To all my WordPress blog followers, you have enriched my life more than you realize. Your comments, prayers, and other forms of encouragement have been a blessing since I started 2 years ago. Many of you have become like family. I thank God for you all and wish you a wonderful thanksgiving.
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:18-21
Tomorrow, families will gather and gluttonize. I’m afraid that there will be little thanksgiving taking place. Why is that? Thanksgiving flows from something – the Spirit-filled life. The person who is full of the Holy Spirit, meaning that God has more and more of the believer, will overflow with thanksgiving. This thanksgiving will come in the forms of music and testimony. When you are filled with God’s Spirit, you can’t keep your mouth shut. You will sing even if you are not gifted musically. You will tell of His salvation because you are thankful for a changed life.
What comes out of your life is a reflection of the real you. If you are an ungrateful person with an entitlement mentality, don’t expect tomorrow (or any other day) to be any more than just another day where you reflect on self. If you want to be thankful, it begins with a relationship with Christ that leads to a Spirit-filled life. I’m ready for some real thanksgiving. What about you?
Sounds like a feel-good message, right? I remember sitting in a Christian school chapel service my eighth grade year listening to a speaker tell us over and over that life isn’t fair. I understood to some degree because of some things that had hit my family by that point. The lesson became a recurring theme thereafter. Although I agree with this wholeheartedly and have had several unfair things happen in my life, I choose these realities:
- These things may not have been in God’s perfect will, but God will still use them for His glory (Romans 8:28).
- I am not a victim. Bad things happen to good and bad people. Good things happen to good and bad people. Sometimes things are consequences of my actions, while at other times the consequences of others affect me. God is not singling me out.
- God is just and fair. Though I will experience hardships and unfair things in this life (which God warned that in this world we will have difficulty), God will reward me according to His justice. He will not reward me based upon what I consider good. My salvation will be based on His justice through the finished work of Christ.
Remember these things when your world comes crashing down around you. Life isn’t fair. The devil is after you, but God is for you and wants to develop your character through the difficulties. Choose to focus on truth rather than feeling. That’s the only way you can survive the difficulties of life without sulking in your own self-pity. As the songwriter said, “Life is hard, but God is good.”
In rebuilding the walls of your life after they have been destroyed by addiction, divorce, and other devastations, there are certain tools you need. In Nehemiah 3, you see that a support system was necessary to rebuild the walls. What kinds of characteristics should these people have and not have?
- You need the right people in your life. Don’t invite people who will lead you back down the path from which you came. You need new people who will give you tough love and be with you no matter what. You may not like what they have to say, but they are the ones who want to see you rebuild.
- They need to be in the right place. You and I must understand that people are in our lives for a reason and for a season. In Nehemiah, each person had a specific task. No one deviated. We must understand that some people will only be present for a certain time period and then gone. That’s okay. They served their purpose for their season. Had they overstayed their season, it may have done you more harm than good.
The right support system is an absolute must for you to rebuild. The wrong people will cause more harm and further detriment to your life. You can love people from a distance. If you have to block them from you social media and phone, it’s Okay. Unplug from that which will harm you. It may be a matter of life or death.
As I was driving back home tonight, I was enjoying seeing some of the Christmas decorations around town and in yards. I thought “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. We even have Christmas music playing on one of the radio stations.
I began to think a little deeper. Is it really beginning to look a lot like Christmas? The first Christmas wasn’t so glorious. It was rather simple. The Christ child born in such a lowly way. No fanfare. No lights. No big meals. No fighting over Black Friday deals. Just a baby in a manger. Or was it just that?
God came down. I can’t get over that. He left the splendor of Heaven to come to this so He could die for you and for me. This commercialized thing, as sentimental and sweet as certain elements can be, was not what He had in mind. He had in mind a way to build a bridge between you and God. May we never forget!
This is a typical phrase people use when they are preparing to go to a building and gather with other people to worship. They typically wear nice clothes that they would not normally wear at any other time, wipe the dust off the Bible, and polish up on “Christianese” (the language they use only on Sundays).
I struggle with the phrase “getting ready for church” for a few reasons.
- If you are a born again believer, YOU ARE THE CHURCH! The church is a group of called out people, so you are going to gather with others that we hope are truly called out individuals.
- In the Old Testament, the place of worship signifies God’s presence. Today, the presence of God is inside the believer in the person of the Holy Spirit. You are carrying God with you wherever you go. That’s a good wake up call for most all of us! Everything we do is in God’s presence.
- With this in mind, worship should be a lifestyle. Therefore, we should be preparing our hearts and keeping our hearts clean ALL THE TIME! Worship is not an event.
I highly encourage everyone who reads this to find a place where you can worship with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 commands it for the purpose of building each other up. Many will not do this tomorrow because they cannot find a place that accomplishes this purpose.
Tomorrow, I look forward to gathering with the people called Overcomers Church. These people have overcome some major things in their life as have I and my family. I can’t wait to share the message God has given me. But the truth is, my life of worship will continue away from the building where we gather. I am always in the Lord’s presence, so I should be ready all the time.
Yesterday, I shared the first part of a series from the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was responsible for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. You and I have to often rebuilding the Walls of our life as they have been destroyed by addiction, divorce, and the hatefulness of others. We will continue to look at Nehemiah and draw principles from his situation that are applicable.
- Expect haters (2:1-10). Verse 10 talks about how Sanballat and Tobiah hated the fact that someone cared enough to rebuild the walls. As you are trying to rebuild, you WILL have negative people who may not even know you but will try to stop you.
- Accurately assess the situation (2:11-16). Don’t try to make it prettier than it is or downplay it. That game is old. Be a big boy/girl and call it for what it is! Don’t pass the blame or play the victim! Own up to the problem!
- Take action (2:17-20). The only way you and I will take action is to be sick of the way things are. We have to hate our current situation. Moreso, we have to face that God doesn’t want us in our current situation. It displeases Him, and He wants us strong and in His will. They did not want to dishonor God, so they rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
You will have opposition. There is no way around it. The road to recovery and rebuilding can take all you’ve got. You just have to hate your current situation so much that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goal.
While this may seem impossible, I want to leave you with another song that I believe will stir up courage and determination within you.
Within the last week, I have had the chance to see people I have not seen in a while. Actually, I could back up a few weeks. The first was my old neighbors who attended a church where I once served on staff. The lady’s sister, who was my next door neighbor, went to be with the Lord. I was able to drop by after work and visit with the family for a few minutes. Such a sweet time despite the passing of this precious former neighbor.
This past Saturday, I went to the 60th wedding anniversary party for the lady who was my choir librarian at the same church. I saw severals others who have been major encouragers even since I left that ministry almost 5 years ago. They will always hold a special place in my heart.
Today, I saw another couple from the same church. I spoke to the lady for a few minutes. She informed me about how her grandkids are doing and how happy she is about my new and expanding family. She also let me know she saw the TV program from when I was interviewed about starting Overcomers Church. It meant so much that they were keeping up and praying for me and my family.
These were not formal reunions, but God allowed them to be times of encouragement on both ends. In two of these cases, I went to encourage and celebrate with others. The awesome part about giving encouragement is that we often receive it in return and sometimes in greater abundance.
Don’t forget those who have poured into your life! For me, some of those have gone different directions and relationships have been strained. I try to still appreciate their contribution despite the differences.
I encourage you to take time this week to write a letter, send a text, email, or Facebook message. Get in your car and visit someone. What may be a simple gesture of kindness from you may mean the world to someone else.
Pastors are wired to care about things that some people do not consider. This list may help you understand your pastor a little bit better.
Excellent post on complaining! We all struggle, and I believe this will help you get delivered from this negative trap.
Two weeks ago, our family traveled from Texas to Nevada so my spouse could go rock-crawling in our jeep. Having just written and brainstormed about curbing complaining, I was determined to implement it on the trip. I learned plenty of good lessons that I hope will help you as you work on kicking this habit. As I mentioned in the first post, the goal in this effort is to shine our light more brightly to the world around us. Just as excessive sugar depletes the body of nutrients, excessive complaining depletes our joy.
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