Charles Stanley – It Is Good to Give Thanks

 

Psalm 92:1-4

Have you ever wondered why God says it’s good to give Him thanks? There are obviously some benefits associated with gratitude, but for whom?

Thanksgiving magnifies the Lord because we are acknowledging Him as the source of all our blessings. It can also have an effect on those who hear us praising and thanking God, as they may be prompted to do likewise. But there are benefits for those expressing gratitude, as well.

Thankfulness readjusts our focus. When we begin to praise and thank the Lord, the pressures and demands of daily life feel lighter. Instead of having our minds distracted by the cares of this world, God and His goodness become the center of our focus. What’s more, we gain awareness of our dependence upon Him and become more appreciative of His care and provision.

Gratitude releases our anxiety. We rarely feel grateful when we’re burdened with troubles and worries, but that’s when we most need to offer God our gratitude. There’s an amazing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual change that occurs when we begin voicing praise. Burdens are lifted, the internal churning stops, and we come away rejoicing in the Lord.

Thanksgiving reinforces our faith. Recalling our blessings and the many ways God has expressed His goodness toward us reminds us of His faithfulness. Knowing how He has worked in the past strengthens us to trust Him for the future.

The next time you’re feeling down or burdened, remember all the good that comes from thanking the Lord, and lift your voice in gratefulness. God is right—it is good to give thanks.

Bible in One Year: Romans 1-3

 

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Our Daily Bread — What We Have

 

Read: 2 Corinthians 8:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 18–19; James 4

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. 2 Corinthians 8:12

My friend was eager to gather her family and friends for a festive holiday celebration at her home. Each of the guests looked forward to gathering around the table together and wanted to help defray the expense of feeding so many by contributing to the meal. Some would bring bread, others salad or a side dish. For one guest, however, money was exceptionally tight. Although she looked forward to spending the evening with those whom she loved, she couldn’t afford to purchase any food. So, instead, she offered to clean the host’s home as her gift.

She would have been welcome at the table had she come empty-handed. Yet she looked at what she did have to offer—her time and skills—and brought them to the gathering with her whole heart. I think that’s precisely the spirit of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 8. They had been eager to give to help some fellow Christians, and he urged them to follow through on that effort. He commended them for their desire and their willingness, saying their motivation to give is what makes a gift of any size or amount acceptable (v. 12).

We’re often quick to compare our giving to that of others, especially when our resources don’t afford us the luxury of giving as much as we’d like to. But God views our giving differently: it’s our willingness to give what we have that He loves.

Lord, help me see what You’ve given me, even if it doesn’t seem like much by the world’s standards. Help me to give generously.

God loves wholehearted giving of any measure.

By Kirsten Holmberg

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Faith and the Whole Picture

I’ve been trying to avoid using the word “faith” recently. It just doesn’t get the message across. “Faith” is a word that’s now misused and twisted. “Faith” today is what you try to use when the reasons are stacking up against what you think you ought to believe. Greg Koukl sums up the popular view of faith, “It’s religious wishful thinking, in which one squeezes out spiritual hope by intense acts of sheer will. People of ‘faith’ believe the impossible. People of “faith” believe that which is contrary to fact. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of “faith’ ignore reality.” It shouldn’t therefore come as a great surprise to us, that people raise their eyebrows when ‘faith’ in Christ is mentioned. Is it strange that they seem to prefer what seems like reason over insanity?

It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t overemphasize the individual elements of the whole picture of faith, like we so often do. But what does the Bible say about faith? Is it what Simon Peter demonstrates when he climbs out of the boat and walks over the water towards Jesus? Or is it what Thomas has after he has put his hand in Jesus’s side? Interestingly, biblical faith isn’t believing against the evidence. Instead, faith is a kind of knowing that results in action. The clearest definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. This verse says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In fact, when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root [pistis], which means ‘to be persuaded.’ In those verses from Hebrews, we find the words, “hope,” “assurance,” “conviction” that is, confidence. Now, what gives us this confidence?

Christian faith is not belief in the absence of evidence. It is the proper response to the evidence. Koukl explains that, “Christian faith cares about the evidence…the facts matter. You can’t have assurance for something you don’t know you’re going to get. You can only hope for it. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is so important. It gives assurance to the hope. Because of a Christian view of faith, Paul is able to say in 1 Corinthians 15 that when it comes to the resurrection, if we have only hope, but no assurance—if Jesus didn’t indeed rise from the dead in time/space history—then we are of most men to be pitied. This confidence Paul is talking about is not a confidence in a mere ‘faith’ resurrection, a mythical resurrection, a story-telling resurrection. Instead, it’s a belief in a real resurrection. If the real resurrection didn’t happen, then we’re in trouble. The Bible knows nothing of a bold leap-in-the-dark faith, a hope-against-hope faith, a faith with no evidence. Rather, if the evidence doesn’t correspond to the hope, then the faith is in vain, as even Paul has said.”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Faith and the Whole Picture

Thanksgiving: The First and Essential American Holiday

 

Many Americans — Christian, Jewish and secular — find Thanksgiving to be their favorite holiday of the year.  And for good reason beyond the joy of a feast.  Thanksgiving was the first holiday of the Pilgrim forefathers, who spoke of their voyage to the New World in terms of a flight from persecution to freedom, much like the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt to reach the Promised Land.

