Thanks A Lot

I believe that thanksgiving is the language of faith. It is the language of the joyful soul. It is the language of the conqueror. The man or woman who has learned to give THANKS A LOT is one who has practiced and perfected the art of adjusting their perspective in order to see life like God sees it.

A thankful person has trained his or her soul and mouth to respond in faith instead of complaining. I have learned that I cannot complain and give thanks at the same time. I’m either thankful or unthankful—there’s no middle ground. Complaining will take you down a dark path and blur your vision of God’s exciting plan for your life. Romans 1:21 says, “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, NOR WERE THANKFUL… and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The psalmist said, “I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed” (Psalm 77:3).

Complaining is the vocabulary of the world, but giving thanks is the language of the kingdom of God. People who don’t know God live day in and day out without hope and without a future. But, we have a hope! And His Name is Jesus! We have the Word of God and all the power that comes with it! We have a bright path and a breathtaking future! We have countless reasons to be thankful for what the Lord has done for us, is doing through us, and the glory that awaits us throughout eternity!

I heard a true story not long ago about a professional athlete who found himself flat on his back in a hospital room, having been diagnosed with a debilitating disease. He was about to lose his career before it had even gotten started. He began to cry out to God, and, much to his surprise, he heard God speak back to him. He said, “Be More Thankful.” At first he didn’t understand how this could be the answer to his recovery and to his future success in life. But it was the answer. He obeyed and started thanking God in everything. Soon enough, he started to recover. He’s alive today, setting new records in his sport and living out his dream.

Throughout the Bible we see that God loves thanksgiving. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” This verse gives us the first step to approaching His presence. Enter with thanksgiving. We also know that Jesus is our gate to the Father. He said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). Every time I begin to worship the Lord, I always start off by thanking Him for Jesus, because He is my gate to my Father. Jesus is the most precious gift He has given us. Because in Jesus we find everything we need. And THANK YOU is the only appropriate response for a gift given.

There is such a powerful connection between giving thanks for Jesus and experiencing the sweet presence of the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 5, Solomon and the people of Israel came together to dedicate the new temple to the Lord, and as “the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and THANKING the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying; ‘For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,’ that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (1 Chronicles 5:13-14).

I love this! As the singers and the musicians came together and began to give thanks, the very atmosphere where they stood filled up with the glory of God. His glory and goodness and power responded to their unity, thanksgiving and faith! Think about it. What if you woke up in the morning giving thanks, spent all day giving thanks, and fell asleep at night giving thanks? The glory of the Lord would be able to move in and become the very atmosphere of your home and your relationships! As we give thanks, we open our hearts and lives wide open to receive the glory of His grace.

Everything we do can be done from a healthy perspective and with a heart of thanksgiving. The songs we sing should always contain a tone of triumph and thanksgiving. Tithing should always be done with thanksgiving for our Father’s continued provision. Even the mundane, like doing the laundry or changing diapers, can be done with thanksgiving. It’s all about perspective. Remember, this life is but a vapor. So in everything, give THANKS A LOT.

Your Song Is Your Sword

“Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
and a two-edged sword in their hand.”
Psalm 149:6

Not long ago I woke up in the night shaken by a dream. I knew that the dream was from the Lord, because as soon as I opened my eyes I heard a scripture in my heart.
In the dream, my husband came to me and said, “Sarah, I have been called away to fight in the war.” Then I dreamed that both of my brothers and my father would be leaving to fight as well. Fear tried to bind me, like a kidnapper ties up a child. The feeling was like no other, and I knew it represented the fear that tries to bind up a child of God at the sudden news of a terminal disease diagnosis, the fear of death, the fear of man, or the fear of failure.

I needed to overcome these feelings, so I began to seek the Lord. Instead of relieving my fear by assuring me that my family wouldn’t have to go after all, the Lord showed me that I would be going to war, as well. He said to me, “Do not be afraid, all you need is strategy.”
Go to war? Me? A 28-year-old woman? Who only uses 5 lb. weights when she works out? Me? I can barely lift a gun, much less carry it across a field for battle! I remember firing my Dad’s gun once as a girl and my shoulder hurt for a week. And camo? I don’t do camo. And a helmet? This hair needs some volume. Let’s just face it—I’m not cut out for war. I’m too much of a girl!

But the day came and we were in the middle of battle. My husband and the other men in my family were all flying fighter planes. There were bullets firing in every direction, bombs going off, smoke billowing up from each ground explosion. As I stood witnessing all of the destruction around me, I realized immediately what my assignment was in this war. I was not to be a fighter pilot or a ground soldier, but I was there to…SING.

