Attitude of Gratitude

November 12th, 2014

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It seems the custom of expressing thanks is slowly diminishing. In recent years I have sent any number of gifts to individuals for weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc. and have not received any sort of thanks. Even though the idea of sitting down and writing out a thank you now seems to be obsolete, the idea of saying thanks should never become outdated.

I have seen recent posts on social networking sites of individuals listing on a daily basis things they are thankful for. It is amazing the uniqueness of these posts in expressing thankfulness. I am sure as a person sits down and begins to list those people and things they are thankful for, their hearts swell up with an “attitude of gratitude”. Oh, how blessed we are!

That would be my challenge to you. Although it is not necessary to post it on line, begin to make a list of everything you are grateful for. I am sure after you only have a few items on your list, you will begin to realize the magnitude of your blessings. As the old hymn states, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.”

Here is a link to the hymn, “Count Your Blessings” by Mia Padua

The scripture admonishes us to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:181 Thessalonians 5:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.

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happy thanksgiving

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Within the Covers

October 29th, 2014

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Ronald ReaganPresident Ronald Reagan once made a very profound statement, “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” What a timely statement even for today.

It seems there is so much unrest in the world. Wars, rumors of wars, major global illnesses, disagreements on all types of social issues – and the list goes on. What should be my reaction to these?

A person recently told me she was conservative in her way of thinking. I responded that I didn’t know if I was conservative but rather I was “biblical”. She had a strange reaction but I told her that, since God’s Word is my measuring tool, the answer to all my decisions are found in the Bible.

Psalm 18:30Psalm 18:30
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 As for God, his way is perfect: The word of Jehovah is tried; He is a shield unto all them that take refuge in him.

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NIV states, “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.”  Since God’s Word is flawless, why would I look for the answers anywhere else? Some people try to make the Bible say what they want by making their own interpretation but as the lyrics of the old song goes, “if God says it, I believe it, and that settles it for me!” I am not going to change God’s Word to suit my own needs or so I will be socially accepted.

I am going to look “within the covers”!

Following are the lyrics to the song “God Said It and I Believe It” as sung by Del Delker.

God Said It and I Believe It

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The Piano Keys

October 15th, 2014

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The series of student books I am currently using to teach beginning piano lessons has a series of songs where the student plays only on the black keys. Although this is probably not the way I would start teaching a beginning student, I went along with the lessons as outlined. At the onset of learning piano, a person does not realize the importance of the black keys in making beautiful music and it is difficult to explain to a new student the concept of “flats” and “sharps” in a music selection.

Keyboard Keys Close UpTo me the white keys denotes the good things that happen in life and the black keys represents the bad. What would the piano be like with all white keys but no black ones? How would the music sound?

It is possible, as I stated above, to play a musical selection on all white keys or all black keys but oh the beautiful music that is generated when both are played together?

That is similar to our daily lives. We will encounter both the good and the bad. Learn to appreciate those delightful things but know that along your journey there will be those black keys that step in your path. In the end all things will work out.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28Romans 8:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

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The Six Whatevers

October 1st, 2014

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With so much negative things happening in the world, in our country, in our state, in our hometown, in our church and even in our family, how do we maintain a Christian thought life? How do we protect ourselves from dwelling on all the bad things happening? After all, that is what the media thrives on.

There is a favorite verse of mine, which I refer to as the “six whatevers”. This scripture can help us reflect only on what is positive, encouraging and uplifting. It is Philippians 4:8Philippians 4:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  

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and states, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”.

TRUE means being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact; not false. God himself is the only final test for what is true. We should assess everything according to God’s Word.

NOBLE is that which inspires reverence or awe; dignified, worthy of respect. We need to realize that our life is short and therefore should take Godly things seriously.

RIGHT means that which is morally correct, just or honorable. To think on what is right means to think on God and model our behavior after Him.

PURE means free from anything of a different, inferior or contaminating kind. We must say no to anything that will defile our bodies and keep our focus off of moral purity.

LOVELY means to be pleasing, agreeable, attractive. In spiritual terms this means we should only think on our beautiful Savior and His Godly attributes.

ADMIRABLE means to be deserving of respect and approval. It is better to believe the best about someone than to believe an evil report. To sum up, we should think on the above qualities that stem from Godly behavior, attitudes and actions. If a deed or thought is not excellent or praiseworthy, we should avoid the temptation to journey down the “negative road”.

Practice the “six whatevers” daily. You will be exposed to the undesirable on a consistent basis, but only spend your time on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable.

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Pastor Appreciation

September 17th, 2014

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Although it is not an official holiday, October is generally considered “Pastor Appreciation Month” in many churches with the second Sunday designated as “Pastor Appreciation Day”.

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.I Thessalonians 5:12, 13

pastorA pastor’s role is to equip people in the church and encourage church members to reach their Godly potential. There are times when a pastor can feel disappointment and discouragement. Yet there are even more days the pastor understands how important the ministry is in meeting the needs of parishioners and also in pleasing God.

Begin now to think of ways to minister to your pastor during “Pastor Appreciation Month.” However, the greatest present you can give him/her is your unconditional love, support and prayer. Conjure up unique ways to show appreciation to your pastor not only during the month of October but every day of the year.

