Your Secret Weapon: An Attitude of Gratitude

Around Thanksgiving our focus shifts into reflection and recognizing all of the blessings in our lives. A newer trend of making a daily list of your personal blessings has emerged even on Facebook.  But did you know that “an attitude of gratitude” is a spiritual tool we have at our disposal for the war that is raging between good and evil in our lives?

Utilizing thankfulness in our lives does several things that aren’t  apparent initially.  If I’m being honest, the concept of thankfulness didn’t mean much more to me than a way to be polite in general.  I considered it equal to other commands given to me by my parents, just like saying “please” and chewing with my mouth closed.  But turns out it’s so much more than that!

Thankfulness is a weapon that combats our stressful situations. When we focus our prayers on thanking God for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon us instead of on our needs, we activate peace within our lives. Consider this verse:

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV), Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Did you catch that part about how when we pray with thanksgiving, a literal peace is given to us?  I can personally testify to that.  When I concentrate my conversations with the Lord on thankfulness I am at ease about the upcoming tasks of the day, whether they’re monumental in my life or mundane.  Being thankful demonstrates to God our faith by showing Him that no matter what is going on, we still trust Him.

Additionally, when we concentrate on thankfulness, it reminds us of His unwavering goodness in always taking care of us and meeting our needs.  My pastor has shared with us a great way to remind ourselves of how much we truly have for which to be thankful.  He uses a notepad and makes two columns. On one side he writes the date and the request he’s made to God and on the other he writes how God responded. What a great way to remind us of God’s actual involvement in our lives when we (I) get too busy to notice!  I consider it a huge relief that I don’t have to “drive”; I can sit in the back seat and look at the scenery.  The One who is much better equipped than I am is the “Driver.”

Satan does not want us to know we have this tool at our disposal.  He wants us to freak out, make rash decisions, and try to take control of our own life circumstances, only to fail miserably. He is the author of destruction and is focused only on tearing us down.  I don’t know about you, but that “ruffles my feathers” a bit. I for one am not going to let him do that!  My God is bigger than the boogie man and I choose to let Him fight my battles. My job is only to be thankful that He does, in fact, do just that!

So, next time, instead of frantically searching for a life raft when we are drowning, let’s start first by thanking God for the sea.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay-at-home mom to two boys.  Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner.  She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

 

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Thanksgiving

Each year my family sits around the table discussing for what we are thankful.  I never struggle with the answer, but I always wonder if my answer will change.  For the last three years, the thing I am most thankful for is one word . . . well maybe three words:  God is faithful. 

I am thankful for God’s faithfulness, his ever-constant presence in my life, his faithfulness despite my lack of the same.

Faithful means “loyal, consistent, steadfast.”  It also means “true to the facts or the original.”  What an amazing picture of who God is!

God is ever all of these…loyal, steadfast, true to the truth,  original, and never changing. But life has a way of making you feel like you are walking alone,  like you are the only one going through something.

It makes me think of that poem “Footprints in the Sand.”  You know the one and if not,  google it.  The situation it describes is  when we think we are alone, we are not. We need to be reminded there is only one set of footprints because God is carrying us.  I normally would call this poem “cheesy,”  (please do not be mad at me!)  Lately though, God has reminded me of this truth: when I am feeling unsure, He is sure of who I am.   When I am feeling lonely, He is there.  When I am feeling insecure, He provides security.

When I think I am alone and look to see only one set of footprints, it is because God is the one walking for us both, or better, that God in His steadfastness is always there.

God is faithful despite my lack of faithfulness.

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:9

Our God is faithful and has called us into fellowship with His Son!  This means that in the midst of this life, I can stand on the truth God is faithful till the end and, in the meantime, He is calling me into fellowship with Christ.

In my insecurities, when I’m unsure and lonely, I am called to walk in God’s faithfulness through a relationship with His son Christ.

So, this year I am again thankful for God’s steadfast faithfulness.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days teaching 6th graders the value of math and science while also displaying the love of Christ, and her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest.

But the Nine – Where are They?

As Jesus was passing between Samaria and Galilee, He encountered ten lepers, crying out to Him for help. The Savior wasted no time in healing the individuals in need, for He loves His creation. Yet soon after the miracle took place, something very intriguing happened which caught the attention of Jesus.

While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19

Even though ten lepers were healed on this day, only one returned to offer thanks. Overtaken by the goodness of the Lord, the former leper glorified Jesus’ name in gratitude for his healing. However, immediately following his moment of thankfulness, Jesus paused to ask the man a question. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they?”

Desperate cries were uttered by the lepers toward Jesus, in hopes for a miracle. Yet the minute the request was granted, nine of them continued on their way, without any regard to a Savior who had restored the men to good health.

As I read this passage, I was convicted by the following thought: I consistently cry out for Jesus to intervene in situations I am facing. Yet so often, I spend more time in my pleas to Him over what I “need,” than I do in expressing thankfulness to Him for all He has done.

Jesus tells us: In all things to give thanks!

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She loves the opportunity to serve through various ministries at First Baptist Dallas as well as Entrusted Hope Ministry.  She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and began her doctoral work at Southwestern this past fall.

She Changes Like the Weather in Texas!

Good Grief!  I woke up this morning to find a winter wonderland (ice, not snow, my friends in the north!) in my Texas neighborhood.  Just two days before, I was sitting by the lake taking in the fresh air and watching the ducks and pelicans swim by.  Well you know what they say about Texas weather…if  you don’t like it, stick around a while and it will change for you.

Sitting by my fireplace and looking out the window, I began to think about all these sudden changes, how disconcerting and troubling they can be;  a to do list that is no longer applicable, a walkway I can no longer use, a car that sits in the garage, useless. If I sit here much longer, I may find myself depressed!

But if I look on the other side of the room, I see a different picture; my husband peacefully reading and sipping on warm coffee in front of the fireplace, a pot of hot soup simmering on the stove, and Ellie, the dog, grateful to be in her cozy bed under the desk. This is quite a different view from the same seat. Am I in the same house?

Changes in our lives can happen this suddenly, and depending on the direction we look we can find ourselves disconcerted and troubled, or we can choose to look across the room toward faith, believing that God has this change squarely in His control.  The wisdom to know the difference between what I can change and what God is changing is my daily prayer.  It is this wisdom that gives us freedom to move and act in a peaceful and joy filled life.

Job 36:26-33 puts it this way:

How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.

So now I say, when change comes my way, bring it Lord! For when I see change, I see Your movement in my life, change that has been sifted through Your almighty hand.  And I need only to look in Your direction to see that it will be for good.

About the Writer:
Pam  is Director of Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.