Psalm 119:140 declares, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much” (NLT). The understanding is that the words of God have endured rigorous trial and have performed exactly as they promised.Read More »
This post is the fifth and final one in this week’s “Thanks” series that features quotes on thankfulness given by notable Christians. Mel Wild, writer of In My Father’s House, reflects on the following quote by American pastor A.W. Tozer.
“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”
A.W. Tozer is hitting on something profound here: What should faith really look like in our lives? What determines our thankfulness to God? The implication is we generally prefer to live by a substandard faith—according to what we can see, hear, touch, taste, or feel in our current experience—and praise God only for realized blessings.
But if our faith is what is already realized tangibly, is it really faith anymore?
True faith simply believes what God says about things, even when it seems untrue or contradicts our current experience. It’s not a blind faith either; instead, it’s aligning our thoughts with the concrete reality of what God believes. This requires trust in the One who is doing the promising.
God seems to think that all of his promises to us are “yes” and “amen” (2 Cor. 1:20), whether we’ve realized these blessings or not.
The Eyes of Faith
Purer faith is seeing things through heaven’s eyes rather than from the ground view of our circumstances. This is why Paul is always reminding us to set our minds on “things above” where our real selves reside—with Christ seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). True praise that really pleases God is based in this kind of faith (Heb.11:6); in fact, there really is no other kind.
We tend to default to our earthbound thinking, which is subject to all kinds of not-so-good things. In our spiritual ignorance, we erroneously call that the real world. But if we’re going to let the tail wag the dog on faith, so to speak, putting our experience before believing God’s promises, then we will never live a consistently thankful life, let alone a faith-filled one. It will be a life driven by circumstantial winds and waves, possibly ending up shipwrecked on the rocks of what we have interpreted to be unfortunate happenstance.
Receiving God’s Promises
Here are some points that will help us stay in faith for those unrealized promises.
- First, consider that believing always precedes receiving. New territory in the Spirit must be accessed by faith. There is no other way to grow into areas we currently have no grid for. The forward motion our life needs is propelled by our faith.
- Second, remember that whatever we focus on gets bigger. We all focus on something, good or bad. So where is your focus this thanks-giving season? Are you focusing on God’s goodness or your experience?
- Third, God’s timing is oftentimes not our timing. So always remember that “he who has begun a good work in you is faithful to complete it” (Ph. 1:6).
- Fourth, ask yourself if your unmet expectations are God’s expectations. Realign your thoughts with his thoughts and lay all your burdens on him. Feel his smile and open your heart to the warm embrace of the Father’s heart.
- Finally, remember that a thankful heart is a joyful heart at rest in God, content wherever it may find itself (Ph. 4:11). It’s always time to praise God for his goodness. Don’t let the enemy dis-appoint you from your fruit-bearing destiny as a co-heir with Christ. Look up! You are seated with him far above all the things that weigh you down. You’re an eagle, not a turkey!
Let’s determine this Thanksgiving season that we’re going to believe God and cultivate a lifestyle of faith with gratitude for all that God has done and is going to do, even if he decides to do it in a way we don’t expect. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Read more by Mel on his blog In My Father’s House.
This summer I cleared away years of brush in my sister’s backyard. It was good physical work and there were many lessons I learned about myself and God. From this time I want to share with you a special moment that encouraged me.
The yard is large and forested and gently slopes toward a dry creek bed. After cutting my way to the very back, working along the bank, I encountered a thriving underground yellow jacket nest in the side of the hill, which concerned me. I have heard stories of adults and children being severely injured and killed by the wasps as a result of ground vibrations unnerving the colony. I was working with a garden rake and a heavy cutter mattock razing everything above- and belowground.
Being slightly perfectionist with my work, the nest complicated things. I wanted the entire hill cleared just like the rest I had done. I got close and took a long look: the wasps busily entered and exited the burrow at several openings paying me little attention.
