Posts Tagged ‘blessings’

Deuteronomy 29:1-29 (Part 2 of 4)

Moses Reviews the Covenant

What is it that parents want for their children? It is not for them to grunt under the strain of their teaching and parenting. Parents want their children to grow up and be able to function and take care of themselves in society at large. Parents simply want to have the assurance that when they depart from this life that they are leaving behind children that will prosper and not fall part under the pressures of life. For a Christ follower, there is the additional desire that their child come to know the saving grace of salvation. Some may have a desire for their children to have riches beyond measure, but most parents just want their children to be able to take care of themselves. It’s like the title of that old Journey song, “I’ll Be Alright Without You!” Although Steve Perry sang that he was fooling himself in that effort in that song. That is what we want for our kids, that they will be alright without us.

 

I do not care if my girls are rich or not. I do care though if they are capable of making their own way in life. I do care if they are well-adjusted and happy with the lifestyle that they are living. My oldest daughter is a school teacher who is married to a cop. They are both public servants so they will likely never be rich. However, that is not a big deal to me. I do want my daughter and my son-in-law to be happy with the life path that they have taken. I do want them to realize that even though they may not have great earthly riches that they both are investing in the future of people’s lives. As a school teacher, you are investing in the future of children. I don’t know about you but there is always a teacher in our pasts that had a profound effect on the future of our lives. For me, it was Mrs. Wayner, my 11th grade English teacher. She taught me so much about writing and expressing myself well in words that I still use today. She taught me that life is full of challenges every week that we must be ready to withstand and to conquer, that it was up to us to accomplish our goals, that nobody was going to do it for us, that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Meghan may not even know for years what impact she is having on students. Curtis, as a cop, and enforcing the law may change the direction of people’s lives for the better by doing his job. It may be an encounter with the law that causes a person to take stock of where their life is headed. By enforcing the law, he may be preventing an evil person from hurting others in the future. He may never know what impact he is having.

 

My second oldest daughter, my stepdaughter, Michelle is the general manager of a beauty products store. You might say what difference can she possibly be making in people’s lives at a place devoted the vanity of women. However, the difference she can make in people’s lives have nothing to do with the products she sells and everything to do with them. First, her greatest impact that she can have is on the people she supervises. That has nothing to do with the product she sells and everything to do with developing people. Typically, girls come to work at her location of the beauty products chain store because they think it would be fun to sell the products and get discounts. They are usually young and inexperienced in the working world. Michelle’s greatest impact will be in how she develops their work habits and teaching them about life’s demands, about seeking excellence in everything you do no matter the job. Equally, her products make women feel pretty and self-confident. What she knows about these products and what will work best for each woman who enters her store can help a women feel her best and most confident in a world that rightly or wrongly judges women by their appearance. If that little boost of self-confidence helps a woman achieve her potential in life, then, her products are more than just vanity.

 

My youngest daughter, Taylor, is still struggling to find her way in life. She has had starts and stops and seems to struggle in identifying that “it” in her life that is her life’s work passion. Because of that, I worry about her the most of my three girls. Because of that, our relationship has been a tough one over the past couple of years. Taylor is probably the smartest of the three girls and me. She has great potential. I just want her to find her sweet spot in life. That thing that she loves doing as a career or a profession. I want her to be well-adjusted and not live a hand to mouth existence. I want to not worry about her making it on her own in life. I want not to worry about whether she has electrical power in her home or heat or air conditioning. I want not to worry whether she has a home or not. I want to leave this earth one day knowing that she can take care of herself – the basic desire of all parents for their children.

 

To know that you children can take care of themselves, that they are doing something they love for a career or profession, and that they will survive and carry on after we leave this earth is a fantastic blessing for parents. To know that they are going to be OK is the blessing, not whether we have left them wealthy or that they will make themselves wealthy. Just knowing that they will survive without you here is the blessing. Knowing that you raised them to be well-adjusted, income earning, law-abiding citizens will allow us to go to our graves satisfied.

