What are YOU Thankful For?

There are many things in our lives that we find ourselves thanking God daily for…the question is, what are you thankful for?

According to Paul when we look back over our lives and we think about everything that we face, we are to be in constant prayer and thankfulness about everything that we find ourselves facing.  Paul addressed this in his letter to the Thessalonians when he said, “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV)

Paul is telling us here the will of God for our lives…to be centered around Him.  The will He has for our lives is fur us to live a life that is worthy of the calling that God has placed on us from the moment we were known to Him.  Give Thanks in all circumstances…pray continually…Be Joyful…that is what God wants from you; in other words, don’t let life get you down…don’t let the World dictate how you view life.  If something gets you down, turn it into joy!  Don’t let the bad out last the good in a life that is lived to serve the Lord.

God’s will is that each of us step up and say to the world, “I am a servant of God…and no matter what you throw my way today – I will not falter.  I am joyful in the fact that I have been given more than I could have ever asked for…the world won’t win as long as God’s in charge of me…thank you Lord for thinking enough of me to put me in this situation, thank you for trusting me to be your servant.”

As Thanksgiving closes in take the time to reflect on the good and the bad in your life.  Take the time to thank God in ALL circumstances for the things that have come your way.  It may not seem like things are all that great, but God is in control…Thank Him for the things that He has trusted you with.

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Give what is Due

For whatever reason, many today, as has been the course of history, try to catch Christians in a moment in which they can discredit them of their claims.  This is much like what we see in Matthew 22 when the Pharisees found a moment of what they perceived as weakness for Jesus and attempted to discredit him and cause uproar.

In Matthew 22 we see Jesus telling a parable of a wedding feast, encouraging the people in attendance with a story of a King who was willing to let any come to the wedding feast of his son after the original guests of the wedding were no-shows.  This story that Jesus told included that a man who did come did not come dressed for the wedding and was cast out as well.  In verse 15, we see the Pharisees attempt to cause uproar and find reason to discredit Jesus.

“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” – Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV)

They ask Jesus whether you should pay taxes to Caesar, and Jesus makes a bold statement that we must dig deeper into to see what He was really saying.  Jesus asks for a coin, and turns the question back to them asking who is depicted on the coin.  The answer comes from the men, “Caesar;” Jesus then replies for them to give Caesar what is Caesar’s and give God what is God’s.

What Jesus was saying here was that the coin has the picture of Caesar on it so give it to him, but upon further look, Jesus was making the same statement of us in the second part of His answer.

Jesus was bringing it back to God in a way that we often miss in this account from scripture.  In Genesis we see that God says, “Let us make man in our own image.”  Jesus is reminding them of this when he says, “Give God what is God’s.”  He was saying, you bear the image of God, so in the same way you should give to Caesar that which is his and pay your taxes; you should give to God your life because you were created in His image.

I challenge you today in this.  Take a look at your life and see if you are living as you should.  Are you giving to God what is His?  Are you living a life that exemplifies Christ and embraces the image in which you were created?  As we see here, we were created in the image of God, so just as Jesus said to give to Caesar that which is his, we must do the same with that which is God’s.  That which belongs to God is each one of us, because we are created in His image, we are created with His likeness upon us, and our lives belong to Him.  Live today like you are the image of God.

Impact

Something that has been on my mind and heart over the 5 1/2, almost 6 years, is the word Impact. What does it mean? How do we leave one?

Websters defines Impact as a striking together; a collision communicating force. When we think of making an impact, many of us think of people in our lives who have aided us along the way during our lives. We tend to think of people who had that striking force in our lives…I’m sure there are many that each of us can think of.

When I think of my life, I think of Jim Greene and the huge influence that he had over my life. I think of the times that he not only told me of Christ and what He could do in my life, but also showed me through the way that he lived his own life.

I think of Connie Greene and the tender love she had for my sister and I as we grew up. I think of how she always reminded me of God’s love each night as I laid down for bed by saying, “Philippians 1:3”. (I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.)

I remember the way that Rita Oakes showed me the love of Christ in the way that she taught and how she always had joy in the way she expressed her love toward the children that were under her care.

I remember my grandparents, my family members, my coaches, and many others who made an impact on me, at times stopping me in my tracks and encouraging me to reconsider my approach, whether it be in life or athletics. I remember each one and the way that they changed my life for the good.

