Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

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“ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP” – Oct 18

October 18, 2013

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28

VinothChandar / Foter / CC BY

All of life should be worship gratefully offered to God for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  I consider how many hours of my day that I live in a manner that will probably be determined as unacceptable.  I hate to think of the times I have stood in Church singing “How Great Thou Art” with a wandering mind.  Acceptable worship does not just happen by the action.  The motivation for worship determines whether it is acceptable to God.

We continually develop opinions regarding moral motivation.  I try to discern the motivation of people all the time.  We strive to know a person’s motivation because it deeply matters to most of us.  It matters because our response to an action is often weighed based on the actor’s moral motivation.

I respond to the disobedience of my kids differently depending upon whether they are willfully being disrespectful or just being a kid.

I will take an elbow to the head if it is an accident.  I will respond differently if it was flung with intent to hurt me.

I have different opinions regarding a person who steals to feed his family and the one who steals to buy crack.

BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Most of us have experienced that our actions stem from both belief and desire.  Belief is insufficient to get us off our couch.  In addition to belief, we need a desire to open the door to action.  This is why we seek so diligently to try and understand a person’s moral motivation when their actions seem to contradict their belief.  Actions that are inconsistent with our belief stem from a failure in desire.

I believe that consistent exercise is fundamental to my health; however, my desire to relax often keeps me on the porch.

I believe that overeating will give me a pot-belly; however, my desire to have a full belly often keeps me at the table.

I believe that hell exists; however, my desire to look sensible often keeps my mouth shut.

I believe that obedience to God’s commands, living according to the Spirit, is necessary to please God; however, my desire to please my flesh often keeps me at the trough of all sorts of iniquities.

The Humean view of moral motivation holds that beliefs aim to fit the world, desires aim to change the world. (Moral Motivation)  Our beliefs reflect how we see the world.  My beliefs reflect a world view as revealed in the Bible.  I have experienced the Bible to be true and trustworthy.  Therefore, my beliefs fit the world as I understand it to be.  It is a mind-to-world direction of fit.

On the other hand, desires have a world-to-mind direction of fit.  Our desires attempt to change the world to what we want it to be.  This is where our actions often become inconsistent.

Severin Sadjina / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

My desires will vacillate from wanting the world to make much of God to wanting it to make much of me.  I still have sinful desires that effect what I want the world to be.  Those sinful desires result in acts that are inconsistent with my beliefs.

Inconsistent actions are why we will develop opinions of a person’s moral motivation.  When two people do the same action based on two completely different beliefs (worldviews) but the same desire, the result is differing moral motivations.  Two people can have the same action based on the same belief but vastly different desires.  The result is differing moral motivations.

God requires that both our beliefs and desires to be aligned with His will for our actions to be pleasing to Him. Therefore, acceptable worship only comes when both our beliefs and desires are aligned with God’s will.

A person can do many righteous actions but if they don’t believe in the God of the Bible then their works are like filthy rags.

A person can do keep all of the commandments but if their desire is for a love other than God then those works are worthless.

My worship problem is not an effort problem.  My worship problem is a moral motivation problem.  I don’t want to waste my life.  I don’t want my works to be worthless.  I want my life to be a pleasing fragrance to the King.

For those actions to happen, I need to know my problem.

I need the Spirit to help me through my unbelief in all its forms. 
I need a heart that loves God more than anything else.

Fortunately, the Spirit will complete both of those works while I am walking with Him and setting my mind on the things of the Spirit.  Then my steps will be acceptable worship to the consuming fire who is my God.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I struggle with a worship problem.  Forgive me for all the time that I have wasted in doubt, worry, and unbelief.  Forgive me for all the time that I have wastes loving other things more than you.  Thank you for welcoming me to a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  Thank you for sending your Spirit to help with my worship problem.  Help me in my unbelief.  Help me to love you more and more.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“GET TO OR HAVE TO – THAT IS THE QUESTION” – May 16

May 16, 2013

“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.”  Romans 4:4

My attitude is often betrayed in the verbs that I select.

“I have to…”  or  “I get to …”

There are very distinct attitudes behind these two sentences.  I have to do the activities for which I am obligated.  Most everything that I have to do is a result of some transaction that I have entered into with the expectation that I will receive some sort of reciprocation. It may be money, a favor, acknowledgment, praise, the appreciation of my wife, or to keep up appearances.  There are many ways by which we are compensated for doing those activities that we feel obligated to do.

