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building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Gratitude”

Now, What do you say?

Why is it we have to be taught to say “thank you?” Is it a cultural thing or is it just our human nature that makes us think we deserve some kindness or gift? As children grow up, parents are continually reminding their offspring: “now, what do you say?” when they receive something. I can remember my own mother asking me this question time and again. Children can be stubborn when they know what to say but just don’t want to say it. They suddenly go deaf to their parent’s question.

As adults, we should have this ingrained in us. “Thank you” should roll off our tongue. I think I do pretty well in this department when someone does something nice for me. However, am I so inclined when it’s just the everyday blessings from a loving God? The sun shining on a fall afternoon. The beautiful picture of painted leaves on a crisp fall morning. The rolling waves on a beautiful beach. The pleasure of God filling me with breath every morning. It’s the little things that go unnoticed in a hurried life. After hearing a message on Sunday, I began to ponder the words of Jesus when He cleansed the ten lepers. “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17)

Maybe the men who were running toward the priest were praising God as they ran. They just didn’t take the time to come back to Jesus. The Samaritan however, had a different outlook toward his healing. The men from Israel were going to be accepted by the priest, but the Samaritan would have been rejected. Samaritans were hated by the people of Israel. The Samaritans were half Jewish and half Assyrian. They were not considered to be equal with the Jews. But the faith of this one man was evident as he went with the others. He was told to go, so he went even though he knew he would be rejected by the priest. He went anyway.

When he encountered Jesus, his whole life was changed. Not only did he get new skin, he got a new faith in the One who heals. When the man recognized his healing, he ran back and threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Jesus said it was by his faith that he was healed. The Samaritan was made whole. He was physically healed, but I believe he was spiritually healed first.

Another time was noted in the Scriptures when Jesus was dining with a group of Pharisees. A woman anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Then she poured expensive perfume on them. The Pharisees viewed this act with indignation. They knew this woman’s many sins. The woman knew her position as well. Yet, she came to the One who heals. Jesus recognized her heart. She poured out her heart on his feet. Jesus said to the woman “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)

When we recognize the One who heals, we have a new appreciation for the new life we have been given. We are naturally more thankful. It is an overflow of the heart. Jesus said that the one who has been forgiven much will love much (my paraphrase Luke 7:47). Our gratefulness comes from a changing heart. A grateful heart isn’t natural; it’s supernatural. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. When we encounter our Lord, we are changed. Gratitude will supernaturally flow from us because we recognize the One who has forgiven us for our many sins. This alone is enough to offer praise to God for every little detail of His overflowing blessings. We have been forgiven much. Let us go out and love more. In this act of kindness, we will show the world how truly grateful we are for a loving Father who gave so much to us. He sent His Son to save us. Your faith has saved you; go and sin no more.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you that we don’t earn anything, but by your grace and mercy we have new life. Faith as small as a mustard seed changes everything. Praise to God the Father. Praise to God the Son. Praise to God the Spirit – three in One. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Let everything that has breath praise His name! Amen! Amen!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thank to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

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Finished!

Jesus said it from the cross – (it is) Finished! Even in the smallest details, God spoke it and it was done. From the very beginning, God spoke and what was spoken was done – the stars, the heavens, the seas, and everything in between. Nothing is outside the tip of His finest paintbrush. He painted the picture of Jesus Christ through His every Word, and He became all that was spoken. Every detail is painted by the Master, but most fail to see His hand. Most of us are too blind to see. Most of us are dead to live freely. But Jesus said – it’s finished. Nothing else needs to be done. He died so that we could see. He died so that we could have life. All it takes is for us to believe it and receive it freely.

He paid the price and became the substitute for me. It was my death and your death that He took on. Jesus bridged the gap between us and God. Nothing we could ever do would get us into the presence of God. The religious activities wouldn’t do it. Our wills as weak or as strong as they could be won’t do it. Even our good deeds will not get us to the point of holiness and righteousness that is acceptable to God. Through Jesus, it’s done. I believe therefore, I have the righteousness, and I have the holiness. But it’s not because of me; it’s because of Jesus.

I have believed this for many years and sometimes I forget that even today, He died for the sins I committed yesterday. I forget all that I have done in my past that put Jesus on my cross. Every day, I am told to surrender and take up my cross. But sometimes I forget that I must do this so that I may be His hands and feet in this community. Yes, I am forgiven even for the sins I committed yesterday and today. Yes, I am no longer condemned. Yes, I am His child. Easter is for us to remember all Jesus has done for us and will do through us when we receive that free gift. Easter is a time to be grateful and acknowledge His love for us by His sacrifice on the cross.

Easter reminds me to come bending low at the foot of the cross and receive the gift of life for today. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! What God spoke into existence is still being fulfilled. Jesus finished His work here, but we still have much work to be done. What God started will be completed until the day of Jesus’ returning. How do I know that Jesus will return? Because God spoke and said it will be done. Jesus told us He is coming back (three times in Revelation 22). And on that Day, when I bend low at His feet, He will raise me up and say well done. Not because of me, but because of His work in me. What God started in me, will be finished. I may not look like I am done yet because I am not. I am still a work in progress; I still fail miserably and God still forgives me. God has the finest paintbrush still in His hands. Even the little details, which I don’t know yet, God does. God said it, and I know it will be done! The cross bridged the gap for us! Believe it and receive the free gift – it’s paid for by Jesus!

