Tag Archives: thankfulness

2 Chronicles 17-20; Praise Changes Things

When I read Jehoshaphat’s story I am always struck by the unusual battle plan God laid out for Judah. A vast army was approaching, and the kingdom was in big trouble. The people fasted and prayed, then God told them to go toward the battle, but they would win the war without fighting.

So Judah’s army marched down into the valley to face their enemy. But the army wasn’t lead by fierce warriors on sturdy horses. The army was lead by…

the choir.

The singers lead the soldiers armed for battle, singing praises to God. “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.”

Read for yourself what happens next. God is amazing.

Is praising God so important? I bet most of you in the US took a moment last week to thank God for something. It’s what we do once a year before we gorge ourselves with turkey and stuff.

But what about praising God today? The cancer diagnosis hasn’t changed. Your loved one is still dead. Your job is still frustrating. Your marriage is still unhappy. You might tell yourself you have nothing to praise God for.

Praise Him anyway.

Jehoshaphat’s choir didn’t sing about the war, they sang about God. They took their eyes off the seemingly impossible situation, and looked instead toward God. And that’s what I think God would have us consider today.

When those thoughts begin to creep in and tell us how hard our lives are, how unhappy we are, how things are just not fair, we need to quote a psalm, sing a praise song or hymn that points us to our Heavenly Father.

There is no room for self-pity when we are praising God.

Let’s face it. Some of us hate this time of year. Loneliness is more pronounced. Shattered families are more hurtful. Some people feel the hopelessness of their situation more deeply this time of year, when everyone seems to smile and wish us “Happy Holidays.”

Praise God. Not just a quick, Thanks, but a sincere, heartfelt praise to the One who loves you more than you know, the One who is the giver of all good things, who wants to comfort you, strengthen you, hold you up, and forgive you. He is worthy of our praise.

If you read Jehoshaphat’s story, you’ll find out the Jews enjoyed a decisive victory that day without lifting a finger. They were blessed beyond what they could have imagined, when they started the day praising God.

Praise God, dear one. Your circumstances might not change. But you will. And you will be blessed beyond what you can imagine.

I Chronicles 10-13; Every Good And Perfect Gift

I have always had a problem with the way David treated the water three of his men risked their lives to bring him. David said he was thirsty – maybe he said he was dying of thirst – and three soldiers sneaked into the Philistine camp to draw water from a Philistine well for their king.

You’d think David would be grateful. You’d think, if he couldn’t bring himself to drink it, he’d at least offer it to the men who had just risked their lives to get it. They were probably thirsty, too.

But, no. David pours the water on the ground. I always saw that as disrespectful toward those soldiers… until today when I read Matthew Henry who called it a “drink offering.”

Hello, Connie. Read what’s there in God’s Word. David didn’t simply pour the water out, he poured it out “before the Lord.” He gave the precious gift, that gift obtained at great risk, to God!

So often I find myself thinking I deserve someone’s kindness. I’m a Baby Boomer, after all, and we were raised to believe we deserve the best. We raised our children to believe in the “Me First” philosophy of life, and they raised their children to believe no one else matters, except “Me.” It’s ingrained in us to believe we deserve only good things.

Why didn’t David drink his fill, and reward the men who gave it to him? He was King. Who deserved it more than he? And didn’t the men deserve a little recognition for their sacrifice?

The reason David did what he did is because he was humbled at the gesture. It caused the king to take a closer look at himself. David realized that even he did not deserve it. So he turned around and offered that life-giving gift to God, with thankfulness and praise.

I have a friend who loves to bake. She is also one of the most giving people I know. And occasionally she shows up at my door with a warm loaf of homemade bread. Let me tell you, there is nothing better.

I thank her. I give her a hug. I praise her baking skills, and recognize her generosity. I hope she knows how much her gesture (and the delicious bread) means to me.

But I never considered thanking God for it. James 1:17 tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” Now I know this is talking about sin, and salvation, and God’s unchanging nature. But I wonder if it doesn’t speak to what David did here in I Chronicles, too.

