Abounding in Thanksgiving -5 ways to gratefully live loved-Colossians 2:6-7
1-Remember God’s faithfulness – Joshua 4, 1 Samuel 7
Remember your very best days and your worst failures. And see God there. Memories reveal God’s presence, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. There are no coincidences. God is governing this world. “Thus far the Lord has helped me”-He is sovereign. God has forgiven and restored us yesterday, worked in us with sanctifying power today, and He is our hope in the future for glorification.
Remembering what God has done prepares our hearts to live a life of thanksgiving.
2-Keep the Conversation going all day in prayer – Philippians 4:6
If you’re not praying about something you are worrying about it. Fear erodes are faith and makes us use are self-sufficiency to cope with life when things get out of our control. Prayer keeps us trusting. And a prepared prayer- one that is specific instead of general makes the answers clear. We see God working with purpose. Over 20 times in the New Testament God links ‘ask me’ with thanksgiving.
Faith thanks God continuously for His ever-ready presence found in prayer.
3-Generously give as we are called for His purposes- 2 Corinthians 9:11
God’s Word links thanks and giving together. When we understand that God owns it all and how generously He has given to us our heart and hands are open to generously give of our resources of time, talent and treasure to His purposes. God asks us to be cheerful givers and the way our hearts are grown is through the trust and faith of the ‘giving test’. Who gets the first of your time, treasure and talents? If God did a spiritual audit of your spending this week what did you spend your time, treasure and talents on? “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Thankful hearts give and produce thanksgiving to God.
4-Share your gratitude and gladness with others – Isaiah 12:4
God is writing His story in your story and you are an eye witness of God’s active living power and love. A life of thanksgiving is lived as a witness of where God showed up. We are like a tour guide in a museum, we know all about the “artist” and we point to His work, showing off His master pieces and telling of his creative work. We all have a story of God’s faithfulness and only you can tell others your unique story. “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the world his wondrous love. How mighty he is!”
Thankful people don’t let God be an anonymous giver, they tell the world about his generosity and share their blessings with others.
5- Sing to God and about God – Psalm 147:7
There are more songs written about Jesus than there are about love. Christianity is a singing faith. We sing songs about who God is in our worship and we sing songs to God about who we are in Him. God invented music, filling the heavens with worship first then anointing men to express our hearts to him through songs. Singing restores us. Worshiping God refocuses us on Him instead of our circumstances. Words put to music give people a way to corporately all say the same thing together as we sing. So don’t just stand there, sing! “Sing out your thanks to him; sing praises to God.”
Expressing our thanks to God in song and worship restores us.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7
Remembering What God has Done prepares us for thanksgiving
Memories link our past to our present and weave yesterday into tomorrow. But in the middle of today, in the really good times and the very hard times, how often do we forget what God has done for us. We are called in the Hebrew tradition to ‘Make present God’ accounting for his presence and building altars to serve as a signpost of memorial that mark “God showed up here”.
Remembering is a crucial part of thanksgiving.
In Deuteronomy. 6:12 Moses issued a final warning to Israel just before they entered the promise land, “beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt…”
In our prosperity we are warned in Proverb 30 to pray and ask “give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Moses built an altar and named it “The Lord is my Banner” Exodus 17:15.
Joshua was charged to have the 12 leaders of Israel build a memorial from the stones of the Jordan Joshua 4
He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Samuel, set up a monument to remind Israel of God’s strong hand in victory naming the pillar Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us”. This stone pillar called God’s people to recall, and remember often, the time when God turned things from bad to blessed. Seeing the stone they remembered God’s help in the past, God’s presence relied on today, and God’s hope assured for tomorrow. The Ebenezer was a “picture” of the Lord’s readiness to hear their cries and save them, and it served to remind them where to turn for their strength and power—and whom to thank for their deliverance.
The psalmists built a similar monument with songs. Songs help us remember words. Many of the Psalms chronicled the history of God’s people and their Great God by helping people remember what God had done. They praised God for his faithfulness, deliverance victory and forgiveness. They prompt us to recount things that really happened. Don’t you remember, God lead you out of bondage in Egypt? Didn’t he feed you in the desert and keep doing so, even though you grumbled and complained? How many times has he forgiven your repeated idolatry and wandering? Victories, don’t you recall all the times God won for us and overcame the enemy? And if he did so much for you in the past, can’t you depend on him to do as much, if not more, for you today? And why are you worrying about tomorrow? Won’t he still be there for you, hearing your pleas for help, acting on your behalf? Psalm 78 tells us “I will utter hidden things, things from of old, things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us to help you remember … to remind you of God’s power … to give you trust and confidence in him … to teach you to lean on him … to be your Ebenezer for as long as you live until heaven.
