Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Power of Thanksgiving

Prayer of thanks: A prayer that offers thanks to God

Giving of thanks: An expression or an act of giving thanks

Public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness

Time and space does not permit me to do an in depth teaching on the subject, but I would like to share my most recent observations.

I have been pondering, "The Power of Thanksgiving" for weeks as the date of a long anticipated family reunion inched closer. Thanksgiving has been a matter of choice in between my husband’s ongoing medical treatments and my mother’s nursing home visits.

The Thanksgiving Holiday heralds the beginning of frenetic cleaning, shopping, cooking, and socializing. Excited as you are to prepare, I think it can be very challenging to allow a thankful attitude to remain the focus and prevail as grocery carts are driven over fresh pedicures, or you are driving circles in the parking lot until you are woozy waiting for a parking spot that is closer than the North 40.

Sometimes I think it is not until the day after Thanksgiving do you realize the true meaning. After the last goodbye hugs and kisses when it is time once again to vacuum the large, medium and small footprint memories out of the carpet. Distance, time, and health restraints make the treasured moments more valued….

There are vast numbers of scripture references that refer to thanks or thanksgiving. The Psalms reverberate over and over with the shepherd King’s heart of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was the Key to Increase

Mark 8:6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.

Although Jesus was the Son of God, his thankful heart had created an assurance with his Heavenly Father that He would always hear his cry.

John 11:40Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and [a]promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God? 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.

The night that Jesus Christ was betrayed He was in the midst of serving His Disciples their last supper. He was able to give thanks for what was meant for His destruction. He had a secret - He knew the ultimate offense would be used for the salvation of mankind. Jesus was able to give thanks for what He had taught his treasured Disciples. His mission was almost complete, and He was now confident this knowledge would keep them in the trying days to come as well.

Mark 14: 22And while they were eating, He took a loaf [of bread], praised God and gave thanks and asked Him to bless it to their use. [Then] He broke [it] and gave to them and said, Take. Eat. This is My body. 23He also took a cup [of the juice of grapes], and when He had given thanks, He gave [it] to them, and they all drank of it

Ephesians 4: declares how we should be using our mouths and that is possible to give thanks from our prison.

Thanksgiving can be a sacrifice that will produce a harvest.

Hebrews 13:15Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name

It is possible to give thanks at all times.

Ephesians 5:20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

As God’s handiwork we struggle to determine the perfect will of God for our lives. We may never know who we are to marry, where we are supposed to live or work, but scripture states…

It is possible to fulfill the will of God in your life by simply being grateful.

I Thessalonians 5:18Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

Thankfulness can be cultivated.

Colossians 3: 15 -17Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Finally, I believe our heartfelt thanksgiving is the AMEN to every good work that God created in
Genesis 1.

As my heart has processed this previous year, and taken inventory of the past day’s events, I have just one more thing to say...

Philippians 1: A Love That Will Grow 3- 6 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

hmmmmm......maybe I will wait one more day to vacuum.

                                            t-t-f-n (ta-ta-for-now)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season (like it or not)

Ecclesiastes 3:1

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; {to refrain from: Heb. to be far from}

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace

This had been a particularly emotional day. Many changes taking place in my life and those I hold dearest.

I was standing at my kitchen window and observing everything that was going on outside, all the while trying to process the range of emotions.

Our little area of the country had desperately been crying out for rain, and the heavens had answered. The temperatures had dropped, and the mist of rain made the atmosphere grey. The squirrels were scurrying frantically along the fence row doing what squirrels do, totally oblivious to the weatherman’s threat of thunderstorms. The entire scene looked like a fresh watercolor painting – paint brushes still wet with creativity.

The winds had escalated. The trees seemed to be in a tug of war, and they were losing. Their limbs were waving in the winds responding to the force that was assailed against them.

By now, the leaves had lost much of their strength being evidenced by their color or lack there of. Although, each leaf was in a different state of transition, they seemed to dance with grace as they fell to the rain soaked ground. I became fascinated with the process.

These mighty oaks were forced to relinquish complete control over their destiny. I watched in amazement as these pillars of strength bowed to the providence of God. One by one they released their covering and succumbed to being stripped bare – totally exposed to the elements.

It was then the Lord began to speak these words of truth to my heart and teach me a life lesson from my own backyard. He said, “The favorite part of a tree’s life is when it is lush with life and fulfilling its’ purpose and providing shade/shelter or even fruit. The harsh elements are being used to force My creation, (the tree) into its’ next season, perhaps, not one of its’ own choosing, but in accordance with My divine plan.” GASP! Selah…think of that.

It was a fresh revelation for me to realize that everything has an expiration date whether it be visible or not…not just leaves, but our very lives.

It is our frail humanness, selfishness, regret, and ultimately lack of trust in God that makes us want to hang onto our loved ones long beyond their expiration date.

As the leaves piled higher and higher I no longer viewed them as a nuisance to be swept or raked, but a gentle reminder…that obedience is better than sacrifice.

Slowly….reluctantly…. trustingly…..I am releasing my grip. In due season, the wise old trees will bud again with renewed hope…and life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is the proper salutation for a Blog to honor our Veterans?

It is a day that for those who fall into this category, and their families, is so emotionally charged. A majority of people will mark through the date with a black pen when in fact; it should be marked in red.

How do you define the color of shed blood - the blood of victims and victors alike? The solemn wave of flag lined streets and overgrown, neglected cemeteries serve as a grim reminder that freedom isn’t free.

I graduated in 1970. Many of the guys I went to school with were drafted into the Vietnam War. The same guys that I ate lunch every day with, laughed in class with and maybe dated came back as amputees or not at all.

I still remember the sting of hot tears and mingled mascara when I received the call that one of my very best friends had returned as a quadriplegic. I slid down the kitchen wall and wailed.

He had been one of the most handsome in the school and the funniest. I seemed to always be his target. He organized the football team to pick my Volkswagen up from its parking spot and place it in the main hall at school. We talked everyday about everything.

He was so ashamed of his injuries he would not return any of my phone calls. He never really came home.

As a country, we have expressed our gratitude and grief in many different ways. Nothing seems quite adequate. Thanks to a very dear friend and gifted young man, I would like to try and say thank you one more time in one more way. With his permission, I am sharing the expression of his heart through the video he put together in honor of this Veteran’s Day - 2010.

As a side note….just as I was in the process of downloading the video to my Blog site a piece of paper flew out of one of my art folders. This paper was totally unrelated to art, but was completely related to this Post.

This paper detailed a message dated November 22nd, 2005. It was a statement informing friends and family that my cousin’s vehicle, while serving in Iraq, had been struck by an IED. He was the Battalion Commander and had been the only one injured (that day). This was a fresh reminder that the God of this nation has not forgotten him or his comrades.