First Thanks, Then Giving

I love the Thanksgiving season. Time to reflect, enjoy and spend cherished moments with family. Whether that be around a dinner table, at a special location or at a family member’s home. For some this year, holidays may not be a time that has been anticipated but a time that brings great sorrow for a loved one that isn’t present around the “table” this Thanksgiving. Whichever situation you find yourself in this season, we can all choose to make this Thanksgiving the most memorable one yet.

As I began to think on the word Thanksgiving, being the teacher that I am, I started to break apart the word. “Thanks”, “giving”. Not only is it a time for great thanks but it is also a time for great giving. What if we stopped not to think upon what we’re going to gain from this Thanksgiving but instead, chose to think about what we can do for others. No matter if this is a time of sorrow or a time of joy, we can choose in either situation to give, out of the abundance that we have been given.

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In God’s Word there are many instances where various people chose to give thanks but one instance, in a room filled with His closest friends, Jesus gives us direction in regard to giving thanks.

“He took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves.”

Luke 22:17

In reading this verse, a few things Jesus chose to do should be our guide in giving thanks this Thanksgiving.

  1. Give Thanks

It sounds so simple but how often we choose to meander through our days without stopping to give thanks for the blessings God grants us each and everyday. The air we breathe, the house we live in, the food we eat, the shoes we put on our feet. All blessings granted by our gracious God! One thing God has been teaching me lately is that He never guaranteed that when I became a child of His, I would have the necessities of life, but He chooses to bless me with them. Me, even me.

2.  Accept or Take His Blessing

The necessities of life, that we just discussed, are not earned but freely given by a loving God. He, the Creator, loves His creation so much that He chooses to lay out blessings before us. We can choose each day to accept those blessings or reject them. I’m sure we can each think of family members that have rejected the blessings of God. Whether it be a wandering son or daughter, husband or wife. However, not only are they quick to reject His blessings, but we as believers can choose to reject His blessings as well when we fail to take part in His will for our lives. Our days can go by with us choosing to go our own way instead of God’s way full of blessings with each obedient step. One obedient step would be to take part in God’s way this Thanksgiving, share His good news with those wayward family members. Another way would be to follow His lead and listen to what He would have you do in order to bless others with food or encouragement. Who then would be receiving the bigger blessing?

3. Divide or Give Among You

Blessings are even more joyous when we have the opportunity to share them with others. What a miraculous event a child being born is but it is even more joyous when family and friends come to celebrate and share in the special day. How wonderful it is when a child comes to Christ, but how much more joy we receive when we share the occasion with others. Choose this Thanksgiving to divide, share or give blessings to others. Whether that be the blessing of food to a needy family, a kind word or encouragement to a hurting friend or family member during this season, or the gift of Jesus to a wandering heart. Choose to share out of what has already been given to you.

 

Give thanks, accept the blessing and then divide it among you.

The night before Christ gave it all, He chose to spend it modeling what it truly meant to give thanks. Around a table, with His closest friends sharing in His blessing and enjoying a meal.

Let us choose to do the same.

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The Comforts of “Church”

What a month it has been.

Returning from Uganda and getting back to the American lifestyle has been quite different. Everything, relaxing on the couch, eating a meal, driving a vehicle, going to church all have a new meaning that wasn’t there before. In Uganda, relaxing was more of a time to build relationships and be surrounded by others so now that I am back home, relaxing is a completely different task. Eating a meal in Uganda consisted of different food, a different setting and a time of bonding with the family. Dinner time in America is fast paced, rushed and all about preparing for the tasks ahead. Driving a vehicle is different, because traveling over there is done through mostly walking and riding a bus. Also, the roads are dirt so driving to and from consists of many bumps and rough terrain. The last adjustment that caused some getting used to was attending a place of worship. Reflecting on attending church in Uganda  and America are two entirely different experiences. This experience is one that I will never forget and will always hold a sweet place in my heart.

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Church.

what does it mean to you?

Comfort. One of the major factors in attending church.

It exists from the entrance of the building to the exiting of the service.

What if all of the “comfort” of the church was stripped away?

If the church building was not confined to a building that looked pleasant on the outside with glass doors and a large parking lot was instead a fence of boards covered with a pieced together tine roof?

Would you attend?

What if instead of having a padded pew or chair to sit in, there was a piece of bark holding you up from the ground?

What if there was no clock in the building there was the Spirit of God that determined the length of the service?

How about the heat or coolness of the building; would a hot Summers breeze be enough to get you to stay?

What if instead of living in the comfort of the same pastor getting up to lead a service there were hours and days of testimonies given from the congregation about what God is doing in their lives?

Would you stay and listen?

What about the offering plate, would a dirty bucket or basket at the front of the room suffice to place your money?

What if instead of tithing 10% of what you had “in dollars” turned into 10% of ALL you had such as food and clothing?

What if the congregation wearing their best to church was stripped away to wearing all you have to church?

Would you stop and stare or love and share?

Through just these few experiences in Uganda, I have grown to not just attend church based on the comfort level but attending church because God’s presence is present in His people and with His children.

Church now has a new meaning to me upon discussing the topic and entering the building.

Comfort is something that is not placed on my list when it comes to attending God’s house.

Comfort means to be at home with my Jesus and my church family.

You see, God never promised that coming to Him would be comfortable.

He promises that in Him you will find your comfort, not in a building.

(Ephesians 2: 19-22)

(Hebrews 1-:25)