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Reflect …and calculate

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18th Sunday after Pentecost – October 8, 2017 (Thanksgiving Sunday)

Exodus 16:1-18 and John 6:51

Oprah Winfrey is quoted to have said: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Reflect…

What a perfect time to reflect, to take stock of our lives, to ponder, to be thankful, to truly think of all that we have…

Being thankful is a difficult thing to do in our fast-paced society, with a constant emphasis on more money, more things, more possessions. With the constant barrage of advertising for the latest in technology, the newest vehicle, the most exotic vacation, the latest fashion or the most expensive jeans.

With the never-ending pressure from social media… where seemingly ‘perfect people live their perfect lives’, we are constantly comparing and finding ourselves deficit.

Today I invite you to reflect instead, and…. I suggest that we reflect and ‘calculate’. How about calculating by adding up your blessings, subtracting your losses, multiplying your promises and dividing your burdens?

Look at: Adding your blessings:

It’s easy to complain and see what’s wrong in our lives. It’s also easy to take things for granted. Sometimes it takes a whole new approach to see our blessings.

In Melody Carlson’s book entitled “Faded Denim: Color Me Trapped”, she wrote: “Instead of thanking God for my two strong legs that are able to run and jump and climb, I whined about my “thunder thighs” and “thick” ankles.

This is typical. We are often compelled to think of the negative before identifying the positive, especially when it comes to our body. How many of us complain about a sore knee for example, but fail to be thankful for the rest of our body that is working well for us? How many of us have come home from work or school and let one small upset overshadow the day but don’t remember all of the good things that happened, the tasks that were completed and the good feedback we received. It’s a trap that we fall into easily.

In our reading today the Lord our God provided manna, enough for each day, despite the fact that the Israelites were complaining and longing to be back in Egypt. Were they counting their blessings or seeing the negative by yearning for the past?

For our first step, of reflecting and calculating…

Take a moment to remember at least three blessings God has sent into your life in the past twelve months.

(pause)

Second: Subtract your losses.

The Bible says, “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

What are your losses, your difficulties, defeats, failures, humiliations, times in the last year when it didn’t work out the way you thought it was going to? When you look at your life, those things come into the debit column. Maybe it’s a bitterness, a resentment, a broken relationship. Subtract them right now, ask for God’s forgiveness, then accept God’s forgiveness and begin to move on.   (pause)

Third: Multiply your promises.

First Peter 1 talks about the exceeding great and precious promises of God. The Bible is a book filled with the promises of God.

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

As we are reflecting and calculating today, in this 3rd step of “Multiplying Our Promises”, can you simply pause and try to really accept God’s promises?   (pause)

The fourth step – Dividing your burdens.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Have you ever noticed that when you help someone with their burdens, yours seem to grow lighter? Divide your burdens. When you reach out a helping hand to somebody else, the Lord makes the way easier for you. So many of us can get inward-focused, our society almost encourages narcissistic behaviour.

Our last step as we reflect today….Think of the names of at least three people who have a burden that you could help this week. Maybe you could give them a call, send a card, give a hug, go see them, bake some cookies or food, spend some time with them. Instead of focusing on your own problem, think about dividing your burden. Ask the Lord to show you who you could help this week.

Today as we focus on Thanksgiving, on all that we have in mind, body and spirit, let’s not just count our blessings… but subtract our losses, multiply our promises and lastly divide our burdens. Above all let us remember that God is good and we praise God in all things.”

Amen.

 

Copyright 2017 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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