must have been devastated.  They had rejected the God who made them a nation, and they had rejected Samuel as being chosen by God as their leader.

Then, as most selfish and ungodly people, they requested that the very one whom they had rejected pray for them!  Samuel’s response was to say, ‘Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:’. (Verse 23)

What this amounts to is that Samuel did not let their actions cause him to turn from doing what the Lord required of him personally.  What courage and unselfishness that took on Samuel’s part.  That is what we should do as well. 

Honestly, those who persecute God’s people, belittle and ridicule them, and hate them are not worthy of our prayer.  However, we also are not worthy of God’s salvation and mercy.  What matters is that the individual Christian stay faithful and continue to do what God requires of them.  The Prophet Samuel says he personally will not sin against God by ceasing to pray for these people.  That should be the goal of every Christian.  Forget the world, look to God, and do what God says to do.  We are to pray for our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 says, ‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that despitefully use you, and persecute you;’.
Luke 6:28 says, ‘Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.’

Can it be made any clearer than this?  We are to continue to pray for those who do not deserve it.

AND, there is blessing and goodness for those who obey the instruction to pray for our enemies.  Consider Job.  The Lord allowed that Job be persecuted by Satan himself.  He lost all his wealth and family.  Then, instead of friends praying for him and coming to him with prayers and help, they sat down to pick apart his life in search of some sin that would have brought such heartache to him.  We cannot stop ‘friends’ from behaving so badly, but we can stop ourselves from being such a dreadful friend. 

In the end, the prayers of Job’s friends were refused by God.  Instead God instructed them to go and ask Job to pray for them.  At their request, Job did pray for them in spite of how they had just treated them.  According to Job 42:10, the result of Job’s prayer was, ‘And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also, the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.’

Today, Christians have the same choice as Job and Samuel.  Will we obey God’s instructions to pray for others – even those who definitely do not deserve it?  If we do not, we are in direct violation of what God has told us to do.  It is for our own good that we pray for our enemies.  It helps to remember that we have no righteous or merit on our own.  Except for the grace of God, each Christian would also be separated from God.  God extended the offer of salvation to mankind when not one person was worthy of such mercy and grace.  By His example, we are to pray for those who have not received the gift of eternal life from God, as well as for those who of the household of faith.

In refusing or neglecting to pray for our leaders, we are making the matter worse.  Unless they turn from their wicked ways, they will heap more misery on the people over which they rule.  By praying for them, we are doing the will of God. 

Finally, I know that it seems useless to pray for our leaders in terms of immediate results, or even long term results.  The Bible gives us encouragement to do what is right regardless of what we see as happening.  Galatians 6:9 says, ‘And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.’ 

So, be obedient to God in praying for others.  Look forward to the ‘due season’ when we shall reap if we faint not.

The song for this article is ‘There is Always a Blessing in Prayer’.  It is an old hymn that can lift the spirits of any Christian in any age.  It can also strengthen the weary soul to do what is right, which to pray one for another.

There is rest, sweet rest, at the Master’s feet.
There is favor now at the mercy seat,
For a toning blood has been sprinkled there;
There is always a blessing, a blessing in prayer.

There’s a blessing in prayer, in believing prayer,
When our Savior’s Name to throne we bear;
Then a Father’s love will receive us there,
There is always a blessing, a blessing prayer.

There is grace to help in our time of need,
For our Friend above is a Friend, indeed’
We may cas on Him every grief and care;
There is always a blessing, a blessing prayer.


When our songs are glad with the joy of life,
When our hearts are sad with its ills and strife,
When the powers of sin would the soul ensnare,
There is always a blessing a blessing in prayer.


There is perfect peace tho’ the wild waves roll,
There are gifts of love for the seeking soul,
Till we praise the Lord in His home so fair,
There is always a blessing, a blessing in prayer.


Thanks for reading my article.
Barbara Henderson

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