“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom. 8:33-34, NIV).
Intercession is a big deal to God. Jesus Himself intercedes on our behalf, and this encompasses so much of what He does for us.
Intercession starts with prayer. When we pray for others, God peels away our personal perceptions. Underneath those layers lies the truth. God alone knows the road a person has traveled, and God alone knows what journey He has planned for her future. As you pray for others, God will create a tender heart in you, one that extends outward toward those you might otherwise judge.
In his book Praying Circles Around Your Children, pastor and author Mark Batterson writes, “Empathy fuels intercession.” This is true. You can’t be empathetic and judgmental at the same time. There’s a choice to be made. You must choose to feel empathy toward a person’s plight or choose to judge her.
Intercession also means we advocate for others. God calls us to move beyond empathy and into action as we champion the victims of oppression. As intercessors, we shine light into the darkness, extending the love of Jesus toward a world desperate for authentic action from the body of Christ.
Pastor Mark also says, “Your prayers are prophecies. You can write the future of your family with your prayers.” We are members of both natural and spiritual families. Let’s release prophecies over our families and the family of God with our prayers.
Take time to intercede on behalf of someone today as the Spirit leads you. If you are aware of an injustice, prayerfully take action. Be a woman whose words and deeds are driven by intercession.
Adapted from Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero, Chapter 10 (WaterBrook Multnomah, 2013).
Lisa Bevereis a best-selling author of Fight Like a Girl, Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry, Out of Control and Loving It! and Be Angry and Don’t Blow It! In addition to speaking at national and international conferences, she is a frequent guest on Christian television and radio shows. She and her husband, best-selling author John Bevere, make their home in Colorado.
We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future and spend more time with family.
We make resolutions because we want to bring change to bear on our circumstances. We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. And the top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three poles: money, health and family.
But what would a set of New Year’s resolutions look like for you and your church, your role as a leader, or simply as someone who wants to live a life of strategic Kingdom investment?
Though many more could be added, here are 15 to consider:
1. Pray more.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD … ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 4:6, NIV).
2. Invest in my spiritual gift(s).
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress (I Timothy 4:14-15, NIV).
3. Get more intentional about evangelism.
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (I Corinthians 9:22, NIV).
4. Care for myself spiritually.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12, NIV).
5. Make the tough decisions I know are best.
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:22-24, NIV).
6. Confront debilitating patterns of sin.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV).
7. Do the hard work needed to build community.
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over (Matthew 18:15, NIV).
8. Keep in touch with contemporary culture.
From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders. … All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take (I Chronicles 12:32, NLT).
9. Quit comparing myself to other Christians, other leaders and other churches.
Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”
Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You — follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” (John 21:20-23, Msg)
10. Read more.
Timothy, please come as soon as you can. … When you come, be sure to … bring my books … (II Timothy 4:9,13 NLT)
11. Prioritize my family.
A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, … attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? (I Timothy 3:2-5, Msg)
12. Refuse to use ministry to satisfy my personal ambition.
Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not (Jeremiah 45:5, NIV).
13. Love people, not just crowds.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love (I Corinthians 13:1-3, Msg).
14. Be more open to change.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)
15. Stay focused on the vision.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47, NIV).
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. —Ephesians 2:6-7
Kindness. We will often be praying for people whose lives have been wrecked by sin. Many haven’t been taught social skills, and they have unlovely characteristics about them. Many have embraced wrong teachings and even are oppressed by demons. We must be braced to gracefully absorb some of their immaturity and deal kindly with their deception. We must overcome evil with good and be kind to those who are unkind to us. This honors the Lord and gives them the best chance to get His help.
“The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.” -Psalm 29:11
There is something in my life that I treasure more than any other thing. I treasure this one thing – that God loved me before I was born. Before I was born, God was looking forward to me being born. He was excited about the fact that I was born and that I live in this world.
