Appreciation

my-appreciationI love the dictionary definition of the word appreciation

  1. gratitude; thankful recognition
  2. the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value
  3. assessment of the truth worth

How often do you take time to truly appreciate the blessings in your life? Appreciation goes beyond merely being thankful for blessings, as it sees the high value in those blessings, and then continually looks for ways to express even more gratitude for them.

In other words, appreciation can begin a cycle of gratitude that grows and grows and GROWS!

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, it’s a good time for us to remember that giving thanks shouldn’t be limited to just one day each November. Instead, we should learn to continuously appreciate the blessings around us.

Join us this Sunday as we begin a 4-part series considering the value of appreciation. I will be joined by some of my friends as we share what we’ve come to appreciation this past year. I hope to see you this Sunday at 10:30am.

Advertisements

12 Quotes From “Think On These Things”

think-on-these-thingsJohn Maxwell’s books always inspire me to think differently. In Think On These Things—the first book Maxwell wrote—we get to see the seed thoughts that would appear in fuller form in his later books. Be sure to check out my review of Think On These Things by clicking here, and then enjoy a dozen John Maxwell quotes.

“Your life today is a result of your thinking yesterday. Your life tomorrow will be determined by what you think today.”

“The truth of a man is known not by how he acts when he is in control but how he reacts when things are beyond his control.”

“Your willingness to learn and adjust positively from mistakes and shortcomings will largely determine how far you will travel the road to success.”

“A thankful heart is one that has had time to count blessings.”

“Our spiritual, physical, and emotional condition will greatly determine how we react to situations. The better we feel, the more capable we will be to evaluate difficult situations and make important decisions.”

“If you haven’t made any mistakes lately, I question if you are trying hard enough. … When you make a mistake, you can resolve never to make another one. But that is impossible. You can decide that mistakes are too costly and become fearful of them, that that fear will keep you from fulfilling your potential. You can constantly think about your mistakes and live with regret, but that is self-torture. Finally, you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person, and that is progress.”

“Success is never instantaneous. It is never an accident. Success is continuous. It takes growth and development. It is achieving one thing and using that as a stepping-stone to rise higher up the mountain of accomplishment.”

“No problem will leave you the same person after it has gone. Problems are the great dividers between success and failure. How you handle them will determine on which side you will live.”

“An experience is not a failure if it prods us to keep on trying. An experience is not a failure if through it we discover how we failed and put that knowledge to good use. An experience is not a failure if through it we discover our own true selves. An experience is not a failure if through it we become better-disciplined individuals.”

“Problems are reminders. They remind us that we need God’s help to handle the upheavals of life.”

“Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first and the lesson afterward. Experience is yesterday’s answer to today’s problems.”

“It is vitally important to realize that either the situations around us control our lives or we control them.”

Praying For Your Congregation

I heart my churchPastors often ask for their congregation to pray for them. This is a good thing! But the Apostle Paul gives pastors a model for praying for their congregation.

In his letter to the Church at Philippi, Paul says, “And this is my prayer…” (Philippians 1:9).

First, notice the motivation for Paul’s prayer: thankfulness. He’s not skeptical nor cynical. He doesn’t browbeat them for any shortcomings. He doesn’t think, “Ministry would be great if it weren’t for these people.” No! He was full of thanks that bubbled up in joyful prayer for these precious people (vv. 3, 4).

Paul also had an attitude of confidence for this congregation. He believed they could carry out ministry responsibilities, and that in the process they could continue to mature in Christ (vv. 5, 6).

Paul had affection for this church: he really liked these people! It’s one thing to love someone (after all, Jesus commanded us to do that), but something entirely different when we like being around people. The King James Version says Paul greatly longed after these folks. The Greek is even better—it says he doted on them (v. 8).

With this in mind, look how Paul prayed for these precious folks on whom he doted. He prayed that…

  • …their love might abound
  • …they would increase in knowledge and insight
  • …their level of spiritual discernment would help them always see the best
  • …their purity and blamelessness would remain intact all the days of their life
  • …they would be filled with God’s righteousness
  • …they would bring glory to God

Pastor, this is a great prayer to pray over the precious people on whom you dote!

6 Ways To Make Sure Everything You Do Is Sacred

It's all sacredAround 1300 AD, the Church began propagating a myth. It showed up in two words that were created around that time: clergy and laity.

Simply stated, clergy is from a root word that means “the learned men … the ones enlighten for ministry.” And laity is anyone not in that inner circle.

Insecure leaders did this to maintain control. They continued to read the Scriptures in Latin, which few could read, so they made sure that the clergy alone had a Bible, and they alone became the expounders of how the Bible told us to live.

In the clergy-laity divide, they also created a sacred-secular divide.

When Paul addresses the Colossians he does so with anything but a clergy-laity divide in mind. He calls them the holy and faithful brothers in Christ (Colossians 1:2). The KJV translates holy as saints, for that’s how Paul indeed sees them. And he sees them as his very own faith-filled brothers.

Paul also has anything but a sacred-secular divide in mind as he instructs then—whatever you do, whether in word or deed.

He makes it clear that everything we do as faith-filled, holy saints is to be sacred and God-honoring.

