I Mean Everyone
There comes a time in all our lives when we look at those around us and ask God if He really means for us to pray for these people. I remember as a child being made to apologize to someone by my mother. Wow, was that a forced apology. “Sorry,” I would say in a bitter tone. Of course, then I would be told to say it like I meant it. Well, I didn’t mean it! I wasn’t rally sorry and I didn’t want to apologize. Looking back, I feel bad about those moments. Yet, I sometimes feel I haven’t learned anything from those lessons.
In this letter to Timothy, Paul tells him and, through him, the members of the churches Timothy visits to pray, intercede and give thanks for ALL people, including the authorities. This wasn’t always easy. These same authorities were often persecuting Christians yet Paul understood the importance of praying for the authorities. He felt god would lead those in charge to do the right thing, the thing God desired so the Christians could live “peaceful and quiet lives.”
Now is the time to pray for ALL people, including those in authority whether you agree with them or not. Pray for God to guide them as HE sees fit, not as you wish. I know this can be difficult. If, however, enough of us are praying for those in charge to do what allows us to live peaceful and quiet lives, then imagine the impact on our nation.
Thanks for Choosing Me
The women in my church host a Holiday boutique every year. I am responsible for finding the vendors for the event. I send emails, post on social media and other sites, send contracts, assign spaces, follow-up and more. Believe me, as it gets closer to the boutique, I am praying constantly for strength. I am sorry to say I am rarely giving thanks that Jesus considers me trustworthy enough to give me this task.
As I consider it, this is rather sad. Jesus chose me for this task because I have a special set of gifts and talents that makes me the perfect person for the job. sometimes we don’t feel very thankful that Jesus has called us to serve. Yet we must consider the fact that He could have called any number of other people to service but He chose US! He chose YOU!
Instead of complaining about all the work that must be done to prepare for Thanksgiving or to get ready for Christmas, we each need to take a moment to ask Jesus to give us the strength we need to fulfill the tasks He has called us to perform and to thank Him for trusting us enough to call us into service.
So Much Joy!
I recently asked people what caused them the most stress as they prepared for Thanksgiving. I laughed as one person told me what caused them the most stress was annoying relatives! It’s true what they say. You can’t pick your relatives. Sometimes it seems the Holidays bring out the worst, not the best in our families. Petty arguments and age old disagreements are brought out and hashed over again and again. Tensions rise and feelings are hurt. Unlike the people in the passage above, not everyone has joy when it comes to extended family.
Still, our families are part of our history. They define who we are whether we like it or not. Time to take a breath and give thanks to God for all those who make us crazy and for all those that bring us such joy in the presence of God. We might just find our attitude towards the difficult people in our life changes once we are able to honestly give thanks for them.
As we quickly approach Thanksgiving and then Christmas not too long after, it becomes easy to forget to take care of ourselves. Paul, in this passage, reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer and to be watchful. There are many things for which we can be watchful but I think during this busy season it is important that women be watchful for their own well being.
I remember when I was working at the church and Katy was in school. I was so busy during the Holiday season that I didn’t take care of myself. I failed to watch what I ate, what I drank (as in enough water) and that I was getting enough rest. Every year, I would come down with something in January. I managed to stay strong through the end of the year but once the Holidays were over WHAM! I was sick as a dog.
Worse still, I would neglect my spiritual strength and well-being as well. No wonder I became so sick after the first of the year. I had left myself vulnerable, very vulnerable. And to take it a step farther, I failed to be thankful. Instead, I prayed for the end of the year, for it all to be over rather than enjoying the season, even the hectic days God brought my way.
As the days get shorter and life gets busier, never fail to fill your life with prayer, being watchful that you are taking care of yourself and giving thanks for everything, even the busyness of the season!
Worship with Thanksgiving
The lessons Jesus taught His followers, lessons Paul has passed along had a powerful impact on the people that heard them and they still have a tremendous impact today. The message of Christ is meant to guide us to do the right thing, to behave in the right manner and to treat others well. We are to help others grow spiritually, not just with the message, with the lessons but also with the psalms and music. Most important, we are to do all this with gratitude to God in our hearts.
