THE POWER OF GIVING THANKS (4)

In a sense, gratitude is an expression of modesty. In Hebrew,

the word for gratitude – hoda’ah – is the same as the word for

confession. To offer thanks is to confess dependence, to

acknowledgment that others have the power to benefit you, to

admit that your life is better because of their efforts. That

frame of mind is indispensable to civilized society.

 

Be thankful. Don’t take the gifts in your life for granted.

Remember – as the Pilgrims remembered – that we are

impoverished without each other, and without God. Whoever

and wherever you are this Thanksgiving, the good in your life

outweighs the bad. If that doesn’t deserve our gratitude, what

does?

 

SOURCE: By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/2000



THE POWER OF GIVING THANKS (3)

If you never give a moment’s thought to the fact that your

health is good, that your children are well-fed, that your home

is comfortable, that your nation is at peace, if you assume that

the good things in your life are ”normal” and to be expected,

you diminish the happiness they can bring you. By contrast, if

you train yourself to reflect on how much worse off you could

be, if you develop the custom of counting your blessings and

being grateful for them, you will fill your life with cheer.

 

It can be hard to do. Like most useful skills, it takes years of

practice before it becomes second nature. This is one reason,

Prager writes, that religion, sincerely practiced, leads to

happiness – it ingrains the habits of thankfulness. People who

thank God before each meal, for example, inoculate gratitude in

themselves. In so doing, they open the door to gladness.

 

SOURCE: By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/2000



THE POWER OF GIVING THANKS (2)

Gratitude isn’t an emotion most of us cultivate. Even on

Thanksgiving, we are more likely to concentrate on the turkey

or the television than on giving thanks. But perhaps we would

think differently about thankfulness if we realized its

extraordinary power to improve our lives.

 

I mean something more than simply the civilizing benefits of

good manners. Of course it is admirable to show gratitude.

Nothing rankles more than showing kindness or generosity to

someone who doesn’t appreciate it. But the value in giving

thanks goes far beyond mere politeness. Gratitude is nothing

less than the key to happiness.

 

For this penetrating insight into gratefulness, I am grateful to

Dennis Prager, author of the shrewd and perceptive ”Happiness

is a Serious Problem.”

 

”There is a `secret to happiness,”’ Prager writes, ”and it is

gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people

cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that

leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is

complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become

grateful and you will become a much happier person.”

 

This is a keen observation, and it helps explain why the

Judeo-Christian tradition places such emphasis on thanking

God. The liturgy is filled with expressions of gratitude. ”It is

good to give thanks to the Lord,” begins the 92nd Psalm. Why?

Because God needs our gratitude? No: because we need it.

Learning to be thankful, whether to God or to other people, is

the best vaccination against taking good fortune for granted.

And the less you take for granted, the more pleasure and joy

life will bring you.

 

SOURCE: By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/200



THE POWER OF GIVING THANKS

Something to reflect on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner:

If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks?

Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.

They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, “First, make thy will.” The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home – Plymouth, they called it – winter had set in.

The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick.

“That which was most sad and lamentable,” Governor William Bradford later recalled, “was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases…. There died sometimes two or three of a day.”

When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused to send more. The first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of goods to England, it was stolen by pirates.

If you had been there in 1621 – if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy – would you have felt grateful?

SOURCE: By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/2000



GOD AND YOUR JOB

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.  – James 4:10 NKJV

What does God value in our job performance?

(l) He values humility and servant-hood, not pride and a sense of entitlement that thinks, “You owe me.” “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” If we are secure in our identity as God’s child we can relax and know that, like the loving parent He is, our Heavenly Father will recognize and reward us fairly and generously. Knowing this frees us from having to be recognized by others. Indeed, if being appreciated is your sole reason for working, God will have people overlook you until you get the order of work straight in your mind. You can be appreciated at home, by your friends and your family, but work is just what it sounds like: work!

(2) He values courage and risk-taking. Consider the faith it took for David to leave his home, the humble shepherd’s pallet on the hillsides, and travel to King Saul’s palace. He must have felt just a little out of place, knowing he was underdressed and uninformed about the culture of the royal court. Like a boy from the slums suddenly finding himself in Buckingham Palace, David was instantly out of his comfort zone. Then later, after it’s clear that his new boss is afflicted by an evil spirit and intends to kill him, David coolly maintains his mission because he knows God wants him there. “He will lift you up.” One day David would have his boss’s position, palace and perks, but he had to leave the “how” and the “when ” up to God and serve faithfully. The same goes for you.



STAGES OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH (3)

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.  -1 John 2:13 NAS

What makes you a spiritual adult? Knowing God; it’s that simple! But this raises a question. How can you know —that you know God intimately? It’s like a good marriage: two people fall in love and become so close that each one knows what the other is thinking and feeling without a word being spoken.

But such intimacy is not developed overnight. It’s the product of time spent together—and commitment! Paul speaks about, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit” (ICO 2:9-10 NAS). The mature follower of Christ sees things the human eye can’t see and hears things the most acute ear can’t hear. And they have thoughts they didn’t originate on their own. That’s because God’s indwelling Spirit is helping them to think God’s thoughts. What an advantage!

