Nana’s Nook: The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving, Worship Warfare

Good morning, friends. I have something on my heart today that I feel compelled to share with you as we begin another week together. I have shared with you many times that I do not like change. Change is often difficult, even if it involves a good thing. When Steve and I moved to Greenville 40 years ago, that was a hard change for me. I left behind all of my family and my dearest friends. I was pregnant with our first child, Jeremy, and I was just lost. It was a very difficult transition for me. And yet, I look back on it now and rejoice that God had Greenville in His plans for me. The blessings that have come from this change far outweigh the difficulties I encountered along the way. Seasons of change come and go like the tide. How we deal with those changes becomes life-defining. We are in another difficult season of change, which really began when our son ran ahead of us to heaven on October 7, 2017. I am learning that this journey of unexpected grief is hard on so many levels. Missing your loved one is just gut-wrenching at times. But dealing with the changes that have come from Jeremy leaving us presents new challenges every day. Managing holidays increases the awareness that he is gone and he is not coming back. Every planned event takes on a new dimension because there is a hole where there used to be a life. This Christmas presents even more challenges as we manage our first without Steve’s Dad, the beloved patriarch of the Hill family. Perhaps this is why some terms I have encountered in two recent devotionals really jumped out at me.

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
Worship Warfare

As I have thought about both of those phrases in recent days, the journey we are on gives an even greater understanding of what they mean. Sometimes, when life is hard, thanksgiving truly becomes a sacrifice. God is training us to practice the sacrifice of thanksgiving-thanking Him is all circumstances, even the difficult ones. Sarah Young puts it this way in her devotional book Jesus Always:
“Joy is a choice-one that you face many times each day as long as you live in this world. You need to become aware-and stay aware- that you can choose to be positive and hopeful moment by moment. Make it your goal to find JOY in the midst of your day. If you notice that you’re experiencing discouragement, frustration, or other negative feelings, let those prickly emotions prod you into remembering Me (Jesus). Seek My face and talk with Me. Live victoriously, beloved, by seeking to find Me in more and more of your moments.”
Such good counsel! This is the sacrifice of thanksgiving-laying your life down on the altar of gratitude, even when your feelings are screaming with sadness and grief. This is Worship Warfare-giving God praise even when your feelings are flat. I read these words recently in a devotional in Our Daily Bread:
“Worship is a lifestyle of learning from God. Psalm 25:1 alludes to the worship posture of uplifted hands. It offers a beautiful picture of walking with God; we honestly lift up before Him all of ourselves and our struggles, while continually waiting with open, trusting hands to receive all we need from our loving gracious God.” (Monica Brands)
Isn’t that so true? As we go through the trials and triumphs of our lives, God is teaching us the value of worship in both! He is teaching us to live our lives with open hands and open hearts, even when we are in the thick of the battles that come from living in this fallen world. Again, hear these words from Sarah Young:
“Satan, our enemy, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). That is why it’s so important to be self-controlled and alert! When you let your mind drift out of focus, you are much more vulnerable to the evil one. However, the remedy is simple. As soon as you realize what has happened, you can drive away the enemy by thanking and praising Me (God). This is worship warfare- and it works!”
So, as we continue to walk in this season of change, we covet your prayers. Sometimes Worship Warfare is just exhausting and we need our friends and loved ones to help us keep our hands lifted and our minds engaged in the battle. It is easy to drift into despair and lose our focus. So, your prayers, especially this week, are much needed. The 5th anniversary of our Granddaughter, Serenity’s, relocation to heaven is Friday. The awareness of loss is great. But the knowledge that Christ, Immanuel, is with us keeps us going. Moment by moment, we are kept in His love. This is why He came, to save His people from their sins, to give them abundant life, to be with them in the battles they face every day. I am ever so thankful for these truths today. I am also thankful for you, my friends, who I know are in the battle with us. You will never know how much that means to me. I love you.

Psalm 25:1: “To You, Oh Lord, I lift up my soul.”
Psalm 116:17: “I will offer You a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.”

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