Thanksliving Instead of Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Last Sunday, my pastor said we should practice thanksliving instead of thanksgiving. That really struck a chord in my heart, especially having just returned from our men’s retreat. I have so much to be thankful for, and yet many times you wouldn’t know it by my attitude. The old saying, “Your attitude determines your altitude,” is never truer than today.

For me to live thanksliving, it must become a deliberate act in my life. I have to purpose in my heart to be humbly grateful instead of grumbly hateful, as my pastor is wont to say. I must start my day as the psalmist wrote:

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Making Church an Option

While driving to work last Friday morning, I was listening to K-LOVE and one of the morning DJs, Amy, shared an interesting statistic. She said that one-third of the people polled said that going to church was very important to them. She did not share who conducted the poll nor who was among those polled. Either way the statistic is alarming.

If it was a mix of all Americans, then that statistic is very telling. It means that 2 out of 3 Americans do not consider church an important part of their lives. That alone explains many of the ailments in America. At America’s founding, the large majority of Americans not only considered going to church important, but it was also the central cultural influence in their lives.

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The Commodity of Heaven

The writer of Hebrews tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It is also true that a Christian cannot conduct God’s business, “His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” without faith. As Dr. Charles Fowler recently taught my church during a prayer conference, “Faith is the commodity of heaven.”

Faith is simply trusting God. However, that simple definition can cause much confusion. As is rightly stated in Ewell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, “Faith in God involves right belief about God.” It is vital that we have a biblical view of who God is.

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The Anchor of Anxiousness

Are you a worry wart? That’s seems like an inappropriate question, or at least grammatically incorrect. A wart is a thing; not a person. So, I guess we could ask, “Do you have a worry wart?” Or perhaps, more accurately and simpler, “Are you a worrier?”

If you ask people what they want most in life, many will say peace of mind. Imagine if the great majority of people actually had peace of mind. However, Christians should desire a greater level of peace. Instead of settling for peace of mind, believers need to strive for the peace of God:

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Redecorate Your Surroundings

Life can be hard. Every day people face marital issues, financial problems, unemployment, business failures, or even persecution, just to name a few. It is in these desperate times that we seek relief from any number of sources. For the Christian, he or she should be seeking God’s word for such relief. The biblical antidote for such anxiety is rejoicing:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

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Celebrating Me

This past Easter weekend I heard a K-LOVE disc jockey tell her listeners that on occasion we should celebrate ourselves. For those of you not familiar with K-LOVE, it is a Christian radio station that plays great music and often delivers bad theology.

The young lady’s main point I believe she was trying to get across is that every once in a while, it is good to pamper ourselves. Although that is not at all what she conveyed, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Her exacts words were, “Celebrate you, because Jesus does!”

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Satisfaction

Recently, a brother-in-Christ approached me and asked me to pray for him because he was battling with a sense of not fulfilling his potential. He believed that while he knew God was providing, he felt that he could be doing so much more. I told him that was a man thing.

God has wired men to be hunter-gatherers and we always have a sense of needing to provide for our family. If that sense leaves a man, that is usually a sign of spiritual sickness. However, the longing for more can simply be idolatry, but in many men, it is a longing to do more for the Lord and for his family.

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Mocking Jesus

There are times when I forget that I am going to have to give an account for every action and word I take and speak. Thankfully, God gives me reminders of this eternal truth and one such reminder came yesterday at church.

Our pastor is preaching on Christ’s seven sayings from the cross. Yesterday he was reading from Matthew 27 when the reminder came to my mind:

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Training or Trying

Besetting sin is the one that keeps coming back. You return to it like a dog returns to its vomit, to borrow a phrase from the Bible. That may sound disgusting, but you are disgusted with yourself every time you recommit this particular sin. The problem is you try so hard not to. That is the problem; you’re trying not to instead of training not to.

It takes discipline to live a holy life. The Apostle Paul says we are striving for a crown. We are in a race and there can be only one victor. Victory over sin has already been won; Jesus defeated sin and death at the cross and leaving the tomb empty. So we need to live our lives in such a victory. Even though there can be only one winner in a race, we can experience victory in Jesus if we will commit ourselves to loving and obeying Him. We need to run the race because in the end we have an everlasting crown waiting for us on the other side:

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Sullied Sacrifices

Imagine your loved one giving you a Christmas gift that looked as though it took him or her three minutes to throw together. There was no effort put into getting your gift, no cost or value, no sacrifice of time or resources. Now if it’s your two-year old child doing so, that is cute and heart-warming. If it is your spouse, then you’d be in a heap of trouble.

So why do we give such ungrateful gifts to the Lord our God? Why do we give Jesus the scraps from our table when we’re finished with the day? In some cases, we don’t even do that. The reason is we don’t love our Lord enough. We express our love to one another in the sacrifices we make for each other. To do otherwise is to be guilty of the same sullied sacrifices for which the Prophet Malachi confronted Israel:

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Cutting Through the Deception

Random House Dictionary defines deception as, “The state of being deceived.” It further defines deceive “To mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude.” The biggest deceivers in our lives are usually us. I can convince myself that I am living a life pleasing to Christ, all the while going back to a besetting sin like a dog returns to his vomit.

Self-deception is not a 21st Century phenomenon; the Apostle John addressed this delusion from which many in the new church suffered:

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At Our Disposal

Just about every Christian radio station you listen to has its daily “power verse.” While I appreciate a good Bible verse every day, I wonder how many Christians actually allow the Scriptures to strengthen their daily lives?

Do we seek God’s word for His wisdom and strength to get through our workaday lives, or are we using Bible verses like a quick charge from an energy drink? Of course, turning to the Bible for strength in moments of weakness does help us get through the day, but God wants us to thrive instead of just survive.

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Panic Prayers

Fear is the enemy of faith. My fear can overwhelm me if I’m looking with worldly eyes. When I see the state of my country, I fear for its future. This fear is not unfounded, however, if my fear is calculated without God, then it is unfounded.

Jesus’ disciples were facing a life-threatening moment, one in which all of us would no doubt be fearful. We should be able to totally relate to their fear and nod our heads in understanding, and yet Jesus rebuked them for having little faith:

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Stopped Loving God

At a recent men’s Bible study, we had split up into small prayer groups when one of the gentlemen in my group said that he had once fallen out of love with God. I told my group I once believed that is what happened, but in actuality we stop loving God.

When someone falls out of love with another, that relationship is usually over. This is how so many divorces happen. However, if a person has stopped loving another, they’ve allowed their love to grow dormant, and that can be rekindled with purposeful effort.

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A Friend So Faithful

A brother from my church recently shared how his daughter had been told by her best friend that she no longer wanted to be friends. As you can imagine, this young girl’s feelings were greatly hurt. There are few emotions that sting greater than being betrayed or rejected. The pain literally sears our soul.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a friend who would never betray, leave, or reject us?

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Excusing Our Unbelief

There are times when my lack of faith turns to unbelief. This means I get to the point in my walk with Christ that I think something is beyond His control. I may try to soften the blow by saying I am lacking faith, but I have actually shifted into the realm of unbelief. I will either demand a sign from God or just head out into the wilderness on my own.

The scribes and Pharisees were notorious for demanding Jesus to show them a sign. The most despicable one is when they mocked Jesus on the cross, demanding He come down from it so that they would believe in Him. Another example is found in Matthew 12:

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Finish What He Started

Giving up in life has become the new easy. If something becomes too hard, we just quit and move on to the next great adventure or idea. A trail of unfinished products and projects are strewn behind us like a pathway of defeat and misery. If things don’t go our way, we just find a new way. Abandonment is how we deal with setbacks.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t give up on us so easy? Imagine if God saw my behavior and said, “That’s it David, I can’t take this relationship anymore! You’ve failed me one time too many.” Now, if God was like that He would have given up on me some thirty years ago. Thankfully our God is abundantly gracious and merciful. I love the chorus from the MercyMe song “Finish What He Started:”

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Behavior Betraying Beliefs

One of my greatest challenges as a Christian is being judgmental. At times it seems like there is a fine line between standing on the word of God and casting my personal judgments upon another. If I am going to be a dispenser of grace, I have to take into account the dual nature of a Christian. This does not mean that I excuse sin, but I should not be quick to judge a person as lost because of their behavior. As my pastor says, “Sometimes are beliefs don’t match our behavior.”

Pastor Dennis was talking of the time when David pretended to be insane in the land of Gath, the home of Goliath. Saul had been pursuing David to kill him out of jealousy and David fearfully fled to enemy territory instead of relying on God to protect him. This is why in his later years David could write:

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Making Disciples

I was recently reminded of the importance of discipling other Christians to help them grow in their walk with Christ. As a Bible teacher, a great privilege and responsibility has been given to me of which I should never think less. We often think of the Great Commission as mainly witnessing to the lost. That is important, but that does not encompass all of Jesus’ charge:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

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Houses Becoming Hotels

In his first letter at the end of his life, the Apostle Peter left instructions to Christians on how to serve for God’s glory. One area that Peter instructs us was on hospitality. In fact, the Bible puts great value on Christians being hospitable to each other. Why? It is because Jesus said that the world would know Him by Christians’ love for one another. Peter reminds us of that admonition:

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8-9)

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