Thanksgiving is the holiday that made the other American holidays possible.  Without the Pilgrims having courage, a quest for adventure, and a willingness to sacrifice and risk everything, and absolute faith in their cause and calling, they never would have embarked on the unseaworthy 94-foot Mayflower. Were it not for their dream and determination to find freedom of conscience and religion in the New World there may have never been a July 4th Independence Day or many of the other American holidays we take for granted and celebrate every year.

After a harrowing passage across the Atlantic — one that included wild pitching and broadside batterings by gale force winds and ferocious seas that caused the splitting of one of the ship’s main beams — the Mayflower was blown off course from the intended destination of the established Virginia Colony to wilds of Cape Cod. The Pilgrims knew not where they were nor how to proceed, so they beseeched the Almighty for favor in a safe arrival and in establishing a new and independent settlement.

Now in sight of land after a frightening voyage and facing hunger from depleted provisions, some of the secular Mayflower passengers were clamoring for rebellion.  And so, under the direction of Pilgrim leaders William Brewster and William Bradford, the drafting of a governing agreement was undertaken to quell unrest and ensure the establishment of a unified settlement that would be acceptable to both their Christian brethren and the secular crewman and merchant adventurers who made up about half the 102 people aboard the Mayflower. That governing document, known as the Mayflower Compact was introduced “solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another,” and it was specifically referred to as a covenant. A covenant is an unbreakable agreement — with precedents being made between God and towering figures of Jewish history — such as Abraham, Noah, and Moses.

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and journeyed on to Mt. Sinai, God made a covenant with Moses providing the Israelites the Ten Commandments and other laws — a necessary requirement before they could proceed and cross into the Promised Land.  Similarly, every able man aboard the Mayflower, had to sign the Mayflower Compact before each could “cross over” and finally set foot in the New World after their ship arrived at Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod at sunrise on Saturday, November 11, 1620.  As a covenant adapted to the civil need of forming a government with laws — established “for the general good of the colony” — the Mayflower Compact embodied fundamental principles of self-government and common consent. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was the beginning of democratic government in America, and it is often cited as the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution.

The fact that all the Pilgrims survived the squalid and cramped ship quarters during the dangerous crossing of a vast ocean, is no doubt partially attributable to the good fortune that the Mayflower had previously been enlisted as a wine transport cargo ship. Unlike most ships, she had a “sweet smell,” from all her decks and bilges being “disinfected” with wine sloshing and soaking from broken barrels of Bordeaux in the many prior crossings of the sometimes stormy English Channel.

That all changed once the Mayflower’s passengers settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts in December of 1620.  The first winter was devastating, with over half the Pilgrims dying, including nearly half the women. Four whole families perished.  But it could have been worse.

Had those colonists not settled in Plymouth, adjacent to friendly Native Americans, and had they not befriended two who could speak broken English — Samoset and Squanto — perhaps none would have survived.  In fact, just four months after the Pilgrims disembarked in Plymouth, Samoset facilitated the signing of a Peace Treaty between the Pilgrim colonists and Massassoit, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe.  At the same time native tribesman were teaching the Pilgrims survival skills, showing them how to hunt, fish, and plant various crops, such as corn — which was unknown to Europeans.

The Pilgrims were extraordinarily grateful for the first season’s harvest — modest though it was — and decided to invite Massassoit and some of his people to a three-day-long feast, at which they would thank God not only for the harvest, but also for their survival and initial success of a diverse colony that included both Christians and non-believers.

No one knows for sure the exact date of this three-day event patterned after the “harvest fest” in England and also the Feast of Tabernacles in the Jewish calendar. Massassoit arrived with some 100 followers, more than two times the number of the Pilgrims, and for three days they entertained each other and feasted.

This feast later became known as the first Thanksgiving, which we now celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November. Some eighteen months after this feast, it came to be known that Massassoit was on the brink of death from an unknown sickness.  Governor William Bradford immediately sent elder Edward Winslow to administer natural herbs, medicines, and prayers to Massassoit. Astonishingly, he made full recovery within days, and remarked, “Now I see the English are my friends and love me; and whilst I live, I will never forget this kindness they have showed me.”

Times are very different than they were nearly 400 years ago at the time of theMayflower’s voyage to the New World.  But the qualities of character that made the Pilgrims exemplary are as relevant today as they were back then.  A contemporary Thanksgiving makeover might include: rekindling a quest for adventure; growing the faith to hold on to a vision of a promised land no matter what; mustering the courage to go against the crowd and defend the truth; gaining determination to endure hardship; rejuvenating a joyful willingness to sacrifice for others; revitalizing respect and tolerance of people of different beliefs and renewing the predisposition to extend love and gratitude at every appropriate opportunity.

