When your thankfulness comes from emptiness

thankfulness title

It’s Thanksgiving.

Ready or not, it’s time to be thankful.

(Really, every day is time to be thankful.  We don’t need a holiday to tell us to be thankful, but just go with me on this…)

Perspective is reality, and maybe from your perspective, there’s not much to be thankful for right now.

Maybe you’re heading into Thanksgiving feeling empty.

Empty of hope.

Empty of peace.

Empty of rest.

Empty of comfort.

Empty of joy.

Empty of purpose.

Empty of thankfulness.

Empty.

It’s hard to be thankful when you feel so empty.

The good news is that even though you may not be able to change your circumstances right now, you can change your perspective.

You can believe in a God who is able to do more than you could ever ask for or imagine.  (Ephesians 3:20)

You can pray to a God who is able to give you the peace that you so desperately need.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

You can trust in a God who will supply all of your needs.  (Philippians 4:19)

You can be close to a God who will never abandon you.  (Hebrews 13:5)

You can even ask God to help change your perspective, and He will help you. (Psalms 121)

The reality is that God is the only One who can fill your emptiness.

He is your hope.

He is your peace.

He is your rest.

He is your comfort.

He is your joy.

He is your purpose.

He is the reason you can be thankful even in your emptiness.

The Lord always keeps his promises;
    he is gracious in all he does.
14 The Lord helps the fallen
    and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
    you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
    you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
    he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
    yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

Psalms 145:13-19 (NLT)

 

 

 

What a Snickers’ commercial taught me about the habit of spiritual eating

spiritual eating title

We need food.

It’s not rocket science.  It’s not an issue to debate.  It’s not something we repeatedly put off because “we don’t have time to eat” (at least for long).

Our lives depend on food.

If we want to be physically healthy people, we need to eat.

You can skip a meal here and there.

You can choose to fast for a day or even a week.

But, at some point, you need protein if you want to live a healthy life.

(Like I said, this isn’t rocket science…)

Turns out we need spiritual food too.

If we want to be spiritually healthy people, we need to eat.

Every day.

We can’t expect to live on one or two “spiritual meals” a week.

(If you don’t believe me, try doing that with food…)

When we consistently choose not to eat, we’re not healthy people…

Physically or spiritually.

And, like the Snickers’ commercial says, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

We’re weak and vulnerable and not our true selves.

Maybe you’ve neglected the habit of spiritual eating.  And, you’ve noticed all the effects…

You’re weak in your faith.

You’re more vulnerable to temptation.

You’re not living like a true child of God.

Maybe it’s time for some new spiritual eating habits. 

Maybe it’s time to recognize that you need to eat spiritual food every day just as much as you need to eat the food in your refrigerator.

Maybe it’s time for you to eat.

When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
    They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
    O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.

Jeremiah 15:16

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
    for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Psalms 34:8-10

 

When you’re struggling with sin, feed the good dog

feed the good dog.title

The struggle is real.

Temptation.  Persecution.  Suffering.

The struggle is constant and unavoidable.

Sin.  Evil.  Hate.

The struggle is nothing new.

It’s been written about and pondered for centuries.

Thousands of years ago, a religious leader named Paul, said it this way…

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 

More recently, the Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, shared this little story…

A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles this way: “Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.” When someone asked him which dog wins, he thought for a moment and said, “The one I feed the most.”

The struggle is real.

I can relate.

So, what’s the answer?

Feed the good dog.

Feed on God’s Word.

Taste the Truth.

Digest the Scriptures.

Listen to the Holy Spirit.

And, let the good dog win.

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.  (Galatians 5:16-17)

What are you looking at when life happens?

life happens title

Life happens everyday.

Question is…

What are you looking at when it does?

When life is full and there’s no end in sight, what are you looking at?

When life is painful and there’s no easy fix, what are you looking at?

When life is unexpected and you’re caught off guard, what are you looking at?

When life is lonely and nobody is checking in on you, what are you looking at?

When life is good and things couldn’t be better, what are you looking at?

When life is empty and there’s nothing to keep you going, what are you looking at?

When life is blessed and you have everything you need, what are you looking at?

When life is sad and you can’t stop weeping, what are you looking at?

When life is happy and you can’t stop smiling, what are you looking at?

When life is depressing and you have no hope, what are you looking at?

When life isn’t fair and you have to take it on the chin, what are you looking at?

When life is confusing and you don’t have the answers, what are you looking at?

When life is stressful and you’re anxious, what are you looking at?

When life is disappointing and you’re frustrated, what are you looking at?

When life is interrupted and things don’t go as planned, what are you looking at?

When life is funny and you can’t stop laughing, what are you looking at?

Life happens everyday.

And, you can look in lots of places and at lots of people for what you need when it does…

Or, you can look at Jesus.

When life happens, keep looking at Him.

He gets it.

He’s the One who died for you so that you could have a life worth living.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)