Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Challenging Thankful Challenge

For the past several years, the 30 day Thankful Challenge has been popular on Facebook.  Each day, you post something that you are thankful for.  It’s a great way to remind ourselves that we have a lot of things to be thankful for.  BUT if you want a real challenge in being thankful, don’t think of things, but be thankful in circumstances, in whatever is happening in your life.  Every one of us is struggling with something, and we need to be thankful in it.

In Philippians, Paul tells us there are four thieves that rob us of our joy:
  • circumstances
  • people
  • things
  • worry

He then tells us how to keep these things from making us into bitter, whiny, complainers.
  • Be single-minded:  This means to stay focused on our blessings and our allegiance to God.  James 1:6-8 tells us that a double minded     person is unstable in all his ways.  God wants all of our loyalty, not for it to be divided between Him and this world.
  • Have a submissive mind:  This means to stay focused on others.  Take a look around, and take your eyes off of yourself and your problems for a moment.  Choose to help people in need around you.  This can help in so many ways, plus it can help curb annoyances with other people when we aren’t getting our way.
  • Have a spiritual mind:  Spiritual minded people focus on what God wants.  They are looking for lessons and messages in every circumstance.  If we choose to look at things that way, instead of being obsessed with what we do or do not have , things will start looking up.
  • Secure your mind:  People with secure minds just don’t allow worry to enter them.  Having a secure mind means that you have guarded your heart and mind with the word of God, and you have faith that good will come from whatever is going on.

Following Christ is an action.  We are not to sit around and play a passive role, but instead we should be active; always abounding in the work of the Lord:  praying, rejoicing, and being thankful no matter what.  

We might be weak, we might cry too often and proclaim, “I can’t do this, God”, BUT God is faithful.  He fills in for the weakling.  He gives joy.  He provides mercy that we do not have, patience that we cannot muster and love for people who might not be easy to love.

Happiness is not based on your circumstances, but on a decision that you make.  Paul was literally chained to a prison guard at all times.  However, through it all, he had joy.  He prayed without ceasing, he wrote letters encouraging churches to be faithful, he witnessed to the guards, the other prisoners and to high officials.  By the way, Paul would probably never have come in contact with these people if he hadn’t been imprisoned.

Paul didn’t let his circumstances rob him of his joy because he wasn’t living to enjoy circumstances, he was living to serve Christ. And he was thankful in every situation that he was put in, no matter how difficult it was.

Whether you are facing unemployment, cancer, a rebellious child, caring for aging parents, uncertainty or anything else you’re struggling with, choose to be thankful.  It’s a challenge, but I am taking it.  How about you?

Passages to Ponder:

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

James 1:6-8  But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Philippians 2:3  Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby,  Tammy Holtzapfel, Kim McClure and Shawna Nelson