Tag Archives: gratitude

Fight for Your Thanksgiving!

23316716_10155903720379214_4923807824414387164_nThanksgiving is a season when we can feel either very grateful or very guilty (we can feel guilty because we don’t feel grateful). We all know that we are supposed to be thankful for everything we have – all of God’s blessings – and the good things we enjoy in life. But what if we just don’t feel thankful? What if life is just too painful right now to express feelings of gratitude? If this is the case, I wouldn’t suggest that you share it with many people – they may not understand!

No one would argue that the Lord has been good. Even in difficult times, He cares for us, provides what we need and gets us through. When life is at its worst, God is at His best! So how can it be that anyone would not experience overwhelming feelings of gratitude for all that He has done and continues to do?

Let’s recognize the spiritual nature of gratitude and the impact that it can have. Thankfulness is more than warm, fuzzy feelings. Thankfulness is a gift from God that enables us to recognize blessings. He has provided this gift to every person who has reasoning skills – even unbelievers. But thankfulness is also a great spiritual weapon. For the Christian, an attitude of thankfulness serves the purpose of glorifying God. A truly grateful person is a spokesperson for the Lord. They freely share their feelings about all that the Lord has done for them. Others see and hear this praise and they are inspired to follow suit. So imagine the damage that can be done when a Christian loses their gratitude. Their voice of praise is silenced and countless other people are negatively influenced.

Thanksgiving is under attack. Clearly, the enemy of our souls has very effectively created an atmosphere of entitlement in our culture. He has convinced millions of unsuspecting souls that they deserve the good things that they enjoy. A partner to entitlement is greed. In our nation, it is common for people to, rather than being grateful for what they have, want more and more! If it were a mathematic equation, it may read something like this: Entitlement + greed = selfishness. It is nearly impossible for a selfish person to be grateful.

I want you to know the importance of your thankfulness. Gratitude is such a valuable weapon that the devil will do nearly anything to steal it from you. He has succeeded in many people. He wants to blind us to God’s goodness. He is trying to make us feel insecure. He attempts to make us hard-hearted. His goal is for us to become jealous, covetous, envious, and ungrateful. He knows this: Lack of gratitude means a lack of future blessings. The story of the 10 lepers in Luke 19:11-19 proves this fact. If Satan can make you ungrateful, he can prevent you from receiving many future blessings.

Thanksgiving doesn’t ignore the fact that we go through hard times. Certainly, we all suffer times of grief and mourning. Yet, these experiences do not negate God’s goodness. When a person expresses their sincere gratitude to the Lord, they are not in denial. They simply realize that the Lord has been good, and, in spite of their circumstances, He is worthy of our praise.

Allow me to encourage you – fight for your thanksgiving! Even if you don’t feel like it, express your gratitude. This is not hypocrisy nor is it simply positive thinking. It is your commitment to show appreciation to God beyond your emotions. Use the gift God has given you to thank Him! By doing this, you will: 1) Give praise to our worthy God, 2) defeat the enemy in your life, 3) influence others to be grateful and 4) develop the habit of thankfulness, opening the door to future blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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5 Ways to Prepare the Way for the Lord (at Christmas and Beyond)

design7John the Baptist was chosen by God to get people ready for the first Advent -Christmas. You and I are chosen by God to get people ready for the second Advent –the soon return of Jesus Christ!

Isaiah prophesied about the coming Good News: “Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:4-5) Think about it! The birth of the Savior removed the obstacles that kept people from God. Jesus broke down the barriers that kept sinners away. No wonder Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year.” People far and wide are given access to a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ!

Handel’s Messiah, “Every valley shall be exalted…” is a very exciting piece of musical genius. The message, based upon Isaiah’s prophecy is, everything is about to change! Jesus is coming to earth in the form of a baby and, because of the Incarnation, nothing will remain the same. We celebrate His birth!

But now, since Jesus came the first time, we must prepare people for His return. As John the Baptist went before Jesus announcing His arrival, we must precede His coming by announcing that He is about to return. The responsibility to prepare others for the coming of Jesus is not John’s alone. We also bear the responsibility of letting people know about the Lord.

Let’s think about five ways that we may do this:

  1. Focus on the Gospel: Good News = Jesus! Jesus is the hope that the world desperately needs. Don’t get caught up in the trappings of the holiday; put Jesus first. Our lives will point to His second coming.
  1. Stay Grateful. Let’s avoid the temptation to become greedy. We have so many things; God has been so good to us. Let’s express our thankfulness to God for all that He has provided and let’s learn the art of contentment.
  1. Make the most of the season. These are evil days and the Word tells us to make the most of the time in days like these (Ephesians 5:15-16). People all around us are hurting and they are more open to spiritual solutions during the holiday season. Be sensitive to the needs of others and make the most of your opportunities to share God’s love with them.
  1. Invest in eternity. Is someone in your life impossible to buy a gift for? While we should buy gifts for one another, possibly we should consider a present that could change eternity. Rather than another gift from a family member, I would rather see a donation to an orphanage, support for a missionary family, a gift for a nursing home resident or a Bible for someone who has none. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-21 to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. Let’s invest in eternity!
  1. Commit to live Christmas every day of the year. One reason why so many people are sad and depressed during the holiday is that they focus on one day rather than upon a lifestyle. December 26 is not the end of Christmas; it is the beginning of a Christmas lifestyle. The results of the birth of Jesus are every day and they last forever. Let’s celebrate as much throughout the year as we do during the holidays. We celebrate by anticipating the coming of the Lord!

