Gratitude & Generosity, 26 November 2023

Gratitude & Generosity
Luke 17

Big Idea:
Every day is an opportunity to give thanks for our many blessings.
The year was 2004. I was in San Diego, California at the National Pastor’s Convention at the beautiful Town & Country Resort. Although I barely had a dollar in my bank account, I felt like a millionaire staying that this fancy place. I have many great memories of the event, but one that I likely never forget occurred in a breakout session with Dr. Tony Campolo, a sociologist who has done a lot of work with the poor, especially in Latin America. I don’t agree with everything he believes, but during a Q&A, someone asked, “Dr. Campolo, how can you talk about the poor while we’re staying in this luxurious resort.?”
I was on the edge of my seat! For years, I had struggled with being a USAmerican with virtually unlimited access to clean water, food, and shelter while millions are on the brink of starvation. I had felt some guilt about my religious freedoms knowing I have spiritual siblings imprisoned, tortured, and even martyred by the same faith I possess. What if the money I spent on this conference (actually, it was on someone else’s dime!) was used to print Bibles or feed hungry children? I loved the audacity of this man’s question and then Campolo responded something like this…
For everything there is a season,
                        a time for every activity under heaven.
2          A time to be born and a time to die.
                        A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3          A time to kill and a time to heal.
                        A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4          A time to cry and a time to laugh.
                        A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5          A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
                        A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6          A time to search and a time to quit searching.
                        A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7          A time to tear and a time to mend.
                        A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8          A time to love and a time to hate.
                        A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

He added something like…
“A time to stay in a fancy resort and a time to live and work among the least of these.
Wealth is an issue of the heart, and our attitude should be one of gratitude and generosity.”
Wow! I thought his response was brilliant, and it has stayed with me for nearly twenty years.
A lot has been said about the diversity of our First Alliance family. That diversity relates to age, ethnicity, education, zip code, spiritual background…and certainly income. Some of you own your home debt-free while others are unhoused. Some arrived in nice, newer vehicles while others wondered if they would have to push theirs to get here today…and still others took the shuttle. The issue of wealth is not what you possess, but what possesses you, and it’s our subject today.
As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:11-13)
Leprosy is a terrible disease, one so dreadful that it often required total quarantine…in another village! Perhaps the only thing worse than the physical agony of leprosy was the social toll it took. You remember lockdown three years ago and how lonely and awkward it was for all of us. Imagine being sent away to another village, leaving all of your family and friends and having no way to communicate with them…no FaceTime, e-mail, phone, or even letter. These ten men were desperate.
He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. (Luke 17:14)
Were they healed at that moment in the presence of Jesus? No! One of the fascinating things about Jesus is he rarely healed the same way twice. Sometimes he touched a person, but sometimes they were not present. His instruction to these ten men was simply to go to the priests, the ones who declared people clean or unclean. Departing Jesus’ presence was probably an act of faith, and certainly going to the priest was, since the priest could not touch a leper. “As they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy,” a brilliant miracle!
Have you ever been healed? Have you ever had God answer a prayer…perhaps for a physical healing, but maybe a relational healing, a financial situation, a prayer for a job, car, housing, food, spouse, or child?
We are all blessed. We are all rich, by the world’s standards.
According to the Global Rich List last year, if you have an annual income of $32,500, you are in the top 1% of global earners. This does not mean you’re in the top 1% in the USA, but globally, you are among the world’s richest 1%. If you earn $16/hour, that’s you! That’s most of us. If you earn $12,000 or $1000/month, you’re in the top ten percent!
Even if you have zero income, you are here today, have clothes, food, access to shelter, freedoms many in the world would envy, and greatest of all the opportunity to have a relationship with the Creator of the universe! You are blessed!
In our text for today, these ten men were blessed. Their lives were transformed from outcasts to recipients of healing and wholeness.
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” (Luke 17:15)
One out of ten.
He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:16)
One out of ten gave thanks. Luke tells his readers he was a Samaritan, a half-breed, a despised one, yet he was another example of a “good” Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.” (Luke 17:17-19)
We always need an attitude of gratitude. This isn’t just a November thing. I hope you were able to celebrate Thanksgiving this past week. It’s one of my favorite days of the year (despite spending it in Germany this year!). It’s a day to pause and give thanks…to God, and maybe others, too.
The challenge for many of us is the pause. We’re so busy. We’re not only busy in work and entertainment and parenting and activity, we’re busy comparing ourselves to others.
Comparison kills. Our screens scream at us every day…look at that car, that vacation photo, that new outfit, that new gadget, that house, that beautiful person, that…
We’ve been blessed. You’ve been blessed.
We need to count our blessings…daily. I have a friend who used social media to list his blessings…I think it was five per day. Think about your blessings.
Researchers have discovered the power of gratitude. When we focus on what we don’t have, it’s easy to become discouraged, discontent, and even depressed. When we pause and give thanks, the opposite occurs. As usual, “science” confirms the truth of the ancient scriptures. King David declared,
I will thank the LORD because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. (Psalm 7:17, NLT)
Paul wrote,
Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6, NLT)
The Bible is filled with instructions to give thanks. It’s also filled with instructions to give. Remember,
wealth is an issue of the heart, and our attitude should be one of gratitude and generosity.
We are to give thanks, but we can also give. We can share. We can take what we have and be generous. Maybe it’s something as simple as a smile or a kind word. It might be taking someone out for coffee. Generosity might look like time, truly listening to someone’s story rather than being distracted by your phone.
We’ve all been blessed to be a blessing. The one thing we must never do with our gifts is hoard them. Jesus famously said,
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35b, NLT)
As I sat in that San Diego resort all those years ago, a sense of relief and mission came over me. I was relieved because I didn’t have to go home, sell my clunker of a car, and ride a bicycle to work in the winter snow! I didn’t have to feel guilty about the blessings I had received. Instead, I needed to have an attitude of gratitude. I also had a mission of generosity. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I love to give. I love to give to First Alliance Church because I know every dollar is invested carefully in God’s Kingdom. It’s a joy to support the work here. As our income grew with Heather’s new job, we’ve been able to give even more. We’ve had occasions to take faith-filed risks financially, and it’s exciting! You can’t outgive God!
In this season of Thanksgiving (before Amazon and the mall begin telling you about all of the things you “need!”), let’s commit to being grateful and generous rather than greedy and fearful.
Everything we have belongs to God. We are His stewards. Jesus said if we’re faithful in the small things, more will be given to us (Matthew 25). You may recall a young boy who only had a small lunch of bread and fish, yet when he was generous, thousands were fed…and he probably had the day of his life!
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38, NLT).
Video: Extend Hope (Alliance Christmas Offering)
Wealth is an issue of the heart, and our attitude should be one of gratitude and generosity.

