Posts Tagged ‘Colossians 3:16’

Thanksliving: Giving thanks for my new book and so much more

November 21, 2018

On the eve of the nation’s traditional Thanksgiving celebration, I pause to give thanks to God for countless blessings, including the publication of my long awaited book: Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, where I share my holistic strategy to overcome a diagnosis of prostate cancer given in 2000. One of the vital aspects of my cancer journey focused on thanksgiving. Here is an excerpt from the book. I invite readers to read, rejoice, and celebrate the goodness of God with me.

When most people hear the term thanksgiving, there is an almost automatic association with turkey, dressing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (or sweet potato pie, depending upon your ethnic tastes). Many associate the word with pageants of Pilgrims and Native Americans, with parades and football games—the prelude to the final holiday season of the year. For many people around the world, however, thanksgiving is more than a holiday observed the fourth Thursday in November. Actually, thanksgiving is always appropriate. Thanksgiving should be the reason for every season.

Let me first of all explain exactly what I mean by thanksgiving. In its most basic sense, thanksgiving is the application of an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in higher proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in thanksgiving, most literally to give thanks or to show oneself grateful.

As Christian believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness reverses the negative thinking pattern generated by toxic emotions. I learned I cannot honestly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed at the same time, nor can I be angry nor discouraged when I see all God has done for me and express gratitude to Him at the same time. Indeed, I cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when I recognize how blessed I have been thus far, as I anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, my beneficent Father.

God wants us to show ourselves grateful at all times. The Word of God reminds us of this truth in several places:

Colossians 3:17—

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Ephesians 5:20—

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives.

Philippians 4:6—

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Hebrews 13:15—

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Perhaps the most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving is found in I Thessalonians 5:18.The King James Version renders the verse this way—

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

To facilitate memorizing this particular verse, I composed a scripture Memory Song,

In Everything Give Thanks:

In everything give thanks,

In everything give thanks,

For this is the will of God

In Christ Jesus concerning you.

Repeat

When things in life don’t seem to turn out

Just as we think they should,

We know that God still has a grand plan

And works all things together—

He works all things together for our good.

 

In everything give thanks,

In everything give thanks,

For this is the will of God

In Christ Jesus concerning you.

 

The sun shines bright or the darkest night,

No matter what the mood,

We still give thanks always for all things.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

We keep an attitude of gratitude.

 

In everything give thanks,

In everything give thanks,

For this is the will of God

In Christ Jesus concerning you.

Every situation offers an opportunity to be thankful, no matter how bright or bleak life may be. If I think about it, I can always find something to be thankful for, if for nothing more than that I am alive or that my situation could be worse. I can begin with thanking God that I am alive and then adding to the long list of blessings I am enjoying at that moment. Each time I set my mind to be thankful, I am doing the will of God, which is the innermost desire of every believer. To give thanks is to do the will of God.

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings is sometimes described as stinkin’ thinkin’, which directly affects how I act. One of the critical factors in my physical and emotional well-being is my attitude. The discussion of attitude comes full circle with a reminder that attitude begins with gratitude. J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless goodwill.” Thanksgiving is a magnificent and joyful response-ability, that is, my ability to respond to God’s love and grace. As a believer, I continually endeavor to demonstrate my gratitude to God from the fullness of my heart, overflowing with thanks.

More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful I am, I desire to maintain a continual attitude of gratitude, a lifestyle that some have called thanksliving. The essence of my attitude of endless gratitude is expressed through poetry:

Thanksliving

What shall I render to the Lord for all
His grace? What can I say to offer praise
Worthy of His glory? How can I call
With all my being upon His name and raise
A new song from the depths of my heart?
I must do more than mouth a platitude—
To express the soul in words is an art;
Yet words cannot express my gratitude.
Mere words seem empty and without merit.
“Thank you” too soon becomes a hollow phrase.
So I must worship God with my spirit
And must give thanks well for all of my days.
To live is give thanks with tongue and limb;
With each breath, each move, I must live thanks to Him.

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is more than the arrival of Friday (TGIF), for which the workaday world thanks God. I found out that I must show how grateful I am with all of my being—“Thank God it’s Sunday through Saturday.” As I do so, I counteract the negative effects of disappointment, discouragement, despair, and any other toxic emotions that keep me from being all that God designed me to be.

We conclude with one of the most beautiful thanksgiving songs ever composed:

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is now available wherever books are sold and online. Check out https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com for more details.

