Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Gratitude is a Weapon…

Have you ever smiled at someone as you pass them in the grocery aisle? What about complimenting a stranger on their cute outfit? Or the beautiful silvery coif of the elderly neighbor walking their dog?

{But seriously…if you’ve never done something like this…you’ve got your assignment for today…go out and pay a stranger a truthful and encouraging compliment!}

These are just a few little ways we can help change the attitudinal landscape from complacency to gratitude.

The definition of gratitude is actually very simple ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.”

So how does a compliment bring on gratitude?

First of all, when you compliment a stranger, it’s known by both parties that it’s an actual real compliment.  It’s not something you feel you have to say or something you are obligated to do. Letting someone know that they are seen, that they are appreciated, that they have been noticed ~ well, it can turn their day around…and maybe even their month! In this way, we’ve helped to shift that person’s perspective on life a bit. They will absolutely remember what you said and how it made them feel. And that feeling can turn into at attitude of gratitude. And I bet they are going to be more likely to pass it on!

But gratitude as a weapon?

A weapon is anything used against an opponent, adversary, or victim, according to the dictionary.

Okay…go with me one more time down the “road of words” here as I put together both definitions of gratitude and weapon…

When we are being attacked verbally, emotionally, or via social media, we can combat all of that garbage by taking on a stance of thankfulness for what we know the truth is.

Too hard you say?

Jesus did it all the time…and it’s in and through His living word that we can gain the tools necessary to use gratitude as a weapon.

I Corinthians 8:3 (AMP) says, “But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].”

If we remember the truth that we are KNOWN by God, then we can choose to be grateful and thankful in situations instead of offended and crushed.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (AMP) tells us, Rejoice always and delight in your faith;  be unceasing and persistent in prayer;  in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

I will admit…this is a hard one to grab hold of sometimes!  When someone wrongs me {or God help them…wrongs one of my people!} the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t usually how I can give thanks to the Lord for the situation we are in. But if I’m going to take the word of God literally as the inerrant and living Word of the Lord {and I do!} then I have to take it ALL literally. These verses above say those three little words…”in every situation.” Well dagnabit! I don’t always want to. Okay, let’s be real, I never want to…but it is what God is calling me to do on the daily!

Oh and the “continually give thanks to God” part ~ that gets me every time! How can I always be in a posture of thankfulness when a loved one is dying? When I see stories of severe abuse and trafficking on the news? When my friends’ marriages are experiencing painfully deep betrayals? When finances seem to disappear like a puffy dandelion blown in the breeze? I’m sure you can add your own items to this list as well.

Note that God does not ask us to be thankful BECAUSE a bad situation is encircling our camp. His heart does ache with ours when we experience sorrow and disappointment. He is our GOOD GOOD Father and just as my heart is saddened when my kids go through difficult circumstances, how much more does the heart of our Heavenly Father twinge with affection and love when He knows we are hurting!!

I Peter 1:2-5 sheds some light to us about the WHY we are to have that ‘attitude of gratitude’…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be yours in increasing abundance [as you walk closely with God]. Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [born anew] into an inheritance which is imperishable [beyond the reach of change] and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are being protected and shielded by the power of God through your faith for salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.”

When we closely walk in relationship with the Lord, He will increase our spiritual well-being so that we can live in new mercies every day BECAUSE of the extravagant FREE gift of His salvation. Even when it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, we are always protected by the heavenly armies because God loves us that much! This makes living a life of gratitude that much more attainable.

Living apart from God’s redemption is what we are saved from having to endure…that is more than enough of a reason to live a grateful life.

In the MOST powerful example of using gratitude as a weapon was when Jesus offered Himself up to die on the cross. He took upon EVERY SINGLE SIN of the whole world {past, present, and future} in order to save us from an eternal death away from Him. Salvation is the most exquisitely crafted weapon against satan and all his demons.

Satan loses. And he loses every time.

When we call upon the name of Jesus to save us and to be with us in our every day life, satan loses. Satan is a loser and a liar, so shut him down!

Hebrews 12:1-3 is a beautiful encouragement to us ~

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In His grace, in the gracious way that Jesus loves us, He used gratitude as a weapon against any evil that could ever be formed against us. We have an enemy but we also {and more importantly} have the victory! We have already won!

Jesus showed His kindness and His compassion to the woman at the well, to the woman who washed His feet with precious perfume, to the man healed of leprosy, to the man healed of blindness, to the woman accused of adultery, to the woman at the empty tomb…and so much more!

