Thanksgiving as a historical holiday was steeped in giving thanks to God for seeing that the needs of the original colonists were met. Even though the holiday remains, the religious significance has been shed by much of the population.
As Christians, giving thanks to God isn’t solely reserved for the national holiday. Giving thanks should be a part of each day we have the pleasure of seeing. Being thankful regularly is rooted in building a habit or a lifestyle of thanksgiving.
There are several ways you can build a path to becoming more thankful each day.
God calls us to be thankful. 1 Timothy 4:4-5 states “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
Try starting your prayers with thankfulness to God. Psalm 100:4 says “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise”.
Beginning your prayers with what you are thankful for will help you express your thankfulness to God and also make you aware of even more things to give thanks for.
Build a habit of thanking a friend, family member, or coworker for something they did. Being intentional about thanking people for their thoughtfulness and even going out of your way to be kind to others will make an impression on you and the people around you. An attitude of gratitude can be contagious.
Keeping a journal of what you are thankful for will also help you recall things for which to give thanks during your prayer time. Take a sheet of paper and list the things that you want to thank God for at the end of your day. Make this a daily habit and it will have an impact.
We have many reasons to be thankful. As Christians, we should live lives that reflect our gratitude, not only to God but also to each other.
It’s easy for the cares of everyday life to become our focus and let God drift into the background of our thoughts. When we journey down that road, we begin to think that life is really all about us, that each step we take over the years is planned, plotted, and tread by our own design. Indeed it could be.
Think of this verse: John 12:25 “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
There are so many things the world offers for us to focus on: our family, our career, our various hobbies and interests, and more. God tells us that whoever is in love with the life they live, will lose it.
How so? Their mind is not on the things of God. In fact, it’s on everything but God or maybe the person has room for God at a particular moment or day of the week, depending on what is going on in their life.
However, those who keep their minds on God, on His Word, and are spiritually growing are actually expressing that they hate their life in this world. The world looks at them and wonders why they are wasting their life.
True followers of Christ by the world’s standard are losing everything, but the Bible tells us they will have eternal life.
“Love” and “hate” may cause confusion to some who read that verse and others like it. Is God saying we must hate our life or our family? No, not at all. Rather, He is saying that we should put 100% of our time, energy, and effort into His will. We must remember that He is the King and that we are His subjects. The dedication, love, and time we place on the Lord will appear as if we hate everything else.
We have been bought with a price. Now, we must focus our attention and energy on His purposes. That one verse for those who wonder what Jesus is talking about can change your perspective on life and point you in the direction of a spiritual purpose. A purpose that this world won’t agree with, but that will prove the validity of your salvation, where one day you will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The Bible has volumes of knowledge on vast sums of subject matter. Many in the Church today have had their spiritual aptitude labeled as “an inch deep and a mile wide”, meaning that their knowledge of the Christian faith is shallow.
The truth is that we all have to start somewhere, and for many of us it began as a child going to Sunday School and listening to Bible stories. Those can serve as a great introduction to the Bible, but what about actually presenting the Gospel message to kids? Great question! Here are a few things to consider when sharing the hope that lies within you with children.
When sharing the Gospel with kids, keep in mind that they don’t need every detail. You won’t have to go into all the aspects of justification, or even bring that word into the conversation. Use vocabulary that the children you are speaking to will understand. Instead of speaking about our spiritual debt, you could explain that Jesus died willingly so that our sins could be taken away.
The great thing about kids is that they know right from wrong. They understand internally when they do something wrong. In other words, their conscience tells them so. With this thought in mind, telling them about sin is one way to make it personal. We don’t want to bash them with a list of sins they’ve done, but we want to show them the good news that Jesus died so that we live with Him for eternity. Kids don’t have the hangups that adults do when talking about these things.
Continually teach the Gospel to them. We all need to be reminded about what Jesus did for us on the cross, but children need it that much more. They aren’t used to hearing the Gospel message and for many, it will be the first time they hear it. Take these opportunities to pour truth into their life, for the world is trying to impress its own worldview on them. 1st Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give an answer to everyone for the hope that lies within us.
“You’re not spending any time with us since you got THAT partner” … say your friends.
“Why do you always choose to spend time with your friends over me” … says your partner.
It’s like every day is loaded with an onslaught of battles coming at you from different directions. And it’s coming from the people who are supposed to care about you.
How do you make the choice among those you love?
Who comes first?
For you, you focus on taking care of yourself first. Doing so increases your mental strength. Your empowerment. Because you consider such requests for your time to be tasks.
As such, you complete one task at a time. For example, spending time with your partner and then moving to the next task of spending time with your friends. And while you’re performing a task, you don’t dwell on the other tasks that are waiting in the queue for your attention. You just methodically move from one to the next as the tasks have been placed in order by You.
