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).

New Creation – Final Part 3

There are just a few more negative traits, which God is changing to make me a new creation. I dislike the limelight, but God is not concerned with this. I lack the confidence, anointing and ability to function in leadership, but I make a good foot soldier, because I follow instructions.

The last two strongholds, moodiness and grouchiness, only bother me now when I am tired, but God’s Spirit helps me to overcome even then by reminding me to keep my focus on Him rather than on myself.

Over the years, God retained a few of my positive personality characteristics; such as my organizational abilities, calendar planning, economical tendencies, neat homemaking, attention to detail and a determination to finish what I start.

Another character trait, which He preserved, was my ability to find creative solutions to solve problems. Unfortunately, I always felt the need for others to do things my way, so God did purged me of that side of the coin.

God also had to break me of the penchant to ease the burdens of everyone around me; because I ended up burned out, and I thwarted God’s plan in the lives of those I enabled.

I am sure that you can see from my testimony over the last three posts that God cares about every area of our life. He wants to transform and conform us to be like Christ and to manifest His love and divine nature to the world around us. People will see the difference He makes in our life and will want His transforming power for their life too.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for making me into a new creation and for enabling me to overcome human tendencies by filling me with the divine nature of Christ and guiding me with Your Spirit (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Thank You for forgiving my inadequacies when I fall short of Your image of who I am in Christ, who is my true identity (Colossians 2:9-10). I rejoice in the fact that my life is now hidden in You with Christ, who is my whole life (Colossians 3:3-4).

Thought for the Day:
Allow God to work in your life to exchange your negative personality traits with His fruit, to use your positive characteristics for His glory and to make you a new creation in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Spiritual Healing – Part 3

Focusing on God

We often react to people and situations without thinking. We usually over-react because we do not have all of the facts. Then, because of our insecurities, we exaggerate the incident in our mind and end up falsely accusing others. At other times, the action from the other person pushes buttons from our past and we are instantly incensed ( http://www.theophostic.com ).

Sometimes, we allow another’s behavior to continue until we cannot stand it anymore, and then we finally react in anger. Change will often affect us negatively; or if we get tired, we will get grouchy and easily angered. The cure for this is to focus on the will of God in the situation. This brings instant peace to the circumstances.

As we stay focused on God, we live in His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). We also give God charge over our attitudes, behavior, desires and thoughts. Any time our attitude turns negative, we can be sure that we are either neglecting some legitimate need that we have, or we are harboring an inordinate need that is an idol in our life and that we need to surrender to God.

If we fail to consult the Lord about the issue, then we often end up inappropriately dealing with it our self. As a Believer, we can realize that nothing will occur in our life, which is not already part of God’s plan for us. He works out even the most horrific issues for our good (Romans 8:28). This reminds us to look for the seed of a miracle in every trial. God is good all the time.

Prayer:
Father God, Your Word advises that sweet and bitter water cannot come out of the same well (James 3:11). Fill our mind with Your thoughts. Keep our thoughts focused on only that which is pure, true, noble, righteous, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Cleanse us from any wicked way in us and lead us in Your everlasting ways (Psalm 139:23-24).

Thought for the Day:
Love does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking or easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:5