But I must say, no matter how many on earth have impacted my life, none has impacted me greater than Jesus Christ. When I think of impact, the first example that pops into my head is Jesus and how He died on a cross to save me from a life of sin. I think of how He lived his life and pursued perfection on the road that led Him to the cross. I think of how He never responded with retaliation, but always showed the love of God in all He did.

I think of the shame and suffering that He underwent on my behalf.

So how do we make an impact? I think we can best do that by living a life that mimics the One who made an impact that is still being felt over 2,000 years later…Jesus Christ. Our impact can be made by living the words of Paul in Philippians 2:5-11:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Lets stop trying to impact others by the way we live, but rather, allow God to impact them through the way we let Christ live through us. That is how we can leave our mark on others today. Tell them how Jesus changed your life and show them how He can impact their lives as well.

Respect

“To get respect, you gotta give respect.”

I have heard those words a number of times when people are trying to explain to others that giving respect is the way to get respect…that, in many cases, may not be the case.

It doesn’t matter how much respect that you give some people, they just do not give it back.  Does that mean that we should stop giving respect?  NO!

This is where many Christians miss the point, using excuses like, “I’ll respect her when she starts showing me some respect,” or “I will treat him nicely when he stops treating me the way he does.” What if Christ had exercised this type of mentality when it came to saving the world?

He gave His life on a cross to save a lost and dying world…a world that showed him disrespect and chose to have Him placed on a cross as punishment.  Punishment that was unwarranted, punishment that was uncalled for…punishment that was unjust; yet, punishment that saved each and every person who has ever accepted the gift that was given.

Had Jesus reacted in the way that many of us do, he would have turned his back on those he came to save.  Had Jesus felt the way that many of us do, the world would not have received the gift of eternal life…He probably would not have gone to the cross, healed the sick, and helped the oppressed.

Jesus would not have cast the demons out of the possessed man, He would not have healed the prostitute who touched his garment…He wouldn’t have even welcomed Peter back into the fold after his denial that he even knew Christ.

No, the world would not be the same had Jesus acted the way that many of us who claim His name act toward others!

As Christians we are to live as Christ for the world to see.  We are set apart.  We are to be different than the world.  As Christians, we claim a higher calling; a calling that we are responsible for upholding.

Do you respect others?  Do you treat others the way that you want to be treated?  Remember how Jesus treated you, even if you didn’t deserve it, He still felt that you were important enough to show the same respect that He showed everyone, the ultimate sacrifice!

Remember how Jesus treated others, and show respect to all you encounter, whether you think they deserve it or not; because trust me – God thinks they do!

Fly Like an Eagle

A verse that has always been a strong part of my life, and I know has also been a favorite for many is Isaiah 40:31 which states, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

This verse was a favorite of both of my parents, as well as a verse that became a major part of my life because of the meaning that we see in it.  “But they that wait upon the Lord…” is a promise for each of us.  If you can be patient and wait on the Lord’s timing things will fall into place.

To me, this is saying, wait on what God has for you; do not try to pursue a life that may not be within the realm of His calling.  Do not try to force his hand and jump head first into something without prayer and application of the scripture.  God wants us to wait for His timing so that His work in us can be made perfect.

This verse continues with the promise, “…shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” We shall mount up as eagles if we just wait.  We may be worn down and ready to give up because we just don’t understand what is taking so long sometimes, but today I encourage you to wait.  Wait because our strength will be renewed; our strength will be restored…we will be lifted up.

We will run and not be weary and walk and not faint…nothing can overtake us when we are patient with the Lord and wait upon his timing.  God has a plan for us today, and when we are patient and wait for that fulfillment we will be blessed; we will be restored; we will feel renewal.  Revival happens when we ask the Lord to move and wait on His move rather than pursue it with our own motives.

Fly like an eagle today, wait on the strength the Lord will provide and mount up with wings like an eagle.  Fly majestically and beautifully through the plans of the Lord in your life while pursuing Him and His timing.  Spread your wings and embrace all that He has for you today and allow Him to complete His work in you in His way and His time.

If we today can be patient, waiting for the Lord while working to live a life worthy of His calling on us, we will soar above all that will come our way.  Nothing will be able to pull us to the ground, we will rise above it all and become what He wants us to be, all because we were willing to be patient and trust in His plans.  Today, you can fly like an eagle if you put your trust in Him.