Day 5: Happy Thanksgiving!
Last year I posted this for Thanksgiving and as I read it over again, I was struck by how many things I wrote are still in the same pattern. So here I am to share it with you once again. Enjoy and be blessed!
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
—Psalm 95:1-3, ESV
This year has been one of ups and downs for me, but the ups far outweigh the downs. The best thing that happened in my life this year concerns my son. After praying diligently for him for many years, he came back to the Lord and was baptized in September. And the day after that, he was on a plane to Albania where he was part of a medical mission team. To say that this mother’s heart was full of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord is a gross understatement!
All around us things are happening that make life a challenge. My daily battle with migraines continues but the pattern has changed somewhat. I still wake up with a migraine every morning and go to bed with one every night. The difference now is that on many days I am migraine-free for about four hours so I can at least feel somewhat human and get a few things done around the house.
The other day a close friend who has been estranged from her son for several years received the sweetest note from him as the first step in a joyful reconciliation. In this note, he asked for forgiveness and told her that God had been doing a work in his heart.
My husband and I were saddened to hear of the recent sudden death of a dear friend we knew when we lived in California. We shared many a Saturday morning over coffee, discussing many things including Biblical matters. We don’t know if he ever came to know the healing power of Jesus Christ, but our heavy hearts are comforted by the fact that God knows, and that is enough for us.
Read or watch the news and it is easy to see that all over the country people are struggling with health and financial issues, family and personal relationships, extreme weather devastation, and job problems. Our cost of living is constantly on the rise in direct contrast to most people’s income staying the same or going down.
And yet, in spite of all this, God is always with us and ever in control.
Is life getting you down? Are you wondering when—or if—your suffering will ever end? Why not do something completely different than what our normal human tendency dictates? I’m talking about a radical approach to everyday life, a way of lifting ourselves up before we get mired down in the muck of life as we know it. Here it is:
thank God for each and every thing in your life, the bad as well as the good.
Wow… really? Yes, really! It is understandably difficult to thank God for illness, questionable finances, family problems…and on and on. But—and here it comes—how we will be blessed!
This is more than the power of positive thinking. It is an inner calm and a peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), not in spite of your circumstances but because of them. See what I mean? Radical, right?
Beloved, our thanks to God ought to be because of who He is, not for what He does or does not do for us. We need to be thankful for every single thing in our lives, whether good or bad, because these are what He uses to shape us into who He wants us to be. And the first and best thing we should thank Him for is the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who died in our place, for our sins. How awesome is that?
I wonder if changing our thought process this way would change our outlook on life. I mean, if we remember to thank God first for everything in our lives, wouldn’t that change our view of our circumstances?
Since I am a visual person, I like to picture this: place your arms out wide—this is how much we think we need; now place your hands about six to eight inches apart—this is how much we actually need.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please forgive us for not always acknowledging who You are and how much You have given us. Thank You for sending Your Son to die on our behalf so that we can spend eternity loving and worshiping You on Your throne. Help us to always remember that You want the best for us, even when we can’t see or understand it. We love You, Lord, thank You for being our All in All!
“I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.” —Helen Keller
“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” —Henry Ward Beecher
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” —1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
I love the website Grace Thru Faith and subscribe to their daily emails. A big thank you to Donna for telling me about this site months ago!
One of today’s entries at Grace Thru Faith really spoke to me, so here it is in its entirety. I know you’ll appreciate it as much as I did.
A Thanksgiving Message by Jack Kelley
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)
Each year on the 4th Thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the US. It’s a holiday begun by the early settlers to express their gratitude to God for a bountiful harvest, and it’s patterned after the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.
After the harvest Israelites from all over the country would gather in Jerusalem for a week long celebration. This was to commemorate the time God had spent with them in the wilderness and to give thanks for another good harvest. All year they saved up their tithes, the first born of their flocks and herds, the first sheaves of grain, the first grapes, figs, olives and other fruit and vegetables and brought it all to Jerusalem in the fall where they cooked and ate everything in a national celebration of praise (Deut. 12:5-7).
After surviving a very difficult year in the new world, the Pilgrims of New England instituted a similar, though much smaller, thanksgiving feast, again with the intent of praising God. This event finally became a national holiday in the US in 1863, but it took until 1941 to settle on the 4th Thursday of November as its official observance.
My parents made sure we never forgot that it was the Lord who provided for us and so Thanksgiving was a religious observance in our house. Prayers were offered and each family member gave thanks to the Lord for all the good things we had received.
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today (Deut. 8:17-18).
We believed, as the Bible tells us, that even though my parents worked hard all year, it was the Lord who had given them their strength and ability and created opportunities for them. In these verses God reminded the Israelites (and us) not to forget that. After all, lots of people work hard all their lives and never seem to get anywhere. We weren’t well off, but we gave thanks for what we had because we knew where our blessings came from.
As an adult I got involved in the self-development field and began learning about the “god within”, an internal force I was told I could use to maximize my “creative potential” for success. This appealed to my ego and made me seem like the master of my own fate. I forgot all about the Lord’s admonition to remember Him. When I was born again at age 40 I finally saw that this “god within” was really the “God without” who had been blessing me all along even though I was taking all the credit. Once, as I was praying about this, the phrase “God Without” kept repeating itself in my mind. Was the Lord trying to tell me something?
The word “without” applies to lots of things where the Lord is concerned, and as I continued to pray several of them came to mind. If you’re looking for things to be thankful for (even if you live in a country where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated) try some of these “withouts”. I’ll bet the Lord will bring more to your mind as you focus on them.
Love Without Limits … For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Forgiveness Without Question … Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened (Matt 7:7-8). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Performance Without Exception … All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. And this is the will of Him Who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up on the last day (John 6:37, 39).
Promise Without Equivocation … I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please … what I have said, that will I bring about and what I have planned, that will I do” (Isaiah 46:10-11).
Blessings Without Number … You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country (wherever you are). The fruit of your womb will be blessed (your children), and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock-the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks (your work). Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed (you’ll have plenty of food). You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out (when you come home at night and when you leave in the morning) (Deut 28:3-6).
Mercy Without Measure …. It is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion fails not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Faithfulness Without Failing … Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands (Deut. 7:9). And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Redemption Without Retraction … In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding (Ephesians 1:5-8).
Salvation Without Merit … But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).
Grace Without Guilt … Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
So in a time when mankind has all but forgotten that the Lord is the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the Author of all our victories, who arranges every opportunity and fashions every blessing, these “withouts” might serve as good reminders to give thanks where thanks is due.
And now may “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26) Happy Thanksgiving. 11-17-12