Monday, July 28, 2014
Thankful for everything?
Merlin Carothers served as a US Army paratrooper with 82nd Airborne in the Second World War and then, after a complete turnaround in his life, rejoined the US Army as a chaplain in the 1950s and served in Korea and Vietnam, retiring as a Lt-Colonel. His story Prison to Praise and other titles expanding the praise theme are still in print and have sold nearly 20 million copies. Carothers went to be with the Lord last November at the age of 89.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
IN A BRIEF teaching today in Speen Chapel I shared a little Bible study from the Psalms showing how we are encouraged, in Scripture, to make a choice to praise God in every circumstance. There are steps up, starting with the most simple intention to praise God – I sometimes coach people who are under oppression or confusion to simply say out loud “Jesus is Lord“. After they have managed to say that over a few times, I encourage them to make it a slightly longer declaration: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:11) The confusion and oppression will usually have lifted by this time. You are not a good person to oppress any more! That is what the psalmist means by
I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
In Merlin Carothers’ Answers to Praise which I mentioned in the talk, there’s a letter from someone who asks:
“I have members of my family that are not Christians. Should I be thankful that they are not Christians? To be thankful for everything must includes this…”
Carothers’ answer offers helpful clarity about how we do this, in practical terms. He says:
“Many people have had difficulty understanding how we can praise God for something, and at the same time do our part in improving that condition.
“It is important that we understand the necessity of doing the best we can in every situation. God has given us abilities, talents and special gifts, so that we might use them to glorify Him. Therefore, Christians should be dedicated to doing the very best that we can, to change our world for good.
“With an attitude of thanksgiving, we can approach each task with joy. We believe God has entrusted this opportunity to us, and that He is working in us to accomplish His purpose.
“We must do our best to lead others to Christ and be thankful for the opportunity. We should not centre our attention on the fact that someone is not saved. We should rejoice that:
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
The Lord is… patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Our faith is not based on evidence that we can see, but upon faith in God, which is the essence of Hebrews 11:1.
“Praising God for a problem is not saying that we like it, or that we approve of it. Praising God is saying: ‘I trust You, God. I know You are in control of everything. So, in obedience to Your Word, I praise You and thank You for things exactly as they are.’
“When our faith does not seem strong enough to reach out and claim God’s promises, I believe that we should even thank God for our weak faith. Why? This reveals our need of the Holy Spirit’s help. We cannot believe without His help. Paul said that even our faith was a gift from God. Being forced into the humble position of recognising our absolute dependence upon God’s help is exactly what we need.
“One of man’s greatest weaknesses is his pride in himself. Our tradition of ‘doing it on our own’ causes us to become so self-sufficient that we often forget our position of complete dependence on God.”
Blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.