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Let Thanksgiving do its Work

GrapesI’m taking a couple of posts to talk about Thanksgiving from Psalm 118. In my last post I talked about how Christ has opened the gates of righteousness. Through thanksgiving, we enter those gates into the throne room of God.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Today is a great day to praise the Lord. God made this day – that we can enter His righteousness. This word rejoice literally means to jump, dance, and spin around under the influence of a violent emotion. God deserves the best of our praise.

In the original Hebrew this verse reads and in this rejoicing we will brighten up and be made glad. So, in reality, you don’t have to feel good to start with. Being thankful changes your emotions. David understood this truth.

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:4-5

This is a lesson we all need to learn. As I thank and praise the Lord, I begin to feel good emotionally. Then, when our emotions change, our whole outlook on life changes for the better.

O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 118:25-26

When we thank God for His work in us we’re actually admitting that we needed His salvation. Without Him we can do nothing. He is our strength and our success.

When I’m thankful – meditating on the good things of God – that joy gives me strength to move forward. So it’s my thankfulness that makes me strong. That’s why it’s such an important part in the life of a believer.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 118:26

We’re supremely blessed in that Name above all names that Christ has given to us. In the name of Jesus we have all that we need for life and godliness. We have hope, healing, victory, peace, and salvation. That’s where the place of blessing is – in His name.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

My prayer for you is that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this year. But more than that, I pray that you can live a life of thankfulness before God.

Question: What are you specifically thankful for that God has done in you this year?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Encouragement, Prayer

 

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What’s Become of Thanksgiving?

ThanksgivingIt’s interesting to see what’s happening in society. Stores have had huge displays for Halloween. At this point they have taken them down and have gone right into Christmas displays.

According to my daughter, Thanksgiving has become a “middle child” holiday – mostly ignored. That’s probably because both Halloween and Christmas can be merchandised for a huge profit. There’s no getting around the fact that Thanksgiving is about thankfulness to God.

To the believer, this day should be one of the most meaningful of the year.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4

I’ve read and sung this verse hundreds of times. It’s through giving thanks that we enter the gates. But what gates are being talked about here? More importantly, do I want to go in?

Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter.
Psalm 118:19-20

It’s obvious from this verse that they’re gates of righteousness. In this Psalm the writer is asking God to open wide the gate that only He can open. That’s why I’m thanking Him.

Righteousness is the package of all He has for me. Because of His righteousness I can live on a higher level than I ever thought possible. I’m made righteous in Christ so I can enter the Gate.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone…
Psalm 118:21-22

This is an incredible truth. The writer literally says I thank you because you paid attention to me and you have become my salvation. The word for salvation here is Yeshua – which is Jesus in the Greek.

He was rejected for me. Yet He has become the chief stone of the pinnacle – the capstone.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

In Him we are the righteousness of God. That means that Christ is the gate of righteousness through which we enter God’s presence.

Think about how we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We show forth the death of Christ in the bread and the cup. His work on the cross allows us to enter into a righteousness beyond our comprehension.

The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Psalm 118:23

It is absolutely incredible in our eyes. Only those who have experienced the life changing power of Jesus Christ can truly fathom it. That’s why no one should be able out do our celebration. It’s a shame that football teams and entertainers receive more praise than our God.

As we prepare for our Thanksgiving celebration this week, don’t miss the most important part. Make sure that your thanks and appreciation to God is central to what you’re doing.

Question: What are you thankful to God for at this time?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Encouragement, Prayer, Worship

 

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How to have a More Satisfying Prayer Life

Pray1Have you ever thought, “If my prayer time was more satisfying, I would pray more.”?  What does it take to have a prayer time that you can feel good about?  I think the answer may surprise you.  It surprised me.

I was reading an chart sent to pastor’s about their prayer lives.  It was based on some research done through a survey.  They asked a number of probing questions.  I want to comment about their findings, which I think can apply to all believers, not just those in full-time ministry.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

The researchers broke down their findings into 4 categories – those who were very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, and very dissatisfied with their prayer lives.  They found that the average pastor spends 39 minutes a day in prayer.

That might not sound like much to you.  But, the last survey I heard before this one placed it at 20 minutes a day.  So, I’m glad to see that the prayer time of most pastors is on the rise.

What I found very interesting, was the breakdown of averages.  Those who were least satisfied in their prayer lives averaged 21 minutes a day.  Somewhat dissatisfied – 29 minutes.  Somewhat satisfied – 43 minutes.  Very satisfied – 56 minutes.

I find that absolutely wonderful!  The more time spent in prayer, the better you feel about it.  That seems right to me.

The study also looked into what pastors include in their prayers.  It was found that the average pastor spends 5 minutes in confession, 7 minutes in thanking God, and another 7 minutes in praise.  They also averaged 8 minutes quietly listening and 12 minutes giving their requests to God.

How does the average stack up against those who were most satisfied with their prayers?  It turns out that the pastors who were very satisfied with their prayer lives didn’t follow the crowd.  On average, they spend more time listening to God and less time on their requests.

I think that this survey speaks volumes to us.  My blog title was how to have a more satisfying prayer life.  The answer is clear.  The more time you spend in prayer – specifically listening for God’s voice – the more satisfied and fulfilled you’ll be in the place of prayer.