 

The greatest blessing above that is to know that they know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. I got such a late start on that myself, I have worried about that issue for my children over the years. Then, even when I accepted Christ as my Savior, I was a spiritual baby for a long time. It has only been within the past six or seven years that I really began to grow in Christ and understand the faith and what Christ expects of us. Even with the late start of being a Christ follower and how that may have affected my children’s own walk to the cross is one of the greatest worries of my life. I have beliefs about the positions of each of my girls in their relationship with Jesus Christ and I pray for them to know Jesus Christ in a deeper and deeper way each day. I pray for them to know the fellowship of believers and how it helps us to grow in Christ. Ultimately, the greatest blessing in life is to know that they have a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Knowing that means knowing that not only will they be able to handle the vagaries of this life in an eternally meaningful way but also that their eternity is assured. The greatest blessing will be reunited with them in heaven one day. What greater blessing could there be than that?

 

That was the thing that came to mind today. What constitutes a successful life as a parent of children! We want our children to be blessed. What is a blessed life? So, let’s read Deuteronomy 29 another time this morning. This time let’s focus on vv. 8-15 and what it has to say about a blessed life:

 

29 [a]These are the terms of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.

 

2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:

 

Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. 3 With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. 4 But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. 5 Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. 6 You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”

 

7 When you reached this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out to fight against us, but we defeated them. 8 We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

 

9 Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. 10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, 11 together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. 12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you 15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.

 

16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.

 

19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven. 21 The Lord will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.

 

22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it. 23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger. 24 All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”

 

25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”

 

29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

 

What is the best way to prosper in life? For the Israelites, their first step was to keep their part of the covenant. They were to love God with all their heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). We, too, are to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), then, true success in life will follow as a blessing from the hand of God.

 

So, many of think of blessings in life being monetary ones. God guarantees that we will be blessed by Him if we obey Him. Thus, a lot of us get confused that our obedience to God will bring prosperity and material blessings. However, the blessings of obedience to God come in the peace that comes to our souls. God’s desire for us is to be at peace with Him. Obedience brings that peace. When we do what God says in His Word, we are led to lie down by the still waters. Even if the world is raging around us, we still have the peace of God with us. As parents, we want our kids to be handle the world on their own after we are gone. We want them to not be raging against the machine and losing. We want them to be well-adjusted and at peace. Similarly, God knows that when we disobey Him we will find all kinds of destruction and self-loathing and unhappiness. God wants us to be at peace. When we learn to trust God with our very existence, we will find peace. When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, we know the peace of God. We know that no matter what the world throws at us, we have the peace of salvation. We have the peace of knowing that there is more to life than just this. We have the peace of knowing that we will spend eternity with Him. We have the peace of knowing that God’s ways are better than our ways. We have the peace of knowing that God’s Word is proven and true. We have the peace of knowing that obedience brings peace and that is the blessing.

 

That is what God, our Father, our Eternal Parent, wants for us. To submit to His loving leadership so that we will be blessed by knowing the peace of God and knowing that if we fully trust Him with our lives that we will spend eternity with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ. That’s a blessed life!

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14

Blessings for Obedience

How often do you sit back and think about how many blessings that God has given you? It is so easy to focus on the negative things that happen to us, and not be able to see the blessings that we have been given. We take our blessings for granted and focus on the things that we do not have or that God has not given us yet. It is kind of the opposite of a married man glorifying his single days and how much fun they were yet not remembering that there the good times of single-dom were the highlights, the peaks of that period of life surrounded by valleys of loneliness. So, sometimes we must take stock of the blessings that we have been given and give them some focus instead of the problems that we have.

 

When I think of how God has taken care of me over the years, it makes me stand in awe. There are so many times that He could have just washed His hands of me and tossed me away. However, He is a God who loves us. He is a God that will never abandon us nor forsake us. I just think of the times even when I was not a Christ follower that I can now see how He took care of me even then. I think of how He has sine then too. I don’t have to look very far. I just have to think of my career and how He has blessed. The blessings from my career have led to so many other blessings as well.