I have attached a link to Focus on the Family’s guide for “Clergy Appreciation Month”. Check it out for ideas.

http://media.focusonthefamily.com/pastoral/pdf/CAM_Guide_2012.pdf

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One Single Bit

September 3rd, 2014

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man looking in mirrorWhat is your perspective on life? Are you obsessed with creating an image of popularity, wealth and being famous? Through today’s social media sites it is definitely possible to do just that. However, if we live in the reality of our own mortality, we should accept the fact that these material things are only temporal.

You often hear someone quote from the Bible that “only what you do for Christ will last.” Although there is not an actual verse that states this, the concept is taken from 2 Corinthians 5:9-102 Corinthians 5:9-10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him. 10 For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

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: “So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

The message of the verse if that we, as believers, should focus our time and talents on pleasing the Lord because in the end, only what is done for God will have any eternal value. The mature Christian does not cling to the things of this world. Matthew 6:33Matthew 6:33
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

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tells us to seek first His kingdom and righteousness.

We need to focus our thoughts and energy on Godly matters. Heaven should be our ultimate goal. Without this spiritual purpose in life, all our material accumulations and fame will not matter “one single bit”.

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A Friend Request

August 20th, 2014

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One of the common processes on our favorite social networking sites is to send a friend request. Have you ever gotten a request from someone you did not know? Have you sent a request to a person you were interested in befriending but they did not accept it? Their lack of response often makes us feel a little bit rejected.

acceptedGod does not refuse us. I am so glad that He accepts our friend request. He was just waiting for us to ask. Proverbs 18:24Proverbs 18:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 He that maketh many friends [doeth it] to his own destruction; But there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  

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states, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Jesus is our special friend because He knows us better than anyone else. He knows all about us. He loves us just the way we are. He wants only the best for us. He always has time for us.

God indeed is a friend that sticks closer than anyone else. Other friends may fail but God never will.  I am reminded of the old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.

Click on the link below to listen to the song by the Oak Ridge Boys.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

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Look at My Selfie

August 6th, 2014

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Taking our own picture (selfie) and posting it on Facebook has quite the intrigue in today’s electronic world. Wikipedia™ gives this definition . “A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services.”

Some people enjoy posting selfies although it is not a favorite thing of mine to do.

selfieOn our selfie everyone can see what we look like on the outside, but how many people really take the time to discover the true beauty that lies within us? This is not always evident when our picture is viewed.

How does God look at our selfie? I Samuel 16:7 states, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God can see those hidden things – inner thoughts and desires that no one else has an idea about. He can see deep within our heart. “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” (Proverbs 27:19Proverbs 27:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 As in water face answereth to face, So the heart of man to man.

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As the Lord examines our hearts today, will He be pleased with what He sees? Will He see a faith in Him and a desire to do His will? God knows us better than we know ourselves.  Yet He loves us even though we do not have a perfect “selfie”!

I think I will take a look at my “spiritual selfie” today and see if I have a pure heart and motives.

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Do You Hear the Knocking?

July 23rd, 2014

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When I visited my grandmother’s house as a young child, I would notice a picture prominently placed on the wall of Jesus knocking on a door. When I asked her why Jesus was knocking on the door she told me that it was symbolic of Jesus knocking on the door of our heart wanting to come in.

Jesus KnockingShe explained the door has no handle on the outside and therefore can be only opened from within illustrating that we are free to keep the door of our heart locked, leaving Jesus on the doorstep or, if we choose, we are free to let Him into our lives. Jesus is gently knocking and will not impose Himself on anyone but rather leaving the choice up to us.

As a child, I thought that picture was so neat. Because I had accepted the Lord as my personal Savior at such a young age, I could not understand why anyone would not readily open the door to let Jesus in.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” Revelation 3:20Revelation 3:20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

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This is God’s admonition to us to let Jesus in. Don’t leave him standing on the doorstep.

Do you hear Jesus knocking?

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A Gentle Whisper

July 9th, 2014

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“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” I Kings 19:11-12 NIV

In Chapter 19 Elijah fled for his life after the evil Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him because of his actions. Elijah had gone to Mt. Carmel where he out-dueled and embarrassed the prophets of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Elijah had taunted them as their gods failed to light a sacrificial fire. Elijah became depressed over being a hunted man. He had gone from a very high point to feeling he was the only one left who believes in the Lord. He wanted to lie down and die but the Lord gave him food and sent him to Mt. Horeb. The Lord sent the wind, earthquake and fire but in the end spoke to him in a whisper.

All of us enjoy the thrill of a great religious victory in our life. We expect and receive great things from God. After this time of high excitement, however, we are sometimes at our weakest point and become depressed as Elijah did. It is in those moments of feeling defeated that we are wanting to hear from God in a very special way. His speaking may even be through another person but; as the scripture expresses, it is sometimes in a gentle whisper or a gentle word.

God is always with us. He has many ways in which He intervenes in our lives. If we listen, God may be speaking to us through a gentle whisper or in another distinctive way.

Would we recognize His voice if he calls?

The following video expresses some unique ways God may speak to us. The song is, “Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds” by Steven Curtis Chapman. Please click on the link to enjoy.

Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds

 

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