The Power of Giving Thanks

Here we are once again, at the precipice of the Holiday season, with our tables garnished with turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce.  As we prepare to step across the threshold of a rapidly approaching new year, our feet often traverse the well-beaten path of reflection and self-evaluation.

This year, my wife and I were blessed to visit my home in Birmingham, AL, to spend the Thanksgiving Holidays with my immediate family and friends.  I grew more excited, as the departure time approached, at the thought of seeing all those that I love and cherish.  Gratitude filled my heart as my wife and I packed the car to head south for the Holidays.  In that moment, I discovered the true power and purpose of giving thanks to God in every season of our lives.  Thanksgiving is more than just a day on our calendars reserved for filling our stomachs; rather, it is a lifestyle that releases the power of God in our lives in three profound ways.

 

Thanksgiving Escorts Us into God’s Presence

Psalm 100 is one of many passages illustrating God as our shepherd.  Within God’s sheepfold we have abundant supply and pasture.  We have boldness to enter into the door of the sheepfold (Jesus Christ-John 10:9) to access unlimited supplies of everything we need in God’s holy presence.  No necessity is withheld from us when we approach the Father with thanksgiving and praise.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4, KJV)

The Message Bible further expounds on this idea of entering through the door of the sheepfold via intimate relationship with Christ:

Enter with the password: “Thank you!”  Make yourselves at home, talking praise.  Thank him.  Worship him. (Psalm 100:4, The Message Bible)

When we approach the gates of God’s holy court with gratitude in our hearts wielding the password of “thank you” upon our lips, we unlock the very resources of God’s endless supply.

 

Thanksgiving Releases God’s Peace

This may be contrary to everything you’ve ever heard, but when things seem to be falling apart around you, giving thanks releases the peace of God right in the middle of it all.  When we pray we are instructed to arm ourselves with thanksgiving.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6, KJV)

Thanksgiving is a powerful resource when coupled with the confident knowledge that the Father loves us and wants to care for us.  As we articulate our requests to the Father, they should always be bathed in thanksgiving, knowing that it pleases God to give us our hearts desires when they align with God’s will.  The end result will be the overwhelming peace of God that protects our vital faculties of heart and mind.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, KJV)

 

 Thanksgiving Magnifies God

I am a firm believer in the effects of perspective.  Life can sometimes deliver some serious blows that disorient us causing us to see things that aren’t really there.  Skirmishes with illness, lack, and turmoil leave us with the perception that there is nothing to be grateful for.  These temporary “lights out” experiences can run deep through the core of our being as we struggle to regain some semblance of consciousness.  Things that are normally clear to us turn hazy and blurry, making it difficult to reach our goals.

Enter thanksgiving!!!

Expressing gratefulness to God shifts our perspective, and clears our vision so that we can stay in the fight.  Giving thanks magnifies God and brings into focus the “bigness” of our Father.  God is bigger, stronger and wiser than any enemy we fight, including the most formidable enemy of all…ourselves.  David says it better than I ever could, so I’ll employ a Psalm of his:

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.  This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.  The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. (Psalm 69:30-32, KJV)

Whenever we take our eyes off of what is good in our lives, and focus on the bad and the ugly, our victory hangs in the balance.  Use the power of thanksgiving to shrink your problems and bring them down to size.  You will find without a doubt that they are no match for the matchless King of Glory.

 

During this holiday season, let us resolve to carry the torch of thanksgiving into daily living, thereby bringing light into even the most obscure places of our lives.  May the incense of gratitude unfurl within our hearts each morning, and burn well into the night; yielding the sweet-smelling aroma of peace, power, and proper perspective: thus glorifying God.

Happy Thanksgiving 2014!!!


As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

Editor: Jaime Evans

BE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zero Visibility

 For we walk by faith, not by sight…[2 Corinthians 5:7]


As I turned the door handle to exit my home, the morning breeze wrapped around my face and kissed my cheeks as I walked to my car.  My senses were a bit more heightened than usual because of the brisk autumn air.  The pep in my step was restored as I enthusiastically took in a deep breath and savored the cool air as it entered my lungs.  The incessant rain had come and gone, and left a dense layer of fog in its wake.  In fact, I had not seen fog that dense since I was a lad.  My drive to work was slow and steady, as I struggled to see.  The fog was so thick, it was like driving through a huge cloud.  I couldn’t see opposing traffic until the headlights of each automobile zoomed past me.   Although I fancy myself an experienced driver, I was a little intimidated, because I was experiencing what meteorologists call zero visibility.

