With the recent passing of Thanksgiving, the holiday season has begun, a time of year in which many reflect on the current condition of their lives. We are each encouraged to express gratitude for the year, which will soon come to a close. For many believers who have made a confession of faith, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has become anything but good news. Unable to reconcile the failures of the past eleven months, there are those experiencing an overwhelming sense of disappointment and frustration, and in some cases anger. Life is not at all how they envisioned it would be. They have done all they have known to do but life seems to have dealt them one devastating blow after the other. The Word of God states that hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). It is essential that one metabolize their experiences, grieving the loss of opportunities, relationships, and time.

In an attempt to do so, they shared their disenchantment and pain with friends and loved ones, but with each conversation their frustration mounted as they heard familiar platitudes, encouraging them to maintain their faith in God. No one understands what he or she is going through or how they are feeling, they tell themselves. Friendly advice now feels condescending, minimizing their current experience so they eventually stop talking, even to God. Prayer seems impossible; conversation with a God who appears aloof and distant seems pointless. There are more questions than answers: Why am I being forced to endure this? What have I done wrong? Has God forgotten me? By no means am I saying that your feelings are unjustified, but the reality is they are inaccurate.

If you are reading this and can relate to these feelings, I am here to challenge your perspective of your current circumstance. The challenges we face daily are an opportunity for God to reveal Himself in novel ways. The financial adversity you are currently facing is an opportunity for God to be a provider. The health complications will reveal Him to be your Healer. The overwhelming loneliness you feel will prove Christ to be a Friend that sticks closer than any brother. Each challenge is an invitation to know God more intimately.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4, AMP)

Please know that God has allowed these circumstances to occur. God will utilize this testing time to mature and refine those who endure till the end. God is interested in the development of our character.

The mind is the battlefield of faith; Satan cannot dethrone God in the earth so he seeks to do so in our mind. As one continues to focus on the enormity of their present situation, The God of the universe becomes smaller and smaller. It is for this reason that we magnify an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God. As we do so He is enlarged and elevated to His rightful place in our hearts and minds. So many of us erroneously believe the Satan is God’s enemy; he poses absolutely no threat to God’s identity and sovereignty. The reality is he is our enemy and a rather formidable opponent.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. (I Peter 5:8, AMP)

This life we live is a battle for territory; our minds are prime real estate. Satan will bombard each of us with negative thoughts, all of which are lies. All that is necessary is that we grab hold of one word spoken and his work is done. As we ruminate on the negative thought, our minds will create other corresponding thoughts. If Satan is able start a war within our minds, he can move onto his next victim while we destroy ourselves. We must renounce every word that the enemy has spoken over our lives. We must not accept it.

Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. (Ephesians 6:11-3, AMP)

Why this vicious assault, you may as? This time of testing is an indication that we were born for a purpose; God wants to use us each in unimaginable ways. Whether we are called impact our families or our nations, there is work to be done. The enemy has knowledge of our futures: it is his intention to destroy this vision in its infancy, just as he attempted to do with Moses and Jesus. Our destinies are a direct assault on his agenda. The fulfillment of our earthly assignment is the answer to someone’s prayer. There are lives that will continue to hang in the balance until we begin to walk in the purpose for which God designed us. I implore each of us to wake from our slumber. We are called to bring deliverance, healing, and restoration to a wounded humanity. It is imperative that we stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We must arm ourselves for battle.

On of the most effective weapons against the attack of the enemy is gratitude/thankfulness. Make the decision to shift focus, even if only slightly with the help on the Holy Spirit.

For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (II Corinthians 10:3-5, AMP)

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. (Philippians 4:8, AMP)

An attitude of entitlement produces ingratitude. Ingratitude characterizes those who are just one step away from having a debased mind. Ingratitude speaks loudly of a degenerate heart. Those who recognize grace and mercy show appreciation; those who feel entitled are demanding and unthankful. I implore you don’t be like the lepers spoken of in Luke 17.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” (15-8, AMP)

Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. (Romans 1:21, AMP)

So as we enter this holiday season and prepare for the coming of 2024, I encourage you to think of all God has done for you. Focus on developing the intimacy of your relationship with Christ. Your elevation is merely a byproduct; it is His desire to bless you that He be glorified.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matthew 6:33, AMP)

I’d like to leave you to ponder this: Can God trust you with the knowledge of who He is? Will you trust Him to do exactly what He said He would do? Have you given up on Him?

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (Jeremiah 29:11, AMP)

He will bless those who reverently and worshipfully fear the Lord, both small and great. May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth! The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth has He given to the children of men. (Psalm 115:13-6, AMP)

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