Even blogger Seth Godin came to this conclusion!
I pray that as we enter the season of consumerism, we will experience contentment, gratitude, and generosity.
You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Give Thanks, 19 November 2017

Give Thanks
Luke 17:11-19

Big Idea: Gratefulness brings happiness, peace, contentment, and joy.


Thanksgiving. It’s almost the forgotten holiday between the two big decoration days, Halloween and Christmas. Sure, turkey and pumpkin pie sales skyrocket, but the economy is not stimulated as it is when people are buying costumes and candy or an endless pile of Christmas gifts. For many, Black Friday is almost a bigger deal than Thursday.

Before you debate the merits or demerits of cranberry sauce, watch football, and check the pile of ads in
The Toledo Blade’s biggest edition of the year, we’re going to give you a head start on giving thanks. Each of us has so much for which to be thankful, yet are we truly grateful?

Today’s text is a story I heard many times over the years but never fully understood.

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. (Luke 17:11)

Jesus is between Galilee and Samaria. To get to Jerusalem, Jews traveled south to Jericho (45 miles) and then turned west to Jerusalem (15 miles). This is a 60-mile journey.

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:12-13)

It’s hard to imagine the devastating effects of leprosy. Although leprosy refers to a variety of conditions, it was essentially a death sentence, at least socially and economically, to say nothing of the physical pain. Lepers were truly untouchable. They had to live isolated from others, which means they probably couldn’t work or even beg except from a great distance (as it says in this verse).

The Jewish law gave clear instructions for dealing with skin diseases.

When anyone has a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to the priest. The priest is to examine them… (Leviticus 13:9-10a)

The priest declared people clean or unclean. I’m so glad I don’t have that responsibility today! Later in Leviticus chapter 13 it says

“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46)

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:12-13)

The ten men stay at a distance and respectfully call out to Jesus for help.

It’s interesting how they called Jesus, “Master.” Every English translation of the Bible I examined used the same word, master. They must’ve heard about the healings he performed elsewhere and believed he could heal them. What faith!

When he saw them, he said,
“Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:14)

The text does not say Jesus reached out, touched them, and they were immediately healed. Jesus saw them and told them to go to the priests. He’s saying, “Walk 60 miles to see the priests in Jerusalem!” They had to literally take a step of faith and it was on their journey they were cleansed. They had to obey and as they took action, they were healed.

I’ve heard this story countless times but this is the first time I noticed they weren’t instantly healed, but rather found their healing as they obediently headed to the priests, the ones who could and would declare them clean and giving them an entirely new lease on life.

How many times do we want God to zap a miracle into our lives? Perhaps there is action we must take in order for God to do what only God can do. If you want a job, pray…and send out resumes and go on interviews. If you want a great spouse, be a great spouse first. If you are sick, ask for prayer…and possibly consider medical tools such as doctors and therapists.

Sometimes God calls us to go to a new place, to take a step of faith. As part of our trust in God we must start walking, even if we can’t see the destination. The only thing that matters is Who called you. Blessings are linked to faith and our actions demonstrate our faith.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)

One says thanks, but notice it’s not just any leper, it’s a Samaritan. They were hated by the Jews for being racial half-breeds. Jesus helping a leper was scandalous. Jesus talking to a Samaritan was radical. Jesus being involved with a Samaritan leper—a double strike—was inconceivable. Many Jews thought such a person was beyond help.