That’s how God feels about you, too. When your mother was pregnant with you, God was thinking, “I can’t wait until this baby is born. And I can’t wait to have a personal relationship with this new life.” A proud, loving, and good Father, the Lord sees in you what nobody else can see, believes in you when nobody else believes, and loves you to an extent that cannot end.
The apostle Paul tells us that our suffering turns into perseverance, and our perseverance turns to character, and our character turns to hope. That happens because the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, is injected into our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater cure to all of the ills, all the turmoil in the world around us, than the human heart being brought to a peaceful shalom place because of the love of God.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for loving me from the very moment I was conceived. Through your love, I feel a peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
Devotion: How does God’s love for you bring you peace?
The apostle Paul did not go into a Greco-Roman city and plant a church for the Jews and then a church for Gentiles (non-Jews), because that would have been out of step with the gospel he loved, lived and proclaimed (Gal. 2:11-21).
Paul relentlessly believed the power of the gospel could create a new kind of humanity that was an altogether new ethnic group called the church. The church would be a community where racism, classism and sexism would be defeated by gospel love (Gal. 3:24-28).
The apostle Paul was so committed to the glory of God through the local church that eventually He was imprisoned and killed for planting Jewish and Gentile (multiethnic) churches throughout the Greco-Roman world.
“And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live’” (Acts 22:21-22, ESV).
The following are eight reasons why Paul would want local churches to be multiethnic whenever possible:
Soteriological (Doctrine of Salvation)
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph. 2:14-16).
According to Ephesians 2, in Christ, Jewish and Gentile (African, Asian, Arab, Greek, etc.) congregations in Ephesus were “one new man” (v. 15), reconciled to God and each other. This new humanity was birthed through the cross (v. 16). In addition, they were members of God’s household (v. 19), God’s temple (v. 21) and God’s dwelling place (v. 22).
Christological and Missiological
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:1-6).
The apostle Paul was on mission to reach Jews and Gentiles and incorporate them into one local body because the gospel demanded it.
“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” (Eph. 3:7-9).
Apparently, the apostle Paul believed the gospel of God’s grace not only caused people to love Jesus, but to also love each other in such away they formed “one new man,” in spite of the first-century Greco-Roman culture that said they should hate each other.
Theological and Eccesiological (Doctrine of the Church)
“So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Eph. 3:10-12).
As the ethnically multicolored congregations in Ephesus read Paul’s letter, they learned the church is composed of a variety of colored people (manifold). And this unifying display alerted the rulers and authorities that is the angelic and demonic world that Jesus had indeed won.
Peter T. O’Brien, in his commentary on the letter to the Ephesians, says, “In our present context, however, this variegated wisdom has particular reference to God’s richly diverse ways of working which led to a multiracial, multicultural community being united as fellow-members in the body of Christ.”
“So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory” (Eph. 3:13).
The apostle Paul suffered greatly to see God’s new society, comprised of multiethnic, socio-economically diverse people formed on Planet Earth.
“From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” (Gal. 6:17).
I personally have suffered greatly, planting and leading a multiethnic church. It’s hard work. But it’s gospel.
Eschatological (Ultimate Destiny of the Church)
“And they sang a new song, saying,
“’Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.’
“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“’Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing’” (Rev. 5:9-12).
The eternal church will be multiethnic. There will be no white church, black church, Latino church or Asian church. There will only be Jesus’ multiethnic church. If this is the future, let’s pray for it today.
Derwin L. Gray is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped community that loves God completely (Upward), themselves correctly (Inward) and their neighbors compassionately (Outward) in Indian Land, S.C., just south of Charlotte, N.C. Transformation Church was recently recognized as one of the fastest-growing churches in America for 2010 by Outreach Magazine.
We’re called to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). But our adversary the devil roams around like a roaring lion intent on devouring your faith (1 Pet. 5:8).
