Beginning with Thanks

By: Laura Jones Collins
The holidays are here.  And I don’t know about you, but we have had a lot of hard and hurt going on right before we go into the “most wonderful time of the year.”
I want to give you some things the Lord and I have been talking about. Like how to walk out this season  in peace instead of so much stress that we wish the next month and a half away. Like Holy Spirit survival guide stuff.

Here’s what the Lord said to me: “Thanks comes before Giving. You must receive and give thanks before you can give from overflow. Otherwise you will be giving out of compulsion rather than a cheerful heart. Never give at the expense of your peace.
In 2 Corinthians 9:7 , Paul writes, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I know this is about giving in the sense of giving to the Lord. But if this is His heart for how we give to Him, then how much more should it affect how we give to each other?
So how does that work? The Lord kept reminding me of how Jesus fed the five thousand. We read the story in Matthew 14:13-21
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Jesus received the small gift. Even in what looked like ridiculously impossible circumstances to his disciples.
He gave thanks.
THEN He gave it away.
There is something about thanks that produces overflow. Ann Voscamp says, “Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.” We read in Psalms that we enter His gates with THANKSGIVING and His courts with praise. Thanks is how we get into His presence, it’s how we receive from Him. And that divine exchange – receiving, thanking, blessing – is part of our intimacy with God that produces overflow.
What can I be truly, deeply thankful for RIGHT NOW?
What am I doing that is costing me my peace?
What is God specifically giving me that I can recieve in this season?