Today’s Verse: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalms 100:4-5 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: Bible Study Groups!
Just about every week, there is a group of ladies who gather around my dining room table. The coffee pot is on, the kettle is on for tea, and the snacks are neatly arranged, ready to be devoured. As the ladies arrive, there is a buzz that comes into the room. The buzz is called “fellowship” as they begin to talk and share about things happening in life and family. Occasionally pictures are shared. The stories sometimes make you laugh, sometimes cry, but always leave you feeling good. “It’s good to share with one another,” I often hear. Once everyone has arrived, we take our seats and we bunker down to the serious stuff.
Bible Study! God’s Word is opened, its read, its prayed over, its questioned, its discussed and its often presented with a challenge to “Go and do likewise!” Oh, it is good to come together. It is even better to read and study God’s Word together. This little group of women and I have been doing this for several years now. And it blesses our hearts every time.
The friendships that have formed during this time are priceless. We were once strangers. We came together as sisters in the Lord and now we have become friends. Truly a gift from God! The prayers that have been lifted up for one another have been amazing. We pray, God listens and together we await the answer. We’ve seen God answer so many prayers! It not only encourages us, it strengthens us, it builds us up in the faith, and it inspires us to go out and share with others what we have learned. When crisis hits our little group, we are there for one another. We are there with our prayers, cards, visits, little gifts of love, and with our helping hands. Many a time I, personally have been the recipient of loving care from this little group of ladies who not only say they care, but show that they care. I am so blessed by them.
Thank you ladies, for allowing me to be your leader/teacher. Thank you for your growing desire to learn more of God. Thank you for your faithfulness to God, to one another and to our study time together. May God continue to grow us into the women of God that He wants us to be! All you ladies are my inspiration, my joy, my sisters in the Lord. You are my friends! I love you all dearly and thank God for you today!
Today’s Verse: “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His Holy name.” Psalms 97:12 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: God’s Forgiveness
According to Romans 3:23, we have all sinned and we fall short of God’s glory! Every one of us. Sinners! We are born with that sinful nature that separates us from the God who created us. We all do and say things that are against God, against His Word, things that hurt and wound others, things that are sinful in nature. Whether or not we acknowledge that fact, still, we are all sinners. We need forgiveness that only God can offer us.
Today, I am thankful for the fact that God forgives me from all my sin! I can go to my loving God, at any time, in any place, and I can confess my sins to Him. He will be listening to that prayer of mine. And in confessing, I know that He will forgive me of my sins (I John 1:9). God’s forgiveness is a really good thing!
The student with whom I am doing this challenge also used “God’s Forgiveness of My Sin” as one of the things being thankful for. This student had a question for me to answer though. The question is thought provoking at best.
Why would God want to forgive me?
Great question. It’s one that I know I too have asked many times throughout my lifetime. Often we feel like we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. We think, with this particular sin, there is no way God could ever forgive me. But, my friend, that simply isn’t true. God will forgive all our sin. Because He is a forgiving God! And for that truth I give thanks!!
I shared with my student these three things:
(1) God forgives us because He is a loving God. He loves the sinner. And at the same time, He hates our sin. Sin is what separates us from Him, from His love. And that is why, in love, God sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin upon the cross. Jesus, in God’s great love, died for our sin. For my sin. For your sins. (Romans 5:8). There is no greater love than that!
(2) God forgives us because His mercy and grace are greater than our sin. Greater than any sin we could ever commit. His mercy and grace is greater still. Praise God! God’s mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve. God’s grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. Think about those two sentences a moment. Do we deserve His wrath, His punishment for our sin? Absolutely! But God doesn’t give us what we really deserve. Are we worthy of God’s grace? Absolutely not! Yet grace is what God gives to us; grace is something that, because of our sin, we don’t deserve! God’s mercy and grace are greater than all of our sin!
(3) God forgives us because His peace and presence in our lives is important to Him. Our sin, when left unconfessed, separates us from God. Our sin robs us of our peace and joy in our life. Our sin removes us (separates us) from the very presence of God; our Holy God is not able to look upon our sin (Habakkuk 1:13). He longs to restore our peace, and renew our relationship with Him once again. That’s where His loving forgiveness comes in. He waits to forgive us of our sins! When we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just and will forgive us from all our sin, never to be remembered anymore. That, my friend, is true forgiveness!
Today, I truly am grateful that I know God’s forgiveness of all my sins! Thankful that I have God’s perfect peace within my heart! Thankful that He is ever present with me! Thankful for a relationship with my God that is awesome, all because His mercy and grace are greater than all my sin!
