There’s probably no better way to realign our hearts and attitudes in our perverse generation than to enter God’s presence with thanksgiving on our lips.
Why should we all give thanks to God?
Psalm 95:2 tells us: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving…” But why?
When you think about what happened just 500 years ago in Germany – 95 points of discussion were posted on the community bulletin board, a church door – a lowly monk unintentionally set in motion a sequence of events that changed the world more than any other single action by a human being since the resurrection of Christ.
My missionary friend in South Africa, Dr. Peter Hammond, has provided for us profound insights that can impact our priorities for generations to come if we’ll take them to heart.
Western civilization has been blessed with the greatest freedom, productivity and prosperity ever known in history. The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilization is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.
First Things First
Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”
The Question of Authority (more…)
“Is There not a cause?” asked the shepherd David in Israel 3,000 years ago, when he witnessed the fear of Goliath among his fellow countrymen.
It’s bad enough when the enemies of your own life overwhelm you with fear. But when the enemies of your whole culture, indeed of the very kingdom of your God, are openly hostile to the absolute values and objectives of life itself, do you think we might possibly be encouraged by this memorable ancient landmark recorded so specifically for us in our Bible?
I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s insight in Romans 15:4, telling us that:
“whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Do you think that our generation could use some hope? Do you sense that Christians and non-Christians alike are feeling overwhelmed by the “Goliaths” that threaten our very existence in today’s world?
Take a little time to personally review the story of David’s encounter on the battlefield with the giant Goliath in first Samuel 17.
There are lots of Scriptural encouragements. We must continually reflect on them when facing fearful conditions. Those causes may make us faint or recoil from the calling of God on His people and on us individually. We need strength that comes from His Word.
“The battle is the Lord’s”
1 Sam. 17:47.
And that declaration emboldened David to proclaim to his enemy that God “will give you into our hands.”
… Let’s read the whole passage beginning after Goliath’s cursing of David, at verse 45.
“ Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”
Read Psalm 2.
Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
2 Chron. 16:9
Let’s not forget what is the promise of God to those who chose the Lord’s true fast in Isaiah 58:10:
“If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” And look at verse 12: “And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”
Does that remind you of the work of Nehemiah in ancient Israel?
“When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people; “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
In times of crisis the urgency for followers of Jesus to “Abide” in Him could not be more absolute. Read John 15:4-11
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
We all need to be reminded daily of the message of Galatians 6:2-10:
“Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
And we dare not forget about the warning of 1 Peter 5:8:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
With all the negative and seemingly hopeless conditions surrounding our generation, do you think God, the Holy Spirit, might be speaking to us to “encourage one another day after day?” Read Hebrews 3:7-19.
“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”
Today’s poorly taught Christians need to rediscover the implications of what is written in several places like Hebrews 10:12-13 about the cause to which we are assigned.
“but he, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet.”
Who does the world belong to?
“…who did Abram tell the king of Sodom about God? Genesis 14:22 says: “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth…”
Is God able?
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
When you think about the enemies of God in the world today, do you have your hope in God or in man to deliver the righteous children of God by the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ?
The Devil may be “the god of this world (system)” the idol of people who ignore God Almighty, but that does not mean that Jesus has revoked the authority and jurisdiction that was validated by His resurrection.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
When Jesus decreed from the cross, “it is finished” what remained yet to be done?
Colossians 2:15 says:
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
When does the end come?
“then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
1 Corinthians 15:24-26
Are there enemies yet to be abolished besides the last enemy of death itself?
Read on to the last verse of chapter 15:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
David, the second Jewish king lived a thousand years before Christ. He was a man who faced tremendous stress in his life. Few of us today will face the kind of anxiety David experienced for more than 10 years of his life when he was constantly on the run from his enemies who were trying to kill him. His psalms reveal keys that unlock powerful solutions even for today’s high stress world.
“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”
One of the realities of life that our current physical science-based medical system has had to admit in recent years is that there are non-physical causes to poor health and disease. One widely accepted non-physical cause is “stress.” It’s quite well known today that the presence of stress in one’s life, and how one deals with that stress, has a direct impact on one’s health. Unfortunately, the solutions the medical system most often prescribes today for mental and emotional health are expensive drugs with serious side effects. So many people are “stressed out” that anti-depressant drugs have become a growing and prosperous business for pharmaceutical companies.
King David wrote in Psalm 55 that it wasn’t just his enemies that caused problems, but also his “friends” and fellow believers:
“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”
Notice the signs of stress he wrote in that Psalm: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.” If David confessed these feelings to a psychiatrist today, he would have been prescribed anti-depressant drugs immediately to try and stabilize his emotional condition. He had all the signs of “mental disease” including the temptation to try and escape from all of his problems by running away from them: “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” He was unstable, neurotic, and desperate. He would probably be labeled as “insane” today and be committed to a mental health hospital.
What was David’s solution to his enormous stress?
