Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… Happy Thanksgiving! Wait, it’s February. Thanksgiving is in October?
However, the crowning jewel of the Christian life should be thanksgiving. An attitude of gratitude should characterize every Christian every month of the year. Even during the cold grey days of the February blues. Are you thankful? Have you expressed any appreciation to anyone this past week?
I heard the story of three sons who left home and went on to make a lot of money. One day they got together and discussed the significant gifts they were able to purchase for dear old mom in appreciation for all she had done for them.
The first said, “I built a big house for our mother.”
The second said, “I sent her a Mercedes with a driver.”
The third smiled and said, “I’ve got you, both beat. You remember how mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can’t see very well. I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church 12 years to teach him. He’s one of a kind. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it.”
Soon thereafter, mom sent out her letters of thanks:
“Milton,” she wrote one son, “The house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house.”
“Gerald,” she wrote to another, “I am too old to travel. I stay most of the time at home, so I rarely use the Mercedes. And the driver is so rude!”
“Dearest Donald,” she wrote her third son, “You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. The chicken was delicious.”
Mom sure has a funny way of showing her appreciation, eh?!
The Apostle Paul spoke of giving from a heart full of appreciation in 2 Corinthians 9:12-13 (NLT):
“So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.”
We long for God to open the heavens with His blessing, however, He awaits our appreciation through our obedience. On only two occasions mentioned in Scripture does God open the windows of Heaven.
· In Genesis 7:11 God destroys everything due to our disobedience. The Heavens open up and a deluge of rain causes a global flood.
· In Malachi 3:10 we learn of God opening the windows of Heaven to bless because of our obedience.
Both serve as bookends in the Old Testament indicating how blessing and obedience are connected. Thankful people are obedient. And obedience determines the scope of my blessing. This is not some health and wealth gospel nonsense. This principle of sowing and reaping is found throughout the New Testament.
I heard one preacher say:
“The Church has been doing all kinds of things, seeking to be successful and effective. The only thing we have not tried is giving God His money back.”
The offering time suddenly changes the atmosphere of worship service because so many of God’s people are about to rob God. Read the book of Malachi and discover how God feels about that.
It is from a deep sense of appreciation for all God has done for us that we choose to be obedient in our giving.
We don’t raise funds in church… we release funds.
We don’t give money to the church… we return what rightfully belongs to the Lord.
When our attitude is to raise funds or give money to the church, there will be very little cheerfulness in our giving.
However, when our attitude is to release and return God’s resources, there is so much gratitude, satisfaction and appreciation. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that God is being glorified.
I often made January a stewardship month in the churches I pastored. I longed for my church family to know the joy of being generous. You don’t have to be rich to be generous. I’ve met plenty of greedy poor people. Generosity releases the joy and cheerfulness that the Bible promises.
So give. Be generous. Do it from an obedient heart that resonates with gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!
Be generous this Sunday, and then — why not enjoy some turkey, stuffing and cranberry jelly following your worship service?
Have a blessed week,