Our ONLY Response is Gratitude

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. for we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8

I have been working on my upcoming Kids Discipleship lesson. We are starting in Genesis with the creation story, and every time I read it, the Spirit reveals something new to me.

Not only did God create the world from a vast void of nothingness, He created it specifically and perfectly for us. From the moisture in the air to the nutrients in the earth, He created it for you. From the plants in the forests creating oxygen, to the smallest creatures in the ocean processing carbon dioxide, He created it for me. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the stars we admire, and the depths we explore, He created it for each and every one of us to live in and enjoy.

We, of course, realize this intellectually; that God created all there is. However, how much of that creation do we actually give Him credit for? Do we give Him credit for our jobs? Do we give Him credit for our homes, our families, the air we breathe, our very lives? Do we give Him credit for our success, our talents, our skills? The fact is that nothing we have or do is because of us. We can’t take credit for anything in our lives. Everything that is…is because of Him. When you can really internalize that, you begin (with the help of the Spirit) to understand that the only response we have is gratitude.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

If we know that God is going to provide for us what we need (emphasis on need), and we know that everything we have is from Him, and created specifically for us, then why do we spend so much of our time and energy allowing discontent to seep into our joy because enough is never enough?

From the very beginning God created a perfect environment for people to enjoy. There was plenty and God was present with them. But, when faced with the option of more, having enough quickly became not enough, and the result was catastrophic. Eve may not have died as soon as she ate the apple, but because of her disobedience, death came into the world. Adam may have taken the apple from Eve, but he took it just the same. All of the favor, provision, and blessings of God weren’t enough…they (we) want more.

The Apostle Paul shares his perspective, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

Have you noticed that most people don’t seem happy? They believe that happiness will be found after they’ve purchased the larger house, the newer car, found the perfect partner, obtained the promotion, reached a million followers, etc. Only to find out that once they have it, there is something more to strive for. Enough is never enough, and they never take time to be content with what they have. Always striving, always looking for fulfillment and satisfaction, never achieving that which they ultimately long for.

I’m not saying we should just stand still, and God will provide for all our needs, I’m saying that we should be grateful for what He has provided to each of us, and do all we can every day with what we have to give him praise and glory. Our lives should always point to Him.  We should do the best we can at our jobs whether as a cashier or a CEO, giving praise and thanksgiving every day.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Joy is found in gratitude. Gratitude that stems from knowing that God created us intentionally and provides for us the same way. He is neither slow nor stingy in His provision. When we order or lives correctly, giving all we have to His service, He will provide all we need. That doesn’t mean that we’ll be living high on the hog, it doesn’t mean we’ll have everything we want, it doesn’t mean there won’t be difficulties and challenges. On the contrary, the life of a Christ follower is fraught with trials, but it does mean we are never alone, and that God will provide us what we need, when we need it. It means we can experience a bit of His Kingdom here on earth.

Lord, teach us the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. We can do all this through you who gives us strength. ~Amen~

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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1 Million Followers

My 9- and 10-year-old love following people on Youtube. There is one young couple and another young family who spend their days playing hide-and-seek in the strangest of places. Both my children like to tell me how many followers they have, how many likes their latest video received, and how cool and popular they are. This is inevitably followed by how they want to be cool like that by having their own Youtube fame. But, when you ask them why these people are cool, famous, and popular the response is because, “they have like a million followers, mom!”. They’re cool because people follow them, not because of who they are.

It seems to me that we (myself included) are raising a generation of children and youth who are finding their value, their identity, and their validation in an arbitrary number representing the volume of reactions they get from a nameless, faceless, multitude. The more shocking the behavior the greater the reaction. To beat out their ‘competition’ for the prize of the largest number of followers, they need to perform more reckless, heartless, dangerous and damaging feats…and there seems to be no ceiling or depth limit. There seems to be no limit to how they will behave and expose themselves to get to the coveted 1 million followers.

In the book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul provides a list of historic heroes of the Bible. Those whose stories we’ve heard told from Able and Noah, to Samson and David, not to mention all the prophets who placed themselves at the mercy of their enemies to remain faithful and obedient to God. They didn’t care what those around them thought, nor did they seek their approval, they lived their lives for a higher purpose regardless of the outcome. Talk about a radical lifestyle!

“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:37-38

None of them chose their life to please themselves or others. Each chose their path because they found their identity in God alone.

“If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15

They neither looked for nor wanted the approval from others, the approval of the crowd is fickle and fleeting. The moment you stop being more shocking than the next person they turn on you and from you. Look what happened to Jesus, He makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and by Friday some of the same crowds are calling for His death.

When our identity is wrapped up completely in Jesus, then the storms of change, chaos, uncertainty, and fear cannot sway us or cause us to lose our way. Our eyes are fixed on the eternity that He promises us, not in the temporary and finite world we now live.

There is one group of fans, however, I’d like to call your attention too. After Paul lists several Biblical heroes, and their many trails, and the favor found in their obedience to God, He begins Chapter 12 with an amazing encouragement.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

When you consider all those in the world and throughout history who have stood firm in their faith through persecution, humiliation, torture, and death, those numbers far exceed any you may, or may not, get to like, follow, or share your worldly identity today. That is the great cloud of witnesses that are cheering you on, not because of what you do but because of the faith you’ve found in Jesus.

When you chose to align yourself with Jesus, to stand with Him, not only do you have the God and creator of the universe guarding your back, but you also have a ‘posse’ walking with you that have seen and done it all. You’re never alone. You’ll never face something new. You are 100% guaranteed to win in the end. No matter the outcome in this world you are assured a place with Jesus forever.

There is a post on Facebook that I’ve kept, it was posted by Lecrae. I’ve used it before, but I think it’s very pertinent now.

“If I’m wrong about God, then I’ve wasted my life. If you’re wrong about God, then you wasted your eternity.” When you identify and find your value in Jesus, you will live a better life here on earth and your eternity will be greater than you could ever imagine. If you identify with this world, with the crowd, with the followers, with the fickle, broken, hurting, and sinful, not only will your life on earth be hard, but your eternity will also be harder than you could ever imagine.

Choosing Jesus, you’ll never stand alone. Choosing the crowd, you’ll never know who will be standing with you tomorrow.

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

Like, share, comment, and add your email to receive blog posts, podcasts, and more!

come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries