Page 330 has been a good day filled with many reminders of God’s presence and love. After taking advantage of some great weather and opportunities to spend time with my family over the Thanksgiving break, I was up early this morning to get some cleaning done and the building ready for the Sunday gathering. As I cleaned, I continued to let the sermon for this morning simmer in my mind as I sought God’s refining Spirit to make it what He wanted.
With the building ready for the day, I went back through my sermon outline before driving to Dowagiac to worship with the church family there. As we sang praises to God, different ones shared how thankful they are for the church family and for the work God has done through Jesus. The message I shared this morning used 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 as its primary text — a text that, at least the first part, is often used in regard to financial giving. Yet woven through that section of text is the concept of thankfulness that ought to be a part of all giving, whether it is giving that we do or giving that we receive. With that in mind, the message this morning considered four qualities that ought to be present as we “GIVE Thanks”.
- Generous Thanks: While the teaching, “Whoever sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly”, definitely applies to how we use our money, I believe it also applies to our need to be generous with our thanks if we expect others to appreciate us. When we look for opportunities to say, “Thank you”, we find that they abound almost everywhere. If we don’t find ourselves giving thanks, and saying thanks, on a regular basis, it is not due to a lack of reasons. It is far too easy to let pride creep into our life and steal our gratitude as we begin to believe we deserve whatever good that is done to, or for, us. When we are generous with our thanks, we find that we no longer keep score as we reap even more than we sow.
- Intentional Thanks: When it comes to financial giving, we often hear that “each one should give what he has decided in his heart.” The idea is to be intentional about our giving so that it comes from a pure heart and not motivated by pressure from others, selfishness, or guilt. I believe the same concept applies to being intentional about our giving thanks. When we are intentional, not only do we look for the opportunities to give thanks, we have a plan to actually do so when those opportunities arise and even when they don’t. It is easy to assume that people understand the thank you we ought to say but don’t. Being intentional means that we go ahead and say it in order to remove all doubt about our gratitude.
- Vertical Thanks: Because “every good and perfect gift comes from above”, it is imperative that our giving thanks always has a vertical element to it. In fact, it is through living a life filled with vertical thanks to God that we begin to understand how thankful we ought to be. It is our vertical thanks that helps us to maintain the perspective we need. A life filled with horizontal thanks — the thanking of other people — is great, but it needs the vertical component to help us always remember the true source of all that is good. Paul was constantly giving vertical thanks to God for the work He did through the people even as he was also thanking the people.
- Expressive Thanks: In our mind we can be generous, intentional, and even vertical with our thanks but if we never express it, does it ever become real? While the simple words, “Thank you”, can go a long way in making our thanks known, the ways in which we express those words can be nearly endless. Notes, cards, phone calls, visits, gifts, and so much more can all express our thanks with an impact well beyond the size of effort. While creativity is good, it is not a requirement. Expressive thanks should not be a contest to “out-thank” others, rather it should be an outpouring of our heart as it reaches out in gratitude to God and to people.
After the church service I grabbed lunch on the go from a drive-thru as I made my way to visit a friend in the hospital. While I’m not a fan of hospitals, or medical facilities of any kind, they serve a great purpose and there are times I have to overcome my tendency to pass out at such places in order to visit and encourage friends. Fortunately I’ve learned that food ahead of time tends to help me, so I had a good visit and was able to avoid becoming a patient. 🙂
By the time I finally made it home, I spent some time relaxing before going out to do some work outside and in the garage. As I was outside late in the afternoon I noticed the moon in the sky overhead. The overlapping schedules of the sun and moon fascinate me and I went inside to get my camera to take a few photos. Today’s photo is of the late afternoon moon as the sun was shining brightly on its western face. It made me think about my life’s journey. While life may rise and set at times which seem random to me; it doesn’t matter where I am in my journey, if I keep my face toward God, His light will always shine upon me.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- God’s desire is to reveal Himself to all who seek Him. “If you seek Me you will find me when you seek me with your whole heart.”
- Even early morning work hours were a reminder of how God has shared His goodness with me over the past few days.
- Sharing God’s Word is a privilege, an honor, and a great responsibility among other things and yet God calls each of us to share it with someone.
- Our heart of giving can probably be measured by how we give thanks.
- Generosity is not just about money and possessions — it’s about a way of life.
- Having good intentions is not the same as being intentional about what we do.
- Our relationships with others will never be what they ought to be until we take care of our vertical relationship with God.
- Having feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving may be a start, but those feelings don’t have a lot of value until we express them.
- Sometimes we must overcome our fears and weaknesses in order to be a blessing to others.
- God’s light is always shining. The only way it doesn’t shine upon my face is if I turn away from it.