Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Yesterday brought about five inches of the heavy, slippery stuff—the kind that forced my attention to the tracks ahead of me and my hands to remain glued to the steering wheel as I wended home from vending at a craft fair. But all the way home on that treacherous road, my heart overflowed with thanksgiving for God’s wondrous beauty of trees draped in clean, cottony softness. Choosing to thank Him in the storm always makes the journey shorter and more enjoyable.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Living With Thanksgiving in the Moment
For some of you, Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. Regardless, I hope that for you, every day becomes a day of thanksgiving. When we live in the moment, accepting each day and hour as a gift, it becomes easier to be thankful for what we have. Perhaps that’s why the pilgrims were able to set aside a special day for thanking God—though they had suffered greatly that first, harsh winter. Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul, who suffered more than most others through repeated beatings, shipwrecks, and imprisonments, never ceased to thank and praise God. He viewed his sufferings as opportunities rather than as deficits.
It’s not easy to “live in the moment with thanksgiving” while our knee aches. Rather, we tend to commiserate about the stupid accident that caused our knee injury, or about the dim outlook ahead. It’s not easy to be thankful when our emotions run rampant over someone’s offending word. We’d rather think back to other offenses to justify our anger, or think ahead to the miserable loss of that person’s friendship.
Living with thanksgiving in the moment has great value. It can change our attitude to one of expectation that God is with us and will help us overcome whatever problems we face. It enables us to see life as a gift rather than a coincidence or stroke of luck. It brings unexpected blessings.
In other words, living with thanksgiving in the moment with God helps us to take our eyes off ourselves, to gain a new perspective of life. All these benefits bring health and healing to our body, soul, and spirit. We smile more easily and more often, which in turn causes others to smile—others who also may have little to smile about. I have no doubt that our thanks puts a smile on God, too.
Perhaps we can liken the habit of giving thanks as a discipline—a habit we can form and practice “in the moment” through daily communication with God. Here are three reasons to daily thank Him:
“…for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Lord, we thank You for all things. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Grace is what it’s all about. God’s grace is mind-boggling. To think that He never forsakes us, loves us in spite of our sins, and faithfully provides us with His strength and power. Now that’s something to be thankful for during this special time of year—and every day no matter what we’re going through.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
It Takes Grace
Kids do it all the time. They run barefoot and unthinkingly onto Mom’s clean floor, leaving muddy tracks for her to clean up. If we don’t like dirty floors, sometimes we have to resort not only to clean the floor, but to wash their feet. We need to teach our kids proper behavior, but our love should compel us to look beyond the dirty floor and dirty feet.
Foot washing is a symbol of humility and servanthood. Some churches practice the ritual even today. Perhaps we all should. We’d be following Jesus’ example when He washed the feet of all His disciples—including Judas. He took a towel and lowered Himself to His knees, just as a slave would have done for his master.
Jesus meant His literal example in the metaphoric sense, too. When we humbly serve others in any way, we serve Jesus. “‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them … ‘Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”
Humility is often viewed as a character weakness. What strength do we exhibit by giving up or walking away or showing our “wimpy” emotions? Humility, however, is a purposeful act of love shown by placing ourselves beneath another to meet their need. It’s being the first to apologize. It’s giving a hand up to the guy ahead of us in the race at the expense of winning. It’s turning the other cheek rather than retaliating when someone criticizes us.
Humility and servanthood are what Jesus expressed when Judas betrayed Him, when His own people killed Him, when Peter denied Him. He humbled Himself before unclean lepers, an immoral woman, and the demon possessed—for the sake of their healing. For the sake of His Father’s love and grace.
It takes grace to wash someone’s spiritually dirty feet. It takes grace to keep from scolding or criticizing them for leaving muddy tracks on our pristine self-image. It takes grace to look at them with the eyes of love and compassion. A friend of mine, speaking about a crude co-worker, said, “It’s not my job to wash his mouth out, but to wash his feet.”
Lord, by the power of Your Spirit, give us the grace to see beyond the flaws into the hearts of others, as You have done for us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Monday, November 7, 2011
With winter approaching quickly, sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to hibernate like the chipmunks and bears. Just kidding. I love most winter days. God lavishes us with His beauty in all seasons. May your holiday season be filled with thanksgiving to our Creator and Savior in and for everything—even the monotony of cloudy days and the intensity of blizzards.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
The way our resident chipmunks are eating, you’d think they’re wondering if it will be their last meal. Bears, too, are focused on fattening up with high-protein and fatty foods before they head for their hibernating holes.
Sometimes we humans stuff ourselves with food, too, and with pleasures—as if we might lose out before dying. But what if we knew with certainty that today would be our last day on earth? Would we act differently with our parents, spouse, children, and grandchildren? Would we speak different words to them? How would we treat those we disdain or despise? Would we make amends for our past offenses?
What choices would we make regarding our money? Spend it all on fun and fancy things? Give it away? Hide it so certain others could not benefit from it? What about food and drink? Would we indulge ourselves, like the critters preparing for hibernation, knowing our last meal was imminent? Would we regret not fulfilling our Bucket List, or not spending more time with our family?
We all have the option of “fattening up” on anything we choose. Our selfish choices are endless—and worthless in the end. The Bible says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
The Bible is filled with ways we can spend our last days. Once we know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, getting to know Him better is a priceless, meaningful way to live out our lives. If we fatten up on His Word and obey it, we won’t miss out on His greatest gifts of love, joy, and peace now and forever. Fattening up on God’s Word will help us toward that end.
“You do not know what will happen tomorrow,” James 4:14 tells us. “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
James continues: “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:8) Seeking Him in the Word will help us not only to know Him better, but to trust and love Him.
Lord, help us consider each day as our last so the love, peace, and joy You’ve given us will be evident to everyone we meet. Give us the desire to fatten up on and obey Your Living Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.