Thursday, January 1, 2009



Another year behind us, a new one to look forward to.

As we reflect on the year behind us, may it be a time of thanksgiving, not regret.

Indeed, we have much to be thankful for... the wonderful memories of the past and hope for the future. God has blessed us in spite of our shortcomings, mistakes and poor choices. This is what makes His grace so amazing!! In our wretched, sinful condition, He saved us. That which is most precious to Him (His Son), given to be the sacrifice, the payment, the substitute for our sins. Not just once or for a few but for ever and for all. How often we take this for granted or forget this most treasured thing that should be the source of our joy.

In our human nature, it's natural for us to be thankful for the superficial things in life. The things that we often tend to associate with happiness.... stuff. Earthly things. A job. Nice this or that. Prosperity. Food. Nice house. Health and even family. How often we express our thankfulness in this way.... "Life was good this year. I made a lot of money, did this, bought that, met him or her, found this, overcame that, won this, got promoted, moved into a new house". Bigger, better, more. Common indicators of what we often use to measure what is good, better or even blessings from God. Yes, health is important. Family important. Having our basic life essentials all very important. God certainly knows what we need. But, how often do we really stop and consider what we have to be thankful for? Where does our joy and contentment come from? What made 2008 a good year for you?

As a Follower of Christ, a Believer, a Christian, Born Again... whatever the title we like to put on it, do we fully appreciate what it is that makes us this? For many of us, it's difficult to even imagine being anything else. Sure, we could have been born somewhere else. Raised with different religious upbringing. Different values. We could be Muslim or Hindu or even an atheist. Still, we'd have things to be thankful for.

But we wouldn't have eternity to be thankful for.

Consider what Jesus spoke of concerning what really matters in life...

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." ~ Luke 9: 23-26

We value our life based on what we can see, experience and touch. Health. Food. Things. Yes, even love. God teaches us that these things although nice and even essential for our existence are really secondary to something else. Where we spend eternity. Despite what the latest pop-psychobabble, feel-good book may say, we were NOT created simply to experience success & happiness in life. At least not how the world measures it.

We were created to glorify God. Yes, even to the Muslim, the atheist, the Mormon. Each and every one of us has a primary purpose in life and that is to love, serve, honor and magnify God in all we do. As the popular book tell us, "It's not about you". And yet, we make it about us. "God wants me to be happy". We blame others when our little joy bubble bursts. We expect things from others in order that we might be happy. At some point, we are hurt, rejected, taken advantage of, disliked, disrespected, unloved, overlooked, stepped on, used, abused and have our self-esteem ripped away. And then... "Life sucks". Life is unfair. We blame the world and we say "Enough!.. I'm tired of worrying about everyone else. It's time I start thinking about ME first."

How utterly ridiculous we really are when it comes to being thankful.
It's a good thing that God Himself didn't respond that same way every time WE did those things (and more) to Him.

The very God who created everything, who loved us above all creation, who became flesh to suffer and die for us in order that we might know & love Him...The One who created within us the very thought and ability to experience what it is to be thankful. And yet, we rarely if ever thank Him for the very air that we breath let alone the greatest gift that could ever be given.... Life. Not just the here & now. Not simply 70 or 80 years of living and breathing. But eternal life. More than this, He DIDN'T give us what we deserved. Death. Eternity in hell.

The grace of God is the greatest thing we could ever be thankful for.
The Cross separates us from God's justifiable wrath.

Because of this, everything about our lives should be affected. Life becomes that much more precious. Family means that much more to us. Hope really means something. Everyday is a gift. Giving actually feels good. Love becomes more than a feeling; it becomes a way of life.

So, as we look back and look ahead, may our motives, thoughts, desires, passions and actions be Christ exulting, God glorifying. May the Way of Truth humble hearts, change lives and inspire all of us to share the gospel to every living person... in love. This is where true joy is found.