The most valuable things in life are given to us freely and we tend to place little value on them. We take them for granted, fail to be thankful and grateful for them and often misuse them or ignore them. On top of this, we tend to spend our time and effort worrying and grumbling about what we don’t have instead and this is about things that tend to have way less value.

What do we have freely? We have life without which nothing we want would matter. We have a body that is wonderfully and intricately made enabling us to move through the world and to interact with it. For most of us, this means that we can interact through five other free gifts: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. While you are doing all of that, your amazing body is automatically breathing, circulating, moving, processing food, interacting with the world — without you having to consciously think about it. While all of that is happening, you are doing other things.

Our amazing body houses in it an even more awesome and mysterious mind. The proper use of our mind brings us everything we want in life. Unlike all other beasts that operate via instinct, we can think, explore, judge, imagine, envision, plan, synthesize, communicate, learn, feel, create, choose and direct our course through life however we see fit. Our amazing minds let us look at any moment or situation from a number of different vantage points or from all of them at the same time. Who hasn’t had a moment in which a situation seems one way then a completely different way a moment later when some new information is revealed? We’ve all experienced a paradigm shift, yet, few of us have considered that nothing really changed in the situation and we could have chosen to look it from both lenses at anytime. That’s how powerful our mind is, but there’s more. The mind also fuels mysterious things such and intuition, subconscious, and our soul and spirit.

Speaking of our soul and spirit, another free gift to us from God is his son, Jesus, the Christ, the Redeemer who came to teach us what love is and who God is. But he accomplished so much more that is freely given to us. He also sacrificed himself to pay for our sins so that our life can be eternally with God in love instead of eternally without God in despair and torment. And even more than that moment of sacrifice is the mystery of Godliness which means that through the Resurrection of Christ, God made it such that our spirit and soul could also be transformed by the presence of Christ in us, the hope of glory. The is what it means to be reborn. So, besides the gift of physical life, we have a gift of rebirth to external spiritual life in God, because Christ, his son, will dwell in us making God our father just as he was to Jesus.

We have have the gift of natural parents too and while some of us may not have had good parents, still they brought you into life and somehow, through them or others, you were cared for until you could reach the age of maturity and survive on your own — all of which does not always happen, so if it has happened for you, it is free gift.

We have the free gift of our relationships — all the love, passion, camaraderie, fellowship, and partnership in the joys and difficulties of life. For most of us, this highest form of this is with a life partner and the most grateful of pursue committing to via marriage because this is a gift and not a burden. Through this gift, many of us have the extraordinary blessing of children and grandchildren forming a free gift of legacy and love flowing out to time beyond our lives. All this is free to those who recognize it for the gift it is and grab hold of it. Some of us are not blessed to obtain these gifts physically but because other don’t want it or misuse children, there are plenty of options for people to partake of this blessing by loving children who are not loved because their parents couldn’t see on of the most valuable gifts from God.

Another free gift from God is purpose. While many people think work is a curse, this is because they don’t realize they can define their own purpose and spend their time doing what they love and feel great about – work that makes them excited, proud, fulfilled and filled with joy and with relationships taking that journey with them and sharing in the adventure and joy of it.

Another gift many of us in the world have is freedom. This gift is not as guaranteed because there are places in the world where much freedom is restricted so those who have it should be aware of the great gift it is, but frequently are not. Freedom empowers us to explore other free gifts: the free gift of the world, the free gift of reading, learning, and education, the free gift of whatever we want to do with the free gift of time we all have every day. Freedom means we are free not to worry that others can direct our lives or take our lives. It is security from tyranny and enslavement. Freedom breeds another gift, Choice. Even for those whose liberties are restricted, freedom and choice still can liberate their minds in powerful ways.

All of these free gifts, in our persons, are layered on top of free gifts all around us. The world is a free gift to us and all the trillions of wonders in it. These miracles scale down to the fantastic microcosm of cells, atoms, DNA and their many divisions and parts that hold the world together and invisibly operate it and scale up to the macrocosm of the heavens complete with planets and stars within in millions of galaxy within the universe and perhaps beyond. More mysteriously and largely unknown but increasing in evident are how all this may be effected by various dimensions of space and time. But more obvious to us though also taken for granted is the air that we breath, the atmosphere that enables life, the sun and the rotation of the world that keep us warm but not burning up and creates days and seasons, the processes that replenish oxygen, cause food to grow and animals to live, the laws that hold us to the ground and govern order. The large variety of plants and animals that enable us to have diversity in food and culture and can be used for so many other purposes like medicine, work help, companionship, and beauty are all gifts – we could live in a world where there was only one thing to eat. All of this and more does not have to exist but it does and it is a necessary gift to us so that we can live and thrive.

So, all of this is free — and largely, we don’t give it much thought.

What do we think about, worry about, want? Some of these things are necessary like food, clothing and a roof over our head but most are optional, wants versus needs. Even the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter are often pursued gratuitously: better or more convenient (costly) food, designer over functional (costly) clothing, and more luxurious shelter. There is nothing wrong with wanting more – of course we should, but to the extent it is gratuitous, shouldn’t our attitude toward it be that much more grateful about all we’ve been given. Hopefully we are.

Consider this: if you don’t have the things that you want that are not free, perhaps it is largely because they are products. You might remember from elementary school math that a product is the result of multiplying factors, 2×3=6 for instance, and the non-free things we want are similarly products that are derived from other factors. They are the fruit of our labor and therefore the non-free products we possess are largely related our practical application of the free things we’ve all been given. If we use the free things properly, blessing for us are multiplied. If we use them haphazardly, then we operate two steps forward and one step back. And if we use them poorly or destructively, we can destroy our lives and the lives of others around us. A formula for success is Preparedness times Opportunity equals Success. Opportunity is there all the time so our part is to develop Preparedness. The formula for that is Positive Choice multiplied by Free Gifts equal Preparedness.

Given all this, it all comes down to Choice. If we choose to focus our time on phantom wants ignoring the immense treasure we have, we will waste that treasure. If, instead, we choose to focus on developing our free treasures and applying them properly, we will find we have everything we want and more and we will appreciate all our gifts more. As you reap, so you will sow. It’s your choice. This Thanksgiving (and every day moving forward), I hope this will help you be more grateful for all that you have which I am confident will guide you to your hearts content. Jesus says in Matthew 13:12: “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Realize what you have and invest it gratefully to abundance.

Working for a major corporation, I’ve gotten used to the need to be results-driven. It makes sense. A company needs to be concerned on ROI – return on investment. If they invest resources, they need to be confident it will increase the profitability of the company. My work involves deciding what we should invest in doing so I am always thinking about how this will help the company grow and deciding which things to not do as well.

“And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So, I have to keep in mind that Jesus, my Lord, wants to lead me and His economy is not results-driven — at least, I may not be able to calculate and operate in a results mindset. God is love and does things toward the beloved, us, that transcend the simple math of human ROI. He’s doing advanced calculus in multiple dimensions and we’re doing simple arithmetic with crayons on a big-chief tablet. Our Father loves us but we are his children and still have a limited ability to understand his ways.

I once sent a story out to a few family members about a pastor who chooses to save his son’s friend over his son when their boat capsizes. His decision was based on the fact that he knew his son was a believer and the other boy was not and he was unwilling to let the other boy live an eternity without God. A uncle of mine who was a business leader replied that he couldn’t see the business sense in the story.

I think we all have that problem sometimes until we are transformed by letting Jesus renew our minds as Romans 12:2 says. The word transformed in this verse, the Greek word metamorphoō from which we derive metamorphosis, is the same word that is used in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 where Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, and John and they see him in his glory.

When we think of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly, we imagine a once and for all change — but we need to let God renew our minds continually. While the disciples were moved by the transfiguration, they needed to continue their walk with Jesus and we need to continue to let our relationship with him day-by-day transform us. In fact, the only other use of this Greek word is in 2 Corinthians 3:18 which says: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

This ability to see and operate in a God-driven economy is intrinsically linked to our willingness to turn our unveiled face toward Christ, contemplating the Lord’s glory above our own then let that guide us. It is really what faith is, but we then need to actualize our faith by doing what Jesus leads us to do, whether they hear or refuse to hear, regardless of our limited ability to calculate that the results will be favorable from our natural point of view.

