Devotional Blog

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 • • Thankful

Whatever happens keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ.  This is what God wants you to do. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (CEV)

As we walk through this challenge there have been times when we've considered what do we have to be thankful for? There may have been significant loss, negative impacts on our body, trauma that has affected our mental and emotional state.  Why should we be thankful?  The reason that we are thankful first and foremost is because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  When we consider the love of God that sent Jesus to become sin for us, although He knew no sin,   the greatest expression of appreciation that we can give God is thanksgiving from a grateful heart. 

He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness]. – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (AMP)

Being made right with God through Jesus Christ places us in relationship with God as our Father regardless to what we have experienced or what we have done. Based on our belief, we are born again, with God as our spiritual Father.  The door is now open to us to commune and fellowship with God, acknowledging Him in everything for the direction that we need in all things.

The next part is to be thankful for what we do have.  Most of us are familiar with Jesus feeding the multitude with the fish and the loaves which tangibly wasn't enough. However, Jesus gave thanks for the few fish and the seven loaves, then distributed it to the people and there was some left over.  We can easily attribute the miracle to this being Jesus, however, look at Jesus honoring God the Father, by giving gratitude for what He had; how much more should we give gratitude for what we have.  We may not be where we'd thought in this season of our lives, however, gratitude allows us to express to God that we are appreciative of His provisions.

 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  About four thousand were present. – Mark 8:6-9(a) – (NIV)

God wants to have a relationship with us; this is why He allowed Jesus to be our sacrifice. We respond to God's love by accepting Him as our Father, believing in Christ Jesus, with a thankful and grateful heart.

Here are a few reasons why we're thankful, and there are many more:

  • We are thankful that God chose to love and father us no matter what
  • We are thankful that God chose to give us faith to believe in Jesus and  to live a life of trusting and depending on Him (a life of faith)
  • We are thankful for His Holy Spirit who leads, counsels, empowers, and helps us in all that we do

Let us choose to view God as our single point of focus which allows us to be spiritually perceptive of Him.  When He's our single focus, we'll see many reasons for thanksgiving from a genuine place in our hearts.

"The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God's precepts] – Matthew 6:22 (AMP)

Prayer

Father, I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to be the offering for my sins.  Thank you for choosing to love me and never leave me.  Thank You for placing me in right standing with You through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Thank for being with me through it all.  In response to Your love, I give You my trust and dependency.  I admit that I cannot live this life on my own and I need You.  Thank You for allowing me to approach You with the faith of a child, looking to You and depending on You as my father.  All praises, honor, and glory be to You God.  In Jesus' name; Amen.

Sunday, January 2, 2022 • Sharon Taylor • Personal Growth

 

As we are awakened each morning by the grace of God, empowered by His strength, we can't help but thank Him, yet, we have an enemy attempting to conquer our souls at that very moment.  Who are we?  Do we identify according to the works of darkness or do we identify according to the grace of God?....it matters.

From the beginning the enemy has been after the identity of God's children:  Adam and Eve were deceived in the garden when God's word was questioned (Genesis 3: 1-5), giving up the authority God had given them.  He attempted to cause Jesus to question His identity in the wilderness, but was unsuccessful because Jesus knew who He was (Matthew 4:1-14).

We must know who are and that we are God's children in the midst of the chaos and confusion, regardless of the lies spoken into our subconscious.  This is a conscious affirmation; a knowingness (if you will) that by believing on Jesus Christ and His sacrifice we are the righteousness of God and it is forever settled; nothing changes it.  We are sealed by God's Holy Spirit and nothing changes it.

Ephesians 1:13 NIV - And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit

Romans 3:21-22 NIV - But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Romans 8: 14-16 NIV - For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father."  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for making me Yours.  I thank You for adopting me into Your family as I believe in Jesus Christ.  Thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus, taking my sins, becoming my sin, bearing the penalty of my sin on the cross.  I receive with thanksgiving the righteousness You have given me in Christ Jesus.  I acknowledge that in Christ Jesus I am righteous (the righteousness of God), and for this identity You've graciously given to me, I am grateful.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Consider and meditate on who you are:  You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and nothing changes it.

Saturday, July 6, 2019 • • General

 

1 John 4:19 - "We love Him because He first loved us."

 

The Bible gives us many verses about love - what it is and what it means.  None is more descriptive and detailed than 1 Corinthians 13:4-13.  It is often read at wedding ceremonies as a guideline to follow for the betrothed before their vows are said.  This passage describes perfect and unconditional love.  God loves us in this pure way.  

It is easy for us as targeted people to forget that we are loved by God.  We sometimes are tempted by satan to erroneously think that God does not love us.  Daily pain, humiliation and indignities and other suffering have a way of causing us to think otherwise.  When we think that God does not love us, we are subconsciously holding onto the pain inflicted upon us. We are accepting the bad and not the good.  Over a prolonged period of fime, accepting the bad in our lives can become a very harmful pattern.  It can prevent us from seeing the good in our lives - from the good in the past and in the present.   If we accept the good in our total lives, we can see God's love for us reflected in many ways.  He is, always has been and always will be the through line that sustains us.

Accepting God's love for us helps us to be conscious of Him at all times helping us to do good for ourselves and others.  We will want to take better care of ourselves when we internalize His love for us.  We will have more confidence in resisting the enemy.  We will have the mental and physical strength to accomplish goals set by ourselves and those inspired by the Holy Spirit.  "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)  Knowing that "He cares about every detail down to the number of hairs on our head" (Matthew 10:30) reinforces belief in ourselves.  Above everything that has been noted here, Jesus shows us He loves us because He died for us. (John 15:13)

As we wait on God for answers, the sustenance of His love enables us to trust Him.  We will become like the faithful in Isaiah 40:31: "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."   Because we are loved by God, we feel confident in following His word in Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."  We can wait on Him patiently to do His work in us and to answer our prayers.  Perhaps He won't answer in the way we desire but we can be sure that His response will be the perfect one because He is perfect and because He loves us.

 

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Carolyn Cunningham

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 • • General

Romans 5:3-5, "but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Romans 5:3-5, "but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
One of the most insidious aspects of targeting is designed to eliminate the possibility of hope in our lives. In this way, as in many other ways, it is similar to the Soviet state in Russia and Eastern Europe during the Cold War. According to Oliver Bullough, author of The Last Man in Russia, "the Soviet state was, in fact, almost perfectly designed to make people unhappy. It denied its citizens not just hope, but also trust." Many of us can attest to some of these conditions as having been manifested in our own lives during the course of targeting. So, what are we to do? Are we to accept this as our fate? Not at all. What we are to do is to keep God's promises to us and the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, in the forefront of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. The Christians of the Soviet state had their churches and religious leaders taken from them but many kept the Holy Trinity within their beings and clung to their faith in God. Like them, many of us are targeted in churches. We can continue to keep our faith in God alive and even grow closer to Him through daily prayer; practicing His commandments; studying His word and participating in worship services, Bible studies, and prayer time in our domiciles either alone or with others who live with similar circumstances. We can also worship and augment our faith in God by participating via television, the internet or the phone. The hope and dreams we've had for ourselves have been dashed by targeting in many instances. We've had hope for successful careers, marriages, friendships, good health among other comfortable earthly pursuits that seem to have faded. But God promises to overcome all of the obstacles the enemy has placed in our paths, though maybe not in the ways that we imagined. In Jeremiah 29:11, we are reminded that God has better plans for our lives than all the harm we are experiencing, thus giving us reason to cling strongly to hope in Him who made us and saved us from our sins through His Son, Jesus. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us to seek God's kingdom first and we shall receive our earthly desires. Let us recall God's goodness, grace, mercy and gifts to us on a daily basis as we meditate on Lamentations 3:22-23, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness." As painful as these targeted experiences have been and still are, let us consider how God has revealed Himself in our lives. Many of us have new friendships, new skills, and have acquired new perspectives on our lives.  God has done this and more for us.

Carolyn Cunningham