For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 2 Corinthians 8:2 ESV
Our twelve year old grandson is named Christian. Whenever Christian is happy about something he squints his eyes, rubs his hands together and smiles as wide as he can. Christian loves to tell me a joke or to give me some small gift he has made. While he is doing that he will shout out my name and sometimes even jump up and down in excitement. Some say that our grandson has special needs; but I just think that God has given him to our family so that we will know what rejoicing looks like!
Christian with his little brother
When was the last time you can honestly say that you experienced joy like that? In today’s verse we are introduced to the little church in a town called Philippi who had a giant giving heart. They were very poor believers who had befriended Paul but they discovered first-hand what being more blessed giving than receiving really meant. Perhaps because of their own poverty they understood hunger and when they heard about people who were without food; they eagerly sent as large an offering as they could. Like us in the Western world some of the richer churches groaned when asked to give, and just grudgingly gave what they felt they had to. But the Philippians saw this as a joyful opportunity to give their best and they discovered that in God they were really rich. They found out just as our grandson has, that giving whatever they had gave them a chance of receiving God’s overflowing joy and that was way more than they could have ever imagined!
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6
I learned a few valuable lessons during my time as a tree surgeon that has helped me in my climb of faith. Tree climbing can be dangerous but our perception of that danger depends on whether we are standing at the bottom or the top of the tree. God is in the business of changing our point of view!
The first thing we learn is to not look up. In fact the first thing to do is to simply assemble your gear. While I collected my rope, saddle, long pole and ladder I didn’t have time to worry about how much of the tree stood above me. In the same way our walk of faith begins each day by asking for mercy and grace. When we do that; then God comes and fastens His forgiveness around our waist and He pulls us up by His rope of love. We cannot make progress if we worry that His love and mercies will fail. But as we trust God’s equipping then He slowly but surely helps us to climb up towards Him. Secondly we need a ladder to help us get off the ground. That is what God does when He sends His Holy Spirit. His Spirit comes in and lifts us up daily towards Jesus. We can’t figure it out or work it out; we just have to keep climbing by faith. Last of all when a climber gets to the highest point in the tree he ties in, sits back and then looks out.
That is God’s promise. He will raise us up so that we can look out and see all of His amazing plan and know that our entire climb has been by grace. We will finally understand that because He has loved us He has brought us up to heaven and seated us right next to Jesus Christ!
We have time to eat turkey
And time to have pie
Time to watch football
And for shopping on line
But for the blessings of God
Will they have time to say “Thanks”
Or just time for politics
And a film with Tom Hanks?
But when Christ is the center
Of all that we say
Then we truly can celebrate
Our Thanksgiving Day!