Consider what you have to do; would you do it if you did not receive your just due?

I would not.  For me, the use of the verb, have, speaks of an obligation that I feel; an obligation infers that a transaction has occurred where work has earned a payment.  As an adult, there are a lot of activities that I have to do.  There are also a lot of activities that I get to do.  These are activities where I am under no obligation to do them.  I want to do them.  I use vacation time to do them.  I don’t need compensation to do them.  I often pay to get the opportunity to do them.

What verb do you use in describing your service to God?

I have to go to Church.
I have to read my Bible.
I have to love my neighbor.
I have to pray.
I have to be obedient.
I have to love God.

Why do I have to do any of those things?  What am I working for?  Am I doing those things so that God will continue to love and bless me?  Am I trying to compel God to give me the wages of my work?

It is so easy for an attitude of obligation to creep into our mindset.  We are justified by faith.  Righteousness is counted to us by faith.  We did not work to earn it.  Righteousness is not due us based on anything that we have done.  It is a gift that “will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25)

We get to respond to this free gift. 

If we have to respond to that gift then we are trying to earn something. Our justification cannot be earned.  Therefore, we get to live in grace and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)  Our attitude about serving God should be one of love and appreciation; I get to serve God.

I get to go to Church.
I get to read my Bible.
I get to love my neighbor.

I get to pray.

I get to suffer.

I get to walk in obedience.
I get to love God

I don’t have to earn eternal life – Praise God!

Therefore, I get to walk in the Spirit;

I get to glorify God with my life;

I get to produce the fruit of the Spirit;

I get to be poured out for His purposes;

I get to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind;

May we be watchful of the attitudes in our service and obedience to the Lord.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for not requiring me to earn my salvation.  Thank you for showing your love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Father, help me to remember that You did all the work.  I have done nothing for there was nothing that I could do to be justified before You.  Lord, thank you for allowing me to live for You.  Thank you for the opportunity to get to serve You and sing your praises.  Keep me from viewing the joy of my salvation as an obligation.  I praise you Lord and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“MY HOUSE” – Mar. 25

March 25, 2013

“Moreover, I declare to you that the Lord will build you a house.” 1 Chronicles 17:8b

English: Waddesdon Manor, built between 1874 a...I would like to travel one day to the United Kingdom and tour the great houses of the National Trust.  I watched a video series of several estates of the National Trust and have been fascinated by them ever since. Many of these estates were constructed by prominent and wealthy families as a testament to their position and prosperity.

I love the architecture and the gardens.  I appreciate the history that these landmarks represent.  Yet, these estates testify to the transient nature of human glory.  The reason many of these family holdings are now in the National Trust is due to the weight of sustaining and maintaining such opulence when family resources dwindle.

I am reminded that I have a house. 

A house that is greater and more majestic than any holding in the National Trust.  It is a house that is free from the bondage of decay.  The paint does not fade and the roof never leaks.  The masonry never cracks. The foundation never subsides.  It has been built according to the very heart of the Master Builder.  This house is established on the steadfast love of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

English: Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. (Nati...

English: Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. (National Trust Property) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is my house.

Why pursue the temporal dwellings of this life, even the opulence of the great houses of our age, when the house of the Lord is waiting for us?  When Christ walked this world, he did not have a house of his own.  That is not entirely true.  He had a house that awaited Him.  He possessed a house, greater than Herod’s palace.  His everlasting throne in the Lord’s house awaited Him every night he slept in peasant accommodations.  Not having a house crafted by human hands out of the earth’s resources is no great sacrifice when we remember that Christ’s house is crafted by the word of God from the air of heaven.

I am stunned by the thought that I have been granted a place in that house.  I will not tour His house but I will reside in His house.  It was in the Lord’s heart to want me in His house.  I have been given an eternal home by the steadfast love of the One who sits on the throne.  I have been included in a house that was never my own.  It is a house that I am not entitled to.  It is a house that will never decay or end since it is sustained by the limitless resources of God.  A house filled with the holiness and righteousness of God.

That is my house.

PRAYER: Lord, words fail me as I try to comprehend all that you have done for me.  I am in awe of  You, Heavenly Father.  I rejoice in You, my Lord.  May the song of praise that is in my heart be a sweet fragrance to you.  The wonderous works that you have accomplished, I will be ever mindful of and make known.  Father, you are so good.  Thank you for your steadfast love and abounding grace and mercy that you have shown me.  Amen

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“A NOTE OF APPRECIATION” – Mar. 15

March 15, 2013

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;…” Psalm 92:1

My son recently had the opportunity to attend a 4-H, “Know Your Government” event at our state capital.  It was a multi-day event of meeting state representatives, judges and people of political importance.  They got to role play from the actual seats where real decisions are made.  However, I think the biggest draw was the food and the hotel room.  Our son’s stay was his first without his doting parents.  His parents were assuaged by the fact that the adult chaperones were individuals who we know and trust.  That helped considerably in relinquishing our son for his first independent out-of-town adventure.

He had a wonderful time.  We think that it was a great education experience for him; time will tell on that one.  We know that it was an important step in maturing into a responsible young man.  It was important for me as a parent.  That makes us very grateful to those who were instrumental in allowing our son to experience such an event.  We are particularly grateful to the chaperones.  They took time away from their work and families.  They had to pay for their own hotel rooms.  They had to put-up with the drama and silliness that is teenagers.  This event was a significant intrusion into their lives.  Yet, they volunteered and as a result my son benefited from a great experience.

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto o...

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; added by those for whom prayer or miracles were granted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an expression of our gratitude, my wife encouraged, forcefully motivated, forced our son to write a Thank You note of appreciation and send it to  them.

I was surprised by what we later discovered.  My son’s note was the first note of gratitude that the chaperone had received in four years of volunteering.  He was appreciative of the appreciation.

How bad is that?

universal thank you noteThe definition of grateful is an appreciation of the benefits received. 

When we say thank you, we are communicating that we believe that we have received a benefit and that we value that benefit.  We do not feel appreciation for something that we don’t value.  I would not feel a lot of appreciation if a person were to give me a single penny.  However, I would feel a lot of appreciation if someone were to give me 100,000 pennies.  My appreciation will be more because I value 100,000 pennies more.

In addition, I would not be appreciative in the same way if the 100,000 pennies are given to my friend.  I have not received the benefit of the gift.  The gift is not mine.  We are benefiting from a variety of work that is seen and unseen.  Gratefulness comes only for those aspects where we acknowledge and recognize the benefits.

Consider the message that we communicate when we are not grateful.

We either:

Don’t value what someone has done for us

or

We don’t believe what they have done for us has a benefit.

Discouragement is the enemy of all who give themselves to the service of others.  These folks, typically, don’t put in the time and effort to receive the accolades or praise. However, the question of, “is it worth it?” will inevitably aside.

“Is it worth it?” is asked in a probing search to discover whether people are actually benefiting from all of their efforts.  The reason the question comes up is because they are often working in a vacuum.  The problem is that grateful people are not communicating to them how they have been helped by their service.

“Is it worth it”? is asked when there is a sense that all their efforts are not valued.  Those who serve others have made an exchange.  They have given something of value to them, their time, energy and often money, in an effort to create something of value for another person. It is when that effort is disregarded, tossed aside, taken for granted, or unfairly compared, that the discouragement of “is it worth it?” sneaks in.  The problem is that Grateful people are not communicating to them how much they value what is being given to them.

Are you a grateful person?  You cannot be a grateful person without other people knowing how you feel.  There is no such thing as private gratitude or stealth appreciation.

When was the last time you sent a thank you card?

When was the last time you told your spouse, parent, sibling, friend, Pastor, teacher, mentor, coworker, how much you appreciate them?

When was the last time you sent a small gift acknowledging someone’s special effort?

When was the last time  you told someone how much they have helped you?

These are some of the actions that define whether you are a grateful or ungrateful person.

When was the last time you thanked God?

God sent his only Son to remove our condemnation.  We have benefited from His sacrifice.

God has adopted us as his children; children of God, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.  We have been given a gift of incomparable value.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord…” (Psalm 92:1)  It is good to be grateful to the Lord because that expression is an acknowledgement that we understand that we have benefited from His gift of tremendous value.  The attitude of the one who has experienced the Lord’s amazing grace can be only that of appreciation – gratitude.

May we be known for our gratitude to those who the Lord has placed in our lives to help us and most importantly to the Lord Most High for saving us!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for placing people in my life to help me.  Thank you for my wife and family.  Thank you for my friends.  Thank you for all that you have given me.  Thank you for the air that I breathe, the rain that falls, the earth beneath my feet, and all of the other miracles of this world that makes my life possible.  Father, I want others to know the amount of gratefulness that is within me for You and them.  Help me to pause on a regular basis and communicate my gratefulness.  Amen

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