No worries! If God is caring for the birds, the grass, and the other elements of nature, won’t He take care of you?
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:25-27
Have you ever filled a glass to the brim, and just when you thought it could not hold any more liquid, you added another drop, then another, and still another? So far it has not overflowed, so carefully, and oh so gently, you continue to go just to see when enough is enough.
Can I tell you, we can push ourselves to what we think are our natural limits in praising God and it will still never be enough. There is no quota that can really satisfy the complete exaltation of God who has done so much for us. There is no sufficient amount of thankfulness, sacrifice, or service that says I have completed my duty to the Lord. To Him, whom the Word declares, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11) – to Him, who will “liberally” give wisdom if asked (James 1:5) – to Him, whom we can lift our eyes to daily, and find the help and strength we need (Psalm 121:1-2) – to Him, we can never, ever exhaust our worship! God is worthy of so much more!
Reading in 1 Kings, I came across the historical telling of king Solomon at the temple dedication. There, “Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace-offering unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep…” (1 Kings 8:63). Did you see those numbers? That’s 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep – wow! Earlier in the same chapter when “the ark of the LORD and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assemble unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude,” (1 Kings 8:4-5).
In other words, there was no limit to their praise for the God of all glory!
The psalmist once wrote, “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments,” (Psalm 119:164). There is no cap for the honor due to His name. To him, God is worthy of so much more!
While there may be a lot of things we cannot control in this world, one thing we can still do is give God the praise – and lots of it. That’s why David declared, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth,” (Psalm 34:1) when he had to act crazy before a king to save his life.
We may not understand everything, but we can still praise. That’s what Paul and Silas did in prison, they prayed and praised God (Acts 16:25).
We may wrestle with hurts and disappointments, but we can still praise.
We may not even have all the answers, but we can still offer up to God the glory and praises due to Him, and lots of it (Psalm 29:1-2). Just when you think it’s enough, in the heart of a true believer, there’s still more room for praise. Like those drops of water, we can add another reason to praise, and another, and still another. So, let His praises overflow in your life today. Whether it’s a loud, vocal praise, or a song of adoration you carry in the heart – Praise Him! Because in joyous times or in hard times, God is still worthy of our praise, and so much more!
Hashtags have found a way into our lives and in our standard of communication. These keywords or lettered initials are used for several reasons. They increase the probability of likes on a post or picture. They can link you to others who are expressing the same interest in a particular subject or person. At other times, they make a statement without going too deep into content.
One of my favorite hashtags I see people use is #tbt (Throwback Thursday). When you see these, people are sharing stuff that you may not have been privileged to see before. Perhaps it was a photograph from an exotic honeymoon vacation many years before you met the individual. Or, how about when people share pictures of themselves as babies or young children. I like to look at these the most and compare their features to what I see today and mark the resemblance, and so on.
Throwback Thursday gives us a view to people’s past. These moments shared are often joyful and heartwarming, bringing out the “Aww!” of nostalgia.
The more I think about it, the more it came to me that our Thanksgiving celebrations are like those throwbacks we see posted in social circles. For it is at Thanksgiving, if we are nothing else, we are grateful. When our minds take in the year we just went through – all the Lord God has brought us through, we are grateful. When we see His hands working in things for which we had no control, we are grateful. When we look back over our lives, when we take our own trips down memory lane and see His deliverances, His help, His love and mercy, His grace and anointing at work in our lives, we are grateful. When we see those snapshots of where we have been and compare them to where we are now, we are grateful.
For at Thanksgiving, a time in our history, we set aside this day to express gratitude and thankfulness for what the Lord has done for us. We enjoy a feast of good food. We enjoy fellowship with family and friends (even if some of it is done virtually this year). We come together for the reason of celebrating with like minds and like hearts.
While this year those gatherings may look different and the feasts for some may seem smaller or not quite what you are used to, let’s keep the grandness of this day – the reason for its purpose front and center: thankfulness for all God has done for us.
During this Thanksgiving, this throwback Thursday, reminisce on God’s faithfulness through this year and through your life. In your mind’s eye, allow yourself to wander and spend some time on those beautiful snapshots, those past moments, those photographs of your life, and be reminded of His faithfulness at work.
And, while many of us can’t meet or come together as we usually do, we have those good memories of great love and times shared in the past. We have the love and memories from our Heavenly Father and the love and memories of those blessed souls He has placed in our lives that we call family and friends.
Today, as I look back, I am thankful for so much. In the little details and the grand adventures, I am thankful.
I have had times of tears and times of joy, but knowing God is still with me today and He has an even greater plan beyond what we see for this day or even for this year – I am thankful.
No wonder David wrote, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth,” (Psalm 34:1). There will be some times that are harder than others, but it is God who sustains us and protects us, and loves us through it all. Therefore, we praise. Therefore, we still give Him thanks!
