Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Change Thanksgiving Makes in Us

The Change Thanksgiving Makes in Us

Do you enjoy the thanksgiving time of year?  Football games, awesome food, Christmas shopping season kickoff, and the great change in weather are terrific!  I always look forward to seeing Snoopy and the Charlie Brown characters make their way across the ocean on the Mayflower.  Does anyone have any plans for popcorn to replace the turkey dinner? Snoopy knows what I am talking about.

There is much more to the “attitude of gratitude” than all of the mostly superficial things we see.  It has been accurately stated that “The foundation of gratitude is the expectation of nothing.” This is an important proposition that each person must come to terms with if they are going to be a thankful person.  Today we will examine all of the “Thanksgiving Psalms” as found in the Book of Psalms.

“Perhaps you have heard of the man who wished to dispose of his home. He went to see a friend who was in the real estate business and, describing his house and grounds to the man, asked him to write an advertisement which he could put in the newspapers. His friend did as he was requested and then read what he had written to the home-owner.

“Read that again,” said the man who wanted to sell his house. His friend obliged, to hear this astonishing remark:  “The house is not for sale. All my life I’ve wanted a place just like the one you have described. But I never knew I had it until I heard what you have written about it.”

Once he gave an account for his blessings, he was able to be thankful.  It is true that the more we focus on the blessings of God, the greater a change that grows in us.

Being thankful produces great change in us.  Notice the many ways that giving thanks changes us…

Thanksgiving Changes Our Conversations. Psalm 26:7 says, That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.  What we speak about publicly and personally is affected by a thankful heart.  in what ways have you declared the blessings of God to others this week?

Thanksgiving Changes Our Commitments. Psalm 50:14 declares, Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:  The priorities of our life are all affected by the purpose for service we find in our hearts.  When we pay our vows to God, we are purposing to honor Him above all else.  Vows in the Bible were voluntary.  When we are thankful, we have no problem making a vow and then following through with that vow to the Lord.

Thanksgiving Changes Our Songs.  Psalm 69:30 teaches, I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. The word Magnify means increase the apparent or actual size of something. It has to do with increasing the importance of something.  The songs we sing should minimize us and maximize our estimation of God.  Jesus should be magnified and increased in value as we sing.

Psalms 147:7 also indicates praise in our singing:  Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:  Praise includes words of approval and admiration or worship. The song of our heart is affected when we are thankful to the Lord.

Thanksgiving Changes Our Awareness.  There are 3 areas that we can be aware of in connection with our God.

  • Be Aware He is Here. Psalm 95:2, Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
  • Be Aware He is There. Psalm 100:1, Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  In this Song of praise or thanksgiving, we find the Lord is in other places besides where we are.  Missionaries in other parts of the world realize His presence too!
  • Be Aware He is Near. Psalm 100:4, Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  The court of God is not too far from where you are today.  James 4:8 informs, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  

Have you noticed the Lord is these areas of your life this week?  Do you see Him at work in your life and in the lives of others.  Be aware of His presence and be thankful for his being here, there, and near.

Thanksgiving Changes Our Attitude. Psalm 107:22 challenges, And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. Sacrifices of thanksgiving are the result of the affection of the heart and the direction of the mind. Declaring the word of God with rejoicing indicates that the heart of the thankful person is joyful.  Our attitude is changed to reflect gratitude as we say “thank you to God.”  We are undeserving of anything good.  Everything good comes from God and our attitude must reflect this truth.

Thanksgiving Changes Our Prayer.  Meditate on Psalm 116:17 which states, I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.  How have you been praying lately?  Have you been asking God for more things?  It is good to ask!  Be sure to stop and say thank you before you ask for more.

“One morning there was a little puddle by the roadside. Some small brown birds gathered around it and took turns hopping in for a great time of splashing. Then they flew up in the bushes near by and sang gaily, as though pouring out their thanks for the nice bath they had found on a hot, dusty day.

Birds and animals seem to enjoy and appreciate every little blessing that comes their way—a cool drink, a bit of food, a little shade on a hot day, some shelter from a storm.  Don’t they rather shame us humans who take so much for granted in our lives? Suppose we try looking about us today to find the little things we should be thankful for.”

Being thankful produces great change in us.  As you consider Thanksgiving, be sure to give thanks to God for the ways in which He is changing you. 

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Marathon Marriages

Marathon Marriages 

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Ephesians 5:31

I have never aspired to run a Marathon.  Running for 26 miles is an incredible achievement that I may never arrive at.  If I am not chasing after a ball (basketball, baseball, even a golf ball) it is difficult to want to run.

Marriage is a teaming up of two people for fulfilling God’s plan for the family.  God ordained a man and woman to come together to form a new unit called and He even called them “one.”  In marriage a couple can enjoy life, procreate children, and establish a home.

Mistrust, jealousy, and misunderstandings all create greater possibilities for divorce.  The culture emphasizes “do what you want” in relationships to the neglect of honoring the spouse you have declared your commitment to.  Notice how definitive this commitment is in Ephesians 5:31, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Two become one.  That is real commitment.  

This marriage commitment changes the daily lives of the couple.  The physical, emotional, and spiritual beings that we are unite together in marriage.  Becoming “one” could mean a man and woman now share the same e-mail accounts.  It could be getting a new e-mail name that reflects your marriage union.   It could be that all the social media platforms are shared or at least, both partners have password access to those accounts.  These are just samples of how the concept of “two become one” could look in the media portion of a marriage.  It takes commitment, trust, and humility for this.  Just as a marathon requires intense commitment, so does marriage.

The following ideas are designed to help you start the Marathon of marriage and finish it.  These “mile markers” that come along the road will not be achieved all at once.  Your marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.  Arriving at these identifiable marks will take time as well as teamwork.

Here are a few “mile markers” each couple should cross along their race to the finish line.

  • The Cellphone Mile Marker. Back 20+ years ago, it was a big deal when a recently married couple got their first phone number.  They were living separately and then the wedding day came and from that point on, they were happy to give out their new home address as well as their new home phone number.

Today, many couples opt to keep their cell phones without getting a new home landline.  Many even keep their old phone numbers on their parent’s plans.  This may seem harmless, but it is not the healthiest arrangement.  If money is keeping the newlyweds from “joining” their cell phone accounts then they are misguided.  The positive psychological effect of passing a mile marker together totally surpasses saving a few dollars on a bill.

  • The Combining of Checking and Savings Accounts Mark. His and her credit cards or bank accounts are not a good idea.  If a couple is “joining together” then they should do so financially as well.  The love of money could cause the man or the woman not to commit to this idea.  Money is never a good reason for not consolidating the interests of the man and the interests of the woman into one.

In the era of prenuptial agreements, lawyers and clerks who do not have the Bible conviction of marriage will say “save up for a break up.”  The Christian should never look at his marriage as having the potential to fail.  More times than not – it is the same love of money that becomes a sore spot and a symptom of hard hearts of people headed for divorce.

  • The $1000 Savings Mile Marker. Many Christian Financial leaders recommend that a couple save up and have $1000 available as an emergency fund.  I recommend you have this in cash, safely kept, yet available in the case of an emergency.  Have you ever been to the store when the credit cards machines are “down.”  If there is another disaster and power is lost, then having cash to buy needed supplies is a good idea.

An article I read recently suggested that with the combined debt of the citizenry of the United States that a person who has no debt and has a $10 bill in his pocket is richer than most folks.  The point is- we should be saving money.  Save money together.  Look at ways to trim your expenses and then celebrate when you arrive at your $1000 goal.

  • The Church Ministry Service Mark. Serving together in a ministry is a great team building exercise.  Bus routes, Sunday School, and Youth Ministry are great places to serve together.  The choir, special music, greeters, and sound /media production are all enriched by the service of competent couples working together.  Embracing ministry together grows the husband and wife closer emotionally and spiritually and they may see their consistent labor bloom into viable fruit they can see.
  • The Car Purchase Marker. Researching, deciding, and settling on a car can be nerve-wracking, but it can be an accomplishment for the couple to win in together.  Driving the emotions of an item as big as a vehicle will cause great consideration in each spouse to reveal his or her thoughts.  Avoiding research, neglecting mutual decisions, and not learning to “settle” on an issue like this can feed a common problem among couples: a lack of investment.  A vehicle is a big deal, but it is not as big a deal as when you decided to get married.  Avoiding big scenarios is a way of being ill prepared for bigger life challenges that a couple will encounter.  By the way: the car does not have to be brand new.  “New to you” at 2-3 years old is a great price point and will give you a vehicle with a lot of life left in it.  A cash purchase of a nearly new vehicle is a terrific milestone in marriage.
  • The House Purchase Mark. A historically important characteristic of freedom loving Americans is the opportunity to buy a house.  Sometimes houses are inherited and sometimes spouses will live at the house the other had before they were married.  It is helpful to visit, consider and purchase together.  The victory of a house purchase and then paying off that purchase is monumental.  It is a big mile-marker.
  • The Giving Mile Marker. The Bible teaches that we labor in order to give.  Ephesians 4:28 says, Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  With your spouse, deciding to give large gifts to others or to church ministry can be very satisfying.  I know several couples that have given away cars to friends, family, and church ministers.  One couple has given 7-8 good vehicles to other people in recent years.  They just were looking for ways to help others and to encourage some of God’s people.  The result of your combined effort at work, saving, and living and bring about generous giving to the work of the Lord.  This is a mile marker that starts with the basics of money discipline and bringing a tithe to God from your combined income.  Start with the 10 percent and see how big of an impact you can make together in giving above and beyond to others and to the Lord.

Achieving something worthwhile takes time and teamwork.  Your marriage is a marathon.  Run the race of life together.  Marathon marriages have been won the world over.  Perhaps you know a couple or two who have raced their entire lifetime together.  With God – all things are possible.