How do we do whatever we do in a sacred, God-honoring way? We ask these six questions:

[1] Can it be done with a clear conscience? (Acts 23:1; 24:16)

  • “It is not WHAT a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is WHY he does it.” —A.W. Tozer

[2] Will it promote the Gospel? (Philippians 1:27)

[3] Is it a good deed? (Acts 10:38; James 3:13)

[4] Does it point people to God? (1 Peter 2:12; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

[5] Can I do it in the name of Jesus? (Colossians 3:17do it ALL in the name of Jesus)

[6] Does it cause others to be thank-full? (Colossians 3:17giving THANKS to God the Father).

Live according to your high calling, for all you do is sacred!

(To check out more thoughts on Colossians 3:15-17, click here and here.)

You Are God’s Lavish Gift To Others

GratefulI have noticed a couple of things about thank-full people (people who are full of thanks). In a single word the difference is ABUNDANCE.

  • Thank-full people have an abundance mentality—they believe there’s plenty for everyone; that God’s grace overflows and is boundless.
  • Thank-full people want others to find this abundant life too. As Charles Spurgeon prayed, “I would then that the quickening Spirit would come down upon me, and upon you, upon every one of us in abundance, to create men valiant for truth and mighty for the Lord.”

This abundance mentality is what Paul is referring to when he writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). Both words dwell and richly convey someone who is so saturated in the abundance of God, that they cannot help wanting to share it with everyone!

So how do Christians lavish their thank-fullness and peace-fullness on others? The rest of that verse in Colossians tells us:

  1. We teach.
  2. We admonish with all wisdom.
  3. We sing.

Teaching others is always rooted in love, and is for the benefit of the other person (Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29).

Wisdom is the Greek word sophia. It means heavenly insight that is extremely practical. That’s what we need when we admonish those we love. This word means to warn people if they are on a wrong path. We love them enough to speak a loving word of warning (Proverbs 27:5-6).

And we sing out of our abundant overflow. The word of Christ dwells in us so richly that it literally bursts out of us in song! Have you ever been around someone so full of God’s presence that their words almost seem to be a song?

But don’t miss out on this. The lavish gift God wants to pour out on people is YOU! Notice how many times the pronoun you is used in Colossians 3:15-17. YOU are God’s gift to your family, your friends, your co-workers, your community!

Don’t rob others of this amazing gift by becoming ungrateful.

Grateful is graceful. 
Graceful is thankful. 
Thankful is worshipful.
Worshipful is God-full.

“The essence of Christianity is that we give the Son of God a chance to live and move and have His being in us, and the meaning of all spiritual growth is that He has an increasing opportunity to manifest Himself in our mortal flesh.” —Oswald Chambers

What will you do to remain thank-full, and remain God’s lavish gift to others?

Part three of our 3-part series on gratitude is coming up this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I would be so thank-full to have you come join us!

4 Powerful Truths About Peacefulness

PeacefulnessHave you ever noticed the importance the Apostle Paul gives to “peace”? Not just any kind of peace, but the peace that is linked with God’s grace.

Paul always puts grace and peace together. Every one of his letters opens with “grace and peace. The only exceptions are his two personal letters to Timothy where he says “grace, mercy and peace.

In his letter to the Colossians we get a clue to why this is, when he writes, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

Let me start at the end of the verse. The word “thankful” is the Greek word euchristos. It’s where we get our word Eucharist (or Communion). The root word (charizomai) means to (a) live gracefully, (b) forgive gracefully, (c) rescue gracefully, (d) restore gracefully. That’s just how Jesus—the Prince of Peace—lived on earth, and that’s what His broken body and spilled blood purchased for us: peace with God.

So a thankful Christian is a peaceful Christian. Or another way of saying this: a Christian’s peace-fullness comes from thank-fullness.

When we “let the peace of Christ rule” in our heats, it’s because we understand what His grace has purchased for us. And we want others to know this grace and peace as well!

  1. Peacefulness is contagious—a peace-full person has plenty of peace to share.
  2. Peacefulness is unifying—fear makes people run away, but peace brings them close to God and close to each other (Luke 2:14; John 14:27).
  3. Peacefulness promotes worship—we don’t worship what we fear, but we worship what we are drawn to (Luke 19:38; Hebrews 10:22).
  4. Peacefulness signals victory—the absence of conflict is peace (Romans 16:20).

If you don’t have peace in your life, can I suggest that you might want to start by looking at your thank-fulness level. When you are thankful for what the Prince of Peace did on the Cross for you, it’s so much easier to become thankful for all the other blessings that He gives as well. This thank-fullness will raise your level of peace-fullness!

On Sunday we are going to continue to look at the power and beauty of grace-filled gratitude. Please join us!

Graceful Gratitude

Graceful GratitudeAs we approach Thanksgiving Day, it’s natural for people to think about thanking. This shouldn’t be the case for Christians though…

Christians should be so full of thanks that every day is a day of thanks-giving!

There is a power in thankfulness. There is something attractive about gracious people. There is a security and a peace that comes from knowing just how many blessings have been lavished on me by my Heavenly Father.

Beginning this Sunday, I am going to share a series of three messages from three verses in the book of Colossians. We are going to look at the power of being people of graceful gratitude.

If you don’t have a church home in Cedar Springs, I would be so honored if you would join us. If you cannot make it in person, check out our live broadcast on Periscope at 10:30am (search for user @craigtowens).

%d bloggers like this: