Attitude of Gratitude and Thankfulness
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Attitude of Gratitude and Thankfulness

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Since the beginning of time, we as His children have been called to offer up thanksgiving to Him for what He has done for us. In Scripture, there were many times when God did great things for the Israelites, and they offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Lord. During this time, most forms of thanksgiving presented to the Lord were burnt offerings. They built an altar as a reminder of what God had done for them. Abraham offered up a burnt sacrifice to the Lord after He provided the ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac. (Genesis 22:3-19)

Another great way to offer thanksgiving to the Lord is through our worship. The children of Israel often offered up songs of thanksgiving. Many of the Psalms, written by David, are songs of thanksgiving to the Lord for what He had done for Israel.

Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” In this Scripture, we see that giving thanks to the Lord is key to being able to come into His presence – to see the Lord move wherever you are.

The Bible says that when Solomon was finished building the temple, everything was prepared. Then, the trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. (2 Chronicles 5:13)

As you worship, remember that it is important to give thanks for the things God has done for you.

One day when I was in college, I was driving home on a major interstate in downtown Dallas. Suddenly, the car to my left veered into my lane. I had to swerve to miss him, but then I swerved to get back into my lane. I overcorrected and ended up turning completely around, crossing four lanes of speeding traffic without being touched!

When my car finally stopped, I was facing the wrong direction in the left lane with a big truck headed my way. I truly have no idea how this truck stopped, other than the hand of God! But it did about thirty feet from hitting my car. The driver then got out and blocked traffic for me, allowing me to turn around and get moving in the right direction.

I took the next exit and found a place to park. As you can imagine, my heart was racing, and I just needed to calm down for a few minutes. You better believe that I was thanking God for helping me through that!!

This is simply one example when God helped me through something, miraculously saving my life. But there were many other times when I asked God for something – healing for myself, healing for my family, or needing direction in a circumstance… and He didn’t provide an answer or a miracle. During those times, it’s important to remember to give thanks to God.

It blesses God when we give thanks and worship Him in ALL circumstances – even in the times where we don’t get the answer from Him that we want. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar that God could deliver them from the burning furnace, but “even if He doesn’t,” they would still not bow down and worship the golden statue. (Daniel 3:16-18)

There have been times in my life when I’ve had to lean into those words – “even if He doesn’t”… I can honestly say that in my life, every time I walked through difficult times, He has always been faithful to bring me out of those circumstances.

Even now, my wife and I are believing God for a child. And we feel like He has given us this desire. We have desired a child since we were married almost eight years ago. We have gone down the long road of fertility treatments and have had four miscarriages. However, when we started to pray that God would change the desires of our hearts to His desires for us (that’s a whole other blog in and of itself), things changed for us. We began to desire adopting a child.

It has been a long road, but we have tried our best to be thankful in every part. Even the tough times. Because we know that God is still faithful. I’ve seen God bring the right people to us at exactly the right times to help us. We are so very thankful to God and our family and friends for helping walk through this with us. And we are thankful for what God still has for in store for my wife, Amber, and me!

I often hear people say that they are “seeking the will of God.” Well, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Paul tells the church in this book that giving thanks in ALL circumstances IS  God’s will for us. God has a direction for you to go and has something in store for your life. But it is also God’s will for us to give thanks in every circumstance we walk through. If we can do that, then we will not only be able to come into the courts of praise before the Lord, but we will also be able to see God move in ways that we may not have seen before.

As we come into this time of thanksgiving and as you go to visit and spend time with family, remember where thanksgiving came from. Thanksgiving is so closely related to worshiping God. And remember to give thanks to God in all the circumstances that you find yourself in now!

Back To Basics
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Back To Basics

Back to Basics

Having served the Lord for most of my life (minus a period of temporary insanity in my early teens!), there were Christian “basics” that were instilled in me from early on. These were drilled into me. They were reinforced. I was encouraged to do them. Praised when I succeeded. And I was reminded of them frequently. Simple principles.

To be kind.

Do to others as I would have them do to me.

Admit when I was wrong.

Turn the other cheek.

Be quick to forgive.

Love others.

As I got older and my relationship with the Lord deepened, the concepts behind these principles developed, expanded, and matured.

Compassion should be given along with kindness.

I should also give others the same benefit of the doubt that I wanted to be given, keeping what I knew about their heart in perspective rather than simply judging motives.

Real repentance was vital, as well as seeking to correct and change my behaviour.

Turning my cheek was also not keeping a record of the sins committed against me.

Forgiving quickly is often required again and again and is given to those deemed “undeserving.”

And loving others meant loving others the way I love myself, loving even the unlovely, and loving with HIS kind of love.

In adopting the name “Christian” I was declaring that I was a follower of Christ. That I needed to exemplify His character and heart. My wants no longer took precedence over His, nor could my will supersede His will. Others would judge Him based on my example. If I presented a poor reflection, His reputation came into disrepute. Galatians 2:20 became a revelation for me because I finally understood this truth: 

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

And learning to act in the “opposite spirit” became one of my most challenging undertakings as a follower of Christ. Because it’s just WAY too easy to respond to anger with anger. To respond to being wronged with unforgiveness. To allow brokenness in others to create brokenness in me.

But with Him helping and empowering me, I can respond to doubt with Truth. Responding to fear with faith suddenly becomes possible. I’m able to respond to bitterness with forgiveness. And respond to hate with love…

Walking the way Christ walked was my goal. Jesus understood that He could do only what He saw His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. And if I claimed to live for Him, I needed to have the same mentality… I can only do what I see Jesus do – what our Father does. If you don’t see an example of Him doing what you are doing, there’s no justification for your actions. Serving Him is not a free-for-all to do whatever makes you happy, holding unforgiveness in your heart, or anything else you try to justify.

Because if you are children of His light, you need to walk like you belong to the light.

I remember a bank commercial on TV I saw shortly after moving to South Africa years ago. A father was walking along the shoreline… his feet sinking deeply into the sand. Behind him, walked his young son, who was taking extra, large strides to make sure he walked in his father’s footsteps. This created an incredible visual for me that I will never forget – I need to be just like that young boy, being super careful to walk JUST where He walks. This will keep me on the path. And I won’t lose sight of Him because my focus is being just like Him.

Philippians 3:12-14 is definitely my heart –

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

We need to get back to the basics. These are the foundations of serving and following Him. It’s not about me or what I want…  And it’s not even about others. It’s about giving Him glory in every area of my life. And if I keep to the basics, I’ll do just this!!!

Be kind.

Do to others as I’d have them do to me.

Admit when I was wrong.

Turn the other cheek.

Walk in forgiveness.

Extend love.