Philippians 2:14-15 (KJV) “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Emphasis Added).
Every person exists in one of two opposing spiritual positions. Each one is either a…
- Saved soul or Lost soul
- Lifter or a Leaner
- Giver or a Taker
- Comforter or a Critic
- Peacemaker or Petulant
- Grateful or Grumbler
While everyone can interact with others from any of these vantage points, all of us evidence a predominant characteristic in each of these categories. As I’m writing this, I am making a spiritual inventory of my heart and realize that I need to guard my heart more intensely so that I present a character more reflective of the “first” in each category. Nonetheless, each of us is known by the “fruit” we present (Matthew 12:33).
Since this is the Season of Thanksgiving, and we are entering the Christmas Season, I am writing this series of blogs concerning presenting an “Attitude of Gratitude.” This is not my original thought, but it is a good one! I don’t know who first coined the phrase, “Attitude of Gratitude.”
I believe all of us are products of the nurturing environments into which we were born. While each of us are given a natural and spiritual personality, our “bent” can be impacted and directed by those who have the greatest influence upon us during our formative years. If my natural “bent” would be that of complaining and find fault, my role model could correct and direct me into using my capacity to observe for good. I would become aware of my negative tendencies and be able to seek God to turn what was “intended for evil into good.” BUT I would have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that all things would work together for good (Romans 8:28).
We’ve all experienced people who were known more for their grumbling than their gratitude. I can tell you, I’ve NEVER felt better after being in their company. In fact, I discovered that I felt worse for having been in their presence, AND I found myself being “pulled” into their grumbling discourses!
I do not want to be known for being a “Grumbler!” I want to be known for manifesting gratitude. So, how does one transition from “Grumbling” to “Gratitude?” That’s the subject of this series!
I believe it helps to focus on how we start the day! Allowing ourselves time to “awaken” and ease into the day can help set the tone for the day. Awakening with time to reflect on the Lord and start the day with Him makes all the difference in the world! I believe our mental attitude would be lifted if we reflected on the following before we got out of bed…
- God, You have been so good to me. I remember when You …
- This week, You answered a prayer for me when You …
- God, I want to thank You for …
Did you find it is a challenge as you reflected upon these statements? Why is it so hard to express sincere gratitude to God? If someone would ask most of us to speak about our loved ones, using statements of gratitude as we spoke, we would not find it difficult to participate in a manner that is consistent with integrity.
You may identify with the little boy who when on his return from a school party, his mother asked him, “Bobby, did you thank the teacher for the party?” The boy answered, “Well, I was going to. But the girl ahead of me said, Thank you, and the teacher told her not to mention it – So I didn’t.”
It takes no strength to dismiss the generous acts of our Gracious God. It is the standard sentiment of a self-centered sinner set on satisfying himself. A grumbling spirit is the consequent condition of a contentious child who cannot contain his carnality.
Moses had time to discover the true condition of the children of Israel’s hearts…
Deuteronomy 6:10-13 (TLB)“When the Lord your God has brought you into the land he promised your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and when he has given you great cities full of good things—cities you didn’t build, wells you didn’t dig, and vineyards and olive trees you didn’t plant—and when you have eaten until you can hold no more, then beware lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the land of slavery. When you are full, don’t forget to be reverent to him and to serve him and to use his name alone to endorse your promises.” (Emphasis Added).
A Grumbling spirit was the cause of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 long years. As a result, they were people whose eyes were red from the irritation of the wilderness dust. Their nostrils were filled with the stench of polluted streams and their minds were tormented with 40 years of aimless wondering. One would think that deliverance from such conditions would promote a transition from grumbling to gratitude; however, sinful mankind, when left to its fallen state, tends to expect the God of Convenience to meet its wants and needs independent of any gratitude or loyalty. Our God is the Sovereign God – He is worthy of all Honor, Glory, and Adoration!
The predominant “Spirit of Entitlement” has grown in its intensity and consequent collateral damage both on our national culture and the church. In 1986, Janet Jackson released a new song that hit the top of the charts. It was titled, “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” It is sad, but this song seems to have become the theme song for many in the church today. What God has done in the past is easily forgotten, and unless He is doing something “new,” there is not much to be grateful for today.
The Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write a “Divine Warning” to the children of Israel, and to us…
Deuteronomy 6:10-13 (NCV) “The LORD your God will bring you into the land he promised to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he will give it to you. The land has large, growing cities you did not build, houses full of good things you did not buy, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. You will eat as much as you want. But be careful! Do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt where you were slaves. Respect the LORD your God. You must worship him and make your promises only in his name.” (Emphasis Added).
While Abraham Lincoln was not known for attending church services, or professing faith in Jesus Christ for most of his life, he had an abiding faith in God that was transmitted to him through the godly influence of his mother.
Two of his most famous quotes concerning his mother are as follows…
“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” ― Abraham Lincoln
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” ― Abraham Lincoln
This godly influence continued into his presidency. In 1863 he designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Here is a portion of his proclamation on that occasion…
“It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has grown, but we have forgotten God.” ― Abraham Lincoln
“Life would be more pleasant if we could forget our troubles as easily as we forget our blessings.” –Tom Haggai