I’m reminded about a short story I heard on the radio some years ago about a little boy named Johnny, whose father had been hospitalized for an extended period of time as a result of an intense battle with cancer. Johnny’s mother would bring him to visit his father 3-4 times per week. On any given day that Johnny’s father felt fairly better, he would work on constructing a model truck for Johnny, in hopes to finish it and surprise him with it for Christmas. Johnny’s father was so looking forward to presenting him with that model truck.
Finally, the day had come; the truck was finished and coated with a layer of shiny red craft paint. Johnny’s father could hardly wait to present him with this gift on his next visit. Unfortunately, upon his wife’s arrival, she told him that she thought it well to leave Johnny in the courtyard, (8 floors below his hospital room window) because he was coming down with what appeared to be a cold. It was common for many of the kids of ailing family members to play in that courtyard under the supervision of a friendly intern. However, his father was much too excited to wait until his son’s next visit so he asked one of the interns to take the truck down to his son in the courtyard. The father waited with excitement as he stood in the window overlooking the courtyard, eagerly waiting for his son to look up to his window and thank him for the gift he’d made for him. Much to his surprise, the moment Johnny accepted the truck from the intern, he watched Johnny jump up and down with joy as he grabbed the intern by the waist in appreciation for the little red truck. Overcome with excitement, Johnny began rolling the truck around on the ground and he never looked up to thank his father, the one who gave the intern the truck to give to him in the first place. The father began tapping on the window, proclaiming “son, hey look up!” “Johnny, I’m the one who told the intern to give you that truck, I made it for you….” The father exclaimed. The father waited for a few more moments, as he anticipated his son to look upward towards the window where he stood with intense anticipation to simply say “thanks dad.” Unfortunately, Johnny got so excited about the gift that he never thought to thank the ultimate giver – his father.
What a thought provoking story. During this season of gift exchange, whatever you do, don’t get so excited about the gifts you receive from family and friends and forget to thank the “Ultimate Giver” - Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season.
The late Andre Crouch pinned a song that begins with a question, “How can I say thanks for all the things you have done for me, things so undeserved yet you gave to prove your love for me - and the voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude; all that I am and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee.” Without question, this late musical legend pinned a song that speaks the sentiments of every individual that understands and appreciates the manifested love of God.
Thanksgiving 2016 has gone and another commemorable holiday is emerging. However, to the forever-thankful person, everyday of every waking moment will always be a day of Thanksgiving. How can you say “thanks” for all the things God has done you? You can start by putting your gratitude into action; choosing to obey Him, witness for Him and to show the world what “Thanksgiving” from the heart really looks like in the life of a grateful individual.
Our love towards each other is what secures the truth about Gods authentic love towards mankind. The love of God is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In many cases, unless we as believers demonstrate the good news of Gods love, it remains hidden to those who are lost. (II Cor.4: 3)
In a society saturated with a value system that opposes the will, purpose and plans of God, we are still obligated to demonstrate His love towards those who lack understanding as to the divine will of God for their lives.
As we stand for righteousness, we must make a conscious effort to "live out God’s love towards others without dissimulation." All unrighteousness lifestyles are sin; we must abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good. Living out our love before men without hypocrisy demonstrates the true essence of God’s unconditional love for us. Nothing about God is hypocritical, therefore, nothing about us as believers should be hypocritical either. Let’s strive to live out God’s love authentically and consistently so that others are given an opportunity to see what His Love looks like.
The Family Resource
There’s an old adage that says “a family that prays together, stays together.” There is no other effective resource for strengthening the family comparable to the powerful influence of prayer. God in His infinite wisdom provided principles in His word that serve as bonding agents for sustaining the success of our families, such as: unconditional love (ICor. 13:7), patience (Prov. 14:29), integrity (Prov. 11:3), forgiveness (Matt.6:9-15), healthy communication (Eph.3:29), confession of faults (James 5:16), selflessness (Phil.2:3-4), and wisdom (Prov.4:6-7), just to name a few.
From the very beginning of time, God designed and intended for the family to not only stay together, but to thrive and experience abundant life. Prayer is beneficial to the institution and success of family. It provides power, protection and peace, even amid the inevitable storms and sufferings in life. Prayer helps to produce stability and intimacy with God and each other. All the above are the reasons we should never underestimate the most powerful and life-changing resource for our family – “prayer.”
There’s an old adage that says “a family that prays together, stays together.” As powerful as that proverbial saying is, unless the prayers for your family are: in line with the will and character of God, free of individually selfish desires and manipulative motivations, and most certainly prompted by a genuine love and concern for the spiritual and natural wellbeing for your family - there are no other bonding solutions strong enough to ensure your family stays together, harmoniously that is. The good news is, God in His infinite wisdom provided principles in His word that serves as bonding agents for sustaining your family, such as: unconditional love, patience, integrity, forgiveness, healthy communication, selflessness, individual repentance, and wisdom, just to name a few.
From the very beginning of time, God designed and intended for the family to stay together unless a family member is separated through death. To ensure through faith that your family stays together, the principles above must also govern the prayers for your family. In the epistle of James (chapter 4:3), he not only addressed the issue of unanswered prayers, but he also pinpointed our improper motives as the prayer blocker. As much as the institution of family is near and dear to God, it’s a futile effort to think that He will honor your prayers for your family if He is not the centerpiece that remains in position of control for your family.
When I think of a centerpiece, I think of an attractive or conspicuous object positioned in the middle of a designated area to serve as an aide-mémoire for all to see. In many instances, a centerpiece is used to highlight or provoke the attention of others towards a specific cause or thematic idea for an occasion. For those Christian families that keep Christ as their centerpiece, no matter the occasion, will not only admire Him for who He is, but more importantly they will be reminded of the importance of allowing Him to provoke and govern their actions towards each other.
Ultimately, He is the center of hope for a family that prays together.