7 Signs of a Grateful Heart

7 Signs of a Grateful Heart

It’s something the Bible instructs us on: ‘to give thanks in all things’. There are many benefits of a thankful heart, but how do you know if you really have one? I came up with seven signs I’ve seen in the lives of those who are truly thankful…

If you live with gratitude:

1. You aren’t always trying to prove yourself. You’re no longer trying to establish your identity by what you do or who you relate to. You know who you are, you’re grateful for who you are, and you’re content to just be who you are whether others appreciate you or not.

2. You aren’t petty. If your heart is full of gratitude, you feel no need to make trivial comments that dishonor other people, you don’t perceive personal slights where there aren’t any, and you don’t overreact even to real offenses.

3. You are generous. You are magnanimous with your words, you have room in your wallet and your schedule for other people’s needs, and you don’t live with a self-seeking agenda. Why? Because you know if you have been given much, you will be given more, and you don’t have to hoard resources or feed your ego.

4. You don’t begin sentences or thoughts with, “If only …” Everyone has regrets about the past and hopes for the future, but thankful hearts are able to move beyond the past and look forward to future blessings without anxiety over whether they will happen or not.

5. You aren’t always trying to get ahead. If you’re grateful for everything in your life, you feel like you already are ahead—even while you pursue dreams and goals for the future.

6. The people around you know they are appreciated. If you’re really a thankful person, the people around you will know they are a big part of what you are thankful for. Your gratitude to God will translate into gratitude for them.

7. You know you are appreciated—if not by others, at least by the God who made you and values you. You can rest in that love. There’s nothing left to strive for. There may be plenty to do, but nothing left to prove. Which leads us back to point number 1.

In short, a grateful heart strengthens you against many of the wounds and insecurities that drag people down and damage their relationships. Spend some time this week cultivating gratitude in your heart. It will bear fruit in your life you’ll never regret.

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by Chris Tiegreen.

Distractions & Moments of Peace

Distractions & Moments of Peace

Distractions!

“I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the
Lord best,with as few distractions as possible.”  
1 Corinthians 7:35

MANY YEARS AGO, Leadership Journal ran a cartoon of Martin Luther sitting in front of a television, holding a remote control and channel surfing. The title offered the comment “If there had been television in 1517,” and the punch line was Luther saying, “I ought to write down those ninety-five things I was thinking about the other day… naaah … let’s see what’s on the tube.” The great Reformer, who is famous for writing ninety-five charges against the church and changing the landscape of Christianity by introducing Protestantism, was procrastinating so that he could watch a little more TV.

Television, video games, social media. They seem like harmless distractions, but they can be empty, time-wasting bunk. Though they may provide a mental break for the moment, when I think of all the other, more significant things I could be accomplishing, I cringe.

How much healthier would I be had I taken a walk rather than channel surfed for two hours? How much face-to-face time could I have had with family and friends had I not spent hours on social media-often while sitting next to one of them? How many people did I fail to give a kind word and a smile because I was too engaged with a game app on my phone? How many conversations with God did I miss because I was busy checking how many Facebook likes I received?

When God has called us to do something Kingdom important, that’s exciting! Let’s commit to avoiding distractions so we don’t lose out on opportunities to make a lasting difference in the world and into eternity.

Step of Faith

Father, I am so easily distracted! When I look at what distracts me, I can’t believe what I fall victim to. Make me aware of when I’m losing focus on what’s truly important-and give me strength to choose wisely.

“You are the light of the world.”

“You are the light of the world.”

Matthew 5:14

The apostle John tells us that Jesus was the true light coming into the world (John 1:9). He shone into our darkness, but the darkness did not understand Him. Jesus takes His identity a step further. He tells His disciples—He tells us—that we are also lights in the world. The One who came to shine uses lanterns He has Himself redeemed. We have a bright, holy purpose.

We often think that we are called to shine as lights because this world needs light. That’s true, but we have an even higher calling than that. We are to shine as lights because Jesus is light. Our holy calling is to reflect Him, to display Him, and to worship Him by being the vessels by which He reveals Himself to others. Radiating Jesus is the highest honor we can give Him, not just because the world needs Him, but because He is beautiful. If that’s hard to believe, consider our future: We will be shining His light and reflecting His glory long after this world has passed away. It won’t be because someone needs convincing; it will be simply because of who He is. Our shining is more for the sake of His eternal glory than for the needs of this present darkness.

Do you reflect Jesus? Have you ever been able to put your agenda aside—even the good parts of it—simply to be like Him? There is no greater task. Our primary responsibility in this world, as His servants and His children, is to show His kind of mercy, do His kind of works, pray His kind of prayers, tell His kind of stories, and seek His kind of justice. The grace, forgiveness, and love of Jesus are to permeate everything we do. Why? Because He is light, and we were created to shine.

Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is. — A. W. Tozer

Additional Reading:
Matthew 5:14-16

“I don’t have time to read my Bible…”

“I don’t have time to read my Bible…”

Turning the calendar into a new year often sparks a desire to step into new adventures, start healthy habits like exercising and eating well, read more books, get our finances in order, and more, with a renewed resolve for improving our lives.

Yet, it’s no secret that most of our best intentions don’t result in lasting change. Researchers vary on how long New Year’s resolutions will last, but it’s not promising. We all know it – resolutions usually don’t stick. Strava—the fitness app that is popular with cyclists and runners—deemed January 19 as “quitters day” because 19 days into the new year was when most people quit their new exercise commitments.

The desire to do something new in the new year isn’t enough for most people to stick with it.

The same is true of Bible reading. The beginning of a new year often stirs a desire within us to read through the Bible. There is no shortage of Bible reading plans that can guide you from Genesis to Revelation over the next 12 months. But more than a few of us who have wanted to read through the Bible in the new year never made it out of Genesis, or we got lost with the Israelites in the wilderness, or we got bogged down in the regulations in Leviticus.

For lots of would-be Bible readers who set out to read the Bible through in a year, one of the major reasons people give up Is the struggle to find time for daily Bible reading.

Bible reading commitments get squeezed out by all the other stuff that fills our days. Unfortunately, the new year doesn’t come with any extra minutes in the day. To find time to read the Bible in 2024, we are going to have fit it into what is probably already a schedule that is too full.

But how? How can we do it? How can we find time to read through the Bible in 2024? Here are three practical suggestions.

Repurpose Your Time
A rather simple strategy to find time to read the Bible is simply to repurpose time.

My 11-year-old son often asks my wife to read the Bible to him in the evening. We love that he wants to hear the Bible! But after school, homework, sports practices, and dinner, finding time to read the Bible was becoming a challenge. So, my wife found a creative, yet somewhat comical solution. After he gets in the shower, she goes in the bathroom, closes the lid to the toilet, and sits there and reads the Bible to him while he shampoos his hair. He has heard a lot of New Testament this past year from behind a shower curtain!

Maybe bathroom Bible reading isn’t your thing, but where can you repurpose some time to find Bible reading opportunities? There are great audio Bible options to listen to the Bible during your commute or while driving kids to school and activities. Can you read the Bible as you eat your breakfast or lunch? We all spend lots of time waiting—waiting for the doctor, waiting for a hair appointment, waiting for meetings, waiting for flights, waiting in pick-up lines at our kids’ schools, and more. What if we used this waiting time to read the Bible in the new year?

Time is the great equalizer. None of us can create more of it. We all have the same amount each day. But it is our choice as to how we spend our time. Why not be more intentional this year about using some of that time to read the Bible in the new year?

Trim the Time Wasters
Throughout history there have always been temptations to waste time, but modern technologies provide no shortage of ways to simply let time slip by.

Some researchers suggest we spend on average more than two hours on social media sites every day. While at first that may not seem possible, 15 minutes scrolling aimlessly a few times a day can really add up. When you add in any time spent watching TV or time spent playing a game on your phone, this can be a lot of minutes that are simply lost. Most of us could easily sacrifice some time we spend on technology to use time in more productive ways.

Try making an appointment with yourself to read the Bible. Add it to your calendar. Or set an alarm at the same time every day. Treat that appointment or alarm like you would any other important meeting in your day. When we turn off the phone, shut out distractions, quiet the noise of daily life, we can focus on the most important thing in that moment—and that is spending time with our heavenly Father and His Word.

Finding time to read the Bible may not as complicated as we think. If you are looking for time to read the Bible in 2024, it may be a simple as just trimming those time wasters.

Make a Small Sacrifice
As the often-quoted adage goes: The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

The Bible can seem daunting, overwhelming to read—especially if we are trying to read all of it. However, for most readers, it only takes 12-15 minutes per day to read the entire Bible in one year. Think about that…just 15 minutes a day and you could read through the Bible every year!

Making a seemingly small sacrifice may be all that is needed to find time to read through the Bible in 2024. Setting your alarm to wake up 15 minutes earlier or reading for 15 minutes before you go to bed or listening to the Bible on your commute is a small sacrifice. Yet this may be all that’s needed to read the whole Bible this year.

Where can you make a small sacrifice to find 15 minutes each day to read your Bible this year? We all get 1,440 minutes a day, each day. Making sure we spend 15 of them to hear from God seems like a wise choice in this new year.

When I’ve talked to people about why they don’t read the Bible, finding time to do it is an often-cited reason. And I get it. Our schedules are full. Our days are long. And the thought of trying to squeeze one more thing into our 24 hours just feels overwhelming. However, an intentional decision to be purposeful with our time—even just 15 minutes a day—means you could read the entire Bible in 2024.