In doing so, you stay focused on the task you’re in, find the fun in it, and when done you simply move on.
It’s the same procedure you follow when dealing with battles you’re confronted with while on the job.
Because Life’s too short. There’s so much you want to do.
And you’ve got better things to do with your remaining time than worrying about others interrupting your priorities.
You are free. You are being You.
Now using My S-T-O-I-C STORYTELLING method:
(S) I feel pulled between spending time alone between my partner and my friends. How can I find the positive in this?
(T) “There is no virtue in putting up with that which one does not feel.” Seneca
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Apostle Paul
(O) I decided to focus on satisfying my needs first when making decisions about sharing my time.
(I) I realized that life is made up of pleasures and pain and by getting my mind in order first, things requiring my attention will run smoother.
(C) The character trait that I improved was being even-minded and satisfied with my decisions.
The Stoicess’ Secret:
To pull yourself together, always live in calmer weather.
Finding a church home can be a daunting task. What should Christians consider when visiting a church? What makes a “good” church? Or what should be included in the shortlist from which you answer this important decision? Take a look at several factors that should play a role when choosing your church home.
Sound biblical preaching and teaching are the cornerstones of any church worth its membership. If the preaching at the church includes exegesis or critical explanation and interpretation of the text then you’ve found a potential church home. As a lifelong student of the Bible, your church home should give you additional insight into the Word of God for living a life well-pleasing to the Lord.
Are the members of your potential church home friendly? Do they exhibit godly characteristics or are they involved in the church ministry somehow? As Christians, we’re called to be involved in active ministry within the local church as a service to the community. If you see evidence of ministry activity among the congregation, this is a sign that the church is alive. This should be considered in your search for a church home because it will also motivate you to be involved once you become a member.
A church that holds regular events and group activities is a great place for any member, singles, and families alike. This could include churchwide events, but smaller groups such as bible studies and weekly classes allow for more intimate gatherings where friendships form. Christians need Christian friends with which they journey through life together. The presence of age-appropriate classes is a great candidate for a church to call home.
There are many things that could be included in the shortlist of qualities a great church possesses. Finding a church that holds these qualities facilitates Christian growth and allows the body of Christ to shine brightly among the local community.
John Wycliffe was an English theologian who is considered to be one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. He was a strong advocate for vernacular translations of the Bible and his teachings inspired subsequent Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin. Though his legacy has been tarnished by accusations of heresy, Wycliffe’s impact on Christian history cannot be denied.
John Wycliffe became one of the most controversial figures of the 14th century. He was born in the year 1330 in the village of Hipswell in Yorkshire. He attended Merton College, Oxford, where he studied theology and philosophy. After being ordained as a priest, Wycliffe became a popular lecturer at the university. It was there that he became influenced by the writings of the French theologian John Duns Scotus which inspired his reformative beliefs.
He was a strong advocate for an English bible and argued that the Bible should be accessible to all people. His teachings sparked controversy, and he was eventually branded a heretic by the Catholic Church.
Wycliffe is best remembered for his translation of the Bible into English which laid the groundwork for future English translations, such as the King James Version. Throughout his career, Wycliffe spoke out against many of the practices of the Catholic Church, including indulgences, pilgrimage, and transubstantiation. He also argued that the Church should not own property or wield political power. His views were denounced by the Church, and he was excommunicated posthumously.
Nevertheless, Wycliffe’s ideas continued to spread, and after his death, his followers continued to promote his teachings. He died in 1384, but his ideas would live on and continue to inspire others in the centuries that followed.
The travels of Paul (born Saul) began with his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). After his conversion, he traveled from place to place to spread the gospel (Galatians 1:17-21). This journey took him from Jerusalem to Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, and many other places in Asia Minor and even Europe.
Scholars debate about the number of times he traveled, but there is consensus that he made at least four missionary trips around the Mediterranean Sea.
Paul first traveled to Syria, where he met with a Jew named Barnabas and took him along on the journey. They went through Salamis, Paphos, Cyprus, Perga, Derbe, Lystra, and then on to Attalia (Antalya). There, they traveled throughout the region, preaching to the people and converting many Jews and Gentiles.
Paul first went to Cyprus. He then made his way to Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), where he stayed for three years. In this journey, Paul continued preaching the Word of God, converting people to Christianity, and establishing new churches. After three years, Paul returned home to Jerusalem where he remained for two more years before leaving again on another mission trip.
Paul traveled from Ephesus to Caesarea, passing through Galatia and Phrygia, preaching extensively. While working with the church, he also wrote letters to many churches and individuals, including the Corinthians and Galatians. From here, Paul was warned to stay away from Jerusalem but went back anyway.
