Rabboni!

 

Do you love “reunion stories” as much as I do?  The ones where the Dad has been deployed to serve his country and comes home to surprise his children in a special way, maybe disguised as someone else?  They get me every time!  Do you recall a time when you have seen someone you were not expecting to see?  How excitedly did you greet them?  

Today we look at the story of Mary returning to the tomb where Jesus was placed.  We learn a lot about people from their instinctive, immediate reactions to situations.  Here, in John’s account of the resurrection, we see how Mary Magdalene reacted to seeing Jesus.

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.  He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?  Who is it you are looking for?”  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”  Jesus said to her,  “Mary.”  She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,  “Rabboni!”  (which means “Teacher”). 

John 20: 14-16

Mary had been through an emotional ringer.  She had come to the tomb, expecting to find Jesus’ body.  To her surprise, the stone had been removed and He wasn’t there.  She told Peter and John, who ran to the tomb and saw for themselves.

As Peter and John returned to their homes, Mary was left there at the tomb, weeping, alone.  As she stood there, Jesus approached her, but she did not recognize Him.  Jesus spoke her name and she knew that this was Jesus.

What was her reaction when she saw Him?  She simply said, “Rabboni!”  John said that this Aramaic word means “Teacher.”  Merriam-Webster defines rabboni as Master, Teacher – used as a Jewish title of respect applied especially to spiritual instructors and learned persons.  This word clearly revealed that Mary thought of Jesus not just as a teacher, but a great teacher.  The person who had taught her so many truths!  

There were many ways Mary could have looked at Jesus.  To her, He was Rabboni.  Her great Master.  Her respected Teacher.  Her Lord.  

There are many ways people see Jesus today.  Some consider Him to have been a prophet or perhaps a wise man.  He was those things, and more.  He was the Son of God.  The Messiah.  And He was a Great Teacher.  Rabboni!  

How will you greet your Savior the day you meet Him?  

Rabbi

John 3:2 – This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

These days we often think and discuss of Jesus, among His many names, as “Teacher.” Which is an important trait; we always have more to learn as people, but especially so when it comes to embodying, applying, and sharing Scripture. But seeing as Christ came to earth among God’s people in Israel, it’s important to recognize how He did bring a radically different teaching that you could only come to God through faith in Christ Jesus, but that He was also an important teacher in their culture and time, earning Him the name “Rabbi” in many instances.

If you were like me before looking more into this matter, you may have considered Rabbi simply the Hebrew translation for “teacher.” Besides, as John 1:38 says, “And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’” There’s a definite notion that Rabbis were the teachers of Scripture and God’s commands, and often enacted the law based on their interpretation of God’s word in the case of the courts such as the Sanhedrin. But that apparently was a miscommunication, more of a Western way of thinking about the student-teacher dichotomy. Turns out the original Hebrew רַבִּי has that implication, but ultimately means more along the lines of “master”, or “my master” specifically. And to think of referring to Jesus in that manner seems more fitting. In calling Jesus “Rabbi”, one would admit their submission: their future found in Christ and His teaching.

It’s worth noting too with this context in mind that it’s Nicodemus talking to Jesus here in John 3:2, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, acknowledging His sanctity. One of the spiritual and legal leaders of the Jewish people at the time was calling this man their teacher, their master; how fitting that even one who would lead and teach those of Christ would recognize His authority above their own. Though Nicodemus would eventually fail to sufficiently speak up for Jesus’s sake in regards to this belief (a failing Jesus would have surely anticipated here, even as he taught Nicodemus about being born again into the Kingdom of God), he still recognized and believed that only the Son of God can truly point the way to the Father.

So when we consider how Jesus is Rabbi, we can consider Him as our teacher, from whom we find wisdom about how to live in a holy manner, but that marks only the beginning. We consider Jesus our master, our mentor, our leader; someone we can look to to learn the lessons of Godly, sanctimonious living. Jesus took the Law based on following God’s commands, and turned it on its head, instead teaching that only through faith in Jesus Christ and our death and resurrection in Him could we be by God’s side. To call Jesus Rabbi is to follow His teachings; to submit to His interpretation of the Law that we read about in Scripture; to know the world is saved through Him; to know that “everyone who believe may have eternal life in Him.” (John 3:15) In doing this, we declare Jesus Christ is our master, our Lord, the Son of God. Consider today in what ways the life you lives reflects Jesus being your own master in this way. For as everyone sees how the Rabbi leads the student, so will the world learn about Christ through His students’ actions.

