Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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28 Transforming thankfulness – Part 1

Colossians 3:15-17

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Colossians 3:15-17 reveals what it means to have a thankful heart, where it comes from, what it can accomplish in us and through us, as it transforms our lives and touches the lives of others. As we ponder these verses in Colossians they call us to answer the question, are we controlled by a thankful heart, is thankfulness a predominant pattern in our lives? A thankful heart is a heart where:

  • Christ’s peace is in control

It is the peace that comes from Christ that should control our lives. This is the peace that Christ had in the midst of his trials and tribulations. It’s the peace that pervaded His problems and dictated his interactions even with those who were disagreeable. Christ’s pattern for peace is not a rule to follow but something that should rule us. The word rule here means to judge like a magistrate or a referee, both of which take the information available to them, and based on that information, make a call as to what course of action should be followed. We may not like what those in this position of authority have to say, but we have an obligation to obey because they are the ones in charge. Who or what is controlling your heart, and calling the shots? Instead of allowing peace to rule our hearts, we can cave to the control of a multitude of different referees. Those who love money let it motivate and control them, affecting both their attitudes and their actions. What is right or who gets hurt is not what rules them, its money and the getting of more of it that is motivating their lives. Some allow pressures to control them instead of peace, while others allow pleasures to rule and ruin their lives. They push on in an endless pursuit, chasing after that which controls them regardless of the cost. No matter if they have to break God’s laws to achieve it, no matter the cost or the consequences. No matter if it wounds a wife or hurts a husband or even if it’s killing their kids they continue to chase that which controls. How many are in debt or distress, and are being destroyed today because of what they allow to rule and run their lives.  Another referee that people allow the rule their lives is the drive and desire for control. They let the need to have control, control them, it’s my way or the highway, my way or no way. Which umpire is ultimately in charge and calling the shots in your life? The only one that should be controlling the decision making process is peace. Only the peace of Christ should be control us. That means when the bills begin to pile up, it is not the bills that should control our attitudes and actions but Christ’s peace. When health fails and goes bad, it is not the body that should control our spirit but Christ’s peace. When we experience differences and disagreements with others, it’s not our emotions that should control us but Christ’s peace. It is Christ’s peace that should determine how we respond to every event in life. His peace is revealed in three arenas. The first is inner peace, according to verse 15 it’s the peace that, “rules in your hearts.” This is the peace that provides calm in the midst of the storm, it’s the peace that prevents you from caving in when your world is collapsing. It’s the peace that enables you to look at who you are, where you are, and what’s really going on in your life, and to be content because God is in control. Next is external peace, this is the outer peace which verse 15 describes as “For as members of one body you are called to live in peace” This is the peace that enables us to effectively deal with other people despite our perceived differences. It means letting Christ’s peace be the ruling factor in our relationships. Rather than differences dividing us they can actually enhance our effectiveness. The reality is that in order for the body of Christ to be effective there has to be differences, we need them. Instead of seeing differences as a problem we need to see that they can be productive. We don’t all have to be alike or have the same ideas to be useful, to be used and to have unity. We just need to be headed in the same direction, pursuing and promoting the peace of Christ in and outside of the church. What if it was the peace of Christ that was calling the shots in the church, where our purpose was sharing and seeing people come to peace with God through salvation and forgiveness? It should be the peace of Christ that determines the decisions that we make and the pathways that we pursue. Not only is our peace internal and external but it is also eternal, it says that we have been: “called to live in peace.” We have been rescued from ruin and called into a relationship with Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says ”God called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ.”  Since the Father has called us into a relationship, where we have been rescued and redeemed by His Son we have a peace that will last forever. Romans 5:1 says “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” It is this eternal peace that allows us to experience the internal and external peace. Look if we didn’t have peace with God, we would never have peace in our hearts or peace with other people. Because we have His peace when we have disagreements we are not free to concentrate on the conflict and the disagreement, instead we should be concerned and concentrated on bringing peace between us. Because of Him we are not free to run from relationship but rather we should work through our differences. Paul now goes on to say, “and always be thankful” This almost sounds like an afterthought, as if thankfulness was just thrown in for good measure. But that is not what is going on; instead Paul was being very intentional when he tied peace together with thankfulness. For when we are thankful for others we can be at peace with them. When we remember what God has done to redeem, bringing us into a right relationship with Himself through his Son Jesus, and we chose to live in thankfulness for that, then we can let the peace of Christ control every thought, attitude, action and word. Peace and thanks are in direct proportion to one another, if you want peace then try being thankful. Look thankfulness is not an afterthought it’s the main thought. It is not just a touch of thankfulness but consistent and constant thanks; Paul calls us to “always be thankful.” Are you letting His peace rule in your life, are you taking time to say thank you? Often our peace problem does not stem from other people but rather from the poison of our ingratitude. Thankfulness can transform our lives, from people peace to personal peace. Today who do you need to take the time to thank both personally and publicly?

