Charity

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

Charity

While rummaging through the trash for returnable bottles and cans, Charles Moore, a 59 year old homeless man in Detroit, found $21,000 in U. S. savings bonds. Who could need the money more than Mr. Moore, right? Yet he brought the small treasure to a nearby homeless shelter, where a staff member tracked down the owner.

Moore’s honesty amidst his dire circumstances triggered a wave of spontaneous generosity in Michigan and throughout America. The bonds’ owners gave Moore $100. Another man sent him eight trash bags of returnable bottles and a bowl of coins. A New Mexico man gave $1,000. Three others gave a combined $2,500 and local businessmen gave Mr. Moore $1,200, a shopping spree, and a lead on a job.

Isn’t life ironic? Mr. Moore, a selfless, open-handed homeless man, can teach all of us a lesson in charity.

Honesty is, in fact, the policy that pays the best.” – Winston Churchill

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, please help me to live with open hands and heart, that I might be Your hands and Your heart to the world. Amen.

Agnostic?

Then Jesus told him, Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. – John 20:29

Agnostic

Imagine my surprise when a non-Christian friend of mine in college informed me that I was an agnostic! “You go to a Christian school,” he said, “but you’re kind of agnostic aren’t you?” I was horrified. “What do you mean?” I stammered.

I just look at what you do,” he replied. “You don’t seem to spend time doing things other Christians do, and you sure do a lot of things they’d never do, so I just assumed that you were not too sure what you believed. That means you’re agnostic.

We can’t peer into the hearts of one another, yet sometimes our actions betray our hearts, don’t they? It wasn’t easy to be confronted with proof of my unbelief, but God used this unbeliever’s conclusions to bring me back to Him.

If you were tried for being a Christian, would the fruit of your life provide evidence in support of the charges?

“I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up…they have no holidays.” – Henny Youngman

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, when the world looks at me, I pray that they are never unsure of what my religious beliefs are or have doubts about where my heart lies. 

One Attitude Required

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. – James 4:10

One Attitude Required

Humility doesn’t save us, but it can save us a ton of grief. Humility doesn’t change your circumstances, but it helps you submit to God’s purposes no matter what the circumstances. Humility doesn’t speed up answers to prayer, but it accelerates the acceptance of God’s will. Humility doesn’t make decisions for you, but it inclines your heart toward decisions consistent with God’s plan. Humility doesn’t earn you more of God’s love, but it helps you experience God’s love at a deeper level.

For these reasons Scripture has a great deal to say on humility:
- Psalm 25:9 says, “God guides and teaches the humble.”
- Psalm 147:6 says, “The Lord sustains the humble.”
- Proverbs 11:2 says, “Wisdom belongs to the humble.”
- Proverbs 22:4 says, “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.”
- Isaiah 57:15 says that the Lord personally dwells with and refreshes the humble.
- Matthew 23:12 says that the humble with be exalted, and the exalted will be humbled.
- And James 4:6 says that God is gracious to the humble.

Rewards, sustenance, wisdom, guidance, intimacy, grace, renewal, and revelation—all hinge on an attitude that accompanies our faith. The early twentieth-century preacher and theologian, Oswald Chambers, called humility “the great characteristic of a saint.” For all its benefits and blessings, humility is the best way to go for God’s people. In fact, it’s the only way to go.

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.” ~ Italian proverb

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, give me a humble heart. As I approach your throne, I pray that I will do so with an attitude of humility and not entitlement. Amen

Energizer

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

Energizer

Do you remember the Energizer Bunny? The pink, battery-operated bunny beat his drum and traveled about while a voice announced the company’s slogan, “It keeps going and going and going and going…

Can you relate? Many of us feel just like that bunny around the holidays. Church activities, shopping, Christmas cards, baking, cleaning, parties, keeping up with work, and more shopping all have a way of taking their toll. Hard work and service are both good and necessary, but so is stopping once in a while. Even the Energizer Bunny needed to stop for a battery change!

Take some time this coming season to stop and watch the snow fall, and if you happen to be in one of those warm southern states maybe substitute a cool, clear, star-filled night! You’ll find that when you stop, the significance of Christ’s birth will transform your busy heart to a peace-filled heart.

- Steve Arterburn

“Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow.  I cannot be dictated to by a watch.“- Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Giving Thanks – Day 30

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. – Psalm 28:7

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Giving Thanks – Day 13

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! – Henry Ward Beecher

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Thanksgiving goes deep into our national heritage. In fact, the newly formed United States first recognized Thanksgiving as a national holiday during the administration of our country’s first president: George Washington. These are words in which President Washington introduced it:

Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor;

[Therefore], both the houses of Congress have, requested me, to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, Now, therefore, I do recommend next, to be devoted by the people of the states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be, that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country.

