Being Thankful for What We Do NOT Have

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Rejoice always;
praying without ceasing;
in everything give thanks;
for this is God’s will for you
in Christ Jesus.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Lately I’ve been pondering the concept of thankfulness. Often when I thank God for all the blessings in my life, I have also thanked Him for what He has not given me or allowed in my life. Have you ever prayed like this?

Okaaay, I can hear most of you saying. The rest are thinking, wait … what? are you serious?

Yes, I am very serious. I thank God for things I don’t have, that He has not allowed in my life. I’m not just talking about more serious illnesses than those I live with every day or cataclysmic events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. I’m referring to things like more money, maybe more (and more stylish) clothes or a bigger house. How about straight hair instead of the naturally curly mop I was born with? Or writing talent so spectacular that publishers come after me instead of the other way around?

It seems to me that the more we want, well… the more we want, like some vicious cycle. Contentment with what we have now is admittedly difficult because human nature always yearns for more. And yet, I’m wondering if allowing ourselves to feel this kind of contentment will result in that inner peace that is so illusive.

And isn’t that something to be utterly thankful for?

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Peace, mercy and love be yours in abundance. —Jude 1:2

Peace. Mercy. Love. These are what can be ours in abundance. And from personal experience, reminding myself that I have these things usually leads to my feeling happy and contented with what I have in the here and now.

Beloved, how about you? Have you learned to be thankful for certain things you do not have?

Happy 2014!

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 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

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AnnaSmile…..

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Rejoice!

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Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always. —Psalm 105:1-4

AnnaSmile…..

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Ever Follow Good

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See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

(1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, KJV)

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, NIV)

AnnaSmile

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You Will Rejoice

You Will Rejoice

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Therefore you too have grief now;

but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice,

and no one will take your joy away from you.

—John 16:22

This year has had its ups and downs, but then when doesn’t it? That’s life here on earth!

Rick and I still love living here in northern Arizona and are thankful for our 14 years of marriage, which we just recently celebrated. Every year we see God at work in us, bringing us closer together as we mutually rejoice at His presence in our lives. No matter what is happening, we have grateful hearts for the One Who leads us in life and in our marriage.

Christmas is a time of great joy as we meditate on the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and what His humble birth means to us. We’re surrounded by sights and sounds of the season everywhere we look.

Are we able to feel and express that joy? Or are we despondent in spite of seeing Christmas trees bedecked with lights and ornaments, surrounded by holiday aromas of pine, vanilla and cinnamon?

We may happily look forward to being surrounded by family and friends, but that happiness may give way to discontentment because illness will not allow us to decorate as much as we used to, or bake Christmas cookies, or wrap gifts, or cook up a fabulous Christmas feast. Maybe this year has been filled with financial problems and there is very little to make a Christmas for our family.

Too many of us may be stuck dwelling on past Christmases when everything seemed perfect. We had enough money to buy gifts for family and friends. Our health was good. Perhaps we were whirlwinds of activity as we prepared that “perfect” Christmas for our families to treasure.

However, our true joy is not in the trappings of the Christmas season, but on what this season represents. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a human being in order to experience everything we do so that He could completely understand what we go through. He knows our sorrows and burdens. He appreciates how difficult it is to live on this earth.

And He is with us every single step of the way.

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Beloved, Jesus did not lead a trouble-free life. It cannot have been easy to know that He was born to die such a horrible death on the cross. But he willingly did so as the punishment for our sins so that we can have the chance to live with Him forever.

True joy is based on the fact that Jesus did indeed die on that cross for us. The blood He shed there paid the price for our sins. And three days later, His resurrection from the dead proved that death no longer has a hold on us… if we only believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Without Jesus in our lives, happiness comes from our circumstances. Any negative experience, however minor, can shatter that happiness as quickly as snapping our fingers.

On the other hand, we can possess true joy regardless of our trying or seemingly hopeless situations—as long as we keep focused on the Reason for this season. Life may be difficult now, but take heart! Someday God will turn our “mourning into joy and will comfort [us] and give [us] joy for [our] sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).

Look up, Beloved! Trust in the only Way to a truly joyful heart: Jesus!

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

—Philippians 2:5-11

Much love and blessings from Anna & Rick

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“Good” Friday?

Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good. However, the results of Christ’s death are very good!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” —Romans 5:8

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” —1 Peter 3:18

We should never forget what Jesus Christ did for us on Good Friday. His death on the cross paved the way for us to be with Him forever in heaven. He was sinless, yet His shed blood paid the price for our sins! So I am able to say in full agreement:

“This is the day the Lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it.” —Psalm 118:24

If you would like to learn more about why Jesus’ death on the cross was so “good,” go to Got Questions?