Being the Ten Percent- Gracious Gratitude

Thanksgiving Post 2015 Living the 10 Percent

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”  And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all your possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

(Mark 10:17-22, NASB)

Gratitude is not greedy for power, possessions, or prestige. Gratitude graciously bows out when it is time.

Perfect peace is found not in trying to achieve power, but in using the power and platform God has given you for such a time as this. 

Only a few men in history have set themselves apart for the power they graciously relinquished. They knew when to walk away in order that the greater good would be served in their absence. Consider:

Moses, relinquished the rights of an adopted grandson of the Pharaoh in order to remember the plight of his people. In so doing, he hastened his humble service to rescue God’s people from slavery and captivity.

(Moses) considering the reproach of  Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

(Hebrews 11:26-27, NASB)

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, “a man who neither sought power nor held on to it when his duties had been fulfilled.” (The Cincinnatus Association) Cincinnatus, for whom the city in Ohio is named, was a Roman citizen who was offered endless power and, instead, returned to his farm after saving his country in battle.

George Washington, known as the American Cincinnatus, was not only America’s first president, the model for all who would hold the title after him to emulate, but a man who walked away from power twice so that the great American experiment would not falter under the unbearable weight of a king.

Who can imagine that the liberty of millions might depend on the character of one man? What was it that gave him the strength to do the right thing when the temptation to do something less noble must have been overwhelming?

More than two hundred years after Washington’s death, his willingness to relinquish power–twice–is the most remarkable thing that we remember about him. These refusals to seize power for himself were the greatest acts of one of history’s greatest men.

(7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas)

Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, left the honor and majesty of heaven to come to the squalor and filth of earth. He left His throne in heaven to be laid in a cradle, and later hung on a cross before conquering the enemy of death and sin once and for all. (See Philippians 2) It is to Jesus that we owe all gratitude and praise. If it were not for His modeled call to lay down our lives, His example as He resisted the urging of even His closest friends and disciples to siege power over people before the appointed time, then we would not one day receive the power to be joint errs and rulers with Jesus in Heaven.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

(1 Timothy 6:17, NASB)

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

(Philippians 2:3, NASB)

We, like the rich young ruler in the first passage above, may have choices in our future to posture ourselves in gracious gratitude and service to Christ, or to walk away with our possessions, power, or prestige in hand; heavy in heart and guilt. Being the gracious ten percent includes knowing when to walk away from the things of this earth in order to walk toward the person and mission of Christ. May we choose to follow Christ’s example.

 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” (James 4:6, NLT)

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Being the 10 Percent-Humble Gratitude

Living the 10 Percent Thanksgiving 2015

 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14, NIV

Last week, we determined that we want to be found giving thanks like the ten percent. Only one leper out of ten returned to thank Jesus for His miraculous healing. However, this week’s account in Luke informs us that mere words of thanks are not enough; it is the heart behind the words that matters most. In this parable about the tax collector and the Pharisee, Jesus is teaching that humility of heart is better than good deeds accompanied by a haughty spirit.

In fact, this parable teaches that there is a wrong way to give thanks.

If we are giving thanks because we are not like other sinners; that is, not bent towards certain less favorable sins. Or, if in order to elevate our filthy rags of righteousness (see Isaiah 64:6), we thankfully condemn more noticeable targets or outright sin, then we are missing grace all together. This isn’t but for the grace of God go I mentality, this is at least I’m not doing… What a dangerous predicament to enter into.

A vacuum of humility in our lives leads to the fertile soil of hypocrisy. Consider,

Hypocrites keep up the external performances of religion only to save or gain credit. There are many whom we see every day at the temple, whom, it is to be feared, we shall not see in the great day at Christ’s right hand. 

His giving God thanks for this, though in itself a good thing, yet seems to be a mere formality. He does not say, By the grace of God I am what I am, as Paul did, but turns it off with a slight, God, I thank thee, which is intended but for a plausible introduction to a proud vainglorious ostentation of himself.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

God’s glory is to resist the proud but give grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

Consider the parable of the prodigal son. It was the brother who had done the work diligently and faithfully that had to flee the temptation to be angered at the wayward brother’s reward. The faithful must put off the garment of pride and assumption that God only gives mercy and grace to those who look the part or have played it the longest. It is God’s grace through Jesus Christ that brings our favor. That alone secures our salvation and no works we do on earth can equate the grace that Jesus provides. Works accompany faith, and restoration follows humble confession and repentance–be it in the early years of our life, or in the later years just before arriving Home.

