5 Ways To Be Thankful

  
I don’t know if your year has been anything like mine, but this year has gone by incredibly fast. Whether you year has gone by quickly or slowly, the month of November is upon us. This means two different things.

First, it means you better begin planning for what you are going to be buying your family for Christmas. Second, it means it is the season of being thankful.

Each year, my wife and I sit down with our extended family to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. During this meal, we always take time to go around and have everyone share something that they are thankful for from the previous year. That time is honestly one of my favorite times year. 

It is so important to be a thankful person. So, I thought I would write this post to help us discover some ways they can be thankful during this season.

1. Realize you are called to be thankful

Before we can even think about what we should be thankful for, we have to realize that God calls us to be thankful people. Paul writes in Colossians 3:15, “The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.” Further Paul writes in Ephesians 5:20, “always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” As Christians, we are called to give thanks for everything.

2. Look at everything in your life and think of why you are thankful for it

I’ll be honest, this one seems like an obvious one. The sad thing is that we sometimes overlook the obvious things in our lives that we can be thankful for. This point is to help us evaluate everything and give thanks for it. It can be as big as the fact thank you keep breathing and as simple as having a bar of soap for when you shower. 

3. Look to the past

Sometimes in life, you can’t totally understand where you are and who you are until you look at where you came from. Think through the last five to ten years and think about the kind of person you were back then and who you are now. How have you grown and what have you learned? Who are people who have had a major influence in your life in these past years? This simple process of looking to the past can help you realize different things that you might be thankful for.

4. Tell someone that you are thankful for them

As a natural reaction to number three, there are many people that have had an influence on you in your life. Being thankful for them is great, but it is even better if you actually tell them how thankful you are for what they have done in your life. Perhaps you are shy and don’t want to talk to someone face to face, write a card or send an email.

(Hand written thank you cards are great! They tell the person you are willing to take the time to write a note of thanks. It can mean a lot.)

5. Give back and be generous

Giving back is the natural response to living a thankful life. Once we begin to discover how much we have and have been blessed with, we might discover that we have much that we can bless others with. Generosity is so powerful. 

Proverbs 11:25 states, “Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Further Proverbs 22:9 says, “Happy are generous people, because they give some of their food to the poor.”

During this thanksgiving month, there are so many ways to be generous and give back. Start a donation box and slowly fill it with items that you no longer need and can donate to a local shelter or a family in need. Another thing you could do it volunteer at a local food bank or shelter with your family and give back out of your time. Finally, you could consider sponsoring a child from around the world that is in needs (World Vision and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries).

November is the month of thanksgiving. So, go out there and be thankful!

30 Days With Wesley – Day 27: The New Standard

9379387_xl evaluation scale(Optional Reading: Galatians 2:16, 19-20)

I work with students on a weekly basis. Their grades range from seventh to twelfth grade. When I spend time talking with them about life, I quickly discover that most are in some level of stress over what their grades are in each class. It has been a little while since I was in school but I remember those feelings. As adults, we don’t escape these stresses. We still have them, but they aren’t about class grades. Rather we stress over work evaluations and how our employers rate us on their standard of excellence. Nothing is more stressful than when the standard of which you’ll be evaluated is not clearly explained.

Thankfully, we do not need to have this same stress when it comes to our lives and relationships with Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:16,

…we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law.

Before Jesus came and moved into the neighborhood, a person’s holiness or cleanliness was judged upon many laws and standards that were explained in the law of Moses. This law was what the religious rulers followed and lead the people of Israel to follow for thousands of years. In this system, the people were in a constant state of being clean and becoming unclean. It was a constant state of stress over keeping the law.

