The Truth About Gratitude

The rain has been falling steadily this morning, so I have been taking my time to get ready for the day. Rainy days make me want to stay inside and enjoy a second cup of coffee in the morning. Growing up on a farm, I know the importance these Spring rains are for the crops. The rain loosens the soil and softens it, enabling the plow to carefully til the soil for the seeds to be planted. So, sometimes the rainy mornings are good for the soil of our own hearts as we can be willing to slow down and take our time before heading out for our day.

This morning was like that as I was watching a streaming program as I slowly enjoyed my second cup of coffee. The program I was watching provides a Bible teaching that has practical application for the everyday life. But, for this morning the programing was about the previous year’s(2018) outreaches that this ministry had been involved in. I have to admit that watching the recap of the natural disasters from last year, made me realize how soon I had forgotten about these. There seems to be so many of them so often, that I have become complacent about them.

But the real message I began to think about as I watched was how much outreach had been provided. Thousand of gallons of water, food and supplies were given. Hundreds of people were helping to load cars with these supplies after having unloaded large semi trucks of donated goods. Groups were carrying buckets full of supplies on foot to homes that could not be reached by car. Volunteers were sifting through the rubble of burned out homes to find valuables for the home owners who had lost everything to wildfires. Many of these teams spent time praying with the homeowners to encourage them and offer hope. So many people were helping in the video, it began to spring up a bit of guilt in me. I wished I had helped out too.

But, what also struck me as I watched was how this particular ministry is criticized because it is run by a woman. In the past I have heard many criticisms from fellow Christians such as she has had plastic surgery, owns a mansion and has a private jet. Or that she teaches prosperity. But the truth is there in what she does as a fellow Christian reaching out to those who are in need. No, this isn’t a plug for her either, but just a realization, that should we should all be challenged to do something for others. We might not have the financial means to give a thousand dollars to over seven hundred and fifty families who lost their homes to fire, but we can do something. It starts with a grateful heart.

But honestly, it’s not about being thankful for what we have, or that its not us that is being affected by a disaster. That’s really not the motivation that I am talking about. It’s the motivation that we should have towards what God has done in our lives. The gratitude that comes from realizing what Christ did on the cross for us, to save us from ourselves. To save us from being separated from Him forever, the thing we deserved, but He took instead in our place, defeating death, once for all. That’s the kind of gratitude we need to have. That is the motivation we need to help others.

Colossians 3:15-17 offers a look into what this attitude should be like; “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts toward God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (NIV).

It’s a long passage, but it offers us an idea of how we should be doing life. If we find ourselves faltering in being grateful and thankful, which according to the passage should be our attitude in what we say or do, it offers the direction to stay in the Word, letting it dwell in you. In other words, reading your Bible, keeps you grateful. Probably because you can be reminded just what you have to be grateful for. It has challenged me today to check my attitude. Have I been grateful lately? Not just thankful. Not just counting my blessings. Not just thankful for what I have. Gratitude isn’t about being thankful for the what in our lives, but the who, Christ, and what He did on the cross. Maybe this upcoming Easter season, we shouldn’t be celebrating new beginnings, but thanksgiving and gratitude, letting God’s Word soften the hardness of our complacent hearts, much like the Spring rains softens the soil, making it ready for planting. -God Bless -Nancy

Giving An Apt Answer In An App World

If you’re like me you some times forget people’s names. I mean not people you don’t know that well, but people you see frequently. Or maybe its a street name or the name of a restaurant. It’s right there on the tip of your tongue, but it just slips your mind for a minute. Then later, usually later in the day, at some random moment it comes to you. You might even say it out loud. And then give yourself a hard time for not remembering it sooner. What you needed was the right reply, the suitable answer, at the right time. What you need is an apt answer. What does apt mean? Suitable and at the proper time. It’s not a word that we hear often, but fits well with today’s blog.

Sometimes the challenge of moving forward in life is that we get stuck. We can even get down on ourselves for being stuck. I often find myself feeling stuck as I navigate from stay at home mom to college grad looking for a job. And from a home filled with kids to an empty nest. Everything is different. Everything is new. It’s not bad, just different. Yesterday was a day like that. Different, new and causing me some anxious thoughts until someone spoke an apt word( the right word at the right time). It was unexpected, but I knew as she spoke it, that it was for me and had been a God moment. What’s a God moment? It’s when you know God has planned something and shown His glory, His goodness, His mercy and even His love in our lives. Yesterday was that moment for me. The right words at the right time. An apt answer.Sometimes we just don’t know what the next step in the journey looks like. It is easy to get stuck, feel unsure of ourselves and looking for the right answer, It can feel like looking for that misplaced name. And then God uses someone to speak an apt word into our lives.

We all need a friend who will give us a word of encouragement, the right word at the right time. In our rushed and hurried world though that doesn’t always happen. We are too busy staring at our phones, tablets and computers, to see the needs around us. And if we are looking for help we search for an app to guide us to the right answer, instead another person. Let me challenge you today to look for that person in your life who needs a word of encouragement. Maybe its someone whom you don’t know well, but from the look on their face, they could use a smile, a compliment, or even a word of appreciation. You could make a huge difference in their day. Proverbs offers this great verse; “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply- and how good is a timely reply” (Pr. 15:23, NIV).  We all need a timely word and according to the verse we will find joy in giving it. God Bless- Nancy

Be Like Him

I’m a little bit late on writing this blog this week. I am one of those affected by an oncoming hurricane on the east coast. I have been thinking about the subject I would write about this week and I think I’ve found a topic; being transformed into the image of Christ and what that might look like in our daily lives. Two verses came to mind this week; the first is from the Book of Matthew; “When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because  they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a Shepherd” (Mt. 9:36, NIV). In this context Jesus had been visiting towns and teaching the good news and healing many and yet He was met with opposition from the religious Pharisees. The point I would like to point to is the compassion of Jesus. Few would argue with Jesus being compassionate. In fact, even those who aren’t Christians some times refer to Jesus as a compassionate person, a good role model to others and offering practical moral teaching. Those of us who are believers, know Him as more as we have felt His compassion upon us.

The second passage that comes to mind is from the Book of Nehemiah. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4, NIV) Why was Nehemiah weeping? Well he had asked  the news from Jerusalem, his home town. The report was bad. Everything had been destroyed when the people had been forced into exile into Babylon. Reports were coming in from those who had stayed in Israel and had not been a part of the mass exile.The wall surrounding the city was destroyed. It affected Nehemiah greatly. He took it personally although he was miles away, living in Babylon and serving as cup bearer for the king Artexerxes.

So, here we can see two examples of compassion for others that we can follow today. With many natural disasters and man made tragedies such as attacks and shootings, we have the opportunity to have compassion on others. Others need to know we care about them particularly when they have had disaster or tragedy strike them. What can we do? Nehemiah prayed and Nehemiah informed the King of the disaster of his home country.  The result? The king allowed Nehemiah to return home and provided the funds and supplies to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  We can do the same. We can pray, we can tell others and we can offer to supply aid. What we don’t want to do as we grow and move forward in out walk of faith is to fail to develop compassion on others. To grow hardened to tragedies or scoff others’ concern or worries. Sometimes we do that. There are so many tragic stories in the news and easy access to stories and news both fake and real on social media, I think we have become too good at dismissing the misfortune of others. Jesus had compassion on others. Nehemiah wept and prayed and fasted. He had a good job in a royal household, he didn’t really need to concern himself with the problems miles away. Yet he did. He took it personal. He made it personal. So did Jesus. He left Heaven and took on human form with all its limitations. He loved us. He had compassion on us. As we have opportunity let us do the same towards others. -God Bless -Nancy