 

I remember right before I accepted Christ as my Savior, I lost my job due to some stupid mistakes. It was right during the middle of the recession back in 2000 when what they called “the internet bubble” in the stock market burst. Overnight, stock values dropped and the economy went in the tank for about year and a half. I was out of work for about two months but even then I was underemployed. I did not return to full professional employment until about six months after I had lost my job. However, in the intervening time, God provided me an opportunity to work for a private investigator service going undercover as a warehouse employee at the big Bi-Lo grocery store chain warehouse in Mauldin, SC (just outside of Greenville). The company, Bi-Lo Stores, Inc., was trying to figure out why they had such a high turnover rate among their warehouse workers in that warehouse. The PI service was hired to help figure it out. The PI service then ran ads to get people to work undercover for them posing as just a normal warehouse worker. We would work a daily shift at the warehouse and then file weekly reports about what we saw and observed there. Those few of us that took this job received not only a paycheck from Bi-Lo but we also got the same amount of pay from the private investigator agency. This was a blessing. It was the hardest physical labor I have done for pay in my life. It was “balls to wall” work everyday. I was 10 hours of work a day for 5 days. Overtime was good, but by the end of the week, man, I was wore completely out. But, regardless of the aches and pains and the abuse that you took at that warehouse from not only the supervisors but from the more tenured warehouse workers, it could have been seen as something dreadful (and at times when going through that stretch I did) but it kept food on the table for my family. It was not what I was making before, but it kept my family afloat until I could return to a job in my profession. That was a blessing.

 

One other time that I lost my job was in 2007. The company that I was working for in Charlotte was bought out by this British company. They did not need our corporate headquarters as they already had one in London. They shut down our corporate operations there in Charlotte and everyone of us 20 folks that worked at that office lost our jobs. I was out of work for about 4 weeks after that. However, as I was applying for jobs all over the place, I came across this consulting firm, Vaco Resources. They would send out professional accounting consultants to companies to help with special projects, to fill accounting positions on an interim basis, to bring in expertise for companies when they did not have the expertise on staff. So, right during the middle of the Great Recession (2007-2010), I was able to work as a consultant on a long-term project down in Duncan, SC for the company, AFL Telecommunications. The consulting job was a boon for me. Not only was I making an hourly consulting rate that was equivalent to what I was making at the company I had been working for in Charlotte, but I was getting per diem for my hotel and meals. It was a good gig. I ended up as part of this consulting gig having to go to California to help clean up the accounting function at the subsidiary, Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI). It was while I was out there that I was at the right place at the right time to get the job as comptroller of FAI – the job I hold continue to hold now, some 9 years later. This job has been a real blessing to me and my wife. Over the past nine (9) years this job has blessed us in so many ways. We have met people in our personal lives that (1) led Elena to the Lord and (2) challenged me to grow up as a Christ follower. This job has allowed us to clean up my credit to the point that we have about as high of credit scores as you can have. This job has allowed us to be generous.

 

This job has led us back to South Carolina 7 years ago and to LifeSong Church where we have grown so much in Christ. As part of the maturation in Christ, we have learned to live more simply and not try to keep up with the Joneses. So, while this job has taken care of us so abundantly financially, we live simply and have been able to prepare for the future financially and, at the same time, be generous to our church, family, and friends. We have been blessed. It all comes from being obedient to the Lord. He blesses those who are obedient to Him. Sure, there have been struggles along the way. Everything has not been perfect. There are challenges in my secular job that on some days have made me want to cry and throw in the towel. Like even this week, it was brought to my attention that I have to really ramp up my management of one of my employees that will require me to more closely supervise this person so that they will become what the company wants them to become. It will require me to micro-manage a person. It is not my style as a leader and it will test me in what I consider distasteful ways. There are challenges in my calling to the ministry that are ongoing right now. I could get frustrated at God not opening doors for me to go into full-time ministry. Sometimes, I wonder why He is not opening these doors. Sometimes, I wonder why He even gave me the calling. I have done what He has led me to do but now we just wait and it gets frustrating sometimes to the point of wanting throw in the towel. There have been challenges in my personal life when it comes to my relationship with my youngest daughter. It is so frustrating sometimes with that situation that it just makes me want to cry and throw in the towel.

