Reasons to be Grateful: Restoration

by Carolyn Hope

The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air. (Isaiah 51:3)

Here in Isaiah 51, we see the future restoration of Israel. God will take the dry places and turn them into lush gardens. It will be a place of joy and gladness, and the sound of thanksgiving will permeate the skies.

There’s a depth of gratitude unlike any other found in restoration. I believe this is so because when you’ve seen how bad things can be, and God turns those circumstances around for good, you understand more fully the beauty of His work. Intrinsically, we are more grateful when we consider where we used to be and contrast it with our present blessings and transformation.

God is a good God. He redeems and restores. He takes orphans and makes them sons and daughters. He takes wretchedness and turns it into holiness. When He sees darkness, He speaks light. Contemplate your life, past and present, and you’ll see Jesus’ restoration as a pivotal part of your story. God will always restore; let’s thank Him for that.

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Reasons to be Grateful: Intimacy

by Carolyn Hope

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. (Psalm 100:4-5)

Imagine you stand before a magnificent city, majestic in splendor and rich in glory. Just before you, the city gates guard the entrance; they are tall and fortified in strength. They are shut at the moment, but as you approach them, you hear the click of a latch unlocking, and the gates swing open wide. Step by step, you enter this city, where you are amazed by its beauty and marvel at your chance to be there. Before you know it, you find yourself in the courtroom observing the King on His throne. You’re lost in the wonder of His perfect holiness.

The first step towards intimacy is gratitude. When you are thankful and you express your thanks, you draw closer to your King. Giving thanks to God is like crossing the threshold of His heavenly city. When you speak gratefulness to Jesus, something changes; it causes the atmosphere to shift. Your Father is greatly pleased when you thank Him. He loves it when you acknowledge who He is and what He’s done for you. As you say thank you, He pulls you closer in His loving arms.

Express your thanks today. Let it draw you into deeper places of intimacy with Jesus.

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Reasons to be Grateful: Help

by Carolyn Hope

The Lord is my strength and my shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:7)

The author, David, of this Psalm knew God as his Helper very well. Time and time again, God came through for David, answering his prayers and giving him victory. David’s response was to praise him and sing songs of thanksgiving.

There’s nothing like that moment when God moves, and in an instant, everything is changed. The miracle you’ve been believing for becomes a reality or that breakthrough you’ve been praying for finally arrives. It’s in these moments that an unshakable joy rises in your heart, and you can’t help but give thanks to your God, who made a way for you when there was no way.

I want to encourage you to be thankful and rejoice in every victory Jesus brings, whether big or small. He is worthy of all praise. There are times when it’s easy to give thanks, and there are other times where you have to search harder within your heart to find what you’re grateful for. Even if you are still waiting for God’s help to show up in your situation, remember the other battles He has won for you. As you reflect on your life, you’ll see instance after instance where your King did something. Let these memories prompt you to sing “songs of thanksgiving.

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Reasons to be Grateful

by Carolyn Brucks

Thanksgiving week is an excellent time to remind ourselves what we are thankful for. In the busyness and hardships of life, it can often be a challenge to walk in gratefulness and joy. However, this week I’d like to give you five Biblical reasons to be grateful. There are many more reasons, as I’m sure you know, but it is my hope that you will remember these principles throughout every season of life.

Regardless of who you are or where you are in life, there is always something to be thankful for. The breath you breathe, the eyes with which you see, and your beating heart are some things often taken for granted. The ultimate reason to be grateful, however, is Jesus and His love for you. There is no amount of thanks that is too great for Him and all He’s done. Wherever you are and whatever you do, let your heart and mouth be full of thanksgiving to your King.

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Response

by Carolyn Hope

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)

The disciples were already following Jesus, but when He revealed His glory, they believed in Him. They saw with their own eyes what He could do, and suddenly, everything changed.

Our response to revelation should be belief. When we stand before the King and watch Him move, our faith increases. We may not see Jesus face to face yet, as the disciples did, but we can certainly see His hand in our lives.

