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So many things to Thank God for!

This season, when we think of renewal and rebirth, the earth warming for Spring, flowers coming up, trees budding, Easter coming…I am reminded of all the things I have to be thankful for. And my heart turns to expressing gratitude to God – for my life, for my salvation, for being there to meet my needs.

BlessingsNo matter what they are, not matter how big or how small, there is nothing beyond the scope of God’s ability and desire to help me.

He gave me a song years ago that expresses so many of the things I have to be grateful for. Sharing it here:

Chorus – Thank You Lord for being there for me

            Every time I knew I had a need of Thee

And thank You Lord for being there for me

            When I did not know there was need

Verse 1 – It’s so easy to thank You Lord for what we see

Like healing an illness or an injury

thank-you-g6149a656b_640Or when You circumvent certain tragedy

It’s so easy to thank You Lord

I want to thank You for all the things I cannot see

For all the trouble You have kept from me

And for Your angels watching over me

I want to thank You Lord

dvxgnwnywem-giulia-bertelliChorus – Thank You Lord for being there for me

            Every time I knew I had a need of Thee

And thank You Lord for being there for me

            When I did not know there was need

praying-614374_1920Verse 2 – It’s so easy when I think I have the perfect plan

And think I have the situation well in hand

And then the rug is pulled from under me and down I land

And I need to thank You Lord

Bridge – For my life could have been a lot worse, been a lot harder

But I have felt You there

Managing the pain, helping me in sorrow

You kept it at a level I could bear – – I know You were there

music-notes-2073069_640Chorus a capella – Thank You Lord for being there for me

            Every time I knew I had a need of Thee

And thank You Lord for being there for me

            When I did not know there was need

Laura Shaffer (c) 1990

What are you most thankful for today?

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Are you a thumb?

We had our first snow this week. I know! It’s only September!!

I pulled out the bag of knitted scarves and gloves from the back of the closet. Sorting through the pile to match gloves to prepare for an early winter I found 2 pairs of mittens.

I don’t wear mittens much anymore. And my kids have outgrown theirs. But seeing them always reminds me of myself.

I can’t say when it started, but as far back as I can remember, I’ve felt like a thumb on the mitten of life. Not part of the “in the mitt” crowd. A little isolated.

Our family moved around a lot, changing locations, states, even countries, almost every year of my life due to my father’s military career. Don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed to have lived in so many places. It was cool to be able to say I’d seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and the Eifel Tower. I was a world traveler by age 6. But gaining a worldview at such an early age brought tradeoffs as well.

Plunked down in a new school every year, you either learn to meet people quickly or become a loner. I tried both. I could be the center of attention or the quiet one away from the action. I’d find a role to play – the helpful servant, the funny storyteller, the sympathetic listener. There are lots of “people” you can be in a group, without truly being yourself.

Even if I threw myself into the role and enjoyed it, I’d often leave feeling disconnected from everyone else who was there.

There have been a few times in my life when, for a short period, I got a taste of being “in the mitt.” I felt a closeness and warmth from other people; acceptance, camaraderie and fellowship. But the circumstances of life are constantly changing, teaching that even if I am not the one to move away, other people can, and do. And things change even between friends who remain in the same location. So it didn’t last.

I’ve met other “thumbs” and found that there are a lot of people who feel alone, like the odd man out. Sometimes they’re the same people who look like they’re in the mitt.

So far, I don’t have a total understanding of it, but there are a few things I’ve learned that are encouraging.

1 – There is no one person or even team of people who can meet all your needs. For lots of reasons:

We don’t tell them our need                                                                We drop hints desperately trying not to appear needy                  We don’t even know what we need                                                They don’t know how                                                                        They don’t have the time                                                                  They don’t have the energy                                                                They don’t have the resources                                                          They think they’re already meeting our needs                            They’re meeting the needs of other people                                   They have their own needs                                                              They don’t want to

2 – God wants us to go to Him to have our needs met

He knows our need even when we don’t                                          He knows how                                                                                         He is capable                                                                                          He is never too tired                                                                              He has unlimited resources                                                                 He wants to                                                                                              He can meet our needs creatively – extraordinarily – extravagantly!                                                                                            He can give us acceptance, approval, understanding, forgiveness, support, encouragement, connection, purpose, love…that will last for eternity!

3 – Thumbs are a blessing. We need our thumbs. And the world needs thumbs!

