VIDEO Thanks Living

Jan 16, 2017

Living with an attitude of gratitude just makes life better. We can bring God our pain and trials, and we can ask Him to help us through them. His love can hammer out our insecurities and shape our hearts to be filled with thankfulness.

A Thankful Heart

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

Seneca, the great philosopher of ancient Rome (4 bc–ad 65), was once accused by the empress Messalina of adultery. After the Senate sentenced Seneca to death, the emperor Claudius instead exiled him to Corsica, perhaps because he suspected the charge was false. This reprieve may have shaped Seneca’s view of thankfulness when he wrote: “homicides, tyrants, thieves, adulterers, robbers, sacrilegious men, and traitors there always will be, but worse than all these is the crime of ingratitude.”

A contemporary of Seneca’s, the apostle Paul, may have agreed. In Romans 1:21, he wrote that one of the triggers for the downward collapse of humankind was that they refused to give thanks to God. Writing to the church at Colossae, three times Paul challenged his fellow believers in Christ to gratitude. He said we should be “overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7). As we let God’s peace “rule in [our] hearts,” we’re to respond with thankfulness (3:15). In fact, gratitude ought to characterize our prayers (4:2).

God’s great kindnesses to us remind us of one of life’s great realities. He not only deserves our love and worship, He also deserves our thankful hearts. Everything that’s good in life comes from Him (James 1:17).

With all we’ve been given in Christ, gratitude should be as natural as breathing. May we respond to God’s gracious gifts by expressing our gratitude to Him.

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

What are some of the biggest, most enduring blessings you’ve received in life? What everyday blessings have you experienced that are often easy to forget?

Loving Father, forgive me for the times I’ve taken You and Your blessings for granted. Create in me a thankful heart, so I’ll honor and praise You for all You’ve done and are doing.

It Is Good to Thank God

As we develop a habit of giving thanks to God, we will trust Him more with our life

Psalm 92

Thanksgiving is, obviously, a day to give thanks, but it shouldn’t be the only time we express gratitude to the Lord. Gratefulness should be more of a lifestyle. Just look at the Psalms, which repeatedly tell us to sing God’s praises (Psalm 92:1).

Our culture is largely characterized by ingratitude. Even in prayer, it’s easy to drift from one petition to another without a word of praise. But giving thanks refocuses our attention onto the Lord as we remember His love and faithfulness.

Gratitude to God for His faithfulness in the past increases faith and strengthens our trust in Him for the future. Remember how He carried you in times of pain, helped you in periods of weakness, and supplied all your needs. You can trust Him with whatever lies ahead. 

Thanksgiving refreshes our soul as we spend time with God, concentrating on His goodness and grace. To establish a habit of giving thanks, try recalling the Lord’s lovingkindness in the morning and recounting His faithfulness at night. Thank Him for blessings—and also for the deep work He is doing in you through difficulties. As you start to see situations from His perspective, your gratitude and trust will grow

Fullness of Blessing

And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:29)

One beautiful characteristic of life in Christ is its fullness. Jesus Christ is Himself “the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23), and He does everything to the full! When He fed the multitude, there were 12 baskets left over (John 6:13); when He brought in the miraculous catch of fishes, the nets were so full that they broke, and the boats so full they began to sink (Luke 5:6-7).

First of all, He gives fullness of grace. “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Then comes fullness of joy and peace: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13).

It is then possible—in fact, we are commanded—to be “filled with the Spirit…making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18-19). Not only does the Holy Spirit indwell us, but so do the Father and the Son, by the Spirit. Jesus said: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). In this way, the triune God indwells us, and thereby we “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that [we] might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

All the fullness of God! In Jesus Christ “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:9-10), “for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell” (Colossians 1:19). With the resources of such fullness of blessing available to us, we should be constantly growing “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). HMM

Judging Israel’s Captors

Remember, Lord, [what] the Edomites said that day at Jerusalem: “Destroy it! Destroy it down to it’s foundations!” Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who pays you back what you have done to us. Happy is he who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rocks (Psalm 137 vv. 7-9).

The Jews have never been reticent about expressing anger. These verses reflect their deep mourning while in exile as they cry out to the God of justice to repay their enemies for cruel and barbaric treatment.

