I know a lot of you aren’t Canadian, but this is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. So I thought I would interrupt our regularly scheduled programming on character to share this timeless verse on giving thanks. I hope that wherever you are, you take time to reflect on all you have to be thankful for today.
Isaiah 26:3 Peace
Just a week ago, we were sharing New Year’s blessings with all our friends and family. I was wishing them happiness, peace, prosperity and good health. “May this be your best year ever,” I would say. “I wish you all the best.” I was optimistic for good things to happen, but the truth of the matter is that nothing much changes just because we turn over a new page on the calendar. We still face the same rebellious children, the health scares, the unhappy marriages, the financial difficulties, the unexpected tragedies. It’s just that now we are facing them when we had our expectations set for something so much higher, just because the year got a new number. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being optimistic, but saying “Happy New Year” doesn’t take all our troubles away.
Many years ago, when I was in my first year of university, I learned a new song, well new to me anyway. One of the verses said, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” This comes from the King James Version of Isaiah 26:3 which in its entirety says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.” In more contemporary English that might be, “You will give perfect peace to those who stay focused on you because they trust in you.” What a great promise that is!
This verse doesn’t mean that we will be exempt from all trials or heartaches, for we know that in this world we will have trouble. (John 16:33) The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to have trouble, (II Corinthians 11:23-27) but based on Isaiah 26:3, he wrote the very practical advice found in Philippians 4:6-7. Pray and give thanks. We will face situations that seem unbearable to us, but if we focus on God, bring all our cares to Him in prayer and thank Him for His many blessings to us, He will grant us a peace that defies explanation, peace that is not like the world gives (John 14:27), peace that will protect our hearts and minds.
Thoughts on Ephesians 1
- We have been blessed with ALL spiritual blessings in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
- We were chosen to be holy and blameless in His sight before the world was created. (Ephesians 1:4)
- God intended for us to be a part of His family through Christ. We do not have to plead for this privilege; we only have to accept the invitation. (Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11)
- God's grace and forgiveness are given to us through Christ's sacrifice. His grace does not depend on us or on anything that we may or may not do. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
- When we hear the truth of God's gift of salvation and accept it, we are given the Holy Spirit as a seal--a family crest. The Holy Spirit should shine through us and be a sign of to whom we belong, but the Holy Spirit is also our assurance, a deposit to guarantee our inheritance from God. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
- Spiritual wisdom and revelation are available from God. (Ephesians 1:17, James 1:5)
- Believing comes first, and then the eyes of our hearts are enlightened. Faith is required. (Ephesians 1:18,Believing Is Seeing)
- His power is made available to us. The extent of His power was demonstrated when He raised Jesus from the dead. (Ephesians 1:19-21)
- God gave Jesus authority over the church (those who believe). (Ephesians 1:22)
- The church is Christ's body, His representation on earth. (Ephesians 1:23)
Please share your thoughts on Ephesians 1 in the comment section.
I Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all things.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I will be spending it with family, and probably eating far too much of a meal that I don't have to cook. I have so much to be thankful for, and I pray that you will all be similarly blessed.
To honour the occasion I am sharing with you Linus' Thanksgiving Prayer.
Job 13:15 Blessings
A few days ago a friend posted on Facebook that she heard a song with the line, “What if our blessings come through raindrops?” She was driving to work in the rain at the time. At that point I had never heard it, but later in the day another friend on Facebook posted a link to that very song. It is called Blessings by Laura Story. I was so moved by the song that I had to write about it.
The song questions, as the songwriter has, what blessings really are. We have the idea that blessings are good health, comfort, prosperity. Certainly blessings are not suffering, or trials or sleepless nights. Or are they? Is there more to God’s plan for our lives than we can understand? I’m sure of it. God allowed Job to be tested by Satan to prove Job’s faithfulness. Job didn’t understand why all those hard things were happening in his life, but he maintained his hope in God, and Job passed the test. (Job 13:15) At the end of it Job learned that God is God, and it was not Job's place to question Him. (Job 42:1-6) God's ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and beyond our understanding. (Job 36:26, Job 37:5, Psalm 147:5)
Laura Story says, “The album that I did, I guess about three or four years ago, had happened right after my husband went through surgery for a brain tumour, and so a lot of the ideas that I was writing about then were just very fresh, about how we worship in the midst of trials. And so, fast-forward a few years later, a lot of things have changed; a lot of things have gotten better with his health. A lot of things have not. And trying to figure out, you know, we pray for God to bless us; what does it look like when I spend four or so years praying for healing for my husband that never comes? You know, I feel like that we’ve kind of gotten to a place of having to make a choice. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances that we don’t understand, or are we going to choose to judge our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?”
One of the lines from this song says, “We doubt Your goodness; we doubt Your love, as if every promise from Your Word is not enough.” God has given us His Word to instruct us and to encourage us. He has told us how much He loves us, (John 3:16) and that He wants only the best for us. (Matthew 7:11, Jeremiah 29:11) Let’s take a step of faith and believe Him. Trust in His promises.
Please take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song.
You can visit Laura Story's official website here.