Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanks. Giving.

Dear Friends,

It was a November several years ago when God showed me something new about Thanksgiving. He showed me a word picture in my mind that resulted in a fundamental and permanent change to the way I view Thanksgiving today. At the risk of you thinking less of me than perhaps you already do, I’ll confess my small-mindedness when it came to my things. 

As a good church-goin’ Christian, I knew who the Giver of all good things was and I’d be the first one on my feet thanking God for all that He had given me. But my next shout would be, “..and it’s mine! Mine! Yes! It’s all MINE!!!” 

Thanksgiving was a time to do the yearly inventory and thank God for His generous provision. And that’s when God gave me the word picture. I had, of course, always seen the word as THANKSGIVING. But God showed me that the word needed to look like this...

The Kingdom Principle that God wanted me to see was that GIVING always follows THANKS. If November is the season of thanks, December is the season of giving. But, this giving is not about that which gets wrapped up and stuffed under a Christmas Tree. It’s about giving to others who have less than we do.

On a Thanksgiving Sunday at our church four years ago, I’ll never forget Kathleen just staring at the hospitality hour banquet table. It was literally bending under the weight of a full Thanksgiving feast and I thought she was staring at the table out of concern it would collapse. But she kinda shook her head and quietly said, “So much food... So many people don’t have enough... We really need to appreciate this...”

Just a few days before, I had been talking with a woman at work and asked her what she was thankful for that year. She told me that she wakes up everyday and thanks God for everything in her life. She then told me her story. “My mother died when I was fourteen and I had to take care of my five brothers and sisters.” She said, “I was the oldest so I had to be their mother and do their laundry and all the cooking.” I asked if there were other relatives who had helped her out. She said that there were only about 20 houses in the village where she lived in central Mexico and there was no other family. She told me that they lived in a one room house with two beds.  She said, “I cooked on the fire outside and I washed the clothes by taking them down to the creek and rubbing them on the rocks.” I said, “Did you have drinking water?” She laughed and said, “We did when I could get my brothers to carry it up from the creek.” She told me, “I’m thankful to God for so many things.” Tears filled her eyes and she said, “When I was fourteen I never dreamed that today I would own a house that had a washer and a stove and a bathroom inside it.”

Maria’s story opens our eyes and shows us what poverty still looks like in two-thirds of the world today. That’s why this Christmas we will once again be giving our Christmas offering to Living Water to dig a well that will supply fresh, clean drinking water in the name of Jesus. 

But even more than the donation to Living Water, Jesus may be showing you that you need to get personal with this. How do you see it now? 

Or like this? THANKS. GIVING. 

You may be thinking, I just don't personally know anyone who needs my help. If so, may God open your eyes and ears to the needs of others. There are people all around you who desperately need help. If your prayer is that God will lead you to someone who needs your help, I can guarantee that He will answer that prayer.

You may be thinking, I don't know what I could give to another person. I don't have much leftover that I can give. I can guarantee that if you pray that God will show you someone who has less than you, that prayer will also be answered.

Thanksgiving is the time to thank God for His bountiful provisions and blessings that He has so freely given us. It’s time for THANKS. GIVING. What will that look like for you this year?

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