This was the last of Paul’s missionary journeys. From Rome, his travels took him to Spain, where he visited many cities and was able to spread the word about Jesus Christ. After some time preaching in Spain, he returned to Rome again as a prisoner. In prison, he wrote his second letter to Timothy before he was beheaded a year later.
When a person is head over heels in love with another, they may see getting married as the ultimate goal. Tying the knot is a big decision, but how will we know if we have the right reason to get married?
Marriage symbolizes two people making a lifelong commitment to one another. That’s why it’s so important to marry because of love and not for any other reason. Many marriages end in failure because the couple’s initial motivations were flawed. Every person must ask themselves: “Do I love this person? Can I spend the rest of my life with them? Can I stay committed?”
People get married for all kinds of reasons, including acquiring immigration visas. A person plans to settle in a country for good, so they get married to obtain a visa that will allow them to apply for a permanent right to stay later on.
Sometimes people get married to appease others, and many couples tie the knot for no other reason than to start a family. A marriage is doomed to fail if the two people involved aren’t joining their lives together out of genuine love for one another.
Romance fades, physical attraction wanes, and life gets in the way of even the healthiest relationships. When these situations happen, it’s good to have someone we can rely on in other ways. When choosing a partner, we should look for someone who is not just compatible with us romantically but also someone we can trust as a friend.
Like any relationship, it takes two to make a marriage. When two people marry, they effectively merge their two lives into one. That’s why true love should be their driving force behind tying the knot. We see God’s unfailing love for us in the way that marriage unites two people. When two people love each other without conditions, happiness and fulfillment naturally follow.
It’s been another long day at the office. You’re exhausted and ready to spend some quality time with your partner to heal your mind. But on entering your home a different atmosphere is present. You immediately realize your partner is upset—those rain clouds are moving in and your partner is about to unleash the thunder and lightning on you. And it begins. Subtle at first, then their voice gets louder as they become more upset until it’s outright yelling.
“Should I yell back?” You ask yourself. “Should I tell them they’re right and hope for the best that they’ll stop the onslaught?”
Instead, you remember to grab your umbrella when such events unfold. And what’s your umbrella? It’s your refusal to participate in the argument. It’s a fight without an opponent. As the adage goes, “it takes two to argue”.
As you remind yourself, “Silence” is your shield to protect both of you from harmful words – those Thunderbolts you each might throw at each other while the storm ensues. As Apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” You know that arguments are supposed to focus on an idea, but can quickly turn into quarrels – a criticism of another’s behavior.
And your goal is to address a problem and not how either of you is behaving while arguing. So, you listen intently to what is being said with the goal of identifying the problem, but remain silent until the storm passes. Once the storm passes, you approach your partner in kindness and attempt to address the problem peacefully. For you remember again Apostle Paul’s words, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone”.
(S) My partner and I are fighting more and more. How do we get out of this hole?
(T) “To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden.” Seneca
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone”. Apostle Paul
(O) I decided to disengage once the other only saw their perspective.
(I) I realized I needed to remain silent until the storm passed but listen for what the problem might be.
(C) The character trait I improved was remaining calm and reserved.
When your partner is upset, don’t throw thunderbolts criticizing their behavior.
John Bunyan was a Christian pastor and writer who lived in England during the 1600s and 1700s. He was a man of great faith who — in the midst of great adversity — found a way to bring glory to God. Born in 1628 to a poor family, Bunyan grew up in England during a time when the Church of England was the only legal church. Bunyan’s father died when he was young, and his mother remarried shortly after his father’s death. He grew up with his stepfather — a strict Puritan (someone who believes in strict religious practices and rules) who had no tolerance for Bunyan’s desire to pursue a career as a preacher.
The most well-known and influential figure in the Puritan movement, Bunyan started preaching at the age of 13. He was well-respected for his preaching ability and was known for being able to draw large crowds. As a talented writer, he was also known for his work “The Pilgrim’s Progress” — which is considered by many to be one of the most important works ever written on faith. However, his writings and achievements went far beyond that.
During his era, open preaching was a crime in England. If someone was caught preaching, they could go to prison or be put on trial for their beliefs. Despite difficulties, Bunyan became known for his sermons on the book of Revelation, which were considered controversial because they were not based on the official teaching of the Church of England at that time.
In 1653 he was arrested for preaching without a license and jailed for 12 years. During his imprisonment, he wrote “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” and “The Pilgrim’s Progress” which both describe his spiritual struggle prior to conversion. After his release from prison, he immediately returned to spreading God’s Word. Unfortunately, Bunyan suffered an illness and died in 1688 at the age of 60. However, his legacy still lives on, and his books are still read by many Christians to this day.