21 Nov 2017
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Thanksgiving Day is a time set aside for us to acknowledge our gratitude and thanks to God and those around us for the bounty and blessings we have received. If over the last year our bosses gave us a bonus, we give thanks. If our children or spouses have been healthy and successful, we give thanks. Thanksgiving Day is almost 100% about expressing heartfelt gratitude for things we have received.
And, this is exactly the right thing to do. However, the Apostle Paul offers a new perspective on giving thanks that leads to banishment of fear and anxiety. In addition, the fear and anxiety is replaced with a peace that defies understanding…and the key to it is…giving thanks!
When we read the above listed passage from Philippians, we notice that we are instructed to not be anxious about anything…that would include, but not be limited to…our finances, our health, our jobs, our marriages or relationships…or absence of the same. It means giving up our fears about our children, grandchildren, and sons in prison or the drugs that assault our schools every day.
Paul teaches us to do three things: pray…petition (request, implore, plead) and give THANKS! Now, we certainly GET the first two…but most of us feel Paul has got the third thing wrong. How can we give thanks for something we have yet to receive? Are we supposed to thank God for an outcome that we are not sure is correct? Paul must have this one out of place…surely we should wait until we know what God’s answer is BEFORE we offer up Thanksgiving to God for His answer?
But Paul has not got it wrong. To receive the blessings of peace and rest, we need to trust God and do all three things. This means that we give THANKS to God for His answer to our prayers BEFORE we know the answer! This faith and trust in His provision signals to God that we are willing to acknowledge that His answers to prayer are better than our expectations…that HE WILL GET IT RIGHT! Faith that delivers freedom from anxiety and fear begins with the faith and trust that prays this prayer: “God hear the prayer that I would have prayed, if I had all your information.”
Let this Thanksgiving Day be one where we offer up praise and thanks for answers yet unknown…and live with adequacy knowing God has our back!
02 Dec 2015
Sin is real. Anyone who truly believes that sin does not exist has not been paying attention! In real-life, when we are honest, we look anywhere and see the evidence of sin. We see greed, snarky comments on social media, and mean and angry attitudes. Just think about your language the last time someone cut you off on the freeway!!
But do we know anything about sin? Sin is as common to human beings as sliminess is to a worm. Yet, how many of us understand sin? Why is it important for us to know about sin?
If we choose to ignore our sin and its seriousness, our sinful hearts see it as normal behavior. Sinful deeds will no longer seem wrong to us. We disconnect our behavior from God and live as if our sin does not matter. It’s like when we were kids and started stealing. If we didn’t get caught, we didn’t think it was wrong. But, if we got punished, if people found out, we took it much more seriously.
Without knowing our sin, we can never fully know ourselves and the debt of sin we have racked up. Suppose you go away for many months and when you return your friend says that he paid your bills for you. That may seem like no big deal until you find out and recognize that your friend paid a 7-year IRS back-taxes bill that was going to make you lose your house and your car and your savings!
Then you find out your friend emptied his bank account and took loans to pay off your debt. That changes everything, doesn’t it? We understand our situation only when we appreciate the enormity of our debt the gigantic sacrifice and huge gift to us.
When we understand the enormity of our sin and the debt that Jesus paid for our sin, we can begin to appreciate God’s love for us. Our gratitude breaks down our pride, and we grasp that we have been saved from a terrible fate. This pushes us toward thanksgiving to God. Thanksgiving paves the way to humility. In humility, we can begin to walk with God in a new purpose for our lives.