One way the devil does this is by trying to choke you, or put you in a stranglehold. In the wrestling world—and remember, we’re wresting against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places, according to Ephesians 6:12—a stranglehold is an illegal hold that chokes the opponent. Merriam-Webster calls it a “force or influence that chokes or suppresses freedom of movement or expression.” If the wrestler doesn’t break free from the stranglehold, the lack of blood or air can cause him to black out.
Translating this to our spiritual realities, the enemy wants to choke the Word of God out of your mouth so you can’t wield your sword of the Spirit or pray. The enemy wants to choke your revelation of who you are in Christ and your authority over him. The enemy wants to counter the work of the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your life so you’ll sideline yourself. We need to learn how to prevent the enemy from getting us into a stranglehold in the first place—but if we’ve fallen into the devil’s trap, we can break free with one simple prayer.
Worry: The Devil’s Stranglehold
What is this stranglehold I’m talking about? Worry. Did you know that one definition of worry is “to harass by tearing, biting or snapping especially at the throat” and “to shake or pull at with the teeth” or to “to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment”?
This is one of the enemy’s so-called roaring lion tactics. He magnifies our circumstances to get us to worry. Once we begin to worry, he moves in position to engage us in a stranglehold that makes us feel powerless to do anything about that which we’re worrying. It’s a clever strategy that plays on internal cares that we haven’t cast on the Lord—or that we continue taking back from His able hands.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Breaking Free From Satan’s Stranglehold
Jesus warns us repeatedly not to worry, but He also tells us what to do instead. He inspires our faith for provision by telling us to look at nature and assuring us of our value to Him. Then He instructs us to get our mind off what we need—and that could be anything, from provision to healing to protection to relationship-mending and beyond—and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
In His infinite wisdom, Jesus knows that if you focus on what the enemy shows you—the lack, the symptoms, the trial, the trouble—you’ll worry and fall into Satan’s stranglehold. But if you focus on the kingdom and His righteousness, you’ll build your faith to overcome any circumstance. If you seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, Satan can’t get you into a stranglehold.
If you’ve already fallen into the enemy’s trap, you can do what Peter suggested before he warns us to be vigilant, “because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8): You can cast all your worry on Him, because He cares for you (v. 7). And when you feel that anxiety and worry rising up in your soul, you can take Paul’s advice:
“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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
When you do these things, the enemy can’t keep his grip on you. Amen.
Paul was well aware of what he could and couldn’t do. He knew his missionary work was far beyond his natural strength, so he relied heavily on the power of the Holy Spirit within him.
It’s the same with us. Only when we stop struggling and surrender to God can we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. When we become a conduit for the Spirit’s power, God helps us do impossible things, like give thanks even when we’re hurting.
Humanly speaking, you may not see anything you can be grateful for right now. Your circumstances are miserable, and you’re desperately praying they will change. God hears you. In a very real sense, though, you are focusing on the bigness of your circumstances and not on the bigness of God. God is all-powerful. He may allow your situation to continue, but know this: God is in control, not your circumstances.
I tell you this not by theory but by my own painful past. When I was unemployed for 18 months, it didn’t seem God was in control. When important relationships fell apart, I couldn’t understand. When my father died in 1995, I felt lost.
I had cancer in 1976. I was 25 years old and could not give thanks. In 2011 when I had cancer again, I was able to give thanks to God, not for the cancer, of course, but for his steady, loving hand through it all. The difference was that I was able to look back and see that no matter what happened to me in the past, God was with me and he brought me through it.
As you give yourself to God, he will help you through this hard time you are in now. One of God’s goals for you is to make you totally dependent on him. The more you depend on him and sense his support, the more you will want to give thanks.
If there’s one thing Satan hates, it’s when believers trust God. Satan encourages us to trust our emotions instead. He wants us to put our faith infear, worry, depression, and doubt.
Jesus Christ encountered this many times in his owndisciples. He told them not to be afraid but to believe. Negative emotions are so strong that they skew our judgment. We forget it is God who is reliable, not our feelings.
