A Thankful Heart Brings Freedom

But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. ~ Jonah 2:9

Jonah was given a specific task from God – go to Nineveh and give the people there a word from God. But Jonah was afraid to go and ran away from the Lord. We know from Sunday school what happened next. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and found himself in an adult sized time-out.

While in the fish, Jonah prayed. He acknowledged his distress, and then he gave thanks. “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. And my earnest prayer went to you in your holy Temple. With the voice of thanksgiving I will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” ~ Jonah 2:9

After Jonah’s prayer the Lord ordered the fish to spit up Jonah on the beach, and it did.

Jonah was released from the trap he was in after he gave thanks. So many times we wait until we are out of an unpleasant situation to give thanks. We tell ourselves we will be happy and thankful once we have closure from a situation. But freedom comes by giving thanks in the moment. The release from any trap we are in begins the moment we give thanks.

Giving thanks glorifies God.

Giving thanks changes your perception of people.

Giving thanks changes your perception of your circumstances.

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You cannot stay trapped in a negative situation if you choose to be thankful. Negativity and darkness cannot be in the same room as gratitude, and they suddenly flee once thanksgiving is brought into a situation.

It was thanksgiving that released Paul from the prison he was in. “Around midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord – and the other prisoners were listening – suddenly  there was a great earthquake; the prison was shaken to its foundations, all the doors flew open – and the chains of every prisoner fell off!” ~ Acts 16:25,26

The chain of every prisoner fell off. When you are chained with guilt, bitterness, frustration, worry, envy, gluttony, or grief every link will suddenly fall to the ground when you start thanking God for who He is, what He has given you, and what He can help you through. The doors of freedom from darkness will fly open and you will see things in a new light.

Let the peace of Christ be present in your hearts and lives. Always be thankful. Remember what you have learned from Jesus, and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; sing praise to the Lord with thankful hearts. ~ Colossians 3:14-16

~ Cooking Up Faith

*We are studying scriptures on Grace & Gratitude this month. Click here for the Scripture Writing Plan and all devotionals for this study.

 

 

 

 

 

When Someone Frustrates You and You Can’t Let it Go

Have you ever had a person have such a stronghold over you? The choices they make irritate you. The way they treat you and others infuriates you.

One of the scriptures from this month’s study is Romans 4:14

This life verse can literally help you release and let go of any stronghold a person has in your mind. The grudge can be lifted, the annoyance can take a back seat, and peace can resume in your head. Here it is:

For God has accepted them to be his children.

They are God’s servants, not yours.

They are responsible to Him, not to you.

Let Him tell them whether they are right or wrong.

And God is able to make them do as they should.

Romans 14:3,4 (Living Bible Edition)

We can get SO worked up over the way people around us are acting and choosing to live. It can frustrate us to the core. But it doesn’t have to. We can release them and their actions to God. Let Him judge them. He sees their heart. They are His servant’s, not yours. They are His responsibility, not yours. Let Him deal with their heart and actions.

Meanwhile, you just keep being the best you that you can be. Live in a way that is pleasing to God, because you are His servant and responsibility too. He’s watching over you and your heart just as closely. Make sure to guard that heart of yours, so it remains pure and pleasing to God.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ~ Proverbs 4:23

Everything you do flows from your heart. If someone is acting in a certain manner it is because of a heart issue. You cannot simply get mad and voice your frustrations at someone and expect them to change. It is their hearts that need to be changed, and God is the most effective means of changing hearts. Make sure you are allowing God to change your heart as well. Make sure you are welcoming Him into your heart so His presence can take residence in your life and actions.

This is one of those “Life Verses” that you want to hold on to and remember. People come and go in our lives – new people and those who have been with us forever. This brings new issues, new temperaments, and eventually new frustrations. In those moments, pull out this scripture and remember the words that bring freedom from letting others consume our thoughts and worries.

 

 

The Meaning of Your Life

There are 3 things that are the entire meaning of your life. You carry these 3 meanings with you at all times. These 3 meanings of your life can’t be taken away or lost.

All 3 meanings are the same for every person. Here they are:

  1. Salvation – to receive the gift of Christ’s grace, and begin your walk with God for eternity.

When you go through life trying and trying to be good enough, feel good enough, achieve enough, but still fall short you realize you need more. You need more power and authority than you possess to help you achieve what you can’t on your own. You need a constant source of forgiveness and second chances. You need a Savior. And you accept Jesus as your Savior – the One who says you are forgiven, you are blameless, you are pure, you have love, guidance, and help through this life. Just because we receive salvation once doesn’t mean we will never sin again! We sin daily, and God reminds us that even though our salvation is sealed, we should still confess our sins to Him daily.

This is salvation – your soul surrendering to Jesus and allowing Him to cover your faults and mistakes in the eyes of God so you can have a relationship with God now, and for the rest of eternity.

