The Spirit of Thankfulness

thank yo9u

I posted this at least a year ago after a blessed pregnancy and delivery.  We should never forget how good God is!  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

In a world comprised of people whose goal is to get what they can the fastest and easiest way possible, thankfulness has become a lost art. We see people demanding benefits even though they already have much at their disposal.  We hear news of people discontent with their possessions, health, and relationships, yet who ignore the many people in the world that have so little.  The demand for more and the ungratefulness for less have turned the world sour.

Unthankfulness is listed among the sins that mark the End Times before Jesus returns. We wouldn’t normally think of it as a sin, but God finds unthankfulness as repulsive as disobedience and greed.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

We as Christians could very quickly deny that we had anything to do with these sins.  We are God’s children, after all, and love Jesus.  We steadily go to church and sacrifice our time to serve the Body of Christ.  Unfortunately, good deeds don’t cancel out a heart that is ungrateful for the blessings of God.  These blessings could be as small as a good deal at the grocery store, or as great as a miracle in our health.

Let’s look at Luke 17:11-19:

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

This story is an example of Jesus’ willingness and ability to heal the sick.  It is also an example of thankfulness.  Out of the ten lepers, one man alone came back to express gratitude.  En route to share his testimony, this man suddenly realized that another Person deserved honor.  That Jesus’ miracle-working power went to work for him was more than enough to inspire a grateful heart.

From this story, we can learn some important lessons:

Remember Thanksgiving

Sadly, the other nine lepers were too engrossed in their excitement to pay Jesus a second visit.  They forgot to recognize the One who made their healing possible.  Like the Samaritan, we should never get so distracted by our blessing that we fail to acknowledge the Source.  For us, distractions may come in the form problems, a craving for more blessings, or the inability to recognize who our Source really is.   If we get distracted for a moment, we should stop and return to our Master to show our appreciation.

Remember Who We Are

The grave commentary of the other nine lepers is that they left the praise and thanksgiving to a foreigner.  The thankful leper was a Samaritan who didn’t have any right to the covenant blessings the Jews enjoyed.  Instead of rushing away, the Israeli countrymen should have set the example by acting out of their honored role as Jews.   Just as they did, we may be tempted to leave our role as thankful Christians to someone else.  We may find ourselves slipping out of our honorable positions as kings and priests by forgetting our heritage.  As Jesus-followers, however, we should be alert to never let our trademark of gratefulness disappear.  If anyone should be thankful, it should be us!

Forget the Crowd

The Samaritan could have followed his leper friends’ examples and rushed off to see the priest with no thought to the Man left behind.  He could have been more concerned about his reputation and following protocol than for what thankfulness would demand.  Instead, he abandoned the thought of “fitting in” and hurried back to the Master.  As the world wears on us, we too may be tempted to “conform” to the world.  We may be feel pressured to gripe and complain like the rest of an ungrateful world in the Last Days.  But if we are truly His disciples, our hearts will be more toward loving Him with thanksgiving than in feeling comfortable with our peers.

Make Thanksgiving Loud

Notice the Samaritan’s thanksgiving was not done casually!  With a “loud voice” he came hurrying back to Jesus.  He didn’t just stand before Jesus and shake his hand, but “fell down” at His feet as a sign of worship.  He didn’t care who saw his show of thanksgiving.  He understood that true thankfulness doesn’t care who is listening.  It expresses itself loudly!  We would do well to follow his example when expressing praise to the One who deserves it!

The most important result of thanksgiving is that it brings glory to God.  While complaining keeps our focus on ourselves and what seems wrong, thanksgiving turns our attention toward God and His goodness.  People around us will hear our testimony and will see God for who He really is.   It begins a cycle of recognizing the nature of God and His power.  The more people hear our thanksgiving and praise, the more people will put their trust in the Lord and have reason to be thankful as well (Psalm 40:3)!

Will we always feel like giving thanks for God’s goodness in our lives?  No.  That’s why God gives us this command:

. . . in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Notice that it says “in everything give thanks.”  God hasn’t asked us to give thanks for everything, but to have a thankful attitude regardless of what’s going on around us or to us.  Naturally, at times we will feel like keeping our focus on what seems wrong.  But when we make the choice to put our feelings aside and focus on what God has done for us, our feelings will change.  Our hearts will begin to overflow with gratefulness as we remember.  As we vocalize our thanksgiving, suddenly what seems wrong will pale in comparison to the blessings that we had forgotten!


Chills and Feels


The following article was recently written by my brother Tim, who is the music director at his church.  A talented musician and songwriter, as well as an experienced praise and worship team member, he has some understanding of what the heart of worship should really look like!  Enjoy!