Notice the language Luke uses to describe this man’s appreciation. First, he notices he is healed, a marvelous moment. Then he heads back to Jesus. How far did he go? We don’t know but it could’ve been several miles, perhaps nearly 60 miles! He praises God—in a loud voice—along the way. He couldn’t contain his joy. Can you blame him?

When he finally gets to Jesus, he doesn’t simply shake his hand and say, “Thanks.” He throws himself and the feet of Jesus and thanks him. This man is grateful…and Jesus notices.

Jesus asked,
“Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:17-19)

When the high priest declares you clean, you must take a ritual bath. You go down one side unclean and exit clea
n from the mikveh. In a way, it’s similar to what we’ll experience next Sunday during baptism. We enter the water grave as sinners, we die to our sinful nature, and come out of the water resurrected with Jesus. This is all symbolic, of course, but perhaps a parallel to the ritual bath of ancient times to announce an unclean person’s status as now clean.

There were ten men. Only one returns. Where are the other nine? That’s what Jesus wants to know! Nevertheless, one man is filled with gratitude and goes out of his way to express it. Some have suggested that though they were all physically healed, this man’s faith has made him well spiritually, he has received salvation.

I want to close with a few thoughts on gratefulness, some from Dr. Gary Burge. First,

Gratefulness is a choice

We all have a mix of good and bad in our lives. I bet I could get each of you to think of three things you’d like to change about your life…and three things for which to be thankful.

A young mom once said, “Sometimes you’ve got to decide which end of the baby you’re going to look at!”

Gratefulness is an act of faith

It requires action. It declares it’s not all about me, but I will go out of my way to show appreciation, even when there remain things we simply don’t understand.

Gratefulness is subversive in a cynical age

It’s easy to complain, especially when surrounded by others who are equally dissatisfied. They say misery loves company. Choosing not to whine and, instead, giving thanks for the good things is radical and sometimes quite attractive. Who wants to be around gloomy, groaning people? Being grateful will impact those around you.

Gratefulness honors God

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

This doesn’t say give thanks for everything, but in all circumstances. No matter the storm, it can always be worse. I don’t mean ignore reality and be fake, but there are always things for which to give thanks.

Gratefulness will change you

It will expand your heart, shift your perspective, and alter your attitude.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Someone said, “Gratefulness is an antidote to a small soul living in a house of fear. Gratefulness helps you become a large soul living in a house of faith.”

Gratefulness brings happiness, peace, contentment, and joy.

Exercise: write a thank you note to God

The thing about gratefulness is it only takes a moment to experience, an intentional pause in your life to give thanks. You need not wait until Thursday—or only do it once a year! Every day is a great day to give thanks and be grateful.

Credits: Some ideas from Dr. Gary Burge.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Grace is Greater than Your Circumstances, 24 September 2017


    Grace Is Greater Than Your Circumstances
    Series: Grace is Greater
    I Thessalonians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 11:21-23, 12:7-10; Romans 8:18-30

    Series Big Idea: No sin is so great, no bitterness so deep that God’s grace cannot transform the heart and rewrite the story. This 3-week series, based on the book Grace is Greater by Kyle Idleman, explores what the Bible teaches about grace, developing a deep understanding of the life-changing power of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. For more resources and information on the book, visit

    Big Idea: Circumstances and obstacles will attempt to drown out God’s grace in our lives; we must trust in him anyway.

    Life is hard. God is good.
    That’s all I want to say. Life is hard. God is good.

    We’re continuing our series Grace is Greater, including some ideas borrowed from Kyle Idleman’s book of the same name. We said grace is unmerited favor, a free gift, an undeserved blessing. As a review, in week one we said grace is greater than your mistakes.

    The More We Recognize the Ugliness of Our Sin, the More We Can Appreciate the Beauty of God’s Grace.

    God’s Grace Is More Beautiful than Your Brokenness.

    God’s Grace Redeems All Our Past Regrets.

    And quoting author Philip Yancey,

    Nothing you can do can make God love you more than he already does.
    Nothing you can do can make God love you less than he already does.

    That’s amazing! That’s grace!

    Last week we said
    grace is greater than your hurts.

    We Must Release Our Feelings of Anger, Bitterness, and Rage Over to God.

    We Must Release the Person Who Hurt Us Over to God.

    Reconciliation May Not Always Be Possible or Appropriate, but It Can Reflect God’s Grace and Forgiveness Toward Us.

    In other words, if we’ve received grace and forgiveness, we must extend grace and forgiveness.

    Today we’re talking about circumstances…trials and suffering. Grace is greater. This hits close to home for all of us because we live in a broken, messed-up world infested with sin. We are a long way from the paradise of the Garden of Eden. But God is with us…and God is good…all the time…even when it doesn’t feel like it.

    Some of you are in the midst of brutal
    storms. Like the barrage of earthquakes and hurricanes south of us, your life is shaking. Your body may be failing. Your relationships might be eroding. Your finances might be draining. Your addictions and temptations might be overwhelming. Whatever storm you’re experiencing, grace is greater…really.

    Like many things in life, our approach to life’s storms are a matter of perspective. Take snow storms, for example. As a kid, we all loved snow days, right? I may complain of slow traffic, treacherous driving, and the necessity of shoveling but my grumbling will do nothing to change the circumstance. What I may perceive as a hassle is a gift to every student, tow truck operator, ski resort, and snow blower dealer. And no matter how miserable you may feel, it can always be worse. The only thing you can control in life is your attitude.

    Thankfulness Helps Us Trust God and Acknowledge His Grace in Our Lives.

    I’ve heard so many people inquire about God’s will for their lives. Would you like to know it?

    …give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

    It doesn’t say give thank for all circumstances, but in all circumstances. If we took time to list all of our complaints and concerns we’d be here all day, but no matter what storm you’re facing, there is much for which to be thankful.

    But there’s a slight problem with my mention of this verse…the context…the dots! Here’s the rest of the sentence.

    Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

    Paul is writing to the church in the city of Thessaloniki. Here’s Gods’ will:

    Rejoice always
    Pray continually
    Give thanks in all circumstances

    Idleman writes, “God takes complaining personally, because complaining overlooks the greatness of the grace we have received.” A recent study revealed the more people complain, the more they find things about which to complain. Thankfulness destroys complaining, negativity, and ungratefulness.

    The Bible tells us to “give thanks” dozens of times. Thankfulness can shift your focus and actually change the way you think and behave.

    Do you know anyone who constantly complains? Would you like to vacation with them?
    Do you know anyone who is thankful and positive? Do you like to be around them?

    God is God. He wants us to be honest. We can be real with our struggles and cares, but we must set those in the context of God’s grace and faithfulness. One of my favorite prayer tools is ACTS

    Supplication (requests)

    When I align my prayers with ACTS, often by the time I finish thanksgiving my requests seem so small, so easy for God.

    Are you thankful?


    We’re Able to Receive God’s Grace Only to the Extent We’re Able to Recognize Our Need for It

    I believe the single greatest reason for the decline of the movement of Jesus in the western world is we don’t need God…or we don’t think we need God. Think about your prayer life. When was it most vibrant? Probably in crisis. It’s funny how we pray when storms come and often quit when the coast is clear. This has even been true during the past few weeks. People who never mention God have been suddenly asking people to pray when a hurricane is headed their way.

    Friends, we need God, and the sooner we recognize that and act like it, the sooner we will experience the joy of a true relationship with God.

    Our youngest daughter went through nine years of nasty storms that included chronic pain, blindness, an eating disorder, lymphedema, and a leg amputation. She spent a lot of time crying out to God…and so did her parents! I remember vividly one moment when I prayed, “LORD, thank You for calming the storms in her life. Thank You for the remission of pain, the restoration of her sight, the control of her diet, and a prosthetic leg. I want to replace my petitions with praises. I don’t want to get up off my knees. I never want to forget your grace. Great is Thy faithfulness.”

    Being desperate for God is the most wonderful place to be, even when it’s the most uncomfortable. Sore knees lead to soothed souls. Paul, who wrote to Thessaloniki, also wrote to the church in Corinth. He said,

    in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me,
    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

    We don’t know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was—some say a physical pain, a birth defect, an addiction, …we don’t know. We do know he begged God three times to calm the storm in his life and God said no. He said His grace was sufficient. God knew as long as Paul relied on God, Christ’s power would be celebrated rather than Paul’s gifts.

    I’ve experienced this countless times in my preaching. There are some weeks when I drive onto our campus excited about my message, prepared and ready to go. Sure, it’s God’s Word and the Holy Spirit who have given me the ideas and words, but I’m tempted to take the credit for a job well done as I shake hands in the lobby afterward. I’m ashamed to admit it, but when I am strong, my flesh wants to be recognized and applauded. That’s the ugliness of pride.

    There are other Sundays, however, when I’ve done my very best to prepare but am woefully aware of my inadequacies. Maybe the week was filled with unexpected interruptions or I’m not feeling well or I’m personally so challenged by the topic I can’t imagine offering much to others. Whatever the reason, I simply cry out to God, begging Him to speak through me knowing I have little to offer on my own. Is it any surprise those are the Sundays that generate the most positive feedback? I really don’t want you to hear from me. I want you to hear from God!

    The more we are able to acknowledge our weakness, the more we can experience God’s strength, presence and power. And today I feel very weak after a packed week launching Act 2 Productions, so if you benefit from this morning, praise God!!!


    We Must Trust God’s Goodness, Even When Life Is Difficult

    The early church experienced harsh persecution. Think North Korea. Think death and martyrdom. In fact, most of our brothers and sisters around the world today face suffering for their faith much greater than anything we will encounter. Paul wrote to the first Christians:

    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)

    For Paul, it’s all about perspective. Today’s suffering will produce tomorrow’s glory. Olympic athletes experience this every day. No pain, no…gain.

