Why It’s so Important to Give Thanks

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Now I know I’m late to this give thanks thing, and I understand that Thanksgiving was yesterday, and you’ve probably already taken time to think about the things you are thankful for, but God’s will is that we would be thankful in every circumstance. Being thankful is a lifestyle. This verse is a reminder to not just be thankful when we are reminded of it on holidays like Thanksgiving, but everyday; to not just be thankful in the highs, but in the lows. It’s a great reminder that we always have something to be thankful for, there is always something to rejoice in, and that our prayers are important.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is God’s will for my life?” I know I have. When we ask this question it’s usually in reference to something specific, like a life decision. Maybe you’re wondering if it’s God’s will for you to go to college or not, or to become a pastor or doctor or whatever it is. The fact is, God’s will is more than what we become or who we date or marry. I think it’s funny how in this verse it says at the end that this is God’s will for you. His will is that we would rejoice, pray, and give thanks. Now I’d like focus on the last one: GIVE THANKS.

When we have the mindset of thankfulness we learn to be content in every season of our life. When we ask the question of what God’s will for our life is, I think it shows a sort of discontentment with where we are or maybe more that we are worried about what will happen in the future. You might not think that outright, but I think it kind of says, ‘I’m not happy with where I’m at right now, so tell me what your will for me is.’ I’m not saying that going to God with these requests is bad and that we can’t bring our requests to God, but I am saying that when we give thanks in all circumstances our perception changes from worry to peace, from depression to joy, from dissatisfaction to contentment.

When we look at our situation, even if we are unsure of what the next step is and thank God for what he’s done, who he is, the people he has placed in our lives, the struggles and the achievements, we look at life so much differently. We may not understand why we are walking down a path that we are right now, but we can say I’m thankful that you through this struggle you are still good, you are making me stronger, thank you that this is only a season, thank you that you promise to renew my strength. It is also important to thank him in the great times. These seem like the times when it is easy to thank God, but I think we often tend to forget that all good things come from him. Like if we get a promotion at work it can be easy to take the credit ourselves, but we must always remember that all the praise and thanks goes to God.

Thankful people are the happiest people because instead of finding reasons to complain or be upset, they find reasons to rejoice and give thanks to God.

They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so I want to challenge you to write down 5 things you are thankful for everyday for 21 days. To make it easy, I’ve created a document that you can print out to write them down everyday. Here is a link to download the file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ajr0srwxj0qwp01/21%20Days%20of%20Thanks.pdf?dl=0

give thanks

until next time

A Greater Joy

Just a little encouragement for you today!


Everyday we choose whether we want joy or not. We choose how we respond to change or when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped or when some horrible situation occurs. A verse I have been clinging to lately is Nehemiah 8:10 which says, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” Joy from above gives us all the strength we need to get through whatever we’re facing no matter how big or small. I have found a peace in knowing that my joy is not found in anything this world can offer me and it cannot be taken away by anything this world throws at me. True joy can only be found in God–the one who was, and is, and is to come. He will never fade away and His joy is everlasting. He longs to fill you to the brim and overflowing with joy. All you have to do is receive it! Trust me I know how it feels to only feel sadness and heaviness in your spirit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have joy. I remember one time I was going through probably one of the lowest points in my life, and an older couple came up to me at church and told me that they could see joy on me so much that it affected them. I didn’t feel happy, but that didn’t mean that God couldn’t still give me joy to worship Him, and in turn give joy to others. So ask God today to fill you with His joy!

Live in the Space Between

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I find it difficult to sit in silence and be still. Sometimes I’ll be sitting and working on something and the quietness is overwhelming. It’s crazy! I almost always end up turning on the TV or some music just to have some background noise. We are so constantly consumed with noise everywhere we go that the quiet becomes uncomfortable. We feel like something’s missing and that we need to add noise. Isn’t it crazy to think that noise and constant busyness have become so normal, that to some, the thought of being in silence for any extended amount of time makes them cringe?

The other morning I read a devotional inspired by the hymn Be Still My Soul and it struck such a powerful chord with me that it brought me to tears. I’ll admit it doesn’t take too much to bring me to tears, but the power of the words “be still” resonated so deeply within my heart and soul that I began to cry. You see, I live my life in constant go mode. I may not be constantly doing something, but my mind is constantly spinning, thinking of so many different things within a matter of minutes. So I wanted to share some words from the devotional that hit me. She wrote:

Life is noisy. A hymn like “Be Still My Soul” gives me assurance that in the noise of life, my soul is held secure in the silence—silence that goes before and behind me. In the noise of my emotions or in daily work rhythms, the silence between the happenings is a constant. The silence helps me find my place in the world, to see who I am, and it makes space for my soul to listen to God. Even in the most joyful tones of life, as in music, the space between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves. (Shereadstruth.com)

“The space between notes is just as important as the notes themselves.” The funny thing is, as I was sitting there pondering this thought in my mind, I thought, “Ooh, I should go write a blog about this.” But then that would defeat the whole purpose of just being still before the Lord, so instead I let the quiet of the moment wash over me.

I sat and looked out the window and watched the tree branches in my backyard blow in the wind. I could hear the tick tock of the clock hanging on the wall and just barely the sound of the wind outside. My mind is so cluttered with thoughts and to-dos that it is almost impossible to sit and let the noise inside fade away, but then I’m reminded of the psalm that says, “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

In the midst of all the things going on inside and outside our minds, we are still called to wait upon the Lord, to allow him to move and guide us, to allow HIM to move in our moments of stillness. I know I tend to get ahead of myself a lot of the time. One thing happens and I jump ahead to miles down the road of where I’m at, and then I start to worry. How will this turn out? What am I going to do? What is God going to have me doing a year or years from now? But what if this happens? What will I do if that happens? I even start to think about the “could’ve beens”. Like, if such and such would’ve happened that could’ve been great, and so I let my mind wander in a thought that isn’t reality. It all starts with one thought, but then leads down this rabbit trail of sometimes wonderful life scenarios if things played out differently and then horrifying scenarios of what ifs. But then this morning I was reminded by God’s assurance, “Be still my child. I am with you and for you. I have everything under control.” God is outside of time. He is in control and He is not at all worried or surprised by the things that happen in our lives. We have to choose to walk in peace and not dwell on thoughts that lead to anxiousness and worry.

We can’t be afraid of the silence, of the space between notes. God is composing a symphony with your life. We have to allow him to move us in and out of the moments of high energy where every instrument is playing together a beautiful melody and to the low moments where we must strain to hear a line being played by a single violin, and then into those measures of rest, while we wait for the music to begin again.

until next time

Ever, only, all for Thee

“Take myself and I will be, Ever, only, all for Thee.”

I remember the spring I was preparing for my mission trip to Ireland and applying to be a leader on the team, I was asked the question that was something like, “What is God’s purpose for the Christian life?” Obviously there’s not a magic answer to this question. They were just looking at what we felt in our hearts God was telling us. I took some time to pray and study my Bible, and I clearly remember thinking it’s all about God. Everything in the Bible points to Him. My life should be all for Him and His glory If I’m not doing that, then it’s pointless. My purpose is to glorify God in everything I do.

Obviously that is easier said than done, right? It is in our human nature to want to make everything about us, to make sure the credit goes to us, to make sure we get what we want, to make sure that our own cause is being promoted. This leads us to a divided heart, and God makes it clear that we cannot serve two masters. It’s either all for us or all for Him, not half and half. We live in a me, me, me focused society, and I believe now more so than ever. With social media it has become the norm to promote our ‘best’ selves to the world and taking selfies has become just a usual thing that we do. And I’m not saying I’m not guilty of this kind of thinking in any way. This mindset has become ingrained in many of us in my generation because we grew up in it, although that is no excuse for our actions.

It’s either all for us or all for Him, not half and half.

I want to challenge you to be different than the norm. After all that’s what we’re called to do right? There’s a hymn that goes, “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee.” It goes through stanza after stanza proclaiming the message, God take everything I do and let it sing your praise, let it bring you fame!

There’s a verse that says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” In this passage people were concerned about whether it was right or wrong to eat certain foods, and so Paul addresses them by saying, “you are asking the wrong question. Examine your heart and see if what you are doing glorifies God.” It was more of a heart thing than anything else.

When our hearts remain in a place of awe and wonder of who God is, we can’t help but live our lives every second for his glory.

So examine your heart, and keep on examining it daily. Ask God to show you parts of your life and actions that are divided. Ask him to show you things you are putting above him and seeking the glory for instead of giving it to him. It may be hard to hear, but allow God to speak and transform your heart. He deserves all the glory. Remember all the things he has done for you. Ask him to show you how great his love is for you. Ask him to help you understand more and more how great and powerful and big he is. When our hearts remain in a place of awe and wonder of who God is, we can’t help but live our lives every second for his glory. Ask God to help you live your life for Him and Him alone.

Take My Life and Let It Be
Frances R. Havergal, 1874

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

until next time

What to do When Life Gets Hard

I love the reminder fall gives us. As I feel the temperature dropping and see the leaves changing I am reminded of the ever-changing seasons of life, more so our spiritual lives. It’s a funny idea that God who never changes, created us and the world around us to constantly change. Every Christian goes through high and low seasons and it is what we do through those seasons that determines the strengthening or weakening of our faith.

We all love the high seasons when doors are constantly opened for us and everything seems to go right on track. When we sense a freshness in our spirit. When we always sense God guiding us and walking with us everywhere we go.

It is the low seasons that we don’t like very much. When we feel like God is far from us, and don’t sense His presence guiding us. When nothing good seems to come our way, only bad news after bad news. It is in these times that we can begin to doubt, when we can begin to listen to the lies of the enemy trying to scare us from pushing through. But it is also in these times when we can choose to cling even tighter to Christ.

