Give THanks

Read with me, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6

As I witness all our American friends celebrating Thanksgiving, seeing their posts online and reading the word Thanksgiving multiple times a day, I heard God say to me “do not neglect thanks giving in your life.” I pondered on the meaning of living a life full of thanks in any circumstance, and in all honesty I realised that there are many areas in my life where I feel ungrateful and unfulfilled. There is much I remind Him of that I still need and want, without thankfulness for what I do have. How often do we pray without engaging with the one who is truly a Giver. We have so much to be grateful for. For me, thanksgiving is uncomfortable; it requires intentionality and a deliberate adjusting of my focus away from what I view as deficits. Being grateful demands a deliberate action on my part of looking away from what needs more, and honouring what already is.

You can choose to own what He has given you. Make it your own. Accept the good gift, and give thanks. Thank Him for life, for hope, for peace, for provision, for salvation, for freedom, for healing, for opportunities, for grace, for the finished work of the cross, for the Kingdom, for your family. Make a list of everything you are trusting for, and bring it to His attention with praise in your heart. Make your requests known to Him, with the addition of thanksgiving, keep your heart prostrated in humility before Him as you thank Him. This might take a while to master, as a new skill to be learnt, set your mind on what is good during the day and see your heart respond in kind.  Reset your mind; restructure your thoughts to be grateful and to give thanks. For example,

When you don’t have, GIVE (thanks.) I have nothing or very little to give? GIVE THANKS.

What can you give thanks for today? Be grateful.

What do you discern is still lacking? Give thanks.

When everything around you screams, “be anxious,” then give thanks.

When it feels impossible, when you are overwhelmed and hope is waning, when you are despondent and staring impossibility in the face, just say thank you, Father.  And see how you gain a new hopeful perspective, expectant of peace. He is able to do for you, far more than you can think. He is willing and able to redeem to the uttermost! Even the deadest of situations, even the darkest of shame, He is ready to shine the bright light of hope.

As in Romans 6, do not let sin reign and have its way with you, tossing your thoughts about in the waves of uncertainty.  Have a new thought. Break the cycle of pain and dominion of sin. Believe, and give thanks for the fact that shame has not been imputed to us, but abounding grace unto freedom. You do not have to do mental gymnastics to validate your worth. He already provided everything you might ever need in His Son.

Remember that the antidote to despondency is to give thanks. When the reasoning steps in, and causes your head to ask a million questions and the questions instill a thousand hopeless ‘why’s,’ turn the table and do the opposite of what the flesh is demanding. Instead of confirming the hopelessness of the flesh, come into agreement with the rich hope that comes from thankfulness.

It is the flesh wants comfort, and more often than not we demand certain feelings as evidence of His goodness. When we don’t “feel” it we assume something’s missing. He either didn’t come through, or I was not good enough to impress Him sufficiently to convince Him to act on my behalf. But you have the power to create, to change the atmosphere, often times you initiate the ‘feeling’ by cultivating it. Give thanks, operate in thankfulness, cultivate it, grow it, and give it. If you inherently accept you are bad and unworthy, gratefulness is almost impossible. I want to tell you today, you are called and sanctified by His blood. You have been made righteous. Thank Him for that today. Thank Him for freedom from shame and guilt, for paying a price that redeemed you from punishment. Be inspired to confidence as you know you have much to be thankful for.





Ever Increasing Hope

“Our hope depends not on our own ability to figure things out…” Heidi Baker

When I find myself without explanation, I become agitated, by default. I love taking things apart, understanding how they work, their meaning, and their function. I need, desperately, to understand concepts in order to accept them. I need to know their purpose before I deem them worthy of attention. In the natural this is a rather good attribute to have, one that eliminates unnecessary hassle and time spent on ineffective methods and purchases. However, regarding matters of faith, such an approach is often detrimental to the mechanics of belief. In my consistent need to understand, I often find myself at a loss of faith, because faith does not come by what I can see or know. It is evidenced by what I cannot see, and when we hope patiently for it, things start to manifest. Only, when I indulge my need to know and understand, yet I am without explanation, I rapidly find myself doubting God’s nature and promises. I am basically saying, “I can only believe after the manifestation,” and from this sprouts an entire world of distrust. I then find myself on very shaky ground. I cannot let my belief in God be dependent on His ‘good behaviour.’ He is sovereign, and He is good. I do not get to bargain with Him, He is holy. I hope, because hope does not disappoint.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

