Prepare Ye The Way!

For the Love of the Spirit

Praise, Gratitude, and Love

Greetings!

It has been three weeks since my last posting here and a great deal has happened.  I went to a regional conference of my church denomination — American Baptist Churches — USA — and I have moved positively toward bringing ministry to the male inmates of Albemarle/Charlottesville Regional Jail.  I am waiting to hear from the Director of Jail Programs to set up the first trip to the institution.

With two other church members and with acknowledgment of Pastor Liz Emrey of New Beginnings Christian Community, ideas have been floated and are being prayed on and researched for church fund raising events and a committee to plan and organize.

In addition, I am still trying to get the website up for the ministry associated with this blog — Spirit of Love — but am stymied by tragically slow connection speed and connection interruptions.   Please continue to pray for all these concerns as you are moved by the Holy Spirit of the infinitely loving God.

O.K. Announcements are out of the way.  I will turn now to the theme of this article — Praise, Gratitude, and Love.

As I get into the text I would like you to keep in mind three questions;

  • For what am I grateful,
  • Why should I give praise to God, and
  • How does the love of God affect my life?

Praise, Gratitude, and Love

To begin, let’s distinguish between “gratitude” and “praise.”  “Gratitude” is a feeling.  “Praise” is a physical act which springs from the feeling.  If I am homeless and hungry and you give me food, I may feel grateful.  If I tell you how thankful I am and how I believe you are a good person for doing it, then I am offering my gratitude to you in the form of praise.  If I say “God bless you” for your deed, then I am praising you to God and invoking his blessings on you for your love and generosity.

If I feel grateful for nothing, then I certainly will not be offering any praise to God or anyone or anything else for that matter.  All of us have heard the expression, “Thanks for nothing!”  This of course can only be taken to be sarcastic for it is illogical to offer gratitude or praise when nothing is given.

The Ungrateful

Many of us spend much of our lives with a profound lack of gratitude.  So many people in the world either do not have enough of what they  need that it seems that there is very little for which to be thankful.  This ranges from the very worst examples of those in third world countries who are literally starving to death and die in large numbers from infant mortality to rampant diseases made exponentially worse by lack of medicine and health care.  We can understand and deeply sympathize with these unfortunates.  How can we blame anyone living and dying in these conditions for a lack of gratitude?

At the other end of the spectrum, are those people who have access to many of the good things of life in the developed world but still are in misery because they don’t see anything for which to be grateful.  For many decades, I was one of these individuals.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.Lk 6:35 (NIV)

I was born and raised with many of the advantages of life.  I was a citizen of the United States.  I never wanted for food or shelter.  I was healthy and had good access to health care.  I was relatively secure in my person and belongings, as I was protected by a loving mother and father and living in a society that provided protection under an equitable system of justice.  In addition, I enjoyed many luxuries.  My family was not wealthy but neither were we poor.  I wore new clothes and had music and television constantly available.  My family had a car and when I was old enough to drive, I was allowed to drive the family car.  When I could afford one of my own I had my own transportation.  We went on vacations at least once a year and dined out as well as went to outside entertainment events including weekend music festivals.

Yet, from the time I was a very young man until my 50th year, I was profoundly unhappy.  I was saved at an early age and believed in God without question, but I also slipped into alcoholism at an early age as well.  I blamed others for my failure to succeed at anything.  The worse my alcoholism became, and the more my personal problems increased because of it, the more my lack of gratitude increased, until it became nearly total.  I failed to feel gratitude or give thanks for anything that God provided me, because I mistakenly believed that God had given me nothing.

When I truly reached the point where I had next to nothing, when even my physical health and sanity were deserting me, I reached back out to God.  I was down to the very last thing for which I truly could be grateful at that point in a very miserable state of existence, and that one thing was the Love of the Holy Spirit.  Even then I did not cry out with a feeling of gratitude.  It was more a cry of final desperation.

The SPLIT SECOND I made that cry and pleaded with God to remove the demon and the disease, the love of the being who allowed his own son to be tortured and killed for my sake reached into my chest and yanked out the writhing blackness that was rotting me inside.  Body, mind, and soul were at near death.  The moment of the black departure was followed immediately by an inrushing of incredible brightness and love and outrushing gratitude.  I shouted HALLELUJAH! It was my first expression of praise to a merciful and gracious God in decades.  It was certainly not to be my last.  From that day nearly five years ago to this, I praise the Spirit that loved the wretched, sinful man I was enough, to step down from his place in paradise and rescue me.

(to be continued)

Praise, Love, and Gratitude: Part 2

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October 20, 2011 - Posted by | Love, Praise | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] (continued from Praise, Gratitude, and Love: Part 1) […]

    Pingback by Praise, Gratitude, and Love: Part 2 « loveofthespirit | October 20, 2011 | Reply


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