Many times I’ve found my walk with God to be much like driving in fog.  You don’t realize how scary driving can be until you lose visibility.  Our emotions, decisions, and lives are driven by not only what we see around us, but also how we see what is around us.  Examine your present situation.  Are there areas in your life where you are experiencing zero visibility?  You know God is working on your behalf and for your good, because you love Him…but because you can’t see far enough ahead to know how things are going to work out, your journey becomes foggy.

2 Corinthians 5:7 brings to light an important truth for the believer.  We live our lives in a constant state of flux between the visible and the invisible.  When I first read this scripture, I understood it to mean that we don’t live our lives by what we see, but rather by believing and standing on what God has already said in His word.  That’s powerful indeed, but closer examination of this scripture casts light upon a different revelation.  The fact that we walk by faith and not by sight unfurls the truth that sometimes faith is all we have to light our path.  It’s not that we don’t like what we see in front of us at the time, so we choose to walk by faith; that’s not what this scripture implies.  Rather think about it this way, sometimes, we simply just can’t see in front of us, so our faith in God is the only light we have.  When our vision fails, and our visibility is severely handicapped, we can’t stop moving.  Just because I couldn’t see as I was driving through the thick, foggy cloud, doesn’t mean that I could have just stopped in the middle of the road until things got better.  I had to keep moving.  I had to keep driving.  Here’s a word for you:

For where you are right now, it’s more detrimental for you to stop moving, than it is to keep moving with limited visibility.

I may not have been able to see as far as I normally could, but I was able to see just far enough ahead of me to keep my foot on the accelerator.  So, I say this to you…

You may not be able to see as far into your situation as you would like to.  You may not be able to see how your story is going to culminate from where you stand; but KEEP DRIVING.  God always gives you enough light to take the next step:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…[Psalm 119:105]

Faith in God gives us the power to keep pressing the accelerator.  Keep on driving.

Be encouraged, my friends.  Fog is a good thing.  Why?  I remember asking my mother to explain fog to me when I was a young child.  This is what she told me…

Fog happens when the clouds come down from heaven and kiss the earth below.  It means the rain is over, and soon the sun is  going to shine.

You may be in a foggy season in your life now, and you’re wondering if the sun is going to ever shine again.  I just drove through the fog to tell you that heaven is about to kiss your life.  The fog is lifting, and the sun is about to shine upon you again.

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning [Psalm 30:5]

Editor: Jaime Evans


Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

 

Fourth Quarter Tune-Up

Remember January 1, 2014? 

Seems like such a long time ago, right?  How about all of those New Year’s resolutions floating around in the air (including yours)?  Let’s get personal.  What was your number one resolution?

Start that workout routine?

Eat healthier?

Manage your time better?

Save more money?

Relax more?

 

How’s that going for you?

The truth is, about 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% achieve those goals.  Pretty depressing, huh?  In fact, some people  (about 38% of Americans) have resolved to not make resolutions at all (University of Scranton.  Journal of Clinical Psychology).

Let’s pause for a moment of silence for all of the resolutions that have given their lives for our fleeting motivations…

Statistics like these are very telling within our society concerning the evanescence of our motivation.  Just recently I was engaged in a short conversation with two coworkers, and the subject of exercise came up.  I was asked if I was going to workout that day;  my response was one of mixed emotions, because I knew I needed to workout, but I just wasn’t motivated at the time.  Excuses flooded my soul, and all of the things that I needed to do after work presented themselves to my mind one by one.  Eventually, I did recover from the assault on my mind and found the grit to part the doors of the gym for another successful workout.

Within that same conversation, one of my coworkers expressed concern for the usual after-work crowd that makes it difficult to occupy the desired cardio equipment.  This raised some very interesting thoughts, which spawned this very post.  Many of us who faithfully attend the gym are very familiar with the mid-year trail off.  When January 1 of each year rolls around, you can expect to see a massive influx of people hitting the gym, as if brand new sexy bodies were being given away in the cardio section.

Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

In many cases, by the time June hits, the numbers have dwindled so; treadmills are virtually screaming for some action.  The psychology of motivation is such a mystery, experts are still trying to figure it out; what causes it, and why is it so fleeting?  I think we all can agree that we’ve been there at some point in our own lives.

