Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

I Told You So….

So when you read the title, did you immediately picture a charming little scene of one child saying this to another?  Hands on hips, chin jutting out, smirk on face…with the sing-songy lyric, “I toooolllldddd you sooooo!”  Oh man, did I get in trouble if I ever said this to one of my siblings, or worse…if I said it to my Mom!  Yikes!  Just had to happen once and that swat cured me for life….or at least within earshot of my mother.

Today, I want to linger on this phrasing in a positive way.  The Lord Jesus tells us, in so many words, “I told you so” in a variety of circumstances throughout His word.  A more “biblical” way to say it is in all of the “I will” statements the Lord makes.  It is really exciting to me whenever I read the words “I will” because I know that if the Lord said it, He WILL do it!  Most of these verses are positive, but there are some that are in a tone of warning.  But the same is true for both statements ~ what He says He will do…He WILL DO IT!

As early as in Genesis chapter 2, the Lord tells Adam that He will create for him a special helpmate…and He created Eve (vs. 18). Throughout the entire book of Genesis, you can read mulitple accounts of God saving those who worship Him, destroying the earth He made because the people had become so evil, God promising Abraham & Sarah that they would have a child from whom a multitude of descendants would come from including Jesus, God comforting His people when they were discouraged, the promise of new land ~ and that’s just in Genesis!

Of course, the “I will” promises are much easier to take to heart but we have got to be fully aware of the “I will” warnings. We cannot simply go through life taking scripture out of context because it makes us “feel good.”  We cannot twist things around that are meant to be a warning into some kind of proof that we can do whatever we want because Jesus has said that once we confess our sin and our need for a Savior, that He will save us.

Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely and wholeheartedly believe that once we are saved by Jesus Christ, we do not lose our salvation.  We do not have to repeat the salvation prayer, “just in case” it didn’t work the first time.  In the same vein, we cannot ever do anything to earn our salvation either.  Only the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can do that.

The Lord brings us to Him to be saved, not so we can remain living in our sinful ways…so we can become like Him.  The world is so backwards right now saying that Christians aren’t fair.  True, there are some who call themselves christian and act nothing like the Lord teaches.  And it is true that Jesus will accept everyone exactly as they are.  However…Jesus will not abide by us STAYING exactly as we were.  He calls us to Himself to learn who HE is and how we can mirror His character.

We cannot be a light to the world if we haven’t changed our power source!

Let’s go to the scripture so you can see a few verses showing some of God’s “I Will’s…”

Romans 9:14-16 (HCSB) says, What should we say then? Is there injustice with God Absolutely not! For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy.”

I love this because it reminds us that there is nothing that we can do on our own human efforts to change God’s mercy, blessings, grace, or discipline…it will be done as He sets forth.

Genesis 17:2 (HSCB) shows what God the Father says to Abram (aka Abraham after this blessing is spoken over him) when He calls him to leave his comfort zone, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.”  And He did.  There were definite hurdles in the story (if you haven’t read it, go now and see how even though Abraham tried to hurry up God’s plan, God still had the final say on it all!)

Psalms 91:14-15 (HSCB), is a promise from the Old Testament as to how God will act toward His people when they believe in Him, Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows My name. When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor.” Even when we feel we are not being heard by God, or answered by Him, He does in fact hear our every cry.  He is in tune with our hearts because He loves us.  Remain connected with your Savior and trust that He has your best at heart.

Jeremiah 30:11 (HSCB), (spoken to Israel and Judah through the prophet Jeremiah after the Lord freed them from captivity) For I will be with you— this is the Lord’s declaration— to save you!  I will bring destruction on all the nations where I have scattered you; however, I will not bring destruction on you. I will discipline you justly, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”  The Lord God does not take joy in disciplining us, but because He loves us so much He will do what is needed.  Our lives are to be a reflection of Him and if we are not living out what scripture teaches then we are not representing Him properly to the world.

I love this verse in Isaiah 41:10 (HSCB) because it is a faithful reminder to me that as a believer, I have the power of the living God inside me and I can trust that what the Lord says here in scripture is true, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”

On the other hand, Matthew 7:23 (HSCB) reminds us that those who choose in this life to ignore the authority of Jesus Christ and the fact that they need a Savior, He will have no choice on the day of Judgement but to say, “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!'”  It is difficult to think of this sometimes, but the world has an opportunity every day to choose Christ and choose to serve Him.  When we do choose Him, Matthew 10:32-33 (HCSB) tells us what we will hear, “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.”

