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Friday: Further Thought – Offerings of Gratitude — 9 Comments

  1. "At the same time, what does your list teach you about how even our best gifts, given for the best motives, can seem so paltry in the face of what we have received?"

    I'm not sure why this question has been suggested because it is not the way that God looks upon our giving.

  2. It’s very, very humbling isn’t! We feel so unworthy the closer we come to the cross. “The fact that God's dear Son should have to come to our world to fight our battles for us that we might have strength to conquer in His name, should ever humble our proud hearts. If we look to the cross of Calvary, every boast will die upon our lips, and we shall cry, “Unclean, unworthy of so great suffering, of so rich a price paid for my redemption.” 1SM 316.1. What ever I can give back is peanuts of what Christ has done for me.

  3. SSQ: What is it about selfishness that makes it so contrary to the spirit of Christ?

    Even a casual observation of the ruling principle of this present world will reveal the stark contrast between love for self and sacrificing love for others. Those who seek personal gain will end up oppressing someone somewhere in order to reach their goal of self-aggrandizement. Satan can easily tempt any with this desire to always grasp for more of what they seem to believe will bring them satisfaction at last, though it will always elude them since nothing of this world can bring us the peace that nothing can disturb.

    SSQ: What are conscious things that we can do to help protect ourselves from what is such a natural attitude for a fallen human being?

    A most vital question to answer, for it is the great issue of this life isn't it?
    What does Jesus teach?

    "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart...".

    "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

    "whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a Rock."

    Though many more examples of Jesus' teachings could be added, these seem to sum up the course of action we must take to overcome the natural attitude of a fallen world. In every case, it must begin with repentance(Mark 1:15), because Jesus came to call sinners to repentance.

  4. Following on from Robert's suggestions regarding conscious things we can do to help counter our default tendency as human beings within a fallen world...

    Many people are not aware of how our subconscious works and how much it typically 'drives' our everyday experience (it is estimated that something in the order of 95% of our brains functioning is subconscious because it is so much more cognitively efficient than the considerably greater 'brain power' needed to make a thought conscious).

    Everyday, your subconscious is 'driving' you (via initiating 'impulses') in response to whatever stimuli you come across (ie 'cues') - what your eyes see, what your ears hear. For many people, the media in its various forms is a substantial part of their lives and so provides fuel for the subconscious to feed off. Then there are the conversations of people in the workplace and so on. Your subconscious cannot but attend to this and be shaped by it - by beholding we become changed is a 'law' of how our brain functions.

    And your subconscious (because of the way it works being both (a) below your level of conscious awareness, and (b) much faster in processing speed) will then influence your attitudes, thoughts and behaviours for the day in accordance with its agenda - unless you consciously and intentionally intervene.

    To counter this, we would need to consciously and intentionally (a) select/predetermine - as much as is possible/practical - what we will expose ourselves to during the day (Phil 4:8 is talking about this need), and (b) set a regular point (at whatever frequency it needs to be) where we consciously and intentionally check in with where our 'appetite' is at. This can be writing the question "where am I at" or "where am I actually heading" down and actually taking the time to reflect and answer (maybe even write/journal briefly) this question. If you forget to do this, set the question as a reminder in your mobile/cell phone. Or perhaps, arrange to meet regularly with a safe friend or group of friends to catch up and check in with this question. The more regularly you do this, the more you will intentionally create a 'habit' that will habitually counter our tendency to drift back towards self-referenced living (I prefer this term over selfish as it is a better description of what is actually happening).

    Our conscious was originally created to 'oversee' or keep our subsconscious in check. At the fall, it would appear that this mechanism was disrupted and the subconscious now gets the jump on our conscious. That is why we need to consciously and intentionally intervene (via setting up reminder behaviours/cues) to develop (ie give it a regular work-out) our conscious part of our brain so it grows and develops progressively towards the way it was meant to be and needs to be. This is the process of 'maturing' our brain.

    And in conjunction with this, it is also essential to ask God to search our heart and reveal to us what our natural nature may not want to acknowledge (see Ps 139:23,24). And too there is James advice (James 1:5) to ask God for wisdom in how to apply these principles in our life situation.

    • Ok, taking this principle of action to a similar level, imagine the difference in the subconscious influence between Abraham and Lot, after Lot "pitched his tent toward Sodom", which we all now know was traded in for a nice dwelling closer to shopping, schools, and...whatever else abounded downtown.

      Where do we place ourselves intentionally? Are we following where God leads as Abraham or are we praying "Thy will be done" while making such decisions as Lot made?

      Another Bible principle that is sound is Daniel's advice to Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4:27. By having a Divine purpose and approach in life, we will be as those who see and hear not while mingling in the world, though not of this world.
      Where are we pitching our "tent" in this life? There is no record of Lot saying "let me pray about this uncle, and I'll let you know where God would lead me." In fact we have no indication that he conferred with his God-fearing and older/wiser uncle on the question, but chose a more worldly advantaged direction. What were our ambitions/goals our senior year in academy/highschool and/or in college? Where have they led us and for what purpose? Sad to note that of all the classmates from academy, I know of one who has left the world completely and gone to a very remote part of the globe to bring the gospel of Christ to those who have had no hint of such a thing. And this came much later in their life after chasing the american dream (SDA version of course) for many years.

      We will absorb what interests us. I believe the lifestyle of Enoch insulated him from the wickedness that abounded shortly before God decided to cleanse the earth of it's self-destructive bent. Yes, he retreated often to surround himself with the Divine influence which I am certain he felt great need of. We are, after all, fallen in nature, and tend towards ruin if not conscious of how to avoid it deliberately. Yes, it must be deliberate. A conscious choice based upon a higher purpose and constant Divine influence.

      Great reference of Phil 4:8 Phil. So vital to have that always before us, along with the sincere prayer of Ps 139:23,24 constantly. This is how we take Christ's yoke upon us, learning of Him.

  5. This is the moment of truth where the parts of our spiritual lives rub against our practical lives. It is where our faith meets the ups and downs of life through successes and failures. It is where our beliefs get real in the rough and tumble scuffles of daily living.
    Stewardship is the outer wrapping of who we are and what we do. It is a witness of our conduct and of a life well managed. Our daily actions that reveal Christ are like the iron on the wheel that touches the road.....

    Lets remain focused to the Service.


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