30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 28 – Freedom from Sin

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-1

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In our misguided pursuit of freedom, we are rebels destined to selfish living apart from God’s kind intervention.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:10

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.”

2 Peter 2:19

“Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.”

Galatians 5:1

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Freedom has been the theme of man’s desire from day one. We don’t like to be boxed in, whether it is to an endless routine, someone’s definition of us, or someone else’s rules. In our misguided pursuit of freedom we are rebels destined to selfish living, apart from God’s kind intervention.

The inhabitants of this world long to be free, but don’t know what we really need to be free from. Freedom from authority, freedom to do whatever we want is not truly freedom at all. But freedom to abstain from sin – this is true freedom – and our loving God provides freedom within His perfect boundaries.

When my children were small I would purposely set a coveted object in front of them and tell them not to touch it. Sounds cruel, huh? But it was actually a desire to teach them self-control and to learn that we need to be able to master our desire for things that are not good for us. I still need work on this, myself, when it comes to chocolate.

Sometimes we fall short and can begin to wonder if God forgives us still. This is one of the greatest aspects of our freedom in Christ. We are free to live Holy lives by His grace, but we are also freely forgiven when we fall. This is not to be mistaken as an abuse of grace, but a humbling reminder that our freedom is not something we could ever achieve on our own and it cost our Savior His blood. What motivation to reach for His grace and to abandon sin and its empty promises!

I am grateful that Christ showed us how to live for God and die to self and gave us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us when we are tempted. Christ set us completely free. Though we are in cases of clay, we can overcome and live victorious, free lives.

Lord, thank You for setting us free from the bondage of sin so we could live worthy lives for Your glory!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 27 – Our Humble God

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

While the kings of this earth choose to dominate their subjects, our God chose to humble Himself before the very people He made.

Scriptures of the Day:

Philippians 2:5-11

5 “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, 6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. 8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death–even death on a cross! 9 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow–in heaven and on earth and under the earth–11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

2 Corinthians 8:9

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

Being humbled is embarrassing – I ought to know. I took a spill in a grocery store last week that left me flat on the floor, covered in oil, glass and chocolate. Almost death by chocolate. Ok, not really, but the whole chocolate chip display falling upon me was a wee bit humbling.

Humility is not something we desire, certainly not to be shamed in front of people. But our Almighty God, Creator and Ruler over all – is humble. He chooses the path of humility and shame to win our stubborn hearts. What an oxymoron to the world where power is often wrapped in pride and self-sufficiency. While the kings of this earth choose to dominate their subjects, our God chose to humble Himself before the very people He made.

When we disobeyed Him and were faithless, He relentlessly pursued us and came in humble flesh as a helpless babe, demonstrating how we should live on this earth and bearing all of our burdens.

One Who is LORD over all is typically thought of as commanding His followers. God gave commandments of His righteous decrees, fulfilled them when we couldn’t and offered Himself in our place.

This kind of behavior is foolish to men who view humility as a weakness. But then that is how our God chooses to appear to us, in beautiful, perfect humility. He then chooses the weak among us, too, to demonstrate His power.

Satan thought He overcame when He crushed the Son of God, Who seemingly was too powerless in His surrender to death. But His surrender was our salvation and Christ overcame the grave and our souls in humility.

Lord, thank You for coming humbly to us when we deserved Your wrath. Thank You for revealing the wisdom of Your humility, which triumphs over man’s pride every time. Help us to be a humble people, recognizing that all that we have is Yours. Be glorified in Your people, O humble King of our hearts!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 25 – Our Merciful God

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-4

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy.

Scriptures of the Day:

Romans 3:24-25 (NLT)

“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.”

Exodus 25:21-22

21 “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. 22 I will meet with you there, and from above the atonement lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will command you for the Israelites.”

Before a Holy, Righteous, Perfect Judge, mankind stands condemned. A Holy standard was set and we did not meet it – we never could. But there is mercy in seeing our inability to obey God’s commands. This revelation that pierces our hearts also draws us near to cry out for mercy; and when we cry out to our Righteous God, He hears us and chooses to sit on a seat of mercy.

We did not deserve such lavish grace when we had so clearly violated His law. But we have a merciful God – One Who loves to demonstrate His lovingkindness and compassion, despite our sinful rebellion.

He would have been just to sit in a place of judgment for we will all come before Him one day in the final judgment, but He is long-suffering, not wanting any to perish. When we confess and turn from our sins, He hears and heals.

Christ’s bloodline trumps ours and the verdict upon our souls by His amazing mercy, which I am eternally grateful for. Christ, our High Priest to Whom we will give an account, Who rules over all the earth and is our righteous Judge – chooses to sit on the mercy seat.

Oh God, thank You for Your rich mercy and for paying our sin debt! May we never forget this mercy extended to us.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 24 – Family & Friends

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-3

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

No sorrow in a family is so great that God cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 2:10

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Psalm 68:5

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

What a good God Who would provide family. From the beginning He saw that it was not good for man to be alone, so He provided a wife for Adam. The fruit of the union of man and wife is the greatest privilege man is given – to raise children for the LORD.

In His wise design, He provided people to surround us with love and counsel as we walk through the few days we are given in this life. To be loved by my husband has brought immense healing to my heart that seemed irreparably broken. Likewise, it has been the greatest joy to be able to love my children unconditionally and to show them the truth God has revealed to me. Watching them grow up and develop their own relationship with God brings this mom joy inexpressible.

But sometimes in the midst of God’s perfect plan, the institution of the family is attacked. Individual sin, death of loved ones or political agendas threaten to undo what God put in place for our joy and protection.

Families are an anchor for our souls as we travel through this world. They can be a source of the greatest acceptance and comfort or the source of the greatest agony and suffering. What God can do to a family yielded to Him is nothing short of miraculous. While no family is perfect, God’s plan will not be thwarted and ultimately we have a family that will last forever.

In a day and age where broken families are more the norm than families who have not experienced brokenness, there is a family that is never broken – the family of God. If you are alone this holiday, please know that you are not ever alone. Come and join the family. You are loved and accepted – just receive the free gift of a forever family that God has given to you. Join a Bible-believing church and watch how God makes strangers into brothers and sisters making up the body of Christ – a family of friends that reflects His glory.

Lord, I am so very grateful for your redemption and for the precious family that You have given me – in the flesh and in the Spirit. No sorrow in a family is so great that you cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place. I love, You, Lord. Thank You for being the Abba Father to all. I pray many more will come to accept Your invitation and know the peace of God we can have on this earth, no matter what family we come from.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 23 – Our Faithful God

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-2

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

No matter how “good” a person is, the only faithfulness within them is Christ.

Scripture of the Day:

Deuteronomy 7:9

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God  who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

Proverbs 20:6

“Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?”

Deep in our hearts we long for faithfulness, to be able to count on someone and know that they will keep their promises. But no matter how “good” a person is, the only faithfulness within them is Christ.

God did not have to make us promises and did not owe us anything, but He loved us so much He faithfully gave His life on our behalf. Despite our transgressions, He chose to make promises to His people and fulfill every single one.

When people let us down and faithfulness seems hard to find, we can look to God’s Word and His steadfast love and find the stability our souls crave in a fallen, faithless world.

Lord, thank You for being faithful to us even though we are faithless. 

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 22 – Our Unchanging God

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our unchanging God maintains complete control over everything.

Scriptures of the Day:

Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Malachi 3:6

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Change is constant in this fast-paced world. It is easy to feel lost in a sea of constant transformation, but there is peace and confidence when we consider that our unchanging God maintains complete control over it all.

From day to day people’s attitude toward us can change, but God’s never does. Our financial status on earth can fade, but our eternal inheritance is steadfast, immovable. Our faith can waver, but God’s faithfulness never does.

Circumstances might wreak havoc in our lives, but there is hope even in life’s storms, because the God who made the storms is also the One Who calms them. He is always good, always consistently loving us, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.

He has known all of our tomorrows before one ever came to be. This knowledge is comforting in that God’s grace is already there at the end, as well. Nothing that comes our way is allowed in without God’s foreknowledge.

Lord, I am so very grateful that You never change. Thank You for being our very firm foundation where our hope is never disappointed.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 21 – The Patience of God

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-2

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Jeremiah 44:22

“The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day.”

Since the beginning of time, God has patiently been drawing us to Himself, revealing our sin that we might come to repentance and renounce our ways. The weary pattern of our stubborn sin and His merciful redemption is repeated incessantly, revealing God’s great patience. As we wind up in the mud pit again and again, darkened by our own counsel, He picks us up, dusts us off and sets His love on us again and again and again.

In His great kindness and patience, we are not consumed. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All have been offered salvation, but not all have accepted it.

Some have been in awe over the patience of Job, but it cannot even be compared with the patience of our God. Job complained of his plight, while God willingly chose His own suffering to win our hearts.

What patience of God to see our wickedness and to triumph over it with mercy. With mercy. Our flesh would not do as much. Such lavish patience is foreign, undeserved in our eyes. But then so is His amazing grace.

Patience is not permission to sin without consequence. It is not the abuse of grace or the casual acceptance of such an astonishing sacrifice on our part. Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience. It is in the suffering for our sins that our eyes can be opened to recognize our sin and our need of God. Even in our failures, God works patiently to redeem them and us with His mighty salvation.

Oh patient God, lover of our souls! Lord, You are so patient, longsuffering and kind. Thank You for opening our eyes to understand how great Your salvation is. May we never take for granted Your mercy and live lives worthy of Your great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 20 – Unconditional love

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-1

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

As we are rooted and established in God’s love, we cannot help but offer the same gracious love that we have been given.

