5 Reasons Gratitude Can Change Your Life

  15 So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. Colossians 3:15 (CEV)

  1. Gratitude makes us feel happier

Studies have confirmed that having gratitude does in fact make you feel happier. Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons from the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough from the University of Miami, have committed much of their research careers to studying the effects of gratitude.

In one such study, the researchers asked a group of people to write a few sentences every week about a particular topic. One group was instructed to write about things that didn’t make them happy. Another was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for. And the control group was instructed to write about things that had occurred but with no focus towards being positive or negative.

The results? The group that was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for were far more happier and optimistic about their lives than the group that had focused on things that had occurred in a negative light. When we’re grateful for things, it’s a natural occurrence to be happier about life. You realize the things you have rather than the things you don’t.

It’s far easier to go about your day in a state of appreciation when you’re grateful than when you’re not. This isn’t always easy to do because we all have what’s called a “Hedonic Set Point,” or a baseline level of happiness. When that threshold is crossed one way or another, we become either unhappy or happy. This is also referred to as the Hedonic Treadmill, often related to the incessant drive to accumulate things that only bring momentary bliss but don’t offer sustained happiness.

  1. Gratitude improves the quality of our lives

From your mental health and wellness, to your emotional fortitude, spiritual aptitude, and your physical strength can all be derived from the simple and basic behavior of gratitude. Gratitude can change your life by quite literally improving the quality of it. You’re the sum of all your parts, and it’s gratitude that can help to benefit each of those small parts.

Studies have uniquely linked gratitude with satisfaction of life and it’s no secret that people who are grateful for things are far more satisfied in their lives. There’s a sound stability that exists when you can appreciate the importance of things in your life, no matter what shape, size or form factor they might take on.

However, many think that it’s easy for successful people to be grateful because they have so much to be grateful for.  Gratitude isn’t just about success, money, jobs, cars, houses, or anything else. Do these things help to improve the quality of your life? Yes, sometimes, but these things can also mean more problems.

Gratitude must be present before the attainment of large sums of money or success. When it doesn’t, people can go off the rails. In Sudden Wealth Syndrome it’s easy to see why so many lottery winners and inheritance receives go bankrupt in a very short period after the windfall of cash arrives.

  1. Gratitude reduces our innermost fears

It’s hard to be fearful and grateful at the same time. Fear is what occurs when we’re left to dwell on topics that we feel are out of our control. We extrapolate the worst-possible scenarios and picture our future plight and our eventual demise when we’re living in a state of fear.

But by being grateful, fear can be overcome. When we’re utterly grateful for everything we have, including our problems, fear has little place to live in our minds. When we’re fearful of things that put us into a state of scarcity, such as not having enough money to pay our bills or put groceries into our fridge, we’re living in a state of lack rather than a state of abundance.

Being grateful, however, puts you into a state of abundance. It instills the belief that you’re thankful for what you have, right now, in this very moment, rather than worrying about what you don’t have or won’t have at some future point in time. Often, we save our gratitude for one day of the year — Thanksgiving. On that day, we question ourselves for not being grateful every other day of the year.

And why not? Why can’t we be grateful every day of the year? Why does it take a day that’s slated for giving thanks for us to stop and actually do so? We can completely abolish much of our fears by being grateful every single day. Decide, right now, that you’ll create the daily habit of gratitude and express what your grateful for through prayer, conversations and by writing out everything you have to be grateful for, and watch as your fears dissipate over time.

4. Gratitude shifts our focus

One of the reasons why gratitude can change your life is because it shifts your focus. Life is all about focus. Whatever we focus on, we move towards. When we live in a state of negativity, we live that out.  It’s easy to see something in a negative light when you’re focused on that. It’s easy to see all the problems and dilemmas surrounding a situation when your thinking is habitually geared towards that.

In turn, it’s also easy to see things in a positive light, even when problems arise. If you’ve ever met an always-positive person, you know just how true this statement is. Even when something goes wrong, they look for the silver-lining in the situation. If they can’t find one, they simply state that something good will eventually come out of whatever they’re going through.

We can easily move from a negative state to a positive state by recounting all of the things that we have to be grateful for on a daily basis either in prayer, verbally or by writing it down.

