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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 NIV)

Do you have days, sometimes weeks, months, even years, when you find it hard to be thankful? …times when life’s disappointments and burdens weigh you down and you find yourself dwelling and stewing over them? It seems unpatriotic or sacrilegious to mention such a thing now, one day before Thanksgiving, but for many it is reality. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring with them great expectations of family celebrations and traditions… and disappointment over unmet expectations.

I suggest Colossians 3:16 may offer some insight to how we can rise above these situations and cultivate a spirit of thankfulness. If we cultivate the peace of Christ in our hearts, and if we make it a matter of will to keep our eyes on Jesus, we will feel his presence lifting us up even in our disappointments. The Bible often mentions a “sacrifice of praise.” This happens when we praise God in spite of our disappointments, even daring to praise him for the things that cause us grief. In my own experience, it has been the hard times that brought me closer to God. What I would have missed if life had always gone my way – what a spoiled brat I would have become.

Make your Bible your favorite book. A good concordance may help you find scriptures to meet your particular needs for the day. The Psalms are a great place to go when your spirit needs a lift. Spend time in prayer, and sing praises to God. If you listen to Christian music, especially scripture and praise songs, you bring in the assistance of those recorded voices to lift your spirit. Be pro-active in your praise and sing with them. God isn’t concerned over how well you sing, but he loves the sound of your voice when it is praising him. If you feel like crying, then cry your heart out to God. Remember that the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” He cares about your grief. Keep the music playing until you have cried it through, and let the praise songs lift you up into his presence.

A song that brings out how God blesses us through our trials is entitled, Through it All. Click the link and listen to the version I found on YouTube by The Booth Brothers. I hope these words bless you like they do me.

Father God, help us to truly be thankful to you as we experience the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Bless the needy out of your bounty so they can see your face and feel your peace.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

1 Timothy 6:10 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Timothy warns us against the love of money which causes us to turn our eyes away from God. This principal comes to mind when I watch the flocks of Pine Siskins that have covered our bird feeders this winter. Most of these birds are content to gather together and enjoy the free food. But there are a few in each flock that are determined to claim the whole dish for themselves and agressively chase all others away. We onlookers laugh at the absurdity of it all, as the tiny bird could not eat the pile of seeds in the dish. Furthermore, while the bird so relentlessly defends his claim he doesn’t have time to eat.

God owns everything. He promises to care for us, his flock. If we trusted Him to keep his promises, we wouldn’t have to expend so much energy guarding our posessions. Is God watching out His window in heaven and laughing at our pettiness? Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and allow the Heavenly Father to bless us out of his unlimited supply.

Father God, help us to keep our eyes focused on You. Restore our trust when our anxious thoughts take our eyes off of You, and restoreYour peace. Enable us to be satisfied with Your provisions and to hold them with open generous hands.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Luke 6:21b, Matthew 5:4  Click on these links to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

How can we be blessed when we cry? In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that those who cry now will laugh in the future. Matthew’s account in 5:4 says that mourners will be comforted.

Jesus promises over and over that there will come a day when everything will be turned upside down. We will all pass through a form of judgement when God separates the sheep from the goats. People who have lost a faithful loved one who walked with Jesus in this life can more nearly know morning and joy at the same time. The contrast between sorrow and joy is perhaps never so real as when they realize that their departed loved one has left his or her broken down crippled body behind and has entered into the presence of Jesus with a glorious new body. 

But God doesn’t expect us to have to wait until we die to enjoy his blessings. Read Psalm 30 and find your spirits lifted. The Psalmist shared that weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning. He also declared that God had turned his wailing into dancing.

I have often heard the difference between happiness and joy explained. Happiness is based on our circumstances. We are happy when people praise us and do nice things for us. But joy is based on our contentment with our lot in life and our relationship with God. As long as our trusting eyes are focused on God, we can be content knowing we are in loving and competent hands. But when our eyes stray as we compare our circumstances to those around us who have more wealth, status, or _______ (fill in the blank), we risk losing our joy as we covet what others have.

Whoa! I’m preaching to myself today!

Father God, help me to keep my eyes focused on you alone. Help me to accept my lot in life with true joy and thanksgiving in my heart, and help me to accept disappointments without grumbling and complaining.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:25-32 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

We are about to begin a study of Josiah, the boy king. I believe this Psalm was selected for today’s scripture because it reflected so well the barrenness of the spiritual condition of the Jewish nation when Josiah began his reign.

This passage would not only have encouraged Josiah in Bible times, it is written for us today as well. Perhaps you are at an all-time low and you are tempted to believe that God has abandoned you because of your circumstances. The psalmist is writing from the perspective of the dust heap–he is feeling great sorrow.

But the psalmist is lifting his eyes to the Lord. He is pleading with God to teach him his laws so he could meditate on them through his time of sorrow. He is praying that God will strengthen him through the scriptures, that he will keep him from becoming deceitful, from trying to rise in his own strength. He resolves to continue in the way of truth with his heart set on the laws of God, and prays that God will not allow him to be put to shame. The psalmist is able to run in the freedom he has received from following God’s paths.

Are we willing to trust in the scriptures to lift us out of our own despair? I recall a Sunday when I was so deep in despair that I couldn’t bear to attend our worship service for fear I would make a spectacle of myself through my tears. Instead, I armed myself with my Bible and some scripture-based music tapes and drove to a secluded place to worship my God in private. I cried as I listened to one song after another. I looked up the scriptures the musicians sang. Even though the tears continued to flow, they gradually changed from tears of grief to tears of hope and then joy. I returned home with a new lift to my spirit. I was ready to face whatever came my way.

Father God, we thank and praise you that you know our hearts and that you care. Just as Jesus wept for Martha and Mary in their grief, you weep for us when we are hurting. Help us to never forget your love, and to never forget to lift our eyes to you when we feel discouraged. You have promised to never let us down. Thank you for always being there for us.

P.S. As I was uploading this message God blessed my heart with the song “You Are My Hiding Place” on the radio and my tears again flowed, as he had been my hiding place on that day I just wrote about. God will bless you if you will give him the opportunity. (Psalm 32:7 is the scripture that inspired this song)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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     4  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 

     5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7  Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. Luke 10:4-7 (NIV)

     Jesus’ instructions to these followers were nearly the same as those given to the Twelve in Luke 9:3-5. Jesus did not want personal possessions to become a burden to them, they were to leave all behind. Nor did he wish for them to become sidetracked by other travelers on the road. 

    These followers were to speak a message of peace to each house they entered. It appears Jesus was encouraging them to look for men of peace in the same Spirit that they were to pray for workers for God’s kingdom. They were to stay as long as the family who took them in were willing to care for his needs. When it was time to leave they were to go to a new town, not to another house in the same town.

      I am reminded of one of the Beatitudes “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). When we try to win souls for Christ we will be more effective by sharing the love and peace Jesus has to give than by arguing over our differences in how we interpret the Bible. There are times when it may be appropriate to confront a brother or sister in Christ, but not when trying to witness to the unsaved.

     Lord help us to be mindful of the many times you have overlooked our shortcomings when we witness to non-believers, and help us to show them the same love you show to us every day.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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