Hands folded in prayer
Hands folded in prayer

Principles of Prayer Part 6

RS: As Ephesians 1:3 says, “We’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing,” I think it’s there, I think we have to appropriate it. For instance, wisdom. If you read Proverbs, wisdom is something you have to pursue. Let’s say you become a Christian. Your relationship with God, the depth of that relationship, it’s something you have to pursue, God’s guidance. This is something you have to seek and ask for. So, I think He makes it available to all of us, it’s just how well we appropriate what He’s made available, but I don’t believ
e He does, and therefore, some people appropriate His gifts; some might apply that to life itself, but some people are more gifted than other people are. I will say this, though, John. He does give different spiritual gifts to different people, so, in that sense, and some are more prominent gifts than others, but they are in the eyes of the world, but not in His eyes.

Just a quick review from last week. I really believe the content of what we’re talking about is a big deal, and so I’m glad you’re here. We started by talking about the fact that thanksgiving is at the heart of praise and worship. We looked at the 100th Psalm, which is a psalm of thanksgiving. We looked then at what the apostle Paul said in the book of Colossians about just the significance and the importance of being thankful. Most specifically, when Paul says in chapter 2, verse 7, he said our lives; he didn’t just say we should be thankful, he said our lives should overflow with gratitude. We then looked at Jesus and the encounter with those ten lepers who He heals as they’re going on their way to see the high priest. And yet only one comes back and gives Him thanks. And one of the things we noticed was it that it was very well pleasing to Christ that he gave thanks. That it is pleasing to God when we give Him thanks. And we used the example, when your children, with no initiation to come and thank you for something, when it’s heart-felt, that it thrills you, it really does. Not because you need to hear it, but because you realize something good is going on in my child’s heart. That’s the way God is when He sees us.

And so we ended at that part after the ten lepers by saying a thankful heart not only pleases God but it impacts us. It impacts our well-being. It impacts us mentally, emotionally, and particularly spiritually. And then we looked at the flip side of the coin, what an ungrateful heart can do, and how it puts a mark on your soul. And we looked at several scriptures, particularly Romans 1, where it says that even though they knew God, this was the problem. They didn’t honor Him as God. They didn’t give Him thanks, and so what happened over time, is that they became futile in their ability to think and their hearts became darkened. And so, ingratitude, can very easily lead a person or even a culture towards Godlessness. And I’m going to come back to that in a minute. Significantly, we looked at the fact that thanksgiving just doesn’t come naturally to human beings. We have this infinite capacity for taking things for granted, and therefore, as I say over and over again, you and I have to be intentional, we have to cultivate a thankful heart, and, to me, it’s where your prayer life should begin. Because over time, I’m convinced that it will change you. It will lead to a much greater awareness of God’s presence in your life and of God’s goodness and all that He has done for you. It will even enable you to give thanks when things aren’t going well, because you see His Hand moving in your life, which we’ll come back to at a later date. But, I do want to pick up where we closed.

What we’re talking about is seen most clearly in God’s people in the Old Testament. It happens over and over again. They have this great tendency to forget God, particularly when He blesses them. That’s the irony of it all. Instead of being humble and grateful for His goodness, it causes them to drift away from Him. I love what Oswald Chambers said. He said, “The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and really seek God. It’s His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God, but His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.” Humans, we’re strange the way we operate. There’s a great summary of everything we’ve said, and we’re going to look at several passages in the Old Testament. This first one, I think is a good place to start, and it’s in the book of Hosea. It’s in the back of the Old Testament. I know many of you probably have not spent a lot of time in Hosea, but its after past Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and you’ll run right into Hosea. Go to chapter 13, if you don’t mind. Hosea 13. Everybody there? Verses 4-6. This is my real technical group. You know, we have more people that use electronic devices in this group than any other, so my hat is off to you. John Brock, you want to read those for us?

John: “But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.”

