Spread An Attitude Of Gratitude

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Colossians 3:12-15 NIV

One act of kindness, compassion and thankfulness can set off a chain reaction…look for opportunities to offer goodness and gentleness.  Be aware of moments when you can exercise patience and point out reasons for gratitude in daily life.  As is often quoted, be the change you wish to see in the world.

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“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10 NIV

(This photo was taken in February of 2013 in a neighborhood near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Come To Repentance

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

Romans 2:1-4 NIV

We are so quick to judge others, yet that is not our purpose.  We were created out of God’s love to do good things…how we respond to His love will determine how we will be judged.  Come to repentance and you will find peace.  Amen.

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But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV

(This photo was taken in April of 2020 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Praise The Lord

“Praise the Lord.

I will praise the Lord.
    I will praise the Lord all my life.
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Don’t put your trust in human leaders.
    Don’t trust in people who can’t save you.
When they die, they return to the ground.
    On that day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed are those who depend on the God of Jacob for help.
    Blessed are those who put their hope in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth and the ocean.
    He made everything in them.
    He remains faithful forever.
He stands up for those who are treated badly.
    He gives food to hungry people.
The Lord sets prisoners free.
    The Lord gives sight to those who are blind.
The Lord lifts up those who feel helpless.
    The Lord loves those who do what is right.
The Lord watches over the outsiders who live in our land.
    He takes good care of children whose fathers have died.
    He also takes good care of widows.
But he causes evil people to fail
    in everything they do.

10 The Lord rules forever.
    The God of Zion will rule for all time to come.

Praise the Lord.”

Psalm 146 NIRV

Let Everything That Has Breath by Matt Redman

Put your trust in God for everything…for anything.  Every day, every relationship, every worry, every fear, every moment of thanks…praise the Lord.  He is with, He loves you more than you know…praise the Lord.  Amen.

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“The Lord says,

“Those who trust in human beings are under my curse.
    They depend on human strength.
    Their hearts turn away from me.
They will be like a bush in a dry and empty land.
    They will not enjoy success when it comes.
They will live in dry places in the desert.
    It is a land of salt where no one else lives.

“But I will bless anyone who trusts in me.
    I will do good things for the person who depends on me.
They will be like a tree planted near water.
    It sends out its roots beside a stream.
It is not afraid when heat comes.
    Its leaves are always green.
It does not worry when there is no rain.
    It always bears fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:5-8 NIRV

(This photo was taken in July of 2021 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)

Our Purpose

Love God

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength.”

Deuteronomy 6:5 NIRV

What does loving God look like in your life?

Love God and Love Others

“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]””

Luke 10:27 NIV

How can we live out what Jesus has said are the first and second greatest commandments in all of God’s Word?  Who is our neighbor in the world and how can we show God’s love to them?

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Share The Good News

So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”

Matthew 28:19-20 NIRV

Love God…Love Other People…Share the Gospel

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on the shore of Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin)

Commitment

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Matthew 22:37-38 NIV

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23 NIV

What does it mean to make a commitment?  How much time does it take to honor a commitment?  What does it look like in your life?  Everyone has different answers on the how commitment works, yet the most important part about commitment is what is at the center of it.  Commitment takes dedicated time, communication and a willingness to make sacrifices.  Nobody ever said it would be easy, no matter what commitment you are thinking about as you read.  Jesus Christ made a commitment to reconcile us back to God and it cost Him His life on earth.   Take the time and the opportunity He has provided and make a commitment to follow Him and honor that commitment with how you live and your life.  Amen.

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“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2015 while traveling in South Dakota)

Our Good Father

“I bow in prayer to the Father because of my work among you. 15 From the Father every family in heaven and on earth gets its name. 16 I pray that he will use his glorious riches to make you strong. May his Holy Spirit give you his power deep down inside you. 17 Then Christ will live in your hearts because you believe in him. And I pray that your love will have deep roots. I pray that it will have a strong foundation. 18 May you have power together with all the Lord’s holy people to understand Christ’s love. May you know how wide and long and high and deep it is. 19 And may you know his love, even though it can’t be known completely. Then you will be filled with everything God has for you.

20 God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. He does everything by his power that is working in us. 21 Give him glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. Give him glory through all time and for ever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:14-21 NIRV

We would do well to follow Paul’s example of prayer shown above when we pray for others to our Father.  Who do you need to come to the Father about in your prayers?  He listens…He wants to hear from you because He loves you.  Spend time talking with our good Father in heaven.  Amen.

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Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:3-6 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2014 by a friend at a lake in central Minnesota)

All Things New

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV

In this new year let us approach life focusing on God’s plan rather than making new worldly plans of our own.  Let us be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.  Let us run the race He has put before us.  He makes all things new in a way we could never imagine.  Amen.

All Things New by Steven Curtis Chapman

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You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV

(This photo was taken in May of 2020 along the North Shore of Lake Superior)

Amazing Grace

But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So he gave us new life because of what Christ has done. He gave us life even when we were dead in sin. God’s grace has saved you. God raised us up with Christ. He has seated us with him in his heavenly kingdom. That’s because we belong to Christ Jesus. He has done it to show the riches of his grace for all time to come. His grace can’t be compared with anything else. He has shown it by being kind to us. He was kind to us because of what Christ Jesus has done.”

Ephesians 2:4-7 NIRV

As we close out the year, reflect on where you have seen God in the events of your life.  He was with you the whole time, even when you didn’t acknowledge Him.  God wants good things for you…all that is dark and evil in this world is because of our sin…yet God who is rich in mercy has saved us through His Son.  We are saved by God’s gift of Amazing Grace.  Amen.

Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin

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God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it. 10 We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works. Long ago God prepared these works for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10 NIRV

(This photo was taken in June of 2018 near the border of Minnesota and South Dakota)

Persevere Under Trial

My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be tested. You know that when this happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. And you must allow this strength to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone and doesn’t find fault.”

James 1:2-5 NIRV

Don’t give up…keep praying…keep trying…be persistent…have courage…believe.  Everyone is challenged by something in life.  Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind.  It is in these situations that we can see the power of God, we can see His mercy and His grace when we shift our perspective off of worldly treasures and back on to Jesus.  God is holding on to you through everything the world is throwing at you.  Trust in Him and persevere through trials.  Amen.

I Am by Crowder

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“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 standing on one of the Bridges of Madison County near Winterset, Iowa)

Open The Eyes Of My Heart

Portions of this post were originally published in July 2021…

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV

We typically are quick to judge the thoughts and actions of others without considering there is more to every person than just what you see on the surface.  We forget that God created all of us, everyone…even the people you struggle with or disagree with on most days.  I like to remember the quote…’be kind to others, because everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.’  When you find your thoughts making judgements…stop and pray for God to fill you with kindness and compassion.  Amen.

Open The Eyes Of My Heart by Michael W. Smith

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

(This photo was taken in April of 2020 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)