Thankfulness Comes from One Simple Word

How your loss carries with it perspective that brings gratitude.

This week we tend to focus on thankfulness for all we have. But sometimes it helps also to think about what we’ve lost. Loss carries with it a perspective that makes us grateful like few other things can.

Thankfulness Comes from One Simple Word

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

I’ve come to understand how loss in life is one of God’s greatest ways to cultivate a grateful heart.

Have you lost something important? Thankfulness comes from one simple word.

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11 Siri Hacks to Benefit Your Spiritual Life

How to Put Siri to Work on Spiritual Things for a Change

Siri is a basic assistant on the iPhone, useful for setting appointments, sending emails and texts, and creating reminders. But hey, why not sanctify Siri to help you along in your spiritual life?

11 Siri Hacks to Benefit Your Spiritual Life

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I have found, however, that open-ended questions or commands will clearly reveal Siri’s secular worldview. For example, when I ask Siri: “How can you help my spiritual life?” here’s what she says:

Who, me?

Brilliant. And politically correct. (Though I’m not sure why Apple would choose to do anything with the initials PC.)

Let’s put Siri to work in our spiritual lives, shall we? Here are 11 Siri hacks I’ve put together that can benefit your spiritual life.

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2 Biblical Gardens Reveal How to Make the Best Decisions

How Eden and Gethsemane still affect you today.

Two gardens, Eden and Gethsemane, provided the settings for two choices that brought opposite results. The Bible wildly contrasts these choices. In fact, you face them today.

Olive Trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

(Photo: The Garden of Gethsemane. Notice the city walls in the distance. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s choice to commit sin had the potential of bringing condemnation to everyone. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s decision to die for sins provided potential justification to everyone (Romans 5:18).

Adam never would have eaten the fruit had he known the consequences to himself and to his race. But he couldn’t see the results.

All he had was God’s Word and its warning. That’s all we have as well.

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An Amazing Truth: We Worship What We Think We Need

Are people elbowing God out of your life?

Some people can make us feel good. They attract us. Like a sunflower in a sunny field, we long to face the source that keeps us satisfied and meets our needs.

We Worship What We Think We Need

But we tend to worship what we think we need—whether it’s God, money, or even people. And whom we worship, we will also obey.

That’s why worshipping people—or using them to get what we think we need—can leave us enslaved to them.

God offers a better alternative.

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Your Shame and Its Surprising Solution

What to do when you feel dirtied by the world.

Shame hits us for one of two reasons. We feel shame because of something wrong someone did to us. Or we feel it because of something we did ourselves. Either way, like Adam and Eve, we want to cover it up.

Your Shame and Its Surprising Solution

(Photo: Frieze sarcophagus, Adam and Eve after fall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Prophet Zephaniah writes: “The unjust knows no shame” (Zeph. 3:5). He means they have no awareness or regret over their sin—even though God makes known to them His righteousness every day.

But it’s what God goes on to say in the next couple verses how He did things to draw His people back to Him.

If your shame has smothered your life, you need to hear God’s words of grace.

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This is Why God Invades Our Comfortable Lives

Lo-Debar shows what happens when comfort dulls our sensitivity to God.

Everything was going so well. A good job. Promising future. Nice place to live. Peace among peers. Then God got involved, and it all changed. Ever had that happen? Me too. So did Israel of old.

Lo-Debar: Why God Invades Our Comfortable Lives

(Photo: Umm ed-Dabar, possible Lo-Debar. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Hebrews sought opulent furniture, the finest food, first-class entertainment, the best wine and perfumes. But they did not seek the Lord.

Sometimes God invades our comfortable lives. Here’s why.

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Why God Closes Doors On Good Plans In The World

Paul's time at Troas reveals why God's plans forward begin with closed doors.

Sometimes our path to next level includes what seem like setbacks. But they aren’t. God simply uses these tensions to propel us forward. Like an arrow pulled back against the bow. Paul’s time at Troas proved it true. 

A paved road at Troas

(Photo: A paved road at Troas. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Paul’s second missionary journey began, it seemed with two steps back. He and Silas passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, because the Holy Spirit forbid them to share the Word in Asia. Then the Lord didn’t permit them to share in Bithynia either (Acts 16:6-7). 

Strange, isn’t it? God kept them from sharing God’s Word in places that needed it. 

But why? 

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When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

Here’s what to think and what to do when you feel like Gideon.

You will face disappointment today. I will too. When these frustrations shove their way in as unwelcome guests, the promise of God’s presence with us often feels thin. That’s just what Gideon thought.

When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

(Photo: Ophrah, where the Lord met with Gideon. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Frequently, we respond to these disappointments like Gideon did while at Ophrah:

If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? (Judg. 6:13).

We say this (or think it privately) because we have a firm opinion of what God being “with us” looks like.

No pain.

But such a view treats the Bible like a buffet lunch where we pick and choose what we want to swallow about God. When we do that, the plate we hold in our hands represents a god in our image—a freak unlike the God whose tells us His ways are not like ours.

Why would we want to worship a God we can control or understand? Where is the awe in that?

There’s a better way to think about it—and a better way to respond.

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Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

How Jesus' decision in Gethsemane is the only path to peace.

I have discovered that the most difficult battles in life simply mirror Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane. His words to the Father remain the most challenging words we could utter:

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. —Luke 22:42

Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus surrendered His will. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Surrendering your will to God in difficult times is often harder than the trial itself.

Our greatest challenges come not from those circumstances that press in upon us, but from the internal struggle to surrender our will to God. We enter Gethsemane daily and have to drag my will to the Father in prayer.

Here’s how.

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One Massive Gate Jesus Absolutely Refuses to Enter

The keys are in a surprising place.

The Old City of Jerusalem has a lot of gates. On the eastern side of the city walls, the Golden Gate stands bricked closed. It reminds me of the one massive gate Jesus refuses to enter. 

Golden Gate

(Photo: Golden Gate at Jerusalem’s eastern side. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In front of the Golden Gate lies a massive Muslim cemetery. In fact, dotted along either side of the Kidron Valley lie thousands of graves. Some Muslim. Most Jewish.

Ironically, both cemeteries lie there, in part, because of the Messiah.

Here’s why. 

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