Gratitude for God’s Abundant Blessings

With Thanksgiving being only a few days away I began to think, how many days do we go throughout the year never taking a moment to recognize the blessings in our lives? How many days do we let pass without saying “thank you” to our heavenly Father?

God has given us an innumerable amount of things to be thankful for, such as:

Mercy –  “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Abundant life – “..I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 

Healing – “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 

Love and everlasting life – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 

Jesus’ intercession for us – “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:34

Provision – “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 

God’s blessings are all around us, don’t overlook them! Every single day we should wake up with thankfulness in our hearts because our heavenly Father has redeemed, healed, and provided for us beyond anything we could earn or deserve. 

Let us all make it our aim to never let a day go by without expressing our gratitude to our heavenly Father!

Working Together For His Purpose

Have you ever tried speaking to someone about Christ but the result was not what you were hoping for? When it comes to salvation, it oftentimes takes several different situations and several different people speaking into someone’s life for them to come to Christ. But don’t let that discourage you!

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church he shares a terrific example of working together to save the lost, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NLT) It doesn’t matter who leads a sinner into salvation, we all have an equal part to play and after all, it is the Holy Spirit who is working through us to reach that person anyway.

Paul shows here that the most important thing as believers in the Body of Christ is that we work together as vessels for the Holy Spirit to plant, water, and harvest seeds in people’s lives. If you witness to someone about Christ and they don’t decide at that moment to make Jesus their Lord, you may walk away from that situation upset, feeling like a failure, or wondering what you did wrong, but you aren’t a failure – you simply planted a seed.

You gave another minister something to build off of when they come across that man or woman and talk to them about Jesus. They may continue to build on that seed by watering it or they may be able to harvest it and lead that person into salvation. Either way, we are working together to bring the lost of this world into the Kingdom of God.

As Paul said, it isn’t important who does what, as long as people get saved and God gets the glory. 

Reaching People for Christ – Influence Part 2

Last week I began a two-part series on influence because I believe who we allow to influence us and who we are influencing can greatly impact our lives, both positively and negatively. We discussed last week how what we see in someone else’s life can affect our relationship with God if we let it. Today I am going to share the responsibility we hold as Christians in a world where all eyes are on us. 

As believers we have an enormous impact on the world, people are watching us when we don’t even realize it. Matthew 5:13-16 says we are meant to be salt and light to this world. Specifically, verse 16 (NKJV) says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Your actions as a believer should be in line with the Bible and glorify God!

Has anyone ever told you the reason they don’t go to church is because everyone in church is a hypocrite? We know that all churches are not overflowing with hypocrites so why do people think that way? Because somewhere, at some time, they were influenced negatively by a Christian. So much so that they now won’t go to church! Situations like this are why it is incredibly important that we follow the Word and walk in love.

The power that our influence holds motivates me to be more genuine with people. There are many lost men and women in the world who have passed up the opportunity of coming to Christ because they think it’s impossible to meet the standards of Christianity. When in reality, none of us are perfect. 

We all go through difficulties in life and if we always hide that then we will portray a false image of perfection to the people around us. This portrayal of our lives does not glorify God. Instead of never talking about the difficulties you face, talk about how God brought you through them to encourage someone else! 

On the contrary, if all you talk about are the hard times you face and you don’t ever mention God’s goodness and ability to bring you through those situations, then people will wonder what the point is in becoming a Christian because your life looks just like theirs. 

I believe our influence is vitally important. Ask the Holy Spirit this week for ways you can improve the influence you have on your job, in your family, or at your church. Don’t allow people to influence you in a way that takes away from your God-given purpose, be genuine with people, and glorify God.

Guarding Your Relationship with God – Influence Part 1

Influence plays a significant role in our lives when it comes to living out our God-given calling. If we allow family members, friends, or even people on social media to influence us to a greater degree than the Word of God then we will get off track. We may not notice it at first, it may not even be a big step off track, but still we will not be walking in God’s perfect will. 

A substantial amount of damage can be done to our relationship with God and the plan He has ordained for us through what we allow into our minds and life. Influence is powerful, it has the ability to raise people up as well as bring people down. One way we can be positively impacted by other men and women is if we are motivated by the good qualities and accomplishments we see in them. On the contrary, looking at other people’s lives can bring us down if instead of using what we see to motivate us in our own walk and relationship with God, we become envious. 