David did not seek out physicians in his anxiety. He appealed to God for help, trusting that God would hear his prayers and change his condition. If you read the psalms of David you will notice that David consistently took two approaches to dealing with anxiety and stress. Both approaches involved prayer and a personal relationship with his Creator.
David prayed to God, asking him to intervene in the circumstances of his life that were causing the stress:
“Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city… Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them— men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.”
As strong and powerful as David was, in many circumstances he was powerless against his enemies and the rulers of his day. But he knew first hand that God was not powerless, and so he appealed to God to intervene.
David cast all of his worries and cares on God. He trusted in Him to take care of them all, and to sustain him with strength to endure everything.
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
These two ways of using prayer to deal with stress are just as relevant to us today. We are in the age of the New Covenant – Instituted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The believers in the early church were often arrested and persecuted, suffering tremendous stress. The same two principles were used to deal with their anxiety and stress.
Principle 1 – pray for God to intervene in the stressful situation.
Here is an example of what was prayed after the believers were arrested and released for preaching about Jesus and miraculously healing a man (they didn’t follow the routine protocol for the healthcare of their day!):
“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
Principle 2 – cast all our anxieties and care on God, trusting him to take care of all our problems and to sustain us with his strength:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 – prescription for mental health
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”
These are the two biblical principles for dealing with anxiety and stress, and they are the guiding principles for mental health. No drugs are needed but there is a requirement. It requires a relationship with God through Jesus. And this is not just an intellectual knowledge about him. So the first step is the spiritual rebirth. That’s something we need to seek and find for ourselves.
How do you deal with anxiety and stress? The two principles written about here are time-tested principles that have been used for thousands of years, long before modern-day pharmaceuticals came into the market place with our current medical system. They are backed by a guarantee from the Creator himself, the one who formed and fashioned you while still in your mother’s womb. Best of all, they are free!
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do you want a prescription for drug-free mental health?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Can a confident and obedient disciple of Jesus ignore some of the Word of God in today’s world and not have their children be led astray?
“therefore my people go into exile (become slaves) for their lack of knowledge.”
“Beware – see to it – that no one takes you captive (makes you a slave) through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
Without God you cannot know anything.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Ro 12:2 KJV
How do you do that? To deliberately stop thinking like the world and be transformed, you must train your mind with the Word of God, right? How else can you prove God’s perfect will?
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”
Romans 8:7 ESV
“do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
James 4:4 ESV
Claiming to be “neutral” is a declaration of hostility to God! Disciples devote themselves to sound doctrine.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”
Luke 6:40 NKJV
Should we be surprised if we send our Christian students to secular trained teachers in either public or private schools that they come home to us with their minds well trained in pagan thinking? Don’t you think their behaviors will follow?
What does your Bible instruct you to do as a believing teacher who influences your children and others around you?
“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
Titus 1:9 ESV
Jesus made the separation even clearer, saying:
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
No wonder the Apostle Peter strongly insisted that Christians…
“in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”
1 Peter 3:15 ESV
Do you think that ‘being prepared’ requires some careful study and preparation?
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”
2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB
Does that sound like the language of passive, post-modern, sloppy-agape? OR does it sound like a battle plan for warriors who know they are in a deadly conflict that demands training?
The ‘verity’ (truth) of God makes it possible to KNOW things… the profoundness of that truth makes science (scientiae… to know) possible.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (scientiae – VUL): but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
If you reject God and His knowledge, you refuse instruction and are a self proclaimed ‘fool.’ Why? Well, consider one of the most exclusive statements in the Bible:
“..in whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
If the Bible were not true, you could not prove that anything is true. Logic originates from the Creator of senses and incredibly complex DNA information that allows you to process intelligence of any kind. In the beginning was the ‘logos’ and nothing was made without Him.
We all rely on:
- Laws of logic to make thinking possible
- Uniformity of nature and natural laws (i.e. gravity)
- Absolute morality to establish ethical judgments of right and wrong
Mature followers of Christ are Biblically charged with the job of refuting…
- Relativism… “there are no absolutes” – How can you be absolutely certain of that?
- Empiricism… “truth must be observed” – Can you observe that claim?
- Naturalism… only physical reality can somehow cause itself to exist
- Neutrality… when your enemy is determined to eliminate what you know to be true from the discussion, attempting to appeal to neutrality or compromise is admitting defeat and refusing to provide the tools of knowledge of the truth that would allow the Holy Spirit to convict and convince their hearts if God were to give them the gift of repentance (2 Tim 2:25).
The secularist is in self-denial (delusion) and he will deny that he is in self-denial.
“There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”
2 Peter 3:16 ESV
“And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’”
Why are secularists and even most of today’s self-proclaimed Christians blind to the obvious?
If you want to see an excellent presentation about the truth of God’s Word, I highly recommend the following presentation by my friends David Rives and Bruce Malone.
Barna polls recently show 50% of Christians claim they don’t believe the whole Bible is true. So what do they base their faith on?
“If they do not receive Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded even though one rise from the dead.”
