As Thanksgiving is upon us, I have been reflecting upon the topic of giving thanks and have been overwhelmed with gratitude for all that the Lord has done through the years. I have been reminded of the Lord's grace, kindness and provision. I have recognized that I am usually a lot happier and more peaceful when I'm thankful and when I focus on what the Lord is doing rather than on what He's not.
I have discovered that some of the rewards of practicing gratitude are a fresh perspective of heaven and a peace that passes understanding. I pray that my thoughts on of stewarding peace impart great courage to remain in Him no matter what comes your way.
In Psalm 100, the psalmist talks about entering His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.
"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations" (Ps. 100:4-5).
Thanksgiving and praise usher us into His presence with a sweet invitation to take hold of more of Him. These two pairs are significant attributes that help us better cultivate a lifestyle of intimacy with Jesus and peace that passes understanding.
Let's start with Thankfulness. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, it says, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
This verse says be joyful always. It doesn't say just to be joyful when we feel like it or when God has done something marvelous on our behalf but to be full of joy always. We can choose to be full of joy as we meditate on Him. This verse also says to give thanks in all circumstances. In the most horrible of circumstances, might there be one small seed of hope remaining that we can recognize and praise Him for? He is not saying that we should celebrate and give thanks for bad things that happen to us. We know Romans 8:28 says He will turn bad things around for our good, but that doesn't make these bad circumstances any less painful. He says in the midst of them, however, that we should give thanks to Him regardless of what is going on around us.
No matter what storms may come or go in our life, surrounding circumstances don't change the fact that God is good and worthy of our praise. He is always faithful, He always remains, He will never leave nor forsake us, and He has already given His one and only Son for us. We have already been invited to partake of an eternity with Him in heaven. Many of us have a roof over our heads and people around us who love us. There is always something to be thankful for despite the circumstances. It's our job to keep our eyes on what God is doing, not on what He is not doing. What positive things can you give thanks for today regardless of the state of your present circumstances?
Philippians 4:4-7 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let everyone come to know your gentleness. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Here we see it said again, to rejoice in the Lord always! Here we also discover that one of the secrets to stewarding peace in every situation is through surrendering our heavy hearts to the Lord, trusting Him with our requests, and by giving Him an offering of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving frees up our mind from all the weights and concerns we carry and re-positions us in a place of trusting Him to carry us. It reminds us that He is always faithful and just as He has come through in the past, He will come through again. It shifts our focus off of our problems and onto His goodness.
As we saw earlier in Psalm 100, praise also goes before us into His inner courts. Praise is a magnet for God's presence. He loves it when we praise Him. The circumstances around us should never dictate the measure of praise we pour out to our faithful King. In those moments of great pain when everything is against us and we feel like there's no hope, we have a choice. We can sink deeper down into depression or we can put our hope in God and praise Him anyway. Despite our situations, we can offer Him a sacrifice of praise. It's easy to praise Him when things go our way, but to praise Him when our world is falling apart is one of the most sacred offerings of love we can give.
Praise not only precedes us entering deeper into the Secret Place but also precedes many breakthroughs. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat was about to face one of the largest armies he had ever seen. His and his people's deaths were imminent. He responded by gathering his community together to seek the Lord. In that meeting, a prophet spoke up saying that God would deliver them. When the king heard this, he bowed down with his face to the ground and all of the people of Judah and Jerusalem also fell down and worshipped the Lord. Then the Levites stood up and praised the Lord with a very loud voice. This all happened before there was any victory at all.
Then the next morning, they geared up for battle and got in formation. The King positioned the worshippers in the front line of the army to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness. They were to sing, "Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever" (2 Chr. 20:21).
Here we see it again, the giving of thanks. Why would anyone sing praises to God and songs of thanksgiving right before they were about to face the largest army they had ever seen before? It is because they trusted in the word of the Lord and they understood the power of praise and thanksgiving. It was as they began to sing praises to God that the Lord set ambushes against the invading army. By the time Jehoshaphat's army came to the place that overlooks the desert, they looked toward the vast army and only saw dead bodies. In the midst of their thanksgiving and praise to God in the face of great danger, He worked behind the scenes to fight on their behalf and to bring them into great victory.
We do not give God thanks and praise so that we can get some massive breakthrough but simply because we love and adore Him. We thank and praise Him because of all that He has done for us. However, in that heart stance, we don't know what God is doing behind the scenes on our behalf as we engage in thanksgiving and praise. I can guarantee you that no matter what your current situation is right now, if you begin to turn your eyes upon Jesus, thank Him for all He has done and praise Him for His faithfulness, you will experience a new measure of peace. Though your circumstances may remain the same, your perspective will shift. New hope will arise and a peace that passes understanding will guard your heart and your mind. You will begin to walk in a place of victory like never before.
3 Keys to Stewarding Peace
In my life, when I am struggling with some issue, whenever I turn my affection toward Jesus and worship Him even more fiercely, something shifts. Sometimes it takes a little while before I can break into peace, but if I set my heart to get my eyes off of myself and onto Him, He fills me with peace and grace to stand. I encourage you to steward peace in your life by making it a pattern to:
- Rejoice in the Lord always
- Give thanks in all circumstances
- Keep Your eyes on Jesus
Activating a Thankful Heart
In light of thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to think of five people in your life who have impacted you, loved you well or played a key role in your life. Who are a few of the people God is highlighting right now that you are truly grateful for? Now I want to challenge you to write an email, send a text message, call them up on the phone, or have coffee with them and express your gratitude for the gift of God they have been in your life.
Blessing you with a spirit of thanksgiving, a refined focus on Jesus and on what He is doing all around you, and a peace that passes understanding as you rejoice in Him today.
Jennifer A. Miskov, PhD., is the founding director of Destiny House, a ministry that cultivates communities of worshippers who do life together in God's presence and who launch people into their destinies from a place of intimacy with God and connection with family. Destiny House has a 100-year vision for worship to be released in the context of family and for 5,000 other houses to be launched around the world. Jen recently released a new book called Ignite Azusa: Positioning for a New Jesus Revolution. She also supported Bill Johnson in his Defining Moments book as well as has written Writing in the Glory, Life on Wings, Water to Wine, Spirit Flood, and Silver to Gold. Jen teaches revival history classes at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry as well as facilitates Writing in the Glory workshops at Destiny House. Jen is ordained by Heidi Baker with Iris Global and also by Bill Johnson with Bethel Church of Redding, California. Jen loves to lead people into life-changing encounters with Jesus through her writing, teaching and ministry. She received her Ph.D. in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies from the University of Birmingham, U.K.
For the original article, visit silvertogold.com.
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