Quieter

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Psalm 23:2

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

We live in a world today with a lot of noise. When I say noise, I don’t necessarily mean audible sounds, although for many of us with young children that may very well be the case except before they get up and after they go to bed. When I say noise, I mean all the things that distract us causing us to focus on and think about the wrong things.

What do most of us do when we first wake up…we grab our phones. You don’t even have to go to your preferred news website to hear the noise. You just click on your preferred social media and not only will you see posts from news outlets there, but you’ll see the posts and banter back in forth from your “friends” or a celebrity you follow. Nearly immediately your blood pressure goes up and anxiety is heightened based on something they said you agree with or disagree with. Nearly everyone has an agenda these days and is speaking out against or in favor something. While yes, certain things need to be brought to light..the fact of the matter is nearly everything we read is focused on problems, and it’s not just from the clickbait negative headlines news outlets post. I’m already getting anxious, and we haven’t even looked at today’s long personal and professional to do list, opened our email with the unexpected fire to put out, or dug into our mail with the bill we didn’t see coming.

What do you do during these times to calm your self and get your mind back focused in the right way? Yes, I would recommend the centering breath Dr. Jason Selk taught me…breath in for 6 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, and out for 7 seconds. This simple method has helped some of the world’s greatest athletes calm their nerves in the midst of some of sports highest stress situations and perform at their best. However, this does not give us the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Pastor and author Francis Chan said, “People who are obsessed with God have an intimate relationship with Him. They are nourished by God’s Word throughout the day because they know 40 minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them throughout the week, especially when they encounter so many distractions and alternative messages.”

We just started a new small group Bible study this week about the seven “I am..” statements from Jesus in the book of John. This first week we studied John 6 and specifically John 6:35 where Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus had just fed 5,000 and the same people came back to Him looking for more food. He reminded them that no earthly food would sustain them eternally. Their fathers ate manna and still died. He was the only food that could give them eternal life and that is what they should be focused on…Him and eternal matters…not temporal matters.

If our stomach growls after just a couple hours without earthly food needing 3 meals per day and Jesus tells us He is more important as the bread of life, how many times are you eating His bread throughout the day? Based on His words, how many times do we really need it?

Be real and ask yourself the following questions…

  1. How many times am I in His Word each day..even once?
  2. How many times do I pray and talk with Him throughout the day?
  3. How many times do I even think about Him throughout the day?
  4. How many times do I mention His name to others throughout the day?

Are you eating His bread throughout the day so He can feed you and quiet your heart, mind, and soul? We are facing really challenging times of unrest right now, and although I’m not going to say they are the worst our world has ever faced, I will confidently say there has NEVER been a time with so many negative distractions and alternative ungodly messages being thrown at our brains because of the access to our minds through the amount of technology and media we use on an hourly basis each day. There is a slow trickle to normalizing and justifying what the Bible says is clearly wrong through the messaging we are constantly receiving and then even getting Christians to think they are in the wrong by disagreeing and following the Bible.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

We must find ways to lead us in the right direction and to quiet our hearts and minds through eating the bread of life every hour of every day, and even more importantly, we must teach our kids and grandkids the same. Their little fragile minds are like Play-Doh and are being shaped by whomever and whatever we let mold them. What foundation is being formed in their mind?

Let’s be fed by Him. Let’s go to His Word. Let’s go to Him in prayer and talk to Him throughout the day not just about the big things…but about the little things. Let’s tell others He is the only bread that will quiet our hearts and minds and satisfy our eternal hunger so they can be fed too by the only food that lasts.

Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted In the Earth!

