Posts Tagged ‘thankful’

Circle of Blessing

November 24th, 2010

“Abundance of joy . . overflowed into the wealth of their generosity.” 2 Corinthians 8:2

“Joy that floods a thankful heart overflows in joyous liberality.”

My thoughts today are about a “circle of blessing.”

Enjoy a Blessed Thanksgiving! But remember, thanksgiving is not a day; it’s a lifestyle. Thanksgiving brings to mind the dual graces of gratitude and generosity; those two are directly related. Truly grateful people are consistently more generous people. I have observed that people who struggle with being thankful seldom find it in their heart or means to be generous with others. Since they hardly ever feel that God or anyone else has given enough to them, they feel little inclination to express thanks to God or share generously with others.

A grateful heart is the secret of true generosity of spirit, and both are choices you make. The Bible principle is this: “Freely you have received, freely also give.” Matthew 10:28 NIV. So begins and continues an endless circle of blessing for yourself and others. “You are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving . .” See 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 NIV.

Expressions of generosity begin with a heart thankful for what has been given or done for you. Most of us learn to give by either receiving such undeserved generosity until we cannot ourselves withhold when having the ability and opportunity to give to another, or by experiencing the overflowing joy that comes to those who live liberally and give generously.

“Just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8.7 NIV. In the context of this verse, Paul used the example of Christ-followers in Philippi to encourage those in Corinth to discover their joy in a lifestyle of liberality.

Notice the remarkable description of these truly generous people: “Their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity.” 2 Corinthians 8:2. Joy doesn’t come because you want it;  joy comes when you choose it. Unhappy people are not generous in character or conduct, and generous people are not unhappy. Joy that floods a thankful heart overflows in joyous liberality.

Generosity is overflowing, not sparing. These joyful, generous folk gave “according to their ability, and beyond their ability.” 2 Corinthians 8:3. Giving must overflow from a thankful heart in the measure you have received, or you will restrict the amount you feel you can afford without being the poorer for it. You are richer, never poorer, when you give as unto the Lord.

Generosity begins with yourself, and then involves your resources. “They first gave themselves to the Lord, and then gave to us by the will of God.” 2 Corinthians 8:5.  If you do not first know that you belong to the Lord, then you will not believe that what you have belongs to Him, to be shared.

Generosity recognizes everything belongs to God. “they . . gave to us by the will of God.” 2 Corinthians 8:5. If you belong to Him and He is the Source of all you receive, how can anything you possess be unavailable to His direction?

Generosity is a grace where you can excel, however much or little you have. “As you excel in everything . . also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7. What you have been given is with grace and generosity – practical evidence of God’s gracious kindness and generous provision; what you give must be with grace and generosity as well.

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Thriving and Thankful

October 26th, 2010

“Grow in faith . . let your life overflow with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:7 NLT

“Thankfulness overflows from anticipation of the good God is yet to do.”

My thoughts today are about “thriving and thankful.”

In the wear and tear of everyday life, there are a lot of things that can challenge one’s faith. It is not your faith in God as that relates to salvation; that is usually pretty solid for most. The struggle is more often in the arena of trusting God for daily needs, and being confident of His specific help in the times and things when you feel at the mercy of circumstances beyond your control.

Logically, we could reason that a God, who can and would save us from our sins, could certainly handle our distresses. Somehow, pain throws logic out the window for most of us much of the time. It is sometimes hard to hold fast to your faith about wondrous possibilities when struggling with some pretty harsh realities that squeeze into your life experience. The Apostle Paul’s experience encourages you that God will provide sufficient grace and strength to be strong in faith. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV.

Life does not always fit neatly into your profession of faith at those moments when life is scary and its more immediate outcome seems uncertain. If life were easy, I guess that you might think you could do it without God, and would probably try to do so on your own terms. At such times, you can learn to be “strengthened in faith . . overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 NIV.

Often you might think of thanksgiving as a response to something good that has already happened. Might I suggest that the sign of a growing faith is the ability to “overflow with thanksgiving” out of your strong faith’s anticipation of the good that God is yet to do? Abraham looked at the total impossibility of God’s promise, yet “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Read Romans 4:16-21 NIV. Overflowing with thankfulness, he was strengthened in faith as he anticipated that God would do what was consistent with His character and faithfulness.

My friend, Kenny, often said, “If you will keep the faith, the day will come when your faith will keep you when the days are difficult!” I have found that to be true. When you can’t find faith for the circumstance of the moment, plant your faith in the unchanging character and promises of God that await you. Though Paul faced the certainty of his death, he confidently wrote these words from prison, “I have fought a good fight . . I have kept the faith. Now I know there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NIV.

