Sunday, November 23, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Happy Thanksgiving to you this night and whatever it holds for you. Maybe things are going really well for you. But I have several friends who are in the midst of such suffering. I am thinking of Jean and Jen who have lost a love of their life---their children. I am thinking of three other close friends whose kids have gone off the deep end and are in trouble. What do you do?? I Thes 1:6 says: "In spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit and turned to God ." May we all turn to Him this Thanksgiving and every day and welcome His Word with joy!

PICK ONE QUESTION
Monday Morning Cover to Cover..."Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." I Thes 4:11
I've asked 7 questions this week...one each day from our chronological readings.
1. Do you love Me?
2. Do I want to leave a legacy that is large?
3. What really are my goals this day?
4. How do I know if I am running the right race?
5. How is your love working?
6. What is your real ambition as you live today?
7. How is your faith working for you?

You might pick one question to read about below. My prayer for each of you this Thanksgiving is 2 Thes 1:11,12. Every desire that you have to honor Him and do what is right, what is good---may He make you stand!

DO YOU LOVE ME? This is why I have so loved reading the chronological Bible this year. The disciples were face to face with Jesus yet they didn’t live the Christian life well. “Do you love Me?” Yes we do and we’ll deny it before everyone. BUT when they receive the Holy Spirit, the disciples become alive and free. All of a sudden, they are bold and full of faith. It’s so intriguing to me that one of the first things they will hear after receiving the Spirit is about wrong motives in James 4. “You want something but don’t get it. You cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures. James 4:1-4Can we get our motives right? Can we quit living for what works out for us? Peter had quit doing it---in fact, Peter was sleeping knowing he was headed to face his death. Talk about rest! And Peter’s LORD let the chains loose. Do I think that if I stay up all night praying then God will work? We will be free if we are living in our new nature and identifying that old nature of wrong motives that rears its face up on us. Oooh!

DO I WANT TO LEAVE A LEGACY THAT IS LARGE? Acts 13 has always tugged at my heart for I so want to leave a legacy. I don’t want to have served God for my purposes. Yet, I have been way too driven at times to do the work of the ministry to make a significant mark. For whom? For what? I must leave in His lap how He wants to use my life. I have measured success like the Christian world does not like my Father does. Now that I am a lot older and things didn’t turn out like I thought they would, how do I evaluate my life’s work, my contribution? I must hold fast to Him living in this present moment not trying to make something happen but spending it all on Him and His purposes and leaving the results to God. “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” Acts 13:36. And here comes another verse right along these lines that pierces my heart: “After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” It is not about how hard we are trying to live the Christian life. It is not about human effort. So seems like that that is rewarded in Christian circles today—serving and working and programs and missions and even giving based on human effort profits what?

WHAT REALLY ARE MY GOALS? Gal 4:19 is my heartbeat. “I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” That’s really what it is all about…that Christ be formed in others…”Little Christs” as C. S. Lewis says.The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Ga. 5:6. Or, am I so distracted by how others treat me? Gal 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Either we live by our old nature or by our new nature.

HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH RACE WE ARE RUNNING? Our real battle is not our child, our husband, our friend and their sin. Our real battle is our old nature that shows itself every day. It's like me trying to take chlorine out of water. We'll battle it til the day we die. After prayer and trust, what results in your life? Is it the peace of God? Is it a rest you haven’t known in the midst of raging seas? If you are running the right race, what you see will be Gal 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit. Our goal is not peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control. Our goal is God Himself. And He will be those things to us. Otherwise, we get sucked into moral living. This is about transformation not information to be a better wife, a better mom, a better person. If we’d do anything to learn what we are supposed to “do” in given situations to live the Christian life, we are asking the wrong questions. Paul and Silas were in prison praying and singing. No panic there to “do” everything to get out of their circumstances. All at once, a violent earthquake, and their chains came loose. Acts 16:25. May our chains fall off when we pray, when we sing, when we walk, when He’s our King.

HOW IS YOUR LOVE WORKING? Seems to me that too many Christians today focus on work, labor and endurance to be overcomers. These verses really talk about our faith, hope, and love. We are not human do-er’s; we are human beings. It’s not about working harder to improve our lives. 1 Thes 1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. How is your love working for you? I Thes 2:12. Listen to how you talk about others in your thoughts? Are you longing for your family and friends’ faith to be built or are you disgruntled and disappointed withholding your love a little bit? That’s not love. I Thes 3:9 - are you enjoying them?“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father.”

