Springtime Prayer

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Father,
When I see the new growth of spring, the buds on the trees, the bright yellow daffodils, I remember You are faithful. After a long winter of snow and cold, the vibrant colors of spring renew my heart. I wake I the morning to the sound of birdsong, and go to sleep to the sound of spring rain or gentle breezes. In the same way, Your word refreshes me, and comforts me. Spring brings hope of summer. Your love brings hope of Heaven. Thank You for new birth and re-birth. Thank You for Your unfailing love, for promises of flowers, growing things, and a great future.

Be Thankful

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Philippians 4:6-14, (NIV), “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.”

In the United States the spirit of ungratefulness is running rampant. Look at our Media! They preach to us constantly how we don’t have enough, or that we need this one thing, or that someone else knows what we need best. We aren’t the first people to allow this bad attitude to take over, and probably won’t be the last. The Israelites grumbled. Sometimes reading Exodus is like reading the “Who’s who” list of world renowned whiners and complainers. I get frustrated for God or sorrowful for Him when I read it. I get angry at their ungrateful, stiff necked, hearts…until I start complaining about some trivial thing. Isn’t the Holy Spirit faithful to do His job? There must have been some New Testament grumblers too; otherwise Paul wouldn’t have had to warn the Church at Corinth using those professional complainers from Exodus as bad examples.

I Corinthians 10:10-11 (ESV), “nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”

In one of his recent messages, our Senior Pastor, Dr. William Hohman explained the danger of allowing this spirit of ungratefulness in our lives, “Complaining looses the destroyer in our lives. Thanksgiving shuts the door to the bottomless pit and opens the door into the presence of God.”

Revelations 9:11 (NIV), “They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).”

Did you get that? The “king” over the bottomless pit is THE Destroyer. When we complain and grumble we are opening the door to the bottomless pit. We are letting him loose. The very worst thing of all is that we are giving him (the destroyer, Satan, the devil, and his minions) a personal invitation to mess with us! When we have an attitude of gratitude, when we live with a heart of thanksgiving towards God and others, we shut that door. That’s why the bible tells us that “praise stills the enemy and the avenger.”

Psalms 8:2 (NIV), “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Emphasis mine)

Psalms 8:2 (NET Bible), “From the mouths of children and nursing babies you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy.” (Emphasis mine)

Every person still living on this earth has something to be thankful, if only the fact that you are alive. Ok, I know there will be some that say, “If you knew what my life was like, you’d wish you were dead.” I know, I’ve been there. However, if the alternative is hell, than thank God you’re alive. If your final destination in Heaven be thankful that God isn’t done with you yet, because if your work here was done, God would have taken you home. Be honest, most of us have a myriad of things to be thankful for. If you are a born again Christian, just think for a minute where your life was like before you were saved, and then thank God for where you are now!

If we really know who God is we will not have to hunt for something to be thankful for. When we fall so in love with God our hearts will be so full of gratitude that we can’t help but sing and shout His praises! We won’t even care if we can carry a tune or not, it won’t matter what anyone else thinks. We won’t be able to help ourselves. Have you ever been around someone who is in love for the first time? Do they talk of much else besides their new love interest? How excited do they get when they have a date scheduled, or a wedding? Yep, that kind of crazy love, only even greater.

I love God, I have since I found out He loved me at the age of six. Growing up, I walked away from Him and didn’t live right. After years of living in the world, I forgot how much He loved me. Even after years of walking with Him, even though I thought I loved Him, it didn’t compare to how much I love Him now…or how much I will love Him tomorrow. What changed? Me! I allowed Him to show me how much He loved me, I read His word and searched out every ounce of His goodness and kindness. I rehearsed and meditated on all the good things He had done for me, and I practiced an attitude of thankfulness. Am I thankful all the time? No, I still have my “would you like some cheese with that whine” moments. But, I am pleased to say they are fewer and farther between.

Do you know what else I discovered? An attitude of thankfulness touches others. When we are thankful for what we have and are willing to share. Think about that little boy with five loaves and two fishes. He had to have been thankful for that little lunch that someone had packed for him; otherwise the disciples wouldn’t have even known that he had the basket of goodies. I can hear the question, “does anyone have some food?” and our little hero says, “I do, my mom packed me two nice fish and five of her best little loaves”. Can you hear the thankfulness in his voice? I am sure the disciples wouldn’t steel a little boys lunch, so it is safe to say he offers to share. When you appreciate what God has given you, you don’t get greedy and selfish, you know He will provide again. So, they bring that lunch, big enough for one little boy, and what does Jesus do- yep, He gives thanks! Now, I know it is hard to wrap our heads around this, but force it if you need to, that little lunch fed five thousand men, along with untold numbers of women and children.

