Monday, May 23, 2011

Bless the Giver, not the Gift

Continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Col 2:6-7

Blessings abounded yesterday in my Ladies' Sunday School Class.  Every few weeks, I get the opportunity to teach, and a few weeks ago, I co-taught a lesson based on the book by Ann Voskamp, "One Thousand Gifts".  Yesterday, another friend, Paula, revisited this topic in the class, and invited all to share some of the moments  they had started to count as Grace Gifts.  To hear Grandma Riley count Asparagus as a gift, Shirley count her great-grandson who comes to our Christian school, Colleen rejoice over progress made in young Andrew, Lee cry over Gabbi being able to read "Cat and the Hat", Eva share the ups and downs of her two children leaving the nest and how Sara saw a broken shoe as a blessing from the God of Everlasting Love had many of us in tears.  My heart was humbled to hear these things and know that God had used me in a small part to make those lists begin in the hearts of my friends.

We focused on this word, "Grace" and how it fits with "Giving Thanks" and "Eucharisteo".  I had been reading the story of Jesus and feeding the 5000 in my journey through the book of John.  A few weeks ago, my focus was only on the prayer of thanksgiving by Jesus and then the miracle of the multiplied food--what Jesus gives is always enough--but a few verses after that, something surprised me.  My NLT Bible says, 

"Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the 
Lord had blessed the bread..." (Jn 6:23)  

Wait a minute!  He didn't bless the bread, He gave thanks for the bread!  What's going on here? After using My Bible Study Tools, I discovered the word is actually Eucharisteo--Gave Thanks!  This is translated similarly in Matthew 14:19 and happens in a few different translations, including the NKJV.  I believe this small shift of focus in the translation has had great ramifications in our American prayer life and habits.

Jewish people follow the verse in Deuteronomy very closely:  

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the 
LORD your God for the good land which He has given you"  (8:10).  

We are to bless the LORD, not the food.  Thank the Giver, praise Him, acknowledge Him as the source of all blessing!  Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, a book I recently read and then bought, says this: 

the word for "bless" barakh, can also mean "to kneel".  
It is as if you are momentarily "kneeling down" mentally and 
humbly praising God for His goodness."

So, back to our dilemma with the blessing of the food:  are we praying a blessing on the food as if to make it holy, or to express our gratitude to God as the Giver and Provider of the food?  Why do we call praying over a meal, "saying Grace" or "Bless the food"?  We ought to call the food a Grace Gift from the Giver and Bless the Giver of the bounty.  This book of Rabbi Jesus says much about the Blessing Prayers offered up as thanksgiving that saturated Jewish culture.  "Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."  This is the common prayer over a meal as the bread was being broken in a Jewish household.

Perhaps this is habit of prayer that Paul was referring to when he urges, 

"Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances." (1 Thess 5:17-18)

Counting moments as Gifts changes our focus and attitude.  Building a Habit of   Gratitude, of continually blessing God teaches me to be ever mindful of how much God loves me and continually cares for me.

Nature Study of the Lilac Bush--trying out new art supplies

Gift List: #283-304
  • Girls riding horses out at Grace Paradise Ranch with friends
  • Mary, a new friend
  • No overnight frost
  • Last soccer practice
  • Wrapping up a big portion of homeschool today
  • Duties winding down with summer coming
  • Mornings out with friends
  • Chalk on sidewalk
  • Baby dolls strapped on backs
  • Dreaming over books to buy
  • Fridge works! Just blew a breaker
  • First Iris bloomed--surprise!
  • Mav's belly laugh during Hide N seek with Hannah
  • Ladies' class counting gifts and sharing them
  • Nurturing my children's relationships with each other
  • Early morning runs, quiet, birds chirping
  • Preparing lawn to grow flowers
  • A day full of yard sales and deals and fun
  • Time alone this morning, greeting the sunrise on my old jogging route--no dog sightings!
  • Quietness of nature's Dawn, hush, deer bounding through orchards
  • Dwarf Cherry trees planted around the yard

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I love Jesus with all my heart and a truth & Grace seeker. I married the love of my life in 2000 and I've been blessed with 5 lovies that I homeschool. Join me as I blog about my interests.


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