★ Day 19 – Reason for the Season – Everlasting Gratitude ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

19 - Daily Dependence - Christmas ConsumerismThe person we are spotlighting today from the Christmas story is Anna who has the remedy to greed and materialism.  I shared this quote in the ★ Thought for the Day – Begging God For_____? ★ post, where we saw that the key to being content is gratitude but it’s worth repeating!

“What is you woke up today with only the things you were grateful for yesterday?” 

19 - Daily Dependence - What If You Woke UpI think that would really change our attitudes quite a bit don’t you?  Zig Ziglar once said that,

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.” 

And I think that is really true.  My old lifegroup leader in NJ was like that.  There was such peace in his spirit and he was a fantastic leader as well.  He once said this that had really impacted me…

“Very few things honor and glorify God more than the sweet fragrance of a thankful soul.  It scatters the darkness and ushers in the sweet peace and blessed hope.  Gratitude encourages graciousness.”  Leo Primero

Amen?  I love that…“Gratitude encourages graciousness.”  Following up yesterday’s post ★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★ of Mary and Joseph’s encounter with Simeon, today we will look at the prophetess Anna whose name interesting enough means “grace.”  Let’s take look at this incredible woman of God!  Luke 2:35-38 (NIV) says,

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.  She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Anna’s story is kind of a sad one…married in her youth and then widowed after just seven years. Interestingly she lived in a culture that being married an having children is everything yet Anna chose not to remarry but instead devoted herself to God as she “worshipped night and day, fasting and praying.”  Anna was 84 years old, which is incredible that she had the stamina to pray and fast night and day.  I am half that age and do not think I would be able to do that myself.  I was reading a devotion from Liz Curtis Higgs called “Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman” and she made this interesting point,

“At the Holy Spirit’s prompting, she [Annna] made a beeline for the Christ child, “coming up to them at that very moment” (Luke 2:38a, NIV).  We sense her urgency, her excitement, her conviction.”

You know those people that hover around you until they can get a word in edgewise, well you can tell that Anna was so excited to see the savior of the world she could barely contain herself!  And she did not linger to talk with Mary and Joseph, but “she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”  Her level of gratitude was off the charts but how do you think she got there?

I heard an amazing sermon from Steven Furtick called ”Graduating in Gratitude” which he quoted Brene Brown who said,

19 - Daily Dependence - Brene Brown - Gratitude is a practice“Gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works, it’s not alive.  

You cannot have just an attitude of gratitude because just having and attitude does not translate to a behavior.”  Brene Brown

It is clear that Anna had practiced gratitude for decades and I think God is speaking to us through her example that if we want to have a life full of joy and peace; we need to start practicing some gratitude ourselves!!  Instead of looking at what we don’t have, we need to follow the counsel from the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NLT)…

“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.  After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.”

I will close with this last thought from Liz Curtis Higgs’ devotional,

“Anna was prepared and so prepared the way. Now it falls to us, 2,000 years later, to follow in her footsteps.  To tell everyone we know, everything we know about Jesus.

When we ease our breathless pace, when we stop, look and listen, we can sense the gentle weight of His touch and take comfort in the warmth of His presence.

In this season, in every season, let’s pause and remember Immanuel: God with us.”

It’s all about Gratitude!  Thank you God for Anna, may I follow her example and cultivate and everlasting gratitude in my life! 

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Anna – The Voice of Thanksgiving.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Anna’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 20 – Reason for the Season – The Father’s Love ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Thought for the Day – Back Into the Fire ★

Happy Memorial Day!!  Today is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.  I think though, many people just look forward to the 3-Day Weekend and do not really consider that the freedom they enjoy came at a high price!  Freedom in NOT free.  I just want to say…THANK YOU to all the men and women who have served in the armed forces, and extend my condolences to all the families that are missing someone at the table today as a result of their service in battle. Thank you!

As I thought about the significance of Memorial Day, my mind drifted to another group that deserves recognition as well.  In my opinion, one of the most impressive and honorable professions is being a firefighter but there is no day that recognizes these incredibly selfless people!

75 - Daily Dependence - Day in the Life of a FirefighterI have a neighbor who is also a great friend that is a firefighter and when I mentioned to him today that it is a shame that firefighters do not have a day of their own to honor their service, do you know what his response was??

“We’re privileged enough to do this job…..one of the best….service to community!”

Wow!!  I expected no less of a response from this man who is “on fleeck,” but it really made me think about how remarkable firefighters are…When everyone else is running out of a burning building, fearing for their lives…these brave men and women are running into the blaze!  What kind of person places themselves in harm’s way to help those in need?  Someone…who has been in a fire and knows all too well the dangers, and in spite of the risks, they go back into the fire to rescue those in peril!  Individuals who are courageous and willing to do whatever it takes.  Jesus said in John 15:13:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Now that certainly is the ultimate sacrifice!  In this post, I want to parallel what firefighters do everyday with what I believe God wants from those who claim Jesus as their Lord and savior.  Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we could have eternal life, and in return He asks for us to be “His hands and feet!”  2 Corinthians ‭1‬:‭3-5‬ (NLT) says,

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

Did you catch that?  The first part of verse 4 gives us quite an eye-opener, that God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.”  Have you ever thought of it that way?  God comforts us so that we will turn around and comfort those in need but in our self-absorbed culture, many people are just focused on their needs and don’t look to extend a hand to those suffering…But there is a very clear directive here, When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”  God does not deliver you from a hardship, a disease or an addiction, only to help you…but expects us to take what He did for us and reach the people who He has placed in our sphere of influence with the same comfort and hope that God poured out on us.  Our response to God ought to be not only one of gratitude, but also one of willing submission to go anywhere, and do anything to return the comfort we received.  In a recent message called the “The Gift of Interruption,” Holly Furtick made this great point:

“Some of life’s greatest invitations come packaged as interruptions.”  

She also quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer that:

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.  God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.”

Do you allow God to interrupt your day?  Do you have room in your schedule to respond to the call to help someone??  This is something that I need to keep in mind as well, when I receive a knock on my door from a neighbor, a text from a friend or a call from a family member who is in need, my first response should be “yes,” now…”what is the question.”  Rather than see it as an interruption, I need to see it as an opportunity!  Susie Larson made this great statement…

“In those places he [God] rescued us from, He sends us back to rescue others.” 

Love that!  Just like firefighters who go back into the fire to rescue people, God wants us to go back into the dark places that He rescued us from to help guide those who are suffering and shine the light of Jesus into their hopeless circumstance.  Galatians 5:13 (NLT) says,

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

Just like we talked about taking Memorial Day for granted, we should never take the freedom Jesus provided for us on the cross for granted!  Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT) reminds,

“For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

And we certainly should never allow the busyness of life to stop from helping others in need.  So if God has delivered you from an addiction, look to help others with theirs.  If your marriage has been revitalized or resurrected then look for a way to walk alongside others in their marriage, whether that be one on one or participation in a class.  If God has healed you of a disease, look for ways to 75 - Proverbs 11-25encourage and bring hope into the lives of people suffering.  And if you do, Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) give this motivation…

“The generous will prosper;  those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

I will close this thought from Liz Curtis Higgs, who said,

“God often does the counter cultural thing. He does what we don’t expect. He does what we sometimes don’t even want. There are things God asks us to do that are so hard that it has to be God.”

It may be uncomfortable to have a conversation with someone struggling with an addiction, or you may feel unequipped to counseling a couple struggling in their marriage, or you may not want to relive your painful experience by walking with someone with a disease.  But ultimately, that is the very purpose that God in mind when He rescued you out of the fire, so that you would go back in!!