Thanking God for a Spiritual World
Jesus. A real person. Anchored in history. Four biographies written by his contemporaries. All attest he was the Son of God. But what does he look like? In most depictions in America he looks Caucasian. Shop for a velvet painting in Tijuana—Hispanic. I’ve seen images of him as black, Asian, about all. We all seem to envision him like ourselves, and I kind of like that.
The above pic may be close. A scientist used three skulls from the time and region that Jesus lived in, and presents this as possible. Could be.
But really, it doesn’t matter—I most thank God that I can know Jesus, personally, along with the Father, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Can anything in life match the ability to know God and Jesus? That’s the essence of life to the max. So let’s express our thanks for the chance to know God, to have a spiritual life.
Kick Starting the Gratitude
Pull out that paper and pen again for our last installment on the Gratitude Project.
To refresh your memories, write how you first came to know Jesus—what drew you to him? Then list 5-10 traits or things he has done in your life that you appreciate. Then, express your gratitude to him and the Father for each.
FYI, we’ll do something similar to help us get ready for the key meaning of Christmas a bit later!
Thanking God for a Purposeful World
In researching a book proposal I came across a quote by Jean Paul Sartre, “Without God, we are condemned to be free…Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.” Or, we have no purpose beyond a relentless pursuit of personal pleasure and advancement.” Kind of describes our culture—a zero sum game where we compete for who gets the most.
I’m grateful to God for giving us an option, a purpose, something to build our lives on. A purpose big enough to overcome the self absorption we all share. When asked about what’s most important to God, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence…(and) love others as well as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39-40, The Message).
Very simply, to love means acting to benefit the one you love. That passion to benefit God and others and ourselves puts our personal pursuits into the right proportion. A goal to build a life around.
Kick Starting the Gratitude
Think a bit about what drives your life. Do you have that balance of loving God first, and then others and yourselves? Think a bit about how you can better balance of this purpose of love. Then, grab that sheet of paper, make a list of 10 acts you can do this Thanksgiving Week to demonstrate love, and then thank God for the chance to serve him in each of these acts of love.
Thanking God for a Connected World
Although they’d never admit it publicly, among themselves pastors often confess, “I really love the church. But I sure struggle with some of the people.” And we’re all like that, being imperfect with some rough edges. Science defines friction as two uneven surfaces that rub against one another, producing heat.” We can all relate to that.
However, that doesn’t match the plan. In Genesis 2:18 God proclaimed it’s not good to be alone, and research supports that. The better our relationships, the more we cherish them, the better our health. Hugs can be a part of that, we need human touch. So today, celebrate and express gratitude for the people who have touched you, who have made your life better. That can be family, friends, fellow workers, neighbors, and more. Try to focus on those with a positive spiritual impact on your life.
Begin by grabbing some paper and a writing utensil, and write down 10 people who have blessed your life, then express your gratitude to God for each of them. Tell him specifically WHY you’re thankful. If you can, share that with some of them. And, feel free to share some of these on Facebook. On my reminder thread, or your own. Let’s spread that transforming gratitude.
The brevity of Thanksgiving has long troubled me. One day. And really, just a moment there, with a quick prayer of thanks before feasting with the family begins, before old stories are remembered and new ones get shared, before we chew down a handful of Tums. Then a good friend, Murray Pura, piqued my thoughts by posting a Canadian Thanksgiving menu covering four days. Why can’t we focus on giving thanks for those days? OK, no menus, just fresh thoughts on each of the four days leading up to the big day.
You see, as the quote in the pic shows, gratitude changes us. If you’re at all like me, we all could use some good changes. And to make it easy, the new post each day will come in above the previous ones.
Thanking God for the Physical World
With the plethora of fires and disasters, with Jenny O turkeys being recalled (salmonella) and about 55,000 CA chickens being destroyed (Newcastle’s Disease), with storms and tornadoes and hurricanes bringing destruction, we can easily get frustrated with the physical world. But maybe thanks can balance that, and even tilt it in the positive direction. God gave us a physical world. Physical bodies. Yes, the fallenness of both brings flaws. But innately, being physical is good. In the first five days of creation, God did it all, and called it good. Day 6 saw humanity enter the picture, and it all became very good.
Our verse for the day, “Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, The Message). Focus this day on the beauty of the world. The flavor of grilled salmon. The tang of lemonade. The beauty of the mountains around us. The waves of grain in late summer. The freshening of rain. Or, for everything physical. That’s good.
Kick Starting the Gratitude
Begin by grabbing some paper and a writing utensil, and write down 10 aspects that you appreciate about being physical. About living in a physical world. Then, express your gratitude to God for each of them, and tell him specifically WHY you’re thankful. And, feel free to share some of these on Facebook. On my reminder thread, or your own. Let’s spread that transforming gratitude.