Gratitude: Our Divine Immunity!

 
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"Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.  Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.  He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.  He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.  He fills my life with good things.  My youth is renewed like the eagles!"                      ~   Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

In response to the customary cordial greeting, "How are you?" I often reply, "I'm great!  And, I'm grateful!"  I decided, years ago, that I will express my thanks every opportunity that I can find.  That resolution has transformed my life!

I believe that gratitude is part of our divine immunity system against the darkness, discouragements, and contagions of this world.  You cannot be bitter and grateful at the same time.  You cannot simultaneously be both grateful and oppressed.  The reason for this dichotomy is because gratitude is the expression of acknowledging what you believe.  Giving thanks is a vital element of active faith. 

Rather than thinking on and talking about what you don't have, let your heart be full of gratitude for what you do have.  It takes a bit of effort to shift your focus, but it is so worth it!

Rather than pondering the pain that others have caused you, meditate on the mercies that God has shown you.  If you want your heart to be healthy and strong, have a heart that is "great-full!"  Be sure to fill your heart, to the full, with a testimony of all the great things God has done for you!

As humans, as Americans, and most of all, as Christians, we have so much for which to be thankful!  To not be grateful is to have forgotten the benefits that God has so graciously and generously poured out upon our lives.  Be grateful and give thanks, because

A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord. Thank God in the midst of trials and every persecution.” Billy Graham

Wendy and I hope that you and all of your family have a Wonderful Thanksgiving and Beautiful Holiday Season!

 

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Meaning In The Mundane

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"Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily, as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving is the Lord Jesus Christ." ~  Colossians 3:23-24 (AMP)

I didn’t understand!  He tried again.  “Anyone who has the Life of God cannot be bored.  It’s impossible!”  My folks were diligent “boredom busters.” They saw to it that I always had things to do:  crafts, sports, family projects, pets, whatever.  They understood that I was always looking for the next “big thing” upon which I could hang my expectations.  As exciting as it was growing up in my family, boredom would still creep up on me and overshadow my world.

“I’m so bored, that I’m bored of being bored!”  My dad had enough of my whining.  “Boredom is an attitude, Arthur.  You cannot be bored unless you want to be.”   He knew something that I didn’t!

Boredom is the close cousin of impatience and is in cahoots with distraction and depression.  French Author and Historian, Jules Renard, said, “Being bored is an insult to oneself.”   Living in a world saturated with stimuli, that boredom even exists, is a phenomenon!  Alas, the real source of the mundane cannot be the world in which we live.  It must have to do with the human condition and this long road trip we’ve embarked on, called Life.  It’s proven, boredom is one of the highest hurdles in the human race.

Even the best road trips have mundane miles.

Learning how to deal with boredom is a natural part of growing up.  But be assured, if boredom is permitted to have a voice in your soul, it can grow to take control; control of your emotions, your decisions, and even the direction of your life.   Many blame their failures, their addictions and bad behaviors on being bored.  Though feeling bored is not a sin, our enemy knows how to take advantage of us when we are listless, passionless and without focus.

I’ve worked directly with precious people for 35 years.  In my experience, one of the dominant differences between people who are happy and those who are merely surviving the journey is how they perceive and prevail over boredom.

There’s meaning in the mundane.  This is true for all humans, but especially so for the Child of God.  Here are five keys to remember when boredom is creeping up on you:  

  1. Remember that God sees your life from beginning to end and has an overarching purpose for all of it.  In perfect love and wisdom, He uses everything to that end.
  2. The mundane is an opportunity to trust God in the small things and find sincere appreciation in the simple.  Missing the amazing searching for the astonishing is easy.
  3. The mundane miles are a reminder that God orders our steps, (one-at-a-time), as much as He has the map for our entire trip.
  4. When boredom strikes, it’s because you’ve allowed your desires to shift, outwardly.  Outward cravings and appetites, even the harmless ones, will never be satisfied and are quickly bored.  Your life will never be dull when fellowship with God’s Spirit, hearing His voice and following His lead is the passion of your heart.
  5. What many may describe as a dreary day, learn to use for your rest and restoration.  This way, when you need strength and energy, you’re not worn out just going from activity to activity.  Be refreshed in the mundane!


