Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Month: November 2014

What I Learned in the Heart of India

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father 
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Ephesians 5:20 ESV)
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
(Psalm 100:4 ESV)

I saw it on my first trip to the heart of India in 1998. I was in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and had met several indigenous Christ-followers over the preceding week. What was it? A joy, a peace, and a contentment that I had never witnessed at such a deep level.

You could see it in their eyes. Almost every sentence was filled with gratitude to God. These were people who had virtually nothing in terms of earthly possessions. They were (and are) some of the poorest people in the world – basic homes, many with nothing more than dirt floors. No air conditioning – in a place that can reach almost 110 degrees Fahrenheit (with 80% to 90% humidity!). And yet their prayers were filled with the common refrain of gratitude for God’s unending goodness and kindness in their lives.

How is it that people who live on less than $1,000 U.S. dollars per year can be so joyful? So content? So at peace?

The answer? The joy that only God can give… the peace that Scripture says “surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:6-7)… and the contentment that is talked about in 1 Timothy 6:8, where the Apostle Paul writes, But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

As we approach this Thanksgiving Season and express our gratitude for all of God’s gracious (undeserved) gifts, let’s remember that the most important gifts are not things… but rather those intangible, invisible gifts that can only come from the hand of God Himself. Things like salvation, forgiveness, redemption, adoption (spiritual), acceptance and love – all undeserved gifts from our gracious heavenly Father.

I grew up Lutheran, and one of the traditions we had as a family was singing the Doxology before every Thanksgiving dinner. It set the tone, and it always reminded me that these “blessings” (visible and invisible) ultimately flow from God… and therefore He is to be praised.

“Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

James 1:17 says, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

As we approach Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I would share a few important thoughts on the subject of “gratitude.” These thoughts were originally shared by Randy Alcorn on his blog. Enjoy!

“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” (Romans 11:35). The answer is nobody.
 
Our culture is riddled with a poisonous spirit of entitlement. We always think we deserve more. We’re disappointed with our family, neighbors, church, the waitress, the sales clerk, and the department of motor vehicles. Ultimately we’re disappointed with God. He hasn’t given us everything we want.
 
What madness! If only we could see our situation clearly – even for a moment.
 
We deserved expulsion;
He gives us a diploma.
 
We deserved the electric chair;
He gives us a parade.
 
Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?
 
Christians in Sudan – who’ve suffered unspeakably for their faith – are deeply grateful for God’s daily blessings. But us? We whine and pout.
 
Thankfulness should draw a clear line between us and a Christ-less world. If the same spirit of entitlement and ingratitude that characterizes our culture characterizes us, what do we have to offer?
 
If I grasp that I deserve hell, I’ll be filled with gratitude not only for God’s huge blessings – including my redemption and home in heaven – but also for His smaller blessings: sun, rain, a beating heart, eyes that see, legs that walk, a mind that thinks. If I don’t have these, I’ll be overwhelmed with the knowledge that I have plenty else I don’t deserve. And because Christ allowed Himself to be crushed under the weight of my sin, I’ll enjoy forever a clear mind and perfect body.
 
Lord, help us to be thankful people. Help us to be grateful for ordinary days. And during our bad days, remind us of what you are preparing for us – endless days filled with goodness and abundance, where we will look back with amazed delight at your deliverance and look forward with anticipation of the endless wonders yet to come.
 
“…having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:7 ESV)
 
Selah.

GTN’s 10th Anniversary Vision Video

For this week’s blog post, I wanted to share Global Training Network’s brand new 10th Anniversary Vision video (which we shared for the first time at our recent Banquet). Enjoy!

 

A Few Quotes for Spiritual Encouragement

“Without Christ, not one step; with Him, anywhere!” (David Livingstone  – 19th Century Missionary to Africa)

“Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man.” (Dwight L. Moody)

“I have often repented of speech but hardly ever of silence.” (C.S. Lewis)

“The early church didn’t say, ‘Look what the world is coming to!’ They said, ‘Look what has come into the world’!” (Dr. Carl F.H. Henry)

“The God who has been sufficient until now can be trusted to the end.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“There are two kinds of people in the world: the givers and the takers. The takers tend to eat better, but the givers tend to sleep better.” (Danny Thomas)

J.I. Packer’s three-word summary of the gospel: “God saves sinners.”

“Access to God under all circumstances is guaranteed by Christ’s one sacrifice that covers all transgressions.” (J.I. Packer)

“There is great want about all Christians who have not suffered. Some flowers must be broken and bruised before they emit any fragrance.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)

“To belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with Him.”  (John Piper)

“The task before the church is to be relentlessly and winsomely Biblical. We can’t settle for slogans. We need to open our Bibles and look carefully at actual chapters and verses. If we want the world to find the truth, it starts with us being better Bereans.”  (Kevin DeYoung)

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” (William Gurnall)

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” (Martin Luther)

Charles H. Spurgeon on prayer: “The Christian should work as if it all depended on him, and pray as if it all depended on God! No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.”

“For Jesus, Scripture is powerful, decisive, and authoritative because it is nothing less than the voice of God.” (Kevin DeYoung)

“Wisdom is knowing how to live God’s way in God’s world.”  (Alistair Begg)

“May a merciful God preserve me from a Christian Church in which everyone is a saint! I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

(Martin Luther, in Luther’s Works (St. Louis, 1957), XXII:55.)

A Beautiful Doxology to use in closing a Worship Service or Bible Study…

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 24-25 NIV78)

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