It’s opposable – and can reach across the hand to easily touch each of the other fingers. Not so for the rest of the mitten!  Just try (without the aid of a second hand) to touch your pinky to your pointer! Not very easy.

As a thumb, I can be a part of different groups of people, and move in and out of their circles easily. I can sometimes relate better to the individuals in each of these groups when I’m not so close to them. Being mittened with them might not give me the flexibility I need to reach them.

If you’re a thumb, or even just sometimes feel like one, be encouraged! You are not alone. You have a loving God who is able and wants to meet your needs. Turn to Him in prayer, read His Word, and listen for His response.*

And use your unique position to reach out to others and connect in ways that can support and bless you both. Seek out and pray for other thumbs you may know.  I’m praying for you now.

A prayer for all the thumbs.           

Dear Lord, thank you for making thumbs. Thank you for giving us the ability to be used in mighty ways to relate to people “in the mitt.” Thank you that we stand apart. Give us courage in that separateness, and camaraderie with other thumbs. Strengthen us to be the one who reaches others, and helps meet their needs. But also, give us a real sense of Your presence with us so we don’t feel so lonely and alone. We need You. Thank You. Amen

*for helps on how to listen for God’s voice, see these posts –  click here for Googling God Part 2 and Googling God Part 3

How do you spell REST ?

virus-4937553_640At the onset of this pandemic we all sheltered in place and experienced a break from our regular schedules.  Work was different, routines changed.  Can I say I really rested?  I don’t think so.

Now that it’s been a while, I still feel a sense of unrest – the need for a break, from this break.  Although I don’t feel as though I’ve accomplished a lot with the free time I’ve had, I also can’t say I’m completely rested.

Isaiah has such wonderful words of promise and comfort for us.  He promised a Savior!!  And Christ did come!  His promise was true, so we know we can trust the promises of Isaiah.

book-1209805_1920In Chapter 61, Isaiah gives us many pictures of the promised Kingdom.  His examples related to the people who were farmers, vine growers and herdsmen.  They were concerned with the fertility of their land, livestock and women.  They feared disease, drought, barrenness, hunger and invasion.  They suffered – really suffered – from poor leadership.

So, Isaiah described the blessings of God’s Kingdom in terms of food, water, health, abundance, political stability, peace and justice.

Our terms today might be wealth and power, an end to all wars, equitable distribution of resources and food to all countries, and a healthy environment.  Maybe low interest rates, free cable tv and unlimited access to theme parks!

But behind all the pictures of the Kingdom is the promise of a time and a place of rest; a perpetual Shabbat.  Where our deepest needs will be met, both those we feel strongly and those we cannot name.  Where we will have freedom from all that worries or perplexes us; mentally and emotionally as well as freedom from all enemies physical or spiritual that keep us in a state of agitation here on earth.

I believe we can take the examples he gave and glean four basic needs.  They can be defined by the words beginning with the letters R – E – S – T.  And they are: Relaxation, Enjoyment, Security and Triumph.

R – Relaxation: a time or state when work is done, over.  There will be an end to toil and labor that was the result of original sin when Adam and Eve, the serpent and even the ground were cursed.  No more rushing or multitasking or feeling pressure to perform.

E – Enjoyment:  of God’s unlimited and unconditional love and abundant blessing, which will be given in exchange for our sorrow.  God will provide joy and happiness, giving us beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness and a garment of praise.  There will be joy and blessing just being in His presence.

S – Security: safety physically, emotionally, spiritually, will be provided through Jesus Christ.  No fear of unexpected tragedy or harm.  Our place with Him is secured by faith.  We will be at peace – without stress or anxiety, and will have spiritual security, living in the presence of the supreme God of the universe!

T – Triumph!  God’s perfect justice will prevail.  We will share in His provision of victory over all sin; over all the failings and injustices of man; and over any and all spiritual powers on earth, beneath the earth, or in the heavens.  God’s victory will be absolute!

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This rest is what He offers all believers for eternity.  But He also created the Sabbath day each week for us to have a taste of the same rest.

Are you resting? One day a week? Or has it been a while?

Are you discovering the Relaxation, the Enjoyment, the Security and the Triumph He has set aside for you to experience here on earth?

What work or busyness can you set aside for a day?  What can you do to relax?

