Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Gift of Christmas

He’s a baby, small and helpless, vulnerable and dependent on his parents. Not able to walk, talk, or use his hands effectively, his cries signal his needs. They lovingly feed him, change his diapers, bathe him, dress him, put him to sleep, watch over him, and protect him. Can you imagine that tiny baby as Jesus Christ?

He gave up His power, His strength, and His authority to dwell on earth with the people He created. He allowed Himself to be born as a baby, taken care of by earthly parents. He grew up, learning from those in authority. He lived out His mission on earth to teach us how to live out our mission on earth. He introduced a heavenly perspective to those that listened to His teachings. He taught His followers how to die to themselves as He died for them. Can you imagine the God of heaven and earth going to such extremes?

God our Heavenly Father loved us so much that He gave us His only Son (John 3:16). He was born as a baby to live among us, therefore He would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). As an adult, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ humbled Himself even more as He gave Himself over to death, saving those who would believe in Him as Savior. The second chapter of Philippians describes the humility of Jesus Christ. 

Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.

But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,

        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.

Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,

    so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow

        and every tongue confess that
            Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
  Philippians 2:6-11 CEB (Common English Bible)

Thank you, God, for loving us so much that you would live on earth among your people, exemplifying for us the righteous life. Thank you, Jesus Christ, for your death and resurrection, enabling us to live eternally with you. Thank you for your gift of Christmas. Amen.

I wrote the following poem many years ago after reflecting on God's gift of Christmas, our Savior Jesus Christ.

The Gift of Christmas

What a glorious time of year
When we celebrate the birth
Of a God who loved us so
That He came to live on earth.

Such a wondrous occasion
A holiday so dear,
It may be cold outside
Yet we’re warm because God’s near.

Some will have misgivings,
While others dread the season. 
In this day of automation
Do we have good reason?

Think of Mary, mother of Jesus,
Traveling o’er rocky terrain
On a donkey, big with child, 
I wonder—would she complain?

The Bible explains situations
Mary pondered in her heart.
If hearts were home for Jesus, 
Humans could make a new start.

So let Christ in this Christmas,
He’ll fill your soul with joy.
Together let’s give thanks to God
For sending the Savior boy!

DDC ’89

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Cry of My Heart

Blue eyes, red hair, crippled body, wide nose, pale white skin, brown eyes, kinky hair, slanted eyes, big lips, jet black hair, brown skin, straight sleek hair, large body, small-boned, blond hair, tiny nose, thin lips, freckles: the physical differences of human beings are astounding, and yet God created us all.

God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27), giving us hearts beating with life and souls longing for something bigger than ourselves. The world teems with the vast external differences of humans, but inside each person exists comparable feelings of love and pain. How do God’s many contrasting creatures deal with similar sensitivities? Differently, of course, because God gave each of us a choice and sometimes our self-will gets in the way of God's will. Only creatures turning to their Creator find everlasting love and comforting solace.

If you find yourself in a place of loneliness and agony, go to your Creator for compassion and consolation. Call out to your Heavenly Father who loves you perfectly. Lay before your God the passions of your heart, knowing that He hears and answers your cry. Allow the songs of the Israelites to assist you in your journey with the Lord. Read Psalm 130 (below in different versions) to deepen your relationship with your Maker and Redeemer. 

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;

    O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
    O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness;
    therefore you are feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins. 

Adonai, I call to you from the depths;

hear my cry, Adonai!
Let your ears pay attention
to the sound of my pleading.

Yah, if you kept a record of sins,
who, Adonai, could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,
so that you will be feared.

I wait longingly for Adonai;
I put my hope in his word.

Everything in me waits for Adonai
more than guards on watch wait for morning,
more than guards on watch wait for morning.

Isra’el, put your hope in Adonai!
For grace is found with Adonai,
and with him is unlimited redemption.

He will redeem Isra’el
from all their wrongdoings.
  (CJB-Complete Jewish Bible)

I cry out to you from the depths, Lord—

my Lord, listen to my voice!
    Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!

If you kept track of sins, Lord—
    my Lord, who would stand a chance?

But forgiveness is with you—
    that’s why you are honored.

I hope, Lord.
My whole being hopes,
    and I wait for God’s promise.

My whole being waits for my Lord—
    more than the night watch waits for morning;
    yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!

Israel, wait for the Lord!
    Because faithful love is with the Lord;
    because great redemption is with our God!

He is the one who will redeem Israel
    from all its sin.
  (CEB-Common English Bible)

My version of Psalm 130 follows with the use of words from various Psalms. The cries of my heart scream out to my Father God. If so inclined, write your own psalm communicating to God your heartfelt yearnings. 

