As prone as we may be at times to focus on the negatives, it really is bad for us all the way around. Gratitude on the other hand, not only helps us to win friends and influence people it also helps us in every other area of life. Studies have shown that people who thought about, and wrote down, what they were grateful for benefited in numerous ways including:
Research Scientist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson studied the role of gratitude in our daily lives. It might not be surprising that she observed a direct correlation between Gratitude and Joy. It is easy to imagine that joyful people have a lot to be grateful for. What she actually discovered however, was more profound. She discovered that it was not joy that made people grateful, rather it was being grateful that led people to joy.
Many years ago, while reading about the decline of American morality, from a draft of Billy Graham’s book “World Aflame,” his wife Ruth famously declared “If God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!”
Whether it is responding to recent attacks in Paris – and other Islamic State evils, campus protests, anti-police demonstrations or other societal upheavals, there is a an undeniable dearth of leadership from the Saints of God. It would appear that we have lost sight of our Heavenly mandate to proclaim the Kingdom of God and have exchanged it for cultural research and statistical models.
If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. (Gal 6:3-4)
Isn’t it easy to point the finger at imperfection in others? “Can you believe they … (I’m sure you can fill in the blank)?” This seems especially true when the flaw is an area that we do not struggle with in our own life. Our own weaknesses are, well, just that a weakness – a very tiny one (or so we think). We have a tendency to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. If we are not careful, we may even find ourselves evaluating our godliness based on our perception of others. “I’m better than a lot of people”.
“Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over.” (1 Cor 3:10-14 MSG)
Everywhere we turn, people are talking about faith. “You have to have faith,” or “Just have a little faith.” Self-help books, seminars, emails, television shows and websites all encourage us to believe for the impossible – as if believing is enough. The truth is a little more sophisticated. All the positive thinking in the world is not going to make a 4 foot 90 year-old woman the next NBA draft pick. Like currency, faith is only as good as the credibility of the authority that backs it up.
Just this week, a mystery over two thousand years in the making has finally been answered. Not only does it validate biblical and historical legitimacy, it also serves as a harbinger that those who forget the past are often condemned to repeat it.
After searching for over one-hundred years, archaeologist in Israel have finally unearthed the Greek fortress Akra which dates to around 200 BC. According to the ancient historian Josephus, and the writings of the Maccabees, the stronghold was built by Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) to control the city of Jerusalem.
The additional uncovering of arrowheads, sling stones and other items also corroborates the authenticity of the Maccabean revolt. The revolt of the Maccabees – and the origin of Hanukah – has been disputed by many historians. This find serves as evidence that the stories are more than legends.
Much of the modern church is obsessed with getting people “saved.” While this is certainly a noble and important effort, it is interesting to note that the modern altar call did not even exist for most of church history. Out of two millennia of Christianity, the altar call, as we know it, has been around for less than two centuries. Jesus certainly called people to follow Him, but there was no special prayer while the choir sang, “Just as I am.”
In John 10:9, Jesus said, “I am the door.” Reading this, we might quickly be compelled to ask, “the door to what?” It is not often that we see a door standing on its own. Instead it usually leads somewhere. Yes accepting Jesus as our savior is important, but it is only the threshold into much, much more.