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27 Thankful Giving – Part 2

2 Corinthians 9:11-15

11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

Not only does thankful giving result in giving thanks to God but it also results in:

  • Needs being met

Often when it comes to giving especially giving to God instead of being cheerful we complain. Instead of giving Him our best we tend to give Him our leftovers. But 2 Corinthians 9:11 tells us that when the Christians in Corinth cheerfully gave the result was that: “two good things will happen-the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanksgiving to God.” One of the results of people’s needs being met is praise. When needs are met, whether they are physical, spiritual, social or even intellectual they can result in a joyfully express of thanksgiving to God. So two thoughts here: first whose needs are you meeting and second when God meets your needs through others how do you respond? Let’s deal with the first question, who and how are you meeting the needs of others? What I have discovered in my life is that the enemy of service is so often self. We get so busy meeting our own needs that we often fail to even see the needs of others let alone serve them. If we are going to be a blessing to others we are first going to have to look outside of the circle of self. We have to learn to be intentional, and start looking for those who need loved. In reality they are there all around us, it’s just that we don’t take the time to look. Why are we not a blessing, because we have bowed to being busy, so we don’t have time to share God’s treasures. Instead of sharing God’s treasures and experiencing a sense of satisfaction we are serving treasure only to end up sick because of the stress. The Christians in Corinth gave because they cared; they looked beyond self and saw how they could serve. How intentional are you when it comes to being a blessing, do you look for those in need of God’s love? We live in a culture that is so caught up in consuming that we fail to contribute. Greed causes us to focus on self, where giving focuses on service. What is your go to giving or greed, do you make it about me or about ministering? What if this week you made self second to serving, what if you chose to be intentional, and purposefully paid attention to those in need around you? Second how do you respond when God meets your needs, is your response one of rejoicing? Luke chapter 12 tells us about ten lepers that cried out to Jesus for mercy. When Jesus healed them only one returned to say thank you to Jesus. Unlike the other nine he expressed his thanks to God. When was the last time you counted your blessings and thanked God for all He has given you? When we fail to count the blessings we forget how blessed we are. There is a poem penned by an unknown author that reads:

Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair; I envied her, she seemed so happy, and how I wished I were so fair;

When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle; She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile.

Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two feet – the world is mine.

And when I stopped to buy some sweets, the lad who served me had such charm;

He seemed to radiate good cheer, his manner was so kind and warm; O I said, “It’s nice to deal with you, such courtesy I seldom find;”

He turned and said, “Oh, thank you sir.” And then I saw that he was blind.

Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two eyes, the world is mine.

Then, when walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue; He stood and watched the others play, it seemed he knew not what to do; I stopped a moment, then I said, “Why don’t you join the others, dear?” He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.

Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go; with eyes to see the sunsets glow, with ears to hear what I would know. I am blessed indeed. The world is mine; oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

Thankful giving also:

  • Glorifies God

2 Corinthians 9:13 says: “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.” Generous living glorifies God and helps both us and others to live a life of praise. Thankful people can serve as a catalyst to cause others to praise God for His provision. We need to always remember that our giving should be for God’s glory not ours. Ministry should magnify the master not me. Paul didn’t tell the Christians at Corinth that their giving would result in them getting the glory but rather in giving glory. How often do we give to get the glory? Are you serving to position the spotlight of self or on the Savior? The motive for ministry cannot be me it has to be the Master. Psalm 34:1,3 says “I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. Come let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.” Thanksgiving is really recognizing our dependence upon God, and recognizing that He is the giver of all things. Are you going to live a generous life or a greedy one? A generous life involves giving thanks to the Lord, living a life that honors Him with all that we possess, lending a helping hand to meet the needs of others, and living a life that seeks to give the glory to God.