Do you believe Jesus spoke the truth? Do you believe the Old Testament Scriptures of the Bible can be trusted to be 100% true?
“And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female…’”
Matt 19:4 (NASB) also Mark 10:6
(note: does the Bible leave the topic of ‘gender’ open for discussion? What happens when those who say they follow Jesus and His truth refuse to stand for the truth when the enemies of truth use intimidation to prevent people from even discussing the truth?)
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.’”
Matt 22:29 NKJV
“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”
Luke 16:17 NASB
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”
2 Timothy 2:16 KJV
If a man does not believe that the Bible is true, does his unbelief make the Bible’s Word any less true?
What are we to do to help a man overcome his mistaken belief that the Bible is not entirely trustworthy?
“the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach… with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition (to themselves), if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth, that they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
2 Timothy 2:24-26 NASB
What does a man lose if he forfeits his belief in the truth of the Word of God?
“..we see that they (Israelites delivered out of Egypt) were not able to enter (Canaan-the promised land) because of unbelief.”
Hebrews 3:19 NASB
What confidence did Jesus have in the Old Testament?
“But if you do not believe his (Moses’) writings how will you believe My words?”
“And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
Matthew 13:58 KVJ
Remember how Jesus rebuked his disciples about their unbelief when they could not deliver a lunatic man from the demonic power that ruled him.
“O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?”
Matthew 17:17 NASB
The bitter fruit of Unbelief
Could it be that our present perverted generation is experiencing the woes of a condemned culture for the same reasons that condemned Babylon, Rome or Israel?
Is not the most basic foundation of faith in God the belief of who He is as the Creator and the communicator of His clear Word about the beginning of everything? And how do we come to understand that fact?
“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
Hebrews 11:3 NASB
Notice that understanding comes from faith. That applies to every human no matter what his belief system is built upon. You have to believe in somebody’s words! If you have a choice between man’s words and God’s words, which will you choose?
Is not that same degree of faith required when we come to God in repentance to ask for His mercy and favor?
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who (diligently) seek Him.”
Hebrews 11:6 NASB
Belief in something that is antagonistic to God does not reward you with anything but confusion. Believe in God’s Word. You can trust Him above all others.
With all the bad new we hear around our affluent culture today, it’s easy to fall into pessimism and a rather grim expectation for the future.
It can seem like the time of the judges in the Bible when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Judges 1-2 stresses that Israel’s tribes failed to obey God in driving out all of the abominable pagan Canaanites from the land.
- They disobeyed the true and living God and allowed lewd idolatrous gods to become a trap to them.
- After Joshua’s death a younger generation arose that did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Why not?
- They did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.
- They ignored the Godly ways of their fathers and played the harlot after false gods, turning aside from obeying the commandments of the Lord.
For anyone who is aware of his current world, there is no doubt that there are some pretty scary physical omens of…
- The HoneyBee colony collapse syndrome could quickly result in massive crop failures and widespread global famine.
- Even though mankind’s influence is miniscule, the prospect of severe changes in the climate could affect the choices that many humans have to make in coming decades.
- Whether a rogue nation detonates a high altitude bomb to cause an EMP or it happens naturally from solar storms on the sun, the fear of the collapse of much of our electronic technology could result in the death of 90% of the highly dependent population.
- The failure of pharmaceutical-based medicine to prevent the rise of Super bugs (diseases) raises the potential of large-scale epidemics like the plagues and pestilences of both the ancient past and even the major epidemics of modern times.
- The Muslim immigration to Western Countries predicts the total transformation of many cultural norms in the next two decades.
- The continuation of the ‘me’ generation, notably given to Abortion means the inevitable loss of population growth in western Christian culture.
- The unwillingness of governments to manage finances conservatively will inevitably lead to Economic collapse, inflation and depression.
- The Irrational delusion of leftist secular philosophy is overtaking the masses who have no self restraint. They are being manipulated by ‘mountains’ of influence that the church has failed to reclaim for the kingdom of Christ.
What do the facts say about what’s happening in our world?
Check out: World Revival Network Blog – “Why you have been duped into believing that the world is getting worse and worse.” http://worldrevivalnetwork.blogspot.com/2015/08/why-you-have-been-duped-into-believing.html
“Based on social media and television news reports, multitudes are convinced that the world is growing worse and worse. Yet, there’s absolutely no evidence of this. By every measurable standard, life is improving around the globe. Darkness is fading and the goodness of God’s Kingdom is truly taking root.”
War and Violence have been going down.
There has never been a time in world history where the masses have been escaping poverty like they have in our present generation.
In 1720 the average man in England only lived to be about thirty years of age. Currently most are living past the age of eighty.
The number of those who claim to be Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last century, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2.3 billion as of 2011.
There is greater prosperity, peace, and health than ever before in recorded history. The Kingdom of God is boldly advancing and it’s transforming everything in its wake.
