Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
LET US GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD
I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. Psalm 9:1
And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood. And as He was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged Him that he might be with Him. But He refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled. Mark 5: 17-20
Good morning Prayer Team!
It seems to be almost the natural human tendency to complain about the bad things in life. It seems that we often either hear or say the words “Woe is me” or something to that effect.
If we are quick to talk about what is going wrong for us, how quick are we to talk about what is going right? Do we ever go out and say “I am so thankful for my house” or is it only “ugh, I wish my house were another color” or “my house would be perfect if I had pavers on my back deck”? Do we ever go out and say “I’m so blessed to have children,” or do we only talk about when our children annoy us? Do we ever brag on our spouses, like “my husband/wife is the best,” or do we only complain about them? Do we focus on what they do, or what they don’t do?
These are some serious questions, and if we’re honest, we can probably all stand to make more of the good statements. These “good statements” pertain not only to our spouses, our children and our houses, but they pertain to the blessings we receive from God. Do we ever give public praise to God for His many blessings in our lives?
In today’s scripture verses, these verses follow the healing of a man who had been possessed by demons. Jesus healed the man by sending the demons into a herd of swine, who then ran down a steep embankment and died. The people of the town were not happy that the man had been healed. They were mad that their livestock were now dead. What was a blessing for one man, they saw as a negative for themselves.
The man who had been healed begged Jesus to be with Him. He didn’t just ask, or suggest, he begged Him, that’s how overwhelmed he was with joy and thankfulness because of the miracle Jesus gave to him. Jesus told the man, that it was not necessary that he drop everything in his life to follow, but rather that he should go out and tell people the good things that God had done for him. Jesus was calling him to evangelize, which means to share the good news of salvation. And the man eagerly did just that. He became one of the first “evangelists,” people who share the good news (evangelion) of Christ.
We are also called upon to share the good news of Christ. We are not all priests or theologians or professors of theology. Some of us may not even be well versed in scripture or Orthodox theology. The easiest thing to share about Christ are the things you are grateful for. To give God the glory for your successes, rather than just your complaints when you fail. It is important for us to declare the good things that God does for us, as witness of our faith and encouragement for others to follow suit, both with faith and with thankfulness.
Many times my thought patterns become negative, focusing on what I don’t have or on what is wrong in my life. Through prayer, I have learned to focus my thought patterns on what I do have, and on what is going right. I have also learned that God is the author of everything that is good, as we read in James 1:17, “every good endowment and ever perfect gift is from Above, coming down form the Father of lights,” and so I should live with a grateful heart, thankful for what has blessed me with.
If thankfulness is gratitude in action, then the thankful heart is also the heart that will open up to others, and share their joy at their blessings. The lesson of today is to connect gratitude, to thankfulness to a positive witness for the Lord, telling people how your life is affected in a positive way because of your relationship with Christ.
Lord, thank You for Your many blessings. Thank You for all the beautiful things, large and small, that make a positive impact on my life. Help me to see the good in everything. Help me to see Your blessings in all things. Help me to not only appreciate what You’ve given me but to remember to give glory and thanksgiving to You by talking in a positive way about the blessings You have bestowed on my life. Amen.
Tell someone about one way that God has blessed you!
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