When to Give Thanks

Turn your complaining into thanking.
The Lord has been teaching me to focus and fix it. Allow me to explain. I have a bad habit of wasting time beating myself up when I make a mistake or focusing on the challenges that I’m currently facing.
In either case, where is my focus? Myself. Yet, am I not the problem? Yes. Thus, both are a waste of time as I am not focusing to the One who can fix it – Jesus.
Israel had the same problem. They had seen (Egyptian army annihilated), heard (the cries of death at Passover), smelled (rotten cattle and bloody water), touched (the plunder of Egypt) and tasted (bread from heaven and water from a rock) their God save them time and time again on their way home.
Now, they were hungry. Their response? They complained! (Numbers 11). Instead of giving thanks for a new opportunity to see their God fix it, they quit on Him.
Instead of complaining about my hardships, I should spend time thanking God for how He will fix it…again!
And so should you. Stay focused on the One who can fix it – Jesus, when fresh challenges come. Spend time thanking Him for what He has done in the past as you focus on Him to fix or get you through in the present to again thank Him in the future.
Peace comes as you give thanks before the answer arrives as it keeps you focused on the One who can fix it.

How Far Love Went – Will it Go?

Pain is part of living.
While chilling in the bathtub soaking my aching body in Epson salts, a song waffled over the airwaves. It was about Jesus going beyond me to show me how to rest.
This resonated big time. If I felt this way both physically and mentally, He had to go even further to show me how to rest – the mental state that victory was already mine – in the midst of my current battle.
Then the Spirit brought to mind a man hanging on a cross – a thief serving a death sentence. Jesus went to a cross where a man would hang next to Him, who would curse Him but would also put his faith in Jesus that very day.
Jesus, experiencing pain infinitely greater than mine (may I say yours too?), was at rest. He, not His pain, was in complete control. And because He was, He had a life-saving conversation with that man.
Jesus’ love for His Father sent Him through unimaginable pain in order to reach that man. We are going home to Jesus someday because of that kind of love.
Pain is part of living this side of heaven. We can either focus on it or use it to reach others for Jesus. How far will our love for Jesus go?

Turn on the Music!

Making a joyful noise should result in greater obedience.
“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
“In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.’ Therefore I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Psalm 95
Follow the pronouns of this Psalm. Did you notice how they changed from us to I?
The writer drew us into God’s presence through music. This singing went from focusing on Who God is, to listening to His voice, and then to believing what you sang through acting upon what God said to do.
Worship is not about singing. It’s a method that allows you to focus on the One who did it all for you. It’s about the Spirit drawing you into God’s presence so you can hear His voice in order to make choices to follow Jesus.
Turn on the music. Focus on Who Jesus is and what He’s done; and then, choose to follow Him wherever He may lead. Israel didn’t and look what happened to them.

A Fitful Rest

Rest means fighting with peace of mind.
God “saved” the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. He did it all by Himself. Yet, entering and staying in the Land would be much, much different.
Joshua didn’t bring the Israelites into a land of perpetual siesta. They wouldn’t just kick back and eat bonbons all day between breathtaking sunrises and eye-popping sunsets! No, the Israelites would have to fight.
Yet, God told them to enter His rest as they did. This rest was more about their mindset than it was their physical bodies.
Rest meant peace of mind. Why be nervous going into or while fighting with a shield in one hand and a sword or spear in the other? Victory was already assured despite the literal arrows flying by their heads.
Jesus assures each one of us that we are victorious no matter who the giants that we’re facing are.
Have a fitful rest, my friends. Keep fighting with the weapons of truth and the power the Spirit gives to wield those truths knowing that you’ve already won!

Shared Journey

You can walk further in a group.
I faced a huge challenge this weekend. I appeared to have hurt my knee. There was no pain, but soreness and a lot of clicking.
It was the type of injury that could knock me out of the program God put me it. And, I’d only been in it a week! I know He wants me here. But, if the knee didn’t get better, I’d be gone.
Being transparent, I was a little worried and a lot fearful. I’d let people know at this program that I was a chaplain. How would it look if all of a sudden I was gone? I struggled all weekend long, until I finally had enough.
I texted fellow believers who are sharing this life journey of loving and becoming like Jesus with me. I asked them to pray for a miracle by way of a complete healing or at least to take the clicking away. I knew Jesus wanted me here. Therefore, He had to do something.
A friend of mine likes to say, “When someone lays something at the feet of Jesus, we should be there helping.” I gave it to Jesus and whole lot of people were there praying for me to keep it there!
I like to say, “We come to faith individually, but we walk together.” We cannot love or become like Jesus on our own. As Scripture says, “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Folks, the you is plural.
This walk with Jesus is not a solo act, but a shared one. Who are you being transparent with? I’m so glad I have fellow sojourners in my life. I ran 3.3 miles without pain or clicking because they were at Jesus’ feet with me!
Oh yeah, please keep the encouragement and prayers coming!