Psalm 46:10

Purifier

 

 

Malachi 3:3

“For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.” This is Malachi’s warning to the people of Israel, specifically to the Levite priests who had become corrupt stumbling blocks to the people of Israel instead of spiritual leaders to them. The people’s relationship with God was broken because of their sin, and they were showing no signs of changing their ways. Hypocrisy, neglecting God and careless living have devastating consequences…we read about it all of the time in the Bible, but do we believe the same is true in our own lives? Hopefully as participants in this blog, we are experiencing shorter periods of time where neglecting God and careless living describes our lives, but the Israelites were characterized by being unfaithful. Even though they weren’t openly saying they rejected God, they were living as if He did not exist. Men were marrying women outside the faith who were worshiping idols, people were choosing divorce for no reason other than they wanted a change, and people acted like they could do anything without being punished. Then they wondered why God refused to accept their offerings and bless them. This society sounds so much like ours today, it is frightening.

So God speaks through Malachi of the process of refining metal. In this process, the raw metal is heated with fire until it melts. The impurities separate from it and rise to the surface. They are skimmed off, leaving the pure metal. Without this heating and melting, there could be no purifying. I wish we could have witnessed what this process actually looked like in people’s lives for the 400 years after Malachi, but the Bible is silent for this period of time. We know that God did what He said He would because Zechariah is the next priest mentioned after Malachi and He was faithfully serving God in the temple when we meet him in the Gospels.

What can we learn from this name of God? If God is our purifier just as He was the purifier of the Israelites at the end of the Old Testament, what can we expect? I think we need to start by putting this name in the context of our relationship with God. Let’s start with the fact that He loves us and desires to be with us so deeply that He gave His only Son to pay the price for our sins. He did the work and made the way available to us to have relationship with Him. We may also have to look back at a few more of His characteristics to put this name into the proper perspective.  He is our atoning sacrifice, our author and the perfecter of our faith, our comforter, compassionate, our defender, familiar with suffering, our fortress, gracious, our holiness, our hope, our peace, and our resting place. In the context of who God is and how He cares for us, does it not stand to reason that His purifying us is for our good?

I think we can all agree that being “refined until the impurities rise to the surface” does not sound pleasant. But can we also agree that sometimes, for specific reasons, this process may be necessary for us to become the people who God wants us to become? Are there things we hold too tightly to, or is there specific sin we refuse to be honest about in our lives? Are we blind to certain behaviors or beliefs that are enjoyable for us?  I hope that we are seeking God and His truth in our lives. I hope that we are not professing God from our mouths yet living for ourselves. I hope that when sin arises in our lives, we are honest about it and asking God to help us turn away from it. I hope our hearts desire right living so much that we can see the benefit of God being our purifier.

 

I hope this morning that our hearts are like David’s in the 139th Psalm. “ Search me oh God, and know my heart. Test me to know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

The Prophet

John 7:40-44

“When they heard these words, sone of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’ So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him”. 

Recently, I was taken back to the amazement to what it meant to for Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior. Many times, I believe that we lose sight of what it means to have Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. However, when I look back at what is in Scripture, it must have been extremely difficult for the Israelites to understand who Jesus was. 

Jesus showed up as a teacher of the Word to the Jewish people. In His early thirties, Jesus was a young man, who knew the Torah, The Prophets, and Psalms/Proverbs backward and forward. However, by name, Jesus was only the son of Joseph, a carpenter. Not many people knew him as the prophesized messiah. In John 1: 46, Nathanael said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus came into a scene where people believed that nothing good can come from this man. 

Then, we see that as Jesus gets more renown with the people of Israel, they believe that He is either Elijah or some type of prophet. Jesus wasn’t just some prophet, teacher, or even carpenter, but their coming Savior. In our verses today, we see Jesus described as “The Prophet”, and then later discussed that Jesus is the Christ. 

What is a prophet? What is the difference between a Savior and a Prophet? Which one do we classify Jesus as? 

In Scripture, we see that a prophet is a chosen person from God to speak on behalf of Him. Some examples of prophets were Elijah, Elisha, Isiah, Daniel, etc. God used each one of these individuals to speak to the people of Israel. Also, each one of these prophets foretold an aspect of the coming Christ. These prophets spoke to the people of Israel and did help them through certain situations, but they were not the ones saving them. 

However, Jesus, as the Messiah is someone that was to come and save the people from the World. The Jewish people of this time expected an overpowered prophet to save them from the Romans. However, Jesus came as fully man and God to save them from their sins. 

