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How Knowing God Can Make You Ecstatically Grateful

Plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul, so calm the swelling billows f sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.  – Charles H. Spurgeon

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.

(Psalm 30:4)

            King David was a man who had a heart for God. He composed Psalm 30 in response to the great kindness God poured out upon him when he saved David from death.

God has many names. Each name describes who he is and what he does. In this song David sings that God is the Lord and is holy. Singing about God as Lord is acknowledging his absolute authority, control, and power.

Singing about God’s holiness means recognizing that the Lord is set far above everyone and everything. This is because he is Creator, the supreme Lord of the universe who is distinct from his creation and his creatures. This is also because God is morally pure and awesomely perfect. Along with all creation, the Bible points out that this true and living One has no equal.

However, while our Lord is totally The Other, he is not what Deists claim – a God who created the world and left it to run on its own without engagement. David knew God as the only transcendent, powerful, and perfect God of the universe. Yet, he also knew God as one intimately present with him. Through amazing love and awesome kindness, this holy Lord used his power to raise David up from the clutches of impending death. God was not an abstract concept but a personal being that was there for him.

When David began to sink into death’s dark bog he cried out to his Helper for mercy. God expressed his gracious favor with a force that lifted the king out the grave’s threatening clutches and into a full restoration.

How does David respond? Through music. His ecstatic heart proclaims what God did for him. He praises the Lord for his incredible kindness and then dances a jubilant jig. No sports fan wildly cheering his team’s victory could be more excited!

God’s merciful intervention was so profound that David could not restrain his joy. The man went from near death to life, from weeping to joy, from abandonment to loving embrace, and from deep sorrow to dancing. With profound gratitude, this king vows to give thanks to the Lord forever.

Then, he urges those who have a special relationship with the Supreme Savior to join him in a celebration of praise and thanks. David’s bond with the Lord became an overflow of perpetual appreciation.

The point of this song is that you too can express a deep and even ecstatic appreciation for who God is and what he does. This exuberant gratitude is something you can have.  It is for those who have a soul-deep trust in God who rescues. You and I can experientially know God through his son Jesus Christ. Jesus came down from heaven to save us from the ugly grip of death (spiritual death caused by sin and guilt as well as physical death) and restore us to real life. For this, we can be very grateful.

Like King David, when you recognize your plight, cry out to God for rescue, experience the supreme and holy Lord’s personal intervention in your life, then you too can possess a profound joy-filled thanks. Along with David, you too can develop a life of continual thanks.

Dear Lord, teach me to know you so well that every day

I would be grateful for who you are and what you do.

Some things to strengthen your gratitude:

  • Take five minutes of focused attention on how wonderfully profound God’s unique character is. He is the holy Lord of the universe who shows you mercy, grace, and love.
  • Think about how God has come to your rescue, shown you grace, or has been very kind to you.  Then, tell the Lord how grateful you are of who he is and what he does in your life.
  • With pen in hand, write in a journal how contemplating who this holy and supreme God is and what he does, moves you.

__________________

This post is also found at www.donowsley.com.  It is an excerpt from the devotional guide, book two of my upcoming series, ThanksLiving (How to Gain Perspective to Enrich Your Life).  The how-to guide and devotional series is intended to help you develop a mindset of gratefulness by increasing your gratitude quotient.

How Knowing God Can Make You Ecstatically Grateful2016-11-20T00:00:00-07:00

Don’t Grumble | Philippians 2:14-15

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we shine as lights in a wicked world

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Do all things without grumbling or questions, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. 

 

Jesus tells his followers to shine brightly like a light on a hill and a lamp on a stand so others can see the light of our good works and end up glorifying God (Matthew 5:14-16). Peter describes our new identity in Jesus as called us out of darkness and put into God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9-10). In Philippians, Paul tells us we shine as lights in a wicked world, and one of the ways he urges us to do that is by not grumbling or questioning.

