Most of you don’t know this, but I am not much of a fan of flying. I don’t know where or why I exactly hated flying. Maybe it was my ears popping, the few times I flew as a child. Maybe, it was having to fly American Eagle planes out of Lubbock. Maybe it was that one time on a flight, and we hit some turbulence, and up came part of my last food I had eaten. If I remember correctly, as my food came up, it was so rough that one of the stewards of the plane fell to his knees. Of course, the recent events (9-11 attacks, and all the planes crashing in the last few years) have not helped that much either. If it is possible to drive, I would much rather drive.
I remember a few years ago, my parents, Jayda, and I flew to Disney World for vacation. I remember we left sometime after lunch, so we would get to Orlando late at night. On our flight from Dallas to New Orleans, I discovered that the airline had an app, where you could follow the flight. You could see the speed, and see the path, and other cool things. The flight from New Orleans to Orlando had the same thing. I thought we would fly over the southern states like Mississippi and Alabama, but I was wrong, we flew over the Gulf of Mexico. Now that was dark, looking out the windows, and seeing nothing but blackness. I kind of wished I had paid more attention when the flight attendants told us how to use our seat cushion as a floatation device. All I could think about was how much the sharks would enjoy the all you can eat Cullen buffet. At that point, I really didn’t feel like I was thriving on the start to my vacation, I was just hoping to survive my vacation. Disney World was so much more enjoyable than the flight to Orlando.
Sometimes, life can be overwhelming, we feel like we are out of control. God seems far away, and we don’t feel the warmth of His presence, love, or direction of our lives. We definitely aren’t thriving at those points, we are just hanging on, trying to survive. There have been times in my life, when I felt like that. One time in particular was back in 1998, when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was with her when she got the news, and I remember being outside that night and looking at the stars, and the stars that normally felt close, now seemed a million miles away farther than they actually are, and in a way so did God. Another time was this past year. As most of you know my parents are in their late 70s and have some health issues. My father had a pacemaker put in last July, and then this past November and December my mother came down with pneumonia, and had some other problems, and we weren’t sure what was going on, and for me being so close to my mother, it was not an enjoyable experience. In a way, it felt much worse than flying over the Gulf of Mexico at night.
I am happy to say that both of them are doing much, much better now. Mother is much stronger, and she is going to therapy three days a week. Praise to God for His faithfulness.
As some other people and ministires do, I try to get a feeling for a word or knowledge of what God is doing in the beginning of the new year. In January, I felt the Lord saying, “last year you were in survival mode, but this year, I want you to thrive. In the rest of this article, I want to look at some of the Bible verses that deal with thriving, and then I want to use the acronym THRIVE to show us some things we need to do and have in order to thrive in our walk with Jesus this year. Bible Verses on Thriving.
The first verse that comes to mind is Psalm 1:1-3 which says, “God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won’t follow sinners or join in sneering at God. Instead, the Law of the Lord makes them happy, and they think about it day and night. They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do.” Psalm 92:12 says, “Good people will prosper like palm trees, and they will grow strong like cedars of Lebanon.” Proverbs 11:28 says, “…but God’s people will prosper like healthy plants”. Other verses to examine are: Romans 1:17, Proverbs 2:1and 5, and Proverbs 11:25,
Thrive means to grow vigorously, to prosper. Below is my acronym for how we can thrive in life through God.
Trust in the Lord
Psalm 20:7 says, “some people trust the power of chariots or horses, but we trust you Lord God”. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “with all your heart, you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow”. Sometimes we have trouble trusting the Lord don’t we? Others close to us have let us down, so in our times of vulnerability and weakness, we feel we must survive on our own, so we try to hold on our problems, and do not let the Lord help us. If we trust in the Lord, He has promised to take care of us, and will clear the road for us to follow. To where? Perhaps to a closer and deeper relationship with Him. We know we can Trust in the Lord, for He has promised to never leave us or forsake us, and we know His promises are true and never changing, and as Revelation 21:5 says, “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
There are some awesome things that happen when we trust the Lord. First we are filled with courage. Joshua 1:9 says, “I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.” The second thing is we are blessed. Psalm 84:12 says, “Lord God, all-powerful, you bless everyone who trusts you.” The third thing is we are filled with joy and peace: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Proverbs 28:18 says, “The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.” Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In order for us to thrive, we must be in honest in 3 ways. First we must be honest with ourselves. We must admit to ourselves that we are struggling, and that we need someone to help us. As they say in 12-step recovery, ”admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery”. We must be honest to those around us. We all tend to “put on our big boy or big girl pants when we are struggling. We are already vulnerable because of what we are facing in life, and we are afraid if we admit to others around us that we are struggling, that they will judge us, or hurt us more. We fail to realize that those around us, might a word of encouragement or insight that we need to hear. We have to admit we need help, we can’t solve all of our problems on our own. Lastly we must be honest with God. We must admit to God that we need help, that we need His intervention. Sometimes we feel like God has too many other people to look after, so we try to solve our problems without His help. Let’s be honest, when we are in survival mode, don’t we question God? Yes, if we are honest, we do. Some might say that questioning God is not appropriate. I disagree, I think it is ok to question God. It is ok to question God if we are truly ready for Him to speak the truth and reveal Himself to us. It is ok to question God if that questioning brings us closer to the Lord. We must be like Job. We can’t curse God when times are roough.
Renewal can be defined as the replacement or repair of something that is broken or worn out. God brings through renewal to us in 5 ways. First, God renews our strength. Isaiah 40:31 says, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”. The second renewal God brings to us is renewal of our soul. Psalm 23:3 says, “He leads me by still water, he restores my soul”. Thirdly, God’s renewal gives us a willing spirit. Isaiah 51:10-12 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me:. Fourth, by being renewed, our minds are transformed. Romans 12:2 says, “ Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. Lastly, renewal brings us a new realization of God and His characteristics. Colossains 3:10 says, “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator”.
Through renewal, we begin looking at our circumstances. Instead of seeing how overwhelming our circumstances appears, we begin to focus on how great our God is. The same God that laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens, is the same one that is giving us His strength, so that we can survive.
Being investing, I mean invest in our relationship with God. James 4:7-8 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you…” Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon”.
Most of us know from experience that when you want to get to know someone deeper, you invest in that relationship. For those who are or have been married, when you found the “right one” you invested your time to make sure that he or she was the right one. You invested resources for the wedding, honeymoon, and all that goes along with showing your commitment to one another. And we all know that any relationship is meaningful and healthy requires continual investment in that relationship. So it is God, we must continually invest ourselves in our relationship with God. Here are a couple of practical I have started recently. I walk a lot around the house. When I do my morning I walk, I listen to the Bible as a walk. Other times that I walk, I may listen to Godly music as I walk. Another thing I have started doing is that I go to sleep listening to Christian music, I may watch a little television, but when I am ready to sleep I either listen to Christian radio or listen to a favorite Christian playlist on Youtube.
When we are in survival mode, we often forget that through the power and blood of Jesus Christ we have ultimate victory. Yes, we may face trials and difficulties, and even though they seem like they last forever, one day, they will be over, and we will have victory.
God is the one who provides us our victory. Deuteronomy 20:4 says, “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory”. Our victory came through Jesus Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 tells us, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Romans 8:31-39 says this about victorious living: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”