GRATITUDE
Rev. Chris Westmoreland

Sometimes the most profound things are the most obvious. I was reading an article online the other day, it was discussing the importance of gratitude. It named gratitude as the single most significant factor when judging physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Think about it ... not family history, not diet, not how much we exercise. Now, these are all important factors, but they aren't the most important. The most important factor is the significant spirit of measuring the blessings we have, rather than the blessings we haven't received yet. Missionaries have told us this for years when they travel to third world countries that have a level of poverty unparalleled in this country. "How can people that have so little have such a significant faith and such a positive outlook on life, so grateful for even the smallest things?"  Perhaps the answer is actually inbedded in the question. This doesn't mean we can't strive for more and for better. But how grateful are you for the blessings in your life? Do you reflect more of a spirit of gratitude for what you have or a begrudging spirit for what you don't?  

Do you remember that old song?: 
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
 
This isn't a Jedi mind trick that will make all your worries and fears and frustrations go away. It could be a way to reorient our life, and a chance to live it primarily from a place of celebrating what we have, versus bitter about what we don't have. This is bigger than Pilgrims and Indians (although that is a great story).  It's a spiritual practice.  

2 Corinthians 9:11-15 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men (and women) will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Recently, in the sermons at Northlake, I used a quote from my good friend, Rev. Linda Kelly - who, when speaking of the power of God's grace to change our orientation in life, referenced the power of gratitude. "The grace of God gently moves us from a mindset that says we ought to, to we have to, to a "you mean we GET TO do this for God" kind of mindset."  There is a world of difference between ought to, have to, and get to... the difference is gratitude.  

I don't know about you, but I don't want to live a 'have to' kind of life - I want to 'get to' serve God for all of my days. Today, among the busyness of the gatherings, please take time to give thanks.  God is doing a work of perfection in our life. So that means we don't look today like we one day will, and  there is blessing in our life today if we will only take time to name it. 

Please know on this day, that one of the most significant blessings that I count - IS YOU!

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