Heartfelt Gratitude is Rare

We can find reasons to complain every day of our lives. After all, we live in a broken, messed up world, and life doesn’t seem unfold like we wish it would many times. People, including family and friends will wrong you, good health will elude us, authority will exploit you, flat tires tend to happen when we are running late, there never seems to be enough money, well, and then we can talk about politics, taxes, healthcare, scandals, etc. 

Some folks seem to just like having something that gives them reason to complain. Simply listen to the conversations around you; there’s a lot of complaining going on.

But I would say there is far more to be grateful about if we pause for a few minutes to count our blessings. There is a difference in saying “Thank you” and truly being thankful. Heartfelt thanksgiving should flow from a general heart of gratitude. Anyone can focus on the frustrations of life, but gratitude is a choice. People who really understand the heart of God realize we have so much to be grateful. 

For example, aren’t you grateful for your next breath? Even on our really tough days, we have so much to be thankful for compared to the majority of the world’s population. Maybe we should spend more time being grateful than complaining. Maybe we should spend more time presenting our requests to God immersed in a thankful heart instead of being anxious and stressed out. (Phil 4:4-7) 

Maybe, just maybe God REALLY meant it when He inspired Paul to write Phil 2:14-16, “Do EVERYTHING without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” THEN you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. 

If we all focused on all the reasons we have to be grateful and allow a thankful heart to dominate our thinking, our lives would have much less stress and anxiety. I think it is important to be consciously aware of how blessed we truly are; being grateful affects our entire outlook on life.

Being grateful refocuses your minds and hearts on God’s faithfulness and blessings. It stabilizes our thoughts and emotions in a positive place instead of the slippery slope of negativity. Being consciously aware of all we have to be grateful for makes us more understanding, sensitive, kind, and patient. It also has an on-going deepening affect on our personal relationship with Christ and our spiritual development journey.    

Sometimes we say to ourselves, “I’d be more thankful if…” Have you ever had that kind of thought float through your mind? It would be so much easier to be grateful if my circumstances were better or if my health was better, or if finances were better, or of my relationships were better. 

It is so easy to allow our gratitude to be governed by our circumstances and emotions or by what we are unhappy with rather than by all of our blessings. Pick the topic; health, relationships, business, finances, etc. No matter how tough it is for you, there are others enduring much more over-whelming circumstances.

So let me ask that question again.  What are you thankful for, even now, in the chaos that is 2020?  Maybe you should take a few moments and to “count your many blessings, name them one by one, and you’ll be surprised what the Lord hath done”.

Be Light in the Darkness

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; so that it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16)

Summertime in Illinois is sure to bring with it little creatures we call lightning bugs. During those few weeks a year, some fields are literally full of little, blinking bugs that intermittently flash with fluorescent light. Small children have captured them and put them in glass jars for generations. The children hope that placing enough bugs in the jar will provide a natural flashlight.

Most of us have tried to catch lightning bugs. It seems so easy when they are lit, but then their light goes out they are hard to see. Recently, it came to me that many Christians are like those bugs. Instead of giving off enough light that our works become evident to those who look on, we blink off and on without providing adequate illumination.

We live in a dark world! Darkness is crowding out most everything that believers hold sacred. The success of darkness is NOT due to its strength. Light will always displace the dark. Darkness succeeds due to the lack to consistent light. We are like those little bugs, going through life blinking on and off without ever shining brightly.

We need a true spiritual awakening! Just because someone attends a church and calls himself or herself a Christian, does not make them an actual follower of Christ. Many people consider themselves to be a Christian but demonstrate little evidence of a life-transforming personal relationship with Jesus. The point is that being a “Christ-follower” is much more than merely calling yourself a “Christian” or attending church or adhering to some religious code. Being a true Christ-follower implies you are actually following Christ, embracing His attitude, and committed to carrying out His mission. The problem is people calling themselves Christians but not evidencing their faith by walking out what they say they believe.

Our Lord has told us to shine so bright that our good works become evident. If we keep blinking every so often, the darkness will continue displacing us. If ever we needed to shine, it is now. As Paul said in Philippians 2:14-16; “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….”

Shine in the Darkness

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; so that it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16)

Summertime in Illinois is sure to bring with it little creatures we call lightning bugs. During those few weeks a year, some fields are literally full of little, blinking bugs that intermittently flash with fluorescent light. Small children have captured them and put them in glass jars for generations. The children hope that placing enough bugs in the jar will provide a natural flashlight.

Most of us have tried to catch lightning bugs. It seems so easy when they are lit, but then their light goes out they are hard to see. Recently, it came to me that many Christians are like those bugs. Instead of giving off enough light that our works become evident to those who look on, we blink off and on without providing adequate illumination.

We live in a dark world! Darkness is crowding out most every thing that believers hold sacred. The success of darkness is not due to its strength. Light will always displace the dark. It succeeds because we are not constant lights. We are like those little bugs, going through life blinking on and off without ever shining brightly.

We need a true spiritual awakening!  Just because someone attends a church and calls himself or herself a Christian, does not make them an actual follower of Christ. Many people consider themselves to be a Christian but demonstrate little evidence of a life-transforming personal relationship with Jesus. The point is that being a “Christ-follower” is much more than merely calling your self a “Christian” or attending church, or adhering to some religious code. Being a true Christ-follower implies you are actually following Christ, embracing His attitude, and committed to carrying out His mission. The problem is people calling themselves Christians but not evidencing their faith by walking out what they say they believe.

Our Lord has told us to shine so bright that our good works become evident. If we keep blinking every so often, the darkness will continue displacing us. If ever we needed to shine, it is now. As Paul said in Philippians 2:14-16; “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….”