Preparing For Passover

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Leviticus 23 includes Passover and Unleavened Bread, as well as Firstfruits as part of the Lord’s Feasts which we are encouraged to celebrate. The Hebrew word for Passover is “Pesach” meaning “to spring, jump or pass over something.” This refers to God’s deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt which brought freedom. Passover not only typifies redemption, but prophetically it was God’s plan for world redemption by Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb. What a great reason to celebrate!

“And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy,” Ezra 6:22. I have not personally found many Believers who celebrate the Lord’s Feasts, or become excited getting rid of the leaven or yeast in their lives. They believe it may be painful or too hard to give up enjoyable/addicting habits. It may be even worse for some to lay down their mental strongholds so they can receive inner healing.

But Passover cannot start until all leaven is removed. Cleansing the home was part of the preparation. However, cleansing of the home is just the beginning. Believers know that cleansing of the home includes the cleansing of our heart.

In 1st Corinthians 5:7 Paul states: Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, just as you really are unleavened. For Christ the Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are already new. His death and resurrection has removed the leaven in our life. However, in a practical way, there is still leaven that we must cleanse inside and out from the influence of the world. It is a time of purifying our heart and a time to make a decision to separate our self from anything unclean.

In preparation for this Passover, beginning April 19th through April 27th, let’s cleanse our “house,” get rid of the leaven, and celebrate as we experience His presence, joy and blessings!

In His Covenant Love,

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Don't Miss Your Visitation

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Almost everyone has expectations of God. You hope, you pray, you trust and sometimes great things happen. But it also seems at times, like He is not listening or responding to your need. You may feel your answer hasn’t come or He just doesn’t care. Maybe you are praying for relief from a challenge or health issue -maybe you are asking Him to help you with finances or work. Whatever your need, He will come and help you, but He may come to you in a way you don’t expect.

Luke chapter one tells the story of Mary. She experienced a visitation, but to her surprise is was to conceive a child. I’m sure Mary had many needs in her life, but when the angel of the Lord came to her, he spoke of heaven’s desire for her not her own needs. How did she respond? We are given a divine model, an example if you will, of how God desires for us to respond in Mary. She is a picture of surrender and humility as she speaks in Luke 1:38: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

When God visits He comes to you with purpose and favor. How did the angel greet Mary? In Luke 1:28 the angel declared: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” The word favored #5487 in the concordance is defined as “highly favored, given honor.” She was also encouraged that she was not alone - God was with her!

God will always equip you and supply all that He requires. He is pleased when you surrender to Him in humility and obedience to His request. When you choose to surrender to His plan and purpose, He will infuse you with His grace and favor, and He will bless you, your life and family and the work He assigns to you.

God gave favor to Mary for the following:
1) God wanted to bring something great into Mary’s life and into the world.
2) God’s way of doing this was unexpected and unusual. It did not fit into the culture.
3) There was a price Mary was willing to pay in accepting God’s plan for her life, family, relationships,
cultural acceptance, finances, even her good name in the city.
4) Mary had a choice whether to receive or reject what the angel brought to her - What God desired for
her life.
5) Mary chose to trust God.

Like Mary, there is a price that may include suffering and sacrifice, but the blessing of surrender to His desire will overtake the challenge and sacrifice that may accompany your visitation. A difficult lesson to learn as a believer is that happiness really has nothing to do with blessedness. Happiness relates more to being lucky, and the Lord never promised pure happiness, good luck or even favorable circumstances. The disciples are perfect examples of the challenges in the life of a believer and overcomer. God desires to bless, and His blessedness results in His indwelling, resulting in peace and contentment no matter what the circumstances may be.

James 5:11 translated in the Zodiates Bible states this verse should be translated: “Behold, we recognize those who endured as blessed;” that is to say, receiving His indwelling, and in God finding full satisfaction in spite of their suffering. Apostle Paul often spoke of the maturing process in learning to be content whether you have gain or are in lack (Philippians 4). If you look for material gain or acknowledgement from man to feel successful, you may miss your visitation and the future God desires for you.

Father, may we find favor with You, and in our surrender and choice to obey, may You bless each one with Your presence and grace, knowing that You Lord dwell within; causing us to be fully satisfied in You, knowing You are with us whatever our circumstances or life journey. Help us see with Spirit eyes what your plans are so we do not miss Your visitations.

In His Love,

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Marriage - Our Living Example of Covenant

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One of the main aspects of understanding covenant is giving. Many marriage books today include ways of negotiating with your spouse so each can get what they want, rather than the idea of loving and giving to each other. One fear is: “If I give to them unconditionally, they will take advantage of me and I will become a doormat that they run over.” There is no way that I can address all the Christian cultural ideas that have been accepted throughout the years. Dr. Skip Moen wrote a book I highly recommend titled “Guardian Angel,” which addresses some of the cultural strongholds and what the original purpose for the helpmate (ezer in Hebrew). A few of his thoughts are also paraphrased below.

Even in Genesis man is suppose to rule, but this rule is to be compassionate, never exploiting the relationship. It includes stewardship, care, nurturing and protection. It is similar to a shepherd. Ruling is not suppose to be domination by force or the law. In Genesis 2:24 man is told to detach from precious protectors and providers and to cling (dagaq in Hebrew) to their spouse. It means a close affection and loyalty. An example is how Israel clings to God. Obviously this assumes first that the husband has an intimate relationship with the Lord and easily transfers that same closeness to his “Ezer.”

Sometimes a fear of giving the wife too much power can cause Christian husbands to begin to quote scriptures to make sure they don’t lose their authority. “I’m the head of the household and I will make all final decisions!” In covenant relationships there is a mutual submission that takes place; a giving to one another. It becomes defacto authority which develops from a decision to place myself under the direction of another, because I recognize the right of the other to be my lord, and it is in my best self interest to submit to that authority.

Dejure authority is based on the law. For instance, a policeman has the authority to give us a ticket if we are speeding and the authority comes from the municipal law. However, if the husband has any authority at all, it is based on defacto, and the wife recognizes or grants him authority, and it is in her best interest to submit. Jesus’ entire ministry is based on defacto authority. He doesn’t command us to repent or we go to prison. He invites us to recognize His right to rule, to submit to Him because it is our duty and in our best interest to submit to His authority in the covenant relationship. We volunteer to grant Him authority over our life.

When you love your spouse, you are free to love. No one is forcing you to love them. It’s voluntary. But it does not mean we have no obligations. Imagine no expectations, no commitment and no mutual covenant. Would you call that love? What if your children ignored your requests or directions? It’s the same with God. If we love Him we keep His Torah; not because we have to, but because of love and we desire to please Him. God is delighted when we love Him by obeying and submit to Him.

Ephesians 5:24-25 is a good example of covenant giving. “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Since God uses the marriage covenant as an earthly example of His covenant with His people, let’s remember that it is our obligation to give our love to our spouse as we give that same love to the Father. It is our joy and privilege to be able to lay our life down and please our Father, and do the same with our spouse in the marriage covenant!

In His Covenant Love,

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Patience and Perseverance Brings Life

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When you choose to walk in a covenantal relationship with God He imparts HIs Gifts of the Spirit to you as He brings forth His Fruit of the Spirit. As you experience the mixture of life, joy as well as trials, God is continually at work maturing you to look more like Him. Galatians 5:22 explains the divine fruit as the following: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. Just like tending a garden, watching over the growth and maturation of His fruit in your life takes time.

I’ve been reflecting lately on all the wonders and truths God has shown me and entrusted to me over the years. His program for character development has at times been very challenging, especially learning what patience looks like to Him. We find Jesus in Luke 21 giving instructions to His followers, and in verse 19 He states: “By your endurance you will gain your lives.” The word endurance is found in the concordance #5278 as Hupomeno; meaning to remain under, to endure or sustain a load of miseries, adversities, persecutions or provocations in faith and patience toward things or circumstances. What Jesus is implying here is that things are going to get tough. Life is not going to always be sweet and it is important for you to develop your gift of endurance and patience to run and finish your race.

As a child, patience is waiting for Christmas or a birthday; even the end of school for summer vacation to commence. Patience may appear as a dream of finishing school, getting a drivers license or attending college or tech schools. Times seems to pass slowly as you look forward to these life markers. Then you may dream of finding a spouse, getting married and working in a great job, or making money to buy a house or car. You wait, and wait, and wait some more. After working for many years, you dream of retirement, travel, financial stability. In all your life experiences you learn to wait, learning patience, endurance, perseverance, knowing fulfillment will come some day. You may then find yourself care taking aging parents, or trusting for healing in your body, finances, relationships or children. More patience, enduring, waiting, waiting, waiting. Now by waiting, I mean actively waiting. Life doesn’t stand still. Life rolls along, but those hopes or desires and expectations remain as we patiently and diligently live each day. Ecclesiastes reminds us in 3:1-8 there is a season for everything under heaven. Recognizing your season of life will help you grow in patience and peace as well as understanding.

