Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Are Thank Offerings?

I am reminded once again by some notes I was re-reading in my journal.  Notes from 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, "How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?" Her answer is this: "We only enter into the full life if our life gives thanks."  Psalm 50:23 states, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." Thank offerings are those graces that cross our paths daily.  Sometimes they are easily spotted.  Sometimes we have to look for them.  Either way it is in the naming of these graces that our thanks makes its way heavenward.  When you can give something a name and identify it's source this brings our hearts to a place of thankfulness.  This really is the premise to Voskamap's book -- name the gifts and record them.  Making a record validates the authenticity of who is responsible for giving the grace. This is why I am listing my January Joy-Dare gifts.  There is something so powerful, refreshing and inspiring about the naming.  It is contagious.  I can't help but share.

In order to live the full life I must practice thankfulness.  What does this look like?  Seriously it's hard to give thanks all the time.  But this is what we are reminded to do over and over in the scriptures.  There are 39 exact phrases recorded for us with the words, "give thanks" in the OT and NT.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for [He is] good! For His mercy [endures] forever. Psalm 107:1 

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. Psalm 97:12

A deeper understanding comes (wisdom?) from God in my faith as I offer up these graces.  This may actually be how my salvation is being worked out.  Through the pain and often difficult circumstances I can still thank my God and praise him.  He is still God and always good. Regardless of how I feel, and these days I don't feel so great. My body is crippled with poison and weighed down with side-effects I can't hide.  It doesn't change who He is. I name in spite of my road and because of my road.Cancer may change me, but not Him.  It is in these moments that I discover the joy that comes with naming the gifts. This is the nugget of truth one reads in Voskamp's book.  Why am I so drawn back to her writings?  There is nothing new under the sun.  This is no new truth.  What is new is the presentation. A fresh perspective.  A revelation that is a taste of reality, not fake.  I love how God can use a simple farmers wife and mom of six to be a spokeswomen.  God still speaks today.  Through the writings inspired by the Holy Spirit a whosoever became obedient to write what had been placed on her heart. She had a story to share. We all have a story to share. I am inspired, encouraged and motivated to press on.  To fight my own giants and discover the joys placed on my path.  Why didn't I see them before?  They have always been there.  I needed a tool, a system to help me stay the course and march along the highway of thankfulness.  As I name and record, the thank offerings make there way to heaven.  An offering.  A fragrant offering. Like incense burning on the altar.  The sweet smell rising above circumstances, above the pain and above self. 

Let my prayer be set before You [as] incense, The lifting up of my hands [as] the evening sacrifice.  Psalm 141:2

A form of thanksgiving can be a simple raise of my hands.  They are high and lifted up in adoration of His graces given. The palms turn and open to receive more. I become the fragrance. Sweet smelling to the Savior: the best gift of all.

Now thanks [be] to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  2 Corinthians 2:14

So I continue to name and number...

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