Friday, December 9, 2011

A 365 Thanksgiving Part 3 {Guest Post}

Click here for Part 1 of this post.

Click here for Part 2.

A Gift in the Present—

The third gift of God that should not be forgotten is here in the present. It is the Body of Christ. The other followers of Jesus around us and elsewhere are chosen to be a part of the same body as you.

1 Corinthians 12:20 says, "As it is, there are many parts, but one body…" and in verses 24b-27 "But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

"From [Jesus] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:16)

Christians are intertwined in the Body of Christ. We may think of ourselves as independent of others, but the truth is that we are more interdependent than we think. Perhaps it is our individualized and isolating culture that gives us the impression that Christian relationships should be the same. The opposite is true. We grow together. We work together for the strengthening of everyone’s faith. We rejoice and mourn together. We are an inseparable body of Believers who work together, share together, live out our lives together.
Each of us also has a responsibility to pursue unity with one another by avoiding certain behaviors that would break the cohesive bond we share:
"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (So instead of those behaviors that break others down, what should we do for other Believers in Christ?) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:25-31)
We have a responsibility to other Christians.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24, 25)

Have you considered lately what you could do or say to encourage a fellow Christian to be more loving and to act more holy before God and men? I ask the Lord before I arrive at church to guide me in my conversations to point others toward Him. Since we are members of one another, we owe it to our neighbors to caringly point them to Christ. Have you shared with someone how God has been faithful? Or asked someone what the Lord is teaching them lately? Invited them to a small group, men’s or women’s events?

Another distinguishing characteristic of Christians is described in 1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” As our Spanish pastor explained to some of the men on our monthly Saturday breakfast, “Love is not blah, blah, blah, but Boom, Boom, Boom.” Love acts!

I periodically ask myself, “What would a Christian do that no one else would do?” Serve someone? Go the extra mile in our work? Pray for someone who hurts you? Turn your cheek with forgiveness when mistreated?

We are also called to goodness, one of the fruits of yielding to the Spirit of God—a nature that exudes good deeds from a heart of love. Galatians 6:10 says, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."  When we see a need, we try to meet it. When we see a need among fellow followers of Christ Jesus, we really need to try to meet it. The way Jesus said that “all men will know” who His disciples are is by “loving one another” (John 13:35).

Boom, Boom, Boom. Not blah, blah, blah.

How have you faired at learning of the needs of Christians (and your neighbors) and meeting them? Would you be known as one who does good, one who acts with love? I pray that we are a body of many parts that acts with love, here and abroad.

As God pours into us, we must pour out, lest we become stagnate. Oswald Chambers, who spoke the words in the famous, My Utmost for His Highest devotional, once shared, “God’s goal is to make us exactly like Himself, not to make us plump grapes, but ones He may squeeze.” Of all the goodness, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and friendship that our Father has poured into you for many years, are you in turn offering the same kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and friendship to those in your world?

Without you, our church is not as strong. You play a part in my growth and your neighbor’s growth and in caring for our needs (as we for yours). I am here for your strengthening. You are here for ours. Are you using your gifts: your hands to serve, your ears to listen, your mouth to teach, your lips to encourage, your pen to write words of gratitude?

Just a few ways for you to consider serving those who lead you within your church: write a note of encouragement to the pastors and staff and your children’s teachers. Give a card or a balloon with a kind message. Send an email. Offer to help. Commit to praying for your leaders here. Share that with them. Let’s be a people who love with action!!

Boom, boom, boom, not blah, blah, blah.

{This next paragraph was an example of how my husband - author of this guest post - lead us in action at our church the Sunday morning he shared this message.  He left it in here as a way to spur those of you reading this to consider the same.  It was a great time of prayer, and in fact there was applause at the end.  I suspect there was also an applause in Heaven...  Then the conclusion, so keep reading.}

Are you ready to do your part for those around you? Now is your opportunity. We are going to do an activity together, which I have never done on a Sunday morning, so we’ll see how it goes. In your seats, we are going to spend some time serving one another by praying for each other. We are going to turn one way or another (to the front, back, left, or right) and look around to ensure everyone has a group to join. In that small group, we are going to pray for one another’s needs—however big or small. We invite you to pray for others’ needs. If you do not feel comfortable praying, just ask God to bless and care for them. He hears your prayer—the short ones are just as important as the long ones. Be sure to share your name since we sometimes sit next to people whose names we don’t know. Then, when you have made a group of three to seven people (no more), ask what needs they have. Take a few minutes praying. I’ll let you know when we are starting to wrap up, and I’ll close our small group prayer time. While this may feel a little uncomfortable, it is your sacrifice of service for others. So let’s serve one another in prayer now and make a little group around you.


When the speed of life blinds us to God’s goodness like whipping past a sign on the highway, remember. When events in life seem bigger than the Almighty, remember. When we feel the ease of His blessing, remember. When we feel the stress of finances, remember. When we begin to doubt Him, remember: Jesus’ blood shed to redeem your once-dead spirit, His promise of a home with Him in Heaven, and for the Body of Christ around you. May worship spring forth noticeably from your lips, attitude, and actions toward God and toward others!

To close, let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."

Rarely do we see the words in Scripture, at least in the New Testament:“This is God’s will for you…” But we see it here. What is His will? Offer God your thanks, your worship…all the time, in every situation—ones you understand and ones you don’t. And like Mary who broke the jar of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus, and the one leper who was made whole and returned to thank Jesus, He is pleased and glorified as we come to Him with a heart overflowing with gratitude for what He has done for us. Let’s remember His continual goodness each day, throughout the day.

What do you have to thank God for today?

No comments: