THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Epiphany Strategies: A light unto my path.
Strategy Six: Thanksgiving
After the Magi bowed down and worshipped the Child Jesus, they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I truly believe that a true measure of our thankfulness and gratitude is not just what we say about our blessings; but how we use them. Thanksgiving prepares the way for God to show us His fullest love; it unlocks the gates of heaven. The Bible says, “Be joyful always; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). To be thankful, even for a little, is an attitude that changes lives. Count your blessings and name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. Use some of your time each day to thank God. Be purposeful and thoughtful when you make your offerings in Church. Pray over your offerings. The Magi were not casual about their offerings; they were thoughtful about it because they knew to whom their offerings were being made. Your offerings matter a lot to God; be intentional about it; be purposeful and respectful in offering it; and offer it with dignity and humility. When it comes to living a life of gratitude, a good practice is to keep a daily journal of three or more things for which you are thankful. Make it a habit to appreciate those who live and work with you; be regular with your tithes and purposeful in your offerings; make note of things you have done well each day and find ways to celebrate what you like about yourself. May the good Lord create in us a grateful heart.
Strategy Seven: Listen with Obedience
Isn’t it amazing that while God is all-powerful, He refuses to coerce but always summons us to cooperate. An Angel informed the Magi to go home through a different road. They obeyed. How about us? As we embrace this New Year, let it be God’s business to lead us, to command us, to impel us, to send us, and to determine how we live. Let it be our business to follow, to obey, to agree, to move, to respond, and to do as commanded. Obedience, as they say, is better than sacrifice. No amount of prayer or names we can call God can take the place of simply doing His will. For the Magi, it was a simple fact of taking a different road back home. Simple indeed, but the fact remains that if God does not reign over simple things in our lives, He does not reign at all. If we want God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives, we must first of all obey His word. The cost of following the gospel is the death of our will. Faith comes from God and He gives faith only to the obedient heart. If we allow ourselves to obey the impulses of the flesh; the impulses of fear, doubt and resentment, then, what will have authority over our lives will be fear, doubt and resentment. Scripture says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man; who finds strength in human flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord, for he is like a bush in a wasteland that produces no fruit” (Jer. 17:5- 7). May the good God give us hearts that yearn for His will, minds that are clear about His love, wills that are obedient to His word, and unflinching determination to do His bidding!