Wednesday Devotion with Bert Sikkelee
My life-long friend, Christopher Morse, who taught Systematic Theology for 30 years at Union Seminary in New York says “The church is a body of people giving thanks.” In last Sunday’s epistle lesson we will hear these words, “Have no (undue) anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God.” (Phi. 4:6)
Eric Hoffer said with some truth, “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings!” And yet it is more important than any other arithmetic you’ll ever learn!
Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” After I read those words, I decided to make a list of people and things that I was grateful for. It began, of course, with my parents, my wife, and my children. And then it started expanding and expanding and expanding. It included people and events, and schools, and advice, and churches, and travel, and teachers, and gifts, and houses, and places – until I was overcome with GRATITUDE for all of the blessings I had received at every stage of my life!
I invite you – no, I challenge you – to make a list of many of the things you are grateful for. It will be an incredible experience!
Fred Craddock, one of the greatest preachers of my generation, says “I have never known a grateful person who was at the same time small, or mean, or bitter, or greedy, or selfish, or took any pleasure in anybody else’s pain. Never!
Martin Luther warned, “Whatever you cling to, that is your god.”
To hear Luther again, “The Christian life is not a life of duty, but a life of gratitude.” And in a life of gratitude, GIVING and RECEIVING are tightly bound together! Giving and receiving are mutual. Gratitude leads to giving thanks (thanksgiving) and giving thanks leads to generosity! And once started, the pattern becomes richer and richer and wider and wider.
John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he GAVE….” You and I are made in the image of God. Giving is biological.
You probably know the story about Alfred Nobel. One morning he woke up to read the morning headlines, “Alfred Nobel, Dynamite King, Dies.” (His brother had died in France, and the papers had made a mistake!)
Alfred was so horrified that someday his real obituary would define him as a “dynamite king” that he created the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE and a lot of other wonderful Nobel Prizes for positive achievements on behalf of humankind! That’s what Alfred Nobel did to change his legacy.
If YOU were to die today, how would YOUR obituary read? What are YOUR defining characteristics? What would you like them to be? Would GENEROUS be one of them?
Closing prayer: “For all thy blessings, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, we give thee thanks, O God!”