Lord, I cry to you from deep down in my soul where it hurts. My body feels weak and I feel faint without You. You have been my strong tower before; set my feet back on the Rock of Ages that I might stand firm. Shelter me, God, with Your Mighty Presence (Psalm 61).

Can you hear me, God? Be alerted to my cry for Your mercy; be aware of my need for You. Watch over me, Lord! I need You, God!

God, when I sin, it’s You that I’ve sinned against; my sinful ways don’t represent You to a lost world. Forgive me, God, that I might better serve You. Give me a clean heart and restore Your Spirit in me. Revive within me true joy, the joy of Your salvation. Thank you for saving me and may everything I do glorify You (Psalm 51).

I put my trust in Your promises, God. I expect to see Your Word fulfilled, therefore, I hope (holding onto perfect expectation).

Just as the watchman looks to the morning light, I wait with confidence, knowing that You are there. The watchman, the guard, knows that the sun will rise and light will disperse the darkness. The watchman in me is on my knees, lifting up to You in prayer many people with many needs. I know, Lord God, that You will envelope us with Your wings, securing us in Your safety, reviving souls (Psalm 91).

Your love dispels evil. Your light sends away the darkness. Your grace and mercy are limitless. With You, I am fully redeemed and forgiven of all my misdeeds. How can I not trust in You!

In this season of goodwill towards all men (regardless of differences), receive the good will of your Heavenly Father—His will for you. Receive His presence, His joy, and His peace with hope and expectation. Let His glory shine from your life and give Him praise for His salvation. Sing with the angels about the good news of a savior born who is Jesus Christ the Lord! Trust in the Word of God, watching over it for you and your loved ones. 

Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.  James 1:17 (CEB)

On your walls, O Jerusalem,
    I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
    they shall never be silent.
You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest.... 
Isaiah 62:6 (ESV)

Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.  Psalm 122:7 (NRSV)

See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.  Isaiah 49:16 (NRSV)
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the Lord restores Zion.  Isaiah 52:8 (NASB)

May you experience the joy and peace of Christmas only Jesus can give!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Receive His Presence

Who needs presents when we have His presence! Who needs gifts when God gave us the greatest Gift of all in His Son Jesus Christ! We have all we need. Why do we continually search for more?

Why do we rush around the shops and malls at Christmas time looking to buy more stuff to purchase? Maybe we lack satisfaction in our lives or maybe we just want to bless a friend or family member. Whatever it is we’re doing or searching for, it is meaningless until we find the Lord.

Well, search no further. He’s not hiding. He’s not in a store. He’s not even in the beautifully wrapped present under your Christmas tree. He can be found within the pages of your Bible, those Scriptures written by God’s own hand through His people. The Word of God, written thousand of years ago and still available to us, is Jesus Christ. The book of John gives us proof.

In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].  John 1:1-5 (AMP)

The Word—Jesus Christ—was with God from the beginning; He was present with God. He actually was God Himself. He created all things, breathing life into the earth. God created man and woman, desiring relationship with them. But the devil entered the picture and spoiled the beauty of the garden by causing them to sin. Even though they paid the consequences for sin, God continued to love them. He wanted a relationship with His people. So He laid out His plan of redemption from the beginning. Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of a Redeemer. Below is the verse from the Amplified Bible.

The Lord said to the serpent, “...And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.” 

The explanation follows from offered by Don Stewart......The ultimate seed (offspring) of the woman would be Jesus Himself. It is the beginning of a long line of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. The Promised One would be from the woman's seed an indication of the eventual virgin birth of Christ. The seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. On the cross Satan bruised the heel of Christ, causing His death. Bruising suggests something that was not ultimate or final. Christ died on our behalf being made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He bore our judgment upon Calvary's cross and, in doing so, bruised His heel. Though wounded, the damage done to Jesus was not final, for He came back from the dead three days later.

We live on the other side of the promise. Christ indeed came to earth to redeem us from our sins, gaining that victory over Satan. The cross and the empty tomb assures us of the fulfilled promise. Allow the following verses that span the pages of the Bible confirm to you God’s promise of a Savior who is Jesus Christ the Lord. 

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  Luke 1:31 (NKJV)
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.  Romans 16:20 (NKJV)
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law...  Galatians 4:4 (NKJV)
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Revelation 12:17 (NKJV)
The promised Redeemer has been presented to us. He came as a baby and grew up on earth to demonstrate how life is to be lived—He dwelt among His people. He later died on a cross, offering an exchange—our sins for His righteousness. After He returned to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to continue to dwell among us. His presence is found within our hearts when we believe in Jesus as Savior. He is the present, the gift, given to us so that we may live with Him throughout eternity. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!  2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV)
Are you still searching for the perfect gift? Look no further because it’s already been given to you in the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, the Word. He is the Word and He is Jesus Christ. Receive His gracious gift and give back to Him your praises for His indescribable gift. Thank Him for His presence!
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.  Psalm 67:5 (NKJV)
Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.  Psalm 148:13 (NKJV)
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!” 
Romans 15:11 (NKJV)

.....filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:11 (NIV)
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name. 
Luke 1:46-47,49 (NIV)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One Voice

We live in a world that appears to have gone mad. Actually things went wrong in the Garden of Eden and they’ve been wrong ever since. Adam and Eve heard two voices—God’s and Satan’s. One voice presented abundant life and the other a handout of delightful fruit. Without thinking about the bigger picture, they chose to obey the voice offering an immediate benefit. Their choice led to profound consequences affecting us today. 

On the other hand, the patriarch Abraham heard the voice of God calling him to leave his country and begin anew in a new land. Scripture tells us that “Abram (as he was initially known) went forth as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4).  Abraham choose to obey and God eventually blessed him. God said, “ you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:30).  Just like Adam, Eve, and Abraham, we’ve heard the voices of good and evil. Which voice do we choose to obey—one rendering rapid results or One furnishing a faithful finish? 

Voices all around the world proclaim loyalties to various ideas with varying emotions. Some voices are raised in defiance and rebellion while others are silenced. Some voices shout dominance over people while those people lament in fear. Some voices cry out in judgment while others howl about unfairness. Some voices offer a quick fix while others recommend a time-invested solution. One Voice speaks truth, extending life and peace. What voices get our attention? Which voice do we choose to obey?

Many of us were raised with the voices of parents teaching us right from wrong. Others of us grew up listening to any voice directed our way. Whether voices of flattery or voices of wisdom, we have a choice. It’s a big world out there with many booming voices. How are we able to hear amidst such racket? Whose voice pricks up our ears? Which voice are we attentive to? How do we choose correctly?

Stop right now and listen to the Voice of reason. Quiet your mind and hear the words of your Creator. Open your ears and receive the direction of your King. Breathe in the salvation of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Give ear to the promises of God......“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;
I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.
“Surely My hand founded the earth,
And My right hand spread out the heavens;
When I call to them, they stand together.
“Assemble, all of you, and listen!
Who among them has declared these things?
The Lord loves him; he will carry out His good pleasure on Babylon,
And His arm will be against the Chaldeans.
“I, even I, have spoken; indeed I have called him,
I have brought him, and He will make his ways successful.
“Come near to Me, listen to this:
From the first I have not spoken in secret,
From the time it took place, I was there.
And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.” 
Isaiah 48:12-16 (NASB)

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed,
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Call out.”
Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

Get yourself up on a high mountain,
O Zion, bearer of good news,
Lift up your voice mightily,
O Jerusalem, bearer of good news;
Lift it up, do not fear.
Say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
Behold, the Lord God will come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him
And His recompense before Him.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
Even Lebanon is not enough to burn,
Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before Him,
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.

To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare with Him?
As for the idol, a craftsman casts it,
A goldsmith plates it with gold,
And a silversmith fashions chains of silver.
He who is too impoverished for such an offering
Selects a tree that does not rot;
He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman
To prepare an idol that will not totter.

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
“To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. 
Isaiah 40 (NASB)

You’ve heard His voice, now will you raise your voice in accordance with His? Will you lift your voice in a mighty way and tell of the good news of Jesus Christ? How will people hear if you don’t tell them?

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”
However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  Romans 10:14-17 (NASB)
Adam and Eve obeyed the wrong voice and suffered the consequences of being expelled from the Garden. Abraham obeyed the right Voice and received many blessings from God. God told him,  “...In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:18 (NASB)
Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the Lord speaks,
“Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me. 
Isaiah 1:2 (NASB)
Are you listening to His Voice? Are you raising your voice with His? Go—tell it on the mountain top that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

The sword of the Spirit—the Bible—is the weapon God has provided for us to use in this battle between truth and deception. Make it a priority to wield that sword skillfully.   —Billy Graham

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Sliver of Hope

As I drove to work early Friday morning, I looked up. The sky was unusually dark, appearing almost ominous. The black clouds seemed to hold more than just the possibility of rain. Stopping at a red light and glancing left, I noticed an opening in the gloomy sky. Light broke though a small area, revealing blue-gray yonder. Gazing around the heavens, I saw more brightness shining in spots throughout space. And God said to me, “Hope!”

Driving on, I thought about hope, that God-given notion. Within our sometimes turbulent existence, where is our focus? Do we stare at the ominous threat or do we gaze at the ray of hope? Situations in our lives certainly appear threatening at times. The hopeless darkness can feel so heavy that it’s hard to raise our head upward. The unpromising circumstance can take our eyes off of our God of promise who says to us, “Hope!”

Whatever state you happen to be in right now, stop your thoughts, raise them up to the Lord, and listen to the Word of God. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5 (NIV) 

Rejoice in our sufferings? Really, God? That’s the path to hope? Yes, He tells us, the path may begin in suffering and by holding onto hope, we persevere. Walking in perseverance brings forth character and integrity. From such moral strength we determine to hope, hope in God who has poured His love into our hearts. 

One of the many stories of hope in the Bible lies in the book of Job. It is about a godly man named Job who suffered tremendous pain, losing everything but his life and wife. He did not sin amidst his sorrow but instead worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). His wife did not support his strength. Rather she said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). But Job said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” And the Word goes on to tell us in all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10).

Then three of Job’s friends showed up to help him flesh out his pain. And he said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" (Job 13:15). Job determined to persevere while at another time he said, “Where now is my hope? And who regards my hope” (Job 17:15).  Was he losing hope? Maybe he had moments of doubt and despair, but he continued to hope in God. He declared,“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). After years of never losing hope, God blessed him with twice the blessings he had lost. Scripture tells us Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. And Job died, an old man and full of days (Job 42:16-17 NASB). 

Did Job struggle with his hope in God? Of course he did; he was a frail human being. But as he traveled the path of suffering, God poured out His love into Job’s receptive heart. His pathway led to perseverance, growing his character, and out of that character came hope. And God did not disappoint him, instead He graced him with His presence and many blessings.

Have you lost hope in the middle of your situation? Let the word of God through King David and the apostles Paul and Peter infuse strength within your heart. Then resolve to hope in God.

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.  Psalm 39:7 (NASB)

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.  Psalm 71:5 (NASB)

...rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer...  Romans 12:12 (NASB)
We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you. 
Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV)
(Read all of Psalm 33 and praise your Savior.)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  1 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 (NASB)

H - holding
O - onto
P - perfect
E - expectation

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Everlasting Thanksgiving

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”  Psalm 122:1 (NASB) I enjoy worshiping my Lord and Savior! Joy pours forth when praising Jesus!
Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have. Shopping is fun and sometimes I think I absolutely need that bargain. How sad when material possessions become a priority.

Most of us have participated in one or both of those occasions at some point in our lives. Which experience truly produces lasting happiness? How can we live a significant life in a country consumed by material goods?

This has been the week of gratitude. Americans are thankful for their blessings on a nationally declared day of thanks—Thanksgiving Day. How about every day of the year? Do we wake up thanking God for His favor upon our lives or do we ask Him for more? Do our praises to an Almighty God rely upon our circumstances or in spite of them?

Maybe you can’t see through the mountain of debt that seems to pile up endlessly or maybe your husband just walked out on you and the family. Maybe your child rebels against everything you say, choosing to dishonor the family and authority they’ve been placed under. Maybe you’ve lost a child, a parent, or a friend to cancer. Are there blessings in those storms? 

Scripture tells us to praise God and keep the faith, no matter what comes our way. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) Our hope is eternal and our praises glorify God. Jesus won the victory on the cross. Give Him praise and thank Him for His many blessings in your life as you stand in your storms. His light will shine upon you and His peace will reign in your heart! Thank you, Jesus!

Read the Scriptures below and know that God is on your side. He will take care of you. Give Him praise!

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them, “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.
“Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.
“I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 

They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” declares the Lord God. “As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” declares the Lord God.  Ezekiel 34:20-31 (NASB)
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would 
           see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord. 
Psalm 27 (NASB)

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing. 
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations. 
Psalm 100 (NASB)

Give God praise every day! Give Him the honor and glory due His holy name! Anchor yourself and your soul on the firm foundation—Jesus, the Rock, who loved you so much that He died for you! Let your constant praises flow to the God who is worthy of thanksgiving. Once your praises begin to ring out in the midst of your circumstances, you will find significance and value in your situation. God’s peace will begin to reign on your life, others will see a difference in you, and our Father in heaven will receive glory for being our infinite and mighty God!