2. Sanctification – to become Christ-like by abiding in Christ daily.

Now that you have salvation, you can begin your walk with Jesus, and allow Him to have a great influence over you. This is called sanctification – you start changing your perception and attitude, because Jesus now lives within your heart and soul and His influence within you is powerful enough to change the way you think. He is the Leader of the most inward parts of your heart, soul, and mind, and becomes the Leader of your life.

The way to achieve powerful sanctification is by abiding in Christ. You abide in Christ in two ways – by reading scripture and praying. The more you read scripture and pray, the more you are abiding in Christ. The more you abide in Christ the more influence He has over your heart, mind, and soul. The amount of influence you allow Christ to have within you results in the amount of Christ-likeness you become.

Notice that it is Christ’s influence within you that results in becoming Christ-like, not your own efforts to become like Christ. It is Him within you that changes who you are, not you trying to change simply by adjusting certain behaviors. And the only way Jesus can take a powerful influence over you is to abide in Him by reading scripture and praying. We have such short attention spans, it takes daily reading of scripture and praying to truly abide in Christ. John 1:1 says that The Word is Christ, therefore when you spend time reading the Bible, you are abiding in Christ.

3. Glorification – to pour out on others what God has poured into you.

Now you have salvation – you walk around blameless and pure, without any blemishes or faults in God’s eyes.

You have sanctification – you are abiding in Christ by reading scripture and praying daily, and as a result of Christ’s great influence within you, you are starting to think and act more like Christ and less like your impulsive self.

Now it’s time for glorification. This is where you pour out to others what Christ is pouring into you. Love, forgiveness, gentleness, patience. As you give these gifts to others you are glorifying Christ – because it is only Him within you that allows you to be so loving, forgiving, and patient with others. To glorify Christ means you bring to light His character upon others, which is love, joy, patience, self-control, and gentleness. The only way to do this is through meaning #2 – by abiding in Christ daily. If you try to do this on your own without reading scripture or praying, your efforts will seem like work and a chore, rather than a sincere pouring out of Christ within you.

Your marriage, your children, the people you work with – these are all the people God has placed in your life so you can glorify Him to them. These are the people God wants to share His love, patience, and gentleness with through you. They are not the meaning of your life or your purpose. Remember the meaning of your life is to receive salvation, abide in Christ, and then share the love, patience, joy, and gentleness Christ has shared within you to others.

This was a message I heard over the weekend at church. This is the meaning of your life and everyone around you – to receive Christ’s forgiveness, to abide in Christ daily, and to share the love Christ pours into you while you’ve been abiding in Him with others.

He must increase, but I must decrease. ~ John 3:30

When Things Get Worse When You Pray

Moses was given an assignment from God – send a message to Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, and lead the people to a land of freedom. Although Moses had his share of doubts, he obeyed God and did as was instructed.

However, when Moses obeyed God, did something good happen right away? (No, things actually got worse.)

How do you think Moses felt when he obeyed God and the troubles of the Israelite slaves were made worse?

Sometimes things get worse before they get better. In the end Moses did in fact lead the Israelites to freedom, but their circumstances definitely got worse before they tasted any sort of freedom from their problems.

When Moses was in a state of confusion because his circumstances didn’t match his obedience, he cried out to God, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”

“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” (Ex. 5:22-6:8)

When things seem to get worse when you pray and trust, remember, Moses too went through this sort of trial. God wasn’t ignoring Moses or making things difficult without purpose. Sometimes the valleys we walk through must become very low before we recognize the height of God’s power and love.

*Joining Holley Gerth

The Importance of a Quiet Morning

Jesus was a busy man – always on the move and surrounded by crowds of people. He would travel by foot to different villages. He preached. He healed. He spent time with people. You could say His calendar was full.Mark 1:35 says, Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Why did Jesus get up while it was still dark, withdraw Himself so He could be completely alone, to pray? Before the noise and rush of the day, Jesus wanted His heart quiet and restored with God.

If you want to remain untouched by the busyness of the day, with the ability to stay focused on your purpose, then you must start your day by being alone with God.

Rise with your thoughts focused in prayer, and meditation on His Word. Then, go and be busy working and serving others, until it’s time again to be alone and restored with God.

What Makes a Woman Beautiful

The world tell us it’s our hair, make-up, wardrobe, jewelry, and car that make us beautiful. It’s almost impossible not to get wrapped up in this lie. This lie clouds our perception of what beauty means, and before we know it we are too caught up to even realize how far away we are from the truth.

Below our God’s Words to us women…His perception of what real beauty is:

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on jewelry, or beautiful clothes, or how you wear your hair. Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is so precious to God.

(1 Peter 3:3-5)

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The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

(Romans 8:6)

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Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

(Proverbs 31:30)

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…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

(1 Thessalonians 4:11,12)

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Sarah, for instance, obeyed her husband Abraham, honoring him as head of the house. And if you do the same, you will be following in her steps like good daughters and doing what is right.

(1 Peter 3:6)

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Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces should never be ashamed.

(Psalm 34:5)

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Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the days to come.

(Proverbs 31:25)

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For Christ Himself is our way of peace.

(Ephesians 2:14)