Later, still tinkering around the nest, I sensed that I had crossed the line and provoked them. Their behavior changed and a few started flying at me, pelleting my clothing. I was in work gear, so I knew I couldn’t be stung. But one wily little feller surprised me, managing to get beneath my glove and sting me on the bottom of my wrist. It was my fault, although he had to die for it.
I had spent too much time on the nest. Since it was near quitting time, I let the sting be the last word on the matter. I’d deal with it the next day.
I went out the next morning and immediately checked the nest. To my astonishment, an animal had come along sometime in the interim and bored out the entire colony! Nothing was left of it. A few wasps would come around looking for it, but there was only a hole there now.
I couldn’t believe it. I had no doubt that it was a gift from the Lord. He knew how concerned I was about it and providentially sent that animal along to do its natural thing to help me out.
It is little things like this that reassure me of the Lord’s great care for us and regard to answer before we’ve called for help.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.” (Lam. 3:21-22)
One of my favorite websites is YouTube. I love that I can have an array of clips and video, movies and documentaries, or my favorite TV commercials at my fingertips, not to mention all the other quackish, non-essential stuff that can be eye-opening.
Oh yeah, it’s free, too.
I’m still a young guy but not so young that I don’t remember TV in black-n-white with just a few channels and it being a rap when the national anthem played after the late evening news. So secondary viewing by computer is pretty neat to me.
Sometimes I wish I had the facility of displaying my dreams on a player format like YouTube. We shouldn’t think it too strange these days since science is already producing mind-controlled devices; how much more would it take to display our thoughts? I have the wildest and most fantastical dreams sometimes, the kind so exciting that I get peeved if I should wake too soon!
When I start thinking this way, I begin wondering if in Heaven God will give us the opportunity to view certain parts of salvation history; and more than having my dreams on display, I think it would be a most awesome thing if we could see God’s agency for us individually. I’m talking about the drama of angels and demons, God’s meticulous planning for us, how our prayers worked, miracles we never knew of…the whole shebang. Now that would be something worth every second beholding!
Calling It to Mind
Right now, however, we have to be satisfied with our human minds for recalling the Lord’s faithfulness, which makes deliberate recollection an act of our will. We must remind ourselves not simply that God is good, but also that he has already been good to us in countless direct ways.
The Bible, in so many places, especially the Old Testament, commands us to remember the Lord’s goodness: “Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth” (1 Chron. 16:12). Peter understood the importance of recall, electing to continue reminding his hearers about the truth of scripture, although he was assured that they already understood it (2 Peter 1:12-12). It’s worth noting how remembering God’s faithfulness benefits us.
- It reminds us of God’s ability. It’s what is meant when we speak of God being magnified—let him be greater than anything concerning us. Our perspective will change when we understand that all Heaven is backing us.
- It causes us to understand God’s affection for us. He is for us, never against us. Whenever there is a question in my mind on this point, I ask myself aloud, “Can God do it? (Yes.) Will God do it? (Probably.) Will he do it for you? (I believe so.)” God desires our maturity and success.
- It builds our faith. Who can reflect on God’s past dealing in their life and not feel that their next battle is good-as-won? It was this that prompted David to write, “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Ps. 18:29). It won’t make the waiting any easier, but it will retard depressive vices and place God above one’s feelings.
A Way of Life
Recollection is easily enjoined with many of the spiritual habits—solitude, meditation, journaling, fellowship, contemplation, centering. Also, if there is a certain atmosphere that bridges you to God, like a cathedral or beach, by all means go there. Nature lifts my soul to God, so prayer at my favorite park works well for me. Some people may discover this habit easier done in the fellowship of Christian friends; others might find the quiet of the early morning best while lying in bed.
The Lord has done marvelous things for you. It may not look that way in areas of your life right now. But instead of escaping in your mind to bygone days when things were good, retreat to those times when you knew beyond all doubt that the Lord acted on your behalf. Consider those victories that astonished you and all who knew your story. Your heart will quickly brighten again.
Read More: God’s Proven Track Record