I’m Thankful For…

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Earlier this year, my daughter told me about something she had incorporated into her quiet time with God.  She had a special journal and as many days as she had time she would write in this journal seven things for which she was thankful.  I thought that was an idea worth replicating, so I had a journal that I was not using and began to do the same thing. I started this May 19, 2017.  Almost every day, I would write seven or more things for which I was thankful.  When I got to the last page dated October 28, 2017, I had recorded exactly 1,000 things for which I was thankful.  Every day, I included something about God for which I was thankful.

The things I included were not always magnificent things, but the things I wrote are not necessarily the point of the exercise.  The point of the exercise is to make me more aware of various circumstances and be thankful for them. The point of the exercise is to be aware of how God works in all the little things of our lives to fulfill His purposes.  The point of the exercise is to be thankful for the people in our lives that impact us or we have the opportunity to serve, encourage, and minister.

The point of the exercise is to BE THANKFUL!

But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come.   For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,   without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good,   traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;  holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away.  (II Timothy 3:1-5, ASV)

 

Being unthankful is in some pretty serious company.  It seems being unthankful is another indicator of the true intent of our heart.  Our gratitude shows what is in our hearts.  If we have ever kept company with someone who has these qualities (boastful, haughty, unthankful…) we know that the basis of these is because they are so in love with themselves.

 

A heart of thankfulness comes from a heart of humility.  When we are thankful, we realize that someone outside of ourselves did something for us.  When we notice the little things that people do and voice our gratitude, it could quite possibly turn their day around.  Sometimes, in making someone else’s day by being grateful, it also could make our day.

 

I challenge you as we focus on the festivities of Thanksgiving to remember the reason for this holiday.  It is not to get a day off work (at least for some of us).  It is not so we can become gluttons and see how much we can eat.  In your life it may have become something else.

 

Thanksgiving is about thanking God for what He has given us.  Whether He has given us plenty or we are in want, God is to be thanked.  Start a journal and write down the things for which you are thankful.  Begin to notice the little things in life and thank God for them, and then thank those around you who helped make those little things happen.  It will change you.  It will change your outlook.  It could quite possibly change your life.

 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7)

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What’s Your View?

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“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.”  (Chuck Swindoll).  This quote has always been one of my favorites.  The life of Joseph illustrates this quote perfectly.

As we read about the life of Joseph, the mistreatment does not seem to stop.  Brothers throw him in a pit.  Sold as a slave.  False accusations.  Prison in a pit.  Forgotten for 2 years.  Seems like enough mistreatment to make Joseph want to give up on life, his family, and even God.  BUT, he never does.  As a matter of fact, quite the opposite takes place.

If we took Joseph’s life and observed how he responded when the going got tough, we could see why he rose to positions of influence in Potiphar’s house and in the land of Egypt under Pharaoh.

  1. Joseph fled from sin “…He fled and got out of the house.” (Genesis 39:12).
  2. Joseph noticed the needs and hurts of others. “Why are your faces downcast today?” (Genesis 40:7).
  3. Joseph gave God the glory “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Genesis 41:16).
  4. Joseph had a proper perspective “God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5).
  5. Joseph practiced forgiveness “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5).
  6. Joseph didn’t complain or grumble
  7. Joseph was a willing servant in the hands of His God “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20).

Life is not always a challenge, but many days it is.  Many days we see all of the challenges in our day and choose not to see life through the eyes of our Heavenly Father.  Joseph did not deserve to get thrown into the pit, and yet his brothers took out their jealousy for Joseph on Joseph.  How many times do we have a pity party for ourselves because of the circumstances we did not deserve and yet we are left to deal with them?  If we look at Joseph’s life, we see he forgave his brothers.  He didn’t allow the bitterness of the past to eat up his future.

False accusation and prison.  While in prison, he did not have another pity party for himself.  Rather he noticed the needs of those around him and sought to meet those needs.  How often do we set aside our own pain and notice the pain of others?  Many times the best healing for ourselves is by helping others to heal.  Do we notice others needs or only focus on our own pain?

What side of the tapestry are we visualizing?  Joseph did not know how, but he did know God had a plan.  Even though Joseph could not see the entire tapestry of his life as God did, he trusted God’s vision for his life never doubting His plan.  He walked faithfully with God through every bend in the road.

Joseph was always ready to be a servant, and God lifted him to positions of leadership.  In Potiphar’s house, he was a servant.  In the prison, he was a servant.  In Pharaoh’s kingdom, he was a servant.

As we consider the injustices of life, do we pity ourselves and focus on the 10% that happens to us or do we focus on having a godly 90% response.

I have seen this from both sides.  You probably have too.

Events-10%        Response-90%

Events-90%        Response-10%

Which person would you rather be around?  We all know the answer. We would rather spend time with the Joseph’s of the world rather than the Jonah’s.  So if that is the case, who are you going to be?

What Do We Do When We Wait?

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Life is every day.  Sounds pretty stupid when we look at it this way, but the mountain top experiences and the valleys of life are interspersed with the every dayness of life.  We do a lot of everyday things that require some thought but they are not necessarily the highs and lows of life.