As I opened my mouth to sing, my voice rang out so loud over the whole city. It was with such clarity and volume that it reminded me of a time when I was in Israel, the city of Jerusalem (in real life, not in the dream) when I heard the Muslim prayer and song ring out over the whole city. These Muslim songs carried with them a spiritual sound—a tone, a sound behind the sound. And it was heavy and dark. But, in my dream, my voice had strength and light and I knew that my song carried a sound as well—but mine was different. It had a victory tone. There was power in my song, and as I sang, I could see it was helping the soldiers in my company gain an edge on our enemy and lead us into victory. I realized that my song was a weapon, and the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “YOUR SONG IS YOUR SWORD.”

When I woke up from the dream, Psalm 149:6 came to me: “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.” I also remembered the story of King Jehoshaphat. He began to seek the Lord for help when he found out that the people of Moab, Ammon, and thousands of others were coming to attack him and his people. The Spirit of the Lord came and said to him,

‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you. (2 Chronicles 20:15, 17, New King James Version)

This sounded a lot like what the Lord told me in my dream, “Do not be afraid.” He also told them that they wouldn’t need to fight. No need to fight? How in the natural do you win a war without fighting? But I love what happened next. King Jehoshaphat appointed singers to go out and lead the whole army! The Bible says that they went out saying, “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.” Get a picture of this—a bunch of puny-on-the-outside but strong-on-the-inside musicians and singers marching out on the front lines of battle, all shouting and singing and declaring the same thing—THE ENDURING MERCY OF THE LORD. The Lord gave them a strategy to fight without physical weapons. Instead, He gave them a spiritual strategy.

“Now when they began to SING and to PRAISE, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, and they were defeated.” (verse 22)

Hebrews 4:12 in The Amplified Bible says, “The Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword….” The WORD OF GOD IN YOUR MOUTH is a powerful weapon. The WORD OF GOD IN SONG IS A POWERFUL FORCE. Always remember that you have a song of victory inside you, and that Song Is Your Sword.

Praise Break

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6, KJV).

Have you ever felt extremely discouraged by a situation in life—one that didn’t turn out just as you planned? Pure excitement turned to apathy, and happiness turned to heartache? You had expectation, but that expectation wasn’t met? You walked in rhythm of joy until a wall of disappointment stopped you on your path? Maybe a dream was deferred or a desire left in longing. Maybe your situation was the loss of a family member or a relationship ending in divorce. Everyone has faced some kind of discouragement at some point in life.

In 1 Samuel 30, David came home to see his city burned and his wives and their children kidnapped by the Amalekites. David and his men were distressed and “lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep” (verse 4). Then when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse for David, his own people turned on him out of heartache, and threaten to stone him!

David had every right and opportunity to let his feelings overtake him, but I love what he chose to do instead. In verse 6 it says “…BUT DAVID ENCOURAGED HIMSELF IN THE LORD HIS GOD.”

BUT is a key word here. This scripture could’ve read “AND David stayed discouraged and thought about only himself.” BUT… thank God David made a better choice. I love how my husband puts it plain and simple, “Are you an AND or a BUT?”

David chose not to quit BUT to keep going.

Jeremy and I went to visit some minister friends of ours who were facing some tough challenges at the church and ministry they were a part of. People had been mistreated, lied to and lied about, and their situation appeared to be getting worse. A heavy fog seemed to surround their church, and it was starting to creep into their home and take a toll their family. I remember the moment that I embraced Savannah (the wife—I changed her name for confidentiality) as she began to weep and weep, heartbroken for their church family and for their pastors. It looked like there was no hope or consolation, and her body seemed to buckle under the weightiness and pressure of her situation. BUT…

All of the sudden, Savannah stood up, quickly wiped off her tears and rushed downstairs to the kitchen where her kids sat, a little somber from the current circumstances. I’ll never forget it. She said with strength “Everybody up! It’s time for a praise break!”

So we all stood up, threw our arms up in the air and began to praise the Lord. Immediately I could sense life flowing through the house again—joy in the presence of the Lord and faith in the Lord that He would fight this battle.

Sometimes you just have to through your hands up in the air and DECLARE WHAT YOU KNOW TO BE TRUE.  I’ve had to do this many times before. I’ve had to say to myself and to the devil what God has said about me in his Word. The TRUTH is we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37)! The TRUTH is I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)! The TRUTH is God has a plan for me, full of peace and not of evil, to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)! The TRUTH is, greater is He who is in me then he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)!