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How can I give thanks when circumstances are so crummy?
Posted by: Grace Community International | more..
800+ views | 270+ clicks
Bible Quiz: Each week this blog begins with four questions. The answers are at the end of the blog. Have fun!!

According To the Bible…
1. The priest wore a robe with tassels and bells tied to the bottom. When performing his priestly duties, he entered the holy of holies with a rope tied around him. Those without listened to hear if the bells ceased to ring. If he desecrated the holy of holies and was struck down by God, he could then be safely pulled out.
2. The Old Testament saints all practiced polygamy.
3. Eve caused the fall. (Also if it weren’t for Eve would we would not have to work. Eve used her feminine wiles to deceive Adam. Eve (womankind) cannot be trusted… Ad nausea…)

Dear Prayer Warriors,
This week I am continuing my thoughts on Thanksgiving from my Prayer Notebook. A key passage that shapes the Thanksgiving section is Psalm 107:43 which asks “Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things, and consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD.”

In my prayer notebook below this passage, I have a list that is constantly growing. This list contains every blessing of God that I have experienced in this life. Some are actually individual blessings such as “Eleanor” others are categories which bring many blessings to mind such as “Homes and Houses,” “Friends Near and Far” or “Health.”

This last one is interesting as I often am asked when giving a conference, message or workshop on prayer “How can I be thankful concerning my health when I am sick?” Now this is a very good question and begs a far deeper question that I often struggled with as a young Christian. This struggle concerned my emotional response to verses such as Ephesians 5:20 which describes “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;” or 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which commands us that “in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

My knee jerk reaction is to ask “How can I give thanks when my immediate life circumstances are so crummy?” This question, of course, reveals the world view of the teenager or college student (for this is the age when I continually asked this question) as well as the overall self-centered view of mankind. The answer is very simple. No matter our present circumstances, if we are wise, we will take time to consider our life events as a whole and consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord – and then make application by writing them down so we do not lose perspective in times of trial or difficulty.

Let’s say it is your mother’s 60th birthday, or your closest and dearest friend’s retirement party, or the funeral of a loved one who is dear to your heart. You have been asked to stand and give a testimony to this person, to honor them with words of thanks for their life. When the time comes for you to speak, you walk to the podium or stand up at your place at the table and say, “You know, I just got some tests back from the doctor and they weren’t good. I got an interoffice email last week and it looks like they are downsizing at my job. My teenager is in trouble at school, and I have to take a day off to go in and talk with his teacher and the principal. On the way over, I backed into a car in the parking lot and it looks like my deductible will not cover it, and my insurance is going to go up on top of the ticket I will get. They are increasing my health insurance premiums, and the college tuition on my daughter is set to go up again this fall. To tell you the truth, I just don’t feel very thankful today so I have nothing to say.” And then you sit down.

Can you actually imagine anyone being so cruel, self-centered and callous as to say that? No matter how bad your present circumstances are, you can reflect back on your mother’s life, your best friend’s life, that person who is dearest and nearest to you and upon this reflection, express areas, events and incidents over the long years for which you are especially thankful. Your present circumstances do not affect the memories of the blessings of this relationship, the good times shared together over the years and the fine attributes of this person which have blessed you time and again.

It is the same - no, even more so by a million times over! - in our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in our relationship with our loving heavenly Father. How can I be so calloused, so cruel and unthankful as to say, “Sorry God, I do not like my circumstances at this very moment so I have nothing thankful to say to You. Do some miracle, answer some prayer, jump through a few hoops in the next 24 hours, and if I happen to have a morning devotional tomorrow morning, then you will get a word of thanks from me. Until then, sorry, just don’t feel like it. As for all that You have done for me in the past, well, I have already thanked You for some of those things so I have nothing to say in that area.”

I don’t want to be that man. I repented from that attitude, and I have no desire to go back. As a result, I have the following topics on this page of my prayer notebook, and under each, I have listed items over the years as I have stopped, thought back and “considered the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.” This particular page looks like this…

The heading is Psalm 107:43 written out (Psalm 107:43 Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things; And consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord).

