Monthly Archives: October 2014

Giving Thanks is at the Core of Stewardship

What does it mean to ‘Give Thanks’ and why is this important to stewardship?

This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the four Gospels* is from Luke. In Luke 22:14 – 19, when  Jesus served the wine and broke the bread, and gave thanks.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

When most Christians eat dinner, they offer a prayer over their food, and thank God for it.  If we’re in a restaurant, we usually pray before we dig in to the appetizer or salad. My wife is funny, when the main course arrives, she giggles a little and says we should pray again, because it looks so good. She says the same thing when the dessert arrives.

Giving thanks,  sounds like a strange way to describe it

To give something usually means material possessions not words, doesn’t it? Our society doesn’t place much value on words today. Words are freely thrown around. If you watch news programs, it seems as if words are used with so much poison, designed to ridicule and put down political opponents. We casually select words we say in emails, particularly when we are under a lot of pressure or are anxious.

Jesus talked about the tongue:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 ESV

Thankful words reveal where our treasure is

 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. According to Luke 6:21. If your treasure is in heavenly things, if you have a grateful heart, you’ll automatically say thanks a lot. 

Grateful people aren’t bitter and constantly in want of more

The evil person places more value on non-heavnely treasures. When they face injustice, disappointment, and life doesn’t go their way, they become bitter and lack gratitude. The person putting up treasures in heaven, is thankful for all of the good things they have, as well as everything else too. Everyone faces difficulty and most of us have a long wish list, but the good people Jesus is talking about, are able to be thankful for nearly everything, whether good or not so good (see Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28).

Giving thanks is huge – it’s a very meaningful and valuable gift

The verse from Matthew above shows that by our mere words, we are justified; that shows there is tremendous power in the things we say. Therefore when we give God thanks and praise, we are offering a valuable gift. We are showing him our appreciation. We are pointing our hearts to the gift giver. God loves these gifts of praise, and it makes him smile.

Good stewards are generous with their thanks

They are constantly giving away nice words. They generously tell others and God of their appreciation. These kind of people are happier. They know that everything they have is a gift from God, and they manage it for him and not for themselves. They cheerfully and generously give the valuable gift of thanks all day long.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Call to action

List the things you are grateful for, it’s a fun liberating exercise, something good to do every day. If this was helpful, list your comment below about what you thought of this, and maybe some of the things you are grateful for.  A helpful book to me about this subject is 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, check it out!

*This Monday blog post is a chronological walk through of the four gospels, examining any verse that involves money and stewardship.  This is the sixty-first post in this series.

A Story of Life Changes, Faith, Risk, Tithe and Blessings

Life can be interesting for many of us. It seems as if only a small percentage of people work for the same company until retirement, and then are set financially for the last chapter of life, living on a good company sponsored retirement plan. While many others of us, our careers and life is more like a winding road. Change is rapid to our economy, businesses, and even the best employees can get left behind in the wake of corporate buy-outs and re-organizations. Here is a great story of life change, faith, trust, giving and subsequent blessings.

I worked for a company for twenty years and had a well-paying job with good benefits. I was a shift supervisor but was getting increasingly frustrated with my job. My company was in the process of downsizing. I always made an effort to keep a good attitude because I knew I was blessed to have a job. I began to ask the Lord for direction in seeking a new job or a different career.

About 11 years ago, my wife and I went on a short vacation to have some quiet time to specifically seek the Lord for direction. I read through the whole book of Proverbs one afternoon on vacation. It felt as though the Lord was showing me numerous scriptures pertaining to finance and prosperity. I underlined and numbered these scriptures, stood on God’s word and continued to pray and seek the Holy Spirit’s direction. The Sunday we were on vacation, we went to church and the guest speaker was speaking on stepping out, which I took as a word from God. Another day on vacation, the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that my employer had been bought out. The following Sunday we went to our home church, in Columbus, and the minister was preaching the same sermon.

Monday, I went back to work and was told that more cutbacks had been made while I was on vacation. Several people were laid off and given severance packages. I was told we weren’t going to have a supervisor on day shift any longer and I could move to second shift as the supervisor, or remain on day shift and give up my shift supervisor job. I called my wife and told her I was going to ask my employer if they would offer me a severance package. My employer agreed to give me a severance package good though which gave me thirty years in the union and will be beneficial to me when I retire. I thanked my employer for all that he had done for me and left on good terms. My children had graduated from high school, so I felt now was the time to step out and take a chance. There was only one problem, I didn’t have a job.