When we are thankful for the people in our lives, we treat them with respect, we honor them, and we aren’t constantly looking at their faults and failures. When we are thankful for our jobs, we work harder, behave better, and show up for work on time. When we are thankful for our Church family, we show up for service, we offer to help out, and we don’t gossip and finger point as much. Are you starting to get the picture? It is something that has to be actively worked out, worked on. God doesn’t just implant thankfulness in us. We become thankful on purpose. Now I am not one to encourage “faking it” but sometimes we have to do things that we don’t feel like doing. You may not feel thankful, but you better start saying “Thank You”. Tell the lady who checks out your groceries, the man who held the door, the mailman who delivers your package, your husband for taking out the trash, thank you! Yes, I know that some of that is part of their job descriptions, but so what! Thank them.

Get a pen and paper when you have finished reading this and write down everything that you are thankful for today. Nothing is too little or too big. Then every night before you go to sleep, look back over your day and thank God for what He has done for you, given you, or just for Who He is. Do this for fourteen days and a new wonderful habit of thanksgiving will be birthed in your heart. If you have allowed your heart to dry up, or your neck to become “stiff” like those wondering Israelites, it may take a while before you feel it. Dive into the word and search out scripture that talk about the goodness of God. Read His promises and if they haven’t manifested yet, thank Him for them anyway. They are coming.

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP), “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.”

Allow those roots to be firmly and deeply planted in Him, the outcome will be abounding thanksgiving. You won’t be able to keep it in. It will overflow.

Thank You For Your Grace

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Dear Father God,
I thank You that You have given us mercy and grace. That you are extravagant with both. You always give us so much more than we can ask or think, and most definitely more than we could ever deserve. No matter what we do, how we fail, You are slow to anger and quick to forgive! I thank You for the shed blood of Jesus. That no more do we need to shed the blood of cattle and sheep. That Jesus’ shed blood cleansed us of all sin. I am so grateful that the life and blood of Jesus fulfilled all the law. I no longer have to follow a lengthy list of “do’s and don’ts.” I am no longer bound to the law, but set free by Your grace. Thank You, Father, that I can now come boldly into Your presence. It is so wonderful, Lord, to know You in a personal way, to be in fellowship with you. Thank You, Father, that you speak to me, as I speak to my own child. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Help me to be more like you.
Amen

Prayer

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Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you for your promises, that are always “yes” and “Amen”, to your glory. Thank you for your love, which is shed abroad in my heart, and for the shed blood of Jesus, for your Holy Spirit who leads and guides into all truth. Who comforts and encourages us. Who convicts of sin and convinces of righteousness. Thank you for your grace and mercy, and your joy (which is my strength). Help me to treat others as you would, to help and encourage. To esteem others more highly than myself. To not grow weary in well doing, but to persevere and press on in doing good. Strengthen my feeble knees, and fan the flames in my heart. Help me to be bold in my testimony, in my profession of faith. Help me to be humble and teachable. I choose to run the race with patience, not turning to the right or the left, but to fix my face like flint, to keep my eyes on the prize (Jesus), and to stand against all the works of the evil one. I choose to not only defend myself and those around me from the enemy, but to be on the offensive, to attack, to go into the enemies camp and take back what he has stolen. I choose to put off the former ways of the world and my flesh and to put on the robes of righteousness that you gave me through the death and resurrection of your son. I take on life and health and a sound mind. I accept and receive all the blessings you have prepared for me, before the foundation of the world. I choose you, Jesus, again, as my Lord and King. I choose the Kingdom of love and light, and renounce the kingdom of lies and darkness. I choose you, Lord, as my Father, because you first chose me. I thank you for coming humbly to this earth, to experience what we do, as a man. For giving up the your kingly robes and crown, for taking up the role of a servant. I thank you that after fulfilling all that was needful to purchase my redemption, you took back your crown and rule and reign as my King.

Where is Your Treasure?

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“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:25-34

We are God’s treasure. He sold everything (laid down His life) to purchase the Pearl of Great Price (you and me.) He is the Good Shepherd who leaves the flock safe in the mountains, to go and search for the one lost little sheep. The very one who wondered off looking for something different, that greener pasture.
Where is your treasure? What is your treasure? Is it your fine education, your forty foot yacht, your modern day castle, or the latest technological toy? Or maybe it is the recognition you get on your job, or for doing your “good works?” Is your treasure something shameful that you don’t want anyone to know about? Is it simply money and possessions? What will you give for your treasure? What sacrifice are you willing to make? Your marriage, your kids, or your relationship with God?

When Jesus created everything-He created an order and a balance. God loves us and wants to give us good things. But our lives must have balance and order. First our desire should be for Him. Everything else comes after. Our greatest treasure should be Him. A passionate relationship with Him is the greatest thing we could ever hope to attain. When we do that, He adds all the other stuff to us-giving it freely.
When we hold back from Him or give our hearts over to other people and things, before Him, we lose. The sacrifices we make to keep those tarnished so-called-treasures, ends up being too much. We end up selling our soul and hurting so many others in the process. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Let’s get practical. The holiday season is fast approaching us. Thanksgiving-a time to thank God for all he had provided for us, a day spent with family sharing how thankful we are for each other. And quickly following that day comes Christmas. Christmas is a day set aside to remember a loving God who humbled Himself and came to us in the form of a mortal man. A Father who sent us gifts to make our lives better, the gift of life to a dying world. So we in turn give gifts to others in remembrance.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? But for most people those days are not all “thankfulness” and “peace on earth.” They are stress and overspending, loneliness and depression. Some feel they have little to be thankful for, and some have little to eat while we all feast away. Many look at the expensive unnecessary toy, gadgets, clothes and merchandise (junk), displayed as the next-best-greatest-thing that will bring happiness, love, satisfaction, ease and envy. But it is all only stuff!

We are so shallow…and dare I say it? Foolish. Things may make us happy for a season, but most of the time they disappoint-or something newer and better comes along and we look at what we have with disdain. Who cares if the shoes I am wearing are five years old and not “in style?” Or if the phone I just paid extra for last spring, because the free one was too plain, is now obsolete? How many apps can one person use? We are calling wood, hay and stubble treasure! How disappointing that must be to the Father. We step over the homeless man who smell makes our eyes water, to hurry into the mall to purchase that sale item that is supposed to represent God’s gift to mankind. Seriously?

Ask Him what we can do to celebrate these special days. He’ll give you something wonderful (hard) to do. Like put away the charge card and only buy what you can pay for. Maybe invite someone to share your family only meal with. Maybe it will just be bringing some food, not your leftover things sitting in the back of your cupboard, to the local food pantry. This one is a favorite of mine; make some shoeboxes for “Operation Christmas Child.” All of these things build treasure in heaven, if our motivation is to please God and help others. Attend a Christmas Eve service. Not to show off your new clothes and jewelry, but to praise Him for who He is, to sit in His presence with a thankful heart.

We have Him! Is there anything that can compare to that? He is our treasure. Don’t you want to give Him to others? He’s the only treasure worth seeking. But He’s a treasure not to hide, or horde. He is to be shared. “Freely we have received, freely we give.”

Today’s Prayer of Thanksgiving

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Lord, I love you. I thank you for loving me first. For seeing something in me that I couldn’t see. For creating me as the pearl of great price. Thank you for buying me back from your enemy and my enemy, from the one who hurt me, and used me cruelly. You brought me to Your Kingdom and clothed me, fed me and bound up my wounds. By your love you healed my heart and by your word you healed my mind. You placed mighty warrior angels around me for my protection and ministering spirits to help and sustain me. You gave me your Spirit as a constant companion to lead and guide me, and ever present help in times of confusion and trouble. You have taken away my nightmares and given me sweet sleep. My heart is at peace and my spirit is at rest. You have accepted me into the family of your loved ones. Given me a seat of honor at your banqueting table, in the presence of our enemies. Proving my worth and your love for me. I lake nothing that I need. You hold nothing back from me. There is not an enemies weapon that can touch me, no harm no illness, no evil thing. You have shut the mouths of the lions and you walk with me through the fire- not allowing it to burn, or even touch me. You raise your banner of love over me as a sign that I belong to you. You have given me a new name. Your name. I am yours and you are mine. Lord, I love you.