Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Time

As a child I always like Thanksgiving better than Christmas. I think to me it is a much less demanding holiday. Eating doesn't ask a lot from you except to show up, load up your plate, open your mouth, insert food, chew and swallow. A natural talent most of us have to unlearn as we get older since food entering the body has an ugly habit of turning into big hips, or big belly or oversize love handles. We love big cars, big houses, big salaries but small hips, flat stomachs and please can we leave the handles out of love handles.

I guess from were I sat it was the easier of the two holidays. Of course from my mom's perspective it was a day of work. Get up early and cook most of the day. Some folks even start the night before cooking pies and bread and then continuing on Thanksgiving morning and into the afternoon. The funny thing is it's all over in about 30 minutes. Maybe less, depending on how fast an eater you are. I was known as a fast eater - kind of like my driving - so Thanksgiving dinner to me was over in about 5 minutes. Doesn't seem right, does it.

All this preparation and eating was followed by a time of cleaning the dishes, the kitchen and the dinning area. I always saw this as an opportunity to work off the food we had just eaten. My work time involved moving to the living room after dinner to turn on the TV and find the right football game or movie for my dad to watch. My dad was demanding and I had to stand by the TV and turn - we had no remote control - the TV knob until I found a channel my dad wanted to watch. It was work to a young child. EXHAUSTING.

Thanksgiving is after all a time of remembrance of the the past year. To the pilgrims of old it was a celebration of a great harvest. Their meal itself reflected the abundant crops they had harvested. After surviving a horrible winter and working hard through spring and summer they were now able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It truly was a time of THANKSGIVING.

Being thankful is not just an act of gratitude but is also a move of faith. When I begin to thank God for those things I ask in prayer I demonstrate that I already believe that He will provide.

(Mark 11:24 NASB) "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

At my Thanksgiving table there will be a number of very grateful people to God for all that he has done this past year. However, I have prayed for this up coming year and I have asked God for some very specific things. I know that He is a God who not only hears but answers prayer. These things are not just quick off the top of my head things. These are things that I have thought about and discussed with family and with God. And when I truly knew what it was that I desired from God for this next year - I made my request know to Him. I spoke and I know He listened. Since I know He heard and He is God who answers prayer I can now begin to thank Him for the things that I have asked before I even see them come to fruition.

Grateful for the past and excited about the future. This is the Thanksgiving spirit which will surround my Thanksgiving table. I pray the same will surround yours. Happy Thanksgiving!

A Psalm for Thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalms 100:1-5

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SUPRISE. . . .

I am sitting here preparing a lesson to present at the Thanksgiving Outreach of a local ministry known as Loaves and Fishes. They help low income families with grocery assistance. Tomorrow at their Thanksgiving outreach plan on helping around 360 families by providing a box of food and a turkey or ham for their Thanksgiving meal.

So here I am reading scripture and praying about what I was going to say. I started to read the story of the angel that visited Mary to tell her that she was chosen by God to be the part of the greatest miracle to date - the birth of Jesus Christ. You know the story . . .

. . . .In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin's name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you. She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, "Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: (Luke 1:26-30 MSG)

You know a lot of people are in fear going into this holiday season. Fear of the economy, fear of terrorism, fear of losing their job, fear of sickness - we really don't lack things to be afraid of. But the angel told Mary she had nothing to fear. WHY? I love the way it says in in the message translation - God has a surprise for you.

God has a surprise for you. You may know it but have forgotten it but God is in control - SURPRISE. God knows what is going on in the world -SURPRISE. God knows what is going on in your life - SURPRISE. God has everything under control - SURPRISE.

As we read we come upon the answer that Mary - a young teenager - found in conquering fear.

The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. "And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months' pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God." And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:35-38 MSG)

Mary surrendered to the will of God. You know life is not a battle but a surrender. We surrender our life to God. He wants us to surrender to His word because He knows that through surrendering to Him we have VICTORY. Jesus surrendered to the will of God the Father and came to this earth - died so that we can have eternal life. God is not in a fight with us. He just wants us to surrender to His will for our life and in doing so, fear will leave and faith will replace it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This Side of Paradise

Romans 14:17 NASB for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

As I read this verse this week the word JOY jumped at me. Coming into the Christmas season we will probably sing "Joy to the World." Joy comes from the spirit not from the flesh. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 NASB But the fruit of the Spirit is love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Happiness comes from the flesh. We are happy because things are going our way. We are happy because we got the gift we wanted for Christmas. We are happy because the weather is good or we have money in our pocket or no one in our family is sick or we have food on our table. Mind you these are all good things that God wants us to have. However, happiness is based on external things. Joy is based on internal things and by this I am speaking of spirit. I have joy because I am in right standing with God. I have joy because I know where I am going when I leave this earth. I have joy because eternal things are settled in my life. I have Joy because I know God and I have fellowship with Him.

Joy is ours no matter what our outside world looks like. Now this is really difficult to understand because the outside world has a huge influence on us. I do not like winter - why - because it is cold and uncomfortable. I really don't like being hungry or alone or sick or without things that I like in this world. Joy is not based on worldly things it is based on spiritual things. God's Word tells us we have ". . . everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." II Peter 1:3.

Therefore, as I come into greater knowledge of God through His word, JOY should become more prevalent in my life and override happiness. Although I still work and obtain things necessary for my family, my joy, which is based on spiritual things, becomes the overriding factor in my life. Even when worldly circumstances aren't going my way, they do not steal my JOY. Spiritual things are not based on worldly situations. To be truly contend you have to have an understanding of Joy.

So this Christmas season if things don't go your way or you hear a little to much stuff on the news about the things of this world, don't let this steal your joy. You joy is based on God' word and His kingdom. And in God's kingdom your are a priest and King. His economy is off the charts. Gold to God is asphalt and everyday He makes everything NEW.

Monday, November 10, 2008

TOO much information for me

A short time ago I opened a Facebook page at the request of a close friend. I saw it as a good suggestion and went ahead and took the dive into the Facebook world.

After a few weeks here are my conclusions. You can say I am out of it or you can say I am getting too old or you can say I am just nuts, but here is what I think.

1. People put too much information up on the web for everyone to read. I think we need to be more discerning about what we share with the rest of the world.

2. I have better things to do than read what everyone is doing every minute of their life. I am happy for them and even glad that they are enjoying life but knowing when someone is going to bed or getting up or eating or whatever is TOO much information for me.

3. This thing started small but then it really started to grow. People were asking to be my Facebook friend. I wanted to keep it small. But if I said no, I felt like I would offend them. I give people plenty of reasons to get offended at me; I don't need another reason.

4. I really didn't want to put anything up on Facebook about what I was doing. My day to day life is just that, my day to day life. I am some what of a private person. Besides, I am just not that interesting.

5. I would like to say all, but to be conservative I will say most, of what I read was really shallow. No one put up things they had read that improved them. Nothing of any spiritual value. Oh there were some political views - especially with the election, but I really have had enough of these lately. I don't need more. If surface stuff is what Facebook is all about then I don't have time to waste on it.

They say you are only different today than you were yesterday by the books you have read and by the people that you meet. Facebook (its name says book so I will give it to them) is a pretty useless book and the people on Facebook were not able to really change or improve me because you can write anything you want about yourself and never be true to who you really are. Someone once said you impress people from a distance but you can only IMPACT people up close. I feel Facebook is a lot about impressing and little about impacting. People come and go in your life. Some stay longer than others. Some you just have to let go so you can invest more in the ones you can see FACE to FACE.

Give me a solid handshake or hug. You can tell a lot about a person through a handshake or hug. I like to look the person in the eyes. That is where you see the soul of a person. That's were you can feel what they feel. That is how you get to know someone.

So you can have Facebook. Give me the old fashion kind of friendships. The kind that is FACE to FACE not laptop to laptop.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Celebrate Day

Yesterday while I was working out in the morning, I dreamed up an idea to celebrate a special person in my life. It wasn't a birthday or anniversary. It was just Friday. So I set out to do that. Purchased little things that would make the day fun and special. Flowers, a card and small stuff snowman to put with the flowers. Getting up at 3:00 AM every morning to go work out by 5:00 causes one to think up things like this. Lack of sleep will do this to you.

I had fun with this all day. When I ran into someone at work I told them that today we are celebrating this special person. Some thought it was fun and others looked at me like,"Boy, aren't you nuts." Others just didn't get it and would ask me, "What is the real reason you are celebrating this person today?" They just knew there was a reason for this. I guess to them why celebrate someone for no reason.

I believe everyday God celebrates us. We are that special person to God. God is in love with us even when we don't feel like He is or don't feel much in love with Him.

I Peter 1:2 (MSG) "God the Father has his eye on you. . ."

Everyday God gives a word to encourage us if we would only take time to read it. Everyday God gives us a sunrise or sunset to enjoy. The sound of the wind or rain or maybe the absolute quiet of the moment to calm us. Maybe it's a touch of another person when we feel alone. Everyday God celebrates you.

1Peter 2:9 (NLT) ". . for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. . ."

It's you He loves when your not lovable. It's you that He thinks about when you are not thinking about Him. You see, this God that we sometimes ignore and many times don't understand is in love with you and continually has you in mind.

Psalms 40:5 NASB Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Every Path We Take

Proverbs 5:21 For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.

Everyday I read a chapter out of the Books of Proverbs that corresponds to the actual date. On the 5th of the month I read the 5th chapter in Proverbs. I have done this for 15 years missing a few days here. Today I read Chapter 5 of Proverbs.

Today when I got to verse 21 it was like it was the first time I had ever read it. It exploded off the page. God sees clearly what a man does - examining very path he takes. When you think you think on one is watching\ and you can get away with it or that one noticed what you did, your wrong, God sees it. Usually, the first thought we have is that God sees all the wrong things I do.

  • Yelling at the driver in front who just cut you off in traffic.
  • Looking too long at a provocative picture.
  • Saying a nasty word because your guy didn't win the election.
  • Drinking a little to much.
  • Wishing something evil would happen to someone you - OH my - can I say it - HATE.
  • Surfing the internet instead of working.

The list could go on. There is a good side to this verse. God also sees every good thing you do.

  • Praying for someone that doesn't even know you are praying for them.
  • Giving money to someone anonymously.
  • Cleaning up after yourself so your spouse doesn't have too.
  • Going to work when you really don't feel like it.
  • Over looking the faults of another when they continually point out your faults.

Yeah, this list can go on too. God sees clearly everything we do. Today you need to know that God sees the good that you do even when on one else does. God makes a record of it. Isn't it interesting that God only records the good we do and with confession He erases forever the bad so as to never bring it up again.

Today don't get weary going the good. Remember God is watching. It's His eyes that counts for eternity.
Galatians 6:9 So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.