This can be seen so clearly in the life of Paul. If anyone can boast about suffering it’s this guy right here. He was shipwrecked as a prisoner on a ship, bitten by a deadly snake and survived, stoned, beaten and whipped, imprisoned without a trial, yet he was the very one who penned the words to “live is Christ, to die is gain, but if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ.” Phil. 1:21-22 Even in prison he was praising God, and because of that prisoners and even the guards heard of the Gospel message. Paul lived with an eternal mindset believing that the things he did on this earth in whatever circumstance he was in could help further the Gospel. That is what he lived. He lived a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul lived with an eternal mindset believing that the things he did on this earth in whatever circumstance he was in could help further the Gospel. That is what he lived. He lived a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What an encouragement that whatever suffering we are facing in our lives it can be used for God’s glory. I know it sounds strange and a little confusing, but think of it this way. When people see you going through hard times, and you say no matter what that you will praise God that speaks something to them. It also speaks something to the devil. It tells him that it doesn’t matter what he tries to do to you because you will still praise God. It tells him that you will not stop following after God and leading others to Him.

In my devotion this morning a line stuck out to me it said, “Suffering emboldens us because when we are face to face with our worst case scenario, we see Jesus staring back at us.

“Suffering emboldens us because when we are face to face with our worst case scenario, we see Jesus staring back at us.”

I have been in a place like that in my life where it seemed like nothing I tried to do alleviated any of the pain or heaviness I was feeling, and it was then when God was who was left standing there. This caused a huge shift in my life. I determined to cling so tightly to God, to walk with him daily in prayer and reading His word. And wow, what a change that brought to my life. It was through a season of suffering that I learned to rely on God and nothing or anyone else.

So don’t let hardships of any sort that try to come against you stop you from running to what God has for you. If something is difficult, or scary that probably means that you should run even harder towards it because the enemy will try anything to keep you from what God has in store for you. And don’t be afraid of losing because we have the ultimate finisher on our side, the one who always finishes victorious!

Read these words from Paul in Philippians 1:20-30

“Paul’s Life for Christ

20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

Live as Citizens of Heaven

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.”

until next time

Grace in Action

Grace. This word carries with it many different emotions. It has even in the church become somewhat of a swearword. People have heard too much about how grace covers sin and then seen people mistreat it by living however they want and then saying, “It’s ok because I’m covered by grace.” Even pastors say it from the pulpit, usually in conjunction with a topic of sin that many people probably struggle with, so to make people not feel “condemned” they follow it up by saying, “but for those who have ________ (you name it, had sex before marriage, had an affair, have a problem with drinking, gambling) it’s ok because God’s grace is enough.”

True, God’s grace covers our sin, yet we, yes WE have taken grace and abused it. Grace doesn’t say, “I’ve covered your sin, so you’re cool to keep on sinning all you want.” No, it says, “I have covered your sins, so you are free of the chains that sin places on you, now go and walk in freedom from that sin.”

Grace says, “I have covered your sins, so you are free of the chains that sin places on you, now go walk in freedom from that sin.”

When we read accounts of people in Scripture who encounter and understand grace, it causes a change in them. They don’t continue to act in the same way. They are compelled and strengthened by God’s grace to walk uprightly and to follow after God with all that they are.

Isn’t that cool to think that God’s grace strengthens us? At the end of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we learn that Paul has what he calls a thorn in his flesh. It was so bad that he begged God three times to take it away from him, but we read on that God’s response isn’t to take the pain of whatever his thorn was away, no, he says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” It is in those moments of weakness when we feel like giving up and caving in that we can rely on God’s strength to get us through.

Grace allows us to no longer have to walk in fear, but in freedom. Freedom to boast in our weakness, so that God’s strength is what other’s see. Freedom to not have to give in to our flesh, but to walk in the Spirit. Freedom to do the things God has called us to, despite our inadequacies because He will give us all we need to accomplish his goals.

We all have a past, and we’ve all made mistakes, but it is by God’s grace that those things can be turned around for His good and perfect will. Just think about the story of Jonah. Jonah was completely off the grid when it came to following God’s direction. Instead of doing what God wanted him to, he ran in the opposite direction. God used Jonah’s disobedience for His glory. It says that after the whale swallowed Jonah and the storm ceased the sailors that were on the ship with Jonah vowed to serve God. Even though Jonah was completely going against God’s will, God used it for His glory. And in the end, I think Jonah learned that disobeying God isn’t a great idea and stinks a little ;).

So like in the story of Jonah, God’s grace allows for mistakes and for us to make dumb decisions, but then He comes in and redirects us and puts us back on the right path. I think we can also learn that it would probably have been a lot better for Jonah if he had obeyed God the first time, but that’s grace in action. And finally, with grace active in our lives helping us to grow and learn, we get to be used as vessels by God to do some pretty amazing things, like turn a whole city back to God! Just read Jonah’s story and see what God did through Jonah, it’s only a couple pages long, so it only take 10 minutes tops.

until next time