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Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Month Of Thankfulness - Gifts and Talents

On this last week of a month of thankfulness, I am thankful for the gifts and talents God has blessed me with. God is such a great God that He has given each one of us some special gift. In the Old Testament, gifts referred to material things. Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. Numbers 18: 29.

But in the New Testament after Our Lord had ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit had descended on His followers, they were given gifts by the Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of these gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. They are: the word of wisdom; the word of knowledge;  faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, teaching, discerning of spiritstongues and the interpretation of tongues, help and government.

Now most of us may say we don't know what our spiritual gifts are. I would confess that I may be a bit hazy about my gifts as well, although I believe I do have the gift of teaching, which was my first source of employment. But Paul is not speaking here about what we do as a living, but what we do to edify the body of Christ

God has equipped each one of us with some special gift or ability that we can use to benefit not just the body of Christ, but to lift up His Name. Not everyone can teach Sunday School, or fix the plumbing or the electricity, but each of us has something we are good at, and we can use it in the service of the church. In verse 14 of the same chapter Paul says, "For the body is not one member, but many."
In other words, we should not expect the pastor or one person to do everything. Whatever God has blessed you with use it to bring Him glory. Can you sing, then sing to His glory. Can you dance, dance in His Name. Can you arrange flowers or make beautiful artwork? Whatever you can do, do it to glorify Him. 

I cannot speak in front of a large congregation and I cannot prophesy. But He has blessed me with the gift of writing and I use it in the service of my church and in my other writings to bring Him honor and glory. And for that I'm thankful. 
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Month Of Thankfulness - God's Grace

Moses with Radiant Face (1638 painting by José...
The book of Numbers gets its name from the numbering or counting of the children of Israel during their wandering in the desert.  During this process, God instructed Moses in the counting of the people and assigning them their specific duties.

Numbers is an amazing book, but to my mind, the book of Numbers can also be taken to show the number of times the people of Israel murmured against God. And even though they provoked Him to wrath, yet He saved some of them and continued to give them victory over their enemies. 

When I think of the number of times I murmur and complain over insignificant things: it's too hot, it's too cold, it's raining, it's not raining. I am amazed that God still puts up with me. 

 Why? Because He is a God of love, a God of forgiveness. Each time the people rebelled and God threatened to wipe them out, Moses, their leader, interceded for them and God spared them. Today, I too have an intercessor. His name is Jesus Christ. "And if any man sin , we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2: 1 -2).

So this week my thankfulness is for God's grace. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life" (John 3 : 16).

Does that mean I can murmur and complain as much as I please? No. Rather, when I am thankful for His love and His grace, I will cease to complain because I know that He loves me, and just as He took care of His children in the wilderness, provided for them, guided them and gave them victory over their enemies, He is doing the same for me. 

Accept the gift of His grace today, and be thankful.  

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Month Of Thankfulness - My Family, God's Intervention and other things

English: Personal bible study Português: Estud...
English: Personal bible study Português: Estudo pessoal da bíblia Italiano: Lo studio personale della bibbia Deutsch: Persönliches Bibelstudium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The weather continues to be a major cause of concern in the US this month. Unusually cold temperatures and snowstorms have resulted in the loss of lives, power outages and a lot of problems for people in some states. In the light of that, our one cold day here in South Florida this week, 48 degrees at daybreak, was a welcome change. But we have had to deal with some rain almost everyday.

You may have heard the saying, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Well, that may have been the case with me this week. I'd been putting off going to Bible Study on Wednesday nights on account of the distance I have to travel to get home after work, and I don't do well with night driving. This Wednesday I determined that nothing was going to stop me.

It rained all day but I was still determined to go. After work, I went to my daughter's house to wait until it was time to leave for Bible Study. She and her husband said to me, "Mummy, we don't like the idea of you going out on a night like this. It's going to be late when you're leaving church and the weather is not nice." And so they convinced me to go home instead.

So why am I writing this in a month of thankfulness? As I was leaving, my daughter went into her bedroom and came back out with some sheets of paper. She said a friend had given her a Bible-reading plan for the year and she had begun to follow it. She said she uses it because she can't make it to Bible Study at her church because of her family commitments. Therefore her Bible Study time is after she drops her kids off to school and before she leaves for work.

