Preaching Articles

I’m sure you have sermons in your files about the topic of gratitude.  I’m confident that you regularly remind your congregation that we should live with humble gratitude because we have been forgiven.  Every time we celebrate communion, it is an experience in gratitude.

But how about you?  Does gratitude flavor your life?  Are the words that flow from your lips and the thoughts that race through your mind marked by gratitude?

Over the last 30 days, if you were to give yourself a gratitude grade, what would it be? Better yet, if your spouse or close friend were to give you a grade for gratitude in your life, what do you think it would be?  Would they say that your life overflows with gratitude?  Take a moment to honestly asses the last month.

In Colossians 2:7 Paul talks about our lives overflowing with gratitude.

For you as a pastor, what does a life overflowing with gratitude look like?

In this article I want to give you a simple sentence to remember and reflect on this week. Here is the first half of the sentence…

When the grace flows in . . .

It all starts with grace.  It’s a word we toss around quite freely, and probably finds it way into our sermons most every week.  But when is the last time you thought about meaning, magnitude and majesty of God’s grace FOR YOU.  

Pastor, God is for you.  Not may be, not has been, not was, not would be, but God IS for you.  Right now.  No matter what your current situation.   Today.  At this hour.  No need to wait in line or come back tomorrow.  No matter how you mess up today or tomorrow.  He is for you.

“God is for you.  Had he a calendar, your birthday would be circled.

If he drove a car, your name would be on his bumper.

If there is a tree in heaven, he’s carved your name in the bark”

––Max Lucado

Bound up in who God is the inclination to bestow goodness and gifts on undeserving people.  I hope you  never get over the profound reality that God has graced you to be His child and to represent Him in ministry.

When the grace flows in, the gratitude flows out.

Whenever I really understand grace, gratitude is the natural byproduct.

But, I also know from my own experience, that I can lose sight of grace.  And when that happens, my gratitude can quickly turn into grumbling.  

In his rule for monasteries, St. Benedict considered grumbling a serious offense against community life.  He says “First and foremost, there must be no word or sign of grumbling, no manifestation of it for any reason at all.”  The most wonderful line in Benedict’s rule describes the consequences for a monk who was grumbling.  “Let Father Abbot send two STOUT monks to explain the matter to him.”  If you complain and whine in the monastery you get a visit from a couple of monk bouncers.  Maybe we should implement such a strategy in our churches.  Benedict’s serious approach to grumbling demonstrates how toxic it is to us personally and to those around us.

So, what tends to flow out of you these days… grumbling or gratitude?

Are your words joyful and appreciative?  I am talking about the kind of gratitude that makes you less petty and less critical.  

Here is the really good news.  You and I get to choose gratitude.  No one else controls it.  No one else can take it away from you.  We are not victims.  Some of our greatest heroes in the Bible modeled for us how to be grateful in the worst of circumstances.  The longer we walk with Jesus, the better we should be at pastoring from a place of gratitude.

One of the lessons I am continuing to learn is that my gratitude is often linked to my ability to “stay present in the moment”.  Let me explain.  Life these days moves pretty fast.  If we are not careful, we can blow right past opportunities for gratitude to fill our soul.  We need to learn to linger.  What is something you need to linger over today that will cause gratitude to bubble up in your soul?

Psalm 118:24 (NLT)  says “This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

This is the day.  It’s interesting that the Psalmist doesn’t say, “yesterday was the day that God made.”  Nor, does he say “tomorrow is the day that God will make”.  NO!  If you are going to rejoice and be grateful, it must be in THIS DAY, because this is the day that God has made.  In fact, I want to invite you to make this week  a “NO COMPLAINT” week.

Before you move on with all your tasks and responsibilities for today, let me encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on God’s grace.  And, then take a few moments to linger over his goodness and faithfulness.  My prayer for you today is that gratitude would OVERFLOW in your life and spill out on every person you encounter today.

Lance is the founder of Replenish ministries and is often referred to as a Pastor’s Pastor.  He is also the author of the book Replenish, which is dedicated to helping leaders live and lead from a healthy soul.  Before launching Replenish, Lance served 20 years as a senior pastor and 6 years as an Executive/Teaching pastor at Saddleback Church. 

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