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Gratitude

Friday Inspiration

Gratitude is a happy feeling you have about a giver because of his giving something to you or doing something good for you.

John Piper, Sermon Exerpt from “Grace, Gratitude, and the Glory of God”

Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1981

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Daddy Day

Most every Saturday, I spend the day with my 7 year old son, Luke. This is a new commitment for me this year, one I have enjoyed immensely.  In the past I tried to have this “rhythm” but it didn’t last.  Despite good intentions, I didn’t have accountability in place to keep me going.  To be completely honest, in 2015 and 2016 I had other priorities that came before Luke.   At the end of last year it hurt my heart to see our relationship was far from where I had hoped it would be.

Just this morning, I believe I got a sign from God that we were at a new level in our relationship as a result of months of Saturday “Daddy Days.”  A few months ago I was asked to speak to the 6th-8th graders at the weekly chapel at Luke’s school, and I was excited to do so.  We’d recently returned from a cross country trip, so this morning it was a little crazy as I got ready for the talk, but Nicole and I agreed at the last minute that although Luke was just in first grade, he should attend the middle school chapel. When we arrived, Luke and I were greeted by the Head of School, the person who originally asked me to speak.  He kindly sat with Luke in the back of the auditorium. The talk went well and afterwards I had planned to drop Luke off at his classroom and head back to the office to start my work day.

As we arrived on the elementary campus, Luke’s class was just leaving for PE.  Luke put his stuff on his desk and then turned to me with this look on his face that I had seen before. I immediately wondered why he was about to cry, as he pulled me into the kitchen that is off of their classroom.  I then heard the words I won’t soon forget: “Daddy, don’t leave me, I want you to stay with me.”

Luke was full of so much emotion it was hard for him to articulate what was going on.  I had heard these words before, but it had been some time ago.  After several minutes of tears and conversations with his teacher (twice) and the school’s secretary, he was able to explain to me what was upsetting him. He simply wanted to hang out more—he usually didn’t get to spend all morning with Dad, and today had been so fun. Possibly the “Daddy Days” are having a greater impact than I had thought? My son actually wanted more of me.

All this makes me ask the question: Are we experiencing regular “Daddy Days” with our Heavenly Father? Are we spending so much time with him that we are crying and asking not to be separated from Him like Luke was with me this morning?

God opened my eyes to three things he desires for our relationship with Him:

  1. We are commanded to love God and Jesus with all we got: “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:29-30).

Luke was not letting go this morning as he was loving me with all he had, and I had a front row seat to this love.  He loved being with me and wanted to stay with me.

  1. We are to live, to “walk” in the same way Jesus lived: “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked”(1 John 2:5-6). We have explored this idea before about what drove Jesus up Calvary’s mountain to be crucified for us. If we are to walk in the way Jesus did do you think this includes loving God the Father as Jesus did?
  1. Our Heavenly Father wants us to have an authentic relationship with Him as Jesus did, expressing our deep heartfelt desires even when it is uncomfortable in the worldly realm, like Luke did when he was sobbing in front of his classmates who were trying to figure out what was going on with their normally joyful friend. “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:38).

Our Heavenly Father wants us to have the greatest relationship with Him, like He had with Jesus. He wants us totally ruined with tears and sobbing when we are pulled away from Him. I believe this is part of what was going on with Jesus in the Garden Of Gethsemane when He knew what lay in front of Him—being forsaken and disconnected from the Father in order to bear our sins and forever rectify us with God the Father.

I have never had experience like Luke had with me, but I hope to.

What experiences have you had that resembles what Luke experienced this week?

May we long to be with God the Father and cry violently like Jesus did in the Garden and how Luke did this morning when we are separated from our Heavenly Father.

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The Life of Paul

I’m fascinated by the life of Paul. This hard-charging, super type-A personality was bent on doing what he thought was the work of God—only to find out it was the antithesis of it.

Talk about being outside of God’s will!

A man who, upon learning of his wrongdoing, does a 180 and starts proclaiming the name that he was trying to bring down: JESUS!

A man who, upon his conversion, goes away to Arabia for three years to do things about which we can only speculate. Preach and teach? Receive more revelation? Pray?

It would be like Bill Maher travelling to one of his gigs only to come across Christ, become blinded and filled with the Holy Spirit, get baptized, regain his sight, then fall off the face of the earth and emerge three years later to plant churches in San Francisco with Francis Chan and write books about Jesus, grace, love, forgiveness, gratitude and how to finish strong for Christ!

Can you even imagine!