  1. Gratitude strengthens our faith

Gratitude transforms your faith by instilling the belief that you’re not alone and that whatever it is that you’re going through, it will pass, and on the other end you’ll emerge victorious. You’ll accomplish your goals, overcome your obstacles, and become more like Christ.   There’s an appreciation for all things that occur for those that are grateful.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:35-37 (NLT)

For me, it’s my belief in Jesus, that He loves me and that all things are working together, including all my problems.

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

https://www.facebook.com/UpwardsChurch1

Special thanks to Andy Edson our Campus Pastor in Jarrell and a counselor for sending these resources and ideas related to this topic.

Adapted from:

https://www.shutterfly.com/ideas/how-to-start-a-gratitude-journal/

https://www.wanderlustworker.com/7-crucial-reasons-why-gratitude-can-change-your-life/

 

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Palm Monday & Humility

The donkey awakened Monday morning, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride.

He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them,” he thought.

But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind.

“Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?”

They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move.

“Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.”

But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place.

“The palm branches! Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yesterday, you threw palm branches!”

Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother.

“Foolish child,” she said gently. “Don’t you realize that without Him, you are just an ordinary donkey?”

Source:  Wayne Rice Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks
(Youth Specialties, Inc. 1994) page 138

Just like the donkey who carried Jesus into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, we should be happy only serve Him, not needing attention or fame.  We have no need to boast about who we are or what we have done.  In the end Jesus is the star of the show.

Darrell

www.Upwards.Church

https://www.facebook.com/UpwardsChurch1

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What’s Your Excuse? – Luke 14:18-24

If you were invited to a wedding in the Caribbean (this summer after the virus cleared) with 5 star hotel accommodations, open bar and buffets on the beach all paid for, would you go?  In real life those invited to a free banquet in this parable would hardly refuse an invitation!  When this occurred in Jesus parable, no doubt his listeners sat up and listened to what happened next.

Am I Making Excuses?  (18-20)

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’  Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”  (Vs. 18-20)

Jesus offered three examples of excuses offered to the host.  The excuses came from the ordinary course of business and family life.   They were polite.  “Please excuse me

What do you think these same people if invited to another banquet a year later would have said?  Doubtless business would be more demanding; more acres and more livestock would have been purchased.  Family life would have been more engrossing.

 Were these good excuses?  Before you answer, consider this story.   A man asked his neighbor if he could borrow a ladder.   Sorry, I can’t let you borrow the ladder, said the neighbor, it’s leaning against the wall and it keeps the wall from falling down.  Why that’s ridiculous declared the man, your ladder doesn’t hold up the wall!”  True, the neighbor replied but when you don’t want to do something one excuse is as good as another.”

Most people agree that these business people would have not bought a piece of property or yolk of oxen sight unseen.  They would have looked at the property or the oxen first.  And newly married people went to parties as well to get established socially, it was insulting not to and a young man would want to look good in the eyes of the community for his social business reasons;  so this doesn’t make sense.  What all these boil down to are just excuses.

  • Excuses reveal my priorities.
  • Life consists of priorities and choices. I give my attention to my priorities

When I was single and very busy someone mentioned dating or girlfriend and I remarked that I was glad there wasn’t one because I don’t have time for her.  They said and I’ll never forget, “You will make time for what is important to you.”   So when the Lord brought Niki into my life I did make time for her and I still do because she is important to me.

 I will make time for what is important to me.

When you say, I don’t have time Lord, You have just revealed where the Lord is in your priorities.    So we make excuses… Our excuses are just as silly as theirs were.

 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant…”  (Vs. 21)

 Notice that the host hurt.  How do you feel when people give you lame excuses?  We would be angry and the host in the story is angry too.

The spiritual meaning is that if you refuse God’s invitation to salvation, you risk receiving his anger.  Rejection hurts.  There is no pain like rejection.  God feels this too.

 If I refuse God’s invitation to salvation, I will receive his anger.

 Am I Inviting Others?  (21-24)

 If I have accepted God’s invitation to his party, I need to invite others.

  “…Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”  (Vs. 21c&d)

Wait a minute! This is where the town beggars and outcasts stayed   YES!  “bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”   These groups represent people that begged for a living; people that were dirty or drunk, bums and the homeless.  Normally they would not be invited to banquets.

  • Jesus is saying that salvation is free to all people, even those I might consider undesirable.

In college if you try to join a certain sorority or fraternity you may not be accepted.  They may black ball you.  Some churches even won’t receive you.  But Christ will!  No matter who you are or what you have done, Christ accepts you.

