Have A Grand ThanksLiving

picture credit David Schweitzer

credit David Schweitzer

Develop a thankful attitude for the smallest blessings and contentment will be your reward. Phil Larson

Godliness with contentment is great gain.  Paul of Tarsus circa 65a.d. to Timothy
When Paul, Timothy’s mentor, wrote this note to him, Timothy was under pressure as a leader.  You have to read the whole letter to get the full gist. That can happen to all of us and does.  We move out to lead and life presses.  Delays onset.  Goals seem to get further away instead of closer to reality.
Contentment keeps us on track with doing what we know is the “right thing”.  Thankfulness for the daily small stuff produces contentment.  Deferred hopes challenge peace and comfort.  Enjoying past gains and present blessings with thankfulness produces an unshakable contentment.
Father, bless with a realization of present blessings and a thankfulness for each of them.  Build contentment.  Let us enjoy this most glorious of weeks where thankfulness is honored in tradition and living.
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Meet Jesus: Biblical Proportions

“God did not wait for a natural disaster to send His Son.  God did not wait for a natural disaster to feed thousands with miracles.  God did not wait for a natural disaster for Jesus to heal lepers.”

Matthew 6: 1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly  

Grace   By the grace of God, we are thankful He is not motivated by the moment.  God did not wait for a natural disaster to send His Son.  God did not wait for a natural disaster to feed thousands with miracles.  God did not wait for a natural disaster for Jesus to heal lepers.  God did not wait for a natural disaster to pull His people out of Egypt.  God did not wait for any disaster to respond.  He waited for prayer.  He waited for people to call His name.  He waited for a people of love to prevail against the normal life we chose to live.

 Readiness   Jesus is just like His Father.  He stays in a state of readiness through private prayer and giving love with substance outside the sight of man’s cameras.  He is attentive to the fact that we live in a world constantly in a state of separation from God’s will and disaster.  There is the disaster of abortion.  There is the disaster of divorce.  There is the disaster of fatherlessness.  There is the disaster of drugs and alcohol.  There is the disaster of crime.  There is the disaster of violence.  There is a constant state of disaster all around us.  Being involved and ready is the habit of His people

Examples  Hudson Taylor was such an example to me.  He wrote little, but there is at least small amounts written about his example by those that were around him.  By serving silently and persistently in China he was able to see a cadre of native ministers established over years.  When human initiated disaster struck and missionaries were killed and banned, he had been used of God to leave a faithful church in place to continue to minister the gospel.  He did not wait for the disaster.  He waited in prayer and preparation and persistence.  Then when disaster hit, the grace and silence and biblical proportion of God intervened in mercy.

Many in the kingdom today are such an example to me.  There are men and women doing the work in hard spots drawing no attention to them.  When such world noticed events as an earthquake happen, they are already on the ground upping their serve.  They were already there. They were already serving.  They were already giving out biblical proportions of silent, ready love and ready to give more.

ACT! Where are you quietly and persistently applying the grace of God to an ongoing disaster?  Are you ready to step up in a moment of explosion in the area if it arrives?

PRAYER FOR YOU!  Father, I pray today for readiness in my friend.  Let peace and blessing overwhelm them in moments of strain that are hard to understand.  I pray that you open their eyes to discern a place and people to touch under a pressure of an ongoing disaster.  Let us be filled with the urgency of private and prayerful intervention.  There is not time to wait until the attention of the world is directed to an ongoing disaster by an act of natural force or human depravity.  Show us.  Move us.  Empower us.  Grace us with strength to be involved now to be used in harder days.

Meet Jesus: Secretly Open

Matthew 6: 1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly  

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly

 Jesus is secretly open.  What He does in secret, He does not to hide, but not to bring attention.  It isn’t that He is trying to be secret.  He just is not interested in men’s approvals and accolades.  He is interested in His Father’s approval and His Father’s will being done in secret.  It is for our example not our preoccupation.

Self Promotion? The right thing just seemed so obvious to Greg.  Why did others not see what needed to be done?  Over and over he worked to convince other managers of the prudence of his actions on the project.  They just kept acting like he was promoting himself and his team.  That was not the point at all.  He just wanted to see the company advanced and his team had the best opportunity to take it on this project.  Greg mulled over his options with the team.  Finally, they concluded they just needed to act and not talk about it anymore.  Just get the job done, they decided.

ACT! Take inventory of your “good works.”  Are they done for the Father and for example to provoke others?  Are they done to be noticed?

PRAY!  Father, increase in me attention to Your will and ways.  Let me concentrate on the private days of my life and the private  moments of my days.  Let me excell in secret that exposure of my life would only reveal Your activity.