An appropriate celebration of the first Advent helps us to prepare for the second Advent. Let’s prepare those we love for the coming of Jesus. Christmas is the best time of year to become a Christ-follower!

Our job:

Prepare ourselves for the most sacred time of the year and for what is just ahead.

Prepare our families.

Prepare our church.

Prepare our community.

Get ready, Jesus is coming!


We Can’t Be Grateful Enough

img_0308The Bible tells us that God’s love is too great for us to fully comprehend, yet we may experience it to the fullest extent. When we experience it, we may understand it. Yet, the love of Christ is too great for us to fully understand. Ephesians 3:18-19a says, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” This is a paradox!

How are we to understand something that is not understandable? And what does this have to do with being thankful?

Like God’s love, gratitude is a gift. It seems the more we grasp it, the farther it is from our ability to understand it. But once we experience it, we desire to embrace it more and more. It is not enough just to say, “I am thankful to God.” Our words and our thoughts are not sufficient to express our response to God’s goodness. Our vocabulary is too limited and our reasoning capabilities are hindered by our humanness. In spite of these weaknesses, the more thankful we are, the more thankful we become.

This is part of what it means to partake in the divine nature of God (II Peter 1:4). God allows us to engage in a supernatural experience with Him. He reveals His love to us; we respond and begin a life-long process of growing to love Him more every day. Likewise, God opens our hearts to the gift of gratitude, yet we can never experience enough gratitude. I was thankful yesterday – I am more thankful today than yesterday – I will be more thankful tomorrow than I am today. Ad infinitum.

We are at our worst when we are ungrateful. When we forget God’s blessings, when we become entitled, when we demand more and more – (greed, selfishness and narcissism are destructive elements), we miss the heart of God. Trying to convince an ingrate to be thankful is akin to reasoning with a man who uses the breath of life to curse God.

“God has been good!” The understatement of the century! Unless we feely come to terms with the incomprehensible goodness of God, we will lack hearts of gratitude. So, how many times must we say, “thank you” to God? Once is not enough, nor is one million times. The point is not to say “thank you” enough times. The point is to live a life of ever-increasing gratitude to the Lord.

This Thanksgiving season, let’s make our very best effort to be truly grateful. In order to accomplish this, we must realize our inability to accomplish it without God enabling us. An old song says, “even the praise comes from You.” Think about that. The thankfulness that you feel in your heart is a gift from God. You could not begin to thank Him unless He provides the wherewithal to do so. Quite humbling!

If we run out of words of gratitude, if we feel inadequate when trying to express our thankfulness, perhaps we should read the remainder of Paul’s address on the topic: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)


The Behavior of the Truly Grateful

Facebook is full of friends sharing their daily “I’m thankful for” posts. This late in the month, a few people are running out of things to list.

Let’s dig deeper. Thanksgiving is so much more than a day or a month of talking about the stuff we appreciate. Thanksgiving is a personality characteristic. It is a lifestyle. Genuinely grateful people stay there – they live thankfulness.

Here are a few observations about the behavior of truly grateful people:

They see what they have. Maybe because they haven’t always had it, maybe because they once had it and lost it. But they now recognize the gifts that they enjoy.

They savor what they have. They take their time and enjoy and really experience the blessing. No rushing through the motions. They make it last as long as possible.

They share what they have. Those who are really thankful enjoy their blessings so much that they don’t want to deprive others of the same thing. So they share. In fact, selfish people are the most ungrateful folks around.

What are you truly grateful for?

See it. Savor it. Share it.


Need Inspiration? Just look around

I rode my bike 100 miles today as part of the 120 for Orphans, a fund raising project for a clean water project at a Haitian orphanage: (click here: 120 for Orphans – admitted shameless plug!). I was at mile 82. I was tired, it was cold and I was getting leg cramps. I was seriously thinking about stopping for the day.

At that point, I saw a young family; a guy, his wife and a little baby. They were setting up for a bike ride on the trail I was on. Here’s the thing: both parents were paraplegic, they were preparing to ride their hand powered trikes. Suddenly, I found the strength to finish the last 18 miles.

We probably don’t need to look very hard to find someone who is doing something harder than we are, with tougher situations than we have. The next time you want to give up, take a peek around. You may surprised at the inspiration you find to keep moving forward.