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Friday, January 19, 2007

Build Your Altars - The Altar of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. This is an altar that seems easy enough to build. But it's an altar that we constantly have to look to because everyday won't be full of sunshine. We won't always sail on smooth waters.
And in those hard times of life we need to look back and remember that the same God that blessed us in the easy times is with us in the hard times, and we can praise Him even in the storms.
When we build an altar like this, we will be able to have an attitude like Paul's when he spoke to the Colossian church. Check out this verse from Colossians 1:24,

"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:"

Paul rejoiced in his sufferings? Why, because through his sufferings he had been able to lead members of the Colossian church to Christ. Our sufferings can bring us to a place where we can offer an understanding ear to others facing problems in life. So rejoice in your trials because God is using them to make you stronger.
Paul wasn't the only one who offered praise in the time of trial. If you look back to Genesis 8:20, you will see Noah's response to suffering:

"And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar."

Now, you might be saying, well, Noah had reason to be grateful, and he did. After all, God had saved Noah and his family from the world-wide flood. But think about it, Noah still had a long road ahead of him. He and his family had to rebuild the earth. EVERYTHING had been destroyed. He could have looked at the huge task before him and been discouraged, but instead he offered God praise. Why?
Because Noah knew that the same God who had carried he and his family through the storm would help them pick up the pieces after the storm. He knew that God was worthy of his praise.
God hadn't asked Noah to offer a sacrafice, but Noah did, and he was rewarded with God's promise. Check out verses 14-16 from Genesis 9:

"14And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth."

Had Noah gone straight to the work, he may have missed out on hearing God's promise. Many times we miss blessings by not stopping to give God praise for what He has done.
Such is the case of nine of the ten lepers in Luke 17. See, Jesus healed all ten of the lepers. He didn't take back His healing from the nine that didn't come back to thank Him. But the tenth leper that came back to praise Him was given more of a blessing.
In Luke 17:19 Jesus says, "Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."
The tenth leper learned that hearing Jesus' words wasn't enough. It was the faith in those words that had healed him and his leper friends. His decision to offer thanks to Christ allowed him to hear a lesson about faith from Jesus Himself.
God never demands our praise. He wants us to offer our thanks out of our own will. But when we do offer praise, we will be rewarded for it. He will use our times of thanksgiving to teach us more about Himself.
So praise Him today and everyday. An altar of thanksgiving in your life can lead you into a relationship with Christ beyond anything you ever imagined.



At 6:53 AM, Blogger Janet Rubin said...

I just heard this saying yesterday: "A fruitful life gets just as much out of the rain as it does from the sun." Cool, huh? I'm trying to tell God thank you for a few things before I get out of bed in the morning.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Susanne said...

So true Heather. Cultivating praise and thanks so changes our outlook even in the hard times.


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