RS: In two verses, he gives like a hundred, two hundred year history. He says, basically, I have been the Lord your God, since the land of Egypt, and you want to know any God except me, but there is no Savior besides me. I cared for you in the wilderness in the land of drought, in the land of burning heat, but then in verse 6, it says, when I fed them, basically its talking about when you went into the Promised Land, you had pasture, you had prosperity. The New American says, as they had their pasture they became satisfied. And being satisfied, their heart became proud, and then they forgot me. It’s almost like you see this segue. But the one thing that I was wondering, what do you think it meant when it says, once you became satisfied? I blessed you and then you became satisfied, and then you became proud, and then you forgot me. What do you think that means?

Unidentified audience member: Complacent.

Unidentified audience member: They thought they had it figured out.

RS: Complacent. They thought they had it figured out. What happens once you’re really satisfied?
Unidentified audience member: Take it for granted.

RS: Yeah. What happens is you get to a point is that you have everything you need to have a most blessed life, and once you get to that point, instead of being thankful to God, we start becoming arrogant, which we’re going to look at in just a second. And then once that arrogance starts creeping in, you are well on a path to forgetting Him. And these are God’s chosen people I was thinking this morning I didn’t share this yesterday, but in Proverbs 30, Solomon says, he talks about don’t allow me – keep lies and deceit away from me. Then he says, don’t give me too much, in other words, don’t give me too much of anything. Don’t give me too much wealth. Because my problem is, once I have too much, I’m likely to forget you and say who is the Lord. It’s like he was saying, give me just enough, because he sees this danger. As we sit here today, we think, it’s hard to believe that someone who gets really blessed would forget God, would not give thanks to God, would not be humble, but that seems to be what happens. And part of the reason, guys, is thanksgiving does not come natural to us. Arrogance does. Comes very natural to us.

Now, we see a great picture of this. This is one of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament and it could be written about modern day man, if you change the words a little bit. And we’ve looked at two of these verses a couple of months ago, but it’s Deuteronomy chapter 8. Remember Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 8. And I’m going to read it to you. We’ll start at verse 11, and I’m going to read it and I’m going to ask you to stay with me, and, as I read it, I’m going to make some comments, okay? Everybody there? Deuteronomy 8? We’re going to start at 11. “Be careful,” the New American says, “Beware”. Whenever anybody says “Beware” to you, you need to watch out. “Beware, be careful, that you do not forget the Lord your God.” There’s that word “forget” again. Keep your eye on that word. It’s there several times. “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and decrees that I am giving you this day, otherwise when you eat or are satisfied, and when you don’t find houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold have increased, and your stocks and bonds increase, and all you have is multiplied,” he said, that is the problem, that is when your heart will become proud, that is when you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt and out of the land of slavery. He led you to the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land with its venomous snakes and scorpions, He brought you water out of hard rock, He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you, that in the end it might go well with you.

Focus on that word “humble”. Because, if you don’t get this, this is what happens. 17, you may say to yourself it is my power and the strength of my hands that has produced this wealth for me. But remember, there’s another word, you’ve got “forget”, now you see “remember”, but remember the Lord your God, because it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth and so confirms His covenant which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today. If you ever forget, there’s that word again, “forget”, the Lord your God and follow other Gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify to you today, you will surely be destroyed, like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. You see the word forget, remember, forget, remember, forget, throughout the book of Deuteronomy you see that.

Now, it’s interesting that Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a very famous Russian historian, made this observation about the Soviet Union, about Russia. Because see, most people don’t know this, but prior to the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, even though you had a Czar, kind of like a king, you had a strong church. The Russian Orthodox Church was very strong. But something happened. Listen to what Solzhenitsyn says, “Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I remember hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God, that’s why all this has happened.’ Since then, I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” And it makes you wonder, whether it’s our nation, or any nation, when you truly abandon God, you do what is right in your own eyes, no telling where it may end up. Now, I’ll stop here. Good time to stop. Comments or questions.