WHAT IS MY REAL AMBITION TODAY? If I had to say one verse that was my heart’s desire to grab onto this year and hold tight, hold fast. It would be I Thes 4:11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, so that you will not be dependent on anybody. I have so wanted to live a recognized life, a valued life, a successful life. No more. I want a quiet life — so what does that mean for me, for you? Paul’s ending words to this Thessalonican church in chapter 4 are moving. Wonder what they stir up in us? Service? Kindness? v. 13-17 “Live in peace with each other. Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Always try to be kind to each other. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Hard to do? Impossible really. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God Himself sanctify you. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. I Thes 5:24.

HOW IS YOUR FAITH WORKING FOR YOU? I Thes 3:5 - I want to find out about your faith for I'm afraid the tempter is tempting you. Scripture interprets Scripture. And it’s intriguing that we already know at this point the admonition of James to not spend our lives in wrong motives. Satan is tempting us all to sell ourselves short. Many Christians today live to be kind, no matter what. Or to serve, no matter what. It’s the LORD who will do it through us—that’s amazing. What do we need to put off, to let go of to get that place of repentance? My repentance is way too shallow.

I pray for each of you 2 Thes 1: 11, 12: May God count you worthy of his calling this Thanksgiving and always, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

24 comments:

jennyhope 11/23/2008  

once again i was just going to come and say hey and you beat me to it! I just love you Bev!

Karen 11/24/2008  

I loved this post. And 1 Thess. 4:11 was one of my favorites this week. Too many times we want to be the big splash, trying to draw the glory for ourselves. What a beautiful reminder from the Word as to how we are to live.

Prayng for you today, sister.

love,
karen

Bev Brandon 11/24/2008  

Jenny Hope...love you so much Jenny and your beautiful heart for the Word.

Bev Brandon 11/24/2008  

Karen, it's been such a joy to get to know you this year through ETJ. You bring God to us through His Word.

annie's eyes 11/24/2008  

So many riches in His Word. A quiet life with strong faith and working with our hands. I love that verse--such contentment in the simple things. You bless me in ways you will know one day, but for now suffice it to say, tremendously! Happy Thanksgiving with all your crew and much love, Annette

Michelle V 11/24/2008  

I love this post! And I also like 1 Thess. 4:11. For me it reminds me that I can be an effective witness by going about my life and doing my best and just trying to live as an example.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings
Michelle

helenw13 11/24/2008  

You would think that after nearly 11 months of reading your recaps that I would be used to your heart...I don't think that will ever happen...I need to come back and read this more slowly...I really loved your 7 questions...ones that i could easily ask myself daily.

Bless you Bev and have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Helen

Mary Lou 11/24/2008  

Sweet Bev, I am choosing question number four. They are all great and show us your heart which always blesses me. I so want to run my race in the right way and I so want to finish well and hear Him say, Well done thou good and faithful servant. I want to channel my blessings before I die, when I die and after I die and to do that I need to run the right race in His way. Thank you for all of your insight and widsom. May you have an extra special week with all of your loved ones home, for home is where you and Bob are, not any one house. Blessings and His love....Mary Lou

Bev Brandon 11/24/2008  

Annette, you bless me. God speaks through you. What He has done for me through you this year is found in one word---HOPE...you have given me reason to hope.

Bev Brandon 11/24/2008  

Michelle, you do live a quiet life trusting Him and you will continue to do so. Praying for you in the midst of all you have going on!

Bev Brandon 11/24/2008  

Helen, bless you my dear. You have been such a blessing to me this year. And from a life that has walked in kindred circumstances so many time!

Bev Brandon 11/24/2008  

Mary Lou, as always there is a word or two that so resonates with me when I read your stuff. "Home"---I so want to be at home with my LORD. I'll think about that over these holidays. Thank you for all the ways you so honor Him in the midst of difficult circumstances this year!

