Monday, November 14, 2011

Effectual Gratitude

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
Philemon 1:6

I read this and thought, "It can't be that simple." Sharing my faith has always been a point of concern for me. I want to live out Jesus in me, but I fear rejection. That's a pretty scary truth to admit to you, but the truth it is.

So this morning I read this verse in Philemon. You know Philemon, right? That little 25-verse book near the end of the New Testament is Paul's letter to a slave-owner. Paul encounters a run-away slave and leads the man to Jesus as his savior. Now, this runaway needs to make his life right and return to the owner from which he ran. Paul writes a letter to Philemon, the owner, to tell him that the slave is now a Christian.
But its verse 6 at which I paused this morning. Let me read it to you again: "That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."

I read this verse this morning and quickly scanned through as many "good things" as I could in my mind.  The list is exhaustive.  Paul says that acknowledging every good thing in me from Jesus will make taking about my faith "effectual" or sound, strong, powerful, successful! Could it be that gratitude will lead others to Christ? Yes! If I acknowledge every good thing that's in me from Jesus, which is EVERYTHING, then people will see Jesus in me. Sharing Jesus with others can be as simple as showing gratitude to the one who gave you everything in a public way.

I have a friend, Rachel, who said once that she decided not to leave a place without sharing Jesus with someone. Even if she went to the grocery store, she wasn't going to leave unless she told someone about Jesus. But it was her definition of "telling someone about Jesus" that was interesting. She didn't think she had to full-on witness to a person everywhere she went. She just made sure to acknowledge God publicly every place she went. So, using that grocery store example, if Rachel ran into a neighbor and the neighbor told her about their new dining room table, Rachel would say, "Well, I think that's terrific that God would allow you to buy a brand new dining room table. Praise God for His provision." She acknowledged God everywhere she went, even if it was just through gratitude.  And, by her definition and apparently Paul's definition as well, she shared Jesus in her world.

Gratitude seems like such a simple thing. I mean, I have so much to be grateful for. Just being grateful seems like a too-easy way to share Jesus with others. But according to the book of Philemon, verse 6, acknowledging who gave me these many blessings could change lives.  Who knew?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Strange Devotional

I have a devotional I use sometimes that probably wasn't meant to be a devotional.  And yet it's a very inspiring resource.  One time I talked to you about not overlooking a resource just because it's not meant for children your children's ages.  Well the same can be said about overlooking books with Christian spiritual content that could be used as devotions.  Here's a picture of the book I'm talking about:

Yep, it's a hymnal.  It's an older hymal published in 1941 for youth.  It's thin, with some hymns I've never heard of.  Not only are there hymns, but also a lot of supplemental readings.  There are great responsive readings at the back that are all scriptural.  There are pages entitled "Prayers and Collects" that have some beautiful writings.  There is poetry and extra readings meant for special services.  And then of course there are the hymns.  Some of the hymns I've never heard of, but they are beautiful and always apt.  I manage to find a reading, hymn or poem in this book that encourages me every time I pick it up.

It's an unlikely book to think of as a devotional, but it points me to God when I read and it's definitely inspiring.

So, don't overlook older books that are Godly but not necessarily meant as a devotional.  You will be inspired.