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To enjoy God’s blessing and presence you have to spend time in His presence and ask Him to show you blessings in your life.  Thank Him for those blessings you do have. How will you spend time with the Lord?  Get alone?  Read His Word?  Pray?  Sit quietly?  Take a walk?  Watch a sunset?

Instead of focusing on fearing the unknown and worrying, set aside time to thank God for the good in your life.  And praising Him for all He’s already given you.

Set aside a day this week and ask God to show you what that might look like in your life.

 

So on the seventh day He rested from all His work.  Genesis 2:2

Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8

The Sabbath was made for man.  Mark 2:27

Son Light

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Those radiant streams of mercy

that shine down from above

are full of “solar” power:

they’re God’s most perfect love.

 

 

 

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They’re seen as dawn is breaking

with the rising of the sun

but remain invisible to most

once the day’s begun . . .

 

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Unless a cloud is passing by

that hides the sun from view

then the rays that penetrate are seen

as they come shining through.

 

That’s how it is in daily life

when we forget the “Son.”

We count on Him to light our way.

The thanks we give Him: none.

 

 

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We take for granted all the times

He’s sheltered us from harm

and don’t give Him a second thought

until there is a storm –

 

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And then, as clouds are building

we search for something bright;

we need those rays of comfort,

those shafts of guiding light.

 

 

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And God is always faithful,

yes, God is always true.

His radiant streams of mercy

are always there for you.

P-R-A-Y-E-R Your best Recourse

Sometimes when I pray it’s purely for the purpose of praising God and being thankful:

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for seeing God’s hand at work in my life or the lives of my loved ones

for truth God has revealed to me

for promises He’s made to me

for direction He’s given me

for protection He’s afforded me

for answers to prayers

 

bible-839093_1920And sometimes I pray listening prayers.  I lay out a question or issue and ask for God to reveal His truth and His perspective about it. I may read His Word or listen quietly and write down what I think He is telling me.  Then hold it or the expected results up to credible scripture or another mature Christian for confirmation.

 

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But sometimes when I pray, I am seeking God’s involvement in circumstances or situations where I feel I need His help or have no control over them.

 

 

heart-care-1040250_640Most recently that was concerning my husband’s open-heart surgery.  There were so many details, medical, emotional, spiritual that were overwhelming and out of my control.  As I thought about praying over each part of the procedure, I saw that prayer is my –

 

Personal

Recourse

Always

Yielding

Eternal

Results

Personal – it’s what I can do to impact a situation – whatever that is – in my life, my family, my church, my community, my nation, the world.  I may not be able to personally change circumstances by my own effort, but I can go to Almighty God, Creator of the Universe and the One who is Sovereign and has power over it!

Recourse – it is my remedy, my option or choice – of all the things I could do, prayer is what will have the greatest potential and actual result in the situation, the problem, the relationships and the lives of those I am praying for in ways that will bring God’s purpose and plan to fruition.

Always – God says that He is with us and will never leave us or forsake us.  He hears our prayers and I believe He answers them. He is always there, at all times, in all circumstances.  We cannot do anything that would prevent Him from loving us and acting on our behalf.  We can know that He is there in “all ways” because

His love transcends our unworthiness.

His faithfulness trumps our undeserving state.

Yielding – Sometimes in ways we can see and understand.  But sometimes in ways we do not expect or even realize.  Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no and sometimes it’s wait – I have something even better for you!  But our prayer can ignite the heart of God to act and to impact whatever situation, person or issue we are praying for.

Eternal – God’s perspective is so much greater than our own.  He sees beyond what we can ask or even imagine.  So we can trust that He will answer our prayers in ways that will benefit us and our loved ones for all eternity.

Results – There is always an answer, a result, something that comes from, that happens because of, our prayers.  Our situation may not seem to change in the immediate, but we can trust that what God has put on our hearts to pray, will be answered in the very best way possible.  Sometimes the result is that we, ourselves, are changed; rather than the circumstances around us.  That can be a more impactful benefit than changing the circumstance the way we thought would be best.

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God’s plan does not always align with the plan I am praying for.  But I can always trust that His plan is the best.  And that His perspective is the greatest, far beyond what I can see in the moment I am praying.

 

With my husband’s surgery, so far, God’s plan IS what we prayed for.  He gets out of the hospital tomorrow!  And things have gone as smoothly as they possibly could, praise God!

Prayer is YOUR best Recourse, and will Always Yield Eternal Results.

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