Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
Foundations of a Revived FamilyBy Gary Bergal
When Jesus' disciples inquired of Him about the close of the age and His return, one of His first remarks was that they should see to it that they not become frightened or troubled (Mt. 24:1–8). It is the same today. Though we live in days of great pressure, uncertainties, and threat of terrorist attacks, we should not be alarmists. Our motivation to intercede must not be one of fear, but rather a faith-filled response to the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit. Thanksgiving keeps us in a positive perspective and an attitude of faith. Thanksgiving helps us discern between the burdens of God and false burdens that might be triggered by anxiety, demonic pressures, the evening news, or the cares of everyday life. Part of our daily, priestly ministry to God is thanksgiving (Lev. 7:12; Ps. 116:17). It is a vital component of the church's total prayer ministry, and is to accompany our petitions and supplications (Phil. 4:6–7). It is both a godly discipline and an attitude that, when maintained, pleases God, pushes back our enemies and releases the provisions of heaven wrought in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:20; 6:18; Rev. 5:8).
My family and I were impressed by the benefits of spiritual refreshment and clarification we received through thanksgiving recently when our entire church participated in a day of fasting and thanksgiving. While it might seem contradictory to some that we would "afflict our souls" and thank God simultaneously, this "seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit," and was confirmed by our entire congregation. So we disciplined ourselves to thank God for 24 hours! It was not easy, but it refreshed and revolutionized us. Families came together to compile lists of things for which each member was thankful. Children and parents wept together in a holy joy of thanksgiving, remembering all that God had done—and is doing. Our church has not been the same since that day. Our vision, sense of purpose in God, and love for Christ and one another were all revived.
Living close to Washington, D.C., a political "epicenter," we continually battle disappointment, negativity, cynicism and sarcasm. Sometimes our children and even we grown-ups get infected with a virus of ingratitude. The best antidote we've discovered is to take a conscious family "gratitude check." One way we did this was to direct our children to compile a list, write a poem, or compose a prayer, noting specific things they were thankful for. Their attitudes were markedly more positive after this simple exercise. Another thing we've done is to mount a dry-erase board inside one of our kitchen cupboard doors where we note and reflect upon answers to prayer. On some Thanksgiving holidays we cut strips of colored paper, write things we are thankful for on them, and paste them into paper chains which we hang as part of our Thanksgiving holiday decorations—a visual reminder of the unbroken goodness and faithfulness of God continually flowing into our lives.
Thanksgiving is a mark of the redeemed community. When people all around us are fearful, depressed, and full of complaints, we should be known as joyful, thankful, and a hopefully expectant people. Scripture indicates that the following are just some of what we should be thankful for:
• God, Himself: His Fatherhood and perfect nature; His covenant love and faithfulness (Ps. 89:1, 2; 92:1–5; 96; Rev. 11:17)
• redemption, deliverance, restoration and eternal life in Christ Jesus (Jn. 3:16; Ps. 34:4; Col. 1:12–14; 2 Cor. 9:15)
• victory over sin, Satan, self-love, death, and every situation (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; Col. 1:12–14; Rev. 12:10, 11)
• all fellow believers; their deepening knowledge of Christ and obedience to His Word; church leadership and our lasting relationships (1 Thess. 1:2, 2:13; Phil. 1:3)
• material provisions lavished upon us from God's abundance; food, clothing, shelter (Jn. 6:11; Acts 27:35; 2 Cor. 9:8–15; 1 Tim. 4:3, 4; Jas. 1:17)
• answered prayer, wisdom, strength (Dan. 2:23; 1 Jn. 5:13–15)
• good government; the human family; the freedom of the gospel; family life and the opportunity to live quiet and peaceable lives in all honesty and godliness (1 Tim. 2:1–4; Ro. 13:1–7)
• for all things and in everything (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18).
A study of the book of Revelation reveals that thanksgiving is actually part of the lifestyle and atmosphere of heaven (Rev. 7:12). As we continue to intercede and believe God for a turning to Christ and full-scale revival in our land, let us not forget that our thank offerings are actually helping to change America's spiritual atmosphere! "Through Christ then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15, NASB).
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