July 23, 2017

About Clella Fox

Clella Fox - Blog Contributor
Clella and her husband, Steve, have been married 45 years. They live in Hilliard, OH, and are lovingly surrounded by their two daughters, their husbands, six grandkids, and their Havanese, Muffin. Clella has been a follower of Christ most of her life, and has been involved in many church ministries as well as numerous short-term foreign mission trips. Steve and she co-direct Royal Family KIDS of Franklin County summer camp for children who have been removed from abusive situations and placed in foster care. Besides her family and God, Clella loves God’s nature, reading, crafts, and travel. She enjoys studying God’s Word along with other believers, and has found Girlfriends’ Coffee Hour a great place for learning, prayer, and fellowship.

Wise Men

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv
Three believed without a doubt
Saw a guiding light
Found Him in a lowly place
And knew He was divine
Wise men, wise men, wise men
Still look for Him

Giving gifts of thanks and praise
They called Him a king
Feeling joy that knew no bounds
They fell down worshiping
Wise men, wise men, wise men
Still look for Him

Surely angels still sing when someone comes so far
Traveling the distance from the depths of one’s own heart
Searching for salvation, they need not wear a crown
He’s still here for all who seek and He wants to be found

Letting God’s Word be their guide
They went home again
That’s where their story leaves us
And where ours begins
Wise men, wise men, wise men
Still look for Him

Allen Krehbiel
written with Trish Matthews

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Matthew 2:1-12 NLT

As Christmas has passed and we are all cleaning up and getting back to our routines, it’s possible that we may unintentionally be leaving our focus on Jesus behind.

We say that we want to keep our minds on Jesus…but do we?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

We don’t know the details of the lives and work of the wise men, but it is fair to say that they studied the stars. They were knowledgeable enough to recognize that something new and important had appeared in the night sky. They were scholarly men who studied various literatures, which included what we refer to as the Old Testament, specifically the prophecies. We could say that they were ‘full of knowledge.’ What made them wise was how they accepted that knowledge and used it for good. With their knowledge, they wisely committed to look for…and find…the prophesied Messiah. According to the prophecies, the King of the Jews had been born; and not an ordinary king, but one so great that He was worthy of their time, their gifts, and their worship.

{Here is an interesting article from the Institute for Creation Research…}
When They Saw The Star

I know some of us are saying, “I took time out from my daily life to focus on Christmas. Now I need to get back to my family and work routines to keep things running smoothly.” God knows all of that is necessary, and He certainly doesn’t condemn that. But He also knows that focusing our hearts and minds on Jesus is important to all aspects of our lives and the lives of our family.

This story of the wise men leaves us with a very good lesson. The wise men used their knowledge to personally seek the king of the Jews, the Messiah. That is wisdom. As we “travel” into the new year, 2016, let’s make the same commitment that the wise men did. As we daily study God’s Word, we will gain knowledge of God and His plan for us. With God’s Word as our guide, we will wisely seek Jesus in a more personal way, and our very life will reflect Him. “He’s still here for all who seek and He wants to be found.”

You will seek Me and find Me,
when you seek Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

Wise men—and women—still seek Him.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Lord, many of us have heads full of knowledge, but we know that doesn’t equate to being wise.  In this coming year, please help us through Your Holy Spirit to be more committed than ever to study Your Word, and then use it wisely to grow closer to You, more like You, and draw others to You. In the Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray.  Amen, It Is So.

God Draws Near

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In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. but the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. for this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.”  Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

Luke 2:8-14

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Did you ever wonder why all the shepherds in that area, and even some of the town’s people, didn’t respond to the angel’s appearance to the shepherds?  Due to some translations and traditional art works, we tend to picture the night sky filled with the brilliance of the angel’s appearance. But the original Greek words say this, “and behold, an angel of Lord stood by them, and glory of Lord shone around them….” God sent His angel to make a personal appearance to these humble shepherds.

What a shock to have someone suddenly appear at your campsite, shining with a light—“the radiance of The Lord’s glory”—like nothing you could ever imagine. (No wonder they were terrified!) The angel’s reassurance calmed their souls, and they heard the greatest news (the news all Israel had been waiting for) they would ever hear—the Messiah has come! Then a vast host of angels joined in with praise to God. Wow, what a scene, and it was just for this lowly audience of a few poor shepherds.

