Thankful.

23 Nov

It is during this time of year that we begin to really think about the things we are thankful for. Family, friends, health, a job. We all have many great things to be thankful for.

I couldn’t help, however, to consider the things in the world that most people wouldn’t give thanks for. Barely making rent, working multiple jobs, doctor appointments, sickness, and a handful of channels on the flat screen.

I’m not saying someone should be thankful for such a thing as a terminal illness. The truth is, however, we have to adopt a new perspective when we find ourselves in the midst of the uncomfortable situations.

We can look back at the Last Supper before Jesus was to be crucified. He gave thanks to God.  He gave thanks to God even when he knew he would soon be betrayed by one of his closest friends. He gave thanks to God even when he knew he would soon be beaten, tortured, ridiculed, and finally murdered. 

Jesus gave thanks, because he knew that God was not against him. He knew that God had not orchestrated these events, but rather, they were a result of the darkness that had corrupted so many. He also knew, however, that these situations were meant for ultimate good. Our good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11

The next time we find ourselves in a rainstorm, in a dark and seemingly unending trench, find thankfulness within. God will use these times to make something wonderful, even if you cannot see a silver lining. Be thankful for the health you do have. The time left to spend with an ill loved one. Being able to work multiple jobs.The ability to travel from place to place even if your car is terrible. 

Most of all, give thanks to God our Father who really loves us unconditionally. Who is for us and not against us. Hold on to the hope found in Him. He will sustain you. He will deliver you from the hardships.

Be thankful.

Dare you to love

10 Sep

There are two ways of spreading the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. -Edith Wharton

Above all, love each other deeply

About a month ago I challenged myself to reflect upon my current “love” life, and evaluate how well I was actually loving. Now, this isn’t the type of mushy love between me and a significant other (as he has yet to appear in my life). I’m talking about what the Greeks call agape love. This is the kind of unconditional love that is given to others, whether or not they return it. This love is kind, patient, humble, and not self-seeking.

I had to ask myself if I was really giving this kind of love to all individuals, whether in direct contact with them or not. Was I really loving all others as much as I thought I was? The answer was sadly, no. There are people who tend to get more of my love than others; typically those who are friendly, if I’m being completely honest. One of my biggest challenges is loving those who are hard to love. Recently I encountered a waitress who was particularly unkind. Her actions indicated that she was annoyed for some reason, and that I had become a target for frustrations. Rather than becoming irritated and impatient with her, I should have been patient. I should have been kind. I should have tried to put myself in her shoes, and considered the possibility that her actions weren’t intended to offend me. I should have loved.

I am continuing this challenge, making sure I don’t withhold my agape love from anyone.

My challenge to you: are there particular people that you could love a little more? How about the homeless person on the street corner? your next door neighbor? professor? boss? Make it your goal this week to increase your agape love.

WE ARE MEANT TO BE COURAGEOUS

27 Aug

Text: 1 Corinthians 16:8-9

My typical morning routine centers around my Bible and a great cup of caffeine. With highlighter in hand, I pour through whatever chapter I find myself that day. I recently realized that I wanted to get a better understanding of what I was reading. Now, I’m beginning to get in the habit of journaling whatever verse(s) that catch my attention. That being said, here’s the gem I found today:

“But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

You may be thinking… Okay.. So what? Where’s the gem?

Wait for it..

Paul recognized the ever-growing opposition against him, but still chose to prolong his stay in Ephesus. “Effective work has opened to me.” I can almost hear the excitement in his voice! He knew that there was still a great opportunity to reach out and love those who were oppressing him. He realized that he still had a purpose there, no matter the cost.

My pastor (the great Todd Cook!) really enlightened me a few weeks ago when he said that “there’s no great opportunity without some level of opposition.” Think about anything great you have done, whether athletically, academically, socially, etc. Did you come against obstacles? Challenges? Set backs? The answer is likely to be yes. Where these things may have been discouraging, the reward made it all worth it.

We can look at Paul’s reaction and truly learn from it. We face so much daily opposition, and rather than becoming angry, hopeless, or fearful, we can choose to move forward with excitement.

Today: challenge yourself to move about your comfort zone, and trust that God will lead you to success.

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