 

Life is never easy. There are always challenges. However, sometimes, we have to take a break from the challenges and look at how God has blessed us over the years. Just look at what He has done in our lives. For me, just looking back at the trail of my life after I lost my job in 2007 and how God took care of me will do that. Just looking at the things, events, and people that He has orchestrated into the lives of my wife and me during the past decade, it is simply amazing what God does with those who are faithful and obedient to Him. That’s what I thought about this morning when I read this passage, Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Let’s read it together now:

 

28 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

 

3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

 

4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

 

5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

 

6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

 

7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

 

8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

 

9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

 

12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

 

Sometimes, we have to quit being like ants crawling on a basketball where we can only see what is in front of us. We need to step back and see the whole basketball. We need to really examine the totality of what God has done in our lives. He takes care of us, even sometimes, when we do not realize He is taking care of us. He will bless those even in the smallest things. He will bless our coming in and our going out. He is in the details of our lives. He does care about us. He does guide and direct our steps. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the details of life and the immediate things around us that we fail to see what God has done. We need to step back then and take a look at the whole picture of where we were when we met Christ as our Savior and where we are now. Think about the blessings that He has given us. Think about the good things and not just the bad. Even the bad things are used by Him to grow us into more mature Christians. Take stock of what God has done. That can bring a smile to your face and help you deal with the challenges that you are facing now and the ones that lie ahead. God is in it. Remember that! You will see that God has had His hand in your development thus far. He has blessed you in sometimes earthly ways but most definitely in eternal ways. Trust Him. Obey Him. Observe His blessings that come.

 

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 31:25-54 (Part 2 of 2)

Division of the Plunder

In less than two weeks, our church will hold its most major community outreach event of the year. We call it the Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway (the TMG). We hold it annually on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day. It is a major event in the life of our church. It is a major financial investment of our church and it is a major investment of probably half of the attendees of our church who rotate in and out during the course of the 4-5 hour event. It is a major logistical event. There are ten different functional teams that manage this event. We have representatives of at least 500 families that pass through our doors on that date. We give away all the fixings for a family meal at home for these 500 families and we also give away coats as well. Some churches invite people to their church to have a meal on-site which seems so impersonal. We say let’s give away the meals and let our guests having family time on a family day in their family home. Many of these guests would not have a Thanksgiving meal at home otherwise, because of the expense often associated with Thanksgiving meals.

 

I am profoundly touched by the fact that I often live my life with blinders on to the desperation that often goes on around me in my community. There are sure families that pass through the TMG that are just working the system and are lazy and could work but choose to suck off the teets of public assistance. However, so many of the people that come through our doors are genuinely in need. Many have been made destitute by their disabilities. Many have made stupid mistakes in their life that have caused their poverty and they are trying to work their way back. So many of these particular types get caught in the cycle of poverty and though they are trying to break free and they live so close to the edge that one thing can go wrong and send them spiraling back down to the ground. Then, there are the elderly folks who are just getting by on social security and medications eat up most of their money. Sure, maybe some of these elderly folks should have planned for retirement better but many have been in poverty all their lives and could not save. Maybe they should have taken school more seriously growing up but those are things of people’s pasts. They find themselves in poverty NOW. We cannot judge them for the mistakes of their pasts. We can only love them NOW. We can only show them hospitality NOW. We can only share the gospel with them NOW. We can only pray with them and for them NOW. We can only clothe them NOW. We can only feed them NOW.