I think most people around the world consider God as very powerful, unreachable, and impersonal. This event with the shepherds shows us a very different God. Oh yes…He is powerful; but He uses His power to reach us, to draw near to us.  God is very personal.

In the Old Testament we see that God appeared to Abraham, Noah, Moses, and many others time and again. His message to them was very personal. If they heeded His Words and obeyed Him, they were blessed and many others were blessed as well as they shared what God instructed them to share.

How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You,
to dwell in Your courts.
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.
Psalm 65:4

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
to all who call upon Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

Again in the New Testament we see numerous times when Jesus personally appeared to those He wanted to bless. They weren’t anyone special from the world’s point of view, but they were special to God. Here’s just three such events:

So when they [the disciples] had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat;
and they were afraid.
John 6:19

And it came to pass as they [followers] conversed and reasoned,
that Jesus himself drawing nigh, went with them;…
Luke 24:15

As he [Saul] was approaching Damascus on this mission,
a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”
Acts 9:3-5

Although it may seem implied, the Scriptures (Luke chapter 2) don’t actually say that the angels instructed the shepherds to go find Jesus. However, because God drew near to them, they were drawn to Him, and went searching until they found Him. Neither were they told to go tell others, but in their excitement of personally experiencing God Incarnate, they told “everyone” they could, and they too were “astonished.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the Baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this Child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.

Luke 2:15-18

We may be small and insignificant from the world’s perspective, yet to God we are like the lowly shepherds–we are very important to Him. He is personal. He has drawn near to us by sending His Light, Jesus, to dwell in our hearts. During this Christmas, we have the wonderful opportunity to show others just what a personal God we love and serve by sharing Jesus—Emmanuel—with anyone who will listen.

So, go tell it on the mountain, (in your workplace and in the mall), go tell it everywhere that Jesus Christ is born!

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!

*   ♥   ~   ✝   ~   ★   *

Dear God, thank You for drawing near to us through Jesus, so that we can draw near to You. Thank You for dwelling in us who believe, so that others will have the opportunity to be astonished at what a personal God You really are. May we be Your “little lights” so that others will be drawn to You. In the Precious Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. It Is So!

A King Like This

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A King like this, majesty
Laying in a manger
A King like this
Unto us is born a Savior
The Light, the Light has come
A King like this, the highest
Name and the song of heaven
A King like this born of
Flesh into our suffering
The Light, the Light has come

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

A King like this, a saving
Love that would not forsake us
Betrayed by a kiss and led
To the cross for our forgiveness
The Light, the Light has come

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes
lift up our eyes
lift up your eyes

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

A King like this, a throne of grace
That will stand forever
The angels sing glory, glory, hallelujah
The Light, the Light has come
The Light, the Light has come

Chris Tomlin

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

How many heirs to a throne, a king-to-be, have you heard of who were born in some lowly, stinky, dingy place? Personally, I can only think of one–Jesus.
By prophecy and lineage, Jesus was born a king.

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jeremiah 23:5-6

“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David.
And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!”
Luke 1:26-33

This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah,
a descendant of David and of Abraham…
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David,
fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile,
and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.
Matthew 1:1, 16-17

But why a stable? When a gem is found in the dirt and mud of a mine, it really stands out as something different than the ordinary rocks surrounding it. When a beautiful, delicate flower is found in the weeds, it makes one stop and take notice. When a precious, beautiful baby is born in a less than appealing place (such as a stable), everyone stares in amazement.  I believe God wanted the contrast so the people would notice, and He still wants that today.

Jesus was the little baby born in that dingy stable, so that the shepherds would stop and take notice.

Jesus was the little child who had a major star shining over His head so that the wise men could find Him and worship Him.

Jesus is The Light of the world so we will stop and take notice in our otherwise dark world.

Jesus is our Savior Who died an agonizing death on the cross so that we would bow before Him to receive our salvation.

Jesus is The King sitting on Heaven’s Throne that we might lift up our eyes in worship to Him, our Lord and Savior, for all eternity.

A King like this, a saving
Love that would not forsake us

A King like this, a throne of grace
That will stand forever

The Light has come!

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there.
Its rider was named Faithful and True,
for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war.
On His robe at His thigh was written this title:
King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
Revelation 19:11-16

There is no better day than today to stop and take notice of The King whose throne was once a manger in a dingy stable, but Who now sits on The Throne of Grace in Heaven.  Join with me as ‘I bow my heart before no other name, I bow my heart before no other King,’ only Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Lift up your eyes, The Light has come! Let us sing with the angels,

Glory, glory, Hallelujah, The Light, The Light has come!

Shining

phssChristmasgraphic2014
The dawn of peace Christmas Eve
the final night the world would sleep 
Fearful of the dark
but there was a shining star leading
Wise men to a humble place
where they would find the Gift of Grace 
Laying before their eyes
hope had come to life

The Light of the world was shining
The Light of the world was shining 
He came just like He promised
His love would not be silent

Hearts would quake on Christmas Day
as they looked upon the Savior’s face 
God became a man
they could reach and touch His hands 
The hands that made the blind to see
that carried the weight of suffering 
That washed away our sins
so we could be born again

The world knows Christ is born
oh, the King of love has come
And our hearts will be His throne
it is known, Christ is born
Light of the world, leading us home
Shepherd of Hearts, come for His own

 Sanctus Real
Matt Hammitt, Chris Rohman, Mark Graalman, Jake Rye, Seth Huff

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

On November 3, 2015, the Taurid meteor shower and the Northern Lights were possibly going to be visible in our skies.  So at 10:00 at night (when I’m usually already in bed), Steve and I (and Muffin) drove out into the countryside in hopes of seeing them.  We immediately saw some falling stars which is always fun.  But I had never seen the Northern Lights so I was really hoping to see them, and felt somewhat disappointed as time crept by without a sighting.  Then suddenly the brightest falling star came coursing through the sky with a blazing tail…and it seemed that it came down right in front of us.  It was spectacular!  I did see a couple of moments of the Northern Lights but they were without color and brief.  All was amazing and we were praising God!

As we drove home, and even into the next day, neither of us could get our minds off of the meteor that had seemed to put on a show just for us.  Yes, it died out which was disappointing but expected.  But it caused me to think of The Light of the world, which will never die out.

His name is Jesus the Messiah, Emmanuel.

Leaving Nazareth, He (Jesus) went and lived in Capernaum,
which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali
—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:13-16 (Isaiah 9:1-2)

Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the Light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The true Light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:4 and 9

As the song says, “The world knows Christ is born.” People around the world celebrate Christmas because a special little baby was born. It’s a beautiful story that is retold over and over during this season. (Take time this season to read Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2).  The sad thing is that many people only see Jesus as that baby; they don’t see Him as The Light of the world.  They don’t see that He came as Emmanuel—God with us.

When the bright lights of the Christmas decorations are taken down, the world will seem dark again.  As Isaiah said, there are “…those living in the land of the shadow of death.”  For many this glimpse of Jesus will fade as well, and they will go on searching in the dark.  People everywhere are looking for peace, grace, hope, and life, just as the wise men were looking.  The good news is “a light has dawned!” During this season we have the opportunity to share Jesus, the True Light, with those around us who are looking for more than a month of celebration.

God loved the world (all of us) so much that He sent Jesus to light our way to Him (John 3:16-17).  And Jesus willingly came in obedience to His Father, knowing it was the only way to bring redemption to us, His creation.  Jesus said that He is that Light, and just as sunlight brings natural life to us, His Light brings spiritual life to us.

During this Christmas season, take the time to bask in Jesus, The True Light. He is God’s love and life extended to you.  Take advantage of this time of year when so many are celebrating, to share the Good News that there is one light that will not be turned off or fade away. His Name is Jesus.  He is not just a baby—He is the Savior of the world.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

If you personally are just learning about this truth, I pray that you will realize and accept that “the King of love has come,” and He, Jesus, wants to shine into your life and make your heart His throne.

God became a man…that washed away our sins so we could be born again.

The True Light of the world is shining and will never fade away.  Let Him shine into your life, and then share His Light with all around you.

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming just as You promised.  As the song says Your love would not, could not, and will not be silent.  We are overwhelmed with the realization that You, our Great God and Creator, want to shine into our lives and lead us home to be with You eternally.  We pray for those who have not yet made their heart Your Throne.  May this be the time that they accept You, not just as the Christmas baby but as their Savior.  Please help us to be faithful to share You, The True Light, when we have the opportunity.  Shine, Jesus, shine in and through our lives!  In the precious Name of Jesus, Light of the world, we pray, Amen.

(For confirmation that this was God’s promised plan,
click  here  to read 44 of the Old Testament prophecies
about the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled.)

Light Exposes the Darkness

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And the judgment is based on this fact:
God’s Light came into the world,
but people loved the darkness more than the light,
for their actions were evil.
All who do evil hate the Light
and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.
But those who do what is right come to the Light
so others can see that they are doing what God wants.
John 3:19-21 NLT

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

If you had the choice to walk through a dark cave with a flashlight or without a flashlight, which would you choose?  If you have ever visited a cave and the guide turned off all the lights, you know just how dark that cave is.  You literally can’t see your hand in front of your face.  To take even one step in that darkness could lead to you falling into an unseen pit, possibly even to your death.  You need the light from the flashlight to find your way safely out of the cave.

There are many people who prefer to walk in spiritual darkness because they are doing things that are wrong or their motive is wrong. They don’t want to have those things exposed by God’s Light—Jesus. They would rather take the chance of ‘falling into a pit’ than to give up their evil actions.  Ultimately, unless they repent and turn from their sinful ways, they will stand before God and He will judge them for their deeds and they will go to the pit of hell. That’s not what God wants, that’s what people choose.

But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.
They have no idea what they are stumbling over.
Proverbs 4:19

God sent Jesus, The Light, to the world to rid the world of the darkness of sin.  When evil is exposed and a person sees their sin, repents, and asks forgiveness, they can walk in the Light, and they will begin to do “what is right.”

The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and His life brought light to everyone.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:4-5

For once you were full of darkness,
but now you have light from the Lord.
So live as people of light!
Ephesians 5:8

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
Proverbs 4:18

As followers of Jesus, you and I walk in His Light.  We want to do what is right because that is what God wants.  When we sin, His Light will show us and He will forgive us when we ask (1 John 1:7-9).  When our actions please God, others will see and be exposed to His Light and be drawn to Him. As God sent out Paul, so He sends us:

Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes,
so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.
Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins
and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.
Acts 26:18

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, 
God of glory, Lord of love; 
hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, 
opening to the sun above. 
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; 
drive the dark of doubt away. 
Giver of immortal gladness, 
fill us with the Light of day!

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Father God, I pray that our hearts will open like an ‘unfolding flower’ to Your Son, Jesus, The True Light.  May Your Light shining through us drive the “clouds of sin and sadness, and the dark of doubt away.” Fill us, Lord, with Your Light so that others will be drawn to You.  We adore You, God of glory, Lord of love, Light Everlasting!  In Jesus’ Precious Name, we pray. Amen, It Is So!

My Story

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

If I told you my story,
You would hear hope, that wouldn’t let go
and if I told you my story,
you would hear Love that never gave up
and if I told you my story,
you would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak, then let it be
of the grace that is Greater than all my sin
of when justice was served, and where mercy wins!
of the kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
oh to tell you my story, is to tell of Him

If I told you my story,
you would hear victory over the enemy
and if I told you my story,
you would hear freedom that was won for me
and if I told you my story,
you would hear Life Overcome the grave

This is my story, this is my song
praising my Savior, all the day long
this is my story, this is my song
praising my Savior, all the day long

for the grace that is Greater, than all my sin
of where justice was served, and where mercy wins!
of the kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
o to tell you my story,
is to tell of the grace that is Greater, than all my sin
of where justice was served, and mercy wins!

of the kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
oh to tell you my story, is to tell of Him
oh to tell you my story, is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Big Daddy Weave
written by Jason Ingram and Mike Weaver

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

This is the time of year when we, as a nation, take time to focus on what we are thankful for.  We have—this beautiful land in which we live, our freedom to vote, our freedom to worship, our families, our friends, our jobs, and so much more.  We should be full of thanksgiving to our Lord, because He is the Provider of all good things.

And God will generously provide all you need.
Then you will always have everything you need
and plenty left over to share with others…
For God is the One who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.
In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources
and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
2 Corinthians 9:8-10

The greatest gift that we should be thankful for is our salvation.  We have salvation when we don’t have freedom.  We have salvation when we don’t have family or friends.  We have salvation when we are out of work and have no income.  We have salvation even when we are in a Third World country.  Our salvation is not dependent on any of these things.

But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food.
Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.
For God the Father has given Me the seal of His approval.
John 6:27

You see, it’s really Jesus’ story for which I am most thankful.  Our salvation is dependent on Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross for us, each of us…not just a select few.  His provision to save us gives us grace, love, hope, life.  It gives us victory over the enemy, and freedom.  Out of His kindness, out of His story comes my story.  I have no story to tell if it were not for Jesus being willing to do His Father’s will and come to earth to live and die and be raised again to new life.

God saved you by His grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9

For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

I can and want to praise my Savior “all the day long.”

  • He gave His love, which never gives up.
  • He provides hope, which won’t let go.
  • He gave His life, so I could have mine.

Oh, the kindness of the Lord compels me to tell/sing of His grace and mercy, which always wins!

In His kindness, God called you to share
in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:10

What are you thankful for during this Thanksgiving season?  Is your list long?  What’s at the top of that list? I’m praying that your salvation is number one.  I’m praying that your story is not based on the things you are thankful for, but on the One you are thankful to.  Tell me your story; I’d love to hear you tell me about Jesus.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

With great thanksgiving, Lord, we come to You.  We come with our hearts bursting with the love and joy we have for You, knowing that all good things come from You.  Thank You for all of Your blessings.  We also come to thank You for our salvation.  Thank You, Jesus, for obeying Your Father’s will, so that we can experience new life with You.  The details of our individual stories may look different, but the truth of our stories is that it is Your story.  We are privileged to share Your Good News with others.  Help us by Your Holy Spirit to praise You all the day long so that others will hear Your story and come to You.  In Jesus’ Precious Name we pray, Amen.

Worry versus Thankfulness

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
Philippians 4:6 NLT

Do not be anxious or worried about anything,
but in everything [every circumstance and situation]
by prayer and petition with thanksgiving,
continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.
Amplified Version

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God does expect us to care about our lives (and about the lives of others).  But when that caring becomes filled with anxiety and fear, it is counterproductive and wrong.  Life presents us with many things to worry about—family, friends, relationships, jobs, finances…and on and on.  There’s no end to this list if we let ourselves go there.  However, God’s Word tells us to do something very different about all those things.  He tells us not to worry, not to be anxious about anything. That’s a tall order, but it is possible.  How?  God says, “Pray.”

I urge, then, first of all,
that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for all people.
1 Timothy 2:1

These Scriptures in Philippians and 1 Timothy tell us to pray about everything-–every circumstance, every situation, every person in our life.  We are to tell God about everything we need (and even the things we perceive we need.)  Why? Because He cares about you (each of us.)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—
whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.
Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:25

When we pray, our focus is more on God and His mercy, grace, and provision. The more we pray, the more our mind is filled with Him.  It leaves less room for worry.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You,
all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
Isaiah 26:3

How often do you start your prayers with “Thank You, God….”?  I know I do pretty often.  In spite of my needs at the moment, I have so much to thank God for that I can’t pray without saying, “Thank You.”  He gave me the gift of salvation many, many years ago.  God has protected my family and me over the years.  He has seen me through many trials, and supplied for my needs.  Because of His faithfulness in the past, I can trust Him to care for me now and in the future.  Even as I write this, I am compelled to stop and say “Thank You, Lord!”