I pray that however this Thanksgiving finds you, it will find you in the peace and love of the Lord above all. Blessings to you and Happy Thanksgiving!
There are so many times the Lord could have taken away from us, but instead, He gave. Our daily steps before the Lord probably have not been the picture of perfection. I know I personally have had many ashes during my lifetime that needed beautifying. And yet, every day when I wake up, every day when I open my eyes, I am blessed with the gift of new mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23), as are you.
Those mercies are much needed, as anyone can easily testify to. Because, as I am walking forward, I can easily take a look back and cringe at the litter my previous pathways left behind. But that renewed mercy smiles at me and encourages me in the newness of this day before me. It helps to push me to walk where my feet may have previously felt unworthy to walk. It draws me to step out of the door into what is presently before me, bidding me try again. Believe again. Make the effort to do better again. It draws me to see God is still in the business of using me for His works, for His kingdom, and for His glory.
Reading Judges 16, I see how Samson broke away from the stipulations God placed on him through the Nazarite vow of not cutting his hair and the suffering that came because of it.
But then, there is this one verse out of his whole story that jumped out at me: “Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven,” (Judges 16:22), which was the symbol of his Nazarite vow. It was by grace that God allowed for regrowth. He could have just washed His hands of Samson and kept away what he had lost, but God is the one that allowed for the grace and mercy of regrowth.
Every day we are given is another chance for us to experience that same kind of regrowth. It may not be our hair, but maybe there was something we let go of, something we didn’t guard or tend to as we should have, something we may have neglected, and as a result, we didn’t end up where we were supposed to be.
But with the new mercy of today, we have a chance for regrowth. We have been given the grace to plant again and work in the fields God has given us. Samson used his regrowth period to go out with a bang. What can you do with yours? If we are here today, that means our story is not over. The grace for God’s regrowth is real and very present for us today.
Has discouragement tried to enter where God has placed you today? Has confusion tried to make you feel less than; as if God is not for you today? Has your day already started off on the wrong foot?
Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation. . .,” John 16:33a. He knew that there would some days where we face trouble and discouragement; there would be times when we feel like we are in this alone. In those times, He wants to reassure us that He is for us. He has never left us. He has never forsaken us. His plans for us have a glorious end so don’t let any circumstance make you believe that God doesn’t have your back because He does. He’s here and He is for you!
Jesus went on to say, ” …but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33b; and if you are in Him and stay with Him and believe in Him, you will too. Because God is for you!
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves . . .,” 2 Corinthians 13:5
When was the last time we really pushed the envelope with ourselves to see what we have in us? When watching television, I sometimes come across shows where people are doing what seems to be the impossible; people who love the adrenaline of seeing just how far they can go with a particular feat. Some of the things I see just make me want to shake my head, and yet, others are actual, honest assessments of endurance; to see if they have what it takes to make it all the way, or to break some sort of record. It’s a testing of one’s strength and stamina.
Tests, for most people, are not pleasant at all. It doesn’t matter if its elementary age level test all the way through college, or a learner’s permit; tests make individuals uncomfortable because they are designed to see what one has in them. If speaking in terms of education, it is probing one’s intellect to see if enough knowledge has been retained and also able to be applied. If speaking in terms of physical endurance, it is working out in the body to see if one is deficient in a particular area, to point out any weaknesses that need to be strengthened for one to gain a particular goal.
This is why tests are not pleasant. Because, it goes beyond the façade on the outside to see what one really has in them. No truer is this more prevalent then in our spiritual lives. The stuff on the inside is quickly hidden as we enter the church doors on a Sunday morning. No one else can see the battles or struggles going on inside. That is, no one else, but God. “For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart, (1 Samuel 16:7). And, it is the test of the heart that really matters; the places where others can’t see.
I live around the corner from a prominent cemetery in our area. It serves the needs of all people, but they specialize in handling the burials of fire fighters and police officers. It is not unusual to see a processional of cars go by on any given day to lay a loved one to rest. Sometimes the line is long and sometimes it is short. If it is one of those specialized burials, then the whole affair is catered to honor the life of the one who has served. There are what seems like hundreds of police cars from all over, horses, raised flags, gun salutes, honor guards and the like. It becomes a beautiful send off in the midst of sorrow.
No matter who it is I often wonder about the individual being laid to rest. It becomes a stark reminder for me to follow the prudent advice of Paul and examine myself. We all have areas that need improvement; things that we can do better. Sometimes a close, personal examination is the only thing that will draw it out of us, to see “whether ye be in the faith.” Are we where we need to be when our time comes to be at the head of that processional? Do we have that quality of faith that will settle our eternity positively? Maybe it’s time we take a deeper look inside of us.