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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God is in Control

There are many areas of life, which we desperately attempt to control, but they end up controlling us instead. Circumstances, people, illness, our supervisor, spouse, children, traffic, waiting in lines, etc. all influence our day in positive and negative ways. We often end up frustrated and hopeless because nothing we do will change the negative issues we are facing.

The best solution for these problems is to pray the Serenity Pray and to ask God to give us wisdom to know what situations we can change, and which we must leave in His capable hands. We can request that He give us the strength deal with the issues that He reveals are our responsibility and the courage to turn the rest over to Him with an attitude of acceptance of His will.

If we cannot change the issues, we can praise God for them, in them, and through them. For instance, our spouse is transferred to a city far from friends and family, and we and the children are resentful about moving. The only way to overcome the bitterness that is surely to follow is to realize that God has a new mission field for the family. A fresh place in the world to make a difference for Him.

The move is no longer a problem, not because we got our way, but because we changed our focus from carnal to spiritual, from earthly to heavenly. God cares about every aspect of our life. He is not unsympathetic about our concerns. He knows what we need, when we need it, and He will supply all of our needs according to His glorious riches (Philippians 4:19).

Prayer:
Father God, help me not to attempt to control life, but to live each moment of it in the center of Your will. When something or someone disturbs Your peace in me, remind me to keep my mind focused on You (Isaiah 26:3). Help me to walk in Your Spirit; and when something bothers me, give me the courage to lay down that idol at Your feet. I have the confidence that You will always either change me, or change my circumstances for my good (Romans 8:28).

Thought for the Day:
When negative feelings assail our soul, they are attempting to communicate that something is wrong within. We can ask God to show us the root of those feelings and the idol causing them. Then, we simply surrender to His control, as we wait for His provision as only He can supply.

His Exact Replica

After Salvation, we often focus our attention outwardly. We see God on His throne in Heaven, but we see our self as struggling alone in life and in need of His divine help. Some people say we are nothing but puppets, forced to serve as our Divine Manipulator dictates. However, we are more like a glove. Christ exactly fills us and we are perfectly molded to His character and nature (2 Peter 1:4).

Our union with Christ involves our spirit, soul and body. He unites them in vision and purpose with Christ. Through this union, God expresses His heart through us in sympathy for the hardships of others, in patience in tribulation, and in devotion in Bible study, prayer and fellowship with other Saints of God. Consequently, God fulfills through us His purpose for us in the earth (Ephesians 2:10).

In this manner, the union between the Creator and the created, the divine and the human, the eternal and the temporal is complete (Colossians 2:10). The Spirit directs us, and we move as His exact replica on the earth. Jesus also walks beside us, as well as living within us. He completely surrounds us, finishing His work of sanctification in our soul. We live, move and exist in Him (Acts 17:28).

Christ redeemed us from sin by the cross, and He works out His intentions in us and through us (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 2:9-10). Jesus is our all in all (Colossians 1:17). He justifies our spirit; sanctifies, inspires and directs our soul; and will eventually glorify our body. Jesus is the expression of God’s glory and the exact image of God’s being (Hebrews 1:3). He speaks the oracles of God through our voice (1 Peter 4:11).

Also, Jesus heals a sick body through the laying on of our hands (Mark 1:41; 6:5; 5:3; 7:32, 33; 8:23, 25; 16:18; James 5:15). He sees a need and meets it through the resources He provides for us (1 John 3:17). He will even raise the dead, cleanse the leper and cast out demons in and through us (Matthew 10:8). As we walk in union with Christ, by the direction of His Spirit, we walk as shining stars, shedding His light in the dark, lost world around us (Colossians 1:27; Philippians 2:15).

Prayer:
Father God, Your will flows from a combination of Your divine love and wisdom. Harmony in our relationship with You increases as we live in union with Christ. This guarantees that more accord abides between our will and Yours. We soon find that our purpose is to do nothing more in life than to allow Christ to work through us. Fill us with the spiritual gifts and fruit of Your Spirit, and help us to lay down our plans and expectations, so You can use us for Your purposes each moment of our day.

Thought for the Day:
If we only focus on Christ on the cross, we may forget the fact that the risen Lord dwells within our spirit.