[ecko_quote source="Philippians 4:6"] Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God[/ecko_quote]
The importance and spiritual benefits of thanksgiving in our prayer life cannot be overemphasized. The Bible tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). But the question is, how do you become humble? It is done by being thankful! A good rule is to be careful (worried) for nothing, be prayerful in all things and be thankful for everything. In the Old Testament, a special group of priests was appointed to do nothing but praise and thank the Lord (2 Chronicle 31:2).
There are four types of people. There are those who are constantly complaining and grumbling. Have you met any of these folks? I mean, they can brighten up a room just by leaving. That’s the lowest level. Then, there are others who live lives of ingratitude. They don’t complain, but they never thank God for His obvious blessings. That’s a little better, but not good enough. Then, there are people who thank God for obvious blessings. When something good happens, they’re grateful. That’s little better. But the highest level is to be grateful for all things at all times. That is the secret of a joyful and a productive life.
In Habakkuk’s day, there was an economic recession. There were no cows in the barn. “Yet…” he writes. Oh, how I love that word “yet” in verse 18. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Where was his joy and thankfulness? In the Lord, not in the circumstances.
If you depend on your circumstances, you can’t say “rejoice always,” because circumstances change. You lose your job. You lose your health. You lose your friends. You lose your prestige. If that’s where you’re getting your joy, and it changes, you can’t say, “Yet will I rejoice.” But Habakkuk said, “Yet will I joy in the God of my salvation.”
Where are you getting your joy? Is it from the Lord? I hope you are. There’s a sure way to find out. If you’re getting your joy from your job, we can take your job and see if you still have that joy. Maybe you’re getting your joy from your health. You say, “No, it’s from the Lord.” If your health fails, see if you still have your joy.
The only joy anyone can have is in the Lord, because He never changes. Your joy can be threatened if you get it from elsewhere. It’s not wrong to take joy in your health or your job. But that kind of joy that can change as situations change. You need a joy which supersedes that. Psalm 16:11: says, “Thou will show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy.” Rejoice in the Lord always.
- Pastor Jonah - UEC Ministries and LMF Ministries
[Image Source: http://static.wixstatic.com/media/c959e6_e328d6cc68844b11b67a8b849c0af7e8~mv2.jpg]
[ecko_quote source="Ephesians 4:26"]Be angry, and do not sin” do not let the sun go down on your wrath[/ecko_quote]
Few things are more destructive to Christians who anger. Anger causes us to lose our self-control and to say and do things we would otherwise never consider saying or doing. Anger, if allowed to remain, turns into bitterness that eats away at our hearts. Scripture consistently commands believers to put away anger and lists it as one of the sins of the flesh (Eph 4:31).
At times, we try to defend our anger by citing Ephesians 4:26. As additional proof, we argue that Jesus cleansed the temple in “righteous indignation”. Ephesians refers to anger that does not lead to sin. Jesus was capable of being angry without sinning. When Jesus cleared the temple, Scripture does not indicate that He was angry (Matt 21:12; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46)
We must be careful not to justify our anger with Scripture. Ephesians 4:31 commands us to put away all anger. That does not mean that we cease to have strong convictions or lose our desire for justice. It does mean we refuse to allow others’ sins that cause us to sin. Anger does not bring about God’s redemptive work; far more often it hinders what God is working to accomplish.
If you feel that you have a righteous anger because of something that has happened, see if you are holding anger in your heart without sin. Is your anger turned into bitterness? Is it causing you to make an excuse for your ungodly behavior? You must examine any anger within you and allow God to remove any sinful attitude that your anger may have produced.
Even the best-motivated anger can sour, and we are therefore to put it aside at the end of the day. Taken to bed, it is likely to give the devil an opportunity to use it for his purpose. If anger is prolonged, one may begin to seek vengeance and thereby violate the principle taught in Romans 12:17–21.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Source: Pastor Jonah - UEC Ministries and Henry T Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
[ecko_quote source="Judges 6:39"]Please don't be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew[/ecko_quote]
There are degrees of faith. At one stage of Christian experience, we cannot believe unless we have some sign or experience a great manifestation of feeling. We feel our fleece, like Gideon, and if it is wet we are willing to trust God. This may be true faith, but it is imperfect. It always looks for a feeling or some token besides the Word of God. It marks quite an advance in faith when we trust God without feelings. It is blessed to believe without having any emotion.