John 14:27-29 (HSCB) speaks beautifully to the peace that only God can give us. While John 4:14 (HCSB) shares the promise of the New Testament that the living water of Christ will well up in our soul.  Matthew 11:28-30 (HCSB) provides the encouragement that following the Lord is the best way to become unburdened.

Perhaps one of the best “I will” statements that the Lord makes in Scriputre is found in Mark 14:36 (HCSB). “And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Even now as I read this it brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.  Because Jesus showed us that His heart was breaking for the task ahead, He ultimately was letting us know that the will of the Father is what is the most important to follow.  Jesus chose to live a human life that was destined for death in order to bring us eternal life that we don’t deserve.

As you read the Bible in your quiet times ahead, look out for those “I will” phrases (the “I told ya so’s). You will never find a promise that is unfulfilled.  You will never find a contradiction of God’s love and grace for us. Rest in His promises!

Blessings,

René

genesis-17-verse-2

* (HCSB) ~ Holman Christian Study Bible version *

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Church is not the Feast…

What words come to mind at the mention of “Feast”? Choice foods…Best quality…delectable treats…luscious desserts…more than enough…fully satisfied…special occasion…invitation only…

It’s quite the ‘christianese’ phrase, and we hear it all the time…”I go to church to be fed.”  But is that really the place we are supposed to be fed?  Is this the location we go to feast?

I’ve recently been contemplating this idea of what is the true purpose of gathering together on a Sunday morning (or Saturday night…you know what I mean)?  Are we to be gathering together on one particular day because that is the only time we are being fed?  A few weeks ago, I heard an interesting statement and I have not been able to get it out of my head.

“Church is the menu.  Church can be an appetizer.  But, Church is not the Feast.”

There are over 1500 mentions of the word ‘feast’ (or phrases that indicate a feast) in the Bible.  Most of these references are talking about all of the amazing Feasts that God set in place in the Old Testament.  These were specific opportunities for the Israelite’s to stop what they were doing in their every day life and create space to worship and honor the Almighty God.

There are seven annual sacred Feasts of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the “Feasts of Remembrance.”  These 7 Feasts are: Passover (Signified the Redemption of Israel); Feast of Unleavened Bread (Signified the Sanctification of the Israel); Feast of the Firstfruits (Signified Resurrection of Israel as a free people); Feast of Weeks (Pentecost: Signified the Origination of Israel as the Covenant people Of Yahweh); Feast of Trumpets (Signified the calling Israel to judgment); Feast of Atonement (Signified the Atonement of the Covenant people); and the Feast of the Tabernacles (Signified God’s presence with His Covenant people; looked forward to the coming of the Messiah).*

All of these feasts were filled with celebration (AND lots of eating) of what God had done for the people. How He had freed them from Egyptian slavery, how He had given them a new land, how He saved the people from the Angel of Death, and simply how He had provided for them year after year, generation after generation.  But they were also filled with times of offering sacrifices to God through the Priests.  This is, of course, a very very brief overview on the Feasts of the Old Testament.  But my point is this ~ these feasts were special times set aside to do one thing and one thing only…to worship and honor God.  This is the same kind of attitude I believe we need to have today, and I don’t think it only happens on Sunday.

The word feast can be a noun or a verb.  As a noun, we see that it means: “any rich or sumptuous meal; something highly agreeable; a periodical celebration or time of celebration.” As a verb, it means: “to have or partake of a feast; to east sumptuously; to dwell with gratification or delight.”  I love that last part of the definition!

To feast with the Lord is to dwell in the presence of your Host with a grateful attitude, delighting to be at the table and enjoying the richness of the sumptuous bounty He has to offer us! (R.A.B.)

I’m not saying here that you cannot be fed by the Word while you are at church.  This is what the speaker that I referenced earlier meant as well.  We need to go church and worship with the community of believers for several reasons.  First and foremost, God calls us to be together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us how important this is. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It is incredibly vital to the life of every Christian to be in fellowship with other people who worship the Lord.  Most often this happens when we attend church services together.  Collectively praising God in song with a congregation is a visceral experience.  Being in the presence of like-minded people whose goal is to honor the Lord joyfully in song is a beautiful thing.  Guess what though?  The singing part of the church service isn’t the only “worship” part of church.  The ENTIRE service is WORSHIP!

