Truthful Tuesday: It Only Takes One

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The road of faithfulness is often a lonely road, but when it is paved with the love of God, our destination and hope are certain.

Scripture of the Day:

Ecclesiastes 9:18-10:1

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.”  10:1 “One dead fly makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, so a little folly can outweigh much wisdom.”

It always astounds me that it can only take one dissenter to bring about chaos and destroy something good.  A small percentage of a population can speak louder and change what the majority voted on.  How is this able to happen?  Passion.  Activism.  Devotion.  Leadership . . . and pressing on despite it not being popular.

We admire when people accomplish great things when the odds are against them, but much more admirable are deeds done in righteousness than the wicked prevailing.  A liberal agenda will not bring about the freedom its followers desire, but they still passionately fight for what they believe is right.  Now more than ever the righteous must not let their voices be silenced.  Our nation needs us more now than ever.  It will not be popular to hold ground and try to turn the tide back, but it is possible.  Your voice matters.  Make it count for righteousness.  It only takes one to begin to make a change.

Only One could pay for the sin debt of all mankind.  He was not popular, but He knew His mission and completed it, despite much opposition.  He changed this world forever – not just for a generation.  This Christmas may we remember what Christ did for us and all mankind.  May we all honor God with our lives and affect this society for His glory.  It only takes one.  Shine brightly in this generation – there is no other voice just like yours – it is needed now.

Christ showed us what living for One looks like. Only one road leads to life with our Savior and this narrow road is often fraught with trials on every side. The road of faithfulness is often a lonely road, but when it is paved with the love of God, our destination and hope are certain.

The song, “This Little Child” by Scott Wesley Brown, written in the late 70’s is so very fitting in our times.  I end today’s post with lyrics contained within the second verse:

“And over half the world is starving While our banner of decency is torn;
Debating over disarmament, Killing children before they’re born.
And fools who march to win the right to justify their sin.
Oh ev’ry nation that has fallen Has fallen from within
Yet in the midst of this darkness There is a hope a light that burns
This little child the King of kings Some day will return.”

Hear and see the lyrics to the complete song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riSAYsLTQBs

Lord, help us to shine for You brighter and brighter.  May we not cover or hide the light You have placed in us and boldly stand for truth and for Your glory.  

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 22 – Our Unchanging God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our unchanging God maintains complete control over everything.

Scriptures of the Day:

Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Malachi 3:6

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Change is constant in this fast-paced world. It is easy to feel lost in a sea of constant transformation, but there is peace and confidence when we consider that our unchanging God maintains complete control over it all.

From day to day people’s attitude toward us can change, but God’s never does. Our financial status on earth can fade, but our eternal inheritance is steadfast, immovable. Our faith can waver, but God’s faithfulness never does.

Circumstances might wreak havoc in our lives, but there is hope even in life’s storms, because the God who made the storms is also the One Who calms them. He is always good, always consistently loving us, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.

He has known all of our tomorrows before one ever came to be. This knowledge is comforting in that God’s grace is already there at the end, as well. Nothing that comes our way is allowed in without God’s foreknowledge.

Lord, I am so very grateful that You never change. Thank You for being our very firm foundation where our hope is never disappointed.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 20 – Unconditional love

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

As we are rooted and established in God’s love, we cannot help but offer the same gracious love that we have been given.

Scriptures of the Day:

Deuteronomy 7:7

“The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.”

Romans 8:35

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

Ephesians 3:17-19

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the LORD’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The greatest and first commandment from God is that we would love the LORD our God with all our heart. The word “love” in this commandment from God is agapaō, which is the verb form of agapē. Agapē is the word the Bible uses to describe God’s love for us.

This love of God is not earthly, nor is it dependent upon reciprocation. It is not an emotion that ebbs and flows, but an act of God choosing to set His love on the object of His affection and devotion – His creation.

More than God setting His love on us, despite our lack of gratitude and righteousness, God promises that we can never be separated from this agapē love. Never. Separated. Think about that. As humans, we easily get offended and shun one another because our pride is hurt. That is not the agapē love that God gives and places on us and that He also calls us to demonstrate. We who are loved so greatly are called to love God and others in the same way.

We cannot say we are complying with the first commandment if we refuse to do the second. Unconditionally loving those around us who sometimes seem unlovely is hard for our flesh, but as we are rooted and established in God’s love, we cannot help but offer the same gracious love that we have been given.

Oh God, thank You so much for loving us and demonstrating what agapē love looks like. Help us to love as we have been loved and to never forget what we were when You chose to set Your love on us.

 

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 14 – The Word of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

Scripture of the Day:

Matthew 4:4

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The Word of God is precious to me and I am beyond grateful for the gift of Scripture, but it has not always been that way. Even as a Christian there were times in my walk where my Bible sat and gathered dust. It felt like a duty, void of relationship. Thank God that He has shown me the living treasure that His word is!

I can hardly read Scripture without being overwhelmed with the presence of God as truth washes over me. It is in the faithful daily reading of Scripture that a relationship with God is built.

This daily habit of reading God’s Word will have to be guarded and fought for tenaciously, as our flesh does not want it. When we apply God’s Word to our lives, our flesh dies. When the church lives according to God’s word, quarrels and fleshly pursuits go by the wayside.

His Word is a lamp to our feet, His precepts at the core of our salvation. He communicates His love and grace, commands and purposes to us through His Word. He gives wisdom to the simple, understanding to those who were once far off. His Word is alive and able to humble us with its piercing, loving truth. Amazingly, time and again the Holy Spirit applies our daily reading into the context of our daily lives.

Although the Bible is such an amazing gift from God, many neglect it and pursue religion instead of the relationship garnered through the study of Scripture. For the God of this world to communicate through pages carefully preserved is a miracle.

Don’t let fleshly excuses keep you from God’s Word – it is your very life. Don’t let the enemy keep you from it, as well. His Word is our daily bread – we get daily inspiration and empowerment to live for God when we bask in His Word. Who knows what God can accomplish through a people yielded to Him and abiding in His Word?

If reading the Bible is intimidating, try a reading plan. I choose from this website every year. In this relativistic world, it is so encouraging to know that God has not left us without instruction. His Word is absolute truth. This article discusses the authenticity of Scripture and how the amazing sovereignty of God worked to preserve His Word.

Oh God! I cannot thank You enough for Your precious Word! Open the eyes of all who might read this blog to see their need of consistent time in Scripture. Draw us nearer to You and may we rightly apply Your Word in our lives.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 9 – Salvation/Forgiveness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love for us all.

Scripture of the Day:

James 1:18

“By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

1 Peter 1:23

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

2 Timothy 1:9

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Created in the image of God, we lost our way and worshiped something less worthy – the creation itself. How it must have hurt the heart of our Creator that we would not see how much He loves us and choose to live as objects of wrath rather than as His children.

But God.

Stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love again, wooing us back to Himself. I am forever grateful that God would cover our sins with His own blood and restore us into a relationship with the One Who made us.

This lavish love and redemption from God fills us with 

Joy  –  affects our

Eternity    –  Leads to our

Salvation  –   Transforms the sin

Underneath – and makes us

Sons and daughters of the King of kings!

When we consider so great a salvation that He has given to us, we have to proclaim that He is Worthy of worship! My new song, “You are Worthy” depicts our need to worship one Who is greater than ourselves and the peace we find in so doing.

Lord, thank You for forgiving our sin and the guilt of our sin, setting us free to live for You! You are Worthy of worship!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 5: Root Repair – Jealousy

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

For real gratitude to take root, sometimes we need to purify the soil of our hearts first.

Scripture of the Day:

James 3:14-16

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice.

Proverbs 27:4

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”

One more “cleaning house” principle in the caretaking of our roots before we get on to cultivating gratitude the remainder of this month. For real gratitude to take root, sometimes we need to purify the soil of our hearts first.

If you have ever been the recipient of jealousy, you will never want to be the one guilty of it yourself. Jealousy is essentially saying that we are not content with what God has provided. It is coveting what someone else has and sometimes takes on a brutal fashion of trying to take down the other person in an effort to get what we want. Yuck.

So how does jealousy prevent thankfulness? When we are absorbed in wanting something we cannot get or focusing on our lack of having something that someone else has, there is no place for gratitude. Jealousy is the antithesis of thankfulness; it is actually thanklessness and discontent with our status or situation in life.

We root out jealousy by endeavoring to create an atmosphere of humility. God has different plans for us all and we would never want to step outside of His sovereign will to strive to get what someone else has – He won’t bless it.

Examining the attitude of our Savior Who was King over all but chose to serve humanity with the laying down of His own life inspires us to do the same. Victory comes as we lay down our agendas, pride, striving – all at the feet of Jesus – and pick up gratitude that He died for our sins, instead.

There can be no jealousy that remains when we compare our perceived lack with Christ’s chosen path of sacrifice. Whatever we hoped to gain is now all loss as we bow at the cross in utter gratitude that He gave it all for us.

 

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 4: Root Repair – Forgiveness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It’s ok to be hurt, it is just what we do with that hurt that matters.

Scripture of the Day:

Matthew 6:14-15

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Ever feel like you have a sign on your back that says, “attack”? Sometimes it seems we can be inundated with people who are angry with us or just plain don’t like us. Any thankfulness we have quickly dissipates while we begin to become self-focused and perhaps throw a pity party or two.

If we are not careful, the actions of others can lead us down a path of a complaining self-absorbed spirit. We are human, though, and have feelings. It’s ok to be hurt, it is just what we do with that hurt that matters.

When I consider that God has forgiven me all of my transgressions, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I cannot receive such forgiveness and be unforgiving, as well. Forgiveness opens up our hearts and enables us to replace the hurt with grace, instead.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 3: Root Repair – Bitterness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

People matter more than our lives being gratified by them.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 12:15

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.”

Our faces bare our hearts. Bitterness is one of those character traits that can be spotted in an expression quite readily. It is not very attractive, either. Just sayin’. There is something about the look of having just ingested a lemon that says “UGLY”.

Where does it come from? Sometimes we can be offended by someone’s treatment of us and pride rises up within us. Or maybe we are let down by life’s circumstances in general. When we allow bitterness to germinate and spread as we contemplate whatever it is that we resent, we are in danger of letting bitterness overtake us.

If we allow bitterness to take root, it can affect our whole personality, lives and those around us, too. Sure enough, bitterness also squashes any remote thankfulness we might have, as we are too absorbed in whatever it is that we are dissapointed by.

But there is a way of escape and it is paved by choosing to love those we have become embittered by. People matter more than our lives being gratified by them. People will let us down from time to time, but perhaps our expectations are misplaced.

Recognizing negative thoughts is half the battle. Turning those bitter thoughts into gratitude takes dying to self and choosing to replace those thoughts with God’s truth. Taking captive thoughts that do not please God and replacing them with His Word begins to transform our minds and hearts to lives characterized by thankfulness.

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who reveals attitudes that displease You. Help us to weed out what displeases You and to cultivate hearts overflowing with gratitude.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 2: Root Repair – Ingratitude

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our perspective is altered in the presence of a Holy God.

Scripture of the Day:

Romans 1:21

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Looking at these roots is a little embarrassing if you know what I mean. I am not talking about the roots from my last highlight job, either. Ingratitude pops up at the least likely times, sometimes easily provoked.

Irritants from everyday life (remember yesterday’s discussion?) threaten to snuff out a spirit of thankfulness as we focus on the immediate instead of the context of the immediate within the whole framework of life.

So how do we root out ingratitude? The motivational statement, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” might offer temporary relief, but more than mantras and pep talks, perhaps examining what created the ingratitude in the first place might lead to fostering gratitude.

An attitude of entitlement quickly crushes an attitude of gratitude. Expectations can become demands if we are not careful. This is where genuine humility is a lifesaver. We brought nothing into the world and can take nothing out. All we have is God’s. With this in mind, now what do we expect?

We need to come to God for a heart change. Our perspective is altered in the presence of a Holy God. Frustration is transformed into delight and anger is turned into sheer gratitude that God allows anything good in our lives at all.

Our great God is generous and merciful. He has provided for us, placed His love on us while we were not seeking Him at all. He has delighted in us. He is, in fact, all we need in this life and He takes care of our practical needs, too.

Oh God, how grateful we are for Your rich grace in our lives! Why should we be allowed to know You? How did we come to discover Your salvation? Please forgive us when ingratitude creeps into our hearts and help us to have hearts full of gratitude.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 1: Root Repair – Tangled Roots

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Tangled Roots inhibit us from noticing God’s activity and blessings all around us.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Ggive thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Figures. Day one of posting on cultivating gratitude and my internet dies. The LORD has a sense of humor. First world probs can be irritating, and I confess I started to let this get to me. I don’t have time to be on the phone FOREVER with the internet peeps who have thick foreign accents and soft voices that I cannot comprehend.

Yes, typing all caps on FOREVER felt good. Add to this present reality a broken down car, figuring out rides for kids to jobs, trying to celebrate my son’s birthday while he is taking mid-terms and also trying to help him vote because he has a sudden business trip that has come up . . . ah, well, you get the point. And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

It seems this IS actually a fitting day to begin cultivating thankfulness, after all. Thankfulness existing in perfect circumstances comes easily enough, but when the little stuff begins to add up to distract us from all the blessings in our lives, we need to guard and foster a thankful heart.

Gardening is a great analogy to our walk with God. When I have transplanted plants that I have grown from a seed, I have to be very careful with the roots. Sometimes “volunteer plants” grow so close to the one I intended to plant, that the roots get tangled up. What a picture of how our lives get tangled up so easily. Ripping the roots apart damages the plant and will likely mean it does not produce as well as it could have. But carefully examining the roots and setting them free from anything that damages them enables the roots to be able to get the nourishment they need from the soil.

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When our lives seem busy and tangled like this tree in the picture, it is the best time to come to the only One Who can detangle our messes. Busyness sometimes prevents thankfulness when we become so absorbed with our surrounding chaos that we forget to look around us. Tangled Roots inhibit us from noticing God’s activity and blessings all around us.

When we look up and away from the tangled web surrounding us and gaze into God’s perfect word, we begin to forget the mess around us and lay a foundation of gratitude.

Sometimes we need to check our roots and see where they are grounded to be able to “root out” what is preventing gratitude in the first place. That’s where we are going to start our road to cultivating thankfulness – rooting out inhibitors of gratitude.

Here’s a song to cheer us up when things go awry: This is the Stuff

Thank You, LORD, when life’s messes bring us to Your feet in gratitude for what really matters. Temporary discomforts cannot steal our joy.