Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Words or Actions

I John 3:16-18: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (NIV)
2013 is preparing to pass fully into the history books of our past and 2014 lies on the horizon of our future. How did 2013 pass so swiftly and how did I spend all of the time that God permitted me to have is a question that is present in my heart this morning? Was I profitable servant in the Kingdom of God? Did I spend my life wisely? Was I foolish with the resources (both natural as well as spiritual) that God provided for me to use? Did I share the Good News of the Gospel with others around me? Did I love my neighbor as I should have loved them? Did my love for God grow stronger or did my love for God grow more distant and less passionate? Did I love my wife and family with commitment and faithful concern?
I could continue writing questions such as these for the remainder of the day and never fully address all of them. But I only have a few more hours to answer the "Did I" questions. The calendar is about to change and the questions will no longer be "Did I"; the questions will change to "Will I." Will I allow the Spirit and the Word to make the proper adjustments in my life so that I will live pleasing to the Heavenly Father? The "Did I" questions will be limited to the historical archives of my past. The past is behind me and I can only control the decisions and actions of the future. I must focus on those future opportunities and allow the Spirit to teach me the error of my ways. I do not know what the future will hold but I do know that I can trust God to lead me if I will take full advantage of His shepherding in my life. He will lead if I will follow.
I am asking God that 2014 will be a year in which my actions will match my words. An old quote says that "Words are cheap." God is looking for people of action and not just people who know the right words to say. I truly believe that God is calling us to be people of right and Biblical actions in 2014. These proper actions will glorify the Father and allow the world to recognize that we are truly "living out" the mandate of a true relationship with God. We do not get to hit the rewind button on 2013 but we do have the opportunity to move forward into a deeper walk with Christ as we prepare to enter 2014. Do not live in the land of "Did I" but move into the promise land of "I will."

Friday, December 27, 2013

Post-Christmas Review

Many of you are probably involved in the follow-up activities of Christmas. Some of these activities require your willing participation while others demand that you participate. These activities may include trips to the mall to exchange some gifts; you may need to clean and re-arrange the house after the guests have left; you may find yourself re-positioning the left overs in the refrigerator especially the dessert dishes and last but not least moving all of the garbage to the curb so that it can be picked up and taken to the incinerator to be destroyed. These are just a few of the events that normally follow a celebration with our friends and family. It seems that we wait such a long time for this season to arrive and it passes so quickly.
The anticipation of the arrival of Christmas gives us somewhat a snapshot of our life. The Bible compares our life to a vapor that appears and then vanishes away. We are here on earth for our assigned time and it is during that time, whether it is brief or long that we make our preparation for our eternal home. I do not want this post to be viewed in a negative manner but I do want us to remember that we have a purpose to accomplish on this earth. And God through His marvelous presence will provide us the Grace that we need to accomplish that purpose. Many of us work very hard at making this temporary life as comfortable as we can. We want to provide the best that we can for our family and we want to make sure that each of them have the tools of life to succeed. BUT do we expend that same energy, commitment, dedication and lifestyle adjustments to see our spiritual goals and purpose accomplished? Do we view the eternal as important to our life as we view the temporary? Should we not even view the eternal more important than the temporary?
I encourage you to look back at this year and appreciate all that you accomplished in your life. I also invite you to look ahead as we approach 2014 and ask God these questions. "What can I do to strengthen my relationship with You? What areas of my life need adjustment? What commitments do I need to make in 2014 that will forever change my eternal view of life? How can I  more effectively serve in 2014 so that I can overcome the spirit of selfishness that has so gripped our society?"
Let each of us prepare our hearts to follow the leading of the Spirit into our eternal destiny!!! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Purpose of Christmas

