Tag Archives: Grace Challenge

Gratitude Overflowing

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude  (Colossians 2:6-7)

You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows (Psalm 23:5).

These two verses are parallels. Paul may as well be making commentary on Psalm 23.

The first part speaks of God’s blessing of salvation.  The Psalmist describes it as an anointing, the picture is of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Paul puts it this way in Romans 5:5  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Paul in Colossians speaks about this as the receiving of Christ.  This is Grace.

The second part speaks of the result of salvation and is described in superlative terms  “My cup overflows,”  and “gratitude overflowing.”  A believer is one who has been blessed beyond our capacity to hold the blessing – it is too much. God gives us more than we can handle!

I have often thought of what I call a “Job Situation.”  If God took everything away from me: job; family, house, car, bike, etc., would I still be able to give thanks?  Another way to look at it is that if all God gave me was Jesus, would it be enough? Our answer to both questions is yes.  All I need is Jesus. If this becomes existentially true, that is we really believe it for ourselves, then every other blessing is more than overflowing!

Today, thank God for Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, the Holy Spirit, regeneration, sanctification, eternal life, abundant life and whatever else you can add to the list that describes the inheritance of the saints in Christ, ahhhh, that’s you!

Grace Challenge Day 2: Singing in the Key of G

Grace Challenge Day 4: Gracious Worship

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The Grace Challenge

Today we start a monthlong experience of Grace.

For the month of November you will find a daily devotional available at both The Temple Blog and the Olive Grove Church Website.  Reminders and links will be posted daily on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.

Here is the challenge:

  1. Give Thanks every day.  Be deliberate and specific.  Grace demands gratitude and our daily challenge will be to frame our thinking, attitude, heart, and outlook on grace that results in thanksgiving. Every day you will be encouraged to have gratitude be the dominant expression of our inner and outer person.
  2. Verbally express your thanksgiving every day, multiple times per day.  Express verbally (outloud) in prayer. Give thanks to God for every perfect and good gift that he has given to you.  Express verbally to someone else what you are thankful for.
  3. Record your experiences daily.  Get a notebook dedicated to keeping your record of gratitude (we will have notebooks available at church on Sunday – or you can simply get one yourself).  If you are faithful in this task you will have an amazing record of blessing and grace from God that will serve as a memorial and reminder.
  4. Refrain from posting negative posts on Facebook, rather taking a positive posture.  So no whining or complaining.
  5. Come regularly to worship and express publicly what you have collected in your pool of praise and thanks for the week.

The premise to the challenge is this very simple principle:  Gratitude will change your life because it connects you directly to the power of Grace.  The promise is included in the challenge:  Discipline yourself to 30 days of immersion into gratitude and you will be a different person at the end.

I Will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders.  I will be glad and exult in Thee; I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High (Psalm 9:1-2).

Grace Challenge Day 2

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Grace Doesn’t End with the Grace Challenge

Grace Challenge Day 30

I hope you journaled during the Grace Challenge.  Your journal will serve as a powerful reminder of a powerful new habit and the abundance of Grace that God continually pours out on you.

The intention of the Challenge was not simply to give you something to do, it was designed to change who your are.  The goal is to be a grateful person, so the habits and patterns (the doings) of the challenge need to become the very fabric of who you are.

Continue to use your journal to record the ongoing grace of God in your life.

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

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Pay Grace Forward

Grace Challenge Day 29

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; (2 Corinthians 9:8)

I hope this has been a transforming experience for you.  Gratitude can change your outlook on life and by doing so change how you live your life.  As we have talked about the process of Grace leading to Gratitude we have noted that it results in Graciousness. So who have you loved differently as a result of your Grace experience?  What opportunities have you had to be gracious instead of grumpy, kind instead of cranky?  As the verse says:  grace abounds to us so that we might have an abundance for good deeds.

