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Thankfulness: An Attitude of the Heart

by Phil Courson

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6,7

Matthew Henry the famous scholar and commentary writer was once confronted by thieves and robbed.  In his diary he wrote: “Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

What a heart of thankfulness that Mr. Henry shows here. Even in a bad situation he finds reasons to be thankful. I really like his fourth point!

The Apostle Paul encourages us in this passage as Christians to continue to “walk in him (Christ).” This walk is in Christ Jesus and it is a walk of faith. It is not just a walk in thankfulness, but “abounding” thankfulness! The Greek word for abounding means to overflow or to be over and above.

As Christians, we ought to be people who are abounding in thankfulness. We are not to be people who complain more than are thankful. We know that because Jesus has changed our hearts by the gospel, we can be thankful people.

Thankfulness is a discipline of speech that begins in the heart! It is a wonderful gift to use to bring joy to someone’s life. Thankfulness produces in us a humble heart, a trusting heart and a joyful heart!

We have much to be thankful for in our lives. Take time over these next couple of days and weeks and spend time thanking God for sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for you. Then take time to thank the many people God has placed in your life!

Let us cultivate this discipline in our lives so that one day when something bad happens to us we can be like Matthew Henry and respond with thankfulness rather than the alternative!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Prayer Happens!

by Phil Courson

Prayer Happens!

 “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons–but they are helpless against our prayers.” J.S.Baxter

Oh man, don’t write about prayer! This topic can have a ‘letdown feeling’ when we think about how little we pray. Many times I feel like I fall short when it comes to prayer. I am grateful for my times of prayer, but feel many times that there is so much to pray for and so little time in my schedule.

But I have to remind myself that there is no greater thing I can do other than pray! The quote above reminds me of this. People are helpless against my prayers! The may spurn my appeals, reject my message, and oppose my arguments and they might not even like me, but they have no hope against my prayers. The same goes for you as well.

Jesus exemplified prayer in his life and people, demons, and even nature was helpless against him. When he taught his disciples to pray he taught them about a Father who ruled and reigned over all things. He taught them to be bold and confident when they pray because the Father loves to answer their prayers and give them what they need.

John Knox, the man of whom Queen Mary had said, “I fear his prayers more than I do the armies of my enemies,” ministered through prayer until the moment of his death.

Are prayers are not powerless, but powerful because we pray to an omnipotent God! May that thought lead us to pray more!

Phil

Why Think About Heaven? Part II

by Phil Courson

Here are Sam Storms’ thoughts continued from yesterday. We will begin with reason #3 on this topic.

III. A contemplative focus on heaven produces the fruit of endurance and perseverance now.

“The strength to endure present suffering is the fruit of meditating on future satisfaction…Romans 8:18 is Paul’s declaration that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’ We do not lose heart because we contemplate the unseen things of the future and nourish our souls with the truth that whatever we endure on this earth is producing a glory far beyond all comparison!

Christians are not asked to treat pain as though it were pleasure, or grief as though it were joy, but to bring all earthly adversity into comparison with heavenly glory and thereby be strengthened to endure.”

IV. Nothing exerts such purifying power on the heart as does a contemplative focus on heaven.

“Meditation on the unseen glories of heaven energizes the heart to say ‘No’ to fleshly desires. This is the clear witness of Colossians 3:1-4; 1 John 3:2-3; and 2 Peter 3:11-13.”

V. Finally, concentrating on the glory of heave teaches us about the essence of true religion.

Listen to Jonathan Edwards as he says that religion consists preeminently in holy affections :
“If we can learn anything of the state of heaven from the Scripture, the love and joy that the saints have there, is exceeding great and vigorous; impressing the heart with the strongest and most lively sensation, of inexpressible sweetness, mightily moving, animating, and engaging them, making then like to a flame of fire. And if such love and joy be not of affections, then the word ‘affection’ is of no use in language. Will any say, that the saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father, and the glory of the Redeemer, and contemplating his wonderful works, and particularly his laying down his life for them, have their hearts nothing moved and affected, by all which they behold or consider?

Why Think About Heaven? Part I

by Phil Courson

I was reading a book by Sam Storms and came across a section on Heaven today. He discusses in this chapter on some practical reasons for thinking on heaven. I will share two today and three tomorrow!

I. A contemplative focus on the beauty of heaven frees us from excessive dependence upon earthly wealth and comfort.

“If there awaits us an eternal inheritance of immeasurable glory, it is senseless to expend effort and energy here, sacrificing so much time and money, to obtain for so brief a time in corruptible form what we will enjoy forever in consummate perfection.”

“Peter contends that the ultimate purpose of the new birth (1 Peter 1:3,4) is our experience of a heavenly hope, an inheritance that is ‘imperishable’ by which he means incorruptible, not subject to decay or rust or mold or dissolution or disintegration.”

II. A contemplative focus on heaven enables us to respond appropriately to the injustices of this life.

“Essential to heavenly joy is witnessing the vindication of righteousness and the judgment of evil. Only from our anticipation of the new perspective of heaven, from which we, one day, will look back and evaluate what now seems senseless, can we be empowered to endure this world in all its ugliness and moral deformity.”

“This principle is especially seen in Revelation 19:1-8 where we read of the perspective of those surrounding the heavenly throne of God. Their declaration of praise is in response to the judgment on Babylon described in Revelation 18.

Here are just a couple of thoughts to ponder on Why Think About Heaven? Tomorrow we will look at three more reasons.

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