Matthew 18:11-14, "11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." (NKJV)
The celebration of Christmas is packed full of various traditions that have been established by families and friends over a period of time. Traditions such as the trimming of the tree, the type of meal that is prepared, the time of the meal, and even the menu of the meal. We also have established the traditions of the giving and sharing of gifts with one another. There are some people who even choose to establish a price range on the amount of money that can be spent on any gift. Even small children establish their own set of traditions such as do I leave cookies and milk for Santa Claus and carrots for the reindeer and what should I leave the elves that assist Santa? Some people have even established the tradition of not choosing to celebrate any "cultural" celebration of Christmas.  Each of us have probably our own way of "doing" Christmas and this post is not about taking sides on which tradition is right and which tradition is wrong. This post is being written to remind us of the purpose of Christmas.
We must remember that there is a great difference between tradition and purpose. Traditions are established in the minds of people and those traditions can and very do change from generation to generation. The celebration of Christmas must be more than just the celebration of our traditions or the traditions that have been established by others. The celebration of Christmas is the beginning point of understanding the purpose and plan of God for fallen and sinful humanity. I sincerely doubt that any of the previous traditions that I wrote about earlier were celebrated on the day of the "first Christmas." The celebration of the first Christmas was about the birth of the Jesus, the Savior who would free mankind from their sins. Verse 11 of our scripture passage establishes the purpose of the entry of Christ into this world on that day in Bethlehem. Let us be reminded of that purpose, "For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost." We can not afford to allow the purpose of Christ to be crowded out by any traditions or celebrations that have been developed in the minds of mankind. We must remain committed to the message of the Gospel that declares that Christ "came to save that which was lost." That statement is a reminder that we have a message to declare and a message to celebrate. Rejoice in the fact that the purpose of Christ continues to be revealed in our lifetime!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thinking about Christ

Luke 2:8-20, "That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. (NLT)
Under normal circumstances I do not use this lengthy of scripture passage because I have read all of the statistical information concerning our short attention span. But we are not living in "normal" times! Give me a moment to climb up on my soap box and vent. I am constantly amazed at our ability to have our attention span so captured by a movie, a sporting event, conversation with friends and many other "social" events yet we can become bored so quickly when it comes to the Word of God and the things of God. Is it possible that we need to examine our "process of thinking" about the things concerning the Kingdom of God? Verse 19 of this passage has captured my attention over the past few weeks. Let me remind you of the content of the statement made concerning the process of Mary's thinking; "but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often." Isn't that an amazing and thought provoking look into the heart of Mary? I fully understand that we only know what is taking place in the heart of someone through the words that they speak and the actions that they take. We do not have the ability to discern nor fully comprehend all of the activity of someone's heart and this post is not written to create that desire on our part. These words are being written to challenge each of us to take a close look at our "process of thinking" concerning the things of God.
Mary had heard the declarations of the shepherds regarding the information that the angels had shared with them yet she wanted to think on them for herself. Is it possible that she realized that she could not be content just knowing what the shepherds knew? She had the ability to think and reason and she would use those abilities to meditate on the things of God pertaining to the life and purpose of Christ. It appears that she involved herself in this "process of thinking" on numerous occasions throughout the earthly life of Christ. Is it possible that we have grown content just to know what other people know about Christ and have never taken the time to think and learn for ourselves? Yes by all means we need ministers, teachers and scholars to unfold and open the truth to us so that we can learn the principles of God. But this in and of itself will never take the place of our individual thinking, meditation, and inward desire to know and understand Christ for ourself. Let this Christmas season be a time in which you hit the "spiritual refresh" button of your heart. Take some time and "think" about Christ and what He desires to reveal in your life. Don't settle for just knowing what others know about Christ; desire to know Him for yourself.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Little" Christmas

I heard a line from an old song this morning while I was driving to the office. These words drew my attention; "Have yourself a merry little Christmas." Then my thoughts zeroed in on the word "little." Truthfully there is nothing "little" about Christmas either from a secular (economic) point of view or from a Biblical point of view. But I began to ponder this question; "Have we allowed the story of Christmas to shrink from a great story to a small story?" Have we lost the passionate side of evangelistic fervor because the Christmas story has become an "old" story that we have learned to recite rather than receive and embrace? The prophetic fulfillment of the Incarnation of the Son of God in a human body remains a powerful story of redemption and rescue. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is calling the "church" to reconnect with the true Christmas story and once again let it make a difference in our lives and in our attitude toward humanity.

The Christmas story was a "big" story to Mary who was given the awesome privilege and responsibility to serve as the earthly mother for Jesus on this earth. The Christmas story was a "big" story to Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus who seriously considered divorcing Mary upon learning of the miraculous story that she shared with him. The concerns that Joseph felt in his heart were so real that God sent an Angel to answer these concerns for Joseph. The Christmas story was a "big" story for the Shepherds who left their flock to come and worship the baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. The Christmas story was a "big" story for the Wise Men who traveled a great distance to offer their gifts Jesus. Truly the Christmas story was a "big" story for all of humanity. The Savior of the world was born in that lowly stable that night and that Savior would offer His life in our place on a cruel cross on Golgotha. The Christmas story was a "big" story" to Jesus, the Son of God. He willfully chose to leave the splendor of glory to come and live as a human being upon this sinful planet called Earth. 

Let me pose another question to you; "Is the Christmas story a big story to us or have we allowed the influence of the culture to shrink the story to where it is simply another holiday on the calendar?" I pray that God will open our eyes so that we can see the greatness of God and the greatness of the story concerning the entrance of  Christ into this world. Would you take a moment today and ask God to renew and revive your heart toward the great and powerful story that has been entrusted to us to share with a world full of hurting people? People are looking for answers to the "ills" of their lives and we know that the true answer is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. 

Don't forget to share the "big" story this year!!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas? Really?

A few of the Radio stations in our area began playing "Christmas music" several weeks ago, even before Thanksgiving. Our wonderful grandchildren assisted us and led us into making that discovery. As a matter of fact they make sure that the radio dial is turned to the various stations so they can listen to the "Christmas music." I might add that I do think that the music starts too early at least from my point of view but I am sure that my view is one view of many varying opinions. As a matter of fact, I am listening to some "Christmas music" as I type these words. That fact may prove that I am not a "scrooge" after all.
On several occasions I have heard various artists share their rendition of the song "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." Those words have grabbed my attention to this morning. What does Christmas look like to you and to me? Is it the green trees with white or multi-colored lights? Is it the Salvation Army Bell Ringers outside the doors of your favorite store? Is it the crowds of people in the mall looking for that bargain for that special someone in their life? Is it a young child with pencil in hand looking through the latest sales advertisements and marking what he/she wants for Christmas? Is it Mom and Dad stretching the budget to make sure that they can purchase the latest toy, newest designer clothes, or the latest electronic gadget that has been produced and rolled out just in time for this shopping season? Is it an empty chair at this year's family celebration? Is it the missing smile of a friend or loved one who is celebrating in Heaven while we fight the crush of traffic in the mall or shopping center and worry about paying the bills from this Christmas celebration? Is it the Pastor/Preacher talking about the manger and the baby Jesus who is tucked neatly inside the swaddling clothes? Is it the choir singing songs that they only sing once a year? As you can tell this could develop into an unending list of "what does Christmas look like?"
The easiest answer to this question could be that Christmas should look like a group of family and friends sharing with each other about the great love that God has for the whole world of which each of us are an important part. This same group of individuals would also share about the daily blessings that God places in our lives. I can not answer for anyone but myself and I realize that I need to re-examine what I want Christmas to look like. What Christmas does look like may not necessarily be what Christmas truly should look like. I began this post by thinking that I would tell you what I thought Christmas should look like but the more I write the more I realize that is not my responsibility today. The shepherds saw the original Christmas from a different perspective than the Magi saw the birth and development of Christ. Each of us may see Christmas from a different point of view because we may need a fresh, unique and personal revelation of Christ at this point in our life.
Take a moment and ask God "What do you want me to see this year at Christmas?" I believe that the Spirit will open your eyes and your heart to a fresh view of the "old story" and you can realize that the joy and peace of Christmas still exists and that God is still very real to each of us!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Making Room for Jesus

Luke 2:7, "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (KJV)
I feel led to share this reminder with you today although each of us know the truth of this statement but it becomes something that we may choose to ignore because of the pressure of society. We have to make a concerted and concentrated effort to keep Jesus the center of our activities. This is especially true in a society which has taken many events even including those of a "spiritual" nature and turned them into a commercial event. Christmas has become a time on our calendar that is full of social events which include parties, meals, shopping, traveling, grumbling about lines at the checkout line, the shortage of "sale" items and the complaints about the grumpy clerks who have to wait on all of us impatient people. Let me make it clear that there are many people who serve with grace, kindness and thoughtfulness in many of the stores in which we shop. Now we can even ignore the "Christmas" spirit by cyber shopping in which we never have to leave the comfort and safety of our home. WOW, we have got it so easy in 2013 but why is the lack of celebration, love, kindness and camaraderie absent from so many people's life?
Is it possible that we have lost the main reason for that special night when Christ was born? Have we lost the birth of the Savior in all of the glitz, glamour and garb of a modern day Christmas in which society barely takes any time to recognize and remember the "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger?" Let me make it clear that I am not necessarily against any of the events of celebrations that families and even churches celebrate. I will participate in many of them and I will enjoy my time of family, fellowship, food and friends. BUT I must sound a warning bell when we allow busyness to replace our time of reflection, and remembrance of the birth of the Savior of the world. We can not afford for Him to be crowded out of our lives by other events that may not make an eternal impact on our lives.
Let us seek to remain balanced in our approach to Christmas and make sure that Christ has a prominent and important role not only in our celebrations but also in our lives!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Remain Strong