You’ll know you are spiritually mature when God lets you pick up on thoughts and insights from His Word that go far beyond what someone told you, or what you heard in a sermon. That’s because the Holy Spirit is now free to send His message clearly and directly to you. In other words we will “know the things freely given to us by God” (ICO 2:12 NAS). But that means we have to be close enough to hear God speaking to us. Such intimacy doesn’t just happen. It’s not an afterthought. It must be your number one priority and the consuming passion of your life. Is it?



STAGES OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH (1)

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven.  – 1 John 2:12 NAS

There are 3 stages to spiritual growth. The first is childhood. The Greek term “little children” refers to toddlers. And if there’s one thing toddlers are good at—it’s tripping and falling. Until they learn to walk they need someone to pick them up, dry their tears, bandage their skinned knees, and reassure them that falling down doesn’t mean they’ll never walk or that they’re not part of the family.

There are 2 things a spiritual toddler needs to understand: first, the difference between their stage of growth, and their standing before God. Don’t get these 2 things mixed up! Trusting in the finished work of Christ is the only thing that gives you right standing with God. From that moment on you are a fully accepted and redeemed child of His. That’s how He sees you. If you forget that you’ll be in trouble, because every time you fall the Devil will make you doubt your salvation.

The forgiveness you receive at the new birth is a judicial act by God, making you a member of His family in good standing. But the forgiveness you receive on a daily basis is a relational act. Suppose you enter some wrong numbers into your calculator. What do you do? You have a little button called “clear entry” which allows you to erase your error and start over. That’s what the blood of Christ does for you. Repentance allows you to override sin by triggering God’s forgiveness so that the flow of His grace continues. And when grace flows, growth follows. The important thing to remember about sin is, “always keep short accounts with God.”



SPIRITUAL DEPTH

That I may… become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him.  – Philippians 3: 10 AMP

Storms reveal the depth and resilience of a tree’s root system. When hard times come we need more than just intelligence; we need spiritual depth, the kind Job the patriarch had. When the bottom dropped out of his world, Job said: “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:10-12 NAS). We need the spiritual depth of Paul, who, after praying 3 times for the horrible stake in his flesh to leave (the word translated “thorn” sometimes referred to a pointed instrument, like a spear), and 3 times the Lord said “no.” In response, Paul said, “Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2Co 12:9 NJKV). Instead of looking for a way out, or throwing a pity party, Paul declared, “I chose to go through this so that I can have the privilege of experiencing more of Christ’s power working in my life.” What spiritual depth!

Don’t you want what these people had, so that your spiritual life is such that you walk in step with God whether you feel good or not; whether you get a “yes,” “no,” or “wait,” in answer to your prayers; even when you don’t get your own way? Spiritual depth cannot be caught by osmosis, or merely be something on your wish list. It must become your all consuming goal, and the highest priority of your life. Is it?



GOD’S PROTECTIVE HAND IS UPON YOU!

Lord… My life is in your hands. Psalm 31:14-15 CEV

Terry Schafer knew what she wanted to buy her husband for Christmas, but it was more than she could afford. So a generous storeowner agreed to gift-wrap it and let her take it, with the agreement that she make weekly payments. When she thanked him and he replied, “Oh, it’s nothing,” that storekeeper didn’t realize the significance of his kind gesture. On October 4th, patrolman David Schafer was pursuing an armed robber when he was shot in the stomach. When an officer went to tell his wife Terry, she was glad she hadn’t waited for Christmas to give her husband his gift. And she was doubly grateful for the storekeeper who’d agreed to come to terms, otherwise David would be dead. Instead he was hospitalized, not with a gunshot wound but a bruise—because he’d been wearing the new bulletproof vest she’d given him earlier that week.

When the timing of an event is more remarkable than the event itself, some people attribute it to luck, fate, coincidence, or karma. (They’re usually the ones who think birth, death, interruptions and delays are matters of chance, not divine design!). But not David; he wrote: “I come to you, Lord, for protection… Do as you.. .promised.. .Protect me from hidden traps and keep me safe. You are faithful.. . I trust you. , .and claim you as my God. My life is in your hands… you store up blessings for all who honor and trust you. You are their shelter from harmful plots… The Lord protects the faithful” (Ps 31:1-23 CEV). Wherever you go today, remember that God’s protective hand is upon you!



DEVELOPING FRIENDSHIPS

A friend loves at all times.  Proverbs 17:17 NKJV

Dr. John Maxwell writes: “If you want deep, lasting friendship, you cannot always be the strong one. And that can be frightening; especially if you’ve had someone hurt or manipulate you. But you must let a friend see you in your weakness. Some of us have never done this, and we wonder why we’re lonely. We’re going to have to get vulnerable to have a true friend.

“Friends serve each other. When’s the last time you performed an act of servant-hood for a friend to whom you’re devoted? If you can’t remember, you’re probably living with a core of loneliness. A friend is someone you commit to not because of what they can do for you, but just because they’re your friend. And friends listen, even though they’re busy. Listening is an act of love. It says ‘I’m going to put my own agenda on hold and devote myself to knowing and caring for you.’ Friends are not generally looking for someone who can talk very impressively or cleverly or with great wit. Mostly what they’re looking for is a world-class listener. Furthermore, when something goes right, friends celebrate. Do you do that? When’s the last time one of your friends had God bless them and you threw a party?

“If you’re not in this kind of friendship right now, you can’t make it happen, but you can open yourself up to it. You can start pursuing it. You can ask God to guide you. You can take little relational risks. And if you already have friends like this, prize them, protect them, enrich them in every way, and take that friendship as deep as you can.”




 

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