During this Thanksgiving season, make it a point to “thank Him for all He has done,” (Philippians 4:6) for all He is doing, and for all that He will be doing in your life.  Then make it a way of life to thank Him daily.  When caring starts to turn into worry…stop and pray with thanksgiving…reminding yourself how much He has done for you, and how much He cares for you.  Prayer, petition, and thanksgiving will bring you closer to God and farther away from anxiety and worry.  That’s what we all want, right?

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Dear Lord God, as humans we are presented with things to worry about almost daily.  But You said, “Don’t!”  Instead of worrying, You said, “Pray!” And pray “…about everything!”  Lord, we need our hearts and our minds open to Your Holy Spirit to help us to pray without worry, and to pray with thanksgiving.  We have so much to be thankful for, and when we take time to be thankful our trust level goes up, and worry is pushed back.  That’s what we want, Lord.  Thank You for caring for us even beyond our comprehension.  May we grow in our trust that You will see us through the hard times.  You have done and are doing so much for us, thank You, thank You!  In Jesus’ Precious Name we pray, Amen.

Thankful Representatives

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And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.
And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.
Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
And whatever you do or say,
do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:15-17 NLT

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According to Google.com, a representative is “a person chosen or appointed to act or speak for another or others.”  And at Dictionary.com it is also defined as “a typical example or specimen of a group, quality, or kind.”

This passage of Scripture gives us a lot to consider.  As one chosen by God, we, as Christians, are to represent Christ Jesus to those around us.  We are to be a “typical example of His quality.”  And how do we do that?  “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (verse 16).

What is “the message about Christ?”  It is the message that God loves us so much that “He gave His Son, His one and only Son.  And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” (John 3:16 MSG).  Does that good news fill your heart with thankfulness and joy to the point of singing?  It does mine!

“If thankfulness becomes a way of life, it will make it much easier to maintain a state of peace.  It helps us look on the bright side instead of focusing upon the events which can disturb our calm [our inner peace.]”

quote taken from The Complete Biblical Library,
The New Testament Study Bible Galatians through Philemon

God’s quality and quantity of love is beyond measure.  God is not asking us to “be Him” [which we know is impossible], but He is asking us to live and love “like Him.” When we choose to be the representative He wants us to be and in the place He wants us to be, we will have His peace.

In Philippians 4:1-9, Paul told Euodia and Syntyche to settle their disagreements, and he told the church to help them.  Paul wanted them to experience the joy and peace that God desires for His people, and to be the representatives God wanted them to be. When we live in peace, joy, thankfulness, and God’s wisdom, we will be representatives that show the world around us our God of love. With thankful hearts, we can sing, speak, and do that which draws others to Christ, and that also strengthens our sisters (and brothers) in Christ.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

A life that is full of Christ’s peace and His Word
is a life that is thankful, and rich and wise.
It will enrich everyone around you. Thank You, Lord.

(Many years ago I wrote this note in the margin of my Bible; I still believe it today.)

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Dear Lord Jesus, we come to You with thankful hearts.  Your Word—Your Good News—fills our lives with wisdom, peace, and joy.  Those are qualities people around us are looking for in their lives.  Lord, please help us to be Your representatives so that others will be drawn to You.  May our thanksgiving during this season of the year (and everyday) make people curious enough to ask why so we can share You with them.  In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

Thank You, Lord

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

I come before You today
And there’s just one thing that I want to say
Thank You, Lord
Thank You, Lord

For all You’ve given to me
For all the blessings I cannot see
Thank You, Lord
Thank You, Lord

With a grateful heart
With a song of praise
With an outstretched arm
I will bless Your name
Thank You, Lord
I just wanna thank You, Lord
Thank You, Lord
I just wanna thank You, Lord
Thank You, Lord

For all You’ve done in my life
You took my darkness and gave me Your light
Thank You, Lord
Thank You, Lord

You took my sin and my shame
You took my sickness and healed all my pain
Thank You, Lord
Thank You, Lord

Yes we thank You, Lord; thank You, Lord; thank You, Lord
Yes we thank You, oh we thank You

Don Moen
Songwriters Patrick Henderson and Louis E Brown III

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The Bible tells us to “give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.” In the Kings James Version, this specific command is given at least six times: 1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1 and 29, and Psalm 136:1.  Of course, there are many other references to giving thanks to the Lord throughout His Word.  Many of them give thanks to Him for something or someone.  I like the focus of this verse because it is all about our Lord.  In fact, these six verses speak solely of His goodness and His mercy.

