We are all givers and receivers of generosity, even in such times as these. As we give and receive, there is so much to be thankful for. Together we should. Always in all times continue celebrate the effects of what generosity and gratitude brings to our community, it is rewarding when we witness and more affirming when we ourselves give to others in need. The cycle of giving and gratitude brings us together in time of challenge, I am so move to watch the giving by our community members for those who currently face the need for food during this time of great economic uncertainty.
Persons need to hear, they need to know why is it that those people of faith can sing songs of joy, and have hope in the face of great troubles and challenges. In a more practical term in the midst of this on-going and raging pandemic, how is it you people of faith can have a positive if not a hopeful attitude and disposition?
We are not blind to the matters and conditions we all currently face; the Apostle Paul offered some useful and insightful counsel on how to position one’s spirit when facing troubling circumstances.
In Paul’s time when Hebrews were being casted out of church, the Apostle Paul proclaimed and preached as they witnessed and endured such harsh behavior, he stated; “We walk not by sight but by faith.”
When new Christians had been at first prohibited from being in Rome, then upon their being allowed to return the Roman emperor Nero scaped-goateed and blamed any problem the city faced as a direct result of these new Christians presence, Paul’s message to them was; “What then can shall we say in response to these thing? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Hearing Paul’s words, a new Christian in ancient Rome, could be understood if they responded, “who’s against us, the entire Roman empire, emperor included.”
Persecution for Christians was on the rise, Paul’s basic response was the Spirit, that is Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God is sufficient, it gives, gives us life, gives us assurance, gives us hope…
Paul goes on to state and give grounding to his words sharing; who-or-what can bring charges against those doing righteousness in Christ Jesus sake, for the kingdom of God…Stating “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 38-39)
Our faith is both practical and pragmatic, it is not an altered reality per se, neither is it some flight of fantasy from reality, it is grounded in the very real conditions, matters and situations we find ourselves in the midst of, and face in our daily living.
And no matter the situation, no matter the condition God is there, forever present, forever seeking, striving and wanting to fulfill the plans God has declared are the plans God has for us, that we read in Jeremiah 29:11;
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me come and pray to me and I will listen to you and you will seek me with all your heart I will be found by you.” ( Jeremiah 29:11-14)
I hope you hear and see that I’m preaching about a God that continuously seeks us, loves us unendingly and graciously gives, gives and continues to give not out of anger, nor frustration but with great love;
So we as people of faith or to somehow in our living reflect that in our hearts, in our lives, both in a private and public sense a presence of God. And as God gives to us unconditionally, we too are to give, and we should give with a grateful heart.
Life can be hard and sometimes it’s not easy to find gratitude. Gratitude is good for the soul. We make difficulty choices in our life, bitterness-over grace, rebellion over obedience to God’s nature of love and grace, choosing gratitude over time leads us to contentment, joy, generosity, peace, forgiveness, and compassion plus so much more.
I want to share five spiritual practices my research and personal experiences have validated as useful;
1. Gratitude is a choice; Just as we make difficult choices and decisions, we have the power to make the choice to be grateful, or resentful and angered by our choices. Gratitude is a choice.
2. See everything we have as a gift; God created all we see, saw it as good, and blessed it, and gave us the gift of life. God has, and is giving to you, will continue to do such, give thanks with a grateful heart.
3. Our Perspective is Powerful; If you are unable to see the beauty of creation, and not able to be appreciative for what God and others have both given and done, not just for you but others, being grateful will be difficult for you. God taught: Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s__________ (you fill the blank)
4. What are you doing with this gift of life, God has given you? Are you living your life with expectant joy, thanks and a willingness and dedication to be the best you can with all your gifts and graces? Or, do you just look for people and things to criticize, we often see what we exclusively look for!
5. Practice what you preach; Grateful people know they can be a positive example to others. Yes, if you say you are a Christian some will watch you to see how you act, if you truly are what you say you are, or if its just an empty gesture or act…people watching what you do, more so than what you say!
A grateful Christian wants God to be pleased in how they live and conduct themselves. “God so loved the world, that God sent God’s only begotten Son, that whosoever believes Him would have life and life eternal.” (John 3:15)
God gives God’s best, not holding back, not discounting, not conditioning but loving and giving unconditionally, we should do no less.
So I close with these ancient words that preceded this message concerning being “A Grateful Christian:”
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ[a] dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.[b] 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.