Unlike the commemorative Biblical memorials, your Ebenezer—your stone of help— your banner or signpost, requires you gather not stones but memories together and recall the many and varied victories God has given you. You might begin by remembering the gifts of life-parents, siblings, mentors and coaches, Youth leaders, camp counselors, pastors, teachers-all those God surrounded you with to grow up. Your memories could include the blessings of education, friends, a profession and your communities of faith that disciple you. Especially recount certain events in your life—times of celebration and success and times when God turned what appeared to be disaster and turned them into an unexpected opportunity, or times of failure when he rebuilt you and times of hardship when you gained maturity. This year’s highlights, the season of transformation you are currently moving in and what God has done most recently. Making present God turns you away from fear, doubt, and disbelief today, because you realize once again how many times in the past God has forgiven, protected, helped and healed you and the hope you have in tomorrow’s provisions.
The meaning of the Hebrew word for memorial is “to remember.” Today our “Ebenezer” stone is Christ. In the form of His cross, your Ebenezer-Thus far the Lord has helped me- stands as an eternal memorial that God has given you the victory of all victories! He has overcome, making all things new and is with you always. Through the cross, Christ has won atonement and redemption, and eternal life with him. His cross assures that past sins are forgiven completely and sins of today and in the future will be forgiven as well. We stand in Christ, righteous.
Remember your very best days and your worst failures. And see God there. Memories reveal God’s presence, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. God was with you, there. There are no coincidences. God is governing this world. Thus far the Lord has helped me-He is sovereign. He is Immanuel- with me God.
Just as God has been with us yesterday, memories remind us of what God has done. His presence is our peace in each moment to help and strengthen us so renew your commitment to live for him today.God has forgiven and restored us yesterday, worked in us with sanctifying power today, and He is our hope in the future for glorification.
Remembering what God has done prepares our hearts to live a life of thanksgiving.
Our thoughts are double minded. Our souls are restless. Our pasts bear regrets. Our burdens are heavy. Our battles long. Our character weak. Our faith subjective. Our judgment fierce. Our hearts grow cold. God’s people need lifting up.
David understood this as a man and a king. In Psalm 28 he writes, “The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever.”
David taught us first we need to seek God personally – “Unto Thee, O God, do I lift up my soul.”
His Psalms taught us to pray for 5 things for ourselves:
Ps 143 – When I find myself in battle- Revive me
Cause me to remember what God has done in the past. Help me to know I can fight one more day if you wake me in the morning with the counsel of your loving, living voice. God will deliver and hide us, teach us and show us the way. Where he leads we can follow for the Lord quickens His servants.
Ps 35 – When I need assurance- Reassure me
When I am under persecution, say unto my soul, “I am your salvation.” Let me hear you say “I’ll save you.” And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in my salvation.
PS 25 – When I am uncertain- Give me Hope
I lift up my soul to your counsel, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.
PS 86 – When I am poor and needy- Give me joy
Because of who you are God, forgiving and good, abounding in love, none is like you, O Lord, For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave, a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, merciful, imparter of strength, help and comfort. You train me and teach me, put me together to be one heart and mind-undivided. What love! Knowing You I am filled with joy.
PS 141 – When I need protection-Give me faith
I lift up my hands to worship you and call on you for help. Guard my mouth and heart from wickedness. Let me be indifferent towards everything accept your will for me. Set me straight through correction. Threats come but let me fix my eyes on you, O Sovereign LORD. I take refuge that you control all things and take good care of me. Keep me safe from traps and let me pass by safely.
PS 23 – When I am dumber than a sheep- Shepherd me
Lift them up is translated in the NIV, “be their shepherd and carry them forever” To lift God’s people up is to shepherd us forever. If we are the Good Shepherd’s sheep “I shall not want” for the Shepherd feds and leads us. If we wander, he seeks us. If we’re scared, he goes first. He’s with us, even in the darkest moments and when we look back, we see it was only “goodness and mercy”. Our shepherd will never lead us where He cannot care for us.