Because the reality is everything good in my life is a direct gift from God. And I don’t deserve any of it. Not even that delicious bread. So shouldn’t I, like David, turn around and give God the praise for it all? Shouldn’t I be aware of the many ways God blesses me through the kindness of people around me?

If King David, a man after God’s own heart, was humbled at the kindness of his men, how much more should I be humbled when good things happen to me? I don’t deserve God’s blessings, but I am blessed.

I don’t believe God would have me toss that warm bread into the trash can as an offering to Him. But I wonder if cutting a slice or two and taking it to my neighbor, or giving the whole loaf to someone who is ill, or inviting someone who needs Jesus into my home to share the bread, wouldn’t be a better way of giving it back to God than enjoying the whole thing myself.

I want to pour myself out before the Lord, empty myself of self, and acknowledge that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, even those that come out of my friend’s oven.

May God be praised.

 

 

June 16 – Cabul

I Kings 9, II Chronicles 8

Hiram appears to be generous. The king of Tyre gave Solomon an abundance of wood and gold for the building of the Temple, and for Solomon’s own home. I Kings 9:11 says Hiram gave everything Solomon desired.

But when Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in Galilee in return, Hiram was not pleased. In fact, he called the cities Cabul, which means “as good as nothing.”

I don’t know what the terms of the agreement were between the two kings. It sounds like Hiram didn’t think it was fair.

Hiram’s reaction has me thinking about my own life. Do I attend church so God will keep my healthy? Do I put money in the offering plate so God will give me that promotion at work?

I never want to look at the blessings God gives me every day and call it Cabul.

Lord, help me to remember that I deserve nothing from You. You owe me nothing! Help me to be grateful for every heart beat, every breath, every morning. I want to follow You because You are worthy, not because I want You to reward me. 

May 6 – My Psalm

Psalms 89, 96, 100-101, 105, 132

The psalms, which are written praises to God, often reflect on Israel’s past; how God blessed them because of His promise, and how the people often sinned in spite of God’s goodness toward them. As I read this morning, I had glimpses of events in my own past. I remembered times of blessing. And tears fell as I remembered my many sins.

I’m not a poet, and I certainly don’t consider myself a psalmist. But I want to take a moment to observe God’s hand in my own life. Here is my psalm:

O Lord, You have blessed me beyond what I deserve, beyond what I could ever imagine. You are good. You are kind, and loving, and patient, and precious. I adore You.

You blessed me from the beginning with parents who loved me, who made sacrifices so that I and my sisters could have everything we needed and more. They taught me about considering others before myself by the way they put us first. You heard my mother’s prayers and provided when it seemed hopeless. You honored her commitment to You, and lifted her up.

You never gave up on my dad, although he was quite the fighter. I praise the Hound of Heaven for continually nipping at his heels until he humbled himself and accepted Your saving grace.

How I remember the times I disappointed them, disrespected them, hurt them. Forgive me. I pray they knew how much I loved them. Thank You for the assurance that they are living with You now, and forever. I will see them both again. Hallelujah!

You blessed me with four amazing sisters. There was a lot of laughter in our home. Barbies. Freeze tag. “Hankie Down”, our pool in the backyard, swinging so high on swingsets the legs came off the ground, jumping on the trampoline, singing while we did the dishes, Sunday drives, skipping stones, riding in the bucket of Dad’s bulldozer, dancing on his flatbed. You kept us safe, O Lord, and surrounded us with love.

You blessed me in my youth with a church family who helped me grow, who challenged and encouraged me, who welcomed me, and made me laugh. Youth group, quiz team, choir. Blessings every one.

My entire family sacrificed so that I could go to college. O how I wish I could do it over. I’d be more appreciative, instead of thinking I was entitled. I’d study harder, practice more. I’d make every dollar it cost my family mean something. Forgive me, Father, for taking them for granted.

O God, I remember the idols I worshiped, the sins I committed, the times I grieved and angered You. I deserve Your wrath. I remember missed opportunities to share You with people, times I misrepresented You, times I flat out ignored You.