When Jesus came, he set up a new standard. His new standard takes away the stress of keeping specific rules and regulation. Rather, you discover that it is only through Jesus that we can be saved and become righteous. There is nothing we can do. It is purely by grace alone. Paul expands upon this thought in his letter to the church in Ephesus. He states, “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

This new standard is grace. Each of us cannot boast about what we have done to earn our salvation, because everyone has received grace through Jesus and nothing more. May this new standard free you from the stress of being good enough and may we let God transform us from the inside out.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 26: In Comparison…

jesus-christ-love(Optional Reading: Romans 8:18-21)

When I read the optional reading for today, I almost laughed out loud. Not because it is a funny verse, but because of the instant connect to my day. Paul writes in Romans, “I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.” I am currently writing this at six in the morning. Which, I know this doesn’t sound very early, but  I have been up since 3:45 AM with a pain in my neck that I can’t seem to get to go away. This pain has been getting worse and worse with each day. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, but rather I want you to understand the context to which I read the passage today.

I understand that Paul most-likely did not mean the kink in my neck when writing about our sufferings. Rather he was talking about the persecution Christians were facing for Christ. Sometimes, we get caught up in the simple sufferings of our lives. In comparison, it is nothing compared to what Christ endured for you and me, on the cross. We must always look at the sufferings we face in life and say, “How does this look in comparison to Christ?” The answer will always be, “nothing.”

In light of this passage, I want to acknowledge all my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution right now. I want you to know that Christians around the world and myself are praying for you. As you face the threats of persecution, remember that Christ makes you more than a conquerer and that, “…the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us.”

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 22: Getting Straight To The Point

get-to-the-point(Optional Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8, 11-13)

Have you ever had someone tell you something but they aren’t direct about what they are trying to say? They skirt the issue and never really face it head on. Perhaps you have heard someone tell a story, but they take forever to tell it. This is how I am. I tell long stories at times, full of details, and it drives my wife crazy. She’ll look at me and say “Get to the point already!”

Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy and he wastes no time getting straight to the point. “This saying is reliable:

‘If we have died together,

we will also live together.

If we endure, we will also rule together.

If we deny him, he will also deny us.

If we are disloyal, he stays faithful’

because he can’t be anything else than what he is.” (CEB)

In this passage, Paul gets straight to the point. So much so that I barely need to elaborate on what he is saying.

Paul lays out the simple cause and affect of each choice we make. The key element to remember is that Jesus will remain faithful to us no matter what happens because that is who he is. Wherever you are today, whatever you are facing, know that Jesus is always seeking after you and longs to be with you. You might have given up on Jesus, but he will never give up on you. Seek after him and you will find him.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 18: Money & Happiness

money-happiness(Optional Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Happiness and money. These two words go together in the minds of a majority of people. Most of the time, people assume that if you have more money you will have more happiness. This then fuels this inner pursuit for more money. Sometimes, the idea of money can be replaced by things. We think, “I need more money. Then I can buy that new “thing”. Then I will be happy.”

I am an Apple Mac user. I love mac products and all the technology they have created. Just this last week, Apple held a keynote to introduce the new iPhone and also revile their new product, Apple Watch. Apple understand the concept of wanting the best. At one point the keynote speaker even referred to us lusting after the new iOS operating system. Apple gets it. People believe they need money to get the newest and best product, so they’ll feel happy.

Paul write to Timothy about this idea in 1 Timothy 6:6-10. Paul writes,

Actually, godliness is a great source of profit when it is combined with being happy with what you already have. We didn’t bring anything into the world and so we can’t take anything out of it: we’ll be happy with food and clothing. But people who are trying to get rich fall into temptation. They are trapped by many stupid and harmful passions that plunge people into ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some have wandered away from the faith and have impaled themselves with a lot of pain because they made money their goal.

Money is a tricky thing. Personally, I have found that the more I seek after it, the less happy I become.  There is an old adage, “The one who dies with the most toys… still dies.” Jesus doesn’t want us to spend our lives seeking after pointless treasures that we leave here on earth when we die. Rather, Jesus says: “Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

May our focus not fall away. May we stay true to what Jesus calls us to. For money, toys, smart phones, gaming consoles, tables, TV’s, cars, etc. will all fade away, but our relationship with Christ and the kingdom of God is forever.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.