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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God loves me the best…I win!

“I love you mom”, “I love you too son”, “I love you the best, I win!”

Then I say, “no, I win”, then he says, “no, I win.” And, so it goes until I claim, “I win cause God gave me you for my son.” “No, mom I win cause he gave me you for a mom.” This is a very regular conversation in our home, who loves who best, who is more blessed because God gifted us the other. However, on this night Marcus added something new. “Mom, I think God loves us the best…so doesn’t that mean He wins?” I smiled and gave my amazingly intuitive 10-year old a  big hug and said, “actually, Marcus, I think because God loves us best…we win.”

We win! Powerful words, it also happens to be the title of one of my favorite Mercy Me songs. Can you think of any time, circumstance, or action in your life where regardless of who you are, what you’ve done (or are doing), you are totally, unconditionally, and recklessly loved?

We read in in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We all have heard or read this passage of scripture at some point, if however, this is the first time…take a minute to really read it again/anew. God shows (present and continuing tense) His love, that while we were still (present and continuing tense) sinners, Christ died for us. In our worst most secret, shameful, and sinfilled moments…in those very moments, Jesus Christ died for you. In fact, later in the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul states that there is nothing ever in time, past, present, or future that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:35-39)

So, if God loved us at our worst and tells us that NOTHING can separate us from that love, then why do we still walk through life living as if we don’t have it? We turn from God out of shame and fear, when He sacrificed His life to free us from shame and fear. We turn from God because we don’t feel we’ve done enough good to deserve it. When, in fact, there is nothing good enough in us to do enough good to deserve God’s love. We have to remember something very important, His love is never dependent upon us, or our deservedness, it is always dependent upon His goodness.

We win because He loved us best. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13.

First we receive Jesus’ command, love one another as I have loved you, (unconditionally and recklessly). Then He give us the example of what this love looks like, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. He did just that. And, because He did…we win.

Jesus’ love is so great that it is blind to what we see as flaws. We see our physical defects and try to hide or change them, He sees the beauty of His creation, each detail, an intentional artistic decision. We see our character defects, our habits and behaviors, and try to hide or gloss them over. He sees the potential of who He created us to be, a beautiful reflection of God, a light to shine on the world and point to Him.

What we see, or what others see as bad, broken, imperfect, and unworthy, God sees as beautiful, whole, perfectly created, and wholly loved. I know it’s difficult to comprehend that the creator of everything we can and can’t know loves us unconditionally, but that is the truth, without exception or amendment.

The next time you are having a conversation with a loved one, or with yourself about who loves who best remember, God is the source of all love. We couldn’t love without Him, and we can’t out love Him. All love flows from Him, through us and to the world. We are the recipients of the greatest gift of all time, God’s unconditional love, it’s there for each of us, will you accept it today?

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!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries