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Archive for the tag “Blessings of God”

Traditions

Traditions for this day are varied. Thanksgiving holiday in the US has evolved into certain traditions for each family. Food, more food and family, friends, maybe someone significant meeting the family for the first time; but it’s all about tradition. Turkey or ham or both; cranberry sauce, yes, please; and few sides of casseroles, a green bean or two, corn pudding (not so much for me), then of course, dessert (which is “no thank you” for me this year since I didn’t bring my own – I am gluten-free forever more). The focus has been on the food and the relationships around the table for many of us for years. Of course, we give thanks to God above for all He has provided this year and all the blessings that we enjoy on a daily basis. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

After all, this isn’t a “religious” holiday in the traditional sense. It’s a holiday that Abraham Lincoln set aside in the middle of the civil war. It was a time of remembrance to give thanks to God. It began centuries ago when the settlers had a successful harvest for the very first time. Can you imagine the struggles they went through to live in such a land – a land where they actually had to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and harvest the crops? Many of them had no idea how to plant and harvest a crop. But they learned, thanks to the native people who helped them survive.

Our nation is far from the traditions laid down by our forefathers. We have evolved from agriculture, industrial to tech savvy people. No longer do we have to struggle to provide food for our families in the traditional sense. We don’t raise our food in a traditional way. We go to super stores and buy prepared food or plastic-wrapped produce shipped from hundreds of miles away. It’s just not the same as if we actually had to get our hands dirty and dig out those sweet potatoes from the earth.

We don’t have to do the hard labor the season before to get the food on the table today. It’s already done for us. We just go and pick out the best ingredients for a home cooked meal – or maybe head to the nearest Golden Corral for the buffet tradition that someone else prepared and will clean up. We just eat, pay and go. We’ve gotten so far away from the original thought of harvest blessing that the holiday has been lost to food, football and shopping. It’s the kickoff to the real holiday – Christmas and Santa Claus and ho, ho, ho to good girls and boys and lots of little toys.

I’m not saying that what we have today is bad. It’s just different from what it was intended so long ago. It has evolved into our own traditions. But hopefully somewhere along the way, we’ll remember to give thanks to God above for all the blessings of our own harvest season – whatever that hardship we are currently going through or have just come out of. God has seen us through many trials and tribulations through the years, and we have survived another year. God is good all the time! Even when it looks bad, and we don’t think we can survive; look how God has brought us through time and again.

Thanksgiving is about remembering. Remembering the past blessings and knowing God will see us through again. He is faithful. He is good. His love endures for us forever. We can look in the Bible to see how God sees His people through the tough times, but we could also see in our own lives those same things. We can look to the past in this country and see how God has seen this country through the dark times to bring us through. God’s love endures forever. He is faithful, and He is true to His nature.

Let’s remember today the ones who came before us so that we can have this time of food, family and football. We have it good. We have been blessed abundantly. Let’s remember it’s not by our hand that we have done these things. We were created as a people (the church), and as a nation to be a blessing to others because of what the Lord has done for us. It’s because of the forefathers’ forethought to put things in place by the hand of God to give us all that we have today. Let’s remember and give thanks. Celebrate with your traditions and remember to be a blessing to others today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

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Now, What do you say?

Why is it we have to be taught to say “thank you?” Is it a cultural thing or is it just our human nature that makes us think we deserve some kindness or gift? As children grow up, parents are continually reminding their offspring: “now, what do you say?” when they receive something. I can remember my own mother asking me this question time and again. Children can be stubborn when they know what to say but just don’t want to say it. They suddenly go deaf to their parent’s question.

As adults, we should have this ingrained in us. “Thank you” should roll off our tongue. I think I do pretty well in this department when someone does something nice for me. However, am I so inclined when it’s just the everyday blessings from a loving God? The sun shining on a fall afternoon. The beautiful picture of painted leaves on a crisp fall morning. The rolling waves on a beautiful beach. The pleasure of God filling me with breath every morning. It’s the little things that go unnoticed in a hurried life. After hearing a message on Sunday, I began to ponder the words of Jesus when He cleansed the ten lepers. “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17)

Maybe the men who were running toward the priest were praising God as they ran. They just didn’t take the time to come back to Jesus. The Samaritan however, had a different outlook toward his healing. The men from Israel were going to be accepted by the priest, but the Samaritan would have been rejected. Samaritans were hated by the people of Israel. The Samaritans were half Jewish and half Assyrian. They were not considered to be equal with the Jews. But the faith of this one man was evident as he went with the others. He was told to go, so he went even though he knew he would be rejected by the priest. He went anyway.

When he encountered Jesus, his whole life was changed. Not only did he get new skin, he got a new faith in the One who heals. When the man recognized his healing, he ran back and threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Jesus said it was by his faith that he was healed. The Samaritan was made whole. He was physically healed, but I believe he was spiritually healed first.

Another time was noted in the Scriptures when Jesus was dining with a group of Pharisees. A woman anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Then she poured expensive perfume on them. The Pharisees viewed this act with indignation. They knew this woman’s many sins. The woman knew her position as well. Yet, she came to the One who heals. Jesus recognized her heart. She poured out her heart on his feet. Jesus said to the woman “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)

When we recognize the One who heals, we have a new appreciation for the new life we have been given. We are naturally more thankful. It is an overflow of the heart. Jesus said that the one who has been forgiven much will love much (my paraphrase Luke 7:47). Our gratefulness comes from a changing heart. A grateful heart isn’t natural; it’s supernatural. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. When we encounter our Lord, we are changed. Gratitude will supernaturally flow from us because we recognize the One who has forgiven us for our many sins. This alone is enough to offer praise to God for every little detail of His overflowing blessings. We have been forgiven much. Let us go out and love more. In this act of kindness, we will show the world how truly grateful we are for a loving Father who gave so much to us. He sent His Son to save us. Your faith has saved you; go and sin no more.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you that we don’t earn anything, but by your grace and mercy we have new life. Faith as small as a mustard seed changes everything. Praise to God the Father. Praise to God the Son. Praise to God the Spirit – three in One. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Let everything that has breath praise His name! Amen! Amen!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thank to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

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