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Tag Archive | "gratitude"

Unexpected Gratitude


Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The dictionary defines “thankful” as “feeling or expressing gratitude; being appreciative.” Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica that it is God’s will for us to give thanks in all circumstances. I am not sure about you, but I don’t find it that hard to be thankful when everything in life is going good, but I really struggle when life is hard to find reasons to be thankful. I believe, though, that in these tough seasons of life, that our “unexpected gratitude” is what God is really seeking, because in our thankfulness even when life is hard, God is most glorified. I have been thinking about this a lot lately as the season of Thanksgiving is upon us. My thoughts have been directed to three very distinct realities that all of God’s children can be thankful for regardless of the circumstances we are facing in our lives.

1. Our Salvation Provided through Jesus Christ. God has taken care of our greatest need. At one point we were all separated from God because of our sin and there was nothing we could do to remedy the situation. So, God stepped in and sacrificed His Son in our place so that we could have his life! No matter what is going on in our lives, this reality is secured once and for all for all those who put their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2. The Indwelling of God’s Spirit. God didn’t just come to this earth, remedy our situation, and then leave us on our own. He has promised that all those who put their faith in Jesus will receive the Holy Spirit as the seal of our salvation and the power through which we can live the life of a disciple. No matter what circumstances we are facing in life, we are promised to have the very presence of God dwelling in us to comfort us and guide us.

3. The Gift of God’s Word in our Language. There have been many attempts over the years by various enemies of the cross to destroy the Bible, but God has sovereignly overseen the preservation and protection of His Word.  As a result, we are able to have the very words of God in our language that we can run to at any time. In this Holy Book, we find everything we need pertaining to life and godliness, we find everything we need to know about God and His character, and how He lovingly cares for us.  This truly is a gift that no trial on this earth can take away from us!

As we journey through the ups and downs of this holiday season, let us not forget that regardless of what we’re going through, we have so much to be thankful for!  I pray that we will find ourselves being able to express gratitude even when life is hard because after all, it is God’s will for His children.

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Living in gratitude


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs

 

November reminds us of that the great civil holiday in the United States of America—Thanksgiving. If you attend Church on that Thursday morning with a Catholic community, chances are you will hear Luke 17:11-19:

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” 

Let’s reflect upon the importance of the gift of healing for these ten lepers.

Leprosy is a terrible illness for those who lived before and during the time of Jesus:  According to Mosaic law, those who were inflicted with this illness were declared unclean by the priest, and they were prevented from encountering others so as not to make them unclean (Lev. 13:45, 46; Deut 5:2). Jesus, in the Gospel today, not only healed the ten lepers but also instructed them to “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Lk 17: 14). Jesus made this command so that the priests could declare them clean and thus not only would physical healing be complete, but their emotional well-being would also be restored.

Sadly, only one person returned to thank Jesus and that led the Lord to say, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17: 17-18). Jesus called the Samaritan leper who returned to give him thanks “this foreigner” as a reminder for us of the mutual animosity between Jews and Samaritans. From the Jews’ point of view, the Samaritans were “the illegitimate” siblings and were unclean. Samaritans, considered to be unclean by Jews, constructed their own place of worship, a temple on Mt. Gerizim, erected in the fourth century B.C. Jesus highlights the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper as an example to His contemporaries and to all of us as well: the characteristic of being people of God is not whether we are born as a Jew or Samaritan, but it is in living a life of gratitude to God who heals all of our spiritual leprosy, namely sin which damages our relationship with God and with one another.

So, on Thanksgiving, don’t forget to gather in Churches or houses of prayer to show gratitude to the Lord for the many gifts, especially for healing of our spiritual leprosy by the Blood of Christ poured out on the Cross.

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A garment of Praise


Pastor Mike Shiery
Pilgrim Bible Church

As Thanksgiving Day looms in our near future, it is a fitting time to stop and examine the depth of our gratitude. In spite of the many challenges that we face as a nation and even in our individual lives, we are a people blessed beyond measure. In spite of the terrorist threats, the economic decline, the corruption of many government officials, the protests in our streets, and the general uncertainty of the future, a large percentage of the world’s population would quickly trade places with us if given the opportunity.
However, despite our liberties, opportunities, material blessings, and technological advancements, we are long on our demands, vociferous in our complaints, and deficient in our thanksgiving and gratitude.
It was a common practice in Old Testament times, for people who were distraught over bad news to publicly display their dismay by tearing their clothes and dumping ashes on their head. They would put on close of mourning. It was referred to as “sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” These unfortunate souls would weep and wail and complain about their lot in life. They were not pleasant to be around during those moments.
The antidote for that is recorded in Isaiah 61:3 where we read that God gives His people the “garment of praise” (NKJV). The Apostle Paul exemplified this verse. Wherever Paul went, he appeared in “the garment of praise.” Some people, if they ever wear thankfulness at all, wear it only when everything is going right in their life. As long as they have their health, there is excess money in the bank account, they get a raise at work, they have a new car, and they can go on vacation, they will deign to offer a few morsels of gratitude. When adversity strikes their life, gratitude becomes a forgotten virtue.
Paul refused to live on such a low level. Flowing continually through his writings are exhortations to thanksgiving and gratitude. Time and space do not permit us to list them all here, but let me share just a few.
“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:3 NKJV
“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” Colossians 1:12 NKJV
“…abounding in the faith with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:7 NKJV
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 NKJV
“Continue earnestly in prayer; being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2 NKJV
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Philippians 4:11 NKJV
That last verse is amazing given the challenges Paul faced in his life. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 give a vivid description of unpleasant moments in Paul’s ministry. He was beaten with whips and rods, stoned, shipwrecked, almost drowned, faced robbers, hunted by religious and secular leaders, betrayed by supposed friends, endured severe cold, lack of food, and battled exhaustion and insomnia. Yet, his writings are filled with praise and thanksgiving and not personal gripes and complaints.
Let‘s endeavor to be people of gratitude, not just at this Thanksgiving season, but every day of our lives. As the poet once said so eloquently: “O Lord, forgive me when I whine, I’m blessed indeed and the world is mine.”

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Main Street


Roger on Main StreetGratitude

A post office employee had the job of processing all the mail that had illegible addresses. One day a letter came through addressed in shaky handwriting to God. He thought he should open it to see what it was about. The letter read:
“Dear God, I am an 87-year-old widow living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. I invited two friends over for dinner next week. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to and you are my only hope. Can you please help me? Sincerely, Edna.”
The postal worker was touched. He showed the letter to the other workers. Each dug into his or her wallet and came up with a few dollars. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96. They put the money into an envelope and sent it to the woman. All the rest of the day the workers felt a warm glow, thinking of Edna and the dinner she’d be able to share with her friends.
The following week, another letter arrived at the post office from the same old lady, addressed to God. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened. It read:
“Dear God,
How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told them of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $4 missing. I think it was those guys at the post office.”

Cold out there

A friend in North Dakota near the Canadian border says their snow is about waist-deep and still falling. The temperature has dropped to zero and the north wind is close to gale force. Her husband has done nothing but look through the kitchen window andstare. She says that if it gets much worse, she may have to let him in.

Cold down there

Q: What sits on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean and shakes?
A: A nervous wreck.

This week’s blonde

A blonde woman was speeding down the road in her little red sports car.
Eventually she was pulled over by a female police officer, also a blonde.
The blonde cop asked to see the blonde driver’s license. She dug through her purse, getting progressively more agitated.
“What does it look like?” she asked.
The policewoman replied, “It’s square and it has your picture on it.”
The driver finally found a square mirror in her purse and looked at it. “Here it is,” she said.
The blonde officer looked at the mirror and then handed it back.
“Okay,” she said. “You can go. I didn’t realize you were a cop.”

Last words

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

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