Fast-forward to your “now.”  Here it is, fourth quarter 2014, and less than four months left in this year; I sincerely ask you…

Are you on track to accomplish your goals for this year?

I know-I know…you’ve had some set-backs, failures, obstacles and opposition.  So have I.  You would not believe the year that I’ve had…but I’m grateful for it all.  Through all of your trials this year alone, kudos to you for still being here, and not just surviving, but thriving.  I know it’s been hard…please know that I can relate, but think of me as your coach today.  This is the last time out in the fourth quarter…get back in the game, you can win!

In the game of football, if a defender interferes with the receiver’s ability to connect with a pass, the referees generally calls a Pass Interference penalty against the defense.  The result of this penalty, in many cases, is a 10-yard advance for the offense.  God is about to advance you as you approach the final push of 2014.  We can’t forget that we are in a battle, and our enemy is real.  He has wreaked so much havock in your life by interfering with the clean reception of all that God has prepared for you, but God has blown the whistle and thrown the flag…Blessing Interference penalty on the enemy.  Your Father is about to stop the assault on your life, so that you can make up precious ground.  According to Joel 2:25, God is able to restore the years that have been damaged and the time that has been lost for whatever reason; our only requirement is to stay connected to Him, and in turn to our purpose.

Receive  that!!!

I encourage you to reconnect to God; reconnect to your plan; and reconnect to your passion.  Remember the reason why you committed to that change in the first place.  If your goal was to lose weight for health reasons, then reconnect with those reasons.  Is it that you want to feel better, look better, and live longer?  Reconnect with that.  If your goal was to be the king/queen of organization, think about that pumped feeling you got every time you thought about accomplishing your goal.  Connect to those feelings, then just do it.  See yourself there over and over again in your mind.  Meditate on it, write a plan, live it out in your imagination.

See it to BE it. 

Even though motivation is a mystery, it is not an impossibility.  You can do this.  It’s fourth and goal, and we’re down to the “2-minute warning.”  You’re too close to let it slip through your fingers.

 

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

You’re almost there!!!  PUSH!!!

 

 

Editor: Jaime Evans

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

BE

The Five P’s of Victory

One of the greatest fighters who ever lived, Muhammad Ali, once said:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses…it’s won behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road long before I dance under those lights.”

 

We’re all familiar with the exuberant elation that comes from winning something.  We equate winning with being the best and the greatest within our league.  Let’s face it, there’s just something about the thrill of power that comes with the number one spot.

On the other hand, I’m sure most of us have had the experience of being served the bitter dish of defeat by an opponent.  This can conjure up emotions of agony that totally deflates our egos causing severe “pride-reversal.”

Although this paradigm exists, there are those that seem to have a knack for winning.  They always win the title belts, the gold medals, and the trophies.  They are the champions of our day.

What do those people do differently?  Some may argue that it’s strictly genetics.  Although this may be true on some level, I believe there is a system or a process for ensuring victory in our lives which can be summed up by the Five P’s of victory:

  1. Passion
  2. Process
  3. Power
  4. Performance
  5. Pay-Off

Passion

Passion is defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.  Passion is the engine deep down in your belly that keeps you doing what you love, even when you’re tired, nervous, or even hurting.  Passion is the power that pulls you through your process.  It’s the secret weapon of success.  What you are passionate about is often an indicator of your true calling.  Even though this is the most fundamental indicator of your intrinsic purpose, it is perhaps the most elusive.  God has placed within you certain abilities and giftings that set you apart from everyone else.  It’s up to you to accept the challenge of unlocking the God-given power within you by discovering and embracing your unique passions.

If you expect to be an overcomer, then you must be passionate about your purpose.  Passion is what locks you into the “why” of what you’re doing.  In the absence of passion, quitting becomes easy.  What’s pulling you into your purpose?

Process

All champions have one thing in common; on some level, they value training, coaching, and development.  Training is the process of conditioning via instruction, discipline, or drill.  It is the preparation for a test of skill.  Generally speaking, it is the passageway through which the ordinary walks to become extraordinary.

I am a Black Belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, and have received several awards and trophies in the categories of forms and sparring.  I recall the days leading up to a tournament or testing, and how physically and mentally demanding it was.  I never enjoyed the process that I had to endure to produce excellence, but when those trophies were in my hands, the pain of the process seemed to dissipate.