You have a divine destiny to fulfill and a destination to reach.  Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from your aim or diluted in your passions.  Learn to deal a death blow to boredom and find meaning in the mundane.  When all is quiet, and the excitement of the world has waned, God is waiting.  He will meet you there.
 

Pastor Art's Current Sunday Morning Series:

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Higher Ground!

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"God has raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus."  ~  Ephesians 6:10 (AMPC)

There's a scene that has been repeated for millennia.  I have personally witnessed it, many times.  It never wains in its thrill and its efficacy to inspire! What epic moment am I talking about?

The brilliant and audacious walk of my cat, across the fence of my backyard, while dogs below; on either side, bark their heads off!  Felix seems completely unbothered with regal and sustained composure.  I've even seen him sleeping up there!   How is it that he, and cats like him, all over the world, hold their peace in such a moment?  He knows that

  • when he's on the higher ground that he is above every dog in the world.
  • as long as he stays on the higher ground, the dogs can bark and jump all they like.  They'll never get to him unless he willingly comes down.
  • if he were to take them on, directly, he would likely lose.  So, he has learned to use the fence as a refuge for safety and a highway in the midst of opposition.
  • he's not missing out on anything that's on the ground.  There are fences everywhere and hold plenty of promise, provision, and protection.

Of course, I'm not only talking about my amazing cat, Felix!  Consider that you have been raised up, together with Jesus Christ, to higher ground.  The Bible declares, "In Christ, you have been seated far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come."  (Eph. 1:21)  Your enemies can bark and threaten all they like.  But, unless you voluntarily come down, they cannot reach you in your refuge of Christ!

I heard it put this way, "The dogs bark but the train rolls on!"  

By faith, take your place in Christ!  Enjoy your fellowship with God and His peace and power over trouble.  Let the enemy rage but you keep your composure and courage.  Your God is with you!

 

Pastor Art's Current Sunday Morning Series:

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Satan's #1 Attack!

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"Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." ~  Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV)

Our world is a land-mine for the uninformed.  Ponzi's, fraud, identity theft, and skimmers have left many to ruin or, at best, living the rest of their days in recovery.  Add to the war-zone, in which we live, hate, violence, and disease, and you have a world full of desperate and vulnerable people that need the Truth! 

Have you ever thought about the schemes of our greatest Enemy?  What is Satan's Number One Attack against humanity?

Fear?  Addiction?  Sadness?  All of these are undoubtedly effective, if not dealt with through the weapons provided us by God's power and promises.  But there is one scheme that outranks them all:  doubt.

If the enemy succeeds in causing you to doubt God, he has disarmed your entire life!  Confusion, chaos, and calamity inhabit the place where faith in God is absent.  Not only that, but our enemy understands our divine design.  He knows that without faith we cannot know God, please God, or live in God's plans and purposes. (Hebrews 11:6)

Consider this question:  Where would you be without faith in God?  What are we to do in such a volatile world without a Savior?  A faithless, doubt-drenched world is the hopeful agenda of "the great dragon who was cast out, that serpent of old called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:9)

Here's the progression of Satan's attempts, targeting us in his scheme of doubt:

1st attempt:  Doubt God's existence.  Afterall, if God doesn't exist, then there is no Savior!  If he is unsuccessful at this stage, he moves to his 2nd attempt.

2nd attempt:  Doubt God's power. "Ok.  So, God exists.  But He's weak!  He's old.  He's irrelevant!  His power is no match for mine!"  If your enemy is unsuccessful at this stage, he moves to his 3rd attempt.

3rd attempt:  Doubt God's goodness.  "So, God is powerful.  Yes, but He's a tyrant!  He uses His power to hurt humanity and doesn't help you!   Just look at the conditions of this world!"  

4th attempt:  Doubt God's will.  "Ok, so God is powerful and good; just not to you!  His goodness is for others, but His plan for you is to suffer.  He's punishing you for your sins!"