    We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25)

    Creation has been groaning. Sin impacts our planet and all of its inhabitants, but there’s hope for tomorrow.

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. . (Romans 8:26-27)

    I love this passage. Have you ever tried to pray and you were so distraught, so weak, so desperate you didn’t know what to say? I have, and in those moments I’ve often cried out, “Holy Spirit, please groan!” I wish we had time to unpack this more fully, but finally we turn to one of the most used and abused verses in the Bible.

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. . (Romans 8:28-30)

    This does not say all thing work together for good. It says God works for the good of those who love him. That’s called redemption. No matter what you’re experiencing today, God can use it for his glory. He can turn ashes into beauty. Even better than recycling, he can turn your trash into a treasure.

    I love our friends at Cherry Street Mission. They recently gave a title to many or all of their staff: ministers of redemption. I love that! They partner with God to see lives revitalized.

    I don’t want to make light of any hardship you are facing today, but I want to encourage you to persevere.
    Your story is not over. This chapter might be messy, but turn the page! The world is full of cheap inspirational sayings, but I especially liked Michael Jr.’s quote from the Global Leadership Summit Instagram account this week:

    “Like a slingshot, the further you’ve been set back, the further you can go.”

    We Must Trust God’s Goodness, Even When Life Is Difficult

    God is in control. He has a plan. He has a purpose. He is the God of redemption.

    Tony Campolo has a great sermon he made famous years ago about Holy Week, the death and resurrection of Jesus. I love the title: It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming! There is no greater example of God’s redemption. God’s grace is greater than your circumstances. Today might feel like death and crucifixion but tomorrow may be the day everything changes…for His glory.



    So What?

    We must trust that God is good, even when life is hard. This isn’t easy, but this is where we need one another. We don’t need cheesy cliché’s, but encouragement.

    I am with you. You are not alone.
    I’ll bring over dinner.
    We can watch the kids for you.
    I’m on my way.
    Here’s a small gift.

    God is good…all the time…and he works through his people. Yes, we need to pray for one another, but what else can you do?

    Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)

    Grace is greater than your circumstances. We need to receive grace, experience it, and share it. Life is hard. God is good.

    Credits: outline, title, and some ideas from Grace is Greater by Kyle Idleman.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Attitude of Gratitude, 20 November 2016

    Attitude of Gratitude
    Colossians 3:15-17

    Big Idea

    Thanksgiving should be celebrated every day of the year, cultivating an attitude of gratitude.


    What is your favorite holiday?

    Growing up as a kid Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. It may still be my favorite holiday. My friend, Scott, describes Thanksgiving this way:

    Thanksgiving is all about friends, family and friendship.
    It's about putting aside our difference and reconciling our hearts to one another and God.
    It's about remembering and praising God for the blessings in our lives.
    It's about focusing on the most important things in life.
    It's about turkey, cheesy potatoes, and apple pie.
    It's about inviting and accepting people as they are. No obligations to buy gifts for people simply because it's required. Your presence is the present (See what I did there?)
    It hasn't been hijacked by American consumerism.
    And last, but not least...Football!
    These and many other reasons are why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

    My name is Kirk and today we’re going to talk about the heart behind this Thursday’s holiday…and why it should be celebrated every day.

    Thanksgiving. A day to eat, watch football, be with “framily”…and give thanks. But thanksgiving is more than an annual event. It should be a daily practice. I love the words of our passage today.

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

    This is not a suggestion. It’s a command.

    But let’s back up a moment. Twice Paul uses the word “peace” in the first sentence. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Our world struggles with peace. It has always struggled with peace. We have an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy. Where’s the peace in that? It should come as no surprise the contrast between the world and Jesus. One of the most famous Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus states

    For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called 
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (
    Isaiah 9:6)

    Jesus is the Prince of “shalom,” a word which means not only peace but also welfare and completeness. Honestly, the English word “peace” hardly does it justice. Jesus is the Prince of that which is whole, complete, and peaceful.

    Jesus is what our world needs.
    Jesus is what our nation needs.
    Jesus is what Toledo needs.

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

    Paul says we are called to peace. We are called to be ambassadors of shalom. And we are to be thankful.

    I discovered the Greek word for thankful is “eucharistos.” It means grateful, pleasing, mindful of benefits, thankful. Perhaps you’ve heard the word “Eucharist.” We often call Eucharist “communion,” a time when Jesus gave thanks while breaking bread at Passover during the Last Supper.

    You didn’t know you would get a Hebrew and Greek lesson today! Aren’t you thankful?!

    The Scientific Benefits of Gratitude

    I know, it’s almost cliché’ to say “be thankful” four days before Thanksgiving, but there’s a reason the Bible tells us to be thankful. In fact, science has confirmed the benefits.

    Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

    One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.