God’s plan for your life is worth your present pain.  Diamonds must be cut before their brilliance is truly revealed.  Gold must be liquified before its purest form is revealed.  In like manner, the treasure that is within you must endure a refining process before your true essence and beauty is manifested.   1 Peter 1:7 states:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, [KJV].

Power

A very interesting phenomenon takes place during the training and developmental process.  Put very simply…you change.  If change does not happen on some level, then the efficacy of the process must be called into question.  You gradually become stronger, faster, wiser, and more confident.  The journey itself challenges you as you navigate the course required to reach your destination.  In turn, the obstacles that you encounter change you as they force you to reevaluate your current condition in relation to the desired goal.

When we pray for certain things, in most cases, God will answer with process.  For instance, you may pray for a spouse, but God may answer with a very difficult person that you have to work with on your job.  The process of working with that person sets you on a journey of self-discovery, where you learn that you are very impatient.  God’s message to you is this: before He brings that special someone into your life, you must learn patience.  The co-worker is just a pawn in the process.  When you learn to be patient with your co-worker, you’ll be better equipped to exercise that same muscle of patience with the person who will one day be your spouse.

The strength to bear the weight of what comes with your destiny is only acquired on the road to your destiny.  God is more concerned with your ability to maintain the demands that come with the next level, than the glory of crossing the finish line.

Performance

What do you do when it’s time to execute?  Can you handle the pressure of being on the grand stage, or do you experience the dreaded “performance anxiety?”

This phase of the process is where battles are either won or lost.  You can spend all your time training for the big day, but if you can’t fully execute, then all of your hard work will be in vain.  God always affords us opportunities to execute what we have learned in theory.  Hearing the word of God taught in church is like training on a punching bag.  The opponent isn’t real and it doesn’t punch back.  The real fight is in the ring of temptation and tribulation, when the real enemy, Satan, engages you on the battlefield of your mind.

When it’s time to perform, can you produce the will to execute what the drills were designed to teach?  The performance always reveals weaknesses in your training.  How you train is how you perform.  Any fighter worth his weight in gold knows that in order to perform at the highest level on fight day, he must push past his limits during his training.  If he skips training days and binges on Doritos and Honey Buns everyday, then fight day will reveal those weaknesses and punish them in like fashion.

Process is designed to reward diligence and punish indolence.  You get to choose the outcome of your performance based on how you handle your process.

Pay Off

In the world of sports, victory is never guranteed.  That’s what makes sports so magnetic.  It’s the charge of adrenaline that comes from witnessing the end result of training and its ensuing victory.  Champions aren’t champions just because they win, they are champions because of how they think.  A champion expects victory even though he knows that victory is never guaranteed.  The expectation of victory increases the probability of experiencing victory.

You should be jumping for joy now as you read this, because you live by a different law called the Law of the Spirit of Life (Romans 8: 2).  This law guarantees victory in your life when certain conditions are met.  1 John 5:4 states:

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith, [KJV].

Beloved, if you have been born again, you are guaranteed victory.  You’re an overcomer, but you must have faith in the victory Christ has won.  Through him, you have already overcome your greatest struggles.  It’s not just about winning, it’s about overcoming through the blood of Jesus.

Your process has prepared you for the very battle that you are facing now.  The enemy is no match for you and your Lord Christ.  Victory in Christ is guaranteed.  Together with him, you can conquer every opponent that tries to take your crown.

Romans 8: 35, 37: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, [KJV]. 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

Editor: Jaime Evans

Your Struggle: The Gateway To Glory

If you are reading this post, there is one thing I can tell you about yourself without knowing anything about you.  With a reasonable amount of cerainty, I know that you have a struggle.  Not just any struggle, but one that plagues you perpetually like an opponent that just won’t fall.  The struggle that I’m referring to is the one that keeps reappearing at the most inopportune times, just to fight against all of your best laid plans and your most optomistic motivations.  Whether it’s persistent illness, addiction, a problematic personality flaw, a criminal record…(and the list goes on); these things can make us lose confidence and self-esteem. 

But wait…NOT SO FAST!

Before you tap out and throw in the towel, I’d like to submit to you a profound truth.  One that comes from an authority much higher than all of us.  Consider this:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  (2 Corinthians 4:17)

In essence, your struggle activates the perfect strength and ability of God, but only when you learn how to tap into it properly. 

 

God’s R.O.I.

