“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11, NLT).
When rich people give away money and possessions, we look at them and think, well that’s easy for them, they have plenty. When the not so rich are generous, we perhaps admire them a little more for making sacrifices to help others. There’s probably a whole psychology behind giving, but as I’m not into that stuff, I won’t go there. But for the Christian, it’s pretty simple: everything we have comes from God, he gives us both the desire and means to help others and in so doing, he is thanked and glorified.
God is the ultimate and first giver. He created the earth and put us here out of his love and with great generosity. He gave us chocolate—enough said. His whole way of life so to speak, is one of giving, generosity and sharing, all with joy, love and great extravagance. He lavished his grace and mercy on the whole world by making the ultimate sacrifice of his son. He doesn’t mean for us to keep his blessings, physical and spiritual, all to ourselves, but to be like Father, like son and daughter: to give, share and bless others as we have been blessed.
“And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory” (2 Corinthians 4:15, NLT).
Today is Thanksgiving in the USA, a day we have set aside for almost 150 years for giving thanks to God for all his blessings. We have many things to be thankful for, no matter our situation in life. But the biggest blessing for all of humanity is God’s grace which gives us freedom from sin, death, guilt and fear. Grace also frees us to live in fellowship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit and to experience his kingdom now.
Just as God loves us and lavishes his grace on us, he wants us to treat our fellow human beings in the same way. Living in a grace-filled manner and showing it to others is the best and most concrete way to show our gratitude for his grace toward us. May this day and every day be filled with gratitude to God and grace toward others. Happy Thanksgiving!
“I, the Lord, made you, and I will not forget you. I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free” (Isaiah 44:21b-22, NLT).
I really enjoy an occasional foggy morning. The air is heavy with moisture, sounds are muted and my neighborhood looks completely different. It rarely lasts long, burning off as soon as the sun rises a little in the sky. An hour later, you’d never know it had been there, hiding the houses and shrouding the world in mist.
We sometimes wonder how God, who surely has perfect memory, could possibly forgive and forget our sins so completely they are gone like the morning fog. We can’t seem to forget our own, let alone what others have done. But that’s just what he does in Christ. His grace sweeps away the dark clouds of our sin in an instant, fills us with love and gratitude and helps us see our way to return to his loving embrace.
“Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish” (Isaiah 46:9-10, NLT).
One of the most fascinating things about God is he lives outside of space and time. He had no beginning and he has no end. He’s not bound by any of the limitations we experience. We live on a timeline but as he doesn’t, he can see ours from beginning to end. This confuses us sometimes—remember the Borg Queen’s famous words? “You think in such three dimensional terms”! (Star Trek, First Contact)
God sees everything from beginning to end and he knows how all of our stories will turn out. This doesn’t necessarily mean he orchestrates everything, but these verses do assure us his plan and purposes will be accomplished. And we don’t need to worry about God doing whatever he wishes, as if he might decide to do something capricious or selfish. He’s not like us! Everything he does is in love and with our best interests at heart.
“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins” (Romans 8:3, NLT).
A common refrain in some churches is the whole world is under condemnation and it’s up to the people sitting in the pews to save as many as they can before the end comes. The burden and responsibility aside, this simply isn’t the case. It’s true the whole world was condemned under the law. It wasn’t meant to save us, only point to the one who would bring salvation.
God never meant for Christians to bear the responsibility of saving the world—that’s his job. By laying down his life, Jesus took our condemnation upon himself, ending sin’s power and control over our destiny. Sin was condemned and the law was superseded by grace, which is available to all. So what’s the Christian’s job? To love God and neighbor and with his help, in the Spirit, live lives that will point to the goodness and love of the only one who can save.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1, NLT).
For some, waking up is hard to do, especially after too much partying the night before or just a bad time sleeping. Many people rely on coffee to help them focus and give them energy, to give new life, so to speak. Even the smell of freshly ground beans is enough to start the waking process.
Believing in Jesus and his saving grace for the first time is like waking up to a brand new reality, one filled with forgiveness, freedom and hope for the future. But with time, the drudgery of life can cause that reality to fade a little and make us wonder which is real—the picture of no more tears, sorrow or death, or the pain and suffering of today. By keeping our sights on the realities of heaven, we can wake up every morning to God’s fresh mercies (Lamentations 3:23). Whether or not you like coffee, however you wake up, remind yourself as you start your day of his love and grace and your new life in Christ.
“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16, NLT).
When a company chooses a team for a special project, the individuals are thoroughly vetted and evaluated to make sure they can do the job. Their backgrounds are checked to see if anything in their past may be a hindrance to their performance or reputation. For an important project, a company wants the best and the brightest to ensure success.
Sometimes we look at the members of Christ’s body, the church, and wonder what was God thinking? We’re a motley mismatched crew, but a true representation of humanity with one major thing in common—Jesus our savior. We don’t have to worry about background checks or vetting or testing. God is the one who put us together and he’s the one who makes sure we all fit perfectly. He gives us each a special gift to help the body grow in love. The body of Christ may not be the team a company CEO would choose, but God is not your typical CEO—he wants everyone on his team, no matter who they are or what they’ve done and he makes it work.