“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST”–RECOGNIZING THE SPIRIT’S KEY TO UNLOCK YOUR PROBLEMS: How we can quit angrily using sledge hammers on problem doors & recognize & use the right key. (19 DEC ’16) Albert Schweitzer called this key “the secret to life.” Martin Luther said that a man can “never be unhappy” if he uses this key. I am so thankful that I got to watch several men in my life who were Christlike; for I discovered that the keys to unlock what seem to be impossible problems are often quite simple, almost effortless to use, compared to all the wrong answers we try to forcefully, furiously…& then feverishly & frustratingly attempt as answers. Before I tell you the Spirit’s key that is the topic of this message, let me tell you that this key has been scientifically proven–yes, that’s right–scientifically controlled repeatable experiments have proven that this key will give the following things: healing, prosperity, joy, more love, more happiness, less depression, better relationships, less loneliness, more power to deal with the negative, more calmness & more alertness. (A) These scientific experiments were using everyday people–this key works no matter what your theology!
GOOD THINGS HAPPEN BY DESIGN. My favorite verse is ROM 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose…” Those who love God (& are called by Him) know that if we keep loving Him, He will keep His word to work good through everything. So we realize the negative circumstances that God has brought or has allowed will at some pt. be flipped (reframed) into good. Now the way it works is that we understand that these things on the surface are very negative, there is no denying that, but we can accept them, because our faith & trust that He loves us. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”(B)
O.K. HERE’S THE KEY…We have a no. of words for it: Gratitude, Thankfulness, Appreciation & Gratefulness. When directed towards God it’s called thanksgiving & praise. In Merlin R. Carothers’ book Power In Praise, he tells the true account of a man named Jim & his wife who had prayed for 30 yrs. that his father would stop being an alcoholic. Jim heard about the power of thankfulness, & said to his wife: “Honey, let us thank God for Dad’s alcoholism & praise the Lord that it is part of His wonderful plan for Dad’s life.” (Yeah buddy!!) Within weeks, Jim’s Dad had turned to Christ for help and was healed of alcoholism! Jim said looking back, “For 30 yrs. we prayed for God to change Dad. We spent only one day praising Him for the situation and look what happened!”
O.K. OBJECTION #1.> The devil brings evil, not God. True. But God has allowed it, knowing full well He can flip it into good. So a couple, with a daughter who had been institutionalized as helplessly insane, felt it was blasphemy to thank God for their daughter’s situation which was obviously evil. They & some prayer groups had prayed for months for her. Initially it did not seem right to thank God for their daughter’s situation. But the father gave praise a try, “Dear God, we know that you love us & that you love our daughter even more than we do. We’re going to trust that you’re working out in her life what you know is best…” And this was just the beginning of a long session of praise & thanks. The next morning the psychiatrist at the mental hospital called and said she was better, & shortly after that she was released. Believe me my friend, there is enormous power in faith in God’s goodness, trust & praise! I have my own testimonies I could add to these.
“If anyone could tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank & praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing…”(C) This reminds me somewhat of the Words of God: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect & complete, lacking nothing.”(D)
SACRIFICES. All over the World, people have felt the need for sacrifices…but the best sacrifice we can give is PRAISE! “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.”(E) “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”(F) “…therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”(G) Hallelujah!!
UNDERSTANDING THE DYNAMICS. True gratitude rejoices in the other person. Remember what all the law hangs on? Love God with all your heart, & love your fellow man as yourself.(H) In other words–our relationships with God & His humanity are the 2 most important things. And gratitude helps strengthen relationships. It is acknowledging that one has received a valuable benefit from the other party. It recognizes that there are good things in life and the source of these good things is at least in part from other parties. Thanksgiving is the center of our relationship with God. We are truly humbly in awe for what He has done. Just our life is a gift from Him, not to mention our born-again spiritual life. We live by grace! That is a profound realization. Of grace we read: “YHWH will give grace & glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly, O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in Thee.”(I) Studies show that grateful people feel more love, joy & enthusiasm. Thanksgiving brings along a cluster of wonderful feelings. It is recognizing that good things can happen to us, independent of our own works. “For by grace are ye saved, not of works…” When people feel gratitude towards others, it causes them to feel closer & more connected. The very thing that all the laws of God hang on!!
HOW DOES SUFFERING FIT IN?? One of the blessings of suffering is that it shatters our mistaken illusion of self-sufficiency. It can also bring us to some other good realizations–empathy for others, accountability, and it strips us of the superficial, and allows us to appreciate the fundamentals…what is really important. So there are plenty of reasons to be grateful for suffering.
For a generation that has been taught entitlement—a socialist society taught that the world owes them something–or owes them everything…the combination of suffering along with the lesson of humility & gratefulness, just might open the spoiled person up to having a genuine spiritual life!! Grateful people benefit from having the pleasant memory of having been the recipient of kind benevolence. This is why the welfare society is so damaging to society. By the time the govt. gives something in their cold grudging bureaucratic formalized way, the recipient feels no kindness…but rather an entitlement.
SHAPING YOUR LIFE & BRAIN. The things we think physically change the brain, so we can shape our brain for happiness or misery. And science has discovered that feelings shape our brain more than specific facts or memories of a specific event. So a feeling of gratefulness has a lot of power in physically shaping your brain! Also scientists found that the brain will latch on to something negative quicker than the positive–it’s a survival reflex. So one needs to pay attention to the blessings of life. Be grateful for the kindness that God, life and people extend to you. Savor the good experiences. Physically shape your brain for happiness.
FINAL THOUGHT. God allows these trials & troubles in our lives so that we can understand how much He loves us. We need to start trusting Him and thanking Him for what He has allowed. Heavenly Father, touch the reader with Your love. We know it is Your will that we praise you for everything. Many of my readers feel beat up by life. Help the reader dear Lord to see Your love. Heal the broken spirits of those that read and have been broken. In all this we pray through Christ, who was bruised so we could watch how You were willing to suffer for us. Thank you Father for your Love. Amen.
(A) There is no way to give a complete anthology of the many scientific tests on the results of gratitude on a person, but here are 3 citations: Emmons, R.A. Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007; Diener, E. Mona Lisa’s smile: The Science of optimal well-being. NY: Blackwell, 2008. Richelieu, F. Gratitude: Its healing properties. In Gratitude: A way of life. Carlsbad,CA: Hay House, 1996. Also an interesting website with many positive citations for dealing with trauma with positive emotions is Janemcgonigal’s The Science Behind SuperBetter. (B) 1 THES 5:18-19 (C) Minister William Lew (D) JAS 1:2-4 (E) PS 107:22 (F) PS 100:4 (G) HEB 13:15 (H) MT 22:37-39, cf. 1 JN 5:1-2…also noteworthy is that many different religious teachers have recognized that one should do unto others as one wants done to oneself. (I) PS 84:11b-12