A minister in Minnesota observed the hurt feelings of and depression of high school students without dates on Senior Prom Night.  John Carlson decided to do something for those not in the popular and beautiful crowd.  He planned an alternative party for all those without dates on prom night.   It took place on the same night as the Senior Prom and the students loved it.  There was no stopping this party, the press heard about it and spread the news.  A large corporation decided to give watches to all those who attended.  Other companies soon joined in.  Soon a bag full of gifts was given to everyone at the alternative prom.  It had more to offer. Some students who even could get date wouldn’t so they could go.  It was better party.

Heaven is the best party and it lasts forever.  Some of the “best” people (in the world’s eyes), the rich and famous, may not be there.  They need to accept the invitation.   They are too busy making money, movies, partying to accept God’s invitation.

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’”  (Vs. 22)

 This passage suggests the enormity of the party. There is always room for one  The salvation of God is open to all who will respond. 

 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel (KJV) them to come in, so that my house will be full.’” (Vs. 23)

We have searched the city now go into the country!   This is where the lepers, outlaws and outcasts would be.  The banquet is for all people, all of us together, all races, classes,  all people for Jesus.   We who have accepted God’s invitation to the Party, we need to compel others to come to the party.

Notice the phrase “make them or compel them to come in” This is great.  Some people will need some prodding.  We are not to force them. But we are to lovingly be persistent.   They may be reluctant at first to come.

  • Some people will need some prodding to come. They may be reluctant at first to come.  Don’t force them – be lovingly persistent. 

 “I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”  (Vs. 24)

 If I fail to accept God’s invitation, I will not enjoy the blessings of his salvation. I will be separated from God. 

To each of us today Jesus issues the same urgent invitation, “Come for everything is now ready” Will you come?  If you’re a seeker or unbeliever, Christ invites you just as you are.  You don’t have to do anything except receive Jesus and his invitation to heaven.

 As a believer I am responsible to invite others.

 For those of you who are believers you are responsible to invite others:  friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  We are God’s servants to bring others.  Do you know how Peter came to be a disciple? His brother Andrew brought him to Jesus.  He said, “Hey Pete, come see this guy who may be the Messiah” Peter had to be invited!   Did you know Billy Graham became a Christian because someone invited him to a revival service?    I am not saying to be obnoxious or rude.  Just care enough to invite someone.  This day with the corona virus we can’t invite to an actual building but we can invite to our streaming service.  You don’t have to be a Billy Graham or an Apostle Peter but you could invite one who could become one.

One problem in American Christianity today is that we focus on “me, my needs, my spiritual growth” and our faith becomes stagnant and selfish.  We are not to focus on ourselves if we know Christ, but others.  If there is a problem in an area, one of the first things to look at is selfishness.  If your marriage is not right, one or both parties is being selfish.  If your Spiritual life is stagnant, ask yourself, “Am I being selfish?” We are to be inviting others and serving others.  This is what it is to be God’s servant.  This story is only a few chapters after Jesus sent out the 72 (his 12 disciples and 60 others) to the towns and villages around. (Luke 10)  They were sent, they were not to sit around and study or sing “kumbaya.” There are people ready to come, ready to be invited, ready to have someone who cares for them, but few who will invite, few who will care.  Will you believer, care enough to invite?

Darrell

 

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You’re Invited to Dinner with Jesus- Luke 14:16-24

Have you ever had dinner with a famous person? If so, you probably paid a high price.

In 2016 at Hillary Clinton fundraiser event in San Francisco; for two seats at the head table with Clinton, George Clooney and his wife, attorney Amal Clooney, a couple must contribute a whopping $353,400!

Closer to home, when Donald Trump held a fundraiser event in Austin, Texas, at a reception, the tickets topped $100,000 per couple.

Dining with a famous person is not something for the masses. Only a few get that privilege.

Today I want to remind each of us that we all can have dinner with Jesus. You would think that everyone would jump at that opportunity, but as we will see in this parable, many turn down the invitation.  I want to show you how you can be sure that there will be a place at the table with your name on it.

“A certain man was preparing a great banquet” Luke: 14:16

The “certain man” in this story represents God. This much is obvious and not usually debated. What is interesting and instructive is that this man, who represents God, is “preparing a great banquet.” In other words, God is preparing for a celebration.

This is a rather shocking picture of God for many people today. God is usually perceived as the Heavenly Sheriff who’s ready to give you a ticket for the slightest infraction, or he is perceived like a miserly boss at work who you hope to please by enough hard work and sacrifice. Rarely is God perceived as one who would throw a party or a banquet, yet in the Bible this is a regular theme and presentation.