But You have never given up on me. The precious blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ, has covered me, cleansed me, made me pure. I see, in part, how Your hand has been evident in the events of my life, how You guided, and nudged, and closed doors while opening others. You’ve kept Your promise to never leave me nor forsake me. I am Your child, loved, and forgiven.

I praise You. I worship You. I love and honor You.

May my life be a vessel through which You are seen and glorified. You alone are worthy.

April 26- Pity-Party Free Zone

Psalms 73, 77-78

Sometimes we might be tempted to throw a pity party for ourselves when we see the successful, easy lifestyle of wicked, ungodly people. Most days we know how blessed we are. We can even admit we know that what we see on the surface of anyone’s life often masks heartache and pain.

But seriously, it would be nice to experience wealth on the scale of some who seem to have everything going for them. At least for a day or so. Right?

The psalmists asks if he has kept his heart pure in vain. Have I? The psalmists also reminds us that thinking those thoughts are “senseless and ignorant.” (73:22)

Read verses 25-28 of the 73rd psalm for an attitude check. Instead of throwing that pity party, let these verses be your encouragement.

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good…”

The nearness of God is really all I need, and it blesses me more than any dollar amount.

My heart is a pity-party free zone.

 

Ingratitude

Ingratitude. That’s what Hiram expressed when King Solomon gave him twenty cities. (I Kings 9) Sure, Hiram had worked hard for Solomon for twenty years building the Temple and the Palace. But Solomon also made Hiram a rich man in the process. And gave him twenty cities on top of it. Hiram just wasn’t happy with the particular cities he was given. He thought he was entitled to something else.

Does ingratitude ever express itself in our own lives? God gives us life, we want health. God gives us forgiveness, we want happiness. God gives us eternal life, we want a successful career. God gives us Himself, we want a Ferrari.

Have you grasped exactly what it is that God has given you? What it cost him? What it means? If you know Jesus as your Savior, you have God Himself living in you! You have the promise of eternity in paradise, You have help for today, and hope for tomorrow. You are forgiven, washed clean, pure. You are loved.

Let’s never take any of this for granted or be ungrateful for God’s blessings. We already have more than we deserve.

Dear God, “thank you” just doesn’t seem sufficient to express what I am feeling this morning. I can’t fully comprehend the extent of your blessings to me, a sinner. Forgive me when I seem ungrateful, when I whine to you about insignificant things, when I pout if I don’t get what I think I need. I know you want me to bring my desires to you in prayer, and I thank you for the times you have answered those prayers. But, God, help me to really grasp what it is I have in YOU. May I live my life out of a grateful heart, cherishing every blessing I have because you are my God. You are all I need. You are all I desire.

December 17

I Timothy 3-6

I’ve often said that if I ever win the lottery the first thing I’ll do is buy an ocean front home on my favorite Georgia island. If I ever win the lottery it’ll truly be a miracle. I’ve never bought a ticket.

So many people are looking for some kind of windfall. Maybe they spend thousands of dollars on the lottery or maybe they jump from job to job expecting the next one to be the one where they’ll bring in the big bucks. Some even compromise on what they know is right in order to get ahead. How much money is enough?

Paul said if he has food and clothing he is content. He makes it plain that godliness is not a means to financial gain and anyone who says it is has a corrupt mind. (6:5) “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap… For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. (6:9&10)

The Bible tells us to do everything as though we were working for God. It’s not wrong to work hard and expect compensation for our effort. It’s not wrong to work for a promotion if God can be glorified in the effort. But what is your motivation?

In chapter 6 verse 11, Paul tells Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. I don’t see anywhere where it says to pursue a six figure income. Being rich is not a sin. But if riches are your focus – that is a sin.

Can you be content with having food and clothing? Can I? Let’s not forget that there are some people in our world who would consider themselves quite rich if they had warm clothes, a place to call home, and a full stomach. So just how rich are you?

Father, I pray that my priority will always be you. Thank you for blessing me with everything I need. Forgive me if I look with envy at those who live in those million dollar condos on the beach. I don’t ever want to seem ungrateful for all you have given me. May I pursue the things that matter – righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness, and eternity with you. And, Lord, show me how I can help others who have financial struggles and may you find me faithful.