The people wanted an overpowered prophet, just as we do sometimes because dealing with the knowledge of having a personal Savior who has delivered them from their sins requires a lot more effort. Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior. He is the ultimate Prophet that fulfilled every prophesy because He has loved us. 

What would it look like if we saw Jesus just as a child does? Take a look at a clip from The Chosen episode 3 to get a real idea of what it looks like to view Jesus in a real way! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xMfU-YY3Eo

Promise of the Father

“And then being assembled together with them, He commanded them to not depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, He said, ‘you have heard from me’.”  Acts 1:4

The setting of this verse is after Jesus had died and resurrected.  The apostle Luke wrote in Acts that Jesus appeared before the disciples many times.  Jesus was preparing the disciples for their ministry. This particular time he foretold of the disciples being granted the power of healing and to perform miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Bible tells us that the disciples performed many miracles along their journeys while they preached Christianity around the world.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with the other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4

The disciples followed Jesus because he delivered on His promises.  Jesus modeled the traits of His Heavenly Father while He was on earth.

Father is a powerful word in our lives.  The mention of that word may evoke feelings of warmth and admiration or emotions of disappointment and sadness.  The relationship that we have with our earthly father, good or bad, may have a meaningful impact on how we view a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Is the word father a positive or a negative word for you?  Do you (or did you) have a father that delivered on his promises?

I am fortunate to have a wonderful earthly father.  He has been a mentor, counselor, comforter, intercessor, advocate, and when needed, a disciplinarian.   I believe my relationship with my earthly father allows me to know and yearn for an even better relationship with my Heavenly Father.  I am thankful everyday for the lessons taught to me by my earthly father.

Perhaps you did not or do not have a good relationship with your earthly father. Maybe you don’t know your earthly father or the thought of the word father does not inspire you to have a relationship with God the Father.  I can assure you, there is a Heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and wants a relationship with you.  A relationship with your Heavenly Father will be very different than your earthly father.

We love and admire people who make us feel great and whom we trust.  We want to spend time with those that love us unconditionally and value us for who we are, flaws and all, and forgive us when we are out of line.  The best relationships are filled with honesty, candor, and the truest sense of expressing and acting on what is right for a person, even when they may not want to hear it at the time.

Our Heavenly Father wants one thing from us, follow Him.  God the Father has never promised us a life of joy and happiness every day.  In fact, our Heavenly Father is quite honest that our lives on earth will be filled with challenges and tribulations.  James, the brother of Jesus, said in James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:23-26 is “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”

Did you catch that?  God could condemn us for the sins we commit today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter.  But, He chose to forgive us.  He wants to us to ask for His forgiveness and be honest with our sinfulness and understand the sacrifice that Jesus made with this death on the cross.  No other Father will love you as much as your Heavenly Father.  He knows by our nature, we are sinful beings.  We say and do bad things each day and have no idea why we did them.  And then, we repeat them again the next day.  It does not matter what the sin is, no matter how bad, your Heavenly Father will forgive you.  All you have to do is ask.

Given the love God shows and his demonstrated actions of forgiveness, and fulfilling His promises, that is the kind of Father that I want to have a relationship with.

Heavenly Father.  Thank you for your constant patience and forgiveness of my sins.  You are a good Father.  You are worthy of my praise and devotion.  You deliver on your promises each day and I want a relationship with you.  Please wash over me with your grace and peace.  Amen

Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin

 

 

Prince of Peace

Five months ago, I began reflecting on the God of Peace, and shared my heart in a Bible Journal entry. It was the end of March and the world seemed to be looking for peace. The unknowns of the pandemic brought so much fear and anxiety into the world. The timing of that assignment was a blessing for me to pause and focus on the God of Peace.

Four months later and I have the focus of Jesus as our Prince of Peace. Pretty fitting, considering that we are in such a place of unrest and on so many levels, beyond the pandemic. But we have the perfect Son, in the form of a Prince, from the lineage of the King of All Kings, that can provide us perfect peace. Even in the storms.