But men, the call to give thanks goes even deeper into our identity and responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ. Giving thanks is an essential aspect of worship; and worship is the very reason for our existence. Therefore, men, take the time to reflect on and respond to this question: what has God done in your life that calls for thanksgiving today?

Steve Arterburn

Giving Thanks – Day 11

The ungrateful see little of His great love; but the grateful feel their heart is a shore and His love is a sea that never stops coming in. – Ann Voscamp

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This is the last day of learning how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 5 of 5.

  • Journal.
  • Tell Stories.
  • Serve.
  • Create.
  • Sing. 
  • Connect.
  • Remember. Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Take some time to remember the history of this holiday. Watch Peanuts The Mayflower Voyage with your kids (you can rent it from the library or pick it up from the store and make it a yearly family tradition). This surprisingly informative movie tells the story of the dangerous and difficult voyage made by the Pilgrims and the challenges they faced when they arrived in America. Talk with your kids about God’s provision for the pilgrims.

 

Remember also how God has and is caring for us. How true are the words of, William Jennings Bryan, “On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” We all have stories. God has brought us through valleys. He’s been with us in joy and sadness. And he will be with us in the days ahead.

Not only will intentional gratitude enrich Thanksgiving, it will help us as we look forward to the season of Christmas, where the desire for stuff can run high. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to battle this cultural trend by cultivating thankful hearts in our families now, hearts of profound and simply joy?

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~ W.J. Cameron

Let us be actively thankful this Thanksgiving, remembering how we’ve been loved. Pick one or two of the above suggestions you think would bless your family and lean into the loveliness of this season.

Giving Thanks – Day 6

“A grateful heart is one that finds the countless blessings of God in the seemingly mundane everyday life.”

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For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 2 of 5.

  1. Journal.
  2. Tell Stories. Share the story of Pastor Martin Rinkart with your family.

In 1636 the Thirty Years’ War was raging. Death, disease, and economic collapse enveloped Europe in a fog of terror. One German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, an average of fifteen people daily! Yet under the shadow of death and amidst a crucible of chaos, Rinkart penned this beautiful table grace for his children:

 Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices
Who wondrous things had done
In whom His world rejoices.

Who, from our mother’s arms
Hath led us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And
still is ours today.

Talk about this with your family. Was this man in denial? Out of touch? Hardly. Rinkart was a person of audacious faith. He knew thanksgiving flows from love of God, not outward circumstance. Share this story and sing the table grace he wrote for his children.

Tomorrow, part 3.

 

Giving Thanks – Day 5

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. – Henry Clay

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For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 1 of 5.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Thanksgiving is too wonderful a holiday to let slip by without some intentional, active gratitude. But unless we’re deliberate, that’s exactly what will happen. Already busy lives seem to be compounded this time of year, right? By the time Thanksgiving Day arrives, we can be so emotionally and physically tired from all the prep or travel that the actual “giving thanks” gets lost.

But the Christian heart is a heart of gratitude. And to the extent that we express gratitude, we reflect the heart of our Savior and brother, Jesus Christ. God’s word implores us,

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100).

We were made to worship and enjoy the triune God who has set his love upon us and lavished us with good gifts. Yet where or how do we begin this journey into the very heart of Christ? Here are some thoughts to assist you in cultivating a thankful spirit within your family this season!

  1. Journal. In the beginning of November or a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving Day, place a journal on your kitchen counter (or a highly trafficked area) or attach a paper to your refrigerator. At the top of the page you can write or print, I’m thankful for… Then encourage your family to fill out the journal as things come to mind during this season. Include anything and everything that comes to mind from the simple pleasures of life, I’m thankful for hot coffee! To the profound, I’m thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning. Have the thankful person be sure to include his or her name next to the line of gratitude. Tell little ones who cannot write to simply share with someone in your home who can record it for him/her. On Thanksgiving Day, select a person to read the list or pass it around the table giving each person a chance to read.

Tomorrow, part 2.

Serving

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24

Serving

At the heart of the Civil War was a large portion of free people who concluded that slavery shouldn’t be. Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain was one of those men. In the movie Gettysburg he says, ‘This is a different kind of army. If you look back through history, you’ll see men fighting for pay, for women, for some other kind of loot. They fight for land, power, because a king leads them, or just because they like killing. But we are here for something new. This has not happened much in the history of the world. We are an army out to set other men free.’

Throughout history, God has been calling men and women to give of themselves so others can be free. Are you willing to make sacrifices for others?

Steve Arterburn

‘For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice ‘ no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.’ – John Burroughs (1837-1921)