Today’s Verse: “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” Psalms 95:1-3 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: All of Our Veterans!
I truly am thankful for all our military men and women, who faithfully and dutifully lay down their lives on the battlefield for me! For the people of America! Today I wish to give a shout out to all of you. Without your sacrifices, I would not be able to enjoy the freedom I have in this country. I admire your bravery! I salute your courage! I respect your sacrifice! I am in awe of your willingness to serve! I am one American citizen who is mighty proud of you! It is my honor to pray every day for you as you serve this great country USA!
May God bless you and keep you in His tender loving care. May He bless and watch over your families. May He guard and protect you as you guard and protect others. May He reward your service by bringing you home safely. May God be always present with you, to comfort you, strengthen you, and give you peace. May God always bless you!
May God always bless the USA!
Today’s Verse: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalms 92:1-2 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: Comfort Food and a Comforting God
Whew! What a week!
It was a fairly normal, typical week at the O’Brien home with household duties, job responsibilities and ministry happenings. And then all the unexpected mayhem started. Plumbing troubles that prompted a frustrating search for an available plumber. The 2 year old heater decided it needed to present a manufacture’s malfunction. The financial difficulties that caught us off guard when two checks got lost or stolen in the mail system. Oh, and the sinus headache that throbbed for three straight days and nights. There were physical therapy times and doctor appointments for hubby. Two close friends were diagnosed with cancer; another began a second round of chemo treatments. A close friend lost their brother in death. Yes, it was a crazy busy week for sure!
In the midst of weeks like that, I really find myself longing for and reaching out for two things. First of all, I long for some good comfort food. I reach out for the really good stuff! And yes, for me, its a variety of things, depending on my mood and circumstances. We all have our own “go to” comfort foods, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one out here on this cliff – lol! Go on, tell me, what’s your favorite comfort food? There’s just something about that first bite of your favorite comfort food! Ah, its ever so good! It’s an honor to savor each and every bite. Truly it is! Right?
The second thing I long for, after a crazy busy week, is retreating with my comforting God. Ah, now there is some sweet relief! To humbly come into His presence and just dwell. I’ll even bring the comfort food! It is there I find rest and relaxation. I worship. I read God’s Word. I meditate on His words. I cry. I pray. I listen. I long for more of Him. I am strengthened. I am renewed. I can face another week, bring what may! That’s what I plan to do on this the Lord’s Day.
And what about the comfort food? Homemade lasagna with extra cheese! Its whats for dinner!
Chocolate brownies and ice cream for dessert!
I’ve invited God!!
Today’s Verse: “So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth Your praise to all generations.” Psalms 79:13 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: Ability to Teach the Next Generation!
Last evening I was teaching a Bible class at a local Chinese Church. A small group of kids gathered to hear something from God’s Word. It’s a joy to teach these kids, our next generation, things about the Lord Jesus Christ. Before class one of the girls came to me and asked a few questions about God’s offer of salvation and how to know for sure that you are a Christian. And for a few moments she had my utmost attention as I simply explained the meaning of salvation and the steps to take in making sure she knows Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. As we were about to part from that conversation and go to class, she looks up at me and says, “Thank you Ms. Kathy for explaining all that so that I could understand it better. You are the bestest church teacher I have ever had and I love that you teach us so much about Jesus. I will think about what you said and come back to talk more another day.” As her teacher my heart was touched! And this teacher, is praying, faithfully and fervently that this young girl would choose to make Jesus her forever friend and personal Savior.
I thought about that conversation all evening. I prayed for her and many other students before I closed my eyes for sleep. Once again, conversations like that, remind me why it is I do what I do. As a Bible teacher, I now have over 40 years of experience in teaching kids about Jesus. In church, in Sunday School, in Vacation Bible School, in Awana, in Bible Study Groups, in camps, in public schools, in weekend retreats, in backyard bible clubs, in discipleship ministry – in all those various venues, I’ve had opportunity to share God’s Word with boys and girls who have a need to know about Jesus and His great love for them. I lost count of how many kids I’ve taught over those years, but its a lot! But I do know for fact that each and every child heard the Good News of Jesus and responded to it in some way. It’s been a joy as a teacher, to be part of that.
I am blessed to have the opportunity from God to teach the children over all these years, blessed to meet and get to know some amazing kids, blessed to have a small part in their lives, and blessed to watch them grow in their knowledge of and their relationship with a God who loves them even more than their teacher does. I’ve been blessed to be their teacher, mentor, encourager, adviser, sister in the Lord, and friend! I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to teach the next generation, to make a difference in their lives – – one child at a time!
