Friday, November 25, 2011

A Life of Thanksgiving

Just like every year Thanksgiving Day has come and gone... everyone took the day to reflect on and make mention of all the things that they are thankful for in their lives; but somehow it just seems like it should be more than that. Daily we are blessed by God in so many different areas of our lives, but yet sometimes (in the hustle and bustle of life) we may forget to take the time to give Him thanks for all that He has done for us. In Luke 17, we read the parable of the ten lepers who cried out to Jesus and were cleansed from their leprosy, but only one of the ten returned to Jesus and gave thanks. The Bible tells us that he turned back and glorified God with a loud voice, and because of his faithfulness and his willingness to express his gratitude he was not only cleansed from his disease but also made WHOLE! So, not only was he cured of his disease like the other nine lepers, but he probably also grew back any bodily extremities that he had lost because of his leprosy... all because he returned to Jesus to express his thankfulness.

As I reflected on Thanksgiving Day, this parable of the lepers, and all the scriptures that specifically tell us to give thanks, I began to think about all the things that I am thankful for in my life. God has bestowed so many blessing on me that it would be a very long (and probably boring) read for everyone, but here are just a few of the things that I am thankful for today and everyday:

1. God's grace and mercy. Titus  1:12-14 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Just as God was full of love, grace and mercy for Paul, he has provided us with the same love, grace, and mercy.  Our God is a god of second chances and it is only by His mercy that we have been given the opportunity to commune and fellowship with Him. I have found that without this relationship with God first in my life, all other aspects of my life do not function as they should. I am thankful for His unconditional love, mercy, grace, and patience with me as I continue to grow in His will and walk in His way.

2. My husband. He is my best friend, constant companion, and the love of my life. He is a true blessing and I am thankful that God has placed him in my life. Although I may not express it often enough, I love him more and more each day and look forward to growing old by his side. I am thankful for our marriage (where we have been, where we are, and where we are going) and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for him (and us) as we continue to move forward in His will.

3. My family. I love them all dearly! They are my support system in every sense of the phrase. I am truly blessed to have been raised by God-loving parents, who have taught and trained me in the way that I should go. It is because of their continuous, loving guidance that I have become (and am still becoming) the person that God has called me to be. Through them (and God), I have been blessed with three amazing siblings who are the best friends any person could ever ask for. They are a steadfast source of encouragement and joy in my life; and without them and their significant others, my life simply would not be the same.

And because family is sometimes more than just blood relatives...  My church family and "adopted" family (the friends who are more like family than just regular friends) are also such a blessing in my life. Without these people, life would be much harder to cope with on a daily basis. I am thankful for every member of my family (immediate, extended, church, and friend).

4. My life experiences. God teaches us so many things through our life experiences; and whether they are good or bad experiences, we can always learn something from them. It is our choice to learn from the experiences that God allows us to go through and then grow in Him because of them. We are also supposed to give thanks for those experiences. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. So, regardless of the situation, I will try to give thanks and learn whatever lesson God wants to teach me from it.

There are so many other things that I am thankful for in my life and I could easily write about many more of them. Instead I will try to do as Colossians 3:15 says and BE THANKFUL every single day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taking It to the Rooftop...

"Keep pressing forward until you break through..."

Just recently a dear family friend and spiritual mentor pulled me aside after our Sunday morning church service and began to tell me that he felt God was asking him to share something with me. He opened up his Bible and read the parable in Mark 2 about the four friends who took their paralyzed friend to Jesus with faith that he would be healed. We then began to discuss how those four friends pressed forward with such determination and faith to reach Jesus because they knew He would be able to heal their friend. Their faith was so strong that they were willing to climb to the rooftop of the house in which Jesus was teaching and tear apart the roof to get to Him!

That Sunday morning my friend from church had no idea that I too have been pressing forward in hopes of a breakthrough... honestly, until our conversation that day, I am not even sure if I knew how to describe what I had been feeling. I knew my relationship with God had been changing and I knew my hunger to be closer to Him was growing; but it wasn't until that moment that I knew what I had been looking for was a breakthrough. For some time now, I have felt that I need a breakthrough in many different areas of my life; and it was then that I realized that with this hunger and desire to be more in God's word, will, and presence... that I am "pressing forward until I break through!"

I am so thankful that my friend listened to God's instruction to share with me that parable. After we read the passage from Mark, he turned to me and said, "Corbie, just keep pressing forward until you break through." Immediately I felt tears well up in my eyes (yeah... I'm a crier) because without me even realizing it, I had been feeling discouraged and tired of pressing forward in some areas. It's a daily struggle to press through all the chaos, confusion, and distractions of this life to break through to true communion and fellowship with our God. Thankfully we have the gift of the Holy Spirit with us at all times and we don't have to fight crowds of people, climb trees, and tear apart stranger's roofs to reach our Jesus. But nonetheless, we have to press through moments of wavering faith and past disappointments until we break through to unwavering trust and complete dependence on Him. We have to take our situations to the rooftop, tear it apart, then lay it all at His feet and trust that His will for us is best and will be done. It is then that He will meet all our needs unconditionally just like He did in the parable of the paralytic and his four faithful friends!

I WANT to be like those four friends... I want my faith to be so strong and my determination to be closer to my God to be so overwhelmingly present that I would do anything to be in His word, will, and presence! I mean... I'm talking... willing to tear apart a stranger's roof STRONG!!!