Monday, November 21, 2011

Seven Ways that Gratitude Creates Peace

In the entryway of my friend’s home are the words of George Herbert: “O Lord thou hast given so much to me. Give me one more thing, a grateful heart.” Gratitude reminds us that every good thing we enjoy is a gift from God. It teaches us that although we are everything to God, and He wants to bless us with peace. All that He asks is that we choose to live in a spirit of gratitude.

Gratitude produces a spirit of peace in our hearts and homes. It offers hope, happiness, and contentment to those who choose it. Meister Eckhart understood this when he wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole lives is ‘thank you,’ it is enough.”

Gratitude creates peace in eight simple but profound ways:

When we show gratitude, we stop comparing ourselves with others. As we focus on the blessings we enjoy, we fail to notice if others have more, accomplish more, or do more than we do. We recognize that we are richly blessed and that the gift of peace is a priceless one. You cannot buy peace in a store. It is freely given when our hearts are filled with thanksgiving.

When we are grateful, we live in the moment. We do not reflect on what we lacked in the past or what we desire in the future. Today’s blessings are enough. Thornton Wilder said: “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

When we express gratitude, we celebrate the good in ourselves and others. When we notice the kindness, generosity and compassion of others, we overlook their weaknesses and frailties. Everyone has some quality or gift for which we can be grateful. Even our enemies become our teachers when choose forgiveness instead of bitterness.

When we show gratitude, we savor the simple blessings of life. As we enjoy the beauty of a sunset or the smile of a child, we realize that we are rich indeed. Each breath we take is a gift from God, and there is always something for which we can be thankful. Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.”

When we express gratitude, we remember that a Higher Power loves us. As we thank God for the blessings we receive, we invite His Spirit and His love into our hearts. His love fills us with happiness and peace. His love can heal the world when our hearts are knit together in love for one another.
When we are grateful, we remember that we receive more than we give. We can never outdo God in giving.

Even the most generous person cannot match the bounties of God’s endless goodness. The air we breathe, the light and water that nourishes each plant, the food we eat, each precious moment on earth is a gift from God. As we attempt to repay Him for His bounteous gifts, He immediately blesses us, and we are constantly in His debt. God blesses us so abundantly and merely asks for our gratitude—and our hearts filled with love for Him and for others.

When we show gratitude, we delight in the mercies that God shows us. God loves to forgive His repentant children. He waits to give us those things that will help us become more like Him. Although life may be difficult, He wants us to learn from our struggles and sorrows. As we ask for His help and trust in His loving kindness, He gives us the strength to overcome our weaknesses. He wants to envelop us in the arms of His love.

Melodie Beattie wrote: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity….It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Happy Thanksgiving! May you find peace this day and always.

&copy Carol Brown

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Peace of Gratitude

Living in a spirit of gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to achieve greater peace of mind—and also one of the easiest. It isn’t hard to look around you and find others whose life is much harder than you own. Even my friend, Beth, who was paralyzed and suffered more than any person I have known, lived in a continual spirit of gratitude for the blessings she enjoyed. When she had a really bad day, she allowed herself no more than half an hour to feel sorry for herself, and then moved on!

Beth had a miserable childhood. Her mother resented her, saying Beth was the reason she had to get married. She was raped as a child by a babysitter, and when she reported the abuse to her parents, she was accused of lying. When she was a teen-ager, cancer ate through her spine and eventually destroyed the use of her legs. A certified teacher, she was not hired because of her disability, so she created beautiful art, taught children in her home, and became a world-class wife and mother. My children were some of the benefactors of her amazing talents.

Although she often developed huge bedsores that required hospitalization, struggled with terrible infections, and suffered with two bouts of cancer and other health challenges, Beth is one of the most cheerful persons I have ever known. When cancer returned, she endured the suffering and pain with courage and grace until the illness took her life.

Beth taught me to live in the present, to savor life, and to love those around us, even when they are difficult to love. She taught me to be thankful for the little things—the smile of a friend, a small act of kindness, a moment of laughter, the song of birds, and the artistry of a shadow that moves across the wall. She taught me to live in a spirit of gratitude.

I grew up without central heating, electric washers and dryers, air conditioning in homes or cars, a television, and countless other things that many consider to be necessities today, and yet I was a happy child. Because my father had survived a terrible car accident that left him disabled, he lost his career, his home, and his wealth, but he never lost His faith in God, his love for life, and his love for family and friends. He taught me to enjoy the journey, even when it’s difficult.