Getting up in the morning and getting ready for our day.

Eating.

Driving to work or school or the grocery store.

Yard work.

House work.

Our jobs.

Some of us may point to the highlights of life as the mountain top experiences or as the valley experiences.

If we look at the life of Joseph, I would pick out the following as the “highlights” of his life.

Coat of many colors.

Dream.

Bragging about his dream.

The pit.

Traveling in a caravan to Egypt.

Service to Potiphar.

False accusations from Potiphar’s wife

Prison

Interpretation of dreams

Prison for 2 more years in another pit

Interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream

Made 2nd in command

Plan that worked to save many lives from starvation

Reunited with his family

A happy ending to a sad story. And yet in Joseph’s own words, “God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5).  Joseph told his brothers this three times in Genesis 45, and then the famous words we know from Genesis 50:20 when Jacob dies and the brothers are worried about their fate being in Joseph’s hands, Joseph comforts them with these words, “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good.”

And yet, Joseph did not stroll in with the caravan and announce to the Pharaoh, “Here, I am.”  No Joseph had to put in his time as a servant, as a prisoner, and as a forgotten prisoner.  Without family or friends, Joseph was seemingly forgotten in the depths of that prison pit.

Joseph waited for God’s timing.  He did not change who he was because he was seemingly abandoned.  Joseph continued to notice the needs of people around him, “Why are your faces downcast today?” (Genesis 40:7), and to honor God, “do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8).

And yet, the cupbearer forgot Joseph (Genesis 40:23), so he waited in a pit for two more years.

And when they finally remembered Joseph, he answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Genesis 41:16).  No anger.  No bitterness.  No animosity.  Just glorifying God.

Joseph remained faithful to God whether he was in Potiphar’s house being seduced by Potiphar’s wife or in a pit as a prisoner falsely accused.

We do not read about any grumbling.  We do not read about any complaining.  Joseph waited on the Lord for the good to come from his betrayal by his brothers, slavery, prison, and being forgotten.

So what do you do when you wait?  What do we do when we are given a test?  Joseph waited.  Joseph was given a test.  Joseph passed each test and yet he was not always rewarded.  How did he do it?

No matter where Joseph was, he was faithful to God in his thoughts, words, and actions.  This does not just happen, rather it happens as we spend time with our Creator.

“And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?  Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.” (Genesis 41:38, 39)

Having a wise and discerning spirit only comes one way-delighting and meditating on God’s Word.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2).

So what do you do when you wait?  “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise…” (Proverbs 13:20).  Would Joseph walk with you?

Don’t Linger

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I don’t know why I am amazed when I read something in Scripture that I had never noticed before, but I am.  Many times we read something and are amazed at how God orchestrated our Bible reading for just that particular day with just that particular verse that we needed.  I am reading through Genesis right now and learned something that I had glazed over or missed in the many other times I had read Genesis.

The story is in Genesis 19.  God tells Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom, and Abraham pleads with God to save it for 50 all the way down to 10 righteous people.  Only there are not 10 righteous people.  God sends angels to tell Lot to get his family out of Sodom since God is going to destroy it because of its great sinfulness.

“So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, ‘Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city,’ but he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.  But he lingered.  So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.” (Genesis 19:14-16).

A few points to consider from this passage:

  1. Many times we do not heed warnings from others about the consequences of sin.  Lot’s daughters were to be married.  The future sons-in-law did not see the need to listen to the warning they were receiving from Lot.  “A wise man will hear and will increase in learning, and a man of understanding will obtain wise counsel.” (Proverbs 1:5).  These young men had spent time with Lot and his daughters and yet they had not learned anything from their time with them.  “But he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1). Maybe Lot and his daughters had not been good examples.
  2. The influence of sin is so powerful we need God’s strength through the ministry of others to pull us out. Lot and his daughters did not run when they heard the city was going to be destroyed because of its great sin.  They lingered. (v. 16).  Angels of the Lord had come to deliver this message of destruction, but they did not take the warning seriously.  How many are in jail or have a trail of broken relationships because of sin?  The warnings have been there.  If it were not for the angels taking Lot and his family and “seizing them by the hand,” they would have met the same fate as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.  “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companions of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
  3. We must seek God and be careful who we allow to influence our lives. We know the rest of the story.  Lot’s wife turns around, not heading the warning from the angels, and turns into a pillar of salt.  Lot’s daughters, not trusting God, but rather their own sick and distorted thoughts get their father drunk and got pregnant by him.  The sin of the culture in Sodom had so penetrated the hearts and minds of these women in Lot’s life that it influenced their thoughts and their actions.  Sin was a greater draw than life, according to Lot’s wife’s actions.  Sin was a greater draw than faith, according to Lot’s daughter’s actions.
  4. When sin is beckoning us, don’t linger! Rather run and grab whoever else is nearby by the hand and get them out.  They may never be thankful, but it may be that the actions of one, intent on saving someone else from a poor decision, may prevent another from making a stupid mistake.

                                           DON’T LINGER!  GET OUT! DON’T LOOK BACK!                                            GUARD YOUR MIND FROM EVIL INFLUENCES!