Tag Archives: Paul

Cultivate Thankfulness

Definition: to prepare and use for the raising of crops; to loosen or break up the soil; to foster the growth of; to improve by labor, care or study.

Synonyms: acquire, develop, form.

We regularly cultivate things such as:

  • Relationships
  • Gardens
  • Health
  • Resources
  • Careers
  • Ideas

But have you ever considered what it would look like to cultivate thankfulness?

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. ~ Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

From what Paul mentions here, to cultivate thankfulness involves at least three things.

The first is the Word of Christ. The narratives of Jesus; the Bible; Scripture. And what great imagery Eugene Peterson uses here – letting it have the run of the house.

The second is to instruct and direct one another. It’s something we do together.

The third is to sing about it. Other versions refer to this as psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

I could elaborate on each of these elements but… I’m not going to; at least not now. But I will encourage and challenge you to wrestle with what all of this means by inviting the Spirit of God to bring it to life for you.

As we enter into another week of celebrating Thanksgiving, what better to occupy our minds than what it means to “cultivate thankfulness“?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Gratitude, involvement with the church, Praise, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Spiritual growth, Thankfulness

Just keep at it!

Curt was a year ahead of me in high school. Both in and out of the weight room he encouraged me with working out. During one lapse Curt checked on me and I told him that my schedule kept me from being consistent so I figured it wasn’t worth the effort because it wouldn’t do me any good.

Curt expressed that he faced the same issue but that the key was to just keep at it. Since he was a standout in several sports and went on to attend Notre Dame University on a wrestling scholarship - no small accomplishment – his advice carried some weight (pun intended).

That’s always been a struggle for me. If I can’t do something the way I draw it up in my head then why bother?!

Last week Susan and I decided to eat better and exercise at a local gym. Long story short… it didn’t go as planned. Schedules got interrupted and I had a few lapses in eating better.

Even though the week was bumpy, it still yielded some benefits. No matter what your pursuing, the key really is to just keep at it!

This is especially true in our journey with God!

We extol the virtues of Biblical characters like Moses, David, Ruth and Paul because of their excellent examples, but we tend to ignore the frequency with which those same people totally screwed up! Take Abraham for example.

Abraham followed God to begin a new nation and faithfully offered his son on the altar when told to do so; but he twice lied about Sarah being his wife in order to protect his own skin and slept with Sarah’s servant when God’s promise of a son didn’t come fast enough!

Notice how God responds to Abraham. He didn’t toss him aside and start over with someone else. God lovingly and patiently worked with Abraham and used him to carry out His bigger plan.

We’ve been invited to share in God’s Upper Story plan to reach every man, woman and child with the good news of His grace and truth. The advancement of God’s plans, and our participation in them, are not driven by our perfect efforts but by His limitless grace!

Trust in His grace and just keep at it!

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If you’re reading along in The Story with us then read chapter(s) 3 this week! If you’re unfamiliar with The Story you can check it out on the page tab above.

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Filed under Determination, God, Grace, The Story, Trusting God

The truth we never confess to!

Every once in a while someone will communicate in a way that just seems to shoot straight to the very center of your heart. It pierces the soul with such wisdom and insight and transparency that you feel as if someone has actually peeled back the layers and looked inside you. At least that’s how I felt when I read this from Bill Hybels:

Do you know the truth we never confess to? We all walk around wishing someone was thinking about us all the time – wishing that someone would move toward us with love all the time, be there for us all the time. We wish we were the center of someone’s world. We put pressure on friendships that they weren’t meant to bear. We raise the expectations higher and higher and people begin staying away.

Enter God. God says, “I have love of another kind. I have a lavish, uncontaminated, focused affection for you. I am thinking about you all the time. I am moving toward you with love all the time. I will be there for you all the time.” When you open your heart up to the love of God through Christ, that love becomes the bedrock foundation out of which you move in your human relationships.

Perhaps it sounds selfish to admit such a desire. Aren’t we suppose to be more concerned with others than we are ourselves? Yes. But it doesn’t come naturally. How can we give something we don’t have? Only when I allow myself to be loved by God can I love others more than myself.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, no matter what your circumstances of life might be right now… YOU ARE LOVED! Paul said it best when he said:

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:38-39

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Filed under Authenticity, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God

What to ask yourself before you make any decision

Like a good father, God wants what’s best for each of us. So He has given us a standard that goes beyond the cultural norms. He has given us a question that enables us to live out the values that lead to what Jesus referred to as an abundant life (see John 10:10). Not a barely get by life. Not a life of regret. An abundant life.

But the question He gave us is not, Is there anything wrong with it? 

The question is, Is it the wise thing to do? 

To foolproof your life, you must ask it of every invitation, every opportunity, every relationship. What is the wise thing for me to do?

Our heavenly Father never intended for us to live life at the level of what’s permissible, legal, acceptable, and not prosecutable. To do so is tantamount to organizing our lives around the question, How close can I get to sin without sinning? Now there’s a standard. Instead, we are meant to analyze every opportunity and invitation through the lens of wisdom.
~ Excerpted from The Best Question Ever by Andy Stanley

Andy is expressing the same principle that Paul gives in his first letter to the disciples in Corinth.

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23

Paul understood that we are free in Christ (Galatians 5:1)! Paul understood that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)! Paul saw all of this is great news! But the question remains; what will we do with it?

Will we use our freedom in Christ to make decisions that please us and serve our purposes? Or will we use it wisely to embrace real life and further God’s kingdom agenda?

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Filed under God's Will, Kingdom of God, Life in General, Wisdom