Under this passage are ten bullet points. Under each bullet point has grown a list over the years. If the present circumstances are good, that is fine, but whether they are or not, I reflect over the lovingkindnesses of the Lord that I have listed and thank God for them. As I do so, I try to think of anything new I want to add. I go through this list, I give heed to the good things that have happened over the 61 years of my life, I consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and then I say “Thank you, Jesus” point by point, line by line, event by event.

I present these to you so that you may create your own page for daily Thanksgiving. You may use my bullet points or you may create new ones that more closely fit your life as it has been lived out to the present. Over the years you may add, but of course we never take away. As the list grows you, too, will grow. Remember the small child who receives a gift from his father and the mother says, “What do you say?” He looks up for a moment before running away to play with his toy, “Oh yeah, thanks”. Now think of this same child who is sharing at his father’s 60th birthday or even his father’s funeral. He chokes back the emotion as he says, “I would like to take some time to reflect back on Dad’s life and tell you about how thankful I am to have a father like him.” So you will grow from someone who says to God, “Oh yeah, thanks” to someone who daily takes the time to reflect back on the years and tells his heavenly Father just how thankful he is this day for all the good things and good times. So here are my ten bullet points, I hope you find them as helpful as I have.

1. Eleanor (My Wife)

2. Children / Grandchildren

3. Extended Family

4. Homes, Houses or Dwellings

5. Friends

6. Health

7. Finances

8. Ministry

9. Blessings and fruitful times that God in His sovereignty has taken me through

10. Life experiences with which God has blessed me

God the Holy Spirit teaches us in His holy, eternal, inerrant written Word that we should “give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!" (Psalm 107:31).

No matter what my life’s circumstances are at present, they should be far worse. I should be burning for eternity in the pit of Hell. The reason I am not is that God gave His only Son, on the cross, to shed His blood, to bear my sins in His body, to be personally punished for each sin and the Hell reserved for me. Jesus took my place as a substitute, willingly, knowing exactly what would happen if He did. As a result of this sacrifice, I have experienced many good things. I have experienced the lovingkindnesses of God the Father rather than the eternal wrath of God the Father. This is no small thing. This is not a simple footnote in my life experience. That is why God the Holy Spirit so carefully instructs me - “Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things; And consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.”

By His mercy,
II Corinthians 4:1
Rev. John S. Mahon
Director – Grace Community Int.
Tyumen, Russia (deep in the heart of Siberia) Giving thanks this day and every day as long as I have breath and then on into eternity at the foot of the Throne…

Answers to this week’s Bible Quiz

1. F - It is true the priests wore tassels and bells on the hems of their robes (and pomegranates), this is revealed to us by God the Holy Spirit in Exodus 28:34 & 39:26. The Word of God, however, does not mention that the purpose of these bells was to indicate the priest had died (because they became silent) either from natural causes or from accidental desecration. There is no Biblical basis for this story of the rope tied around the priest, nor are there any primary source documents in existence which allude to this practice being done in the time of Moses nor that of the first Temple.

2. F - Manoah, father of Samson, was monogamous, as was Moses. Boaz the husband of Ruth was monogamous. Boaz is in the direct line of David and Christ. Uriah the Hittite had one wife. His fame is in that his fidelity to God and his king cost him his life. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was monogamous. Joseph, husband to Mary, had one wife. A review of the genealogies provided in both the Old and New Testaments provide even more names. The sin of polygamy was succumbed to by many but was, by no means, universal. Many godly men conformed to God’s original plan as given to Adam in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

3. F - This is a common misconception and teaching. The Word of God does not hold Eve, nor womankind, responsible for original sin or for its consequences. Eve, having been deceived, as Adam’s helpmate was not held accountable for the Fall of mankind and creation (1 Timothy 2:14 “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived…”). On the other hand, Adam was not deceived but rather willfully and knowingly rebelled against the command of God (Hosea 6:7 “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.”). Adam’s position as federal head of mankind and creation brought with his fall universal consequences on all creation (Romans 5:18-19 “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men… For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners...” and 1 Corinthians 15:21-23 “For as in Adam all die…”). Much harm has been done to the reputation of the position of woman in creation and to the gospel message by the false doctrine of woman’s primary role in the fall.

Category:  Jan. 2013 - Russia

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