Beyond race relations: Admonish one another

July 25, 2016

Colossians 3--16 2

In recent blog posts instead of examining the Verse of the Day, we have been continuing  the series based on the concept “It’s all about relationships,” the theme from a conference attended three years that related seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These principles can be universally applied in achieving and maintaining successful relationships, but they can also be specifically applied in an area of race relations, a critically important area in America today.

These seven principles are related to verbs that connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” The reciprocal pronoun used in the plural carries the notion of a group of people acting upon themselves, i.e., upon one another. For example, we are to “love another and so forth. . .”

1) Love

2) Honor

3)  Forgive

4)  Encourage

5)  Admonish

6)  Serve

7)  Make peace

Earlier posts have discussed the first four principles, and today we will look at the fifth.

Admonish one another

Throughout the letters written by Paul to the believers in the some of the Churches established in First Century, we find terms related to the words admonishment or admonish. A number of references encourage believers to “admonish one another.”

Many who hear the term “admonish” associate the verb with giving orders or reprimanding or rebuking, but the concept involves more than that. Derived from variations of the Greek word nous translated “mind,” the word is primarily translated “to give advice, to warn, to put in mind (remind)” and only secondarily “to chastise” or “rebuke”. Here are places where the verb form is rendered “admonish one another,” whereby believers are mutually active in this process:

Paul speaks these words to the believers in Romans 15:14 (AMP):

Personally I am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge, and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another.

We find a similar pronouncements to the Thessalonian believers:

1 Thessalonians 4:1 (AMP):

[Sanctification and Love] Finally, believers, we ask and admonish you in the Lord Jesus, that you follow the instruction that you received from us about how you ought to walk and please God (just as you are actually doing) and that you excel even more and more [pursuing a life of purpose and living in a way that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation].

1 Thessalonians 5:14:

We [earnestly] urge you, believers, admonish those who are out of line [the undisciplined, the unruly, the disorderly], encourage the timid [who lack spiritual courage], help the [spiritually] weak, be very patient with everyone [always controlling your temper].

Colossians 3:16 is another place where the expression “admonish one another” is found. When we look at the context of verses 15-17, we find a wonderful “gratitude sandwich” with verse 16 being right in the center of three references to being thankful, as noted in the New Living Translation:

Colossians 3:15-17:

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than giving of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, we express our gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is always an appropriate time to give thanks to God. One of the songs I recall from years ago declares, “Now is the right time to praise the Lord!” No matter the circumstances, no matter the conditions, weather-wise or otherwise, we are to follow this admonition:

In happy moments, praise God.

In difficult moments, seek God.

In quiet moments, worship God.

In painful moments, trust God.

In every moment, thank God.

 

 

At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

 

 

When God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,

And we savor the ecstasy of victory,

When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will praise God.

 

When gripped by the devices of this transient life

And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,

During these difficult moments, we will seek God.

 

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood

And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,

From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

 

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,

When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain

So that we can scarcely scream your name, we will trust God.

 

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,

Through every why and wherefore, for every reason

Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

 

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.

Colossians 3:16 and other related scriptures offer this reminder:

To give counsel, to instruct, we seek to give warning.

The Word of Christ dwells in us that we might minister:

We put in mind, urge, and admonish one another.

Colossians 3:16 is set to music as one of verses using the term “teaching and admonishing one another”:

 

 

 

Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs

November 27, 2015

Colossians_3-16

Taken from Colossians 3:16, the Verse of the Day for November 27, the day after Thanksgiving Day, reminds that giving thanks to God should be ongoing:

Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

We find a similar exhortation to be “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’ in Ephesians 5:19. These verses are reminders that expressing our gratitude to God is always in season, not just during the week of Thanksgiving, but our hearts should overflow, as we offer psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs of thankfulness to God for His bountiful blessings.

In thewww.youtube.com/watch?v=0V3BqV_mdnY past, I have posted my list of “Top Ten Thanksgiving Songs”: five were traditional hymns, and five were contemporary songs of praise and worship, all of which focus on being thankful. I recognize now that the list could be viewed as a collection of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” From the original list is a sampling of songs from those three categories.

Psalms:

Psalms are consider songs of praise directed to God, as illustrated in the Book of Psalms. Today a number of the Psalms of David have been set to music, as illustrated in these three selections:

One of most popular songs of thanks from the Bible is “ I Will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving /He Has Made Me Glad” offered by Maranatha Music.

Sean Dayton offers a musical version of Psalm 105: “Give Thanks”:

https://

Another psalm of thanksgiving and praise is Psalm 138 in this rendition by Jason Silver:

Hymns:

Hymns are described as formal and traditional songs often sung by a congregation in praise of God in a public worship setting. Here is a medley of three popular hymns of thanksgiving: “Come Ye Thankful People Come,” “We Gather Together,” and “For the Beauty of the Earth.”