That’s why, when you’re hurting, it’s wise to read the Bible. You may not feel like it. It may be the last thing you want to do, and it’s the last thing Satan wants you to do, but again, there’s an important reason to. It brings your focus away from your emotions and back onto God.
When you’re going through trouble, Satan wants you to blame God. In the middle of Job’sworst trials, even his wife said to him, “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9, NIV) Later, Job showed extraordinary faith when he promised, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” (Job 13:15a, NIV)
Your hope is in God in this life and the next. Never forget that.
Doing What We Don’t Want to Do
Giving thanks when you’re hurting is another one of those tasks we don’t want to do, like dieting or going to the dentist, but it’s immensely more important because it brings you intoGod’s will for you. Obeying God is not always easy, but it is always worthwhile.
We seldom grow more intimate with God during good times. Pain has a way of drawing us close to him, making God so real we feel we can reach out and touch him.
You don’t have to give thanks for the thing afflicting you, but you can be grateful for God’s faithful presence. When you approach it that way, you’ll find that thanking God when you’re hurting does make perfect sense.
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack’s Bio Page.
We are heading into the best time of the year – the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. I just love being with family and friends … enjoying great food, great fellowship, and great football (Go Longhorns!).
As we enter Thanksgiving, we tend to focus on our blessings and giving thanks for God’s goodness. While that is certainly a good thing, it is not the best thing. The best thing is to turn Thanksgiving into Thanks-living. Regardless of the day or the situation, God wants us to be thankful. Why is that?
1. Thanks-living lets God know you have confidence in Him, no matter how deep the problems or how dire the circumstances. Thanks is faith turned inside out.
2. Thanks-living changes your countenance and disposition. Instead of being down and discouraged, spreading gloom and despair everywhere you go, you begin to radiate the joy of the Lord. The best witnesses for Christ are those who are facing life’s trials with a song of thanksgiving on their lips.
3. Thanks-living opens the door for God to work. God hates it when we grumble and gripe … but He loves it when we praise and give thanks. As we begin to live a life of thankfulness to God, He begins to work, even through the toughest trials and tests of faith. Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison … and they sang a hymn of praise to the Lord. And when they finished singing, the Lord sent a jailhouse rock, and the prison doors were opened. You mark it down: God does miracles on our behalf when we choose to thank Him and praise Him, even in the deepest, darkest pit.
Let me challenge you as I challenge myself. Discipline yourself to give thanks in everything. Thank Him for the mountains … and thank Him for the valleys. He is worthy of all your thanks and praise.
A Prayer You May Need to Pray
Dear God, I hate to say it, but I have been guilty of grumbling and griping about all my problems and trials. I have failed to be thankful and to remember that You are at work in my life, even through all the troubles. Please forgive me, God. I want to be a person who keeps my eyes on You and praises You, no matter what may come my way. So, thank you God for these blessings (name them) and these challenges (name them). I know You are in control of all things. I know You love me and work all things together for my good. I choose to trust You, Lord. Teach me to be a “praiser” who always finds the good … and not a complainer who always finds the bad. In Jesus’ name, amen.
P.S. Would you let us join you in prayer? Leave your prayer request on ourPrayerWorks link and allow people from all over the world to pray for you. You can also receive an email alert when someone does pray for you … and it is completely anonymous. Thanks for letting us be a blessing to you.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.
Are you worried about a specific relationship or circumstance? This index, derived from Rx for Worryby James P. Gills, M.D., lists some key Bible verses you can use to battle worry and fear. These verses are God‘s promises that He is with us and will be our support and strength. Read them. Believe them. Let His Word become the foundation in your struggles!
Are you worried, anxious, afraid, or troubled? God will give you peace.
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. … He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. —Psalm 18:6, 19
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.—Psalm 46:1-2
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? —Psalm 56:3-4
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. —Isaiah 26:3
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me . . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.—John 14:1, 27
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.—John 16:33
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6-7
Are you worried about the future? God will guide you.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.—Psalm 25:9
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. —Psalm 32:8
If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.—Psalm 37:23-24
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5-6
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. —Proverbs 16:3
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10
“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
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.—James 1:5
Are you afraid of feeling alone? God will never leave you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.—Deuteronomy 31:6
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. —saiah 58:9
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.—Zephaniah 3:17
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.—John 14:18
Are you worried no one loves you? God loves you. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. —1 John 3:16
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. —1 John 4:10
Are you worried that God could never forgive your sins? God’s salvation overcomes all sins and guilt.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:12
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9
Do you feel depressed? God will comfort you.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:11
Are you worried because you face opposition? God is with you.
If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31
Are you worried about physical needs? God will provide.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.—Matthew 6:25-34
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!—Matthew 7:11
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Luke 12:6-7
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.—2 Corinthians 9:8
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Do you worry about your safety? God will protect you.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8
The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.—Psalm 121:7-8
Do you worry so much that you can’t sleep? God will ease your fears.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. —Psalm 3:5
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. -Psalm 4:8
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. —Proverbs 3:24
Are you worried about your appearance? God looks at your heart.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11
Are you worried about your health? God will give you strength.
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. —Psalm 34:19
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.—Isaiah 58:11
“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord, “because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”—Jeremiah 30:17
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. —James 5:14-15
Are you worried about getting old? God will stay with you.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.—Psalm 92:12-14
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. —Isaiah 46:4
Are you worried about dying? God offers eternal life.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.—Psalm 23:4
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. —John 10:28
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” . . . Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:55, 57
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. —Hebrews 2:14-15
Now on this Sunday night before Thanksgiving Day… take your Bible and turn to the book of Thanksgiving and Praise. And of course… that would be the book of Psalms!
Once there… head straight to the 103rd Psalm. Now as you’re finding Psalm 103… let me tell you that the Hebrew word translated “Psalms” comes from the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” which means “praise the Lord.”
So… when somebody says, “Hallelujah”.. what are they saying? They are saying, “Praise the Lord!” And by the way… this word “hallelujah” cuts across the language barrier. It translates the same in every language!
Well… that’s what the book of Psalms is all about: Praising the Lord Jesus Christ! Do you know what that means to us? It means that if we are going to learn how to worship God in Spirit and in Truth… that we’ve got to invest some time in the book of Worship and Praise: the book of Psalms.
Think of the book of Psalms as God’s introduction to Worship: 101! And most of us need to enroll! I don’t believe there is a better time of the year to enroll than during the Thanksgiving Season.
Now I can hear some negative naysayer tonight saying, “Now Pastor, I know it’s Thanksgiving week and all… but I don’t have any reason to give thanks. My life is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Well… I want to say to you tonight that if you don’t have much to be thankful for… why not be thankful for some things you don’t have?
I mean… if you cannot muster up any thanks for what you do have… muster up some thanks for what you don’t have.
There is always something to be thankful for. You say, “Thankful? I cannot even pay my bills.” All right then… you can be thankful that you are not one of your creditors! You see… there is always something to be thankful for! Amen?
Now in our time together tonight… from Psalm 103… we read about The Soul Music of Thanksgiving! Psalm 103 is a psalm of praise to God that begins deep within the soul! That’s why I call it Soul Music!
Now let me say that this kind of Soul Music is not for everybody! This kind of Soul Music has nothing to do with the color of your skin… it has everything to do with the condition of your soul.
This kind of Soul Music comes from the saved soul! And the saved soul is the soul that’s been saved by the blood of the Lamb!
Now once you have a saved soul… you can sing this Soul Music of Thanksgiving every day! You say, “But what about those times of disaster and difficulty? Can I make music then? Can I give thanks to God then?”
Especially then! It is Soul Music that gets you through those times of disaster and difficulty.
Paul says in 1 Thess 5.18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Do you remember Paul and Silas when they were in prison. The Bible says that around midnight that they …