When Gratitude Feels Unnatural

God places people in our lives who bother us. He sets us in situations that make us feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t always feel optimistic to live in the pocket of God’s will of our lives, even when we undeniably trust Him. But, there is one verse that can help us bound forward obediently, without having to paste on a fake smile through gritted teeth. Beyond the sustaining joy we experience from a life walked behind Jesus, we can reprogram our thought process to a happier tune though the instruction of Philippians 4:6

“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.” 

1. Turn your anxiety into prayer.

“Don’t be anxious about things…” 

What do we do when worry starts to creep into our thoughts? Flip it into a prayer. For example, when worried about pain and sickness and lack of a cure, we can utter a prayer like this: 

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10 Verses to Read When Tragedy Strikes

Tragedy is a prevalent backdrop this side of heaven. Our hearts and minds are scorched with sorrow and drained of comprehension as we scroll through our daily news feeds. For modern generations of children, lock-down drills are as routine as fire and tornado drills. 

John 16:33 assures us that “in this world we will have trouble.” The word “trouble” in this verse is translated from the Greek word thlipsis (a cognate form of the verb thlibō) meaning to “press, squeeze, crush.” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary.) When we are leveled by tragedy, it’s important to remember that God is not surprised. 

Formed in God’s image, the anguish our souls endure at the sight and sound of human pain is ingrained in us. His promise is to love, and never leave us. Even in a world that is crumbling before us, Christians know that we will make it through into the presence of His face.

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A Prayer for those Seeking God’s Calling on Their Lives

“Know His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19)

We are pulled in different directions, and hardly any of the popular notions we are tempted to entertain on a daily basis would have us following Jesus as God intends. But prayer is powerful. Through our wavering, the Holy Spirit translates, and God hears. In Christ, we have peace in knowing that when we lift our confusion into His hands, He will faithfully guide us and answer us. 

Father, praise You for guiding us faithfully through this life. Fish live under the water, and though the wind chases the surface into a fury, schools of them swim peacefully under the surface. As the fish peacefully wait out the waves swimming under the water, we seek shelter under Your arms of pure love. Praise Jesus, who came to earth as a living reflection of Your love, to take us in His arms and show us how to weather the stormy seas of life. 

Our great God, You are our rock. When our ship is tossed, we can throw anchor to the bottom and know that You will steady us. You will keep us from running aground as the storm passes through our lives without regard for the destruction left in the wake. 

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A Prayer for Deliverance and Freedom

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

Deliverance doesn’t come with an overnight guarantee. We can’t click it or pick it out of a line up, and it doesn’t always look the same for me as it does for you.

The dictionary definition of deliverance is “the act of delivering someone or something: the state of being delivered; especially: liberation, rescue.” We often think of countries that need to be vindicated, people suffering from famine who need food, or others that need to be rescued form afflictions or abuses. And we should most ardently pray and take action to deliver others from oppressive circumstances.

But there is a second part to the definition that struck a chord God has been speaking into my life about distorted thoughts, shame, and boundaries. It reads like this, “something delivered; especially: an opinion or decision (such as the verdict of a jury) expressed publicly.” What if the opinion we hold of ourselves is sometimes the very thing we need to be delivered from? The critical pressing of modern-day life may threaten to distract and strip us of our Christly identity, a past decision may haunt us—even though it happened so long ago that we’re the only one still able to re-play it. An unjust outcome… tarnished reputation… failed attempt… whose perspective are we filtering our throughs through?

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10 Ways God Speaks to Us Today

Though we aren’t likely to hear the audible voice of God through a burning bush as Moses did, or in the midst of a dream as Joseph experienced, the One who spoke the earth and the heavens into existence still speaks to us today. When we seek to understand the character of our Creator, our lives will begin to reveal His protective hand. 

A foundational relationship with our Father in heaven can be established because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. With His death, the temple curtain was torn, and we were all granted access to the One True God. In the think of life’s unfairness, He stands by our side. Through our mistakes and missteps, His back never turns on us. In our triumphs, He awaits the first high-five of praise. We don’t have to fix or become better versions of ourselves to start hearing from God. He loves each of us for who we are, right now. Though some of the ways He speaks to us today are incomprehensible, here are ten that we can trust expectantly.

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