A friend of mine recently had a funny experience, well, maybe odd is a better description.  She was about to go into the church service which was already in progress.  The singing portion was in full swing.  There was a woman already in the foyer area and said to her, “Oh, I’m not going in yet.  I’m waiting until all the worship singing is done.  There is so much of it.” (I’m paraphrasing here…but that was the gist.)  My friend looked at her in disbelief for several reasons: 1) her husband is the worship Pastor, 2) this woman’s husband played with the worship team band, and 3) this woman is involved with the choir ministry!  So my friend smiled at her and before going into the sanctuary said, “Well, the whole service is a worship service!”  She said that the woman looked horrified.

I share this story because it is a perfect example of the “menu/appetizer” mentality of so many church-goers.  They pick and choose what parts they want to be a part of.

They want to sing, but only if it’s from the traditional hymnal.

They won’t sit in worship to sing unless they are singing contemporary songs that you can hear on the radio.

If the ‘wrong’ songs are played, or if the message preached that morning doesn’t agree with them, they feel justified in withholding their tithe check that week. {Sadly, I know this one first hand as I worked as the Admin to a previous pastor and read some of the most disheartening letters to the pastor after a “failed” sunday morning.}

Not to focus on the negative…here’s some thoughts on the positive side of the church being the ‘menu’ or ‘appetizer’ ~ through the worship songs and the sermon that is delivered to the congregation, we are given delightful morsels from the Word of God.  We are given a taste of the goodness and greatness of our God.  We are able to sample a portion of what the Lord has to offer us in His Word.

Your church pastor has been given an amazing job, in that the Lord has given them the ability and opportunity to share with others all the wealth of the Feast that IS God’s Word. The pastor is not supposed to be the only person you learn from.  The church is not supposed to be the only location from which you learn in.  The pastor and the church experience each week are supposed to be the jumping off point…the place of fellowship where we can be recharged in order to go out through the rest of the week, encouraged to delight in personal time with the Lord and His Scripture.

This is where the Feasting comes in...

Personal times of worship in prayer and in song to the Lord are just as vital (if not more so!) ~ this is why I feel this is the real feast!  When we are in a quiet place, spending time in His Word and in prayer, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lavish spiritual nourishment to our soul.  When we spend time with the Lord, we are making a statement…that we want to be more in tune with the Lord and all He has for us.  Sometimes those prayer experiences have us saying nothing at all but declaring the holy Name of Jesus.  More often than not, when I have prayed a verse or passage out loud, or sang a Psalm to Him, or just sat quietly asking the Lord to speak to my heart ~ those are the times that I have felt the closest to Him.  Of course He wants to hear from us:  what our hearts are desirous of, what we are hurting from, who or what we are having a difficult time with. But if we are always the one talking…we are unable to listen to what God is wanting to whisper to our heart.

This my friends is the Feast.

To be made aware of the voice of God and how He speaks into our lives.

exodus-12-verse-14

All those feasts that the Israelite’s of the Old Testament were called to observe were due in part to the fact that the Savior had not come to earth yet.  There was a strict process in the preparation and the enjoyment of each Feast and why/when they were observed.  But with the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we were given in Him the true Feast.  He is the Word in flesh. (John 1:14)  He is the reason we celebrate our salvation. Through Him we gain the abundant knowledge we need in order to walk through this life.  We are given the Fruit of the Holy Spirit with which to feast on.  But this can only happen when we spend time with Him and in scripture.  And the best part…we can come to Him every moment of every day!  We don’t have to wait for a special decree to enter the throne room of God and worship at His feet! What a beautiful gift and privilege!  E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y!!!

The time of feasting in the presence of the Lord is not meant to only happen a few times a year.  It is not even meant to simply happen on Sunday mornings. It is not something on our schedule to check off.

Feasting is to be a daily experience.  All throughout the day we are to be feasting in His presence.  To be so close to the Lord of Hosts, that we can smell the aroma of His love.  To be so close that we can feel the brush of His hands on ours, as He directs our path. To be so close that we can recognize His voice as He calls us to dwell with Him.

Come to Him and enjoy the Feast!

Blessings,

René

 

* http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Shattering the Darkness…

This past week, there has been so much tragedy in the news.  Which, honestly, that’s why I don’t watch the news.  I used to watch the morning and evening news every day, but it became overwhelming for me.  All the bad news just lingered in my brain and brought on unrealistic fears and anxieties.  I know that the Lord is my protector and that I can turn my worry over to Him, but I was spending so much time allowing the darkness of this world to permeate my mind, it was becoming a real problem for me.

I mean really, what are the odds that the convict on the run from a prison (that was is an eight hour drive from my home) would actually be hiding in my backyard?  Or the ring of burgler’s, two hours away from our neighborhood, were going to arrive in the middle of the night choosing us as the next targets?  And the list went on and on.  It’s probably been a good seven years since I’ve watched the evening news, and that has made a huge difference.