    The Bible was so far ahead of its time! I mean that sincerely. It seems like every week I read another report which supports the ancient wisdom of our faith and teachings.

    Gratitude is an Attitude

    You can’t always change your circumstances, but we all choose our attitudes. We’ve all heard about the glass behind half full or half empty. What do you see?

    No matter who you are, you can choose to be thankful. Gratitude is an attitude.

    Right now, think of three things for which you are grateful. Tell someone.

    The author of Colossians, Paul, also wrote a letter to a church in the city of Philippi. In it, he said,

    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (
    Philippians 4:8)

    Focus on the positive. This doesn’t mean ignore reality. It doesn’t mean if you think happy thoughts, everything will be rainbows and lollipops. It does mean cultivating an attitude of gratitude will change you. It will change your perspective. It will enhance your prayer life. It will make you a more attractive person. It will improve your health.

    This isn’t self-help psychotherapy. It’s biblical truth! Be thankful.

    Paul continues in Colossians…

    Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)

    There’s that word “gratitude.” We could do an entire sermon on this one verse! It says to sing to God with gratitude. We have done that today.

    Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

    By the way, that’s scripture! It’s an exact quote from 1 Chronicles 16:34…and Psalm 106:1…and Psalm 107:1…and Psalm 118:1 and 29…and Psalm 136:1!

    The passage concludes…

    And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

    We are to give thanks to God the Father…whatever we do!

    This doesn’t mean we are necessarily thankful
    for everything, but rather thankful in our circumstances. No matter where you are on your life journey,

    God is in control.
    God is faithful.
    God is good.

    I know, it doesn’t always feel like it, but I promise you it’s true.

    We are blessed with freedom in this nation.
    We are blessed with prosperity most of this world can only imagine.
    We are blessed with health to be here this morning.
    We are blessed with education to be able to read.

    The greatest blessing of all is Jesus. He came. He lived. He died. He rose again. He’s coming back. Hallelujah!

    Let’s review…

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

    Give thanks…every day. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. How? Here are some practical ideas:

    1. 1. Write a thank-you note. You can text or e-mail, but receiving an actual piece of paper is so rare these days, unless it’s a bill! Tell someone how thankful you are for what they’ve done or simply for who they are. Not only will they feel great, you’ll feel great!
    2. 2. Keep a journal. This can be a prayer journal listing prayer requests and answers to prayer, or even a running list of those things for which you are thankful.
    3. 3. Give thanks with a friend or family member. Play a game to see who can come up with the most things for which to be thankful!
    4. 4. Pray. God deserves our greatest thanks. Often people think prayer is simply telling God what they want. My favorite prayer method is ACTS:
    A Adoration
    C Confession
    T Thanksgiving
    S Supplication (requests)

    Let me challenge you to never ask God for something before you’ve given thanks for something. Many of you give thanks before you eat a meal—which is great—but any time you talk with God (and you can be as honest and real as you want, including doubts and anger and questions), begin with praise, confession, and thanks. Thank Him for listening, for the weather, for life, for clothes, for whatever you desire.

    Don’t you appreciate it when someone is thankful for a gift, a favor, a kind word, or just for being you? God does, too. He deserves our worship for who He is and our thanks for what He does.


    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

    Did you catch that? Present your requests to God…with thanksgiving. If we could all apply this one verse daily in our lives, we would experience so much more peace and joy. I must admit though I love this verse, I struggle to avoid anxiety. I worry about money. I worry about the health of my family. And then I sometimes remember to tell God about my concerns!


    Thanksgiving should be more than an annual holiday. It should be a way of life. No matter who you are or where you find yourself, you have much for which to be thankful.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • We Are Appreciated, 26 January 2014

    Big Idea: We are appreciated…by God!

    Ephesians 1:15-23

    When did you most feel appreciated? Why?

    When did you recently express appreciation to someone? Why? What did you do? How did it make you feel?

    We all like to be appreciated. We may intellectually know that God loves us, but it’s quite another thing to hear the words “thank you” or receive a gift of appreciation.

    Two things

    There’s two things I want you to know: I appreciate you and God appreciates you.

    Did it surprise you when I said God appreciates you? When I recently heard those words, I wasn’t so sure. God is God. I appreciate Him, but could He possibly appreciate me? He loves me, He died for me, but He appreciates me?

    For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

    Paul is writing to a church, a church he started in the city of Ephesus. He likely was speaking to a broader audience, however, since this letter was circulated among many churches…and has continued to be read by churches around the planet for the past 2000 years!

    The church was filled with faith in Jesus and love for people. Those are the two most important things according to Jesus—love God and love people. Period. That’s the goal. That’s the litmus test. That’s success.

    Do you love God? Really? How do you know? Does God know?
    Do you love people? Really? How do you know? Do they know?

    We often equate love with what’s in our head. It’s easy to say we love something but action is entirely different.

    This past week I read that a restaurant I loved closed. I loved their food. I loved their atmosphere. I loved the service I received.

    I dined there once! My love in my head did not translate into action. They closed. Can I blame them for closing?

    Paul was saying that these people genuinely loved God and others. Their faith was visible, not just intellectual. He says that these people are in his prayers and he appreciates them and continually gives thanks to God for them.

    I love that! He’s a great pastor. Remember, he’s writing from prison. He can’t exactly bring them gifts or FaceTime them. He uses the only tools he has—prayer and letters—to communicate his appreciation and love.

    In Revelation chapter two we learn that the church in Ephesus was a great church.

    Paul could’ve used the precious ink and paper to complain about the conditions in prison and to ask them to pray for him. That’s what I would’ve likely done! I’d write, “Help! Pray for God to miraculously release me from prison again!”

    How many of your prayers are cries for help? God loves any honest prayer, but like any Father—like any person—He loves to receive thanks, too. This is a prayer of thanksgiving. We don’t need to wait until November to give thanks!

    Are you thankful to God for anyone? Take some time and pray prayers of Thanksgiving.

    Paul appreciates these people, but he also speaks for God as he writes scripture. He appreciates them but so does God.

    Scio, God appreciates you. He loves it when you obey Him, love others, and pray.

    I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

    Paul gives thanks but also prays for them—and us—to know God better. There’s nothing more important than knowing God. Nothing. We were created to know God.

    Here's another beautiful depiction of the Trinity. We see Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Paul asks God to give them wisdom and revelation in order to know Him better.

    I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (1:18-21)

    That’s a mouthful! Paul had a habit of writing run-on sentences!

    The eyes of your heart, not mind. Intelligence does not guarantee understanding of spiritual truth. There are some things only the Spirit can teach us.

    Paul does not pray for material things but spiritual blessings. He wants them to know hope, their inheritance, and His power.

    If we truly understood God’s power, I believe our prayers and our lives would be radically different.

    This month we have learned about the power of wind and cold and snow.
    The Detroit News headline on Friday said, “Enough already!” We often think about God’s power in creation or storms or the resurrection, but His power has been unleashed in other ways such as the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Can you imagine seeing Jesus lift off the ground into the sky?

    The first three chapters of Ephesians are largely filled with doctrine and truths about God while the final three chapters provide practical instruction about how to apply the doctrine and live God-honoring lives. What I want you to see here is the vivid portrait of God.

    This chapter ends with a reference to us, the church.

    And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (1:22-23)

    We are the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the church. Since we are in Christ, the Father views us as He views Jesus.

    He loves Jesus. He loves us.
    He appreciates Jesus. He appreciates us.
    He loves to hear the voice of Jesus. He loves to hear our voices.
    He will spend eternity with Jesus. He will spend eternity with us.

    Daddy is nuts about you! He loves you! He appreciates you!


    Some ideas from

    Mark Driscoll,
    Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
    J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible,

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    Back to the Future, 29 December 2013

    Big Idea: As we approach the new year, it’s a perfect time to give thanks for this year and prepare for the next.

    Today we are in the

    2013 is essentially over. Even though we have a few days left, I’ve seen the best sports plays of the year, read about the best movies of the year…it’s as if 2013 is in the rear view mirror.

    2014 does not arrive until Wednesday. I’m excited about the Winter Olympics in February, my daughter’s graduation from college in April…but it’s not here yet.

    The in-between even reminds me of Advent when we look back to the first coming of Jesus and look forward to His return, muddling in the space between.

    Today we are going back to the future. We are going to look back at 2013 and ahead to 2014.

    Psalm 8

    Last Sunday we looked at King David. One of my favorite psalms written by David is Psalm 8.

    When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:3-8)

    It continues to boggle my mind how God not only creates us and loves us, but He also invites us to do life with Him. He woos us into a relationship…and then asks us to rule with Him.

    He is so good. He created us. He loves us. He cares for us.

    Psalm 136 says

    Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
    His love endures forever.
    Give thanks to the God of gods.
    His love endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
    His love endures forever.
    (Psalm 136:1-3)

    I don’t know about you, but I’m almost always looking ahead…sometimes too far ahead. I need the discipline of reflection, of giving thanks. There are trials and challenges ahead, to be sure, but we are commanded throughout the scriptures to give thanks.

    This past week I reviewed some of the highlights of 2013 and gave thanks to God for His goodness.

    How has God been good to you in 2013?

    2014: The Year Ahead

    What is God saying to you about 2014?

    I didn’t ask for new year’s resolutions, though they may be similar. I want you to take some time and prayerfully consider your next-steps.

    It has been said that we overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. For example, if I asked you to read the entire Bible today, you might feel a bit overwhelmed! How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! If you divided the Bible into 365 bites, you could read through the entire Bible in mere minutes each day. For some of you, that’s exactly what God is saying to you—read My Word!

    Two years ago many of us read through the Bible together. In 2013, we’ve been reading the New Testament. In 2014, our Scio Journal is going to focus on the Psalms and Proverbs. You can read and interact on our Facebook page. Please join us!