What corners of your world need more peace? Do you need to be free from the worries and stress of this world? Or do you have relationships that need peace? Jesus, alone, can restore all relationships:

        • Our relationship with God.
        • Our relationship with man.

Jesus reconciles us to God, makes us righteous so we can dwell with the father for eternity. His saving grace provides this path to wholeness and peace with the father.

Jesus heals the wounds and pain of sin. This healing is what allows reconciliation with man. Without the healing, we can forgive, but it requires Jesus’ healing power for true restoration and reconciliation. Our Prince of Peace, Jesus, can do that!

Many of you know my marriage went through some dark storms. For a long period of time I did not see healing, reconciliation or restoration as part of our story.

The Lord used that time to do a major work in my heart and in my husband’s heart. We had a lot of people praying for healing, restoration, and reconciliation, even when I couldn’t pray that prayer myself. There were many days that I was too exhausted, wounded, and angry to do any more work on the marriage. Thank you, Jesus, for interceding on our behalf!

Just as Jesus heals our physical bodies, he heals us spiritually and emotionally. Have you experienced this? For me, he brought so much healing to my heart, that I couldn’t accomplish on my own. And believe me, I tried to white knuckle my way through, on my own. I realized that my fake version of “getting by” wasn’t true healing, and wasn’t bringing any peace. And while healing and peace looks different for each person, for me it eventually led to healing in my marriage. The path to peace was different than I imagined, but that’s one of the things I love about the Lord: His ways are greater than mine.

I also learned in this season that peace isn’t the absence of conflict or living in some blissful state of harmony. Ultimately, it’s having confidence that I am His, and He is mine. God with us – and living in us! At the end of the day, month, year, and lifetime, I am HIS and made whole through Jesus. He’s got me and will lead me home for eternity, and THAT is complete peace.

If you’re in the middle of a life storm, you can trust Jesus to bring you peace. Whether you need comfort to walk you through, grace and forgiveness of sin, or healing in relationships. You can trust Him to lead you to peace!

What are your personal testimonies of peace, that can only be attributed to Jesus, as our Prince of Peace?

Prince and Savior

I’m back to interviewing people again and it is continuously humbling to meet so many humans who are more experienced and smarter than me. Each candidate has his or her own super strengths, and usually if they’ve made it through the resume filters they’re likely qualified and capable of doing the job. The end result though is that only one will be chosen and receive the job title, a specific authority in the organization where I work.

While the title is necessary to reflect the role, within our organization titles are really not that important. We’re a USA-based manufacturing company where people roll up their sleeves and get the job done. My favorite leaders are the ones who humbly and generously invest in others to become better leaders, listen, guide and ultimately influence (rather than “boss”). They’re the kind of people who you lead in the same way regardless of their title or the situation.

Just like Jesus

One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 7:28-29. Jesus just finished the greatest sermon of all time and the response was chilling. I want to be this kind of leader, no apparent title, but cutting to the heart through words and action.

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)

On Earth, Jesus didn’t walk around showing off some fancy title. He led. Greater than any leader before or after him, he led by example. Loving, building relationships, healing, giving, spending time with the dirtiest and most shameful humans so that we may be saved.

This man Jesus volunteered his life for us and then was raised from the dead. There is proof of his existence and regardless of what anyone says, it is undeniable that 2000 years ago, something happened that ignited a fire that still burns today.

The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. (Acts 5:30)

In addition to teaching as one who had authority, he had (has) all authority, he has a title. The very next verse articulates Jesus’ title as relevant to our lives: Prince and Savior

God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. (Acts 5:31)

While God gave him the title and put him at his right hand, we must also choose. Note the 2nd half of Acts 5:31. We learn the title, but he has this authority for a reason. We have free will to choose; the things of this world that we allow to control us, consumption, power, or wealth – or we choose to put Jesus in his rightful place today, for the sake of our eternity. As we make him the Prince (leader) of our lives, as we repent, he in turn forgives and becomes our Savior.

Priest Forever

 

You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6).

 

The name of God we are studying today is “Priest Forever”.  To understand the significance of this title, I had to go back to the Old Testament and consult my Life Application Study Bible (Tyndale House Publishers).