But some stories, it doesn’t matter where you turn, you will hear of great tragedy.  You will see desperately sad stories unfold before your eyes.  You will see unexplainable sorrow in the wake of vicious attacks.  It can very quickly seem all together too much to take in.

There is still ~ HOPE~

The darkness will never completely take over the light. 

Have you ever walked into your house late at night and quickly realized that you forgot to leave a light on?  I hate that….totally freaks me out!  But in that moment that you turn on the hall light, or the “flashlight app” on you iPhone, the darkness is pierced and the fears of the unknown vanish. Why?  Because you can see what’s in front of you; everything becomes clear.

Just look at how the Old Testament starts out in Genesis 1:1-5, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

God created the light of this world and we have the Light to this world, Jesus Christ His Son, to pierce the darkness that begs to permeate our lives.  We have the victory over darkness my friends!

John 1:4-5 is a proclamation of a wonderful promise from the Lord for us ~ In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Another promise of victory over the darkness of this world from Jesus is found in the latter chapters in the book of John.  These are His words as He speaks to the disciples before He was crucified.  He was preparing the disciples and had spent time instructing them with the knowledge of God the Father.  I used the Amplified Bible Version below, because I love how striking the verbiage is here.  Jesus gave the disciples, and us today, a cautionary warning of what we WILL indeed face in this world; followed up by a magnificent promise to remind us that we do not need to cower in the face of the trials.  Jesus does not state that His victory might happen or that it could possibly take place….it HAS been accomplished!

John 16:32-33 (AMP) “Take careful notice: an hour is coming, and has arrived, when you will all be scattered, each to his own home, leaving Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have[perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]”

Jesus wanted them to have everything they needed ~ “And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Philippians 4:7).  And He wants US TODAY to have this same peace.  But that cannot come to us on our own.  It is HIS peace that He gives to us ~ all we have to do is ask for it.

Here in John 14:26-28, we find that promise from Jesus as to where we will find peace ~ But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

My friend, be encouraged that you are not just dangling out in space.  You have not been left alone.  You have a grand purpose and calling on your life.  You have been given identity from the King of Kings.  The Creator of the Universe wants to be in relationship with you because you are precious to Him.

The Lord can erase fear and anxiety from your heart and mind because His love is perfect and perfect love drives out fear (I John 4:18).  Sometimes this looks like a period of time in devoted prayer for issues that are surfacing in your life, or simply from a horrible tragedy that is going on in the world.  However, there are times when we need to call out to another person to help us bring those fears and anxieties to the surface and get them out of our life.  There is nothing wrong (or non-Christian) about seeing a counselor.  My only personal recommendation would be to make sure that you see a counselor whose guidance comes from a place of clarity in scripture, so that you are not led astray.

This world is run by the prince of darkness and the Lord warns us about this.  It is this way because of the Fall of Man when sin entered the earth.  This is NOT what the Lord intended! BUT Satan (prince of darkness) has not won; he has not ever nor will he ever, overcome the Son of God. {John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11}

Do not be distressed my friend when fears arise ~ because as I have shared in the many verses above, Jesus Christ has already won the mighty victory!  We win in the end!  We were not created to live in state of fear, but in a place of victory and freedom from eternal death through the resurrection of Jesus!!!

From the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6-7 blesses us with this promise of the coming of Jesus Christ to earth,

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

Be strong today. Have courage for tomorrow.  Settle into peace during trials.  Trust that you belong to the mighty King.  Believe in the Prince of Peace who came to bring you Hope!

Blessings,

René

John 1 verses 4 and 5

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Thanks in Giving

Today is the Monday before Thanksgiving ~ so appropriately, I thought I put down my thoughts about the subject with my own personal flavor.  Which means that I’m already imagining the table decor and myriad of tasty dishes that await my family and I in a few days.  Quite frankly, if all there was to eat was mashed potatoes with gravy, herbed stuffing, and homemade pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream ~ I would be completely happy!

At this time of year, much is written about Thanksgiving: being thankful, being grateful, having gratitude, etc.  If you are new to my blog, you’ll come to know that I love word studies; what words mean, and how to put them in perfect context as to what is being conveyed in a sentence or story.  To get started today…here’s a bit of basic definitions of words that I’ll be focusing on today.

Being ~ the fact of existing; existence

Having ~ to possess; own; hold for use; contain

Thankful ~ feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

Grateful ~warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful:

Gratitude ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful:

Thanksgiving ~ the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.

