Tag Archives: God

The Power of Gratitude

 

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It is a day of gratitude!

Want some history on Thanksgiving? Go here.

Abraham Lincoln, 153 years ago, established the national holiday of Thanksgiving. His statement is powerful, as it addresses the difficulties of the time while recognizing the need to give thanks. You can read that here.

I would like to pull a few excerpts from his proclamation in order to provide some perspective about the power of gratitude in our lives.

1. GRATITUDE GIVES US FOCUS

“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity”

There is never a bad time to give thanks. Many people in our country are stressed, worried, or fearful about our countries future. Might we agree that being in the middle of a civil war (1861-1865)  would be much worse than where we are at now? If gratitude was necessary in the middle of war, then it is equally as necessary now.

Right after making that comment, Lincoln goes on to describe the good things that were happening in the country…population growth, the growth of wealth and strength in extracting needed mineral resources for the country. If he had only focused on war, he would have missed the positive things.

Things are never all bad or even all good. Life is usually filled with a combination of both.

Might it be better for our hearts and souls to focus on that which is good?

2. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO JESUS

“They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God”

When we choose to live a life of gratitude, it always leads us to the One who has given us those things which we are thankful for. Blessed families, economic security, food at the table, great friends, and many other things that we experience don’t happen by accident. They happen because God has made them available to us.

When we exercise gratitude, we realize that there is a purpose behind all the good that we experience. Gratitude leads us to Jesus.

3. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO ASK FOR GOD’S INTERVENTION

“…commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidable engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”

If we truly believe that God is the one who is responsible for our blessings, then it is also to God that we direct our requests for intervention in the difficulties we face.

Gratitude was the foundation of requesting God’s intervention in the chaos that existed.

Understand this, thanking God for the good things does not mean ignoring the difficult things that we face…whether personally or as a country. On the contrary…thanking God for that which is good sets us up to pray with faith and hope, believing that our God will intervene to bring even more of his blessings in the areas of difficulty that exist.

4. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO GENEROSITY OF HEART AND ACTION

I don’t have a quote from Abraham Lincoln on this one, but it is something I believe to be true. When we live a life of gratitude, we become others-centered rather than me-centered. In fact, gratitude is the antidote to selfishness and entitlement.

Gratitude sends us on a trajectory of living a healthy life as we focus on that which is positive and as we focus on how we can give, rather than receive.

Gratitude gives us focus.

Gratitude shows us Jesus.

Gratitude allows us to plead our cause to God.

And gratitude leads us to a lifestyle of generosity.

That is the power of gratitude.

How will you be grateful on this Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

I’m Sick And Tired Of This

Terrorist attacks, police officers being killed indiscriminately, African-American men killed for small infractions of the law, and much more. I’m sick and tired of this.

But I’m not going to blame a group. I’m not going to place the blame at the feet of some group on the political left or right. I’m not going to blame the system, whether that system is a government system, or economic system, or any other system.

It’s not that there isn’t potentially some blame in any of those places. But let’s be clear: any system, or any group, is led by people. In the case of government systems, those who lead have many times been voted into their positions by, guess who? People!

And guess what? People are imperfect, broken, incomplete, and sometimes filled with all sorts of evil.

And, if there is someone to specifically blame, it’s the devil himself. And yes, I do believe he exists. He is the enemy of our souls. He is the enemy of all that is right and good. He is the enemy of people. He sows disunity, discord, anger, rage, bitterness, racism, injustice, and much more. He uses every opportunity he gets to ruin our lives.

And yes, I am sick and tired of this.

And you know what else I’m sick and tired of? I’m sick and tired of people ignoring all of this, thinking that as long as my life is good, I have nothing to worry about.

Let me be clear: if your life is good, but the world is going to hell, eventually hell will come knocking on your door. Evil spreads.

There is only one answer to this. The power of GOOD. And the power of good is only possible through the power of GOD.

And here’s why it’s good to be sick and tired. When we are sick and tired of something, it means we are ready for action.

So, what action is required of us? Put simply, we must choose to live our lives beyond ourselves, living for a purpose greater than our own momentary blessing.

If the purpose of our lives is to get our dream job, make good money, have a good family, and live in a nice house, what do we do once we achieve all that? What is your purpose then? All of those things are fine and good, but our purpose calls us to something bigger and greater than those things.

Here’s my question for you: Are you living your life  with eternal purpose?

This world needs the children of God. It is crying out for people who will step in to the difficult spots…to step in with prayer, to step in with action, to step in with words of life.

Will you step out of your blessed life and step in to a spiritual war that is raging in our country and beyond? Now, more than ever, we cannot place our trust in a politician, or a corporation, or a national leader for our salvation. We must place our trust in Christ and Christ alone, then commit ourselves to action.

Will you join me?

 

Talent or Trust?

There are lots of talented people in the world.

Then, there are others who are not as talented.

I don’t know in which category you consider yourself to be in.

Some people believe that those who are talented don’t need much from God, since God has apparently given them enough already. Some people who are extremely talented even believe that!

The rest of humanity who is not as talented believes they have to trust God to help them. After all, what other choice do they have?

I came across an interesting story found in the Bible. It’s about three tribes of Israel who went to war.

1 Chronicles 5:18-20

18 There were 44,760 capable warriors in the armies of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. They were all skilled in combat and armed with shields, swords, and bows. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, the Jeturites, the Naphishites, and the Nodabites. 20 They cried out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayer because they trusted in him. So the Hagrites and all their allies were defeated.

I love what this short story tells us. It is completely possible to be immensely talented, yet still put our full trust in God.

The truth is that God will take us where our talents cannot. It is good to be skilled. It is better to trust in God.

Let’s choose today to use our talents and to trust in God.

That is what leads to success. That makes all the difference.

Peace

The last two weeks at CityLife (the church I pastor), we have started off the year talking about God’s peace.  There is so much that could be said about his peace, but I will simply share a few thoughts:

1. External peace does not guarantee internal peace.  Much of what we spend our time looking for is peace in our external circumstances.  We hope that everything at work will get better, we hope that our finances will improve, we hope that our relationships will be stable, and much more.  But reality is this: peace in any of those (or other) external circumstances does not guarantee internal peace.  I recently refinanced my house.  I’m happy about saving money.  It’s better for my finances!  But, I don’t wake up every morning celebrating it.  We still need interior peace.

2. The peace that Jesus offers is better in quantity and quality than anything else. The truth is that there are different places and things that will offer elements of peace.  And, there will always be a certain amount of peace that can be changed from things going well in our lives.  But, if you want lots of peace, and have it be lasting peace, you need someone inherently good and eternal to give it to you.  Only Jesus fits in that category.

3. We must push through our own issues to experience the peace of Jesus. I am NOT saying that we need to solve our issues in order to experience the peace of Jesus.  On the contrary!  Only Jesus can solve all of our issues.  But, we must not allow our issues (whether they be addictions, shame, worries, fears, lack of faith, etc.) to be the determining factors in our look for peace.  We must be willing to release them so we can grab ahold of the peace that Jesus has for us.  We can’t grasp the peace of Jesus if we are still holding other things clutched tightly in our hands.

Look for Jesus today and you will experience a true and lasting peace.  It will be completely different from anything you have experienced before.

Enjoy the journey!