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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Giving Thanks No Matter What




Sometimes, God speaks to you in the most unlikely of places. For me, it was at a stock-up trip to The Dollar Tree.

When I walked in the door, the sound of Aha singing their '80s hit "Take on Me" bled weakly from the store's sound system. Off to my left, squatting on the floor and stocking a rack with packs of gum, was a young man. He was singing along, thoroughly enjoying himself.

As I walked by, he looked up, smiled, and said, "Good morning!" He'd already had me smiling at his personal concert of one, but now, I felt the smile.

I did my shopping and went to the check out. What do you know... the singer was now at the register, as polite and happy as ever. I told him how much I enjoyed his singing, and that I wished I would have been close enough to hear if he hit the high note at the end. He laughed and said thanks, he really enjoyed his job.

Since I was the only one in line, we chatted a bit. I found out he'd recently moved to Vegas from Detroit. He'd had a good job there in a sheet metal plant. But like so many others he lost his job when the plant closed and he couldn't find a new position. So now, this young man (probably in his late twenties) was living with his grandparents and working at The Dollar Tree. And so happy about it that he was singing.

I've thought about that fellow a lot. He could have been a real sourpuss. He could have been rude and surly, taking his problems out on the world, making life miserable for everybody around him. But instead, he chose to sing. And because of that, not only did he feel good, but he made me feel good, as well.

While shopping for bargain household items, the Lord let me experience a powerful spiritual truth: Joy is much more powerful than despair.

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise." (Psalm 98:4 - King James Version)
I love that we're exorted to make a joyful noise. Not being able to carry a tune is no excuse! Singing praise is about the joy in the experience, not the pureness of the sound.

"Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (Ephesians 5:18-20 - New Living Translation)
Give thanks for everything. I'll be the first to admit, that's hard to do. But it's also why God encourages us to gather together and praise Him. There's so much power when one person lifts her voice in worship to the Lord, but when a community of believers worship together, it's a miraculous, bondage-breaking experience.

What about you? How has praising the Lord affected your life?

To enter today's giveaway...
To encourage you to make a joyful noise, today I'm giving away a very cool worship CD. To be entered, just leave a comment on this blog. Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). I'll pick a winner at random on October 28th. Remember, all comments left today will also be entered in our grand prize drawing on November 1st.

19 comments:

  1. Great word this morning, Jen. It seems I always need a reminder on this one!

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  2. Good morning, Jen. This is lovely. I'm forever trying to find a way to give thanks when things aren't good because that's the best way to gain a new outlook. I heard a quote the other day, attributed to Augustine, "When you sing, you pray twice." So true!

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  3. These are such good words.

    I love it when we can find extraordinary joy while doing ordinary things.

    For me, at least, it requires the discipline of just stopping and realizing how much joy is mine, if I truly desire it.

    CRead4[@] prodigy.net

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  4. God always meets us more than half way. I've found that when the last thing I wanted to do was worship, if I took that step anyway, He would give me the joy. I think God gives us credit for trying!

    It really can be a 'sacrifice of praise' when we do what we don't want to do.

    And, isn't it always true that when we are most caught up in our own self (feeling sorry for our troubles) that God shows us someone who is dealing much better with troubles that are much worse? Thank God He does it and usually in a softer way than we deserve!

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  5. Jen, it's so nice to be surrounded by positive vibes in this day of such negativity. Isn't it amazing how a smile, a kind word and happy singing can lift the soul of a passerby. We need to not only accept but to be happy about where God has placed us each day in our life. I know that young man is blessed and he passed it along.

    Beautiful post.

    Connie

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  6. Beautiful and inspiring Jen. Thanks. I led praise and worship for children's church today. No one can praise quite like kids. You should have seen them singing and waving flags and streamers. Pure joy.

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  7. Hello, ladies! I'm giving praise that I don't have to drive to California for another month! And that my son is almost finished with his braces. It seems like he's had them forever.

    And I give thanks for all of you. It's such a joy to be surrounded by so many positive, encouraging sisters. May God touch you all today, and bless you abundantly!

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  8. Jen,
    Thanks for the reminder to be grateful through everything--even when the flu strikes!!

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  9. I remember going through a time of illness, and it became nearly impossible for me to put together words for prayers. Sometimes, as I lay in bed at night, I'd simply smile and say "Jesus" as my form of thanks.

    Something I love about your story is the appreciation this young man had for his job, even though circumstances had relocated him and he wasn't doing what he had been trained to do.

    Reminds me to be thankful for the unusual or unexpected circumstances in my life, while trusting that God is never thwarted in unfolding his plans for me.

    Thank you for noticing the simple lessons in a day's events and sharing with us, Jennifer.

    Jan
    jankern [@] gmail.com

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  10. Hi Jen, I love your blog and the inspirational messages that are attached. I'll be stopping by often.

    May God continue blessing you with the gift of words!
    Ellie

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  11. Jen, you had me tearing up. Thanks for ministering to my heart today. I'm always struck anew by the ways God reaches out to us and opens our hearts to new truths. He reminds us so gently even when we deserve a 2x4 upside the head.

    Thank you Jesus!

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  12. Jen, I was so blessed by your devotional today. When times are difficult or weary or frustrating, the last thing I feel like doing is praising God. But like love, praise isn't a feeling, it's a choice, a way of life. And it's an action I never regret once I do it!

    How wonderful that God used this opportunity to touch us today. I'm praying for that young man, too, and I'm thankful for his attitude and gentle spirit.

    Thank you.

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  13. Lovely devotional, uplifting testimony!

    Thank, Jen, for sharing. :-)

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  14. I love it Jen. Sometimes I think maybe I'm crazy because I find God talking to me at places like The Dollar Tree and the grocery store!

    As to your question: I find that when I feel totally overwhelmed by circumstances, the only thing that will get me out of anxiety-mode and into a place of faith is praise. It's like positioning yourself as the receiver to hear from heaven without all the static.

    Blessings!

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  15. This was just a blessing. I give thanks to God everyday.Blessings.
    tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  16. Wonderful devotion.

    I try to give thanks daily, throughout the day. So much to thank God for.

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  17. Inspiring post! I really needed the reminder. Just recently I noticed that while homeschooling my son I was being grumpy about it and that by the time i was finished I felt like a wet dish rag. I decided through prayer that I needed to be more positive and thankful and I started today and I am finding that I feel better and my son is responding well to my improved attitude. So when I read this entry I felt that God was reaffirming my decision.

    cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  18. So glad you all got a lift from my singing store clerk! God really is good, isn't He?

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  19. The winner of an "Amy Grant: Time Again" concert DVD is CR! Thanks to all who stopped by. Hope to see you again soon :+}

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