My hope so often depends on my own ability to understand. How often are we not plagued by ‘why?’  When things do not work out the way we have hoped we often feel we can only move on and accept the reality if God can give us an acceptable answer – one that will specifically quiet our reasoning.  The need to verify His reasoning stems from distrust. And form disappointment stems despondency. This is why it is so important to hold on to the hope we have. I can, in my own reasoning, draw from a deep well of disappointment, which manifests itself in shame. Shame of unfulfilled potential, shame of unrealised dreams, shame of not living and having what He promised. But the hope that comes from Him does not put me to shame. When we feel that He has failed us, or abandoned His mission in our lives by not doing as was promised, we need to re-evaluate our perceptions of His heart. It might be that He didn’t live up to the parameters I set out for Him to perform in. It might be that He did not deliver on the promises I inferred based on my personal preferences. When we are to give a sure answer for the hope we have, it speaks of my very idea of who He is. Not material gain.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15

It reminds us to sanctify the Lord in our hearts, and remember our hope with meekness. How do you sanctify the Lord in your heart? By simply not defiling Him in your thoughts. How can you give an answer for having hope when you have lost all hope by reducing the character and integrity of God in your heart due to not getting what you wanted.  Remember who He is, He is holy and just. When we look on Him and remember He is God, it becomes hard to be preoccupied with lack. I am not recommending the denial of lack and problems, I am advocating for a healthy heart that still hopes in the living God. He is not your enemy, withholding good things, waiting for a version of you to emerge worthy enough. If this was the case, Jesus would never have died. He loved us first, and He loves us still.

Yes, we can and should trust Him for supply and provision – He is the God who supplies- but we can no longer allow our perception of His faithfulness to His own Kingdom to be influenced by what we got out of the deal. He is God, and He is good. Following the ideological train of ‘unfulfilled promises negate the validity of every other word spoken’ sets us up for heart sickness. The ‘why, if only, and what if’s’ are allowed, but be weary of dwelling on them. If my need to understand the truth of my circumstances is greater than my hunger for His truth, I become self-absorbed and truth serves only as self-indulgence. Know Him, in all your ways, acknowledge Him, in it all – even the failures.

He wants us well. He wants our hearts thriving. He wants us hopeful. He wants us living out the life He bought. I want to remind you today that His intentions are good, and He is a good Father. Regardless of circumstances, regardless of the questions, have hope today. Hope does not put to shame. Delay in fulfillment is no justification for living in doubt and shame, take hold of your thoughts and put your trust in the living God once more.

HE is

There are some aspects of God that sounds contradictory, opposing almost. He is both strong, and tender. Passionate, yet patient. Active, but gentle. He is God, He is Father, He is brother, He is friend. I think, in my opinion, these are the very attributes that makes Him the champion of the inferior. He understands the fact that we are multidimensional, He created us so. Body, mind, spirit. We were created complex, made up of detailed facets, compounded by layers of being. He made us as He is. He is a multifaceted God. He knows us, and He understands us, and He loves us. We can be both convinced of His faithfulness while yearning to witness it manifested in a certain area. We can both love Him while approaching Him with years-old questions. We can serve Him while simultaneously questioning if He really did call us. He is not a God that is threatened by our questions. In fact, He welcomes them. He is the one who sits at the other end of your doubts with options, because they can coexist. He has such capacity, my friend, you can not scare Him away. Ask those questions. Go on, have your say. I dare you to listen as He answers, bringing opposing counsel to your anxiety, ushering peace to your troubles.

Just as there are seemingly contradictory facets of His being, just so there are complex commands in Scripture. Be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves, labor for the kingdom, but be at rest, speak little but listen much (both active verbs, doing words, demands action), and statements such as He is both the lion and the lamb, He is a consuming fire, a mighty wind, and living water. He is all things, and in Him is all things. We cannot save anyone, He is judge and redeemer. Let us forget our interpretations of circumstances and people. Just love them. He is multifaceted God, inspirer of multifaceted instruction to very complex humans. We interpret differently at different stages of life. But the one thing we can all agree one, is He is a God of love. So allow your views to be directed by love that is selfless. Interpret His words always through a sense of belonging. You might be an underdog in your circle of friends, the black sheep in your family, the overlooked one in the workplace. But know this today, He is able to overthrow every table of religious gain in your life. He champions you from before eternity, enabling you to live now, securing your forever. Be loved, today. He is exactly who you need for where you are right now. He sees, He knows, He is.

Kingdom First

Read with me, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:31-34

Fulfillment of the law of love requires self-sacrifice. He having done His part empowers us to live in His love. This is a powerfully accountable lifestyle; to love and give without thought of self. When we become Kingdom minded, we see others. Love becomes easy when we understand the premise of Godly love is that He loved us ‘first.’ Loving others and living up to love requires putting someone else first. This is the truest expression of your love, not professing it, but doing. You have to put Him first. His Kingdom principles need to win when we weigh our options. His love needs to outweigh our wants. He needs to be first in our hearts if we are to succeed at life. Seek first the Kingdom of God – above all else. The things pertaining to the Kingdom of God should take precedent in our pursuits and attempts at doing life. Our life decisions should reflect Kingdom, in other words our life choices should reflect our pursuit of power, peace, joy, miracles and health. Seek powerfulness first, seek love first, seek peace first, and seek miracles first. Set your thoughts on doing life in a way that empowers joy, live your life in pursuit of righteousness in all situations, conduct yourself in a way that testifies of the pursuit of peace. Living as if we belong to His kingdom demand we lay down our own wants for our life, and pursue His intentions for us.

His intentions for you is to look like His Son, to look like love and compassion, powerfully equipped to do good to those around you; enabled to let go, enable to let others win, enable to love and lay down our wants and needs. Kingdom lifestyle of self-denial is not equal to being a wimp, self-denial does not deny you a personality, or needs, or emotions, or purpose, but embracing the concept of putting Him first is what allows you the amazing opportunity of not doing it alone. Putting Him first is the empowerment we need to live a Godly life. Putting Him first does not mean you have to deny your calling, gifting, anointing, purpose and feelings. It means you get to come alongside Him, and do it His way, because all those beautiful things about you essentially find their full expression in glorifying Him, or at least it should. Living for Him is what makes us powerful. Living in Him is what makes us effective. Because in Him we move, in Him we live, and He holds it all together.

Put Him first, because it is not about you doing life by yourself. Put Him first as an acknowledgement that you are in Him and trust Him to be good to you. Place Him first in your thoughts as you make decisions, and see His peace reign in your mind. In the face of every aspect of our lives we have to remember that He knows us well, He made us and He is keenly aware of what we need and want. Come to Him with your needs, come to Him with your thoughts, and let Him be the peace that leads you. Allow His kingdom to manifest through a life surrendered to His way of doing things. No-one knows or understands you better. Trust Him to know and do the necessary work. Let go of the attempts to make it work out. Quit the yelling and striving. Let Him be God, think of Him first, and go to Him first.

Let Love Win

I don’t have much to say, except – let love win. Relationships are failing, people judge, budgets are tight, and projects fail. The mountains seem to steep to climb, the ocean to wide to cross, and the way to narrow to traverse. But keep on keeping on. Not by taking matters into your own hands. Often times we keep on by doing the same things over and over again, most times repeating the very actions that got us in trouble to start with. Today, know that He sees it all, He knows it all. Challenge yourself to see how your love for Him wins over any uncertainty you may have regarding His intentions for you. Let the fact that you love Him deflect the doubts you harbor. Let the fact that you love Him keep you restful, and trusting, still. Allow His never-ending love for you to seep through every crack of uncertainty in your resolve, and love on Him.  Just love Him today. Look at Him, and love Him. As you behold Him, be enveloped in His mercy. As you gather yourself to Him, sit before His feet and just be. He is enough. He has always been enough. Love Him, today. And find yourself once again, in Him. Purposefully, with intent, sit with Him. Tell Him, “I love You.” Remind yourself that He is the lover of your soul. Be mindful of the fact that it has always been Him; He has always been your One true person.  He is your

Refuge

Rock

Hiding Place

Safety

Security

Keeper

Father

Savior

Redeemer

Hide yourself in Him. Take every thought captive, and place it inside of His love for you, and be safe. This means you do not worry about tomorrow, and neither do you  even worry about today. Be busy with what is on His heart. Look Him in the eyes and be known. He knows your face, He knows your name. He formed you. He chose you. He called you. Remember who He is, remember who that makes you. In the waiting is where we put on display what we believe. Pay attention to the thoughts you have and the words you speak while in waiting. Pay attention to the words you speak during the moments He is silent. Do you still believe? Are you still hopeful? Is love winning? During the quiet moments, we sometimes feel the need to fill the silence with rhetoric and babble. Redeem this time; give it back to Him in quiet trust. And let love win over the doubt and torment. Let love win over the second guessing, over the idleness, over the chasms left by unanswered questions. Allow the waiting to whittle your faith, and display your belief systems. If your faith is wanting, allow God to be God again. In the season of waiting, sort out you, and let love win.