Patience is often one of the most difficult fruit to develop. When we acquire the ability to wait, we then reflect more of His peace. Learning patience in God’s time is certainly not like the world’s time. Healing may come as an instant miracle or it may arrive after much perseverance. Finances may instantaneously appear if you win the lottery or an inheritance, or it may take a lifetime to acquire and save. Jesus and His disciples taught His followers the importance of learning to be patient and endure. They knew it was important for their souls, as well as mental and spiritual health. “By your patient endurance you will gain your lives (possess your soul)”, Luke 21:19. “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved,” Matthew 24:13. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let patience have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” James 1:1-4.

Patience, endurance, perseverance, whatever you choose, is foundational in a believer’s journey with God. We as children are not always very patient, but in surrendering to God’s plans and understanding the season you may be in, you will find greater peace as you learn to bow to His hands molding you into a new person and becoming more like Him. Oswald Chambers wrote in his ageless devotional, My Utmost For His Highest: “God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience.”

A few thoughts to help you as you practice the skill of patient endurance: 1) Realize God is not in a hurry. He has given you eternity. He changes you the most in the difficult places. I have prayers 10 years and counting as well as prophetic words 30 years and waiting. Know that He hears your cries and will perform His work in your life in His perfect time. 2) When waiting seems unbearable, ask God if there is something for you to learn or do in the situation. Ask Him to give you clarity and understanding. 3) Find peace and comfort in His love for you knowing He works all things for your good. He is changing you as you endure. 4) Plan a time each day to quiet yourself and simply rest or talk with Him. Tell Him how you feel, knowing that He is listening and in time will respond as He sets things in order.

Father, thank You that You love us so much that You allow difficult times in life to cause us to grow and mature as You mold us to be more like You. Thank You for Your divine impartation and intervention in our lives, guiding us, teaching and changing us. Help us to learn to trust You more, knowing that You desire for us to prosper and be in health, as You teach our souls to prosper (3 John 1:2). ”Let us not become weary of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” ( Galatians 6:9). Thank you Father!

In His Love,

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Share Lovingkindness During The Race

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Lovingkindness or mercy is an English word defining “hesed” in the Old Testament. Hesed is a term that is included in covenant language describing relationships between people that reflect generosity or compassion that comes from love. When our relationship with God is broken, He works at renewing it, because He loves what He has created; even when we have rejected His sovereignty and try to control our own destiny. He restrains His anger and does not give up on us. Hesed has many meanings and it is difficult to define as an English expression. in His kingdom, hesed is relational, reciprocal and active.

Within the English culture when someone receives a gift, after saying “Thank you” the gratitude turns to a reciprocal gift or way of giving. In the New Testament it works this way also. God gives to us by His love and we respond as a disciple ready to give to Him. In the Old Testament it is based on hesed and in the New Testament it is called grace. Grace can be defined as: God doing something for us, by His love, that we cannot do for ourself. In other words, it describes one aspect of God’s incredible character.

In the midst of giving hesed or lovingkindness to others, you can still experience battles such as: the good fight of faith, wrestling with the enemy, and the war of denying self. Through it all, the author of Hebrews encourages us: Let us run with endurance the race that is put before us.” The word “race” is an easier way to identify the challenges of life we all face.

As we encounter various battles as we run the race, He still wants His character (hesed-mercy-grace) to be extended to His people, identifying His kingdom. We first are obligated to give to God because of His continuous gift of grace to us, and then reciprocate our giving and love to others. Regardless what we encounter in the race, let’s continue to extend lovingkindness or hesed to Him and to others!

In His Covenant Love,

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Get Wisdom And Understanding!

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Discernment. Logic. Reasoning skills. These were all important concepts to help develop language skills in our students, during my tenure as a Speech-Language Therapist. It was important for students to not only learn their vocabulary and sentence development, but to also acquire the ability to weigh and rightly discern situations to make quality decisions. It is still important in life to gain understanding. Life works more smoothly when we have knowledge. In Proverbs we find the timeless words of wise men and Rabbi’s who taught on the ways to conduct one’s life. Some have described Proverbs as “Wisdom Literature.” We find in chapter 4 suggestions for a better less painful plan to life in the author’s wise and fatherly instruction: “Pay attention, hear intelligently and gain or recognize understanding to live life well.” He states: “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding, for I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction…. Keep my precepts and live. Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!…Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

We can have intellectual knowledge and still end up with a very difficult life. Is it possible that our society has grown in material wealth but possibly failed in encouraging children and young people to develop their understanding and discernment, while learning to think, communicate and reason for themselves. Even Isaiah 1:18 emphasized the importance to “come and reason together.” Instead of making decisions by cultural norms, familial belief structures, he said-she said, what would happen if we were able to pause, take in and process information and respond more slowly to others and situations; while taking time to gain understanding and perspective and prayerfully seeking the Spirit of Truth who comes with divine wisdom and revelation?

