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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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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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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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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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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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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An Opportunity to Escape

The call of God on the Christian’s life can be frightening. We say we want to serve the Lord, and yet we pray “except” prayers. You know which ones I’m talking about; “Lord, I’ll do anything and go anywhere you want me to except…” You can fill in the rest.

What we don’t realize is that we when refuse His call, we are being disobedient to God. One of the most infamous acts of disobedience in the Bible is that of Jonah. God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against the wickedness of that city. The Bible tells 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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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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Recognizing Love Again

Recognizing Love AgainYesterday I was meditating on a bible lesson I had taught the previous night about failure. I sensed a great spirit of hurt in my group, some of it visible on faces.

It occurred to me that some in the room had been hurt while in love. Failing at love can cause you to never want to love again. The hurt can be so devastating that you imagine never recovering. A part of you does not want to recover because it means giving up. That’s only half-true; you may be moving on from a love lost forever, but you’ve not given up on love.

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A Matter of the Heart

A stingy Christian is an oxymoron; or at least it should be. If Christians merely obeyed God’s command to tithe, it would radically change the world. Statistics I found online in a Relevant Magazine article show that only ten to twenty-five percent of a normal congregation is made up of tithers. Furthermore, only 1 out of 20 Americans tithe, with 80 percent of them giving only 2 percent. Finally, Christians tithe 2.5 percent in these abundant times, whereas during the Great Depression they gave 3.3 percent.

In his article, Mr. Holmes goes onto to described the impact the church would have if we were to tithed as commanded. He further states that giving is not a money issue; it is a heart issue. When I finally began to tithe as I knew that Lord wanted of me, it changed my heart. However, it didn’t change it about money; it changed my heart about materialism.

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The Greatest Thief of Joy

I know people who make worrying an Olympic sport. I don’t mean to insult those who worry, but I want those who are habitual worriers to lean in a little closer and listen carefully. Never in the Bible are we told to worry; quite the opposite. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are told to “fear not” and “do not worry.” When we are commanded to do something and we do the opposite, we sin.

No doubt none of you worriers consider yourselves a sinner for this reason. I understand that, but just as important as overcoming sin, I want you to realize that worry steals your joy and affects your health. The Apostle Paul was a man greatly persecuted for his faith and in fact he wrote the following words from a Roman jail:

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Sending Heaven to Earth

If you’re like my family, one of the best Christmas traditions is watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” We especially like the part where Charlie Brown screams out during play rehearsal, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus then asks for the lights to be dimmed and he quotes Luke 2:8-14. Most call this the Christmas story.

Some like to say remember the reason for the season and might even refer to the above passage in the Bible. Jesus is the reason for the season and the “good tidings of great joy” indeed put Christmas in the light which it belongs.

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Not Knowing About Christmas

You’ve heard the saying that knowledge is power. Like anything powerful, knowledge can be used for evil; it being withheld is also evil. Having knowledge that a person needs to live life to its fullest and not sharing it is bad. Not sharing knowledge that could change someone’s eternity is sinful.

Christmas Eve is one week from today. I think I love Christmas Eve almost as much as I love Christmas morning. As a child, gifts from family and friends were opened on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was for Santa Claus. Right or wrong, that was the tradition in my home. The point I’m trying to make, is that as a child the real excitement for me began on Christmas Eve.

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A Marvelous Testimony

Do you have one? Do you have a marvelous testimony? The word testimony comes from the Latin testi- and means “to witness.” The suffix –mony is used in Latin abstract nouns, in this case signifying a function. So testimony is the function of witnessing.

As a Christian, do you perform the function of witnessing? Testifying to what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for believers was very high on His list. Many times after healing a person, Jesus would command that person to go tell people what had happened. One well-known case was after Jesus healed a demon-possessed man.

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Rejecting Cain’s Worship

thHave you ever heard someone say, “I can worship God anyway and anywhere I want?” Perhaps you’ve said or thought this. I know it is a convenient thought, but convenience is rarely the path we should take. When it comes to worshipping God, we have to do as He commands. We don’t get to pick and choose.

Many people get upset with me when I tell them this, but at least they haven’t wanted to kill me. Do you realize that the first murder ever committed by man was rooted in God’s rejection of man’s self-determined worship style? Have you ever heard of Cain?

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Explaining All Things

Imagine being a scientist and having the opportunity to sit with Albert Einstein and have him explain all things that you were able to understand. Or imagine being a baseball prospect and being able to discuss hitting or pitching with a Hall of Fame hitter or pitcher. Would you jump on that opportunity?

Now imagine being able to sit every morning with the greatest theologian who ever lived and have him explain all things in the Bible that you would be able to understand. Imagine no more:

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