Thank You, Lord!    

"Rejoice always... in everything give thanks;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you..

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"This is the day that the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

I love those two wonderful verses, but often they are hidden behind all kinds of mental clutter.  Busy with my daily assignments, I forget to keep "rejoicing" and "giving thanks" to Him.  My Goal shifts from God Himself to the work He has given me, and distractions hide the joy of His presence.  I become "purpose-driven" even though I long to be led by my Lord every moment.


Knowing my weakness, my faithful Shepherd gently nudges me back to Himself.  He may use sickness, a computer problem, a prayer request, an email message... whatever serves to remind me that He alone is my strength, my wisdom, my hope and my victory!


"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me," He whispers silently, "for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. " Then I thank Him, fall on my knees, and draw close to Him again. 


"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting." 

Psalm 139:23-24


Nothing is more wonderful than knowing the Shepherd and resting in Him! 


Daniel knew Him well. God's faithful Old Testament prophet would rather die than dishonor His Lord by hiding his faith. Even when a new Babylonian law banned Biblical worship, Daniel “knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom." Though impressed with Daniel's faith and integrity, the reluctant king had to yield to his evil counselors who "brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.” Daniel 6:10, 16


You know what happened next. God sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. Daniel was saved, because God's sovereignty far exceeds the will of man or the strength of a lion.  There is no limit to the sovereign reign of our almighty King!


Yet He has often allowed His faithful friends to face cruel death and unthinkable suffering in this life -- then rise to a martyr's welcome in His glorious eternity. For those who follow Jesus are also called to share in His suffering, so that greater victories may be won. The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) tells of one such triumph:

"The widow stood near the body of her martyred husband, holding the hands of two of her four children. Her husband had died in prison, and the marks on his body made it clear that death had come slowly and painfully.

"The other believers knew this could be their fate too, yet hundreds came to his funeral. He had died for his faith only three months after his conversion, and now they mourned him. ... Eighty people publicly accepted Christ that day, including many young people who had been part of the Communist Youth Organization.

"The Christians walked the length of the city to the river, where they baptized the new believers. The crowd had now grown to over fifteen hundred people.

"Soon, carloads of police arrived. They set out to arrest the leaders of the service.... The Christians immediately knelt in prayer, asking God to allow them to finish the service. Then they stood, shoulder to shoulder... as the baptism service went on. ...  One thousand people were inspired by the sacrificial example of one new believer."

Here in America, we often take freedom for granted and put our trust in the "inalienable rights" supposed to prevent such injustice. Remember, the Soviet constitution which, like the UN Declaration on Human Rights, promised almost the same rights and freedoms as our Bill of Right. But those who refused to conform to Communist doctrines were denied  those promised rights. Now America is drifting down a similar changing path. [See Seeds of Persecution]


As Biblical values are casually tossed aside, a flood of contrary values fill the gaps. We shouldn't be surprised if our sovereign Lord withdraws His protection -- just as He did with ancient Israel when it rebelled against Him.


But those who trust and follow Him can count on His promise: 


“'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'

So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.

What can man do to me?'”  Hebrews 13:5-6


In the midst of the challenges, we will praise our Father, who never fails His own children. He is our Refuge from raging storms and our Hiding Place from corruption and evil. He is our Savior and our  Strength -- our Wisdom and our Way. 


"Thanks be to God,

Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Corinthians 15:57

Thanks for prayers that Thou has answered,
Thanks for what Thou does deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,

Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for Love beyond compare!

To hear the melody, click on

1. Extreme Devotion 11/02/2006

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