August 30, 2010
With our month long focus on celebrating growth and remembering Gods faithfulness coming to an end, I want to spend these last few moments focusing on the concepts of rejoicing and thankfulness. Maybe it is just me, but whenever I think of these things, my mind almost instantly gravitates toward the holiday season. Which made me wonder: how many more days till Christmas? A quick visit to Google and Ive got my answer: 116 shopping days. Men, you have been warned.
What puts you into the holiday spirit? Is it getting together with family and decorating the Christmas tree? How about those gag gifts you receive during Secret Santa? As much as I love the candy canes, mistletoe, hot chocolate and even the jolly man in the red suit, when I think of the Christmas holidays one of the first thing that comes to mind are Old Navy fleece jackets. Odd I know, but you havent met my father.
Every year since I was twelve years old Santa has wrapped up an Old Navy fleece and stuck it underneath my tree. I dont have proof, but I believe this is where the southern slang Bless His Heart originated. Ill admit that the first Christmas I was truly thankful for the gift. It was cold and I needed something to keep me warm. Next year, with the same gift in my hands, I was somewhat thankful, but more annoyed. However, when Groundhog Day reared its ugly head in years 3 and 4, I begin to think my dad was playing some cruel joke on me. Little did I know at the time that this event would repeat itself well into my twenties.
Through my experience of opening up tacky (albeit well intentioned) Christmas presents, Ive learned that thankfulness is one thing that cannot be faked nor can it be forced. Gratitude and joy come from somewhere within the very depths of our heart. Struggling to crack a smile and eek out a thank you to tube socks, a tacky necktie or any other present you hope comes with a gift receipt is one thing. How do we get to the point where thankfulness is the initial response for whatever life throws our way?
This is a question that demands an answer. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. Thankfulness is viewed in this passage as a command from God rather than a strong suggestion for life. Even though we wish the author had included a nice loophole or escape clause, there is no excuse that justifies our ungratefulness. The Bible makes no exceptions for bad days, screaming children, horrible traffic, tight finances, loss of a loved one or personal tragedy.
Over the past several weeks, we have spent time discussing how we must rejoice at every opportunity we are given to reflect Gods character through our One Word. This includes during a difficult time, in the midst of chaos or when our life completely falls apart. Through our discussions, weve always come back to the idea that what you see determines the direction of your life. Our response is greatly shaped by our perspective. If this statement is true then our responsibility is to pinpoint the things in our lives that distract us from God and take our eyes off of Him.
Many of us hesitate to pursue this next step since we realize transformation requires asking challenging questions that might produce answers we do not want to hear. Yet, engaging and embracing the process of encounter, formation, and expression is part of a walk with God. The progression of these actions goes like this:
ENCOUNTER is the COLLISION of Your PERSPECTIVE with the TRUTH!
FORMATION is the SUBMISSION to the TRUTH that produces CHANGE!
EXPRESSION is the unhindered RESPONSE that REVEALS the TRUTH!
How can taking these steps help bring about a thankful spirit in our life that isnt conjured up or forced? Whether you realize it or not, youve already experienced the first step in the process. By encountering Gods truth found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that says thankfulness is a command not a suggestion your reality of excuses and entitlement to justify your behavior has collided with the Word of God.
What you do with this collision is very important. Will you attempt to ignore it by sweeping it under the rug? Or will you begin to allow God to shape you? Transformation requires work. This pushes us back to spending time with God and meditating on His word. If you do not take the time to see God, it is impossible to fully express His image in your life. When we are open to God working on our hearts we begin to express our response to His truth in our actions and words. Our thanks go to God in every situation we face. The heart of God begins to live in us.
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. How do we get to the point where thankfulness is the initial response for whatever life throws our way? Why do we always want an excuse to justify our ungratefulness?
- What situation are you currently facing where you are finding it challenging to be truly thankful? Do you feel justified in your response to the situation?
Are you looking for a way to keep your word in front of you all year long? Register for a My One Word account! One of the key features of a MOW account is an online Word Journal that allows you to capture your thoughts to reflective questions like you see above. You can go back at any time to read your completed journals to see how God has been moving in your life through your word in 2010. If you already have an account, the questions from this blog have been posted to your Word Journal log in to your account to start your Word Journal today!