God is proactive, not reactive.  In other words, nothing about you shocks or intimidates Him.  He knows everything, and I do mean everything, about you.  He knows all of your sins, struggles, and shortcomings (past, present, and future).  He knows the decisions you will make and your motives behind those decisions. He has even made provisions for you when you stray away from Him.  In fact, God has invested His most precious commodity in you…the Blood of Jesus His Son.  He did it because of your sins, and He is “banking” on your struggle becuase in your struggle is where He receives the R.O.I. (Return On Investment) from your life.  That return on investment is called GLORY. 

That’s right!

Right in the middle of your weakness and your struggle, God’s grace is standing by ready, willing, and able to make tremendous power available to you through the Holy Spirit.  The sooner you humble yourself, acknowledge God’s power, and receive His grace, that is when you qualify for more grace.

“But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:7)

 

God’s Glory Revealed

I have been ruminating a very interesting question.  As a matter of fact, that question combined with a powerful message entitled, “An Incredible Invitation,” taught by Pastor Shomari White (Senior Pastor of Have Life Church in Charlotte, NC), gave birth to this post.  Consider this:

Why didn’t God heal Moses of his speech impediment at the burning bush? (Exodus 3) 

We all know that God could have just touched Moses’ mouth like He did when He called Isaiah (Isaiah 6).  But He didn’t.  Instead, when Moses brought it up, God’s response was:

Now therefore go, I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou must say.  (Exodus 4:12)

Of course those who are familiar with the account know that He did allow Aaron to accompany Moses, but that was not God’s ideal plan.  Upon closer scrutiny, I realized that this wasn’t the only time God refused to be moved by a person’s weakness.  Let’s take a look at Paul and his infamous “thorn in the flesh.”  I believe it is by design that no one really knows for certain what Paul’s “thorn” was, because it is indicative of our “thorns.”  It’s not labeled specifically in the Bible, so that we all can label it ourseleves, and know that just like God’s grace was sufficient for Paul; His grace is certainly sufficient for us.  Some may say that Paul’s thorn was not significant, but I beg to differ.  It was significant enough for Paul to talk to God about it three times.  Eventually, God answered Paul’s request to remove it and take the thorn away by saying:

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Finally, let’s take a look at Jesus, who was God incarnate.  One day as Jesus was heavily involved in his travelling ministry, he received a message that Lazarus, one of his good friends, who lived in Bethany, was sick and close to dying.  At that point you would imagine Jesus and his crew would have packed up and started the trip to Bethany.  Instead, Jesus took his time getting there.  Needless to say, his friend Lazarus died, and by the time he got to Bethany, Lazarus was four days in the grave.  Upon Jesus’ arrival, he was met with statements of disappointment from the grieving sisters of Lazarus (Mary and Martha) as they approached him and said, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”  I love Jesus’ response to their folly:

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”  (John 11:25)

Then, he proceeded to call Lazarus forth from the dead.

AWESOME STUFF!

 

Fight the Right Fight

Many times the message of grace is misconstrued and misunderstood by the masses. People filter the message through perverted, itching ears, thereby disseminating wrong information.  In no way am I saying you should just lay down and succumb to your weaknesses.  When your struggle ceases to be a struggle, then it’s time for a reality check.  You’re a soldier and your battle is in the arena of your mind.  That’s where the battle is either won or lost.  The skirmish between flesh and spirit is a heated one at times, but we have been guaranteed victory through the name of Jesus.  Paul said it best:

“I keep under my body and bring it into subjection…” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

The friction that comes from this fight within us produces the spark that sets our lives on fire for Christ.   As we humble ourselves, acknowledge God, and fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), we open the gateway for God’s grace and glory to flood our lives and shine through us.  God’s grace works best in the presence of our frailty, and shines brightest in the dungeons of our deepest struggle, if we choose to acknowledge Him.  This is why Jesus came clothed in grace and truth, so that we may behold the perfection of his person.  Christ carried the burden of perfection so that we wouldn’t be required to. 

I encourage you to speak faith.  Say what God has already declared about you ,and let this be your confession:

“For when I am weak, then am I strong.”  (2Corinthians 12:10)

Now go forth, and expect to see God’s glory revealed in your life today.

 

 Acknowledgements:  I would like to thank Pastor Shomari White, Senior Pastor of Have Life Church (Charlotte, NC ) for allowing me to reference his inspirational words in this post.  Thank you for living a life that demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit.  You are truly an inspiration to me.

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE