How our posture and perspective can position us for breakthrough!
This time of year, many of us reflect on our lives, taking an honest assessment of the ways we have overcome challenges and examining our shortcomings. But reflecting on the past without perspective often leaves us with regrets.
We all have regrets. I know I do—things I wish I had done or not done. But I’ve heard it said, “Yesterday’s sorrows can be today’s successes if the hand of the Lord is upon us.” This is so true! Every experience, good or bad, can become a life lesson that becomes a part of our life message. We can’t let past regrets prevent us from being a blessing to others in the present and the future.
When I think about the future, I intentionally take time to reflect on the significant and defining landmarks in my life. God has brought me through every step of the journey, just as He has done for you. Even in our human frailties, He demonstrates His love and faithfulness. While I cannot erase mistakes of the past, the decisions I make now give clarity and definition to my future.
We can always put our hope and trust in the Lord! Even though we go through challenges, obstacles, and life-altering events, God is there for us with arms outstretched. His unfailing love will see us through, and His plans for our lives never change.
Don’t let yourself be discouraged! God is leading you through the process so you can possess the promises He has for you! Keep His perspective, which gives you hope. There is much to be thankful for every day.
GRATITUDE BRINGS BREAKTHROUGH
So many people are facing personal difficulties, further intensified by national and global uncertainties. This past season has been filled with so many challenges! Perhaps you, or those close to you, are feeling overwhelmed of heart, anxious, stressed, or even fearful about what’s to come.
How do we, as God’s people, position ourselves so that we are not overcome with stress, anxiety, and fear?
Philippians 4:6-7 encourages and reminds us: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Unfortunately, our posture in prayer is often one of supplication and petition but we forget about thanksgiving and gratitude!
When we are in places of desperation, needing breakthrough, we rush to the Lord to beseech Him for what we need. He certainly wants us to come to Him with our needs, and even commands it! But I believe we see greater breakthroughs when we come to Him with an attitude of thanksgiving. As Paul said, “In everything…with thanksgiving…”
Years ago, I was in a time of great personal desperation. I needed a spiritual breakthrough. I got home late after witnessing on the streets and seeing little fruit. I was frustrated in the ministry. I was tired and discouraged. I didn’t feel like praying. I didn’t want to worship, and I actually felt my heart becoming hardened.
I fell down on the mattress in my dark room and cried out to the Lord. I sensed Him telling me to read about the woman at the well, so I picked up my Bible and began to read the story in John 4. As I did, I heard Him speak into my heart and spirit the same words Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well: “Give me a drink.”
I responded by thinking, Lord, I’m the one who needs a drink from you! Immediately I remembered what the Lord said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10 and John 4:14, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink, you would have asked and He would have given you living water’…’but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst. But the water that I shall give will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ ”
God began speaking into my heart: “Doug, there are plenty of times to come with supplication before Me, there are plenty of times to ask Me for your needs. And I want to hear about those things. But, sometimes you just need to come to Me, give Me a drink, and thank Me for what I’ve already done and for who I am.”
Out of sheer obedience, not feeling it, I began to thank God for what He had done in my life. I still didn’t feel like praying. But the Bible says we are to give a sacrifice of praise, so I began to sing, “Praise the name of Jesus.” Then I began to think of the many things I could thank Him for, all He had done in my life.
As I did this, the Lord reminded me of where He had brought me from.
Suddenly, I wasn’t just thanking Him with my mind. My spirit had come alive! As I simply started having a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving, praying in the Spirit and worshipping God, He brought me the liberation and breakthrough I needed—not because I came with petitions and requests, but because I came with thanksgiving.
A little gratitude can go a long way toward effective prayer. When we appreciate God for who He is, we gain access to His presence in a fresh, new way. We enter into the gates of His presence when we enter with thanksgiving. And in His presence,
great blessing and power are released.
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness…” (Psalm 107:8-9)
“When my soul fainted within me (my life ebbing away), I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, into Your Holy temple. Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy (or loving kindness and grace). But, I will sacrifice to You with the voice (or song) of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed (keep my covenant commitment). Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:7-9) (Notes in parentheses are mine.)
When we have a heart of gratitude toward God and show appreciation to Him and to others, there is reciprocation. That’s the law of reciprocity.
Gratitude, appreciation, and thanksgiving release blessing and give us a right perspective of who God is and what He can do. Then we can pray with faith and in humility, according to His will.
The following excerpt is from an article I wrote in 2012:
“God has not forgotten you. He has a plan and a purpose for you greater than any of the temporary circumstances that may be plaguing you. His Word over your life is true and He will be faithful to complete it.
