A Grateful Greeting
“I thank my God every time I remember you.”- Philippians 1:3
Over the last month or so I received two notes that came at the perfect time, that encouraged me beyond measure, and reminded me how important it is to live a life of blessing others. My first note came from an amazing pastor of a growing church in the San Fernando Valley (this month they are moving to a new property). This young man was in the youth group I served in. He sent a message to let me know how I had impacted his life and provided him a model of love, perseverance, and integrity. The second note came a week or so later from a dear brother who now lives in Texas. About seven years ago he and his family attended Shepherd’s House for a short season before answering God’s call to become college/campus pastors. He wrote to let me know how blessed he was by the way our church welcomed his family and demonstrated a Biblical hospitality as they were getting settled in Southern California. Both notes came in the form of a text message, with each one being used by the Lord as a point of refreshing and confirmation at a time I was feeling a bit discouraged. I am guessing that many of us have had that experience of being uplifted by the words of another person when things felt unsettled or we felt inadequate.
Many of us have heard of the phrase “Pay It Forward” coined by the popular movie (with that title). It denotes taking a gift/blessing we have received and extending it to another, so that it reaches much farther and impacts multiple lives. This term has much more of a Heaven origin than a Hollywood one. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 10:8, "Freely you have received; freely give.” After receiving my two encouragements, I found myself looking for opportunities to communicate thanksgiving to the people who have touched and transformed my life. I sent a note to a mentor to thank him for the way he taught us truths about God’s kingdom; I sent a text message to Pastor Scott’s son, on the 14th anniversary of his passing, to express my deep gratitude for my pastor, spiritual father, and person who has had the greatest impact on my life; while attending a birthday party I ran into another key individual during the formative years of my coming to Christ and answering the call to ministry. I thanked him for one particular lunch at Denny’s, where he addressed an area in my life that I didn’t like at the time, but that I absolutely needed to hear and grow in (thank you Max for that)! With each of these expressions of deep gratitude I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul found in Romans 13:7, “Give to everyone what you owe them…if honor, then honor.”
Throughout the month of November, I would like to suggest making the Thanksgiving celebration a month-long focus through sending THANK YOU NOTES to people. Begin to pray about who you are to encourage and what type of expression will honor, build up, and speak life. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Your note of gratitude and thanksgiving may affirm to someone their true value and identity when the lies they are hearing attempt to convince them of being a failure; these notes may remind someone that their labors and prayers were not in vain, rather they were effectual in God’s purpose and in making a difference in another’s life; these notes may be a present answer that shouts, “You are not alone!”; these notes may remove a curtain of doubt and blindness, that allows someone’s faith to rise and their gifts/calling to be activated.
Here are some ideas of how you can express well-timed and thanksgiving-themed greetings throughout the month of November:
Leave a note of appreciation to your spouse for how they support you, they sacrifice for the family, or of an attribute they possess that makes them super special in your eyes.
Take time to convey pleasure to your child/children for getting a good grade at school, making the right choice with a friend, or doing their chores without complaining.
Send an email of gratitude to a parent, teacher, pastor, mentor-type who has helped shaped the person you have become and the values which you live by.
Write a thank you card to someone (i.e.- a neighbor; co-worker; friend) who assisted with an area of need you recently had.
Compliment someone when they demonstrate a godly quality in the course of a daily activity, conversation, or crisis.
This holiday season is the perfect time to get your mind thinking, your writing muscles working, and your heart extending out to those who are worthy of honor. Let’s live out a I Thessalonians 3:12 thankfulness of love, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”