 

I also walk away profoundly aware of how completely blessed that I am. God has given me the ability to earn a good living as an accountant. He has blessed with by working with a company for the past eight (8) years that has completely been so good to me. During my time at Fujikura America and the ways this company has blessed me, I have been able to right my ship financially to the point that the only major debt that we have is our mortgage. Through the grace of God and understanding of His Word, we have come to the place where we can be generous without having to think about whether we can do it or not. It is a matter of determining how much not if. We have changed our mindset about things and money. We have carved out space to be obedient to the Lord in our finances. It was a tough road that required discipline to get there but we are here for now. Something may come along and blow us out of the water financially but we will have been trying to prepare for that during this season of blessing. We truly do know that we are blessed. We truly do know that it is not because we figured something out that others don’t. It is because the Lord has guided us and chiseled us and matured us into a desire to please Him first above all others. We know that our season of blessing is directly from the Lord. It is because obedience to the Lord brings the blessing of a changed mindset about possessions and about the use of money. It brings tears to my eyes to think about how God has blessed Elena and me. When you think about how God lifted us both out of bad marriages with bad finances and where God was not present to this plateau of obedience and blessing, it is profoundly humbling. The twists, turns, and intersections of life that brought Elena and me together and the roads that He sent us down since we met are not coincidence. It is part of God’s plan for the place that we are at right now. And right now is preparation for what He has in store next. It is completely humbling.

 

It is not lost on either one of us that we are completely blessed. We are humbled by it. We know where we’ve been and know for a fact that God saw us through it and placed us on dry ground on this plateau we currently occupy. It is for that reason that we give back to our Lord and want to do so generously. He lifted us up out of the pit and placed us on dry ground. There is so much thanksgiving in our heart for what God has done in our lives. There are joyful tears. There is profound humility. We give back to the Lord as simply a thank you for what He has done. We wish we could do more. The annual TMG at our church is at least one reminder to us to never forget the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon us and reinforces our hearts of thanksgiving.

 

I thought of thanksgiving today when I read through this passage and see how a portion of the spoils of victory were given to the Lord:

 

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. 27 Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community. 28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. 29 Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part. 30 From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.” 31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.

 

32 The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.

 

36 The half share of those who fought in the battle was:

 

337,500 sheep, 37 of which the tribute for the Lord was 675;

 

38 36,000 cattle, of which the tribute for the Lord was 72;

 

39 30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the Lord was 61;

 

40 16,000 people, of whom the tribute for the Lord was 32.

 

41 Moses gave the tribute to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part, as the Lord commanded Moses.

 

42 The half belonging to the Israelites, which Moses set apart from that of the fighting men— 43 the community’s half—was 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 30,500 donkeys 46 and 16,000 people. 47 From the Israelites’ half, Moses selected one out of every fifty people and animals, as the Lord commanded him, and gave them to the Levites, who were responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.

 

48 Then the officers who were over the units of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—went to Moses 49 and said to him, “Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing. 50 So we have brought as an offering to the Lord the gold articles each of us acquired—armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces—to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.”

 

51 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted from them the gold—all the crafted articles. 52 All the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds that Moses and Eleazar presented as a gift to the Lord weighed 16,750 shekels.[a] 53 Each soldier had taken plunder for himself. 54 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds and brought it into the tent of meeting as a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord.

 

How often we put blinders on and do not see the world around us! How often do we think what we have is through our own effort. Here in this passage, we see the Israelites willing giving back to the Lord from the spoils of victory. The Israelites knew that their victory came from God. They only sent out 12,000 men to fight a much larger force so it was without begrudging that they gave a portion of the spoils back to the Lord.

 

Should we not be the same way. Do we live with blinders on and not see or explain away poverty of others just so we can justify that new car, that overpriced vacation, that new TV, you name. We mortgage our lives away and think how proud we are of the things we have and all the debt that goes with it. Let us learn to live simpler lives. Let us learn to live a life of thanksgiving to the Lord. Let us remember where our blessings come from. They come from the Lord. He gives us our abilities. Let us carve out room to take our blinder off and be generous as acts of thanksgiving to the Lord. He has placed us on this plateau to be a beacon to the world around us. Let us never forget it all comes from Him and we have humble responsibility to give Him thanks for it.

 

Amen and Amen.