After Jesus was transfigured, a voice from heaven speaks, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

It’s always exciting when other people really notice your children in ways that you see but seem to be invisible or uncelebrated by most. Blogger Broc Edwards captured this about my son, Jeremy in this post. It is at the heart of the conversations Jeremy and I have always had about his journey and passion and it does my heart good.

It Is so easy to substitute the things of God for God Himself. At the crazy speed of hundreds of interaction a day, I frequently rush to the good things God has given me: the Bible, the law, my sense of justice – of right and wrong, my wisdom (or at least intellect), my capacity and understanding of how to live successfully (not to mention the track record I call upon with likely too much pride) and the ability I believe I use very well to communicate effectively with others. How is it that I so easily access all of these wonderful gifts from God, and yet forget to look to Jesus himself, the giver of all good things?

But my Lord could’ve called legions of angels to defend Himself at Gethsemane and yet, did not. He could have poured out the wrath of God on the Sanhedrin or Pilot yet he spoke not a word to defend Himself. While justice was completely lacking, He chose to look at the Father and His greater justice, and return grace instead.

Jesus, forgive me for misusing your wonderful gifts, making them idols and very poor substitutes for You. How silly am I to reference my memory and understanding which are so limited when You are right there with me, full of Love. Please help me to keep my focal point on You, Jesus, so I have something real to give to others – instead of mostly promoting and defending my sense of self.
Heb 12:2-3; Ps 102:27

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Not everything that pricks your hearts, brothers and sisters, is a task for you to take on. Sometimes, a burden is just a burden – the next step is to ask the Lord what He will have you do? He will give you direction and equip you for the task at hand.

Perhaps, the entire task was to merely pray and give this burden back to Him. There are many burned-out Christians who think more is always better, who deem it unspiritual to say no. They forget that the work is the Lord’s and that there’s no action more powerful than prayer. Jesus shows us the path of life; in His presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Ps 16:11; 141:8
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If my mind is always preoccupied with planning, how can I be listening to the step-by-step guidance of my Lord? Is this not an idol called control? And how can I call myself free while thus enslaved? Jesus, help me to let this go, to hear your voice, and to follow you letting your purpose prevail in life.
Jn 8:36, 10:27 Pr 19:21

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When I complain, I am saying I believe God is mismanaging things in the world and I could do a better job. It’s a form of idolatry. This is why it is God’s will for me to give thanksgiving constantly. Of course, I really know I can hardly manage all the things in my own life much less all the millions of things of God lovingly shields me from even having to know. The truth is that He has designed me to live by faith and not by sight – faith that the whole world is full of His glory and that He is sovereign and in control of all things – and that He cares for me. Because of this, I can be thankful in all circumstances.
Is 6:3; 1 Th 5:18; 2 Co 5:7; 1 Pt 5:7

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Jesus is leading us from glory to glory, transforming us as we look at him face to face, making us fit for His kingdom. Will I sacrifice the idol of comfort and accept His challenge to journey with Him in something new today?
Ps 61:2-4; Is 12:2; 2 Co 3:18; 1 Co 13:12

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Heaven is both present and future. The essence of heaven is nearness to Christ and He already lives in the hearts of those who’ve invited Him in. Because God has seated Him in heavenly places, we too are seated with Him. (Eph 2:4-6) We tap into and practice heaven now when we allow His Presence to permeate our world. This is part of the grace of God toward us – knowing Joy and Peace as and absolute certainty of our heavenly home now and forever. Now is actually the dress rehearsal for eternity.
Eph 1:3,20; 2:4-6; 1Co15:20-23; Heb 6:19

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Nothing is wasted when you walk close to Jesus. Even my mistakes and sins are recycled into something good, through His transforming grace. Jesus turns water to wine, stones to sons, and wood, hay, and stubble to finest gold and rarest gems. Because He sacrificed His very Life for me, I can trust Him in every facet of my life.
Jer 17:7;Ro 8:28 amp:Ps 40:2 amp; 1 Pt 2:9; Jn 2:7-10; Mt 3:9; 1 Co 3:12-14

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