Unidentified audience member: Richard, I think the issue is when you’re satisfied, and your needs are met, you start worshipping the blessing, because it becomes your provider. It has provided for you, and we forget Who it was that provided it.

RS: Excellent. Well-said. Billy?

Billy: Tell me, was it the Old Testament or the New Testament that you did a count of, the number of times the word “beware” was done?

RS: I did it primarily in the New Testament, and it’s used a lot, and Jesus usually says beware of, basically, believing false teaching, believing what’s false.

Billy: In other words, every time it starts with beware that’s kind of a…

RS: Yeah, another one I like is “don’t be deceived”, which we’re going to look at in just a second, another one. Before we move one, let me just say this guys, real quick, the word “remember” may not seem like, it seems like kind of a flat word, it’s not that big of a deal, but my wife, when we were dating, and then while we were engaged, she was out in Denver, went to graduate school, it’s called Colorado Christian University. Larry Crabb, the famous psychologist ran it, and it’s really an excellent program, and, anyway, she was out there while we were dating and engaged, and I got an earful of what she was learning, and it was good stuff, don’t get me wrong, and one of the things they said about being healthy is this issue, and I’d never heard this or thought much about this idea of remembering, particularly in relationships, and it was pointed out, and I bet we don’t really think about it much, but why do we celebrate a birthday? Think about it. Why do we celebrate it? This is very Biblical, by the way. We celebrate because, God says you really need to remember the things that are so crucial and matter, and keep those ever in front of you. Don’t forget. Remember. And, when you have a birthday, what you’re doing is you’re celebrating a person’s life. This is the day they entered into the world. And they say you should make a big deal about a birthday, not necessarily you have to buy expensive gifts, but make a big deal about the person because what you want to say to them is that your life really matters. Well, my wife took that to heart, because we make, particularly our kids, we make a big deal about their birthdays. We wake them up at 6:30. She has made this great breakfast, she serves them breakfast in bed, with a tray, the kind of tray that rich people get, she squeezes them orange juice and puts it in this fancy kind of goblet. And then she has the birthday cake there, and we light them, and then let them eat the birthday cake after the person eats the breakfast. And then everybody has a card that they open up and they read, that everybody has written. And then they open their gifts. And my wife just does a great job of saying, you are so important to us, and your life matters so much. Our kids, they just felt like a million bucks. And then that night, we would go out to eat wherever they want to go, it’s usually the Japanese steak house, you know, kids like that, it’s kind of a…but, we’re to remember.

And they put a real emphasis on remembering in marriage. Why do you have an anniversary? You go back and remember. One of the things they said is you should celebrate your anniversary and put a lot of effort into doing that. And to go back and remember how you fell in love. Talk about the past. Talk about when you were engaged. So, Holly and I, every year for 21 years, except for one year when our daughter was born in May and our anniversary was in June, we go and celebrate it. We talk a lot about our marriage.

Let me give you another example of why this is important. When I was a kid, I thought the craziest thing was taking communion in church. In the Presbyterian Church, you didn’t get up and go down to altar, they passed it around, they had these little pieces of bread and you drink grape juice, but it’s a big deal. Why? What did Jesus say? Do this in remembrance of Me. Why should we remember Him? Because we have a tendency to forget. Any comments on this? Any questions? Let me tell you this, somebody else pointed this out, so I’m going to add this. This lesson gets better with age. I have good people contribute to what I’m saying. So, how do we remember God? I think the two best things are this: one is thanksgiving. Humble yourself; you know, when you thank God, you’re humbling yourself in one way, you’re taking the credit away from yourself and you’re saying God, thank You for blessing me with this. And the second way not to forget Him, and I didn’t include this, but it’s right, is that why the scripture plays such an important role. It says in Hebrews, I believe it’s 2:1, keep paying close attention to what God has said. How do we do that? That’s where the scripture is. He says, because if you don’t, you’ll drift away from Him.