And that decision might be the most important thing you choose to do in the new year.

by Michael Gunnin

The Prophetic Enigma:

The Prophetic Enigma:

THE FULFILLMENT OF THE AGES

The Messiah had been prophesied for centuries. But on the surface, the prophecies were patchwork, a confusing array of diverse predictions. Prophetic “calculators”—the Scripture experts— couldn’t quite add them up. The best they could do was watch and wait.

Hindsight has helped us; we would have been just as confused. We would not have known what to make of seemingly contradictory facts: Messiah would be from Bethlehem and from Egypt. He would be the seed of the woman and the Son of God. He would be David’s descendant and David’s Lord. He would reign and He would suffer. Yes, the prophecies of the Reconciler were hard to reconcile.

But at the appointed time, Jesus came, born of a virgin. Son of Man and Son of God. Born in Bethlehem (a lowly place), sojourning in Egypt (a sinful place), and settling in Nazareth (a despised place). A suffering Servant, a King in humble disguise. A Branch (Isaiah 11:1) and a Root (Isaiah 11:10). Worshiped by kings and despised by men. Dying, yet eternal. Any way you look at it, our Messiah was a walking, talking bundle of paradoxes.

It is often calculated that the odds of one person fulfilling all the messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures are one in some astronomical number. I’d suggest that the odds of fulfilling these particular prophecies are even more astronomical. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill prophecies (not that there is such a thing). These appear deeply conflicted—not just extremely unlikely for more than one person to fulfill, but impossible for anyone to fulfill. Ever.

These foretastes of salvation come from a diverse range of prophets and poets and scribes, from various Hebrew cultures across vastly different ages. They speak of life and death and suffering and joy and birth and betrayal and the power of the almighty God. They promise unimaginable glory and offer an unimaginable kingdom. They address every need of a human heart. But the one thing they don’t do is paint a simple picture.

After all, no one can be from Bethlehem and Egypt and from a despised, separate place like Nazareth. No one can be from the seed of the woman and be divine. No one can be a baby and “God with us.” No one can be the son of Abraham and the Father of Abraham, or the son of David and the Lord of David. No one can die and live. Can he?

But Yeshua the Messiah did.

The impossible became real, not just in prophecy, but in every aspect of Jesus’ ministry. When Jesus stepped into this fallen world, “impossible” lost all relevance. It just doesn’t apply anymore. Paradoxes can be resolved, enigmas can make sense, and sinners can be saved. The blind can see, the captives can be released, the lame can walk, and dry bones can get up and dance.

Jesus came not only at the appointed time, but also with an appointed, prophesied meaning. Everything is made complete in Him. So, whatever hopes you have this Christmas season—whatever enigmas riddle your life while the rest of the world celebrates a holiday—remove the stamp of “impossible” from them. And hundreds of fulfilled prophecies will bear witness to your faith.

by Chris Tiegreen. ©2021 by Walk Thru the Bible.

A Discipline of Thanks

A Discipline of Thanks

Enter his gates with thanksgiving. (Psalm 100:4)

The distance of God is an all-too-common malady among believers. It isn’t that God is really distant, but we go through waves of feeling that He is. Sometimes the waves are prolonged—circumstances batter us, discouragement plagues us, and God seems far, far away.

God’s prescription for entering His presence is to give thanks. This verse doesn’t just tell us the right attitude with which we are go enter His gates; it also tells us the means by which we enter them. Thanksgiving coupled with praise will bring us to where He is; or it will bring Him to where we are. Either way, we find that worshipful gratitude is the right place to be. God lives where He is acknowledged.

If God does not seem to be living near you, perhaps there is something lacking in your acknowledgment. You rarely see gratitude in someone who thinks negatively about life. Why? Pessimistic thoughts remove the glory of His presence. Negative thinking is not faith; it is the antithesis of reality from God’s point of view. Reality, as He defines it, is all about who He is and what He does. Negativity isn’t. It assumes the worst.  It feeds—and is fed by—the enemy of God.

Thanksgiving coupled with praise will bring us to where He is; or it will bring Him to where we are. Either way, we find that worshipful gratitude is the right place to be.

Paul told believers to give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He didn’t tell them to give thanks only when the clear evidence of God’s blessing is visible. He told them to give thanks always—in every situation. How can we do this? On the basis of who God is. If we always see the downside, we are doubting something about God—that He is good, or able, or wise. But if we know that he is good, and that He is sovereign, and that He is wise, we can give thanks that He is working out His plan even in the difficult circumstances of life.

Establish in your mind a discipline of thanks. Enumerate every aspect of your life and thank God for it. In every circumstance, choose to see it from an angle that will cultivate gratitude. God will be honored. And His presence will be real.

A life of thankfulness releases the glory of God. — Bengt Sundberg

READ: Psalm 100

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©2023 by Walk Thru the Bible