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The significance of Thanksgiving!

 

   720936f75ec4eef1793ec0a2f3345d33     wyndham 7-17 all 20  retreat friends   th-10

 

 

  Obviously, the significance of Thanksgiving is that it is a time to pause and contemplate all the things we have to be thankful for. 

   Some broad categories for which I am thankful are Faith, Family, Friends, and Country, just like many of you, I imagine. But in this post, I will zero in on a significant aspect within the category of Faith whose impact carried over into Family, Friends, and Country.

   It was about 9 years ago, when God first introduced me to the concept of fiery darts.  That instruction opened my understanding of how I had been victimized by my own thoughts. Negative thoughts or what I eventually began to see as fiery darts. I shudder to think the course my life would have taken, had I not been awakened to the destructive force of fiery dart thinking.

   As my training proceeded, I began learning how I had been deceived by my old nature (my thoughts and attitudes prior to my becoming a Christian), and the world’s concept of truth (a truth void of God’s Truth). I discovered that the world’s concepts of truth held more sway over my thinking than God’s concept of Truth.

   That deception was advanced by my lack of spending time with God in His word. Notice, I didn’t mention that I did not spend time with God in prayer! Because I spent a lot of time praying. But you know what that amounted to? I spent a lot more time talking to God rather than listening to Him. For we hear God’s voice when we read the Bible. 

   When my talking to God and my listening to God got in balance, then and only then, did I find my way out of the bondage I had placed myself in with fiery dart thinking.

   This balance impacted how I dealt with problems within the context of family  and friend relationships. It encouraged me to take those problems to God. Faithfully He would lead me to a particular scripture or scriptures that would shed light on how I should respond. 

   There hasn’t been an area in my life that this balance hasn’t impacted. For example, instead of despairing over the negativity of our recent political climate, God reminds me of 2 Chronicles 7:14. My prayers for my country are worded according to God’s Word, not my despair.  

   When disaster strikes our nation, I’m reminded of verses such as John 16:33. My prayers are worded with the hope found there, not my fears. 

   Knowing how to counterattack the temptation to think negatively about our problems, presents us with a perspective that will identify solutions. 

   My expressions of thankfulness this holiday will be centered on the gratefulness I feel towards God for opening my understanding to what fiery darts are and how to defeat them. For that knowledge has enhanced the gratefulness I feel towards

my Faith, my Family, my Friends, and my Country. 

Positive power vs negative power

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Positive thinking has positive power. Negative thinking has negative power!

     I bet you knew that! “That’s just logical,” you might say. But there’s a vast difference between knowing about this power and feeling the impact of such power.  

     I know all too well the effect of negative thinking. I wrote a book, entitled: Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, based on  my first hand experience of this destructive force. Regretfully, it took me many years before my eyes were opened.   Thankfully, I didn’t live my whole life ignorant of the enemy’s power. 

Positive power at work

     Recently, while in a low mood (prime time to get attacked by fiery darts) my mind strayed to the recent departure of two of my children. Both lived relatively close to me. And with a son living in Africa, their closeness was a constant source of comfort. Then a few months ago, two of my three daughters, moved in opposite directions about 11 hours away. The negative power of sadness began to claim my thoughts. 

     Yet, in these moments, the following thoughts began rising to the surface: “During the times your children and grandchildren lived nearby you made a ton of wonderful memories. Why don’t you focus on those instead? Start thanking God for those memories.” So I did. As I filled my mind with one blessed memory after another, the negative power fueled by negative thoughts diminished. The more I praised God for those sweet memories, the better I felt. 

     But not one to give up easily, Satan sent me another fiery dart. My thoughts were redirected towards another situation in my life that has the potential to create burdensome thoughts. On the tails of my recent reminder, I was prompted to find the good that came out of that burdensome situation. A bit harder perhaps, (Satan’s is clever like that) because the burden is something I continue to wrestle with. Yet, the good is there! Once again, the negative was drained away and the positive began to soothe me.

     As a Christian, I live by the God’s Truth and not the lies of fiery darts. My mind is being renewed every time I spend time with God in prayer and His Word (the Bible). 

Do not conform 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 12:2 NIV

     So, think about it. A mind not experiencing renewal by God’s Truth, is a mind subject to negative power. The negative power of Satan’s lies and manipulation. A decision to take to heart John 3:16, allows us the resources to expose Satan’s negative power. A power that is no match for the positive power of God’s Truth. 

 

Thanks for my trials!

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give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:8

In All circumstances?

How can we be thankful for the not so good circumstances?

   I have come to understand the answer to this question quite vividly as I was counseled by God during the writing of Fiery Darts.

   For too many years, my walk with God was characterized by more defeat than victory. Then, just a few years ago, I began to experience a gradual, yet powerful, transformation in my faith walk. As God continued to shed light on the darkness, which had plagued my walk with Him, I began to identify the source of my defeat. It became glaringly clear that negative thinking was at the core of my problematic walk with God. p. 14  FD 3rd edition

The Results?

   I learned to identify the great civil war (p.44 FD) that was going on within me. Eventually, I became more skilled in  distinguishing between the thoughts originating from my flesh, my natural bent, and those which were being whispered to me by God.      

     Finally, the attacks from my enemy, which were designed for my defeat, began to fall short of their mark. With every trial, I gained more strength, as long as I saw it from God’s perspective and rejected the fiery darts!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 NIV

The reason I can be thankful for the trials?

    Some trials I continue to wrestle with! But now instead of despair, I know joy. Instead of defeat, I know victory! It’s God’s battle plan for our trials. 

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3, NIV

Unleashing the power of thankfulness!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Ephesians 5:20 ESV 

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Philippians 4:6 ESV 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Colossians 4:2 ESV

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

In reading the above verses identify the common charge?

Yep, giving thanks!

When are we to give thanks?

Always, in every circumstance, for everything, in everything, in prayer!

   But ask yourself this question. When do I give God thanks? Is it at the dinner table, or when God has given me something that I need or especially when He gives me something I want? 

Okay, now ask yourself another question. Do I thank God when I am facing problems?

   In all likelihood the last thing we feel like doing when we are burdened with problems is to offer God thanks. Instead, we want to be free of them and will immediately ask God to deliver us from them. And sometimes in our own strength we will design a solution which often just trades one set of problems for another. The weight of our burden only grows heavier!

   Often when problems beset us we just can’t seem to focus on anything but those problems. Our thoughts are consumed with the problems. We think about them all the time because we are analyzing them and trying to figure out what we should do. We bend to the temptation to voice our thoughts about the problem to those who will listen. Therefore just like Peter, because our eyes are fixed on  the storm, we begin sinking. (Matthew 14:29)

Ah, but isn’t that just what a fiery dart is designed to do?

Yet, when we decide to take our focus off the problems and begin thanking God in those problems  the power to turn evil into good is unleashed.

   Therefore, think about the problems you are now facing. Would you like for God to turn those problems into something that produces good in your life? Of course you do, but beware Satan would much rather have you sink.