John 8:10-11 paints a picture of the gracious love of Jesus & what happens when He trades our sin for His salvation ~ Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

May I challenge you with something today? Okay good, here it goes ~

Begin to arm yourself every day with the weapon of Gratitude , with the tools of Joy, with the song of Prayer, and with the adornments of Thankfulness! Now talk about being dressed for battle! You’ve got this!!

Have a powerful day!!!

Blessings,

René

 

1 Thessalonians 5 vs 16-18

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Women's Ministries, Writers

Abundant Heaps…

When you read that title, what are the images that come to your mind?  Something that  you collect?  Something that has been given to you?

Is it the ominous laundry room with the floor scattered with heaps of clothes and towels and everything that came out of your child’s closet…that is really clean but they didn’t end up wearing it but didn’t feel like hanging it back up again? Do you see the pile of bills on your counter that need to be gone through to figure out which one needs to be paid first…Or which one you can pay at all? Is it the stack of stuff that ends up piling up around the house with things that you haven’t had time to take care of yet… The magazine stack, that project you’re working on, the Bible study book that you been looking for and it’s at the bottom of one of those piles? We all have those kinds of and piles around our home. We’ve all been there, we’ve all taken that day to clean up and get everything put away and in order. But in the blink of an eye…they are back!

Thankfully, there are better kinds of “heaping abundance” that we have the opportunity to fill our lives with.

The first heaping abundance gift that can be strewn across our life is grace. The second heaping abundance that we can allow to pile up in our soul is kindness. And the last one, certainly not the least one that we can carry around is an abundance of love. His Love.

OK, so picture with me that pile of stuff on the kitchen counter (you know you have one)but now imagine it was a pile of grace. Think of grace as something that you can see, something you could touch, something you know you would never run out of. How wonderful it would be when you found yourself in a stressful moment of your life, there was a magnanimous amount of grace offered, all you had to do was to go to that pile of grace on your counter and take what you needed!  And lo and behold, there was so much you were able to give some away at the same time. To be able see that pile of grace out of the corner of your eye and be comforted to know that God gave you that abundant heap of grace to use in your life.

I will admit that the times in my life when I have been far less than grateful, it is due to my own selfish desires.  I allow myself to get caught up in what I think I deserve and many times hold the people around me to standards that are impossible to reach. Over the years in a variety of circumstances God has humbled me and reminded me that there is nothing  more powerful than for me to be able to show grace to others. The beauty here is this is when they will see Christ in me. I do not want to reflect an untrue representation of Who the Lord is, but I do that every single time I do not show grace.

One of my daughters recently pointed out to me in an extremely passionate way, to remember that we have no idea what other people are going through and it is up to us to react in a way that is pleasing and honorable to the Lord. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.”  It’s not about us…it’s about how we serve those around us while honoring the Lord at the same time.

I don’t believe it’s just talking about a 9-to-5 job scenario. It is in all that we do. It is in the carpool lane on the freeway. It is in the line at the grocery store. It is in the way that we discipline our children when they are young. It is in the way we treat out teens as they are growing from child to adult. It is in the way that we support our husbands after a long hard day. And it is in the way that we treat those around us on a daily basis. Don’t you want that abundant heap of grace around your home… Around your life?  Every day!!‬‬

That brings us to kindness.

What if our soul, the deepest part of our soul had kindness flowing out of it like the never ending pile of clothes in the laundry room? How would your life be different if you pretended that you were carrying around a basket, burgeoning with kindness!  If you bumped into someone they were bound to get some on them. If you tripped and fell, kindness would spill out all around you. If you were sitting having coffee with a friend and you began to quietly attend to the “laundry” in that basket, more than likely your friend would be able to join in and share in that moment…they would be encouraged to participate in an act of kindness. You know how a bunch of clean towels fresh out of the dryer feels so scrumptious & warm? What if you offered your child, your friend, or your spouse, the opportunity to be wrapped in the warmth of your kindness?  Doesn’t that sound delicious!!

With our heaping piles of grace and the warmth of kindness…we dive into love!

