Thankfulness Comes from One Simple Word

Thanksgiving always brings bittersweet flavors. My mother died ten years ago this week. The loss was huge. In fact, we got the phone call on Thanksgiving morning.

Thankfulness Comes from One Simple Word

(Photo by Photodune)

Mom’s untimely death was tough enough, but having the memory perpetually linked with Thanksgiving has forced some reflection I never would have considered otherwise.

I’ve come to understand how loss in life is one of God’s greatest ways to cultivate a grateful heart.

Thankfulness comes from one simple word.

Envy Grabbing You? Here are 4 Tips for Freedom

For some reason, we tend to envy others. Big time. Be it a car, a position, a house, or a spouse, we want it.

There just seems to be part of our nature that sees what we don’t have as what we need.

Envy got you?

(Photo by iofoto, via Vivozoom)

No matter what season of life we’re in, we tend to feel dissatisfied with who we are, or what we have, compared to someone else.

  • The teenager wants to be an adult.
  • The single wants to be married.
  • Those with no kids want kids.
  • Those with kids look forward to the empty nest.
  • The retired person longs for the seasons past.

If you’re not enjoying where you are today—and always looking for something better, something new, something else—then you’ll never have freedom in life.

Never.

Send a Thank-You Note Today

Think about one person who has inspired you, encouraged you, or helped you. Got that person in your mind?

Now, let me ask you a question: Have you ever sent a thank-you note to that person?

Send a thank you note today!

(Photo: Monkey Business Images, via Vivozoom)

Not long ago a client sent a thank-you note to the editors in our department, expressing appreciation for their excellent work. The client told me of the editors’ surprising reply: “No one has ever thanked us before.”

That tragic statement got me thinking.

3 Ways to Beat a Complaining Attitude

Sometimes the new life God is leading you toward doesn’t seem as great as the one He has redeemed you from.

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Remember the complaining of those redeemed from Egypt?

“We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic.” —Numbers 11:5

We all struggle with complaining. But in those moments, we betray our selective memories.

Arrival in Israel!

We arrived yesterday in Israel for IFL’s 2010 tour of the Holy Land.

We spent most of the day trying to recover from the dizzying fog of jet-lag. Home is eight time zones away! And yet, something about coming to Israel provides a rush of adrenaline that makes sleep secondary to all we get to see.

Something that helped clear our jetlag was wading in the cool Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Tel Aviv. Cathy and I took a walk on the beach and meandered down to ancient Joppa.

Joppa was Israel’s primary Old Testament port, and it always makes me think of the reluctant prophet, Jonah. Remember him?

Jonah had no desire for God to forgive the wicked Assyria. So when the Lord told him to preach in Assyria, he took a ship from Joppa bound for Spain—the opposite direction of God’s will! In the furious storm that followed, Jonah found himself in the belly of a great fish, finally confessing, “Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). (Of course, Jonah meant his salvation, not the Assyrians’.)

The fish hurled Jonah onto dry land. Again the Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh in Assyria, and this time Jonah obeyed. He preached, Nineveh repented, and what Jonah feared, happened . . . God forgave them.

As Jonah later pouted in the sun, watching what would happen to the city, the Lord provided a plant for shade. And for the first time in the book, Jonah smiled. But then God sent a worm to eat the plant! When the heat hit Jonah’s head, he became faint and begged God to take his life.

How often do we feel life isn’t fair or, worse, that God has let us down because He runs the universe differently than we would? We become more concerned with trifles such as shade trees than with people made in God’s image. Our grumblings only betray that we’re running in a direction opposite from God.

In His grace, God appointed the fish, the plant, the worm and the wind . . . all to get Jonah to change. I can’t help but wonder: what creature comforts will God remove from our lives to reveal an inordinate preoccupation with self?

Tomorrow, we head north and follow the path Peter took . . . from Joppa to Caesarea.

Want to see video of our trip each day, starting tomorrow? Subscribe to IFL’s Video blog.

Election Day . . . and the Jordan River

Election Days in America usually make me think of another election. The first election . . . before the foundation of the earth (Mark 13:20; Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:4).

Sounds strange, but elections also make me think of the Jordan River.

The Jordan usually flowed a hundred feet wide at the place where Israel crossed over into Canaan after the Exodus (see Joshua 3:14–4:23). But because the Israelites crossed at flood stage, the river surged much wider and deeper. When the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the Jordan, the water ceased its flow 16 miles upstream. This left a stretch of dry land some 20 miles wide for the nation to cross en masse, perhaps several thousand abreast.

Joshua compared the miracle of the parting of the Jordan with the miraculous parting of the Red Sea (see Joshua 4:23). He linked the power of God that allowed them to enter Canaan with the power that freed them from Egypt. This was a critical comparison: The same grace that redeemed them from bondage led them home.

I find it fascinating that our deliverance as Christians from the bondage of sin and our entrance into God’s rest both stem from the same act of grace at the cross. The author of the Book of Hebrews compares entering Canaan with entering the rest God provides those who believe in Christ apart from works (see Hebrews 4:1-10). From one end of our salvation to the other—from our election to our justification, through daily sanctification to eventual glorification—God’s grace has provided the passage our sinful souls could not earn.

Thumb through any hymnal, and you may be surprised how often writers use crossing the Jordan River as a metaphor for entering heaven. Fanny Crosby captured this perfectly when she wrote, “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, till my ransomed soul shall find rest beyond the river.”

What Joshua made sure to point out to Israel we should also remember: The grace that saved us way back when God elected us is the grace that leads us home across the Jordan.

Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006), p. 97. Used by permission.

Living Now But Looking Forward to Heaven [Podcast]

Leviticus 23:15-44

In Israel’s fall festivals we learn enduring truths for today.

The Feast of Pentecost revealed that part of thanksgiving always involves giving back to God and helping others. The Feast of Booths celebrated the fact that everything we possess—both physically and spiritually—comes from God. The Feast of Trumpets anticipated God’s call to leave the mundane labors of earth in order to serve the Lord in our heavenly home.

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How to Respond to God’s Grace [Podcast]

Leviticus 2; 6:14-23

What should be the response of one who has been given access to God? He or she recognizes that they owe everything to the Lord.

Following the burnt offering, the meal offering (sometimes called the cereal offering or grain offering) was given to represent that God owned it all. The priests’ eating the offering gave the worshipper the assurance his or her acts of dedication pleased the Lord.

Those today who have received forgiveness through Jesus Christ should dedicate their lives and bodies as a living sacrifice to God, knowing such a sacrifice pleases the Lord (Romans 12:1-2).

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