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).

I know what the difference between grumbling and gratitude is.  But what promotes the difference between one who has an “Attitude of Gratitude,” and the one who has a “Habit of Grumbling?”

The difference between one who has an attitude of gratitude from one who has a habit of grumbling depends on their …

  • Pondering

Those who ride motorcycles for any length of time will tell you, “Your motorcycle will go where you are looking!”  As a result, motorcyclists are trained to look away from what they do not want to hit.  This is not only a form of “seeing,” it is a form of “thinking.”  If we think gratitude, we will receive that which promotes praise.  If we think grumbling, we will receive that which promotes complaining!

Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee” (Emphasis Added).

We are all products of our thought-life!  When a child of God is walking uprightly in the ways of the Lord, you can be assured his thought-life is intact.  However, our thought-life, like our prayer-life requires discipline.

Those that know me well, know that I like to tease people I love.  When my wife and I were newly married, her great-aunt lived with us.  I loved to tease with “Aunt!”  (Her name was pronounced close to “Ain’t”).  Now, before you think ill of me, Aunt loved for me to tease with her!

One day, I went up to her room and took the mattress off her bedsprings.  Then I covered the bedsprings with her sheet and blanket.  I stayed up until she went to bed.  I can still remember the sound of her sitting on the bedsprings and saying, “Lord have mercy!  That boy!”  Of course, I went up to her room and placed her bed back together – laughing all the time!

I’m still talking about “pondering.” My wife told me she heard Aunt laughing to herself one morning.  When my wife asked her what she was doing, she said, “I’m thinking of what I can do to that boy!”  I still smile at the memories of Aunt.  I am still saddened that she passed while I was in Vietnam. I didn’t get home to her funeral.  BUT, I have the assurance of seeing her again to overshadow my thoughts of sadness!

“As nothing is more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think well.” –Thomas Traherne

People who are grumblers seem to have a knack for discovering what is wrong.  Since we are fallen creatures, amid a fallen world, this ability is not something great!  It’s easy to find fault – everything is “broken!”  If this were not the truth, it would not have been necessary for God to send His Only Begotten Son into the world to save us!

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In Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, Linus asks Lucy, “Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?” She answers, “I just think I have a knack for seeing other people’s faults.” “What about your own faults?” asks Linus. Her response is, “I have a knack for overlooking them.”
— Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997)

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Philippians 4:8 – 9 (KJV) “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Emphasis Added).

“Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit – and man is his own gardener.” –James Allen

Did you notice that Paul said, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you?”  He was reaffirming that we will go in the direction we are looking.  We will head in the direction of our thoughts!

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Focus on the Right Things
Tom Friends of The New York Times asked coach Jimmy Johnson what he told his players before leading the Dallas Cowboys onto the field for the 1993 Super Bowl.
“I told them that if I laid a two-by-four across the floor, everybody there would walk across it and not fall, because our focus would be on walking the length of that board. But if I put that same board 10 stories high between two buildings, only a few would make it, because the focus would be on falling.”
Johnson told his players not to focus on the crowd, the media, or the possibility of falling, but to focus on each play of the game as if it were a good practice session. The Cowboys won the game 52-7.
   A Christian must not focus on what people think, but only on what is “excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). — Steve Chandler, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself

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The difference between one who has an attitude of gratitude from one who has a habit of grumbling depends on their…

  • Practice

I teach the principle that “We will play like we practice,” very often.  Now, whether we realize it or not, we are all modeling this principle.  Our lives present the quality of our practice!  We all practice what is important to us.  As a result, it is imperative that we discern what is most important to us and place a priority on pursuing it with excellence.

Colossians 3:1 – 2 (KJV) “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth(Emphasis Added).

The most grateful, joyful people on the face of the earth ought to be those who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!  However, some of the most miserable, complaining, and difficult people are those who profess to be Christians.  What is present in every life, however, is everyone is working at what is most important to them, even if it is to “not work!”

“Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result … their life-styles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot.” — Gordon Dahl

If the difference between being a grumbler or grateful depends on the circumstances of life, we will never discover our identity in Christ.  We must “practice gratitude” so that our attitude will project gratitude regardless of where we are, what we are facing, and with whom we are present.  If our identity is found in Christ, we will not be moved by circumstances.

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What a Difference a Day Makes!
Perhaps you read this email that made the rounds the week of Sept of 11th.
It is particularly appropriate during our national holiday of Thanksgiving:
On Monday, we e-mailed jokes.
On Tuesday, we did not.
On Monday, we were fussing about praying in school.
On Tuesday, we would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying.
On Monday, our heroes were athletes.
On Tuesday, we relearned who heroes are.
On Monday, there were people trying to separate us by race, sex, color, and creed.
On Tuesday, we were all holding hands.
On Monday, we were irritated that our rebate checks had not arrived.
On Tuesday, we gave money away gladly to people we had never met.
On Monday, we were upset that we had to wait 5 minutes in a fast food line.
On Tuesday, we stood in line for 3 to 5 hours to give blood for the dying.
On Monday, we argued with our kids to clean up their rooms.
On Tuesday, we couldn’t get home fast enough to hug our kids.
On Monday, we went to work as usual.
On Tuesday, we went to work, but some of us didn’t come home.
On Monday, we had families.
On Tuesday, we had orphans.
On Monday, September 10th, life felt routine.
On Tuesday, September 11th, it did not.
What a difference a day makes!

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Six Months to Live
A young man was told by his doctor that he had only six months to live. In shock the man asked if there was anything that could be done. After all, this was a young man and there were many things he wanted to do.
The doctor thought for a minute and then finally gave him a solution. The doctor told the young man to go out and find the ugliest and most cantankerous women he could find and marry her. The doctor said make sure she complains about everything you do and nags you every waking moment.
Then the doctor told him to go out and buy the most beat-up old pickup truck that he could find. He said make sure it doesn’t run half-the-time. Then the young man was told to rent an old run- down apartment.  Somewhat skeptical the young man looked at the doctor and asked, “Are you sure that this will help me to live longer?”
“Not at all,” replied the doctor, “but it will make six months seem like an eternity.”