I was ecstatic. I had no idea my daughter had been studying her Bible even though I have seen God working in her life this past year. She has been witnessing to people about Jesus Christ, inviting them to church, and last year she and a friend were baptized on the same day. Isn't God wonderful? My two younger sons are not yet saved, but I believe that what God did for my daughter He will do for them as well. In His time.

So this week I am thankful for my family and God's intervention in our lives. What are you thankful for?
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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Month Of Thankfulness - The Weather

Frozen LIQUID (Photo credit: audioburnr)
As I stepped out into the freezing 48 degree temperature this morning, I was truly thankful. I say freezing because in Florida that's what it feels like to us. And I am thankful that we don't have the kind of really freezing temperatures that other states are having. So, I'm thankful for 48. And I don't mind if it hangs around for a few days.

Let us pray that there will be no further loss of lives and that God will send some relief soon to the people who are really suffering on account of this weather.   And let's pray especially for the homeless, that they will find warm and comfortable shelter from this brutal cold.
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Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Month Of Thankfulness - Sunday Worship

Today is Sunday, and I am thankful that I was able to go to church, worship with other believers and partake in Holy Communion. This is something I never want to take for granted because there are many people who don't have this privilege. And among the privileged ones, there are many who simply don't go to church because they don't think it's important.

The Bible says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10: 25).

I don't know about you, but when I go to church I feel energized, restored, renewed and ready to face another week. I can pray at home, and I do, praise, and I do, read the Word, and I do, listen to a sermon on radio or TV, and I do, but something happens when I participate in corporate praise and worship. The atmosphere is different. I feel a oneness with God's people and with God Himself.

Today, my spirit received a special boost when my pastor preached on Philippians 4: 6-7. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Anxiety is something I struggled with in 2013, so to hear my pastor speak on it the first Sunday of the new year seemed like God was speaking just to me, reminding me not to worry about anything. He has it all taken care of. So, did you go to church today? What are you grateful for today? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


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A Month Of Thankfulness - Unexpected Kindness

In the Bible, Jesus tells us to seek and we will find. Since embarking on this month of thankfulness I have been seeking out things to be thankful for, and I have been finding that the little things can really make our day as much as if we'd received something big.

Yesterday evening as I entered the supermarket parking lot, I saw that the second space was vacant, but someone had left a grocery cart in the middle of it. I slowed, intending to come out and move the cart so I could park, but before I could stop, a lady came hurrying up pushing her own cart. She quickly moved the cart aside and went into the supermarket.

Amazed at this unexpected act of kindness, I pulled into the space, took the cart and hurried into the supermarket hoping to thank her, but when I got in there I never saw her. Her act of kindness lingered with me the whole time, reminding me that despite what we hear on the news everyday, there are many kind-hearted people out there and there is still so much to be thankful for.
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Friday, January 03, 2014

A Month Of Thankfulness

The idea for this post is borrowed from Our Daily Bread devotional of Jan. 1st. According to the article, the month of January is National Thank You month, according to many US calendars. I thought the article a fitting one for the first day of the year since that is the time we usually make New Year's resolutions. And I thought it a fitting one for me since I want to focus on all the things I should be thankful for this year instead of complaining when things go wrong.

Being thankful carries with it many benefits:

1. It shows you how blessed you are.
2. It prevents you from feeling sorry for yourself
3. It helps you appreciate God more

Studies have shown that people who are depressed do not have an attitude of gratitude. They think they have nothing to be thankful for. Other studies have shown that when depressed people are encouraged to talk/write about thankfulness, their depression lifts. You may not be depressed, but the Bible sets great store on giving thanks. Jesus gave thanks every time He prayed and He commended the Samaritan who returned to thank Him after He had healed him of leprosy.

Jesus said, "Were there not ten cleansed ? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger" (Luke 17 : 17).
Psalm 136 : 1 says, "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." The Psalm goes on to recount the many ways God blessed the Israelites and extended His mercy to them.

The Daily Bread devotional suggested that we examine the many reasons we have to be thankful during the month of January and I have begun to do that. I plan to write a "Gratitude" post every day and I would like you to join me. You can write it in your journal or blog and post a comment of it here. 

So here's what I'm thankful for so far:
 Jan 1: I'm thankful to God for bringing me and my loved ones safely into another new year.
Jan 2: I'm thankful to God for giving me the courage to take a new and faster route to work, and for making it stress-free for me.
Jan 3: I'm thankful for the relaxing time I spent today studying God's word and communing with Him. 

What are you thankful for? 
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