For instance, in the story of the Prodigal Son, the father who represents God in the story throws a party or banquet for the son upon his return. Revelation 19:9 refers to God’s people participating in a great party known as the “Great Wedding Supper or Banquet of the Lamb.” In Isaiah 55 God invites everyone to freely come and share at his table where there is “wine and milk” and you can “eat what is good and delight in the richest of fare.” Even the religious life for the ancient Israelites revolved around seven feast or celebrations. Considering all these things it is very evident that God isn’t what some people perceive Him tom be. He loves to celebrate and prepares for his people to experience his joyous celebrations.

I want you to understand what God is truly like! People constantly think that God wants to take something away from them. People think that following God means a joyless existence because God is stern and demanding. This understanding of God is a caricature of religion and not the reality of God’s character.

  …and invited many guests.”  (Vs. 16)

It was customary to in that day to send two invitations.  One to announce the event:  days or weeks before the event occurred.  The second, a verbal summons to tell the guests everything was ready.  It seems strange to us today but both Jewish society and Roman society of that day practiced the courtesy of sending a personal summons at the dinner hour.

The guests in Jesus story insulted the host by making excuses when he issued the second invitation.  In Israel’s history God’s first invitation came from Moses and the prophets.  The second invitation came from Jesus, (God in the flesh).  The religious leaders accepted the first invitation, but they wouldn’t accept Jesus. They insulted God by refusing to accept Jesus.

  • What is this party or banquet referring to? Heaven

 A man’s comment causes Jesus to tell this parable.  He said, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Luke 14:15

What is this banquet or party referring to?  Salvation or entering God’s Kingdom, it is an invitation to God’s house.  If you’re invited to someone’s house for the first time, there is element of curiosity, anticipation and excitement.  What does their house look like?, what kind of food will there be? What will we do, what will we talk about?  This is an invitation to God’s house.

 “Everything is now ready” stated the invitation This is no potluck supper.  You and I are not required to bring anything …   but ourselves to the Lord’s Party.

 The invitation is very simple. Come

 “At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’”  (Vs. 17)

 Not a word about “do this” and then I can come, “clean up my act” and then I can come. I am extended a “just as I am” invitation.  

We cannot achieve heaven and we can’t earn it.  It is complete.  It’s done.  We just have to come.  All that is missing from the party is you.   All that is missing from the party are those that don’t come.

The servant was not selling tickets for admission. It was not a $5,000 a plate fundraiser. It wasn’t a benefit supper where you kick in whatever you feel led. It wasn’t even a kingdom potluck, where you bring a main dish and salad or dessert. The master says, “Come, for everything is ready now.” All you need to bring is yourself. It is totally free for you, because the host picked up the tab. You eat at His expense.

This is one of the most beautiful things about God’s gospel invitation, and yet it is one of the most difficult things for people to accept because it means that they cannot take any credit for themselves. If they can offer something in exchange for the meal, they feel better about it, but to come and eat freely is an affront to their dignity and pride. But there is only one way that God offers His salvation: He pays for it all and all you can do is come and receive it freely.

Will you receive God’s gift of salvation for free?  We are so used to paying big bucks for an event, but heaven is not like the world’s events.

To see the Master’s Golf Tournament with 4 Day Competition Seated Tickets – $6,000 – $7,296.

TED talk tickets start at $5000 dollars topping out at the Patron Level for $250,000.

To see this year’s Super Bowl 2020, the ticket prices heated up to an average price of $10,835

Helena Aguiar had come all the way from São Paulo, Brazil, for a front-row seat to see her favorite band, and she got it: a black metal folding chair with a gold and cherry-red Bon Jovi logo on the cushion, hers to take home. The price: $1,750.

“It was an amazing experience, even more than I dreamed,” Ms. Aguiar, 25, gushed after the show at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey Pennsylvania.

People pay big money for one night or one event.  Heaven is “an amazing experience, more than we could ever dream.”  And it’s free for us, but Jesus paid it all!

Have your responded to the invitation?

Darrell

For more about how to Accept Christ, pray this prayer:

“Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me even though I’m a sinner.  I ask for your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sin and that You rose from the dead. I trust You as my Savior and follow You as Lord, from this day forward. Amen.”

www.Upwards.Church

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