Friday, November 20, 2009


“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (NIV)

I have been pondering lately what it means to be thankful. I mean truly thankful. We say short prayers to God thanking Him for our food and homes and clothes and friends, but what does it mean to give thanksgiving to God? Thanksgiving as a holiday was traditionally a time to give thanks to God for the harvest. Of course, Americans have manages to turn it into a commercial holiday as much as possible through food sales and football. I’m sure we’ll be giving gifts on Thanksgiving in the next 50 years or so…but I digress. I think the key we forget about Thanksgiving is not about eating or watching a parade or football but giving thanks to GOD. We use Thanksgiving as a special time to get together with friends and family that we may not see very often, but let’s not forget to be truly thankful for everything that we have through God, our Father. Revelation chapter 7 says “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!” (12). All good things come from God, and may we not dismiss or trivialize this fact as we begin to prepare turkey and ham and dressing and cranberry sauce this coming week. Not only should we be thankful for all the things we HAVE but we should be forever thankful to God for the privilege of being His children! Paul writes to the Colossians that we are “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of the kingdom of light” (1:11-12). May we remember that this life contains fleeting things that will pass away and that they are simply a small step toward the forever kingdom of God. Let’s be thankful for what we have been given here on earth and also for God’s saving grace, without which all things would be useless. I like the way Paul puts it. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim 1:17). Now that is Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Prayer in the Spirit

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Of all the things Paul ever asked from the saints, it was mostly prayer. He always stressed prayer in the Spirit for himself and others that they may further the kingdom of God. Do we still pray today for others and the kingdom? I believe our prayers have become more self-centered and conceited, stressing our own desires and those closest to us. There is nothing wrong with asking God's blessing on yourself and your family, but your prayer time should not be consumed with selfish prayers. The Holy Spirit should guide your prayers for yourself and others, helping you to find ways to help others and further the kingdom. God will ordain our circumstances in every situation, but we must pay close attention to the Spirit. What is our reason for being in a certain place at a certain time? Do we listen to the prodding of the Spirit when a friend keeps coming to mind over and over? Oswald Chambers wrote "Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use the everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne, and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them. In this way God is going to touch the whole world with His saints" (My Utmost for His Highest).

May we remember that our prayers and our actions are the most powerful things that we have been given by God. They are our direct connection to Him and His will for our lives and others. Jesus said "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matthew 21:22). This should not be misconstrued. We know in our hearts and do not actually believe that we will receive things we ask for that are inappropriate and do not conform to scripture and the will of God. So let's pray in the Spirit and listen to the gentle prodding so our lives can have the most impact and glorify our Lord in everything we ask in prayer and do each day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Disturb us, Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
[Sir Francis Drake]

What keeps us from stepping outside of our comfort zone? Perhaps I just answered that question in its self because the word “comfort” is synonymous to us with soft, inviting, engrossing surroundings. Like laying in a comfortable bed surrounded by fluffy blankets and soft pillows on a cold winter morning, or snuggling on the sofa with a pet reading a good book on a rainy day. We don’t want to move from our comfort zone.

We tend to do the same thing in our religion. We stay in our zone of Christian friends in our safe neighborhood and go to our pretty, modern churches with comfortable pews on Sunday. We relish in the blessings of the Lord and cry out in dismay to Him when we are faced with trials like we are undeserving of anything but His best. But we do get His best, each and every day. He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him and sometimes that requires discomfort. But we can take comfort in knowing that Christ loves us. Paul wrote to the Philippians “if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, them make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2).

Our goal is to be more like Christ. He did not come to this world, giving up his glory in heaven, to be comfortable. He suffered shame, loss, heartache, and pain so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life. So the next time we get comfortable in our environment, consider what Paul continues to write, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Let’s ask the Lord to disturb us, convict us, and give us a heart for the hurting. May we listen to the gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit and seek those who need our loving kindness in Christ Jesus. Psalm 147 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (3). Are you the salve that God has sent to comfort the hurting?