I Timothy 6:11-12, "But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses." (NLT)
Our physical body will face certain challenges as we travel down the road of life. Some of these physical struggles such as age, disease, injuries, etc. will serve as agents to slow us down to where we are limited in some areas of our physical stamina. I believe that the Spirit placed this passage of scripture in my heart during prayer this morning. Each of us have either faced challenges or we are presently facing obstacles that challenges us to turn loose of our faith. The first four words of verse 12 kept resonating in my mind as I prayed this morning. I must be willing and I must be committed to "fight the good fight..." I believe that the enemy will use challenges, tests, trials, temptations, etc. to wear down my spiritual life just as I mentioned some things that will happen to wear down our physical strength. It is during those moments that we must heed to the instruction that Paul goes on to share in verse 12. The Spirit through Paul reminds us and encourages us to "Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you..."
That statement leads me to believe that the true desire of satan is to cause each of us to "turn loose" of our hope in Christ. I encourage you this morning to be committed to perseverance regardless of the challenge or situation. We must remember that God has called us to enjoy His provision of eternal life not only when we arrive in heaven but we already possess the strength of that eternal life at this very present moment. The circumstances and realities of life does not change the eternal fact that God is at work in our hearts at this very moment. I believe that I can hear the people of God rejoicing over the fact that God will not leave nor forsake us as we walk the path of life. The road of life can become winding and often times dangerous but the Chief Shepherd is always present to direct our steps and He is present to guide us down the path of life.
I will leave you with the words of verse 12; "Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Human Understanding...

Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (KJV)
On a "normal" Sunday morning at this time I am preparing to leave for church but due to freezing rain and sleet we chose to dismiss our service today. We chose to err on the side of safety and caution yet it does feel strange to be setting in front of my computer at this time on a Sunday morning and typing these words. I am sitting here because I truly believe that I was awakened by the Lord at 4:00 AM and He begin to reveal some thoughts/teachings or understanding in my spirit. The Spirit began to unfold in my heart some knowledge that I believe I need to share with you through this blog. I plan on emailing a link to this blog to our local church attendees because I feel that strong about the content. This will be my Sunday morning sermon minus the inflection of my voice but it will still contain my passion to know God in a deeper and fuller manner.
The second part of Proverbs 3: 5 is what the Spirit brought to my attention earlier this morning; "...and lean not unto thine own understanding." (KJV) This is where the teaching of the Spirit began for me and it is where I would like to begin sharing with you. We made the decision early last evening to dismiss our service today based on the human knowledge of the weather forecasters. BUT their level of knowledge and understating had already changed by bedtime last night. They had downgraded the strength and impact of the storm and it appeared that it would not be as bad as they once had declared. I was somewhat frustrated and even disappointed in their statement although in the long term this new forecast will prove more beneficial to our area of the country. We were already recovering from an ice and snow storm on Friday. I should have been rejoicing but I realized that we had made our decision for Sunday based on what we heard on Saturday and the information that we heard had already been adjusted from the time that we first had received it. I trust that you can understand the flow of my concerns/thoughts in the previous statement. I quickly began to be reminded of the fact that our human understanding is very limited and can change quickly as more information becomes available. I already knew that fact to be true but this storm and the decision to cancel our Sunday service would be a tool that God would use to teach me to wait on Him and trust in Him regardless of the circumstances that may be taking place in my life or in the lives of my family and friends. God is always in charge even when our human understanding is limited or even challenged.
This morning the Spirit began to take me to some situations in which God intervened and worked contrary to human understanding and in some cases God even confounded human understanding. John 6 reveals the story of the multitude who needed to be fed. Read how Simon Peter describes the supplies that he has found in the crowd; “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" This comment is based on his human understanding of the situation. But notice the action of Jesus once He becomes involved in the situation. Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” The ability and power of God overcame the need that was present among the people. John 11 shares with us the story of Lazarus. Lazarus has become ill and the family sends for Jesus. Jesus arrives after Lazarus has died. As a matter of fact he has been dead for four (4) days upon the arrival of Jesus. Jesus issues this request after some discussion with the family of Lazarus; “Where have you laid him?” Jesus issues this command at the conclusion of a discussion with the family of Lazarus; "Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” The resurrection power and authority of Christ overcame the power of illness and death. This was also proven once again at the Resurrection of Christ after His crucifixion.
Mark 9 shares with us a story of a parent with an ill child. Read the words of the father as he speaks with Jesus; “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 
18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” I truly believe that the disciples wanted to assist this child as well as the father of the child but their ability was limited. But we must remember that the ability of God is never limited regardless of the circumstances that we are facing. Jesus engages this parent in a discussion and shares these principles of faith; "Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” You can read the full story in Mark 9 but the end result of this story is that the child is delivered from the oppression of this illness and difficulty.
Here is what I feel that I need to leave with you today. Never, ever, give up regardless of the circumstances that you are facing. Never, ever stop believing regardless of the circumstances that you are facing. Never, ever forget that God's power is greater than human understanding.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hope is Found in the Word of God