I will admit that my favorite part of any meal is dessert. Who doesn’t love to peruse the dessert section of the menu!  When I think about having a “heaping abundance” of love, I will tell you that the first thing that comes to my mind is the huge ice cream sundae called “The Zoo” made famous by Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in Southern California. It has so much ice cream in the bowl that it borderlines on the obnoxious. As my 6th birthday was drawing near, all I wanted to do was have my party at Farrell’s so that my mom could order The Zoo. Because this ice cream sundae was so heavy it was actually carried in by two employees on a specially made tray that was secured on two poles. The two waiters would put this contraption on their shoulders and then two other waiters would lift The Zoo Sundae onto it. But the spectacle didn’t stop there…not by a long shot!  As they emerged from the back of the restaurant, The Zoo was lit up with sparklers and there was someone walking in front of it banging on a huge drum. There were whistles and shouts and everyone in the restaurant knew that someone special was about to be celebrated. At this point, any available wait staff had joined in the parade, and they would all come to the table, march around the party goers, then stop where the birthday person was sitting.  I’d seen it a bunch of times, but this year it was my turn. One waitress helped me stand up on the chair and encouraged everyone in the whole restaurant to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. As the sparklers died down, I blew out the huge candle on top and got to choose the first scoop. I think there was about every kind of ice cream in that thing and at least five kinds of toppings oozing over the top. And of course the crowning glory of it all was probably an entire can of whip cream and a handful of cherries tumbling down. I probably still have all of the plastic zoo animals that hung around the edge of that big silver ice cream bowl, tucked away somewhere.

So considering that this was about 40 years ago, you can see the impact is still there. I can hear the drums and the whistle, I can hear the excited shouts of the waiters announcing that it was my birthday. I can still see my little self standing up on the chair because I wanted to see what was in the bowl. This is the kind of heaping love, the love of Christ and the love we have for Christ that should be brimming to overflowing in our life.

How would it feel?  How would it be to life with the overflowing love of Christ? We could move forward in every part of our life with that much more kindness and that much more grace. We would be able to walk into a room and be ready to celebrate everyone we come in contact with. Whether we are meeting with one friend at a coffee shop because they’re having an extremely difficult time in their life. It can be when we walk onto the campus of our kids school with a ready heart to show the love of Christ to other parents, teachers, and the staff. We can walk around our neighborhood, the grocery store, the gym, everywhere… And people will see that there is something different about us. The way that we carry ourselves. The countenance on our face! Is it daunting to think that some of the people we interact with in our life, that we are the first or possibly the only picture of Jesus that they will see? Absolutely! But it should not be a burden to carry all of this love. It needs to be a joy! Something to share at a moments notice so that people can hear about the love that The father has for them.

Heaping Abundance of Grace.

Heaping Abundance of Kindness.

Heaping Abundance of Love.

Today ~ maybe your grace, kindness, and love are more of a small stack rather than an abundance heap. The best way to grow in all of those areas is simple really. Just practice those characteristics. Do little things to show others that you care, even if you don’t know them.

Let the person behind you who only has one or two items go in front of you at the grocery store. When you notice someone is trying to move lanes on the freeway, slow down a little bit and wave them over. Instead of pointing out the one or two things that are still a mess in your kids room, compliment them on the part that they DID complete. Tell your husband “thank you” when he empties the dishwasher or take out the trash or walk the dog or gets up in the middle of the night with the baby.

All of those things will speak volumes to the people around you and they will have a glimpse of what it is to be covered by the warm, inviting, generous joy of the abundant heaps of grace, kindness, and love that is shown through us by Jesus.

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Thanks in Giving

Today is the Monday before Thanksgiving ~ so appropriately, I thought I put down my thoughts about the subject with my own personal flavor.  Which means that I’m already imagining the table decor and myriad of tasty dishes that await my family and I in a few days.  Quite frankly, if all there was to eat was mashed potatoes with gravy, herbed stuffing, and homemade pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream ~ I would be completely happy!

At this time of year, much is written about Thanksgiving: being thankful, being grateful, having gratitude, etc.  If you are new to my blog, you’ll come to know that I love word studies; what words mean, and how to put them in perfect context as to what is being conveyed in a sentence or story.  To get started today…here’s a bit of basic definitions of words that I’ll be focusing on today.

Being ~ the fact of existing; existence

Having ~ to possess; own; hold for use; contain

Thankful ~ feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

Grateful ~warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful:

Gratitude ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful:

Thanksgiving ~ the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.

Giving ~ to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow:

Do you notice that all of these words are action oriented?  Whether it is physical actions or emotional/mental ones, that are all in movement; they are all in motion within or toward another person/entity.

 

We cannot be full of thankfulness and gratitude and be motionless and stagnant at the same time.  It is virtually impossible.