    Maybe 2014 is the year you finally take a risk and invite a friend to our Easter gathering, get to know your neighbors, serve a homeless person, get out of debt, break an addiction, embark on a missions trip, write your first book, forgive an old offense, go back to school…

    What is God saying to you about 2014?

    In about 365 days we may be together in this same room reflecting upon 2014. How will you live it? How does God want you to live it?

    One word that keeps filling my mouth is “intentional.” We can go with the flow, letting the current of life move us downstream toward our eventual death or we can be proactive and seize the mission God has for our lives. He has created you and me to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

    Listen to the words of Moses in Psalm 90:

    Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (1-2)

    You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. (3-6)

    We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:7-12)

    What is God saying to you about 2014?

    We’ve reflected upon the past and looked ahead to the future, which leaves us with today. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I challenge you to be fully present in the moment, not dwelling on the good old days or becoming anxious about the future, but thanking God for His faithfulness, right here, right now. One of the great things about God is He is timeless. He never changes. He is as real today as He was yesterday and will be just as faithful tomorrow.

    In the final book of the Old Testament, Malachi, God Himself says

    I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)

    James, the half-brother of Jesus, declared that

    Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

    Great Is Thy Faithfulness!

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    Give Thanks, Psalm 136, 25 November 2012

    Big Idea: when we pause to give thanks, we realize we are very blessed.

    I love the Thanksgiving holiday as much as anyone. For decades, it was my favorite holiday as around 100 Schneemanns would gather in a church fellowship hall for food, singing, playing music, football, and a memorable time of giving thanks. That tradition ended several years ago, yet the heart of it can be recreated whenever people pause to give thanks to God for His countless blessings.

    I think it’s safe to say that our culture is not known for pause. We are busy. We are productive. We work hard. We play hard. But many of us rarely pause.

    This would be a great segue to talk about the Sabbath—God’s commanded day of rest each week—but instead I want to seize this opportunity for us to pause, reflect, and give thanks.

    So just do it! Give thanks! That’s hardly motivating on its own, though. It’s like when you mom says, “Say you’re sorry” or “Say thank you.” It’s not always genuine.

    Paul repeatedly told his readers to focus on thanksgiving.

    2 Corinthians 9:11
    Ephesians 5:4
    1 Timothy 2:1
    1 Timothy 4:4

    When we pause to reflect upon our blessings, thanksgiving is a natural response. That’s one of the reasons we gather together each week. It’s not that God will like you more if you are here every Sunday. You will probably like God more, however, as you reflect on His awesome power, love, wisdom, and goodness.

    Earlier we sang and read the admonishment of the psalms:

    Give thanks to the Lord.

    In the NIV, this phrase is used 19 times.

    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

    (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 29, 136:1; Jeremiah 33:11)

    In each case, the Hebrew word for “thanks” is

    to express praise, give thanks, extol, make a public confession, make an admission; to praise is to speak of the excellence of someone or something; to give thanks has a focus on the gratitude of the speaker

    How often do you give thanks? Before you eat? On Thanksgiving?

    But why give thanks?

    Luke tells a great story of ten lepers that are healed. Only one returns to say thanks—and he’s a despised Samaritan. But notice what happens to him.

    One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.

    Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:15-19)

    The Samaritan was not only healed, he was blessed—blessed to recognize the healing, blessed to encounter Jesus, blessed at being commended for his faith.

    When we give thanks, we are blessed.

    The Jews have had a long history of giving thanks. In fact, their God-ordained festivals of celebration and thanksgiving were more than a meal or even a day. They would praise God for a week or more! Let’s just say they know how to party! Seriously!

    Thanksgiving blesses God, but it also changes us.

    "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~
    G.K. Chesterton
    “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~
    John Milton
    “A thankful heart cannot be cynical.” ~
    A.W. Tozer
    "We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?" ~
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Choose to be thankful

    "Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly." ~ 
    Henri Nouwen
    "If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." ~
    Charles Haddon Spurgeon
    An old hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr.,
    Count Your Blessings, says

    When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
    Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will keep singing as the days go by.
    So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be disheartened, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

    Perhaps the most oft-quoted Scripture involving thanksgiving is Philippians 4:6

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

    We live in a fast-paced, complicated world. We are bombarded with news—usually bad news—constantly. It is natural for us to be anxious and to fear, but that’s where followers of Jesus are called to be different, to live radical, counter-cultural lives.

    What I find interesting about this verse is that we are to present our requests to God with thanksgiving. When we are thankful, it blesses God. Do you prefer to be kind to those who are thankful and appreciate your generosity or those that feel entitled and complain if you don’t respond to their every request?

    When we give thanks to God, it doesn’t guarantee that He’ll answer on demand, but it does remind us of our blessings, His faithfulness, and orients us to seek and accept His will rather than viewing Him as a cosmic genie to be manipulated by our desires.

    "When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.  Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?"  ~
    G.K. Chesterton

    Regardless of your circumstances, we all have so much for which to be thankful.

    Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)

    You can listen to the podcast here.