(The above was based upon an Ellison Research Survey for Facts & Trends 05/06/05)

Question: How does your prayer life compare to the research above?  How satisfied are you with your present prayer habits?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Prayer

 

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You are Better than a Tree

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.  Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath.  Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.
Isaiah 44:22-23

On Christmas Day – at least in my part of the world – I woke up to snow in the air.  It was a beautiful sight to see a new blanket of white on the frozen ground.  I was then blessed to spend the morning opening presents with my wife and children.  God is so good!

Sometimes it just seems like everything is right with the world.  “The hills are alive with the sound of music.”  We look around, and all of nature seems to be singing God’s praise.  Actually, this is a product of our attitude.  It happens when we start the day meditating on what God has done for us.

At least for believers, that should be an easy thing this time of year.  We are reminded of all the Lord has done for us.  Taking on our humanity and living among us was truly a special gift.  Then, bearing our sins to the cross and rising for our salvation was something we couldn’t have even imagined that God would be willing to accomplish for us.

What an incredible thing!  To have your sins forgiven.  To know that the blood of Christ washes you clean.  To be able to approach His holy presence without fear of condemnation.  It’s no wonder that Isaiah felt like all creation was bursting into song before him.

The privilege is ours now to run into His majestic presence.  Don’t start the day without spending time with Him.  Commit the day ahead to His care.  Let Him establish and maintain you.  Bring praise and worship before Him.  Don’t you dare let the forests and mountains outdo you in the praise of His glorious name!

Question: Is there something you would like to praise God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Encouragement, Worship

 

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Are You Truly Thankful?

These thoughts on Thanksgiving come from reading Luke 17:11-19.  In this section of Scripture we see an interesting event in the life of Christ.  It caused me to ask myself if I am truly thankful for all God has done for me.

This story from the life of Christ surrounds ten lepers.  These were men who had an incurable skin disease.  They came to Jesus for a miracle and were not disappointed.

In these verses, we see everything needed for obtaining the blessing of God.  There’s faith, obedience, and expectancy.  Jesus’ response to them is simple.

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
Luke 17:14

There was no special religious display.  The Lord didn’t touch them or even pray over them.  He simply gave them a task to complete.

Then, something unexpected happened.  As they were on their way to the priests, their healing was completed.  By the time they got there, the leprosy was totally gone.

But that wasn’t the only unexpected occurrence that day.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
Luke 17:15

On the way to the priests, one of the men sees what’s happening to him.  As he experiences his healing, he turns around.   He begins to make his way back to Jesus.

As he does so, he starts yelling.  The literal Greek uses the words mega-phone.  This was not a quiet thankfulness of the heart.  His actions must have attracted attention.  And what’s more, he didn’t even care who heard him.  He wanted to praise God because of His blessing.

What this passage taught me is that thankful people live out loud for the Lord.  This is not just a church thing, but a lifestyle of praise to God.

That’s why I believe Thanksgiving is more than just “Turkey Day” or “Football Day.”  It’s about what God has done for us.  Even the disciples of Christ caught hold of this.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen…
Luke 19:37

This is a normal response to the hand of God at work.  It doesn’t mean you have to yell all the time.  What it does mean, is that God’s work should be abundantly evident in your life.

Question: What are you thankful to God for? Are you willing to let people know about it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Encouragement

 

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All Good Things

2 Samuel 22:31-37
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the LORD?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”

It is God who blesses us with all good things.  It’s always the right day to give thanks for the beautiful sunrise, for that parking spot close to the door, and for the the large tax refund.  A prayer of thanksgiving is always appropriate when you see the night sky that seems to stretch on and on forever before you, taking your breath away.

Most people are so ungrateful to God.  Something big has got to happen to them in order for them to praise the Lord.  We need to learn to praise Him for all things, big and small.  We need to acknowledge that He is our victory in every problem and situation that arises.  It is the Lord who guides us forward down the clear, broad path at our feet.

All these things and more come from our heavenly Father.  Take the time today to thank Him for some things you don’t usually think of throughout the day.  It will make the day ahead that much more awesome.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Love and Forgiveness

Psalm 103:11-12
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

I love watching the sky in the evening.  When you go outside on a bright starry night and gaze at the heavens, it seems to go on forever.  Indeed, all the stars that you are able to see are light-years away.  They are unreachable at our present level of knowledge.

That is how much God loves us – to a level unattainable by human thought.  My finite brain cannot comprehend His love and compassion for me.  That He would pay the price for my forgiveness at a point when I didn’t even know Him is beyond my understanding.

But there is more to it.  If I were to travel in a direction – east or west – and continue on forever, I would still never come to my sin that was taken away.  He has permanently removed the sin, guilt, and punishment that should have been mine.  What an incredible thought.

These are basic truths that are known by most believers.  Yet, it is a good thing for us to take the time to review and meditate on them once in a while.  Spend some time in the stillness of your surroundings today, and allow these deep principles to work on your soul.  Let them revive and renew your appreciation for the Savior of your life.  Give Him thanks today for all He has done for you.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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