Giving ~ to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow:

Do you notice that all of these words are action oriented?  Whether it is physical actions or emotional/mental ones, that are all in movement; they are all in motion within or toward another person/entity.

 

We cannot be full of thankfulness and gratitude and be motionless and stagnant at the same time.  It is virtually impossible.

 

Colossians 3:17 has beautiful words to share with us ~ “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
This verse is clear and concise that no matter what we do or say, however we act and whatever we think about, in ALL of those things we are to be thankful to the Lord.  Are we to actually thank God for bad things that happen or difficult times in our life?  NO!  It means that we can choose to move through our life with an attitude of gratefulness and confidence, being alert to the power of God in our life. He will be walking alongside us in all things.  Some hard times in life last longer than others; sometimes years pass with a sense of darkness hovering over our life; and at times of difficulty it seems like it will never end.
How do we choose to live a life of thanksgiving when we feel utterly hopeless?  I’ll tell you one thing ~ you have to fight for it!  It is not easy to choose thankfulness and gratitude.  It is sometimes the most difficult time to choose to be joyful.  But I have lived long enough to know that when I begin to feel those daggers of doubt and fear to cloud my heart and my mind, I have a choice to make.  I can be gloomy, sad, feel sorry for myself, and decide that I’m not worth it.  OR…..I can ask the Lord to help me overcome those negative attitudes.  He can (and WILL) do just that!!  He won’t leave you lying in a puddle of sadness ~ He will scoop you up in His mighty arms and comfort you.
Better than any words I could choose…let these promises from God’s Word wash over your heart ~
Colossians 1: 9-14, 21-23:For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
This is why we can choose to be grateful.  We can have thanks as we give praise to the Lord for the fact that He has chosen us, to rescue us from true darkness and a life separated from Him.  In the midst of the bleak moments, we have the strength of the Holy Spirit inside of us to do the battle.  To wage the war against the mental and emotional attacks from satan, whose sole job is to make us believe that we are not worth Christs’ love.  To make us think that we have to work hard to do things, to live a certain way, in order for Christ to love us.  That when we sin and mess up, that we have lost hope of Christ really loving us.
Let me tell you friend ~ you cannot out-sin the abundant grace and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.  You just can’t!
In the same way, you cannot be good enough or work hard enough to earn that grace.  You just can’t.
Psalm 98:1 “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”
Did you see that?  HIS right hand and HIS holy arm.  
Not mine.  Not yours.
Only the Lord can provide salvation for us and He chose that for us BEFORE the creation of the world.  Before you were born, before I was born, before Adam and Eve committed the first sin ~ God put into a place a plan to have His Son Jesus live a sacrificial life and die on the cross, returning to the earth and graciously providing a way to be reconciled to God the Father.  His cross, for lack of a more imaginative idea, is the bridge connecting us back to the Lord.
We must be thankful at all times ~ no matter what ~ for the indescribably gift that is the salvation that the Lord offers freely!  (2 Corinthians 9:15)
We cannot pay for it ~ He already did!
We don’t put it on layaway and work it off ~ that only works at K-mart.
We cannot do one little thing to earn it ~ It is a gift!
What do you do with a gift?  What do you do when someone gives generously of their resources to you?  Do you pull out your wallet and offer to pay them back?  Do you make a list of what was given to you so that you can make sure and give that person a “better” gift the next time around? I really hope you don’t ~ because then you’ve missed the point.  A gift is not something earned.  A gift is chosen specifically for you from someone who loves you.  A gift is not something intended to be paid back. A gift is a reflection of the heart of a friend towards you.
I think my favorite word study definition from above is ~ Grateful: the Latin word grate or grātus means: pleasing. The other descriptive words “warmly” and “deeply” convey a cozy, peaceful, enjoyable place.  Like sitting by a warm fire drinking your favorite cup of tea and reading a good book.  Blissfully accepting the personal kindness someone has done to you ~ this is what it is to be grateful.  To have this attitude and live it out is what it is to have thanks in giving~ offering up to the Lord a song of thanksgiving for the gift of eternal life.
So this year, at this time of Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to choose to be grateful; choose to be accepting of the gift that you cannot earn and that you don’t deserve.  Let Christ bestow on you the gift of salvation.  Living as a royal priesthood and as a child of the King, does not mean that all your problems will miraculously disappear.  God is not a genie!  But what it means is that you have the power of the Living God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, holding you up in those times of trouble.  He is your strength, He is your dignity, He is your friend, and He is your Army!  God bless you with His magnificent peace and with His never-ending grace.
Blessings,
  René
Colossians 3 verse 17

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