Another lesson from this parable: We who have been in church and within God’s grace for anytime must resist the temptation and tendency to make God’s Kingdom on earth look like anything other than God’s Kingdom in Heaven. God’s Kingdom will consist of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Further, it will consist of the last being the first. The crippled, handicapped, poor, and cast aside populace of the present will be the rulers of the future Kingdom to come. We must not welcome the well dressed and successful among our places of worship to the detriment of the poor, the weak, and the plagued with sin who may stumble into our congregations by the saving grace of God. (See James 2:1-13)

Not everyone in church should look just like you…or me!

If thanksgiving towards God has become a mere formality for us as it was for the pharisee in Jesus’s parable, then it is time to repent in humility and recognize the saving grace of God in our own needy lives. There is always gratitude to be given for God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

If we have neglected to welcome those within our community of believers who don’t look like us, then we must repent and consider what God’s Kingdom will look like in eternity. We should make our churches welcoming congregations for every tribe, tongue, nation, and social status.

Be the ten percent. Give thanks with a humble heart.

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If you want to further explore the thoughts from this post, might I recommend two books that I have read in the past that most likely helped shape some of the thoughts written above?

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges (see here)

Onward by Russell Moore (see here)

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Broken and Overflowing

“Mom, I need to go potty.” “Okay, go on and I will come and help you in a minute,” I told our middle son, Joshua. I, as usual, hurried to complete a few tasks and forgot about Joshua being in the bathroom. That is, until I heard the water running.  With Little E close on my heels, I hastily made my way to the bathroom door, only to find that it was locked. “Joshua, don’t lock mommy out of the bathroom honey.”

I reached for the gym clip above the door. Joshy calls it my key.  After a few tries I successfully unlocked the door, unprepared for what lay on the other side…

Picture my two year old, hands splashing in soapy water as it filled the sink to the brim and overflowed onto the floor. Within seconds I turned the water off, pushed the lever so the water would drain, and quickly dried my son’s hands. Then I grabbed my camera as any self-respecting, American mom of the twenty first century; digital documentation of woes is a must!

As I began my verbal correction, the sound of breaking glass in the hallway quickly diverted my attention. I knew instantly what the sound was…the teacup nightlight, a wedding gift we had used for the last ten and a half years of marriage. Little E experiences a gravitational pull towards electrical plugs and outlets; certainly of which included the hallway nightlight.

There we stood, the three of us, with Ron and Emily barely out of our neighborhood to run errands: puddles in the bathroom and glass on the floor.

I cleaned up the glass and instructed Joshua to wipe up the water with the towel I provided. In my mind I pondered how events could take such a quick turn, and how on earth do moms I know with four boys do it?

A few minutes later the boys were splashing in the bathtub, giggling and playing like the two adorable children that they are. I kneeled on the cold tile floor thinking how thankful they should be that they are cute!

God would have me live just like that moment: kneeling, broken and seeking the overflow of His presence. He loves a contrite and humble heart that knows life is more than we can handle independently. God strengthens my weak knees and feeble arms. He wants me to live out of the overflowing measure of the Living Water, Jesus Christ himself, that is available to all who would repent and believe…to all who would ask for His filling in our lives.

I wonder, do you have broken places that you need to confess to the Lord today? Are there areas in your life where an invitation to the Holy Spirit to come and do His work, to fill you with His desires and wisdom, needs to be extended? I certainly have those. God works in our lives according to His will, however, He longs, as most parents, for His children to seek out His help on their own initiative. Run to Daddy today dear friends and let us ask Him to take our broken lives and fill them to overflowing with His presence.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:6-7

 

 

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A Prayer Practice for the New Year?

Two weeks ago I was hit by a driver who fled the scene. When the police called him and he returned to the scene of the hit and run accident, the young man told me he was sorry. However, upon questioning from his father, “Did you know you hit her? You must have felt it.” The offender did not take responsibility, but said that he was not sure he had hit me.

What kind of sorrow or apology is one that does not confess guilt?

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17

A true spirit of humility; to be contrite is to recognize my sinful state before the Holy God in whose presence no evil can stand.

The only way that I can approach God, is to not only say that I am sorry, but also come to Him with godly repentance that leads to everlasting life.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Worldy sorrow says, “I am sorry that I am caught in my sin.” Godly sorrow conveys, “Against a Holy God I have sinned and I ask you to forgive me and lead me in Your paths of righteousness.”

This year I would like to propose two new practices for us.

First let us, like the man in the video below, confess to Jesus our sins and the sins of our people and ask Christ to have mercy on us.

Secondly, would you join me in praying for the nations via Operation World? Click here to subscribe for the 60 day prayer e-mails that will be delivered to your inbox. The prayer prompts feature Prayercast videos that can guide your prayers for the nations. They also highlight unreached people groups within each country. Unreached means that less than 2% of that population has ever heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will join me.

Let us all learn from the humble prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus around the globe.

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