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My wife and I are trying (desperately) to teach both thankfulness and prayer to our two boys. My eldest son has a hard time with both of these (must take after his dad). After our family Bible story each evening we go around and pray and all we ask for now is that they say one thing they are thankful. Luke was thankful for being able to go to the park yesterday, but Jack said he didn’t have anything. After pressing him, he was thankful for “the day”.
Why is it so easy to feel entitled to things and take blessings for granted?
I know, sin. I think it also has to do with the fact that, as Craig Groeschel puts it, “we believe in God, but live as if he doesn’t exist.” Thankfulness is something that comes out of a heart that understands and appreciates the gift given. Prayer is an outpouring of our need and true belief in God. If we expect blessing and feel entitled, we won’t be thankful, and if are not thankful, we will probably not see a need for God, or need for prayer.
I fully point the finger at myself on both of these counts. Having grown up in the church, as well as in a middle-class home, I felt a certain amount of entitlement both spiritually and externally. I was like the elder son in the parable of the prodigal sons – I didn’t want the Father any more than the younger son, I just wanted him for what I was going to inherit and kept “slaving away”.
So what to do about my son’s (any my) lack of thankfulness and desire to pray? In his first session from The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel says that to know God better, seek him. If you seek him, he will reveal himself to you. It seems that going through the work of daily counting our blessings and setting aside specific time to pray will help. Another idea came from my pastor while teaching on Ephesians this weekend. Take yourself under the wing of a prayer mentor from the Bible. Look at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 1. Paul says, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Look how Paul prays, and use this prayer as a template of sorts. Pray that you would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that God would reveal himself to you. Pray that you would see the hope of who you are in Christ and what he has called us to be.
This is what I told Jack last night. That sin keeps us from being thankful, and when we are not thankful we listen to the snake (Satan). But when we are thankful, we listen to Jesus and defeat the snake.
…I don’t think so, but you can now download any individual session from any of 20 small group Bible studies now on ChristianBook.com. Download an entire study, or cherry pick different sessions from different studies and create your own study. Pick from best-selling small group studies like The Reason for God, When God’s People Pray, Surprised by Hope, The Christian Atheist, The Story, and others!
Each video download is available for purchase for only $2.99 and you get both mp4 and .mov formats (depending if you would like to play it on your mobile device or need high-definition, respectively). If you would like the corresponding participant’s guide session in PDF, that is bundled with many for $4.99 a session.
So head on over ChristianBook.com and see what’s available. Let us know which sessions you pick out and what you think of the experience!
Also be sure also to visit and subscribe to the Small Group Bible Study playlist on YouTube. There are nearly 100 full-length sessions available for free to view from authors and pastors like Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and Timothy Keller.
My 4-year-old has a curious word choice as he plays with his toys. He recently got into batman, and his grandparents gave him some action figures this past Christmas. So when he is playing, he says that the joker is coming for batman to “distract” him. He means destroy but he is much more familiar with the word distract.
Over the weekend, I thought that the joker in our story, the devil, does the same thing. he means to destroy us, but (one way) he does so with distractions. How often have I done less for the kingdom merely because I was distracted? Too often, I’m afraid to admit.
As I mentioned yesterday, I have never been very political. I believe that God calls us to be good citizens, and to take our responsibility seriously as citizens. That said, many times it seems that politics distracts us from who our allegiance really belongs to.
In Jesus for President, Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw say that “having power at its fingertips, the church often finds ‘guiding the course of history’ a more alluring goal than following the crucified Christ.” Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be political, just that we should remember that our hope does not rest in the governmental systems and people of the world, but in the one, true King. He places monarchs and dictators and presidents and gives them their position.
I just finished reading through the book of Jeremiah, and in 43.10, God says, “Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them.” (emphasis mine). God is sovereign over all and to whom our allegiance ultimately lies.
In this voting year, let’s remember to love one another, to be respectful, and to serve Jesus. As Shane Claiborne says, “enough donkeys and elephants. It’s time for the Lamb.”
See below to watch the first portion of the Jesus for President Tour Film, and visit our playlist on YouTube for first sessions of over 75 new and best-selling curriculum for free.
We have some great small group Bible studies on the topic of love and marriage from some of the best communicators – Gary Thomas, Andy Stanley, Les and Leslie Parrot, and John and Stasi Eldredge. We’ve put many of our small group Bible study sessions up on YouTube. Now, we’ve separated out the ones on love and marriage on their own playlist – group bible studies on marriage. Watch the first session of Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts, Staying in Love, Sacred Marriage, Your Time-Starved Marriage, and more.
My wife and I have gone through each of these together at some point in our 9 years together and really appreciated each one. Most recently, we went through Sacred Marriage together. In this small group Bible study, Gary Thomas helps you discover a deeper intimacy with God through your marriage. He asks the question, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Here is session 1:
How do you react to the idea that God may have designed marriage to make us holy even more than to make us happy?
Wednesday, Mark Batterson wrote about storming the gates of Hell through bold, audacious prayers. He spoke of 30+ Circle Maker groups at his church and working through it as a sermon series. Your church can do the same thing. The Circle Maker is designed as a churchwide campaign. It’s time to be on offense against the gates of Hell, and our greatest weapon is prayer.
Begin a church experience where your whole congregation learns together how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities and through it all bring glory to God. The Circle Maker is a four-week church-wide experience and small-group video study, in which you and your congregation gain a deeper understanding of prayer and, in turn, make a more consistent practice of prayer.
The Circle Maker gives viewers new vocabulary and methodology to pray with a holy confidence. It will help participants dream big, pray hard and think long. According to Mark Batterson, “Drawing prayer circles around our dreams isn’t just a mechanism whereby we accomplish great things for God. It’s a mechanism whereby God accomplishes great things in us.”
You can launch a churchwide campaign at any time. This four-week preaching and small group study is especially effective for those times of the year when you would like to reach out to your community through a special series.
Would knowing that your prayers will be answered change the way you pray? The Circle Maker shares powerful insights from the true legend of Honi the Circle Maker, a believer who prayed miracles would happen to the people of God—and then they fell from the heavens like rain. Bring your God-given dreams into being through bold, tenacious prayers that honor God and make the impossible come true.
Visit www.Zondervan.com/ChurchSource or call 800.727.3480 for case quantity discounts of 40-50% off.
Have you ever watched a trailer for a movie and then watched the movie and realized that the trailer was either the best part of the movie, or that it told you nothing of the real plot of the movie? well, curriculum trailers are not like that, but sometimes watching the 90-120 second trailer isn’t just enough to know if you want to spend 4-12 weeks with an author, topic, or study.
However, the first session is a good indicator of what the rest of the curriculum will be like, so we are making the first sessions of our video-based curriculum available for free on YouTube. As of today we have 17 different full sessions loaded on a playlist and will be adding more and more until they are all available.
Watch curriculum sessions from bestselling authors like John Ortberg, Bill Hybels, Jim Cymbala, Craig Groeschel, Andy Stanley, Lysa TerKeurst, and others. Then, if you like what you see, you can visit Amazon, CBD.com, BN.com or your local retailer and get the DVD and Participant’s Guides for yourself or your small group.