As this song mentions, we have so much to thank God for:

  • blessings we can’t see
  • taking us out of darkness and giving us His light
  • taking our sin, shame, sickness, and pain
  • for all He’s done in our lives

And for all those things we give God our thanksgiving. But today, mostly I just want to come to Him and give Him thanks and praise. He is worthy. He is our God, who is good and full of mercy and grace. Over and over, “I just wanna thank You, Lord.”

Thus will I bless Thee while I live:
I will lift up my hands in Thy name.
Psalm 63:4

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.
Psalm 134:2

Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense;
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 141:2

In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy. 1 Timothy 2:8 NLT

During this season of Thanksgiving, when we are reminded to take time to be thankful for all that God has blessed us with, I don’t want to forget to simply be thankful for God, Himself.  (What about you?)  With a grateful heart, with a song of praise, I want to “Bless the Lord, O, my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psalm 103:1).  Please join me with outstretched arms, with hands and hearts lifted to our Lord, and give Him thanks. He is worthy.

All glory to Him who alone is God,
our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All glory, majesty, power, and authority are His before all time,
and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
Jude 1:25

And then I heard every creature in heaven
and on earth and under the earth and in the sea.
They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the One sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
Revelation 5:13

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Dear Lord, we can easily come to You with a long list of things and people that we are thankful for; You have blessed us with so much.  But first and foremost, Lord, we come to give You thanks for being You.  You are God above all gods, Lord above all lords.  You deserve all praise and worship. There is no one like You.  You are love, You are mercy, You are grace, and so much more.  Thank You, Lord!  In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name we give our praise and thanksgiving.  Amen, It Is So!

Take Heed

SeekingHimLogo

As for God, His way is perfect:
The Lord’s Word is flawless;
He shields all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 18:30 NIV

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Here we have David, in the midst of singing praises to God for delivering him from his enemies.  I believe David stated the most important reason for that victory—!

God’s way, as the following Scriptures state, is His very own method and style.  God’s way of doing something has no comparison.

LORD, there is no one like You!
For You are great, and Your name is full of power.
Jeremiah 10:6 NLT

Among the gods there is none like You, Lord;
no deeds can compare with Yours.
Psalm 86:8

He is the Rock, His works are perfect,
and all His ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is He.
Deuteronomy 32:4

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways
and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

God’s Word is flawless, unbroken, unimpaired, and whole.  It is beneficial to us.  This is in sharp contrast to the lies of the enemy.

God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man,
that He should change His mind.
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?
Numbers 23:19

All Scripture is breathed out by God
and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

God is our Shield.  Just as a king is trusted as the protector of his people, so we who put our faith in God are to trust Him as our Protector.

But You, Lord, are a Shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
Psalm 3:3

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You.
Psalm 84:12

But let all who take refuge in You be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread Your protection over them,
that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.
Psalm 5:11

Because God’s way is perfect, and His word is flawless, and He has promised to protect His children, we need to take heed.  Yes, like David, we have enemies—whether in the physical or in the spiritual—who try to “entangle us with cords of death” (Psalms 18:4-5).  But if we take heed of God and His Word, He will ”avenge us, and save us from our enemies” (Psalms 18:47-48).  When we are faithfully in God’s Word, then we will know God and experience His deliverance.

It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts.
They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths.
You have charged us to keep Your commandments carefully.
Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your decrees!
Psalms 119:1-4

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Dear God, our Father and Protector, we come before You with humble and grateful hearts.  There is no way that is more perfect than Your Ways.  There is no word that is more flawless than Your Words.  We are Your children, and You desire nothing more than for us to trust You wholeheartedly so that You can be our Protector.  Help us by Your Holy Spirit to “take heed” of Your Word for us, so that we will know You better and follow You more closely.  We want to be joyful daughters of integrity “…who obey Your laws, and search for You with all our hearts.”  Thank You for Your Word and Your Holy Spirit, so that we can know You better.  In Jesus’ Precious Name, we pray, Amen.