But today, we’re here to talk about thanksgiving. And before we proceed, I want to read this, then I want to stop and see if you have a comment or question. These are some words, this is really, this is so right on target. This is written by Os Guinness, who is just a wonderful scholar, who has written some fabulous books, but listen to what he says, they’re very powerful. He says, “Ingratitude is moral, spiritual, and emotional carelessness, where we become insensitive to all that God has done in our lives. In Romans 1,” which we read last week, “Paul reminds us that man’s autonomy and unbelief comes when we refuse to honor Him as God or give Him thanks. His words are a reminder that rebellion against God, and falling away from God does not begin with the intent to abandon Him, but with the self-satisfied heart of one from whom ‘thank you’ is just kind of redundant. Over time, our relationship with God will then become routine and then becomes kind of matter of fact, and then the process is generally well underway when it becomes apparent that we have just really forgotten God. We have drifted away from Him. This is why the theme of remembering is inseparable from faith in the Bible. The man or woman of faith is the one who remembers and the one who remembers is the one who consistently gives thanks. Ingratitude is forgetting to remember and is the key to tragic failure of the people of God over the centuries. Gratitude, on the other hand, changes everything. It is a major component of the exuberant joy of the Christian who lives his life with an overwhelming sense of God’s grace behind the whole of life.”

So, guys, I’ll say this for the fifth or sixth time. This is a big deal. This is important. And now, I want to go through and help you, help us all figure out and understand, based upon what we see in the scriptures, what should we be grateful for? Before we start, let me just share this with you. Gratitude, or thanksgiving is basically, or simply an expression of gratitude for something that you have received. An expression of gratitude for something you have received. That’s pretty simple. But, as Christians, let me tell you what it is, it is acknowledging, because we had this lesson, I don’t want to run out of time, but I just want to share these verses with you. I’m going to quote them. There are three verses that are the basis of giving thanks. The first one is John 3:27, where we are told that a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to Him from Heaven above. Then in James 1:16-17, we are told do not be deceived, every good and perfect gift in your life comes from Heaven above. Comes from the Hand of God. And then there is one more; this is one that I just kind of throw in. I don’t know if ya’ll ever do this, but I have just been reading the book of Acts, and I read something, and I just laughed out loud, I thought it was funny. This is something I think is kind of funny, even though it comes as probably one of the most serious moments in Biblical history. It’s when Pilate and Jesus are talking. Jesus is in front of Pilate, soon to be crucified, and what kind of, I guess just kind of [unintelligible 25:57] Pilate is really frustrated, then he says, this Jesus, I can’t get Him to talk to me. You know, he asked Him questions and Jesus was just dead silent. Then finally, he gets so frustrated he says, he doesn’t say this, this is just reading between lines, he says, Jesus, don’t you know who I am? I mean, here was this Roman procurator saying to the God of the Universe, don’t you know who I am? Don’t you realize that I am the one who can set you free? That I am the one who can sentence you to crucifixion or I am the one that can let you go? I love what Jesus says to Pilate, this is John 19:11. He says to him, “Pilate don’t you know that you have no authority over me, unless it has been given to you from above?” He’s saying, Pilate, the only reason that you are in this high of a position that you are in, is that God has allowed you to be there.

So, guys, prayerful thanksgiving is acknowledging that every good and perfect gift in life comes from the Hand of God. He has given you your talents and abilities. Because we get so puffed up about how great we are, but where did I get my abilities, how did I get my first job? You had no control, think about it, of the family you were born into. In fact, this is pretty interesting, in Acts 17:26, it says, God appointed a time in history and the boundaries of your habitation. God has appointed unto you, I guess you could say, appointed you to be alive in this particular time in history, here in Birmingham, Alabama. That’s what Tim Keller says; you shouldn’t get too uppity about yourself. Just think, what would happen if you had been born a hundred years ago in Bolivia. Your life would be so different. Bolivia, by the way, is probably the poorest country in the world. So we need to recognize and give thanks and acknowledge all of this. And this is so crucial, guys, to be ingrained and cultivated in our minds, because basically, when you see life through the lens that all that I am and all that I have is a gift from God, it will change everything. It will keep you thankful and it will keep you humble. And, as I said a while ago, this does not come natural to us. What does come natural is what we read in Deuteronomy 8:17, my power, my strength, my talent has made me successful. And you can just see the real contrast there.