Oh dear. Does this mean we all fail?  After all, who doesn’t grumble or question once in a while? Does this mean those who are in Christ may never grumble? And what about Moses who often complained to God, or Psalmists or prophets who wrote detailed laments? Weren’t they grumbling or questioning? It sure seems that way but as with any passage we need to read it in context.

Paul’s language reflects the Old Testament. Like Israel, the Philippians were taken out of the old world and placed into the new. Like Israel, they were called to live in righteousness as lights to the world in order to display the radiant beauty of the one true God. However, there were times when Israel was reprimanded for having a rebellious heart. These were times Israel did not fear and tremble before God. Instead, they grumbled and questioned him. Unlike the complaints to the Lord from Moses, David, the prophets, and others, the rebels in Israel grumbled in defiance and questioned what God was doing (Ex. 15:24, 16:7-9; 1 Cor. 10:10). Their words and actions were of rebellion, not one of crying out to the Lord for help or wondering what he was doing. Their questioning was essentially a demand for God to do things their way.

Take a few moments today to reflect on your heart. When you grumble and ask God questions, do you end in a prayer of trust or do you end with clenched fists asking God to do things your way? Talk to God about why you answered the way you did.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Don Owsley

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Don’t Grumble | Philippians 2:14-152016-10-19T13:45:37-06:00

Don’t Grumble | Philippians 2:14-15

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we shine as lights in a wicked world … by not grumbling

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Do all things without grumbling or questions, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. 

 

Jesus tells his followers to shine brightly like a light on a hill and a lamp on a stand so others can see the light of our good works and end up glorifying God (Matthew 5:14-16). Peter describes our new identity in Jesus as called us out of darkness and put into God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9-10). In Philippians, Paul tells us we shine as lights in a wicked world, and one of the ways he urges us to do that is by not grumbling or questioning.

Oh dear. Does this mean we all fail?  After all, who doesn’t grumble or question once in a while? Does this mean those who are in Christ may never grumble? And what about Moses who often complained to God, or Psalmists or prophets who wrote detailed laments? Weren’t they grumbling or questioning? It sure seems that way but as with any passage we need to read it in context.

Paul’s language reflects the Old Testament. Like Israel, the Philippians were taken out of the old world and placed into the new. Like Israel, they were called to live in righteousness as lights to the world in order to display the radiant beauty of the one true God. However, there were times when Israel was reprimanded for having a rebellious heart. These were times Israel did not fear and tremble before God. Instead, they grumbled and questioned him. Unlike the complaints to the Lord from Moses, David, the prophets, and others, the rebels in Israel grumbled in defiance and questioned what God was doing (Ex. 15:24, 16:7-9; 1 Cor. 10:10). Their words and actions were of rebellion, not one of crying out to the Lord for help or wondering what he was doing. Their questioning was essentially a demand for God to do things their way.

Take a few moments today to reflect on your heart. When you grumble and ask God questions, do you end in a prayer of trust or do you end with clenched fists asking God to do things your way? Talk to God about why you answered the way you did.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Don Owsley

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Don’t Grumble | Philippians 2:14-152016-10-18T00:00:00-06:00

Colony | Ephesians 4:1-6

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In one spirit we are able to stand firm when the enemy assaults us.

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I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

In Philippians 1:27, the Apostle tells God’s community to live out lives worthy of the good news of Christ and his kingdom. In Ephesians 4, he urges God’s people to walk consistent with God’s Gospel call upon their lives. In both of Paul’s letters, he is speaking to the body-family-kingdom citizens. In other words, this is not merely a personal exhortation to you and me, but an address to all of God’s people. We are formed as a body, a family, and a holy colony through Jesus. We are bonded together with the glue of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3) tethered to the core with God’s common mission and goals. We are one (Ephesians 4:4-6) because God the Father-Son-Spirit is one. This kind of oneness is not of uniformity but comes as a unity together from the union we have in Jesus.

