Section 1
COT3

"You Give Thanks"

         This is a very embarassing story to share but I must be transparent if I really want to help make a difference...
          During a season of rebellion where I had left my church to make life happen the way I wanted, I was living with the father of my children out of wedlock. Without going into details, I'll just say things were extremely dysfunctional and ugly. During this time, I was not praying, reading the Bible, worshiping or anything because I was angry at God for not giving me what I had been waiting for. 
          Months into this rebellion and during a very bad time, as my boyfriend walked past me in the dining room, I began cussing, even snarling at him, under my breath. Now, I have to tell you I have always been considered a loving, gentle person. Some would even say I was a Miss Goody Two Shoes. While everyone drank, smoke and cussed, I didn't (for the most part). I didn't like any of that. I had always hungered for righteousness even in my rebellion. Yet, there I was, full of disgust for my boyfriend. I was so appalled with his behavior that I took on this wicked attitude and found myself snarling with full-blown contempt saying, "You are such an #@%*&x!" under my breath as he walked past.
          Instantly I heard the Lord say as clear as day, "Stop it!" He did not shout it, it was a very calm but authoritative, "Stop it!".  Because I felt justified for my critical perspective, I made my defense right away saying, "But Lord! LOOK at him!" And to that the Lord just as quickly replied, "You give thanks!"
          I was stunned. Give thanks? For WHAT? As far as my human understanding could assess, there was NOTHING to be thankful for. But I knew that I knew that God had just scolded me. Though I did not understand what I was to give thanks for, I submitted on the spot and began to do it just the same! -And I realized... My behavior was more dispicable in that moment than the "disgusting" behavior I was judging my boyfriend for! Who do we think we are to be so disgusted with anyone! We're all sinners. 
          Now this was very early on in my Christian walk. I had only been actively seeking God for three years before my rebellion, so I didn't understand the principle behind giving thanks. But this day proved to teach me exactly what it was all about.
          For the most part, we are taught in the Church how giving thanks is powerful. It's a way to connect to God. But what I learned first-hand in this very horrible situation that I'd gotten myself into is that no matter who does what, no matter how terrible someone is, no matter how ugly the circumstance, no matter how unjust, no matter the violation or cruelty, bending the knee to hatred like I did is WICKED. It's not the way of the kingdom of God. To the contrary, giving thanks despite the horror is precisely the way of the kingdom of God. I learned that day that God passionately stands behind 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
          That means EVERYTHING. I never would have imagined that God meant even in the face of totally disgusting, despicable circumstances that we were suposed to... give thanks! But that's exactly what we're supposed to do!
          I share this because this is but ONE key truth that we believers should live by. But we don't because we feel justified snarling, complaining, and being angry or sore with our offenders. And it's so wrong. It's wicked and it is bowing to the kingdom of darkness!  So please keep this in mind. NEVER allow yourself to rise up in such bitter contempt for anyone or anything no matter how terrible it is. Nor to even the slightest degree!
          Instead, do what God told me to do in place of being disgusted: Give thanks. For what? Well, for whatever comes to your mind. God will give you the words if you yield in submission to His correction. He gave me the words, He'll do the same for you.
          Do please take heed to this. Never ever presume the right to snarl in hatred for anyone or anything in your heart, because it's extremely offensive to God and puts a barrier between you and His kingdom. It grieves the Holy Spirit and stifles His breath in you. And worse, gives a greater platform to the system of darkness in your life if you stay in that place! So please do what God says. Give thanks. And if you fail to, repent as quickly as possible. Amen.