Jean 11/24/2008  

Oh, Bev, I could not pick one thing out of this post. Every word was conviction to me and brought tears to my eyes and to my heart. My repentance too is shallow. I am harboring resentment in my heart for someone and the conversations I start in my head are awful. I stop them and repent, but my repentance is not real.....they just come back over and over. I'm proud, I have a stubborn and wicked heart. Thank you that I am among the ones you pray for...I so needed these words and your prayers. Happy Thanksgiving to you my friend and God bless you richly and I am thankful to do that you let yourself be used by Him to conict this heart of mine.

Love, Jean

Jean 11/24/2008  

Typing through tears does not bode well.....many mistakes in last two lines.....don't know how to edit them!

Jean

Nise' 11/25/2008  

Not sure what I was doing yesterday (must have had a blond day). I thought I was leaving comments but none of the have showed up. Anyway... I want to be transformed not just informed!! My idea of running the race is so different from how God wants me to be running it!!

Ang baylis 11/25/2008  

I Thes 4:11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, so that you will not be dependent on anybody... I loved that verse. I need to do business with God Himself! I can ONLY find rest in Him.

Happy Thanksgiving, Bev! Thank you again so much for hosting this. I am SO different because of these cover to cover readings. We've come so far, but for some reason I still feel like a "baby"! Enjoy your family this week!
Love you,
Angie xoxo

Bev Brandon 11/25/2008  

Jean, That's a beautiful repentant heart that I hear and know your God hears your every faint whisper as grieve this Thanksgiving in your unbelievable loss. And your arms are wrapped around HIM and you'll never let go no matter how many sinful thoughts. 2 Cor 7:9,10. He knows your frame. Psal 139 You'll find freedom. His truth will set you free. John 8:32. It has over and over and over. Love your beautiful heart! Psalm 50:2 Know that on Thanksgiving Day, I won't be able to get you out of my memory, my heart as you embrace your loss and love your family and friends!

Bev Brandon 11/25/2008  

Nise - I'm with you...I want to be transformed. We all say we do but how do I really live this day when people start being rude or absent or silent or whatever. Am I listening to what comes out of my heart? You so bless me Nise and make me think and ponder and wrestle because you deal with your own sin! Love you!

Bev Brandon 11/25/2008  

Ang - We all have been changed by the word this year! You have come so far! No longer a babe---it's just that childlike faith I keep seeing over and over. No quick Scriptures; no magic formulas. A surrendered life---that's you!

Michelle Bentham 11/26/2008  

Bev... Happiest of Thanksgivings to you! I got your message your were in town a couple of weeks back. I pray we connect soon. I'm coming to Austin on the 6th for a whirlwind adventure to the Art Institute with eldest child.

Anyway... we will be in for the day and out again lickety split.

I've much to be grateful for... It was nearly a year ago that you emailed me and we first connected - crazy how time flies. My cup runs over... Blessings.

Fran 11/26/2008  

I'm praying for you this Thanksgiving eve and asking God to bless you so sweetly tomorrow with your family. May your heart be full of Him and full of complete joy.

What a gift you are to all of us who call you friend. Keep after Him with all you got. He shines so beautifully.

I love ya~
Fran

Laura 11/26/2008  

Oh, Bev. I have really been thinking about a lot of these questions lately. God's love has gotten me through so much. I will pray for your precious friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear One.

JnL4God 11/28/2008  

HI Bev
I'm still out here I just have not been able to keep up with the reading. I am however going to start at the beginning January 1with a group from P31 Ministries. My lesson of this year has been to be honest with how much I put on my plate. Bible studies are great but too many at a one time are not. (Too much on the plate in the natural is not good either ha ha)
Anyway I do still read your blog, I just haven't commented in a while, so thought I would stop by and say Hi.
Blessings,
Lynn

Jennifer 12/01/2008  

I know...I'm a little late (in the day and in the year) to be posting, but I just wanted to share that I really enjoy this way of reading the Bible! It puts things into a different perspective.

Also, I enjoyed your post, Bev. Very insightful!

God bless,
Jennifer
http://jennifer-asag.blogspot.com/

Praying for Our Friend Joanne Psalm 131:3 Waiting on God. Hope Now. Hope Always.

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I've met some amazing women through blogging. I would love to hear from you. My personal e-mail is:
sixbrandons@gmail.com
I have another blog where I blog daily as a small group of us read through the New Testament this year. It's called A String of Pearls. We carry each other on mats (when we just can't walk anymore) to Jesus and sweet things like that.

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