Friday, November 6, 2015

HILLTOP CHAPEL NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2015

HILLTOP  CHAPEL  NEWSLETTER


NOVEMBER  2015


“GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS”

    There is no better holiday, for the sheer joy of gathering together, than Thanksgiving.
There are no ulterior motives (gifts), no secret agendas (more gifts) or reasons for pretending to
like certain people (expensive gifts).  You can just go to grandma’s or aunt Bertha’s house and
eat to your heart’s content without feeling any pressure or guilt and have a great time, expressing true thankfulness for all that God has provided.  He is truly an awesome God!
    Have you ever given much thought to what it actually means to “give thanks in all things”?
The concept of giving thanks is pretty easy to understand, but are we comfortable with putting ourselves in the position of accepting what “in all things” really encompasses?  I think our total commitment to that proposition may wane from time to time.
    The apostle Paul, in I Thessalonians chapter 5, lays out 22 commandments—and you thought you only had to worry about 10—for followers of Christ.  In verses 16-18, he writes: “Rejoice always,pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”How many of us spend the whole day rejoicing?  Are you on your knees 24/7, just praying up a storm?Are you thankful for each and every thing that pops up on any given day?  My guess is that a firm yes to each of the preceding questions is not a realistic expectation.  So, why does verse 18 say, “…this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”?
    Exploring this prescription for successful Christian living requires an open mind, a willing heart and wisdom only God the Holy Spirit can impart.  I think another passage of scripture may be helpful in unlocking what seems to be a mystery.  Once again, Paul is our guide as he writes to the church in Philippi.  He expresses three fundamental points, in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Now, we’re getting somewhere! 
    The very first piece of the puzzle and the very last piece of the puzzle is the realization that God has us and our situations, however dire they may seem, in the palm of His hand.  Our willingness to accept that reality is absolutely essential to grasping how in the world we can possibly be thankful in every circumstance.  After all, it is in our best interest to be reminded that everything we have is a gift from Him.  We are His children and His desire is to have a close, personal and intimate relationship with us.  That sounds a little farfetched to many folks, but it is absolutely true.  Romans 8:16-17 tells us: “The (Holy) Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”  That’s the kind of relationship that you and I, as believers and followers of Christ have with God right now.  It will never change, throughout eternity.
    It’s still difficult to be doing “flips of gratitude” when the situation seems to require tears of frustration.  It all comes down to our perspective as we face each trial or testing.  How about looking at the circumstance as an opportunity to express our thanks to Him for giving us the strength to endure whatever the trial may be?  Is there a possibility that we could actually verbalize a confirmation of our knowledge that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”? (Romans 8:28).  There is no limit to the number of ways we can give true and honest thanks to our God and Savior, if we have the proper frame of mind and a heart full of love for Him.
    Thanksgiving day only lasts for 24 hours, but true thankfulness in all things can be a 24/7
experience for each one of us if we allow ourselves to be absolutely surrendered to His will and purpose for our lives.  I am absolutely convinced that Paul was 100% right when he wrote:  “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, not height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).  
    You may find it difficult to give thanks for everything, but maybe now you will find it a little
easier to give thanks in everything, knowing that the sovereign God of the universe holds you in His hands and will “never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5).
    May God richly bless you and your families this Thanksgiving and until Jesus comes again.   

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