Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and with it comes a time when we will sit around with others and give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives. Giving thanks is great and in fact, the Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20); but do you ever just get sick of people giving thanks for the same kinds of things all the time? “I’m thankful for my house.” “I’m thankful for my wonderful job.” “I’m thankful for our health and or family.” Blah, Blah, Blah…
Don’t get me wrong, these are wonderful things to be thankful for and I am incredibly thankful for all of them and more. I could write a small book about all the things that I am thankful for in my life. But what if we approached thankfulness differently this year. What if, when it was your turn to say what you were thankful for, you turned to someone and told them that you were thankful for their faith and how they had made a difference in your life. What if you took the time to tell that mom who you saw handle a situation with her kid in a cool way, how thankful you were for her. What if you were honest about some hard times or difficult struggles in your life and could be thankful for how God got you through them and the lessons you learned.
Would that kind of thankfulness change anything? If someone came up to you and told you how thankful they were for you and your faith and how you had made a difference in their lives, how would that make you feel?
I know this kind of honesty isn’t easy, and being thankful for your kids and your car is what everyone expects to hear, but maybe this year we try to step outside the box a little.
I was driving the other day and took some time to turn off the radio (which almost never happens in my car!) and just breath for a minute. I found myself with an overwhelming thankfulness for who God had made me. Not in a conceited, “Thanks for making me awesome God!”, but thankful that he made me who I am, despite who I am. He made me the perfect fit for my wife. He made me good at my job. He made me with so much capacity for love for my kids. He did all of this, for me, even knowing how messed up I would turn out and how many times I would screw things up. Wow!
What are you thankful for?
How do you keep your walk with God alive, vibrant and on fire during those times of life when it feels like you are just going through the motions?
For me it feels like the hardest time to walk with God is when everything is just OK. When there are no highs or lows and God is not actively talking to you or lifting you up, that is when it is easy to stray. So how do we avoid this?
Start by taking an honest look at your life and ask yourself three questions: 1) Are you influencing those around you (in a positive, godly way) or are they influencing you? 2) Are you being spiritually minded or carnally minded (Romans 8:5-6)? 3) Are there any unconfessed sins in your life?
As you answer these questions (honestly!) you may start to see why your spiritual life is not flourishing. God may well use spiritually low times to test, strengthen, or prepare us for challenges or blessings that he has planned for you. But those times may also be self-imposed because of sin or because you have been choosing worldly, carnal things over spiritual, godly things.
So how do you break out of the doldrums? Here are some suggestions that may work:
- Confess your sins and repent.
- Get into the word. Read your Bible daily. Joshua 1:8
- Pray and spend some alone time with God. Don’t forget to thank and praise Him even in the low times.
- Get involved with other men. Start discipling someone, or find someone that you look up to who will pour into a discipleship relationship with you. Get involved in some small groups. Get to know some of the other men in your church. You can’t do this alone! Proverbs 27:17
- Have a plan for your life. Whatever form that plan takes make sure you are being spiritually minded, not carnally minded. Be focused on doing all things for God (Colossians 3:23-24) and trust in God for everything (Proverbs 3:5-7).
- Get out and do something! Actions speak louder than words and God has called you to take action for Him. Get out and put your plan into action. Love others as God first loved you (sounds so easy right!). You don’t get to be a closet christian who has his ticket to heaven and then just sits back and watches the world go by. (James 2:14-26)
- And finally, expect God to show up BIG! This is the God of the universe, who created everything and then died for you so that you could be with Him for eternity. Don’t sell Him short and don’t think for a second that he isn’t going to work in you life if you are actively seeking Him. He might not show up in the way you were hoping or expecting (in fact I can almost guarantee that He won’t!), but He will show up perfectly!