There are times that my spirit and soul are overwhelmed as I reflect on all of the "needs" that are present all around me and the ministry call which God has placed in my life. I am sure that I am not much different than any other Pastor or Ministry Leader that I know. My phone rings with people sharing the needs in their lives. I receive text messages, emails, FB messages, letters in the mail and I become involved in personal conversations where people share about the struggles that they are facing. These words are not being written with the intention to grumble or complain; rather they are being written to remind us that there are people all around us who are facing some serious challenges or struggles and they are depending on someone to pray and intercede for them. It is during these moments and moments like these that we look to the Word of God for hope, comfort and encouragement. We also need to realize that these situations happen on a daily basis and not just at this time of the year (Winter & Christmas). I am sure that each of us know of someone who is dealing with something that is bigger than their ability to "fix, repair, or change it." What do we say to those people? We can say to them that the Word of God provides a resource that is far greater than any library in America. The Word of God will speak truth and hope into our moments of concern and despair. I want to share a favorite Psalm that is speaking to my heart this week.
Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.  (NIV)
Be blessed and strengthened as you meditate on the promises of God!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Weekend Reflections

I trust that each of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend celebration. I was reminded during prayer that even as some people are celebrating there are other people who are facing tragedies, difficulties and other major challenges. I personally know of individuals who are facing health issues, employment issues, martial issues as well as a host of other concerns. We prayed with several individuals at church yesterday who are dealing with their own set of circumstances. Yet in the midst of all these situations we can find comfort and strength in the power, authority, and soverngity of God. I was reminded of those promises as we sang "How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God" in our worship service on Sunday. I want to encourage someone today to focus on the "greatness of God" as you look into the face of your circumstances. 

I read an interesting question that Rick Warren posed in one of his devotions. He talked about the time of fellowship, food, family, friends, football, and etc. that we participated in over this past few days. Now, we all understand that there is nothing wrong with those activities per se; yet as believers we need to look beyond the surface and recognize the goodness of God. Pastor Warren challenged me to think about my activities over the past few days. I spent a lot of time on the previous activities that were mentioned but this question was posed by Pastor Warren, "How much time did I spend offering thanksgiving to God?" We probably should eliminate the brief prayer that was offered prior to the meal (s) that we shared with our family and friends. Did I (we) take the time to offer a time of sincere praise and thanksgiving to God separate  from all of the hustle and bustle of the "holiday" events? I am not sharing these thoughts to be critical of anyone of us but I do think that these thoughts are worthy to be considered. There is a song that we sing from time to time in church and one of the lines of that song says, "When I think of His Goodness and what He has done for me, when I think of His Goodness and how He set me free, it makes me want to shout..." 

I encourage each of us to take some time and "think, meditate, review, reflect, and remember" the Goodness of God that has been revealed in our lives. Your response to God may depend on the depth of your recognition and appreciation of the involvement of God in your life!!!