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:13

 Imagine the following scenario: you are in a darkened room, gathered together with a number of other men, women, and children, all waiting.  You feel connected by a silent, expectant energy that pervades the room. The crowd is bathed in a dim blue and purple light. Soft music slowly swells into your consciousness, ambient and undefined. A lone ‘cello plays a haunting, beautiful melody that echoes across the empty space. A singer’s voice, hushed and contained, reaches your ears, barely holding back against a rising tide of emotion. There is a momentary lull in the music.

 Suddenly, the music explodes, a massive crescendo of pounding drums, a string orchestra,  a massive choir. The singer’s voice erupts, rocketing an octave higher, exuding an unbridled and unlimited passion. The energy, no longer silent, surges through the room, reaching every corner and bouncing off every wall. This massive wall of sound hits you full force. Chills run down your spine and you are moved nearly to tears.

This is worship!


Eh, maybe.

The scenario I described could have come from any modern church across the world. It might also have been any secular pop concert.

There’s no denying that music is extremely powerful. It is capable of moving us in every way a person can be moved – physically, emotionally, even spiritually. And when we engage in worship God often touches us at each of those levels. We may physically feel the power of God on our bodies – a warmth, weight, or presence. We may experience different emotions, such as peace, love, or awe. All of these things are very real and lend an authenticity to our worship. I mean, if we get the feels it must be a touch from God, right?

Not necessarily. Feeling a certain way does not always mean that we  are worshiping God, or that God approves of what we are doing. Cain probably felt pretty good about his offering to the Lord. He probably thought, “Hey, I worked hard to raise these green beans and corn on the cob! I’m sure God Is very impressed with my work. He should be pleased that I’m willing to give up something I worked SO hard to achieve!” But God wasn’t impressed with Cain’s work. In fact, the Bible tells us that God found Cain’s offering completely unacceptable! Our offering of praise has nothing to do with us or how we feel, and everything to do with the majesty and glory and goodness of God. It is GOD-centered and not SELF-centered.

See, we worship God in spite of our emotions, not to create emotion. Take King David, for example. In Psalm 103:1 he says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” Why did David have to tell his soul to praise God? Because David’s soul didn’t want to praise God. It wanted to complain about having to sleep out in the desert one more night. It wanted the protest the injustice of a mad king. It wanted to mourn the death of his children. David was an emotional wreck. Still he took control of his feelings and commanded his soul to bless the Lord.

What about those chills and feels, then? Are we not supposed to feel something? If you worship God long enough, it will certainly effect your mind and body. There is a refreshing and uplifting that comes from worship. If you touch God’s heart, He will touch yours. But we need to be able to tell the difference between a touch from God and emotions manufactured by the music.

So how do we know when we’re really worshiping?

John 4:13 says, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”  We must understand that worship is an act of faith. Because we are human and live in the natural world, the natural world always feels more real than the spiritual one. We are used to interacting on a physical and emotional level because that is what we do 24/7. But we don’t touch God through physical or emotional means, although it involves both of these things. We are commanded to worship God with our entire being. But worship is first and foremost a spiritual link between you and God – spirit to Spirit. We reach God in the invisible realm of the spirit by faith through true, heartfelt praise and worship. That’s what it means to worship “in truth” — hearts right toward God, not seeking our own benefit, but seeking only God’s glory. God desires the soothing aroma of praise that is born from genuine admiration of who He is and what He has done.

Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about music and worship. Music is the vehicle that our praise rides upon. It is a part of our offering of worship, and as such should be as excellent as we can possibly make it. God doesn’t deserve any less (He deserves so much more!) than our very best. If string orchestras and massive choirs help you enter the presence of God, by all means, use ’em! Enjoy the chills run through your body! Let the music move you! But as you do so, don’t look to emotions to clue you in as to the effectiveness of your praise. Worship in spite of emotion – in spirit and truth – and let feelings follow faith.

(You can find Tim Heider on facebook at Tim Heider Music.)

“Baby Faith”- New Pages!

As my daughter napped in the other room, I added eight new pages to Living Royalty!  Never did I ever dream that I would be adding something about pregnancy, children, and parenthood to my blog. Obviously, God knew!  You will find a page on baby dedication, pregnancy confessions and Scriptures, the stewardship of a parent, and three articles I wrote that were inspired by my pregnancy. I also included our pregnancy story – a story few know!

Please take a moment to browse the pages and refer to any parent who you believe could benefit from the message.  Hover your cursor over the Baby Faith tab at the top of blog menu . . . and enjoy!