Yesterday I was only up and about for a couple of hours before I realized that I was facing a real choice. It was a gray stormy day outside and threatened to turn into one inside of my head as well. Was I going to turn towards complaint and misery? The temptation was to see only the limits of the four walls of my house, the bleak outlook of the economy under assault from this virus, the bickering of politicians trying to gain an advantage. I’m sure you have your own struggles in this uniquely challenging time in the world. I chose a better path yesterday; one of simple gratitude.
As I prepared my breakfast, I gave thanks to God for the eggs and the ham that a friend gave to me to enjoy with them. Later on, I gazed out on the stormy weather and gave thanks for the rain that would make my lawn green. When my dog put her head on my lap, I petted her and gave thanks for a companion. And so it went, for the entire day, simple gratitude countering the tug of selfishness. It’s not a new thought, nor is it profound, but it is powerful. We invite the Spirit’s Presence to touch our lives when we ‘offer a sacrifice of praise.’ (Hebrews 13:15)
This is not just a choice for good mental health, it is a spiritual issue for the Christian. Gratitude reveals a heart that is humble before the Lord. What I am about to write is hard and some will be offended but it is truth. In Romans 1:21, Paul speaks of those who knew God but who “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.” That awful passage includes a long list of sins showing us the downward slide into sinfulness that is fed by a refusal to recognize God as Lord of all and thus, to give thanks in all situations.
In his final charge to Israel, Moses contrasted the life of blessings found in devotion with the sorrows that come to those who abandon the Lord. Look at this sobering passage. “Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48, NIV)
The travails of the Israelites during the wilderness would be almost comical if they were not so revealing of our own foibles. God led them out of Egypt miraculously. He opened the Red Sea in front of them. He fed them every day with manna. Yet, they continually complained, focusing only on the hardships, which were real, instead of on God’s provisions for them. In the end their ingratitude caused them to choose a path of unbelief. They refused God’s will and He left that generation to wander in the wilderness until they all died off.
It was no joke! The writer of Hebrews brings their negative example to us and encourages us to choose humility and gratitude. “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” (Hebrews 3:12-14, NLT)
Perhaps you are not liking the tone of this Coffeebreak, preferring promises and positivity. I would rather share those words, too. However, God is speaking to us- His children – asking us to guard our hearts and minds. We, those of us who are ‘in Christ’ need not become part of the growing statistics of depression, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and such things that are part of this national crisis. We can be different because of the One who lives IN US, but we must yield ourselves to Him and choose a course of surrendered obedience.
How can we do this? Not just with gritty determination. We do it by allowing faith to grow when we look higher than our circumstances, beyond our ‘light and momentary troubles’ and trust ourselves, our family, our future to Christ.
The word from the Word that I leave with you today is a call to shift our sight higher. “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message)
Confess that He is Lord right now!
Then, choose simple gratitude today, and let God’s Presence find you.
When darkness tries to roll over my bones
When sorrow comes to steal the joy I own
When brokenness and pain is all I know
I won’t be shaken I won’t be shaken
My fear doesn’t stand a chance
When I stand in Your love (repeat)
Shame no longer has a place to hide
I am not a captive to the lies
I’m not afraid to leave my past behind
I won’t be shaken I won’t be shaken
There’s power that can break off every chain
There’s power that can empty out a grave
There’s resurrection power that can save
There’s power in Your name power in Your name
Standing in Your love
Ethan Hulse | Josh Baldwin | Mark Harris | Rita Springer © 2018 Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) EGH Music Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Gateway Create Publishing (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])
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