“And now just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to Him. Let your roots grow down deep into Him and draw nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.” Colossians 2:6-7 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that your life overflows in thankfulness to God everyday.

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Remembering Thankfully

July 23rd, 2009

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Philippians 1:3 NLT

“Without others every life would somehow have been different, somehow less.”

My thoughts today are about remembering thankfully.”

Who is it in your life that brings warm thoughts to your heart when they come to mind? There probably should be a number of folk that fit that description for each one of us. People will touch you across a lifetime; many leave their fingerprints of kindness and helpfulness. At one point or another, in one way or another, those people shape what you are becoming.

My birthday was a few days ago, and my family and friends were most kind to me. Of all the generosity shown to me last weekend, the thing most satisfying was the words spoken and written that expressed I had somehow been allowed to touch their lives in some meaningful way.

As I read each of the cards our church families had given – the printed sentiments they had chosen and the personal notes they had penned – their faces came fondly to mind, as did memories of our times together, some joyous and some challenging but grateful for all. I found myself remembering thankfully how they had touched my life with their blessing. Without any one of them my life would somehow have been different – somehow less.

From prison the aged Apostle writes somewhat wistfully, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to God.” Philippians 1:3 NLT. In all the powerful words that flowed from his pen, his introduction to the Christians at Philippi is different, sounding more personal and tender, and written to friends. They were in his heart, easily came to his mind, and readily spilled out in his praise. As names and faces came to mind, Paul found himself giving God thanks for them.

Who comes to mind that releases your thanksgiving to God? Such an inventory is a good and necessary thing. Whose generous investment of themselves is the reason for the dividends you daily enjoy? Your heart will be more full and your life richer when you thankfully remember the ones who have made you who you are. Parents? Family? Spouse? Pastors? Teachers? Mentors? Friends? Maybe today would be the best of times to tell them – in a letter or in person – while you can and while they are there to hear that.

I guess birthdays that note the journey of one’s life and mark the milestones along the way are a time for reflection. My reflection is of a path strewn with blessings I did not earn and grace I could not have demanded. I think I know a little more of what the Psalmist David was feeling when he wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6 NKJV. I will remember thankfully the generosity of God and the graciousness of people who have touched and blessed my everyday life.

My thanks to God today is for those whose life contributed so much more than I could repay.

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Keep Looking Up

May 20th, 2009

“She straightened up, and praised God.” Luke 13:13 NIV

“Head held high! That’s how you want to live – thankful, joyful, expectant, free and fully alive.”

My thoughts today are to “keep looking up.”

Imagine living everyday for eighteen years during which an infirmity had twisted your body until you were physically contorted, unable to stand up straight. I think that would be terrible, a struggle to lift your head, an added difficulty to the simplest tasks – looking down all the time, seeing only the dirt and trash beneath your feet, seeing only the unlovely and unable to see the beauty above and around you.

That’s what a lady in the Bible experienced until she met Jesus. The Bible says, “There was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.” Luke 13:11 NIV. Tragically, that is an apt description of too many people, unable to help themselves – not knowing to look up. There was quite a difference when my mom told me to “stand up straight,” and when my dad told me to “straighten up!” For some folk doing either of those is not possible for them.

At first you may think that unusual, but consider how many people live their life that way, but often without anyone’s notice. On the outside they look as normal as anyone else, but on the inside life has damaged and twisted their spirit so badly that emotionally and spiritually their outlook seems always down. They expect the worst and life lives up to their expectations.

Their perspective of life has been afflicted by their experiences in life. Disappointed and hurt by others, they hold on to the hurts and miss seeing the ones who could, and would love them. Discouraged by how things have gone, they imagine tomorrow to be no different. Such people live everyday looking over their shoulder at all the residue of their past, rather than looking ahead with hope and expectation. They are captives of the memory of every pain and hurt they have known. It is sad when people have been bent over until they have become bound.

“When Jesus saw her, He called to her, ‘You are healed of your sickness.’ Then Jesus touched her and immediately she could stand up straight. How she praised and thanked God.” Luke 13:13 NLT. In an instant everything about her life changed. The days ahead of her were suddenly filled with wonderful possibilities and opportunities that she could not previously consider. Today, would you like for that to be more true of you?

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Leviticus 26:13 NIV. God spoke those words to a people who had lived in oppressive slavery for generations until their spirits were broken and beaten down, as surely as the woman physically affected by a spirit of infirmity. (See Exodus 6:9 NIV).  Is it time for you to “straighten up”?

Head held high! That’s how you want to live. Thankful, joyful, expectant, free and fully alive. Here’s how. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2 NKJV. See Psalm 121:1-8 NLT.

My prayer for you today is to be able to hope for and see the best.

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