Monday, November 24, 2008

Having a Thankful Heart


This week At the Well is being host by Laurie at Women Taking a Stand. She's asked us some tough questions about having a thankful heart and thankfully, Pastor Mike preached on this for our Thanksgiving message and his words not only rang true, but they expressed this topic extremely well. (LoL--So here's my sermon notes.)

How do you give thanks during difficult times?

Understand God's promise and believe it!

What's God's promise?
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
~Romans 8:28

Understand God's purpose for our lives.

~~Sometimes the purpose of our difficulties is to bring us to repentance. Just like we, as parents, discipline our children to bring them to repentance, so God sometimes disciplines us.
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with your as with sons...He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. ~Hebrews 12:7,10

~~Sometimes the purpose of our difficulties is that we can turn around and help someone else through hard times.
Who comforts us in all our afflicition so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. ~2 Corinthians 1:4
God can work through the witness of your life as you life through difficulties, and so reach others for Himself. What a powerful light and testimony that is!

~~Sometimes the purpose of our difficulties is so that we have to trust Him.

Understand God's process.

God wants to conform us to His image.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4

...For He is like a refiner's fire and like a fullers' soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. ~Malachi 3:2-3
A silversmith leaves the silver in the fire until he can see his reflection in the silver. God wants us to reflect His face.

Understand the presence of God.

He is in our difficulties with us!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shado of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; ~Psalm 23:4

By following God, we follow in the wake of victory because He's already been where we're at, and He's come out victorious!

There's no excuse for being ungrateful! Sure, there are times when it's humanly impossible for us to thank God, but we aren't confined to what's humanly possible.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. ~Philippians 4:13

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can obey God's command to give thanks in everything. There is no exception clause or loop hole in that command.
In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
~1 Thessalonians 5:18

Deliberately turn yourself away the problem and focus completely on Christ—fall at the foot of the cross and hold on for dear life.

How God brought me through a difficult time.

When I was barely 16 my life suddenly revolved basketball. Not only did I love it, but I found that it was something that I could do and I threw myself into it. I also discovered that in order to play, you have to have legs that work fairly normally, and mine were doing funny things. Things like not responding when I told them to hurry up and tripping over dust mites—things that just weren't normal for me.

We learned that I had Guillian Barre—a disease that deadens the nerve endings in your muscles and allows your muscles to atrophy—and mine did. It took me 20 minutes to walk what my boyfriend could run in 2 minutes, but it was only like that for a few weeks before I started healing.

Being 16 and having the legs knocked out from under you wasn't fun, but I'm thankful for that time. It sent me running to God, who I knew was bigger than Guillian Barre. He used that experience to change the direction of my life and to teach me some important lessons—lessons that have not only stuck with me all these years, but they also laid the groundwork for other lessons.

A Thanksgiving Memory

During our years in Ecuador I don't remember ever having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner—we probably did at some point, but I just don't remember it. What I do remember is the times we ate sandwiches along the side of the road--Thanksgiving Day sandwiches of peanut butter and jelly—and we were thrilled. Who wouldn't be? We were on our way to the beach for a long weekend of playing and relaxing with friends and family. It was wonderful. It didn't bother us at all that we missed out on the turkey, we were blessed with a South Pacific holiday, and the times when my grandfather or older sister were able to be there with us made it absolutely perfect.

Looking out my window today, I miss the South Pacific holidays, but I'm with my family, and that beats even palm trees in my book. The only thing that would make this better would be having the other 20 members of our family crowded in here with us.




6 comments:

  1. Patty,
    Thank you for joining me today on this subject of "Giving thanks during difficult times". I loved what you had to say, I kept hearing it over and over in your post...

    "~~Sometimes the purpose of our difficulties...."

    I love it how you honed in on the PURPOSE of our difficulties. It is a growing time isn't it? Thanks for sharing. -Blessings, Laurie

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  2. "A silversmith leaves the silver in the fire until he can see his reflection in the silver. God wants us to reflect His face."

    What insight! How I loved this post, the way you brought the Word into each of your statements. Powerful teaching, dear sister. Thank you!

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  3. Wow, what an awesome Word-filled entry! I love how much Scripture you poured into our hearts today!

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  4. I love how you reminded us that "we aren't confined to what's humanly possible."

    What joy! What relief! What peace to know that God doesn't leave us stuck in these miserable little bodies, but helps us to rise above them to praise and trust Him!

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  5. Loved the use of Scripture in your post! It's so good to see you At the Well today and I wanted you to know how your post warmed my heart!

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  6. Those verses really got me, girl! I've been there - and they WORK! So much incredible wisdom here, girl. Wow.

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