In the Philippians passage, we are told to strive side-by-side through one mind (not strive against one another). The picture is that of vigorously working together as an athletic team or soldiers marching forward with shields locked together and javelins braced for impact. Yet we, with great diversity do this together (Roman 12) in special unity to advance the cause of Christ and his kingdom of peace, righteousness, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Roman 14:17). We intentionally advance against the powers of darkness knowing full well that the forces of the world fear Christ in his community, for his work is a sign of their pending doom if they choose to remain his opponents. What’s more, the gates of Hell’s kingdom will never prevail.

In one spirit we are able to stand firm when the enemy assaults us. Us. Not me the lone individual. Us together. Here in Littleton, South Fellowship is a community of Christ followers, bonded together. The Lord has moved our church to engage the world through many ways that serve grace, justice, love and mercy to others. We partner with various agencies, mission organizations, and non-profit groups. God has also led members to develop ministries that serve our own little “village” as well as others outside of us. This is how it should be as this is some of what it means to strive and move forward striving side-by-side in Christ.

If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you’re part of God’s community. God desires all of us to strive together in union and unity. You may still be looking for a way to do this. If you call South Fellowship home, come explore why we serve as followers of Christ, discovery your spiritual gifts and match who God has made you to be at this time in your life with opportunities to serve here at South, in our community and around the world. This Connection Point class begins this Sunday in room 106 at 9 AM. Click here for more information![/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Don Owsley

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Colony | Ephesians 4:1-62016-09-30T05:00:35-06:00

Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-19

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we will not escape what Jesus went through – suffering

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Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

 

Paul’s admonition to live consistent with the standards of Christ’s Gospel reflects Roman allegiance to Caesar. Roman citizenship was a high calling in life with a loyalty unto death. As Christians, we have a Kingdom citizenship. We’re heavenly aliens (1 Peter 1) who live on earth. Because our deep affinity is with our Lord, we can expect antagonism from the world. Our allegiance to the King of Kings reaps incredible rewards but also comes with a very high price.

Peter picks up on this in his first letter. One of the main points of his epistle is that we suffer in Christ and we suffer with Christ. Jesus, our Eternal Emperor, suffers for natural and spiritual reasons. So too, we will not escape what Jesus went through – suffering. In this passage, we’re called to embrace the affliction we share with Christ and also have confidence about our commitment to him.

Peter suggests we can embrace this affliction when he says, “don’t be surprised” (4:12). Going through fire-burning trials and persecution is quite ordinary. In fact, it is an indication of our obvious affiliation with Christ. It’s something we share. Peter also encourages us to “rejoice” (4:13a). Now, nowhere in the Bible are we called to be masochists, but we can rejoice because we’re gifted with the grace to suffer as we participate in Christ’s sufferings. We rejoice because this kind of suffering indicates we wear his insignia and continue living out his life on his behalf. As we suffer, Peter declares we suffer “without shame (4:16a). There is no shame in suffering for the cause of Jesus. And, we “glorify God” (4:16b)  when we suffer with Christ and radiantly display the weighted beauty of our Lord through our life and our lips.

We all need encouragement to stand, strive and suffer in our commitment to Christ. Today, watch Dmitri’s Song – a fellow brother’s testimony of suffering for our shared cause! Take courage to keep pressing on.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Don Owsley

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Suffering | 1 Peter 4:12-192016-09-29T05:00:05-06:00

Citizenship | Philippians 1:27-30

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Christ’s Kingdom is being impressed upon our souls

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27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

 

Citizenship. Quite an important thing wouldn’t you say? Citizens represent their country, but military personnel especially do – and even more so when they wear their nation’s uniform. When someone puts on their military uniform, he or she must live in a way consistent with everything it stands for. Everything! Or perhaps suffer death.

As you may know, Philippi was a Roman colony and military outpost filled with important and influential people – many of whom were active members or retirees of the powerful Roman army. The entire town was saturated with Roman military life, and to encounter a Roman citizen or soldier was a virtual encounter with the Roman state and it’s emperor.

Like Paul, some citizens had dual citizenship. During this time, a number of soldiers were originally from Gaul (modern France). Their permanent residence remained in their homeland, but they actively resided, worked, and fought as Romans. These soldiers, although from another country with a radically different culture, they chose to put that behind them and press on toward becoming fully Roman – speaking the language and adopting the culture to think like a Roman and behave in a manner worthy of the empire’s high standards. Even more, these soldiers pledged complete allegiance to their Lord, Caesar.

Read the passage again. Can you see the analogies? Paul speaks to Christians who have dual citizenship. We’ve been ripped out of the old world and inserted into a new kingdom. We now have a new citizenship with a strong allegiance to the most superior Emperor, Jesus. He is Lord and in him, we can press into a new realm while Christ’s Kingdom is being impressed upon our souls. We can choose to learn Kingdom language, adopt its culture, think like Jesus, put on the uniform of Christ (Col. 3:1-10) and conduct our lives consistent with our new identity and the power and authority of our reigning King. Today, consider your dual citizenship – living in the kingdom of this world but living for the kingdom of God. Identify one quality of Jesus’ Kingdom you can focus on living for today (i.e. love an enemy, pray for those who hurt you, rejoice in suffering, lend a helping hand to someone in need, etc.)[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Don Owsley

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Citizenship | Philippians 1:27-302016-09-26T05:00:51-06:00

Here is a prayer for you from Romans 12:10-13

Here is a prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, grant _____ the grace to be devoted to others in brotherly love, and that s/he would honor others above his or her own life. Empower _____ so that s/he will never be lacking in zeal, but keep his/her spiritual fervor, doing all things as doing them for you. Enable _____ to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Give _____ abundant resources to share with God’s people who are in need. Motivate _____ to practice hospitality among the saints as well as demonstrate kindness to strangers. I pray this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Romans 12:10-13

______________

You can download a copy of this prayer in PDF format by clicking here: Romans 12.10-13 prayer

Here is a prayer for you from Romans 12:10-132016-02-25T00:00:00-07:00

Here is a prayer for you from Ephesians 3

Here is a prayer for you

…from Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3. This is God’s will for your life.

“I bow before you Father, from whom the whole family of believers in heaven and earth derives its name. I pray that out of your glorious riches you will strengthen _____ with power through your Spirit in his/her inner being, so that Christ will dwell richly in _____’s heart through faith. I pray that _____, being  rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, so that ______ may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

__________

You may download a copy of this prayer here: Prayer from Ephesians 3

Here is a prayer for you from Ephesians 32016-02-22T00:00:00-07:00

A prayer for you from Ephesians 1

A Prayer for You

This is a prayer that Paul prayed for God’s people. It is found in Ephesians 1.  This prayer reflects God’s will for our lives as believers in Christ. It is not only a wonderful prayer to ask the Lord’s fulfillment for your own life, but also, a great prayer to offer up for others.

“Heavenly Father, I thank you for _____ and his/her faith, and I want to pray for him/her right now. I pray that you will give _____ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that s/he may know you better. I pray also that the eyes of _____’s heart may be enlightened in order that s/he may know the hope to which s/he is called, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints and your incomparably great power to us who believe.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

– dto

_______________

You can download a copy of this prayer here: A prayer for you from Ephesians 1

 

 

A prayer for you from Ephesians 12016-02-20T00:00:00-07:00

Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Others

Dear Father in heaven, whose name is holy.

Grant that your kingdom would come more and more to ____________’s life and the rule of Christ in his/her life may be more fully known.  May your will be done in ______________’s heart and life as it is in heaven. Give ____________ today his/her daily nourishment for body and soul. Forgive all of ____________’s debts and give him/her a forgiving spirit toward others, especially those who have offended him/her.  Protect ___________ from temptation, and deliver him/her from the evil one.  We know yours is the kingdom,  power, and glory forever.

Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13

______

Download your copy of this prayer here:

Praying the Lord’s Prayer for others

Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Others2016-02-18T00:00:00-07:00
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