Living in Praise

Did you ever notice that Paul was the eternal optimist? The man worked hard, almost died several times, was stoned, shipwrecked and in the sea a day and night, constantly in danger, sleepless, hungry and thirsty, and exposed to both hot and cold elements (2 Corinthians 11:22-28).

Yet, he told us to rejoice always; to pray without ceasing; not to quench the Spirit; and to give thanks in everything: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19).

Does this mean to give thanks, because everything that happens to us is God’s will for us; or that giving thanks is God’s will for us? Either way, it is worth paying attention to this verse.

If giving thanks is God’s will, then when we praise the Lord, we are in God’s will; and when we do not praise the Lord, we are out of God’s will for us.

If Paul is saying that we should give thanks in good times and in adversity, because all of these circumstances are the will God for us, then when we do not praise Him, we are missing out on part of the miracle, which God has for us through this trial.

Recently, our air-conditioning was out for two days during the hottest November on record in southwest Florida. I was dripping sweat, irritable and claustrophobic – because the heat imprisoned me and I could not escape it.

This caused me to remember my childhood and first pregnancy; when we had no air-conditioning at all, because of our lack of income. My mom used a wet wash cloth on her neck, so I did too. It helped this time too.

As I prayed during this inconvenience, God brought Paul’s exhortation to my mind. I realized that I was not to grumble or to allow my flesh to get the better of me; and I was to walk in the Spirit and praise God, even in the suffocating heat.

Easier said than done; but I have been learning to live through my spirit and not my flesh and this was just another opportunity to practice. I truly was thankful that the circumstances were not even more dreadful.

Prayer:
Father God, I really wanted Your permission during this trial to be grouchy and to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to complain and gain sympathy from family and friends. However, I knew this would only make others miserable too, and I would not grow in my spirit with negative behavior or remain in Your will without praising.

I know that You were building character in me and preparing me for future events in my life; therefore, I chose to change my focus and to praise You with each drop of perspiration. I was even able to thank You that it cools down in southwest Florida on November evenings, and that I still had electricity and could run the fans. Thank You for living through this trial with me.

Thought for the Day:
Regardless of the circumstances, we are to do all things without grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:12-16), and to walk in the Spirit each moment of the day (Galatians 5:15-25).

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A Contagious Smile

A smile is a wonderful blessing. It lights a fire in our heart every time we see one. It inspires us to inhale a deep breath and to exhale the tension built up in our body.

Sometimes, all a person needs is for someone to smile at them. Even if they are a stranger to you, they may need your sincere smile to revive them from their desperate thoughts.

Medical science agrees with the Bible when they say that a smile improves our mood (Proverbs 15:13-15), strengthens our immune system and lowers blood pressure (Provers 17:22), reduces pain (Proverbs 15:30), and relieves our stress (Psalm 126:2-3).

The easiest way to keep a smile on our face is to think only about issues that are accurate, moral, true, wholesome, divine, commendable, exceptional and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).

The Apostles recommended that we even consider our trials as a joyous occasion. Trials test our faith in God’s faithfulness and mature us as spiritual beings (James 1:2-4; Matthew 5:12).

Our hope in the Lord gives us something to smile about, so that through prayer we can have patience in any affliction (Romans 12:12). God smiles on His Saints as He teaches us His ways (Psalm 119:135, 4:6, 31:16).

Prayer:
Father God, we can smile throughout our life, regardless of the circumstances, because they strengthen our confidence in You and our hope of eternal salvation, through Your steadfast love, as they develop Godly character in us (Romans 5:3-4; Psalm 31:16).

Help us to change our focus on the negative aspects of our life, so that we can change the expression on our face and smile (Job 9:27

Thought for the Day:
A smile is actually contagious, so give someone a smile today and bless their life.

No Idol Will Stand

What irritates you? What is your pet peeve? What steps on your last nerve? That is an idol in your life. Okay, maybe you do not daily worship at the altar of that idol, but when you are feeling that stress and negative emotion about that issue, you are. Anything that distracts us from peace with God is an idol. Lay it down at the altar.

King Jesus is the Lord, and it grieves Him for us to give our entire focus of attention to another person, activity or thing (Isaiah 42:8). Once we surrender that issue to God, His Spirit helps us to change our focus about it, or to let go of our penchant for worrying, complaining and being distracted by it.

When it stops bothering us, we see the Lord exalted on His throne of our life, and His holiness and glory will fill our life (Isaiah 6:1). As we recall the abundant goodness God provides for His children, our heart bursts out in song; and the petty grievances that once robbed us of our joy seem insignificant. God’s new mercies meet us every single morning and give us His strength as our stronghold.

In times of trouble, He is our refuge. As we elevate our loving God in our life, our heart is filled with praises to Him (Psalm 59:16-17). With His good name and His reputation as our main concern, we walk in His ways and wait for His direction for our day (Isaiah 26:8). This prevents us from thinking about, speaking of, or walking in any unrighteousness at all.

Prayer:
Father God, You chose us to witness of Your love and to serve You. Your counsel and wisdom for us in life are absolutely wonderful (Isaiah 28:29). You are the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:8). You already ordained every day of our life on this earth. Your purpose and pleasure are the only aspects we perform, which will stand for eternity (Isaiah 46:10). When we think about Your mighty works both for Israel and for Your Saints throughout all generations, we realize that You are God and there is no one like You (Isaiah 46:9).

Thought for the Day:
We understand and believe that Jehovah is our Almighty God and that no idol ever comes before Him or will ever come after Him. – Isaiah 43:10