I lost Beth and my father to cancer many years ago but their beautiful, ebullient spirits live in my heart. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, please reflect on the simple blessings that you enjoy. If you have someone who loves you, praise the Lord. If you enjoy the necessities of life, thank God. If you recognize His love in your life, you are rich beyond measure.

With David, I rejoice: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”(Psalm 42:5).

© Carol Brown

Friday, November 11, 2011

How to Remove Peace-stealers

Thoughts, circumstances, and challenges can destroy our peace if we allow them to do so. Peace is a precious gift from God and needs careful nurturing. Consider the things that steal our peace:

• Comparing our appearance, personality, talents, accomplishments, or possessions with others

• Focusing on the faults of others

• Ignoring our own strengths

• Harboring thoughts of self-pity, shame, bitterness, or negativity

• Ingratitude

• Feeling that no one loves us or cares about us

• Believing that we are worthless, useless, unable to change, a product of our environment, or damaged

• Assuming that God does not know us, value us, love us, or cherish us

So, how to do eliminate the peace-stealers from our lives so that we can be peace-givers? We begin by centering our hearts and minds on our loving Father. As we study His words and become acquainted with Him through prayer and meditation, we discover that He loves us more than we can imagine and that He wants us to live in a spirit of peace, even when times are difficult.

Next, we allow God’s love to permeate the broken parts of our hearts. We give Him our guilt, shame, pain, bitterness, and burdens and allow Him to heal us. We ask for His forgiveness when we make mistakes. He ask for His help when we feel weak or overwhelmed. We seek to better understand His infinite love when we feel alone or afraid.

Finally, we remember to live with a spirit of gratitude and contentment. We focus of the blessings we enjoy and trust that God is carrying us each moment of our lives. As we savor the bounties of His love, we share that love with others—through our smiles, service, prayers, and loving thoughts.

Remember , Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Today, choose to enjoy the peace of God’s abundant love for you.

© Carol Brown

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God's Infinite Love Gives Us Peace

Amid the sorrows of life, God's perfect love gives us solace and peace. As we feast on His words, bask in His love, and focus on His loving qualities, He enfolds us in His arms of love. Because He has suffered all, He understands all of our suffering and knows how to succor us. These descriptions of God's unfailing and infinite love for each one of us can help us find peace amid sorrow:

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever (Psalm 52:8).

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger,abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).

Give thanks to the God of heaven for His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136:26).

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49:13-16).

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-5).

Listen to me, whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you (Isaiah 46:4-6).

I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their Savior. in all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old(Isaiah 63:7-9).

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love (John 15:9).

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you(1 Peter 5:7).

Today, as you reflect on God's perfect love for you personally, let that love remove all worries, fears, and concerns from your heart. Today, as you bask in His love, allow Him to give you peace.

© Carol Brown

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Biblical Tips for Finding Inner Peace

The Bible contains powerful ways that can help anyone experience greater peace of mind. God wants each of His children to be happy, and in the Bible, we find helpful tips to find peace amid the sorrows of life.

Listen to the Lord. “ I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people “ (Psalm 85:8 NLV). We hear God’s voice when we read His words and heed the promptings of the Spirit. God’s word helps us to feast on God’s perfect love for us and teaches us how to become more like Him, which promotes inner peace.

Trust in God. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLV ) When we focus on thoughts on Christ and trust that He loves us and cares for us, He eases our burdens and binds up our broken hearts. God knows us and understands the challenges, trials, and sorrows that we experience. We are HIs precious children, and He will strength and bless us as we trust in Him.

Don’t fear. Before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLV). Shortly before He was crucified, Jesus’ counseled His follower to love others as He loved them. When we live in a spirit of love, that love casts out fear.

Do good. “Glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good….for God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:10 NIV). When we serve others, make good choices, and keep the commandments, God blesses us with inner peace, which is a gift of the Spirit.

Be spiritually minded. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6 KJV). As we center our thoughts on the Savior and on things that are good, virtuous, and lovely, we are spiritually minded. Then the gifts of the Spirit--which include love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness-- can fill our hearts with peace.

Centering our hearts on God creates peace. As we think about Him, follow Him, love Him, and obey Him, He gives us the gift of peace—even when our lives are filled with suffering and sorrow. He asks us to come to Him when we feel burdened and overwhelmed and promises that He will give us rest, peace, and comfort. What a wonderful promise!

© Carol Brown