Friday, January 24, 2014

The Role of Gratitude: The Thankful Project Book Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Thankful Project, which speaks about living a victorious life through gratitude. This particular excerpt talks about the role of the priest and poses the question of whether we are taking our job seriously in the royal priesthood of Christ. 

“They are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the LORD, and likewise at evening.” 1 Chronicles 23:30

The Bible has a lot to say on the subject of thanksgiving in regards to our spiritual journey. More than a suggestion, it is commanded of us and part of our role as Christians. An intricate part of worship, thanksgiving is crucial to our spiritual growth. The existence or non-existence of Thanksgiving can be used as a good indicator of where we are in our walk with God. 

In 1 Chronicles chapter 16, we see a very important, and beautiful, picture of the role that thanksgiving plays in Christianity, as David appoints the levites with their different roles in offering praise to God. King David has just had the ark brought back to Jerusalem after it had been out of Zion’s possession for quite a while. After celebrating its return, David wastes no time in giving the Ark a home and setting up the duties of the priests. He immediately appoints the Levites with different jobs concerning the ark.

“David appointed the following Levites to lead the people in worship before the Ark of the Lord—to invoke his blessings, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” 1 Chronicles 16:4 (NLT)

 The roles consisted of praising and petitioning God, as well as giving thanks. There was actually a specific job designated solely to being thankful. Having a heart of gratitude may sometimes start to seem cliche or trite, but this passage of scripture shows us the true importance it holds. At the point of history in this verse, God’s spirit did not live within humans as he does today, but in one place - The Ark of the Covenant - and the Levites, or priests, were the liaisons between believers and God. God’s people counted on the priests to help them remain in good standing before the Lord by offering sacrifices, praise, and offering thanksgiving! The people of God expected and relied on the Levites to carry out these duties on their behalf. Once Christ ascended to heaven, He sent Holy Spirit - the spirit of God to live within those who believe. Now we are our own priests - our lives and praise our sacrifice. How often are we offering our thanksgiving to God? I can’t help but wonder if we maintain our priestly duties to the degree that we would have expected the Levites to do for us. Do we take advantage of this incredible gift or do we take it for granted? This question can only be answered individually, and I have a feeling I know my answer. Can you say “ouch”? 
Notice also that the priests were not merely stating their thanks for “counting their blessings”, they were offering up their thanksgiving to God. You may consider yourself a grateful person, but are you giving the thanks where thanks is ultimately due? 
Paul confronts the consequences of due thanks being withheld in the book of Romans as he writes about the wrath of God being poured out on the godless and wicked. In chapter one, He points out the root of their detestable sins:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21 (NIV emphasis mine)

Withholding gratitude from God had a pretty hefty price tag for these “godless and wicked” people, as the next few verses explain that He gave them over to their sin. They refused to acknowledge Him and His goodness, made life about themselves and distorted the truth, thus beginning the downward spiral. They worshiped themselves and the things of this world rather than the maker of all things, hoping for power from powerless things. We do the same thing when we refuse to worship God by giving an offering of thanksgiving - acknowledging Him as the true God “from whom all blessings flow”. 


  This post was shared at:

  Missional Women

Thursday, January 9, 2014

One Word: Commit

Do you have commitment issues? You can be honest, there is no judgement here. I am the poster child for commitment issues. I am great at coming up with grand schemes, but following through hasn't always been my strong suit. A few months ago, the Lord convicted me of allowing my talents to lay wasted, and encouraged…err…commanded me to pick them up and use them. So, I began writing my blog and after some time of being consistent with that, He began having me write a book. I don't think my commitment issues stemmed from laziness ( not completely anyway), but in not feeling like what I was doing was anything special - a kind of "why bother?" attitude. The truth is, as long as we are doing it for The Lord - it is special - to him - and he receives it as worship!

As the new year began, I saw the growing trend of the "one word" movement for 2014, in place of the traditional resolution. I wasn't feeling totally swayed at first, but my need to conquer a good challenge kicked in and since coming up with one lone word as my resolution for 2014 was truly a challenge - I accepted! I mean really, one word?! I figured I would need at least 25 to get myself in order! Can I get an amen?! Seriously, though, as I began to ponder on the verses that'd been on my heart - and thought about the verses that my husband had shared with me, I heard my "one word". COMMIT. I feel that this word was two-part, meaning that I needed to commit to work the blessings He's given and will give me, and that once I have made that choice, that I then need to commit those blessings to him.

"Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

This is an oldie but a goodie, for most of us. We read it and trust in the fulfillment of His promise. This promise is conditional, however, and I wonder how many of us have been putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable, so to speak, when it comes to this verse and others like it. In order for our plans to succeed,we must first COMMIT them to the Lord. Um…yeah. That's easy peasy. NOT! If you're like me, you like to control your plans - they are yours after all, right? Well, even if that's true, so is this:

"People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord's will is going to be done." Proverbs 19:21

Oh, Proverbs! You have a way of chopping us down to size! But really, we know that God can navigate better than we could even dream of, so why waste precious time trying to steer ourselves? That being said, it is still not easy to give over a dream! 

It's a trust fall, a leap of faith. But we know that he will catch us -that he will come through, because he is faithful! So, close your eyes and jump already!

Maybe you are still stuck on the actually committing to the working park - the making up your mind to put your head down and plow - I am right there with you. I am more of a sit in the shade and sip tea kind of gal….not a plower, but I hear God saying it is time to work - and sow amazing seeds that will turn into fruit more bountiful than we can imagine! 

He is faithful to his promises. Commit and watch him establish you. 

Yesterday, I heard the words of a very successful Christian who is no stranger to hard work, say the words, "If you will not be lazy and commit to the process - He (God) will do great things". This struck me, as it was the very words He'd already been speaking to me. I love how he confirms His Word to us. 

So, I took the challenge and found my one word for 2014. I will commit to the process and I will commit the process to Him. Will you commit in 2014? What's your one word? 

XO - Shara

This blog was linked up at Serving Joyfully!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thoughts on the New Year and First Friday Link Up

We have a double oven in our home, but for the last year the top oven has not worked. It's a major bummer when the holidays roll around, especially when you are hosting Thanksgiving - but a lot of people make do with one oven, so can't really whine too much, right? I actually turned it on for a while on Thanksgiving day and asked God for a miracle, but alas, the little oven light remained un-illuminated. 

A couple days ago, I walked into the kitchen to my husband cooking breakfast. He was making pig n' blankets and as I groggily stumbled to the coffee pot, he announced that the top oven was working! I stood there, half asleep, staring at the little red light that shows you the oven is on - illuminated for the first time in over a year. He hadn't done anything but turned it on! I immediately felt the Holy Spirit tell me that this was God's favor - things that hadn't worked previously would work now - with HIS hand on us.  

I truly believe that if we submit ourselves to Christ with obedience, that God is ready to knock our socks of this year! What's your dream for 2014? Mine is to be debt free and I know that if we are faithful to the process that God is going to come alongside of my husband and I and multiply our efforts! He is such a good God that knows how to give above and beyond our wildest dreams! So dream BIG this year!

Here are a couple scripture passages that I have enjoyed reading and feel may be pertinent to the coming year:

Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. Psalm 2:8

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

I also think that the book of Jude is a magnificent prophetic word for this year. Dig in The Word! 

Share your thoughts on the New Year or anything else that is on your heart and link up here or click on First Friday Link Up in my header.