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7 (NLT)

Selah

Selah – pause and reflect. I think that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. To take a moment and just reflect on the many blessings we have. I think we’ve missed the point in the last few years. We have forgotten what it means to pause and reflect. I have been in the reflecting mode for the last couple of years. I have been attempting to put my story on “paper.” However, it mostly has been remembering the times past where God has worked wonders to get me to a new place in our relationship. It’s been mostly a good experience as I have been tracing my steps to the place I am today. I was brought to my knees on more than one occasion when I contemplated on events where I needed to repent and ask for forgiveness. In the times where I have paused long enough, God has brought light to my circumstances to reveal His character to me.

Selah – pause and reflect. I am grateful for who God is. Even in the uncertain future, I can know Him as He is – faithful, trustworthy, Sovereign, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, Almighty God, Creator of life and breath. I remember He loves me more than I could ever imagine. He is my Holy Father. He is my Provider, my Protector, and my Refuge. He is worthy of all my worship and praise. There is no one like my God. There is no other name than Jesus that chases darkness away and brings light to my heart. His name has the power and authority that every knee shall bow, every healing takes place, and every life is given abundance through Jesus. That’s the promise for the future. The promise for today is that He will never leave me or forsake me. I will never have to walk alone in whatever circumstance comes my way. If He leads me to it, then He is faithful to lead me through it.

Selah – pause and reflect. My eyes have seen how He has led me through some tough times. Yet, I got through it by His grace and mercy. I can trust Him to do the same in the future. I have seen my family lose our center – my Mom. My heart ached with a new sadness I didn’t know was possible. I didn’t know love was supposed to hurt like that. Yet, my heart has healed and grown more solid since the center is now filled with the greater presence of Jesus. My love has grown deeper and stronger. My love comes from my God, my Jesus. I love only because He first loved me. I know the hurt, but I know the hope; the hope that Jesus gave when He defeated death.

Selah – pause and reflect. I am so grateful for my family. I am grateful for their love of Jesus. I am truly blessed to know them and love them for the great men and women of God they have become. I know God will use each of them mightily for the Kingdom. I am looking forward to celebrating the years of grace and mercy God has shown. And knowing He is not finished yet, there is still more to do. Thank you to my friends as well. Thank you for investing in me and being a part of who I am and who I am called to be. Thank you for praying and keeping watch with me. Thank you for being examples that I can follow. Thank you for patience and understanding. Thank you, dear friends for being my friend.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

Gratitude

For a few weeks, I have been asking God what is hindering my relationship with Him. First, I received a call to be re-baptized. I believe God wanted me to give a public testimony of the heart change that has happened in me over the last few years. I was obedient to Him. Then I believed God was telling me I had a stronghold on my finances. I was trusting in the security of the money in the bank and not on Him alone. I followed through on something God had placed on my heart. I am sure I will still have to deal with this stronghold in the future, but for now I can move on. The next thing I heard was my heart was not turned to gratitude. After the Thanksgiving holiday, I hadn’t really considered gratitude to be an issue for me. But the more I think about it, the more certain I am this is a big hindrance in my relationship with Jesus as well as with others.

I was considering Christmas. I was thinking of presents – not in giving but getting. I like certain things from certain places. I would always supply a list for the benefit of getting the things I like. This has been the normal mode of operation during my Mom’s gift giving opportunities. This past year I was faced with the possibilities of getting things that are not on the “approved” list. I was complaining about that fact. When I heard the sermon about gratitude, I immediately thought of my conversation or complaining session. I was not thinking about receiving a gift from someone’s heart, I was thinking about getting something I might not like. I thought of others who get nothing for Christmas, and I felt very ashamed of my attitude. I also thought of the many times I received a gift but thought nothing of it. Looking back, I think I was more entitled to the gift instead of receiving it with gratitude.

I remember my Mom watching me and my sisters open our presents. She was anticipating our reactions. My reactions were less than what they should have been. I wonder how many times I have had the same attitude with God. Probably more times than not.  I can imagine Him sitting on His throne watching us as we “unwrap” His blessings. He is sitting there waiting on our reactions, anticipating our thrill of receiving such a great blessing. Then nothing. I am ashamed to admit my ingratitude to the many blessings God has given me. Oh, I might have offered a “thanks” to God, but I most likely didn’t really have the right heart attitude when I said it. I know God wants to give us good gifts. If the reaction is indifference or less than total gratitude, why would He continue to give us good things?

Yes, God has done a work in me, but there is so much more to do. My heart has been replaced, but I still need some heart surgery to fix the areas that are not beating in accordance with God’s heart.

Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Psalm 107:8 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

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