Now, I’m going to share with you a few things that you can be thankful for. I would suggest every day that you bring before God. There are so many things. There are other things; this is not an all-inclusive list. These are just some suggestions. Now, to start, why don’t we do this? From Mike Woods over on this side, how about looking up John 1:3 and from Kerry over here to this side, look up Psalm 119:73, and I’m going to read Revelation 4:11 as we consider what should we be thankful for. This is usually how I start off my time with what we’re going to look at now. Reynolds, you got it? How about reading that for us, would you?

Reynolds: “All things were made through Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”

RS: Everything that was made was made by Him. All right, Mike Pudot (sp?) would you read Psalm 119:73?

Mike: “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn Your commands.”

RS: Your hands made me; Your hands formed me. Revelation 4:11. ” You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.” I remember reading in a book by John Claypool, after his daughter died, and one of the things I’ve never forgotten, and it fits right into this, life is a gift. Your life is a gift from God. Do you see it that way? Do you thank God for the gift of life or do you just take your life for granted? I think it is a great place to start. To thank God for the life that He has given you, and to keep going, if you want to keep going, we won’t look these up, for time’s sake, but Psalm 66:8-9, that’s for you if you want to write these down, and Psalm 71:56. It says not only does He give us life; it says He keeps us in life. He keeps us in life. It says thou has not allowed my foot to stumble. We can’t say that about everybody. We are still in life. He has given us life. We are still in life. He keeps us in life. How often do you thank Him for your health? Think about it. Do we just take our health for granted? Or do we take credit for having good health because we exercise and we eat good.

Unidentified audience member: It says in Proverbs a cheerful heart is great medicine.

RS: Amen. Amen.

Unidentified audience member: Thankful. A thankful heart.

RS: Thankful. So, we ought to thank Him for this each day. That’s a good place to start. So, let’s go back. Mike Woods and over, Proverbs 31:10, Kerry, and this way, Proverbs 19:14, and I’m going to read Psalm 127:3. You might throw in Proverbs 18:24. How are we doing? I’m going to share something with you guys to really help your marriage. I know most of you don’t need much help, but…I hear laughing. This is interesting, what we’re here to read, and I’m going to comment, 31:10. Mike Woods.

Mike: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

RS: Guys, you ought to read that sometime to your wife, and tell her how much you appreciate her. I promise you, if you mean it, she will love hearing it.

Unidentified audience member: That’s when she’ll ask you for some jewelry.

RS: Does your wife do that?

(Chatter and laughter)

RS: Proverbs 19:14, Moe Smith.

Moe: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

RS: You know, it always say something about the value of having a great wife, but it doesn’t say anything about the value of having a great husband. It doesn’t.

Unidentified audience member: Cause we’re already great.

(Chatter and laughter)

RS: All right, listen to this. Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord.” Your children are a gift of the Lord. And Proverbs 18:24 talks about the value of having a really good friend. The bottom line, how often do we thank God for our relationships? And then, I tell you what, for times’ sake, I’ve got my finger on it; so let me just read it. We’ve talked about the gift of life, the fact that God sustains us, and give us our health, which we won’t always have. We’re going to lose our health, but we’ve got it now. We talk about our relationships. I mean, how valuable are they? We ought to realize, life is bankrupt without relationships. And yet, you don’t realize the number of people who live very lonely lives. Then here we have I Chronicles 29:12-13, says, ‘Both riches and honor come from You o Lord and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might, and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.” Do you thank Him for what you have? And maybe you don’t feel like it; I ain’t got much, but thank Him for what you have. Thank you for the job that I have. Thank you for the talents and abilities that You have given me. I don’t think many men do this. And when things go really well, they take all the credit, and when things go really bad, they blame it on God. Why are you doing this to me? Now, this next part is the most important, in my opinion. And where we go with it, I think you’ll see, as we move from the more earthly blessings, if you want to call them that, now we are going to look at the spiritual blessings. And this is crucial, guys, to really grasp. Turn to Ephesians chapter 1.

(Chatter and laughter)

RS: Bill Clements, you got it? How about reading that for us?

Bill: “Praise be to the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

RS: What has He blessed us with? Every spiritual blessing that we would ever need. Think about that for a minute. Now, guys, let me ask you this. When it comes to the material blessings of life, has He done that?

Unidentified audience member: Amen.

RS: No, He hasn’t. What I mean by that – let me put it another way. I probably didn’t ask that really well. When it comes to the material blessings of life, has God discriminated?

Unidentified audience member: Absolutely.

RS: As far as what people have and what they don’t have. The answer is yeah. Some people have more than others. I think I’ve shared with you having a counseling session, this guy was just livid that God had discriminated against him. He’d given all his friends so much more money than he had. He was p***ed. Excuse me. (Laughter) He really was though. He was angry. But you know what, God says, you’ll always have poor, you’ll always have rich, you’ll always have middle-class, and that’s okay. Because that stuff doesn’t really matter compared to the true riches of life, the spiritual. He made those abundantly available to everybody. And the question we need to ask in the next 10 minutes before we close up are, what are those? What are the great spiritual blessings of life? Let me tell you where we start since we’re right there at Ephesians 1, look at verses 7 and 8. Billy Blair, you want to read that?

Billy: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.

RS: We have redemption through His blood. What does that mean?

Billy: He died on the cross for our sins?

RS: That’s exactly right, and basically, because we have redemption through His blood, we have the forgiveness for our trespasses, and you may not think that’s a big deal, but think of it in these terms. In Romans 4:7-8, when he says blessed is the man, when He stands before God, will not have to give an account of his sins. Now, how big of a deal is that? What is that worth to you?

Unidentified audience member: Everything.

RS: Everything. Because we’re talking about eternity. I love what it says in Colossians 1:13-14, it says, “God has rescued us.” I love that word. “He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” And it says in Colossians 1:22, we will stand before God one day, “holy and without a blemish”.

What is the significance of this? Our sins forgiven. We can stand before God. We can have a relationship with God. We will have one with Him in Heaven, but we can have a relationship with Him today. We can walk through life with Him. That’s one of the great spiritual blessings of this life. Paul says we can know Him. Yes, Billy?

Billy: Don’t you have to have a relationship with God on earth before you can have a relationship with Him in Heaven?

RS: Yes. It begins while we’re alive here and extends on into eternity.

Unidentified audience member: With the thief on the cross, it began, but it didn’t….

RS: Yeah, but it has to begin here. Okay, what else, what other spiritual blessings do we have? One of them is right in front of you. This is God’s revelation. He has revealed to us what we need to know about Him and about life. Some would call that a letter from God to us, it’s kind of an instruction book. You can call it what you want. I love this verse in, I Thessalonians 2:13, it’s very, very powerful. Listen to this. “For this reason, we also constantly thank God that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is,” listen to this, “it is the Word of God, which also performs its work in you.” He uses His Word to perform a work in us. I’ve got to keep going in here. Think about the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how much you’ve studied about the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit is where we get our power from. It’s the Holy Spirit that changes us, that transforms us. The Greek word is, Jesus said it is to your advantage that I leave, because when I leave, I’m going to send the Holy Spirit. The Greek word was the paracletos. The helper, which means, one to come alongside you and help you. Can you think of any other spiritual blessings? What about in Proverbs? What do we read about in Proverbs? Come on! It starts with a “W”.

