Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Lifestyle Of Thanksgiving

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
Psalm 107:1 (NKJV)

The things we do on a regular basis can become a pattern and a way of life.  Things we do often enough can become a habit, which can be good or bad.  There are some things we can do so frequently that they almost become an automatic thing, something we can do without giving it much thought ahead of time and without an excessive amount of effort.  Our patterns in life, our habits, and the things that become almost automatic in our life could also be called our lifestyle.  On the other hand, we would not say something we rarely do or only do infrequently are a part of our lifestyle.

We can all develop and maintain good habits that will benefit us and that can become a regular part of our life, being thankful is one of these things. Having a lifestyle of thanksgiving will help us live a successful Christian life and enable us to be a greater blessing to those around us.  Unfortunately, a lifestyle of thanksgiving is not the standard for most Christians.  We need to be thankful no matter what circumstances we are in, no matter how we feel, and no matter what things look like.  While we cannot control all of the things that happen around us or how others act, we can control whether or not we will be thankful.

We need to be thankful for what we have instead of being unhappy about what we don't have.  We need to find things to be thankful for, and we could even make a list of these things to refer to when we don't feel so thankful; reminding ourselves about what we have to be thankful for can be a big help.  Having a lifestyle of thanksgiving helps us to keep focused on God.  We do not give thanks just to get something back from God, but we give thanks as a part of our lifestyle and our relationship with God.  Start being thankful today and make thanksgiving a part of your lifestyle!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Finding Your Gift

"As each one has received a gift, minister to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV)

When I was a child I looked forward to Christmas because I would always receive some gifts.  We of course realize that Christmas is most important because it is the date that we celebrate the birth of Jesus on the earth, but usually children don't focus on that too much.  For children, presents are the main thing.  In my family there were four boys so we would have more than just a couple of gifts under the tree.  My biggest question was like most children, which is mine?  It did not matter to me what my brothers were getting because I was mainly interested in finding my own gift.

The Bible is very clear that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every person's life. In 1 Peter 4:10 it tells us that each one has received a gift and each one needs to be a good steward of that gift, we all have a gift from God and we all need to use our gift from God in the right way.  The problem with many people is that they either do not know that they have a gift or they do not know what their gift is.  Some people think that it is just the pastor or some church leader who have a special gift and everyone else is an unimportant part of the group, but the Bible says we each have a gift from God.

How do we find our gift?  The first and best step we take to discover God's gift and how to best use it is to look in God's Word and get to know who we are in Christ.  Second, we can take time to talk to God in prayer about our life and what direction He wants us to go.  Another way we can learn which gift God has given us is to take a look at our life to see what talents and abilities we have and also look at what it is that we find joy in doing.  It is one thing to recognize and appreciate gifts that others may have, but just like a child on Christmas we want to find out what our gift is.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Will You Sing For Me?

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."
James 5:13-14 (NKJV)

Everyone likes to be a winner, no one likes to lose.  If you lose at some game or sporting event you can be gracious about it and accept the defeat, but that does not mean that you enjoy it.  However, when you are on the winning team, or if you accomplish some victory on your own, the thrill you have is unmistakable and you are ready to jump and shout.  At that point you don't need anyone to motivate you to be excited, you are ready to celebrate on your own.  We would find it strange to see someone on a winning team stand silent while having someone else celebrate in their place.

Over the years that I have been a Christian I have met and talked with many people who were going through some difficult situation.  Often these people will ask me to pray for them or maybe give them some biblical advice on what to do about their problem.  This is certainly something we see in the Bible as we are told to support and pray for one another.  What I find interesting is that while I often have people ask me to pray for them when they dealing with something difficult, I cannot recall a time when someone asked me to sing for them when they were happy.

James 5 says that when we suffer we should pray, when we are happy we should sing, and if we cannot help ourselves we should call someone to help us.  It is easy to sing and celebrate when things are going well and we are happy, but it is not so easy to pray when things are tough.  If we can always do the singing for ourselves then shouldn't we also be able to do some praying for ourselves, at least sometimes?  While it is fine and right to go to someone else and ask from prayer in a difficult situation, we should also get to the point in our spiritual development that we are not just looking for someone else to always help us but we are in the position to help others. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Clear Out The Clutter

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things."
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

When I was a child I was not so neat or organized, at least not as much as I am now.  In the past there were times when my room was very messy and some things were hard to locate.  At the time it did not matter to me where I put something because I knew generally where it was.  As I grew older I learned that it is better to have things in order and to be organized because it is not only much easier to find things when they are needed but having things neat and organized is nicer than having things messy and cluttered.  What I had to learn and practice was how to clear out the clutter.

One thing I learned in my process of becoming more neat and organized was that I had to part ways with some things and not hang on to everything forever.  I also learned that I had to be diligent with myself to continue doing what I knew needed to be done or I would slide back into the world of messy and cluttered.  This is exactly the same way we as Christians need to work on renewing our minds.  The Bible has a lot to say about the mind and it even gives us the guidelines we need to know what thoughts to keep or remove and how to continue having the right kind of thoughts for the rest of our life.

People often have problems in their minds because they do not think on the right kinds of things; God's Word will help us get the clutter and mess of wrong thoughts out of our minds.  Our thoughts need to be continuously monitored to make sure any wrong thoughts do not get into our thinking.  Wrong thoughts lead to the wrong kinds of words and actions so right and godly thoughts are vital to living the kind of life God has planned for us.  We all need to have a steady diet of the Word of God to help us have the right thoughts and to identify the wrong kinds of thoughts.