No Thanks

No Thanks

Last night one of our colleagues was sharing a story of a very prominent man and his wife.  This man and his wife were highly educated and strongly atheistic.  They had one son together. When their son decided to trust in Christ, they were sorely disappointed.  The last thing they wanted for him was to actually believe in God and live accordingly.  Our co-worker tried to build a redemptive relationship with this man; they would have meals together.  One thing that particularly irritated the man was when our friend would say “thank you.” beach blog He actually ridiculed and harassed him for always saying “thank you.” Since he found it so irritating, our colleague tried to refrain from saying that he was thankful when with him.

Thankfulness is showing that you humbly accept someone else’s help. A self-sufficient person doesn’t need anything from anyone.  They are fine by themselves, and thus feel they never need to say thank you.

The Romans 1 Crowd

Currently, I am embarking on a personal study in the Book of Romans.  This long letter is packed with so much truth; I am eagerly opening and unraveling the first chapter. Wow, it contains a very dark progression after verse 18.  It describes people who knew God, but do not want to honor Him as God nor give thanks to Him.

These people continue to become futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts are darkened.  They claim to be wise, but they become fools, moving further and further away from any sacrifice of thanksgiving to their Creator. Since they are without excuse, they will face a very harsh judgment.

The Psalm 50 Crowd

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 8.24.21 PMThe Psalm 50 crowd is a bit more like you and me. They know about God, but they have gotten lost in empty religious routines, eyes half-open, trying to keep the rules. Righteousness is about a relationship, not rules and routines. But they forgot.

God reminds them that He doesn’t need anything; the sacrifices are for them, not for Him. A Supreme Being really doesn’t need dead animals. “Every beast of the forest is mine. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine” (Psalm 50:10-11). So, He strongly urges them to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving in verses 14-15 and 23.

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgivingand perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me (14-15)

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!” (23)

beach blog 1Interesting that God chooses the word sacrifice. Sacrifices in the Old Testament were offered on an altar.  It was costly, took effort and purposeful choice.  And God knows that giving thanks (externalizing credit and fame to someone other than self) doesn’t come naturally to us humans.  It takes effort; it has to be a purposeful choice.  It is a sacrifice to offer up thanksgiving, especially when it is directed to God.

Someone who has cut God out of their lives really can’t be bothered with giving the sacrifice of thanksgiving. They are self-sufficient and don’t owe anyone anything, at least that is what they often believe.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

No Thanks to Ingratitude

beach blog 5In complete contrast to ingratitude, I welcome you to consider the mandate of Ephesians 5:20, “Give thanks in everything” and to join the Psalm 50 crowd in breaking free from routine into a living and thank-filled relationship with your Creator and Redeemer.

Don’t let your thanksgiving be an irritant to unbelievers, like we learned earlier, but do seek to give thanks always for all things, even if it is just to yourself under your breath. 🙂

The big bonus in our day is that you don’t need to keep a stone altar in your backpack. You can offer up the sacrifice of thanksgiving at the bathroom mirror, in the driver’s seat, at your work desk, at the gym, or walking in the park.

“I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.” Psalm 116:17

 

 

 

Fight Back With Thankfulness

Two Secrets

I am going to tell you two secrets.

The Paradox Principle

The first secret is that growing in Christ is built on paradoxes. Things that seem absurd or contradictory prove to be true and right. That is hard for us to really understand. We have to adjust and make new goals and expectations based on those paradoxes.blog on replacement prinicple 1

  • We died with Christ and are alive in Christ
  • The more we die daily, the more alive we are
  • The way up is the way down; and the way down is the way up
  • To save one’s life you must lose it
  • The more we give away, the more we gain
  • We are strongest when we are weak
  • Though poor, we can make others rich
  • We are most sinless when conscious of sin
  • We are wisest when we accept that we know little
  • The more we serve others, the more joy we receive ourselves
  • The more we sit quietly at His feet, the more work we get done for the Master

Notice the paradoxes in 2 Corinthians 6:9-10: as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;  as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

To overcome the most difficult trials of life, we begin, not by fighting them but by receiving them as from a loving Creator, being thankful in them, and eventually being thankful for them. It is counter-intuitive. A paradox.

The Replacement Principle

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The second secret is the concept of replacement. When we grow in Christ, we desire to be free from sin and the things that easily capture us. A secret to overcoming sin, is given to us in Ephesians 5:4.  Let me illustrate it first.

Don’t you love ‘Before and After‘ pictures? I do.  I love to see messy, dirty things cleaned up and useful.  It is super-inspiring.

But emptying out an overwhelming mess of useless papers, wrappers, and long-expired milk cartons is only half the job. Nature abhors a vacuum; we don’t live in empty rooms.  The empty room needs to be filled with profitable things, with a place for everything and everything in its place.

Even Jesus talked about a house swept clean of a demon, but that demon returned and finding the house empty (not occupied) brought with it seven more.  The end of the story for that person was worse than the beginning.  The room had not been properly filled and was vulnerable to spiritual squatters.

The Weapon of Thankfulness

Replacement is true in human behavior. You don’t just stop doing something; you must replace it.  When you focus on a thing, you give it power, so if you just repeat over and over, “I will not steal, I will not steal,” your mind will be filled with the topic of stealing.  Not good.  For a thief to stop being a thief, he has to start working and then focus on the superlative joy of giving to others in need (Ephesians 4:28). The stealing is replaced with compassion; taking is replaced by giving; evil is overcome with good.

Ephesians 5:1-4 says: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

a blog post on replacementThis passage hits us with a surprise. Paul exhorts us to fight sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk and crude jokes … with thankfulness. Paul didn’t simply shout “stop it,” like Bob Newhardt. He said to replace the sinful behavior with thanksgiving.  We fight back against sin with thanksgiving!

As we actively think thanks and express those thoughts to God and others, we take back ground that has been formerly occupied with sinful thoughts. Being thankful could be viewed as an antidote to sin. We have a weapon in being th(i)nkful.

Summing Up

So did you get the two secrets?  They actually work together.

  1. We overcome trials by receiving them from God with thankfulness.
  2. We overcome sins by replacing them with thankfulness.

How could you start down this road today?  What about having 4-5 blog on opposites 2things written out in an area easily visible like on your refrigerator and when that temptation comes, read those 4-5 things out loud and thank God that He is God, and you are not, and He is trustworthy and will measure out grace and strength to do His will.

“Practically every sin we commit is a result of a lack of thankfulness.”  Heath Lambert