5th attempt:  Doubt God's abilities.  "Ok, so God exists.  He is powerful, and He is good.  He wants to help you but He can't.  He is simply a distant Being that can only help you in heaven."  If he is unsuccessful at this stage, he moves to his 6th attempt.

6th attempt:  Doubt God's faithfulness.  "Yes, God is good, and He can help you.  But, He's unreliable.  You never know what He will or will not do!  He is not trustworthy!"

For anyone who has not received the Truth, your enemy will do all that he can to entrap you, at some level, of doubting God!  Rout out the "Father of Lies" from your mind and your life!  Here are a few truths that can refresh your grip on your Shield of Faith:

  1. God's Existence:  "For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense."  (Romans 1:20, Amplified)
  2. God's power:  "For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:11, The Voice)
  3. God's goodness:  "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]." (James 1:17, Amplified)  And, "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
  4. God's will:  "For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, Amplified)
  5. God's abilities:  "Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20, Amplified)
  6. God's faithfulness:  "It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindness that we are not consumed because His [tender] compassions never fail.  They are new every morning;
    great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness."  (Lamentations 3:22-23, Amplified)

"Father in Heaven, I believe that You, alone, are God!  All power, all might, all dominion and all glory belong to You!  You are good, and your mercies endure forever and forever.  Father, I believe that you love me and that you are for me.  In this moment of faith, I cast all of my cares upon you, confident that you care for me, protect me and empower me; for Your plans and purposes to be revealed and fulfilled in my life, my family and my future!  All of this, I pray by faith, in Jesus' great name.  Amen!"

 

This blog is an excerpt from Pastor Art’s series “Might Through God: Armed and Ready”.  To listen to the series click here.

 

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The Bestseller Of All Time!

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Are you among the "bookish?"  Some would call you boring but you just love books.  I admit that I am.   Boring?  Yes, sometimes.  But, what I mean is, I love books!  I love to read.  I enjoy turning pages.  I aspire to write.

According to Google, there are 129,864,880 published books in existence.  Though this is a grand number, it increases daily as more and more titles are presented to our Global Library.  The most expensive book ever purchased sold for $30.8 million.

That is quite a "Bibliotheca!"  (An extensive collection of books).  What book tops the list of the most read books in all of the world?  The Bible.  Think of it, the most read Author of all, in human history, is God!  His Book remains the most sought-after and widely translated scripts that exist.  Even the Latin word for a large collection of books honors the Holy Title:  Bible.

Here's what we must understand:  This top-selling, most read Book of all the ages, is a Book that requires the help of the Author for you to benefit from it.  Normally, an author writes his thoughts, and leaves you with it, for your interpretation.  God, on the other hand, sends you His Word and waits for your invitation to come, by His Spirit, and read it with you.  

I heard that a preacher once said, "Some read the Bible in Hebrew while others read it in Greek.  I read God's Word in the Holy Ghost!"  We need the assistance of The Spirit of Truth because the Word of God is alive and powerful, and can only be spiritually discerned.  If we attempt to comprehend God's Word with our natural mind, our intellect, we will not understand the divine intention.  We will also miss the benefits of His Word addressing our lives at a very personal level.

The enemy certainly doesn't mind you being bookish.  Just don't become bookish about the Bible!  Your enemy hopes that you would read anything other than God's Word!  Here are a few reasons why:

  • The Word is life to all who find it and health to all of their flesh!  (Proverbs 4:22)
  • The entrance of God's Word brings light and understanding. (Psalm 119:130)
  • Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God! (Romans 10:17)
  • God watches over His Word to perform it! (Jeremiah 1:12)
  • You shall know the Truth and the Truth will make you free! (John 8:32)
  • You cannot live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God. (Matthew 4:4)

The list of the blessings and benefits of reading, believing, speaking and living God's Word is endless!  Ask the Divine Author to come, by His Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation; and open your eyes and heart to be forever changed by the Bestseller of All Time!

 

Pastor Art's Current Sunday Morning Series:

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