There is a third stage of faith which even transcends that of Gideon and his fleece. The first phase of faith believes when there are favourable emotions, the second believes when there is the absence of feelings, but this third form of faith believes God and His Word when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people, and human reason all urge to the contrary. Paul exercised this faith in Acts 27:20,25, “ And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away”. Notwithstanding all this Paul said, “ Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me”.
We read of Moses in Exodus that he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Exactly the opposite was true of the children of Israel in the record. They endured only when the circumstances were favourable; they were largely governed by the things that appealed to their senses, in place of resting in the invisible and eternal God. The children of Israel did not believe till after they saw, when they saw Him work, then they believed. They really doubted God when they came to the Red sea; but when God opened the way and led them across and they saw Pharaoh and his host drowned- “then they believed”.
They led an 'up and down' life because of this kind of faith; it was the kind of faith that depended upon circumstances. This is not the kind of faith God wants us to have. The world says “seeing is believing” but God wants us to believe in order to see. The Psalmist said, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.
Do you believe God only when the circumstances are favorable, or do you believe no matter what the circumstances may be?
Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe – St. Augustine
May God give us faith to fully trust His Word though everything else witnesses the other way.
Source: Pastor Jonah - UEC Ministries and Streams in the Desert
[ecko_quote source="James 1:22"]But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves [/ecko_quote]
God says, if you want to understand His Word, you will need to put it on like your shoes, go out and try it for size. We are to read it, do it and then report on it. It's because understanding comes by experiencing it. After you have had the experience, no one can argue you out of it.
A lot of King’s Kids (believers), not knowing that have been in Bible study groups where they have studied ten years, and they are looking forward to another ten years’ study to give them an understanding of the Word of God. Yet they are no further along in bodily health and prosperity, nor will they be until they become doers of the Word. King’s Kids hear the Word and goes right out and do it, so they will not forget what it is all about.
Doers of the Word are always in trouble, about to get out of trouble, or on the verge of getting into more trouble. That is how doers of the Word operate, knowing that what the world calls trouble is just raw material for God’s glory.
A woman went shopping one afternoon, and one person snatched her handbag and flew down the street with it. Well, the woman was sold out to Jesus, and instead of chasing after the purse- snatcher or calling the police, she reached down in her heart for the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. She got hold of one of the Psalms in the process, the one that says” Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust (Psalm 91:3-6). Sooner than it takes to tell it, the woman saw that the Scripture was her gurantee that God would protect her from the thing that had just happened to her, so she reminded Him of it. “I am covered with feathers!” she yelled at the top of her voice.
The purse-snatcher was so confused that he dropped the purse and took off at the double of his former speed. And so the Word of the Lord delivered the woman from her enemy, according to His promise, because the woman did not just hear it, she acted on it.
In the midst of trouble, the doer of God’s Word acquires experience to give him hope for the next time. It is a constant and glorious regenerative process. A hearer, on the other hand, is exercising only his hearing mechanism. His ears get bigger while the rest of him weakens. His feet go to sleep and stay there, and he deceives himself by saying, “well, I know my heart is right, so I do not have to be a doer of the Word. I will just let other people tend to that. I will stay where I am comfortable and safe. When a man has that sort of attitude, he is not benefited, and God is not glorified.
When we become doers of the Word and not hearers only, we never find ourselves dying of boredom in a channel somewhere. Being King’s Kids in action is a lively business. It can get you thrown out of some interesting places, but it can introduce the power of God in some interesting places too. It is worth the risk. When the power of God is manifested through a King’s Kid in action.
Source: Pastor Jonah - UEC Ministries and Harold Hill