(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled, “A Challenge Has Been Presented Using the Book of Psalms”).
Today’s Verse: “We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.” Psalms 75:1 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: Financial Difficulties!
Now, hear me out before you reply, “WHAT?”
Yes, I am thankful for financial difficulties. Our Good Lord knows I have had plenty of them in my lifetime. He knows that because of all the times that I have cried out to Him about them. I’m ever so familiar with living from paycheck to paycheck. I’m familiar with battling over the checkbook, trying to eek out enough money just to pay the month’s bills. I’m familiar with the reality that its only the third week of the month, but the monies for the month are already gone. I’m familiar with the ever growing mountain of debt and the constant wondering if we will ever see the end of it. I’m familiar with the struggle to pay the mortgage payment, the electric bill and all that we owe. I’m ever so familiar with the dilemma of – do I pay for this expensive medicine or do I buy food? I’m familiar with getting that enormous hospital bill and wondering how in the world are we ever going to pay that one. I’m familiar with the breakdowns of the car, the air conditioner, the washing machine, the refrigerator, the…..! Yep, my friend, I have been there, done that, so many times! I am ever so familiar with financial difficulties!
Yet, I am also familiar with God in the midst of those financial difficulties. God has promised to be with me wherever I am – and so He is there in the midst of my financial difficulties. He cares! He stands ready to help! I just need to call out to Him, to honestly share the need with Him, to give it over to Him, and to simply watch what He does with that need. Admitting there is a problem is the hardest part. Giving it over to God is sometimes harder still. Pride has a way of stepping in the way. And yet, I’ve learned that my pride, my not giving the financial difficulties to God, only robs me of seeing God’s “wondrous works” in the midst of those difficulties. Watching God at work, now, that’s the blessing!
Together my husband and I have given our financial difficulties over to our God. We’ve witnessed so many answers to our prayers. We’ve received refunds that were totally not expected, but perfectly timed. We’ve gotten credits applied to accounts where credit was not worthy. We’ve had envelopes of money given to us from strangers unaware. We’ve been gifted with many a gift card to help at times when we needed to fill the empty cupboards or put gas in the car. We’ve had bills completely written off at times when the mountain was just too high to climb. We’ve been blessed beyond measure when we’ve given our financial difficulties over to our God who cares!
And for that, I am truly thankful. God does care! God knows our needs and He helps to meet them! God will provide when we trust Him! God is faithful to His children! God blesses!
I am blessed!
(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled, “A Challenge Has Been Presented Using the Book of Psalms”).
Today’s Verse: “I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalms 69:30 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: Thunderstorms!
At the time I sat down to write this blog, we were having a thunderstorm here in Southern Arizona! And yes, that’s a pretty big thing around here. If you are at all familiar with Arizona, or never been here before, you need to know that its desert. And we don’t get a whole lot of rain! It’s dry, dusty, and hot most of the year. This year’s “summer monsoon rains”, well, to be honest were disappointing at best. And usually when the weather forecast says its gonna rain, we all know around here, there is a better chance that it won’t rain at all. So, when I actually woke up to a thunderstorm in progress this morning I was so excited. We actually got RAIN!
Our little dog, (whom we’ve had for just four months now – he’s a rescue dog!) Max and I were getting our breakfast. While I was busy in the kitchen, he was busy racing through the house, going from door to door, window to window, trying to figure out what was going on outside. It was so funny to watch!
Thunder rumbled in the distance. A few flashes of lightening spread across the grey skies. The house lights flickered, threatening to go out on us. And then came this almighty clap of thunder. Max literally jumped off the ground. He didn’t bark, which is what I would have expected him to do. Instead, he let out this really loud moan/yell and ran straight for his momma, begging me to pick him up! Poor little guy! Together we sat, enjoying breakfast and my morning cup of tea, watching the rain come down, and the storm rage for a little over an hour.
And to think, our great God made all that! It was a sight to behold. I love watching thunderstorms from our big picture window (I don’t love to be out in them!) And with every storm I experience, I am truly thankful that God sends the rain to water our dry, hot desert.
And then, I just happened to look out the window again. This is what Max and I saw next:
“Oh wow, Lord Jesus, that is one awesome sight! Thank you God for sharing that with us today!” What a joy it is to behold our God’s handiwork. Every day it is something BEAUTIFUL to brighten our day! Thank you God!
We stood in awe, watching the rainbows fade from view. “Come on Max, I’ll teach you about puddles!”