 

Colossians 3:17 has beautiful words to share with us ~ “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.”
This verse is clear and concise that no matter what we do or say, however we act and whatever we think about, in ALL of those things we are to be thankful to the Lord.  Are we to actually thank God for bad things that happen or difficult times in our life?  NO!  It means that we can choose to move through our life with an attitude of gratefulness and confidence, being alert to the power of God in our life. He will be walking alongside us in all things.  Some hard times in life last longer than others; sometimes years pass with a sense of darkness hovering over our life; and at times of difficulty it seems like it will never end.
How do we choose to live a life of thanksgiving when we feel utterly hopeless?  I’ll tell you one thing ~ you have to fight for it!  It is not easy to choose thankfulness and gratitude.  It is sometimes the most difficult time to choose to be joyful.  But I have lived long enough to know that when I begin to feel those daggers of doubt and fear to cloud my heart and my mind, I have a choice to make.  I can be gloomy, sad, feel sorry for myself, and decide that I’m not worth it.  OR…..I can ask the Lord to help me overcome those negative attitudes.  He can (and WILL) do just that!!  He won’t leave you lying in a puddle of sadness ~ He will scoop you up in His mighty arms and comfort you.
Better than any words I could choose…let these promises from God’s Word wash over your heart ~
Colossians 1: 9-14, 21-23:For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
This is why we can choose to be grateful.  We can have thanks as we give praise to the Lord for the fact that He has chosen us, to rescue us from true darkness and a life separated from Him.  In the midst of the bleak moments, we have the strength of the Holy Spirit inside of us to do the battle.  To wage the war against the mental and emotional attacks from satan, whose sole job is to make us believe that we are not worth Christs’ love.  To make us think that we have to work hard to do things, to live a certain way, in order for Christ to love us.  That when we sin and mess up, that we have lost hope of Christ really loving us.
Let me tell you friend ~ you cannot out-sin the abundant grace and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.  You just can’t!
In the same way, you cannot be good enough or work hard enough to earn that grace.  You just can’t.
Psalm 98:1 “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”
Did you see that?  HIS right hand and HIS holy arm.  
Not mine.  Not yours.
Only the Lord can provide salvation for us and He chose that for us BEFORE the creation of the world.  Before you were born, before I was born, before Adam and Eve committed the first sin ~ God put into a place a plan to have His Son Jesus live a sacrificial life and die on the cross, returning to the earth and graciously providing a way to be reconciled to God the Father.  His cross, for lack of a more imaginative idea, is the bridge connecting us back to the Lord.
We must be thankful at all times ~ no matter what ~ for the indescribably gift that is the salvation that the Lord offers freely!  (2 Corinthians 9:15)
We cannot pay for it ~ He already did!
We don’t put it on layaway and work it off ~ that only works at K-mart.
We cannot do one little thing to earn it ~ It is a gift!
What do you do with a gift?  What do you do when someone gives generously of their resources to you?  Do you pull out your wallet and offer to pay them back?  Do you make a list of what was given to you so that you can make sure and give that person a “better” gift the next time around? I really hope you don’t ~ because then you’ve missed the point.  A gift is not something earned.  A gift is chosen specifically for you from someone who loves you.  A gift is not something intended to be paid back. A gift is a reflection of the heart of a friend towards you.
I think my favorite word study definition from above is ~ Grateful: the Latin word grate or grātus means: pleasing. The other descriptive words “warmly” and “deeply” convey a cozy, peaceful, enjoyable place.  Like sitting by a warm fire drinking your favorite cup of tea and reading a good book.  Blissfully accepting the personal kindness someone has done to you ~ this is what it is to be grateful.  To have this attitude and live it out is what it is to have thanks in giving~ offering up to the Lord a song of thanksgiving for the gift of eternal life.
So this year, at this time of Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to choose to be grateful; choose to be accepting of the gift that you cannot earn and that you don’t deserve.  Let Christ bestow on you the gift of salvation.  Living as a royal priesthood and as a child of the King, does not mean that all your problems will miraculously disappear.  God is not a genie!  But what it means is that you have the power of the Living God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, holding you up in those times of trouble.  He is your strength, He is your dignity, He is your friend, and He is your Army!  God bless you with His magnificent peace and with His never-ending grace.
Blessings,
  René
Colossians 3 verse 17

http://dictionary.reference.com/

https://www.biblegateway.com