Scriptures of the Day:

Deuteronomy 7:7

“The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.”

Romans 8:35

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Ephesians 3:17-19

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the LORD’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The greatest and first commandment from God is that we would love the LORD our God with all our heart. The word “love” in this commandment from God is agapaō, which is the verb form of agapē. Agapē is the word the Bible uses to describe God’s love for us.

This love of God is not earthly, nor is it dependent upon reciprocation. It is not an emotion that ebbs and flows, but an act of God choosing to set His love on the object of His affection and devotion – His creation.

More than God setting His love on us, despite our lack of gratitude and righteousness, God promises that we can never be separated from this agapē love. Never. Separated. Think about that. As humans, we easily get offended and shun one another because our pride is hurt. That is not the agapē love that God gives and places on us and that He also calls us to demonstrate. We who are loved so greatly are called to love God and others in the same way.

We cannot say we are complying with the first commandment if we refuse to do the second. Unconditionally loving those around us who sometimes seem unlovely is hard for our flesh, but as we are rooted and established in God’s love, we cannot help but offer the same gracious love that we have been given.

Oh God, thank You so much for loving us and demonstrating what agapē love looks like. Help us to love as we have been loved and to never forget what we were when You chose to set Your love on us.

 

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 19 – Our God of Compassion

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of 30 Days (1).png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His compassion reaches across our imperfection and places His own righteousness upon us.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 145:8

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Lamentations 3:22

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”

Before a Holy God we could not stand, but the grace of God. The LORD set a perfect standard because He is Holy. To settle for less would compromise His righteous, perfect nature. He knew we could never meet His Holy law, so He met it Himself.

His compassion reaches across our imperfection and places His own righteousness upon us. When we fail, He lifts us up. When we hurt, He hurts.

It is impossible for God Who is perfect kindness and mercy personified – to be incompassionate. Jesus demonstrated His compassion when He wept over Lazarus’ death, even though He knew full well that He would raise him from the dead. God the Father gave His only Son for an obstinate people because He loved them so very much.

He is longsuffering and waits on us to come to Him. Despite His overwhelming compassion, we have a choice and can choose not to accept His salvation. The question is, why would we choose death when life in Christ is full of grace and love from a compassionate, merciful God?

At the end of ourselves, we look up and see our Father, offering His free gift of salvation.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 17 – Relationship

copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-copy-of-30-days-3

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Sometimes we can become hardened in a world of busyness that threatens to undo the essential need at the core of our humanity. Relationship. We were made to know and be known. Our value does not come from our accomplishments (which are really God’s) or from our function in this life. It comes from Being. In. Relationship. With. God. And. Others.

Yes, I know that last sentence is incorrect. But I, too, wanted to pause and soak those words in. I get busier than I should be and need the same reminder to be still before my God and to make time for people in my life.

Abiding is not an easy thing. The natural thing is to drift away from God and others and to allow sin to separate us.

We were not made to be isolated, not made to be an island. We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life. All too often relationships can be difficult as pride and self are on the throne more than people or honoring God in those relationships.

Christ exemplified perfect relationship with God the Father. He and the Father are one. He told us to be the same.

So how do we relate to a Holy God when we are unholy? By the mercy of God alone. How do we relate to people when we are different from one another? By God’s grace.

God has given us access to Himself though we did not deserve it. So often this access is not utilized and we can take this amazing reality for granted. God wants us to be in a relationship of dependence upon Him, where our needs are met by Him and we can enjoy His presence. He wants us to seek His will and understanding, constantly reading His love letter to us – His Word – and praying to Him. This is where we find our greatest peace, when we are living as God intended.

Religion is the complete opposite of this privilege of relationship we have with God in Christianity. Religion is man-made, dead, focusing on a performance mentality of doing good works. Sadly, for the one pursuing religion, they will never arrive at their goal or achieve real relationship.

In our relationship with God, it has all been done. This truth causes us to worship the One Who set us free so we could know Him. It also causes us to realize that we need to relate to one another in a way that God intended.

Do we see the people in our lives as precious gifts from God? Even the thorny relationships that bring us to our knees? How can we relate to one another in a humble, others-centered way? It might mean dying to our own agenda, building others up instead of ourselves, and pausing long enough to think, serve and pray for others.

In the end, relationships with people cause us to go deeper in our relationship with God. When relationships of this world fall short of our expectations, our God helps us to pick up the pieces and to be like Christ, Who laid down His life for others.

When Christ is at the center of our human relationships, it is a beautiful witness to the world of what it means to know God and one another and still be accepted and accepting.

Lord, thank You for drawing us near to You that we could know You – our God and Creator. Help us to never forsake this amazing privilege and to love others as You have loved us.