As you enter the advent season, a season traditionally marked by gift giving (graciousness) make your giving not out of obligation but truly out of grace.  Here are some Grace Challenge encouragements for your gift giving, for your abundance of good deeds:

  1. Make a list of the people you are buying gifts for this Christmas season in your Grace Challenge Notebook
  2. Pray for them daily; Give thanks for them daily.
  3. With your gift, write a note that expresses the content of your prayer and thanks for the person you have been gracious towards. Use Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 as examples for your writing and prayer.
  4. Believe that your prayer and thanksgiving is worth more than the monetary value of the gift given.

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Ultimate Worship

Grace Challenge Day 28

“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

This line of praise is from the The Revelation to John of Jesus Christ.  All of these characteristics belong to Christ and to our God:

Blessing:  We bless God in worship:   In order to receive God’s blessings, we must bless/kneel to Him in praise and Thanksgiving.

Glory:  We exist to glorify God.

Wisdom:  “Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy”  – in other words a perfect description of Christ. James 3:17

Thanksgiving:  In everything give thanks.  1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Honor:  A son honors his father (Malachi 1:6). Worship extends to all of life because how we live our lives either brings honor or dishonor to God.

Power: By submitting to God we ascribe power to Him, we acknowledge that He is in control and we are not.  Submitting to God’s power is expressed via obedience.

Might: Humility is the posture of worship.  Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6)

Amen…Amen.  The first and the last.  This phrase is bracketed by a double amen, something we usually use as an ending.  The word “amen” means “truly” (“verily” in the old King James).  To bracket the phrase with “amen” confirms with emphasis the certainty of God’s redemption of His people, resulting in this ultimate expression of worship.  Worship is the highest human expression.

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Contagious Thanksgiving

Grace Challenge Day 27

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

Thanksgiving is contagious.

The more you express thanks, the more grace that is given causing more thanks to be given and so on.  The ultimate result is the “giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.”  And this is why we exist and this is how we find happiness.

1 Corinthians 10:31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Romans 11:36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Ephesians 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

The Westminster Confession puts it this way:

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever

If you want to fulfill your purpose (glorify God) and you want to be happy, give thanks.

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Love God…Thank God

A reprint from 2007 becomes

Grace Challenge Day 26

“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

This is at the same time the easiest and the hardest part of Christianity. When you love something, no effort is needed to express that love.Being “in love” consumes us.Our every waking hour is devoted to thinking about the object of our love.We find ourselves struggling to focus on other things.We have to force ourselves to work, eat, sleep – or we do all these things with that person in and on our mind. Remember?When we love God on this plane, obedience and service and study and worship become effortless.My yoke is easy, my burden is light is realized in the context of absolute mad love.When we look at the verse as a whole, resisting the temptation to break it down into parts (What does it mean to love God with my heart or mind?) we see that the command is all encompassing. Love God with every part of you:the inside, the outside, the tangible, the intangible, the major, the minor, the significant and insignificant.In every way, with everything, LOVE GOD.

This leads us to the first problem:this is a command.If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize that the above statement is not descriptive of our natural tendency toward God.How do you force yourself to love someone or something?We have the idea that loving someone happens naturally, hence the term:“falling in love.”It just happens.It just keeps going.Well for most of us, this is not the way it is. We may have a sense that it just happened, but keeping it going has proved to be more of an effort – more like climbing than falling.

As I have contemplated this, here is an incomplete list of things to do to increase and build your love for God.

