Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pruning and Praising

I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.
Psalm 116:17 NKJV

As usual, God has been trying to bombard me with a message by having it be the focus of the podcasts I listen to, the devotional I read daily and the sermons at church. Don't you love it when he spells things out so obviously for us? 

So, what is this message with which he has been bombarding me?

Be grateful.

Maybe it's even more than just being grateful...

It's actually more like: 
BE FULL OF PRAISE FOR EVERYTHING IN YOUR LIFE, even those things that may not bring you joy right now.
The thing about God is that he never asks us to do something without understanding how difficult it is for us to do it. He KNOWS how hard it is to be grateful for our challenges. He KNOWS when we are disappointed or frightened by our circumstances. 
So it means immeasurably more to him when we are able to find enough joy in our hearts to be able to praise him in the midst of turmoil and strife.
Similar to the concept of tithing or giving God our BEST OFFERING...when we SACRIFICE our thanksgiving to him and are able to praise him THROUGH PAIN, it means SO.MUCH.MORE.

Likewise, the podcast I was listening to the other day was about when God decides to send us into a time of "decrease" and how we are to glorify him by allowing HIM to increase. 
We didn't get a raise; we didn't get a bonus; we didn't get picked for the lead roll in the musical; we didn't make honor roll; we didn't make the team; we didn't get released from the hospital; we didn't get everything in the IEP that we wanted...and we think we deserve better than THIS!
When God starts pruning, we start POUTING! 

It is critical for us to develop our ability to recognize that a season of DECREASE does NOT signify God abandoning us, rather it is God telling us that it's time to prune us back in preparation for a huge growth! 
But, we live in a society that is prone to complaining and focusing on the negative and the SCARCITY of our resources (time, money, cars, apps, benefits on our name it, we don't have enough, do we?). 

So, how do we offer a beautiful sacrifice of praise to God when we have a house full of kids with the flu, a laundry list of things to do, and a calendar full of holiday events that cost money we don't have and require food and gifts that we don't have time to make or buy?

Here are a few ideas for how to make a BEAUTIFUL SACRIFICIAL offering to God daily as we close out 2017:
  • Write a message on your bathroom mirror with dry erase marker reminding yourself to stop and pray a prayer of thanksgiving before you even get your morning coffee.
  • Keep a small notebook or journal next to your coffee pot or cereal bowl each morning and write out three praises to start your day.  It can even be, "I praise you for being God and for being in control even if I don't see or understand what's happening right now."
  • Make a pact with a friend of yours to text each other in the mornings with your praises.  Hold one another accountable, and send gentle reminders throughout the day to encourage one another to maintain an attitude of gratitude.
Can we take the time to echo the sentiments of David in Psalm 116 and really make the SACRIFICE of a (possibly painful) act of daily PRAISE and thanksgiving?

Pray:  Heavenly have given me the air that I breathe, the body that carries around my soul, and nourishment that it needs daily. For that I am truly thankful. But, most importantly, I am grateful that you have called me YOUR CHILD, and adopted me into your family through the death and resurrection of your son, Christ Jesus. I want to live a joy-filled life full of thankfulness and praise to you, Father. Amen.

~Tammie Hefty 

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