We need to let go of our pessimistic, “doom and gloom” worldview and truly embrace the good news of the gospel of the kingdom of God. As Jesus promised, His Holy Spirit is working through His people to bring blessing and life to a world that has been ravaged by darkness.
What can change the World? What is the reason for True Hope?
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the living.”
Is it possible that God is raising up a generation to repent and reform a culture, guiding a new generation to God?
How must we live? Think? Act? Are we willing to think beyond ourselves and prepare to equip the “next generation” in Reclaiming their legacy?
1 Be grateful for what you have
- Focus on positive things you have.
- Write down 10 things you’re thankful for.
- Post that list and read it often.
2. Set Goals – both short term and long term
- Aimlessness brews frustration.
- Make a daily to-do list and check things off as they are done.
- Write where you want to be in a year and beyond.
3. Take care of your physical body
- Be deliberate about eating nourishing foods the build up.
- Thoughtfully avoid toxic substances you know destroy your health.
- Make a quest of finding things that enhance your wellness.
4. Take your focus off yourself
- Do 5 nice acts of kindness daily for others.
- Love the blessing of giving without expecting payback.
- Remember that what goes around comes around.
5. Put a guard on your mouth
- Consciously monitor your words to edify others.
- Your thoughts don’t all need to be spoken.
- Be careful about what you think about to guide what you say.
6. See yourself as who you want to grow into
- Find admirable role models to watch how they behave.
- Daily work on learning and doing the things that will improve you.
- Be patient with yourself as you would with a child you are coaching.
7. Express your creative self in some way each day
- Feelings of satisfaction with yourself improve when you create
- Do little creative acts with your appearance or your home environment.
- Be creative with how you treat other people.
8. Refuse the fear of failure.
- Embrace the fact that success is always built on multiple failures.
- Draw encouragement from life stories of others who overcame difficulty.
- Do uncomfortable things first, not just things in your comfort zone.
9. Do Not condemn yourself or labor your negative past or present.
- Think about what your Creator has done for your advantage.
- If it’s to be it’s up to me, always remembering you live by God’s grace.
- Think: If others can achieve it, why not me and why not now? Just get to work.
10. Stay in the moment
- When your thoughts drift to past hurts, decide you’re going to refocus on what you do now.
- Rather than worrying about future problems that might happen ask what you can do now.
- Look for things you can change for better outcomes in the short term.
11. Being happy is a deliberate pursuit.
- Smile more. You can give one without losing yours.
- Find others who are joyful and learn from them.
- Laugh often when you have the slightest reason.
12. Recharge your emotional energy daily.
- Find 5 minutes of quiet time several times a day.
- Optimism requires refocusing on happy thoughts.
- Deliberately praise others and especially God.
“For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.”
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace (prosperity).”
You might wonder why a whole society seems to drift into a hardened rejection of the knowledge of God. Why do people who resist God seem to fall prey to deeper and deeper deceptions in so many areas of life?
What do you want?
- Confidence in your purpose in life?
- To be pleasing to your Creator?
- Victory over destructive influences in life?
- Character qualities that glorify God?
- Greater insight for success in your own journey?
- Optimal physical well being and health?
- Freedom to use your gifts most effectively?
- Greater impact and influence on the world around you?
A wise man will hear and increase in learning and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:5, 7
One of my best lessons I ever learned…
“My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”
“Through knowledge the righteous are delivered.”
“… if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
What is the primary way that God gives His wisdom to those who ask of Him?
Today’s world is filled with all sorts of deception. Sharp discernment is required for those who really want to discover the things that are true. If we don’t want truth we won’t search for it. That’s why we need to be discerning. That takes a special level of heart and acuity to be able to do that in an honest way.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…”
How far does that spread? It’s in every sector of society, isn’t it? It’s in education. It’s in religion. It’s in the business world. It’s in politics. They will find teachers according to their own desires. It’s natural to the human condition, isn’t it? We want to hear what we want to hear and we don’t want to hear anything that we don’t want to hear. So Paul goes on to forecast in the letter to Timothy what to expect: “…and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
You may wonder: “Why would people believe in a myth?” Yet, it is so common today that many people will treat you as sort of an outcast if you don’t believe in their popular myths.
What are some myths that dominate the landscape of our world today?
Evolution, Universalism, Socialism…
What could be more of a myth than the idea of evolutionism – that everything ultimately came from nothing with no designer? Yet people believe it. It’s a commonly held myth. And, of course, very intellectual scientists get behind it, those whose hearts are darkened. They do not desire to have discernment to know what is true.
I make no apology about this. Think. It goes for other areas of human thinking and understanding.
Think about universalism. That’s the idea that everyone will eventually get to heaven no matter how evil and hateful to God they are. They wrongly think that God certainly can’t be unforgiving to everyone so all must be acceptable to God. Think. God is forgiving to those who humbly acknowledge their utter lost condition and their need for His mercy. God does forgive them. He’s just not going to force them to turn to Him in their need.