Jesus has revealed and will reveal His glory in your life. Let your response be that of belief and gratitude. If you find yourself in a place where it doesn’t seem clear how God is moving in your life, keep crying out for revelation, and remember the times you have seen Him move. There is beauty in remembrance. Remembering God’s faithfulness in your life is a great way to boost your faith and keep pressing forward. Look for Him; you will find Him, and when you see Jesus, everything will change.

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Revelation

by Carolyn Hope

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (John 2:6-10)

Here we see that Jesus performed the miracle even though he had just said he wouldn’t. The miracle wasn’t really about the wine; it was about revealing Jesus for who He truly was. According to the timeline that was in place, He should not have yet shown Himself. He made that clear.

What was it, then, that changed His mind? It was Mary’s faith. When Mary acted in faith that He would do what she asked, it stirred Him to do it. Jesus loves it when we ask Him to do big things and then believe that He will do them. He responds and reacts to faith. In this instance, because of Mary’s faith, Jesus did something new, something that had never been done before. No one had ever taken water and instantly turned it into wine.

When you act in faith, it will lead to a new revelation of Jesus in your life. As you ask and believe for miracles, He’ll do the impossible and the unheard of. He delights in showing Himself to you. Keep asking and seeking for His revelation. When you taste of Jesus, all else fades away. He will satisfy you in a way that nothing else can.

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Readiness

by Carolyn Hope

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)

Mary was undaunted by Jesus’ original refusal. She acted in readiness for a miracle anyway. She still believed He would do what she asked, and she got ready for the miracle even before He agreed to do it. In an almost defiant faith, she prepared the servants to receive instructions from Jesus.

More often than not, there is a waiting process between the time you make a request and the time you receive what you asked for. There’s a season of waiting between God’s promises and their fulfillment. When you find yourself in this time, don’t sit around in idleness. Ready yourself for the miracle you’re believing for. Be prepared to use the gift you’ve asked God for.

Sometimes this readiness looks radical and crazy. If you’ve been asking God for a child for the past several years, act in faith by setting up the nursery. If you’ve applied for a specific job and are waiting to hear back from the company, go buy the new clothes you would need if you received the job. Be ready. Be ready for the answer you are believing God will give you.

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Refusal

by Carolyn Hope

“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

Jesus’ first response was to brush off his mother’s prompting. He had no obligation to fix the wine deficiency of the wedding party; besides, it wasn’t time for Him to reveal Himself.

Sometimes Jesus says no. Other times, He says not yet. His refusal of an idea doesn’t equate to rejection of a person. In telling His mother it wasn’t time yet, Jesus was not rejecting her or pushing her away. As we’ll see later this week, Jesus actually did end up doing what Mary requested; however, He didn’t do it right away.

If God says no or not yet to your request, don’t be discouraged. He knows the right actions to take, and the right times to do them. He isn’t closed to you. Even when He says no to something you present, He does not reject you. He always welcomes you.

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Request

by Carolyn Hope

The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (John 2:3)

Mary saw a lack and asked Jesus to fill it. The wedding celebration was far from over, but the wine had run out. When Mary saw this, she considered it the perfect opportunity for her son to come forth and show Himself as the Messiah. With motherly subtleness, she went to Jesus and told Him, “They have no more wine.” This wasn’t so much a statement of facts as it was a nudging to do something only Jesus could do. What Mary was really saying was, Son, here’s your chance to help someone in need. Show yourself!

Don’t be afraid to make requests of God. When you see a need, come with boldness before your King and ask Him to satisfy it. Philippians 4:6 says “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Go ahead; speak up. Speak out. Share your heart and desires with Jesus. He longs to hear from you. He longs to know the deep hopes of your heart. You don’t know what can come from a faith-filled request. You could even see a miracle.

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Getting to the Glory (John 2:1-11)

by Carolyn Hope

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (John 2:1-2)

John chapter 2 describes the first miracle of Jesus’ ministry. In this passage, we see the first time Jesus revealed His glory; and it was at a person’s request.

This week, I’d like to take you through this event verse by verse and pull out some of the main themes found in this Scripture. I want to show you the process of this particular situation, starting with a request, and leading to glorious revelation.

Jesus’ revelation and glory are for today in your life, not just two thousand years ago. Be encouraged this week that when you come before God in bold faith and expectancy, you will see miracles and revelation in your own life.

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