I have to say that throughout this month seeing all the post on what everyone is thankful for is really cool to see. It also got me thinking about how acknowledging what we can be thankful for keeps us focused on our blessings and not our struggles. It also seemed to make the negative post complaining about circumstances stand out even more. Clearly we are all guilty of complaining and I think that social media tends to become an outlet for some people to vent. Unfortunately this is a tool that Satan can use to distract us from our faith. Yesterday our pastor really struck home with his sermon. He laid out the journey to righteousness and what exactly that means. The entire chapter of Romans 4 is packed full of how to be righteous and live as a Godly example to those around us. So many times we are guilty of trying to earn approval by our actions. And part of that approval runs deep into impressing others, being envious of others and judging others.
The last few months I have really been working to reach a huge goal that will have a big positive impact on our little family. Just like anything it can become an emotional roller coaster but sitting in church yesterday I realized that regardless of circumstances and time frame, which is even more minor, I have to give it to God. That is a very difficult thing to do with anything but if I am not God focused nothing will be as good as it could be. I have so much to be thankful for. I have an incredible Godly man as a husband and father to my children. He loves me unconditionally and supports me always. He is a constant uplifting voice in my life that always remembers to focus on Gods favor in our lives. What a blessing he is to me. I have a beautiful, hilarious and snugly baby girl that literally makes me smile first thing every morning. I have a precious baby boy on the way that I can not wait to meet. I have a very supportive family in all aspects. My parents would do anything at the drop of a hat if I needed them. My siblings have always been my best friends and supported me and reminded me even when people I am close to have let me down I still have them and their relationship that will forever be secure and loving. And those blessings are just in my immediate family. Once I start there I can then go into my incredible friends and all they have done and been there for me throughout my life. Its amazing when you sit there and start naming one blessing it leads to another and another and another. All of the sudden the "circumstances", the "un-met" goals, the little annoyances and mood swings that Satan tries to build into strong holds in our life begin to shrink. They become less and less important.
I also learned when I stay in thankfulness I tend to separate myself from those that are negative. Not because I do not love and care about them but because misery loves company. I know when I am being "miserable" I want to hear others complain and talk about how many things are wrong in their life so I feel better. But the thing is, I do not feel better, I feel worse, I feel depressed and I do not feel righteous. Everyone has issues and problems to face daily. Regardless of how amazing their life may appear on the outside. Its an incredible thing that if we laid out all of our problems on a table and had to trade with someone else, we would want our own back pretty quickly. Isn't that something? We only compare our problems to others blessings? Why do we do that? As Christians it is vital to not lose sight of what matters. To pursue peace not judgement. Not to look at others and think well at least I am not doing that. This week I looked at a few of those negative post and thought "well at least I am not complaining like they are". But if I am thinking the same thoughts and not being an encouragement to them then I am just as guilty. When people are weak in their faith we must build them up so we can all grow in faith and bring others to Christ. This is our earthly example. As Christians we must show Gods love always even on our cloudy days, And for crying out loud we must stop complaining!! We must pursue faith not feelings! If our circumstances are bringing us down, how about we change them. We may not be able to change them as quickly as we want but we can be proactive and allow God to lead us in our journey.
When we moved to New Orleans a couple years ago I was convinced it was "short term". I did not allow myself to ever feel like this is my home. And to be honest, it is not going to be for much longer. But it has been my home for far longer than I anticipated. I have done a lot of gripping, complaining and worrying that my friends will not understand when I am not able to attend certain events. I have missed weddings, baby showers and even funerals because living several states away is part of the sacrifice. Not one that I am happy about but this is my current circumstance. The entire time we have lived here I told my husband "things will be really great when we relocate and get closer to home because..." and time and time again he has responded "things are great now." He is right, they are really great. Looking back on the last few years our lives have changed a lot and it has changed for the better. It is time I let go of how I want to plan things and what time frame I want them to fall under. And a long the way Satan will try to distract me with the friends that maybe do not understand or support me, or doors being closed and our next station may not be the exact place I want to live. However, I have to trust that wherever God leads us is where he wants us. I need to learn to look at the faithfulness God shows me daily. I must live beyond my feelings! If I can manage to do this and be thankful, stop complaining and learn to be righteous in Christ I can have a tremendous impact for God. That is something I can no longer take lightly. Declaring I am a Christ follower means I am opening the door for people to watch my life. How do I respond to life? I pray I will start living by conviction and not convenience. I believe that starts with putting a stop to complaining about stuff that does not matter. After all I want my children to learn Christ like behaviors. Complaining is not of God. There were six questions my pastor asked yesterday and I want to live a life that answers these correctly.
1.What does the Bible say?
2. What is the example of Jesus?
3.Have I surrendered this matter in prayer?
4. Is my faith being strengthened?
5.Am I building up my family?
6. Am I reaching anyone for Christ?
Thank you Lord for placing that sermon on the heart of my pastor yesterday. Thank you for reminding me in this season of thankfulness to always be thankful regardless of circumstances. I pray I will be part of the legacy to reach the world, and to recognize that unshaken faith in the Lord transforms lives.