Another popular hymn of thanksgiving isNow Thank We All Our God” displayed in this concert arrangement by John Rutter:

Spiritual songs:

This category of songs are said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, often based on a spiritual theme or teaching spiritual principles. Much of contemporary praise and worship can be placed in this category.

A classic example of this category would be Don Moen’s “Give Thanks”:

Recently I discovered a new song of gratitude “I’m Thankful” by Alexander Delgado:

The final selection has the same title as the previous song “I’m Thankful.” This composition, however, is written and sung by Lisa Tracy.

 

i'm thankful--lisa tracy 1

I’m Thankful

Every day may we encourage ourselves and one another, “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Wait on the Lord: Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs

October 18, 2015

Psalm-27--14Throughout the Bible, believers are encouraged “to wait on the Lord.” The concluding verse of my favorite Psalm (27:14) offers this reminder in the King James Version which I committed to memory as a teenager:

Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

Here is the rendering in the New Living Translation:

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

The Psalms are poetic expressions often accompanied by music, rendering praise or adoration to God. Colossians 3:16 (NLT) speaks of three musical forms to express our gratitude to God:

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

What follows are examples of these forms:

Psalms

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day, I recall a poem that read on the Facebook page of my friend, Lester Wiley Carver. I viewed the work as a psalm of sorts, a song of praise to God, echoing the sentiments expressed in final verse of Psalm 27:

Wait On God “City of my Soul”

I could give you all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know me.
You’d not know the depths of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power I give to the faint.

You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair.
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in me.
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

You’d never experience the fullness of love;
When the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save for a start,
But you would not know the depth of the love of my heart.

The glow of my comfort late into the night.
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask.
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You’d never know should your pain quickly flee;
What it means that my grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true;
But, oh, the loss, if I lost what I’m doing in you.

So be silent my child, and in time you will see;
That the greatest gift is to truly know me.
And though if my answers seem terribly late;
My most precious of all is still, “WAIT”!

As I reflected upon poem that Lester posted, one of my own poetic works came to mind:

“Waiting in Gilgal” describes “The City of My Soul”, as I wait at this time in my life.

Waiting in Gilgal

If a man die, shall he live again?

all the days of my appointed time

will I wait, till my change come.

Job 14:14

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

In the midnight harbor, place black as a raven,

Yielded and still in this new place of transition,

Seeking to do God’s will, in ready position,

To be launched from here to my desired haven.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

Groaning, travailing resounds from this place on earth,

In the birthing room where thoughts rise to the sublime;

Prolonged moments extend toward the fullness of time

Where agony precedes ecstasy in childbirth.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

To be raised from the tomb, released from the cocoon;

Exhausted, I yearn to escape and touch the sky,

To be freed from these quarters of the butterfly,

Where to be transformed at last can come none too soon.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

This place demands sacrifice and obedience:

Not like Saul in Gilgal, foolish and immature,

But like Caleb, who with age, had strength to endure,

Fulfilled all God’s will and claimed his inheritance,

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

Hymns

Another musical form to express adoration or prayer to God is the hymn, often sung individually or in a congregation. In commenting on our “waiting on the Lord, I note that we are not in a state of apprehension or anxiety, but we rest in a confident state, as the lyrics to” Blessed Assurance,” by Fanny J. Crosby, one of the most popular hymns of all time remind us:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This most moving rendition of the classic is offered acapella by Matthew West

The lyrics from another hymn “Open My Eyes,” written and composed by Clara H. Scott, reiterate our being quiet as we wait:

Quietly now I wait for Thee,

Ready my God Thy will to see,

Open my eyes illumine me…

The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on piano, a perfect musical illustration of Psalm 27:14

Spiritual songs

Songs that teach or reinforce spiritual principles from the Scripture are as known as spiritual songs. A contemporary worship song with the same title as the hymn “Open My Eyes” is offered by Hillsong with these lyrics which serve as a bridge in the song:

And as I wait on You my God
I’ll know the voice of truth
In quietness I am in awe
And as I worship You my Lord
I understand the cross
The sacrifice of God

We conclude with the lyrics to an original song composed in light of Psalm 27:14:

While I wait, I will worship

While I wait, I will worship/I will worship while I wait

Though the enemy overwhelms me and floods my soul with pain,

Like Job in the midst of all his troubles, I will worship while I wait.

That God is good, always good, this I will proclaim

While I wait, I will worship/I will worship while I wait

These examples of psalms, hymns, and spiritual song come to mind while reflecting on Psalm 27:14.