Monday, December 3, 2018

Here's my wrapped present

Gratitude is indeed something we don't realize we haven't expressed until we realize we have begun to take some things (or people) in our lives for granted. There are times where we really are grateful, but we don't express it. We just assume another knows we are indeed grateful for the relationship, appreciative of what another has done for us, or just that we are well-pleased with the way things have gone. When we are walking in step with one another, it is kind of common to occasionally just 'take for granted' that we have each other. William Arthur Ward penned the words, "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." We can 'feel' very grateful - but fail to express it - not 'giving the present' so to speak. He also reminds us: "Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." We might just do well to realize routine can bring joy, common can spark newness, and ordinary might just be the biggest blessing we can receive!

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:17 MSG

Give the message of Christ's love and grace plenty of room in your life and you will find there is lots and lots of room for expressing gratitude, my friends! Why? His grace overwhelms in ways we may not recognize at first, but when we stop to consider what he has accomplished through the extension of that grace time after time again, we cannot but burst into thanksgiving for his overwhelming outpouring of love. The details of our lives spark others to be grateful when we begin to express those details! Ward also reminds us to not just flatter one another and that includes how we approach God in our prayer and worship. As Ward says, "Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you." God loves us - not to force us to love him, but to cause us to realize our need for his grace in our lives. That realization of grace's need is what causes us to reach out to him. 

The peace of Christ helps us live in harmony with one another. Why? Where his peace dwells, there is less opportunity for the ugliness of self to get in the way of loving each other. His peace actually takes over the space where the ugliness of envy seeks to rise up. It also less space for our own guilt to hold us bound to our past. When we are not bound to the past, we are free to begin to enjoy the present. You, my friends, are part of the present - not the past! We are given each other to spur one another on toward love and grace - revealing the peace of Christ to one another. Give God plenty of room - by allowing him 'space' we are allowing him the privilege of transforming that 'space' into the most lovely space of all! From that transformation stems gratitude - grace-filled, peace-filled, and love-engorged lives cannot help but express their gratitude. Never take for granted what God has begun and continues to reveal within one another. Spur one another on to see the fullness of God's presence and peace within them. Just spurring you on today!