  1. Recognize the depth of your sin and the huge need you have to be forgiven (Luke 7:36-50). The one who has been forgiven much, loves much.
  2. Recognize that all that you have, everything, comes from God (James 1:17).Everything.Everything.Big things, small things, seemingly insignificant things, the things you love the most in this world, they all come from God.Try disliking someone who daily gives you a gift.If I were to take you out to lunch every day, pick up the tab and give you a present, after a while – you would look for me.You would love me.God showers us with gifts every moment, multiple times over.Think about your every breath, it is a gift from God.Start counting.
  3. Recognize, behold the beauty of God (Psalm 27:4). Beauty triggered our love affair with our girl.Beauty makes love easy.And God has surrounded us with beauty – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name (Psalm 29:2).Beauty triggers love in us.
  4. Verbalize the value (Psalm 9:1-2).I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, for every good and perfect gift. I will tell of all Your wonders and brag about Your beauty.Speaking is a powerful tool.It affirms the truth we believe.It discerns and points out our inconsistencies. To speak the words, “I love you Lord,” affirms and builds in us the emotion of love.It acknowledges and gives credit to God when you verbally thank Him, which affirms in you that the gift is a gift. It makes it harder to take for granted.
  5. Spend time in proximity to God (James 4:8). The promise is that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.When you spend a lot of time with generous, good, beautiful people, your tendency to love them will increase commensurately.God is the ultimate good, the most magnanimous, the unmatched beauty of the universe – when you see Him, you will love Him.He rewards those who seek Him.

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I am Thankful for Church

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.   Paul to the Thessalonians, book 1, chapter 1, verses 2-8.

I am thankful for my church.

It is the place I have been fellowshipping and serving for the last 21 years.  Like Paul, I have been practicing thanksgiving for the church for 21 years.  God is at work in the church.  He is cultivating faith, love and hope in Christ Jesus.  The people are beloved of God and chosen by God.  I have witnessed growth and the imitation of Christ repeatedly.

Are you thankful for your church?  If not, I would recommend a change of attitude.  Here are some reasons to be thankful for your church.

It is a place of faith.  One of the primary graces of God to you and your brothers and sisters in Christ is the gift of faith.  In the church we find people of faith and since faith results in faithfulness, trustworthiness, and loyalty you can find people who will be faithful to you, that you can trust.  Everyone needs those kinds of relationships and they are to be found in the church.

It is a place of love. God is love.  If we love God we will love one another.  The church is a place of love.  Everyone needs people to love them.  The church is a safe place where love rules.

It is a place of hope.  God is in the business of replacing despair with hope.  No matter what the circumstances around us we can find hope in the worship and promise of the church.  God is in charge.  He works all things together for good, He will never leave or forsake us.

In over 50 years of belonging to the church I have found this to be true, and I am thankful for the church.

If you have a different experience, here is my advice:  start being thankful for the church.  Start small.  Be consistent in thanksgiving and then look for people who need a dose of faith, hope or love and start giving it out to them.  Instead of looking for others to love you, build up your faith and give you some hope, be the person who loves, offers a leg up to someone who needs a boost of faith, and find someone who is more desperate than you and inject some hope into their lives.  I guarantee it will change your experience of the gathering on Sunday that we call church.  If you become a reason for someone else to be thankful, you will start to like being a part of the church too.

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Lexicon of Gratitude

Yesterday’s post was simply a posting of Psalm 100.  It is a simple Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Here are some of the key words in the Psalm.

Joy:  the highest mood of worship is joy.  Shouting with joy accompanied the sacrifices because they brought about forgiveness (Leviticus 9:24).  Shouting with joy accompanied the presence of God (Isaiah 12:6).

Praise: sincerely exalting the character, nature, and activity of another, specifically God. Praise is a confession or declaration of who God is and what he does.

Thanksgiving: express one’s public proclamation or declaration (confession) of God’s attributes and his works. This concept is at the heart of the meaning of praise.

Bless:  Bless the Lord is an odd phrase.  Usually the blessing goes from the greater to the lesser, and in this case we are called to “bless the Lord.”  Its answer may be found in noting that the root of the word is “kneel.”  Just as Thanksgiving is a necessarily reciprocal activity (Thanksgiving has a subject and an object, you can’t be “thankful” without someone to be thankful to) blessing may have the same reciprocal characteristic.  In order to receive God’s blessings, we must bless/kneel to Him in praise and Thanksgiving.

Grace Challenge Day 24 leads us into the final weekend. Fill tomorrow’s worship with shouts and songs of Joy, Praise and Thanksgiving, and bend then knee in worship so that you might experience the blessing of God.

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Psalm 100

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

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