“We must stand on the goodness and faithfulness of God and continue to declare His Word over our lives. In 2 Chronicles 6:17, Solomon prayed, ‘And now, O LORD God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David.’ Solomon knew the word of God spoken over his father, David, and that word carried the promises for his own life. So, Solomon cried out to the Lord to let that word come true that he might see it come to pass.
“We, too, must pray earnestly for the purposes of God to come to pass in our lives. We are not to sit idly by, waiting to see what will happen all around us. No, God invites us to become partners with Him to see His word come to pass. Jesus commanded us to pray as He prayed, ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ ”
In the midst of challenges, God’s faithfulness and His goodness are ever present. But it’s important that we don’t let our focus turn to our circumstances, which can cause us to doubt God’s word for our lives.
When we stop, instead, to reflect on the landmarks of our past and what God has done in our lives, we see His consistency, His faithfulness and His great, amazing and abounding grace. His Word over our lives remains steadfast. His nature is unchanging. He is faithful to His word. He has not forgotten you or me or His promises for our lives.
Psalm 139:17-18 is such a wonderful reminder to us!
“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You…”
God has a special place in His heart – just for you. His thoughts toward you are good and full of hope for your future. He will keep and fulfill His promises to you. You are of great value and have so much yet to impart. There is purpose for your life far greater than what you may realize.
God is good and faithful. I encourage you to turn your focus from your
circumstances to God. Trust Him to carry you through and carry you to the hope or dream yet to be fulfilled.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
No matter what challenges we face in life, individually, or corporately, nationally or globally, the power of breakthrough is activated when we thank the Lord and praise Him through it. Just like the Lord spoke to me all those years ago, there are times that we just need to recognize the power of His presence. Where His presence is, His light exposes and dispels darkness. So let’s do what the Word says: Serve Him with gladness and enter His gates with thanksgiving!
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord, with gladness; Come before His Presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
“Enter into His gates, with thanksgiving, and into His Courts with praise. Be thankful to Him…and bless His name. For He is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations…” (Psalm 100:1-5)
I’ve often shared that every morning I have two prayer times. When I wake up, I just thank the Lord for everything I can think of: for the roof over my head, my wife and my family, my friends. I’m thankful to be a part of what the Lord is doing and the privilege of His calling. I’m grateful for salvation. I begin to thank Him just “because, because, because,” He is worthy of praise. I thank Him with a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving. Then, before I leave my home, my hotel room, or wherever I may be, I go to my knees and lay out my petitions and my supplications. I always want to start my day with an attitude of thankfulness, and I want to close out each day the same way.
When we get things in perspective and we set things in right order, God is able to do things that only He can do, in us and through us. We see in Scripture that even when some of the Apostles were in prison, they praised the Lord and gave thanksgiving unto God—and He opened the prison doors! It’s through an attitude of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and appreciation that breakthroughs come.
Take some time, wherever you are right now, and begin to thank the Lord! Make a list of things you’re grateful for. All the concerns of your life will still be there, but there’s something about putting our focus on God, with thanksgiving and appreciation for what He’s already done in our lives, that helps us see from His perspective and paves the way to breakthrough.
Thankfulness. Appreciation. Honor. Gratitude. They all go a long way in changing the atmosphere and even our circumstances. An attitude of thanksgiving and honor releases blessing on us. Worshipping God for who He is and what He’s done brings breakthroughs in our lives.
Each and every day, there’s so much for us to be grateful for. Commit today to come before the Lord with thanksgiving. Be diligent in your times of prayer, both individually and with people of like spirit. Armed with the prayer of faith, we will see God working in us and through us as vessels of breakthrough.
My prayer is for each of us to have a new season of prayer in our lives, a season of effective prayer. As we re-align ourselves with God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, and as we re-align ourselves with others that He has put in our lives, we will find new levels of release.
Yes, there are perplexing things going on in our lives, in our cities, in our nation, and around the world. It can be overwhelming. But we are not a people of fear. We are a people of faith, and faith gives us hope to trust and believe for the things we may not see right now.
As we give the Lord a drink, He fills us with Living Water. We can draw from the well that never runs dry, because it comes from the water source that never ceases. It comes from the River of God that flows from His mercy seat and throne of grace. It brings healing and breakthrough everywhere it goes…in us and through us!
I encourage you today, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to hold on to His promises and praise His name. His Word over you is true!
Remember, you cannot change the past, but the decisions you make today define your future. A life that is truly surrendered to Him is no longer without hope. We possess the life of Christ in our hearts, and that spiritual force offers to lead us through every situation in this earthly life. His life brings salvation, healing, and deliverance to all who are surrendered to Him.