Proverbs 4 closes with further guidance in verses 20-23. “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Father, Spirit of Truth, please come and help us to gain wisdom, revelation and understanding as we apply heaven’s principles and precepts to our lives, our relationships and decision making. Thank you for transforming our hearts to better align with you and your word. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. May the eyes of your heart be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Eph. 1:17-19a).

In His Love,

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Reading, Writing and Running With Your Vision

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I admit that Habakkuk 2:2 use to be a great motivating biblical scripture to help me accomplish the goals that I set. My paraphrase…”Write the vision, make it plain so that I can run with it” was what I read and declared aloud! My business background helped me to set goals, predict the outcome and challenges, and then follow through with what needed to be done to meet the goal within the timed deadline. The only problem was I didn’t know or expect a lovely wilderness experience where nothing worked, except developing an intimate relationship with the Lord.

The last few weeks of 2018, I began to sense the Lord bringing me back to this scripture in Habakkuk. My argument of course was, “Lord, surely we do not need to write the Vision/New Years resolution for the new year, because everyone breaks them anyway.” However, I did take the opportunity to study (not just read) this Old Testament “Minor” Prophet Habakkuk and what he wrote. Minor simply means his writing was short, not that it wasn’t important. For instance, in Habakkuk 2:4 it says, “But the righteous will live by faith.” Think of how Martin Luther changed society with this incredible verse that Habakkuk wrote!

Now Habakkuk was doing his fair share of complaining about the Chaldeans (Babylonians). He questioned the fairness of God’s management of the world and how evil seems to win out over the righteous. He saw violence, lawbreaking, and injustice going unpunished. By the end of Habakkuk 2 he did conclude that because of God’s holiness, his own questions were not justified.

Part of God’s answer to him in Habakkuk 2:2 was to “Record the vision, and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.” I started to do a Hebrew word study on some of the English words, knowing it always brings a depth, and many times a totally different meaning to the English word in scripture. The word “vision” (chazown), means to “see, a mental sight, a dream, vision, a revelation, a prophecy.” I realized that God wanted each of us to write what He has spoken to us and make it clear.

The next part was much more than a New Year’s Resolution. The word “read” (quara) means to “proclaim, not just read it.” It was addressed to a specific recipient (us) and intended to elicit a specific response. It was not to the casual reader. It was also to name or declare the sovereignty over the things being named. Not just reading, but meditating and allowing the vision to penetrate your whole being so you may run with it.

The application of this scripture is to write out our words, prophecies, what we sense in prayer, highlighted scriptures, or how He spoke to us when we were journaling. Then, not just read them, but allow them to soak into our spirit. Mediate on them and allow the “vision” to motivate you by His Spirit. In Habakkuk 2:3 it does say: “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.” So if the vision has not yet come to pass, the appointed time will come! Even in his waiting, Habakkuk concluded at the end in 3:18: “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

I hope you will use the beginning of 2019 to review how God has spoken and communicated His “vision” for you. Allow it to permeate you, so you will be ready to run when the appointed time reveals itself!

In His Covenant Love,


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God's Names Reveal His Character And Nature

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What better way to prepare and strengthen yourself as we enter 2019 than to review and reflect upon some of God’s names. There are twists and turns with unexpected surprises, strife and challenges in this life journey, so may I suggest you consider taking a few moments to consider some of His names and prepare your heart. Personally, His names have kept me, strengthened and comforted me over the years and I know they will give support and life to you also.

This year, if you battle sickness of any kind, remember to call out, ask and declare His name over your circumstances, for He is “Jehovah-Rapha.” He is health and life to you. When you have any provisional needs call to Him and allow Him to help you and be your supply; for His name is “Jehovah-Jireh,” your Supplier. If you find yourself weary and in need of guidance and protection, remember to call upon Him as - “Jehovah-Nissi,” for the Lord is your banner and conqueror. This name was actually given by Moses who gave this name to the altar he built as they celebrated the defeat of the Amalekites at Rephidim in Exodus 17:15. His banner over you is not only Love, but Victory for you! Always know that whatever your situation this year, you will find Him present, for HIs name is also Jehovah-Shamah - “Jehovah is there!.” This name was given to the city in Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 48:35. This truly defines His character and His positioning to you; always in the mist - always there with you!

There are so many names of God it is difficult to list them all here. But if you are interested and find His names comforting, you can of course check the internet. Also John Paul Jackson wrote a wonderful book of HIs names: “I Am: 365 Names of God”, and Katherine Johnson has an in depth manual on the Names of God through our Covenant Center bookstore which you can find on our website: www.thecovenantcenter.com.

As you study His names, you will become more intimately aware of who God is; and knowing Him more intimately, you will receive a greater understanding of not only His nature and character, but also HIs ways.

I’ve listed a few of His names that have been very precious to me. I hope you find them encouraging and enriching to your life in Christ.

Jehovah-Adonai - “Jehovah, My Master and Lord”
Jehovah-El-Shaddai - “Jehovah, Who is More Than Enough”
Jehovah-Elyon - “Jehovah, God Most High.”
Jehovah-M’Kaddesh - “Jehovah My Sanctifier”
Jehovah-Rohi - “Jehovah My Shepherd”
Jehovah-Shalom - “Jehovah My Peace and Prosperity”
Jehovah-Tsidquenu - “Jehovah My Righteousness”
Jehovah-Yahweh - “Jehovah -Great I Am”
Jehovah-Or - “The Lord is LIght”
Jehovah-Goaleka - “The Lord My Redeemer”
Jehovah-Isabaoth - “The Lord of Host”

You are precious to God! He loves you! When you are confronted in any situation this year, know that it is a set up for Him to reveal His nature and His character to you and for you. He desires to intimately know you and I pray that through this year your relationship with Him will grow and your life will be enriched and changed by His love and grace.

In HIs Love,

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The God Of All Comfort

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Pain and suffering is an inevitable part of life in this world. As much as we may resist it, sooner or later it finds us. For most of Thanksgiving and now into the Christmas season, I’ve been sitting here with intense pain and spasms from a near miss auto accident. I’ve actually battled back, neck and disc pain for over forty years from a high speed head on crash while in my 20’s. I see more and more each day, each painful episode of life gives us an opportunity to know Him more intimately, in His faithfulness, His presence, love and beauty, as well as identifying with His suffering.

In our pain and weakness God comes with His comfort and peace. In our loneliness, He comes as a friend and teacher. In our times of discouragement He comes as the God of Hope. He teaches us there are moments in life to simply embrace the pain and allow Him to do His deep work and bring healing and new life. We find ourselves alone with HIm, and in this time a deeper more intimate relationship and understanding of HIm and His ways begins to form. In this time we begin to understand that He has never left us or forsaken us. He is always present to guide and comfort, and in our pain and by His word, He changes us a little each day into more of His image.

May this Christmas and New Year season, whatever your situation, find you wrapped in HIs arms of comfort and peace as He changes you to appear like more of HIm.

Father, thank you that you are always with us, especially in times of pain and discomfort. Thank You for strengthening us and imparting to us greater peace as we learn to surrender our circumstances to You, so You may have Your way and complete Your divine word within us. Thank You for the lessons of patience and waiting as You change our hearts; and thank You in these moments of developing an attitude of thankfulness for the little things of life that expand in our eyes and hearts. Where our appreciation grows in the things we often take for granted, as they burst forth in beauty and brilliance revealing Your omnipotence and majesty.

And now during this sacred season and new year, “May the God of all comfort, who comforts in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:4-5).

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New year!

In His Love,

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Continued Thanksgiving

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Just because Thanksgiving has passed does not mean we have to forget about a sincere heart of thankfulness. 1st Thessalonians 5 speaks of this as it declares: “In everything give thanks.” I realize that everyone has life challenges and sometimes suffering that has caused us to question at times if God is around, does He hear us or does He care. We may say or think, “If He really cared, why didn’t He do something or stop this event from happening?” These are difficult questions to wrestle through.

To understand the covenant that God has invited us to enter, we also need to remember that He is holy, faithful and trustworthy. His will for us is based on His best intended development for us. He knows what we need. He chooses to love us. The struggles we experience do not dictate or change His love for us. He guides us back to the promises and blessings of being in relationship with HIm. My attitude or sin may affect my joy and disrupt my communion with Him, but He does not give up on me.

After we wrestle with Him and some of our discouragement subsides, I believe Adam Clark summarizes and gives great encouragement in the following found in his commentary on 1st Thessalonians 5:18. It states: In everything give thanks, for this reason, that all things work together for good to them that love God; therefore, every occurrence may be a subject of gratitude and thankfulness. While we live to God, prosperity and adversity will be equally helpful to you. For this is the will of God, that ye should be always happy; that he should ever be in the spirit of prayer; and that ye should profit by every occurrence in life, and be continually grateful and obedient; for gratitude and obedience are inseparably connected.

I am not saying that there are not challenges for each believer, but even James reminds us of Job in James 5:11: “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”

Lord, give us a heart of thanksgiving! Thank you for Your love, Your mercy, grace and compassion!

In HIs Covenant Love,

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