The season of giving is upon us! We are entering into a time of thanksgiving and celebration. Yet, in our materialistic and selfie-centered world, we struggle to give thanks with truly grateful hearts.
God desires for us to reflect His image. He wants us to have grateful hearts that express His love to others. Here are seven prayers to get us started this holiday season:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I pray with joy! [Phil 1:3,4]
One day this week, thank God for people by name in your prayers. Ask God to bless them with joy and peace.
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? [1 Thess. 3:9]
One day this week, thank God for someone who shared their faith with you. Thank God for someone who is helping you grow in your faith. Thank God for someone you know who needs God and ask Him how you could share your own joy with them.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. [Col. 3:15]
One day this week, ask God to reveal one person/situation you need to forgive. Then sit and let God’s peace wash over you. Pray for the person to also receive God’s peace. Then thank Him.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. [Heb. 12:18]
One day this week, thank God for the things in your life that are unshakeable. Thank Him for the things that can be shaken because they remind you of your need for Him. Then spend a few minutes worshipping God because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. [1 Cor. 10:29,30]
One day this week, pay close attention to give thanks to God throughout the day for whatever you eat, drink, or task you must complete. Try to thank Him for at least 10 different things throughout the day.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. [Col. 2:6-7]
One day this week, allow God to walk through each “spiritual” room of your heart. Let Him walk through the living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, family room, garage, etc. Thank Him for every way He has cleaned, repaired, or brightened those areas of your life and heart.
Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done (a psalm of David). [1 Chron. 16:8]
One day this week, give thanks to God for where you live: home, city, county, state, country. Then ask Him one way you can make known what He has done in your life.
I hope this is a start to grow a spirit of gratitude among us. May God’s peace reign and rule in your hearts and lives!
We are finishing up a series right now entitled “Half Truths“. We have taken a look at five Christian cliches that are partially true but littered with doctrinal fallacy. The idea of “love the sinner. hate the sin” is one of the cliches we waded through.
In Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 7), Jesus teaches us that we will be judged with the same measure we judge others. And He ends with this:
“Do not give to dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls to pigs, lest they trample them under their feet and turn to attack you”.
We miss so much of what Jesus says because we don’t understand the culture of His day. We love dogs and animals so much in our culture that we even clothe them in dresses and sweaters. We have an entire society dedicated to saving their lives. And we miss this. The original readers would have asked, “who would put pearls on a pig”?
And we wonder “well, why not”?
God calls us to love people; saints and sinners alike. God also calls us to hate sin. But something happens when we try to marry the two. We discover we are not very good at balance. The more we focus on hating sin; the more we hate the sinner. The more we focus on loving the sinner; the more we love the sin.
Only Jesus could do it perfectly. It must be why He says that apart from Him we can do nothing. We need Jesus to help us love people while also rejecting sin in our own lives. We need Jesus to make us holy AND loving.
So Jesus tells us not to throw our pearls to pigs. People who are not yet following Jesus are not ready for His righteousness. We try so hard to get them to act in righteous ways, but they do not even know the One who is righteous.
Some people are not ready for righteousness. Most people are ready for love. We cannot lead them to Jesus via righteousness. If we do, it will eventually lead them towards legalism. We can, however, lead them to Jesu via love. And love will lead them towards righteousness.
You and I…we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Let’s start reconciling people to God via His transforming love!
If you could start all over again, what three things would you change?
I’m one of those people who believe we have a destiny, a plan, a purpose for being here. The twists and turns in our lives shape us and make us the person God intended us to be. When I think about the things I would change, it makes me stop and wonder how those changes would affect my life purpose.
In making those changes, would I inadvertently erase something good in my life? Would I miss out on experiences that ultimately shaped me? It’s difficult to say how the smallest changes would affect our lives. But if I could, there are three things I would have done differently.
I would have finished my undergraduate degree right out of high school and before I had children. I think I have reiterated this to my children for the last ten years. I started my degree then decided I could make it without one.
College is difficult enough without trying to study while sleep deprived. I worked hard to juggle small children, my own wedding photography business, and school. But then I think it might also be what made me so determined to finish.
I give credit to God for my marriage on a daily basis. We were young and stupid and thought we could live on love alone. We recently celebrated 25 years together, but I know it was by the grace of God.
We worked hard to have the marriage we do today. However, I wish we could have worked harder. I wish we would have been more intentional. The second half of marriage has been rich because we put the time into the relationship. We would be much further ahead if we had started working on it earlier with greater intentionality.
I hesitate to say there is anything about ministry I would change. In looking back, I see how God used one thing to lead to another. But this I can say with certainty…I wish I had surrendered more quickly.
I wish I had given God permission to move in my life and change me sooner than I did. I wish I had said yes to the call on my life when He first prompted my spirit. I wish I had let go of vices and bitterness and forgiveness before they did so much damage.
The Word of God promises that He will repay the years the locusts have eaten. But repaying the years does not erase the scars. Yet, the Word of God also reminds us that He is working all these things together for good.
These are the three things I would have changed. You probably have three things you would change…maybe even more. Some of you have an opportunity to take this advice and learn from my mistakes. For the rest of us, let us remember we have a God who does great things and who births miracles out of our mistakes.