Meet Jesus : Perfect

Matthew 5: 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 Now this is stiff to face.  A perfect Jesus is here asking us to be perfect.  How in this world can we accomplish such a challenge?  Jesus and the Father are one.  The Father is perfect.  Jesus is perfect.  The conversation exactly before this relates to relationships.  Even working at being even keeled and just and equitable in all our dealings with others in love and graciousness is tougher on perfection than we can match.  But, thanks be unto God, He did it for us.  Jesus was perfect for us to follow.

Greg’s Pressure: Greg liked to think he was strong.  Then the pressure came.  The challenge to do more in less time with less staff was causing him to stay up at night.  Over and over, he would think of reasons the project was late.  Every time, he concluded he just wasn’t the right person for the job.  This night, he decided to read a little and pray.  It was coming down to looking for a new job.  As he read through the gospel of Matthew, the verse on being perfect disturbed him.  Then he thought it through.  The thought wasn’t to do it all according to man’s perfection.  The challenge was to love and greet and meet each situation with the mind of Christ.  Whether the situation was good or bad made no difference.  Just meet it with confidence in Christ.  Love always.  Greet always.  Believe always.  He was the right man because God placed him there.  These were the right staffers.  Immediately he began to review plans and pray for wisdom.  What would he do if it were all in great shape?  Do the right thing.

ACT!  Start now.  Remove an imperfection, an attitude, a glitch in your treatment of someone today.  Don’t worry about everything.  Do work on one thing.

PRAY! Whew! Father, You sure want a lot out of me.  But, Father, You gave a lot.  You gave Your only begotten Son, Jesus.  Jesus gave His life’s blood for me to be perfect with You.  Encourage me, Father, to stand tall to the task and declare, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me fully and completely and perfectly.”

Meet Jesus: Even Ground

groundMatthew 5: 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45: That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

 The Father is consistent in His world creation.  The environment, the rules, the principles, the laws, and whatever else happens is the same for good and evil, just and unjust.  What goes up comes down (gravity).  What goes down comes up (seed time and harvest).  The wages of sin is death.  When it rains, everybody gets wet.  There are certain principles that affect us all.  Acting like Him means being the same with those around us whether we like them and their lifestyle or not.  Sin does not invalidate principles; it invokes them.  Think about it.

ACT!  Is there someone you are treating rudely because they have a lifestyle different than yours?  Do you hold at arms length someone in a homosexual lifestyle but not a gossiper?  Think about it, and make sure you are like your Father.

 PRAY!  Consistent Father, You treat us all the same.  You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  The principles of life and death rule over me as much as anyone who hates you.  Thank you for offering that to me when I was outside of Your family.  Help me offer even ground to others that they might see Your goodness and enter also alongside me and Jesus.

Meet Jesus : The Extra Mile

Matthew 5: 39: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40: And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41: And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42: Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

 Going the extra mile for others is the essence of long suffering.   Suffering is quiet.  To suffer means to allow.  Long suffering means to allow for a long time.  Jesus defines it even further.  He looks for opportunity to suffer, to allow others to use Him and His resources.  Jesus is absolutely bent on being used by others.  The quest for Him is not about what others ask of Him, but about how He can offer beyond the asking.

 Jack’s Pain: Working with a team that was split on commitment was tough.  Each had valid points.  Each was entrenched in opposite directions.  Long suffering was tested.  The division had been ongoing in the company for six years and then some.  Jack decided to be the walking mat.  Someone had to let others “take advantage” to gain some trust and ground.  It was tough, but over time some of the animosities began to turn into friendships.  He was hopeful to really seem some team progress.  This last meeting had been half the team directing criticisms at his area.  Not much was founded in present reality, but at least they were venting openly instead of behind his back.  There was hope.

ACT!  Who is asking for a piece of you or your time?  What can you do that goes beyond the asking?  Do it.

PRAY!  Holy, Gracious Father, the light and love of Jesus are beyond me.  When I ask, He does more.  When I impose, He expands the request to more.  It seems I cannot put more demand than He can answer.  Help me to suffer-long with others, Father.  Help me to be like Jesus and go the extra mile with a smile.

Meet Jesus: Straight

Matthew 5:  33″Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

 In our networking, political worlds, we often find shaded communications the norm.  Jesus is a straight shooter.  His admonition to us is to avoid dependence on excuses and other items like, “I swear by the heavens”, over which we have no control.  Simply say yes or no He tells us.  Connecting with Jesus means connecting with a simple, clear answer.    Connecting with Jesus strengthens us to give a simple, clear answer and commitment when other’s depend on us.

ACT! Get straight on a miscommunication.  Think of a commitment you have made that really was neither a yes or no.   Make a decision and connect with the other person.  Tell them yes or no.

PRAY!  Father, help me to be like Jesus.  Give me clarity when I call to you.  Build clarity in me when I am called upon by others.  Show me direction.  Give me sound discretion in all decisions that I might be reliable and relied upon.  Bolster my confidence in You and in Your ability to follow through in me.  Let me not speak in shades of gray when people need clear and simple lines.