GIVING

By Rev Don Rivers

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. A time to look at all we have and humble ourselves before a gracious God. We don’t always have what we want and we don’t always understand the plans God has for us, but we can be confident that he loves and cares for us. How has God cared for you this past year? Greetings, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving is a time for sharing. I see it in the lives of others as they give of themselves to help those less fortunate. I remember a family I met one Saturday before Thanksgiving; husband, wife, son and daughter, as they picked up some hot drinks and muffins for the road. They were headed to pack up their Suburban and deliver Thanksgiving baskets to those in need.

This wasn’t a fancy new Suburban; this Suburban is 1970’s vintage and as I talked with the dad he told the story of last year. He stayed up all night rebuilding the rear-end so that they could keep their commitment and make deliveries. They made it and those who were collecting the food were thankful. No matter what obstacle they had to overcome they would be there. They received such a blessing they gave up their Saturday and delivered baskets every year.

Colossians 2:6-7; So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

I remember a thanksgiving at Emmanuel Baptist Church where I was the pastor. They celebrated their annual Harvest Festival around Thanksgiving. They used the occasion to come together as one body in Christ. Let me explain. Emmanuel Baptist Church reached out to several different people groups, Deaf, Hearing, Romanian, Moldavian, Russian, Central Asian, Nepali, Bhutanese and the list goes on. Most times they meet at different times because each service is in a different language. The Harvest Festival is different; they all came together for one worship service and to take part in the Lord’s Supper as one congregation.

That Sunday was standing room only. They enjoyed worshiping together as each different group of people brought something to share. No one understood all that was said, but God did. This was just a snapshot of heaven, all people from all nations together worshiping one God.

One of the main reasons we have to be thankful is that we have God who cares for us. He is there; despite what we think, guiding us. For those who will follow, He directs us through life and provides for our needs. I am reminded of Paul’s statement in Scripture about his level of comfort with God’s provision. He stated that he had learned to be content no matter whether he had enough or was in need. Just knowing that God was with him allowed him to relax and focus on serving others. My hope is that we can each attain that peace.

Philippians 4:10-14; I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

I wonder how we have shared in others troubles? Have we considered the challenges others face and made an effort to give and help relieve some of the burden?

One of the ways my wife and I give is through Operation Christmas Child. It is an outreach of Samaritan’s Purse that brings a shoebox gift to impoverished children around the world. This gift may very well be the only item a child will have to call their own. Imagine, all you have in the world fit into a shoebox. But there is more to the story.

These boxes bring hope, they bring the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They help these young people know someone cares for them. Someone loves them. I encourage you to look up some of the stories about how these shoeboxes have changed the direction of some of these young people. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

This year Christian Life Chapel, the church I pastor, packed over 60 boxes. We also became a drop off point for the region and over the last week received over 1,000 boxes. This week those boxes continue their journey and head to Baltimore and then to the ends of the earth.

My wife has decided to give more this year and is in Baltimore at the warehouse working for the next three weeks preparing the boxes and shipping them out for delivery to their final destination. Some by Plains, trains, cargo ships to canoes, camels, donkeys to be carried by indigenous people and given to a child in need, over 9 million boxes! Please lift this effort up in prayer.

I think all of our hearts start to soften up a little bit when the holidays roll around. I am not sure what hardens them the rest of the year but I know we are more generous and willing to give. It is somewhat funny; when the weather gets cold our hearts soften up.

I want to encourage you this Thanksgiving to let go. Let go of all the things we have to do and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Let him lead our hearts. Give this holiday season to God and let Him help us meet the needs of others.

Hebrews 13:15-16; Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Have a great time relaxing and serving others this thanksgiving.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.

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