Unidentified audience member: Wisdom?
RS: Wisdom. The wisdom of God that He desires to give us. What are we told about the wisdom of God in Proverbs 3? It’s more valuable than silver and gold, nothing that you desire compares with it. That’s why I’m writing a book on it. I think it’s so vital and so important. He promises to guide us through life if we will look to Him to do that. But you know it strikes me guys, the thing we should probably be most thankful for, we’re thankful for our salvation, we’re thankful for the forgiveness of sins, but what we should be most thankful for, is the price that He was willing to pay to purchase it for us by dying on a cross, and then bearing the sins of the world. Dying on the cross was nothing compared to bearing the sins of the world.

And it reminds me of that story that I read probably 7 years ago, it was from The Wall Street Journal, I guess this was while we were still in Iraq, maybe it was in 2007, I don’t remember the date, but it’s about the Corporal Dunham, who basically, a grenade was thrown in the midst of his men, he takes his helmet off, and falls over it. It kills him, but his men didn’t even have a scratch. And he won the Congressional Medal of Honor, and it talked about in the article that he went to the White House to receive this honor, and his family was there, but also some of the men were there, whose lives had been saved. In the article it said, “These men had the most difficult time dealing with this incredible love. How do you thank someone who falls on a grenade for you? ” How do you thank them? How do you thank Jesus, Who, in one sense, fell on the grenade for us when He went to the cross? Because, in doing it, our guilt and condemnation for our sin can be paid in one of two ways. It’s got to be paid for, because He is a God of justice. His justice is the foundation of His throne, we are told. Somebody’s got to pay for it. Either we pay for it, or we let Christ pay for it. It’s amazing the number of people who say, “I don’t need Him” or “I don’t want Him”. I don’t think they’ve thought through all of this. We’ll talk later about how to give thanks in the midst of difficulty, but we’re told in everything, whatever you’re going through, give thanks to Him. I Thessalonians 5:18, but we’ll come back to that at some point.

But let me share with you this one last thought, or two thoughts. I like to walk and pray, I walk early in the morning, and I pray, and then sometimes I’ll come back and read the Bible, or sometimes I’ll start by reading the Bible, and then I’ll go walk. But I used to pray, I’d give thanks, for three, four, or five minutes, and it never got old, it never got stale, still isn’t. It does something to you. But now it’s extended to where I probably go ten minutes thanking God, and I love doing it, but the very last thing I thank Him for, and I close with these words. “Father, I thank you for the difference you’ve made in my life.” Because I’ve been a Christian 40 years now, and it makes me, where would my life be today without Him. It kind of scares me, but I’m very grateful. I leave with this. In the book of Job, chapter 1, verse 21, it says, “Naked, I came into this world,” and, one says, naked I’ll leave it. It says, “the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” You know, whatever God has given us, He can take it away. He can take away your wealth, He can take away your health, and eventually, we will, we will lose our lives.

But this is what struck me, and this is what I want to leave you with. If you stop and you consider everything in life that is of great value to you, everything in life that is of great value to you, and if we’re not thankful for these things, and if we take them for granted, and if we allow them to cause us to be arrogant, why should we expect Him to bless our lives? Why should we expect Him to bless these things that are such great value to us? I can’t think of a reason why He should.

So, I end with the final, this is a big deal. I hope you’ll take this, just like the guy I met with yesterday, brand new Christian man, and he’s been really good about reading his Bible. I commended him and I said, now, and I’ve gone through this material with him, I said, right after you finish reading, take a few minutes of this right here, I made him write it all down, and you’ve got plenty to give thanks to Go, and I said, it will have a real impact on you. I’ll say the same thing to you if you’re not already doing this, you may already be doing this, but if not, this should be at the heart of your prayer life.


Add grace and understanding to your day with words from Richard E. Simmons III in your inbox. Sign-up for weekly email with the latest blog post, podcast, and quote.

Fill out the form to receive wisdom in your inbox from Richard E. Simmons III.