As a King David also knew there were 3 ways God’s people need to be lifted up:
Living in this world but not of this world, God’s people need to beelevated in character.
More than 3000 times a day the world will try to convince you to follow its ways, put yourself first, gratify your lust, exchange a counterfeit for the truth and take a short cut. We need to be lifted up. Past our disciplined obedience that too often arm-wrestles with ourselves, out of the muck of our shame that never forgives ourselves and get down wind of the stink of our self-righteousness and be lifted up and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
We need to be lifted up to love God enough to obey not because we’re afraid of the consequences but because we love God. We. Love. God. And devotion requires our faithfulness to his instructions.
Moreover, God’s people need to beprospered in conflict.
When the battle comes, and it will hit you right between the eyes in your mind, we need to be lifted up out of the deception of our senses to remember the truth. If we forget our helmet, drop our shield, put our barefoot in our big mouth and the combat boot of our enemy is upon our chicken necks, help us grasp hold of the sword of the spirit and speak Your words even if the only thing we can say is, “the Lord is my shepherd” let it be a battle cry. Lord, lift up your children’s spirits in the day of persecution when our feelings get hurt help us not to fret or worse take vengeance but lift us up on the high road our savior walked of love. When we hear bad news of cancer or chronic, suffer not the adversary to vex us to despair but lift us up in our weakness to experience Your supernatural strength. When we battle the mysteries of depression, the dark pits of failure, the heartbreak of betrayal, lift up your people’s voices to worship You who both gives and takes away. And if we are called on to die for our faith, may we rally beneath the banner of love that the martyr’s wave from Jordan’s shore and be lifted up by a measure of grace to endure any and all that is temporary for the eternal glory.
Finally, God’s people will be lifted up at last.
God will lift us up eternally. He will lift us up by taking us to a place prepared for us. A place that no eye has seen and no mind can imagine. A place of glory without sin or its nature. He will lift us up and take us home. He will lift up these worn out bodies from the grave and raise them to be imperishable. At last, He will sweep our souls at once to his bosom and embrace us up to glory.
Lift us up. Lift our eyes up to fix on you. Lift our souls up to love you. Lift our prayers up to worship you.
Lift us up be our shepherd and carry us forever.
I wrote this after talking to someone about The Fury series.
I talked with God about why I’m writing, what we’re after in this partnership of story telling and the conclusion was again, to tell the truth in love. Reviewers agree that I am sometimes intense and might not be for readers who are looking for the classic sweet Christian story where characters do everything right. Apologetically my style is to write it real—meaning closer to real life, tackling issues with universal importance in a God honoring way. My characters will never be perfect but they will proclaim to you the love, grace and mercy of a perfect God. When I’m told my writing is intense, it makes me smile- I want to be branded as a Christian writer that writes it real not sweet. Labels like “raw and compelling” also reinforce that I’m finding my audience. I’ve also been told the Fury is inspiring and that makes me lift my hands and give God the glory. I held the pen and God directed the strokes. I believe what we were both after is to communicate how much God loves us. We just can’t hear it said enough. Here are some answers to a few questions I’ve been getting about Book One Eros.
Your new book is so intense. Why?
I like the ‘what if’ question it wakes me up – God’s people get complacent, we like our comfort zones, we need to be woken up and prepared to put into practice what we know.
But it’s horrible what happens (to Jaclyn) and the bad guy is…really evil.
Evil tends to be really bad- God’s people need to be reminded we have a savior and He came because we’re in a situation and need to be rescued.
But the spiritual battles are really raw and despite the story world, real.
I’m a teacher at heart and the spiritual armor of God (Eph 6) is subtly applied layer by layer throughout the conflict. It’s the standard tell them, show them, let them, coach them strategy I learned in Christian leadership. We wash, rinse, repeat until we remember how to fight along with the characters.
But this book sounds edgy and I’m looking for a love story
You’ve found one, I wrote the Fury Series to remember that I am loved by God so much that Christ stopped at nothing to save me. The hero in this story is outstanding, you’ll fall fast for the Fury. Promise.
But I’m not sure I can handle the evil element…I don’t like spooky/scary/suffering
Neither do I, the story isn’t about the details of abuse or the dementedness of an abuser but the battle to be free and believe in the power of God no matter where that battle might take place. This story is for the captive but it is also for those that answer the call and come to bring the good news of freedom.
My prayer is that you are lifted up by this story.