30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 29 – Health

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in weakness that I sense His grace and in struggles that I appreciate the times when I am not.

Scripture of the Day:

3 John 1:2
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”

On the 29th day of posting on Thankfulness, sickness hit several members of our household – BUT I still wanted to share how thankful I am for health, even if it is a day late.

There is a degree of conviction as I post about health and realize that I have not always been the best steward of the health that God has given. But even then, when we have not done our part, God amazingly designed our bodies to heal themselves.

Some illnesses or infirmities might be beyond our intervention, but God’s grace is sufficient for us. When I am sick I find I am ironically more grateful for my health. It is in weakness that I sense His grace and in struggles that I appreciate the times when I am not.

The challenge is whether we will praise Him when we are healthy and unhealthy, at all times. The God Who designed our bodies and sustains life is the One Who also heals us, physically and spiritually.

Lord, thank You for the gift of health. Help us to honor the life You have give and to die to self when our flesh is craving what is harmful to our bodies. May You be glorified in our beings and all of our lives.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 28 – Freedom from Sin

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In our misguided pursuit of freedom, we are rebels destined to selfish living apart from God’s kind intervention.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:10

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.”

2 Peter 2:19

“Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.”

Galatians 5:1

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Freedom has been the theme of man’s desire from day one. We don’t like to be boxed in, whether it is to an endless routine, someone’s definition of us, or someone else’s rules. In our misguided pursuit of freedom we are rebels destined to selfish living, apart from God’s kind intervention.

The inhabitants of this world long to be free, but don’t know what we really need to be free from. Freedom from authority, freedom to do whatever we want is not truly freedom at all. But freedom to abstain from sin – this is true freedom – and our loving God provides freedom within His perfect boundaries.

When my children were small I would purposely set a coveted object in front of them and tell them not to touch it. Sounds cruel, huh? But it was actually a desire to teach them self-control and to learn that we need to be able to master our desire for things that are not good for us. I still need work on this, myself, when it comes to chocolate.

Sometimes we fall short and can begin to wonder if God forgives us still. This is one of the greatest aspects of our freedom in Christ. We are free to live Holy lives by His grace, but we are also freely forgiven when we fall. This is not to be mistaken as an abuse of grace, but a humbling reminder that our freedom is not something we could ever achieve on our own and it cost our Savior His blood. What motivation to reach for His grace and to abandon sin and its empty promises!

I am grateful that Christ showed us how to live for God and die to self and gave us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us when we are tempted. Christ set us completely free. Though we are in cases of clay, we can overcome and live victorious, free lives.

Lord, thank You for setting us free from the bondage of sin so we could live worthy lives for Your glory!

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 26 – Imputed Holiness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God.

Scripture of the Day:

Genesis 15:6

“Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Philippians 3:9

“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:30

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

Hebrews 10:10

“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

When I was first saved, discovering the miracle of Christ making me Holy completely overwhelmed me. It still does. That I could in one moment be darkened in my understanding and in the next moment be able to see my sinful condition was a miracle.

Suddenly there was a desire to be Holy. That day of salvation I threw away all my former music and craved to be like Him. I broke up with my boyfriend and chose not to date. Radical transformation because of a radical gift of salvation.

I began to grasp what it meant to be justified before a Holy God. I could not ascribe to His Holiness, so He covered me with His. Just-As-If-I-Never-Sinned. Wow. We who are in Christ are “at-one” with Him. The “atone”ment cover which conceals our sins is Christ Himself.

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God. For all eternity we will be in His presence because of what Christ accomplished in his death and resurrection. Holiness imputed to the unholy ones.

This Holiness given freely was so costly, so undeserved. Those who are unclean, with sin as red as scarlet, are made as white as snow simply because they choose to believe. What a gift I am forever grateful for.

Lord, thank You for purifying our minds and hearts, our entire beings with the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. May we never forget the cost and live lives worthy of His great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 8: Election Night – Suffrage

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

More than the right to vote is the incredible duty and privilege to pray to the God of this universe on behalf of our leader.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 2:1-2

“First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

I had to interrupt my plan for thankfulness today in honor of the right to vote. Amazingly, it has not been quite 100 years (August 18, 1920) since women were granted the freedom to vote in the United States. I am so very grateful for this privilege that we have to cast our vote for a candidate who would grant us freedom and life.

Over the pages of history, man has been enslaved and freed, kingdoms have risen and fallen, and God has been sovereignly in control of it all. Democracy has paved the way for the Gospel to be spread and served the purposes of God. We get to exercise our will to play our part, and God takes it all and uses it for good. What an honor.

Our church held a worship and prayer service this past Sunday and Pastor Gabe Turner delivered a message I wish everyone could hear. Vote because it is our responsibility and our privilege, and pray earnestly for the leader, whomever he may be. Here is the news coverage of the event.

Politics are not more powerful than our God. More than the right to vote is the incredible duty and privilege to pray to the God of this universe on behalf of our leader. People, let’s get to praying and see what God does in our President and nation for His glory!

Lord, thank You for Your sovereign reign over all! We trust You and are grateful we get the freedom to vote, all for Your glory!

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.

 

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 8 – God of Mercy

Hebrews 8:12

“For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”

Micah 7:18

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Isaiah 43:25

“”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Guilty, yet pronounced innocent.  Unearned, undeserved, unworthy.  Why extend mercy to people such as these?  Because that is His nature.  He is good.  He is kind.  He is loving and He is merciful.

We deserved wrath and He would have been righteous to give us His judgment, but instead He wanted to demonstrate His forgiveness and compassion toward us.

A prisoner who is set free cannot contain the joy and gratitude over a punishment being rescinded; so it should be with us. If each day His mercies are new, may we recognize all of the mercies around us.  Are we able to think, speak, walk, breathe?  Basic components of living, but God allowed us to have those abilities another day.

Sometimes we can equate mercy with comfort – “if God is merciful He won’t allow suffering”.  However it is often in God’s mercy that He permits afflictions to visit us, for otherwise we would not be cognizant of all the blessings He has brought into our lives.

This God of mercy extends grace to those who are willing to humble themselves and ask for it.  To see our need of Christ’s amazing forgiveness is yet another sign of His mercy in opening our eyes at all.

Lord, thank You that You delight to show us mercy.  So Holy and righteous are You!  Help us to extend the same grace that you have given to us, ever mindful of your gift.