There was a commercial on television a few years ago. In it, Peyton Manning is coaching Brad Paisley as Brad practices a jingle. Peyton tells Brad that he almost has it, Peyton wants to feel it “right here” and he points to himself. “In your chest?” Brad asks. “No, your heart,” Peyton responds.
This is true for us. It’s not enough to just share the message, to share our faith with others either with our words or actions. We need to feel it in our hearts. And others need to fell it too. I believe gratitude gives us that heart connection. We give thanks to God. God is grateful for us. We have gratitude for those with whom we share the message and they in turn are thankful for us, the message and the Lord. Gratitude is such a powerful tool when we are serving the Lord.
Peace and Thanksgiving
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, our hearts and minds are filled with many things. Peace isn’t always one of them. Face it, we have so many things going on and it’s only going to get worse or at least busier. We drift off to sleep thinking about everything that must still be done and we wake up considering all we hope to accomplish that day.
How can we be thankful when we can’t find a moments peace in our lives? Sometimes, you just have to force the issue. I actually have a chair in our bedroom closet. When I need peace, I go sit in the closet. It’s quiet and dark. I sit and I pray. I sit and I think. I set and I find peace. I may not be in there long but even a few minutes can be enough to bring me the peace I need. And for that, I am thankful!
Faith AND Thanksgiving
In this letter, Paul wanted to teach the Colossians that Christ is in everything and their lives should reflect that. When others watch us, they should see Christ in us. We are His representatives here today and others learn about Him by watching us. Unfortunately, we don’t always do a good job of representing Him.
Paul reminds us that we should “walk in Him” with our faith, everything we have been taught, rooted deep within us. We must be strong in our faith, made strong by our faith. Finally, because of our faith, our strength, our thankfulness should be overflowing.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving and the hectic pace of the Holidays sometimes overwhelms us, it can be difficult to overflow with thankfulness. Take time to catch your breath. Draw on that deep rooted faith. Then go out with thanksgiving.
Not Just Thanks
We are so fortunate. We are part of God’s family and as such, we are included in His inheritance. When this passage talks about kingdom of light, Paul means as opposed to the kingdom of darkness. This gives us so much for which to be thankful. And Paul tells us to not just be thankful but to give joyful thanks. When we accept that we are no longer in the darkness, our hearts are made light and our spirit is filled with joy.
Consider everything included in our inheritance. Well, when I think about it, I guess there isn’t anything that isn’t included. The thought that all the Lord has to offer is available for us should cause us to be joyfully thankful everyday, all year long.
Yesterday, I talk about Everything. Paul tells us to give thanks for Everything. In this passage, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything. In some translations, it says “Be anxious for nothing.” Nothing. That’s another one of those no exception words Paul likes to use. Paul tells us not to worry about Anything. Instead, we should put our energy into prayer, asking God for what we want, what we need. We need to thank Him as we ask, before He ever answers our prayers. Like Jesus thanking His Father for raising Lazarus before it has been done, we are to ask and then believe with all our hearts that God hears our prayers and answers them.
This isn’t always easy. Doubt is a powerful thing. When combined with fear, it can make it impossible not to be anxious. Yet prayer calms our heats and mind. Thanksgiving assures us that all is well. Big problems or small, prayer and thanksgiving are the cure for our anxious hearts and minds.
Mind Your Manners
Everything. What a great word. No exceptions. All things. Paul used these phrases in his letters, reminding his followers that there are areas of our lives involving the Lord where there are no exceptions. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. No exceptions. We are to give thanks to God for everything. No exceptions. No matter how small it might seem.
When I was in seminary at Fuller in Pasadena, CA, parking was at a premium. There was a small garage. There was a lot about 1/3 of a mile away. I never parked there, preferring to take my chances with the street. Working a rotating shift while attending seminary full time was a challenge. When I was fortunate enough to get a good parking spot without circling the block over and over, I always told God “Thank you!” This small blessings made my life just a bit easier on those days.
One of my professors talked about people that gave thanks for minor things like a good parking space. She thought they, we were silly. She felt it was foolish to thank God for something so trivial. Trivial to her maybe. To me, it was enough to make me smile all the way to class. Everything. Because the Lord knows how important even the small things can be in our lives. In Jesus name.