Socialism – there’s another myth – the idea that we can all have everything, even if none of us do anything. Let’s face it. That doesn’t work, does it?
So here we have these dominant myths in our society today.
First is Mother Nature – that’s the primary icon for evolution. It just happened by itself.
Next is Universalism – God is too loving to send good people to hell.
And the inevitable outcome of the first two is the promotion of socialism. The socialistic state will take care of you.
They are all frauds.
The basic Biblical Principle Needing our attention?
God created man to thrive in the world that God made by working to make it into something – using his God-given creativity, ingenuity and initiative to make it more than it started out.
God is the one who orchestrates the entire universe from the very beginning. He is the one who created it all. He is the one who created man. He is the One who gave man initiative, creativity, abilities and skills. God is the awesome genius Who gives us all that is needed to achieve the purpose He has designed. And we do it by work.
Work isn’t a curse. God gave man work to do in the garden before the curse.
When people come into our Bible-believing churches with compromised views, how should we encourage them to evaluate the truths of the Bible?
Do you really believe that we should prove all things? That’s a good way to start a conversation with anyone. It’s a simple way to get them thinking about God and His purposes for all of us. And use the basic qualifying question if you find they are open.
The Basic Qualifying Question
What is the basic qualifying question to help people you encounter to open their minds and discover what’s true? It’s simply this: “If I could… would you?”
“If I could show you something…” “…give you some insight that I’ve learned…” “…help you in some of those areas…” “If I could give you some new ways of understanding… Would you?”
Would you be open to have a discussion to talk about it with me some more? Would you entertain reading a book about it? Would you look at some new ideas that I discovered personally?
You might want to ask: “Would it be meaningful to you if…?” If what? If I could show you some things that give you a new slant that you didn’t know before.
You don’t know what you don’t know
One of the most basic principles of education is this idea that none of us knows what we don’t know. Would you agree?
So, asking questions, like I just did, is a good way to open the door to one’s reason, right? It’s the basic qualifying question.
Do you want to order your life by the truth? How do you establish what is true?
Is it true that the truth shall set you free?
Watch out here. You’ll want to look at John 8:31-32. Does the truth set you free? You may know many people with access to libraries full of books that contain the truth. They may have stacks of Bibles in their home. They may have even memorized a lot of scripture. Does that mean they are free? Are they necessarily free just because they know the truth? Be sure you get the context of Jesus’ words here. Jesus said it plainly in the opening statement here when He said, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples.” Two things are happening here: abiding in my word and being true disciples of Jesus. Then, the result is that you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Freedom, because of the truth that it brings, is a direct result of living in – abiding in – the words of Jesus by following and being a disciple of Jesus. It’s all about Him and letting Him exercise His dominion in our life.. His wisdom in our life.. His insight.. His discernment… in our life.
Regardless of the anxiety about the economic future of America, compared to all the rest of the world, it’s clear that 90% of American citizens are wealthy. Here is an area we need to delve into regarding common myths. Unfortunately, many don’t seem to realize that we are wealthy. We can capitalize on it even for our own sakes, let alone for God’s sake and the sake of others. God has blessed our land in amazing ways unlike anything that has ever happened in history. So what else are we faced to understand?
With riches come more opportunity and more responsibility.
The myth is that we achieved all this abundance because of our own goodness or skill. Really? Some believe in the myth that we were just lucky, and if it happens to go away we have no solution. Just panic and hope for a new stroke of good luck.
Who is the Owner of this world anyway?
God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns all the silver and all the gold.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1
It all belongs to God. Do you think He’s short of any resources?
Paul wrote to Timothy to “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches (that would be practically all of us in America today), but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” God wants us to focus on Him – not on the riches – but on Him. He’s the One Who supplies all the things we enjoy and we are indeed ‘rich’ in this country no matter how little or how much we make, earn or create. He goes on to say: “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Politicians and the media seem determined to incite us about economic downturns on a national or even a global level, but what about your own economy? The average annual income for many people in nations of the world is about $300. Would you say that we are all doing a lot better than that? So what are we doing with our own economy? Are we looking to God to instruct us, to guide us, and to trust Him every step of the way?
What many people seem to miss is that financial security (what we regard as true economic prosperity) is more than a fat bank account. Money seems to ‘take wings.’ But prosperity is more about opportunity. It’s about diligence and practicing good principles of personal relationship development. It’s about bringing value to others who reward you for what you do. These are things that put you in position to have the security of ongoing income, ongoing earnings, ongoing financial security.
So what are some practical things we can do to face the challenges of economic lack?
If you are facing serious economic struggles, consider a few things that can make a huge difference.
- Determine to be persistent at moving forward – that’s initiative.
- List your goals. Write down what you want. Talk with your close relations about what you want.
- List your assets, skills, things you’re passionate about, things that you feel are a mission on your heart and life, training, aptitudes. What do others say you’re good at? What new course could help you discover how to better use those assets?