Several years before I quit my job, I helped my son start a summer painting business which I thought we could grow. I tried painting for a few weeks and had problems with carpel tunnel from working with computers for so many years. The Lord was directing me out of the painting business and into another business.

I continued to pray for direction from the Lord. I decided to go to school for my real estate license. I hadn’t been in school for many years, but was able to pass the real estate exam. While attending school, I herniated a disc in my back. I was in a lot of pain and my medical insurance was close to expiring. I prayed, got therapy for my back, and it eventually healed. Even when you are in God’s will there are plenty of obstacles.

I started in real estate about 10 years ago and tried to figure out how many closings I would need per month to survive. I called expired listings everyday and “For Sale by Owner” ads once a week. When I saw a ” For Sale by Owner” yard sign I would stop at the home, take a deep breath, knock on their door, and try to persuade them to list their home with me.

My severance package was running out and I had a few thousand dollars in the bank but I never quite tithing. TITHING WORKS. Finally after several months I had my first listing appointment and I was scared to death. I walked into the listing appointment with my listing presentation and started to talk to the owners. I didn’t even get through the presentation and they said “do you want the keys to our house to put in the lock-box”? God had it all worked out before I arrived at the Seller’s home. To this day I continue to see God’s favor in business.

The Lord’s business, because it is His business, continued to grow. At the end of my first year in real estate my income exceeded the income from the last year of my previous job. God was so faithful. Was it easy? No. Sales are a lot of work and a lot of disappointments. In the subsequent years, the Lord has continued to bless and the business has continued to grow.    

I would encourage you to not give up, pray, stand on God’s word and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. God wants to bless and prosper you. Lastly, don’t stop giving and tithing.

God Chooses to Bless Others Through You and Me

A few months ago, I asked people to email me testimonies about how God blessed them, or blessed others through them. Here is a great story, of something that happened during just a normal activity of life.

I have been so blessed by God throughout my whole life, it  would take a book to tell it all. Instead I will let His Book tell of  the blessings we have in Jesus Christ. But one of my responses to His goodness to me is to ask Him to show me someone to help everyday. Well let me tell you that includes the gas station at Costco! I was getting gas recently and noticed a young women with a frantic look approaching the gas station on foot with a baby in one arm and a toddler in another! Having had four children myself I could relate,  let me tell you! I asked her if she needed help and she pointed to her stranded out of gas vehicle sitting in a lane clear on the other side of Gemini Parkway.

Yes, it was rush hour and cold! Why make this simple? We have a Mighty God, no problem! Anyway, neither of us had a gas can but the gas attendant found one, sanctioned it for unofficial use, filled it with gas using my card and offered to briefly leave his post, risking his job I’m sure, took the can and went and put the gas in her car! I drove the mother and children to their car and shielded a lane of rush hour traffic with my car’s emergency lights flashing so hopefully they could get into their car and on their way in one piece, which they did! I was able to say “God Bless You” when she was leaving, which of course He already had! Her gas tank was filled and so was my grateful heart!

Then a few months later, this same person emailed me another testimony. This is awesome:

Also, I want to tell you I was at a Saturday evening service early May and after the service there was a call to come forward for people with throat and neck issues. I went forward as I was facing surgery for a golf ball size growth on my right thyroid. I had surgery July 20 and my right thyroid was removed. Praise God there was no cancer and the most amazing thing is that when I awoke from surgery I literally felt no pain!! I never needed any pain medication. The doctors and nurses were amazed! So was I! was back to work and exercising etc in a week, I feel great! Praise God!

God is generous, and he is also aware and responsive to people’s needs of those around us. Many times, maybe most of the time, he desires you and me to be the agents of heavenly blessings. When we are thankful for all of the numerous ways that God blesses us (like the lady who wrote me this email appears to be), and not so much focused on our needs all day long , I think our spiritual ears are more open to God’s appointments, like the example given here. God blesses the giver and receiver, it’s so cool! Imagine the blessings you miss, because you hesitate?