The Edomites are singled out first. These pagan people celebrated while Jerusalem was destroyed (see Ezek, 25:12-14 and Joel 3). The Babylonians, guilty of a brutality that almost defies description, are next. Deep sadness and bitterness are poured out against these heathen oppressors who had smashed the Israelite children “against the rocks” (v. 9)! The victimized Israelites are demanding that God do the same to their enemies’ children!

What do we have here? Certainly not the “turn the other cheek” ethic of the New Testament.

There is an honest facing up to the cold reality of violence and raw evil in the world. Apart from God’s grace and his redemptive power in the human heart, people are capable of exacting terrible atrocities against their neighbors!

Yet this psalm is, no doubt, a poetic catharsis. Pouring out bitterness and hurt can be the beginning of healing; pretending the hurt doesn’t exist leads only to mental and physical illness.

I’m grateful for the honesty and candor of this ancient psalmist, but I’m even more grateful for the New Testament revelation that there is forgiveness for me as well as for those who have wronged me!

Personal Prayer

Lord, help me to acknowledge the deep, inner pain in my life. I claim your forgiveness and grace for my life today.

The Devil’s Cleft Foot

You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty…. From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways.—Ezekiel 28:12, 15

New Christians often ask: just who is the Devil, and where did he come from? The seventeenth century poet John Donne wrote that there were two things he could not fathom: “Where all the past years are, and who cleft the Devil’s foot.” The origin, existence, and activities of the Devil have always been among man’s most puzzling problems. The books of Isaiah and Ezekiel give us a very clear picture, however, of what someone has called “The Rise and Fall of the Satanic Empire.”

Jesus said one day to His disciples: “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash” (Lk 10:18). Before he was known as the Devil, Satan was called Lucifer and was created as a perfect angelic being. The passages before us today show him to have been a beautiful and morally perfect being. “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty…. From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways” (Ezk 28:12, 15).

Upright, beautiful, brilliant, and with an enormous capacity for achievement, the angel Lucifer was entrusted by God with the highest of all the offices in the interstellar universe: “You were an anointed guardian cherub … You were on the holy mountain of God” (Ezk 28:14). In his heart, however, arose a rebellious thought: “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). Five times that phrase “I will” is used in this passage. Those two little words—”I will”—reveal what lies behind the awful blight of sin—a created will coming into conflict with the will of the Creator.

Prayer

O Father, now that I see the real issue that lies behind sin—a created will colliding with the will of the Creator—help me constantly to align my will with Your will. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Pr 3:7; 16:1-18; 26:12

What comes before a fall?

What attitude should we guard against?

Authentic in an Artificial World

2 Corinthians 1:12

We live and move daily among artificiality. We are growing tired of living with the cheap, the deceptive, the artificial. We want authenticity. We want to be real. We seek the truth. We want our lives to count for something.

What is the secret to living an authentic Christian life in this artificial world?

First, it is to know Christ. We share a faith which is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ—a belief that one day God in Christ came to take away our sin and, through His death on Calvary, made us free. Free from the penalty of sin. Free from the power of sin. Our Bible tells us that we’re just pilgrims here, and the journey shall not end until we see Him face to face in the place He is preparing for us.

The second requisite for an authentic life is Christ living in us. The old song says, “You ask me how I know He lives,” and then affirms, “He lives within my heart!” The best proof of an authentic believer is one who every day lives out his faith in Christ. The desperate circumstances of people all about us require that we possess a real, living and vital relationship with Christ.

Finally, the authentic Christian in this artificial world is one in whom is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord informed those first disciples that He would be leaving them, but that He would send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, whom He assured “will be in you” (John 14:17).

The Holy Spirit was instrumental in our redemption, working in us the miracle of salvation. But we don’t have it all if the Holy Spirit has not brought full cleansing and complete freedom. That’s what God wills for His children. We are not meant to stumble through life as carnal Christians. So let us rise up to the rich spiritual inheritance God has for us.

God wants us to be real, genuine, authentic. It will make a difference in our motives, relationships, deeds, attitudes and the way we affect others around us.

Thank God we can know Him, He can live in us and there take up His dwelling forever!

Israel L. Gaither, The Salvationist Pulpit