You Should Say More Thank You’s Than Pleases

About 2 weeks ago I was talking with my youngest daughter, Annabella (who just turned 4), about the importance of politeness—specifically saying “please” and “thank you.” Her two older siblings jumped in with examples and tried to explain it to her. My oldest, Andrew (9), then said “And you should say more thank you’s than pleases.”

You should say more thank you’s than pleases.

It was as if I were hit by a bolt of lightning, I was struck so suddenly and forcefully by the profundity of that statement. The Holy Spirit within me had just shouted a resounding “YES!” I asked Andrew where he had heard that, and he shrugged his shoulders and said he just made it up. Since that day, I have not been able to get his proverb out of my head, and I believe that it was from the Lord. [Sometimes the Holy Spirit within you will echo His agreement with something that your mind has not yet understood—pay attention to these moments, God is handing you a gift, and an opportunity to grow!!]

In my prayer and reflection time that evening, and I asked the Lord about Andrew’s proverb. I examined my own life: do I ask for things (please) more often than I express gratitude for things (thank you)? How about in my prayer life? In a typical prayer time, which do I do more, ask God for things or thank Him for what He’s done? This was an exercise in humility, make no mistake. As I allowed God the Holy Spirit to search my heart, I had to admit that I ask God for more things than I thank Him for, almost every time I pray.

Please don’t misunderstand me here—we should absolutely ask the Lord for things in prayer, the Bible explicitly says this time and again. I am in no way implying that we should ask God for less or do so less often. Rather, that we should thank Him far more that we do.

For many years I have considered myself a thankful person. Gratitude has been a fruit of the Spirit that I’ve always cultivated pretty well. But through the words of my 9-yr-old son, God has challenged me to take my gratitude to the next level.

A few days later, I slipped in some mud in the yard and injured my back. No permanent damage (thank God!), but a lot of pain, stiffness, I couldn’t bend over to put my socks on, etc. I have always found that when I am struggling physically it is far more difficult to remain positive and to express gratitude … so this was going to be a good test!

I’ve been asking God the Holy Spirit to help me in this (necessary!), and He has been faithful. I am now making it a point to thank God throughout the day for everything I can think of.   Rather than feeling sorry for myself about injuring my back, I am thanking God that it wasn’t worse than it is. Each day as the pain is less than the day before, I am constantly thanking the Lord for that rather than bemoaning the fact that I’m not recovered yet. I’m still asking for a quick healing, but overall I am trying my best to say more thank-you’s than pleases.

The results have been pretty amazing! By making more of an effort to cultivate gratitude in my daily life, I have found that my attitude has become more positive. My overall mood has improved. It has  been easier to say “no” to negative thoughts or responses. My back is also recovering more quickly than the previous times I’ve thrown it out. Overall—I couldn’t be happier with the results of doubling down on gratitude.

I encourage you to open yourself up to the Lord and ask Him to help you cultivate the fruit of gratitude/thankfulness in your life. You will never regret it! And when you watch your inner-life improve right in front of your eyes, thank God for it—and maybe thank my son Andrew too :).

Overcome

Peter wanted to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33), but he had a problem: it’s impossible. So He asked Jesus to call him to come out to Him on the water. Jesus gave him the Word: He said “Come!” And Peter walked on water! Peter didn’t have faith to walk on water (that’s a silly thing to have faith for). He had faith in Jesus, and in the word that Jesus said to him. Because of His faith in Jesus and His word, he was able to walk on water.

Walking on water is impossible. It is an insurmountable obstacle. A difficult situation. A problem! What problem do you have in your life right now? Something that might seem insurmountable or impossible to overcome? Getting or keeping that job? Getting into that school? Giving up pornography? Depression? Finding a spouse? Ministering to others? Or maybe it’s a vision that He’s given you that just seems too big. What is it in your life right now that you feel you cannot overcome? What waters do you need to be able to walk on?

What you need is a word from the Lord! Do what Peter did: call out to Jesus and ask Him to give you a word. Ask Him to communicate to you that you will indeed overcome this situation, solve this problem, or defeat this enemy. If Jesus is calling you to do something that seems impossible, then you CAN do it! Jesus originally created the waters by His word. And by His word He told Peter that he could walk on that same water. Ask Jesus to communicate to you that you can do this impossible thing. And then have faith in Him and in that word, and step out of the boat!

There is nothing you cannot do when you have a word that Jesus has spoken to you. When He calls you to do something, you can do it! He will make a way for you to overcome: to walk over the problem and come to Him.

Scriptures on Revival (to aid prayer)

THE PROMISE:

”Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” (Habakkuk 1:5)

” With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” (Jeremiah 31:9)

“And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11)

“And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.” (Isaiah 1:26-27)

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came…. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules…Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it. Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.” (Ezekiel 36:22-37)

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5,6)

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-15)

THE RESPONSE:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;” (Isaiah 59:1)

“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy!” (Habakkuk 3:2)

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:3, 7 and 19).

“Lift up your heads o you gates! Be lifted up you ancient doors that the King of Glory may come in!” (Psalm 24:7, but really all of Psalm 24)

“Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:1-6)

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20)

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

“While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses…And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah…saying, ‘Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book…’ So Hilkiah and those whom the king had sent went to Huldah the prophetess…and spoke to her to that effect. And she said to them…’This says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord…’ Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem…And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 34)

“And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel…They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.’ And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.” (Nehemiah 8)

“Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.’ And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.’ When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” (Jonah 3:4-10)

1 Samuel 7:1-15

2 Chronicles 14-15

2 Chronicles 29-32

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…’ Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:1-6)

“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.” (Matthew 4:23-25)

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all takings in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

“This (Paul’s teaching) continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 19:10)

“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7)

Was September 23rd, 2017 the Beginning of the End?

Christian numerologist David Meade wrote a book in which he predicts that September 23rd, 2017, would reveal a harbinger of The End (rapture, tribulation, etc.). Specifically, he predicts that the prophecy of Revelation 12 would begin to be fulfilled on that date. Revelation 12:1-2 reads as follows:

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”

Meade purports that the astrological convergence of the Zodiac constellation of Virgo with Leo and several planets that took place on September 23rd, 2017 fulfills this prophesy. He also talks about the so-called “Planet X” and a number of other things, but the crux of his conclusions hinge on the validity of his prediction about Revelation 12.

Here are four reasons why this prediction is silly.

  1. While at first glance, the astrological conditions on September 23rd do indeed look like something similar to Revelation 12:1-2, Meade claims this is a unique event. This is simply false. The movements of the stars and planets take place in an orderly fashion following the laws of nature that God created. This so-called “unique” convergence is in fact not unique at all. Astronomers agree that it has taken place at least 4 times just in the past millennium (1056, 1293, 1483, and 1827). What took place on September 23rd was not only a natural event, but one that recurs. Even if Meade is right in his belief that Revelation 12:1-2 speaks of the astrological convergence in question (he’s not—see below), there is no textual reason in Revelation 12 that would lead us to suspect that THIS occurrence is the one being referenced, as opposed to one in the past or one yet in the future.
  2. Revelation 12:1 speaks of a “great sign in the heavens.” Does a natural, predictable astrological event count as a “great sign?” It seems to me that in the Bible, signs in the heavens are not natural, recurring, predictable events. Consider the Christmas Star. This event was new, it was unexpected, and it was supernatural.  To say “the stars will look like this on this date” doesn’t require prophesy, it just requires math.  That is not a “great sign.”
  3. Here is the big one: accepting the validity of Meade’s claims requires us to accept the validity of astrology. For him to be correct, it would mean that Revelation 12 is fulfilled not just in the predictability of the stars, but in the Zodiac specifically. Never in Scripture do we see any validation of the veracity of the Zodiac, nor astrology on the whole. No other Biblical prophecies find their fulfillment in the Zodiac. No positive Biblical character ever praises the trustworthiness of astrology. Quite the contrary, astrology is ALWAYS repudiated and rejected. Not only is astrology portrayed as untrue, but it’s condemned as being pagan and completely contrary to God. Consider those in the Bible who practiced astrology—the Egyptian wise men, the Babylonian wise men, the Persian wise men, Simon Magus, etc. All of these were clearly portrayed as contrary to God—they played for the other team. When Simon Magus came to faith in Jesus, the first thing he did was burn his astrological charts! The wise men who came to see the newborn Jesus appear to have been practitioners of astrology, but it is precisely the inability of astrology to predict the Christmas Star that leads them to believe that something truly divine is taking place—astrology is predictable, that star is supernatural, we have to go see this! The idea that the astrological events of September 23rd, 2017 fulfill the prophesy of Revelation 12 runs completely counter to the entirety of Scripture. But Meade would have us believe that despite astrology being evil, we can nonetheless use it to predict Biblical prophecy? That idea is heretical. [Warning, Nerd Reference: Using the Zodiac to interpret Biblical prophecy would be like Frodo deciding it’s okay to use the One Ring to try to fight Sauron … it’s simply not possible, as Gandalf insisted, “The ring is altogether evil.”]
  4. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus states “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Despite this, there have been Christians who insist that we can in fact predict the time of Christ’s return. Some might say “we don’t know the date or the hour, but we know the month!” Is that really what Jesus meant in Matthew 24? People who are obsessed with these things have quite simply lost the plot. Nowhere in Scripture are we called to do our best to figure out when the end will be … rather, Jesus says we shouldn’t even bother with that. What we are called to do is make disciples, advance the Kingdom of God, heal the sick, pray for God to send out more workers into the harvest fields, and we are called to GO.

It is my opinion that this and most other end-times rhetoric is at best a complete waste of time. Worse, it distracts Christians from the things that Jesus told us we should be doing. But rather than following Jesus’ commands, some Christians prefer to be seduced into apocalyptic fantasies, squandering the time, treasure, and talents God has given them to make a real impact for the Kingdom. My brothers and sisters, this should not be so.