“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving…” (Psalm 116:17).

From this verse I get the impression we offer thanksgiving with difficulty or under hardship—because we should do it, not necessarily because we want to do it.

Early in my walk with the Lord, my expression of thanks depended on my circumstances. When favorable, my heart overflowed with gratitude and praise. I found it easy to rejoice and thank the Lord.

I offered thanksgiving as a reward for his being good to me and withheld it if I thought he hadn’t treated me fairly. Then I read “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In everything? That’s expecting a lot. So I gave thanks as a formality, with great effort, begrudgingly.

Reading those beautiful hymns of praise, the Psalms, I saw how others handled this.

Those writers offered thanks and praise to God in spite of circumstances, with gratitude for his marvelous works in the past and confidence in his promises for the future. They praised him for his very nature—he is good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness.

If that weren’t enough, they praised him simply because he deserved it. The Lord God is worthy of honor and exaltation.

Regardless of my circumstances, he is still good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness–and so worthy of honor and exaltation.

Giving thanks is a decision. And sometimes it’s a sacrifice. Even so…

“My heart, is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

(Adapted from Cabbages and Kings—Reflections on Living Abundantly in Christ)

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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Hurricane Harvey

And Speaking of Harvey     Elizabeth Ludwig

 

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned living on the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s that life can…and often will…change in an instant. I was reminded of this again when Hurricane Harvey lumbered into my hometown on the Texas/Louisiana border and left a swath of devastation that stretched south past Corpus Christie, and west as far as Victoria.

My home did not flood.

But my church did. The homes of many of my friends and co-workers did. The school where I work did. I could go on and on.

Several times, I have had to remind myself to stop and lift my eyes from the flood waters so I can focus on God. He’s been here, taking care of me and mine in countless ways, both big and small. I heard Him in the voice of the car rental person on the phone, who told me, “God bless you,” and “I’m praying for everyone in Texas,” before she hung up. I saw Him in the sweet woman at the church we visited after we evacuated who gave my daughter twenty dollars and with tears in her eyes said, “I wish it was more.” I felt Him as I stood on my porch and saw the rain fall and the water rise.

But what I am most grateful for is when He met with me in my prayer closet. My prayer was heartfelt and desperate—God, please help me. I need You. I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any strength…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned living on the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s that God is…and always will be…good. And because of this, I saw people who were not ashamed to ask a blessing in God’s name. I saw people who were not ashamed to ask for prayer. Mostly, I saw people jump in to help their neighbor. It’s given me strength and hope for the state and the country that I love. People can be good. They can be kind. If they want to. That’s something I don’t think Hurricane Harvey expected when he blew into Texas with a vengeance, but God did. And I am so very grateful.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20, NKJV)

Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author and speaker whose

books have been featured in Southern Writers Magazine, More

to Life

 

Magazine, and Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Book three in her popular Edge of Freedom series, Tide and Tempest, was recently named a finalist for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more,

visit ElizabethLudwig.com.

 

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