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  • Rev. Carrie Cesar

Thankful Hearts

6. Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. 7. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. Philippians 4:6-7 Contemporary English Version (CEV) Some say that it is only in facing life’s struggles that you get closer to God. I also think that when you are walking alongside someone dealing with enormous problems you have the opportunity to build up your faith. Facing struggles with a thankful heart is what the early church taught its followers to do. And the world has not changed so much as to be rid of problems. Trouble is everywhere; nations, states, cities, neighborhoods and households are faced with all kinds of challenges. It is almost impossible not to worry, but as soon as we start, we must learn to take it to God and ask God for help. When we remember that we are not alone, we can find new strength. Jesus promises to be with us until the end of time, and just as they guarded him, there are angels watching over us, protecting us as we live and breathe into each situation. In prison ministry and immigration ministry one of the hardest struggles is to not lose your identity with Christ. It is an important way to give another self-worth when you recognize them for being beautifully created by God. Why? Because that is the first thing that happens when you go through customs or are incarcerated: Your identity is checked and questioned, and in most cases they try to steal from you any of the goods you are holding on to in getting through this passage in life to a better place. It is easy to feel you are losing yourself because you are physically so stressed out by the circumstances surrounding you. When we are strong in the fact that we belong to Christ, God can give us the peace and the frame of mind to do what needs to be done. Struggling together and knowing that God will work to bring good out of whatever is happening, is all it takes to experience God’s power in turning things around. God’s gift of peace will bring glory to the ugly situations we face. Let us face them together, encouraging each other to pray continuously, to pray in thanksgiving and to pray fully trusting that God will hear our prayers.

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            "Be not forgetful

     to entertain strangers, 

       for thereby some                     have entertained

       angels unawares."

                          Hebrews 13:2

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