Thanksgiving

“Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2

There is a saying people have, “Life is hard.” While in one sense that is true, life is full of hard things, the saying itself is the result of a lack of understanding, and ultimately thankfulness. Because Jesus, who is the truth, says that His burden is easy and light (Matthew 11:28-30). Does the truth of that statement change when something bad happens? No, regardless of our situation the burden of Jesus is easy and light.

The truth is, the very fact that this saying, “Life is hard,” (and many others) exists, reveals that most human beings have had their minds so washed by the world (not Word) that negativity is weaved into their character. It shows that you and I have a tendency that comes with our flesh that causes us to automatically look at bad instead of good, like we are automatically attracted to the thing we should not be attracted to!

For example, the other day I was outside and the sun was shining and the sky was clear. I said, “It’s so clear out, what a beautiful day.” My companion responded, “Yeah it’s clear, which means it’s going to get hot!”

In the wilderness with Moses, the one thing God pointed out over and over again, and what eventually caused the Israelites to be destroyed, was their chronic complaining. No matter what God did for them, no matter the power He showed, His glory, provision, manifest presence, they always found something wrong. God despises that attitude.

People say they aren’t positive because they are “realists.” My friends, there is no such thing as a realist in that sense. A realist is always nothing more than a pessimist with a different label, and there is not a pessimist in the world who has the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ and pessimism are utterly in contrast to one another. God is love, and what is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (emphasis mine)

Did you read the part in where it says love is negative? Nope! It’s not in there! As a matter of fact, the exact opposite, love always hopes! One definition of hope is a feeling of trust. We trust God and have an attitude of thankfulness in every situation, and that does not change because our situation changes. We thank God when we have much and when we have scraps. As a missionary for over a decade I know something about scraps. Countless times I have had to buy food for my family by counting pennies from the jar on my fridge. I also know something about being utterly thankful that God provided those pennies.

A realist in the true, Christian form is the utterly positive person. That one person who is so positive they make everyone else mad. In the Kingdom of God that is what a realist looks like, because they always see how God’s hand is either pouring out blessings or coming to deliver them, which is reality for a believer.

Once before I was married, I was with a fellow missionary in a house we were renting for $80 a month here in Panama. We had no money, no food, absolutely nothing. We were sitting in the living room, hungry, and talking about what we should do. I have seen God provide for me since I was a boy and know countless stories of God’s awesome provision, so I suggested we trust God would provide and we walk to the store. We didn’t have vehicles or anything so it was about a mile walk to get there.

About ten minutes or so into the walk down a dusty back way, as we prayed and asked God to help us out, we both saw something fluttering in the wind under a rock on the side of the road. It was a $20 bill just waiting for us! We bought burgers and fries and even rented a movie with that bad boy!

There is always hope. As long as Jesus is sitting on the throne, which He always will be, there is hope. We lose out on the blessing of God when we whine and complain. Complaining is the opposite of a declaration of faith. It is a form of doubt that needs to be scrubbed out of our lives.

If you find yourself complaining or looking for the negative, please change that. Your flesh will want to fall into it, but make an active decision to be positive and thankful. This is all part of the process of having your mind renewed.

When people read the Old Testament they often focus on the wrath of God, but skip over the fact that God always ended on a positive, redeeming note. He didn’t hide the fact that people were doing evil, nor am I saying we should not acknowledge that bad things happen. Evil does exist and we do realize we have an enemy who is actively attempting to destroy us, but love never ever fails, and even when it looks like we are losing, in the end we always win 100% of the time.

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