To the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, priests were the highest religious authority in the land. One of the primary responsibilities of a priest was to make atonement for the sins of the Israel nation.  Do you remember the various types of sacrifices required of God’s people?  Take a look at Leviticus chapters 1-7 for the list of offerings and the procedures associated with each:

 

  • Burnt offering – to make payment for sins in general
  • Grain offering – to show honor and respect to God in worship
  • Peace offering – To express gratitude to God
  • Sin offering – To make make payment for unintentional sins of uncleanness, neglect or thoughtlessness
  • Guilt offering – To make payment for sins against God and others

 

In reading through Leviticus a couple years ago, I remember that trying to keep track of all these sacrifices, what they were for, and the specific procedures of each simply wore me out.  If the procedures for each sacrifice weren’t followed, no forgiveness was available.  If, however, the procedures were dutifully followed, the sacrifice offered temporary forgiveness.  These sacrifices had to be continuously repeated in order to stay in favor with God.

Under the new covenant, however, the Levitical priesthood was cancelled in favor of Jesus Christ’s role as the High Priest.  Jesus’ sacrifice was a one time act that offers total and permanent forgiveness.  It never requires repeating.

 

The details of the priestly role, the specific sacrifices and the difference between priests from the line of Levi and those from the line of Melchizedek can be confusing.  Rather than try to sort them all out, I settled on this – don’t sweat it – keep your eyes on Jesus and focus on the significance of faith in him.  There is no substitute.  No earthly Christfollower can do what he did for us.  He gave his life as the complete sacrifice for our sins.  Once and for all, forever.  He is all we need.

Praise of Israel

Today I received a text from my Mom with a great list of daily habits. I have found that my self discipline has waned over the past few months and I have not been intentional with my thoughts. I’ve forgotten the little things that kept me going when I was so busy and more aware of my time. There were multiple things on the list but the very first one was “3 things I’m grateful for”. Just 3. Go ahead…..3 things. Gratefulness is important because it changes our thinking and our perspective. If gratefulness had a face it would be relaxed, thoughtful, and humble. Are you feeling that way today?

Psalms 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel. KJV

Israel was God’s chosen nation in the Old Testament. They were chosen as God’s people to spread the news of Yahweh to the nations. In the new testament, God chose Jesus to spread the news and ultimately die on the cross for our sins. The disciples carried the news of Christ after his crucifixion so that ALL would know. 1 Timothy 2: 3-5 says, This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Today, those who believe in Jesus are the chosen people. We are the chosen people!

God inhabits the praises of his people and we are His people through Jesus Christ.  God does not inhabit fear, discouragement, hopelessness, darkness, or failure.  He is aware of these feelings but that is not where He wants us to remain. When we feel far from God it could be that we are not expressing our praise or thanksgiving to Him. David starts this Psalm with agony over feeling as if God has forgotten him and he complains of feeling alone. After a few verses he starts thanking God for all that God has done for him and his ancestors in the past. After praising God, David softens and this chapter goes from “doom and gloom” to hope for the future and God’s plan. Our past and the past of the Bible are our best reference for what God has done and can do in our lives.

Have you been in a state of fear lately? It’s so easy to focus on the negative. Have you ever taken note of how it makes you feel? Increased heart rate, jitteriness, sleeplessness, irritation, inability to focus, restlessness, doubt. Fear and too much stress change the chemicals in our body into a fight or flight response regardless of the reality of the situation.  This response is helpful when we are in clear danger for our lives and need to get away quickly, but I’m usually laying in bed thinking about the future when it hits me. Definitely not a life or death situation. I am not being chased by a lion although my body is responding as if I am. This is where satan thrives – when we are scared and in a state of panic. Dwelling on the negative will keep us in the negative. Our best defense is to remember all that God has done for us and begin thanking Him for each moment. If its hard to come up with personal moments the Bible is full of them! From healing the blind and the lame to rescuing the Israelites from slavery to sending Jesus to die for us. As we allow our hearts and minds to be thankful God is able to inhabit our hearts and bring “peace that surpasses all understanding”. Our thankfulness is a reminder of all that God has already brought us through.

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, 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 you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The struggle is real, but our God is bigger!!

I am thankful for this community of believers today. There is hope and peace for us.