God has a divine purpose and a good plan for every single one of us, those in the five fold ministry, as well as those who are not. He has gifted us differently, called us to do different things, and graced us personally to do them. If we see someone else walking in what God has called them to do, become envious, then try to walk down that path as well, we’ll be out of line. Ultimately this will sway us to be disobedient to the Lord’s plan, even inadvertently.

You have to intentionally guard your own mind and heart; be aware of who you are letting influence you. Influence itself is not bad, but becoming envious and insecure because of who you are letting impact you, is. 

I pray that this week you look at who and what guides your life the most. If the instructions and promises of God are not at the top of your list, take a look at how much time you spend scrolling through social media, what music you listen to, what movies you watch, what news articles you read, or what friends you spend the most time with. We often don’t realize these areas of our day-to-day lives affect us on such a great degree. 

Set your focus instead on Jesus’ actions and words. His life is an extraordinary example of how to commune with the Father, treat those around us, and be obedient to walk out our callings no matter what.

The Key to Receiving From God

As I was reading Matthew’s Gospel recently this verse stood out to me, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11 NKJV). As the Christmas season approaches I’m sure you’ve recently thought about a gift you could get for your spouse, your best friend, your children, or even a neighbor. How did you know that was a gift the recipient would like? Most likely because they either specifically asked you for it and expressed it was something they would like.

God is the same way. He knows things that we would like, for example a better running car, wisdom at our jobs, or a more peaceful life, but if we never go to Him and ask then we are sadly missing out on His promises. Early in Matthew chapter 7 it says, “For everyone who asks receives..” (v.8 NKJV)

God is a loving, generous, liberal giver, so when we ask Him for anything that aligns with His word, He will give it to us. But the key is that we must ask. I once knew a man who said he never asked God for anything, he would only pray and thank God for whatever he already had.

While that may be nice, the Word clearly shows us that God wants to bless us, and that we need to ask for it! God already knows our desires and our needs, but when we come to Him and ask for something that shows our trust in Him and proves that we know not only can He fulfill our desires but that He wants to.

Remember though, there is always a waiting period. It may be an hour, two days, or 6 months. Having to wait for whatever you have prayed to God about does not mean He’s not answering you! Just like a child may ask their parents for a certain Christmas gift in September, even if the parents purchase it, the child still won’t receive it until the end of December.

This week, determine to ask God for one thing – a need, a desire, something for someone else – whatever it may be, put your trust in the fact that our heavenly Father wants to give good things to those who ask of Him.

Are you Independent or Dependent?

Naturally our minds first go to our income, living status, and if we have to answer to anyone at our jobs. But spiritually speaking, are you independent or dependent? 

It is great to be proactive and work to get things done on your own but for the sake of hopefully growing even more with our heavenly Father, let’s look at a few definitions of “independent”. 

  • Not requiring or relying on something else: not contingent
  • Not subject to control by others
  • Not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct

As a believer it’s crucial to your relationship with God to rely on Him, Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith it is impossible to please him”. To rely on the Holy Spirit in our daily activities can greatly increase our ability to hear His voice, as well as strengthen our relationship with Him. No, it’s not necessary to ask the Holy Spirit what shirt you should wear for the day, but putting your faith in Him to give you wisdom on how to talk to unsaved people around you, or to give you better ideas at work is a great way to amplify His voice. 

Submission is also important because as a believer we are under the authority most importantly of God, but also of our bosses, pastors, volunteer leads, school professors, etc. Unless these people are asking us to do things directly contrary to the Bible, listening to their direction and showing them respect is honorable to God.

Ultimately, God’s knowledge and guidance is the most accurate and beneficial direction we should take. Still, the counsel of fellow believers or your pastor can help you tremendously. We should always revert back to the Word and make sure whatever we have been told lines up with scripture before we take action. That does not mean though, that we should throw out the idea of receiving guidance from those who have been through what we are going through or are on a higher level than us spiritually. 

Can you think of areas in your life where you could further be dependent on God? Here are a couple ways to begin that dependence: 

  1. Read the Bible daily. Take note of God’s character and the stories of triumph when other men and women in the Bible relied on Him. 
  2. Recall your own testimonies. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past is a great way to build your trust in Him. 

I know many people who are immensely proud of their independence and their personal accomplishments, which is by no means wrong, but when we look at it from the point of view of our relationship with the Lord, it’s possible we may need to adjust some things.