- Find a work that you love. Pursue it, even if you have to volunteer on your off hours to do it.
- Find a way to help other people get what they want. This develops amazingly into opportunities and connections with other people who can open doors that you never dreamed of. Volunteering with like-minded people can lead to all sorts of opportunities.
- Find a way to monetize both (what you love and what others want).
- Find a sideline home business you can believe in and a training coach you can trust to tell you the truth. Find someone who can mentor you. Be sure you’ve checked out the success factors that avoid unnecessary risk and disappointment. Often we get blown off course because we lack a trustworthy mentor. But there are people out there who are waiting for you to ask them for guidance, for insight, for consultation. Seek out those people. And if you’re not hanging out where you can meet the kinds of people you want to mentor you, then maybe you need to change where you hang out.
- Get good at doing something that people respect you for and generate fulfillment in you. If you are feeling that you’re making a genuine contribution into the lives of others, their appreciation will keep you motivated to keep working on improving your skills and your performance. Hang out with others with similar aptitudes and goals. Attend events they attend. Get engaged with seminars to learn more about the business you’re considering or you’ve decided to pursue. Whether it’s your primary career or something you want to develop on the side, give it your best effort.
- In today’s world, it’s imperative to diversify your skills. For most people it’s now evident that your primary career is not going to be your only source for all the needs of your life and your retirement in the future. You have multiple interests. Give several of them your time. Maybe you like music, or writing, or broadcasting. So be willing to re-educate yourself as times and technologies change.
- Never stop learning. Be open minded to new ideas. One of the leading factors that sets highly successful people apart from the rest of the herd in society is that they are always eager to learn. They are curious about the world around them and how to apply their efforts to make that world better, even when it involves information outside their primary career.
- Invest in your self-improvement. Spend money on practical education as well as academic schooling. Learn the Success Principles in the book by Jack Canfield. It’s a classic everyone will enjoy.
- Change your social environment if you’re not with the people who are going where you want to go. Invest effort in making new friends. Attend conferences where you can grow your skills.
- Consider carefully the values of the pursuits you take up. Be true to yourself and your values.
- Decide to make money your servant and develop your business in such a way to prosper others as a result of your activities. Money is just a tool to help others.
- Determine to find allies who are as passionate as you are to reach goals together and work with them.
In today’s changing world, we all need to find the opportunities and the people who are serious about working together to reach worthwhile goals. We have ambitious goals to help people reclaim their legacy through the discovery of truths that help them establish the five important pillars of ‘legacy’ that we’ve talked about repeatedly on this program.
If you would like to find out reliable ways to turn your economy around, you have to start with an open heart and an open mind. Forget about negativity and cynicism. They get you nowhere. Reach out to learn more about how to accomplish any of the things we’ve been talking about today. I invite you to contact me on the phone or on our website. I’ll be glad to point you toward some solutions that could make a life-changing difference for you. And if you’re serious about making some changes in your own future, I’ll direct you to some websites that will help you even more. Start by getting the important list I’ve prepared about the 12 success factors that your home based business must have to succeed and grow. You will find it at this link. Click here.
Like a lot of things in life, the teacher appears when the student is ready.
Just make sure that you know your own values and goals so that the choices you make are in harmony with them.
Be encouraged by Ephesians 2:10 that tells us that we are “created for good works.” Let’s be sure to walk in them.
In Ephesians 4:15, as we “grow up in all things,” let’s be sure to speak the truth in love, not walking in the futility of our mind, but laying aside falsehoods (myths) while laboring with our own abilities to do what is good so we can have resources to share with those in need.
Opportunity abounds no matter how bad the economy looks. You’ve got your own economy. Decide to use your abilities to develop it.
Remind yourself of Philippians 2:13: “God is at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
Philippians 1:9-10 “in love, develop real knowledge and discernment, so you can approve the things that are excellent.”
What you’ve heard today is worth learning well. I trust it will be an investment to return an exceptional reward.
Much has been researched and written lately about the proven personal benefits of expressing genuine gratitude. It turns out that thankfulness is not typically a result of being happy, but rather the opposite is true. People who deliberately and openly confess their thankfulness to others are the happiest of people. And isn’t it interesting that those who recognize that their lives have a purpose are the ones who are prone to give thanks to their Creator and to those around them.
Have you discovered your purpose? Do you have a clear reason why you’re excited to get up in the morning? If you have a mission to drive your daily goals, you’re a much happier person than those who are just being driven by survival mode.
We’re a nation of people that has a centuries-old tradition of celebrating annual solemn days of Thanksgiving. Yet, it seems that our current generation has almost no concept of the deeply personal conviction of the importance of gratitude. And it’s pretty obvious that that gratitude should most deservedly be directed to the Almighty Giver of every blessing and perfect gift in our lives.
It seems like everybody is scrambling frantically to demand that their comforts and material desires be accommodated. How often we see people so ungrateful that complaints and cynical dissatisfaction has become society’s normal? Things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years have they?
Remember The Sin of Ingratitude in Luke 17:7-19?
Jesus healed ten men of leprosy. One of them was a Samaritan man. He was the only one of the ten who came back to Jesus and humbly thanked Him for healing him. Jesus asked him: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Sadly, my missionary friend in Africa reports that barely 10% of those they help will bother to express their gratitude with even a word of thanks or a note card. Gratitude may be rare, but those who express it discover the most enriching lives on earth. Instead of loneliness, poverty and depression, they are the ones most inclined to be enriched, energized, inspired and transformed
Gratitude goes counter to the ‘victim mentality’ that has deceived so many who think they are entitled to everything at the expense of others in our culture. When we give thanks sincerely, we acknowledge that we have received a benefit that is unearned. We can’t help but look beyond ourselves.
When you are stunned with the reality that you survived what could have been a fatal event, how does that make you feel?
After the victory of the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777. How did they express their feeling? Here’s what they wrote in the proclamation:
“The grateful feeling of their hearts… join the penitent confession of their manifold sins… that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance… and… under the providence of Almighty God… secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace.”
If we want to reclaim our true history, we are going to have to work at telling our children about our real history. It isn’t being taught in most schools and colleges today. Thomas Jefferson was the governor of Virginia in 1779. What did he chose to proclaim for his State after Admiral John Paul Jones captured the British ship HMS Serapis? The Continental Congress declared a Day of Thanksgiving, which
“Congress… hath thought proper… to recommend to the several States… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for his mercies, and of Prayer, for the continuance of his favour… That He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; That He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of Divine Grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel; That He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth… I do therefore… issue this proclamation… appointing… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God… Given under my hand… this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779… Thomas Jefferson.”
Hear what that same Continental Congress proclaimed after Benedict Arnold’s traitorous plot to betray West Point was thwarted. It was a Day of Thanksgiving, October 18, 1780:
“In the late remarkable interposition of His watchful providence, in the rescuing the person of our Commander-in-Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution… it is therefore recommended… a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer… to confess our unworthiness… and to offer fervent supplications to the God of all grace… to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.”
After British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, October 11, 1782:
“It being the indispensable duty of all nations… to offer up their supplications to Almighty God… the United States in Congress assembled… do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe… the last Thursday… of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”
After the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, Congress recommended that the States declare a Day of Thanksgiving. Massachusetts Governor John Hancock, the former President of the Continental Congress, proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, November 8, 1783:
“The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation… I do… appoint… the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate… that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel… That we also offer up fervent supplications… to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish… and to fill the world with His glory.”
After the U.S. Congress passed the First Amendment, it requested President George Washington issue a National Day of Thanksgiving, which he did, October 3, 1789:
“Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness; ‘Now, therefore, I do recommend… Thursday, the 26TH DAY of NOVEMBER … to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be… That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble Thanks… for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government… particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”
On January 1, 1795, President George Washington proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving:
“When we review the calamities, which afflict so many other nations… the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed – the recent confirmation of that tranquility by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it – the happy course of public affairs in general – the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens; our circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence towards us. In such a state of things it is, in an especial manner, our duty as people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience… I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States, to set apart…a Day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer: and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of Nations.”
After hearing those inspiring proclamations from national leaders – which, by the way, were entirely inspired by the attitude of profoundly committed preachers in the churches of the American colonies – doesn’t it seem about time that the pastors of our Bible-believing congregations lead the way for reclaiming our lost legacy for the current generation? Should they not humbly call for days of contrition, repentance and sober thanksgiving? We have such excellent Biblical and historic precedents to guide our way.
Taking God’s Blessings for Granted
Dr. Martin Luther observed: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.” It seems that the blessings of life, health, freedom and food are not really appreciated unless they are lost, or threatened. Sunrises and sunsets occur daily so they are taken for granted aren’t they?
Consider the Stars
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that “If the constellations appeared only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event it would be. But because they are there every night, we barely give them a look.”
The Blessings of Being Hungry and Lonely
Have you noticed that the blessings of rain are barely appreciated unless one has been through a drought? A hungry man is more thankful for a tiny morsel than most affluent Americans for their table full of choice foods. A lonely woman in a nursing home will appreciate a visit more than a rock star with a crowd of fans. A Christian who has suffered under persecution for decades and receives his first copy of the Holy Scriptures is more thankful for one book than we are for all the Christian books, Bible translations and magazines that overflow our shelves.
You Should Experience Blindness for a Few Days
Helen Keller said: “I have often thought that it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days for some time during his early adult life. It would make him more appreciative of sight and of the joys of sound.”
A Biblical Command
There are at least 138 passages of Scripture that deal with the subject of thanksgiving. We are commanded: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4.
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8.
“Give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
Joyful, Prayerful and Thankful
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Plainly it is God’s will for us to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.
A Sacrifice of Praise
“Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.” Hebrews 13:15.