Maybe if Paul never felt the grace of God he would have never become grateful. Gratitude became one of his greatest attributes. He urged his fellow Christians to be grateful all of the time. “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

His gratitude welled up and he wanted EVERYONE to experience this freedom in Christ.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Jesus was using this type-A personality to promote His name. Paul was literally risking his body so that everyone he came across would hear the Good News.

This, my friends, is the road to true generosity. It was through gratitude due to the grace of Jesus Christ, that Paul was able to freely and abundantly give of himself, risking the life God had given him to spread the Good News. He recklessly gave so others would be free ̶ FREE IN CHRIST!

Paul’s life is the perfect model for us to follow in order to have Jesus reign supreme in the calendar, cash and calling God has entrusted to us.

What did Paul do first? Did he become generous with the cash, or step immediately into the calling God had on his life?

No.

Jesus uprooted the calendar part of his life. Jesus reprioritized his life to what Jesus created him for. His true calling. But it first started with the calendar part of his life.

 

 

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Arabia—A Time with God

Saul persecuted people of the Way. He witnessed Steven being stoned to death. He was marching his way to Damascus to inflict more persecutions when Jesus Christ met him and confronted him about his activities.

Saul was blinded, filled with the Holy Spirit, regained his sight, became a Christ-follower and was baptized, then started proclaiming the name of Jesus in the synagogues.

After a little time he went to Arabia. For three years! This hard-charging man was in the desert for three years. His job was taken away as he no longer had a heart for it. He lost all of his friends, his co-workers, and those who were part of the mission to persecute people of the Way. His life completely changed.

What happened during these three years?

Could God have spent this time rebuilding the foundation of his life and faith? Saul had been going very hard for a very long time, possibly never stopping. (This sounds oddly familiar to me.) How cool it would have been to eavesdrop on the conversations between Saul and God.

Maybe during this time he learned to be content?

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Maybe he learned about Jesus’ grace and what Jesus had given up for him and everyone?

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Maybe he learned how to live and what to die for?

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Maybe he learned to count others more significant than himself?

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Maybe he learned to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) even when you have been beaten and thrown in jail?

“And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:23-25).

Maybe he learned that it is far better to give than to receive? (Acts 20:35) Undoubtedly Saul became Paul—a completely new man. It was that time away from everything and everyone except God that caused this change.

When was the last time you were away from everyone and everything except God? Are we missing the life we were created to live because we have not had our time away with God?

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Giving Tuesday

I love that we have a “Giving Tuesday.” It’s only been around since 2012, and I think it’s a fantastic addition to our holiday lineup of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the rest.

What a concept – a day in which we focus on giving to causes that are close to our hearts. We can give to those who need what we have, which not only helps them, it changes our hearts. Giving freely and generously can move us closer and closer to God.

What a cool thought: A people united, on one day, across the world, stopping to give. It’s a movement I’m happy to be part of!

What if we kept the giving going? What if every Tuesday was Giving Tuesday? What if it didn’t feel like an obligation but a privilege? I know many of you already give intentionally and regularly. But a reminder never hurts. Let’s think about how we can make giving an even more integral part of our lives.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” I think we all understand what he meant because of the way we feel when we’re able to give something of value to help someone else.

Did you participate in Giving Tuesday this year? How does “giving” fit into your life on a regular basis?

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Getting into the Christmas Spirit

Here we are again—the holiday season. Thanksgiving is here, Christmas is coming, and we’re supposed to be full of joy and gratitude. Or at least act like we are!

But I’m not feeling it. Have you ever struggled with this? I have an awesome family and a great life, and  I’m grateful—but I always have a hard time getting into the “Christmas spirit.”

And even when I do, I find it easy to get overwhelmed by the commercial aspects of the season and the overwhelming social requirements. (Christmas parties! Christmas shopping!) I need reminders to focus on the simple ideas of family and gratitude and Jesus as the “reason for the season.”

So this year I’m doing something about it! And I’m inviting you along for the ride.

*30 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude During the Holidays*

My team and I have created a free giveaway. It’s a downloadable PDF of 30 scripture-rooted actions we can do between Thanksgiving and Christmas to help us improve our gratitude this season.

Some will be reminders; some may even be brand-new ideas. My hope is that we’ll take some action in the next month to become more grateful.

Sign up to receive my blog in your inbox at greghurley.com (sign up on left, or if you are on your phone, at bottom of page) and receive this awesome gratitude giveaway FREE!

Here’s to a better Christmas Season, unlike any we have had in the past, full of real gratitude!

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)