Thanks Be To God

“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10 NIV

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

1 John 4:7-12 NIV

Happy Thanksgiving!  Give thanks to God for all the gifts and blessings in life and for His presence to get us through the struggles and difficult times.  God is good…thanks be to God.  Amen.

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“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Trust In The Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”[a]

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Instead of trying to control things beyond your reach…put your trust in the Lord.  Trust His way…trust His timing and trust the outcome to Him who has done more for you than any person in your life.  He is with you, He is for you.

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)

Ask…Believe…Receive

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

John 14:12-14 NIV

When you pray, do you truly believe what you are asking for will happen?  Or is it more like wishing for something that may or may not happen?  True transformation is when we believe what we ask for will happen and not on our timeline or according to our expectations.  As I look back over the early part of my faith journey, I remember prayers that were more just like going to a wishing well…speak it once and probably never think about it again.  This is not sincere, authentic praying.  Prayer is communication with God, it is about spending time with Him and our relationship with Him.  Jesus put it this way…

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6:6-8 NIV

The key to this statement is your Father knows what you need.  Ask Him for things, believe in Him and what He can do.  Then watch and listen for Him and you will receive.  Ask…believe…receive.  Amen.

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“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:24 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2021 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)

Living Sacrifices

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Every one of us has a choice, every day…how will you choose to live this day?

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:9-13 NIV

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Glacier National Park in Montana)

God Is Good…Be Thankful

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:1-5 NIV

Take time to reflect on your life and remember what God has done for you.  Think about the storms you have already come through…how He protected you or guided you safely.  Remember that no matter what God loves you…He is with you and within you.  Jesus left the comfort of heaven to come down and live as one of us…He sacrificed Himself to be beaten and crucified and to pay the penalty for our sin so that we could have a relationship with God.  God will do for you that which you can’t do for yourself…put your trust in the Lord and give thanks to Him.

Forever by Michael W Smith

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:12-17 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 while traveling in northern Colorado)

To Follow Him

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

Luke 9:23-25 ESV

This is it…this is what we are told by Jesus in God’s Word.  “Follow me” He says to the tax collector and the individual promptly gets up and begins to follow.  We do have a choice in our lives…free will is very important to God.  He wants us to choose to follow Him.  In Matthew 19, a rich man is invited by Jesus to ‘follow me’ and rich man is sad because he has great financial wealth and does not want to give that up.  There is nothing in this world worth more than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Look for yourself…read God’s Word…chose one of the Gospels.  I recommend the Gospel according to John, learn about Him and then choose.  May peace be with you.  Amen.

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Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

John 12:23-26 NIV

(This photo was taken in September of 2020 at a lake in northwestern Wisconsin)

Purpose

Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 ESV

So why are we here?  Is it to seek money, possessions, comfort and happiness according to what the world values?  Solomon was the wisest and wealthiest person who has ever lived and he did try everything the world values.  Pickup God’s Word and read about it in the Book of Ecclesiastes…you will hear about all he pursued.  He declared worldly values as meaningless and a chasing after the wind.  His final thoughts about the point of life is listed above.  Throughout the Bible you will find many examples that clearly tell us what we are here to do, as well as what not to do…we are here to Love God, to Love Others and to Share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”

Matthew 28:19-20 NIRV

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on the shore of Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin)

The Attitude Of Gratitude

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1 NIV

Remember God is not distant…He will never leave you.  If God feels far off it is because we have wandered away from Him.  He is with you, He is for you.  No matter what happens, give thanks to God and strive to focus on an attitude of gratitude.

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Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)

The Love Of Christ

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV

There is nothing greater in this world than the love of Jesus Christ.  We can spend our whole lives seeking to find happiness and contentment in the things of this world…yet this world is not our home.  In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, who was the wisest and wealthiest person to ever live, documented his efforts to try everything under the sun and found that the things of this world are not worth chasing…meaningless!  However, the things of God are the things we should spend our life pursuing.  Think about what Jesus Christ did for you…nobody and nothing in this world will love you like that.

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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

(This photo was taken in September of 2022 in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming)

Love That Can Change The World

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

1 John 4:7-12 NIV

Jesus came down from heaven and sacrificed Himself on the Cross…He did it for you…He did it because that’s how much He loves you!

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2014 at the Nakalele Blowhole on the island of Maui, Hawaii)