What makes praise a sacrifice? Could it be that when the blessings we are thankful for have not yet manifested themselves in God’s providence?
A Good Habit
“It ought to be as habitual for us to thank as to ask.” C. H. Spurgeon
The Parent of All Virtues
It has been said that a thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.
What is the Root of Sin?
“The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… for although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:18-21. Look! The failure to give thanks to God is the root sin that leads to futile thinking and foolish, darkened hearts. Think about that.
One of the Worst Sins
In 1 Timothy 3:1-5 the apostle Paul gives a list of some of the most terrible sins including: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, traitorous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Did you see that ungratefulness is listed in the middle of a list of horrible sins?
A Fruit of Character
What’s one of the first lessons good parents teach their children is to say? “Thank You”. It takes character and courage to admit being in debt to others. It is humbling. However, those who cannot admit their indebtedness to others cannot learn, nor can they seek forgiveness.
Failure to express gratitude is more than immaturity and rudeness, it is ungodly. We are commanded to honour our parents, our elders and our leaders. It is a sign of maturity to acknowledge indebtedness. Have you learned anything? Then you’re in debt to somebody else, aren’t you? We are all in debt, first, and mostly, to God Himself, for our life, health, food, talents, family, friends, opportunities and for our salvation itself. We are also in debt to past generations who have sacrificed for the freedoms we now enjoy: Reformers, martyrs, pioneers, missionaries, soldiers, parents, teachers, pastors and so many others have sacrificed for our benefit.
An Attitude of Entitlement
Instead of the Christian character of gratitude, our present culture prefers to promote an attitude of entitlement. This is the very opposite of gratitude. It builds on pride and covetousness. It is fuelled by bitterness, greed and envy. All too many in the present humanistic society take things for granted, demand to get, rather than seeking to give. It is sheer wickedness, and is a sure road to being led astray by all sorts of empty promises and destructive ideas.
An Attitude of Gratitude
A grateful mind is a great mind. “Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt be worthy to receive greater.” Thomas a Kempis. Start giving thanks to God and the humblest of servants like your garbage man for the little blessings in life. Start today to write notes of sincere gratitude to people who have blessed you in any small way. Ask God to guide your thoughts. Partner with a friend to hold one another accountable in your new habit of expressing gratitude.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92:1-2.
Pride, Ingratitude and Unteachability
Those who do not take advice do not think they have anything to learn. They are often the same people who have a problem expressing a genuine heartfelt gratitude to others. It is a sign of pride to be ungrateful. It reveals an unwillingness to acknowledge a debt to others. By God’s grace, when we are humble enough to admit our wrong, He is powerful enough to enable us to change. We can be a thankful person.
Let’s Make this season a Turning Point for expressing Thanks-giving.
List 7 things you are thankful for in your personal life today.
Call 2 people who you can honestly thank for something they contributed to your life.
Privately talk to God about the gratitude you have for His saving grace.
Take 2 minutes to begin pondering the incredible blessings you have to live now.
Promise yourself you will thank the next 10 people you encounter for something they did for you, even if it’s just a common courtesy.
The results of gratitude?
You will become healthier. Recent studies suggest that gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and reduces inflammation in the body. Grateful people are also more inclined to eat better and exercise which obviously increases your wellness.
You will become a more compassionate person. When you make a routine of expressing gratitude to God and to others for tiny courtesies, you are looking beyond yourself. You will be kinder. You will be more forgiving. You will find joy in serving others and be willing to bear others’ burdens without expecting anything in return.
When you appreciate what you have, it’s impossible not to share it with others. On the other hand, you can’t give something away when you’re empty yourself. When you don’t know how rich you really are, you can’t take delight in sharing little insights with others. The more aware and thankful we are of the good things in our lives, the more we are able to give to others.
Your relationships will deepen. When you relate more gratefully to others you will draw closer and bond more deeply to the people in your life. When you express gratitude to the people you love, you become more satisfied with your relationships. You will reach out to others more easily. You’ll be more generous. You’ll be more forgiving and less judgmental.
A grateful heart is more content, more happy no matter what his circumstances are like. And a happy heart focuses more on the really important joys of peace and little blessings that make life worthwhile. That’s like a healing ointment to restore your health even when modern medicine can’t do it.
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done… Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:8,34.
If ever there was a time when we needed leadership like the sons of Issachar in ancient Israel, it is now. What was special about the sons of Issachar back in the days of King David, a thousand years before Christ’s time? We read about them in 1 Chronicles 12:32. “The sons of Issachar (were) men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.”
We may not see any explanation or have any historical knowledge about why these particular men of one of the tribes of Israel (the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) were so gifted. Yet our spiritually minded hearts can’t help but cry out for extraordinary wisdom when we are faced with such overwhelming challenges as a nation of people. And let’s humbly recognize that just because we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, our Lord and King of kings, commands us to ‘disciple the nations.’ And frankly, the Bible makes it clear that that is a very big part of the legacy that our Creator wants us to reclaim. (more…)