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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Friend of God

So many people are so burdened by what they want, and don’t have; rather than being thankful for what they have, that they never knew they wanted! The more we complain, the less joy we experience each day. However, the more we give thanks, even for the negative issues of life, the more we live in peace and contentment.

This goes against our normal, human behavior. We almost feel dishonest to say that we are fine when we know we have something negative going on in our life. However, this earthly realm is not reality. Paul said it best. We brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing with us in the end, so we can live in Godly contentment (1 Timothy 6:6-7).

In fact, giving God the first fruits of our time, love, esteem and attention decreases our trials as it honors God with the praise that is due His name (Psalm 69:30). God supplies all of our needs – physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually (1 Timothy 6:8). This allows us to give thanks for anything life throws at us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

As we view our trials as joyous opportunities to enjoy intimacy with God, we watch His miraculous provision for us in and through them. This allows patience to have time to perfect our soul – our mind, will and emotions (James 1:2). Our faith grows during trials, as we see God’s mighty hand working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). God is awesome, generous, full of loving kindness and the best friend we will ever have.

Prayer:
Father God, our unity with Your Spirit will enable us to hear Your voice to deal with lost glasses, what to fix for dinner, what to take with us before we leave the house and how to witness to the crying lady sitting across from us in the doctor’s office. Just a few moments of refocusing in Your presence will make all the difference in our positive attitude. Your faithfulness is our measuring rod, and Your friendship means more to us than we could ever express in words.

Thought for the Day:
What a privilege it is to live our days as a friend of God, because this relationship brings so many benefits to our life; some are even “out of this world”! – John 15:14-15