 

 

 

 

Source: Thanksgiving: The First and Essential American Holiday

 

 

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Gifts of Grace

 

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. — Romans 12:3

Adapted from the resource Ending Your Day Right Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Proud people compare themselves to others and feel superior if they are able to do something others cannot do.

In 1 Corinthians 15:10, the apostle Paul wrote, But by grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) o God I am what I am (AMPC). If you do not realize you are what you are by the grace of God, you will think more highly of yourself than you should.

You should judge yourself soberly, knowing that without God you can do nothing of value. Success only comes by His grace. Your accomplishments and abilities are not yours to take credit for—they are gifts from a loving Father.

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank You for Your grace that enables me to do everything. Help me to always treat others with an attitude of humility. Help me to constantly lean on You and humbly receive Your help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Mighty Weapons

 

“I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding Him. With these weapons I can capture rebels and bring them back to God, and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).

Joe came to share with me how his leader in a particular Christian organization had been most unfair to him. He was being relieved of his responsibilities and replaced by another who, in his opinion, was not nearly as well qualified. As we talked it became apparent that Satan easily could sabotage the ministry.

After listening to Joe’s grievances for some time, seeking to know the truth of the matter, I inquired as to his walk with God. “Is there any sin in your life? Do you know for sure that you’re filled with the Holy Spirit?” Then I brought the other party into private conference and inquired as to his relationship with God. “Is there any sin in your life? Do you know for sure that you’re filled with the Holy Spirit?” Both assured me that they were filled with the Spirit and that they genuinely desired to know and do the will of God. I was convinced that they were both sincere.

How then could two men without sin in their lives and who claimed to be filled with the Holy Spirit be at such odds? I sought further truth. In the meantime, we brought to bear the weapons of prayer and the Word of God. God says that when brothers are at odds we should claim in prayer the release of His supernatural wisdom to resolve the matter, and, finally, claim by faith that Satan will be routed, that all of his influence will be overcome.

The counseling required several hours. I talked to one individual, then the other, then both of them together. Finally, we were on our knees praising God and then embracing each other, and the men genuinely felt that their relationship with each other and with the Lord had been fully restored. Satan had lost another battle. Another miracle had happened. Another tragedy had been averted and the Body of Christ had been spared another scandal.

What are those weapons? A holy life, the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Word of God, faith, truth – these are the weapons of God for supernatural warfare. Learn how to use them for His glory.

Bible Reading:Ephesians 6:10-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Whenever Satan attacks me, or I observe conflicts in the Body of Christ due to his influence, I will seek to defeat him by using God’s mighty weapons and will teach other Christians how to apply them in times of spiritual batt

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Why Did God Do What He Did?

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Holiday travel.  It isn’t easy.  Then why do we do it?  Why cram the trunks and endure the airports?  You know the answer.  We love to be with the ones we love.  The four-year-old running up the sidewalk into the arms of Grandpa.  The cup of coffee with Mom before the rest of the house awakes.  That moment when, for a moment, everyone is quiet as we hold hands around the table and thank God for family and friends and pumpkin pie.  We love to be with the ones we love.

May I remind you?  So does God. How else do you explain what he did? Between him and us there was a distance—a great span.  And he couldn’t bear it.  He couldn’t stand it.  So he did something about it.  Philippians 2:7 reminds us, “He [Jesus] gave up his place with God and made himself nothing!”

Read more Grace for the Moment II

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Six ways to instantly become a more positive person

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. Or so we think.

We tend to believe that the Pilgrims invented the holiday when they held a feast to celebrate their successful fall harvest. However, they borrowed the tradition from the English.

And the English celebration is nowhere as ancient as the Japanese national holiday known as Kinro Kansha no Hi (“Labor Thanksgiving Day”), which goes back more than two thousand years. The Chinese have been celebrating their version of thanksgiving even longer, with a Mid-Autumn Festival that goes back 2,500 years.

Why is giving thanks such a universal phenomenon? Because it’s so good for us.

The relationship between optimism and health

One problem some of us face on this Thanksgiving Day is that we don’t feel like giving thanks. If we’re facing hardships, Thanksgiving can be more obligatory than celebratory.

However, it’s when we don’t feel like being thankful that we most need to be thankful.

Time recently published a fascinating article titled “6 Ways to Instantly Be a More Positive Person.” The author notes that optimism is essential to our overall health.

For instance, when Harvard researchers studied seventy thousand women over an eight-year period, they discovered that the most optimistic quartile had an almost 30 percent lower risk of dying from several major causes of death compared with women in the least optimistic quartile.

How can we be more positive, whatever our circumstances or challenges?

Continue reading Denison Forum – Six ways to instantly become a more positive person